I was a little sad to leave all the pretty snow, my boyfriend and my cats behind for the holidays. Erik and I exchanged presents the day before I left, which was almost diverted due to his package taking a damn month to get to my house. Anyway, we were about to give up on the holiday gift giving (in the sense that Erik was just going to have to wait and open his when it arrived, as I greedily devoured the wrapping paper on my present) when a knock came a'knocking! Yay for UPS dudes braving the weather. And despite this, the age old myth that the mail must go through despite the weather is officially disproved. According to the UPS tracking, the package in question was returned to the facility for four days due to "situation outside of UPS' control". Where's Kevin Costner and his horse when I need them?
Despite the early set backs, Erik was pleased with his handheld GPS and I loved the necklace he picked out for me. Christmas phase one: Success!
The next day I hopped on da plane with out delay or tragedy, and arrived safely on the East Coast two days before Christmas.
Christmas phase two:
Ah, memories. Same old fake tree, ornaments from my childhood, and an obscene amount of gifts for my niece and nephew. Smells like tradition.
Simon and Isabell checking out their hot new rides. Both of them fell, repeatedly. I found this to be quite hilarious. Well, of course that was until we started having a nerf gun war in the house. When I ran into the kitchen my feet, which were covered in brand new fuzzy socks, slipped out from under me and I crashed onto the kitchen floor. My arm was sore for almost a week. Retarded. It was most fortunate that my mom didn't have the video camera running at that juncture.
That would be a Nintendo DS and the game Cooking Mama, my present to my niece Isabell. Start 'em young I say! For anyone considering picking up this system for a younger kid (Isabell is five) this game is pretty close to perfect for her age group. It's rated E for everyone, of course, but the key here is that mistakes don't cause you to stop progress. You can fail every step but you still complete the dish you're cooking. Cooking Mama does get flaming eyes if you fail a task, but is right back to smiling and encouraging on the next step.
Over just a few days I saw a marked improvement in Isabell's use of the stylus and hand-eye coordination. She was holding it more like a pencil and having no trouble performing the tasks requested. In this game, you make a variety of items using a number of different cooking skills, ranging from chopping vegetables, cutting meat, stirring the pot, mixing ingredients and organizing your finished product on a plate.
Completing recipes also unlocks new items to cook. There is a practice mode where you can hone your cooking skillzors. And it's fun for adults too! There's some reading involved, but everything is very intuitive and most steps have visual aids (example: dotted lines where you should cut the chicken). It's a great casual game and pretty entertaining. It's simple enough that even someone who has never used a DS before would have little trouble figuring out the game. While it's easy for a child to get good ratings, perfect scores add a level of challenge for older players. Cooking Mama is a tough cookie. Personally, I think she was a Nazi in her former life. I'm considering picking up this game for myself.
Simon didn't get quite so lucky on the present end, at least in terms of bucks spent. However, he seemed to dig his dino ball pit. While the pit itself is cool - deflates for space conservation - the balls it came with suck. There were only like ten and they were flat with dents. Cheap, yo. The downside to shopping online I suppose.
Possibly the most bizarre thing that happen on Christmas was when Simon asked for a nap and said he was done opening presents. That was priceless.