Author: mike

Stolen Cars and Kidnapping Rabbits – An Easter Story

 

In terms of holidays, Easter is definitely on the “Mt. Rushmore of Best Days Of The Year”, for my kids.  Now, how this holiday has evolved from its origins to what it represents today is a thinkpiece subject for a far more intellectually stimulating site than this one. In our house, while Easter is mainly about family, it’s also about the Easter Bunny.  And truth be told,  B and J are all in on believing in that chocolate pimpin’ rabbit!  J believed so much, that she even concocted a harebrained scheme this year. Lemme explain.

It ’twas Easter Eve, and I was doing what any good parent would do – running out to the stores last minute, to buy some chocolate and presents. After scouring the picked over shelves, I did manage to find some decent treats along with some cool cheap gifts. The best one was a toddler sized basketball net that I found in the clearance section, for little KJ.  I also had been scouting the house out for days, looking for awesome spots to hide eggs for an egg hunt (plastic ones that I would fill with candy). So with everything I bought safely hidden in my car, and my mental plan in check, I headed home. All I needed was for B and J to go to bed in a good time.

However, in the week leading up to the big day, J also came up with a plan……

She was going to kidnap the Easter Bunny!

My sentiments exactly.

Now, K and I did try to explain how wrong this was. J was undeterred, though. She just wanted to see him with her own eyes.  As such, I would hear her plotting and scheming ways as to how she was going to get him. She’s been on a Looney Tunes kick lately, so I’m sure she thought capturing the wascally wabbit would be a breeze. To top it off, she even recruited B, to aid and abet in the plan.  After K and I fell asleep,  they were going to go downstairs.  They would “chill out and watch TV”, in B’s words, to wait for the bunny’s arrival.

This plan sucked, quite frankly. I’m all for the kids having fun and keeping the charade alive. However, similar to Christmas, the key is for the kids to be asleep, so the magic can happen. The last thing I wanted was for B and J to sneak up on me as I was setting things up. Thus, the stage was set. Me versus the kids, in a battle to preserve the legend of the Easter Bunny!

I wouldn’t look so smug if I were you, rabbit.

As K and I binge-watched Seven Seconds on Netflix that night, J passed out by 9pm. Unluckily for me, B was wide awake. K got tired around midnight, and headed to bed, at which point B ran in to join her. While the Easter Bunny had probably visited your house hours before, and you were enjoying a good night’s rest, I had even started anything yet. Plus one potential magic-ruining boy was still up.

I figured that B would be asleep soon. If I waited a bit, I could quietly start getting organized. So, eventually,  I grabbed my  keys, went to my car to get my stuff…..

AND MY CAR WAS GONE!!!

I must have looked like the biggest doofus, standing in my driveway for like 5 minutes, dumbfounded.  K had told me earlier that vehicles had been stolen off of our street that week. Apparently mine got taken, too!  What kind of A-hole plays real life Grand Theft Auto on a holiday? I was confused and angry. The kids were going to be bummed out, because the Easter Bunny didn’t come with anything.  Brutal.

I had to break the news about the carjacking to K, and by default B, since he was still awake in our bedroom. B was shocked, but when I told K, guess how she reacted?

With laughter.

April Fool’s!

Yeah, she pranked me, since it was April 1. She thought I would go grab coffee in the morning, so she moved my car around the block that evening, to make it look like a theft. She forgot that I had all of the Easter stuff in my trunk, though.  I can’t lie. It was a funny joke, bad timing aside.

I waited for B to settle before retrieving my car, but then I got to work.  As I put together the eggs in the living room, I heard J’s bed squeak upstairs. Panic immediately set in; I tossed a blanket over the stuff.

Then I heard little footsteps.

Then I heard our bedroom door open.

Then I heard J loudly whispering to B to wake up.

Then I ran upstairs to squash that noise!

I told her that I wasn’t going to bed soon, so she shouldn’t bother trying to be sneaky.

Then she fake slept.

That was good enough for me, so I headed back downstairs.

I still had to set up KJ’s basketball net. I immediately realized why it was on clearance. Picture trying to put together Ikea furniture, but with less instructions, and more hard-to-unpackage, ill-fitting parts, and you get the idea. After fumbling with that for a while, it was now well past 2:00 AM. I tapped out. Instead of an epic egg hunt, I was exhausted, so the hunt consisted of me lazily scattering the eggs in our living room and kitchen. Your dude was then able to settle in for a good night’s rest.

Sike!

B and J woke us up at 6:30am.

However, the day wasn’t about grownups. All three kids were happy with their haul, and the hunt, so that was all that mattered. J’s already vowed to catch the Easter Bunny next Easter, unfortunately.

Stay tuned for the sequel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McBrawlnald’s

You know that expression “the streets is watching”? Where, if you’re out on the streets, getting into trouble, you gotta be mindful of the fact that someone might have eyes on you? Along these lines, as a parent, good or bad, you quickly learn that you have to be aware at all times. Little kids see and hear everything! It’s like the Sesame Streets is watching.

Now, truth be told, pre-kid Mike said and did some stuff back in the day which I’d be embarrassed to do today. At the time, Y.O.L.O.  Who cared what people thought of me? Nowadays, though, there are many ramifications for daddy actin’ the fool in public. The most severe one would be that B, J and little KJ could see that behaviour, and emulate it. Other kids might be encouraged to repeat it, as well; kids who, in the heat of the moment, I may not even know are there. This just isn’t cool.  Stupidity breeds stupidity, right?  As such, the more that we, as responsible adults, can stop being morons acting moronically, the better things will be for the next generation.

For example, take this incident, which happened recently to my wife, K, at a McDonald’s drive-thru. I need to show you this cartographer-quality map, so you can picture what I’m talking about:

Not an actual cartographer-quality map.

 

This particular drive-thru is awkwardly designed. If you enter from street 1, you have to do the full loop around the building when you order. If you enter from street 2, depending on the size of the line, you have to veer off to the side and find a place to wait, before you can get in the line.

K was driving home with the kids one evening, when she stopped at this McDonald’s drive-thru. While waiting in line, a dude (late 20ish in age) rolled up in a pickup truck, from street 2.  Instead of looping back and going behind K in line, he stopped just off of the entrance. His idea was that after she ordered, she would pull up to the window, and he would slide in line after. The problem with this, though, was that until he ordered, he was blocking the entrance/exit.

While K waited, another dude (late 30ish) in a car, with a female passenger, drove up from behind. He wanted to exit onto street 2, but couldn’t, because of the guy in the truck.  Instead of politely asking him to move, he proceeded to roll down his window, to hurl profanities. Truck guy wasn’t having any of that noise, so he rolled down his window, and started cussing back at car guy. K was basically trapped in the middle of this swearfest, as she was boxed in, so she locked the doors.

Truck guy then decided to take things up a notch. He got out, and uttered the three favorite words of every wannabe tough guy and goon:

“YOU WANNA GO?”

Car guy, despite his lady passenger trying to hold him back, did indeed want to go. He hopped out, approached truck guy, and before you could say “let’s get ready to rumble”, they were throwing fisticuffs at each other. K, who was nervous before about the situation, was now scared, so she did what any sensible person would do.

Pulled out her phone, shot a video, and sent it to Worldstar Hip Hop?

What? No.

Her and the kids’ safety was more important than going viral. We live in volatile times, to put it mildly. If these two geniuses are the types to start scrapping in a McDonald’s drive-thru over some bad parking, who’s to say that they aren’t the types who have weapons, or even guns, on them, and would start hurting innocent bystanders?

She called 911.

As she was talking to the 911 dispatcher,  a third dude, who was at the order window, got out of his car. The two brawling mouth-breathers were now rolling around like UFC fighters.  This other guy yelled at them to stop…..

Because there were kids watching!

The two dummies used their few remaining brain cells to come to their senses, and stopped fighting. They then returned to their vehicles. One guy drove off, but the other stayed, to place an order. Remember how,  in old cartoons, the characters would use beef bandages (giant slabs of meat) on their black eyes? That’s what I figure that guy ordered. “Uh, can I please get a quarter pounder? No cheese. No toppings. No bun, either. You don’t have to cook it, just give me the raw frozen patty. Thank you.” 

Now, from this incident, do I think my oldest children are going to start swearing and sucker-punching people in fast food restaurants? I mean, they’re pretty impressionable, but hopefully not. Regardless, it really was something that they didn’t have to experience. It’s just another uncomfortable conversation that we, as parents, have to have with them. If you’re like me, you probably have too many of these talks as is.

So that’s today’s takeaway, folks. The next time you’re road raging, looking to make a spectacle of yourself to prove a point, or want to get in a fist fight in a McDonald’s drive-thru, think about the kids.

The Sesame Streets is watching.

Olympic Nightmares And Velveteen Dreams – WWE NXT Live!

Disclaimer: The good folks at World Wrestling Entertainment graciously hooked me up with tickets to their WWE NXT Live show recently, in St. Catharines, Ontario. This is my review of the event!

 

“WE. ARE. NXT!” 

When Johnny Gargano yelled those words, to conclude a fun night of wrestling matches, the audience burst into cheers, including my kids B and J. What started out as curiosity ended with two converted fans!

For the uninitiated, NXT is basically like the WWE’s minor league wrestling system. It is a roster of talented performers who aren’t quite ready for the big stage. Some of the wrestlers are brand new, some are experienced but still perfecting the intricacies needed to be called up one day, while others are big name “independent” workers  with built in fan bases who are adjusting to the WWE style. Whereas WWE promotes itself as “sports entertainment”, NXT has a more pro wrestling vibe to it. Less talking, more in-ring action.  NXT has its own weekly TV show and regular pay-per-views, as well as their own merchandise. It’s really not a reach to say that some of the stars in NXT are just as popular as WWE ones.

In our house, I do find myself watching wrestling more lately. It’s one of the few shows that I can put on and follow while doing other dad duty stuff, without having to pay attention too closely. Yo, with three kids, to paraphrase Batista, it’s like distractions are not only welcomed, but encouraged.

B will watch with me sometimes, but he’s not that familiar with the NXT brand. J, conversely, only knows John Cena. However, both are pretty open-minded when it comes to outings, so I knew they’d be down for some live wrestling action. Plus, J had told me recently that she wanted to be a princess when she grew up. Now, I know some princesses are pretty empowering. However, I also know that some are just side pieces for their Prince Charmings. I figured it would be a good opportunity to expose J to some other strong female characters.

In terms of the show, the Meridian Centre was about two thirds full. From what I could tell, the crowd was mainly families (with more small girls there around J’s age than I expected), and 20ish/30ish year old looking “smart fans”; that is, the more hardcore wrestling fans who know the behind the scenes stuff. Trust me, this made a difference.

To work on their money skills, I had a little contest going, where before each match, B and J would make a prediction as to who they thought would win. If they were right, I would give them 25 cents. Since they are little kids, their automatic pick would be to pick the good guy or girl, so they could boo the baddies. I’ve been to WWE shows before, and since those crowds tend to have more casual fans in them, they will play along, and cheer/jeer appropriately. With the NXT crowd, though, the smart fans just cheered their own personal favorites! For example, one wrestler named Velveteen Dream is a heel (bad guy). However, he’s such a cool, great performer, that, as soon as his music hit, the place went nuts. B and J both asked me if he was good or bad. All I could say was that he was in the middle. They then both picked him to win. Unfortunately, he lost to another crowd favorite, Aleister Black, in an awesome match.

Velveteen Dream, soaking in the adulation.

The crowd also popped huge when Richochet’s name appeared on the jumbo screen, and he showed up. This was one of his first matches in NXT, as he hadn’t been on the TV shows yet. So to me, it was unexpected that he got such a big reaction.  However, he is a star outside of WWE. Dude’s an incredible athlete, and did some stuff that I had never seen before, in his match with Buddy Murphy.

Not every thing was bizarro world, though. By far, the wrestler who got the most heat was a Marcell Barthel, an arrogant German. Earlier that day, Germany had stunned Canada at the Olympics in hockey, crushing our gold medal dreams. Barthel made sure to mention this to us, which got him booed out of the building, unsurprisingly.

Also unsurprisingly was J’s favorite contest – the women’s three way match between Nikki Cross (dat gurl be cray cray), Aliyah (who bragged about reppin’ Toronto, and hated on St. Catharines, so she got booed hard) and the NXT Women’s Champion, Ember Moon. J really liked Moon. I tried to say she was a butt-kicking warrior princess, but J took that to mean she was the Queen. Eh, close enough.

All in all, it was a fun night out, with a lively crowd. If you had no idea who the performers were going in, they all did such a good job in getting their characters over, and the audience was so into them, that it was easy to be invested in the outcomes of the matches. B and J went in blind, and a week later, they still randomly talk about Johnny Wrestling (Johnny Gargano), Mrs. Wrestling (Candice LeRae, Gargano’s wife), the Queen, or Velveteen Dream. I’ll add that even though my tickets were free, NXT Live is reasonably priced, as well. For our event, cheap seats weren’t that much more than taking the family to a 3D movie, for example. I also appreciated that, at least from our vantage point, the audience respected the kids in attendance, so the chanting and yelling was not vulgar or profane.

Thanks again, WWE. If NXT Live comes to your town, as Billy Red Lyons use to say, don’t cha dare miss it!

 

Make A Dollar Out Of 15 Cents

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – never underestimate the power of a child’s imagination. Even though the game’s changed, and kids nowadays are different than how I was when I was a little, this statement still rings true.

B and J, for example, love technology. If left to their own devices, they could spend hours playing on their devices, or watching TV, Netflix or Youtube.  And in all honesty, sometimes I don’t mind a little tech time. It’s a break from the chaotic havoc and non-stop bickering that usually goes on in our house. The kids quietly staring at a screen, not getting into trouble? Sign me up!

The downside, of course, is that too much screen time will probably turn their brains into mush. Therefore, kids need to find other ways to entertain themselves. And I gotta admit, when it comes to making something out of nothing, to combat boredom, J is a pretty resourceful girl.

Take last Sunday, for example. It was just J, little KJ, and yours truly hangin’ and bangin’. Out of nowhere, J blurted out that she was going to make a train.  Lacking anything even remotely resembling train parts, I had no clue what her plan was. She then ran off to the garage, came back with two giant boxes and put in some work.

KJ also tried to help.

A while later, here was her end result:


Two train cars, attached with tape. One baby-friendly, with toys and snacks for KJ.  One J-friendly, with, uhh, a picture of her hanging in it, for some reason.

They played in these for a while, including pulling them around the kitchen, making “stops”. Eventually (or a lot longer than I would have thought, since it’s just two boxes),  J got bored and tried to play on her tablet. I could tell that KJ wanted to keep playing with her, though, so I suggested that she entertain him.

Her solution? Instead of watching unboxing videos on Youtube, her and KJ could play “unboxing videos on Youtube”!

This literally involved J hiding in a box and KJ opening it up. To his credit, KJ seemed impressed each time he peeled back the flaps, and saw her sprawled inside.  You know,  like how Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph looked when they opened their presents in that Saturday Night Live “D**k In A Box” video.

Step 1…

Later that evening, after I put KJ to bed, I heard J singing. While some kids belt out Disney songs, or Bruno Mars hits, or Cardi B jams (see, I’m hip to today’s music), J was singing about…..punctuation.  I went in her room, and saw her standing with a marker in hand, beside this creation:

 

We then had the following conversation:

Me – What are you doing?

J – Oh, I’m just working on my anxiety.

Me – Your anxiety?!

J – Yeah.  My teacher says that I need to practise my anxiety. *starts singing about puncuation*

Me – I don’t think that’s the right word. You drew some punctuation marks.

J – I did?

Me – Yes! *I point to them*

J – Oh. There’s four of them! Question mark….explanation mark….comma…..what’s the fourth one?

Me – Period.

J – What’s a period?

Me – You drew it! It’s the dot.

J – Oh right! I forgot. Then what are these? *scribbles randomly*

Me – Those aren’t anything. Why are their hands?

J – Those are my hands.

Me – I know. But why did you draw them?

J – I dunno.

Maybe the hands were anxiety hands. Who knows.  You catch my drift, though. Leave a kid on on their own, and they can come up with some wild thoughts (word to DJ Khaled!).

Anyway, I went downstairs after that encounter. A bit later, since imagination knows no timeframe (re: she didn’t want to go to bed),  J came downstairs, to tell me about her latest project:

J – You know how you always wanted a puppy house?

Me – I’ve never said that before. We don’t even have a dog.

J – Well feast your eyes on this! See, you just put your puppy in here, and they can sleep in it.

Me – Ok. This is awesome. But the roof is a book? What if you want to read it?

J – Oh, I’m too big to read it.

Me – What if KJ wants to read it?

J – Oh. Well. He can just take the tape…

*stops talking, to think hard*

He’s never going to read it! *grabs house, goes back upstairs*

 

Children’s imagination, people. They can turn nothing into something better than we can, for real.  And that’s not even getting into the deadly burglar ball that B and J concocted.

Until next time, peace!

 

 

 

No Role Modelz

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a few brushes with fame in my life. Of these celebrity encounters, one has always stuck with me, though.

At a 1994 FIBA World Basketball Championship game, when I was a kid, NBA star Toni Kukoc happened to be in the stands. This totally got me starstruck.  People were coming up to him in his seat, between breaks, so figured I’d ask him for an autograph, too.  I remember being super nervous as I got closer and closer to him. When I did get near, I didn’t get a chance to speak, unfortunately. Mr Kukoc, without looking at me, said “Get out of my face.” I couldn’t believe it…..but he then said it again! The dude he was with also told me to go away, which I quickly did.  Once the shock wore off, I can’t say that I was really upset about the incident. It was more of a disappointed, angry feeling.  However, because of that one moment, in my opinion, Mr. Kukoc (who may be a swell guy, to others) was, and always will be, a jerk.

 

Let’s now talk about the other day, when like father, like son, B had a similar  “celebrity” encounter.

It happened at a Toronto Raptors 905 NBA G-League game. B was there with his basketball teammates and their parents, which included yours truly. Midway through the game, a bunch of them noticed Fred VanVleet, point guard for the Toronto Raptors, was also in attendance. Like any 8-10 year old hoops fans, they were excited about seeing a real life NBA player. So, at halftime, one of the other dads in our group took the boys down, to meet Mr. VanVleet, and get autographs.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t see what exactly happened next. I can only go by what B and the other parents told me.  I saw the group down near where Mr. VanVleet was, and then I looked away for a bit. When I looked back, I saw the group walking towards our section, with a bunch of disappointed faces. From what I was told, Mr. VanVleet saw the team approaching, and legit turned his back on them to talk to someone else instead. A 905 representative came over as well, to tell the boys that Fred VanVleet “wasn’t available”. I guess the optics of it were savage, as one of the dads got really worked up when he saw the incident occur.

Now look, there are always two sides to every story.  For all we know, Mr. VanVleet was having a bad day, and is normally very accommodating to his young fans. It could have been a case of bad timing and miscommunication. He could possibly have been sick, and didn’t want to infect the boys with his illness. Or, maybe, he just wanted to enjoy the game, without having to interact with the general public.  In any event, why he wouldn’t be more appreciative to the ones who put him on a pedestal so he can make a comfortable living playing a freaking game?

I understand that, in our culture, we tend to idolize, romanticize and build up celebrities. Shoot, I remember last year, when B and I went to a 905 game, Mr. VanVleet was on that team, as just another guy. I don’t think he had many people looking to take selfies or get an autograph then. To go from there, to now playing a regular role on one of the best teams in the NBA, well, I’m sure a lot of stuff comes with that. It’s just like if anybody in any job works their way up to become successful. You hope that they remain decently humble and stuff doesn’t go to their head, but that’s not always the case.

Yet, who are we to judge, if the celebrities we make role models turn out not to be who we thought they were? They’re  human beings, too. They don’t owe us anything. If they want to turn their back to ignore a group of kids, in spite of how bad it might reflect on them and their employer, it’s their choice, right? Like Charles Barkley said back in the day – just because someone can dunk a basketball shouldn’t make them a role model. Just because someone played a hero in a movie doesn’t mean that they aren’t a scummy deviant once the camera stops rolling. I guess that’s on us, for buying into the facade, when the truth emerges.  With all that said,  finding out Toni Kukoc was a jerk still kind of hit me the same way as when I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. It sucked.

Ho-Ho-Hold up! I’m not real?

Ok, rambling over.

Unlike my Kukoc experience, B’s night ended on a happy note.  At the end of the game, B’s team went down to high five the 905s as they walked off the court. Bruno Caboclo, sometime Raptor/sometime 905er, on his way out, high fived everyone, AND signed every autograph, no questions asked. The kids were pumped and had the biggest smiles when they came back to us. This made their night, including B’s, who doesn’t want me to wash his autographed shirt now!

Actions speak louder than words.  And when you’re on a pedestal, role model or not, it can go a long way in affecting how you’re perceived.
Fred VanVleet, you lost some young fans that night, bro, sorry.  Bruno Caboclo, on the other hand, gained a bunch.

 

 

Rice Krispies Treats For Toys (Giveaway!)

 

 

One of my favorite part about this time of the year are all of the holiday traditions. You know, like the family dinners. Or hanging the lights outside of the house while my clumsy butt tries not to fall off of the ladder. Or walking into a store the day after Halloween, seeing Christmas merchandise already out on display, and muttering to myself that it’s way too soon for that stuff.  Yup, I do love this festive season. And in the spirit of traditions, my good friends at Kellogg’s are celebrating the fifth annual Rice Krispies #TreatsForToys program!

They have once again partnered with The Salvation Army to encourage Canadian families to create a toy-shaped Rice Krispies treat and submit a photo on TreatsforToys.ca or share it in social media using the hashtag #TreatsforToys. Then, for every photo uploaded or shared on social, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies will donate $20 to The Salvation Army for the purchase of a toy for a Canadian child in need during the holidays.  They’re also issuing a new challenge, if you’re down for it – include a moving part into your toy shaped treat (don’t worry, you’re still cool if you don’t)!

To help spread the word, Kellogg’s sent me the following package (not the tree, though! That’s ours, and was used for artistic decor. Feel free to go “ooh” and “ahh”. Or not. Probably not), so my family could make their own delicious toy creations:

I let B and J do the honours.

And after me constantly telling them to stop sucking on the icing and eating all of the ingredients much hard work, here are their Rice Krispies “Mastoypieces”. Yes, I made that word up. Anyway, we weren’t able to incorporate any moving parts, unless you consider heaping globs of gooey icing dripping down as moving parts:

A half eaten car by B.

A princess by J.

 

Make. Share. Give.

Simple, right?

And to make it even simpler, how about I give you the same package that I got from Kellogg’s? Enter the contest below for your chance to win a prize pack!

 

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies #TreatsforToys Giveaway

DATES –  Giveaway closes at 11:59PM on December 7, 2017

ELIGIBILITY – Open to all residents of Canada, except for Quebec.

TO ENTER –  Use the form below to complete the mandatory and optional entries, for your chance to win

 

 

 

Hot Holiday Gifts From Jakks Pacific!

Note: While I was compensated for this post, the thoughts expressed are 100% mine.

Wassup! By now, you’re probably basking in your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals afterglow. I hope your shopping was a success! If you’re like me, though, you probably still have some work to do, presents-wise. Luckily, when it comes to kids, my good friends at Jakks Pacific have got it covered, for boys and girls of all ages. Here are some of their hottest toys for the holiday season!

Real Workin’ Buddies: Mr. Dusty

If your kids are like my kids (slobs), then this truck is right up your alley. Recently named as a Walmart Top Rated By Kids toy for 2017,  Mr. Dusty is a garbage truck/street sweeper/dump truck which makes cleaning up fun. Eat, sweep, dump, repeat. It has a motorized mouth, which can pick up small toys (ie. Legos), on both hardwood and carpeted floors. Even if your kids are tidy, they can still have fun with Mr. Dusty by putting random stuff on the floor and seeing if he can eat it up!

Pull My Finger

If you or your child is not a fan of potty humour or flatulence, then skip this one. If you are, then this game is the shiznit! The objective basically is to pull a monkey’s finger, and not make it fart. What’s not to like?

 

BIG-FIGS 20″ Figures – Justice League

And Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big, blockbuster movies deserve big, blockbuster toys. Typical action figures are, what? 4″ or 5″ tall? BIG-FIGS come in at around 18″-20″.  The detailing is really impressive, and some of the characters come with soft fabric capes and/or removable accessories.

 

Power Rippers

 

Power Rippers 2 in 1 Competition Set

Power Rippers are “a fusion of Vehicles, Battle Tops and Action Figures.” Basically, they’re collectable balls (each with their own names and skills) that open up, into vehicles. Using the rip cord, you can race, battle and do all kinds of cool stunts with them (no batteries required).  I personally am easily amused, so I was entertained just pulling the cord, and watching them spin round and round.

For those not so easily amused,  The Power Rippers 2 In 1 Competition Set will do the trick. It’s a track set and battle arena, and includes two loops, which can be configured in one long strip, or side by side, for racing. One neat thing is that it comes in a carrying case, which doubles as the arena and a base for the racing track, so cleaning up is easy. No Mr. Dusty required.

Happy shopping!

 

Dear Retail Stores

Dear Retail Stores,

You and I, we’ve spent a lot of time together over the years. Things feel different now, though, and I’ve felt this way for a while. Shoot, you look as nice as ever. That’s not the problem. It’s just…..

I’ve changed.

I got three small kids now, and I don’t have the time for you anymore. There’s also somebody else, too. Somebody who’s easier, sorry. Therefore, we need to take a break for a while.  Let me explain.

First off, relationships are based on honesty, and you’ve lied to me recently.  I went to Sears, where they heavily advertised everything being 20-50% off. Yet, as I walked around you, I saw a lot of 20% off signs, but no 50% ones. I had a better chance of finding Waldo there, than a half off discount.

Then, I went way out of my way to see you the other night. A Superstore, to be exact. I wanted to buy a basketball game that was in your flyer, but, alas, you were sold out. I guess that’s what I get for popping in, and not calling beforehand.  On the way home, I went to Walmart. I had to buy some toilet paper. I grabbed a pack that was on sale for $13.97…..but you did me wrong. You rang in at $19.98. I argued with the cashier a bit, who thought I was mistaken. I went back to the aisle where I got it, and I was right. The marked price was $13.97! I just wanted to buy some TP. Having to argue over your price was pretty crappy, no pun intended.

Pun totally intended.

That same night, I found out that K had spent hours trying to set up a printer that she got from a Staples a couple of months ago. I attempted to hook it up, too, but no luck. The next day, I called HP,  who made the printer. They told me that the issue wasn’t hardware related, but software related. They would happily fix my problem……for a one time set up fee of $49.99 and $14.99/month for a year after. When I pointed out that the set up fee cost more than the printer, and for all I knew, it was defective, so why should I have to pay $49.99 plus a monthly fee just for HP to tell me it was defective, I was met with indifference. When I asked if HP’s competitors had similar policies, I was basically told (not exact words) that Windows didn’t, but Windows stuff was more expensive, so you get what you get with HP, take it or leave it.  We decided to take it. Take it back to you, the next day!

Admittedly, the staff at Staples the following day was friendly and helpful, especially since we had lost the receipt. However, still feeling annoyed about my convo with HP the day before, I asked what was available in non-HP printers. Unfortunately, the selection was lacking. I settled with swapping out for the same HP model. It was disappointing, to say the least.

I was disappointed some more too, by you that day. I was in the market for a simple Nerf gun, and a booster seat. You’re called Toys R Us, but apparently Nerf guns and booster seats R Not Us, as you were out of what I wanted.   Next, I tried Canadian Tire, where you also didn’t have what I was looking for.  I headed to Walmart. Once again, I came up empty-handed. I did decide to buy some Christmas lights, to make my outing not so useless.  When I went to pay for my items,  however, you didn’t want my money.

No, for real.

Walmart’s debit/credit machines stopped working. Having no cash, I couldn’t buy my items, so I went home.

Home to someone else.

That someone else…..is Online. I bought my booster seat and Nerf gun Online, no problem there.  If Online doesn’t have something, I can quickly find it somewhere else. Online has a wide selection of stuff, so I don’t have to settle. Online always takes my money, no problem. It’s nice to not have spend hours driving around in vain looking for something, and spend that time with the family, instead. Online is so easy.  Online isn’t perfect, obviously, but right now? They’re kind of better than you sometimes.

I’m not a complicated man, but I have needs. Needs that you aren’t always able to meet. So for now, I’m going to pursue things more with Online. We can still chill, though, Retail Stores. There will always be a place for you in my life.  You can’t be my main squeeze. You can only be my side piece. But that’s OK, too, right? Consider us friends with benefits. If Online can’t satisfy me, you and I can hook up!

This isn’t a goodbye. It’s just a so long for now. Good luck over the holidays!

Sincerely,

Mike

 

Sleeping? Beauty!

Kids passing out in random places is hilarious, man. Like, I personally have never been so tired that I just had to curl up and sleep on anywhere but a bed, couch or chair. Well, except for the time when I fell asleep on my floor, face first, in a plate of Chinese food  But that doesn’t count, because I was DRUNK!

Anyway, children are different. I used to find B in the weirdest positions, which always made me chuckle. J, unfortunately (fortunately?) has picked up on this habit, too, recently. Check it out!

We had come home late evening, and J had fallen asleep in the car. When we got to our house, she took off her coat and shoes, and went to the couch. She was so exhausted, however, that she only made it to the one end, and collapsed. She ended up in this awkward state, dangling off the side, partially upside down.  Apparently she is half five year old girl/half bat?


I apologize for the lousy lighting, as I found her in her closet like this one night.

Yeah, that’s right, her closet.

As far as I can tell, instead of going to her nice, comfy bed, she made a nest out of clothes on her closet floor. Hungry from her nesting, she then pounded back an apple sauce packet, without our permission. Finally she contorted her legs in an awkwardly flexible manner, against the door frame, and fell asleep. Apparently she is half five year old girl/half Gumby?

 

I…..I can’t even.

I can only speculate on what happened here, but I’ll give it a go.
J had a bath on this night, hence the bath toys. Afterwards, feeling so fresh n’ so clean (word to Outkast!), she naturally decided she needed to go on a trip. This required busting out the globe. I guess she’s half five year old girl/half Dora The Explorer? After deciding on a destination, she packed her Frozen backpack with just a few books, including her school yearbook. #kindergartenmemories

The destination must have been to a sunny resort, to escape the Canadian winter. The books must have been for reading material while she lounged on the beach. It was probably going to be a short trip, since she didn’t pack any clothes. Anyway, next, she must have called an Uber, to take her to the resort (I never said geography was her strong suit). Wanting to take full advantage of the door to door service, she most likely requested that the driver pick her up at the door of her choice; in this case, her bedroom doorway.  JUST the doorway, though, so that’s why she put down the STOP sign, to keep the driver from entering her room. While waiting for her Uber to arrive, she got tired,  grabbed a blanket and pillow, and fell asleep.

What? It could have happened this way!  The logic of a little kid is straight bananas sometimes, so you never know!

Awww!  No halves here. This is just 100% adorable, homey!

Big bro, lil sis, cuddled together after story time and a visit from the Sandman.   Why can’t every night be like this?

That’s all for now. Sweet dreams, everybody!

 

Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Kids!

Note: While I was compensated for this post by Imports Dragon, the opinions expressed are mine, as always.

Every year in our household, Santa Claus covers off the main presents, no problem, but he slacks off on the stockings. In fact, typically, he scrambles last minute to fill them, and pretty much just hopes that the kids won’t go ‘WTF’ when they empty them. This year will be different, though. My, err I mean, Santa’s good friends at Imports Dragon got it covered. As a distributor and manufacturer of numerous brands of toys, they offer a wide variety of products to satisfy kids of all ages. Available online, or in stores nationwide, here are some that I think make great stocking stuffers for my kids (and hopefully the children in your lives, too!):

 

Shopkins Cutie Cars, Single Packs or 3 Packs

I’ve mentioned before that Shopkins are big in our house. Cutie Cars are a natural extention of those. Cute little collectible cars that you can put mini Shopkins in, and take for a cruise!

NHL Figures, Various Sizes

Speaking of collectibles, these high quality, licensed NHL figures, available in various sizes, are a sure shot to please any hockey fan’s stocking.

Pikmi Pops Single Packs

Pikmi Pops are toy lollipops with an element of fun surprise inside. If your kid loves making videos of them unboxing stuff, they’ll especially love these.

Ooshies

Another cool collectible. Ooshies are tiny, squishy figurines of licensed characters, like DC, Marvel and Disney Princesses. They also double as pencil toppers, ensuring your child will have the most lit writing utensil in the whole school, fam.

Peg + Cat Plush Toys. Peg + Cat Memory Card Game

Peg + Cat is a popular children’s TV show, so fans of that show will really appreciate the plush toy, and the themed memory card game!

Twozies

 

More surprise toys! Except instead of just one mystery inside a pack, there’s two – a cute little baby and a pet. The fun is in collecting them, and mismatching the duos.

Happy Places Shopkins Packs

Here’s another one from the Shopkins universe. Happy Places are collectible, miniature decor toys.

Drawmaster Drawing Kit

Drawmaster is exactly what it says it is. A drawing kit that helps you draw the perfect piece every time. Sweet!

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