Wednesday 28 October 2015

"Interior design is a business of trust"

Over the last few months the boys Nintendo gaming style (especially Seth's) when playing their 3ds' has really changed. With the release of games like Tomodachi life, Gardening Mama and Pokemon Omega Ruby, Seth has really been getting in to the role playing games and I think it is because there is a lot more substance to this kind of gaming. When we were asked to review Animal Crossing Happy home Designer the boys jumped at the chance. Opeie was really eager to get playing but not being able to read yet was going to be an issue. So the game has now become our quiet time (outside of reading) together, Opeie plays the game and I read, great team work!

First off Opeie loves being able to play as himself and being able to design yourself as the main character is definitely going to appeal to most children. In Animal crossing Happy home designer Opeie is a Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen kind of character who works for Nook's homes. Everyone we have met in the village so far has been in need of a full renovation on their property (which of course is great for business).

Happy home designer puts you in the creative driving seat straight away, starting each remodel from a blank canvas. You are given a brief idea from the customer, asked to include a few of their prized possessions (one customers prize possession was a cup of tea... I hear that!) and then it's all down to you and your creative flair.

Now lacking in a child's imagination and brimming with reasoning and logic I found myself getting a little concerned when Opeie put a toilet in the middle of a room with the dining table right next to it, but who am I to get in the way of cutting edge interior design. It turned out that the client adored Opeie's choices anyway. Which goes to show that aside from the reading this game could be played by any age group really.

As you progress through the game you unlock a great choice of furnishings including carpets, wallpaper, artwork and electronic gadgetry. You also build a name for yourself by word of mouth and the respect of your co workers opening up bigger jobs with the mayor around the village.

Personally I've always been more of a platform game fan but after sitting with Opeie and playing together I can see why these games are such big sellers. Role playing games really make you part of the game and rather than going back to a game each time to have another stab at a level you are struggling with, you are building something big and there is no end to what you achieve. Playing Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer has opened me up to the prospect of playing more role playing games, Seth is still really into Tomodachi life and it does look a lot of fun so that may be my next venture.

If you have a new 3ds or NFC reader/writer (which unfortunately we don't) there are also 100 different animal crossing Amiibo cards to collect helping you drum up more business with potential customers and adding an extra dynamic to your gameplay.

Right I can hear the boss calling and I've got some remodeling to take care of, until next time gamers.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

"Friendship is a sheltering tree."

A few days back me and Opeie were sitting on the sofa ploughing through a pile of books and we started to read a book about plants that were found during the jurassic time period that were eaten by Herbivores. We soon came to the Araucaria, a tree that still grows today and can be found in South America, Which got us talking about our awesome friends Sam and Jamie who are backpacking in South America at the moment. Opeie asked me if I thought they could get a picture of them standing next to one while they were there and as we had been chatting to them on and off while away we set them a challenge. 7 hours later we received "Challenge accepted....and done... We can see one from our window", which they sent us a picture of.

But by Opeie's challenge rules we needed to see them standing next to one. We had told them about why we wanted a picture and how the challenge had come about and being the amazing friends that they are they fully embraced our request and we received a few more pictures which Opeie loved.

 I cant even begin to tell you how awesome these guys are, I feel really lucky to have them as friends. Being able to chat to them and exchange photos and videos while they are away is going to be a great bit of home education for Opeie (and Seth), learning about different cultures from books we're going looking for in the library and being able to see things from them as well as setting them more challenges. Seth has sent the next challenge, to come up with a food that we don't have in this country, should be interesting.

Seth's challenge got me thinking about a game we could play while they away which I'm going to mention to them when we talk next.

 The South American fun didn't end there though and we were soon sent another fun dinosaur related picture, Amazing! I know which direction I would be going after seeing this sign!!!

I know you will be reading this soon so thank you guys, the pictures have really been entertaining us over the last few months, enjoy your trip x

Friday 23 October 2015

"I'm inspired by people who keep on rolling, no matter their age."

I love scooting!!! but despite all the amazing fun I have with Opeie and his friends I have been longing for another slightly unhinged parent who like me has no shame at all to go whizzing around with. When me and Opeie are out together scooting about there is a mixture of reactions we get from passers by, mainly a lot of "awwwww...", and rightly so, we must be the cutest scooting duo around. Occasionally though I can see people mumbling 'look at that idiot' or words to that effect. Honestly I couldn't care less as the only thing I care about is the huge smile on my child's face and I needed another parent to share that with.

We planned yesterday to meet up with our friends Emma and Matthew from Another Last Story. Matthew is the proud owner of a brand spanking new Mini Micro in celebration of his fourth year on the planet and we hadn't yet been out burning up the streets with him so we couldn't wait to get to the park and see what he could do. I still had my Micro black in the shed and it was a great chance to load it in to the back of the car so that Emma could scoot too.

The first 5 minutes of our scooting adventure was a little hairy when Matthew decided to tackle a hill despite not quite mastering the use of the brake. As we all watched him pick up speed and fly towards a brick wall I thought a hospital visit would be taking up the bulk of our afternoon but luckily those brown cords he was wearing slowed him down and the smile on his face as he looked back said 'don't worry, everything is okay!'

As always for a midweek afternoon play date we had the playground to ourselves, which gave the boys plenty of space to run about and for me and Emma to act like imbeciles. There was a moment where I covered Emma in a handful of dead leaves and was trying to use my phone so that she could use it as a mirror to clean herself off. Sadly the excitement was too much for me and as she looked at me like a mental case I realised instead of turning the phone around I had just flicked the screen and was looking at myself!!

Our scooting venture out soon turned in to an autumnal leaf fight and of course I got buried in leaves for the greater good of two smiling children. I love this time of year, cool weather and colourful leaves everywhere. I'm not sure why but Ive always loved that point where you need a coat or warm jumper, I think I just love that cosy feeling over being a sweaty summer mess.

It seemed that even after scooting, the playground and the leaf battle, the boys were still brimming with testosterone and there was some serious energy to burn off so we hit the park gym hard. It was time to go for burn...

Then it was time to jump back on our trusty scooters and do one last lap of the park before heading home. I'm so glad that Opeie has someone to talk Micro-Scooters with now and having an extra grown up (I use the term loosely) to scoot around with really made the day for me. I'm still thinking that a Shropshire Micro-Scoot meet needs to be taking place.

I had been looking for someone worthy to give my Micro black a new home, rather than it be left in our shed to only come out occasionally and Emma definitely looked like she was enjoying being a part of the action, so the scooter went home with her and Matthew ready for their own scooting adventures and hopefully many more wheeled adventures with us. 

Welcome to the team guys x

(great shot by Opeie i thought!)

"Less is more. I truly believe in buying a few pieces with better construction."

I wasn't sure how I felt when LEGO Mixels were first released, for me they didn't bring out the same need to collect, that the minifigure range have done over the years but I was drawn in by the pocket money prices and tried to steer the boys towards then but with no joy when series 1 and 2 were released. It wasn't until series 3 that Opeie (while in our local toy store) asked if he could please give one a try. It was that day that I saw the true awesomeness of the Mixels range

Not only were they great for the price each bag was filled with some really interesting pieces like eyes, teeth and fun joints. If you are just starting out with LEGO the Mixels are a great way to build up your parts without breaking the bank and because unlike all of the big LEGO themed kits they are not trying to recreate anything from cult movies meaning that it feels more like LEGO taking a step back to how they were originally.

With the introduction of teeth and eyes in each pack even the youngest or most novice builders could create anything using the parts and pop eyes and teeth on and instantly have a new Mixel, amazing! With the release of LEGO Mixels series 6 me and the boys built GURGGLE (Glorp Corp), KRAMM (Weldos) and BERP (Munchos). As always the use of all LEGO's small parts and joints made for a really interesting mini build. As soon as they were built though we set about creating our own and me and Opeie had a 20 minute quick build while dinner was cooking.

LEGO Mixels Series 6 is definitely worth getting your hands on and with Christmas not to far away LEGO Mixels are the perfect creative stocking filler.

"Whoops!" the aliens gasped. "Oh dear!" But their pants-tracker was BLEEPING. How could underpants be here?

Our ever expanding dinosaur book collection is getting pretty big at the moment and Opeie cant get enough of all the dino facts we read about. Before getting in to the factual side of his mesozoic learning adventure there was Dinosaurs love underpants. Opeie would walk in to any of our local libraries, make a beeline for the children's sections and start thumbing his way through looking for entertaining dinosaur related stories.

Recently it has been all factual dinosaur books that have been taking up his reading time but when we were offered the chance to review the new book from the fun pants collection Opeie jumped at the chance. Aliens Love Dinopants follows the same crazy path as the other titles before it. This time aliens are catapulted to a distant land untouched by humans, luckily the trusty pants tracker finds that there are underpants near by. They are greeted though by not only a pile of huge pants but a group of angry pants loving dinosaurs that had eluded the human race and were living a peaceful life hidden away. I did have to google and see if it was based on a true story but sadly no.

Opeie found the book very entertaining and it was lovely reading out in the sunshine staring down at a peaceful valley, we talked about how we could image the dinosaurs living there munching on all the lovely plants (and wearing their undies of course!). We're both looking forward to the next installment  of pants fun.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

It has been brought to my attention recently that a genius piece of Micro-scooter design that I have been frequently making the most of since our scooter adventures began, was not designed for the reason Ive been using it. The curved V shape plastic above the front wheel of Opeie's Mini Micro it seems is for cosmetic purposes only, but this ingenious shape has made is possible for me and Opeie to ride on my scooter while carrying his on longer scooting adventures (their legs inevitably get tired eventually).

The V shaped design fits comfortably against the front post of my Micro suspension scooter and can be held securely while we scoot, which came in really handy during our 5 day recent visit to London, where we travelled everywhere by scooter.

The smallest things can make the biggest difference and this stylish bit of design has had a huge impact on the way me and Opeie scoot together, another great win for Micro-scooters. I'm now off to drool over the new aubergine Flex Deluxe, Its Lush!!! Ive got a pair of leopard print vans that would look lovely against that frame. Happy scooting ya'll.

Monday 19 October 2015

"Treasure your relationships, not your possessions."

There has been an envelope sitting on our tall boy at home amongst the tin robots since last Thursday, addressed to me and the boys with the strict instructions not to open until 4pm today. As you can imagine me and the boys were very eager for that time to arrive as we had no ideas about the contents of said envelope. Mrs M had left us this as she is working away and we've all been missing her very much.

Excitement was in the air when Seth finished school today and we raced back to see what Mrs M had planned for us. Inside, a clue and the start of what turned out to be a very exciting treasure hunt. I loved how personal the treasure hunt was, some of the the clues were things that only we would know and were aimed at us individually. Considering Mrs M is always so busy with work I don't know how she found the time to organise it.

Not only were we running about the house searching for well hidden items, we also had to take our hunt online and get clues from Mrs M's Twitter page. As excited as the boys were getting, I was starting to get a bit of a headache by this point as because the excitement was too much. I loved the effort that had gone in knowing that she would be away for a few days and it really meant a lot to us that she had gone all out with this surprise hunt.

With clues zipped inside sofa cushions, within the pages of books, inside pen lids and hidden in the barbecue in the garden it was just what the boys needed to perk them up because of mommy working away. I was getting so much out of the smiles on the boys faces, it was lovely to watch. there was one point where there was a clue in a box of Amsterdam shortbread and Seth thought that was the end but the search continued.

The final clue was a memory stick with instructions to play a video and when the boys saw Mrs M wearing a pirate hat and explaining where the surprise was  they were on the edge of their seats. She told the boys that even though she had told them where the surprise was they had to watch the video till the end. She told Seth not to run off and that she knew he was giggling (which he was, he thought that was amazing).

As the video ended they both darted for our bedroom to the lever arch folder in the bookcase that was hiding their surprise. Mrs M notched up some serious super mom points today, not for the surprise itself although we've all been so excited about getting this game and it really will keep us entertained while she is away but for the effort and love that went into organising this without us knowing, so that she can continue to put smiles on our faces even though shes not with us.

I feel so lucky to have Mrs M as a best friend and i know the boys feel exactly the same way. Now to go and play LEGO haha.

Thanks Mrs M there really is no one quite like you x