Month: October 2015

A Beginner’s Guide To Shopkins

Recently, I found myself waiting in a long line with my daughter, to meet a giant talking strawberry.

What would compel someone to do this, you ask?

Shopkins, that’s what.

Now, for the informed readers, you are probably nodding your head, in approval. For the uninformed, however, I feel your confusion.  Truth be told, up until a few months ago, I was one of the ignorant. I had no idea these things existed…….. until J started watching Shopkins videos on YouTube. She then started to go on about how much she wanted them.  At that point, I had to find out just WTF a Shopkin was.

shopkins

Because when I wonder about Shopkins, I also want to know about Herpes, too. Thanks, Google.

While I still do not get the appeal, kids seem to really like them. The holiday season is fast approaching, as well, and I’m sure Shopkins are at the top of many a wish list.

If you don’t know a thing about Shopkins, then you gon’ learn today! I’m going to give you a quick beginner’s guide, based on my very limited knowledge!

Let’s get it on, FAQ-style!

 

You waiting to meet someone in an oversized strawberry costume is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

Well, that’s not very nice. It wasn’t a question, either. Hater.

Fine. What are Shopkins?

Basically, Shopkins are tiny toys. They are miniature, shopping item-themed characters.  Each character has a name, finish and a back-story, which reads like an online dating profile. For example, per their website, Chee Zee enjoys rapping with his BFFs and hanging out in the dairy aisle.

Oh. So what are you supposed to do? Read their profiles, and set them up on blind dates, according to who matches up best?

Uh, I don’t think many kids play with them like that.

Then what do you do with them?

As far as I can tell, you buy them, and then make a video of you opening them up.

What! For real?

Well, that’s one way to use them, yeah. There are other ways, of course. Essentially, you can buy them in different sized sets and packages (ie. Five packs, 10 packs etc).  Each character has their own ‘team’. The teams are based on which section of a store the character would be found in, like the bakery, homewares, shoes etc.

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Here’s a Shopkin.

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Here’s another Shopkin.

They even come with cute little shopping bags, to carry the Shopkins in.

 

Here is a Shopkin.

Some sets include a Shopkins list, which helps to identify/keep track.

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From what I understand, kids enjoy the idea of being able to collect them all. They also seem pretty fun to play with. Grocery shopping comes to life!

Sounds adorable. Explain the videos you mentioned before. Now!

Whoa! Simmer down, please.

Some packs are ‘blind baskets’. You don’t know what you got until you open up the packaging. The element of mystery and surprise is apparently a big selling point. There is also an apparent market for people watching other people opening stuff. YouTube is full of “Unboxing” videos, where people have filmed themselves opening up and revealing their Shopkins. J, for one, can’t get enough of these videos, for some reason, especially the ones with blind baskets.

I’m hip and cool. My toy game’s on fleek. How come I’ve never heard of these before? Are they new?

Your toy game’s on fleek? Who even says that? Anyway, yes, they are pretty new. They were released in June 2014.

I hate battery operated toys. Do they require batteries? Because if they do, I swear to –

Gosh, lemme cut you off right there. Batteries aren’t needed. They’re inanimate little things.

How many Shopkins are there?

As of this writing, there are three “season’s” worth of characters (December 2015 Update- there are now four seasons!). Each season has over 140 characters. Similar to card collecting, some Shopkins are more common and easily obtained than others.

Holy moly! That’s alot! Sounds way too overwhelming. And expensive. If my kid comes across these on YouTube and asks me to get them, should I just smash the computer to pieces, and tell them that Shopkins were a figment of their imagination?

No?

Then how would you recommend starting a collection, you stupid smartypants?

What’s with the name calling? Anyway, I’m not an expert on this. We’ve only bought J a five pack (which went down to a two pack within a week, by the way. They are easy to lose if you’re not careful. I probably ate Waffle Sue for breakfast accidentally, for all I know) and a couple of singles. I’m guessing you get more bang for your buck by buying the larger quantity packages, or the special edition bundles. If you don’t want to tread so deep initially, maybe just stick with occasionally buying the onesie or twosie packs.

You ate one? Are they gluten-free?

I….I wasn’t being serious. They are made of rubber or plastic. Not edible.

Which is harder to find? Cupcake Queen from Season 1 or Roxy Ring from Season 3?

Well...no, I guess not.

Man, I don’t know. Try one of the many sites dedicated to all things Shopkins.

 

I think you secretly have a weird obsession with Shopkins. Drop the act. Who’s your favorite, Mikey-Boy?

My favorite is Shut Up Juice, who takes people like you to the Smackdown Hotel. Is BFFs with yo’ momma.

Ouch. Who’s the hater now?! I was just joking around. But seriously, is there anything else I should know?

The only other thing would be, if you or your kids do get into this phenomenon, keep an eye out for Shopkins Swap events. At these, you’ll have opportunities to meet other aficionados/collectors and make trades to add to your collection.  A real life Shopkin might appear, as well.

Play your cards right, and one day, you too might able to stand in a long line to meet a giant talking strawberry!

 

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J, with Strawberry Kiss

 

 

 

 

Feelin’ Blue

 

 

Like a lot of people in Canada, my family has gotten sick this year. We have a bad case of…..

Toronto Blue Jays fever!

For the first time in forever (word to Elsa and Anna), the Jays are a playoff team, And, for the first time ever, my kids (B especially)  are actually into the games.  For longtime fans like K and myself, it’s been real cool getting caught up in the excitement this year.

With all the excitement comes a lot of reminiscing. Not gonna lie,  it’s got me feelin’ a bit nostalgic, too, right now. Some of my favorite memories with my family have occurred at Jays games………

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Me, B and my pimpin’ G-Unit shirt, at B’s first game.

At the very first game that we took B, too, when he was a baby, I caught my first and only foul ball!

Photographic evidence of said ball.

Photographic evidence of said ball.

Well……

Caught is a bit of an exaggeration. Aaron Hill ripped a ball towards our section. It looked like it was coming straight for our heads, but it ended up  ricocheting off the seats in the empty row behind us. I immediately hopped out of my seat, to run after it. I snatched the ball up right before an older lady with a cane could get to it. Yes, that moment looked as lame as you’re probably picturing it. BUT, before the other fans could boo me, I gave it to B.

Yay me?!

Nevermind, let’s move on.

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One lazy weekend, when B was three years old, I scored a couple of primo seats to a game. They were like 10 rows up from first base. It was quite the adrenaline rush, walking down and down the steps, snacks in hand, to our seats. I imagined people in the rows farther back staring at us jealously, as we sauntered by.

The first two innings were great. We crammed our faces with food, while cheering on Toronto. By the third inning, we had run out of food/money, and B was super whiny about wanting to leave.

So, we left.

I imagined the jealous people before were now snickering, as I carried B with my head down up and up the never-ending steps. It was my first and only walk of shame. On the plus side, we did spend the remainder of the game exploring the Rogers Centre and the stuff around it so it wasn’t a total waste of a trip.

 

I decided a sequel was in order, about a year later.

Once again, I got a couple of seats last minute to a game, for B and I. Luckily for us, it was Fan Appreciation Day as well. Merchandise was heavily discounted, so I was able to get B his first real Jays jersey! I also got something for myself.

jerseys

Rickey Romero? Josh Johnson? If you’re such a big fan, why did you only hit up the clearance rack, eh, Mike?

 

 

 

 

Oh, shut up!

Anyway, during the game, they had a bunch of giveaways. You know the deal. Some random 90s dance music starts blaring, and the cheerleaders or whatever come out, with swag. Hats or shirts, typically. They tease tossing it for a bit, while you jump up and down, hoping that they’ll give it to you, before they finally end up throwing it to someone not named you. Usually a little kid. During the sixth inning,  B had been pretty good to that point, but he wanted to leave. Before we were going to go, though, it was giveaway time. One of the cheerleaders actually came down right beside us. She did the whole teasing thing for a bit while the crowd went bonkers…..and then tossed a hat to B! Our first and only swag snag! Unfortunately, it was an adult sized hat, so he couldn’t wear it. Don’t worry, I’ve put it somewhere safe.

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What? My head is safe.

 

 

 

One more for you – during our road trip to Philadelphia, it turned out that Blue Jays happened to be playing the Phillies while we were there. So, of course we got some cheap seats and went to a game!

Our view from the cheap seats

Our view from the cheap seats

For real, I was a bit nervous before going. The fam was all rocking Jays paraphernalia, you see, and I had heard some horror stories about disrespectful Philadelphia fans. Fortunately, everyone there was cool. We didn’t get pelted with beer or anything like that.

About halfway through,  B and J started to get restless. I was worried that they might start making the people around us upset, if they kept acting up. Since we would probably never go to Citizen’s Bank Park again, we decided to walk around. Randomly, K ran into one of her friends, while waiting in line for food. Her friend had also made the trip down from Hamilton, to Philly. While they chatted, I noticed a bunch of big dudes were posing for pictures on the concourse. They were all decked out in Temple University gear. I asked one of the attendants what was up. She told me they were Temple’s football team, and they had a section reserved for them. Neat!

The line for food/K’s convo were both pretty long. As B and J ran around creating general chaos we waited, I noticed all of the big dudes were gone.  The attendant came over to me again, to chit chat. I casually mentioned how we were up in the bleachers before, but the kids were stir crazy there. She then told me that Temple’s team had left, and asked if I wanted to sit in their section. No one else would be there. Uh, our own private section? Heck yeah! So off we went, which is where we watched the rest of the game!

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A view from our better seats

 

There’s more examples, but I’ve gone on about this for long enough. I think you get my point though. It just seems like, whenever we go to a Toronto Blue Jays game, there’s always something memorable about them (besides the fact that they always seem to lose when I’m in attendance. Sorry, T-Dot).

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Oh, hey there, NHL superstar Steven Stamkos.

It’s funny how some things can really bring a family together. In our case, it’s cheering on the Jays. Man, even their playoff run this season has been must-watch TV in our house!

 

Unless it's a late game, and you can't stay awake, so you curl up in a pillow case to sleep, instead. What do you mean no one else does that?

Unless it’s a late game, and you can’t stay awake, so you curl up in a pillow case to sleep, instead. What do you mean no one else does that?

 

It’s all good.

 

Go Jays go!

What Do You Mean?

 

COMMUN

 

With my kids,  I’m realizing that you really can’t communicate enough!

Ever since B and J have been born, I’ve always forgone the baby talk, and instead spoken to them in the same way that I would to you. Now granted, this has resulted in many a blank stare when I’ve done things like try to explain why Kanye West is the greatest rapper of all time (OF ALL TIME).  However, the benefit of this approach has been, if I have to ask B and J to do something, I usually don’t have to dumb it down too much, for them to understand it.

Usually. Not always.

B and J are still very young. It’s not like they understand everything.  So, yeah, on occasion, if I’m not crystal clear in my communication, things go awry. Horribly, terribly awry.

Lemme give you some examples!

 

 

The intended outcome: B would learn an important lesson in moderation.

The real outcome: B had the most delicious feet in the world.

We went out to eat at a restaurant. After dessert, B wanted some chocolates that were in K’s purse. I said no. He had had enough treats that day and he’d have to wait until tomorrow. After the restaurant, we had make a stop at a store. When we went to get B out of the car, we noticed that his feet had brown goop on them. Luckily, it wasn’t the usual brown substance that ends up on your shoes.  What he had done was put the chocolates in his socks, and they melted (#shocker).

Why, you ask?

B – “Well, you said I could have them tomorrow, but I didn’t have any pockets, so I put them in my socks?”

What went wrong: I should have said that you can have chocolates tomorrow…..but I’ll hold onto them, not you.

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And then after, we took the gunk on his socks and spread it on some toast. Wait, what?

The intended outcome: An opportunity to apply some newly gained knowledge

The real outcome:  I got hustled, yo.

While passing a snack shack. B asked for a sour key candy. He had been learning about money in kindergarten, so I figured it was a good chance  for a real life math lesson. The keys were 50 cents each. I gave him a dollar, and asked him to find out how much change he would get back. He took the dollar then gleefully skipped over to the shack. From a distance, I could see him talking for a bit to the clerk. He handed his money over, and the clerk gave him a friggin’ Ring Pop. B excitedly ran back over to me:

Me – “Where’s my money? What happened to the sour key?”

B -“Well, the Ring Pops were $1, and I had $1, so I didn’t get any money back!”

What went wrong:  I should have clarified that he wasn’t allowed to upgrade his candy selection at a higher cost.

no keys

The intended outcome: A simple washroom break

The real outcome:  Five uncomfortable minutes for me.

While driving, J had to go potty, so I stopped at a Tim Horton’s.  She needs help getting onto toilets, which means I have to help her with that. Timmy’s didn’t have a family/unisex washroom, so I walked towards the men’s room. J refused to go in, because she’s a girl. I tried in vain to clearly explain why I couldn’t go in the women’s room, but no dice. Eventually, she ran in the women’s room, into a stall. I panicked, ran in after her and closed the stall door. The last thing that I needed at that moment was for a woman to come in.

So, naturally, a woman came in.

The last thing I needed was for the woman to really need to go, for fear that she would hear some creepy dude beside her and call the police.

So, naturally, she really had to go.

Don’t worry, J took her sweet time. She happily talked to herself, tinkling away, while I stood deathly silent, nervously sweating profusely. After five painful minutes, the woman started to finish up. J then hopped down, too. A feeling of dread went over me, as I figured my gig was up . J then grabbed some toilet paper and made up ‘The Wiping Song.’ I finally caught a break, as The Wiping Song dragged on, while the woman washed up and left. No blood-curdling screams. No yelling “Get outta here, you pervert!” No cop calls. Nothing.

Phew!

We bounced out of there immediately afterwards.

What went wrong: We should have never potty trained J.

wash

The intended outcome: A fun day here and there, with mommy.

The real outcome:  A confused 3 y/o girl.

J told me that she was going to “Erin’s house with mommy”. This was odd, as I thought that they were hitting up Home Depot, along with a few other stores.   I didn’t know who Erin was, either. I asked K about it. After a minute, we realized the misunderstanding.

Me – “You’re not going to Erin’s. You’re running errands! Like, you’re going to go do stuff.”

(long silence while J digested this information. Then):

J – “Why do we have to run to Erin’s?”

I explained again, and she seemed to get it. Yet, later that night, when I was putting her to bed,  I asked how her day was. She started to pout.

Me – “What’s wrong?”

J – “We just went to stores. We didn’t run to Erin’s!”

What went wrong:   Next time, use a synonym for errands which doesn’t sound like a person’s name.

 

TASKS

The intended outcome: Putting my foot down, and showing B who’s boss!

The real outcome: B had the most delicious hair in the world.

A couple of years ago, it was supposed to be an uneventful dinner. B had another thing on his mind, however:

B- “Can I have a bath?”

Me – “No, you don’t need a bath tonight.”

A few minutes later, I looked over at him. He had smeared applesauce in his hair.

B – “Why do I need a bath for?”

Me – “You’re not having a bath tonight!”

B nibbled away on his food for a bit, then suddenly took his plate and dumped it all over his head.

B – “Do I need a bath?”

Giving in and giving him a bath at that point would have probably lead to daily dinner dumps in the future, right?  I decided to hang tough:

Me – “You’re not having a bath tonight!”

We still didn’t clean him.

Calling our bluff, B started wiping applesauce from his hair and eating it:

B – “Can I have some more applesauce?”

Me – “What? Are you going to eat it, or is it for your head?”

B – “I’m going to eat it……….and it’s for my head!”

A quick wipedown then straight to bed for his antics.

What went wrong:  The whole incident could have been avoided……if I told him beforehand that applesauce is not a very good shampoo.

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Anyway, I think that you get the idea.

When talking to kids, it’s always best to be clear as day, not clear as mud.  Or, uh, applesauce.

 

 

 

 

 

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