Friday, 12 December 2014

The Nintendo 2DS Review



Kids toys and game consoles have developed at lightning speed since I was a child, which actually wasn't all that long ago (in the grand scheme of things…), but the evolution that we see today, really is something special. Toys and brands that I loved as a child have grown and changed directions, making the products available today extra special.

If I look back down memory lane to a Christmas many, many years ago, I cannot quite pin point how old I would have been.. But I get the feeling that I was in my early school years. I had been out shopping with my parents, and it was there in the shopping arcade that I came face to face with… The Nintendo GAME BOY! This particular model was Yellow, and I just had to have it. I placed it at the very top of my Christmas List, and thankfully Santa must have received the letter.. Because on Christmas Day there it was.. My very own GAME BOY.

Back then this was one of the top end consoles, there was no colour screen, it was rather chunky and you couldn’t sit and play it in the dark because the screen didn’t have any lighting. But boy did I love that GAME BOY! Flash forward to 2014, and Nintendo are still going strong, but the range of consoles available has grown dramatically in specification and performance. Today the hand held consoles all boast full colour screens, the graphics are so much more detailed and those pixel games I once loved have been re-developed into digital masterpieces! Even years after I was supposed to have ‘grown up’ I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of the new Super Mario Bros to have a dabble, suffice to say I played it until I completed it!



This year Leo has been really excited about Christmas and the magic that comes with it, he has reeled off specific items that he longs for Santa Clause to bring along on his sleigh. In one of our conversations about what he would like for Christmas, he told me very matter of factly  ‘I want a Nintendo DS like Alice’. Alice is my younger sister and Leo’s Aunt, and she had been letting Leo have a play on her new 3DS recently, and he had surprised us all by being rather good at it.

Having a look around the gaming market, I came face to face with the decedents to my beloved GameBoy. The shape, size and performance of these models blew my now ancient model right out of the water. The latest Nintendo DS models can connect to your home WIFI, take photographs with their built in camera, some even boast 3D game play, and all of them can be played in the dark thanks to the full colour screens!


With Leo being just shy of 3 and a half, I was looking for an entry level console that would be a good starting point for a younger gamer. I soon found myself drawn toward the Nintendo 2DS due to its chunkier look and because it was all in one piece un-like the 3DS which folds. I found that the GAME website offered a great level of information through their GAME Junior service. GAME Junior offers parents just like you and I, an insight into what our children want and which games are suitable for certain age ranges. They are there to answer any questions that we may have, and aid us in making the right decisions before we buy. I actually popped into our local GAME with Leo recently to see how he would potentially get on with a Nintendo 2DS, and they happily let us look at a sample model, giving Leo the opportunity to get his hands on one, and they talked through the available games that were available from 3+.



I thought this service was really great, it meant that I came away with the knowledge about the game content instead of buying blind and not having a clue about what Leo may come across while playing these games. The staff members were clued up on everything that I wanted to know, and even the things I hadn’t really thought about!  I left happy in the knowledge that we had been really well looked after. If you are looking at consoles and games for children this year and you aren’t really sure about the classifications or what the content actually involves, I highly recommend popping in and having a chat before purchasing anything.

The Nintendo 2DS Review

What’s in the box?
The Nintendo 2DS with Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario Folio Kit (Only available at GAME) retails at £99.99.

In the box you will find:
Nintendo 2DS Console (pre-installed with Mario Kart 7)
Nintendo 2DS Charger

Over the last few weeks Leo has been having a first-hand experience with the Nintendo 2DS, and he has been really pleased with it. I have sat and watched him playing with the console and I have often been really surprised with just how deliberate his actions are. His favourite game so far has been Mario Kart, that actually comes pre-installed on this special edition available only from GAME.



The Nintendo 2DS really is the perfect entry level console for a younger child, they are advised for children aged 7 up, but Leo has shown an active interest in playing and has picked up the skills to be able to give it a pretty good go!

I found the 2DS the most attractive option initially because of its one piece design, it  takes out the need for hinges to fold it, and removes the risk of the screen snapping in clumsy little fingers. My only concern with not being able to fold the DS like you would the more traditional models, was that it may be too big and take up more room when taking it out and about, but we haven’t experienced this at all. In actual fact it’s a really nice size, and Leo can hold it happily with two hands while he plays.

You can hold the 2DS like you would a tablet and it boasts twin screens with touch screen controls. This makes it easy for younger players to operate and navigate through the menus and of course the games. Leo like many children is no stranger to touch screen operation, and he has very quickly worked his way around the 2DS, all be it a little through trial and error, but even though he doesn't read it hasn’t held him back. The 2DS menu screen features words alongside images, which assists pre-schoolers in being able to enjoy.


The twin screens are both very clear and offer crisp game play, this has been discovered through the times I have had a secret play when Leo has been tucked up in bed… I am not ashamed to admit that I will be treating myself to the latest release of the Super Mario Bros Series.. and will most likely spend my evenings glued to the 2DS until such a time that I complete it…. (Some people are not meant to grow up!).

Along with the clarity of the screen size and performance, the actually controls for the console have also been really easy to get on with. The controls are split out over the Left and Right hand side of the console to ensure easy access while you are holding it. On the Left hand side you have the directional controls and the joystick which I prefer to use during game play, Leo dabbles between the two at present. On the Right hand side you have the action buttons ‘A’ ‘B’ ‘X’ and ‘Y’, that will all enable you to control different aspects of the games you play. Below the action buttons you have the ‘Start’, ‘Select’ and power buttons. Finally at the very bottom below the screen you have a ‘Home’ button that will take you out of whatever you are doing and return you to the main menu.  It has all be kept nice and simple to ensure you get the most out of using it.

Since the arrival of the 2DS I have invested in a few games to go alongside it, and what I think is really great about this console is that it plays all DS games, including the 3DS! Obviously the 2DS cannot play the games in 3D, but it opens up an alternative console option for those gamers who want to enjoy the 3DS game content, but the budget restricts them from purchasing the pricier 3DS Console.


The Technical Bit

Battery & Battery Life: The 2DS has a 1300 mAH Lithium-ion battery that can play 3DS Games between 3.5 hours – 5.5 hours, DS Games between 5 – 9 hours and rest in sleep mode for up to 3 days.
Camera: One user facing and two forward facing VGA Cameras.
Online Services: Nintendo eShop, Miiverse, SpotPass, Nintendo Zone.
Dimensions: Width: 14.4cm – Height: 12.7cm – Depth: 2.03cm
Weight: 260 grams


Overall Thoughts

Over all my expectations of the Nintendo 2DS have been met and exceeded, I think the price of £99.99 is very reasonable. It has provided and continues to provide play value, and proves in-valuable on car journeys where Leo would ordinarily get bored. The quality and specification for the money is generous and it has proven to be somewhat child proof. I am not suggesting it would withstand being thrown on the floor deliberately, but when Leo has accidently dropped it before now, it has been resilient enough to survive. One of the most attractive options for me is that you can play 3DS games, and I think it is an alternative option if you don’t want the 3DS.

I think that the 2DS offers great value for money and I have one happy 3 year old. You can see how we got on here in a short video clip of the 2DS in use.


Disclaimer: We were sent the Nintendo 2DS for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.





Tuesday, 21 October 2014

GAME Junior - Do you know what your kids are playing?

With October ticking to a close and November looming ahead with the promise of Christmas not far behind, I have been having a long hard think about what Santa may be bringing for Leo this year. A few months ago I couldn't imagine the thought of more toys entering the house, and I wanted a special item that Leo had really set his heart on, and that is when he told me that he wanted his very own Nintendo DS, just like his Auntie Alice's. 

Being a complete newbie to the gaming market, I wasn't sure if this was going to be even an option for Leo, my 3 year old. I didn't know what any of the age ranges were for these consoles and more importantly I was confused about the games available. Even if Leo was old enough to make use of a DS, would there be any games available for his age and level? I took to the internet and did my research and came across Nintendo's new 2DS, which very quickly proved to be a great choice for the entry level gamer such as Leo. What drew me directly to the 2DS was that instead of having the flip screen like the original DS Lite and the more recent 3DS, it was a solid object which would make it perfect for little hands. The recommended age for the 2DS is actually 7+, but reading between the lines, there are games available from the age of 3+, and I will be looking into the possibility of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Frozen, Moshi Monsters Katsuma Unleashed... And maybe even the New Super Mario Bro's 2... For me (Yes me!) I always loved this game as a child, and may have even made a point of completing the less recent New Super Mario Bro's back in 2007...

Of course suddenly having a child old enough to want and appreciate such technology has been a bit of a eye opener for me, and being a little out of touch with the latest game consoles and what not, I wasn't really 100% sure what I was looking at. But do you know what? I am not alone in these thoughts. With new research that has been carried out by GAME, it turns out that 40% of us parents are unsure which video games we should buy for our children. What I was really impressed with was that GAME have actually introduced a service called GAME Junior, with the sole purpose of educating us as parents and helping put that level of control back within our grasps. 

This is what GAME discovered...

'Whether it’s for a birthday or Christmas present, or just as a treat, when it comes to choosing the right videogame for their child, nearly half of parents (40%[1]) admit to feeling unsure of what to buy. This means they often ‘buy blind’, leaving the purchasing decision down to the child rather than being able to clearly assess what games they should be playing.

So, to help give the power back to parents, GAME Junior has done some research into the common issues affecting mums and dads when it comes to choosing a video game. The study revealed that the main concern for parents is understanding the PEGI age ratings with almost six in ten parents (59%) in the dark as to how this works.

The research also showed that parents who play videogames with their kids are more likely to see the benefits (65%) compared to those that don’t who feel more cautious. 40%[2] of parents polled admitted to making an excuse not to play videogames with their children and as a result the same proportion (40%) also expressed concern that their children aren’t playing age appropriate games.

To help alleviate some of these concerns and educate parents on PEGI ratings, as well as the benefits of videogames, GAME Junior has created a video in partnership with Andy Robertson, family video gaming expert from Family Gamer TV.

Andy Robertson, family gaming expert comments “With so many great video-games to choose from it’s not surprising that parents can often feel overwhelmed. For any parent in this situation, the best thing to do is check the PEGI ratings for the game which show the appropriate age rating and spend some time researching the game. If you’re at home look up games online and watch trailers so you find the best match for your family, or if you’re in store, ask for advice. Places like the GAME Junior section in stores or online help parents understand more about videos games and select a game that is relevant for their child.”'

With Christmas just around the corner there is no better time to ask any questions about any games or consoles that have made it onto your little one's bulging Christmas lists. Have a look online or pop into your nearest GAME store with any queries you may have, and rest assured that you have done your research into the game content and game play to make sure that it is suitable for their age and specific level of development.


Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this post. All views and opinions are completely honest and my own.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Hello New Me!


Blogging seems to have taken a bit of a back seat of late, it has been so hard to find the time to get what I need to do done. On July 1st we said goodbye to the house that we had lived in for the last 18 months, and finished packing and cleaning up the house ready to hand back over. This has taken up a large amount of time, as not only have I had to muddle through the house to do list.. I have also had to prepare mine and Leo's room back at the parents house. 

I write this after almost (finally) finishing the un-packing, although I know I still have lot's to do. For tonight at least I am taking a few minutes to catch my breath and break my silence on this here blog. Among the move I have kicked myself in the bum and ploughed forward with a healthy eating plan. This plan has pushed aside my love of Coca-Cola and all things sweet, savory and seen me consciously eating a lot better. 

I have spoken before how I want to loose a few pounds, and the diet barely lasts a day before I have succumbed to tucking into my next chocolate bar. This time has been so much different, and almost a month into my diet I have lost 10lbs.

For the last month nothing but water has passed my lips (Apart from 2 cheeky nights out), I have been eating so much better, and eating smaller portions (Apart from on the weekend...) and I have even joined the gym. 

On the 10th June 2014 I weighed in at 9 Stone 11.8lbs, now I know I am not over weight and I know that my BMI is ideal, but I wasn't happy. I was at my all time biggest and wearing a size 10, I longed to be comfortable in my size 8 clothing again. As soon as I cut out the Coca Cola and waved a tearful goodbye to that bar of Cadbury's Chocolate, the weight started to come away.

I know they say to weigh yourself once a week, but I was intrigued to see the difference a day would make...So here is a little look into my weight loss so far...

Tuesday 10th June - 9 stone 11.8 lbs
Friday 13th June - 9 stone 9.6 lbs
Saturday 14th June - 9 stone 9.2 lbs
Sunday 15th June - 9 stone 8.6 lbs

Total weight loss for the first week - 3.2 lbs

Monday 16th June - 9 stone 8.4 lbs
Tuesday 17th June - 9 stone 8.0 lbs
Wednesday 18th June - 9 stone 6.8 lbs  
Thursday 19th June - 9 stone 6.6 lbs

Total weight loss for the second week - 1.8 lbs

Monday 23rd June - 9 stone 6.6 lbs
Tuesday 24th June - 9 stone 6.2 lbs
Wednesday 25th June - 9 stone 5 lbs
Thursday 26th June  - 9 stone 4.4 lbs
Friday 27th June - 9 stone 4 lbs
Sunday 29th June - 9 stone 3.8 lbs

Total weight loss for the third week - 2.8 lbs

Wednesday 2nd July - 9 stone 3.6 lbs
Thursday 3rd July - 9 stone 2.8 lbs
Friday 4th July - 9 stone 2.6 lbs
Saturday 5th July - 9 stone 2.2 lbs
Sunday 6th July - 9 stone 1 lbs

Total weight loss for the fourth week - 2.6lbs 

So just under a month into my new healthy eating plan I have lost 10.8lbs. I have done this a lot easier than I ever expected too. Although there are foods I would absolutely love to be tucking into... Chocolate, ample amounts of cheese and god knows what else. I have stood my ground and I am feeling so pleased with myself. Although I cannot see any change in how I look, or how clothes are fitting just yet, I am hoping that when I hit the stone mark this will begin to change.

I want to loose enough to be comfortably back into my size 8 jeans, and I really want to tone up at the gym. At this moment in time I am feeling incredibly confident in reaching my goals...

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

What are you wishing for this Mother's Day?


To me Mother's Day is just another ordinary day, a commercial holiday that seems to revolve around chocolate and flowers, not that any of that will be turning up on my front door this Mother's Day, and you know what? That is absolutely fine. I would much rather receive a hand made card by Leo, a card that I can see he has enjoyed making just as much as I enjoy looking at it. For me that is something that would make my day, any day of the week and not just on Mother's Day!

As parent's we aren't looking for our children to go out and spend all of their pocket money on us. A thoughtful hand made gift would trump flowers and chocolates hands down.  I am more than happy to spend the day enjoying my little man's company because those are the memories that I will remember when this commercial day has been and gone.

JOHNSON’S® Baby have asked real Mums to share their Memorable Mother's Day Wishes. They have even commissioned a survey that highlights what Mum's really want to receive on Mother's Day, and the results are interesting!


As the leading baby skincare brand[i], the makers of JOHNSON’S® Baby knows that precious moments with your children and family are the best part in any parent’s life. They’re fun, they’re special and they’re worth sharing. So I don't want the traditional chocolates or flowers this Mothers Day. I want a day with my boy. My favourite little guy who never fails to put a smile on my face. I want to see him laughing and enjoying his weekend. And you know what? The only thing I would secretly like this Mother's Day... Is....


Mums who would also prefer family time over chocolates this year can download and share their own ‘Memorable Mother’s Day Wish’ by visiting the JOHNSON’S® Baby Facebook page www.facebook.com/JohnsonsBabyUkIre.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The iCandy Raspberry


iCandy are a prestigious British brand, they are known particularly for their beautiful designs and their ever popular double pushchairs. This Summer though iCandy will be releasing a brand new model into the pushchair market, a model that steps away from their usual designs, and that new model is the iCandy Raspberry.

The Raspberry is iCandy’s new state-of-the-art lightweight compact fold stroller. Hopping on and off buses, from caf├ęs to cabs, up curbs and through the London underground, with its agile chassis, ease of fold and innovative, spacious storage capsule, the quick and easy pushchair is the smart choice for urban adventures with your new born – or toddler.

The latest addition to the iCandy range has been conceived from consumer feedback and given life by iCandy’s design team. Part of the design brief was to ensure comfort; the seat unit is soft with added cushioning for the child’s comfort and is made from a water resistant fabric for ease of cleaning.
Lightweight, compact and manoeuvrable, the Raspberry keeps you on the move and is suitable for children weighing up to 15kg.


The seat unit is highly adaptable, the option of a lie-flat position allows the stroller to be used from birth, as well as parent and world facing. The 3-position reclining seat adjusts to suit the mood of your infant or toddler.

The stroller will fold with the seat unit in situ or it can be removed to make storage of the Raspberry even more compact. The innovative seat folds like a clam shell protecting the seat unit from muddy wheels when stored. When folded the Raspberry is compact and freestanding making it easy to fold, carry and store.

Parents take pride in the luxurious look of an iCandy, but it’s in the handling where iCandy pushchairs excel. Styled to perfection, the Raspberry come with a state-of-the-art wheel design to complement the innovative tyres with 4-wheel independent suspension, ensures smooth strolling for both parent and child no matter the surface or bumps in the road.

The chassis comes in two colours, a sleek matt black or natural brushed aluminium with the iCandy logo lasered into the frame for that perfect finish - Never again will the prestigious logo fade away or scratch off. Their are many ways to customise your Raspberry as the hood is available in 7 fresh colour ways - Arctic Night, Atlantic, Lush, Beetle, Sunflower, Wisteria and Fuchsia. My favourite has to be the Sunflower, and it is sure to turn a few heads this summer!



What's more, the quick and easy pushchair goes the extra mile: its unique iCandy accessories allow your Raspberry to grow with your little one. For newborns iCandy have created a fabulous Newborn Pod keeping your baby warm and comforted with a knitted outer fabric and luxury inner fleece lined double layer wrap. The design also makes it easy to take your baby in and out of the stroller, whether they are awake and wriggling or sound asleep. For the older child there is a larger footmuff with a non-slip base, Ripstop performance fabric on the outer lining and a cosy inner fleece lining to keep your little one warm and snug. iCandy know your child likes to have independence and movement so on the front there is a large fleece-lined pocket for the child to keep their hands warm or store their favourite toy.

Both the Newborn Pod and Footmuff are also available in 7 stunning colours so you can choose to match the hood or you can mix and match to your own taste with over 100 fashionable combinations. 

- The Raspberry will launch in the UK and Ireland Spring 2014.

- The Raspberry will be available directly at all iCandy retailers nationwide including John Lewis.
- The Raspberry will retail from £460.00.



Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Canvas Designs Review & Giveaway


With the way we take photographs these days, we are storing them more and more on our computers and tablets, it was only a few years ago where we would have had no choice but to take our camera films to be developed. But now in our digital age here we are with the facilities to take photos and see the images instantly. We are then free to do whatever we want with our images but there are so many of us who just let them sit on our computers when we should be printing them and displaying our favourite shots.

I have so many photos around the house, they are moments in time that will be preserved for all of time. Leo changes so quickly that a photo from even just a few months ago highlights so many changes. I was recently asked if I would like to review a canvas from Canvas Designs, and I was really pleased to accept.


I spent some time picking out the perfect image to have printed onto the canvas before ordering. I opted for a older photograph from a shoot we had taken with Leo when he was around 8 months old. Out of all of the family images we have scattered around the house, we don't have any from our baby shoot at this age. I wanted one of the three of us and soon decided exactly which photograph to go for.

The canvas arrived quickly and was really well packaged to ensure that there was no damage. Upon opening up the canvas for the very first time I was really impressed with just how clear and crisp the image was. It arrived with the wall fixings so that we could get it up straight away if we wanted to, but we are still trying to decide where we want to hang it.


Ordering your very own canvas from Canvas Designs couldn't be easier as they have a really easy to use ordering system that actually lets you see your design as you go through the process. All you have to do is upload your chosen image and decide on the size and style that you want. 

The prices are really reasonable in my opinion and start from as little as £7.99 right up to £59.99 for the 40" x 40". All prices include free 48 hour delivery, and if you were interested in ordering I am pleased to be able to offer you a 15% off discount code: BLOG15 - If you enter this at the check out you can make a 15% saving off your order.


On top of the discount code I also have a rather exciting giveaway for you to win a canvas of your own in any size from a 6" x 6" to a 40" by 40". All you have to do is decide on the image and size that you want, and wait for it to arrive safely at your front door. 

To enter you just need to follow the Rafflecopter widget below, it couldn't be easier!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&C's
Please only apply if you are a resident of the United Kingdom. Tickets cannot be exchanged for cash. The winner will be contacted via email when the giveaway comes to a close, and a response to claim the tickets is required within 48 hours. If no response if provided another winner will be picked at random and the initial draw will be void.

Disclaimer: I was sent a Canvas Designs Canvas for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are completely honest and my own.



Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Only Way Is Up


I recently posted about Leo’s 2 and a half year check. The experience really wasn't what I had thought would happen at all. Although the health visitor is someone I have met before and usually request for any appointments, I feel that on this occasion she left a lot to be desired.

I don’t feel we got a full explanation as to why she said some of the things that she said. She didn’t even explain the pink slip that she gave us at the end of the appointment.

The way she talked about Leo made me feel somewhat judged? If that makes any sense at all. When you pour your everything into your child only to be told that really he isn’t where he should be, that really does make you question whether or not that you have done everything that you possibly could. In some respects you feel like you have failed your little person and that your best efforts are not good enough.

When I left that office that is exactly how I felt. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I looked at Leo and just saw my happy little guy who I only ever want the best for. I went home and saw my Mum, and I cried.

But now looking back in hindsight I hate that I felt any of those feelings. Leo is just a normal 2 and a half year old boy. I have shown Leo un-conditional love just as I should have, I have been teaching him about the ways of the world and giving him the space to grow at his own pace.


So my toddler isn’t jumping through hoops just yet, he beats to his own drum and will ultimately get there in his own time. That is something that the health visitor should know already. The way she sauntered from one topic of conversation to the next about her concern for his speech and his apparent lack of a attention span, to his squint… She didn’t explain herself once. She insinuated that Leo doesn’t give anyone eye contact, apparently he just looks straight through them, I just wanted to shout ‘HE IS 2!’ from the rooftops. If Leo is bored no he won’t co-operate. If Leo is tired he will not co-operate. If Leo is hungry… Guess what, he won’t co-operate.

That’s the funny thing about toddlers, they do have a mind of their own. Leo does give you eye contact, he looks lovingly into my eyes and kisses me on the lips. He looks at me for approval and reassurance that everything is ok.

So his speech may be delayed, and I will make sure that we get him to where he should be. But when it comes to a health visitor giving my toddler a look up and down with her professional hat on, I know that I can see development each and every day. Things she won’t see and probably won’t see in her office environment.

As Leo’s Mummy I know him inside and out, and although I left that office feeling like a failure, I only have to look at him to know that he is coming along in leaps and bounds everyday.


I don’t need a health visitor to tell me that, because I can see it for myself.