Woohoo, my new bicycle

I am sooo happy. This weekend my brand new bicycle arrived. Now I can finally cruise around Brussels together with our boys. They are really snug in their basket on the back and absolutely love it. Will write a review after a few weeks of use, but for now I just had to share this picture!

Back to school

On Monday all the schools in Belgium started again after a holiday of 2 whole months. On the one hand I was looking forward to it, when the boys are in school I have much more time for my work, but on the other hand I was dreading the morning rush. Getting up early is not something any of us is very good at. And I hate being late so there is always this rush of doing too many things in too little time.

Monday went very well though, we had managed to get the boys in bed on time the night before and they were actually very excited. Even breakfast went down without a problem.

Tuesday still went very well, even though one of the boys did not manage to eat his whole breakfast. But the other one made up for this by having three breakfasts 🙂

Wednesday was difficult. They really did not want to get out of bed, so eventually we had to run to school. And this on a day that I don’t have to make lunchboxes for them, as school is finished at 12:15. Wednesday afternoon was mostly spend in bed, by all three of us yes. Zzzzzzz

On Thursday we were late again. I thought we were early but then they took forever to brush their teeth and needed one more pipi. They also cycled to school in such a way that I am sure they are holding the record for ‘slowest bicycle ride ever’.

On Friday I did not want to get up anymore. But I did it anyway, repeating my mantra ‘it’s the last day, tomorrow is the weekend’. The boys echoed my words and together we made it. They were not even the last ones in the class.

Hooray, only one more pick-up and the first week has been conquered. Weekend!

Gift ideas for 2 year olds

After the success of my earlier post about gift ideas for three year old children, I decided to make a list for two year olds as well. These ideas can be used to make a wish list for friends and family that are coming over for the birthday. I again have not mentioned any bicycles, cars or other big toys like slides, sand pits and play houses.

This toys on this list were the most used toys in the year that our boys were two.

  1. The classis Fisher Price register. They can use this for years.


2. Books. Some of the stories that our boys enjoyed over and over again.

3. Duplo. One of their favourite toys in the world. Building, playing, making up stories… Small sets, big sets, there is always something within budget.

4. Play figurines. Perfect toys to take on the road, when visiting friends, in the car, in a restaurant etc. Our boys absolutely love dinosaurs, but there are many sets available like farm animals, wild animals, fish, horses etc.

5. Wooden train set. Another toy that will last years and they can start playing with it from this age onwards. Ikea also has a really nice and affordable set.

Just a last tip: At this age, children usually have many toys already and unpacking presents can be quite overwhelming, especially when they get a lot of new toys. When we celebrated our boys’ birthday I also put some clothes on their wish list, especially items for the season ahead. It was a great way to make sure they boys did not get too many toys and to stock up on clothes as they really could use some new ones. Just make sure you mention the sizes you want, you can never be too specific when it comes to clothes 🙂

 

Father’s Day – some craft ideas

Father’s Day is coming up. Yes, I can just hear you think– Yaiks, there is no time, I am too busy and I have no idea what to make or buy.
We all know how busy we get, so here are some quick ideas to still be able to give your man a present from the children and you.

  • Take a walk to a photo-boot (to be found in metro- and train-stations) and take a (funny) picture of you and your kids together. Either make 1 picture or a set of 4 for in his wallet. Frame it, or not. Just see how much time there is. This idea is perfect when you have a very small child.
  • Get the finger paint out, put your child’s hands or feet in it, put them carefully on a canvas and your are done. Best done before bath time  to ease the clean-up 🙂 Perfect with a very small child and also great gift idea for grandparents.
  • Get the finger paint out for your toddler/ older children and give them a canvas to make their own art. Cheap canvas can be found at any Action shop.
  • Buy some white cloth handkerchiefs for men (Hema has them) and some permanent clothing markers. Have the kids draw on them. Wrap them up. Can also be done with tea towels, t-shirts or an apron, but I find that handkerchiefs are the most likely to actually be used.
  • Design some labels for beer or wine bottles. This sounds more fancy than it is, just cut out some white cardboard or thick paper and make sure it fits around the bottle you have picked out as a gift. Give this paper to your children to be drawn or painted on. When they are done you use sticky tape or glue to fasten is around the bottle and you have a perfect gift.
  • Make cards. Go to Action or Hema and buy loads of stickers and some empty cards. Let the kids design their own card for daddy. They can of course also use their markers, pencils and stamps.

Hopefully this was helpful. Enjoy the fun!

Silence

Sometimes she has a few moments

of quietly floating amongst the clouds

then the noise starts

again

like a helicopter whirring

closer and closer

a crescendo of voices

mom, mommy, mom!

silence

is a twin mother’s

needle in the haystack

 

(c) Carien Touwen 2018

*PS. This weekend I went on a writers retreat and this is one of the pieces I wrote during the workshops.

Gift ideas for 3 year olds

Children usually have a lot of toys already and with a birthday coming up, you usually don’t want to add to the existing pile. For me a birthday is great moment to get rid of some toys that they don’t use often anymore. Either by giving some toys away or selling some on a second hand place before they actually get so annoyed with it they break it. However, there is still the issue of ‘new toys’ because a birthday with no gifts to unwrap is not a real birthday. My family usually works with wish-lists that we make available a few weeks in advance, so people can buy something that your kid can actually use. This also avoids doubles (although with twins, some gifts have to come in doubles).

When our boys turned three I asked around a lot for good ideas and was very grateful with the input I got. So here is my list with suggestions for when your child has his or her third birthday. I am not going to list bicycles, tricycles or other vehicles to ride on as this is very individual, every child is different in his development and it what he likes. Instead I list some smaller gifts that are great to ask for.

  1. Books. This will always be my first choice. It’s really good for children to listen to stories being read aloud. Here are three books that we are currently reading that our boys really enjoy.

2. Marble run. This only works if your child is not putting little things in his mouth anymore, as the marbles are quite small. They are also not able to make it themselves yet, but if you build it together with them, they can play with it for a long time. They simply love seeing the ball run through the maze of tubes.
3. Watercolour paint. They absolutely love this. And so much less mess than finger painting!
4. Guitars. For their musical ambitions.Our boys really like playing them and singing an absolutely not related song at the same time 🙂 🙂  

5. Puzzles. Something to do together first and then let them learn by themselves. Start with 4-6 pieces and work them up to 20-24.

The first sunny day of the year

Yesterday it was the first sunny day of the year in Brussels. Blue skies, freezing cold but loads of sunshine. We took the boys to a park and WOW, they could not be happier. While we sat in the sun they ran around, putting their hands in the sand to make piles and throw them over again. They found little stones and flowers to show us. They found sticks and leafs to play with, ran up and down on little hills, felt the trees and plants and looked at ducks. Time flew and we did not feel the cold at all. We go outside everyday but they usually don’t last that long. It’s incredible how much a little sunshine can do. It was like a whole new world outside had opened up to them.

Candle light dinner

No this is not a post about a romantic evening. This is about getting your toddlers to eat. Our latest success formula starts with candle light! Read and learn peeps, hopefully this trick can be used on all toddlers 😉

As the days were getting darker due to winter times I decided it was time to light candles more often. I also thought it was a good idea to make the boys a bit more aware of fire and especially the dangers of it, as many people we visit in winter have candles in their houses. So I put two candles on the dinner table and explained our boys about their use and dangers.

They were mesmerised. Not specifically by the pretty flickering light, but mainly by the idea that they could blow it out. Of course I did not want them to do this yet, I had just lit the candles. So I said they could blow out the candles, one each, after they finished their dinner.

This resulted in them eating quicker than I’ve ever seen. Their plates were clean before I had the first bite of my dinner. Wow! Of course I kept my promise and they could blow out a candle each. It was not easy, as they had hardly ever done this, but they managed. Next day the same happened. And the next. And the next.

It  has been weeks now and every day they finish their dinner in order to be allowed to blow out a candle. Nothing makes them happier, they even ask for candles at lunch now haha.They have gotten really good at it too and it only takes a few blows before they succeed. So when they will turn three later this year, they can actually blow out the candles on their birthday cake, another bonus. And they behave very carefully around the candles, are very aware of its danger.

So all in all this was a great win. But the biggest bonus of course is a relatively hassle free dinner with two toddlers.