Thursday 27 November 2014

"When two tribes go to war, a point is all you can score"

I love being able to transport out favourite play things wherever we go and some of the recent LEGO ranges have been great for that. There are a great selection of smaller kits, affordable at pocket money prices, perfect for entertaining kids on the go. The Mixels range have been awesome for taking out with us to places and with two of the tribes from Series 3 sitting at home waiting to be built, Opeie decided that on a recent trip to our friends house he wanted to take some to build together.

One of the great things about visiting our friends Chris and Katie is how much effort they make with the boys. They are quick are to jump in and get involved with what the boys have brought along. The tribe Opeie had taken to keep him entertained was the Spikels.

Ive said it many times before but the Mixels are awesome. At only £3 a pack there are lots of LEGO pieces to play with and there is no end to how creative you can be. Although personally i love building big buildings and structures, ranges like the Mixels have helped me to look at the smaller parts in the LEGO range a different way, which has been great as a custom builder as all my smaller details on these builds have got a lot more detailed.

With a large amount of hinges and connectors you can go all out making joints and help your creations become more articulate. Ive probably said this on every Mixels post i have written but its one of the things i love most about this range, the introduction of eyes and teeth in to the LEGO world has really opened things up for mine and the boys building and means that we can now give the creatures that we all build more personality.

We still have one more tribe left to build, the Wiztastics. Then, like the last series of reviews we wrote we will create something fun using the three tribes (remember our Mixels mask last time?)
Anyway, get to the shops and get yourself some of these. If your are new to LEGO, for the price they are a great way to test the water, if my experience is anything to go by you will be hooked by the time you have connected the first two pieces.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

"See the boys and me mean business Bustin' out dead or alive"

It has been a while since I have written a post about the music that is keeping Opeie entertained. He still surprises me daily with his eclectic taste. It makes me so proud as music is a big thing with me and Mrs M and the songs we love shaped the first few months of our relationship. I usually pick songs from 5 bands that we have been listening to but the last few weeks have been dominated by one band, and one of my own personal favourites at that.

When I was a young boy, I remember many car journeys with my dad listening to Thin Lizzy. Their songs were etched permanently in my head. Sadly i no longer have a relationship with my dad, and these distant times are some of the few good memories that I have left. Despite the negative feelings, it is still nice to have these musical encounters come full circle. Thankfully my relationship with Opeie is completely different to the one I had with my own dad and my view of parenting has me putting him first with everything I do.

Anyway back to Opeie's top 5, starting with Jailbreak, the Thin Lizzy song that Opeie can be found screaming to while pretending to play the guitar, a true Rock star in the making.

Opeie has a strange love of Shakespeare (well as much as a toddler could anyway), bizarre for a three-year-old I know but i will fully embrace anything he is interested in. When he first heard Romeo and the lonely girl he picked up on the character name in the song, and the track became a firm favourite...

Its not all about the epic guitar solo's and instrument thrashing, like his dad he is a sucker for the more mushy songs including running back and Southbound. He really does get in to his music its so cute.

And of course Opeie's top five wouldn't be the same without 'The boys are back in town'. Which is also Seth's favourite Thin Lizzy song. Opeie soaks up any music I introduce him to and he knows what he likes which is great. I will continue to send great music his way and who knows one day i might even be listening to his albums, Rock on!

Monday 24 November 2014

"oh wow techno fear it's happening again, all the machinerys ganging up on me"

Its coming to that time of year again, when a good percentage of us parents go into panic mode about what to get our adorable little ones for Christmas hoping that Santa really has been taking notice of what our little ones are interested in throughout the year. As always electronic toys and gadgets are increasingly popular with children and the adult market is huge too (Mrs M is always telling me how many Nintendo consoles she sees during her morning commute). I imagine this time of year consoles and games are big business. I'm a Nintendo guy through and through and have been since the release of the NES many years ago. I've grown with them as a company so I am always excited when there is an awesome game promotion going on.

Clearly Nintendo is fully aware of the stresses and strains of Christmas shopping and has come up with a great Winter promotion giving you the chance to download one of the latest 3DS games for free, yes FREE! (and they are all great games). To do this all you need to do is register your Console (3ds/2ds) with Club Nintendo along with one of 3 3ds games, Super smash bros, Pokemon Omega Ruby or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (original or limited edition Steelbook). 

Once you have your product Pin numbers to hand All you need to do is register them through the site (be aware that if you have bought either second had the product pin may not work). Once your products are registered all you need to do is Log into your Club Nintendo account 24 hours later and request your download code by clicking on the free game promotional banner. There is a great selection on games to choose from.

I was chatting to a parent while picking Seth up from school last week, and I was trying to explain the promotion (as I was really impressed by it). She told me she wasn't great with computers;, etc. and I thought 'i wonder how many people are going to miss out on this?' I know for some of us parents, knowing what to do with these consoles can be a little daunting, but this promotion is so awesome i thought id make the whole process a little easier with a step by step guide. Everybody needs a free Nintendo game in their life, plus this time of year shopping costs can really add up, Especially if a console is topping your child's Christmas list. Having a FREE installed game ready to go on the big day could take the edge off.

So you've got your new console and game, or maybe you haven't registered the ones you have, As I said now is the best time. Once you have gone through the set up process on the console its time to make the most of the winter promotion.

Step 1: Create an account on www. and then click to register your products...

Your product Pin can be found here (and you will find these inside all new Nintendo Software and Hardware):

Once you have entered the 16 character code into this page...

 All you need to do then is complete a short survey about your gaming preferences and where you heard about the products, etc and your console or game will be registered. You will also receive your stars that can be saved and used to buy fun items from the stars catalogue.

Once your Console and software are registered you need to leave it 24 hours before signing back into your account to choose the free game you would like using the promotional banner.

I don't want to sway you in your gaming decisions but i can strongly recommend Yoshi's new island and also Pokemon Art academy. If you don't believe me check out my art work (i know, i know, artistic genius).

You don't want to miss out on this great winter promotion and I hope I have made the whole process a little easier for you. If you are having problems though and have stumbled across this post on the verge of tearing your hair out, then drop me an email in the top left corner of the blog and i will guide you through it.

Thanks for reading and happy gaming.

Friday 21 November 2014

"Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments."

It's business as usual and Opeie's Diner and yesterday lunch time I decided to drop in for my usual 'block of chocolate sandwich'. It seems that the ever learning manager has been doing his research into food groups and the effect and importance it has on our diets. So as he took my order he told me all about what was on offer that lunch time.

His latest food delivery from the mighty wooden food Giants Bigjigs toys was the Healthy eating dairy food set. First off I didn't explain to Opeie what the product was from the label. Our dietary issues and choices mean that Dairy is not part of our daily food intake, but it's always interesting for Opeie to learn things about food through our views. Despite this, the look of the product is great, and Opeie's diner needs to be able to accommodate all customers. We love the crates that the food are stored in, they are so cute, and Opeie loved being able to stack them up in his cupboard space.

We spent some time learning about the food groups and what they do for your body. Opeie made me chuckle when he said 'can we get a picture of a coconut to go over the cow please?". Thankfully these days there a great selection of dairy alternatives so even if you have vegan or dairy intolerant children the product still works (apart from maybe the cow picture on the milk).

When we first opened the package Opeie went straight for the vibrant coloured fruit. I am a huge fan of wooden toys they always make me think of a time i would have loved to have been brought up in, when things were simple, and toys were hard wearing and respected by their owners. Don't get me wrong i love plastic and electronic toys but wooden toys are timeless. I know when the boys have outgrown these, unlike many of their other toys these will be packed away for future generations of our family (i can be safe in the knowledge these will remain in fantastic condition).

After going through all the foods, included in the set we had lots of fun chopping the food and using for toppings on our Bigjigs Cutting Pizza. I want to get Opeie involved more in the kitchen and role playing with play food has been a great starting block for learning about how food is prepared and the different ways of cooking each item. Mrs M is extremely creative in the kitchen so I'm sure Opeie will be knocking up some interesting dishes in no time at all.

Shift over and all that was left to do according to the manager was throw ones cap in the air and tuck into a tasty snack he had prepared himself, another great role playing, food related activity. Thanks Bigjigs Toys. x

Tuesday 18 November 2014

"He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."

I've been sneaking in lots of spelling and phonics games into mine and Opeie's afternoons recently and he seems to be picking things up very quickly now. We've started playing a game each morning with Opeie's wooden Bigjigs Chunky Alphabet Puzzle which always has us laughing. I pick a letter from the board and Opeie gives me a word beginning with that letter. Before he gives me the word he's actually thinking of he laughs and gives me a word ending in 'at', he thinks this is hilarious especially when it comes to the words that don't make sense, 'Jat', 'Wat' and 'Zat' etc.

We've had some great words during our games and for a three year old he's come a long way, Dog has been replaced with 'disappointed' (which I thought was great) and words like question, Rhinoserous and Unicorn are becoming more frequent, he seems to have a great vocabulary for his age.

Last week when we were playing I picked up the letter 'N' and after the initial 'Nat' with a giggle Opeie very confidently said 'Nazi'. I was a little shocked but just took it as one of those odd times when kids are experimenting with their words. Like one time when we were driving to Nanny and Grandads, Opeie was sitting in the back saying Rock, sock, dock, Lock... Inevitably it was going to get to two of the words we didn't want him repeating to Grandad, and then "Fock". Stupid me said "don't say that Opeie" which was a bad move as the remainder of the journey to see my lovely in laws included an awkward 10 minutes of "fock, fock, fock" resonating from the back of the car.

Anyway back to our alphabet game and a few days later we reached 'N' again, 'Nat' passed with a chuckle and again I was greeted with an awkward 'Nazi'. I couldn't shake an image of a Hitler youth poster I had seen many years ago that had freaked me out and half expecting 'H for Hitler' or 'G for Goebbels' to be next, I asked Opeie where he had got Nazi from? In an adorable and very innocent way he just smiled and said "you know! Nazi, like in the bake off!" (he loves the bake off). I will get round to telling Opeie all about our history but for now his mispronunciation of 'Nancy' is so much more entertaining.

Monday 17 November 2014

"Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended."

Motivating the boys to express themselves in a creative way is a big thing in our house. Both myself and Mrs M are creative people and we are always motivating each other when we've got things in our work life going on, so that is obviously going to rub off on the boys. I love it when an unexpected drawing session breaks out because i know I'm going to love the end product.

Ive written many posts about Seth's creative flair. I love his innocent and adorable sketches, they really put a smile on my face and it seems that his little brother is following suit. I wasn't in the room when this fortuitous art session got started, but when i came back in i was greeted by an adorable sketch by Opeie...

When i asked him what he was drawing he simply replied "it's all the things i dream about". I asked him who the people he had drawn were and he told me they were our friends Chris and Katie. I love how our friends mean that much to him that he included them in his sketch. They are family to us and they always make a huge effort with the boys so its really no surprise.

I can see many great sketches coming as Opeie is really starting to embrace his creative side. Its almost time to start our usual Christmas craft too and it'll be lovely to have Opeie more involved this year.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

"I think that we all do heroic things, but hero is not a noun, it's a verb."

I may be mistaken but i don't think LEGO came in small plastic packets when i was a boy or maybe i just have a terrible memory. Mixels, Minifigures, Hero factory and other smaller kits are great at pocket money prices and are perfect for entertaining the boys when we go places, they would also be great as stocking fillers this Christmas. We love getting family members involved in our building as much as we can and during our recent visit to Auntie Lottie's house, Grandad as always was first to jump in with a helping hand or two.

I may be an enormous LEGO fan and have been all my life but it wasn't until recently that we gave LEGO Hero factory a try. I wont lie, I'm stuck in my ways when it comes to our beloved bricks and being brought up on the classic style LEGO i was quite sure that the Hero factory range wasn't something that was going to appeal to me personally. But i was really surprised that it was something that Opeie really enjoyed building.

what didn't cross my mind until i saw him playing was that the pieces are mostly chunky, making the connecting of each part easier for his little hands. Grandad very quickly gave up and couldn't work out what to do but Opeie took charge (with a little help from me too).

The Tunneler beast Vs. Surge kit  Is one of many kits from the LEGO Hero Factory range and i think the main appeal for Opeie was the Hero minifigure that came with the build. Not quite as cute as the classic minifigure but Opeie loves anything small that he can take apart and put back together.

Unlike some of the classic style LEGO brick kits the Hero factory range are a lot stronger during play and you can be more heavy handed which is great for excitable little builders who take the Vs. in the title quite literally and want a full scale battle on completion.

Monday 10 November 2014

"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

All has been quiet on the blog over the last week and may be for another week or so as I'm in LEGO mode at the moment, We're building something big (all will be revealed soon) and also building lots of little things for some lovely people to say thank you. Because of these addictive bricks taking up so much of my time i managed to skip a Halloween post so i thought i better do a little catch up.

On the build up to Halloween Opeie informed me that he wanted to do some spooky themed painting so we had a fun afternoon painting skulls, spiders, ghosts, bats and pumpkins.

 After our trip to the pumpkin patch a few weeks back we had four pumpkins to carve, Opeie requested a 'Mickey Mouse' first which me and Mrs M attempted (apologies for the quality of the pic)...

And on Halloween we were invited around to out friend Tabiitha's for a pumpkin carving session, It was great to hang out with friends and stab fruit together.

If I'm honest I'm not a huge fan of Halloween (said like a Halloween scrooge). Spooky craft sessions are great but that's where it ends for me. The thing i find most irritating is the door being knocked late at night, usually by kids who clearly havent made the effort with their costume and are just wearing a black bag with some fake blood on their cheek (i guess that makes me a spooky costume snob but I'm fine with that). We did however leave some lollipops by the front door for our doorstep visitors. Surprisingly though the door was only knocked once but as we were eating we looked at each other and neither of us made the slightest effort to go to the door (like i said.. 'Scrooge). I hope you all had a fun Halloween.