Category: Reviews

Road Trippin’. Destination: Sesame Place!

This summer, for a vacation, K and I decided to do something different. Or, different for us, anyway. We loaded up the car, buckled in the kids, and went on a road trip!

Our destination was also pretty unique, too. From talking to people in the Greater Toronto Area over the years,  I’ve come to realize that the more popular family road trips were to places like Disney World, New York City, or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  K did some research, however, and discovered Sesame Place, in Langhorne,  Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.  In all honesty, I had never heard of it before.  As well, for some reason, I thought Philly was a lot farther from Hamilton than it actually is. Turns out that it is only about an 8 hour drive away. Anyway, after talking it over, we figured it would make for a sweet adventure. With that, our trip was set.  We’d stay in Philly, and check out Sesame Place!

Here are some RANDOM STYLE Sesame Place Tips!

Random Thoughts and Stuff

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B and J posing for the camera……. by not posing for the camera.

♦Basically, it is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park. It is part dry activities and part wet activities.  The dry stuff includes a bunch of rides (including Vapor Trail,  a thrilling, kid friendly roller coaster), a huge net climb area called Monster’s Clubhouse, and a full sized replica of Sesame Street itself.  There were even some characters wandering around on it, for photo ops.

♦In terms of wet stuff, there are water slides, a lazy river, splash pads, and our personal favorite, The Count’s Splash Castle. This area had a giant 8′ high tipping bucket, multiple  slides and tons of things to play with, like levers, wheels, sprinklers and blasters.

♦The big selling point of Sesame Place to us was that it is geared towards small children. B and J  are average-heighted five and three year old kids. They were able to go on all of the rides and water slides, either alone, or with a parent.

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Taking a selfie on a ride is hard. The worst part? The ride hadn’t even started yet.

♦Our tickets were complimentary for the day (thanks for the hookup, Sesame Place)! Day tickets for anyone 2 years and older are $65 at the gate, and $55 online. So if you’re a family of four, it’s not exactly the cheapest day out. For what you experience there, though,  I do think that it is fair value. Now if you are going to make a road trip out of it, and this is especially for my fellow Canucks (the exchange rate ain’t no joke!), plan on checking out the park for two days, to really get your money’s worth. See, if you purchase a day ticket online, you can also get a ticket for a second day free!

♦Side note for my peeps in Southern Ontario – the drive wasn’t too bad. The route we took was very scenic. Obviously, when travelling with children, making lots of stops is a must. Luckily, there’s some cool stuff along the way, to keep the interest levels piqued. We ended up in Williamsport, PA for a long time, checking out the World of Little League Museum. We also made our way to Hershey and toured the chocolate factory (side side note: don’t watch Charlie & Chocolate Factory with your kids three days before going to Hershey, unless you want to have to constantly explain to them why Willy Wonka isn’t there).

♦While the park is full of attractions, it really isn’t that large. That’s all good, in my books. Navigating around it wasn’t difficult, and you can go from one end to the other in decent time.

♦ Because it was a hot day, we wanted to do all of the dry attractions first, to beat the crowds, and then get changed into our bathing suits afterwards, to try the watery ones. This gameplan wasn’t really necessary. My suggestion would be to just treat the visit like you’re going to waterpark.  Like I said, the park isn’t that big, and the attractions are pretty close to each other. A lot of people would just dry themselves and their children off  before hitting up the dry rides, so you really don’t need to worry about the hassle of extra outfits.

♦With that said, if you do intend to hit up both worlds, bring water shoes. I stupidly brought sandals. I realized this was a bad idea as soon as  the fam decided that they wanted to go on the water slides. Standing in line, barefoot, on hot cement? I’m kinda over it.

♦Speaking of lines – oh Mylanta, Sesame Place was packed when we were there! Unless you buy an upgraded Abby’s Magic Queue, to get special treatment, be prepared to wait in long lines for rides and food. As the old saying goes, patience is a dish best served cold.

Uh, no one has ever said that before, Mike. You made that saying up.

Really? My bad. Anyway, have some ways to kill time in mind, to help alleviate the inevitable restlessness your kiddos will have, while waiting in line.

♦Because of the limited space, there was a lot of “stroller’s row”. That is, people would park their strollers jammed with their stuff along a fence or something, and leave them there while they experienced the park. If that idea makes you uncomfortable, cabanas are available to rent, as well as lockers.

♦Lemme circle back to the food. Sesame Place has five different restaurants on site, each with their own unique offerings. There is something for everyone, for real. Compared to other theme parks and whatnot, the food was reasonably priced, too. Once again, it pays to go online prior to attending, as  there are ‘meal deals’ available for purchase, which will save you a few bucks. One cool-looking option (we didn’t try it)  was ‘Dine With Sesame Street Friends’. This gives you and your kids the opportunity to eat, dance, sing and take pictures with some of the characters.

♦ Soft-sided coolers are allowed in the park. You can pack some drinks and small snacks like chips, pretzels, cookies, whole fruit, and pre-made sandwiches, if you want to really save money on eats.

♦For $11.99, you can get a collectible, reusable bottle which you can refill unlimitedly on the day that you got it. This was probably our best investment at Sesame Place. I lost track of the number of refills we made.

♦There were several stores on site, to purchase souvenirs, as well as other odds and sods which you may have forgot to pack,  like sunscreen or towels. One popular item  was a Sesame inscribed waterproof case with a lanyard. Tons of people were rockin’ those bad boys around their necks.  Neat souvenir, while also keeping valuables close to heart.

♦Be sure to make time for a parade! It is quite the energetic spectacle. It got me hyped up. I’m pretty sure I saw one mom doing the Nae Nae dance, too, which was probably a first on Sesame Street.

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Picture from the parade. Big Bird got jiggy wit’ it.

♦We arrived at Sesame Place at about 11:00 AM, and left at 7:00PM. While exhausted, we all had a blast. We even missed out on a ton of stuff. There were musical shows throughout the day, that looked like they would have been fun to check out, for example.

There really is just so much to see and do, to keep you and your fam entertained.  I definitely recommend visiting it sometime, if you have younger children.

Sesame Place

100 Sesame Rd

Langhorne, PA 19047, United States

1 866-464-3566

http://www.sesameplace.com/

 

 

Review – Marvel Universe LIVE! (Hamilton, Ontario)

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So I checked out Marvel Universe LIVE! last night, at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton. I can honestly say that it was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before!

B had been pretty pumped for the show, for weeks. However, despite being corrected repeatedly, he insisted on calling it “Marvel on Ice”. When we arrived, any disappointment that he had about the lack of ice was immediately replaced with awe, as he was amazed with the elaborate stage set up.

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I was impressed with the variety of people in the crowd. While it was mainly composed of families with small children, many of whom were dressed up as their favourite Marvel characters, there was also a fair number of older teenagers/adults without any kids. The appeal of Marvel really does span all ages.

That multi-generational appeal applied to the show, as well. Without giving away too many details, the best way that I can describe it is that is like one of the recent Marvel movies come to life. Basically, Loki was being a really evil power-hungry prick, and needed to be stopped by a bunch of superheroes. In terms of the dialogue, action sequences and special effects, all were top notch. B was a bit too young (5 years old) to really understand the plot, so I had to explain the story to him as it unfolded. I even chuckled a few times at some of the jokes (that went over his head, of course). I don’t think that he cared about the plot, though. He was really into the show, regardless. Between the pyro, lasers, and motorcycles, it really did get your adrenaline flowing. The fight sequences and stunts were very well choreographed, too (Black Widow busted out a sick Frankensteiner, for any wrestling fans out there).

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There was also a mean armbar sighting, too!

You know that old commercial tagline, about paying for the whole seat, but only needing the edge? The only time B sat was to stuff his face with food. He was standing or jumping up excitedly the rest of the time. It was cool, seeing him get caught up in cheering for the good guys as they kicked the bad guys’ butts. I should note that the fights weren’t too violent or gruesome/bloody  (that was a slight concern that I had, going in).

Another cool part was the sheer number of characters. There were 25, encompassing many parts of the Marvel Universe. Pretty much everyone that you’d expect made an appearance.

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The biggest crowd-pleaser (and B’s favourite) was the Hulk. He was huge, yo!

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With intermission, the show wrapped up in about two hours, which was the perfect amount of time.
Marvel Universe Live!  greatly exceeded my expectations. I would say that if you’ve enjoyed the Marvel films from the last few years, you’ll really like this show. Even if you’re not, there’s so much going on, that you’ll still be engaged. Marvel fans and non-fans – don’t be afraid to assemble, if this show comes to a city near you!

Bird Kingdom!

One of my family’s favourite places to visit is Niagara Falls. It’s only an hour from us, so we hit it up a few times a year. There’s just so much to do , that it is always a great way to get out and entertain the kids.

Recently, we visited an attraction which we had never been to before – Bird Kingdom!  They generously hooked me up with some complimentary passes (thanks again, BK!), so we checked it out. Here is my review of our trip there.

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Now, I wasn’t that familiar with this place, prior to going.  I’m not exactly an ornitholgist.  I assumed that the Trashmen would be around somewhere in the building, singing “Surfin’ Bird”. When B and J asked what Bird Kingdom was, I told them that it was a place with lots of birds in it.

Turns out, it is actually a lot more than that!

What it is, you see,  is the world’s largest indoor free flying aviary. It covers several different floors, and is broken up into different experiences.

Unfortunately, our visit started off on a bad note. Despite wearing shorts, J really had her cranky pants on. Once we arrived, she refused to get out her stroller, and was being extra whiny. Luckily for us, the whole facility was very stroller-friendly, and easy to navigate.

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Our first experience was The Old Museum. Full of old artifacts and pictures, it showcased the history of the building, and also of Niagara Falls.   I didn’t soak it in as much as I would have liked, however. J was still grumpy, while B was in a rush to find the birds. They didn’t really want to learn about Annie Taylor, as fascinating as she was.

Sorry, Annie

Sorry, Annie

We did slow B down enough, to snap a picture of him in a barrel, going over the Falls.

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Not literally going over the Falls, of course

Next up was The Explorer’s Base Camp. This area had lots of birds and creatures out n the open, for us to get real close to. In some cases, we could even touch them!

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At this point, J’s mood brightened (the idea of looking at a turtle was too alluring). So she got out of the stroller, to explore. She spent the rest of the visit running around excitedly, like her big bro.

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Turtle Power!

Up next was The Small Bird Aviary, which was exactly as it sounds. It was pretty surreal, watching these little tiny birds zipping around. I could feel the breeze sometimes, on my face, as they flew by.  One thing I forgot to note is that a ticket attendant gave us a list, on the way in to the kingdom. It was a scavenger hunt, for finding various things throughout the facility. Several of them were in The Small Bird Aviary, and B had a blast trying to track them down.

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We then moved on to The Night Jungle.  This had numerous strange and nocturnal animals in it, many of which appeared to be asleep (go figure).  Flash photography wasn’t allowed, so I couldn’t take any pictures, but take my word for it: The Night Jungle was pretty cool…..and creepy. Also, while we didn’t stop to partake in it (Wait. Scratch that. We couldn’t stop because B and J whizzed by it in a hyperactive rush, to see what was next), there was a Kid’s Archaeological Dig in this area, too, where children could go and dig up treasures.

The last experience, was the best one, in my humble opinion, Discover The Kingdom. It is this huge, multi-level indoor rainforest! The pathway starts at the top, and works its way down. Along the way, you encounter numerous birds and other creatures hanging out freely.

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I particularly was impressed with the big waterfall, which you could walk under, and the Javenese house, a hand-carved wood structure built in 1875.

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All in all, my family really enjoyed Bird Kingdom. We spent about an hour there, and that was with two fast-moving small kids who couldn’t wait to see what was next on the adventure. Tickets are reasonably priced, as well.  If you’re visiting the Falls, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Bird Kingdom

5651 River Road

Niagara Falls, Ontario  L2E 7M7

http://www.birdkingdom.ca

 

Giveaway/Review – Medieval Times Toronto!

Recently,  Medieval Times Toronto hooked me up with some tickets, to come check out their castle with my family. Here’s my  honest review of the experience.

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Now, I’m not going to front, I had heard of Medieval Times before, and I had seen commercials for it, but I honestly had no idea what it was all about. I kind of thought that it would be like The Princess Bride, with people saying ‘inconceivable’ a lot. Despite my poor attempts to explain it, my kids were pretty stoked to go, though. B wanted to see some knights kick some bad guys’ butts, and J wanted to stuff her face and watch the horsies.

We were advised to arrive early, so we showed up an hour before our showtime. The first thing you notice, when you step through the doors, is that all of the staff are in character. It was pretty cool being called ‘my lord’ by everyone that I talked to. A guy could get used to that, in everyday life.  Anyway, the other thing you notice is that this really was a kid-friendly place. There were tons small children running around, who looked to be five years old or younger, like B and J.

Because we were so early, we had some time to check out the castle.

K and I bought some light-up swords for the kids, from the gift shop!

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B saw a falcon up close!

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While B and J didn’t really appreciate it, K and I got a kick out of the dungeon, with all of the old torture devices on display!

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And we even posed for a family picture, with the princess!

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Note: The actual family picture came out pretty ghastly, despite everyone’s best efforts. You don’t want to see it. Imagine one happy princess surrounded by one disinterested kid, one miserable kid, and two fake smiling parents who look like extras in Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video. Just terrible. Don’t worry.  I’m sure you’d have better luck getting a nice shot than we did.

Eventually, it was showtime, and we made our way to our seats. Front row center, in the red and yellow section. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our server, err, I mean, serf. Throughout the evening, he did an awesome job in keeping the drinks and food flowing. The four course dinner consisted of garlic bread, tomato bisque, roasted potato, cob of corn, a big piece of oven-roasted chicken (or, as the serf told B, much to his disgust, dragon meat), and a butter tart for dessert. All of  this was eaten like in medieval times – with your bare hands (if those hands happen to be little, though, like B and J’s, cutlery is available!). The food was tasty and filling.  Both kids ate a decent amount, and I was happy to see our serf come by, unsolicted, with takeout containers at the end of the meal, for leftovers.

Now the show itself. Without getting into all of the details, let’s just say that it is pretty entertaining. The arena is broken up by colours, and each colour has a knight to represent them. As an added touch, on the way in, all of us peasants were given a paper crown to rock, with the colour of it corresponding to the section we were in.

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Our knight, holding things down for our section.

Throughout the evening, the knights engaged in different competitions. Many were on horseback, but the final fights were on foot. B and had a blast cheering on the knight reppin’ our section, red and yellow. J, as expected, had a blast watching the horsies.

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With all of the cheering, music and flashing lights, the atmosphere was crazy. Just a lively, raucous environment, especially during the final battles.

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FINISH HIM!

In between the competitions, there were other aspects of the show, too, like a story involving some bad dude who wanted to capture the princess, as well as a performance from the Royal Falconer (the breeze of the falcon whizzing past my head knocked my crown off!).  Because of how well the show was paced, B and J were riveted the whole time. This kept the usual bickering/complaining/silliness to a minimum, which was rare and awesome. Much to their delight, too, our knight was the overall winner!

All in all, the evening was a success. Before the show was even over,  B and J were both asking  us when we were coming back! The four of us had a lot of fun, and the time flew by. For not knowing much about Medieval Times going into it, I was very impressed. For what it’s worth, I recommend it as something for families of all ages to check out sometime, if you’ve never been before.

One other highlight of the evening was when the red and yellow knight was throwing flowers into the audience. You know when you go to a sporting event, and during a break, they do a t-shirt toss giveaway? Everyone in the crowd jump ups and yells for a t-shirt, but it never actually gets tossed to you? It was like that…….except B and J actually got tossed a flower! They agreed to share it, of course.

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Flower power!

Speaking of giveaways, one lucky reader is going to get hooked up, too. Medieval Times Toronto is going to give one of you four general admission tickets! Enter below.

DATES –  Giveaway closes at 11:00PM on June 30, 2015.

ELIGIBILITY – Open to all residents of Canada, except for Quebec. Tickets are valid until September 1, 2015.

Unaffiliated Product Review – LG G3 Smartphone!

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When I was in the market for a new cell phone a while ago, I did a lot of research. My last phone was OK, but I realized later that I had much better options available. I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.  After much thought, I finally settled on an LG G3 Smartphone. 

Now, without getting into all the specs and stuff, the phone is pretty sweet. There is one thing, though, that I neglected to look into, among all of my research – what happens if your small children get a hold of the phone? I don’t know about you, but my kids are always fiddling with various electronic devices, usually to negative results ( ie. Hmm. That’s weird. I thought I taped Better Call Saul last night. Where’d it go? And why did someone record two minutes of an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?).   Here’s what you’re probably wondering, then: just how “kid-proof” and ‘”parent-friendly” is the LG G3?

Excellent question, you brilliant reader. I’ll try to answer.

Here’s my UNAFFILIATED PRODUCT REVIEW!

PROS:

 Durability

B does this thing, where he’ll steal my phone, and take off with it, which causes me to chase after him. When I catch up to him, he panics and drops it. Haha. Hoho #Boyswillbeboys. So far, my LG G3 has survived numerous drops on carpeted and tile floors, without a dent.

Taking Good Selfies is Easy

B and J are fans of the selfie, both in taking them, as well as looking at them.  The LG G3 has this feature where if you hold your hand out in front of the screen and then make a fist, it sets off a timer. This allows you a few seconds to adjust the camera and get into your pose, prior to the shot being snapped. Once I got the hang of it, taking the perfect selfie couldn’t be easier. It even works with two hyperactive kids. Check it out!

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That’s not a a very good picture.

 

Bad example. Alrighty, here we go!

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This one’s even worse! None of you are ready for the shot.

Never mind. Let’s just move on.

I Can Lock My Kids Out Of It

I’ve lost track of the number of times that K has come to me, complaining that B or J got into her phone, and deleted a bunch of stuff. The problem is the security feature. It is just a password, which B and J, against all statistical probability, have somehow figured out. With the LG G3, however,  I’ve set it up so that my security feature is a custom series of knocks. You can’t unlock my phone unless you know the way to tap the screen. This has totally thrown B and J for a loop. I remember one time, when I couldn’t find my phone. Eventually, I found J with it, in a closet, sadly mashing the screen, to no avail. My fantasy baseball team super important personal information is safe from curious children.

CONS:

 It Doesn’t Take Pictures On It’s Own,  Of Stuff That Might Be Useful Later

I had this conversation with J recently, driving home one night, discussing the happenings of that day:

Me: And then I had pizza for lunch.

J (laughs hysterically)

Me: Whats so funny?

J: You don’t have lunch at work!

Me: Yes I do. Everyday!

J (silence for a few seconds while she thinks)

Then:

J: Can you show me?

Me: Show you what?

J: Show me you eating pizza.

Me: Uh….

J: On your phone. Show me a picture of you eating pizza.

Me: I didn’t take a picture.

J: Why?

Me: I….don’t usually take pictures of me eating.

J ( while laughing hysterically): You’re tricking me! You don’t eat lunch at work!

And that was that. Without physical evidence, I could not prove my case.  If only I had a picture. Unfortunately, The LG G3 lacks the ability to randomly snap shots without your involvement. It should know what future arguments you are going to have, and act accordingly. Maybe the new  LG G4 has this feature.

No Magic? What’s Up Wit’ Dat?

One day, I asked J what she wanted for breakfast one morning, She said cereal. Perfect! Nice and easy. I then asked her what kind she wanted and listed off the options in the pantry.

Her choice?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Which I didn’t list, because we didn’t have it.

Her reaction to this? She dropped to the ground and cried uncontrollably. After a few minutes, she stopped sobbing and blubbered “Check it on your phone.” Needless to say, the fact that my  phone was not able to save the day and magically pull a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of the air was pretty disappointing. Step your game up, LG.

It Can’t Travel Back In Time

On another occasion while driving home with J, the conversation turned to my favorite stuffed animal when I was her age (three). After I told her a bit about Mr. Wrinkles The Stuffed Dog, she casually asked to see him on my phone. I casually said that wasn’t possible, and she causally got ticked off.  This is another drawback. The LG G3 can’t go back in the past to document every important event in your life. Sorry, McFly, reliving memories is not just a click away. I’m pretty sure Apple is working on an iPhone which is able to time travel, though.

Time travel? There's an app for that.

Time travel? There’s an app for that.

 

CONCLUSION

The LG G3 does a lot of stuff well. However, for a smartphone, it really isn’t that smart.

Well...no, I guess not.

I don’t know. I’m really not qualified to be reviewing phones. There are a million better places to turn to, for that kind of advice.

That’s all that I got. Before I go,  let’s try one more selfie!

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How many times have you tried to do this? And this is your best shot?

 

Meh. Whatever.

It’s good enough.

Review – WWE Live!

Some high flying in-ring action

Some high flying in-ring action

 

As I’ve noted before on this site, my son is a big fan of World Wrestling Entertainment.  On May 2, the WWE Live tour came to Hamilton, and, courtesy of two tickets from the WWE, we were able to attend the event!

In the weeks leading up to the show, to say that B was excited was an understatement. This was his first time seeing it live, and he was pumped to see a bunch of Superstars in person.  Not going to lie, though. As a parent, I was a bit nervous. I had been to live shows in the past, and it wasn’t the most family friendly environment. Now granted, this was years ago, before the shift to the more PG rated product that B was familiar with. I did do some online research beforehand, as well, and the general opinion seemed to be positive, in terms of taking small children. So off B and I went!

The first thing that I noticed, when we got to our seats, was that there were a TON of families with little kids in attendance. Almost all of them had merchandise and/or signs, supporting their favorite Superstars.

Me being old school, I had decided to rock a Mr. Perfect shirt to the show:

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No. No I am not perfect.

And B being new school, he decided to rock a bunch or random wrestling stuff, along with a shirt of his favorite wrestler, Kofi Kingston:

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The second thing which I noticed was that letting B pick cotton candy as a treat probably wasn’t the best idea, as he devoured it within minutes.

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Uh, can you say sugar rush?

The show started with Bad News Barrett’s entrance music filling the FirstOntario Centre. When he came strutting out, B hopped out of his seat and booed him, along with most of the other fans. Wrestling is all about good versus bad.  The babyfaces and the heels. B gravitates to the nice guys and girls. Through the whole night, I could tell that he had a blast cheering all of them on to victory. The atmosphere really was bananas, too. Thousands of people just losing their minds at the performers. It really wasn’t that hard to get caught up in the excitement!

My concern about the family friendliness also turned out to not be too big of a deal. In our section, someone did let a profanity slip once, but I heard him be quickly admonished for it (because there were kids around). From then on, “Kick his butt!” or “So and so sucks!” was the extent of the bad language.

Speaking of sucking, let’s go back to the aforementioned Kofi Kingston. B loves him, mainly because of the fact that he has always been a good guy. Recently, though, Kofi started a team with two other wrestlers called the New Day. They’re basically three happy-go-lucky guys who fans should cheer……but they don’t. So basically, Kofi’s character is a good guy who people boo. As a result,the New Day are slowly turning into bad guys.

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New Day, in action.

As luck would have it, the New Day actually wrestled at the show! B instantly recognized the first chords of their entrance music, and started freaking out when they entered the arena. This made me freak out, too. We were the only freaks, unfortunately. They got booed lustily by everyone else, and pounded with ‘New Day sucks!’ chants, throughout their match. Our feeble attempts to start a ‘New Day rocks!’ chant fell on deaf ears. The highlight/lowlight was B hopping onto his chair, to yell “New Day does not suck! They rock!” (don’t worry, I did pull him down, and told him not use the word suck).  New Day lost the match, but still walked out with their tag team championship belts, which thrilled B. He got to see his fav wrestler in person, who left with his gold title, to our cheers. Sweet!

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New Day’s opponents that night, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, celebrating like nobody’s business.

All in all, the show was about two and half hours, but it flew by. In terms of the Squirm Test (how I tell if my kids are feeling something, based on how much they squirm), it was a success. B was on the edge of his seat the whole time. The only time he started to get fidgety was during the last match, a wild brawl  between Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper, which went all around the ring, and had them putting each through tables. B was getting pretty tired by that point, so I don’t blame him for getting restless.

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One sleepy looking lil man, on our way out.

One final note – man, some of these wrestlers are huuuge. TV doesn’t do them justice. The fact that dudes that large can pull off the athletic stunts that they do is pretty incredible.

Thanks again, WWE, for the hookup. Sports entertainment at its finest. Great night at the fights!

 

 

 

Giveaway! Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats #TryItHot Prize Pack

Not too long ago, I was pleasantly surprised to receive this package, courtesy of the Kelloggers Network:

 

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Pretty sweet, right? And, in return, they only asked that my fam do one thing – #tryithot.

Now, while I’ve always liked Mini-Wheats (the kid in me still loves the frosted side), it never once occurred to me to try them hot. I was up for the challenge, though!

I wasn’t sure about my kids, however. J is usually pretty open-minded and down for whatever, when it comes to eating. B, on the other hand, is…..picky, to put it mildly. He’s the type of boy who will drop to the ground, screaming hysterically, and start writhing on the floor, just from smelling an unfamiliar food. #TryItHot? Shoot, I’d be fortunate just to get him to #TryIt, I thought.

So imagine my surprise when B was actually excited to dig into the different boxes of Mini-Wheats! He eagerly sampled them all, with cold milk, and gave us some feedback. ie.

Me – “How do the Maple ones taste?”

B – “Maplely!”

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Don’t mind the plastic spoons.

 

We also did take the challenge, to #TryItHot. Believe it or not, that went over well, too! Warm almond milk over Brown Sugar Flavoured Mini-Wheats is a particular favourite, in our house. There are a bunch of other cool recipes,  though, on the Mini-Wheats website.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

One lucky reader will have the opportunity to #TryItHot, like we did! Kellogg’s is giving away the same package that  we received. Same tasty cereals, same wicked travel bowl with the same foldable spoon.

 

MW Prize Pack (1)

DATES –  Giveaway closes at 11:59PM on April  13th, 2015

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.

GOOD LUCK!!

Movie Review – From The Rough

 

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Recently, I was contacted about reviewing the movie ‘From The Rough.’ Not going to lie, I wasn’t familiar with it at all. However, after a quick Google search, I figured, why not? While definitely family friendly, my kids are a bit on the young side to really enjoy it.  So after they went to sleep early one night, with no Bedtime WTFness (I know. I was scared, too), I was able to check it out.

‘From The Rough’ is based on the true story of Catana Starks.  She went from coaching Tennessee State University’s  successful women’s swim team, to becoming the men’s golf coach.  As the first African American woman to ever coach a men’s college golf team, the movie shares many of the personal and professional obstacles that she overcame. Out of necessity, she recruits a bunch of underprivileged yet highly skilled kids from around the world. Despite them having to overcome obstacles of their own,  and having to use some really ghetto clubs, she ultimately lead her squad to a record-setting showing at the PGA National Collegiate Minority Championship.

Starks is played by Taraji P. Henson, who is usually on point in her roles (word to ‘Hustle and Flow’!).This one was no exception, as she kills it as the tough but caring coach.  Why this woman isn’t a bigger star in Hollywood, is beyond me.  Actually, the acting overall was solid, as almost everyone did a believable job with their characters. They were really engaging, which really helped me get into the movie, and stay with it. My ‘Man, this part is boring. Hey, that guy looks familiar. I’m going to Wikipedia him right now!’ count was minimal.

I can honestly say that I really liked this movie.  Yo, I’m a sucker for those films about underdog sports teams that beat the odds. This was easily one of the better ones of that genre which I’ve seen (I mean, it’s no ‘Happy Gilmore’,  but then again, what is?). Is it perfect? Nah, of course not. Regardless, if you want a family friendly movie about perseverance and standing up for yourself (no flex zone!),  you could do a lot worse than ‘From the Rough‘. It’s just these types of inspirational, entertaining hidden gems which warrant more attention, which is why I don’t mind recommending that you check out this flick.  It’s a movie worth watching about a woman who’s story deserves be told. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

 

 

Non-Biased, Unaffiliated Product Review – Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals!

Ahhh,  fun packs.  Those single serving sized boxes of cereal where  the box somehow functions as a bowl!

Man, back in the day, many a Saturday morning was spent chomping down on these and watching Saved By The Bell/California Dreams/Hammerman/Soul Train/ whatever. Who cared what was on, as long as I got my Froot Loops on, homey!

Nowadays, since I’m kinda lazy K and I are really busy most of the time, we are always looking for quick and easy ideas for the kids to have for breakfast, that they’ll actually eat. While out shopping recently,  Kellogg’s  Fun Pack Cereals were on sale, so I bought a package, for the first time in years. How’d they go over with the fam, you ask?

Well…here is my non-biased, unaffiliated with Kellogg’s  review!

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Now, when I was a kid, there was one thing that bugged me about fun packs: they would come in packages of 8 or 10 boxes, but it always seemed like for every one box of deliciousness, there would be two boxes of Crappios or Lame Flakes, or something like that. This wasn’t the case with  Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals, however. All of the boxes were proven winners. Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops + Corn Pops + Rice Krispies = edible supergroup.

Another good thing was the variety. B and J like Rice Krispies, for example, but they won’t eat a whole box of Rice Krispies, if that’s the only option.   With Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals, if they got bored of one flavour, there were still  three other choices, and only two little boxes of each. This  is perfect  for kids like mine, who have the attention span of a…. I don’t know. Something with a short attention span, I’ve  lost interest in trying to think of a comparison.  Regardless, you get all of the benefits of eating cereal without committing to a big box of it!  If fun packs were people, they would be side pieces! Or booty calls!

Amiright, Drake?

 

Drake_Bluesfest

Shut up, Mike.

 

Sorry, Drake.

 

Anyways, no doubt, I was feeling pretty good about this purchase…..and then the taste test happened.

It was an early morning and I was sleeping. I’m pretty sure B came into our room and asked if he could have some cereal. I groggily said yes then went back to sleep. Yeah, I realize that I wrote about this type of occurrence before, and that it never ends well.

This time, however?

B went downstairs, helped himself to a box of Corn Pops, carefully opened it up into its bowl shape, added some milk, went to the table, quietly ate every crumb, and then disposed of the box bowl in the garbage. The end.

 

Well...no, I guess not.

 

C’mon, man!

Of course that didn’t happen.

Remember what I said, about the variety, and the kids having short attention spans? B and J apparently couldn’t decide on just one box, so they opened all eight. And not just opened. They took  them up to the playroom, and the ones that they didn’t finish eating (which was almost every box ) they dumped out, all over the floor.  You know, because that totally makes sense. Don’t worry, they made sure to walk on them, too, just to really grind the flakes, balls and loops into the carpet. It looked like a freakin’ Kellogg’s factory exploded in there. It was like the room got hit by a Cerealnado. Yeah, that’s right, a Cerealnado.  Hey, Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, have I got a movie idea for you!

Apparently, all of those fun packs didn’t exactly give B any energy, either. When I told him that he had to clean up all of the mess, he dutifully picked up a few pieces of Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies. Then, when he realized the scope of the job, and how long it would take,  he tried to come up with some shortcuts to make it go faster.  Bless his lazy little heart. THEN, when those didn’t work (toy cars and books make horrible brooms, go figure),  he complained that his arms were tired and refused to do any more.  This all happened in a span of  five minutes, by the way, but he was whining about his arms like he just completed a CrossFit workout.   J, to her credit, tried to eat up the mess, but eventually she gave up/got full/lost interest.

NON-BIASED UNAFFILIATED WITH KELLOGG’S CONCLUSION

If you’re looking for quick, easy breakfast/snack ideas for the kids, you could do a lot worse than giving them Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals. My kids liked the Froot Loops the most. There was a trail of loops from the pantry to the stairs, and hardly any in the playroom. This indicates that they were most hyped up to chow down on those first. The one con with these fun packs is that they are a  pain to try and vacuum up when your kids pour them out on the floor. You probably won’t have that problem, though. You probably don’t have most of my parenting problems.

Nonetheless, on a scale of  confused Garry Moores talking to Tony The Tigers, I’ll give this product  4 Garrys and Tonys out of 4.

 

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Garry_Moore_Tony_the_Tiger_1955Garry_Moore_Tony_the_Tiger_1955Garry_Moore_Tony_the_Tiger_1955

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

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For real,  there’s a lot of things that, pre-kids, you know of,  but then post-kids, you end up knowing very well.

Take TV shows and movies, for example.  Sure, I was aware that there were channels dedicated to small children, but it’s not like I ever saw them, or had any idea what the shows were. Unless, of course, it was after coming home drunkenly from the bar at 2:00 AM, and I needed something to watch while I ate the Chinese takeout that I bought near the bar, so I’d end up watching Dora the Explorer and wondering why this Spanish girl and her monkey were yelling at me to do things.

I’d see commercials for kid’s movies, but it’s not like I kept tabs on them.  Even if they did look sort of interesting, it’s not like I could convince anyone to go see them with me. And I especially couldn’t go by myself. A grown man watching Monsters Inc alone in a theatre full of families probably would raise some eyebrows, somewhere.

Post-kids, I’ve been forced to be more down with  toddler pop culture. I don’t say that with pride, obviously. It’s just a matter of necessity. And in terms of toddler pop culture, Disney has that small kid market on lock!  As such, I recently sat down with B and J, and watched The Little Mermaid. It was my first time seeing it!

Shut up.

Yes, I realize it came out in 1989, so this isn’t the most timely review. No, I don’t still own a Game Boy, or acid-washed jeans, or a Milli Vanilli record. Hater.

 

Note: Spoilers ahead!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Gotta admit, I didn’t see the first 10 minutes, because I was on snack duty.  I’m sure I missed some key plot points. I also assumed that Ariel’s parents would die a horrible death at some point early on,  so I had prepared an explanation, for that occurrence. I learned to do this when, while happily enjoying The Lion King with B, the little lion’s dad got killed out of nowhere, shocking B, and leading me to do some verbal tap-dancing about the situation. Thanks, Disney! Luckily, there weren’t any moms or dads violently murdered in The Little Mermaid, so kudos for that. There was only a delightful musical number about how much fun it is to chop and maim fish.

I can tell when the kids are digging something based on how much they fidget. If they start squirming, they’ve lost interest and will move on, soon enough, to doing something else. There was a lot of fidgeting during The Little Mermaid.  Check that. There was a lot of flying leaps onto daddy, like they were trying to perfect their Superfly splashes.

No, that's not J soaring through the air......yet....

No, that’s not J soaring through the air……yet….

 

Anyway, a bunch more scenes were missed, as I was preoccupied watching B and J instead. The part where the Jamaican crab sang ‘Under the Sea’ did lead to an impromptu, Step-Up style, battle dance-off between them. J got served, yo!

B’s at that age (four) where he’s super inquisitive. When he doesn’t understand something, he asks. So there were a lot of questions he threw at me during the movie, that I  honestly couldn’t answer. Ariel’s merman King dad freaked out at some point. Started shooting lightning bolts and wrecking thangs up. B asked if me they were underwater (yes)  and how could there be fire if they were underwater (uhhhh).

Later, Ariel got feet in exchange for her voice, so she could try to hook up with a prince she saw once and was immediately smitten with (re-reading that sentence, that sounds messed up,  but that’s what happened).

B – ‘Are they going to get married?’

Me – ‘ I dunno. Maybe.’

B (shocked) – ‘But you can’t marry someone you just met!’

Later, while the prince was getting ready to marry some other girl that he just met,  which caused  Ariel to run off crying, B told me that he wanted to marry Ariel.  It’s all about the rebound girls, buddy!  Strike while she’s most vulnerable. Nice.

 

Well...no, I guess not.

No. No I am not.

 

I think that the other girl did something to the prince as well. She either hypnotized him, drugged him or got him drunk, I’m not sure.  See? As long as one person is in an altered mind state, you can marry someone that you just met. Isn’t that what happens in Vegas all the time?

The prince eventually came to his senses and ended up leaving his new wifey at the altar when…….I’m not sure about the rest.  Ariel had a three day limit to hook up with the prince, right? Failing that, she had to go back to being a mermaid, but also a prisoner or something like that. On the second day, she got shown up by a new wifey, though, which was  the evil Ursula in disguise? Ursula lost her shell that had Ariel’s voice in it, so Ariel got that back. I think the prince’s beer goggles/drug haze wore off, too, because he realized his bride wasn’t a smoking hottie, but a purple sea creature with a fake voice. Ariel’s dad showed up, cut a deal with Ursula and got shrunk somehow. If I was paying more attention, it probably would have made more sense. But between being bombarded with flying kids and flying questions, it was a lost cause. The movie did have a happy ending, though. Ursula was gored to death in the gut, Ariel’s dad went back to  being King-sized, and Ariel got to stay being a human and ended up marrying the prince.  The main lesson learned, I think? Mermaid life sucks, humans rule.

IN CONCLUSION:

Based on the few scenes that I saw, The Little Mermaid is a movie aimed for kids, and seems to lack the jokes for grown ups that a lot of newer animated films have. You know, those double entrendres and pop culture references that my four year old and two year old don’t understand, but I nod approvingly of.  Nonetheless, it’s not a bad way to kill an hour and a half.  B and J seemed to enjoy it, for the most part, which really, is all that matters.  So, for my review,  (yeah, yeah, I know, it leaves a lot to be desired. But, man, if Roger Ebert reviewed kid’s movies while trying to watch them with actual kids, his reviews would have been mediocre, too), I give it three Jamaican crabs out of four.

 

Red_crabs (2)Red_crabs (2)

Red_crabs (2)Red_crabs (3)

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