My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 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, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Because ... Home is where the Harts are!

An announcement from the Patch!

I love my family! I live with mummy, daddy, my baby sister Beastie Boo and our playful dog, Alfie. That's my little family, and I love it! It works pretty well for us. For nearly 3 years, I was the centre of attention at home. If I needed something, someone was always there to fulfil my needs. If I wanted something, my demands were always heard, even if they weren't acted upon. Then in June last year, Beastie was born, and things changed a little. I needed to start to understand that it wasn't just me any more. This little bundle of milk and nappies was about to challenge me to a contest of epic proportions - the prize being mummy and daddy's attention!

Then there were four ... five if you include Alfie, who by this time was beginning to make himself less present during the day for some reason, only really occupying the 'family space' when it was really necessary during the day. It would seem things get a little hectic for him when I'm around!?? I don't understand this really - it doesn't seem to bother him that much when I'm pulling his tail or poking him in the ears with my crayons. Ok, so he's not so keen on wearing my hairbands, but still! 

Mummy still wasn't satisfied ... something was still missing!

My mummy wanted to marry my daddy!

They have been together for 8 years this year, and daddy knows full well how much mummy wants this. She has been known to recruit me in her scheming hints ... 

"Daddy, can we have a wedding so I can wear a pretty princess dress ...?"

Over the last couple of years, the hints have become more obvious, just slightly short of her booking the wedding herself and sending him the details in an email ...!

This Tuesday, 12th February, 2013, was daddy's birthday. 
Mummy had plans for daddy's birthday. 
Daddy was not aware of mummy's plans ...
... But I was (kind of)

This was our present to daddy on the morning of his birthday ...

If daddy wasn't going to do it, we decided we would do it for him!!

As he came walking in to the lounge on the morning of his birthday he was met by me, jumping around excitedly in front of him, ensuring that I was the first person he noticed. After all, I had made him a birthday card at nursery, and he just had to see that first! He took the card from me, and smiled as he read it, scooping me up in his arms to say thank you with a kiss and a hug. As he placed me back on the floor, I announced, "Look daddy, I've got a new t-shirt with the Little Miss Mister Men!" Daddy managed to stand me still enough so that he was able to make out what the t-shirt read. As he read it, he flashed a curious look at mummy, who flashed a little look in Beastie's direction.

At this point, Beastie was rolling around on her tummy on the floor, doing her best 'skydive pose'. Daddy picked her up, lifted her to his eye level, and read her new t-shirt too. With that he turned to mummy and said, "Are you proposing to me ...?"

Kisses and cuddles all round followed, with a few happy tears from mummy! And, of course, daddy's answer ...

So the news that we would like to share with you all today is ...

Mummy and daddy are getting married!!!

This beautifully personalised cake was made for us by Baker Days, and contains a line from 'mummy and daddy's song' with a little addition by mummy. A special touch to our special occasion. Our review for our Baker Days cake is to follow!

And here is the ring that mummy gave to daddy. It's official now. Mummy has finally got her way ... at last, she's going to share our surname!!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Guest Post - How to educate your kids with technology

These days it’s easy to feel as if technology and kids only come together when playing video games. However, techno games, apps and devices can be valuable educational resources too.

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to master technology and be a friend rather than a foe for your little ones’ learning.

Incorporating technology at every age

From learning their ABCs through to preparing for their final exams, there is technology available for every stage of a child’s education.

For toddlers, literacy and numeracy are great skills to learn on a fun learning system like the VTech MobiGo. Highly interactive apps for a tablet or smartphone are also worthwhile but always opt for ones which feature animations, narration and fun characters.

Technology can also help teenagers through the stress of exams. Apps like Evernote, Flashcard and Exam Countdown are just a few of the options available to get kids exam-ready. 

Broaden their interests

As your children get older, try to use technology to open their mind to new interests and activities. The Celestron Skyscout is a great gadget that educates kids about the universe; covering topics like the planets, stars and solar system.

Technology can also be helpful for educating children about health and exercise. There are excellent apps available for learning about everything from personal training to nutritious eating. Considering exercise is linked to academic performance, this is certainly worthwhile.

Back to school gadgets

The end of school holidays and the return to school often fills kids with dread. Make the return to the classroom an inspiring event with the latest learning gadgets – from USB memory sticks to mini scanners.

With more and more files being stored electronically today, keeping your kid’s documents safe on a USB stick is vital. You can even find ones which can be easily attached to the zip on their bag to reduce the risk of it becoming lost or damaged. For older children who are using the library for essays, a portable mini-scanner is great for saving money on photocopying.

This is a Guest Post. No payment has been received for this post.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Extra Squashy and Sweet Tea Party with Swizzles Matlow!

'Sweet', sweet sugar rush ...!

A couple of weeks ago, mummy and I were invited to a special tea party. This made me very excited. I love tea parties. Immediately, I gathered my favourite cuddly friends and sat them neatly in a line, offering them each a 'cup of tea' made with my very own tea set, whilst I sat with them, engaging in enthusiastic conversation about what will happen at the tea party. Well, there'd be tea, biscuits, maybe a bit of cake. We'd sit in a civilised fashion around a table and chat with those around us. Or this is how I thought tea parties worked, anyway. And this may be true, unless you are attending a tea party hosted by Swizzels Matlow ...! They do things a little differently!

We arrived at the venue - the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnall Green, East London, which was extremely easy for us to travel to, and were met just inside by one of the lovely Squashies reps who immediately introduced herself to us and offered me sweets. We were going to get on just fine! We were then directed into a room where all the fun was already starting! I looked around the room, and was instantly drawn to one particular corner of the room ...

"Make way for Squashies - an exciting new sweet range that sees favourite brands, Drumsticks, New Refreshers, Love Hearts and Double Lollies, transformed into a delicious squashy gum format!"

We had been invited along to celebrate the launch of this wonderful new range of sweets. The old favourites in squashy form! I had to sample them all straight away! They're all yummy!

We met up with a few other mummy bloggers, Emmy's Mummy's Clare, RocknRollerBaby's Ruth and Workitmamma's Tory. So whilst mummy caught up with friends, I caught up with mine ... whilst mummy chatted with new friends, I sampled some more sweets, and was then drawn to the lovely lady who was offering her face painting services! She was so good! Guess what I went for ...?

We had lots of party games - Pass the Parcel, Musical Statues, even a few rounds of 'Tiffany Says ...'! It was so much fun, everyone was joining in! 

Then there was the cutting of the cake. 

Mummy has always been a fan of Lovehearts. She says everyone loves Lovehearts! Those small, round, hard sweets with little messages on them. She said they would always add an element of fun as kids and adults alike would excitedly work through the tube to see what messages they have! With words like "Be Mine" and "Kiss Me", all sorts of 'memories' were made! And the fizziness of the classic Refresher Bar (this one was mummy's favourite!), the sweet, sticky and extremely 'moreish' Drumsticks, and the deliciously popular Double Lollies, Swizzels Matlow have done a wonderful job transforming them all into this new soft variety!

Bright and colourful, Squashies are the perfect sweets to enjoy with the family, whilst sharing your favourite bag during a family film night, or alternatively, keep the treats all for yourself and experience a moment of nostalgic 'Me Time' with their 45g bags. Squashies are ideal if you have a long car journey ahead, or are looking for a pick-me-up during the working week. With zero artificial colours, the quirky flavours are bursting with character and are utterly delicious! They also make a fantastic addition to any birthday party or other similar occasion, being soft and light, there is bound to be something there to tickle everyone's tastebuds!

Mummy wanted me to add a little note about special treats on special occasions. I would never be allowed to help myself to such a supply of sweets on a 'normal' day. Today was a special day, and one which she decided would be free of the usual rules and restrictions ... a treat day! Today was all about the nostalgia for mummy and her friends ... 80's sweets, 80's party food and popular musical classics from the 80's. However, for me, it was all about the fun!

Yes, even mummy had her face painted!!

As you can see, we had a fantastic day at the Squashies Tea Party, and cannot recommend their new range of gummy sweets enough. But don't worry, you will still be able to find the old Swizzels Matlow classic sweets in the shops!

So, say hello to Squashies and experience a revolutionary sweet that is guaranteed to impress! And don't forget to download the new free Squashies World App - a cute and challenging game with up to 80 levels! The app is available on both iPhone and Android.

Squashies are also running a great competition in which you can win 52 bags of their new range! Just answer a simple question, submit your details and cross your fingers. Simple! This competition is running until midnight on 30th March, 2013. See the website for Terms & Conditions.

Squashies are available to buy from a number of high street retailers ...

£1.49 for a 160g Bag
45p for a 45g Mini Bag

We were invited to this event and had refreshments and free-flowing fun provided! We received no other payment for this post. All opinions are 100% our own.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Storytelling in the Munchkin Patch

26th January - 2nd February, 2013 has been the 132nd National Storytelling Week in the UK. We will also see the return of World Book Day on 7th March 2013. Everyone loves a story, and stories come in so many different forms. From watching your favourite television programme, creating a fun verbal fictional story with the kids or settling down with a warm beaker of milk and a bedtime story. Whatever the story, they are designed to have a lasting effect on their readers. And when the experience of storytelling is shared, it can bring a closeness and develop a bond between individuals. We love stories in the Munchkin Patch!

Every night before bed, Munchkin has to have a bedtime story. In fact, it's just not bedtime without a story! She has a bookcase full of books that she has collected over the course of the last 3 years. However, her bedtime story is always chosen from a small selection that are kept in a separate bookcase. 

Here, we want to share with you our very favourite books and why Munchkin loves them so much!

"Silly old Fox, doesn't he know? There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!"

Everyone who has encountered The Gruffalo through Julia Donaldson's magical, well loved creation, will fall in love with the characters, from the cunningly cute mouse to the Gruffalo himself. Children and adults alike will become totally engrossed in the Little Brown Mouse's journey through the Deep Dark Wood and in the characters he meets along the way.

"Aha, oho, tracks in the snow ..."

The Gruffalo's Child, also by Julia Donaldson, continues the story of the Gruffalo, but introduces the Gruffalo's child too, who goes exploring in the snow for the Big Bad Mouse. With very clever and clear links to its predecessor, this is a pleasure to read. After The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child, I'll never underestimate the intelligence of mice again!!

"Wise Old Man, won't you help me please? 
My house is a squash and a squeeze!"

Donaldson's classic tale of the little old lady who moaned that her house was too small and she needed more space. When the wise old man comes to her aid with a very unexpected, yet effective solution!

"I am the rat of the highway ... the highway, the highway ..."

A story about the greedy Highway Rat who steals the food of everyone he meets. Until he meets his match when he encounters the clever duck and her 'sister ... sister ... sister ..."!

"Night Monkey laughed and said, "Don't be daft ...!"

Another heart warming tale by Julia Donaldson which focuses on differences. Night Monkey and Day Monkey live very different lives amongst very different surroundings. However, this lovely story shows them learning about each others lives and becoming friends against all odds!

"The Witch tapped her broomstick, and Whoosh ... they were gone!"

As the clumsy witch flies, with her cat, through the sky on her broomstick, dropping and retrieving her belongings along the way, she encounters a whole host of characters - the bounding dog, the clean frog, to name just two. As they join her on her journey, much to the cat's disgust, events inevitably spiral out of control until the witch's new friends work together to save the day!

"At last he found a treasure chest, and in it was a book ..."

Munchkin loves this one. Julia Donaldson cleverly takes together several different story books and brings them together in this lovely tale of a boy and his favourite book! Munchkin loves to join in with this one as we create different voices and create actions to go with the story. When we have this as her bedtime story, 'wind down time' is not quite so peaceful!!

"... I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, that's me ...!"

A lovely story about, well, Stick Man, and the trouble he gets into from just going for a jog one day! From a dog who sees him as the perfect 'Fetch' stick, to the young girl who decides he is just right for a game of Pooh Sticks, all Stick Man wants is to find his way home to his 'Stick Lady Love' and his 'Stick Children Two'. Will he find a way ...?

"Me, you and the old guitar,
How perfectly happy we are."

Tabby McTat, another favourite by Julia Donaldson, tells the lovely story of the relationship between a man and his loyal cat. A story of love, separation and re-found love, we find this is a wonderfully calm, relaxing story to have before bedtime.

"... He opened his book, closed his eyes and began to count."

This is also right up there in Munchkin's top 5 favourite bedtime stories. However, I think that is down to the writing style and the glittery pages at the moment, as the meaning behind this story and its plot has a slightly older focus. The story is wonderful, but I am not sure how much of it she really understands yet. However, it has a princess, it has glitter on every page, it has very colourful pages and there are plenty of opportunities to adopt funny voices, so she loves it!

"... But look me up and down - I'm the smartest giant in town!"

The Smartest Giant in Town is a really inspirational tale about selflessness, sharing, friendship and gratitude. As the giant finally gets himself some long awaited and much needed smart new clothes, he meets a number of unfortunate, needy friends along the way who each have a problem that needs solving. The giant is only too happy to help ... but at what cost ...?

"And the Ladybird said never a word."

What the Ladybird Heard is one of those stories the kids can't help joining in with! A story about teamwork and friendship, this tale contains wonderfully constructed rhyme, plenty of animal noises and an amusing plot, with, of course, a witty ending! What's more, there is a glittery ladybird on every page which isn't always easy to see, so Munchkin has great fun searching for it!

"Now that you've been shown, you can practise on your own."

Munchkin loves Zog! The story of a young dragon who is desperate to impress! All he wants is to win a gold star for being a skilled dragon! When the likes of flying and fire breathing are pretty unsuccessful, Zog realises his services are better used elsewhere! The budding friendship between Zog and his human friend, and how it develops is fantastic and heart warming!

"Dig, dig! Quick, quick! Scrabble, scrabble! Kick, kick!"

Another lovely story about friendship, The Rhyming Rabbit is about an under appreciated rabbit who loves to rhyme. None of the animals are fans of his poetry, until one day he meets a friend who shares his love of rhyme.

Yes, as you can see, all of Munchkin's bedtime stories for now are by Julia Donaldson. This is her choice, as she seems to have set herself the personal challenge of collecting every one of them. She will insist on looking inside the back cover every night, after our story, to check the list of other titles and recap which she has and which she needs!! As you can tell from the list above, there are not many left for her to collect!

Reading is a very important activity in the Munchkin Patch and we make sure we read with Munchkin every day. We are very lucky that she loves a story and has made it an essential part of her bedtime routine. I hope Beastie Boo is as enthusiastic about reading as Munchkin is as she grows up. I can only hope that with us reading to her from day 1 will prove to be a good thing, as it clearly was with Munchkin!

This post is not sponsored in any way