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.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Elf on the Shelf ... Is it for me?

If you're asking yourself the above question, read on!

Rewind to November, 2014. Munch was 5, Beastie 2 and Plumlet was nearly 1. A large supermarket chain, funnily enough - one I don't regularly use - started offering (in true "you need this" style) this ...

Cute, yes? In 2014, the Elf on the Shelf craze hadn't really taken hold of the UK. It was, at that time, a very American idea but was starting to creep into British households, slowly. I'd heard of it, and the idea made me smile.
The Elf on the Shelf tradition has been popular in the US for a few years now. The idea was that, on Thanksgiving, one of Santa's Elves would visit the homes of children far and wide to keep a watchful eye over behaviour, and to ensure each one belongs on Santa's 'good list'. Over time, this idea developed slightly, and these elves started to move around, causing mischief and confusion around the house. The Elf would then disappear home on the evening of Christmas Eve, often leaving some sort of  'behaviour evaluation' for the children on their departure.

Over the years, Elf on the Shelf has gone from being a national tradition to being a worldwide phenomenon, with households around the globe joining in the fun, with many documenting their stories across social media.
I thought about it more, and mentioned it to The Man. He smiled too, which obviously meant it was a perfect idea, right?

Read on ...

With all 3 kids at such an age where Christmas magic is in full swing, all fantastical beliefs are unscathed and, as a parent, you want to Stoke that fire of imagination at every given opportunity, the whole Elf idea was becoming more and more appealing!

1st December, 2014, a visitor came to stay.

The kids named him Doodle.

Doodle wasn't a mischievous Elf. Well, not really. He'd mess with their toys occasionally, but as a rule, he was a fun, kind Elf. He'd bring treats and gifts (such as activities to do and daily letters) and the kids would get really excited every morning, dashing downstairs to see what Doodle had been up to. As Christmas Day drew closer, I won't lie, the nightly ideas didn't come easy and the pressure I put onto myself to 'think of something better than yesterday' became tiring at times. But it had been fun. He even made a big fuss of Plumlet's December birthday which they all enjoyed. The kids had absolutely loved it and had grown, in that short 24 days, to totally adore Doodle. On the evening of Christmas Eve, as the children showered, a Christmas Eve box appeared under the tree. This was a gift from Doodle to say thank you, and contained new pyjamas, a book, some hot chocolate and a little sweet treat. It also held a Magic Key for the kids to place outside so Santa could open the door and some magic dust for the reindeer (just oats and glitter)

There were tears when he left!
Doodle was packed up, safely, in our secure Christmas box, and hidden away for next year.

1st December, 2015 and 2016, Doodle returns.
Kids are ecstatic to see him.
All goes well. Kids have fun whilst I slowly lose the will to ... well, anything really, but it's all worth it for the children, right?

I'd say we reached, roughly, 15th December, 2016, when I started referring to the Elf as the Stuffed Intruder and cursing his imaginary, warped existence. Every evening, as the kids settled in bed, The Man would bring me my bag of craft supplies, and placed them next to me (rather sheepishly as the month went on) before backing away quickly and attempting to avoid my hateful glare. Still, we saw it through, with success, to 24th  December. Once again, the kids were sad to see him leave. They were definitely more disappointed than me!

Again, he brought pyjamas and the other treats in the form of a Christmas Eve box.

Once more, as the tree and the decorations were taken down, Doodle was packed away safely ...
Somewhere ...

As we approached 1st December, 2017, The Man ventured into the loft to retrieve the box of decorations so we could get Doodle ready for his eagerly anticipated arrival. There was more than one box, and we weren't 100% sure which one he was hidden in. Munch had helped to take the decorations down in 2016, so I remembered we had to engage ninja mode when putting him away as she was taking it upon herself to inspect every single item that was placed in the boxes.

Every box was emptied, but no Elf.

Panic starts ... 
1st December draws closer ... 
House is searched numerous times ... 
Search the internet for a replacement, but cannot find one in stock anywhere ...
1st December arrives ...

Doodle's exploring the world! But it's ok, because he's sending postcards, right? In fact, he's even thinking of their education, because he chooses destinations that have been fundamental to their current everyday learning. Doodle rocks, yeah?

Nope. Doodle should be here. Doodle has had all year to travel the world and should now be on our shelf. We don't want Doodle's postcards ... We want Doodle.

As if I didn't feel like the most awful mum in the world. There were tears, there was genuine disappointment every morning when they were presented with yet another postcard.

Meanwhile, I'm literally pulling my hair out, searching for this sodding Elf! Eventually, I find one on a very popular auction site. Its brand new, identical to Doodle, and at a good price. To be honest, most prices would have been a 'good price' by this stage. I was desperate! I contact the seller, pouring my heart out and manage to persuade her to change her delivery time from 10 days to next day. The sense of relief was immense. Doodle was coming home! The Man returns from work and I gush about my day's triumph, just as he hands me a box. Not just any box. No. This was a special box, because this box had been completely missed when he was removing the boxes from the loft.

You know where this is going!

The Man backed away, sheepishly, again. Not 3 hours ago, we'd had no damn Elf. Now we have 2.

Close friends and family that had been aware of our Elf Dilemma reassured me with the notion that we "now have a spare ..."

A spare?! Do you honestly think I'll ever need a bloody spare?! No, this thing is being fitted with a kick ass GPS tracker and nailed to the inside of a wardrobe!! 

Doodle returned the following morning, bearing gifts he had collected from the countries he'd visited. Ingredients to make pizzas from Rome, castanets (and chorizo for the pizzas) from Spain, Disney DVDs from Disneyworld ... All was good with the world again.

'Decoy Doodle' arrived.

Being the glutton for punishment that I probably am, I decided to get creative. A bit of wool for hair, a couple of bits of ribbon tied into bows, a bit of green felt

and the decoy became ...

Doodle's best friend whom he met whilst he was gallivanting around the world. 

I felt I had kind of repaired the disappointment caused by Doodle's delayed arrival, as the kids were so happy to see her. Doodle continued to write them a new poem every day, encouraging their excitement as Christmas approached.

Then, following a few moments of total madness, one morning, the kids came downstairs to this ...

Ok, so Plumlet has a December birthday. Not just December. The 23rd - right on top of Christmas. By the time his special day arrives, the girls are so excited about Christmas, his birthday seems to get forgotten a little, as I'm sure is the case for many who have a late December birthday. Therefore, I wanted something that would still celebrate the excitement of Christmas, but would also remind the girls each year that Christmas isn't the only important celebration we have in December. I figured if they had something else to look forward to on that day, then they wouldn't forget about the birthday excitement. So, on the 23rd December every year, Plumlet's birthday Elf, Gingerbread, will come to visit for a couple of days.

In summary, we begin the month of December with no Elf to sit on the shelf ... and on Christmas Eve, we said goodbye to three of the little buggers!!
The kids have loved it. Me? I'm questioning my sanity and contemplating whether or not we need a bigger shelf ...!

Still wondering whether Elf on the Shelf is for you?

Of course it is! What could possibly go wrong?!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Baby Secrets is here!

The world is going crazy for collectibles!

I think Munch was about 3 when she first discovered collectibles. She found herself with 2, then 3, then 4 ... and just like that, she was hooked! Collection progress gets marked off, a list of 'duplicates' starts to form and the container that stores said collectibles gradually increases in size to accommodate the growing contents!

Collectibles and the idea behind them seems to attract a variety of opinions. Some positive, from people who can't get enough of the thrill of the find and who have no problem with their children mildly obsessing about the latest craze, whilst others will avoid them entirely. I have to say, I am with the first group, and it's a good job really, as boy, do my kids love a collectible!

And, there is a new collectible in town!

Prepare to enter a world full of cute babies with unique personalities!

Today, Baby Secrets, the latest collectible to hit the shelves of the favourite High Street stores, will take its place in the much loved collections of so many children.

This particular collection is brand new on our scene in the UK and brings exciting little characters boasting big personalities, and each personality is simple to identify. From a painter with his paintbrush to a party lover complete with a sash and party hat, each one comes ready to share their own secrets. Discover the cutest and cheekiest babies in town ... who will be your favourite?

These little toys are hidden away, in true collectible style, inside their own unique packaging. And to add to the fun, the packaging plays an essential part in the playing too. The little character comes tucked inside their own little bath tub, together with a birth certificate to complete and, of course, a collectors guide so that you can keep track of your collection.

The kids couldn't wait to break into their Baby Secrets tub to find out who they had. And none of them were disappointed. 

Munch had the Baby Cook in her tub. This little character is wearing a bowl as a hat, in true baby style, and comes clutching a spoon. According to the Collectors Guide, the Cook Baby is one of the common characters.

Beastie is delighted with her Baby Secrets. Her baby has 3 crayons their pocket, so she has decided hers is a 'Doodle' Baby. She is really pleased to know that her character is on the ultra rare section of the Collectors Guide, so she feels very lucky!

Finally, Plumlet found Party Baby inside his tub. This character is listed as rare and is wearing a party hat and sash. 

The girls were desperate to find out if their babies were boys or girls, so immediately set to filling their bath tubs with cold water. To find out the gender of your Baby Secrets, you just sit them in their bath filled with cold water and watch as the colour of their nappy turns from the usual white to either pink or blue. Once you know, names can be chosen and their individual little birth certificate can be filled in.

As soon as the nappy area dries completely, the colour returns to white again, ready for their next bath time!

Every Baby Secrets comes with their own Collectors Guide which lists all of the characters available within the current series. Series 1 consists of a common, rare and ultra rare category but also contains an extra special limited edition character. I'm almost certain the kids will want to collect Baby Secrets now in a race to get their hands on that ultra special baby!

Because, that's Collectibles!

The full range includes the Baby Secrets Single Pack and the Baby Secrets Activity Pack. I know that the single packs are going to be really popular with my girls, because with an RRP of just £2.99, they are the perfect pocket money collectible. They are a great way to get a good collection started, and great for us parents for when we want to buy that little, inexpensive, mid-term reward for academic achievements and good behaviour!

Then, the ideal addition to birthday lists would be the activity packs. With an RRP of £12.99, they come in 4 different varieties; 

Pram Pack
Bassinet Pack
High Chair Pack
Rocking Horse Pack

These packs come complete with two exclusive babies, one surprise baby, a bath tub, three birth certificates, a collectors guide and the special accessory appropriate to the chosen pack.

Which one will you get?

Baby Secrets is now available from The Entertainer, Smyths Toys, Argos and Toymaster. For more information about Baby Secrets and to keep up to date on the range, make sure you bookmark Baby Secrets HQ at www.babysecretshq.co.uk

We were sent some Baby Secrets for the purpose of this review. No other payment was received, and all opinions are our own.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

Take us on an adventure we'll never forget!

December, 2016 saw me sharing an amazing experience with the girls. An experience that they still talk about today. We were lucky enough to be part of the audience for Disney on Ice - Frozen. The show was outstanding and the atmosphere was electric. I remember as a child attending Disney on Ice (or the equivalent they offered back in the *ahem* eighties!) I still recall the magic today, so it is definitely an experience that stays with you. The girls still stare at the photos with smiles on their faces, reminiscing about the magic they watched unfold on the ice.

Little do they know that they are about to experience it all over again!

From Wednesday, 20th until Saturday, 30th December, 2017, the magic of all our Disney favourites are being brought to the O2 in a whirlwind of adventure and wonder. Join classic faves Mickey and Minnie as they take you on a tour of the imagination, meeting some of the most loved characters along the way.
From exploring the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, to flying to neverland to 'Tinker' with some fairies, the talented cast and incredible crew work together flawlessly to promise an unforgettable and truly magical day out. 

Last year's performance was amazing, and you can read our full review of the show here, but I just know this year is going to be even better. The appearances of such a variety of characters is going to make this a show for the whole family - boys and girls ... young and not so young. 

So, if you haven't already, hurry up and get your tickets for Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure, because if previous shows are anything to go by, you're in for a real treat. 

With the perfect combination of highly professional, effortless ice dancing, breathtaking special effects and lighting and a soundtrack that will have you humming for days, I am so excited to be sharing this experience with the kids again this year. And I'm looking forward to sharing the whole thing with you all here!

Keep up to date with all updates regarding the show, ticket sales and future performances, follow Disney on Ice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and bookmark the website so you don't miss a thing!

See you all back here after the show!
Merry Christmas!

We have been offered tickets to Disney on Ice for the purpose of writing our upcoming review. No payment was offered for the writing of this post and all words are our own.