My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin! I am 6 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Living in a Smart Home

Every home can be a Smart Home ...

Being a mum of 3, life can get pretty crazy! And as for leaving the house to complete 'simple' everyday tasks, well, many could plan and pack for a fortnight's holiday with less stress! And I know that there are many parents out there that will be able to relate. Just when I think we're ready to walk out of the door, there is always something that stops us ...

"Mummy, I need a wee ..."
"I need my drink topped up ..."
"I put my bag down somewhere and can't find it ..."
"Mummy, I just broke the zip on my coat ..."

The list could go on. Then, when we're finally out of the door, the same worries will always run through my mind ... like clockwork:

"Did I switch all the lights off ... lock the back door ... close all the windows ... turn off the television ...?"

Honestly, sometimes, I wonder how we ever leave the house! And that is for general short outings. Can you imagine if we really did want to go on holiday?!

Then I heard about Panasonic's new Smart Home System. The Smart Home from Panasonic is the modern wireless home security system giving you ultimate peace of mind with easy installation and operation. Whether you want to keep an eye on your home while you are away, or simply switch your appliances on and off, with the Smart Home you can do so from the comfort and convenience of your smartphone or tablet! Call it a guard dog in a box!

The system has a whole range of optional accessories too, and has no monthly charges, so once installed, it can put an end to all of those 'niggly' questions that plague my mind every time I step foot out of the door.

This short video introduces the heart of Panasonic's new system, the Smart Hub, which can connect wirelessly to any one (or indeed all) of the optional extra devices that you choose to add to your home.

With such a number of combinations and possibilities, it seems the Smart Home system is perfect for many. From the solo living professional who wishes to protect the home whilst away on holiday, the busy family who wants peace of mind that they haven't left the power on whilst out for the day, to the safety conscious parents who would like to keep an eye on their sleeping children.

In this day and age, especially since the boom in social media sharing, home security has to be of great importance to anyone looking to go on holiday. Everyone loves to share their excitement about upcoming breaks, as well as posting photos and regular updates whilst away, allowing friends and family to keep up with their adventures. However, most of us are also aware of the dangers that this kind of sharing can pose. It is all too easy for the information to fall into the wrong hands (or onto the wrong computer!) making it simple for potential intruders to keep tabs on your unoccupied home, knowing exactly when you are going away and how long for. The Panasonic Smart Home System could be your answer to home security, ensuring your home is safe and secure in your absence, giving you peace of mind to enjoy your holiday.

As holidays are off the agenda for us right now (until the little ones are a little bigger and slightly less of a handful, anyway), I like the fact that I could leave the house knowing that windows and doors are secure and armed with volume controlled alarms, that I can control appliances and lights from my smart phone and that I can keep an eye on the kids whilst they are sleeping (or playing) in their bedrooms.

With so many combinations and options, Panasonic's Smart Home System has a feature to suit everyone!

Disclaimer: This post has been written by me, but in association with Panasonic

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dear Munch ... From Six to Twenty Six

Dearest six year old Munch ...

Last week, you received your gold pin and a special certificate as a reward for achieving 100% attendance for the whole of the Spring term. You missed out on it in the Autumn term because of one day of sickness and were determined that you were going to push yourself a little harder to get it next time, and you did. There were days you were tired, waking up (and being woken up) on those cold, dark, miserable mornings, to be lifted from the comfort of your warm bed and coaxed into your uniform, when you would have much rather stay in your jammies.

But you did it ...

Days when you peered out of the window at the rain lashing down on the pavement, knowing that you'd have to pull on your welly boots and winter coat to drag yourself out into the vicious elements to brave the 5 minute walk to the classroom, when the comfy sofa and cuddly blanket seems so much more welcoming!

But you did it ...

Days when following a regimental routine of washing, dressing and eating breakfast with limited room for delay seem much less appealing than mixing up the routine, eating breakfast in front of the television whilst still in pyjamas, at your own slow pace and playing with your sister and brother ahead of a day of very few plans and relaxed rules.

But you did it ...

Days when you'd rather read indoors, write stories and draw pictures, as and when you choose to, instead of following a strict classroom curriculum and rather rigid routine at school. When you would prefer to choose lunch from the kitchen at home instead of from the school menu and generally do everything at your usual, relaxed pace rather than keep to a pace with 29 other 6 year olds.

But you did it ...!

And do you know why you did it?
Not because I tell you that you have to.
Not because you have no choice.
You did it because even when you didn't know it, you wanted to do it.
You wanted to make me proud. You wanted to make your teacher proud. You wanted to make YOURSELF proud. And you did ... every single day!

Dearest sixteen year old Munch ...

Whether you are still studying at school, at college or have left full time education in favour of employment, I like to think that your determination and positive work ethic is still strong. Just as strong as it was when you were six years old and in Year One.

Last night, you stayed up late, watching television and chatting to friends via whichever social media channels that you are using now, eventually settling in to bed hours after I've originally suggested it, because you had important messages to send or an addictive box set to exhaust.

This has flattened your motivation to do anything this morning.
You'd rather stay in bed until your clock has passed the midday mark, when you might choose to drag yourself downstairs, raid the fridge for anything that is quick and simple, requiring minimal preparation. It would be so easy to bury your head from all you are meant to be doing today.

But you can do it ...

Today, you have an assignment that is due in that isn't quite finished, or a commitment you are not quite ready for. Things that you have put off until tomorrow. Reading magazines, listening to music and watching television seemed like a much better idea at the time, but you're regretting that a little now. Just remember, things like this can be fixed, and it may not seem like it now,

But you can do it ...

You did it when you were six years old, and, to me, you're still that motivated little girl who is bubbling with positivity and the will to do well. Some days, you may just need a gentle reminder of this!

Dearest twenty six year old Munch ...

I hope you don't mind that I still call you Munch ...?!

Right now, I can't even imagine what you are doing today. All I do know is, whatever you are doing, whatever you have become, you will be doing it in the most awesome way. Some days may seem tough, but I hope that every single morning, you still feel a little of that six year old motivation.

Some days, you'll peer out of the window at the rain lashing down on the pavement, knowing that you'd have to pull on your welly boots and winter coat to drag yourself out into the vicious elements to brave the journey that your life requires you endure, when the comfy sofa and cuddly blanket seems so much more welcoming!

But you'll keep going ...

Some days, you'll frown at the thought of following a regimental routine of washing, dressing and eating breakfast with limited room for delay, as it seems much less appealing than mixing up the routine, eating breakfast in front of the television whilst still in pyjamas, at your own slow pace and catching up with friends, ahead of a day of very few plans and relaxed rules.

But you'll keep going ...

Some days, you'd rather read a book indoors, watch the television and complete the odd household chore as and when you choose to, instead of following a strict and rather rigid routine. When you would prefer to choose lunch from the kitchen at home instead of eating lunch on the go whilst joining the hustle and bustle of everyday life and generally do everything at your usual, relaxed pace rather than keep to a pace according to rules and society.

But you'll keep going ...

And do you know why you'll keep going?
Not because I tell you that you have to.
Not because you have no choice.
You'll keep going because even when you don't know it, you'll want to keep going.
You want to make me proud. You want to make your friends proud. You want to make YOURSELF proud. And you do ... every single day!

You're amazing, at six ... at sixteen ... at twenty six ... And beyond! And if I could give you a gold pin every single day of your life, you'll know you deserved every single one of them!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Protecting the Herd! A Disney Zootropolis Review

"Life's a little bit messy. We all make mistakes.
No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you!"
Officer Judy Hopps

Last month saw the UK release of Disney's latest creation, Zootropolis, and to celebrate this, we were sent some wonderful official merchandise, as well as tickets to go and see the film ourselves.

These are just a few of the lovely products The Disney Store has to offer at the moment, and these 3 little people were thrilled to receive them! Munch pulled the box open and, very generously, shared the contents out with her siblings!

One of the Zootropolis t-shirt designs for kids available at The Disney Store
The range of kids t-shirts available are lovely, and come with a variety of characters and slogans related to the film. Munch couldn't wait to wear hers for our cinema trip!

Plumlet is totally in love with his new Officer Judy Hopps Character Backpack. Ok, so it's nearly as big as him, but it's lightweight, and as the interior space is the size of Judy's head, it is the perfect size for Plumlet's comforter and a few of his toy cars!

Munch is having hour upon hour of fun with this Zootropolis sticky notes and pen set. With a bunch of sticky notes decorated with a number of characters from the film as well as a variety of quirky slogans, I am currently finding notes stuck to everything, from "Love you, mummy" notes on my laptop, to "Light the room" notes on the lamp! 

Beastie is the lucky one to get her hands on this fun Zootropolis carrot recorder pen. Just another of the fantastic Disney Store official products! With a button to press to hear lots of phrases in the voice of Officer Judy Hopps, it also has a 'record' button for her to document all of her secrets (aka: funny, crazy noises) and a playback button for us all to hear her efforts! The carrot pen is a working pen too!

Finally, we have this amazingly quirky Judy Hopps clip case with wrist strap for an iPhone 6. Made of a soft-to-the-touch, flexible material, this is a seriously cool looking case!

After the excitement of this lovely delivery, the day came for our cinema trip. It's been a while since we last went to the cinema, so Munch was extremely excited, watching trailer after trailer on YouTube and learning all of the characters' names in eager anticipation!

All ready for the cinema!
Munch decided to take one of her best friends with her for the day, and we made our way to our local Vue.

The film is truly fantastic! It is 108 minutes of emotion, humour and typical Disney fabulousness!!

Judy Hopps, our heroine, moves to the city of Zootopia as she grows up, after training as a Bunny Police Officer, against the advice of her doubting, yet supportive parents. Zootopia is the home of a whole host of creatures, from predators to prey, who all live in their own kind of harmony. When Judy Hopps has an encounter with a fox (Nick Wilde) who is on the run for a crime he didn't commit, they strike an unexpected friendship whilst embarking on a mission together to solve one of the biggest criminal mysteries the city has ever known. During their mission, it becomes apparent that the most unlikely partnerships can develop into the most productive and wonderful friendships!

The film is both heartwarming and hilarious, in true Disney style, and the girls went through every emotion, from fits of giggles, to shielding their eyes, and back to fits of giggles!

Munch and her bestie had so much fun! They were insisting on posing for a photo at every possible opportuity, and used the excuse that they were having such a brilliant day, they never want to forget it!

Posing with Pandas!
Kung-Fu Kicks!

It really was a day full of fun and laughter, and is definitely one the girls will remember for some time. And when I asked them if they think Zootropolis is a film they would tell others to go and see, their answer was a resounding "YES!!!!!"

Disclaimer: We were sent the box of Zootropolis goodies you see above and tickets to see the film for the purpose of gaining our opinions. However, our thoughts were not influenced by anyone, in any way, and all views you read above are 100% our own. No other payment was offered or received for the writing of this review.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Crafting with Born to be Wild and Bloomsbury Books

Our Jam Jar Lantern

Last week, we wrote about our wonderful day out at the RSPB Rainham Marshes with Hattie Garlick and her brilliant new book, Born to be Wild

When we looked through the book, Munch and Beastie couldn't wait to try out some of the fantastic ideas, so we started collecting suitable materials straight away. One of their favourite activities that they selected was the Jam Jar Lantern. The instructions were simple, but combine these with the ideas that they had themselves, I knew that they could (and would) create something really pretty, and that they would have great fun doing it. So we decided to give it a go!

So, we gathered our materials ... and our book ...

We also went to the garden and collected a couple of flowers with small petals, and I let the girls decide how they would like to decorate their jar.

Here is what they did ...

The book suggests placing a tea light candle inside the finished jar. However, the girls wanted to fill the jar with colourful paper, so we thought we would substitute the candle with some fairy lights. We thought we could still create a pretty effect, but without the inevitable danger presented by combining paper and a flame!

The bird design on the front was all Munch's idea. Using real pink petals, we gave the bird some 'feathers', and glued tiny white petals around the top of the jar. The rest of the bird was made using foam shapes, 'googly' eyes, fluffy pom-poms and glitter. 

Munch even decided to give her bird a tail, which she stuck to the back of the jar!

Using a pipe cleaner, we added a few charms which the girls chose. A tree and a butterfly as they are nature charms and a hand for their handmade creation!

The girls then dropped some tiny artificial roses into the bottom of the jar, before filling it with colourful paper streamers (or 'confetti' as they insisted on calling it) and the battery powered fairy lights.

It was then the moment of truth, and Munch switched the lights on to see their artwork in full glory!

The girls are really happy with their Jam Jar Lantern, and it now has pride of place on the shelf!

Disclaimer: We wrote this post to support our entry into a competition with Bloomsbury Books, publisher of Hattie Garlick's Born to be Wild. No payment has been offered or received for the purpose of this post.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Getting close to nature with Hattie Garlick and the RSPB

Going WILD at the Rainham Marshes

This weekend, we were lucky enough to get together with a wonderful bunch of bloggers for a day filled with outdoor fun and nature activities at the RSPB Rainham Marshes in Essex. The purpose of the day, apart from the obvious goal of giving our children an exciting day in the glorious surroundings that are the marshes, was to meet Hattie Garlick, author of the new Bloomsbury publication Born to be Wild

"Big views, a big sky and wonderful wildlife."

Rainham Marshes, part of the landscape of the Thames Estuary, is a medieval freshwater marsh since its original reclamation from the salty Thames. Sitting on the urban fringe of London, the Ministry of Defense used the land for nearly 100 years which inadvertently saved it from development. 

We live within a few miles of the marshes and have visited quite a few times. This time, however, we were taking the children for a day of educational fun, and they were really excited.

Our day began with us congregating in the Visitor Centre, an area with a small cafeteria and a huge window through which you can look out across the vast marsh, adorned with waterways, grassland and winding footpaths. An RSPB representative met us here and walked us through a small area, allowing the children to learn a little about the kind of wildlife that make their homes there, giving them the opportunity to approach the different viewing platforms and teeter on the edge of running streams (Beastie did the latter ... a lot!)

We were introduced to the different plants that grow along the walkways and encouraged to look closely for the small animals that may be seen scurrying amongst the undergrowth and the rare birds that make their nests around the marsh. 

The path we took lead us to the RSPB Education Centre, where we stopped for a warm drink and to meet the lovely Hattie Garlick, author of the newly released Born to be Wild. We listened as she spoke about the hundreds of different ways in which we can entertain our children simply by enjoying what is around us in the natural world.

Photograph courtesy of RSPB

After refreshments, the children were well and truly ready to get up close to nature, so we were directed to a grassy area just outside the Education Centre. After spending some time running around, enjoying the surroundings, we all congregated near the small ponds where the children were able to do some pond dipping. Munch and Beastie really loved gently emptying their nets to see the tiny creatures they had found!

I think the girls could have sat there all day, dipping their nets. It takes a brave person to hand a net to Beastie and to expect it not to end up at the bottom of the pond! However, she only dropped it once, and was so happy when she spotted a little boatman swim from her net into the water tray!

It was soon time to return back to the warmth of the Education Centre. The tables were now full of a huge variety of natural resources including flowers, twigs and soil as well as glue, paint, glitter and everything else the children may want to use to make Easter Trees.

Photograph courtesy of RSPB
Every single one of the children became so engrossed in allowing their imagination to run free, and it was great to watch as they covered themselves in glitter and paint before proudly presenting their creations to each other. Even Plumlet got himself stuck in on the fun!!

The whole time the children were crafting, Hattie was circulating, interacting with them all. She asked what they were making and she encouraged them to add materials that they may not have considered and suggested ways of using different utensils in imaginative ways. I know for a fact that my 3 absolutely loved her!

Photograph courtesy of RSPB

And I think Beastie was pretty pleased with the Easter Tree she made ...

The Easter Trees are one of the many many fantastic activities included in Hattie's book, Born to be Wild. Beastie used twigs, flowers, soil, petals, glue, glitter and paint for her creation. She was able to do it independently and is extremely proud of it!

This was a wonderful day, and the children loved everything they were able to do. It has certainly given the girls a new appreciation for the natural world and Munch has been carefully collecting natural resources from the outdoors, ready to try out as many of the activity ideas in Hattie's book as she can!

Born to be Wild by Hattie Garlick is available to buy now, and we cannot recommend it enough! We believe every family should have a copy, whether you're familiar with the great outdoors or not. If you want some inspiration for activities that you can enjoy as a family, this is the book for you!

Thank you, Hattie, for a wonderful day, and thank you to everyone at the Rainham Marshes for being so welcoming and for letting our children go wild in your wonderful wilderness full of wildlife!

Disclaimer: We were invited as a family to the RSPB Rainham Marshes for this event and were given a copy of Born to be Wild for our enjoyment. Our words have not been influenced in any way and are 100% our own. No other payment was received for the purpose of this post.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Disney on Ice visits Liverpool


Skating spectacular takes audiences to four far-away lands in one action-packed ice adventure
We are a house full of Disney lovers. From the classics that are Pinocchio and Dumbo to the modern blockbusters like Frozen, we are all big fans of the storylines, the music and the magic only a Disney presentation can bring! And nothing seems to bring quite as much joy to both Munch and Beastie as dressing in one of their many princess outfits and twirling around to a medley of Disney songs!

I know my girls are just two of the millions of Disney fans in the world, and with the return of the much loved and hugely popular Disney on Ice arriving at Liverpool in less than a week, families across the country will have the opportunity to get a little bit closer to their favourite characters.

Join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as they commemorate 25 years of Disney On Ice across Europe in an action-packed ice adventure that travels to four magical destinations!  Disney On Ice presents Silver Anniversary Celebration will take audiences on a fun-filled tour of the imagination. This ice spectacular visits Liverpool from Wednesday 16 March to Sunday 20 March for 9 magical performances at Echo Arena

Disney On Ice invites you to embark on the ultimate sightseeing holiday with all your favourite Disney characters. Join tour guides Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck as they visit the magical worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan. You’ll also be whisked away to the wintery wonderland of the number one animated feature film of all-time, Disney’s Frozen.  

Told through an international team of award-winning skaters, exciting choreography and a musical score filled with familiar Disney hits and rock-and-roll classics, the whole family is sure to experience a captivating journey to far-away lands without ever leaving their seats!

The arena will be filled with music and magic in every scene as you discover four unique landscapes filled with boisterous pirates, Caribbean beats and tender moments. Audiences will explore the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa; voyage deep under the sea to Ariel’s mystical underwater kingdom; and tour London with Peter Pan and Wendy before flying to Neverland to join Tinker Bell.  Plus, travel to Arendelle for an extraordinary adventure with royal sisters Anna and Elsa, rugged mountain man Kristoff and everyone’s favorite huggable snowman, Olaf.  

 “It’s an extraordinary show and a family vacation all rolled into one incredible night,” says Producer Kenneth Feld. “You really get a sense you are traveling right alongside Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends.”

Silver Anniversary Celebration was created by a team of industry experts known for their ability to convey the movements and designs needed to bring each Disney destination to life:

Jerry Bilik (Director) – Creative team member for 30 Disney On Ice shows; arranged music for a number of television series, including Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels; music coordinator for The 31st Annual Emmy® Awards.

Patty Vincent (Director – Frozen section) – Directed numerous Feld Entertainment ice and stage shows including Disney On Ice presents Frozen; began her career at Feld Entertainment as a skater and has advanced in the company to become the Character Development Director for all touring Disney On Ice productions. Additional credits include co-director of Playhouse Disney Live! and co-director of High School Musical Summer Celebration (stage show). 

Cindy Stuart (Choreographer) – Four-time Professional Skaters Association “Choreographer of the Year award” nominee and the 2014 Sonja Henie award nominee; collaborated with Olympic Gold Medalist Robin Cousins on multiple projects; choreographed for US Champion Gracie Gold, US Bronze Medalist Mirai Nagasu, World and Olympic Champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao and Olympic Champions Jamie SalĂ© and David Pelletier; choreographer for several Disney On Ice productions, including Disney On Ice presents Frozen.

The Late Robert Smith (Production Designer) – Theater credits include the 2001 revival of Hair at the Wadsworth Theater; the world premiere of Bingo, an award-winning musical in Los Angeles and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins and Dorian. Film credits include Session Man (Academy Award® winner) and Contact (Academy Award® nominee).

Arthur Boccia (Costume Designer) – Worked 14 seasons as a top assistant to the late Don Foote, designer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®; experience working on Broadway plays, film and television, including the Broadway revival of Pal Joey; designed costumes for 10 Disney On   Ice productions.

Patrick Dierson (Lighting Designer) – Lighting credits include the MTV Video Music Awards and the world tour of Shakira; received an Emmy® Award nomination for his work on the post September 11th musical telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes.


Group bookings are available from TicketQuarter Groups on 0844 561 7672

Personal callers can purchase their tickets from TicketQuarter, Queen Square Liverpool

Disclaimer: No payment has been received in return for constructing this post. We have chosen to publish this information on the belief that it will be of interest to our readers (and because we love Disney!)

Monday, 7 March 2016

Decorating for the girls ... A doable dilemma?!

When Chalk and Cheese share a room ...!

This is Munch and Beastie Boo. 
They're both my little princesses ...

But that's pretty much where the similarity between the two of them ends!

Whilst Munch is all about pink, glitter, tutus and rainbow coloured unicorns, Beastie will take your glitter and decorate the floor with it (deliberately), happily wear a tutu but will choose to pair it with welly boots whilst jumping in muddy puddles, and as for the unicorns ... she'd love one, but as long as it was green like Hulk!

But they adore each other!

The girls share a bedroom, and right now, they wouldn't have it any other way. In spite of the dreams and girls bedroom ideas we had when we moved in here last year, we haven't been in a position yet to decorate the bedrooms. Luckily, the house was in a sound decorative state when we moved in, so it wasn't something that desperately needed doing immediately. However, it is something we've been wanting to do more and more as time has gone on, and we've been looking at colour schemes and furniture/storage ideas that would suit them both.

This is where things have become a little tricky. So we asked the girls what they would like ...

Colour scheme
Munch: Pink or purple with sparkles
Beastie: Green and red with some pink

Munch: Pink fluffy carpet
Beastie: Rugs. With superheroes, Frozen and Care Bears.

Munch: Units with hearts and flowers
Beastie: Glittery shelves with lights and superheroes.

As you can see, as much as they love sharing a bedroom, their ideas of how it should look are quite different. So I think we are going to have to sit together and have a look round at some different girls bedroom ideas online, as I am sure there has to be some way of reaching a compromise that both are happy with. After all, their bedroom is their space, and although we as parents need to be happy with how the room is designed, we need to ensure that we allow them to express their own personalities through their choices. With Munch being 6 and Beastie being 3, we need to keep in mind that children don't just sleep in their bedrooms. They play, learn and develop there too.

Hopefully, we can find a way to make their room fun, relaxing and educational whilst making it a space that they can both be proud of!

Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with Homify, however, all words and photographs are my own and have not been influenced.