Archive for All things rainbow coloured

Four Years in the Making…

Four years ago today, we put on gorgeous white dresses, walked down the aisle in front of our family and friends, spoke our vows and exchanged rings.  But at that time we were not allowed to use the words “bride” or “wife” in our vows or refer to the commitment we were making as a “marriage”.  Instead, we entered into a civil partnership, something which closely resembled civil marriage in all but name.  Some people might have waited until full equality had been achieved before taking that step, but we were eager to start a family together and wanted to do so from a place of commitment publically declared and legally bound.

On 29th March 2014, the first same sex marriages finally took place in this country and then on 10th December 2014, it became legal to convert a civil partnership into a civil marriage.

We contemplated having a big party to celebrate finally being able to truly say we were married, but priorities change and – as I’m sure those who were there on the day will agree – nothing could ever begin to match the delight of our wedding day.

Instead, today we have visited our local Registry Office to fill out the paperwork and are headed back to our wedding venue for delicious food and relaxing spa treatments.

The four years we have been civil partnered have been amazing.  We have continued to grow and learn about each other and ourselves.  We have been through the struggles of raising newborn twins and enjoyed first steps, first words and watching our children’s personalities blossom.  It hasn’t always been easy and it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows but I can definitely say that our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been, even whilst it has changed to accommodate the presence of two other people in our lives.

Marriage isn’t stationary; it’s a constantly moving and growing thing.  It ebbs and flows, reaches pinnacles and nadirs.  It is constantly teaching us more about each other and ourselves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We are human, we fall, but I wouldn’t want anyone else there to pick me up again.

So, if you would like to, please raise a glass to us and our marriage – four years in the making!

4 Years in the Making from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Why We Love: Wreck-It Ralph

We’ve been through the Frozen fever and spent a lot of time watching Tangled, but whilst I think these are pretty good films, with better themes and concepts than the earlier Disney princess movies, I am LOVING our latest Disney obsession – Wreck-It Ralph.

Eponymous protagonist Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the 9-ft tall, 600lb “bad guy” from the arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr.  Disillusioned with his bad guy status and propensity to wreck everything in sight, whether he means to or not, Ralph sets out to find himself a medal so that he will gain the sort of recognition Felix gets from the other inhabitants of his game.

In a similar way that Toy Story before it showed us the secret life of toys, Wreck-It Ralph shows us what happens to the characters in the arcade games after the arcade has closed.  Travelling through a central atrium, the characters can visit different games, although of course they must return to their own game in time for it to be played by the customers, lest they risk their game being perceived as broken and switched off.

In search of a medal, Ralph visits Hero’s Duty, a war game where the player must battle fearsome “cybugs” in order to win.  Ralph’s clumsiness sees him end up in an escape pod which then crash lands in another game – Sugar Rush.  Sugar Rush is a racing game set in a wondrous candy-land and it is here that Ralph meets Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a glitch in the computer system who wants nothing more than to be able to race but who is shunned by the other racers because she isn’t a real character.

So far, so predictable, I suppose.  We know Ralph and Vanellope will become friends, even though they don’t seem to like each other at first.  We know that he will help her to race but that there is likely to be some kind of problem, quite possibly a betrayal.  We know that both of these rejects will end up being accepted by the people around them and we will all learn an important lesson.

"I'm bad and that's good.  I'll never be good and that's not bad.  There's no one I'd rather be than me."

“I’m bad and that’s good. I will never be good and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

In and of itself, that’s a pretty good storyline for kids and I like it.  But it gets better.

What I really like about Wreck-It Ralph is the many ways in which it subverts traditional gender roles, both overtly and subtly.

Firstly, there’s Calhoun (Jane Lynch), the commander of Hero’s Duty.  She’s tough, she’s fearless and of course, being voiced by Jane Lynch, she’s freaking hilarious!

"Fear" is a four-letter word, ladies! You wanna go peepee in your big-boy slacks, keep it to yourself!

“Fear” is a four-letter word, ladies! You wanna go peepee in your big-boy slacks, keep it to yourself!

Calhoun is also the character who gets the guy at the end, proving not only that strong women like romance too, but also that you can find love in the most surprising of places.

Less overtly, the arcade customers are refreshingly gender non-conforming.  We see a girl kick some ass in Hero’s Duty and then when she wants to play Sugar Rush – a game decked out in neon pink, where almost all the avatars are female – she gets sent away by two boys who claim they are going to be playing on it all day.

Best of all, [SPOILER WARNING] when Vanellope discovers that she is actually the princess of Sugar Rush who was transformed into a glitch through an act of sabotage, she rejects her pink dress and her role as ruler of Sugar Rush, suggesting instead that they should have a constitutional democracy and that her green-hoodie-wearing self is the “real” her.

"Look, the code may say I'm a princess, but I know who I really am, Ralph, I'm a racer with the greatest superpower ever."

“Look, the code may say I’m a princess, but I know who I really am, Ralph, I’m a racer with the greatest superpower ever.”

In a world full of “beautiful” princesses with ridiculous waistlines and questionable relationship choices, Wreck-It Ralph is a really refreshing change.  For those of us concerned about the “pinkification” of our girls (and of course the inverse “blueification” of boys) there really is a lot worse you could see than Wreck-It Ralph.  On top of all this there are the frequent retro gaming references that will go way over your children’s head but will make you chuckle.  Wreck-It Ralph is definitely a film we all enjoy.

The Best Best Man’s Speech

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It’s been two years today since L and I tied the knot. The two best years of my life, no question.

As I write this (a couple of days in advance, obvs), she is outside, arranging some kind of surprise for me, whilst I am trying not to eat all of the Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolatey Chocolate Orange Biscuits (she better hurry up and finish that phone call is all I’m saying).

I know I’ve got all soppy before about how amazing my wife is – and that’s still all true, of course, she’s the best wife and mother I know – but she’s not really one for soppiness. In fact, she would always, ALWAYS, pick a funny card over a soppy one, regardless of the occasion.

And with that in mind, I feel it is only right that I finally share what I truly believe to be the best Best Man’s Speech of all time. I know often at weddings the speeches are hilarious to people who know the bride and groom well, but require a level of insider knowledge in order to really appreciate their humour (indeed, Laura’s dad did a wonderful job with his Father of the Bride speech, but you would have to know a little about Laura to see the immense humour in her joining the Brownies expecting camping and adventure and instead being taught how to make flower arrangements), but somehow my brother managed to turn his Best Man’s Speech into a stand-up routine about lesbian weddings. It had all of our guests absolutely roaring with laughter and people still talk about it today.

So, in the hope that I haven’t built it up too much and left you with a sense of anticlimax, here it is:

The Best Best Man’s Speech (Ever!) from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

School’s Out for Summer!

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We’re a week into the summer holidays now and it feels so good! The weather has come out the other side of the almost unbearable heat wave and – okay – it’s kinda drizzly, but it’s the summer and all four of us are at home together for the next five weeks. I’m so excited.

The girls’ birthday party was a great success. It was warm but not too hot and it didn’t rain. Our garden was filled with people and our friends’ children loved playing with the girls’ toys and on their swing set.

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We had a barbecue and alongside that served a load of food that would be easy for the girls and the other children/babies at the party to eat, including some rainbow fruit skewers that I had seen on Pinterest, which looked really cool and went down extremely well.

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I made the girls a birthday cake, which was supposed to be rainbow layers, but the food colouring just didn’t take that well, so although there was a clear graduation between the layers, they just didn’t have the vibrant colour I had been going for. Still, it tasted lovely and Claudia and Imogen didn’t seem to mind the lack of colour. I had also made cupcakes to go along with the cake as I was worried it wouldn’t quite go far enough. These were also iced with butter icing and sprinkled with coloured sugar, finished off with these really cool flags the girls’ Auntie and Uncle made them (Auntie A is a graphic designer – always someone good to know!).

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The girls were brilliant all day, which was a relief as Claudia had been quite grumpy on her actual birthday and the day after (teething, I suspect). They were very entertaining and seemed to have a great time with everyone.

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By the early evening it all got a bit much for Claudia, who fell asleep on her Great Auntie’s lap. She woke an hour or so later and there was no putting either of them to bed, so they ended up having an after party with us and their Popsey and Grandad, opening some of their many presents!

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presents Imogen has been walking more and more since she took her first steps on Sunday 14th July and can now pretty much cross a room without holding on. Claudia is just starting to let go of things and is getting pretty good at standing up, but has yet to actually take an independent step.

We are off on holiday on Friday, to spend a week in Dorset with my mum and step-dad, hopefully allowing us a little bit of baby-free time as well as getting to enjoy the girls’ first experiences of the beach, fish and chips and ice cream cones.

I just cant believe we are now mothers of one-year-olds. Where does the time go?

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Bathtime cuddles from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

 

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Shit, did I say sex? I meant gender. (Yes I did just pull my own take on the classic “SEX! Haha now I’ve got your attention” gag. So sue me.)

So, yes, gender is the topic of the day.

As you will know from reading this blog, I have twin girls – and if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably wish I’d stop clogging up your feed with pictures of them in ever so slightly different poses. Before they were born, we didn’t know what flavour of baby we were expecting, so the few clothes we did buy were all pretty gender-neutral.

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Gender-neutral but still oh-so cute!

They were born in the height of summer and it was so hot we would often take them out in just a vest or romper. And there we were, with two teeny tiny babies – suddenly the biggest tourist attraction this side of the London Eye. Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – wants to see your tiny twin babies. You can’t walk down the High Street without being stopped at least three or four times. And the first question on everyone’s lips? “Are they boys or girls?”

I started to get annoyed. Of course they were girls. I mean, we all know that babies do pretty much all just look like babies – genderless little balls of cuddles and vomit. But surely – SURELY – people could tell that my two little darlings were princesses, not princes!

A lot of the clothes we were given as presents when the girls were newborn all fell clearly into the girly category and I started to shy away from dressing them in anything that made it less than obvious they were two little girls – of course, this didn’t stop one old gent in the shopping centre stating that Claudia “must be the boy” because she was the one who wasn’t crying (at the time!), despite both of them being dressed head to toe in pink.

So time has passed and still the majority of their clothes remain pretty feminine. But the Winter has set in and with it the near constant wearing of these gorgeous Mamas and Papas pramsuits that were bought in the sale. Beautiful, a bargain to boot and very gender-neutral.

pramsuits

So whilst the girls might be wearing the prettiest dresses ever underneath them, when we are out and about all anyone ever really sees is the white pramsuits. And so we’re back to the same old question. Interestingly, people often now say, “Are they two girls?” and whilst one of the toys Immie has clipped to her buggy seat is pink, none of the others are, which leads me to believe they must be basing at least part of their assumption on Claudia’s facial features.

Anyway, ultimately, I kinda got over it. If people stop and admire them, I mean, WHEN – and not for any reason other than by virtue of them being twins, before anyone accuses me of being big-headed – I just get in pretty quick with the fact that they are both girls and it just removes any embarrassment on anyone’s part.

Pick these babies out of the line up - which are girls and which are boys? (Sorry, I've no idea either, these are just random stock photos I stole off the internet).

Pick these babies out of the line up – which are girls and which are boys? (Sorry, I’ve no idea either, these are just random stock photos I stole off the internet).

So, to get to the point of my rant (and I do have one), the girls have been invited to a birthday party. It is the third birthday of our friend’s son and it will be the first special occasion the girls have been to (if you discount Christmas).

When we first talked about going, I got excited and suggested they could wear their superhero babygrows that I had bought them a while ago in a size too large because they hadn’t worn them yet. However, my wife pointed out they also had their tutus that had been sent over for Christmas from their Auntie and Uncle in Australia that they had worn on Boxing Day, which – although also a bit too big – were more like “party clothes”. I acquiesced.

However, when we received further details about the party, we discovered it was ‘Superheroes & Fairies’ themed. “Great!” I said. “So they can wear their superhero outfits!”

But my wife still wasn’t convinced. “But they could still wear their tutus. We could get them some fairy wings to go with them. If they wear those superhero outfits, everyone will think they are boys.”

This was true, I had to agree, so I went out in search of fairy wings that might be suitable to fit a baby. As I did, I became increasingly more uncomfortable with them dressing up as fairies. They would look dead cute in the superhero outfits, they would be far more comfortable and if anyone thought they were boys, why, surely we would correct them. I quite hope that when they are older they want to dress up in “boy” outfits as much as they do in “girl” ones. I don’t know why, but it feels like this is setting a precedent.

If people do assume they are boys because they are dressed as superheroes, is that our problem for the way we have chosen to dress them, or society’s problem for giving the diktat that those dressed as Spiderman and Batman must be boys?

My discomfort wasn’t helped when I came across this display in Debenhams.

I didn't take any more pictures for fear of being accused of industrial espionage, but the other side of the Boys' display was all Lego and the other side of the Girls' was soft toys. Seriously.

I didn’t take any more pictures for fear of being accused of industrial espionage, but the other side of the Boys’ display was all Lego and the other side of the Girls’ was soft toys. Seriously.

I know I’m starting to sound a bit like a lefty, liberal Guardian-reader (oh wait, I am one!), but actually this is a significant issue. Gender exists, I’m not going to dispute that, and I actually think it’s quite important – for example, I don’t particularly agree with the principles of the family who kept their youngest child’s sex a secret from not just the world, but also other family members, in order to somehow make that child freer from the constraints of gender. Gender is important. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a huge trans community who wish to change their bodies to match the gender they were born with. But what does need to be noted is that gender, much like sexuality, is far more on a spectrum than the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ allow for. I’m not the girliest of girls, but I do like pink, although you will most often find me in shades of blue, grey and brown. I would probably describe myself as being on the feminine side of tomboy. And as a child I actually would have enjoyed some – and not all – of the toys from each of those displays.

See, it is hard to quantify.

My girls are girls because that is the body they have been born into. That is their sex (ah, see we did get around to talking about sex eventually), but when they get older, they will be able to describe their gender to me and I hope I will give them adequate language tools to be able to do so.

So does it matter if I don’t dress them “like girls” for this birthday party?  Does it matter if I do?  Babygrows would be more comfortable, but as my wife pointed out, they can wear those anytime, whereas the tutus are a bit more of a ‘special occasion’ outfit.

Part of me – the slightly obstinate part, I’ll admit – wants to take them as superheroes now, almost on principle.

What do you think, Internets? Does it matter if people think they are boys? Should I stick with the construct of gender that matches their sex until they are old enough to tell me otherwise? Is the gender issue completely beside the point and I should just put them in what looks cutest?  Am I just making this into a “thing” when it doesn’t need to be one?  Which outfit would you choose?

Spiderbaby and Batbaby

Spiderbaby and Batbaby

Stars and stripes - the pink fairy and the purple fairy

Stars and stripes – the pink fairy and the purple fairy

 

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