Saturday 31 May 2014

"Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent."

Last week we found out that Bigjigstoys have chosen us for another year to write for them as their Play Patrol bloggers which we are so excited about. The boys loved receiving the Bigjigs packages every month last year and really enjoyed reviewing some great items. Seth decided that this year their identities are even more secret and Bigjigs have even asked for their code names this time round. After careful deliberation with the boys (after all agent names are a serious thing). Here is Agent Freshmaker and Agent RockRock, masters of deception.

"Silver white winters that melt into springs, these are a few of my favorite things"

We had had a couple of weeks of excellent behavior from Seth after the incident three weekends back so we decided to give Seth the thing he had missed out on due to his out of character lack or appreciation, obviously we hadn't sent it back but it was important to teach Seth that he needs to be aware of the effort we put in as parents and to make him realise how loved he actually is.

Since getting the Micro Scooters a couple of months ago Seth has become an addict and had been working on his behaviour so that he might get a scooter of his own. Seth had his eye on the pink Sprite Which I thought was great as there is no gender colours issue with the boys. Even though Seth had received some grief off his friends at school when he told them he wanted a pink scooter he informed me that he simply retaliated with "my step dad is big and has a massive beard and his favourite colour is pink!" Yeah... Go Seth!!

Well the day had come to give Seth his scooter and this time round we received the very appreciative response we should have got a few weeks back. Unfortunately the weather decided to throw a spanner in the works for a couple of days but as soon as it had cleared (despite the floor still being wet) we took our wheels over to Nanny and Grandads with the promise of some long smooth walkways that run for miles.

 There's something about Micro scooters that turns any new rider into a hogger and there was no exception with Nanny and Grandad. As soon as they had felt the wind at their ankles there was no stopping them. It was great to see them getting involved with the boys new hobby but it was everything I would expect from Mrs M's fun loving rents. Here you can see Grandad who is very skillfully balancing using only his tongue (The mans a genius!!).

The walkways were pretty quiet so we got to race up and down almost Undisturbed. Seth had a couple of small tumbles but it's all part of the learning curve, it was good to see him brush himself off and get back on, he was so excited about his new scooter and said 'I feel really cool'. Seth has been learning to skateboard which understandably has been slow going, with restricted mobility and less sense of balance it has been difficult for him to stay on the board but the great thing about Micro Scooters is having those bars in front to steady himself mid transit. The scooter has given Seth so much confidence and it's lovely to see him fly by with a smile on his face. 

While we were scooting i was thinking how awesome it would be to get a scooter with chunky wheels so when we got home i had another look on the site and spotted the Monster Kickboard Scooter. This scooter looks great and id love to have a try of the steering on this model as it is a lot like Opeie's scooter. Our scooting adventures definitely need a personal blog related touch so stay tuned and watch this spot.

After seeing Nanny and Grandad whizzing around on the scooters and getting into it I think Mrs M is feeling a little left out and wants to join the team. She's got her eye on the little flowery number. Who knows you may see that famous scene from the sound of music with the Von Trapp's on bicycles, recreated on scooters, a modern day take on family foot powered travelling.

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."

We've been really concentrating on Opeie's writing over the last few weeks, its coming on quite nicely and is good to see him holding the pen correctly. Ive been explaining the importance of talking nicely to each other in the house and how its really important to let mommy and Seth know how much we love them as they are not with us all the time, so our practice handwriting has been messages for mommy when she gets home from work.

Great work Opeie!

Friday 30 May 2014

“Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.”

Its been shut down at Gifts from the Pirates HQ this week, the boys were off school/Nursery and i wanted to give them my undivided attention so ive not been on the internet all week, no blogging, no social media and it has been bliss. Now time for all the catching up posts, starting with last weekend. A bank holiday of rain to start with, pretty much what we have come to expect when we've got plans for the beach and fun in the sun. On Friday night after checking the Metoffice and realising that grim weather was looming we decided to head to Bristol for Vegfest. It was a great chance for Mrs M to network and get pics for work and for us boys to binge on vegan cakes.

The drive down was a nightmare, should have taken us 2hrs, took us 3 1/2, by the time we arrived the rain was thrashing down, the only parking space I could find was in a giant puddle and the whole place was looking pretty gloomy. The one bonus though was it was lunch time. The boys were just happy to get out the car and walk about. Its the first time id been to Bristol and despite the rain and the fact that everything seemed so grey it seemed like a really nice place. I wish we had known we were going sooner as i would have loved to have made arrangements to see my friend Jane.

 With Opeie having so many Allergies/intolerances these Vegan festivals are great for picking up things that we can't always get hold of and fantastic for buying things we use daily in bulk. The food is always lush too which is great. I am not vegan myself but i don't eat meat or dairy for health reasons, it can be a pain for us as a family to eat out so these sort of events make days out for us a little easier as we don't have to spend the morning preparing food.

Everywhere smelt of lovely food and the place was full of products we love as a family, It was such a shame that the weather was so awful as it really put a dampener on the day. When you don't have children you can forget about what the weather is doing but you worry more with kids. The boys didn't let the weather get them down, there was cake everywhere and they even managed to flirt with some ladies, the smooth talkers...

We filled our tummies and listened to some really inspirational words while scoffing our grub, the festival gave us a great chance to meet some of the people that Mrs M works with, it was nice to put faces to the names and they all seemed really friendly. There was no holding up for the weather though and because of it the boys didn't really want to be walking around in the rain so eventually we headed back in the direction of the car. We had parked right next to a place that had exhibitions on for children so we made the most of it being indoors and out of the rain.

We had booked a table at a vegan restaurant for tea but just couldn't find the place so after an annoying 40 minutes walking around following our iphone to an incorrect postcode we called it a day on Bristol. On the drive home we decided to swing by Wholefoods in Cheltenham for a quick bite as it was getting on and the troops were getting hungry. Despite the bad weather we had a great time and we're all looking forward to the next day of binge eating vegan festival.

"Adventure time, C'mon grab your friends, We'll go to very distant lands..."

The sun was out and the troops were playing in the garden so I had no excuse I could use for not cleaning out the car. I'd been putting it off for the last few weeks since before our trip to the beach a few weekends back and it was in desperate need of some TLC. The floor was covered in sand and there was wrappers, bits of Lego and clothing everywhere, it was a mess. It thankfully didn't take long to sort out though which was great. As I opened the boot and looked inside ready to sort that out too I felt quite proud at what stared back at me. It really is a family car and the inside of our boot just proves that. 

The Micro scooters are amazing how they fold down so small which has been great for making sure there is always space for them when we're off on our adventures. They have been awesome to have since Seth's bike has got to big for the car. They've quickly become one of the most played with things since the sun decided to start warming everywhere up.

Our boards from Native skate have their own spot too between the pads and the wellies (gotta make sure you have wellies in the car). Seth has started his own personal rota of Scooter, Skateboard, Scooter, Skateboard which is cute. He doesn't want to hurt one of their feelings if he plays with the other more.

Theres usually changes of clothes, fishing nets and buckets and spades which will be back in there soon. You have to be prepared for anything when you are adventuring with the likes of Seth and Opeie. They are so much fun to spend time with and i love that there is a boot full of goodies to keep them entertained now that we are heading towards summer. I'm really looking forward to some serious summer adventuring.

Friday 23 May 2014

I'm Stickman, I'm Stickman, I'M STICKMAN! Thats me.

While in Asda we did our usual rounds perusing the toy aisles but there was nothing to take our fancy so we headed over to the books. Since our friends bought the boys 'Zog' by Julia Donaldson for Christmas, everytime we read it and get to the pictures of her other books on the back page Opeie always points to 'super worm' and says 'I'd really like that'. Well today it was staring right at us from the shelves and as it was on offer we got to choose another book. I liked the look of 'stickman' so that found it's way in to the trolley too. 

Stickman is a great children's book and Opeie finds his adventures lots of fun, We've read it at least once every day since getting it. It made me think of when I was younger and how much fun i could have with a stick. A stick is the ultimate classic toy and it's up there with the rock, the cardboard box and the piece of string. Sadly with technology taking over this simple yet extremely versatile play thing probably doesn't get the attention it deserves these days.

Thankfully in our house 'Stickman' has awakened something in Opeie and his love of sticks is growing stronger by the day. Despite all the toys he has to play with over the last few days our garden role play has been stick heavy. His beloved stick (which now resides in the house and lounges about on the boys sofa like a lazy teenager) has been subject to many different games. The cliche but ever popular use as a sword or 'Lightsaber' if Opeie's feeling a little futuristic has been the weapon of choice for some up close and personal scrapping but it has also been transformed in to some form of gun/blaster to get him out of sticky situations (perfect for long distance battles and fending off up and coming attacks...

Are you a little bit bored while waiting for your Nemisis to attack? Why not make use of the phone setting (I'm not sure what the reception is like but I'm guessing its better that EE)...

The stick also comes in handy if your foe's nose resembles that of an elephant or prehistoric monster beak and you need to throw a little smack talk down. "hey big nose..."

Nature really is a wonderous thing and as I said before the classic, true vintage toys are really unbeatable in the world of play, so get outside while the suns out, grab yourself a free toy and let your imagination run wild. After all it's what being a child is all about and us parents need to be encouraging that.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."

Unboxing and switching on a new Nintendo console is a very exciting thing, even more so when it's a console for the boys. They love their technology in the house and I think it's really important that they familiarise themselves with current technology and software, it's the way the world is going at the moment and although we love getting out into nature, going on adventures and building bases I don't want them to get left behind.

Opeie's new 2DS being delivered last week reminded me again of one of the things we love doing the most, creating our Mii characters. Long gone are the days where your console was oscolete if you didn't own a game. With the 3ds/2ds you could happily entertain yourself for weeks with the software installed, not to mention Streetpass where you can connect with other gamers in the street. But before you can take advantage of this great software you need to create your avatar...

Everything about the console is self explanatory and really simple to use, Opeie is 3 and can navigate his way around it with no problem at all. once you click on the Mii Maker app you are taken through all the steps you need to make a cute avatar of yourself or a crazy little character to use while playing.

One of the things i love most about having a Mii character on your console is that it makes the console a little more personal. If you're a bald headed, bearded glasses wearer like me then making a life like Mii is pretty easy but if you don't have real stand out features then there is a great amount of characteristics to chose from including hairstyles, makeup and a variety of facial contouring. Some times me and the boys like to just sit and make random people.

You can get pretty creative with your characters too as you are able to change the size of the features and move them around the face. When you are done you can create a personal message for your Mii for connecting with other gamers. I find the lack of characters in the greeting frustrating but i am also thankful of it as its extra security as a parent knowing that you couldn't really use it for having conversations with gamers you don't know.

 If you don't want to start from scratch with your character then there is the option of starting your Mii off from a photo of yourself. you take the photo and the console maps your face and gives you a  starting block for your character customisation. Its fun to see what the console takes from your picture...

And then you just add your own features, simple.

 yes i realise i look like a convict!

And there you have it, once your Mii is complete its time to take full advantage of the software provided, get out there and collect some Mii's to use for the streetpass games, battle ghosts, search haunted mansions and collect picture tiles to unlock gifts for your Mii character like Mario, Kirby and Pikmin hats. Its so addictive once you get in to it and you will be surprised home many Mii's you pick up just wandering around a town centre. If there's more than one console in the house then you can connect with each other once a day which is great for an extra bit of family bonding.

Time for me to go, Opeie has got himself trapped in that dam cage again and needs saving...