Domestic Insurrection [Suspicious Asparagus]

Last Thursday MoonMunkie developed a tummy upset. She’d happily go into school bleeding from the head with a broken arm and a temperature of 40 degrees. But schools have rules about cross-contamination and so I had to keep her at home. That very same day MiniMunkie decided to get up before the birds. So by the time it got to 7.30 am I was ready for an IV caffeine drip. So was MiniMunkie. She’s not one for negotiation and compromise at the best of times, being completely certain that her way is the Right Way. (Extensions of the Munkie family will be mirthfully coughing into their hankies at this point, and trying to refrain from sarcastically wondering where she gets that characteristic from… I couldn’t possibly comment!) But a tired MiniMunkie is a force to be reckoned with on a global scale. Conflict began with the 8am Eeyore Disturbance. Ownership was settled through independent 3rd party mediators in MiniMunkie’s favour so I had hoped it would end there.

However it was soon followed by Blankey Incursions (Parts A, B and C), harder to settle because, although official status was designated by a United Nations Protocol the previous weekend, the development of illness in one party did seem to justify a temporary loan of said Blankey. This had to be secured with a  mutual hostage exchange and a 450 page contract specifying the terms of the loan, period of useage, sanctions for late completion and assurances that it wouldn’t smell weird when it was returned.

The Lemur Hostility of 8.15 ensued. No one could work out whether she was cross with the lemur or if the lemur was collateral damage in a guerilla attack from Dolly and pink flowery teapot. In MiniMunkie’s defence, it is very annoying when a lid won’t go on properly and violence towards lemurs can often be justified in such situations.

Then came the Teddy Bear Discord of 8.25 which resulted in MoonMunkie becoming a target for guerilla attack which meant that MiniMunkie  incurred sanctions from NATO and a well justified Sit on the Stairs. However, her compliance with the terms of her release was short-lived and she very quickly escalated the conflict into a full-on Buggy War.  The UN peacekeepers stepped in to remove the problem to her bed, under great protest and duress, but to the great relief of all lemurs, teapots, and poorly Munkies in the region.

Oh my, but my littlest girl is so fiery and so tender. When she’d had a rest she was back to her own affectionate self, fussing like a mother hen over her dollies and her poorly big sister. She makes my heart float. And her temper-flare is so like my own that I can barely withhold a smile, even when she is causing grievous harm to innocent Madagascan primates.

Negotiations [Suspicious Asparagus]

20150911_152703605_iOSMiniMunkie is growing up so quickly. She knows her own mind. We all know her own mind. I caught her asking (well … ordering, really) MisterMunkie to go to the shops to buy grapes this morning. The fruit bowl was full with other stuff: apples, clementines, bananas, kiwi fruit, but no grapes. They’d all been eaten. I’m not naming the culprit, but she’s shorter than 3ft tall and thinks that we can’t see her if her eyes are closed.

She’s worked out that we go to the shops when things run out. So now it’s “Grapes? Shop? Yes?” and “Chocolate? Shop? Yes?” The child doesn’t eat enough to keep a fly alive, but grapes and chocolate she has no problem at all with. I’ve decided not to have fights with her about food*. She’s still breastfeeding on demand** and so I’m pretty confident she’s getting everything she needs. Then there are her energy levels which tend to run on one of two settings: maximum or overload. And there are no flies on her. She could out negotiate John Adams, as the little “incident” below shows.

MamaMunkie: Please don’t bite MoonMunkie. It’s not kind.
MiniMunkie: Hungry!
MamaMunkie: Not when you’re hungry.
MiniMunkie: Tiger?
MamaMunkie: No biting. Not even if you’re a tiger.

You see? Only 2 and already she knows that there are grey areas in life if you just search hard enough for them. I love that she’s developing empathy as well. She now signs and lisps “sorry” if she thinks she’s hurt you and comes over to give a kiss to “make better”. She says “please” and ” ‘ank oo” and if you sneeze she proudly exclaims “Bess oo!” It’s so much fun watching her grow up.

* insert sharp inhalation of disapproval

** insert frown and disappointed shaking of the head

 

 

Frozen-themed play dough [Sensory play]

Elsa and ElsaLike every other Mama, Elsa and Anna are honorary members of my brood. It’s tailed off a bit in recent weeks. I believe I’ve actually gone a whole 7 days straight without watching the movie or listening to the sound track. But the power of the icy pair remains strong. MoonMunkie loves it all and totally wants to be Elsa. She sings the songs and dances beautifully, dramatically throwing an imaginary crown at the appropriate point in the song.  MamaMunkie and MisterMunkie both prefer Anna – she more sensible, girl-next-door and much less neurotic-snow-strumpet than Elsa.

MiniMunkie wants to be MoonMunkie. That’s it. She just wants to be her big sister. She trails around after her, wearing a tiny blue costume and singing “…’et it gooooooo…” It’s so adorable I could eat her with a spoon. She thinks the movie is called ” ‘nowman” and that Elsa is called Anna. We don’t correct her. She’s so happy with it all and it’s of no real consequence. Watching her twirl and sing is one of the pleasures of my life.

Of course, this fandom spills over into our other activities and this week we wanted to make play dough. So Frozen play dough was the order of the day. I took our basic play dough recipe and added silver glitter, blue and green food colouring to get that perfect “Frozen blue” and a dose of American peppermint flavouring to give it a scented element too. It looked and smelled heavenly and my Munkies played with it for about 3 hours. Next door’s little Munkie also popped in to play and was so overjoyed with it that we just had to give her some to take home.

There are a bazillion-trillion recipes out there for play dough. Cook, don’t cook, edible, scented, you name it, there’s a recipe. And this is ours. The basic dough is based on a 500g bag of flour and makes enough for 4 children to have a great big lump each. This recipe doubles and triples very easily. I don’t have  bowl big enough to test beyond that!

Ingredients for basic play dough

500g plain flour

1 tbs cream of tartar

1 tbs of oil

4 drops of glycerine

200g salt

hot water to bind.

Method

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. If you have dry additions to add, this is the place to do it. We’ve tried all sorts of things in the past: tiny silver stars, sequins, glitter, seeds, dried lavender and sand all give different textures and characteristics.
  3. Add the oil, glycerine and a little hot water,  and mix.
  4. If you want to add colours or flavours now is the time. We’ve used natural oils like peppermint and lavender; food flavourings such as lemon, American peppermint, liquorice; and we’ve also added cocoa and coffee to the hot water in order to flavour the dough
  5. Continue to add hot water until the dough comes together.
  6. Knead on a floured counter top for 10 minutes until the dough comes together and is elastic and shiny.

20150926_110146240_iOSThe dough keeps in the fridge for a long time. It’s not edible, but a taste will not do anyone any harm. Leaving it out in the sun will dry it out – it becomes hard like
salt-dough if you leave it to dry for long enough.

MoonMunkie made herself a shrew. She’s been very interested in shrews since we found a dead one on our patio. MiniMunkie’s cat brought it to us as a gift, we think. The cat isn’t really MiniMunkie’s. But she desperately wants a cat and then big big tortoiseshell started to visit and it was as if her wish had been  granted. Ours too – a cat that visits daily, but we don’t have to feed it, clean up after it or worry about it when we’re not here. Perfect cat!

Mermaid Bay [Sensory Play]

Mermaid Bay This summer was all about the mermaids here at Munkie Towers. My dear friend and her husband returned to live in town after being away for several years. In the meantime we had both managed to produce 2 small girls each, of surprisingly similar ages and temperaments. Her little ones were crackers for mermaids and so, Munkie-See-Munkie-Do (as the saying doesn’t quite go…) my little ones were crackers for mermaids too.

But we didn’t have any. And MamaMunkie was reluctant to spring for new dollies until we were sure this was a phase that was here to stay. Also, we have dollies. Our dollies have dollies. We are not short on dollies.

Instead, we converted some of our pocket-money dollies (£1 from Tesco) into mermaids with the cunning use of silver foil.

It actually worked quite well. By wrapping the foil around the dollies’ legs tinfoil tailsand then scrunching it tightly to the ankle, a pretty convincing tail was made. I then trimmed the fin shape with scissors below the feet, and voila – tinfoil tails.

The addition of some play sand, seashells collected at the beach, some slates that our turtles are no longer needing in their tank and some water that we dyed with blue food gel an a very nice sensory bin was complete. I also tossed in some Jelly Sea Life Creatures that I’d been dying to try out. They’re made from the same compound as water beads and grown to 8x their original size in water.

It was brilliant. MiniMunkie was entranced. The mermaids dived and swam and rode the turtles. The sand mixed into their hair and muddied up the water. The sensory bin looked like a scene from CSI Atlantis. In the future I’m going to exchange the sand and water for blue Water Crystals . I think it will be less of a disturbing clean up!

Why won’t my child go to sleep? [Suspicious Asparagus]

IMG_2680.JPGMiniMunkie is not the world’s best sleeper. She’s far too curious and busy to waste time with her eyes closed. She’s also very clever and comes up with a lot of cunning reasons why she should be allowed to stay up.

  • She needs a drink. But not from THAT cup. Or that one!
  • Her foot is sad.
  • There’s a bee. Somewhere.
  • Her pink fluffy turtle is thirsty.
  • She needs her blanket. Not touching her. But closer than THAT.
  • There are blackberries in the fridge.
  • MoonMunkie is there.
  • MoonMunkie isn’t there.
  • She needs her baby doll. The other one. With the dress that got lost a month ago.
  • Mummy is naughty.
  • The chair isn’t in quite the right place. Now it’s in the right place but at the wrong angle. Bit more to the left. Back again. Left a bit more. There. Just right.
  • There’s an unidentifiable noise which can only be heard by bats and MiniMunkie but it’s very annoying.
  • She needs someone to hold her hand.
  • She doesn’t want anyone to hold her hand.
  • MamaMunkie is not wearing her glasses.
  • She she’s not tired. Munkies don’t get tired. She’s never been tired. We can’t prove she’s tired so … Zzzzzz Zzzzzzz Zzzzzzz Zzzzzzzz

Time for Tea [Sensory Play Idea]

At the beginning of the summer I tidied out all of the kitchen cupboards and disposed of all the extraneous items that I’d gathered over the 5 years we’ve been here. I’ve been trying to destash the entire house, but it’s taking years. Literally. I’m a hoarder and so it’s hard and emotional work. But I digress.

The kitchen is now as near to perfect as a working, home kitchen is ever going to be. Which is to say that I’m going to have to find another way to bump off MrMunkie, because things no longer fall out of cupboards as we open them.  However, my enthusiasm for the clear-out waned when it came to the tea and coffee  cupboard. I opened it, quailed in  fear and then closed it again. But tonight I found the courage and attacked it with vigour. The outcome was as I expected: 3 click-its of out of date sweetner; 2 half used jars of decaff coffee; 3 boxes of flavoured tea with 2 teabags left in each; a packet of loose tea that went past its BBE in 2013.

20150830_150957624_iOSAfter sorting and re-stacking the shelves, I was left with about a dozen tea bags that were unsuitable for human consumption, along with a packet of breakfast tea leaves and about 2 tablespoons of my favourite  Jasmine Pearl Tea that was stale and sad. The smell in the kitchen was heavenly though and it gave me an idea for a sensory activity for MiniMunkie.  She’s all about the “hot tea” at the moment. This is the way she distinguishes between teatime and a cuppa. “Hot tea” has been inspired by her Godmother and her children who sit together and drink tea a couple of times each day. MiniMunkie is very taken with the whole activity20150831_174236766_iOS. When she’s not drinking tea for real she’s making pretend cups – in the gorgeous Cath Kidston tea set, given to her by the same friends.
So waiting for her when she wakes up is an invitation for tea. The sensory bin contains the loose leaf tea and also the few left over jasmin pearls. There are some boxes with a couple of tea bags in each. Her tea set is ready and there’s a little “cafe” waiting too, so that MoonMunkie can join in if she likes. I don’t advocate going out to buy these things for play  – good tea is expensive and not to be wasted! But this lot was going in the bin anyway.20150831_174250416_iOS

I’m pretty sure she’s going to love it, because she’s so keen on tea right now. But watch this space and I’ll let you know.

More sensory activities coming soon!

 

Woodland Art for Kids [Photo Tutorial]

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A late summer morning spend at Brandon Country Park led to some surprising results for the Munkie household. MoonMunkie had taken a trip there with her Reception class teachers before the holidays began. She’d been talking about mud splat tree art ever since.

 

We had no plans today, so we packed a seaside bucket and a full water bottle and headed for the forest. It was a glorious morning, warm and dry with a gentle breeze through the sun-dappled trees. Absolutely the type of day where the best memories are made. And then … then MoonMunkie showed us how to do mud splat tree art and we were hooked. I thought it was funny to make a sunflower out of last year’s beechnut pods and golden brown leaves. The photo tutorial below shows you how to make your own mud splat tree art!

 

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Clear the detritus from the surface of the forest floor and dig up some soil. Put it into a bucket. fill up the bucket until its about 2/3 full. Be sure to pick out any large pieces of bark, sticks or pebbles that get in there or it will be too lumpy.

 

 

 

11870934_10153445550375491_1270252316865435729_nAdd water to the soil. We took our own because we knew we wouldn’t find any there. But if there’s a river or stream nearby then you could get some fresh. Insert requisite warnings about water safety and Weil’s disease here. Mix the soil and water together with a handy stick until the mud comes together. It should be the consistency of a wet cookie dough, or a heavy porridge. “Claggy” is the word I’d use to describe it, but I suspect that’s a rather localised term, specific to the north Midlands of the UK. But my Granny would know what I mean.

11892208_10153445550935491_223441749195443816_nNext comes the really cool bit. Take a large handful of the mud and sling it at a nearby tree trunk. Make sure it’s a wide enough tree to catch the splat. And that there are no unprepared by-standers. It gets messy. The mud should stick to the tree in a clump which you can then flatten down to a thick pancake with hands and fingers. It it was too runny or too dry to stick, alter your bucket mix accordingly and try again.

 

11855801_10153445660225491_8875838516305530365_nThen it’s time to decorate. Use a stick to draw a face or push little bits of forest treasure into the mud to make a pattern. This was the point where MamaMunkie got really interested. It’s amazing what colours are available on the forest floor when you’re looking for them. Moon and Mini really wanted to splat more mud at the trees, so MisterMunkie was kept busy mixing. But Mama tracked down pretty coloured leaves and stones to brighten up her splat.

 

11902498_10153445551280491_5628156239489920261_nThis one reminded me of a dreamcatcher or a mandala pattern. A simple one, but those reds of the Mahonia leaves (and man are they PRICKLY!) just light up my autumnal heart.

If you’ve enjoyed this, why not follow me on fb, like or share it with others who might enjoy. It will help me to get a bit more “out there” and share my work with more people. You can also find more tutorials from MoonMunkie on the tutorials page.

If you’re here from Handmade Monday – HELLO! How are you? If you’re not, why not pop over there and bathe yourself in all the lovely pretties?

 

 

 

Suspicious Asparagus

free asparagusWelcome to MoonMunkie’s Suspicious Asparagus, the place to explore the world from child’s eye view. And today we’re beginning with the original Suspicious Asparagus Event that inspired this page. MiniMunkie has a unique take on the world. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

The Modern Guide to Asparagus Dining, by MiniMunkie.

Step One: Ignore asparagus until it is the final item on your plate. It tastes better when it’s stone cold.

Step Two: Poke it a bit with your finger to make sure it’s been correctly dispatched. Many an unsuspecting diner has been killed or maimed by asparagus that was just playing dead.

Step Three: Hold asparagus in a pincer grip and wave it furiously around the table. This aerates the asparagus making it tender and tasty.

Step Four: Dip it into lime squash. This step is so obvious that it needs no further explanation.

Step Five: Rub it carefully through your hair to remove loose scales and avoid choking. Better restaurants will provide a comb amongst the silverware for use after Step 5.

Step 6: Take a small bite, remembering to maintain the correct facial expression. It should suggest that the chef has mistakenly served up woodlouse in a piquant wasp sauce.

Step 7: Don’t chew as this can ruin the flavour. Scrape the asparagus off your tongue and dump the remaining stem on the floor.

Don’t be caught out. Etiquette and manners are among the most important elements of a person’s character and personality.

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Exciting App for Busy Mums

I use the internet a lot. A. Lot. It’s on all day every day, helping me with the various things I’m doing, whether I’m preparing lessons, researching editorial copy, playing and making with my little Munkies, sewing, knitting, painting, whatever. If I’m not using it to research I’m listening to a podcast, watching a box set on Amazon Prime or browsing Pinterest while I watch TV. The internet works for me in so many ways: it’s almost exclusively the way I communicate with family and friends; shopping for groceries; keeping my own and my family’s diary; managing my music and books; blog planning; book-writing; you name it, I do it online.

Logo blue 7482x2000I’m always on the look out for  apps and services that will add something to my life, whether that is time-saving, communications-oriented, work based or just for fun. It’s not often these days that I come across something that is so good that I wonder how I managed without it. But just recently I came across Touchnote and it’s already making a difference.

As I said before, I communicate mostly online, but there are some times when this is not appropriate. I’m talking specifically about thank you cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards and those little notes to say “I’m thinking of you” when an email is just not enough. And postcards. Holiday postcards are a big thing in our family. I ADORE getting a little snippet of someone’s vacation.Knowing they were thinking of us while they were away is such a blessing.

Touchnote allows me to personalise our postcards by taking a photo on my phone and thpostcarden adding a caption to make the postcard’s front. I can then write a personalised message and address to go on the back, just like a traditional postcard. With one more touch of a button this can be printed and mailed directly from Touchnote. And last week I could do all of this from the beach, to send thank you cards for MiniMunkie’s birthday gifts. It was the last job on my list that didn’t get done before we left for Yorkshire. I even sent one to MiniMunkie’s godmother in Alabama, USA for no extra charge.

I bought a pack of 6 credits that meant each card cost £1.66 inclusive of p&p. This is slightly more than I’d usually spend on a bog standard postcard, but these were personalised, plus I didn’t have to leave the beach so I didn’t mind the extra approx 50p per card. Had I chosen to send greetings cards, these would have cost me £3.32 each, a saving of about 30p on the price I’d usually spend on sending a nice greeting card through the post.

I can think of a bazillion ways I’m going to be able to use this app. Why not give it a go yourself?

This review is entirely my own opinion, unsolicited by Touchnote and I was not rewarded for it in anyway. I just loved the service!

 

 

First Sewing Projects for Little Ones [Free tutorial and pattern]

MoonMunkie made Yellow-Stitch Fifield a week or so ago. It was her first sewing project and she was so thrilled with herself. Stitch came on holiday to Yorkshire with us and he been given a veritable palace to live in.

It was so successful that I’m going to put together a book of first sewing projects for little ones. And to give you a taste of that, here is a pattern and tutorial for Stitch. It uses the smallest amount of fabric and stuffing, so you can probably make it without needing to buy anything. However, I would definitely recommend purchasing a set of doll-making needles. They are large enough to allow more independence for small people learning to sew, but are still sharp enough to sew with. See my previous post for more tips on teaching small people to sew.

Materials11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_o

Wool felt off-cuts

Stuffing (wool roving or polyester filler)

Anchor embroidery thread I like Anchor, as I’ve said before!

Doll-making needle

30cm wool in contrasting colour

Pattern (Free PDF download)

 

 

Instructions

Body

  1. Cut 2 body pieces from felt and place them together, right sides out.
  2. Thread a doll-making needle with embroidery thread, tying a knot at the end.
  3. Show your little person how to push the needle through from the front to the back, carefully drawing the thread all the way through to the knot.
  4. Bring the needle back to the front, the yarn trailing over the top of the work. Move the needle along about 0.5cm (1/4 inch) to the left and push it in from front to back again. [TIP: if they need help keeping stitches even, make dots on the fabric to show them where to put the needle in.]
  5. Continue this whipstitch all the way around, leaving about an inch open.
  6. Stuff the mouse with wool roving or polyester toy filler.
  7. Stitch up the gap using the same stitch.

Ears

  1. Cut two ears from felt. We used a contrasting colour.
  2. [Optional] Fold the ear in half. Mark the dart line in pencil. Use a small running stitch to stitch the dart. This will give the ear more shape, but is not essential if it’s too fiddly for little fingers or they are in a hurry. Repeat for second ear.
  3. Help your little person to attach the ears to the body, about a third of the way down from the pointy end of the mouse. Sew straight through from side to side, through the flat edge of both ears.

Tail

  1. Cut three lengths of wool against using the line as a measure.
  2. Leave 5 cm (1.5 inches) at the top, tie a knot to secure the 3 strands together.
  3. Plait the strands and tie a knot near the end leaving a cute fluffy end.
  4. Use the 5cm at the top, to tie the tail through a stitch at the blunt end of the mouse body.

Eyes

[Option 1] Draw ‘em on with a felt tip pen. Cute and quick.

[Option 2] Stitch back and forth on the spot, from side to side through the entire body in a contrasting colour.

[Option 3] Buttons look cute, but can be fiddly for tiny fingers.

 

Happy Stitching!