Christmas Eve 2016

I’ve been driving everyone demented in the house over the past few weeks, insisting on playing HeartXmas on the radio whenever I’m at home. The unrelenting barrage of Christmas-themed music was surprisingly soothing. Well, to me at least. I’m a grumpy old sod who always, always hates the overly-commercial and overly-long build-up to Christmas. Perhaps after the 12 months I’ve just had, I think I needed a nudge into feeling faintly ridiculous and a bit happy. Even if it’s artificially and commercially produced by silly songs with inane lyrics and cynical producers.

Anyway, I like to sing / screech / croak along to the radio. Not knowing the words or tune has never slowed me down, oh no, I just crack right on with my own version, the ruder the better. Though admittedly that made learning the correct words to their school carol concert a wee bit trickier for my trio than it should have been, but that’s another story… So the minxes were getting fed up with me imitating Bruce Springsteen, moaning about how gravelly and awful his voice was and that his Santa Claus is Coming To Town sounded like more of a huge parody than my send-up of it. I’m not a big fan of his work, to be fair, but do have a very soft spot for Streets of Philadelphia. So I decided to play the girls it, the version at the link. Personally I love the way it sounds like he’s walking along the street, singing it. And I love the sound of his voice in that particular song. However, I didn’t expect the reactions I got from the girls…

dsc_0359 dsc_0361

I guess they’ll not be big fans, then.

 

We had some friends over today for lunch. Their girls are the age of Mini and younger and a real joy to be around. We finished off a huge meal (brisket that had been in the slow cooker for 12 hours and Midi’s best savoury dumplings) with my friend’s delicious pavlova, then emptied an entire can of shaving foam playing Pie Face. Ahhhh, you can’t get kids too hyper on Christmas Eve!

Well, I say that… They were all bouncing off the walls. Properly going bonkers. ‘Unable to speak an entire sentence’ level of excited. I didn’t hold out much hope of them ever getting to bed. Then The Boss had a brilliant idea of breaking out the tubs of gingerbread dough his mum had given them – get them to bake gingerbread biscuits, decorate 7 shades of living hell out of them, then leave them out for Santa. Awesome! I watched the 3 of them slow down, start of concentrate, calm down more and more, get engrossed in their decorating, focusing on their creations. They stopped moaning about my Christmas music radio station and even joined in singing, while me and Mini went all kitsch on this year’s Christmas cake (those blobby things are robins. With their wings and tails outstretched. Of course they are. You see it now, don’t you?)

Santa and Rudolph's treats

Santa and Rudolph’s treats

After a few hours, they were done. I openly admitted how impressed I was with their artwork. I’m sure Santa was, too. So in a fairly calm state, they laid out Santa’s and Rudolph’s snacks, milk and whisky, posed gamely for the annual Christmas Eve photo, said goodbye to Edbie the Elf*, then went to bed without arguing.

Christmas Eve 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

*The elf went back to Santa, of course, leaving a thank you note that included some insults to Elsa, and leaving behind some Santa hats, Christmas joke box and some elf cupcake toppers I found a few months ago.

Around midnight, me and The Boss got out all the minxes’ presents from their hiding places. This year I was smug as a smug thing because I kept an Excel spreadsheet listing everything I’d bought for them, roughly how much it was (so I could make sure they’d roughly the same spent on them, and that I didn’t go overboard), and (crucially) where I’d hidden it.

So there I was, hissing: “Gas Out… Midi… blue ikea bag behind the stripey bag in the wardrobe” like a mad game of Twister to a hapless Boss who was tiptoeing around helping me fetch things. He picked up said Gas Out game and gave it an innocent prod. It came with batteries already fitted. It let out the most massive, long, wet-sounding fart I’ve ever heard that reverberated noisily along the hall. Have you ever tried not to die of laughing silently?! I swear, I lay on the floor outside Midi and Mini’s room, doubled up, dry-snorting about the noise, the terrible timing, and his face looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. A guilty one. So that nearly started our Christmas morning earlier than we’d planned!

As it was, we first heard the pitter-patter of tiny jack-boots running around to see if Santa had visited just before 4am. I persuaded Mini to snuggle in with me for 20 whole sleepy snoozy minutes before I heard the other pair of tricksters giggling in the hall and gave up. I happily accepted the payback for the past 10 years of post-7am Christmas Day waking. It’s 0420hrs, Santa’s been, and the kids are shrieking and laughing and smiling over their presents – let the festivities commence! Merry Christmas!

Quick Visit Back To Our Old Stomping Ground: Day 2

Saturday 9 April, Day 8 of the Easter Holidays

I didn’t enjoy my sea-induced sleep for long: Maxi woke me at 2am, crying because she needed to go to the toilet ages ago and couldn’t hold it in much longer.

You know, once you’re actually out your warm sleeping bag, stumbled into wellies and struggled into your big down jacket, it’s not so bad being up at Silly O’Clock. There’s something about a silent campsite that makes me feel a bit like a kid sneaking around on Christmas Eve. Maxi felt it, too. We strolled / waddled / giggled over to the toilet block, torch-light making the rabbits dance around us. They were as big as cats! We gawped at the bright Milky Way above us as we plodded on, and promised to stop and look for meteors on the way back. However, in a short few minutes the clouds lapped over the stars and, just as we reached the tent, the first raindrops fell. How lucky were we?! The pattering of rain on the taut roof, hissing waves and Mini’s piglet-snores in my ear sent me back to sleep. Normally I fight sleep, only closing my eyes when I can’t keep them open any longer, frustrated at the ‘waste’ of time. But the comforting sounds, wrapped around my most-loved 4 people, in my favourite place, relaxed me for the first time in months. Years!

Jammies TailThe Boss earned yet another ironed shirt from me by getting the coffee ready for us as soon as we woke up, then poured hot porridge into the kids. I promise I told him about his jammies tail before too many people saw him…

breakfastWe unleashed the kids on the brilliant onsite playground to burn off some energy while The Boss packed everything away (he doesn’t trust my packing: he takes the gentle origami approach, whilst I favour the stuff-and-hammer-it-down method). Midi taught Mini how to hurtle down a zip-slide without rapid death ensuing. All sorted and car shifted by 10am, The Boss announced that it time to hit the beach.

Oh, I love that beach! I got immediate flashbacks to a walk The Boss and I had taken along it almost exactly 6 years earlier with a baby Mini on my chest and still high on painkillers. It was probably all the lemon primroses and the cave with the ever-present discarded Buckfast bottles in it that prized that memory out…

The minxes and I settled into our usual beach routine – climb anything not moving / draw lovehearts with ‘Mummy’ in it to earn an extra massive hug / build a big beach collage / turn over every rock to find a starfish – while The Boss had a clamber around sites of near-epic bike crashes in his past life.

By the time the tide came in and shepherded us back to the main bay, it was about time to sort out a treat lunch: Scribbles Pizza Restaurant, scene of many a minx disaster and wonder and our favourite place to eat in Elgin. Although the inside has been completely renovated since we last visited 3 years ago, they still make my favourite beef chilli melts (I craved them throughout my last trimesters when I was expecting Midi and Mini) and the coffee and walnut cake was just as delicious as I’d remembered.

Cummingston gorse - if only that scent could be bottled!

Cummingston gorse – if only that scent could be bottled!

With sunshine fighting back against the drizzle and our little bubble of nostalgia unburst, we drove back again to one of our favourite beaches: Cummingston. At this time of year, the gorse is incredible: a coconut sunscreen scent hangs over the whole area when it’s hit by sunlight. All 3 girls love the looooong slide at the playpark because it feels scary. As does dodging the nesting seagulls dive-bombing people who get too close to the cliffs, but today we wanted to look for cowrie shells and sea-glass so headed for the beach on the far right initially.

Although we could have happily stayed for many more hours, eventually we realised that at 6pm it really was time to reluctantly head for home. We only winkled the minxes back into the car by promising to come back to the area the very next weekend that we could. It was an easy promise to make, and personally I can’t wait!

 

Do You Wanna Have Some Ear-Plugs?

Today was a most arduous and long-dreaded day… today I faced my biggest fear and survived… today I went into battle with my 2 youngest daughters against the war-machine that is Disney… Today I took Midi and Mini Minx to a Frozen Singalong.

It was just what it sounds like: a cinema showing of Disney’s Frozen that includes on-screen lyrics and an encouragement to singalong. We were in a town hall, seated on small, uncomfortable chairs for 2 hours, surrounded by hundreds of small girls and grown women dressed in a uniform sea of pale blue glittery lace, in the preschooler’s equivalent of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

They got a bit excited and loud. Very, very loud. I was so relieved that The Boss had sent me into the combat zone armed with some decongestants, the last Strepsil in the house, a messenger bag-full of tissues and that pearl beyond price: a pair of ear-plugs. Bliss!

Now, I have to come clean at this point: it was actually good fun and everyone looked like they had a wonderful time. I had a much better experience than I’d feared thanks to the edge being taken off the unrelenting volume by the ear-plugs. It helped having a friend there with an identical sense of humour: we both sniggered dirtily when Anna demanded “Take me up the North Mountain”. I even managed a few croaky lines to the less-popular songs (Fixer Upper and Reindeers Are Better Than People). Though I now have a stiff, sore neck from constantly looking round to check on the minxes, and then having one or both hanging from it for a bit, before their entire row of nursery Elsas shuffled around to sit on their respective mummies’ laps and I moved to snuggle in between my 2 horrors. The people running the show had made a brilliant effort to make it fun for the girls (the audience had boys and men, but it was 95% female, of whom 90% were dressed as Elsa): they had 2 free raffles for goodie bags drawing seat ticket numbers. Then they encouraged the children to parade around the room in their costumes a couple of times to the film theme tune, before the projectionist chose 2 lucky winners of the best costumes. Because the point was to sing along, the showing had a lovely, relaxed atmosphere – no-one cared if your phone went off, or the baby behind you screeched, or your entire row were coughing throughout (and we were…). However, a full quarter of the audience got fed up with the film before it ended and decided it would be much more fun to evade their sleeping mums and race around and around the audience, entirely unfettered.

Would I take the kids back again? Definitely with Mother’s Little Helpers (ear-plugs). Without? God, no!

Meanwhile, Maxi and The Boss had ventured into The Big City to catch an art gallery and museum. I say ‘ventured’ because our car is currently playing silly beggars. I think the battery is dying; The Boss thinks it can’t possibly be because we seem to go through a battery every 18 months; I think I don’t care who’s right, I just want a car that reliably starts! It really didn’t want to start on the drive to Frozen (5 attempts, very slow starter, only succeeded with every power-draining thing turned off). Even in the brief switch-off to change drivers at town caused The Boss palpitations (I could tell by his pale, sweaty face on the 4th start attempt that he was having nightmarish visions of having to accompany us to Frozen). I warned him ominously not to stall or turn the engine off unless he’d first parked somewhere it would be safe and free to leave the car overnight for a recovery truck. Why did I say that? Well, I like to give him something to niggle on 🙂

Sounds like they had a wonderful time. The Boss understands modern art. Like, properly understands it. We were once in St Ives and went along to the Tate Modern because he wanted to show me some Barbara Hepworth sculptures (they blew me away and changed my soul. He knew they would.) We were in a gallery that had some strange daubings and I felt pretty uncomfortable.

“I don’t get it”, I told him. “Why are these paintings in this gallery? Why are they on show? What makes them good?”

My questions were rhetorical, but he started explaining bits and bobs. I forget now exactly, but I remember him explaining the point of the ‘crazy’ perspective, what it meant, and why the brushstrokes were the way the were, and that it wasn’t about the lines but the shapes and shades they made. It was a very strange experience to look again at those paintings, through his eyes, and feel that “Oh!” lightbulb moment.

So it was lovely that our eldest artist was going with him. As well as the Father-Sole Daughter time that they rarely get, he was the perfect person to take her to see art. They barely had any time, but managed to trough a slice of toffee cake (I approve), catch some Greek helmets (great! Maxi’s special interest this year has been all things Ancient Greek), introduced her to some Barbara Hepworth (wow! Brilliant!) and some famous watercolours. Sounds like it made quite an impression on her.

Back home, we had a big haggis dinner in a bit of a throw to it being Burns Night. Though with us all liking haggis, it’s any old excuse to be honest. This time we shovelled it away with gusto to catch the last episode of our 3 night home-DVD extravaganza: The Boss bought the Star Wars trilogy home on Friday night, so we’ve been introducing the kids to Episodes IV, V and VI (ie the Real Ones). The best bits:

“Midi, who do you think Luke’s sister might be?” – “Leia, cos she’s worthy of The Force” (Worthy? Worthy? Where do 6 yos get that kind of language from?!)

Mini, about Stormtroopers: “Why are those men wearing nappies?”

Maxi calling the characters Dark Vader and Hand Solo, just like I had when the first one was released when I was younger than her.

Hand Solo? I’m sure there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, and probably linked with Anna being taken up the North Mountain, but I’m just too tired to see it.

Edwinn and Edward’s Trout Tour 2014: Halfway there

We’re halfway through this year’s visit from the elves and inevitably, we’re starting to see tensions building between Edward and Edwinn. Edward’s got previous bad form with Barbie, and again and again. Only this year, he appears to be having more and more fun with New Barbie (as opposed to Old Tatty Barbie). And tonight I think OT Barbie has spotted him with N Barbie. Or rather, Edwinn grassed him up. Oh-oh… I predict fireworks. As an aside, can you tell that this week I’ve wanted the minxes to eat boiled eggs for breakfast, and take bananas and oranges to school for snack? It worked too. There’s no wilier minx than an old minx 😉

Edwinn and Edward’s Trout Tour 2014: Nights 2 – 7

For this first week of elf shenanigans, Edwinn and Edward have been remarkably well-behaved. This is a relief because things are manic here as usual, with no time to be clearing up after naughty elves. Next week, though, might become a little more fun… 😉

Like last year, and the year before that, I’m enjoying a whole 24 uninterrupted mornings of the girls leaping out of bed the instant they wake (early!), with big excited smiles on their faces. Magical! I’m also hugely entertained and charmed at the way all 3 minxes catch sight of the elves and immediately discuss and agree a back-story. Example, after the last scenario, they decided that Edwinn wants to run away to join the circus and that Edward is scared of heights; therefore Edwinn must have been trying to persuade her cousin to run away with her. And she’s already checked their heights and worked out a route to the circus (by boat. With knitting needle and playdough sails).

A Day in the Life of Mini

After my last little rant, please don’t shoot me, but… yes, there are some serious perks to being a stay-at-home mum. Today I relished one of them.

I’m not sure why, but in our village some people have gotten together and opened up the Village Hall from now till Hallowe’en for a few hours on Tuesdays to serve tea and cakes for a donation. It’s not normally my kind of thing (I’m shy and antisocial), but we’re still new and it’s a great way to meet people. Not brave enough to go on my own, I’d not been planning to go. On a whim, I left the cleaning and tidying, and prepping for some craft teaching I’m doing to pay for the new washing machine (!!), and decided to go with little Mini Minx. She’s always up for meeting new people. She found her favourite satin handbag, put her library card in it, and skipped round the corner with me for a little Mummy-Daughter afternoon tea.

plate of iced empire biscuits

Vampire Biscuits. Always make me and Mini miss our friend Margot, and the brilliant blethers we had over coffee and cake before we moved.

Well, the ladies and gent in there were lovely, engaging us in conversation as we scoffed some homemade goodies. Mini admired the hand embroidered and crocheted tablecloth, but quickly got bored at me daring to talk to someone else other than her. Still, it was such a treat! I warned Mini not to tell her sisters or Daddy in case they’d be jealous. But one of the ladies gave me 3 doggy bags of delicious traybakes to take home for them, so we were rumbled. I guess it’s going to have to be our Tuesday routine now: abandon elder 2 for sports before school, back for a quiet Mini-and-me breakfast, school and nursery with home lunch in the middle, library after school, tea and cake on the way home, homework. I think Tuesday is going to be my favourite day of the week!

Mini is also turning into a devious little sausage. About 4.45pm, as I was furiously stabbing a leg of lamb and shoving garlic into it (late. Too long on Facebook. Dinner Fail), she waggled a big coin in my face. What’s that? Where did you find it?

“I foun’ it on a pavement”, she whispered. “Don’ tell my sisters!” looking all conspiratorial.

I asked her where exactly and when. Turns out she’d spotted it in the road on the walk home while I was shepherding all 3 vaguely into the same piece of space-and-time, had picked it up and put it in her pocket, and “I smile about it all afternoon, Mummy, and I stroked it”. Hmph! A future bank robber when she grows up? “Mummy, can I put it in my piggy bank and make you rich?” Manipulative minx!

An hour ago she woke up with another night terror. I thought we’d sorted them out: every night when I go to check on her, I wake her up slightly about 2 hours after she falls asleep. Tonight she caught me out by having a terror an hour and a half after falling asleep. As usual, she stood on her bed, wailing in terror, lost in her own little world. As usual she ran to the corner of the room and back a few times, screaming. I know not to hold her or stop her, because it seems to make her worse (I guess it translates to something holding her back in her nightmare). So I just gently held her hand, as usual, and whispered the usual ineffectual stuff like, “There, there… it’s ok… Mummy’s here”.

grumpy miniAnyway, all of a sudden, she got very cross. Her brow wrinkled, she balled her hands into fists, and she marched back and forth across her bedroom in strident anger. She sat back down on her bed again, staring through me. “Oh”, I commented, “You’re very angry now!” She suddenly launched herself at me, flung her arms around my neck and accepted a big cuddle. I tucked her back in bed with a soft toy as she rubbed the care label in her nightie and fell asleep with her eyes open.

Mini has the most volatile, scary temper I’ve ever experienced. If she’s suddenly getting mad at her demons, then I’m delighted. I wish I could see inside her little head!

PS my favourite quote from today – she wanted “smashed-up eggs” for breakfast, and she wanted to make them herself. Intrigued, I let her. Scrambled eggs. She wanted scrambled eggs! She’s so violent…

Things to Be Grateful For, Part 1

My friend AW nominated me on the current FB theme doing the rounds: list 3 things you’re grateful for, for 5 days. Well, I thought I’d be a bit more efficient than usual and join it with a blog post. And be awkward: I’m going to do 5 things for 3 days.

Local Library We have a brilliant little library in a room at the local school. It’s only open a few hours a week, and is only 2 minutes walk from home. So over the summer we’ve been in 2 and sometimes all 3 days a week that it’s open. The librarian, C, is very welcoming and helpful. Right now, Midi is in 7th Heaven because there were 4 books about owls on display. She read them overnight from when she got them yesterday, and returned them today. She earned another prize on the library Summer Reading Challenge and chose a green ruler/calculator, which she promptly gave to her Daddy to ‘help you draw pipes at work’. Awwwwww!

 

Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Family Fun After the success of last week, we went to Stonehaven Open Air Pool again, meeting up with The Boss as soon as he’d finished work. It was right on the verge of being a bit too cold, but it’s still a lovely luxury to bob around in clean, warm seawater after 6pm!

Lovely Strange Kids Maxi bottled out of going down the big slide at the pool twice last week. This week she bottled it once, managed it with an almighty scream on the next try (hooray!!!!) and backed down on the 3rd attempt. I expected the kids waiting in the queue each time to get impatient with her as she wavered at the top for literally 4 or 5 minutes each time. Not one little bit. The Boss said that one boy asked understandingly, “Ah, is it her first time?” The other kids offered advice and encouragement, but (crucially) weren’t pushy or over-boisterous. They waited so patiently: no arm-folding, sighing, eye-rolling. When she walked back down the steps, they said, “Next time!” Us adults generally aren’t anywhere as understanding.

 

Ice-cream from Aunty Betty's. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Ice-cream from Aunty Betty’s. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Being Skint When every penny counts, you really appreciate the big blow-outs. Tonight after swimming we treated ourselves to fish and chips from The Bay, Stonehaven. Juicy fish, onion rings that actually melt in your mouth with a delicate crunch, and super-posh San Pellegrino fizzy grapefruit. Eaten by the sea-front, in the summer evening sunshine. Followed by Aunty Betty’s ice-cream. All the ‘extras’ come free: sweets, rainbow drops, wafers, flakes… I had peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream. Oh my word… I think my face says it all!

 

A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

Funny Kids On the drive home, the minxes played my favourite car game: what does the cloud look like? Thanks to Maxi’s wild imagination and infectious laughter, we all definitely saw a jointed chicken, a dog, and a scary clown in the sky! At home, trying to bath everyone, Mini was on the toilet. This past week, she’s finally realised that I don’t like an audience when I’m sitting on the toilet, so she’s decided that neither does she. “Mummy, go ‘way! I need some prizetsy! (privacy)” she wailed

Day of Sport and Chips

24 July 2014

The minxes really struggled to get moving this morning. I really struggled to get my eyeballs focussed. No way was I going near a car this morning in this kind of sleep-deprived state! Cancel the Early Bird cinema and bring on the domestic bliss chaos.

It was hot as soon as we woke, so the first thing we had to do was make ice lollies. I normally use whichever carton of juice is open. None was, so I let Maxi choose a flavour. She selected grapefruit (ewwwwww!) and asked for bits of leftover red grapefruit to go in. Bleeee! She’s the kind of kid who’ll eat a lemon like others would eat oranges. D’you know what, though – it really worked! The bitter tangy flavour was just perfect in the hot sun*, and the chewy grapefruit made it interesting.

*Hot sun. North Scotland. Shhhhh, it really does get gloriously hot up here sometimes! Mostly I find 19degC and above pretty warm, but this week it’s been 20 – 27degC. Delicious!

She only likes making cheesecake because she gets to bash hell out of some biscuits

She only likes making cheesecake because she gets to bash hell out of some biscuits and I won’t shout about the crumbs

I drank coffee after coffee as I powered through making strawberry conserve and strawberry cheesecake with the PYO stobbies, then a vat of houmous. Different minxes helped with different things, so it counted as craft activities and parent-daughter time. Honest.

The girls do occasionally play together. I caught Maxi and Mini role-playing being in a hairdressing salon. So at least now I know where the hair-rinsing jug has disappeared to!

So, are you going anywhere nice for your holidays, Sis?

So, are you going anywhere nice for your holidays, Sis?

Later that afternoon, the minxes continued to dodge the sun and stay indoors, like crazy vampire kids. Mini dressed up as a princess, with her Cinderella long gloves, freshly-wiped shoes, bling and home-made tiara (paper and foil: Maxi made it with her). Midi taught her how to stand up regally (ish). Maxi showed her how to curtsey, then took her to the Ball outside in the garden and danced with her.

I go a bit mental praising them whenever they DO play together nicely, in the hope that it lessens the times spent sticking sharp things in each other’s rear, poking arms or shouting. All the coffee had finally had an effect on me. A quick check of the met showed that for once, there was no haar on the coast this afternoon, so I phoned The Boss and arranged to meet him at the Place of Treats For Great Behaviour: Stonehaven Open Air Pool.

We’ve never been, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We arrived about 1715hrs, absolutely sweltering. Surely the place would be standing room only? Not at all! (Though it had been heaving earlier in the day, as you’d expect). We whooshed into our cozzies faster than Superman gets into his red kecks and cape and sploshed into the heated seawater. Salty. Stingy eyes. And floating too high in the water to swim properly! But perfect for comedy floating poses.

The minxes splashed about in the paddling pool side for 30 seconds before Maxi and I eyed up the water slide at the deep end. I couldn’t see any signs to say that large adults were banned, so we nipped over. I went first and promptly split the tip of my finger on a bit of wood (I think I flailed around a bit on the descent. I’m scared of heights but love water and splashes. Tricky dichotomy. I coped). It smarted a bit in the salt water, but I kept the smile on my face: “Come on in, Maxi: it’s brilliant!” I called from the deep end. Maxi got all the way to the top of the slide, then bottled it. She walked the Walk of Shame back down. I hauled out and we had a chat. The other girls in the queue encouraged her. She walked back up. She sat down. She stuck her little legs in the flume of water and clung to the top. She climbed back out, burst into tears and plodded back down. I told her it was ok to be scared and that we’d go back to the shallow end and the rest of her family. She took this as a rebuke and had a wailing, tearful meltdown that only subsided when Midi and The Boss took off themselves to have some fun away from the wailing siren noise.

fish and chipsAfter an hour of splashing and swimming and being thrown off floats and around floats and into floats, Mini’s lips went blue. Time to go! Back to the old-fashioned changing room with half-door stalls. It wasn’t too much of a drama because we just had a quick rinse and intended to go straight home for proper showers and baths. Then one greedy guts suggested we amend the plan and go to The Bay for the best fish and chips (and onion rings, mushy peas and posh San Pellegrino lemonade) in the entire world. I wonder who would be thinking of her stomach like that…? <whistles innocently> The batter on the onion rings is properly, crunchily, melt-in-the mouth. So light and yummy. I could eat food from there till I burst. We’d happily have had some of the wonderfully, magnificently gaudy ice-creams from Aunty Betty’s next door, but we’d waited about 40 mins for dinner, the queues hadn’t gone down much and I didn’t fancy queuing for as long for pudding, as delicious and entertaining as the ice-creams are.

You’d think that would have been enough of a good day, wouldn’t you? Oh no – after baths and changing into jammies, we also had the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games to watch, too. The minxes squealed and laughed whenever I did. Though I think our opinions of John Barrowman, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, Nessie, maudlin Proclaimers cover-version and a blue Celtic Park can just stay private, thanks. Mini finally faded around 2100hrs. Her sisters revved themselves into a proper frenzy by the time the Scottish team came out (they’re half Glaswegian)! Maxi chanted Scotland, Scotland and signed each letter in case people 10 streets away couldn’t hear her; Midi jumped and punched the air and scissor-kicked and threw a sudden forward roll. 10 minutes later, though, before the fireworks had lit the sky, Midi was snoring. Wee souls! Maybe they’ll sleep well tonight, eh, without waking me up?!

How To Train Your Minx

It’s amazing what you can get little kids to do with the right bribes.
(No, that really doesn’t read right at all, but I’m not going to re-edit it again and again!)

I waggled the carrot of “A Very Special Treat, so amazing that you’ll scream behind your hand when I tell you” at them this morning. By lunch-time, not only had they gotten dressed and eaten breakfast without argument, but all 3 minxes had tidied the living room and their bedrooms, Midi had hoovered up the popcorn I’d made them and they’d dropped, and Maxi had wiped down all the dusty surfaces. Wow, wow, wow! They got an interim reward of glittery nail varnish on their fingernails, which delighted them all.

As we ate baked potato dinner at 3.30pm, Maxi said over a wrinkled brow: “Mummy, I think you’ll have to tell me what the surprise is: you know I don’t like not knowing what’s going on”. So I whispered to her: we’re going to the cinema to see How To Train Your Dragon 2. She punched the air. I think she was pleased.

I’d been bursting to tell them since I decided this morning. It was rubbish weather. It was Wednesday. I’m still an Orange customer. The 3 just go hand-in-hand: Orange Wednesday 2-for-1 film tickets. The Boss and I have been loving that offer for 9 years, now. And like last year, I’m trying to juggle the days around to save as much family fun as possible until the weekends or the evenings so that The Boss can join in, too – I remember what it was like being a full-time working parent, missing all the big day-time events and feeling like the other parent is having all the fun. So: cinema in the evening it was to be!

It was a right faff booking the tickets over the website, though: it would only let me have 1 free ticket, not 1 free adult and 1 free child. After a lot of footering, I figured I’d be faster making 2 separate bookings. So I did. But then discovered that you can only use your Orange code once. And that you only get 1 code. Doh! One emergency call at work to The Boss, new code received, and second booking made. Next time, I’ll just do it at the cinema and save myself the stress and 50p per person booking fee!!

So, we drove into the shopping mall in Aberdeen early enough to fetch The Boss a drink and sandwich (he was meeting us straight from work) and drift to the cinema. On the way from the food bit to the cinema bit, we bumped into our next door neighbour, her daughter, her mother, and the family from round the corner.

The Boss met us in the foyer, his little face lighting up in the biggest beam I’ve seen in years when I handed him some scooby snacks to keep him going through the film – bless!

The film was fine for 20 minutes, when suddenly the projector went off. Everyone looked at each other and pointlessly up at the projector space at the back of the room. The Boss got up and went to find a member of staff. He came back, saying they knew about it. After 5 minutes, the side-lights went on and the soundtrack finally stopped. Oh-oh… ominous! A staff member came in and addressed the audience.

“We’ve had a power surge”, he explained. It had caused the huge projector bulb’s systems to protect it and put it into power-save mode. It couldn’t be overridden. It would take a few minutes to warm down then switch back on. They’d start the film again as soon as they could. “If you’ll excuse me zooming off now, though”, he apologised: “I’ve got 9 other screens to tell the same thing!” and off he strode. We all settled back with a few audible ‘Ooooo, what a nice man!’s and amused ourselves cheering and booing as the screen size changed, the film found its place again, 1 minute before the cut, and the soundtrack finally started up. So it was perfect – we hadn’t missed anything, and even got a quick 1 minute refresher.

The film was great – we all really enjoyed it. Lots of the audience also seemed to enjoy Midi and Maxi’s reactions to the film, too. They both have very infectious giggles, especially Midi. The man behind us laughed only when Midi made one of her rising, maniacal giggle-shrieks.

Midi the Viking

Midi the Viking

**film-spoiler**: it’s a PG rating. In hindsight, I think Mini (4 yo) was a bit young to properly enjoy it, and even my own little Viking, Midi (6 yo), found some of the suspenseful bits a little too much. She wasn’t too happy when Stoic died, either. I wasn’t massively happy with Cate Blanchett’s strangely mangled accent, either. She’d done a fine English accent in Elizabeth I, that she’d famously based on Margaret Thatcher. But her ‘Scottish’ accent was a bizarre hotch-potch of Irish, American, Yorkshire and Highland. Quite strange. And not dissimilar to the sound made by Russell Crowe’s accent coach **end-spoiler**

At the end of the film, we were all handed tickets to watch another film for free. Bonus! Hooray! They didn’t need to do that, so we were all delighted.

On a happy high, we stumbled into Pizza Express, where they do 2for1 offers on Wednesdays, too. It was heaving, so we were really lucky to get a table. It was sooooo loud! My hearing is terrible, and I really struggled to understand our very busy and kind waitress. It took a fair few minutes for me to get that “dobbles” was “dough balls”. I think I may need a hearing aid… Dinner took 2 hours, but on the bright side, that meant that 2 out of 3 kids slept on the way home (in a strange role-change shocker, it was *MIDI* who gabbled all the way home!