Superexcited for Cineworld’s Superscreen and Paddington 2*

I didn’t think anything in the world could persuade the wee man to part with his football – then we went to Cineworld.

The boys are just reaching cinema age – you know, where they’ll sit longer than 45 seconds and not require 17 snacks. So when Cineworld got in touch and offered me tickets to see Paddington 2 on the Superscreen, I felt brave enough to accept.

Rod was skeptical. He packed a bag with 17 snacks and insisted we book aisle seats – but even he was pleasantly surprised.

“Wow!” was the wee man’s first comment – and that was just when he saw the Christmas tree outside the cinema.

Next was the excitement of the huge escalator, the popcorn cabinet and the huge blue “Superscreen” letters, which he took pride in sounding out for his wee brother (complete with jolly phonics actions – proud).

It was only KD’s second cinema visit – and the first visit had involved 3D glasses – so technically it was his first proper experience of a huge movie. Viewing it on the Superscreen (which means a wall-to-wall, ceiling-high screen) must have blown his little mind. I don’t think he’s ever sat so still. He was transfixed. For a kid who loves a movie on an iPad this was heaven indeed – and the sound was coming from all around him (apparently it’s multidimensional sound powered by 27 amplifiers).

The wee man, who’d given up his ball at the popcorn cabinet, appeared to have forgotten all about it. Even Rod relaxed.

The movie itself was absolutely charming. The boys clearly loved the bear and his clumsy mischief, I enjoyed the nostalgic image of a villagey London and the brilliant acting from Hugh Grant and Hugh Bonneville. The sequence where the pop-up book came to life, with Paddington running through it, was a gorgeous and clever mix of old and new technology. I could see the boys loved that bit too – with such an enormous screen, they must have felt like they were in that book right along with Paddington.

Of course I won’t spoil the ending – but I highly recommend the movie. Anything that can keep my two crazies that enthralled has to be a winner. As for the Cineworld Superscreen experience, it really is incredible. I’d recommend you sit right at the back to get the full impact – but I doubt you’ll need an aisle seat.

It was one happy family who left Cineworld that Sunday – and with a bag still full of snacks.

Book Paddington 2 here and check out what else is showing in Superscreen, including Star Wars and Justice League: https://www.cineworld.co.uk/superscreen#/

“Mummy, can we go back?!”

 

*With very many thanks to Cineworld for paying for our tickets, along with a small fee for writing this review

 

 

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Once upon a morning…

Putting icing sugar in my coffee was, in fact, the icing on the turdcake of my morning.

Picture yourself in bed, squashed.

You have a wriggling three year old on one side and a spreadeagled six year old on the other.

One rolls out and you gratefully unfold your limbs – then leap to attention as he starts emptying your jewellery box. For once, you’ve all slept beyond 5am – but it’s Wednesday and everyone needs to be out the door in 45 minutes.

There’s the usual nonsense of breakfast rejected, iPads demanded and juice spilled – punctuated by “No, I’m not getting dressed,” every five minutes.

You cobble together the lunchboxes, scrape your curls into a ponytail, split up fights in your underwear and then herd them into the bathroom to brush their teeth. The three year old is still in his pyjamas because, “NO, I’M NOT GETTING DRESSED,” is still on repeat.

“Fine, you can go to nursery like that,” you say. He stops, considers and then grins widely. What fun.

The six year old wants to cram 16 toy cars into his school bag and you spill them on the driveway as you shove everything into the car, including your older son. The three year old is wailing on the doorstep. It’s cold outside when you’re only wearing pyjamas. You throw all his clothes in a Tesco bag, go back for shoes, give a martyred smile to a passing mother with well-behaved, clothed children and strap the squirming toddler down. I mean in.

You arrive at nursery. He’s been very quiet and now whispers “Mummy, can I get dressed now?”

“Yes of course darling,” you cry brightly, wrestling with seatbelts and pyjama tops and jumpers. Your six year old, who’s jumped into the front seat to ‘drive’, decides to throw open the door just as a van drives past, resulting in screeching of breaks, honking of horns and a minor heart attack.

You leave the small one half naked on the pavement to rescue the big one, apologise to the driver, resist the urge to lose your shit and finally, finally, deposit the now-clothed but suddenly inconsolable child with the nursery teacher. “Mummy don’t goooooooooo,” he wails, as you remove the teacher’s mobile from the older one’s hands and usher him back to the car.

He wets himself.

I mean f**k. The last time he did that he was three.

You rush home, change his trousers, grab a tenner to buy milk after drop off cos you’re going to need some serious coffee and push him through the door as the bell goes.

You bump into a dad in the corner shop.

“Did you know we had to pay for the school trip today?” he asks you.

You burst out laughing because of course you didn’t and he kindly offers to drop the £1.60 into reception for you. Then he texts you to say actually, they don’t accept cash, you must pay online, but there’s a £2 minimum spend, so actually you have to add credit to your account and f**k how do you even do that and what’s the three digit code for your credit card anyway and do you give consent and then – at last – it’s all done and you can have a coffee.

With icing sugar.

FML.

 

 

 

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33 times when you know you’re a mum

You know you’re a mum when:

1 The supermarket checkout looks like this:

2 You come home from visiting your best friend, your partner asks how she is and you have no idea. You’ve spent the afternoon breaking up fights, cleaning up spills and interrupting every sentence with “NO! Don’t do that!”

3 Your washing line looks like this: 

4 You start referring to 7am as ‘a long lie’

5 Your reflexes become superhuman – you can catch a small child as they run onto the road using only the sound of their footsteps.

6 You think this is totally normal: 

7 Nakedness is no longer odd, sexy or even slightly unusual.

8 Every time you open a kitchen cupboard, a packet of Hula Hoops falls out.

9 Every time a packet of Hula Hoops falls out a cupboard you catch it with your superhuman reflexes.

10 You have a playlist called “Chillout” and you play it top volume to drown out the screaming.

11 Your own parents start putting up signs: 

12 Your car, once your pride and joy, smells like McDonalds, has at least three jackets in the boot and has snacks stored in every pocket.

13 You no longer buy heels. Or anything white.

14 You spend a lot of time sitting in your car, eating snacks, because someone is finally asleep in the back.

15 You don’t even look in H&M adults any more, you go straight to the kids’ section and spend more than you ever spent on yourself.

16 You’ve started visiting Poundland because they have cheap stickers and no one cares if your kids run riot.

17 You used to go to parks for a run – or, centuries ago, to have a sneaky fag or snog. Now you’re there every day, bargaining with a toddler who’s stripped half naked and lain down on a bench.

18 Even though you’re finally realising you’re an adult and should have a Drinks Cabinet – the booze never hangs around long enough for you to create one.

19 You’ve become very tidy, simply because your children eat mess.

20 You used to eat out frequently, now you’re lucky to eat a McDonalds with a decent view.

21 You are obsessed with keys.

22 Any dreams you had of a flower-filled garden have been crushed.

23 You’ve stopped buying newspapers (no time to read them), watching the news channel (drowned out by wails for Peppa Pig) or even listening to it on the radio after your child started paying attention and asking awkward questions you’re so not ready to deal with.

24 Even though you never used to particularly go out for cake, it’s now your Friday saviour (or Tuesday or every damn day): 

25 You’ve mastered that quiet scary voice your mum always used to make you shit yourself.

26 You get overexcited when you finally get a night out and inevitably get too drunk and slightly disgrace yourself.

27 You are no longer woken by an alarm clock. You’re woken by a headlock.

28 You don’t even put up a fight any more when a small child wants to do your makeup.

29 You always carry wipes – even to business meetings. Hell, especially to business meetings. Is that banana or shit on your sleeve?

30 You bribe your children for the smallest thing – even five minutes of no fighting is totally worth two brand new bumper sticker books.

31 Interiors decisions are no longer based on aesthetics, they’re based on durability, wipeability and whether they can be glued back together.

32 You pick your battles wisely: 

33 You do occasionally get overwhelmed with love:

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Monkey business

Usually it’s the Wee Man behaving like a chimpanzee in confined public places… but looks like all the bad press I’ve been giving him has resulted in a cabinet reshuffle. KD is now King of the Apes.

From 5.30 this morning he has been stamping around, making demands and throwing his weight about. I lost him three separate times in the playground for god’s sake.

My optimist trumped my pragmatist when one of the mums suggested coffee and cake at the local cafe – I should never have let him loose in the wild.

He helped himself to smoothies from the fridge, locked another child in the play area and sat on every seat at the table, pronouncing each one dissatisfactory.

When the waitress brought the cakes out for the display I had to dive Klinsman-style to stop his sticky little fingers digging straight in, then physically restrain him from swapping a chunk with his wee pal Willow for an Oreo. By throwing it at her.

The final straw was Innocent – yep, I sat down on the carton, spraying pink liquid all over my white trousers.

As the other mums tried valiantly to suppress their guffaws and supply tissues I pronounced I was leaving. KD, of course, took that as a cue to toddle happily into the play area and start making cups of tea at the play kitchen. I turned to say goodbye to my pals and he shot past me, out the door, into the street and off down the hill.

Me and my pink arse lumbered after him, holding him squirming and throwing a tenner at the poor waitress as he yelled “MY CAKE! MY NOT FINISHED!”.

I am now sitting in the parking lot for B&M stores, taking deep breaths while he snores in his car seat. A nap at 10.40. I don’t even care. We’re going to a special event at the zoo tonight from 6-9pm so he’d never last without it. They have a splendid chimp enclosure….

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Summer holidays are over

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 22.10.34
I’m not going to lie, the last 46 days have been very hard graft. It’s the first time I’ve gone seven weeks without childcare for the Wee Man since he was six months old – and at least then he didn’t move. Now, he’s on the go from the moment he opens his eyes until the second he reluctantly shuts them – his zest for life is undeniable.

Plus he now has a wee brother who’s nearly three and has his own ideas about how the house and schedule should be run. Thank goodness for private nursery three days a week… I’ve managed to juggle my workload and thank God I’m self-employed. If I had a real job I would certainly have been sacked. All the childcare I thought I had lined up fell through, for a variety of reasons. My own naiveté was the main one, coupled with human error, expense and changes to holiday plans. It was frustrating and stressful. The weather was mostly rubbish, the days often began at 6am and all the driving to adventure parks and beaches resulted in KD napping at all sorts of inappropriate times. The bedtime and sleep routine were, for the most part, f*cked.

Yet here I am, the night before primary two, feeling emotional.

My mum spent the day with us and we had some lovely chats (in between hanging on to a dog and two boys on scooters) discussing my first summer holidays and how hard they are for everyone. I felt reassured and fired up – this afternoon I made a lasagne and filled a load of tupperware with jelly and mandarins ready for the lunchboxes.

summer holidays are over

summer holidays are over

This will never happen again – neither will I ever iron the Wee Man’s uniform (why bother when you can tumble dry it for ten mins) – but I’m pretending to be all #kickassmum and #winningatlife and whatever.

For his part, the Wee Man is so so ready to go back to school. He misses his pals and the structure of his day. I miss my pals too! The social side of the Wee Man’s school is great. The parking is shocking so everyone walks up together, plus the catchment is pretty small so we all live nearby. It’s a cosmopolitan crowd, lots of languages and backgrounds, which I love – the chat in the playground is interesting and I’ve missed it. I need my routine back too.

As for the weather, well, of course today was a scorcher.

Now that the schools are back the sunshine will no doubt beat down til October.

Oh christ – the October Week.

 

The Pramshed

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How to tidy – in 13 steps

As a mum of three boys – oh, oops – two boys and one husband – all I seem to do is tidy up their mess.

Despite daily reminders, the clothes are always in a pile by the bath, the packaging is always on the counter, not in the bin and the toys… I mean I’m drowning in rainbow plastic.

If, like me, the summer holidays have meant more children and more mess for you, then hopefully this will help – how to tidy in 13 steps.

Step 1 – Open all the curtains and make all the beds. This way you can see what you’re doing and you have a flat surface in each room to pile shit on.

Step 2 – Empty all the bins. You’re going to need somewhere to put all the shit.

Step 3 – Do a laundry audit. Where are you in the process? (Yes, boys, laundry is a four stage process. Shoving some pants in the washing machine does NOT mean you’ve “done the washing”.) Take the dry stuff off the clothes horse/radiator/back of the chairs – or tumble dryer if you’ve thrown money at the problem – and chuck it all on the biggest bed you made, then work backwards. Hang up wet stuff, throw in a new load of dirty clothes – cos let’s face it, that laundry basket is never empty.

Step 4 – Clear the draining board and empty the dishwasher. Now you have somewhere to put the dirty stuff.

Step 5 – Gather all the dirty stuff – the glasses from the bedsides, the cups from the tables, the random spoons from the floors/garden/toybox and dump them in rough size order near the sink/dishwasher.

Step 6 – Do a sweep of downstairs and pile all the stuff that should be on the floor above, on the stairs.

Step 7 – Tackle the living room. Tidy it, plump the cushions etc and then, if there are no little people around (hurray!) light a scented candle. This will be your sanctuary while you tackle the rest of this dull-as-shit process.

Step 8 – Tidy the rest of downstairs but not the kitchen. If you have a downstairs loo, clean it. Take a quick run upstairs with that pile you made and dump it on another bed.

NOW STOP. Sit in your sanctuary with a cup of tea – or something stronger – and decide how arsed you can be with the rest of the house. Technically, you’ve done the most important bits. This is all that visitors will see – unless you have one of those fabulous open plan kitchen living diners – in which case karma has got you and you’ll need to tackle that kitchen before you call it a day.

Step 9 – The kitchen – take a box or nice paper gift bag with you for all the paperwork I know you’ll find there. Start in one corner and work in a circle, putting stuff in cupboards or toys on the stairs or dirty stuff in the sink. If in doubt, bin it.  Put the dishwasher on or wash the stuff by hand. Dump the bag or box of paperwork in a drawer, at least it’s all together, you can handle that later. Clean the surfaces then open a window.

Step 10 –  The bathroom. Do a towel audit, fold the clean ones and get your marigolds on for some scrubbing. I insist on the rubber gloves – your hands will always give away your age and your nails will thank you for them too.STOP AGAIN. You’ve done very well. You can totally delegate the last bit – except we both know it won’t get done, or will get done in a haphazard, substandard way, which you will pay for when you try to dress your children the next day… So take a deep breath, you’re almost done.

Step 11 – The bedrooms. Start with those clothes and stuff you dumped on the bed earlier. Once they’ve all been put away, tidy the rest and clean the surfaces. (I don’t believe in ironing piles – I iron as little as I can get away with, approx five minutes before I wear it.)

Step 12 – Get the Hoover out. Except no one has a hoover any more do they? Get the Dyson or whatever and sook up all the shit on the carpets.

Step 13 – Fill your sink or bucket with the pink Flash (smells so good) and mop. You may have a smug smile on your face at this time, for mopping means you’ve made it.

Step back and admire your tidy, sweet smelling haven, with toys relegated to boxes and cupboards, clothes hanging and cutlery sparkling. Savour it, for in no time at all you’ll be back in your pigsty. If anyone knows how to train small boys (and a big one) how to tidy up after themselves please God tell me how.

 

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20 Life Hacks for Stressed Out Mums

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Mogabout on Arran

I took a deep breath, stilled my mind and rubbed my right thumb and forefinger together as I stepped forward. I paced slowly and deliberately to the end of the cairn, then turned and walked back. Were my fingers sticking? Was there a force emanating from the rock?

No.

Sadly I felt not a thing, despite standing on a ‘ley line’ on a 6000 year old burial ground.

“I didn’t think you would, it’s too rainy,” the guide, Alex, told me.

I smirked, thinking about how else we might ‘feel the energy’.

“I’m not getting naked,” I stated.

The rest of the group laughed. We were standing on the Giants’ Graveyard at the south end of Arran, observing the remaining stones and trying to imagine what the structure used to look like before the land owner commanded the peasants to remove them to construct a wall 200 years previously.

mogabout

“They almost made it to present day,” Alex said, forlornly. His tales of the Highland Clearances had been sobering – 86 locals forcibly removed and shipped to Canada so that sheep could move in, only for the duke to die and his hard-up wife to sell the land to the Forestry Commission.

Interestingly my kids hadn’t hung around. They hadn’t been the slightest bit interested in climbing the stones – had they felt something? Or did they just want to get back to play in the Unimog?

We were spending the afternoon on a forest safari, exploring the island on a 4×4 adapted truck called “Mogabout”, which meant we could go off-road and handle inclines of up to 45 degrees.

Despite holidaying on the island for nearly 30 years, I’d never seen it from this perspective, nor learned the nuggets of information imparted by our horticulturalist/fireman/entrepreneur/ranger guide. Two of the group were from New Jersey and I enjoyed seeing Arran through their eyes. “It’s so wild and beautiful – maybe we should move here and escape Trump,” they said.

mogabout

Just when we thought the boys were getting too restless to carry on, we stopped at the top of a forest track with an uninterrupted view across to Holy Isle and the Ayrshire coast. Alex produced two enormous thermos flasks, one with coffee and one with tea, a carton of milk, a box of biscuits and an huge tub of Swizzles sweets. When we’d finished he even let the boys ride up front.

mogabout

On the way back down the hills, he shared some local folklore, about the boy with an illicit whisky still who went “away with the fairies” and didn’t return for a year and a day, and the locals who’d carry food if they were ever out at night and found themselves near water, so they could make an offering and keep the fairies from causing them harm.

The beautiful and fitting ending to the eye-opening tour was the rain melting away and a perfect rainbow forming over the burial site.

Now that made me feel something.

 

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Mindfulness on Arran

 

 

 

 

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