Friday, 31 July 2015

"We are what we see. We are products of our surroundings."


When i started the blog i had hoped that somewhere down the line i would get to work with companies that would make a lasting impression on the boys growing up and brands i really respected. I had two in mind that had had a HUGE impact on my own childhood, had shaped the person i am today and helped with my development, not to mention getting me through some bleak home situations. I feel really lucky that I got to work with them both early on and continue to work with them on a regular basis. Despite these two companies having a huge impact on the boys lives too and that they give us countless hours of father son bonding time, an unexpected brand crept into the top spot and has opened up the way we play together (By giving us wheels).

Micro-scooters completely changed the father son dynamic and being able to take the boys on scooting adventures really added another level to the crazyiness we get up to on a daily basis, not to mention the confidence scooting gives the boys, especially Opeie. I'll never forget the day my black Micro scooter was delivered, i had thoughts of packing backpacks full of things we would need for Goonies style adventures. It was clear from that day that those two wheels were going to change everything.


There's something so addictive about scooting, especially as a parent because scooting with your children puts you right in the middle of the action. I love listening and watching the boys play and being able to be a part of it is so morish. The time spent whizzing around with them takes you right in to their world and Seth and Opeie love having me on their team. Its like being the head honcho of an MC only with vehicles powered by feet and the cutest bunch of misfits you can imagine.

The scooters have been everywhere with us and can pretty much always be found in the boot ready for action. In fact we've been out scooting every day for the past three weeks, we are always on the look out for flat land and smooth trails to investigate.


I ride into the school grounds to pick Seth up most days and its interesting that many of the moms want to have a go, who wouldn't, they are so much fun. Once you've had a try you don't want to get off. When we first got the scooters even nanny and grandad got into the spirit of things on one of our outings too.


I own a lovely black micro scooter which has taken me everywhere, I had become part of a scooting gang and my life was complete. That was until the day a courier came to the house with a large intriguing package. The contents of the package were going to change the way i scooted and being the big kid i am i was very excited! The Micro Suspension scooter is what i can only describe as the Bentley of scooters.With a sleek new shape and a classy bronze paint job I couldn't wait to get it out of the box and take it for a test ride. 

Hypothesis:

Seth informed me that i should include a Hypothesis because he had been learning about it at school. At first glance i thought it was going to be a lot heavier and i was concerned about the suspension under the deck as it seemed low. But i expected the twin suspension to make journeys a lot smoother.

I love the micro black but as with everything there were a few things i would have personally changed to make the ride smoother and more practicle. The double suspension on this new beauty instantly sorted my first issue. I don't live in a big city and there is a lot of uneven walkways, making some scooting quite bumpy and i think as the heaviest member of our scooting gang i probably notice the bumps a little more. I thought that having air filled tyres would be a great idea for solving that but the two part suspension makes an unbelievably huge difference to the smoothness of the ride, taking out a huge amount of the bumps.


The second issue was one that wouldn't effect most scooterers (is that a word? what do you call someone that scoots?) but there is something the new suspension scooter offers that makes my adventures with the boys a little easier. A while back we borrowed a Gopro from a friend of ours and of course we attached it to the scooters. Seth has a Micro Flex classic scooter which has a 360 degree turn on the front wheel which i was always a little jealous of as the front mud guard on the micro black stopped that from happening. The suspension scooter adds the 360 turn (why do i need it i hear you ask?). Well, we fell in love with the Gopro and Mrs M brought us one to continue our adventures. Using a secure and solid bracket, Sometimes we film ahead of us and sometimes we film ourselves talking directly to the camera, the 360 degree turn means we can just spin the handlebars to change the shot, genius!


I wanted to really put the scooter to the test to review it. Our micro scooters aren't something that come out occasionally and are hidden away most of the time. Ive had the suspension scooter about a month and i estimate that its done about 50 miles. That probably sounds crazy but a huge chunk of that was actually racked up a week ago when me and Opeie decided to go to London for a few days. The plan was to get to all the places we needed to be without using the tube. We scooted from Paddington (where we were staying) to the London eye (3.2miles) and back, also to Leicester square (2.4miles) and back and to the natural history museum (1.7miles) and back just to name a few. It was an awesome few days and being able to scoot long distance smoothly is great and so convenient. The thing that really blew me away though was that we saw London from a completely different angle and visited beautiful places that we would never have seen underground.


Some may say i am biased but i think if you're young at heart and want to get in on and be a part of all the fun and adventures your children are having then any of the adult scooters from the Micro-scooter range are a must. I didn't think for one second that they would have this much of an impact on the amazing time i have always had with the boys but scooting together really opened up our world to a huge list of possibilities and (especially with London) helped us see a beautiful more natural side to the big city.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

from Archaeopteryx to Zuniceratops, the dinosaur ABC



Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs.... it's all about the Dinosaurs, Opeie is hooked and he has surprisingly dragged his brother in on all the excitement. These wonderful beasts have kept us well entertained over the last few weeks with some great themed activities. Earlier this week me and Opeie were chatting about his new favourite subject and we got on to the topic of whether there is a dinosaur for every letter of the alphabet. Obviously a conversation like that is clearly going to kick start an activity.

I wanted to answer Opeie's question but i didn't know myself so aside from the fun of finding out if we could complete a dinosaur ABC i wanted to show Opeie how we find the information we need. We headed down to out local library, we can walk to which is great so we went looking for books that could help us with our task. I'm always surprised at how quiet our library is most of the time. We've been there today and considering it is the school holiday and it was raining out it was a ghost town. 


With a stack of books to scan out we headed home and found out a big roll of paper ready for our fun research activity. We wrote A-Z down the one side of the page and then started by seeing how much we could fill in from the information we knew ourselves. I thought Opeie would go straight in for his favourite Triceratops but he actually started from 'A' and shouted Archaeopteryx which i was really impressed by, followed by Brachiosaurus. C was our first issue but we did manage to fill in quite a few before turning to our first research device, books.



As expected there was a great source of research material at the library and as we sat in the hallway surrounded by books we looked through them together hoping to fill in all the blanks from our dinosaur ABC.  We managed two thirds of our activity before Opeie wanted to move on to something else, so today we picked up where we left off and got stuck in hoping to complete what we had started. This time though we had Seth on hand who turned out to be an excellent researcher.


We had looked through around 20 Dinosaur books but we still hadn't completed our A-Z so we moved on to our next place for information, the internet. Now i know we could have just gone straight on to the internet to get all the relevant information we needed but wheres the fun in that? The boys love reading and going to the library and i think it is really important for them to know that that information is there readily available to them, i did explain though that sometimes the books and information are not always on hand and that is where the internet will reign supreme.


The National History Museum's Dino directory filled in all the gaps we needed. Saying that though we were only missing F,J,X,Y and Z so we had done pretty well. We also learned some interesting facts too as we searched on the 'in your country' section and found out that 23 dinosaurs were discovered in England, we are unsure how accurate this is though as Opeie pointed out that all the Pterosaurs were missing from the directory.


 Thanks to some great researching from the boys we found a dinosaur for every letter of the alphabet and picked up some great dinosaur facts a long the way. I cant stress to people that i meet enough about the importance of using the library and the information that is available to you cost free. Having access to that kind of literature is a great tool for children to be able to use in all aspects of their learning.

Now its time for me to do some research of my own for the next big Dino activity...

ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!


*NOTE, Opeie was so excited about 'W for Wooley Mammoth that I didn't have the heart to tell him.
 


Sunday, 26 July 2015

'The wheels are spinning and the adventure is unfolding'


I don't know how the rest of you organise your photos but as a blogger my desktop is filled with a ridiculous amount of folders all waiting to be turned in to blog posts and slowly but surely I get through them when i have time. I take an insane amount of photos every day because we are always having so much fun and I love to document everything in photos even if these moments don't make the final cut on to the blog. Ive been meaning to write a post for a week now but with the summer holidays starting and my two fun loving thrill seeking boys fully taking control of my time i just haven't had a spare minute until now. I had the post all planned out in my head but as I scrolled through the 400 pictures that had made it through to the final round of blog judging, the images actually brought a tear to my eye.

I am the luckiest guy on the planet!! i still can't believe how much my life has changed over the last 6 years. Everything was turned upside down the day I met Mrs M. All the stupid things that at that time had meant a lot to me meant nothing. The only thing that mattered at that point was her and the way she was making me feel. What followed that day was a series of events that molded me as a person and made me a much better human being. I was introduced to Seth and the Dad that was desperately waiting to come out was released and then Opeie! I cant believe that something so small could have such an impact on EVERYTHING but there he was and I cant get enough of being a dad.


And that's where this post was supposed to start. It wasn't the perfect circumstances for one of our adventures but as with every bit of time we have together I like to think we fully embrace the time we have together. Mrs M had loads of work on and Seth unfortunately wasn't with us so we planned a trip, 3 days in the big smoke, just the two of us. I spent a few days organising things for us to do and I had the big plan of 'NO TUBE'. I don't have anything against the tube (the boys love it), I just wanted to make it more of an adventure by travelling about using our Microscooters. There was a moment where I thought maybe i had bitten off more than i could chew (travelling around London as a tourist is hard enough with a 4 year old) but I was feeling confident that me and my miniature counterpart could manage it (and it was going to be fun).


We had only been out for an hour on the first morning when i realised just how different London is on two wheels, I can see why so many people cycle. That uncertain feeling i get when waiting for a tube was gone and was replaced with smiles and a very excited 4 year old whizzing around desperate for adventure. I make it so clear on here just how much i love the time i spend with the boys, i put so much effort in with them both and i am continuously rewarded by how awesome they are both turning out, sometimes I am so overwhelmed by our relationship and although early into the first day this trip was making me feel that way.

We were staying near Paddington on the edge of Hyde park which turned out to be the most amazing place to stay in London as we had to go through Hyde park on the scooters to get to everywhere we had planned to visit. We spent the morning investigating and scooted from where we were staying to Marble arch and then got on to Hyde park and spent the afternoon there. I love Hyde park, you could spend the whole day there just pottering about. We scooted along the river and made our way over to the Diana princess of wales memorial fountain where we splashed about for a good hour or so, it was such a lovely morning.


I'm starting to realise I'm going to have to write a post for each day we were in London as I've just finished uploading the photos for day one and there's quite a few. After eating our lunch at the fountain we scooted over to the Serpentine Pavillion as we had driven past the Selgascano exhibition when we had arrived in London the night before and we were both intrigued. It was really interesting inside, bright colours and shiny transparent plastic. I'd have loved to have gone on the evening when it was all lit up. This is one of the things I love most about London, there are interesting things to look at and attractions to visit all over the city.


We were soon back on the scooters and we freestyled it a little and ended up at the Albert memorial. We had been there before with our friends Sam and Jamie on the way to the Natural history museum  a year or so before and Opeie remembered so many details from that day as soon as he saw it. We scooted round the statue on the nice smooth tiles having a race before making our way to Kensington Gardens.


While researching the area before heading out that morning Opeie had spotted images of the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington gardens and that was our next port of call (see what I did there?). We got to play pirates and ride on a sea monster it was so much fun. Opeie was loving watching people roller skating through the park, there was a man with ski's on wheels and someone on a unicycle. It was full on entertainment for my little partner in crime and I was having one of the best days I had had all year.


An afternoon of Scooting had taking its toll on my sidekick and luckily thanks to the GPS on my phone we realised the memorial playground was just round the corner from the apartment we were staying. Opeie crashed out within 20 minutes of getting back which worked out perfectly as we had big plans for a late night out. We headed out early evening on route to Leicester square as we had been invited to the Premiere of Ant-Man at the Odeon and we were both VERY excited about it. First though we had to find some new shoes for Mini me as his old ones were rubbing. So bye bye to his light blue converse and 'Hey!' to these lush purple/blue ones (great choice Opeie!).


No tubes again! it was lovely making our own way to the things we had planned, London is so interesting if you take out the underground. Ant-man was AMAZING and as we made our way home me and Opeie chatted about the movie and all the things we love about super heroes.  Opeie is so much fun to be around and being a dad is so much more that I thought it would be. He is such a character and I am so proud of the intelligent and sensitive boy he has become.


 

It took us a while to get back to the apartment and we didn't make it back till 11pm, which was a really late night for Opeie. As we made our way back I almost jumped out of my skin when i spotted a police officer holding a rifle standing in the dark shadow of a tree. We don't see guns where we live so it really took me by surprise. He apologised and we got chatting and it turned out that his sister lived just around the corner from us in Shropshire, small world. By the time we had got back we were both ready for bed. It had been a long day but as i said before, one of the best i had had in a long time. I could spend all of my time with Opeie he is the coolest 4 year old i know (yes i know i am biased).

Our first day was over but there was still 2 left, i wonder what we got up to next...

Stay tuned for part 2.



Saturday, 25 July 2015

"I swing between procrastination and being really thorough so either way things aren't getting done quickly."


It is the end of the first week of the school summer holiday and I can't believe how many times I've heard parents complaining about the up coming six weeks. In one case a woman at the school last week looked distraught at the concept of having her children at home, it's crazy!
Myself and Mrs M love the holidays, I can't see why anyone would feel differently about spending quality time with the people they brought in to the world.


We had a great first day and really made the most of the start of the holiday and the lush weather. Seth was desperate to put one of his plans into action but first we needed to assess an area before executing his idea. A little bit of investigative adventure was definitely on the cards to kick off our summer of fun so we packed bags full of necessary gear and headed out for a ramble through the forest.


We spent a good hour or so stomping through the woods, climbing hills and chatting about all the things we were going to do over the summer before sitting down for snacks. Seth asked me to set them a challenge so I sent the boys off looking for ten different kinds of leaves. Then we did a little woodland craft, the boys built a miniature cave for bugs and then we all set about building a big tree using sticks, rocks and moss.


After thorough investigation it was time to put Seth's plan into action, we needed some rope. We acquired the rope in no time at all and headed back to the forest to look for a tree to attach it too. When I was little I loved a good rope swing but in all those years, discovering these swings while out with my friends I never actually put one up myself and that is what Seth was desperate to do.


Good old Google helped me out with the best knot to use (I'd be lost without it) and then it was time to find an adequate tree to swing on. The boys loved watching me climb up into the tree's and as with all the little things I do with the boys I felt like I was reliving my youth a little. I made sure that I picked trees I could get up and down easily so that we could take the swing back down again and move our swing around the forest trying new trees.



Seth made it quite clear that although he was having a great time he wanted a little more than the 'Opeie suitable' swings I was putting up. Right next to where we parked there was a swing put up that Seth was desperate to have a go of but he didn't feel safe holding on (and I wouldn't have let him anyway). I didn't want him to miss out though so we found a thick branch, strong enough to take his weight and I tied our rope to it making him a seat. I honestly thought he would chicken out but I've definitely brought up a prop little adventurer.


What an awesome start to the summer holidays. This time of year is the best and I can't wait for many more adventures over these very special weeks, woohoo!!


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