Friday, 29 March 2013

Minecraft Easter Eggs DIY

So I've had an idea in my head since before Christmas that when Easter rolled around I'd make Sprout some Minecraft things out of eggs... then my egg cuber broke... I ordered another... eighty seven year's worth (or thereabouts) of snow fell on the Midlands... junk mail made it through but Royal Mail did not... I hunted out this tutorial on how to cube eggs ready to go all Blue Peter on their eggy asses... then at the last minute the replacement for my beloved egg cuber was delivered to our door :)

So, first up, add some gel colouring to some boiling water in a pan. Use large eggs if possible as they give better corners on the finished cubes. I had to cook my eggs one at a time as I only have one egg cuber, but if you have more or are feeling crafty enough to make some of the ones linked above, you could obviously do more at the same time. I cooked three in green colouring, one in red and one in blue. After it's been boiling a few minutes, take it out and crack the shell all over for the green and blue ones, and for the red one just on the top and bottom leaving an unbroken-ish strip around the middle. Return the egg to the boiling coloured water to finish cooking. For the red one, take it out a couple of minutes before it's completely cooked, remove the shell completely from the top and bottom leaving a strip of shell around the middle of the egg, spread more red gel colouring on the exposed ends of the egg, and return to the pan for a few minutes.

Once the egg has finished cooking, take it out of the pan, and remove the shell while it's still hot. Pop the egg into the cuber, and fasten it down. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

Once the egg is cool, open the egg cuber and push the now cubed egg out.

For the Creeper, draw a Creeper face on the front of one of the green eggs using a black icing pen. Cut one of the other green eggs in half down the middle top to bottom, then again top to bottom the other way. Push two cocktail sticks through the third green egg (the body) from front to back, and add a piece of the quartered egg onto each point for legs. Then put half a cocktail stick into the top of the body, and put the head on top.

For the TNT block use the same icing pen to draw the fuses on top and the writing on the side.
And for the diamond block, just use the blue egg, no further decoration needed.
And voila! One completely edible Minecraft Easter scene :)

Planes, Games and Automobiles

The main theme running through this week was Sprout and Squidge's rediscovery of their dressing up things after I reorganised them to make a better Make Believe area (the old one had been squashed in the gap between the doorways to their rooms, I've now moved it to surround Squidge's bed as he doesn't currently use it to sleep in). They've dressed up as pirates and doctors and racing rivers and Sportacus, but mostly goodies and baddies with some mash up of power rangers, knights and soldiers. Most days they've set up a battle arena on the family bed and saved the world (same as we do every night).

Last weekend saw our long awaited trip to i48 Multiplay Insomnia Gaming Festival. From Minecraft... Far Cry 3 and awesome specced up PCs... lots of GameCube Super Smash Brothers and other retro games in the amazing Retroactive area, we all had so much fun. Planning our trip to i49 already!

Meanwhile the game Bad Piggies had piqued Sprout's interest in biplanes, and Scribblenauts Unlimited had brought SAM launchers onto his radar, so we decided to take another trip to Cosford RAF Museum, where he managed to see both. As well as their usual fun time in the Fun 'n' Flight area, they also went in the new 4D cinema twice to see the Fly Me To The Moon short.

The next day saw our monthly home ed Lego Day with friends at our house. It was a busy one and not much Lego was played with, but by the resulting chaos in the boys' rooms I'm pretty sure they all had fun :D
Gruff took Sprout to the new local Hackspace that night to check it out, and he came home excited to design and make their sign from EL wire, and looking forward to being involved with building a 3D printer.

More snow pretty much every day this week saw even the boys sick of it, but they overcame their winter ennui eventually and went sledging...

...and built a snow Easter bunny :D

Moppet has taken a sudden developmental leap this week, taking her first unaided steps, repeating all sorts of words, waking me up in the night asking for 'milk' and 'hug', throwing a ball, initiating games of peekaboo, and climbing the ladder up onto Squidge's bunkbed. At 13 months old. Crazy times! Here she is having a bounce on the mini trampoline with Squidge.

Yesterday we got stuck in some huge tailback of Easter traffic, and while Moppet and Squidge slept through it, Sprout and I chatted for a while (what colour iron is, smelting, what red hot is, when things get white hot), then he took the opportunity to do a spot of photography, including snowiness...

...moving cars...

...and self portraits :)

We've got some cool Minecrafty Easter stuff planned for this afternoon once Gruff gets home from work, can't wait!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring. Kind of.

It was an outdoorsy start to the week (well, end to last week, but that was when I last blogged, so y'know), with a trip to the park with friends, where in addition to the usual stuff...

...they were also interested to have a look at one of the trees that the council had cut down, and we looked at the rings inside.

The next day saw a lovely afternoon at Amerton Farm, where the boys mostly bounced on the bouncy castle, and Moppet mostly investigated everything under her own steam!

And despite it being freeeeezing outside, Sprout and Squidge both opted for ice creams on the way home :O

That night Squidge fancied some one on one time with me, so we headed for the arcade, shot some zombies, dunked some hoops, and hit the jackpot on the change machine :)

On Saturday we all went to an advance screening of The Croods, which was fantastic. My favourite line, riding on a thin layer of metaphor, was from the daughter, Eep: "We know we'll make it because we changed the rules, the ones that kept us in the dark."

Sunday was the annual trip to feed the lambs at Rodbaston, which never seems to last long enough!

The week then took an indoorsy turn as I went down with the black death. Oh okay a cold, but it felt like the plague. 
The boys rediscovered quite a lot of things they hadn't played much with recently...

...and Squidge wanted *lots* of stories reading, including most of the Mr Men...

...and the Beatles' Yellow Submarine book.

He also had fun getting me to spell things with his magnetic letters, and getting me to pronounce the strings of letters he put up. He also enjoyed changing Grandma to Grandpa to Grandka to Grandwa... :)

Sprout spent some time on a couple of new games (N and Track Mania Nations Forever), and then went all dinosaury with his new game Primal Carnage (his favourite part is flying as the pteranodon), and a build-your-own T Rex kit his friend had got him for his birthday.

Squidge played a lot of Jenga and memory game (I swear he has a photographic memory!), and found a pack of plastic cups which he made some games up with. One was where he filled them with different amounts of water and then with his eyes closed worked out which ones had more and less water in based on how heavy they were. Another one was he set cups out and poured water into just one or two, and I had to pretend I couldn't see which and just guess :) One of his favourite phrases at the moment is, "I'm joking!" as it's just suddenly clicked with him when things are wrong/funny or silly/funny. It's so much fun to be a part of!

This was his favourite photo of the week, he made a rainbow out of a pack of glowsticks, then we took a photo of it back inside the tube.

Moppet this week has reminded me how absolutely non-stop it is having a toddler. All of a sudden she can get up the stairs (quickly!), climb onto all the furniture (quickly!), and grab pretty much anything in this house (also quickly!). 
This is her sitting in/playing with/eating the connecta-straws...

...eating Jay's dinner (seriously, she's speedy)...

...and clapping! So cute! She can also wave, and say Dada, Mama, cat, dog, and that. She loves playing passing games at the moment where we say who to give a ball/toy to next and she does it.   

Last thing for this week is Sprout's burgeoning cooking skills. He said to me the other day that once he is an adult I'll have to cook his bolognese as he doesn't know how, so I asked if he'd like to do it all himself this week and he was *so* excited. Here he is chopping the ingredients, and a bit of frying, stirring, grating, mixing and simmering later, and he proudly served it to everyone. It was lovely. Better than when I make it :) Squidge called him chef and assisted where required.

We're hunkering down tomorrow for the predicted blizzards... hopefully Spring will be around the corner somewhere!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Questions, questions, questions

It's been a week of a billion questions. Maybe more. I've lost count. Think of how many questions from two children you can fit into all the hours in a week, then double it. Then double it again. Then treble it. Really. I. LOVE. IT! From how hair grows to the purpose of hair getting oily to what is gun recoil (which led to Newton's Laws) and do canons recoil and whether you can get zero-recoil guns and how big is the recoil of a Magnum pistol, from how lemonade is made to whether rock burns, whether all scorpions are poisonous, and how many babies are born everydayis there any electricity you can touch, how car gears work (we didn't need to look this up - the benefit of them having a mechanic for a Daddy!), how you know when to change gear, what all the dash lights and dials mean. Roadsigns have led to questions about mileage, distances and fractions, and the Minecraft dropper map led to questions about red and white blood cells. Geomag led to questions about magnetic fields, and this video of fun with ferrofluid.

When not asking questions, Sprout wanted to design a home, so we found Homestyler and he's had loads of fun designing his own place. He's also been designing levels on Mari0 and telling me about infinite loops and the build up of momentum. He's tried out both Slendermod and the Slenderman Minecraft mod, and has made a start on Sims Social and speedily despatched every stage of This is the Only Level. I've seen more glimpses of his blossoming reading skills too: he read the word 'romantic' on his new game, Sims 3; he asked me to rewind a new film to the screen where it says 'five years later', and he read this sign at a place we'd never been before... 

Also there (Wonderland, aka the theme park that time, sanity and customer service forgot), we got somewhat lost in a wintery maze... wet socks in a *very* leaky bouncy castle (as soon as we got there, oh the joy! And the shiny customer service excellence medallion goes to the member of staff who, when we came out and said, "Did you know it's full of water in there? We've got soaking wet feet," replied, "Yeah.")...

...found what the boys decided was a fairy house...

...watched them laugh their heads off on the caterpillar ride...

...spent a hilarious few minutes with the children peeking through the character boards...

...and had multiple goes on the one ride where the staff actually seemed to like children.

After realising they hadn't bothered opening the 'diamond panning' that their website fanfared so prominently, which was the one thing he'd wanted to go there for, Sprout wanted to go somewhere fun instead, so we headed to the awesomeness that is RAF Cosford, where we spent a brilliant couple of hours playing with the usual stuff (Bernoulli effect, Cartesian divers, cargo drops, magnets, bearings, fibre optics) in the Fun 'n' Flight area...

...then watched their new 4D short version film of Fly Me to the Moon, looked at their Cold War gas masks,  bought some toy planes, and then Sprout marvelled at the outside of the building where a wall at one end became a roof at the other...

Squidge is still in avid construction mode, from lots and lots of geomag, to Hello Kitty Lego planes... Hero Factories with giant legs and special powers...

...and Moppet's joining in too :)

Sprout's interested in the actual names for shapes that he makes.

Following the taste test he did on all the pop rocks a few weeks ago, Sprout wanted to do the same for different types of bread, so we went to the pick and mix bakery section at the supermarket and chose a variety of rolls and pretzels. The winner was a plain white crusty roll with a stellar score of 100/10 :)

He also put together this burger and demonstrated it to me with the words, "If you like a bit of cheese action, then you'll LOVE this!" Haha I do love that boy :D

He's also started taking more pictures again with his DSLR...

Squidge asked me to do a rerun of the teabag rockets, so we emptied out a whole box of teabags and took the staples out...

...and had varied success, about half the teabags actually went up in the air. We think the difference was that on some a bit of debris detached during burning (these were the ones that worked), and on others the debris stayed attached in a string like fashion (these were the ones that didn't work, we think maybe the debris weighed them down).

It's also been an artistic week for Squidge, he's mostly been painting Pokemons...

...and also Center Parcs :)

We also got inspired by Chris Adkins and did some 3D painting. Here is Squidge's...

...and Sprout's, which was more of a story in action: there was a volcano, and then some blue water putting out the volcano and turning the red lava into black obsidian, and then green life growing over the top. It was really rather beautiful! 

Along with Minecraft LAN get togethers at our house, we've also had loads of days out with friends to parks and play areas despite the freezing 'Spring' weather...

...and this lovely photo of Sprout mid-spin is courtesy of a friend :)

Moppet, meanwhile, has just been eager to get behind the wheel!