Category: real talk

When Kids Make You Feel Ancient

As a thirty-something year old dude, I’m still fairly young.  On occasion, however, thirty-something can feel like one hundred-something.

You see, it’s easy to forget that some things which are common to me, are completely foreign to my kids.  I’m sure we all remember our parents telling us stories from their adolescence, which we couldn’t relate to at all (“You paid a quarter to take the train to see a Beatles concert, and got change back? For real?!”).  Inevitably, I expected to become a dinosaur to B and J in the future, babbling on about the good ol’ days.

What I didn’t expect was for the future to come so soon!

Because both of them are under the age of six, B and J don’t know about stuff  which was the norm just a few short years ago. They have no clue. Needless to say, this has resulted in some interesting experiences.

Here, lemme give you some examples:

 WE USED TO READ WHERE’S WALDO, NOT PLAY IT.

While at the mall last year, I pointed out a “Where’s Waldo” book to B. Many an hour was spent by me as a youth looking for Waldo, Wenda, the Wizard, tastefully drawn nude characters etc.  B’s response when I showed the book to him?

“Oh. you mean it’s like the video game?”

Thanks, Nintendo Wii. Thanks.

COMMERCIALS WERE MANDATORY VIEWING.

We were watching a Toronto Blue Jays game on TV a couple of months ago. When the commercials came on, B grabbed the remote and tried to fast forward through them. It didn’t work, obviously. He’s used to watching shows pre-recorded, or  “on demand”.  I had a hard time explaining why we couldn’t zip past the ads (“Regular TV? What’s that?”).

A commercial free childhood? Sheesh. Must be nice.

NO REALLY. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL WAS A LEGENDARY BASKETBALL PLAYER.

B and I  watched the NBA Slam Dunk Contest recently.  He was blown away by what the contestants in it were doing. However, one of the judges, Shaquille O’Neal, kept giving the dunkers lower scores than what B thought they deserved. It ticked him off, to the point that he angrily demanded to know what was up.  Now to me, Shaq is one of the best, most entertaining ballers ever. I happily rattled off his accolades. B’s bitter response to this ?

“Well, why does Shaq ruin everything?”

So now, to B, Shaq is just some clueless old guy who has less basketball credibility than Kevin Hart. Shaqtin’ a fool, indeed.

COMPACT DISCS AREN’T SHINY PLATES.

Ever explain to a three year old girl how the Wu-Tang Clan CD that she put her food on actually has music on it? Unfortunately, I have.

WUTANG

WU-TANG CLAN AIN’T NUTHING TA….LUNCH WIT’?

PHONES USED TO ONLY MAKE PHONE CALLS.

Ever explain to a crying three year old girl why she could only talk to Grammy on the phone, but not see her as well, because your phone doesn’t have FaceTime? Unfortunately, I have.

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What do you mean you can’t FaceTime on this?

 

R.I.P. 90s BOY BANDS?

*After I showed B and J the video for ‘Everybody‘ by the Backstreet Boys*

B – Who are they?

Me – The Backstreet Boys.

B – Are they from a long time ago?

Me – Sort of. The 1990s.

B – Are they dead?

Harsh, son. Just harsh. It wasn’t even that long ago! People from that era aren’t exactly dropping like flies. Yo, if you survived the 90s, good for you, apparently.

Speaking of which….

Y2K WAS TERRIFYING. WASN’T IT?

During a Chris Jericho wrestling match, the crowd was chanting his nickname “Y2J”. B asked what it meant, and I started to explain that it was a play on words, on Y2K. I then kind of tailed off and changed the subject, because I couldn’t remember why Y2K was such a big deal. I mean, at the time, the world was supposed to end, right?

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Hmm. Actually, if you survived the 90s, good for you!

 

MY ELDERS WERE MY MAIN SOURCE FOR INFORMATION.  I BELIEVED EVERYTHING THEY SAID.

Children are inquisitive and full questions.  Looking back, I’m sure I got a lot of B.S. from adults, when I was little. If they didn’t know an answer, it would require a trip to the library, or waiting until the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman came around, or something, to find one. I’m sure it was easier to fake it, just to shut me up.

With my kids, though? If I don’t know an answer, or if they think I’m lying, they’ll make me Google it.

Sometimes it’s easy to find (“Daddy? Who’s the oldest person in the world?”).

Sometimes it’s not so easy (“Daddy? Do you remember that man in that movie? You know, THAT movie? What was his name?”).

Sometimes, it’s WTF (“Daddy? How many people have ever died falling off cliffs? They do, too, keep track of this! Look it up on your phone!”). 

Whatever the case may be, I don’t get why they have to have the facts instantly, as opposed to simply taking my word for it.

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I..I can’t even. Are you dancing, Mike? Why are you doing the robot with that thing? What’s with the George The Animal Steele shirt? You realize you’re out in public, right? And you wonder why your kids don’t take you at your word?

Oh. I guess I get it now.

Anyway, you probably understand my point. The generation gap with your children can hit at any time. When it does, shoot, it can make you feel capital O Old!

That’s it for today. I think that I am going to go update my MySpace profile.

Later, y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Pieces of Advice For New Parents (That I Got From Some Wallpaper)

From time to time, I am asked by friends who are either expecting or already have little children, for parenting advice. And to be honest, I struggle for answers when  these questions come up. I think that I’m doing the best that I can, as a dad.  I definitely don’t think that makes me an advice-spewing expert on the subject, however.

I was pondering this the other day, while staring at the motivational sports quotes wallpaper that we have up in our house. The wallpaper is in a bathroom, so there’s lots of time to stare and ponder. #TMI. Anyway, to my surprise, a bunch of the quotes were pretty relevant, as they pertained to parenting.

Here are six of the ones which I feel are most useful for new/expecting parents. These tips are way more succinct than anything that I could ever come up with on my own:

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I find that it’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the end results for my kids, without appreciating what it takes to get to those results. It’s not just that your baby learns to walk; it’s the moments you spend watching them try. It’s not just about them making the basketball team; it’s the fun you have with them goofing around, shooting hoops in the driveway. Stuff like that.

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I don’t know about you, but my social media feeds are full of people proudly  posting about their childrens’ accomplishments.  For the longest while after B was born, my feed kind of gave me an  inferiority complex, no joke. My friends’ babies were hitting “milestones” before B was, and it had me straight trippin’ (OMG! Becky just posted a video of her one year old reading The Catcher In The Rye. B can’t even say The Catcher In The Rye! What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with me?!). Looking back, I realize now that I was straight stupid. Stuff will happen when it happens, and things work out in the long haul, usually. There’s no point in worrying about it, and there’s definitely no point in comparing your kid’s development with your friends’ kids.

Along those lines:

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Being a mom or dad is H.A.R.D. It’s unlike any other job in the world. There’s no quitting this job, though. And yeah, there are times where I feel like a lousy piece of parental garbage.  However, as bad as those lows feel, they have been hugely outnumbered by the highs of fatherhood. The feelings of those highs totally make the occasional low worth it. So nope,  I’ll never give up. Not on myself, and not on B and J.

 

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Easier said than done, no doubt. I’m sure anyone who’s tried the “cry it out” method understands this well. Regardless, as much it sucks sometimes, you gotta do it, for your benefit and theirs.

 

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No amount of planning can really prepare you for what is involved with being a mom or dad.  Nonetheless, having some sort of plan to deal with the various stuff that happens is a must. Hey, you might get lucky and your little boy or girl will fully potty-train themselves, for example. Chances are that probably won’t happen.

And finally, my favourite:

 

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The other night, at dinner, I made a rookie mistake –

I gave B and J different forks.

J, displaying typical three year old girl logic, immediately tossed her fork across the table. She wanted the fork that B had so badly, she started crying. I’ve never seen someone so passionate about utensils before.  B, bless his heart, gave his fork up to her. Then, displaying typical six year old boy logic, he decided that he didn’t want J’s fork, either. He went and grabbed another one from the drawer. While he did this, J decided that her fork had germs on it, and needed to be washed. Not washed in the kitchen sink, however, but the bathroom sink.  She left, and didn’t come back for a long time. Maybe she was pondering the sports quotes wallpaper, I don’t know. Her mood had changed drastically, though, to happy, when she returned. So happy in fact, that she offered to give her freshly washed fork up to B. He politely declined.  J politely offered again. This was followed by another polite refusal from B. After some more polite arguing, J decided that she didn’t want the fork at all. She just wanted the fork that I gave her initially (the one she tossed). I handed it to her, and she used it to happily eat her dinner.

The point of this story?

I don’t really have one. I just thought it was funny.

That’s all for now. Hopefully this post has been of some assistance (for a change). Later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like A Kid In A Grocery Store

With 2015 coming to an end, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the year that was. And with all of the reflecting, I came to an unexpected realization……

Shopping with children kind of sucks sometimes.

Back in the day, pre-kids, there wasn’t much to it. If I had to make a trip to a store, I could do it whenever I wanted.  I would grab my wallet and go. I’d get what I needed, and be back in good time. #nodillydallying.

Nowadays, though? Going to the store alone isn’t always feasible. At least some or all of the family usually comes. As such, quick trips are now time-consuming “outings” requiring significant planning prior to going.

Say it’s a few years ago, when B or J were babies, but K and I needed to get some stuff for the house. Well, we had to work around feedings/naptimes/bowel movements. Then, once the timing was acceptable, we would load up the diaper bag and head out, fingers crossed that there would be no crying outbursts/poopy diapers.

Here’s the other catch – as challenging as it is trying to shop with babies, it isn’t much easier with little kids! At least babies are immobile, you see. Small children are not. They have legs and are not afraid to use them.

Or their arms.

Or their brains.

Or their brains to come up with some impulsive, poorly thought out idea for their legs or arms to execute.

As such,  B and J require a different type of scheduling now, than when they were babies. For real, to minimize in-store incidents, I gotta scout and come up with a gameplan before leaving, like I’m Bill Belichick preparing for the Super Bowl (OK, so the lightbulbs are in the third aisle near the back, but the milk is on the other side of the place. If I come in through the left, go deep down the produce section, grab the milk, Hail Mary it out of dairy, and run a reverse through the candy aisle to avoid the toy display, I can snatch the bulbs after. Hut hut hut!).

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison

You’re welcome, Coach Bill, for the free play.

I really can’t stress the importance of this pre-planning. Failure to do so never ends well.

Lemme give you an example. The other day, we nonchalantly decided to go pick up a few things at the local Fortinos supermarket. While there, the following happened:

  • Upon arrival, B’s energy level, which was mellow in the car ride over,  went through the roof. He was uncontrollably hyperactive. Whoever said “like a kid in a candy store” never saw a kid in a grocery store.
  • B immediately ran over to the bakery to get free cookies for him and J (because hyper people obviously need a sugar rush). He gobbled his up, while J sat in the shopping cart slowly savouring hers.
  • Even though the cookies were small, with a few chocolate chips, J somehow got it smeared all over her. Remember when Augustus Gloop fell in the river, in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? She kinda looked like that.
  • While we looked at fruit, B attempted to load the cart up with raspberries and blueberries. Why? Because he thought they were a great buy, courtesy of the sign near them that said ‘Great Buy!’
  • We restocked the berries. As we walked away, B ran off. He unexpectedly sprinted back toward us, slid on his knees about 10 feet and just missed colliding into our cart.
Like Hall of Famer Sam Rice, B would have been safe.

Like Hall of Famer Sam Rice, B would have been safe.

  • We told him to stop running. He started to dance and strut bow-legged through the store.
  • While carelessly busting a move, he smashed into a bread stand, knocking baguettes all over the floor.
  • He pretended to fall in the organic section, so he could roll on the ground.
  • Ever try to talk to someone, but you can tell they aren’t listening, by their body language? Picture that, but with the person’s eyes darting manically, while standing crouched as if they’re a tiger about to pounce. That was me trying to calm B down.
  • Since things were getting out of hand, I decided to hold his hand. Shockingly enough, Mr. Non-Stop Frenetic Energy suddenly didn’t move. No really, he dropped and refused to walk.
  • After a stern talking-to, he did behave……for a few minutes. As I was browsing in the canned goods aisle, I turned around and saw B on the ground, again (He spent so much time on the floor, I doubt Fortinos had to sweep that night). This time, his shoes were about 15 feet behind him.

B – “Well, I was running so fast that I lost my shoes!”

  • J wanted out of the cart, to take part in the fun. Her and B then entertained themselves by running their hands along the items on the shelves. How no glass jars ended breaking is beyond me.
  • When shopping with kids, be prepared to be asked by them about whether they can buy something. Typically, the something is really random. In J’s case at Fortinos, she asked for two packs of underwear that she found in the clearance section. We said no, and told her to put them back. She, of course, didn’t. She hid them in the shopping cart, instead. Imagine my surprise when going to check out, and finding little girl panties behind the frozen pizzas.

Anyway, you get the idea. It wasn’t our greatest experience in a grocery store.

Please don’t get it twisted, though. More often than not, our shopping expeditions are pretty enjoyable. Quality family time.

On occasion, however, they are pure, unmitigated, ill-advised disasters.

To conclude, let’s take heed of the words of a wise man, who once stated the following, in fancy writing:

quote

Alright, alright, the wise man was me. I just made those words up now.  At least it sounds like a quote a real wise person would say.

Regardless, Happy New Year, y’all!

May your trips to the stores in 2016 be more peaceful than mine!

 

Things Strangers Say To Parents With Small Kids That Make For Awkward Conversations

I’ve noticed that, when it comes to conversations, babies and children are great ice breakers.

If I’m out and about with my kids,  I am regularly approached by people I don’t know who want to talk about them, or to them.  It’s pretty cool most of the time. Typically, there’s just some polite, complimentary chit chat about B and J.  No biggie.

I do believe that these individuals always have good intentions, when they come up to me. Occasionally, however (as the long-winded, awkward title of this post suggests), people have said thing which ended up making our talks…well, awkward.

Here are some examples, from my own experiences!

1) “IS HE YOURS?”

This is a valid question, under most circumstances.  B has a lighter complexion than me.  I could be an uncle, or a babysitter, for all you know. Ask away.

However,  when I’m at a playground with B, and he is loudly calling me ‘daddy’, can you please not feel the need to march over and ask me if he’s mine in an interrogating tone, like you’re Chris Hansen trying to catch a predator, and then try to engage in friendly banter afterwards, as if you didn’t just passively-aggressively imply that I’m a child abducter? K, Thanks.  #ByeFelicia

2) “SHE LOOKS GREEK! IS SHE GREEK?”

J is even lighter in complexion than B, so being asked about her ethnicity happens on occasion.

What made this particular example awkward was the disappointment in the women’s voice after, when I told her that, alas, J is not Greek. She even said ‘Oh’, all sad panda-like. If she’s reading this, I’m sorry that some little girl you didn’t know wasn’t the nationality you wanted.

3) “YOUR SON IS SO GOOD!”

This was said at one of B’s basketball games last year, by a lady sitting beside me.

What a nice compliment, right?

Except…….the boy she was talking about wasn’t B. It was some other dark-skinned lil dude.  When I sheepishly corrected her and pointed out B, she sheepishly blurted ‘He is trying hard!’.

Eh, she meant well, anyway.

4) “HE IS SO HANDSOME!”

Said to J when she was a baby, while she was dressed in baby girl clothes.  Other parents tell me something like this has happened to their girls before, too. Awkward, but an honest mistake!

5) “SHE IS SO PRETTY!”

Said to B when he was a baby, while he was dressed in baby boy clothes.  Other parents tell me something like this has happened to their boys before, too. Awkward, but an honest mistake!

6) “TWINS! SO CUTE!”

Said to B and J when they were five and three years old. Other parents tell me something like this has happened before to their two kids who don’t really look or act alike and are different sizes.

Hey wait a minute…..

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Aren’t they so identical?!

7) “WOULD YOU LIKE SOME CANDY?”

For real, I thought the idea of a creepy looking old stranger offering candy to little children was some sort of bad joke…..until it happened to B.

strange

Crudely drawn image of what the gentleman looked like.

To make it even more uncomfortable, after I came over and told the man no, instead of walking away, he tried to upsell me on his candy. Went on and on about how great it was. Look, I enjoy homemade butterscotch as much as the next person, but not when it comes from someone’s dirty trenchcoat.

8) “CAN I TAKE THEIR PICTURE?”

This one again depends on the context. We’ve been out, and had people with media credentials request a picture of the kids.  Fine.

Conversely, we’ve also been out and had a random woman who was wandering around aimlessly by herself with a camera ask us for a photo. No credentials, no real reason given. Again, I like to assume that people mean well, but what is someone doing with pictures of strangers’ children?  Kind of weird, no?

 

9) “SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU NEED TO GET HER OUT OF THIS COUNTRY.”

Store lineups are prime bantering spots. The problem with them, though,  is that you are kind of trapped if the banter gets uncomfortable; you just want to pay for your stuff, so you don’t want to waste time by leaving the line to avoid a conversation.

Anyway, J and I were waiting in line at the grocery store. A frail, older gentleman with a heavy accent (Polish as I would soon learn) came up behind us. In an Adorable Grandpa type voice, he started playfully talking to J.  Cutesy stuff. He then turned to me, and in an angry, bitter voice, yelled “SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU NEED TO GET HER OUT OF THIS COUNTRY.”

He proceeded to go on a short rant about how Canada has gone downhill over the last 30 years. After ranting, he noticed J was holding grapes, so he went back into Adorable Grandpa mode with her, joking about the grapes. Not long after, Bitter Grandpa returned, as he vented to me about how Canada was built by people like me and him, and how he hated it here now.  He told me that I need to move, so J could grow up to be a “princess” somewhere else.  By this point, we were at the front of the line. The cashier  just rang my stuff through with his head down, probably out of fear that this guy was going to shank us all soon with the bottle of tomato sauce he was buying. Adorable Grandpa then suddenly re-appeared, to laugh and play with J. He asked her if she liked ‘mozzarelli’ cheese, and told her that his four year old grandson laughs when he says ‘mozzarelli’. But then Bitter Grandpa returned to me,  complaining about how his grandson’s mother has breast cancer and had to go to the USA to be treated, because she couldn’t get treated here.  Finally, I was able to pay for my stuff.  J and I fled the store.

The other examples were pretty harmless, but this last one…..what happened to there being a time and and a place for everything??

Anyway, to conclude, there’s nothing wrong with giving compliments to strangers and their children. They’re always appreciated.  Just watch how you say them, to keep things in the awkward-free zone.

And, as the old expression goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

 

 

Gifted

Being the parent of small kids definitely has its perks on occasion.

Take presents for example. B and J frequently come up to me and give me little gifts. Sometimes it’s stuff they’ve made, like cards or pictures. Sometimes it’s stuff they’ve found, like leaves, dandelions flowers or stones.

For example, the other day, J gave me a shiny red plastic bead. According to her, she received it from her real, live ladybug friend named Sam. I don’t think that actually happened, but I’m never sure with that girl. Regardless, whatever the case may be, as soon as I hear the words ‘Daddy! I have something for you’, and my kids come rushing over to me, faces lit up with excitement, I know I’m in for a treat.

I’m grateful for all of the gifts, too, yo.  I know their generosity to me probably won’t last forever. B and J are five and three years old, respectively, as of this writing. Based on what I hear from parents of teenagers, though, the only thing that I can expect to receive from them when they are older is a lot of grief. Or a cold shoulder.

But that’s a problem for the future. Right now, in the present, I can appreciate the presents. It isn’t hard to realize that they come from my children’s innocent, undying love for their dad.

Oh, hey kids! Wassup?

You each made something for me?

How thoughtful!

OK, J, what do you got?

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You drew this all by yourself?

Wow!

And it’s a picture of me?!

Amazing!

It’s very life-like, especially my bald head. This is going straight to the fridge. Thanks very much!

What’s that B? You wrote me a letter?

This really is my lucky day.  Alright, let’s see it!

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I…………oh.

Daddy is mean?

Why?

You’re still mad that I sent you to your room, eh? Well, you didn’t give me much choice. Tough love, lil dude. Don’t worry, you’ll thank me for it when you’re bigger.

You want to make me a picture now, too, like J did?

I can’t wait to see it!

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Interesting. Can you explain your drawing?

So, the big person is you, and the little one is me? And that big circle is your giant brain, while the tiny dot is my itty bitty brain? You stole this idea from that episode of The Fresh Prince, when Will joins Bel-Air’s basketball team, didn’t you? It’s the scene where Will and Carlton draw each other on the chalkboard. How creative.

Well, at least you made sure to personalize it by writing ‘bad’. Man, you really hated being sent to your room, huh?

Oh, you drew another picture?

 

 

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What the heck is going on here?

You wrote ‘bad dad’, I see. Lovely.

And that’s me slapping a guy on the back? Who’s that guy? Am I giving him a congratulatory back-slap, like ‘way to go, buddy?’

No?

I’m just hitting some random man from behind as hard as I can?

Well, I guess that would make me pretty bad, if I actually walked around doing that to people.

Can you explain the other parts, though? What is above our heads?

You drew a bum? And a tongue and lips?

Why?

So I can kiss your butt?!

Hardy-har-har. Real funny, wiseguy!

You’re sorry? Fine.

Yes, you can write me a nice apology letter. I could really use one –

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Hey, you didn’t apolgize in this! It says daddy smells like a butt! So what, because I apparently kiss your butt, now I have a lingering booty odor on me, is this what you are implying?!

No?

You don’t know what implying means?  I just smell like a butt? That’s just terrific, then.

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Not cool, bro. Not cool.

Well, this took an unexpected, sucktacular turn. Let’s wrap it up.

In conclusion, nothing beats a gift from your child!

Uh, usually.

B, stop trolling me, and go to your room.

J, let’s go outside and see if Sam left you any more shiny beads.

 

Cool And Unique Gifts For Kids!

Now normally, my posts providing helpful tips and advice………. aren’t exactly very helpful.

So let’s shake things up a bit! Check out this article from guest contributor Tracey Clayton. She offers up her expertise on a subject which we probably have all struggled with at some point in our lives.

Enjoy!

Cool & Unique Gifts For Kids

Giving something to someone we love provides satisfaction both for us and the person to whom we give presents. A gift may prove a lot of things – love, respect, affection, tenderness, etc. It’s not just a matter of buying a gift. Anyone can do that. The secret is that we listen to someone we love, to find out what they want and feel, what they rejoice over. Most people will say that they look forward to purchasing gifts much more than receiving one. However, buying a gift for children is the real magic with coming holidays or birthdays. They are happy with toys, coloring books, books, pencils, bags, clothes, sweets and the like. But, if you want to do something special and move away from usual gifts, there are always some cool and unique gifts that will make the children smile and remember how thrilled they were for a long time.

Tickets for events

If a child loves going to the movies, why not give him/her tickets to go see his/her favorite movie? You can also give tickets to a game of their favorite sport. Going to the stadium to watch a live game can be a fun group experience if kids are old enough. You can also check for concerts that a child likes, and give tickets as gift.

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Subscriptions

The best thing about this gift is the thrill of receiving something new every month. You can find a number of educational children’s magazines or fun kits to inspire children learn about the world around them. The latter allows you to choose by age (3-12 years) and teach children about animals, music, other countries, etc. – basically, whatever their interest is.

 

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Classes

If your children are passionate about music, or sports, this is your chance to surprise them. Find something available near your residential area that interests your kids, whether it’s playing music, dancing, or playing sports. It is recommended to enroll them for a short period of time to test if it’s something they are truly passionate about, and if not, they can seek alternatives.

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Board games

Computers have taken over our children, and they can now access any board game electronically. But perhaps they have never been exposed to a board game at home. Find games that are educational or that can help with motor skills. Some games that are fun to try include Scrabble, to practice vocabulary, Jenga, Monopoly or even a puzzle. And best of all, seek a way to schedule time and play as a family.

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Tools for outdoor activities

You can give a fishing rod, or a gardening kit as a present. The fishing rod requires an adult to take the time to teach the kids ​​how to use it, and in turn it ‘forces’ the adults to get off the couch and spend time together with children. For more fun there is also very cool gadget called Rocket fishing rod. A gardening kit will allow your kids to learn how to plant seeds and take care of plants.

outdoors

Interesting toys

Toy train is a toy which everyone had when they were little. It will always be trendy and children still love it. Playing with trains and railways will keep the children occupied for quite some time. Drawing boards are a great gift for little artists. There are many kinds of boards, but those with automatic eraser like Boogie boards are especially fun for children. Playable art balls in beautiful colors are a great gift for children, too. They will have fun and at the same time learn about science. Kids love to build collections, and fantastic unique toys that can be purchased are simple pop vinyl figures also called bobbleheads. Children can learn useful things while collecting toys – neatness, meticulousness, organization, etc. It is important to see whether the children are mature enough to start collecting toys, whether they are able to appreciate them. Of course, it would be great if it became a family tradition, or if the child continued to collect toys that you already gathered in childhood.

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Personalized books

These are the books for children in which the little reader, or the owner of the book, is the main hero of the story. In the stories, with the real names, your little one can travel to distant planets and hang out with fairies, wizards, pirates, etc. This is a gift that would later prove to be a real keepsake.

bookd

Do not forget that ultimately all is well except the child that is sitting on the bench, watching the other kids play with or without rules. The worst thing is when a child is not even on the bench, but at home, away from peers, fresh air, sunshine, joy and rosy cheeks. Moreover, outdoors is good for you, too, especially if you are one of the participants in the game.

About author:

Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate in writing. She is contributor on High Style Life and her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live”. Find her on Facebook.

The Best Day EVER!

 

Small children are prone to hyperbole.  The tiniest things become the biggest deals in their minds.  Sometimes, though, it’s hard not to take their exaggerations seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, for example, I got my Ferris Bueller on, and took a day off, to chill with J.  My basic gameplan was to just go with the flow. So that’s what we did. On  the way home from our hanging out, she told me the following:

“This is the best day ever, Daddy!”

I can’t front. I smiled huge at that comment.  But what did we do, you ask? What was so special about that day, which caused such a bold proclamation to come out of her three year old mouth? Lemme give you da rundown:

♦ First, my car needed an oil change, but before hitting the shop up, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s, to grab drinks.  We sat outside and drank them, while we waited for my car to be ready.  J spilled hers. Instead of being upset, she was pumped, because she made puddles. She spent the rest of the time singing and jumping over the puddles.

♦Back home, to grab J’s bathing suit, and to pack a lunch. J wanted to go to a splash pad and have a picnic. Easy peasy.  Splash pads are all around Hamilton. Later, while driving to the nearest one, J changed her mind and said that she wanted to go to a pad “by water”. Well, that narrowed my options, but it wasn’t a huge deal. Off to Pier 4 Park we go!

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Unnecessarily panoramic picture of Pier 4 Park.

♦Once we got to the park, we set up shop at a picnic table. J wanted to eat first, before playing, so we dug into our lunches. She spotted the sour cream and onion chips that I had brought for myself.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of letting her eat chips, but I figured today was a bit of a ‘cheat day’, so I said that she could have some. She happily took the bag and crunched away. Slowly.

♦A flock of seagulls began to circle our table. No, they didn’t start singing I Ran (So Far Away).  Time to move!  I suggested that J go play in the splash pad.  While I packed the picnic bag up, she ran to the splash pad, ran under a sprinkler, ran back over to me and said that she was still hungry.  The six seconds she went in the splash pad were the only time which she spent in it all day.

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♦Instead of eating, the park had a big tugboat playhouse thing, so I suggested that we go explore it. The boat had a picnic table inside of it.

J : I have a good idea, daddy! Let’s eat in the boat!

♦We ate in the boat.

♦ We explored the boat some more, by walking all around and through it. Afterwards:

J: I know! Let’s eat in the boat!

♦We ate in the boat again.

♦ Realizing that her stomach was apparently a bottomless pit, I suggested that we had ate enough food, and she should go play in the park. She climbed and slid for a while, then wanted to go on the swings. You know how some kids are cool swinging for a few minutes, and then they want off? Yeah, J’s not one of those kids.

♦ After what felt like 3 hours of of me pushing her, she had enough, and wanted off.

♦ Being near the waterfront meant that we were able to play one of our favorite games – Throw Rocks in Water. It is just as it sounds. We walk around, pick up stones, and throw them in water.  B and J love doing this, for some reason. I don’t mind it, either, because it’s an easy way to kill time. If you’re ever in Hamilton, and you see a homey and two small kids chucking pebbles in a pond, feel free to say hi to me.

♦We walked up and down the pier, to throw rocks off different points of it. While I was searching for some stones, J plopped down and started playing in dirt.

Me: What are you doing?

J: Building sandcastles!

Me: Uh, do you want to go to an actual beach with sand to do that?

J: Yeah!

Off to the Hamilton Beach we go!

♦ J fell asleep in her car seat, on the drive over.  That gave me time to park at the beach, and take care of an important piece of business that I had been slacking on – get caught up on Drake and Meek Mill’s beef. #BACKTOBACK

♦About an hour later, J woke up. It being a warm day, and us being near the best ice cream place in my opinion in the city, Hutch’s, I asked if she wanted some ice cream. Of course she said yes! We went in, and ordered a couple of cones. Cotton Candy for her, Strawberry for me.  J took one lick. Then:

J: Daddy, I’m thirsty. Can I have some milk, please? I don’t want ice cream.

You know what’s a hopeless situation? Trying to make a kid eat an ice cream cone who doesn’t want to. As you explain the importance of not being wasteful, the ice cream melts away, creating a gooey, unedible mess. If they don’t eat it, they can’t eat it, anyway. Awesome.

♦J understood what I was saying. She eventually said sorry. Not wanting to press the issue anymore, I tossed her melted cone in the garbage, went back to Hutch’s, and got her a cup of milk. They had milk on tap. Neat!

♦ From there, we strolled over to the beach.  After a quick game of Throw Rocks In Water, J happily played in the sand, on her own.

♦ As she played,  geese floated by, in the lake.

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Awwwww! Cute!

♦ Some dude and a couple of boys started throwing pieces of Wonder Bread around. This caused a flock of seagulls to scare away the geese, to try to get to the bread chunks. Still no I Ran (So Far Away), however.

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AHHHHHHH! Scary!

♦The seagulls were looking mighty hungry, so I figured that was the perfect time for us to bounce. Homeward bound we went.

And that was that.

Looking back, there really wasn’t much to it. Shoot, it wasn’t even the best day which I spent with her that week. The fam went to a Toronto Blue Jays game on the Saturday, and B and J got to run the bases when it was over. Way cool, right?

But in J’s mind?

Going on a picnic and hanging out by some water with her pops was the best day EVER! She still tells people about it, randomly.

It’s funny how kids can take the simplest things and make them a big deal, yet then also treat big deals like the simplest things.

It’s all good, though.

For real, sometimes the best and simplest thing to do with children…..is just keep it simple.

Ten 90s Inspired Baby Names

One thing I’ve noticed about parenthood is that even the simplest decisions are occasionally very difficult. Take naming your kids, for example.

Back when I was younger, and I was tasked with naming our pets, I would pretty much spend the amount of time that you took reading this sentence to come up with one, and that was that.  Once, my mom came home with a kitten. As she walked in the door, a commercial for a halitosis fighting mouthwash or toothpaste or gum (I can’t remember which) popped up on the TV. I thought the idea of naming a cat after its bad breath was cool.  However, I mispronounced halitosis, so we ended up calling the poor thing Alowishus.

With children, though, you can’t name them after their bad breath. You gotta take that decision way more seriously.  You want to settle on the perfect name for your kid. One that they will cherish forever, and not one that they will resent you for, until they are legally able to change it.  Yes, coming up with a good one is pretty stressful . If your significant other is on a whole ‘nother wavelength, with their choices, it can be pretty hostile, too.  But don’t sweat, my pet.  I’m going to help you out.

See, a great name should have meaning and some personal importance behind it. Now, if you’re my age (30 something),  the 1990s were probably a meaningful and important decade for you, chock full of adolescent memories. So why not honour that phat decade by choosing one of these 90s flavoured names for your baby?

FOR GIRLS

Buffy

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After everybody’s favorite vampire slayer, of course.

Posh

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Spice up your life! Let’s narrow things down:

You can’t name a baby “Baby”.

Scary and Sporty are verbs, not suitable monikors.

Unless you want the poor child being kicked  for the rest of their life, Ginger is a bad idea, too.

So why not Posh? It’s original. How many Posh’s do you know?

Monica

Man, the 90s had a bunch of high profile Monicas! Monica Seles, Monica the R &B singer, Monica Gellar from Friends. If you name your daughter Monica, keep your expectations high, because they probably won’t suck!

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Oh.  Right. Moving on then….

T-Rex

rex

Rex is a pretty manly name. If you put a T in front of it, however, it could sort of pass, on a girl. And hey, in terms of strong female role models for your daugther , you could do worse than the dinosaur in Jursassic Park that tore ish up!

Macarena

macarena

What? It’s kind of a cute name! Who knows, maybe in a few years,  everyone will have forgotten about the stupid dance/cringe-worthy song and they’ll be able to judge your lil Macarena on her own merits.

Honourable mention: Beezus, Tamagotchi, Lorena

FOR BOYS

Jazz

DJ Jazzy Jeff was the headliner for the entertainment.  Was actually pretty good.

It’s not just a type of music. It is also the Fresh Prince’s cool, bespectacled BFF who had a propensity for being thrown through the air while rocking a brown and yellow shirt. The kids can call him Jazzy!

Kirby

Kirby_Puckett_1993

 Furbies were mad popular. If you liked Furbies, but don’t want to name your son Furby because that’s a dumb name, well, Furby and Kirby rhyme.  Kirby Puckett was one of the best baseball players in the 90s, so why not?

 Hale-Bopp

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This one is for the astronomy and hyphen fans. The Hale-Bopp was a pretty big deal back in the day. Before it, the only other Comet that guys like me knew was the dog on Full House. Pick this, and you’re sure to have a shooting star on your hands!

Ma$e

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Think you’re having a bad boy? Then call him Ma$e, after everybody favorite baby-faced rapper! Keep the spelling in check, too (everything looks cooler with a dollar sign in it. Duh!).

Goro

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Many an hour in my youth was spent being violently finished by Goro.  This one is suitable for a future BOSS.

Honorable mention: Keyser, Orenthal James, Dawson

 So there you have it.

What? I didn’t say that these were great options. Remember halitosis? Yeah, I’m still the same guy.

Guess I should have called this Ten Pretty Terrible 90s Inspired Baby Names.

Oh well. Live and learn.

Have fun picking that perfect name. No pressure!

NEEDLES!!

I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure that everybody is afraid of something. Sometimes, there’s a legit basis for those fears; other times, there isn’t.  I’ve noticed that the latter is especially true with small children.

Now, a lot of what B and J do doesn’t make a lot sense to me, anyway.  So, of course, some of the stuff that they are scared of fits right into this. For example, as  I’ve mentioned before, they think that Michael Jackson’s Thriller video is hilarious. Dancing zombies and Jacko turning into a werewolf is funny, apparently. Yet, when I switched on the video for Rude by Magic! a few weeks ago, B made me turn it off. He said the lead singer was creepy. He was straight terrified when I told him that, yeah, that was his real face, and yeah, he did live in our world.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jus10h/15113010949/in/photostream/

Why you gotta be so rude to this guy?

 

While that was a pretty specific incident, a few of my kids’ other phobias are more universal.

You know, like the fear of NEEDLES!!

I know that people a lot more edumucated than me can succinctly rationalize this one, but I  really don’t get it. When B and J were babies, they would get shots.  Beyond a little bit of crying, it wasn’t a huge deal. It’s not like there was anything too traumatic about any of their experiences. As they’ve gotten older, though, their fear of NEEDLES!! has grown. They just hate dealing with tiny pricks (That’s what she said! Haha. Hoho.)

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The Office called.  That was lame and they want their joke back.

 

Sorry, The Office.

Back to what I was talking about. Lemme tell you a story…….

A couple of  days ago, B had a doctor’s appointment. Routine check-up, followed by a couple of vaccinations.  We booked it weeks in advance.  Leading up to this appointment, I had heard B running off his mouth to J, acting like big shot. He would say that he was getting NEEDLES!!, but he wasn’t going to cry. Stuff like that. It was almost as if he was excited, to get his shots.

A few nights before the big day, I read one of his favorite books to him, Curious George Goes To The Hospital. There’s a part in it where George has to get a NEEDLE!! and flips out about it initially, but then it turns out to not hurt at all. If a stupid monkey can get poked no problem, then B would be able to as well, for sure.

The day of the appointment, I had to pick him up early from school, to take him there. On his way out, I heard him proudly tell his teacher, and anyone within earshot, that he was going to get NEEDLES!! On the car ride down, I  asked if he was nervous. He said no. Cool, calm, collected. Perfect!

When we got to the doctor’s office, we were led to a room, near the back.  Eventually, a nurse came in, and asked us a bunch of questions. At one point, B impatiently said “Can you please just give me my NEEDLES!! now?” Of course it wasn’t time for that yet, though. After the nurse left, the doctor came into the room. Her and B exchanged pleasantries like this:

Doctor – “How are you?”

B – “Are you going to give me my NEEDLES!!?”

(By the way, my kids aren’t very good at exchanging pleasantries).

After answering some more questions, the doctor left the room, to get the nurse who would be doing the honours. I should note that the whole time while we were there, B was either playing with toys, or fiddling around with stuff in the room. Not a worry in the world. Finally the nurse arrived, with her kit. B asked if he would get a sucker after she was done, and she reassured him that he would. So, she opened up her kit……

And let’s just say things escalated quickly.

It’s as if it went from him thinking that he was getting something like this:

Fluzone_vaccine_extracting

To him thinking he was getting something like this:

 

needle

 

As such, to say that B freaked out would be an understatement. Mr. Cool As a Cucumber was now Mr. Explosive Jalapeno. It started off with him repeatedly saying no the NEEDLE!! This morphed into him loudly refusing and squirming.  Attempts to reason with him fell on deaf ears. Soon, he started screaming his objections .

The nurse suggested that I try to restrain him. Upon hearing this, B took off and tried to run out the door. I managed to snatch him before he made it out. While I dragged him back, he was yelling stuff like ‘Help!’ and ‘You’re killing me!’ (Note to anyone in the doctor’s office that day – he was fine. We weren’t killing him).

Physically restraining someone who doesn’t want to be restrained ain’t no joke, either. He’s five years old, and doesn’t lift, bro, but all of the sudden, he had the strength of someone four times his age. I managed to pin his arms down, by giving him a gentle bearhug.  While he frothed at the mouth, the nurse administered the shot in his one arm. He had no clue, though. When we told him that one was finished, all that he was worried about was the next NEEDLE!!

By this point, I was concerned that he was going to go full Exorcist on us. You know, make his head spin around, or start to spider walk.  Luckily, he only tried (and failed) to Hulk up out of my grip.  The nurse quickly gave him the second shot, in his other arm.  After it was over,  we told him to chill.  No joke, this is how the convo went:

Me – “It’s over. All done!”

B (screaming at the top of his lungs) – “IT’S DONE?”

The nurse and I – “Yes!”

B (suddenly perfectly calm, in his regular voice) – “Can I have my sucker now? Can I have two, for getting two needles?”

And then he hopped down and helped himself to two lollipops. Mr Cool As a Cucumber again, not a care in the world, as if the last five minutes didn’t happen.  Forget going 0 to 100; how the heck do you go from 100 to 0 real quick like that? I swear, I started looking around the room for hidden cameras, and waited for the nurse to tell me that I was going to be on Just For Laughs. No dice, however. I did find it funny that the nurse didn’t change her demeanour once, through the whole ordeal.

The moral of this story? Being afraid kind of sucks. Making you children got face to face with their fears kind of sucks, too.  However, if they happen to overcome their fears (even temporarily) during this confrontation, and not hate your guts afterwards, then the struggles were probably worth it.

Watch out, THE DARK!!, you’re next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Michael Jackson Experience

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Not too long ago, my kids discovered Michael Jackson. In typical fashion, once they discover something that they enjoy, they can’t get enough of it. Until, of course, they get bored, and quickly move on to something else.  Regardless, at this present time, B and J are constantly talking about MJ this and MJ that.

However, if I can keep it 100 with ya (word to Larry Wilmore!), I was a little conflicted on this newfound interest. I mean, while you may or may not be a fan of Michael Jackson’s music (count me squarely in the ‘mays’), there’s no arguing that he owned it. He was the King of Pop, for real.

Aaaaaaand then there are the accusations and rumours about his personal life.

Look, I don’t know what’s true or what’s not. I’m not here to pass judgement. I’ve heard stuff, like you’ve heard stuff.  Sure, a lot of it is unfounded/unsubstantiated, but it’s still out there.

On the one hand, as a parent, yeah, it did make me a bit uncomfortable that they’ve chosen this guy to put on the ol’ pedestal.

Yet, on the other hand………

Go back in time in your mind, for a minute. Try to remember yourself at B and J’s ages (five and almost three years old).  You’re all naively innocent. That line between reality and fantasy is blurred. From this perspective, Michael Jackson is DA MAN, son! He’s a borderline superhero! Think about it:

  •  He started his career when he was young. Small children are fans of other talented small children. It’s all about the emulation. B keeps going on about being a singer/dancer, while coming up with names for dance moves that he hasn’t even made up yet. Forget the Moonwalk, watch out for  ‘The Knee-Bender’.
  •  Not only was Jacko talented, but his brothers and sisters were, too. B is fascinated with the Jackson 5. He calls them a team (Jermaine, Randy, Michael and Chico, in his words. I know that it’s not quite five, and that the names aren’t all correct. Whatever. It’s close enough). He asks me stuff like who’s the oldest, who’s the second tallest, who’s the toughest etc. Pretty sure that he thinks that, after they were done making music, they used their instruments as weapons to go beat up the Foot Clan or something, like they were the Ninja Turtles.
  • Similar to the Ninja Turtles, the Jackson 5 even had their own freakin’ cartoon. Not surprisingly, lil Mikey was the breakout star, and got into all kinds of animated hilarity.
  • Young MJ’s music is fun. It appeals to all ages. Songs like “ABC” and “I Want You Back” are great to bust a child-sized groove to.  “I’ll Be There” has a nice message to it, too. “Ben” is mad weird, though, no doubt. A love song to a rat? WTF. When B and J first heard “Ben”, I had to do some verbal tap-dancing when they asked me about it:

J: Who’s Ben?

Me: Michael’s friend. He went away. This song is about how much he misses him.

B: Where did Ben go?

Me: Away.

B: To a different city?

Me: Sure.

B: What city?

Me: Uhh…Gary, Indiana.

B: Will he ever see Ben again?

M: Sure.

B: He can come over to his house and play?

Me: Yeah?

And that was it.

The moral of “Ben”? MJ now has a long distance buddy! How dope is that?!

  •  Michael Jackson has magic powers. As seen in the “Billie Jean” video,  the ground lights up when he walks. Also, he apparently can make himself invisible, so villains can’t catch him. To a child, this is an important trait.
  • “Thriller”!  I saw the video for the first time when I was like six years old. It scared the heck out of me, and I didn’t watch it again for 14 years. So, of course, B and J think it’s the greatest thing ever. Michael Jackson’s a werewolf zombie with dancing zombie friends? He likes to play tricks on his girlfriend? AND he likes to watch movies of himself while eating popcorn? It really is the best video of all time! And yes, B thinks he’s braver than me, since he watches “Thriller” and doesn’t get scared.
  • What do  GI Joe, Barbie and the Avengers have in common with  Michael Jackson? Why, they’re all available as toys, of course!
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My old action figure.

 

 

 

  •  He’s bad, but not bad.  Kids tend to root for nice people. More often than not, MJ portrays himself as a hero. Side note: trying to explain the song/video “Bad” to B was worse than Abbott explaining who’s on first to Costello:

B: Is Michael Jackson bad?

Me: No.

B: But he says ‘I’m bad! I’m bad!’

M: Yes. Well, no. It’s a different bad.

B: Is that guy bad (pointing to Wesley Snipes)?

M: No. Well, yes, he’s not being nice.

B: Are those guys Michael Jackson’s friends? Who’s tougher? Who’s badder?

Me: I don’t think that they fight. They just dance. Badder isn’t a word.

B: Are they bad dancers?

M: Yes….no?

Anyway, confusing 1980s slang aside, MJ comes across as a straight up badass. More kid bonus points for that.

  • In the “Black or White” video, he’s homies with MacCauley Culkin A.K.A. Kevin from Home Alone. I’ve mentioned before that B thinks Kevin is  basically the greatest child who ever lived.  The fact that Michael Jackson actually hangs out with him?

 

Oh. My Gosh.

Oh. My. Gosh.

  •  Speaking of black or white, Michael Jackson changes colour!  J has this doll that changes from pink to purple when it gets wet. Jacko’s kinda like a real life version of that, going from light to dark, depending on what we’re watching on Youtube. B and J aren’t that concerned about the skin thing (it don’t matter if he’s black or white); it’s just another characteristic that they seem to think is cool.

Anyway, you get the idea. Through the eyes of babes, he’s all that and bag of chips with a can of Pepsi. I haven’t even mentioned to them that he had a pet chimp! And lived at an amusement park! And that he’s, uh, not alive anymore. #kidsmindsblown

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At some point, they’re going to see or hear something about their new hero, and they’re going to be disappointed.  I’ve explained that MJ is an entertainer, and that his videos are all make believe; he chooses to come across in a certain way to us. Thing is, though, B grasps this concept, yet he still pretends that he actually is what he sees on TV. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a child. You can believe whatever you want to, and who can fault you for it? If my children have no issue with the idea of a heavyset dude with magic reindeer delivering presents, or a giant rabbit hiding chocolate eggs, or a fairy flying around buying up teeth, then can I really blame them for liking a singing, dancing, magical, butt-kicking, colour-changing werewolf zombie?

Eventually, the truth will come out about all of those characters that I’ve led my kids on about.  No need to blow up their spots now, however.

Besides, I’m sure they’ll be onto someone else soon enough, anyway. Hopefully whoever it is, is less controversial.

Britney Spears, maybe?

 

 

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