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!

No-one Likes an Over-achiever

Ahhh Sunday – a day of relative rest after 2 days of busy-ness.

On Friday me and Mini Minx took advantage of the eldest 2 mess-monsters being at nursery, and gutted the living-room.  Proper gutted it: moved all the furniture out the way, hoovered everywhere, shovelled out the dust balls, attacked surfaces with a chisel to then be able to dust them, blasted off in-grained dried out bits of toddler detritus from every surface within a metre of the floor, tutted at the gouges on the wall (Midi forgets to steer her buggy when she’s overexcited) and even tidied up and properly ordered my little corner of knitting.

On a wave of decluttering, I finally felt in the right mood to tackle my old pile of maternity bras.  It is (or was) an accumulation from 3 pregnancies, all different bra sizes, and a total of 30 months’ breastfeeding.  None of it fits me anymore, but I think I was reticent to chuck them and admit that my baby-making days are over, over, over.  How ridiculous of me!  So I hauled out 2 fit to put on eBay and put the rest in a big bag, and into the recycling – as fortune would have it, the nursery are collecting old bras specifically for charity.  Perfect.

Later on, on a wee break from knitting another ‘Pebble’ bootie design, I painted the entire bottom hall.  I only meant to put up the masking tape, but thought, och, I’ll do one wall.  Then I decided to do another, while I was hiding from 3 whingeing kids at bedtime (well, The Boss was coping fine, adn he’d have shouted if he’s needed me).  Then I only had to do another to get it all finished.  Brill.

Saturday I think I went into overdrive: planting, building ‘cat deterrents’ in the peas and broad beans (ie lots of jaggy sticks to stop my and other neighbourhood moggies from snoozing in the veg beds on top of seedlings), propped up a wind-wrecked buddleia*, strimmed the entire front lawn and back garden (not a short task: 90 mins, and filled the brown recycling bin, because the grass was very, very long), designed a new building job for The Boss to keep him busy, happy and out of trouble (little patio sitting area in the garden with 2 wind- and neighbour-protecting, planted walls), gutted the spare room (see description of the messy living-room above, except this involved moving things to and from the loft), and painted a second coat on the downstairs hall.  Cresting on that wave of maternity bra recycling, I finally attacked a box of every bra I’ve ever owned that’s not fallen apart (I’m 40, and have been the following bra sizes: 34A, B, C, D, DD, E; 36D, C, D; 38A, B, C – so that is an awful, awful lot of bras).  If it didn’t fit well *now*, it got turfed.  I even chucked out the ‘matching pants’ of every bra I was turfing.  This is a Big Deal, because I am the 2nd worst hoarder in the entire world.

*the storms had blown it right out the ground and it was hanging on by a slender little root – I dug out the bottom, planted it deeper, built up round the stem with more soil, put in a long metal stake, then put heavy rocks all around it.  The bugger *still* blew over later that day.

To celebrate my industriousness and reward myself for actually throwing stuff out (!!), we went to the local All You Can Eat Chinese buffet.  The girls have never been, and they did us proud.  Normally meals out involve me and The Boss bolting down our untasted food down super-quick whilst breaking up fights, intercepting thrown food before it reaches the next table, coaxing food in, soothing whingeing, stopping Mini from shampooing in her dinner, stopping Midi from nicking Maxi’s food, etc. etc. etc.  This evening we actually had a chilled-out relaxing dinner (apart from 3 Toilet Breaks) that we all enjoyed, and had a good chat and a laugh over it.  Crikey, call out a journalist!  Mini liked her little strips of lemon chicken almost as much as she enjoyed slurping up tomato; Maxi ate 3 mango jelly puddings; and Midi ate everything not nailed down (and had a nibble at that, too).

I really, really hope we can have a lovely family meal like that again.  One day.  Just the once, even!