Meet Spanish mom Lourdes living near Madrid…
My name is Lourdes Ferrer and I’m the mother of two beautiful twin girls (now 21 months old). This fact has changed my life personally and professionally.
I live in the outskirts of Madrid, near the mountains, where I work on my actual passion which is TOT-a-LOT, a Twin Clothing brand and online store where we (me and my husband, Daniel) sell products for twins and our our clothing line, composed of a wide range of complementary garments specifically designed for twins.
What kind of house do you live in, are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you all terribly miss …?
We live in a villa which is more than one hundred years old with a beautiful garden full of flowers and ancient trees…we are very lucky indeed!
Before our twin girls were born, we lived in the centre of Madrid, on a 4th floor attic (without elevator) and we decided to move to my parents’ summer house the moment we were told we were going to have twins. 100 stairs were too many for our new life!
Anyway, although our kids are happy here and we love that, we miss living in the old part of Madrid, never needing the car, visiting museums, reading the newspaper while having a coffee with no interruptions…I’ll stop before I start crying.
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?
Launching www.tot-a-lot.com and being mother of twins doesn’t leave me much time for decoration but I did have time to do some nice things when I was pregnant: I painted their wardrobe (an antique one thought for two), I made velvet curtains that remind theater curtains, we hanged a big picture of our girls wearing TOT-a-LOT clothes, we hammered wooden letters into each cot … I enjoyed it a lot and I have lots of ideas for future twin decoration projects, so I hope to have more time for this in a few months.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, blogs?
I don’t really look for inspiration. I just enjoy very much reading all type of blogs regarding kids, design, ecology, fashion, crafts, cooking, as a hobby and I keep my senses alert to everything that can be useful for my life or work.
Of course, my girls inspire me with the things they do and the funny things they’re starting to say. Many aspects of TOT-a-LOT twin clothing range, come from ideas inspired by them. I learn lots of things from them and I like to watch their different personalities.
What are your children’s favorite items in your house?
When I’m working, I have to lock my office’s door when they are around so that they don’t come in (someone else takes care of them at the other side of the door) so you can imagine the items they like most: my calculator, the ribbon and zips boxes, the lap top…
But they also like to get into the chimney (without fire, of course) and they like a glass vase collection which is on top of the chimney and that we let them touch from time to time.
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go to for shopping?
There aren’t many shops around but there is a mall in a residential area 5 kms from here where we like going together. The girls run along the wide corridors and meet new friends and sometimes they take something from a shop and we have to run to give it back, which can be as funny as embarrassing.
We usually end up giving out TOT-a-LOT cards or flyers to other twin parents…we’re thinking on teaching the card part to our kids.
What's it like to raise a child in your town?
Where we live, our children are most of the time surrounded by nature and we don’t need to carry a stroller to take them to a playground because they have it home, so that’s perfect. Apart, they will start to go to kindergarden in a few days and that will give them a lot of “social life” which is what they need now.
What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?
A perfect day with my children is one we can all enjoy and the best place for that now is the beach. A sunny but not very hot day on the beach, maybe May or September, with some breeze, playing with the buckets, bathing, taking pictures, having some caotic lunch composed by Spanish omelette, fried fish, beer and ice-cream and a nap altogether below the umbrella.
Can you tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made or happened?
Sometimes when both of them are crying and I’m overwhelmed because I’m alone I shout “Help!!!”, so that someone comes to my aid. Well, some months ago, my twins were playing in the garden and I noticed I had to change Celia’s nappy. She wanted to stay there playing so when I tried to pick her up, she looked at the group of people that were standing next to her and shouted “Heeeelp!!!!” (Ayudaaa!!!, in Spanish) It was very funny because she could hardly say “mum” at that time.
Another funny moment is when they look at the mirror and with a look of surprise they say the name of the other twin…though I hope that doesn´t last very long!
Are there any books you can recommend for parents and how to raise your children?
When I needed help because my twins had problems to fall asleep, I read a book called “Duérmete niño” from a Spanish writer called Eduardo Estivil and I used his method and it worked, so I recommend it.
A friend of mine gave me this other book as a present and although I haven´t been able to finish it, I think it’s fascinating. Very very interesting: “What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life”
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ values?
Ok, I think it’s the first time I write about this so let’s do brainstorming. Some may be very important and another ones, not so much.
Give him lots of love meaning kisses, time together, make him feel important, sing him, play with him, make him laugh …
Make him understand there are some rules they have to follow
Make him understand those rules have to be broken sometimes
Give him a reason for receiving presents
Try to protect him from dangerous games or similar but being conscious that sometimes it may be better that you assume the risk (if it’s not too high) so that he learns about cause-effect and enjoys “adventure”.
If you have a different opinion than your husband or wife related to education, don’t show it in front of the kid. Talk about it when he cannot hear you.
Don’t let them watch too much TV, better open air games.
Give them healthy food but once in a while take them to enjoy a Big Mac
I think this list is starting to be too long, so I’ll stop here and I’ll try to always follow my own values, because it’s not always easy.
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
I’m counting the days to do that kind of things with my girls but for the moment they help me collect almonds, figs and redcurrants from the garden and put them in boxes. They also like to hold the hosepipe when watering the garden.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
Well, I like crafts very much although I must admit I’m not very patient. Before working on my TOT-a-LOT project, I had my hat and head accessories business which I designed and made myself. I still have the web site, so you can take a look: www.lourdesferrer.com
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
I like the opportunity to try a new cake recipe and see how our kids eat it with both hands. That’s how we celebrated their first birthday but this year I would like to do a big party, decorate the garden and invite a lot of friends with kids.
In the future, I have to think about how to celebrate their birthdays because I want each of them to have their special day so maybe I’ll have to celebrate it twice!
What are favorite games in your home?
Play with tuppers in the kitchen, identify things in flash cards, dance, invent stories with animal toys…
What kind of sports do your children like to do and are you very involved?
What they like most is to run races outside with their trikes but we’ve been practicing some other sports this summer such as learning how to swim with water wings and going out on bicycle trips (they go in their chair so they just relax and enjoy the view…sometimes I envy them)
Are there musical instruments in your house?
My husband plays the guitar and Celia and Valentina stare at him impressed and then start to dance…we’ll never die of hunger with such a talented group.
What are all time favorite books for the children?
A collection of spanish books about a red haired boy called TEO that “goes to school”, “goes to the zoo”, and different themes. They point at the different animals or people they recognize in them.
They also like Bambi, the 101 Dalmatians and The Aristocats.
What are nice activities you can do with children in your place and what could you recommend when people are visiting?
We live 40 kms away from Madrid city centre (in Madrid “Sierra”) and we like very much picnics in the countryside, bicycle trips, trekking with bag pack for kids, bathing in rivers and all sort of activities to do with nature.
What movies do your children like to watch, is there one from your childhood you would love to show them too?
Since they had only a few months they like to watch “The Jungle Book” and they used to dance when the elephants started to march with the military style song “one, two, three, four…”
In a few years I’m sure they’ll too become fans of “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” .
How do they prefer to spend their leisure time?
Always outside…no matter where, but outside.
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food’ lover or both?
I’m definitely both, though as I’m more an inventor type of cook, the result is not always perfect.
What kind of place do you like to go to on vacation with and or without the children?
Without children, always to a different country where I discover new places, learn about their culture, taste different flavours, take pictures, etc.
With children, always to places where everything is easier, where I don’t need to take the car to go from one place to another, without uncontrolled dangers, with open spaces for them to run and play. They are 21 months now…I’m sure in a couple of years my answer will be different.
What kind of souvenir can they bring back home?
This summer they brought back home from the beach some huge mosquito bites with them.
How do you prepare for a trip, any useful tips?
Never forget to take extra pacifiers with you and give them easy food…no spinachs that day. Don’t worry if they don’t eat fruit or too much biscuits but don’t forget to offer them water. I was very strict the first 18 months…now I’m learning that I must also sometimes break my own rules.
Tips for traveling with a plane or a long-time trip on the road with children?
I don’t have much experience on traveling with a plane but regarding the long-time trip on the road, I think the best tips are to pack everything the night before and to start the trip when they’re still asleep ( 5 a.m. for example) and don’t talk until you stop for breakfast at 8 or 9 a.m.. Although they wake up when you put them into the car, if it’s dark and they don’t hear you, they will fall asleep again and you’ll gain some hours of silence….and good rest for them too!