Wednesday 26 April 2017

“Put aside the bug net, and try out this precious little beauty instead!”

When it comes to gaming, for me its all about the 3ds and it has always been the same for me when it comes to Nintendo's handheld gaming. I love being able to squeeze in half an hours game play here and there when I have the occasional quiet moment. I sometimes don't feel like I am able to give the games the times they deserve though because of all of the other things I have going on, this is where the boys come in, I love how excited they get about certain games and its awesome to see that they are as passionate about Nintendo as I was when I was their age. Now I say that sometimes I don't feel like I have the time but every now and again a game comes along and completely sucks me in and this Easter holiday has given me that game.

I really enjoyed playing Yo-kai watch when it was released but I got stuck somewhere in the game, got sidetracked and just never went back to it. The boys though were all over it and really got stuck in while we were flying long haul to Orlando. This spurred on Opeie to buy himself a Yo-kai watch from Target to wear all holiday. With the release of Yo-kai watch 2 I was looking forward to giving it a go but I knew that it was going to be one for the boys. How wrong was I!!! for me Yo-kai watch 2 has been the best game that I have played in quite some time. I have been so hooked that every given chance, while Mrs M and the boys are doing something, Ive slipped away and disappeared upstairs to have a bit of gaming time to myself.

This game is awesome! having two versions of the game has been great as it has meant that we've all been able to have our own games going on. Seth and I have been playing Bony Spirits and Opeie has been playing Fleshy souls. Like the first installment the main protagonists are Nate or Katie, the story starts with your chosen character having no recollection of Yo-kai and their adventures from the original game. Eventually you find your Yo-kai butler Whisper and the fun begins again. The story is so well written and with a huge open world to explore the game is full of tasks to complete to earn new parts to the story.

As you progress through the game you battle and befriend Yo-kai and can build up your strength during battle in preparation of stronger, more difficult Yo-kai. A great addition to the battle mode on this game, is being able to aim your attacks at certain parts of your enemy giving you the upper hand and attacking their most vulnerable areas. You are also able to upgrade your watch to the 'Model Zero' which packs much more of a punch in battle mode.

The thing I have enjoyed most about the second installment is the sheer size of the open world. You can travel long distance on bus and train and can also travel in time (which is where I have just got to and it has got me even more hooked).

If you we're a fan of the first game then I'm pretty sure that Yo-kai watch 2 fleshy souls or bony spirits will have you even more hooked than the original game. I can tell that this one will continue to fill those quiet moments in between all of the other things that fill my (always eventful) days.

Opeie's LEGO building has received the Yo-kai treatment recently too. He recreated his favourite part of the game 'Terror Time'. Its safe to say that the boys love of Yo-kai watch has been reignited. Opeie now has us trying to track down the new Model Zero watch so that he can continue his Yo-kai adventures with Seth and his friends.

The only question left to ask though (and its an important one), do you prefer Soul of Spirit Doughnuts?

Saturday 22 April 2017

"You’ve got to take life and ride it till the wheels fall off"

Seth has had the BMX buzz back over this easter holiday. After finding a dumped bike at the start of the holiday and spending an afternoon taking it apart and cleaning up the usable parts, I sold some unwanted things to fund new parts and the excitement of the new project was all the motivation Seth needed to continue our original project that we started last year. Seth has been doing odd jobs around the house and even wrote me a blog post a couple of weeks ago to make some extra cash for his creative ventures. This week all the new red parts came for the dumped BMX and Seth ordered a seat, brakes and calipers for his own bike that he has been building himself.

Having these projects on the go has been great and we've sat in the garden chatting and having fun while he learns his way around his new bike.

On Friday when he got home his new seat was waiting for him and he couldn't wait to get it on so that he could give his new wheels a test ride. The bike looks so nice but what really did it for me was the huge proud smile on his face knowing that he has built that bike himself. All we need now are the brakes which should be here very soon, then he's good to go.

Hi! its Seth, This bike has turned out great, I feel so proud of myself. I am looking forward to a cycle with Pauly. This was really fun!!!!!

As for our found BMX... Well, Seth put that together too and it looks amazing. We had a slight issue with the chain which neither of us could work out, but after a good night sleep we had another look in the morning and worked it out together, real team work. The boys informed me that day that the new 'Spider-man bike' as we have named it is for me as the boys want me to go on some Goonies style adventures with them. Don't mind if I do!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love being a dad!!!

Thursday 20 April 2017

log off, shut down, go outside!

We've been getting out so much more recently because of the weather being nicer. It has been great adventuring all over the place but the writing has taken a bit of a knock so I'm now playing catch up. after our trip to Bournemouth a few weeks ago, I thought it would be quite some time before we got a chance to scoot along the beachfront again. Last week though we found ourselves in one of those situations where it was just me and Opeie for two nights with no responsibilities keeping us in Shropshire. This also came with the added bonus of the sun being out and us having the best weather we have had this year. We've been itching to get the tent out, so we packed up the car and headed out on a spontaneous adventure.

I had asked my friends online for recommendations on where we should go and thanks to many of them we now have a long list of places to visit over the coming months. One town that popped up several times was Ynyslas. I'm not sure if it was the multiple mentions or the interesting spelling, but I knew that that was where we were going to be heading the following morning. Being only 2 hours drive from where we live it was the perfect destination for us if there was a sudden change in weather and we had to get back.

When we arrived we tried a couple of campsites but they were closed for the season, I was thinking maybe we had been a little too ambitious trying to make the most of the first real bit of summer sunshine that we'd had, but the third site we tried came up trumps and it was an added bonus that although they only had an 8 pitch camping plot, we were the only ones crazy enough to be pitching a tent in April. As we had pulled into the site I had to chuckle to myself at the signs they had used to slow down drivers, the wording seemed a little strange but I also loved that for me it summed up our home-schooling adventure as Opeie does have a lot more free range than most children his age.

 The tent was up in no time at all and Opeie had made it very clear from the moment we had turned the engine off on arrival, that he wanted to be on the beach, so we packed some snacks and drinks and headed over to see what Ynyslas had going on on their seafront. The sun was lush but there was a strong cold breeze for the whole time we were there so our jumpers stayed on. That didn't stop us paddling in the sea and spending hours having fun on the beach though. When the wind had got too much we headed back to the tent and went for a drive to see what was going on. Plus we had to find a chip shop. Opeie has his own little tradition that if we go to the seaside we have to have a bag of chips on the beach.

As we drove through Ynyslas and into Borth we were clearly both thinking the same thing as we both said 'This looks great for scooting'. So we knew exactly what we were going to be doing the following afternoon. The temperature really dropped that night but we had plenty of blankets as well as our sleeping bags so we were confident that a couple of seasoned pro's like us were going to be just fine. The following morning was bloody freezing and although we woke up early neither of us wanted to get up because everytime we moved cold air would find its way into our sleeping bags. I wasn't holding much hope for a second night camping but once we were up and about it didn't seem that bad. We had some breakfast and I had a hot coffee to warm me up (my aeropress has become a camping lifesaver) and we were good to go.

Opeie of course wanted to hit the beach up again for a second helping of fun so (with the tide out this time) we hunted for shells and interesting rocks  while climbing under and over the breakwaters. Opeie wanted to create something arty on the beach so he started collecting piles of different coloured rocks. Using white rocks he wanted to make a big pair of eyes on the sand. This then moved on to using redish coloured rocks to make a mouth and then we started lugging larger grey rocks to create a face. We looked around for other things to use and Opeie found some green fishermans netting for the hair wrapped around a breakwater and some seaweed for the eyebrows, it turned out pretty good and we had lots of fun.

After he had reached his peak with the beach adventuring we headed back to get the car and of course the Micro scooters to continue our adventuring on wheels. We couldn't scoot from our campsite as there were no public footpaths so we drove towards Borth and parked up close to a seafront walkway. It's lovely to go somewhere like this and have so much free parking about. The scoot was great, investigating Borth and making our way to the high cliffside that we could see in the distance. When we reached the top the views were breathtaking and as we looked over the sea, we chatted about how lucky we were to be in a position to be able to have this kind of midweek fun.

 Later that afternoon the temperature really dropped but we still squeezed in a BBQ on the beach before it got far too cold. I couldn't see us sleeping in the tent for the second night so when we arrived back at the tent we had a little chat and Opeie said that he felt too cold to camp so we packed up the tent and put it on the front seats with all our other bags. Then we dropped the back seats and padded out the back with airbeds, sleeping bags and blankets. Opeie was so excited about sleeping in the car, I'd love to be that age again for a day.

The great part about packing up and sleeping in the car was that when we'd woken up and eaten, we were ready to go. I asked Opeie if he wanted to hit the beach before heading home but I think he had had his fill. So at 7am we were driving back to sunny Shropshire. It may have been freezing but being outdoors and adventuring around a new part of the UK for us, was 2 days full of home ed fun and we can't wait for our next camping adventure.

Sunday 16 April 2017

My greatest project, the one that is always ongoing, is my family.

There are so many amazing ways you can entertain and educate your children and I like to think that I'm pretty good with plucking fun activities out of the sky and embracing any crazy idea the boys come up with. It's important to motivate their creative side and I've found that having a couple of projects on the go is great for spending quality time together, It's great Father/Son bonding. We started building Seth a BMX last summer which has been great for teaching Seth the ins and outs of owning a bike. It's great riding about and having fun but it's just as fun to get to know how the parts work. Things went a little quiet on the build over the winter but with only a seat and brake levers and calipers to buy Seth is eager to earn some extra cash doing odd jobs around the house to pay for his parts. We try our best to teach them that you don't always get things just for being awesome kids, sometimes you have to earn the things that you want, it's an important lesson to teach early.

While we were out on an adventure last week we walked past a house and there was a BMX at the end of the drive. We were unsure whether it belonged to someone of whether it had been left there as scrap. Later on that day I drove past the house on my way to somewhere and it was still sitting there which sparked more interest. That night I went out on one of my scoots and on the way home I thought 'I wonder if it's still there?', so I took a detour and sure enough it was still sitting there. I had a quick look at the wheels and realised that it flat tyres and banged up wheels, it must have been left as scrap. So I picked it up, held it on to the scooter handle bars and carried it home (which wasn't the easiest thing to do).

As it was so dark I didn't really get to look at it properly but the following morning I went straight into the back garden to check out our find. It turned out to be an old school Diamond back and although there was minor rust and paint chipping, the frame was in pretty good condition. Seth was over the moon when he saw it and that afternoon we spent a few hours in the garden taking it apart and cleaning up the parts worth keeping. It was great to see the skills I had taught Seth being used. He used the rivet extractor to take off the chain and took the tyres off of the wheels to check for punctures. We also managed to sell a few things that we found in the shed that day to fund the project and buy new parts that we need, which was great.

We should have everything we need this week to start rebuilding the bike and I am really looking forward to getting stuck in with him. It's always great to see the end product of anything we create together but for me (and I am quite sure the boys feel the same), It is far more about the quality time spent together.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

"Now whatever you do, Dont push this button!"

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was sitting outside of our local toy store on a Sunday morning waiting for the doors to open to get my hands on the Guardians of the galaxy LEGO kits. After being a big fan of the comics when I was younger and a HUGE Marvel fan, I was already excited by the fact that they were making a movie. When I heard that there was going to be LEGO kits to accompany it though, I was in nerd heaven. Marvel and LEGO for me are the ultimate partnership.

The first movie (as with all Marvel movies) ended with an 'until next time scene' so as you can imagine, the second film starts filming and I'm equally as excited and patiently waiting for the LEGO kits to come out. I definitely haven't been disappointed, It's a little crazy to think that possibly the smallest LEGO part in the kits is the one that we were waiting for the most. After Groot heroically saves the team in the first movie we were left with a dancing baby Groot that stole the show. Being able to have their own baby Groot was definitely at the top of the boys LEGO wishlist.

It's not often that our LEGO kits stay built, they usually get taken apart to use on our custom builds, but the Milano has stayed in one piece as it was one of my favourite kits of all time. The Vol.2 The Milano vs The Abilisk kit gives you a slightly scaled down Milano with a new colour scheme which is awesome but surprisingly it was the bright pink Abilisk that the boys wanted the most. With four of the characters from the previous kits in new outfits plus that adorable Baby Groot it was a great selection of characters to add to our ever growing Marvel collection.

It may have been all about Baby Groot for the boys but I couldn't wait to get my hands on Yondu. Ayesha's Revenge 76080  not only gives you Yondo (with that awesome new mohawk) but also a new Starlord, Ayesha and Baby Groot in his ravager outfit, Awesome for the mid-priced kit of the three released.

When the boys and I are looking at new kits we are always checking out the parts as well as the finished builds. As we are always making fun minifigures at home we love it when there is a new fun minifigure piece and the headpiece on Mantis from the Ravager Attack set 76079 had grabbed our attention. As the cheaper of the 3 kits released, this was a great one for giving you the last member (and probably most entertaining) of the team Rocket Raccoon along with Mantis and an interesting looking Taserface. With the M-ship also included it's making me think I should start suspending these awesome ships from the ceiling at home.

If you are a Guardians of the Galaxy fan then these LEGO kits from the vol. 2 movie are more than enough to get you excited about the upcoming release. If you are a LEGO fan too, then picking up these kits as soon as you can is a no brainer!

For the full range of Disney Store’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 products CLICK HERE. I think we'd all love a Dancing Groot, Opeie is pining after one and I could definitely enjoy a cuppa from this awesome Groot Mug.

Sunday 9 April 2017

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"

Recently, while going through a huge folder of photos I realised that there was an ongoing theme throughout the photos from the last 3 years. LEGO was obviously a big one but it occurred to me, just how much of an impact Micro Scooters have had on us as a family. It's amazing to think that these awesome wheels have become such a big part of our day to day outdoor fun. As I scrolled through the pictures it was lovely to see Opeie on his old Mini Micro and although Seth isn't on as many of our Scooting adventures it was great to see some older pictures of him on his scooter with a big smile on his face. 

The sun is out again now and hopefully that is pretty much the end of all of the wet weather we have had here in Shropshire. The scooters have definitely been out a lot more over the last week or so and with the easter holidays here I thought I'd put some of my favourite Micro Adventure images together for a little scooting inspiration to get you all out and about over the holiday. 

Happy scooting ya'll.

Sunday 2 April 2017

"Get a bunch of bad guys together to fight bad guys? That's a terrible idea!"

I've been pretty quiet on here for the last few weeks but there has been a good reason for it. When we asked Opeie what he would like for his birthday, we were obviously expecting some sort of LEGO, he's a HUGE brick enthusiast just like his dad. What I wasn't expecting though was for him to ask for something that you can't buy as a kit. When it comes to Opeie's LEGO roleplaying, the most played with LEGO piece is the Disney themed Deathstar that we built last year. The shape of the original kit has the best playability for children and with all those rooms to play in with your minifigures, it is amazing for making upLEGO stories. The Disney themed one came about after creating our Christmas themed Deathstar the year before. The boys loved it but it ended up becoming part of our LEGO arcade machine. We encased it in the lower part of the machine for display meaning that the boys couldn't play with it anymore (as you can imagine they were not impressed).  

The Disney Deathstar made up for that though, that was until the release of The LEGO Batman movie. Opeie has become a huge DC fan since watching the movie, so when it got to his birthday build up, you can probably guess what he asked for, a Batman-themed version of his favourite play set, the Deathstar. We talked about it and I said maybe it could be something we could build together at a later date because there was so little time before his big day (yes I'm a meanie!). After that it was all systems go, I had 3 weeks to build it but it took almost a week for some obscure shaped baseplates to be delivered that I needed to build the levels. I spent the first week hitting all the online trade sites as I had a list as long as my arm of characters needed to fill the creation and I wanted to keep costs to a minimum. Bless Opeie, as part of his request there were only 2 characters he asked for that he really wanted, but I was sure I could do better than that though.

 As soon as my Bricklink order arrived I began building, For the first few days I went through my usual self-doubt 'this is going to turn out crap' 'I haven't got enough time' blah blah blah. As always though when I am building, the more bricks I attach the more motivated I get and my race to complete this special gift for that awesome boy of mine became a very fun challenge. Each night he would go to bed and as Mrs M was tucking him in, I was sneaking my creation downstairs to continue building. There were packages coming pretty much every day from figures I was trading and it was shaping up to be a creation full of DC Comics finest.

In keeping with the randomness of the movie and the awesome kits released to coincide with the movie, I didn't want to be too obvious with the themes of the rooms. We had already created custom jokers fun houses on different occasions and Mr Freeze and Catwoman have had their own builds on various things. The only character I repeated was Poison ivy but that was only because I had stolen the monster plant from Opeie's Scooby Doo kit for the arcade and hadn't replaced it. He wouldn't let me forget it so I saw it as the perfect chance to build him a new one.

Instead of The Joker getting his own multicoloured craziness of a room I decided to base their room around Harley Quinns nurse outfit from the LEGO Batman series figures. Joker donned some scrubs and poor Batman lay in bed completely oblivious about the medical care he was about to receive.

The two characters that Opeie really wanted were Beast boy and Star Fire. He has become quite the Teen titans Go! fan since his new found DC obsession, so seeing as we already had Cyborg and Robin it made sense to track down the others and create a Teen Titans Go! room. All I needed to fill it was a pink couch from the episodes and the characters, job done.

With the latest wave of Mighty Micro's hitting the shelves, we were very lucky to have had them sent to us to review, so we had a great collection of them to use in the build. as they are shorter than the usual characters and have cute child-like facial expressions Opeie had joked about how it would be cool if they were all in a class room. I had seen this done already but I wanted to include it in the build and using Eraser and Calculator as the teachers was a nice touch I think (I still want to get hold of Calander man too though).

Lobster Lovin' batman and Vacation Batman were two of my favourite characters from the Movie series figures and I wanted to do something fun with them both. I had built a bat shaped pool when the series was released and I was hoping to use that, but it was far too big for the Deathstar, so I used half of it in one of the larger rooms for Vacation batman, Aquaman, Orca and Black Manta and then for the remainder of the room built a sauna for Lobster Lovin' Batman.

As the Minifigure packages were coming through the post each day, I was building up quite a collection of Batman variations in different outfits and figured that the only way to display them was to create a walk in wardrobe style room for the Dark Knight himself. I loved this room because the brighter costumes really added some fun to what had been a build heavy on the black and grey.

 I had also managed to get hold of a lot more villains than I was expecting and obviously not all of them were going to get their own themed room. I needed somewhere to put them so I decided to add in Gotham police station. Barbara and Commissioner Gordon got there own room and after mooching for all the handcuffs I could find I had a great place to display some of the bad guys that just couldn't help but get captured by Batman and Gotham PD.

One thing I was really thankful of while building this was that we had won a Mosiac from the Opening of the Leicester square store which was so awesome. After Opeie had built the custom portrait of his face there were loads of single studs left, which ended up being perfect for making patterned flooring in many of the rooms.

By this point, I was really running out of time and I had so many other things that I needed to be doing in preparation for Opeie's big day. Then Mrs M pointed out something that stupidly hadn't even crossed my mind. I get so carried away when I am building something that all I can see is the end piece, she pointed out though that although it was turning out great and clearly he was going to love it, wouldn't it be nice if some of it was left for us to build together, and she was so right. Whenever Mrs M asks if there is anything I would like for Fathers day or my Birthday, I always say 'something fun I can do with the boys' and I almost missed out on the magic of building LEGO with the boys here. So I left the lower section of the Batcave for Opeie to build a Batcave area for batman and Robin and the top floor empty, no walls or flooring etc. I simply wrote 'Happy Birthday Opeie' in bricks and displayed the remainder of the figures that I managed to collect over the weeks.

As expected the Batman themed Deathstar went down a treat and having that area on top to sit and build together really was an amazing idea of Mrs M's. Opeie has big ideas and we've just started building a pizza parlour for his new Scarecrow figure from the movie set. He's also been busy making sports related Batman costumes for his costume room.

It's going to be a fun few weeks of custom building with the boys and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in with them. I can't wait to see what craziness the boys come up with. LEGO will continue to be one of my favourite things to do with the boys, there really is so much father/son magic in those amazing bricks.

Want to see more? check out the video HERE!