Wednesday 26 February 2014

"Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship."

Poor Opeie has been feeling grotty for a week now. He very rarely gets ill and this has been the first time that he's ever had to see a doctor so we knew it must be bad. His sleep routine is all over the place, he's been napping 3 times during the day which means he's been up till late most evenings. Because of all the sleeping and his general fatigue we haven't done a lot aside from cuddling and lounging around (no complaining from me though i love cuddles with my boy).

As I've had a bit of unexpected time on my hands during the day and have been fairly good at keeping up with the washing and housework, I have taken full advantage by playing with my new toy (yes I'm a big kid). It turns out the Nintendo 3ds is so much more than a cartridge playing console. I had clicked on the StreetPass Mii Plaza a few times over the last week but was greeted by 'there doesn't seem to be anybody in your plaza' or words to that effect. Basically a gaming loser!! 

Story of my life. So with my spare time since yesterday I've been finding out more about it. First you need your Mii Maker to create your personal avatar, which you will have gone through when first switching on your console after purchase.

It has become tradition that when there is a new Nintendo console introduced into the house we all have to have Mii characters made, having a bald head, beard and glasses means i can get a pretty accurate and rather dashing avatar...

Once you have created your Mii character and have sorted your internet settings you're ready to head over to the StreetPass Mii Plaza. As I said, I had a little look prior to this but was told I was basically a Billy no mates. I couldn't play any of the games because... Well I had no one to play with.

To get friends on your Mii Plaza you physically need to go out looking for them, which if I'm honest seemed a little insane but then 'don't knock it until you have tried it' has been a moto that has worked out 9 times out of ten for me in the past (that one time jumping off a garage roof on my BMX was a bad choice but at least I tried it). To prepare yourself for a Nintendo friend hunt expedition all you need to do is keep your console switched on, close the lid make sure the wireless button is on (yellow light) or slide the sleep switch if it's a 2ds, pop it in your pocket and go out walking, preferably somewhere busy. I wouldn't fancy your chances of befriending anyone while out rambling.

My first thoughts were 'this is crazy who goes out walking around with their console on looking for friends?' But then... I was walking round with my console on looking for friends!! So I answered my own question. I only popped to the shops to get Seth some new school shoes and by the time I got home my green light was lit indicating I was no longer alone in the Nintendo avatar world, Lizbee was my new friend. What I love about this is it's perfectly safe for children, there's no personal details only a nickname and there is no live interaction, no messaging the person or chatting at all. Your literally just collecting Mii characters to play with in your Plaza. Seth is gong to love this when i explain it to him

One friend doesn't seem like much but then I wasn't expecting any so a great friend hunt in fair. I was intrigued and found it a little addictive. We popped out yesterday and again I took my 3ds with us. We were out a little longer that afternoon and when we returned, green light again. This time though my 3ds had interacted with 10 others who were added to my plaza...

There are puzzles and games to complete using your new found friends, One is a series of jigsaw puzzles where you collect a piece off every Mii you interact with while out and they do the same with the pieces you already have, another where you use your new friends to battle ghosts in hope of rescuing you from your prison. In not sure what happens when these are completed but I'm interested to find out. There are also other games available to buy in the Nintendo store through your console which i will buy over the next few weeks.

There is so much more going on with this console and if it's going to be a few more quiet days in then I will be fully taking advantage until it's back to my usual busy days. Until then, if you own a console from the 3ds family and see me out and about walk past and give me a big Nintendo 'hello'.

Monday 24 February 2014

"Big F little f, F..f..F. Four fluffy feathers on a Fiffer-feffer-feff"

Despite the lengths we go to to teach Opeie about letters and numbers sometimes I think he's a little to young to fully understand. Other times though he surprises me and completely blows me away with what he's picked up. Last week at the end of Opeie's music class, Julie revealed the theme for this week, the letter 'F' and as she reeled off some relevant words Opeie turned to me quite to the point and said 'Like Fox or Feet!'. It really did take me by surprise but it's so nice to know that what we are teaching him is sticking.

So yesterday morning's craft session was all about the letter 'F' and it was clear from the get go that we would be attending Clatterbugs this week as Foxes. If you've read the blog before then you'll know that the Fox makes a regular appearance with our 'fox hunting' posts where we take photos of foxes we spot while out and about. We do own a fox mask that we bought a while back but it's more fun to create something ourselves.

We managed to find all the material we needed to create our masterpieces so we got to it. Opeie's been really unwell this weekend so the activity was partly to try and take his mind off feeling grotty. The Poor little soldier sniffed and coughed his was through our craft session but he was having fun. 

We were making one each, so we made mine which was really simple and then I gave Opeie the option of any famous foxes he might want to create, fox in socks, fantastic mr fox, tails (from sonic), Robin Hood, Mr Todd, but in the end he went for Swiper the fox from Dora the explorer.

Our masks were really quick to make which they needed to be because poorly Opeie soon lost motivation and just wanted to have a cuddle on the sofa with mommy and who could blame him, it's exactly where I wanted to be too.

Sadly Opeie was to poorly to show off his cunning creations this morning so we stayed in the warm with the promise of a foxy dance later when he's feeling up to it. We'll just have to get working on next weeks theme instead.

Friday 21 February 2014

“When you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Sometimes in life and I'm sure it happens to pretty much everyone, you go through a rough patch. Maybe everything is getting on top of you, you've had to make a life changing decision, Lost a close family member or friend. Whatever it is that's going on its nice to know that you have people out there looking out for you. Its lovely to know that Mrs M, the boys and M's family are there for me and i will never take that for granted. Sometimes though people you have only known for a short time do the most amazing kind things.

We had had a really awful few weeks,  it was just one bad thing after another being thrown at us and it had got to the point where we were wondering 'whats next?' 'How could things get any worse?'. We're really positive people and i like to think we work hard at making our own good fortune but sometimes things are out of your control and things can very quickly get on top of you.

Last Sunday, early morning there was a knock at the door and i thought 'great whats this now?' as i said loads has been going on and it was causing me to be a little pessimistic in regards to daily situations, no body knocks our door on a Sunday morning unexpectedly. I opened the door and there stood a courier holding a package. Couriers don't generally come on Sundays so that was a surprise in itself, i signed for the package and said goodbye. As i turned to close the door i opened the package and stood silent for a minute before saying 'what?' in a loudish voice. Mrs M, Clearly feeling as pessimistic as i, called through the house 'Oh no, what is it?' I walked into the room smiling from ear to ear. Mrs M repeated 'what is it?' in a slightly more abrupt voice so i handed her the package.

Now I'm not going to tell you what was in that package (sorry), I'm not even going to mention who it was from (but i know you will read this so again thank you.), the important part of the story is the sentiment. The package was from another blogging family. A kind and caring group of people that we already felt lucky to call friends before this event. It seems that they had been thinking about us and the unfortunate list of things that had happened to us over the previous weeks and wanted to let us know this in a very thoughtful way. When speaking to them to say thank you they explained that they too had been in a similar situation once and someone had done something similar for them and they felt they wanted to share it with us.

I would usually be quite clear about the fact i have lost my faith in humanity, let down by my extended family and friends i thought were close. But recently we have been lucky enough to meet a few people who have quickly become our close friends, people we can trust and people we have a lot of time for. This gesture of kindness has had a huge impact on us because it has made us realise even more so that our friends are watching out for us.

Sundays surprise package set something in to motion and since then we've had one piece of good news after another. It seems our life now has a new path, There are big things later in the year to look forward to, and a new company to work with on the blog (which i am really excited about). Its great to know that despite recent events we can start moving forward again with smiles on our faces. I feel so lucky at the moment to have the friends and family that we do and i hope (although i know!) we can be there for them as much as they have been there for us!

"The moment i wake up, Before i put on my make up..."

A couple of years ago while Mrs M was working as a make up artist she had a youtube channel reviewing products. Her make up collection was huge and even her personal stash of beauty products now is pretty big. Although she no longer makes video's for the channel and very rarely reviews beauty products , Ive still noticed a rise in people doing this online. It seems that online beauty product testing and reviewing is huge. While i was having a beard grooming session this morning (Ive got to look after it its all the hair Ive got) i thought about how funny it would be to write my own beauty product haul, what else am i going to do with my spare time?

My plan was to write the post a bit tongue in cheek but without realising it turns out i use many products throughout the week to keep me looking the picture of youthfulness you all love to see when visiting the blog. So here it is, the contents of a hairy mans toiletries bag...

First up the bag itself:

Yes i know, not at all macho! but then Ive never claimed to be. We were sent two sets of the Gruffalo Chums wash bags from Trunki back in November as part of our products to review while we were away last year. I assume they were meant for the boys but me and Mrs M quickly claimed ownership haha. These are perfect wash bags and hold a surprisingly large amount of products. Opeie loves the Gruffalo books and I'm a big kid so i was hooked as soon as i saw them.

Having a smooth head takes work and i have to shave it every couple of days to keep it close or i end up looking a bit of a scruff. Choosing the right Razor is really important and for me there's nothing finer than the Merkur HD 34c Safety Razor Merkur safety Razors are a more traditional way of shaving. There's something quite empowering about shaving with a stylish all chrome heavy duty razor. The Razor is perfectly weighted and its simple yet elegant design makes shaving a joy rather than a chore. The best part about shaving like this (especially in my case shaving my head) is no hair build up either side of the blade. Being able to take the Razor apart to fully clean the blade is one of the most appealing things about this classic German Razor.

With specialist websites about, dedicated to shaving like The Traditioal Shaving Company, its great to know there is somewhere out there to buy all the things you need for your classic razor. Being able to use a variety of blades for this razor is also a great addition to the large list of positives to traditional shaving.

Ive been through so many different shaving creams over the years but have only recently found one that works for me thanks to a surprise gift from Santa last year. Dr. Bronners Lemongrass Lime Organic Shaving Gel ticks all the boxes for me, scented (but not over powering), not sticky, foams up nicely and lubricates the blades great causing less shaving accidents. An all natural shaving cream means that you don't have to worry about what your skin is is letting in.

Mrs M is always looking after us and has quite a lot of product knowledge when it comes to ingredients in beauty products as well as in food. She has been telling me for years that i should change the deodorant i use and switch to something more natural. Dr. Organic pomegranate deodorant is Aluminium, SLS, Paraben and Alcohol free and it smells amazing. It's by far the best natural deodorant I've found.

The beard has been known to be a sign of wisdom and prestige since days of old. Sadly without the use of product I would end up looking like a recently thawed out caveman or Shropshires answer to Mr Twit. To keep my facial foliage under control I use two pretty amazing products. The first being one of two products that my unruly tash couldn't live with out. For years Captain Fawcett moustache wax has been shaping my upper lip and giving it the love and support it has needed (especially in this rather dreary and windy weather). The Expedition strength sandalwood scented wax is great for high winds and rain holding my moustache exactly where it needs to be. For days when the weather is a little calmer, a more gentle wax that is great for shaping and leaves the sweet smell of lavender right under my snout.

For the general treatment of my bushy face i use Dr Organics Moroccan Argan Oil hair treatment Serum. Its a daily hug for the furry mask Ive come to respect over the years. Looking after your beard is so important. Nobody wants to be kissing a musty smelling mess and i never want to end up like my old science teacher (we'll call him Mr P.) who would turn up to lessons with the mornings cornflakes still present below his chin.

For Christmas our very own ginger Santa showered us with gifts. Chris over at presented me with a lovely moustache shaped comb proving that my best buddy has as much respect for the tash as i do (Thanks Chris x).

When your a stay at home dad smitten by that beautiful child that you've created, much of your day is taken up smooching up a storm (Nanny Roo knows what I'm talking about she often leaves a trail of lipstick marks when we visit). All the smooching is great but can leave your lips chapped, dry and cracked. I like to counteract the effects of physical affection with either Burt's Bees Beeswax lip balm of my new favourite, Hurraw raw and Organic earl grey lip balm. The Gruffalo chums little mouse is great as a lip balm case.

I tend to get really dry hands especially when I'm driving and I've been through all sorts of moisturisers. They all seem fine for a brief time but then I need to reapply over and over again. One afternoon while shopping in Wholefoods and after a chat about my dry hands I had the nicest hand massage from a lovely lady. I'm not usually the sort of person that would stand in a shop being touched up but as she rubbed my hands I was unbelievabley relaxed. I thanked her and continued my shopping but I couldn't stop looking at my gleaming hands, they felt amazing. Before leaving I went back and brought some Melvita Crème Mains hand cream that she used for the massage and I've never looked back. It's organic, smells lovely (again not overpowering) and it makes my well moistured hands glisten.

Its really important to look after your body especially when you are approaching your mid 30's at full speed, sometimes I feel like I'm not doing a great job but as I pulled all these products together I realised that I'm doing alright. Im not feeling old which is a great start and my skin is in pretty good condition but i believe thats partly to do with my oily skin (keeps you looking younger don't you know). Well that's it, my complete beauty regime. What are you essentials?

Wednesday 19 February 2014

"How stylish of you to joust in an antique, you'll start a new fashion if you win. My grandfather will be able to wear his in public again, and a shield, how quaint. "

The four of us spend plenty of our time reminiscing about the holiday we had back in November. There was so much fun crammed into our two weeks in Orlando and its something we will never forget. For each of us the things that we look back on are different but the two younger members of our family were changed by one Knight out!

Knights, castles and all things medieval have been on the forefront of our play time over the last few months. The boys love a good rumble especially if it means loading ourselves up with an armoury of weapons to use during battle. There's nothing wrong with a bit of play fighting as long as everyone's safe and watching what they are doing. Role playing is a big part of our playtime and when we are play fighting you can be sure that i will always be the bad guy and have to defend myself against miniature foes. 

Thanks to the youngest of our army can now relive his Medieval experience any time he feels, donning the finest in battle attire. The Haba Henry the Knights Armor is a colourful attention grabbing take on a knights dress up, making Role playing from days of old a fun and comfortable experience.

Since receiving the outfit our little warrior has wanted to play knights every day, and who could blame him. Nothing screams 'brawler' more than a big green dragon on your chest breathing fire. Unless you have a sword, shield or other accessory (which luckily we had) you may want to consider buying the accessories that come from the Haba Knight range. The one thing i found disappointing about the outfit is that each part is sold seperately. I think when you are purchasing the Armour it should come with the helmet and one of the accessories as it would seem a little lost on its own. Needless to say though, our armor wearing, sword swinging play fighter has not wanted to take it off and this weeks theme at Opeie's dance class was dress up so you can image what he wanted to wear.

now that its half term i think i can feel a knights helmet craft session on the horizon to compliment our new outfit so stay tuned.

The Henry Haba Knights armor can be purchased from along with the other great items from the Haba knight range and with world book day just around the corner what better way to celebrate than marching round the playground as Prince Caspian or a member of Prince Johns army from Robin hood.

All that's left to do now is fight....


Tuesday 18 February 2014

"In the quiet moments, the discoveries are made."

It's been a really odd few weeks for us. With the loss of a well loved family member and an array of negativity around us. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse but then one afternoon the week before last there was a knock at the door and there stood our postie holding an intriguing package. I love seeing a package at the door especially when I'm not expecting anything. It seems that those magical pirates that watch over the boys had been watching over me too. I opened the box to find the one thing I'd been pining over since Seth got his Nintendo 2ds back in November. 

for the last month or so while Seth has been doing his Physio Ive heard "i wish you could play 3ds games with me" and "when is mommy going to buy you a 3ds?". One afternoon Seth even told me that he was going to work really hard around the house for pocket money so that he could buy me one because, in his words.. "You're the best Stepdad ever". Seth is such a cutie and clearly was desperate for a play mate, so when i picked him up from school that afternoon and told him the news his little eyes lit up. Finally he would no longer play alone.

Mrs M has been working on something big over the last two weeks and since we are down to one Macbook due to a recent sippy cup accident, Ive had limited access to the computer. The blog has suffered a little but my gaming has come on a treat. We limit the boys during the day when it comes to gaming. Seth will always want to play during Physio and Opeie will always want to play Super Mario before bed, every quiet chance Ive had when I'm alone the 3ds has gone on and Ive switched off from the rest of the world. It doesn't happen as much as i would like being a stay at home dad but i take full advantage where i can.

Prime times for me are waiting in the car for Seth to come out of school or if that little angel of mine drops off while I'm driving home i just pull up outside the house, pop my feet up and play until he wakes up, my console is always close by.

Or my favourite time is in the bath, although i do tend to get carried away and lose track of time. The bath usually needs the water warming up three or four times while I'm in a Nintendo bubble.

Having the console has been a great distraction for the boys too, especially when we are waiting around for mommy. Last weekend while Mrs M was in the Opticians we sat down for a three player game of Mario Kart. Its great how the newer consoles can be linked to the older DSi's for multi player action. All this talk of gaming has made me realise i really need a bath, so I'm off for a bit of me time while Ive got the chance.

A big thank you to my Nintendo pirates, they've made this hairy gamer very happy.

Monday 17 February 2014

"I miss the days when all it took to make me feel better was my teddy bear."

There's something really quite magical about being able to walk into a cuddly toy store and create a life long buddy for either yourself or someone you love. Build a Bear Workshop is a great experience for your children and I like to think that seeing the process of bringing your bear to life gives the owner a little more respect and admiration for their new furry friend. We've written about build a bear before and this time we wanted to bring our friends in on the fun too. After asking them to join us we found out they had never been before so the trip was going to be even more magical.

Our friends Lucie, Seth and Martha met us in store where we were greeted by Shab a friendly member of staff with a smile that was contagious. She introduced herself to the children and asked all their names putting the more shy ones amongst us at ease. Shab explained the process of the experience and then guided us towards the limp bears so the troops could pick their new friend. Although me and Mrs M don't celebrate valentines we thought it would be nice for the boys bears  to create bears for the other two important ladies in their life, Nanny Roo and Auntie Lottie. Seth picked a bright pink elephant and Opeie (as always) followed suit. Martha seemed to have the same idea but Seth (I'm going to have to start saying little Seth and big Seth or it's going to become confusing) decided he wasn't going to conform and chose a cute larger headed bear, which would have been my choice.

Time to chose a voice/sound, there was a great range to choose from but as the boys were making them for those two special ladies they decided to record their own voices to make their gifts a little more personal. Laura, another of the friendly cheerful staff gave the boys a hand, explaining what to do with the voice boxes.

One by one the children joined Shab at the stuffing machine to plump up their new cuddly pals. (Little) Seth went first and made it quite clear that he wasn't a fan of the sound coming out of the stuffer...

The others managed okay though.

After the stuffing they each picked a heart, well they each picked 'hearts', (little) Seth picked two fabric hearts, a kind of furry Dr Who thing going on, we were told about the 'beating heart' so that went in too and that's also when we found out about 'million hearts, million wishes, million ways to help' an initiative that Build a bear Workshop are running with the 'starlight foundation', there are special Purple Hearts that cost £1 and the money goes to the charity. Also Build a bear Workshop are also inviting their customers to share photos of their “heart ceremony”  across their social media profiles with the hashtag #shareukbabwwishes, for every image they will donate £1 towards the charity, it's a great cause. Back to our 'heart ceremony' Each of the kids ended up somehow with three hearts (little Seth) however ended up with four, an apparent record for our local build a bear, somebody call Guinness! Each heart though was lovingly kissed, held to their own heart and a wish was made. As you can imagine, with 14 hearts the trip was a lengthy one, but the kids were having a great time.

 Fluffing time, the children lovingly brushed their bears to make sure they were nice and soft ready for cuddling.

We now had four plump looking bears ready for squeezing but Opeie pointed out that they were 'nudey rudey' so we all moved on to costumes. There are a great selection off costumes in store. We left the children to dress their bears how they wanted. (Big) Seth and Martha chose bumblebee costumes, Opeie chose a hoody and jeans with boots and (little) Seth chose a skater outfit with a Dinosaur on a skateboard T-shirt.

Andy gave us a hand dressing our bears and they were all looking pretty dapper. The children were so excited and Martha and (little) Seth were giving their bears a great squeeze. I always say I'd love to be a child for a day and if i had the option a trip to the build a bear would definitely on the cards. The thing that always appeals to me about build a bear is how they have added the interactive element to toy shopping, kids love to get stuck in and know that they have completed something themselves which is why the whole experience is so amazing.

 Before adopting our new family members we needed to make sure that all the correct documentation was in order. Its great that they take your details because the bear is also given a barcode that is placed inside during the 'heart ceremony' just in case the bear is lost and is handed back in.

Our Build a bear Workshop experience had almost come to an end. The bears and their birth certificates were boxed up in their temporary bear carriers ready to be coloured in by the children when they got home.

 But we couldnt leave without reciting the bear promise at the front of the store. Laura led the way with the other staff hand on heart while we all followed suit. A fun ending to our exciting experience at Build a Bear Workshop. 

Thank you Shab, Laura and Andy for looking after us during our visit  and making the children feel at ease. The children left the store as excited as when we arrived.

The following day we arranged to see Nanny Roo and Auntie Lottie to give them their bears, as expected they were a little shocked but the smiles on their faces said it all. The boys were clearly very proud of their creations and the happiness they had brought to those two special ladies.

Happy Valentines Nanny and Auntie Lottie xxxx