a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"


So a few weeks back the boys saw the movie trailer for Frankweenie and found it a bit scary. I thought the movie looked like fun and not as scary as my eldest son seemed to find it (he also thought Nigel the bird from Rio was terrifying – but is good with all the Harry Potter films, go figure). In any case the boys love any opportunity to go to the movie theatre and especially see 3D movies so we prepped by watching a few more trailers and the boys were excited (if a bit apprehensive still.)

We arrived to a packed house for the Frankweenie pre-screen and while most of the audience was adults there was a good buzz going around the theatre about being excited to see the film, which is always a good sign in my mind.

As the movie started with the traditional Disney opening showing the magic kingdom/castle it quickly became dark and atmospheric (or should I say Tim Burton-ized) as lightning flashed over the castle and it appeared like a spooky haunted castle.

While Disney describes the film thusly,

From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

I actually found it more heartwarming than that. It was atmospheric but not scary – and my youngest 4, laughed at all of the kid jokes (while I also chuckled at some aimed at adults). One of the unexpected parts of the film was all the references to older monster movies – it felt like a lighthearted tarantino homage to film and film school. I caught references to films like Godzilla, Gremlins, Dracula, Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Bride, The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy and there must have been more….

Most of those films (given the age of their making) were done in black and white so I think it was a good fit that Frankenweenie was done in black and white and in stop-motion animation, which created a more direct visual link to the older black and white horror films it referenced.  I’m glad this film was made in 3D we enjoyed the experience and I think it added to the film.

I think this film is a great film for families – including the younger set. Sure one of the main characters is a re-animated dog, (but don’t worry the dog’s death occurs off-screen) but it was a positive, warm film with plenty of fun. That the boys and I highly recommend checking out. See it for Halloween or any time, the boys are excited to see it again and have already asked me to buy them the DVD when it comes out.

Click here to download a free Frankenweenie Family Activity Pack
(included are spot the difference activity, cut – out masks, mazes, memory card game, pin the tale on Sparky game, Mr. Rzykruski’s science class with experiments)



“Like” Frankenweenie on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frankenweenieukandireland

Subscribe to Disney’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WaltDisneyStudiosUK

Follow Disney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DisneyMoviesUK


Rating: PG  UK Release Date: 17 October, 2012

Director: Tim Burton

Producers: Tim Burton, Allison Abbate

 Voice talent: Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell

Disclosure – I along with my 2 sons were invited to a free screening of this movie.  While I was provided with free entry, the popcorn and sweets were purchased by me, the fun was had by all, and my views and review are those of myself and my family.

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8 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Cinema for Kids (and how I got the fear)

Going to the movies has always been a special treat for my boys. When I was pregnant with my eldest son “J” – my husband and I went on a BabyMoon and while vacationing went and saw “Walk the Line.” Normally calm with occasional kicks, the baby in my belly would start kicking like crazy whenever one of the Johnny Cash songs in the film would play. My eldest son actually got to watch his first film (one of the XMen movies) at about 2 weeks when we went to one of those Mommy & Baby movie screenings.

Since moving to London – going to the movies as a family has become a pricey affair. We’re big fans of the KIDS AM movies at Vue Cinemas where the movies are £1.50* every Saturday and Sunday morning and every day in school holidays. 3D movies £2.75. It’s the same price for adults and kids so it’s a pretty good deal. The movies are generally a few weeks behind but that’s ok.

A few weeks back as a special treat for my eldest son “J” I took him to see a screening of Brave in 3D.  We went to a movie at Fulham Vue cinemas that started a little after noon, we got there about 15 minutes early so we could load up on snacks and find a good seat. When we went into the theater and sat down we were the only ones there. J started to get anxious saying he thought the cinema was scary with no on else in it. I said “don’t worry more people will come,” but they didn’t and he didn’t let up either – and while I did my best to calm his fears, he started to rub off on me!

So while I got him calm and settled to watch the film, I was already scanning the empty theater, noting the emergency exits… As the movie got underway I enjoyed watching the film but kept half an eye peeled on the entrances/exits and kept freaking myself out that someone was touching my hair or hiding behind our seats. So I’d start to lean forward in my seat and he’d ask me to sit back and hold his hand. Intermittently I’d look behind me as I’d really freak myself out – and he’d say “What?! What?! Who’s back there?” and I’d say “No one honey, I just dropped my phone.” Needless to say it wasn’t a relaxing movie. It was however a funny and stunningly visual film – which I’d love to watch another time when I’m not so highly strung. I think we’ll definitely be buying a copy for home.

Each of the previews we saw were for upcoming spooky kids movies that definitely look worth watching. Get ready for Halloween and check out these films and let me know what you think.

ParaNorman - A misunderstood boy, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Frankenweenie – Directed by Tim Burton, in this film Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. (this film is mostly black and white)

Hotel Transylvania - Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter

When leaving the theater – we saw the large stand-up cardboard poster for Frankenweenie and J said “Why are all movies in black and white scary ones?” I tried to answer him about how ALL old movies were in black and white but then realized they don’t really play old movies on TV like they did when I was a kid – the ones they do play are the old horror movies – so I guess the kid was kind of right….

While we’ll probably be avoiding empty cinemas for a bit to recover our nerves – going to Kid screenings or Mum & Baby screenings are always fun (and more widely attended!) and are often cheaper – so we’ll be definitely headed out to the cinema again soon.

If you’re looking for Mum & Baby  / Kid movie screenings around London here are a few I know of. Feel free to comment and add more.

Vue Cinemas (throughout London and beyond) Kids AM, Saturdays and Sundays and school holidays

Beaufort House, Chelsea does a Baby Cinema on certain Wednesday, check out their Facebook page for event dates

Electric Cinema, Notting Hill - ElectricScream! every Monday (closed until Nov)

Odeon Cinema, locations vary  Newbies, every weekday morning

And some further listings on

View London

and a great list by neighborhood on

Babes About Town



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8 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

Abby’s Flying Fairy School – And Breakout Star Niblet!

I’ve been truly impressed with British television since arriving in the U.K. The boys and are big fans of pretty much everything on CBeebies and C5. But with all these new shows and voices, it lovely to have a friendly voice from “home” for the boys to watch too.

Abby is a  Sesame Street character – and now she’s staring in the first ever Sesame Street CG animated series:  Abby’s Flying Fairy School,  which airs on C5′s Milkshake every Sunday morning. We were sent a pre-release DVD episode 5 which is due to air on 27th May. (you can visit the show page on Milkshake here: http://milkshake.channel5.com/programmes/abbys-flying-fairy-school )

The boys were enthralled as we watched Abby and her friends Blogg and Gonnigan learn their Fairy Godmother lessons in Mrs. Sparklenose’s class at Flying Fairy School. This lesson was the “Cinderella Challenge,” to practice their Fairy Godmother Skills.  They challenge had four parts including: gown, glass slippers (aka “Fragile Footwear”), transport to the ball and home by 12.

The show itself was composed mostly of the CG view of Abby and her friends in the classroom with 1 live action segment while they looked for solutions to their challenge. If you’re familiar with Sesame Street, then you get my drift.

If I hadn’t already known it was CG I don’t think I’d have come to the realization myself, although Abby and the other characters look very three dimensional against a more 2 dimensional background. The boys were pretty enthralled and I got shushed 3x as I tried to chat with them about it.

As I watched with them, I liked the character development but must say my favorite is not one of the leads. My favorite was the class pet “gerbilcorn” Niblet, who gets tasked with the clean-up.  After watching I asked my kids what their favorite part was too and funnily enough he was their favorite part too!

So to learn more about the “gerbilcorn” we contacted Abby for a little Q & A

Tell us about your best friends, Blogg and Gonnigan.
Blogg is part troll and is super funny; he’s kind of like our class clown. He likes to dance and be silly. Sometimes he can be stubborn and won’t accept our help but he makes me laugh a lot. Except his lunches gross me out sometimes, but he’s a troll and that’s what they eat.

Gonnigan is really nice and kind of shy. Sometimes he’s so shy he disappears! He’s gentle and worries a lot but he thinks long and hard about problems to help solve them.

We love Niblet, your class pet, the “Gerbil-corn”. Can you tell us more about him? Can he do magic too?
Niblet is the cutest, cutest, cutest mix of a gerbil and unicorn! He is super little and frisky but his unicorn horn makes him extra magical. He likes to play tricks on us but he’s very cuddly and likes belly rubs.

What sort of magical creatures do you get to meet?
Oh we get to meet lots of magical creatures! One time we met a giant when Gonnigan cast a spell to make his plant grow and it turned into a beanstalk. Another time Blogg accidentally let loose some Fairy Dust Bunnies, which Mrs Sparklenose was allergic to and she kept turning into different things when she sneezed. We also met Cubby Creature! He was making our stuff disappear.

Can you tell us how you use your wand to be a helping hand?
I always use my wand to be a helping hand! When we need to solve a problem or when something goes incredibly wrong we have to use our wands to problem solve.

Can you tell us how you cast a spell?
We usually use our wands to cast a spell and the more we learn about magic and our words the more we realise how powerful they are and anything can happen.

How does twinkle thinking help you solve problems?
I learned you have to think creatively to solve problems and the best way to do this is by twinkle thinking! We look at how everything works together and try different ways to solve problems.

As a Mom watching along I thought it would be fun to give the kids a wand to wave as they’d watched – it would seem more interactive that way and I think they’d like it. I was a bit surprised by some of the jokes or one-liners that were above their head like “I’m not wearing laces with a gown that would be a fashion faux pas.” or ” Oh I love the way these shoes make my calves look.” not because they were offensive, but they fell a little flat, the sailed over the kids head, being meant for adults and fell a little flat with me. All in all though, I enjoyed the show and we’ll be tuning in for more.

I knew the show was a winner in our house – when I got shushed and the boys asked to watch it again, … and again.. and yep again.

Check it out on C5 Milkshake and let me know what you think. The episode we saw airs May 27th, that’s tomorrow!


{Disclosure: I was in no way compensated for this post, I was however sent a pre-release of this episode to view, and a large Q&A, from which I’ve shared a portion}


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8 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Are you fluent in International Boy-Speak?

Esperanto may be the “International Language” and “Klingon” is spoken by Trek Geeks everywhere – but what is the International Boy Language? I believe it originated on the Isle of Sodor – and if you have a boy, you know immediately the language to which I refer: Thomas & Friends.

Thomas the Tank Engine was created by a father for his son 67 years ago and has since been translated into 30 languages and is found across the globe. In Chicago, our boys would play with their Thomas train track, and Sir Topham Hatt – and speak to their friends at school in a shared language of “chug chugs, toot toot, clank and whir…”

When we moved from Chicago to London, the Thomas and Friends toys and movies were some of the few items that made it through the ruthless pre-packing purge.  Upon our arrival in London they were delighted to find that Thomas & Friends was on TV and other items more frequently than in the U.S. and here too at school was the language shared between boys on the schoolyard and at playdates.

The boys were delighted to watch to the Thomas & Friends DVD, Rescue on the Rails. This DVD seemed more action packed in the episodes than some we’ve watched previously – the engines brave the rails to rescue their friends and discover that being heroic is more than having speed and strength, it’s about teamwork and big heart.

As a Mom, I liked that there were multiple formats in which to watch the DVD. It had a long play which included all of the episodes – tied together with a live action actor who is preparing the station house for a performance by a magician – and then each of the Thomas & Friends animated episodes between. The first time one of the animated episodes ended, credits ran – the boys started shouting that it was over, but after having them settle and wait a moment, it continued the live action storyline, then resumed with animated episodes and so on – the total run time was 54 minutes. If we had less time – we could have played just the animated episodes individually.

The boys loved receiving the DVD and watching it. And of course told all of their friends at school about it (remember – it’s the International Language of Boys) and upon returning home from work, wasn’t allowed to fully enter the door or take off my coat before having to read a letter held in front of my face by my 6 year old.  It was in fact the very first written note I’ve ever received from my son – it demanded that his best friend come over and watch the new Thomas movie right away. They had in fact crafted the letter together at school after hatching their plan and his best friend had even told his parents that they had wrote this note and he was planning on coming over to watch the Thomas & Friends: Rescue on the Rails.

"Evan wants to see the new Thomas movie at our house Jackie."

If you and your children enjoy Thomas and Friends – the new DVD, Thomas & Friends: Rescue on the Rails is available from Monday 21st of May, for 12.99.


We were given a copy to review before the official launch – which my sons very much appreciated and were not compensated in any other way. The review and opinions expressed in this post are those of my own and my sons. Link to Disclosure Policy.

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8 years ago 2 Comments Short URL

The F-Bomb – from the mouths of babes

My younger son was almost 2 when he first dropped the F-bomb. Well, it isn’t that surprising in the sense that my husband swears like a sailor – however, I think when or if you hear something like that come out of your little baby’s mouth, it’s shocking nonetheless.

The first time it happened we were sitting at a table and he dropped his fork and said “oh F*#$” and we all kind of paused and looked at him, not believing our ears – and asked him what he said- so he kindly repeated himself.

After a lecture about not saying that word and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate language, we then had regular reports from our older son of the younger frequently using the forbidden word – out of our presence.

It was a few months later before he said it to us again. We were trick-or-treating in Chicago, walking down the street, visiting each of the houses until we came to the middle of the block and the rest of the houses had their lights out – indicating they wouldn’t be giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. We explained to the kids these houses didn’t have an candy. Our little then gestured towards the houses said, “What the F&*@ ” We had that instant shock-giggle and tried to then go straight-faced and tell him not to say that…etc.

Similar situations have occurred since – where he uses it surprisingly well in a sentence – seemingly understanding the right context (if only he were older! lol). It’s so hard to keep a straight face when 1. it’s so shocking, 2. it’s accurate.

I was delighted to see parents on A Modern Family struggle with this same issue. Their 2 year old (like ours) says the F word – and not just in the privacy of their home. While both parents are shocked by it – one can’t help but giggle, thus inadvertently encouraging the behavior.

In the US even before it aired it was receiving some controversy. The Parents Television Council (PTC) said:”It’s not suitable language for a child that young in the real world, and it’s not suitable language for a child that young on television, either.”

What do you think? When did your child first curse? Do you remember swearing for the first time when you were a kid?

As for me – I was 3 at the dinner table, all was quiet when I looked up and said “shit” everyone looked at me and I quickly said,” I meant fish, fish!”

Here’s a video of “Shit Lily says…” (here’s the F-bomb scenes on Huffington Post)

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8 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

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