“Mr. Brown Mouse” {Review}

Story time is kind of a big deal in our house. Reading is something both Jason and I really enjoy, and it is a love we have worked hard to instill in Noah from baby days. I feel like I can say with some confidence that we have been pretty successful with this too! Noah loves reading. He loves sitting with a book and reading to himself. And he LOVES reading stories before bed.

Now, as much as Jason and I love reading, and as important as it is for us to ensure that Noah enjoys reading, some nights, we simply either don’t have the energy to sit and read stories, or we’re busy and don’t really have the time. I know that sounds terrible – I feel so guilty just writing that sentence. But, it is what it is – life sometimes throws us curveballs, and some days are really busy and tiring, and unfortunately, bedtime story time takes a back seat.

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But now, we have a way to combat that! Yay! Enter our new friend, “Mr. Brown Mouse”, and his collection of audio books, filled with adventure, and some important lessons too! Yup, Noah’s new favourite at story time is sitting and listening to an audio book all about Mr. Brown Mouse and his latest exciting adventure.

Mr. Brown Mouse is the brainchild of Jonathan da Canha, a Durban based graphic designer and TV advertising producer. Jonathan and his lovely wife, Debbie have two children, Hannah (5) and Tate (4). With their kids being one year and one week apart, bedtime proved chaotic, and left Mom and Dad exhausted.

“They were in completely different routines and both completely dependant on us in their own unique ways. We were tired to say the least, and the first two years after our second child came along are a blur. Just after our son Tate turned two, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This took the challenge of parenting to new levels and left us unimaginably exhausted.” Jonathan

With an increased amount of time focused on Tate and coping with the realities of an autistic child, Jonathan and his wife Debbie…realized that they needed to find extra ways to spend necessary quality time with their daughter, Hannah who, at three-and-a-half years old was experiencing her own stress in trying to understand why her parents were so tired all the time and why her brother didn’t relate to her in a typical way – he screamed a lot and didn’t know how to play with her.

And that is how Mr. Brown Mouse was born. Jonathan started telling Hannah made up stories, and let her contribute to the stories as well, adding her own creative flair. When Hannah started asking for a new story every night, Jonathan started recording the stories on his phone, to use on the evenings when he just couldn’t come up with a new adventure.

There are 18 stories in the Mr. Brown Mouse collection, and to date six of the stories have been released.

1) MR BROWN MOUSE MEETS MRS GIRAFFE

Mr Brown Mouse rides on the back of ditsy Mrs Hippo and crosses the river for the very first time! Join him as he crosses paths with crocodiles, elephants and lions and makes friends with the tallest animal he’s ever seen!  A gentle first adventure, perfect for bedtime.

2) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE BIG BIG FIRE

Join Mr Brown Mouse on a courageous adventure to help save the animals and the forest from a big, big fire! With a little bit of thought and a sincere desire to help, almost anything is possible… But who will help Mr Brown Mouse when all the animals are running away?  Listen again and again to this daring story of courage and character! 

3) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE OWL BABIES

After waiting thirty days, Mr and Mrs Owl’s babies are ready to hatch! It’s terribly exciting and Mr Brown Mouse wouldn’t miss it for the world… after all, Mr Owl is his first ever friend!

4) MR BROWN MOUSE’S FAMILY IS COMING TO VISIT

Mr Brown Mouse’s family are coming to visit but he’s out of Honey Biscuits and tea! What will he do? Would he dare to ride on the back of big, old Mr Crocodile, all the way down the river to get more? Who will he meet on the way?

5) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE OSTRICH EGG

Mr Brown Mouse finds an egg! A very big egg! It’s even bigger than he is! What will he do and how will he find it’s mum.  And can he stop Mrs. Hippo from accidentally sitting on it?

6) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE BEAR

In his most daring and epic adventure yet, Mr Brown Mouse soars on the back of Mrs Eagle! Join him as he travels over the mountains to visit his old friend Mr Bear. But will Mr Brown Mouse be able to wake Mr Bear up?

I won’t lie, I was a bit concerned about how I was going to get my very active, very busy three-year-old to sit and listen to an audio book. But each story is between ten and twelve minutes long – the perfect time frame to keep my Noah captivated! While he was quietly playing with his cars one rainy afternoon, I told him I was going to play something for him on my phone, and I wanted him to listen to it while he played. Within a minute of starting the first audio book, he had abandoned his cars (something he never does willingly), and we were sitting on the couch together, listening intently to the story. I was amazed at how he would also react to what the storyteller was saying. He kept looking at me with big, excited eyes, oohing and aahing at the adventure he was listening to. And when the first story ended, he immediately asked to listen to another one!  I am so pleased with how he has grown so fond of Mr. Brown Mouse!

Mr. Brown Mouse won’t replace our regular story time though. That is also not what Jonathan and Debbie intended it to be either. Instead, we’ll keep Mr. Brown Mouse for those bedtimes where Mom and Dad are unable to read a story. It’s a win-win if you ask me!

The stories are perfect for children between the ages of 3 and 6, and are currently available as audio books only. To purchase your audio book, simply click here. Each individual story costs R29.95, or you can get all 6 for R149.95. You can also find Mr. Brown Mouse on Facebook and Instagram.

Jonathan and Debbie have kindly offered my readers a 10% discount on the stories. To redeem your discount simply use this code: FRP208TQQDT2.                                                    Please note that this coupon code expires on 15 September 2018.

Happy listening!

*We were sent the Mr. Brown Mouse audio books to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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“Just Noah”

Just before Easter, Noah had made a set of bunny ears at school, and when I went to pick him up, he came out wearing them. He looked so darn cute, I just couldn’t resist, and said, “Hello, Bunny Noah!” He then promptly removed the bunny ears and looked me straight in the eye and said, “I not a bunny, Mommy. I just Noah.” And since then, every time he wears a mask or dresses up as a character of sorts, as soon as we start calling him by the name of whatever character, he quickly reminds us that he is “Just Noah.”

Just Noah

And every time that he says that he is “Just Noah”, I can’t help but think that yes, he is “Just Noah”. But he is also so much more than “Just Noah.” He is Noah – son, grandson, great-grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. And there are so many things that go into making him “just Noah” – his character and personality. As “Just Noah”, he is a sensitive little soul. He loves to pray for friends and family when he hears they have an “ouchie” or are sick. Sometimes,he will stop what he is playing with, and ask if we can please pray for someone specific in that moment.

“Just Noah” loves school and is excited to be with his friends and teachers each day. He loves, and I mean LOVES going to church. It is a definite highlight of his week. He gets excited every time we drive past our church, and his Dad and I better have a good explanation on the Sundays when we don’t make it to at least one service!

As “Just Noah”, he is an active little boy. I feel like he would hop his way through life, given half the chance! He is always jumping over or off of something, or simply jumping along to get from one room in the house to the next – walking can be so overrated sometimes! He loves wrestling – John Cena has a definite fan in our home! In fact, one of his favorite ways to wake his Dad up, especially on weekends and other prime sleep-in days, is to jump on top of hm, and say loudly, “Wake up, Farder! Let’s wrestle!” He also runs constantly, and when he falls, nine times out of ten he gets up, dusts himself off, and carries on running.

My Noah, “Just Noah”, is a brave boy. He is fearless, and would rather try something, even if he is wary. He is my happy boy, with one of the most contagious laughs I have ever heard – it really is one of my most favorite sounds! He keeps us busy, and he keeps us entertained. He loves to act silly and do silly things, just to make us laugh.

Don’t be fooled though – he is also quite shy. As much as he loves to sing and dance and make those closest to him laugh, if he feels too many people are watching him, he stops. He’s not a huge fan of being the center of attention – he prefers more one-on-one interactions!

For the last almost three years of being his Mommy, it has been a delight watching him grow into the little person that he is today. There is something so precious about watching your child develop into the person God created them to be. What a privilege it is to watch them learn both who they are, and Who’s they are. I am reminded of two verses in the Bible, every time I think about this –

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14

Oh, my sweet boy, in your eyes, you may be “Just Noah”. But, to Daddy and I you are so much more than that, and we love each and every part of you that makes you, YOU!

The toys have taken over our home!

Last year, before we moved across the country, I did a big clean out of Noah’s toys. Everything he had outgrown or no longer played with was either given away to friends or donated. I was ruthless, to the point where he had a box of toys brought to Cape Town on the truck, and we had kept a Spiderman drawstring bag aside, filled with all his favourite cars. When we arrived in Cape Town in December last year, all Noah had was his drawstring bag of cars, with his box of toys still packed and in the garage (where it still is today).

THE TOYS HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR HOME!

Christmas happened just a few days after we arrived, and then two months later it was Noah’s birthday. And in the blink of an eye, that little drawstring bag of cars seemed to magically multiply. Now, a corner of our lounge is overrun with puzzle pieces, cars, trains, lego, marbles, army men and a whole range of age-appropriate sports equipment. In just six months, we went from one small bag of cars, to an entire corner filled with a variety of toys.

I try to keep the toy corner as tidy and organized as possible, but I am realizing that I am fighting a losing battle. Enter The Smart Toy Club

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The Smart Toy Club is a business run by two moms. They provide a toy rental subscription, where a bag of age-appropriate toys are delivered to you, for your child to play with for the month ahead. At the end of the month, all you do is pack up the bag of toys, and swap it out for the next bag.

We just did a three month trial with them, and loved it! The day the bag of toys arrived, Noah would get so excited – he couldn’t wait to open the bag and see what was inside! Each month he got a nice variety of of toys, including story books, puzzles, cars, a leap pad and musical toys. I did notice that he would pick his favourite toys from the bag, and those would be what he played with the most throughout the month.

I think this is such a clever idea for a business. Noah loved playing with the new toys. He would still play with his own toys, but, especially in the first week or so, he would mainly play with the toys from his bag. The toys were in perfect condition, batteries always fully charged, all the puzzle pieces were there and none of the toys were damaged in any way – quality! The toys are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before being sent out, so don’t worry about those pesky germs.

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The toy rentals work on a monthly subscription system, with a minimum subscription of three months. And if you have any queries or questions, the ladies from The Smart Toy Club are so friendly and helpful – they go above and beyond to help you!

To read more about how it works, and the cost and different delivery options, click here. Click here to sign your child up and enjoy your toys. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you feel like your home is being taken over by all of the toys, and you’re desperate for a solution, definitely look into The Smart Toy Club!

*We did a free 3-month trial with The Smart Toy Club, in exchange for this blog post.