Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Here's to a joyful and healthy 2010!!!


Cycling (back when the weather was favorable):

Skull shaped novelty cubes were very popular in our seasonal cocktails... until Eff found them too scary and tossed hers in the sink while viewing her first Harry Potter (Goblet of Fire):

"You sunk my..."

Does anyone ever actually get any useful benefit out of a Christmas Cracker prize? Effie has quite a collection and has been getting plenty of enjoyment out of the mini playing card set. First she made up her own game and then learned Solitaire...

Rockin' with Frankie...

Last night, we bbq'd up this turkey in honour of that most forgotten of holidays - December 30th!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Fergus' Favourite iTouch Game Apps

This post is for the offspring of Loucks' and Allards' and other families of the iPhone/iTouch persuasion who will enjoy this new way of gaming and/or distraction for a long journey or a never-ending wait at the store. Well, Fergus has been having a blast with them anyway! But I have been wishing for a friend's blog post where I could just go and find 10 or so really cool game suggestions and avoid all the hassle of reading reviews and trying to sort out a million different game recommendations!

So here it is, Fergus' list of favourite game apps after a dedicated 3 days worth of game play by a six year old.

Biases up front - we do seem to prefer games that have lots of ways to solve the puzzle, ones with replay and goof around value rather than just solve it and be done with it. Most of these are either Free or have Free lite or demo versions so you can try them out and see which ones are destined to be your favourites!

(JellyCar = Free or JellyCar2 = $0.99)
A truly wacky rolly poly squishy car game where you literally "jelly" your way down the track trying to reach the finish spot. You can make your car big for a limited time to traverse certain perilous obstacles, but the game controls are otherwise simple, just touch the screen in the right half to go forward or in the left half to go backward, tap the car to toggle from big to small. The car gets squished and flung and tumbles down slopes - they call it "soft-body physics", but Fergus just calls it hilarious laugh-out-loud fun! Beware, you will be back to buy the $0.99 version before the day is out, it is that cute and intriguing.

You Tube link: JellyCar

Ragdoll Blaster
(Ragdoll Blaster Lite = Free or Ragdoll Blaster = $1.99)
OK, does it get any cooler than firing limp floppy rag dolls out of an imposing looking cannon trying to aim them just right so that they hit the red bulls eye target?! I think not. Just the floppy dolls will get you as their arms and legs flap when they hit something or splat. So far this has been Fergus' absolute favourite - he powered through the 18 free levels in one afternoon and we happily revisited the iTunes App Store to pay up our $1.99 for the 100-level full version. Fergus solved the puzzles, but he had almost as much fun just indiscriminately firing rag dolls and piling them up or watching them hit things. If you are anything like me you will want to wrench the iTouch/iPhone from your offspring's hand so you can play this one yourself!

You Tube link: Ragdoll Blaster

iBlast Moki
(iBlast Moki Lite = Free or iBlast Moki = $1.99)
Like cannons? Well how about bombs? In iBlast Moki you place bombs in the place(s) you think you will need them to detonate in order to blast your cute sleeping "Moki" to the swirly red target. As the levels get harder, you get more bombs and have to set timers on them to blow sequentially so that "Moki" continues to move toward the target. Though the levels seem to get hard pretty quick, and Fergus isn't quite adept enough to time the bombs without help, you can repeat levels and tweak your bomb locations and timing as many times as you like, and just blowing things up seems to be pretty entertaining to a six year old!

You Tube link: iBlast Moki

(Trace = Free)
Kudos to the brothers who developed this app and have offered the complete version, all 120 levels of it, completely free!

This is another game with pretty basic controls - you can go forward, backward, and jump. The aim is to walk your guy to the sunburst at the end of the course. The fun comes when you have to draw in your own paths and platforms to help you get from A to B. Every solution can be different, depending on what you draw. The drawing part can be a bit frustrating when you are Fergus trying to draw a tiny platform in just the right spot, but you can erase and do them over. There is no time limit, and you can try again as many times as you want. And it is totally free - you can't go wrong with this one, it is imaginative and creative.

I haven't tried it yet, but these same brothers have another game out now called Gomi that they are marketing the more usual way with a Gomi free demo and $2.99 Gomi full version.

You Tube link: Trace

Tiki Towers
(Tiki Towers Lite = Free or Tiki Towers = $0.99)
Jibbering monkeys leaping all over your fragile bamboo bridges. You build structures to get your monkeys from their box to the Tiki Tower, then you let the monkeys out and they leap onto your structure and it sags and sometimes breaks. You get extra points if your monkeys not only get to the Tiki Tower, but also get bananas on the way. We've had fun with this one, the monkeys are funny you can make different structures, so there is no "right" way to solve each puzzle. The free lite version has the first 9 of 45 levels.

You Tube link: Tiki Towers

Toki Tori
(Toki Tori Lite = Free or Toki Tori = $4.99)
Your little bird needs to find his eggs, he uses bridges and other "gifts" to navigate his puzzle and reach all the eggs. Mildly frustrating in that when you die you have to start over and get all the eggs, not just the ones you haven't gotten, but it plays just like most platform games and so was intuitive and easy for Fergus to figure out given his experience with mario and other similar type games. Cute birdie. But we haven't played it nearly enough to need to decide about the steeply priced $4.99 full version.

You Tube link: Toki Tori

(Sway Lite = Free or Sway = $4.99)
This is such a wacky game Fergus petitioned to have it included - you control "Lizzie" the frog's grasp on the wall he is hanging from by putting down and lifting up your left and right thumbs, and sliding your thumbs to sway "Lizzie" back and forth so she gets momentum to leap to another part of the wall. It takes some getting used to, but is so unusual it sort of sucks you in. We have died a lot, but Fergus managed to swing enough to get all the little pink thingys you have to collect and reach the goal of the first level at least. Not sure we'll ever get good enough to justify a full version at $4.99 though.

You Tube link: Sway

Spikey's Bounce Around
(Spikey's Bounce Around Lite = Free or Spikey's Bounce Around = $1.99)
Spikey is a sticky blue guy who needs to free the butterfly jars from the gardens so they'll smash and free his friends the butterflies. He sticks to walls, but bounces off the blue and yellow bouncer circles, so things can get a little crazy. It is another one of those games you can solve differently each time you play. The free version has 9 of 50 levels.

You Tube link: Spikey's Bounce Around

Enigmo $1.99
Here's one with no lite/demo version, I bought the 50 level full game straight out for $1.99. You redirect the flow of water droplets with various provided instruments like pans, funnels, etc. This makes for numerous ways to solve each puzzle, and great news for siblings, there are spots to save 5 different games so everyone can have their own saved file to come back to. This gets pretty challenging, but as with some of the others, just spraying water all around can be pretty entertaining!

You Tube link: Enigmo

(Soosiz Lite = Free or Soosiz = $0.99)
Fergus likes moving this wacky bird around collecting coins and defying gravity. I see some other reviews call this a trickier more polished version of Gomi (by the makers of Trace).

You Tube link: Soosiz

(Rolando Lite = Free or Rolando = $2.99)
This is a rolling, avoid-the-bad-guys game, but it is complicated by bizarre landscapes and balls that can roll together or separately depending on how you group them. Wacky, and gets great reviews.

You Tube link: Rolando

That should keep you busy for a few days anyway. I can see the iTouch being a great boon on long journeys as new and different apps abound so you can load up a swack just before you leave and keep folks busy trying out new things for hours. The Touch itself isn't cheap I guess, but the games sure are! Compare them to the price of a DS game! The challenge seems to be to keep the darn thing charged up long enough.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Official Familial this-is-as-formal-as-it-gets Christmas card of electronic electronicness

Merry Christmas!

For year-in-review details, see any of our 180-odd blog entries from 2009. Of course, in reality, things were far noisier, smellier and grumpier than such postings reveal (so... ha, ha, ha... fooled you all!!!).

A brief synopsis...

Fergus continues to enjoy building things, destroying things, being read stories to, holding court while on the toilet, Grandma’s cookies, power cuddles, being Luigi and Mario, legos, slinking around the house under a blanket as if we have no idea who it could possibly be, bouncing off walls, and “emitting wind from his anus”.

Effie discovered a new found appreciation for money and enjoys American Girl dolls, Star Wars, hanging out with friends of all ages, playing Carcassonne, holding/ cuddling/ smiling at (and hogging) babies, working on any and all art projects, and watching period dramas, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Road To Avonlea and MacGyver . Most of all, Effie dreams of one day having her parents get off their lazy asses and transform the middle room into her very own bedroom as promised, like, months ago.

Gillian spent the year attending weekly spa appointments, teaching the pleasant children their respective curricular necessities, and generally finding plenty of time for herself. When not developing and expanding upon her passions, she could be found relaxing on the couch with a bottle of wine and a box of bonbons while perusing the eBays.

As for me, my chi kung practitioner informed me recently that not only did I have lovely skin but that my muscles were well defined, glistening and bulging in all the right places (so you can see how I can’t remember anything else about the past year). Actually, those may not have been the adjectives she used but there was something positive in there somewhere, so I ran with it. Them crazy, complimentary chi kung practitioners!!! To balance things off, my physiotherapist (yeah, it’s been one of those years) informed me that my MRI results revealed that I have the spinal column of a 55 year old. Bastard.

Christmas Music

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Music Of The Year

Since I spend 365 days a year researching this stuff, I’m pretty confident that my lists of the top musical moments and best songs of 2009 are complete, definitive and beyond reproach. And I’m not opinionated in the least!

So, hop on over to the Furrowed Brow and say to yourself “huh, wha?”

Furrowed Brow Smile :: Top 28 Moments in Music :: 2009
Furrowed Brow Smile :: Top Songs from the 73 Best Artists of 2009

Compilation requests accepted

The Hunt

Thinking we didn't have a suitable tree ready for the taking this year, I had my eye on a nice, shapely fir on the marina property down the trail. Although the tree was in an area desperate for thinning and the marina deserved to give me a tree given all the environmental destruction they've accomplished this past year, my family filled me with too much guilt to complete the plunder. Anyways, Gillian figured the property in question was actually owned not by the marina, but by the Department of National Defense... and they shoot people.

Last night we went and re-checked our property. We found a few possibilities and Fergus practiced his sawing:

Today... Ferg was very proud to be the official carrier of the saw:


The Effie Tree:


Ferg's lunch bag...

And... Ferg heard I was hungry so he quickly fixed me a snack: pringles and a chocolate milk w/ whipped cream & ice cream.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

We were promised snow

This is all we got...

Gingerbread house making at G&G's

Approx. 12 seconds after returning home:

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Thursday, 10 December 2009


We are having such a great time with MJ and Ronnie that it turns out their visit has evolved into a bit of a hostage situation. And it’s not just their joyful, infectious nature and stimulating conversation that has brought about this crisis. Both our kids have new bed-mates and are in no particular mood to relinquish them.

So, this should buy us a couple more days...

Dearest Frank:

Assuming you wish to see the swift return of two fourths of your family back over the border tomorrow, please contact UPS and arrange for immediate delivery of the following items to our home: 6 ice cream pales of your finest homemade jambalaya (no skimping on the sausage!), a frying pan’s worth of them rum n’ buttered bananas (preferably still warm), your movie collection, a few of your swords and, finally, that dancing/ singing dog toy thing. Oh, better throw in Chloe’s bass guitar while you’re at it. Thanks. And remember, their car is parked on the other side of the straight.

Ferg and MJ form an awesome Raving Rabbids duo:

Ronnie and Effie work on some doll clothes:



Rafael came up the hill to play some blues and eat cake:

Concoctions of course: