Friday, 17 February 2017

"I need to get in to LEGO mode"


It's no surprise to anyone that I am an enormous LEGO geek,  These awesome bricks have had an amazing impact on the way the boys and I play together and they have been an never ending fountain of creativity. Lately though, they have become a big part of Opeies homeschooling too as they have given him a chance to express his creative writing in a very interesting way. After writing and creating his Scarecrow and Bane dress up post a week or so ago he has been craving writing another post and creating a story with his LEGO. So as we had the Iron Man: Detroit Steel Strikes waiting to be built we sat down together and started a new story. Over to Opeie...

"I love writing blog posts because they are fun and I love playing lego. I love making up stories and pretending that I am a lego man and I love building lego cars. Here's my super hero story..."



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"If it's right then it's right If it's wrong then it's wrong Let's keep playing the song 'til it's over"


There was a time long ago when my weeks were taken up by travelling about, seeing various bands all over the country. Music has always been a huge thing for me and going to gigs back then, was how I loved spending my time. It's amazing how much your life changes when you have children and you no longer have that sort of time to do the things that you want. The love of music is still there, I'd take the tunes I love, over any movie or TV show and this is something that has definitely rubbed off onto Opeie, that boy of mine is always singing and dancing and he has quite the eclectic taste.



I've written many posts about what Opeie is listening to and although he loves a little from most genres, country is definitely the music he favours. We are thrilled about this as Country music is also a big thing for me and Mrs M too. While listening to Spotify last weekend, Mrs M clicked on a link to one of the bands that Opeie loves (Old Dominion) and found that surprisingly they are touring the UK. I had looked on their website so many times hoping they would cross the pond, with no joy. It turns out that they are supporting another singer (Thomas Rhett) that Opeie loves too. So Mrs M, being the awesome woman that she is has bought tickets, and I couldn't be more excited about taking Opeie to his first gig.


 The gig isn't for months, which gives us plenty of time to design some awesome T-shirts for the show. Being a dad to such an amazing little dude is the best. I feel like the luckiest guy EVER!



'Take it, One stitch at a time'


There are so many reasons why for me Nintendo have been the console of choice for most of my life. I could spend hours talking about why they have had such a huge impact in my life, but their latest 3ds release sums up the main reason why I adore them so much. Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is everything I love about Nintendo, bright colourful graphics, adorable characters, a playful soundtrack and fun well thought out levels with hidden things to find. This is none threatening, none aggressive console gaming at its best. It is what I was brought up on and it is a valuable lesson that I have installed into the boys. you can be a gamer without all the realistic violence that you get from other consoles.

Sometimes I am surprised it has stuck, especially with Seth as he goes to school with a lot of children who's parents are happy with them playing the latest first-person shooter or violent action adventure game, but Seth and Opeie are both very intelligent and emotionally mature children who understand why, as parents me and Mrs M are the way we are about the games that they play. Plus there are so many educational values that can be taken from none offensive games like Super Maker Maker, Pokemon, Tomodachi Life and Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World.


Anyway... a little more about the game. When I wrote about Super Mario Maker before Christmas, I wrote about how excited I was that the game had made the Wii U/3ds crossover. Most of my personal gaming time is on the handheld console and I absolutely adored Mario Maker on the Wii U so to have the game released on there was really awesome. I felt exactly the same about Yoshi's Woolly World, so when I read that Yoshi and his canine companion were getting the 3ds makeover I was overjoyed.


I love Nintendo's style of platform gaming, especially for the 3ds as they are the sort of games that you can pick up, progress a level or two and then put down to squeeze into short spaces of time you may have to game. This is how I play as I don't always have time to sit in front of the TV for extended gaming sessions and it is this style of gaming of mine that is getting me so excited about the release of the Nintendo Switch next month. A console that you can play at home and then continue on the go, to me, sounds like the perfect way of gaming and I honestly can't wait to get stuck in.

I've gone off course again... As expected Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World has been my game of choice for every spare moment I have, I'm shocked though that it has been played even more that Super Mario Maker and has been the game of choice most evenings in bed for an hour of play before I drop off. Apart from the Open world area in the Wii U version the game is very similar in game-play, but as you can tell from the title, Poochy is a much bigger part of this game. One of the things I love about the game is how quickly you can jump between a Poochy free mode where game play is a little more challenging and having a never ending supply of poochy pups who help sniff out hidden items and can be thrown like the yarn balls to help younger players progress through the levels (Opeie absolutely adores the game). There are also new Poochy Dash levels where you have to whizz through, collecting items while being timed.

Aside from the main game-play you can also design your own Yoshi to share via street pass and there are also animated shorts to watch at the scrapbook theatre. Making this game full on entertainment.


Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is everything I want from a game and it reinforces everything I adore about Nintendo and their amazing gaming ethos.




Monday, 13 February 2017

"Oh, you see this? It's the Time Stone. If you take another step, I'll send you all the way back to the Big Bang."



There are some amazing big LEGO kits out at the moment and honestly, I would happily have every single kit released if I could. Sadly we just don't have the disposable income for that level of Lego obsessiveness so I have to put self-control into action and reign it in.  It seems that everyone I know's children adore those addictive bricks in some way and each one pining after the same huge kits. One thing that always used to frustrate me was the variety of super hero figures that were only available if you purchased the larger kits. I imagine in many households these bigger kits are completely out of reach financially but last year LEGO did something to change that which I thought was really awesome.

I've been saying for a long time that I would love LEGO to make a Marvel minifigure series, filled with all of the obscure characters. At £3 per pack these are accessible to pretty much everyone (and who doesn't love LEGO at pocket money prices). With the release of The Lego Batman movie, there was a step In the right direction with the minifigure series to accompany the movie (and those figures are pretty amazing). Although I can't ever see the same thing happening with Marvel comics characters (unless of course there was a LEGO Spider-man movie), LEGO did something else last year to offer Marvel super hero characters at an affordable price to all of their super-hero brick lovers.


Mighty micros revved their engines and exploded onto the toy store shelves in a blaze of glory and I was instantly hooked. Not only were 6 new figures available, with interestingly fun facial expressions and mini legs but they also had matching vehicles for speeding around the floor. To top it off though, and what really had me excited, was the price. I've spent an obscene amount of money on LEGO over the years but the price of the Mighty micros as I said before has meant that Spider-man, Batman and their friends are available to everyone.


Last year the three Marvel sets were snapped up straight away and it was clear that the vehicles were here to stay (I'm kicking myself now that I didn't pick all of the DC ones up from last year, The Lego Batman movie has turned Opeie into a HUGE DC fan).  You can always tell in our house how much the boys love the kits they have built as sometimes after being built and played with they are taken apart and the parts are used for new custom builds. Other times though the kits stay built and are lovingly displayed in our LEGO room (yes we have entire room devoted to those super bricks), or they get their own box to be stored in until their next outing. The mighty micros got their own box, so when wave 2 was released they were ready for action.


I can't wait to see if there is going to be a third wave of Mighty Micros and there is a list as long as my arm for characters I would love to see included. These awesome little kits are one of my favourite newer releases from LEGO and I'd love to see the range opened up to possible other themes, like Adventure time, teen titans or powerpuff girls from the new LEGO Dimensions kits.



Thursday, 9 February 2017

"All the things in nannys house are shiney"


Opeie absolutely adores his nan which I couldn't be happier about. He's forever asking when he is seeing her next and it is so lovely to see the relationship they have formed over the years. The last time they hung out together Opeie wanted to make her something to give to her when she picked him up, so we put our heads together and decided to write her a poem. With there not being any extended family on my side it's so important that he has such a great relationship with Mrs M's family and I feel so lucky for all they have done for us over the years. Tomorrow is a nanny day too and Opeie picked up a little present while we were at a museum today, he's such a thoughtful little thing.



Wednesday, 8 February 2017

"You know what they say. The female is the deadlier of the species."


AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!! Is pretty much the only way I can describe how I felt when I first read that this LEGO kit was actually going to be released. I'm quite sure that people would tell me to grow up if they knew me, but as a 36-year-old LEGO geek, there are certain LEGO releases that have almost tipped me over the edge. When you combine my brick obsession with a lifetime love of Marvel comics then things can go into nerd overload. Don't get me wrong, ALL LEGO kits get my creative juices flowing but every now and again there will be a kit that really excites me, more than the others. The last time this happened was with the release of the Guardians of the galaxy movie kits as the comics were such a big thing for me growing up. So I'm sure you can imagine just how excited I am about the kits that accompany the Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 movie, which is released later in the year. 


The kit that has got me so excited recently though is Marvel Super Heroes Hulk Vs Red Hulk 76078, surprisingly not for either of the hulks, despite how awesome they are and how great they will look displayed with our collection. The She-hulk run of Marvel comics was one of my favorites growing up. Hulk's cousin Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) didn't get the same attention that Hulk did but for me was always the more interesting Super Hero (plus I may have had a little teen crush on the green heroin). I had been hoping that she would be one day immortalised in LEGO for many years, but I didn't think there was much chance of that happening, until now (Cue that AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!! again).


LEGO continues to blow me away with all of their amazing releases, and this recent release has made me realise that if She-Hulk can make the cut then there is hope for some of the other characters that I would love to see getting the brick makeover. I'm still holding out for a comic style Baron Zemo (Maybe in a Thunderbolts kit) and a large buildable Galactus (possibly something I should just create myself). There are so many characters from the Marvel universe that LEGO could be producing kits that I adore forever! 


What is also great about these awesome kits is that with each new character release from the marvel universe, there comes more super hero education for the boys. They love anything that I loved as a kid and I have opened their eyes to the magical worlds of both LEGO and Marvel. Lego's Hulk Vs Red Hulk has everything the boys need for boisterous play. 4 Hulks for a full on tag team battle, trucks made for bashing and catapult that flings the characters about. 

This kit has got me and the boys talking about a big Hulk themed build, to house our hulks, so watch this space. HULK SMASH!!!


Before I go to continue some solo LEGO building, I had to include Opeie's creation that had him rolling around on the floor laughing. Both hulks lost an arm and they became conjoined twins. Opeie had them doing all sorts of awkward things together. They look like a couple of drunk aggressive lads on a night out to me. I love Opeie's crazy LEGO role-play. This is what LEGO is all about.


With the Lego Batman Movie hitting the cinemas and many Marvel Movies soon to be released, its going to be a big super hero fuelled year for LEGO and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Happy building all! Mighty Micros post coming very soon (and they are AWESOME!).



Sunday, 5 February 2017

"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory."


I'd purposely not weighed myself in over a year because I'm disappointed with myself for letting my exercise come to a stand still. I still get out walking with the boys and play a lot of Hockey with them but I used to go out walking and sometimes running and it was part of the reason I lost over 3st a couple of years back. It's so easy to let things slide and although I've said in the past 'I don't have time'  and 'I just want to relax of an evening with Mrs M', I am the only one to blame for the weight that I have put back on.

When I received a surprise package just before Christmas and was also told that one of the main aims for micro scooters during 2017 was fitness, I knew it was time to make a change. It's no shock to anyone that I love scooting, if you are local to us you probably see me and the boys whizzing about the streets and we can regularly be seen adventuring around the streets of London, museum hopping. I've never really pushed myself on the scooter to use it for proper workouts, but 4 weeks ago that changed.

It all started one evening when Mrs M had work to do in the evening and I had nothing to do. It was dry outside and I'd picked up some lights so I thought 'what the heck I'll go for a scoot'. There is something so therapeutic about scooting, just me, the wheels and some great music to keep me motivated. I scooted 6 miles that night and although I tackled some pretty steep hills and had been out of breath a few times, the last leg back home had 10 minutes of flat, making it the perfect wind down, which meant that I was completely relaxed by the time I reached my front door.

It's safe to say that I was hooked from that moment and my evening scoots have become a regular thing. After arriving back home after the 6 miles I realised that I could have actually scooted a lot longer. So when I went out again I changed my route and added a little longer to the journey, coming in at just under 9 miles. This was then extended to a 10.7 miles route and then to 13 miles.

So this is what I've stuck with as it's the perfect route with a great variety of up hill, down hill and flat. Sometimes my route is a little shortened depending on how brave I am feeling as there is 0.5 miles of unlit road in a quiet area and sometimes I just don't feel like chancing it. Other times though I find myself with a little more time in the evening if I have started out early, so I scoot for longer. My top distance so far has been 15.3 miles and what is really interesting is that even after that I probably could have carried on, because scooting doesn't put the same strain on your legs as running.

 
This solo scooting fitness adventure started on the 5th of January. I weighed myself that morning and I was pretty disappointed by the fact that I had put on 2.2st over the last year or so. It was all the motivation I needed to make this change.


I weighed myself last week and was shocked to see that my evening scoots have taken 9lbs off of my weight which is a pretty amazing start I think. I cant wait to weigh myself in a few weeks to see if there is much change again. The great thing about this exercise is that I love scooting, so it's not a burden and I'm not having to force myself out of the house of an evening. Scooting with the boys on our home-schooling adventures has been a huge thing for us over the last few years and now these solo evenings are something to look forward to with a weight loss goal that is getting closer with each evening scoot.



Thursday, 2 February 2017

"Why did you build this thing with only one seat?". "Uh, cause last time I checked, I only have one butt."


After watching a video on youtube a couple of weeks ago of someone installing RetroPie on to a Raspberry Pi and using a Mario/Duckhunt NES cartridge as the casing I was completely hooked and found myself wasting an evening trapped in a Youtube video loop, clicking from one video to the next (I'm sure we've all been there). I was fascinated by all of the things you could do with this amazing tiny computer. After chatting to my friend Steve who is my techy go to guy, I decided to pick one up from Maplins for the boys to have a play about with. We installed Retropie with lots of retro games on and I even shocked myself by watching some videos so that I could add in some coding to fix some bugs. There is that much literature out there that learning some tricks and programming should be easy for the boys to use.

As awesome as the Raspberry PI is to use, the problem we had was that it is just a motherboard, meaning that all the parts are exposed which isn't great when you have little ones using it, plus it doesn't look great sitting on the bookshelf in our lounge. So I did what I always do in this kind of situation and turned to those amazing bricks. I knocked a multi coloured case together in no time but as I got into bed that night I felt really dissatisfied with the outcome. As Opeie wasn't feeling great yesterday morning we decided to have a LEGO creating start to the day, as he happily sat and built an awesome police car for his LEGO Batman movie Barbara Gordon, I had another go at the PI casing.


Seth had made an awesome sofa for Lobster Lovin Batman and it was sitting on the side because he'd not used it for anything, so I used that as the starting block for my case. He had built it so well that I thought it needed displaying. The great thing about LEGO when it comes to a mini project like this is that there are so many different elements to choose from, you can build to fit perfectly. leaving all of the ports accessible, with an easily removable lid to get to the board itself. 


With the new LEGO Batman movie Minifigure range in the shops at the moment, it was inevitable that we would be using those as they are so much fun. Plus they are the most played with LEGO at the moment with the boys so it was definitely a fitting case for what they are loving right now. Anyway, that's enough waffling from me. Here's the strange looking Batboat that we ended up with...


Definitely a lot more interesting to look at than the bare motherboard and if Seth gets bored of it, we can just build a new one, that's part of the magic of those amazing, addictive bricks.




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