Tuesday, 17 January 2017

"I saved the city again, it was off the chain!"

It's that time of year again where me and the boys can be found standing around in toy stores for extended periods of time feeling up small plastic bags. We love a new LEGO Minifigures series release, for the boys it means new characters and for me, it means new parts and the recent LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures are the best yet. After receiving a surprise package over the weekend of two of those saute after blind bags it has kick awakened that 'got to have them all' feeling that I get with every series.

We are all really excited about the release of the new LEGO Batman Movie (the trailer is amazing) and the Minifigures and kits that have been released alongside the movie have got the three of us pining (not something we need this soon after Christmas). With Cave Batman and Arkham Joker toying with me from the shelf (I love a good Pun), I rang my mate Steve who works at our local Smyths to make sure that they definitely had lots in because I knew where I was heading first thing Monday morning. 

 For me it was all about Vacation Batman and Lobster-lovin Batman, but the entire series is a must have. As expected that evening the boys began their plans on what they think our next big build is going to be so that should be interesting over the next few weeks.

Right before the boys went to bed they had decided that Vacation Batman needed a pool so while Mrs M was reading to them in bed and doing her bedtime meditation with Opeie, I clanged around downstairs rooting through the LEGO (very zen), finding parts to build them a bat-shaped pool, worthy of the dark knights awesomeness. One of the things I love most about a new Minifigure series is the inspiration for building that comes with them.

Today we couldn't come home from our trip out without swinging by Smyths for another bag feel up session. I must have felt up 150 bags and I still can't find Pink Power Batgirl or Glam Metal Batman which was very disappointing (there's always tomorrow though).

 If you haven't seen them yet, the new LEGO Batman Movie sets are definitely worth looking at. I'm desperate to get my hands on all of them.

Friday, 6 January 2017

"Windows down, country sound, FM on the radio. Just me and you and the man on the moon Cruisin' down some old back road"

 I've written so many posts over the years documenting Opeie's love of music. Seth is yet to find music that really has an impact on him but for Opeie, the music he loves is a way of life. Both Mrs M and I have really eclectic taste and we listen to all sorts, but for us as a couple, country music is our big love. Last week Opeie heard this track by Sam Hunt...

and his world has been opened up to a new style of music.  Turns out that that awesome 5-year-old of ours is now seriously into country! so I guessed it was time for a 'What Opeie is listening to' update. I won't waffle on, here are some of his favourite tracks. Time to get him a cowboy hat I think... enjoy!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

"The most absurd and reckless aspirations have sometimes led to extraordinary success."

Mrs M has some really quirky ways. I don't always understand the hippieish things that she does weekly and I would be lying if I said some of them don't make me chuckle a little. Despite this though the one thing I will always be is supportive because it's these actions that help keep her grounded, focused and happy when things aren't always going as planned. As part of our New years celebration with the boys she asked if we could join her in something that she does regularly and it was something that was perfect for the last evening of 2016.

I've never been one of those 'New Year, New Me' kind of guys but this year I am definitely more aware of how I want the next year to play out. There have been things I've wanted to get done for quite some time and have been terrible at putting these things into action, mainly because I am crap at being selfish and making time for things I want to do for me. 

Anyway, back to Mrs M's new years family activity, for the 4 of us to have a good think about what we would like to achieve in 2017. A new skill maybe? somewhere we've always wanted to visit? Or maybe just something we've always wanted to do and never tried. This was such a fitting activity for so many reasons. From a personal point, maybe actually writing things down that I had been thinking about would give me the motivation for putting them into action. It also gave me and Mrs M a great insight into what the boys wanted from 2017. I'm not sure how easy it going to be for us to help Opeie to fly but his plans gave us some great ideas for his homeschooling over the next few weeks and Seth's 'things to achieve' just reinforced what an intelligent and sensitive 10-year-old we have.

With our aspirations on paper, the next part of the task was to venture into the garden to set them on fire. As I said, this is something Mrs M does regularly and I have always seen it as one of her 'cute' quirks. Being a part of it last night though made me realise a little more why she does it and the boys loved being included (even if they did seem more excited about setting things on fire). We each took it in turns to burn our paper sending our plans for 2017 into the cold winter air.

As I said it was great to have some extra insight into the boys dreams for the future but I also think it is important for them to see that although we are adults and much of our time is taken up by being there for them and making them as happy as they can be, we also strive to achieve things for ourselves too so that we can continue this ongoing happiness that we work so hard to keep going.

I can't say that it is something that I will continue doing but I'm really glad that Mrs M included us in one of her quirky rituals. 

Happy new Year all, I hope you make 2017 amazing!!!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

"I live underground y'all are just tourists."

I love it when the boys get into making up a LEGO story and this one was all Opeie's idea.  He was desperate for the Killer Croc sewer Smash kit for quite some time and is so excited about the new LEGO Batman movie kits that are being released in 2017. It's going to be an Awesome LEGO year for super hero kits.

I'm sure we'll get kidnapped again soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

"I think every player should think that he's a difference maker."

As a gamer that spends most of my game time on a handheld console, it can be frustrating when I get into a game on our Wii U and don't have the time to sit and play for extended periods of time. Being able to take the 3ds about with me is a lot more convenient. There have been some amazing Wii U releases this year and many of them I have wished could be somehow moved to the 3ds so I could fit them into the times I can actually dedicate to playing. It's this frustration that is getting me so excited about the Nintendo Switch, I love the idea of being able to continue a game I am playing on the go and I cannot wait to give the console a try in 2017.
Until that is possible though I spend my time hoping that the games I love will be moved to a handheld platform. Recently I've been in luck (Twice). Since reviewing Super Mario Maker back in September it instantly became my favourite Nintendo release of this year and inevitably made its way to the top of my top 5 Nintendo Christmas List. Super Mario Maker has taken those Mario games many of us have grown up with and given the Nintendo gaming world the chance to design custom levels to share with people all over the world. This is what I have always loved about Nintendo, for me, they are at the peak of games design.

When I first read that they would be creating Mario Maker for the 3ds I was so excited and couldn't wait to get stuck in. There are some really creative levels that have been designed and I love seeing what people have come up with, The boys and I really enjoy making almost impossible levels for each other to tackle and the game has sparked some serious competition in our house.

I was actually expecting the 3ds version of the game to be really limited, but there is just as much going on. The only negative I have found and its nothing to do with the actual game, is that you obviously need to be connected to the internet to enter the course world and play other gamers levels. That being said though, as I sat outside Seth's school with the game on, I clicked on 'Mario Challenge' and I have become obsessed! At first glance, these not very challenging levels look simple to complete but when you add things in like not being able to use the left button or only being able to destroy certain bad guys, the levels become not only difficult but very very addictive.

Seth has asked for Super Mario Maker for Christmas and has refused to play this until then. With the option of being able to design levels and send them to each other, I've got a feeling we are going to be in for a pretty eventful Christmas day.

I did mention earlier in the post that there has been two occasions where a game I love has had the WiiU to 3DS cross-over, The second is coming soon. I cannot wait to get my hands on another of my favourite games in 2017 when Nintendo also release that 3DS version of Yoshi's Woolly World, Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World. 2017 is going to be huge for Nintendo and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Living with the Secret Service.

It's an exciting time for kids at the moment. For years I have had many conversations about how much better it seemed being a kid in the 80's and for many reasons I stand by that comment. When it comes to toys though I can't help but feel a little jealous at what is available for kids these days. When I was young I wanted nothing more than to be a spy/adventurer. The Goonies was my big inspiration and Data (being my favourite character) was my daily driving force for solo activities to fill my time. I was constantly setting up booby traps for my family and desperately trying to find ways to make those 'slick shoes'. If the Goonies wasn't enough inspiration, there was always the bank holiday showings of the Bond movies to wet my secret agent appetite. 


The movies and TV shows were there but the world of toys just couldn't keep up with all those imaginative young minds. with the help of Spynet though they are definitely making up for it now. We've reviewed a few Spynet products over the years and what I love about the products is that each one oozes intrigue. also selfishly they give me the best chance to relive a youth I would have loved through the boys.

For me, the RC Recon video bot that we had reviewed a couple of years ago was everything I wanted as a kid, but that product kick started a love of spyware for the boys and we were soon walking about with a bionic ear and night vision binoculars, adding to our arsenal. Things had died down a little this year in the spy world, or maybe the boys were deep under cover? but it wasn't until last week that their love of the secret service was reborn. With new Spynet products hitting the shelves, the boys have been sneaking about the house acting exactly how I would have of at their age.

The video watch is a cool bit of kit! the mischief I could have got into with one of these back in the 80's would have been amazing. I'd have most definitely taken this into school and caused some trouble and Seth has said exactly the same thing. Being the responsible parent I am though I have discouraged this kind of thing. If I am honest though I wouldn't be at all disappointed if he decided too anyway, he's a kid after all, it's all part of the fun. You can secretly capture 20 minutes of video, 3 hours of audio or 2000 images (without the need for an extra SD card), all from the tiny camera hidden in the watch. You can also download an app for downloading the images from your watch which is great and there are downloadable spy games to play too.

As soon as we turned on the Spyclops bionic eye, I knew which one of our family of wannabe spies was going to be in complete awe of this product and it wasn't me or the boys. For a woman who is obsessed with picking, prodding and poking our skin at every given chance and who is always vocal about how much she would have loved to have been a dermatologist, this product had her hooked from the minute I plugged it in and held the bionic eye against my skin. With the on-screen images magnified by 200x, when it comes to your skin it's fascinating what comes up, especially when investigating my beard.  The Spyclops Bionic eye is going to come in very handy over the coming months for Opeie's science lessons especially because of the petri dish also included in the package. I just need to work on focusing a little more to get the best results.

I can't wait to see what Spynet come up with next, these products have opened the boys up to a world of intrigue and intelligent creative imaginative play. 

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