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  • Monkey 9:04 am on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advert, blog, party, pizzaexpress,   

    Making pizza with the family 

    Father’s Day is around the corner, which means the same lovely but predictable parade of gifts including photo frames, neck ties, and I’m sure, somewhere, a photo frame made of discarded neckties. It’s not that we don’t love our glitter glue and macaroni art gifts or wacky golf tees in a commemorative box; on the contrary, I’ll treasure each one lovingly handed to me by The Kid. It’s just that in an era where technology means we’re more likely to FaceTime our children then actually spend time with them face to face, moments of creating and teaching can get lost.

    So fantastically, Pizza Express invited the Geek Family to their new swanky restaurant off Gloucester Road (converted from a ye olde bank) near the Natural History Museum, to learn about the mystical (well, mystical to me) art of making pizzas, getting just a little messy together and making some cool memories.

    The jovial host showed us to our pizza making station – which was covered in flour and dough – and showed everyone how to knead the dough and flip it about, which is much easier and more fun to do when you have lots of wide space (instead of a tiny galley of a kitchen) and you don’t need to mop up yourself afterwards!

    After the kids (including the father-aged ones) had rolled, kneaded and flipped the dough to a round shape (or a square shape if you’re a Dad who wants to show off and be all distinctive), it was time for the kids to choose their own ingredients. Our kid was a bit Gwyneth Paltrow minimalist in his choice of ingredients, and opted for tomato sauce – this is in itself a bit of an innovation, since he usually prefers his pizza plainer than Antarctica. Sadly for the kid, he was not given the option of adding gummi worms to his pizza. Myself, on the other hand, chose EVERY INGREDIENT AVAILABLE. So thus the kid’s minimalist pizza and Dad’s square pepperoni-ham-mushroom-olives-artichockes-cheesy feast pizza both went into the oven.

    Fifteen minutes later, piping hot and lovely pizzas emerged from the oven and this is where I learnt why square pizzas are not the world’s best idea (they tend to burn at the edges). Nevertheless, we all tucked in with gusto and The Kid ate a whole pizza by himself, which hardly ever happens.

    We all had a fun time, had some great memories and made some new friends – hello to fellow Dad, blogger, Twitterer and Whovian Lee Carey!

    Thanks to Pizza Express for inviting us, and they have a special Father’s Day offer on – Give Dad The Gift Of Pizza’ – where any starter and a main can be purchased from £11.95 this Father’s Day weekend.

  • Monkey 8:24 pm on May 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Swapping Lego Trading cards? 

    If, like us, your household has been sucked into endlessly shopping at Sainsbury’s in an attempt to get more golden Lego trading cards, then you’ll also have amassed a huge collection of duplicates.

    In case you want to swap one of your duplicates, for one of our duplicates, then here’s our list of Lego trading card duplicates. Please comment below if you want to do a swap!

  • Monkey 1:25 pm on April 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ipad, spring,   

    Spring with a tech-addicted four year old… 

    Today sees the first beginnings of spring here – when the sun is just about strong enough to actually entice people out into the world, and into the back garden.

    Enticing our four-year-old Weapon, is another matter, especially when he has been fully seduced into the ways of the iPad, and Hot Wheels toy car videos in particular.

    After a spot of minature Golf Olympics (running and spider-jumping over carefully-laid minature golf clubs), thwacking a poor football with a long bamboo stick and a fair bit of planting, he decided he would prefer to go back inside for a spot of Hot Wheels video watching.

    I was a little ready to drag him back outside, then I remember he is the product of two parents who tended to prefer the tech leisure solution to life, as opposed to playing outside.

    So I’ll give him a little iPad time. Then take it away from him, and drag him to the local park. Maybe he’ll remember the joy of the slide…

  • Monkey 12:37 pm on September 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    The perfect place to entertain toddlers in London… 

    What if I told you that there was a place in Central London, that was perfect for entertaining toddlers while keeping your sanity because:

    For toddlers:

    • a fun table-based playset that keeps their attention
    • a bunch of kid-friendly areas where the toddlers can play at being drivers
    • a bigger environment where toddlers can practice being drivers
    • a street scene where toddlers can have fun learning how to cross the street and pressing buttons

    and for adults:

    • toddlers that are happily entertained
    • toddler-friendly toilets that are clean and easy to use
    • FREE WI-FI. Did I mention that earlier? FREE WI-FI.
    • a nearby cafe for a quick injection of caffeine
    • Only £15 entry fee – and then you can return as many times as you like for a year
    • free entry for under-5s
    • it’s possible to exit the place without going through the gift shop…
    • no repetitive soundtrack of tween-friendly tunes

    and better yet, it’s in the heart of Covent Garden so adults and toddlers alike can recuperate afterwards with a hideously expensive burger if they feel the urge to spend money SOMEWHERE?

    This perfect slice of nirvana for wrangling toddlers is the London Transport Museum. Run, don’t walk to this place the next time you feel the need to wrangle your toddler in a new space!

  • Monkey 12:45 pm on September 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Training toilet etiquette in the urban environment… 

    So the other day, I was standing on an Underground platform in the suburbs (ie not underground, thankfully) when I observed a couple with a small kid, about the same age as Our Kid.

    Unfortunately, it became very apparent that Their Kid needed to use the toilet rapidly – but of course, there are no toilets on Underground platforms. So the parents basically took Their Kid’s trousers off, where he proceeded to quickly urinate on the platform (by a wall), before they put his trousers back on.

    The question is, if it was your kid who needed to urinate, and you had two options:

    a) Let him pee on the ground, and thus at least “encourage” his toilet training
    b) Force him to pee in his trousers, and possibly set back his toilet training

    What would you do?

  • Monkey 12:09 pm on September 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    How to raise a kid right, from the longest study ever conducted… 

    It seems that in 1938, Harvard started a study looking at 200+ men, and followed their lives from then on to see who flourished, who didn’t, and the reasons behind why they might or might not have done so.

    And they’re still studying them, now.

    There’s a long article summarising the study, which is based around a (presumably much longer) book, but it does seem that regardless of background, it’s all about:

    • having a loving home
    • having a sense of humour
    • keeping active
    • finding love

    Now, it would seem unlikely that we can help our toddler to find love at this early stage – unless it’s a love for dinosaurs and cars in which case he’s set – but it probably behooves us all as parents to make sure the other things are taken care of!

  • Monkey 12:35 pm on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    When being a Dad ruins being a geek… 

    As a former film journalist, I still follow what’s going on in mainstream cinema, even if I don’t get to go anywhere near as often as I’d like to.

    And thus yesterday, the trailer for Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s eagerly anticipated look at how humanity might end up on an alien planet, debuted:

    Interstellar – Official Trailer 3 from Israr on Vimeo.

    Most of the Internet is full of understandable adulation over the depictions of space travel to another planet.

    Unfortunately, for me, the main emotional takeaway for me watching the trailer is musing on how awful it must be to have to abandon your family, and quite possibly never see them again. Which is possibly not quite what Nolan or the trailer marketeers had in mind…

  • Monkey 4:16 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cinema, cineworld, movies,   

    As a film fan I’ve been internally wondering… 

    As a film fan, I’ve been internally wondering when the best time would be to take our three-year-old toddler to the cinema. Take him too early, and it may traumatise him for life. Take him too late, and he may not pick up the cinema film habit. And with an average film ticket costing £10 or more, you don’t really want to waste your time if it’s not going to work out.

    But our local Cineworld offers Movies For Juniors, where adults and children can see a film for £1. This weekend, they were showing the Disney Oscar-winning film Frozen that HyperHam had wanted to see. So with some minor trepdiation and a “Be prepared for anything!” attitude, we booked our tickets online.

    It all seemed to go so well to begin with. The Kid marched up the stairs like he owned the place – although, to be fair, he tends to do that with any set of stairs he sees – and then ran across the communal hallway like a boy who likes running. He sat down in the seats while we told him the big television was going to start soon. One minor hiccup involving fidgety feet and a huge mega-gulp drinks bucket notwithstanding, it was going smoothly so far.

    Then the adverts started, which he diligently sat through. And the trailers, which he also diligently sat through, while occasionally asking for his favourite TV programme. Today’s digital on-demand generation – spoilt, I tells ya…

    Then the short before the main feature started. And that’s when his itchy feet couldn’t take any more, and demanded to run up and down the stairs across the cinema. And try as we might, we couldn’t persuade him to sit quietly. So we ended up leaving the auditorium for the cool spring sunshine outside, where he happily spent another thirty minutes running up and down stairs.

    It subsequently turns out that Cineworld offer a policy whereby if you have to leave the movie before it even starts, have a word with the manager on duty, and he/she may well refund your ticket price or give you vouchers to use for another day. Which seems remarkably nice of them – so a top money-saving tip there!

  • Monkey 2:02 pm on February 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: android, app, appleitunes, bilingual, cantonese, game, googleplay, itunes, languages, review   

    Review: Pacca’s Carousel (language app) 

    Pacca's CarouselLike many a parent, I sometimes look for little language games so that my son can at least get a little grounding in another language aside from the lingua franca spoken in the household. Unlike other parents, I’m looking for games that can help teach my son Cantonese – which are surprisingly hard to find, since most language apps stick to European languages or choose Mandarin as a representation of the Chinese language.

    So I was glad to be introduced to Pacca’s Carousel – a handy app (on Apple and Android) for toddlers that introduces some basic words in new languages including Cantonese and Arabic (as well as the usual standard French and Spanish).

    It does this by allowing the user/child to pick from a bright range of colours, random objects and numbers to populate a carousel with. As the child touches the icon for each colour or object, the word for it in your chosen language is spoken aloud by a child, which helps to fix the pronounciation of the word to the object or colour.

    Naturally, there are also some hidden surprises for certain objects, and there’s a range of bright and breezy soundtracks to accompany the choices your child makes. There’s even a night-time mode in case it becomes part of a kid’s bedtime routine.

    It’s quite a handy little app, and I’m sure this will help any child acquire some basic words in a new language. Alex has been playing around with it and seems to quite enjoy it for what it is.

    AnamilTech kindly allowed me to review the full app (priced at £1.49 on Google Play or Apple iTunes) but a free limited version of it is also available on Google Play or Apple iTunes to help you decide if it’d work for your child(ren).

  • Monkey 10:10 pm on November 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a&e, bag, emergency, er, hospital, kit   

    The woman formerly known as HyperHam has her… 

    The woman formerly known as HyperHam has her own blog, and has just written a guide to what should be in your A&E / ER emergency kit for when you suddenly have to take your child to the hospital. It’s sad to think about it, but in the immortal words of Adele Rousseau from Aliens vs Predator, better to have one and never need it, rather than need it and not have it.

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