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.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Our day at Sky Studios, London

Recently, Munch and I took a trip to The O2 in London to check out the Sky Studios experience

"Get into pole position and race on your favourite Formula 1® track, take a swing for Ryder Cup glory on the world-famous course at Gleneagles, and sprint for the finish in the Team Sky Time Trial on our Pinarello bikes in our interactive sports simulators."

Sky Studios is a free attraction, situated just inside the main entrance of the O2 in London. Before our visit, I was a little concerned that Munch may be a little young to really appreciate the experience, but knowing how much she loves to exercise her have a go attitude, coupled with her massive love for London, I thought she would certainly like to try.

So we arrived at the O2, and once Munch was done gasping in fascination at the Up at the O2 roof walk and telling me we needed to try out the O2 Emirates Airline, we made our way through the main doors. The Sky Studios is visible from the doors, with its bright lights and larger than life promotional images adorning the walls, it's difficult not to be drawn in. If we weren't there to experience the Studios for ourselves on the day, we definitely would have taken some time to go see what it was all about. 

On our approach to the main desk, we were greeted by a friendly member of staff who immediately invited us in and began to brief us on what we could expect to find inside, whilst reminding us that everything was free!

Split across 3 floors, Sky Studios has a variety of activities to suit all sorts o people!

Our first stop:
Interactive Photo Booths!

Here, there are 3 small booths which are furnished with an adjustable stool, a small touch-screen console and a large screen on the wall. Munch sat down on the stool and was able to use the touch pad quite easily (and she is short!) She was able to scroll through the vast choice of pre-loaded photos until she found one she liked. The choice is very wide too, from photos of the England Rugby Team to scenes from the popular Monsters Inc, visitors are invited to find a picture that they like, and position themselves to allow the camera on the wall screen to place their face within their chosen scene! Once the photo is taken, and displayed upon the large screen, the touch pad will ask if you are happy with your photograph. Once you are, you can use your Sky Pass (which should be handed to you as you enter this area) to scan the touch pad when prompted and you photograph will be saved. Instead of then visiting a kiosk where you have the option of purchasing your photographs at an extortionate rate, you take your Sky Pass home with you, visit the website and tap in the code on the card. Your photographs are waiting for you in your own private area of Sky's website, and from here. you can download, print, share, whatever you'd like to do with them.

Munch had 2 goes at the Interactive Photo Booth during our visit! Once with help from me, and once completely independently, just to show how simple it really is!

And these were the photographs Munch managed to create ...

Next, we made our way to the Sky Sports Challenge Zone. 

Here, there was lots to see and to look at, and many opportunities for Munch to ask questions. Since the London Olympics in 2012, she has started to show quite an interest in sport and sporting events. She likes to watch the football when she notices it is on the television, and enjoyed watching the events in the recent Commonwealth Games, so seeing pictures of sporting heroes and screens displaying various sports related facts and statistics got her very intrigued and excited. In this area, there was only the one attraction she was unable to participate in, and this was the Team Sky Time Trial.

This attraction is restricted to adult visitors only (18+) for health and safety reasons. And with the best will in the world, she wasn't reaching those pedals! We watched others try their skill at the challenge though, and Munch laughed at the Sky representative assigned to this area as he jumped around singing motivational songs to the riders and cheering them on in an over enthusiastic fashion! He was certainly entertaining!

However, whilst in this area, Munch did participate in all other challenges that were there!

One thing that really impressed me about the staff at Sky Studios, and in particular the staff in the Challenge Zone, was how accommodating they were to Munch. She was, by far, the youngest (and shortest!) visitor there when we went, but not once was she turned away for being too short or too young. She was assisted with the pedal on the F1 racing, she was shown how to hold the golf club in her Gleneagles experience and the staff member at the 60 second Batak Challenge turned it into a team game where Munch would hit the bottom lights and the rep would hit the higher ones. Not at any point was she made to feel different or that she was an inconvenience, and this made us both really happy!

Next, we entered the News Zone. This was probably Munch's favourite attraction at Sky Studios!

Here, visitors have the opportunity to experience 5 minutes in the seat of a Sky News reader - literally! Complete with TV camera, cameraman and auto cue, here you can read the news and have it recorded for you to keep forever! The experience is very authentic, as we entered the glass walled room. Munch couldn't wait to jump in the seat and get reporting!

One problem ...

... Munch can't read yet!

Yet another thing that didn't bother her. She just sang a beautiful rendition of Twinkle Twinkle instead! And the staff member / cameraman made her feel extremely special!

Finally, we made our way back to the entrance of the Sky Studios where there were three more attractions that we hadn't stopped at when we arrived. At the front of the Studios is a replica of Sky's Soccer AM Car Park Game and The Game Changers Change Your Aim Basketball Hoop Challenge. Munch loved giving both challenges a go, and was once again fully supported by the staff and didn't allow her size to cause an issue!

And to finish off nicely, there was one more Green Screen opportunity. Munch could have her photo taken with players from her choice of Premiership Football team, so naturally, she opted for West Ham to make her Grandpa smile!

We really did have a wonderful day out at the Sky Studios, and would recommend it to anyone thinking of a visit to the O2 in London. As mentioned before, the whole experience is free, and not only is it great fun, it is also a great opportunity to get the family active in an enjoyable way, and something you can do together. We saw families, we saw groups of young adults, we saw couples, so the experience is suitable for all sorts! The minimum recommended age is around 6 years, and I agree this is an ideal guide. Munch had a fantastic time.

We both did!

Sky Studios can be located at The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DX. It is free to visit and there is no need to book.

Opening hours are: 
O2 arena event days: 12-8pm.
O2 arena non-event days: 12-6pm.
Bank and school holidays: 11am-7pm.

More information can be found at https://rewards.sky.com/home/sky-at-the-o2/sky-studios/ 

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Wishes for a Wedding Wonderland!

December 2015.

The month it will all happen!

Those little girl dreams of big, bouncy dresses and cakes that defy gravity, those teenage dreams of meeting the man of my dreams and running off into the sunset in a fairytale fashion, and those grown up dreams of finally marrying the wonderful man in my life who has become my soul mate and father to our three beautiful children ... this is where our Happy Ever After actually happens!

So with just one year ahead of me to arrange our magical day, the planning is now beginning. And what better way to kick-start the whats, wheres, hows and whos than at The Excel Wedding Fair?!

This will be my first ever wedding show, so I am going in with completely fresh eyes, a very vacant wedding plan and a head filled with a tangle of things I would love to have for my special day. I suppose this is my first step to ironing out those tangles a little!

I thought, whilst scrolling through the wonderfully varied exhibitors list, that I would put together a kind of wish list to start my inspiration for next month when I attend the show. The list of exhibitors is huge, and there are so many companies that I am looking forward to chatting with. So I thought about the different things I am looking forward to planning, from the invitations to the honeymoon, and found that there is sure to be a company there for every one of my wedding wishes!

So, to begin with, I am looking for inspiration for my wedding stationary. From Save the Dates and invitations, to table place cards. Having finally decided on my wedding colours, at least I have a starting point, and know where to begin looking!

Lilies and roses, and the colour purple will all have a very big part in my wedding, and I would like their influence to show right from the start. I am looking forward to meeting the team from Blueberry Chain Invitation by Design. I love the beauty in the simplicity of their designs, and hoping we can talk about ways in which I can get my invitations looking perfect. The quirkily named Chips and Salsa Designs also look wonderful, with their expert calligraphy services and special bespoke touches. I'm very excited about getting a design together now!

Next. I suppose there are venue decisions to make. I know we are looking at a non-religious ceremony, but my ideas stop there really! I've looked at some stunning venues with some very inviting offers. But then I get to the point where I am spoilt for choice! All boast some of the most picturesque gardens and grounds and offer special ceremony rooms. But I am looking forward to hearing how a venue can be made extra special and personalised just for me and my little family!

I've never really considered a yacht or a beach wedding. Well, I have, but was always too concerned about the logistics of the whole thing, and it is very important to me to have certain family members there with me on our big day, and I think a less traditional option like this may result in having to sacrifice these wishes. I would still be interested in seeing what they have to offer against the more traditional venues, so I will be sure to have a chat with Exclusive Yacht Weddings whilst I am at the show.

Next on my agenda is something that I may well spend the best part of the next 12 months deciding on! My dress!

I love beautiful dresses, I just don't like the way they look on me! I know I want something unique and pretty, but something that won't make my short 4'10" frame look like a meringue or like something that should be covering a toilet roll in a 1960s bathroom! I am really excited about meeting some of the dress companies that are attending the show and cant wait to watch the fashion shows. I've had a look at the websites of the dress exhibitors and have seen some stunning creations! I know I will be spending a great deal of my time at the show browsing the pretty threads that the many companies have to offer, and after flicking through the websites, I will be making a special effort to find Great Expectations and The Bespoke Wardrobe as both had dresses that really stood out to me!

One of the biggest decisions an engaged couple make about their wedding day, I believe, is that concerning their wedding photographer. This is the person responsible for recording every special moment of your day from beginning to end, for being there to capture all the little details that you might miss and to create visual memories that will last forever. So this is one decision that has to be perfect. A slightly ill fitting dress, flowers that weren't what you ordered or a wedding car that turns up late are all issues that can be masked or dealt with. A less than wonderful photographer, however, is a problem that will stay with you for a lifetime! I will also be under some pressure when it comes to choosing a photographer, with both my dad and my groom-to-be being amazing photographers, my decision needs to be one that gives them both a reason to leave their cameras at home! I know I want a photographer who can be with me all the way through the day, from me getting ready to the evening reception, and one that also offers video for certain parts of the day. 

Again, browsing through the websites of the many photographers that are due to attend the Wedding Show in London, I found some truly amazing work and spent a very long time losing myself in their wonderful portfolios. I would love a photographer who can capture my special day in a traditional way, with a touch of contemporary and a great deal of unique. This day isn't just about me and The Man. This day is about our little family, and many of these artists have shown that they can capture every little moment for all 5 of us! From natural, in the moment snaps to fully posed group portraits, I see things in Emma Jane PhotographyE-Motion Images and Spencer Frederick Photography that I really like!

Finally, for now I have always dreamed of going on a paradise honeymoon. Ok, so realistically, with 3 young children, this will probably remain a dream. But this is my wedding, and dream I will!! I an picture somewhere warm, but not too hot, somewhere peaceful and picturesque with long white beaches and crystal blue sea that twinkles in the sun. This could apply to a number of destinations around the world, many of which I am sure I will see exhibited at the show by one of the many companies that offer some wonderful packages for newlyweds! From pretty UK destinations to luxury stays in the Caribbean sun, I'm looking forward to exploring my options! And with companies such as Tropial Sky,  Travel Designers and  Antigua and Barbuda ready to flaunt their offerings, I know I'm bound to come away with even bigger, wilder dreams than I have now! 

Well, there we have it. A very brief Wish List of what and who I am looking forward to seeing next month at the Wedding Show at the Excel, London. I like to think this is a good start, anyway. 

A year to cover everything ...?

No problem!!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Tell me, mummy ... How do aeroplanes stay in the sky?

Week 4 of our linky, Tell me, mummy ...?, and she keeps them coming!
Every day, Munch asks hundreds of questions! Ok, so I can't provide answers for every single one, I mean, how am I supposed to know who let the chicken out near the road, or why he wanted to cross it in the first place?! Some of her questions are pretty random. But they're questions all the same, and it shows that our little girls is developing a true sense of curiosity and intrigue, and she is no longer accepting everything she sees at face value. An answer of "it just is" is no longer sufficient for her, and she needs to know WHY all of the time.

Hence the birth of Tell me, mummy ...?

This week, she has shown a particular interest in aeroplanes. We've been seeing a lot of them this week. Of course, it's the summer holiday season, and the warm weather we have been having means the sky is particularly clear and the planes are easily visible. We're not a million miles away from the nearest airport either, so activity in the sky is quite regular during the day.

"How do aeroplanes stay in the sky, mummy?"

It has always fascinated me, how something as huge and heavy as a Boeing 747 can leave the runway and take to the sky with such ease and grace! Munch has never been on a plane. I didn't for the first time until I was 15 years old, when I flew to Florida with my family. However, she gets very excited when she sees one in the sky, especially if it is flying low or if we are out in the car and see one coming in to land, catching it as it disappears behind the trees.

What was really bothering Munch about aeroplanes was the fact that they seem to defy everything she has learned recently about gravity. We talked about her confusion a little more ...

"Birds stay in the sky because they flap their wings. That takes them higher and higher. But planes don't have wings that flap. If a bird just opened his wings and jumped out of a tree, he would fall if he didn't flap them!"

I really like the fact that she is using what she knows about other things that fly and relating it to this current problem. I wanted to answer this one the best I could, so I remembered my dad explaining it to me when we were sitting on that Florida-bound plane, cruising through the clouds.

"In the air, there are 'plates', almost like invisible shelves in the sky. Aeroplanes position their wings so they 'sit' on these shelves and this keeps them in the sky, cruising at a consistent height. Although a plane doesn't 'flap' its wings like a bird, parts of the wings do change angle to allow the plane to travel upwards, downwards and to change direction."

She was particularly interested in the idea of the wings of a plane having parts that moved around in the air, which meant we spent the next 30 minutes looking at pictures of different aeroplane wings! Google, you were my friend that day!!

Whilst doing that, I looked up a proper explanation as to how aeroplanes stay in the air ...

"Four forces keep an airplane in the sky. They are lift, weight, thrust and drag.

Lift pushes the airplane up. The way air moves around the wings gives the airplane lift. The shape of the wings helps with lift, too.

Weight is the force that pulls the airplane toward Earth. Airplanes are built so that their weight is spread from front to back. This keeps the airplane balanced.

Thrust is the force that moves the airplane forward. Engines give thrust to airplanes. Sometimes an engine turns a propeller. Sometimes it is a jet engine. It doesn't matter as long as air keeps going over the wings.

Drag slows the airplane. You can feel drag when you walk against a strong wind. Airplanes are designed to let air pass around them with less drag.

An airplane flies when all four forces work together. But, most airplanes need one more thing: They need a pilot to fly them!"

This week's explanation has been taken from NASA.

I'm not entirely sure if my explanation was close or not?!! What do you think ...?

Well, that was Week 4 of our new linky, "Tell me, Mummy", done. We would love for you to join in and share the big, difficult, embarrassing questions that your little ones have asked you. Did you offer an answer? We're you left speechless? Did your quest for a response lead you to some amazing resources that you'd like to share with others? Whatever it is, if it relates to one of the millions of questions our children ask us, it has a place here! Just enter yourself on the linky and grab the badge code below to add to the bottom of your post! For a more detailed explanation of what Tell me, mummy is all about, take a look here.

Tell me mummy

See you next week!

Friday, 1 August 2014

The Summer of Steffi!

Introducing Steffi Love ... 
The Real Life Doll!

Anyone that knows Munchkin will know she is a girly girl through and through. From the inside out, she is pink, sparkly and soft, and when she falls and grazes her knees, she bleeds glitter! She loves dolls, she loves dancing and she loves wearing pretty clothes. So you can probably understand how excited she was when she heard about Steffi Love!

Most people know exactly who Steffi Love is. For those who don’t she is a fashion doll loved by millions of girls around the world. Now 21 years old Steffi has since sold more than 200 million dolls globally. First introduced to the UK in the 1990s millions of Steffi dolls have been loved by British children and she is currently in the top ten of the most popular dolls for girls. 

This year is a milestone for Steffi – for the first time ever she will become a real life girl. Former X-Factor contestant, pop singer, fashionista and lead vocalist of hit girl band The Dolly Rockers Sophie King has been chosen to play the role of Steffi Love. Sophie has the perfect mix of looks, personality and sparkle to bring to life one of the world’s best-loved dolls. She’s a natural! 

This summer will also see the launch of the first ever Steffi Love single! A perfect summer pop song ‘Real Good Time’ has been written and produced by non other than Ray Hedges – the creative talent behind 7 number one UK singles with acts such as Boyzone and B*Witched and more than 60 top 20 hits around the world. During his career Ray has worked with Take That, Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, Boy George, Liberty X and Dizzee Rascal to name but a few. Fancy a look? The first single is now available for public viewing and will be released tomorrow! Here's a snippet ...

Munch has been dancing around to this ... a lot! It's catchy, it's happy and it is quite clearly appealing to its young audience! I keep hearing,

"I'm going to dance to it again, mummy, but first I need my pink sparkly shoes ... my tutu ... my tiara ... my bracelets ... my PINK THINGS!!"

If you like the sound of it, you can see the whole video and listen to the full single over on You Tube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skEtWqUAENE

Ray has also crafted 4 more singles for Steffi that will be released every month to the end of the year and will be available to buy from iTunes. 

So sit back and watch this space. You’ll soon be seeing Steffi EVERYWHERE. It’s going to be the summer of Steffi Love!

No payment has been received for publishing this post. We are looking forward to reviewing a doll in due course, but at the time of this post going live, nothing has been received. Thoughts are our own!

Tell me, mummy ... Why do I get dizzy when I twirl?

Week 3 of our new linky already! I'm getting closer and closer to the point at which I will have to stop calling it 'new'! I am really pleased I started this series of posts. Not only is it celebrating the fact that our kids are curious about the world, but it has made me more conscious of, and probably more responsive to, the questions that Munchkin asks me every day!

Munch spends a lot of her time trying to entertain Beastie Boo and Plum. She's at her happiest when she is making them laugh, and every smile, every giggle, every excited squeal from them encourages her to do more! The other day, she was dancing around in front of Baby Plum as he rolled around on the lounge floor, watching her every move. Then Beastie joined in. I swiftly removed Plum from the floor (anyone that knows Beastie will understand my reasoning for this!!) and within seconds, I had 2 little girls spinning round and round the room, laughing uncontrollably as they bumped into each other and landed on their bums in a disorientated state!

"Mummy, can you feel that ...? The floor is wobbly!"

Then, whilst laying flat on her back on the floor, slightly breathless and staring at the ceiling, Munch says:

"Why do I get dizzy when I twirl, mummy?"

A feeling of relief washed over me. A question that I can answer ... I think! I vaguely remember that Science lesson at school with Mrs Thomas! So I cast my mind back to find the best answer to present to this curious 4 year old who was waiting for a response ...

"Your brain has lots of liquid in it, and that liquid tells your brain whether you are standing upright, laying down, spinning around or if you're upside down. The liquid moves with your head. When you spin around and then stop spinning, it takes a few seconds for the liquid in your head to stop swirling round, so your brain thinks you are still twirling around, and this makes you feel dizzy."

At this point, she sits up and starts tipping her head from side to side, announcing that she can hear the liquid moving around in her head. Then she starts to worry that if she ever bangs her head, she might make a hole and all the liquid would spill out! It all started to get a little weird! Whilst Munch was laying there, contemplating the worst that could happen to this fluid in her head, Beastie was still twirling around the room with squeals of "weeeeeeeeeeeee!!", oblivious to Munch's new found knowledge!

I asked her what she thought caused dizziness, and she said:

"I thought, when I spin really fast, I make the floor go wobbly!"

So she thought, when she felt dizzy, so did everyone else. It was completely new to her, this knowledge that when she spins around, she is the only one that feels dizzy.

This is what the experts say ... 

"When we spin, our brain receives mixed messages. The endolymph slowly begins to move in the same direction we are spinning. As time goes by, the endolymph catches up to the rate of speed we are spinning and no longer stimulates the hair-like nerve cells. This causes our brain to quickly adapt to the nerve signals. However, when we stop spinning, the endolymph continues to move and stimulates hair cells in the opposite direction.

These hair cells send wrong messages to the brain making it think that the head is still spinning although it actually has stopped. As a result of this inaccurate signal, we experience dizziness. Eventually, the endolymph stops moving and no more signals are sent to the brain. The brain interprets that the spinning motion has ceased and the dizziness disappears."

This week's information was taken from Cool Quiz.

"I don't think I will make myself dizzy any more, mummy. If I do it too much, the liquid might keep on spinning, and I'll walk around all wobbly forever!!"

I assured her this wouldn't happen! Not sure she believes me right now! Beastie doesn't seem to care though. She didn't stop spinning around like a mini Tasmanian devil the whole time! 

Week 3 of our new linky, "Tell me, Mummy", done. We would love for you to join in and share the big, difficult, embarrassing questions that your little ones have asked you. Did you offer an answer? We're you left speechless? Did your quest for a response lead you to some amazing resources that you'd like to share with others? Whatever it is, if it relates to one of the millions of questions our children ask us, it has a place here! Just enter yourself on the linky and grab the badge code below to add to the bottom of your post! For a more detailed explanation of what Tell me, mummy is all about, take a look here.

Tell me mummy

See you next week!