2 articles Tag pony

Star Stable Review

Star-Stable-5Sometimes, having two kids with a large-ish age gap can mean that it’s tricky to find ways to spend one-on-one time with your eldest. Burrito Baby gets me to herself all day while Sausage is at school and although we’ve tried to maintain certain activities, like swimming, that Sausage and I do together, sometimes fitting things in around naps and bedtimes can be hard. That’s why, when I was asked if we’d like a free membership to Star Stable for Sausage and I to play together, I jumped at the chance.

Sausage is pony mad, having done some casual lessons for the past few summers, and loves anything to do with them, so the chance to design and name her own personalised pony within the game was definitely right up her alley. We downloaded the game and it loaded up with ease, even on my slightly decrepit laptop. Within the game, you use the directional keys to move around, along with the mouse for clicking on menu items, which made it a doddle for Sausage to get the hang of.

The actual environment within the game is really attractive – galloping through meadows in various weathers makes it feel really authentic, and although I’ve never actually been on a horse in real life, there’s something about the way the horses move that looks really lifelike – no mean feat for a game which doesn’t require a top-end graphics card to run.

One thing that Sausage really liked was the requirement to actually care for your horse within the game. Trusty steeds must be fed, watered and groomed, otherwise they simply won’t perform properly, giving a really ‘all-round’ feel for what it is to own a real horse, which require a lot of upkeep.

There’s a chat window which can be opened within the game, allowing you to interact with other users while you trot around, and although this is something I’d be slightly wary of if Sausage were to play the game by herself, playing it together means that I can keep an eye on any chatting that goes on, and to be completely fair, there seemed to be entirely innocent chat about school and the game going on, leading me to think that the boards are closely monitored.

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t only played the game whilst Sausage has been around. More than once over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself with half an hour to spare and have been drawn in by the game, which I find oddly relaxing! There’s something about the slightly soft focus and gentle background music which I find really soothing and I could easily wander around for hours if Burrito Baby let me!

Having played other online games of this type before, I have to say that I wasn’t expecting Star Stable to be as good as it is, but the graphics, game play and character options were all really impressive. If I could add one MINOR criticism, it would be that it’s only possible to play as a female character, and while I get that the game is mostly aimed at tween girls, it would be nice for there to be a couple of male character options in case boys wanted to get involved too.

All in all, Sausage and I are really enjoying Star Stable and would definitely recommend it to other girls, aged 6 and upwards, as well as to Mums who want a nice game that they can enjoy with their little ones, to give them some quality time together without costing a fortune or even needing to leave the house!

Scraped Knees and Pony Stalking – Confessions of a Helicopter Parent

Helicopter Parenting

 

I’ve always been quite happy to admit that I’m a helicopter parent. Husband and I both are in fact (me more so than him), and our ethos has always been “We’d rather be safe than sorry”, but a couple of things have happened recently which have made us reconsider our positions.

The first thing was Sausage’s first pony lesson last week. As I mention before, she’s started a course of pony lessons throughout the Summer Holidays, a half-hour lesson a week and once she’s five we’ll see if she wants to carry on with regular horse riding tuition. So, we took her to the stables, watched her get kitted out, set off with her trainer…and then stalked the through the woods as she took her lesson.

Okay, stalking may be a *bit* strong, but most of the other parents waited back at the stables for their kids to get back, while Husband and I walked (at a respectful distance, which was more his choice than mine…I’d have been hanging off of her stirrups if I’d had my way) the whole way and didn’t let her out of our sights for a second. As we were walking back, we started chatting and Husband suggested that if we were going to let her do these things then we really needed to let her do them, without us eyeballing her all the time. It must be off-putting, having your own cheer-squad trotting through the bushes next to you, but I find it very difficult to take a step back.

Another prime example of this is an accident that Sausage had last week. We were getting out of the car and walking up our drive when she tripped on the remnants of the old metal gate post that our landlord never properly removed. She scuffed her knee up pretty badly (it bled quite a lot) but she really lost her cool and screamed all the way into the house. I can’t help but wonder if she’d have been better equipped to deal with this if she’d had a few more scraped knees in her life? She’s never really fallen like this because Husband and I are always there to catch her, which means now, at almost 5, scraped knees are a massive deal.

I’m not sure that my reactions always help either. When she fell over, my instinct was to scrape her up and kiss her tears away, which doesn’t necessarily help when she’s looking to us to gauge how to deal with pain and trauma. Husband is a lot better at these things, he’s able to suck up his own need to comfort her, in favour of a ‘come on, walk it off’ type reaction, which is far more healthy for Sausage to learn.

I’m not saying that I think our parenting tactics have been wrong all these years – Sausage is a very bright child, who knows how loved she is and is confident in many areas, which I can’t help but feel is because of parental involvement. However, there are areas in which she could do with a boost, becuase she’s unsure of how to proceed when she doesn’t have me or her Dad behind her.

It’s a diffuclt balancing act – at this age, a change of direction could seriously pull the rug out from under her and I don’t want to shatter the confidence that she does have. However, I know we need to step back at times. This week, we’ve said that we’ll stay behind with the other parents at the stables, or maybe even go to the cafe next door for a cup of tea. It’s a small step, but it’s a step nonetheless. I just have to ignore the nagging, nauseating feeling that I’m taking the first step of many out of my daughters’ life.