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Disney Infinity 3.0 on Nintendo Wii U - Our beginners guide!

We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the fantastic team at Disney, and we were so excited when our new Disney Infinity 3.0 starter kit and characters arrived. The boys have seen Disney Infinity at a friend's house and really wanted to get stuck in.

Knowing the box was on its way, I did a little bit of research to find out more about Disney Infinity and how to set it up. But despite loads of websites talking about it, very few actually gave an insight of how to set it up and what it can do. So we thought that this would be a great place to start!
Disney Infinity 3.0 is the latest in the gaming concept from Disney. Their website gives details of compatibility if you have already got Disney Infinity 1.0 or 2.0. We didn't, so we started from scratch.

Setting up for the first time
You will need a base, the game software (available on disk or download), and at least one character piece. You can get all of these in a starter kit, and then simply buy more characters and other game pieces as you wish.

Step 1. Plug the base into the Wii U via the USB connector. You can also buy the game for other consoles, and it is available for PC and handheld devices (tablets and phones).

Step 2. Switch on the Wii U and insert the game disk. Load the game.
Step 3. You will be asked to register with Disney once the game loads. This is really simple, you just give your name, email and password.

Step 4. Well, that's it really. All ready to go. To start you off there is a a demo that takes you through Star Wars, Inside Out and finally a race where you play as Mickey Mouse against Donald Duck and friends.
Once you have the game set up and have mastered the easy controls, you are good to go. With Disney Infinity you have two main ways to play, and infinite possibilities. By placing a Play Set piece on the base you can play the levels created by Disney. For these, you need to use the characters from that world (so Inside Out characters in the Inside Out world when you use the Inside Out Play Set piece, for example).
The other way to play the game is free play. You create worlds from nothing, or build on templates provided. Create vehicles, land, buildings and enemies. Then go and explore, defeat the enemies, run, drive and fly. The possibilities are truly infinite.
One of the great things about Disney Infinity is that you can switch characters whilst playing. So if you need to use a special power that your character doesn't have, take it off the base and replace it with a figure that does... and your character in the game changes and off you go! Each character has different strengths and skills, and you can develop and power them up by playing and completing challenges. Disney Infinity also has Power Discs to give additional powers to your game. These are simply placed on the base as you play.
We have had Disney Inifinity 3.0 setup for just a couple of days and only just scratched the surface of everything it contains, but we all love it!

Watch out for our reviews of some of the new sets coming soon.
Disclosure: We were sent a Disney Infinity starter kit, and a selection of additional playsets and characters for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Guestposting at Head over Wheels

Today we are guest-posting over at Head Over Wheels. The Head Over Wheels blog is a positive online space for wheelchair users.

Miss T is an occasional wheelchair user at the moment because of her JIA and one of the things I hope comes out of Miss T having this condition is for people to become more aware that arthritis can and does affect people of any age. Early diagnosis is crucial for successful treatment and the greater awareness there is, the more chances of an early diagnosis.

You can read our guest post here.


When Happily Ever After becomes #HealthilyEverAfter with Disney

Once upon a time there lived a family who wanted to live a little healthier. And for us being healthy consists of two main areas that are within our control to improve...

One of those is to be more active - this doesn't necessarily mean heading to the gym but rather those little lifelong changes that can be made to get outdoors a bit more and incorporate more movement into our daily lives.

The second area is healthy eating. I'm always conscious of making sure that we all eat plenty of fruit and veg as a family. So we've been inspired by some of our favourite Disney films and characters to get healthy this year.

Disney have launched a #HealthilyEverAfter campaign to encourage families to get active and eat healthily. On the Disney Healthy Living site you can get lots of inspiration and ideas. Here is Disney's #HealthilyEverAfter video to give you an idea of what it is all about.

We also love some of the healthy eating inspiration like the Olaf bento style lunch on the site. Olaf and his friends from Frozen have given us plenty of inspiration to get active this winter too.

At this time of year it can be so tempting just to stay indoors, snuggle up and watch films. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes. But it's also crucial to get outdoors and get active - your body will thank you for it. It can shake off those cobwebs and the fresh air will stop that lethargic feeling I get when I stay cooped up indoors for too long in winter.

The kids love getting outdoors whatever the weather - whether it's dressing up in waterproofs and jumping in puddles or going out for a winter walk. Watch our video to see what happened when we woke up to find a very 'Frozen' day...

When it comes to eating veggies, I used to be a firm believer in exposing babies and toddlers to plenty of tastes and textures believing that they wouldn't become fussy eaters. It worked a dream for my first two children. They have always been happy to try all sorts of vegetables no matter how weird and wonderful.

Then Miss T came along and she too was given lots of different tastes and textures to try but she just did not want to try new vegetables! So I've had to incorporate more and more vegetables into the meals I cook rather than serve the vegetables separately. She is far happier eating them this way. I make meals like Macaroni cheese with butternut squash added in. Chilli con carne with added aubergine and carrots. Mashed potato with leeks mixed in.

I decided to turn to Disney again for inspiration and this time it was the Disney scene from Lady and the Tramp that we lovingly call 'the spaghetti dogs'. Everyone seems to know and love this iconic scene where Lady and Scamp share a plate of spaghetti and meatballs and find themselves nibbling on the same piece of spaghetti until their lips meet.

We recreated the scene in our video which also shows just how easy it is to get those veggies into meals. Just by finely chopping onion, carrots, courgette and celery and mixing them in with the beef mince you can easily incorporate all those veggies into a family meal. Serve with wholewheat spaghetti to give it another healthy twist.

I would love to hear how you inspire your family to be healthier and more active? I know that @Disney_Uk would love to hear your stories too using the #healthilyeverafter hashtag.

This post is part of Disney's #HealthilyEverAfter campaign with BritMums sponsored by Disney. Share your stories and be inspired at DisneyHealthyLiving.co.uk and live Healthily Ever After (#HealthilyEverAfter).


A delightful day in London - Preview Screening of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar followed by afternoon tea at our favourite place

Life is busy at the moment. I know I keep saying that and I keep waiting for a quieter month but that never seems to arrive. I think things have felt particularly busy since J began secondary school last September. There is the constant treadmill of homework - every evening and then more at weekends too. He loves homework but it just leaves little spare time.

Miss T's planned and unplanned hospital visits tend to take up far more time than I'd like during the week, then by the time you've thrown in a few afterschool clubs here and there and the odd music lesson, each week is full to the brim.

It has made us conscious of the need to ringfence some family time together at weekends. That is easier said than done with all the jobs that we end up having to catch up on at the weekend. So when the invite came through for the preview screening of television movie The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, we decided it would make the perfect family outing to London for some good family time together.

The story of Disney favourite 'The Lion King' is picked up here when we meet Simba's cubs. Whilst their first-born cub Kiara is training to be queen, the boisterous mischievous second-born cub, Kion doesn't seem to want any responsibility and just wants to have fun with his best friend Bunga, a fearless honeybadger.

But unbeknown to him Kion has a far bigger destiny. The time comes for Kion to fulfil his calling as the leader of 'The Lion Guard' and this gives him a chance to show that he is ready for such a role and can be entrusted with great responsibility. He needs to select the strongest, bravest, fastest, and sharpest of eye to join him in defending the pride lands and preserving the delicate balance in the circle of life.

Just like the original Lion King film, this is packed with catchy songs that will get you singing along!

I don't want to give away the ending so you will have to see for yourself whether Kion is ready to lead The Lion Guard when it is aired on Disney Junior on Monday 8th February at 5.30pm.

Miss T meeting some of the loveable new characters in The Lion Guard

If you really can't wait, then there is a sneek peek trailer you can watch here.
Balloon modelling fun and lots more at the screening of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar

And then it was off to our favourite place for afternoon tea - the Park Terrace restaurant at The Royal Garden Hotel.

Last time we visited we had just Miss T and D with us. This time it was all 3 children and knowing that J can become anxious at times because of his aspergers, I have to admit I was nervous that he wouldn't cope well with afternoon tea.

Thankfully once he got over his excitement about the revolving doors into the building, he soon felt relaxed and enjoyed his afternoon tea very much.

It is really lovely that they have a kids menu afternoon tea available for children up to age 11. As well as a choice of kid-friendly drinks like milkshakes, hot chocolates and smoothies, this menu also featured some great cakes and sandwiches specifically with kids in mind (bottom right photo).

Each child got their own afternoon tea serving platter with chocolate chip scones, fun sandwich combinations like peanut butter and jam, and chocolate spread and banana, and sweet treats like homemade marshmallow and turkish delight. There was also a chocolate brownie style cake with a very cute fondant bear sat on top!

The grown up's platter was also delicious starting with a plate of sandwiches - We loved the roast beef, horseradish and gherkin combination! Followed by warm scones, a selection of tea cakes and other delights like peanut cheesecake, mini blackforest gateaux, Viennese whirl and a fondant fancy style cupcake.

So all in all a very lovely day and some much needed family time together!

You can find out more about Disney Junior on twitter here or on facebook here
Further information about Royal Garden Hotel can be found here
This is NOT a sponsored post and all opinions are our own. 

Dick and Dom level codes for Super Mario Maker!

You may remember our excitement at the release of the Super Mario Maker game for the Nintendo Wii U last year. We celebrated Mario's 30th birthday and reviewed the game here.

So you can imagine how thrilled we were to hear that two of our favourite TV personalities, Dick and Dom, had created levels on the Super Mario Maker game that we could access to play! One of the brilliant things about this game is not only the genius idea of creating your own levels to play but also being able to upload them so that others can access them to play. 

I'm going to hand over to 11 year old J who has been having fun playing the Dick and Dom levels and then we are going to share the codes with you so that you too can find Dick and Dom's levels on Super Mario Maker to play.

So over to J:

There are three levels that Dick and Dom have created. One by Dick called 'The World of BOING', one by Dom called (unoriginally) 'Dom Wood' and a level they created together called 'Bowser's Bedroom'. 

In 'The world of BOING' (Dick's level) there are basically lots of springs, lots of coins, and lots of enemies. You have to use the springs to complete the level.

The whole level is set in a cave. On this level Mario can get a fire flower which gives him fire power. He can fire fireballs using 'x' button to kill enemies.

'Dom Wood' is Dom's level. It is set in the haunted mansion. In this level there are quite a lot of scary bad guys. So lots of piranha plants and Thwomps. I also liked the music blocks in Dom's level.

The level that Dick and Dom created together is called 'Bowser's bedroom'.

They've chosen to go old school for this one with Super Mario Bros style graphics (like my mum and dad used to play when they were kids).

This level has tunnels to go through so when you drop down into them you can get the coins down there and kill Bowser. It is his bedroom after all so he had to be there somewhere!

At one point on this level Mario can hit the question mark block and become '30th anniversary amiibo' Mario (although my mum couldn't even tell the difference until we told her that normal Mario has red clothes and amiibo Mario has blue dungarees.)

There's also a giant mushroom that makes Mario massive so it really looks old style for that bit.

As super Mario maker is such a cool game that is all about designing your own levels, you can even make changes to the Dick and Dom levels. You can then decide to save them as your own levels to play again or quit without saving to keep playing Dick and Dom's original levels.

I liked 'Bowser's bedroom' best (the level Dick and Dom made together). 'World of BOING' was also brilliant (Dick's level). This is because they both had Bowser in it and I like beating Bowser.

Dick and Dom are really funny - I know them really well from all the TV shows they do like Appsolute Genius and Absolute Genius, The Legend of Dick and Dom, and Dick and Dom in da Bungalow. We even taught my little sister to shout 'bogies' like Dick and Dom do.

I saw them a few years ago at the lollibop festival too (you can read about that here and about the great banana fiasco here).

So it's awesome that they love Super Mario Maker like I do and that they have made levels for it that anyone can play.

Here are the codes to get to the Dick and Dom levels.

Dick's level - F15E-0000-0114-40CD
Dom's level - 9C14-0000-0108-C0F9 
Dick and Dom's co-created level - C78F-0000-0124-C6FB 


 Images of Dick and Dom courtesy of Nintendo. 


Britmums bookclub book review: The Playground Mafia

image from Britmums bookclub
This book by Clare Christian and Elisabeth Kent is one that sounded like it had the potential to be a really funny read. Unfortunately it wasn't quite my cup of tea. 

It openly revolves around the stereotypes of the playground mums and dads and I did find myself smiling at various points as I recognised the traits of some of the mums described in myself or some of the people I encounter at the school gates.

As a book as a whole it is basically a list of these various stereotypes like Sporty Mum, Chav mum, Helicopter mum, Wannabe wag mum, Midlife crisis dad and the list goes on.

It sets out to be a fun lighthearted read and is relatively short as a book. But it didn't engage or inspire me to keep reading. In fact if it wasnt for the fact that I had agreed to review the book I don't think I would have finished it.

I suppose I had hoped for it to be something more. Having read The secret life of a slummy mummy by Fiona Neill a few years ago, I recognised many of the playground stereotypes in that book but thought that they were brilliantly interwoven as characters within a proper novel with a context, story and plot behind it.

If this book had done the same, taken a handful of the stereotypes, given them names and given us an insight into their personalities and life stories then I think it could have been a hit. I think it's a great concept but just missed a trick when it came to executing the idea.

As it was it would be perfect as a joke gift or a naff secret santa present but sadly not much else.

This book was sent to me as part of the Britmums book club. All opinions are my own.