Thursday 30 January 2014

"Thanks for playing! Way to go!"

This morning I thought it would be a good idea to make some masks with Opeie. I wanted to keep him Occupied in the house seeing as it's so cold and wet outside and he's not been feeling great since the weekend. I also wanted to keep his mind off the TV, I'd had my fill of Go Diego Go this morning. I asked Opeie what masks he wanted to make? As always he knew exactly what he wanted, Yoshi from super Mario with his long tongue sticking out for him and Mario for me, no problem.

The coloured card, scissors and glue came out and we sat down together to be creative. About 10 minutes in though Mrs M handed him a snack and he instantly lost interest so I continued alone and made a very quick Yoshi mask with sticky out tongue as requested.

As soon as Opeie saw the mask he got his creative mojo back and reached for his scissors. Now if you've ever tried to do cutting with young children you'll know that they need a lot of help so sadly no photos of us in creative mode. I held the paper and moved it round as he snipped away. Some of the pieces came out how we wanted and some of them were a little bit more unique, but the finished Mario mask came out so much better and had much more character than the mask I had made.

And that was our morning, now to fill the afternoon.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

“Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget than to remember me and cry.”

It takes a lot for me usually to connect with people. Because of past events in my life and relationships I've had with former friends and family I tend to be very wary. Sometimes though there are people that you come in to contact with that you can't help but instantly connect with and Mrs M's great nan was one of them. Mable had one of those smiles that as soon as it was aimed your way you were hooked. 

Although I had only known her since me and Mrs M had been together I kind of felt like I'd known her for the past twenty odd years due to all the amazing stories Mrs M had told me. We would often lie in bed at night and she would tell me about all the things they used to get up to. My favourite was the story about how a goat ate a huge chunk of her hair (very funny). Mrs M, Auntie Lottie and their mom (Nanny Roo) had a love and admiration for her that you don't see much these days. It was always obvious what a huge impact she had had on their lives, it made me wish I had someone from my family that I cared that much about.

Mable absolutely adored the boys and they would always get really excited when we were going to visit. She would happily sit and talk to Seth for the entire time we were there and sometimes it was  like they were the only two people in the room, she loved them dearly. Sometimes when we would be driving home Seth would be in tears as he wanted to go back, I loved that he had this connection. She had a lovely garden and the boys loved looking after it for her, cutting the grass and watering the plants, she loved her flowers, especially forget-me-nots.

In great grandparent style her house was full of NicNaks, treasures from past adventures and a lifetime of memories. Opeie loved playing with her dolls, especially the doll she had handmade herself for nanny Roo when she was a little girl. Her NicNaks weren't all vintage though, there was always some Lego for the boys to play with, she was cool Nanny Robson.

Sadly this morning Nanny Robson passed away. It's been a quiet day at home and as expected Mrs M has been quite down. It's clear to see that in the 92 years Mable was here she touched a lot of people and was a very wise woman, earlier today Mrs M wrote about her great nan and included some of her wise words which I thought I would include:

- Treat every living thing with respect, everything has a right to live, even flowers in the garden... if we pay a little more attention to the world, we will all be happier.  

- Make yourself happy, don't concentrate on what others have, or what you don't have, be content that you have what you need.

- Look after your body, eat vegetables and fruit everyday. You only get one body, and its the only one you'll ever have, so enjoy it and take care of it.

- Always try and help people. Even if they are not your favorite people, help because it's the right thing to do, you never know when you might need help.

- Look after what you have, nothing is actually disposable.

- Forgive people.

- Put your children first, be selfless, if you do this, you can't go wrong.

She certainly had the right take on life and she was clearly an amazing woman, it's a shame that more people don't see the world in the same way, it might be a better place.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Seths laboratory - The air pressure Eggstravaganza

I promised Seth a night of science but one thing lead to another and the time between Seth getting home from school and going to bed flew by. We had a mooch through Seth's science books though and found a quick experiment so that the evening wasn't a complete waste. 

Today's experiment

The air pressure Eggstravaganza:

Like me you probably remember this experiment from when you were younger, its quick and easy to do and fun to watch. All you need is:

  • A Boiled egg (shell removed)
  • Some matches
  • A Bottle/Jar with a rim just smaller than the egg

 All you need to do for this very quick experiment is strike some matches and drop them into the bottle or vessel of your choice and pop the egg on top of the rim.

And then sit back and watch what happens...


How does it work?

The lit matches heat the air inside the vessel causing the warming air to expand. When the flame goes out the air cools and the pressure drops. The air outside of the vessel now has a higher pressure so it pushes its way inside pushing the egg in with it.

All very serious stuff!

"Trolls have exceptionally good eyesight in the dark and can see nearly everything - even tiny insects crawling on the ground - but all Walter could see was the river and the arched bridge above him."

We've not reviewed a book for a while so i jumped at the chance to review 'Its Walter under the bridge' by Dion Child and Graeme Bowen based solely on the fact i liked the illustration on the cover. What I loved about this book was the personal aspects of it. Real life locations and a real life character, with personal photos makes this children's story a magical read. 

The book follows Walter the troll, obviously he's not the real life character (but the boys don't need to know that). A happy character who is loved by everyone he meets and is friends to all of the local animals. He lives under a bridge and has a modest home where he is content. That is until three unfriendly trolls  turn up and bully him until he leaves. The story is great but I had an issue with this. I don't like bullies but walking away at the first sign of trouble leaving friends behind did not seem like a good life lesson, I'm just hoping there is a sequel to rectify this. 

The story then follows Walter as he searches for a new bridge to live under. The book is very well written and both Opeie and Seth were hooked from start to finish. Walter eventually meets Charlie (the real life character) a dog that lives near Witney bridge, the two become friends and I'm sure you can guess what happens. 

The story is great but it left the boys asking 'but what happened to the bad trolls', my favourite part of the book was the illustrations and I thought the colouring page and 'flip flap learning activity' was a really nice touch. There are pages in the book that show you the ideas for the illustrations using photos, Seth found this very interesting and asked if we could take photos and draw them which we will do very soon.

Again the personal feel to the story really made it a joy to read and made me think of the bridge just down the road from us, so we wrapped up (because its freezing out at the moment) and took a trip to read the book under our bridge just like Walter.

"You know you're a cute little heartbreaker"

I'm quite sure that from that introduction you know what time it is, part four of the Giftsfromthepirates fox hunt. I'm laughing at myself as i type this because of how its become such a big thing for us, filling our outings wherever we go and all because of Opeie's love of 'Fox in Socks' by Dr. Seuss.The fox sightings seem to be slowing down recently although a month or so back one walked out in front of the car as i was driving home but i couldn't take a picture while i was driving. 

Opeie has been making great use of his fox SnooziHedz from Trunki, its been great to have in the car while the weather has been colder for when he drops off.

Tk Maxx has been great for our foxy entertainment...

We're still spotting the odd Fox related item of clothing but I'm thinking they are on their way out of the world of high street fashion now as they are not popping up as much as they were.

While pottering around Bridgnorth i walked straight past this window display but Opeie doesn't miss a thing, especially if it is Fox related and shouted "FOX". I really wish i had brought these fox cushions now that Ive seen the picture again. They would have looked great on our sofa.

Even Ikea's children's section has jumped on the foxy bandwagon...

Our best days fox hunting for post four was when we visited a garden centre just before Christmas with our friend Chris. The place seemed to have been taken over by a small army of our sly friends.

For Christmas our friend Chris brought us a Fox tea towel that you can cut out and make in to a toy which was interesting. He also got Mrs M some fox hand warmers, she really feels the cold so they were very much appreciated.

 While hunting for Dr. Seuss books in our local charity shop Opeie again spotted another fox, Swiper the fox was looking back at us so we took him home and gave him a warm and comfortable place to live.

And last but not least, the Foxes we have spotted in new books over the last few weeks including 'The bear song', 'It's Walter under the bridge' and 'The Gruffalo's child'.

Time to get hunting for post 5 i think, i love how this little bit of fun really keeps the boys entertained while we are out and about. 

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

Just a very quick post today. Mrs M has been feeling a little down the last few days so myself and my little assistant set about our 'make mommy smile morning'. Whenever Mrs M is having a bad day we make her a card, there is a big box in the house of 'I love you' cards that we have made and today we were adding to our collection. Firstly i looked to my partner in crime for some inspiration. "What shall we make Mommy today Opeie?"... "A Princess". Good clear instructions from a two year old, that's what i love.

I stood behind Opeie and helped him cut out the pieces for the face and then he did all of the gluing including googly eyes and gems for the crown, as always it was a real team effort. Opeie kept saying "Mommy's going to be so happy" which i thought was adorable. He's always so proud of himself when we give Mrs M something we have made together.

The head was complete so i asked Opeie what we were going to do about the body, to which he replied "Cat in the Hat dress". Good job i had been collecting all of those Dr. Seuss books for my future craft idea.

A few pages from The Cat in the Hat and we started to make our dress...

Opeie did say 'Princess' so he needed to stick lots more sparkly gems on for the full effect. I helped Opeie write a short message inside and then talked him through writing his name himself, which for 2 years old i think he did an amazing job of (he just needed a little help on the tails of the E's).

As expected Opeie was eager to get the card to Mommy and as he showed her he looked very chuffed with himself. The card did exactly what we intended it to do and put a huge smile on mommies face. A little bit of effort goes a long way and its important for me and the boys to show Mrs M just how much we love her, she does after all put everything she has in to looking after us.

Friday 24 January 2014

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

It seems that the boys have gone Super Mario crazy recently and the DS's have been out a little more than usual. I believe that as long as gaming is done in moderation there is nothing wrong with it, and can be quite beneficial to their development,  despite some of the bad press it gets on parenting forums etc. 

The consoles have been great for many years  keeping Seth motivated during his physio, it's our time together to play with no interruptions, he looks forward to doing his Physio because he knows he gets to play his favorite games! When Seth was sent the new 2DS from  Nintendo,  I was really excited to give it a go too, I'm a big kid and  being the life long Nintendo fan that I am, I was super excited!!!!! 

 I'll be honest though I wasn't expecting to like it as much as the DSi and when it arrived my initial views were mixed. Seth knew he was going to love it as he'd seen it online and wasn't disappointed when it arrived. The thing I love about having new products for the boys to try, is that the opinions are raw, they don't value or judge things on how much they cost, if they're sought after or rare. They know when a products good, based on the entertainment it bring, how it inspires their imagination, or simply the curiosity and excitement that happens when playing- this is how Seth explained the 2DS

" It just makes me happy, it makes he feel like I'm inside the game playing with the Characters and makes me forget about my Physio, it's easy to hold and it's just the best console I've played with"

What I was concerned about for Seth's game play was the shape of the console, the spacing of the buttons and how the weight is at the top of the console rather than the bottom. Concerned because of Seths muscle limitations and his limited grip, i also thought because of the weight and shape it may make his hands feel uncomfortable. Clearly my concerns were unneeded. What surprised me was that Seth finds playing on the 2ds a lot more comfortable on his hands- which is great. The slim design and heaviness at the top means that he can grip the console tighter.

I've said it many times but I have a lot to thank Nintendo for over the years, as a kid myself I remember having so much fun with my Nintendo Game boy.  Now I'm a 'grown up' they are continuing to make a lasting impression on me with the quality quiet time I spend,  just  me and the boys.
 When we are stuck in the house on cold wet days, we've read lots of books, done Play-doh, painting,  science experiments it's nice to know we can have quiet time and sit down and play Nintendo.
Sometimes Seth is content doing his physio no questions asked, so he can have his own game time. He will ask me  play multi player, which is lovely too, it's nice having diversity to with Nintendo products, there is so much scope for their usage which I've wrote about before, traveling, holidays etc.

The introduction of the 2ds is making it increasing clear that i need that 3ds xl that I've been pining after for so long as Seth wants a team mate for Lego Marvel as my Nintendo Dsi is about 5 years old now, and can't keep up now with Seth's fancy one.

In answer to some of the emails ( there have been many, thanks to the other Nintendo geeks among us, haha!)  I have received recenly,  as soon as a 3Ds is in my possession I will give a full break down of the differences between to the models, as  I'll be interested to see for myself also. Watch this space my geeky friends!