Category: Super Fun Adventures

Feelin’ Blue

 

 

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

Toronto Blue Jays fever!

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

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

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

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

Photographic evidence of said ball.

Photographic evidence of said ball.

Well……

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

Yay me?!

Nevermind, let’s move on.

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

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

So, we left.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Oh, shut up!

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

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What? My head is safe.

 

 

 

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

Our view from the cheap seats

Our view from the cheap seats

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

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

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

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A view from our better seats

 

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

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Oh, hey there, NHL superstar Steven Stamkos.

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

 

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

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

 

It’s all good.

 

Go Jays go!

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/

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

 

Disney Junior And LEGO DUPLO’s Magic of Play Tour

Over the next few weeks, Disney Junior and LEGO® DUPLO® are joining forces, to travel across Canada, for the Magic of Play Tour!  As noted on the Disney Junior website:

Disney Junior and LEGO® DUPLO® are hitting the road together with fun filled, FREE indoor events in 8 cities! Build and discover the many ways to play with LEGO® DUPLO® bricks while you watch and enjoy your favourite Disney Junior shows! Plus take home a special Magic of Play activity booklet! It’s all totally free, but get there early so you don’t miss out on the fun.

Recently, my family was fortunate enough to attend a VIP experience of the tour,  at Vaughan Mills!

When we arrived, K and I were both immediately impressed with the setup. The booth was divided into a bunch of building stations and play areas, along with tons of DUPLO® blocks. There were several friendly, enthusiastic attendants working the booth, too. At first, B and J were pretty hesitant. Once one of the attendants started to engage them, and hook them up with pieces to build their structures, they were good to go!

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Another neat thing about the booth was that it had a TV in it, which played some Disney Junior shows. It was a good way to take a break from all of the playing!

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Now, we weren’t the only VIPs, as there were other invitees at the experience, too. It was cool watching all of the kids interact with one another, and assisting in each other’s creations. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of jacking of each other’s blocks. Way to play nice, children!

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A side of the booth had cut-outs of Jake (from Jake and the Never Land Pirates) and Sofia  (from Sofia The First). Perfect for photo-ops! I saw some of the other parents taking advantage of this. Their boys and girls were way more into smiling for the camera than mine were, however. I asked B and J to stand by the cut-outs, so I could snap a shot of them. This is what I got (lookin’ pretty fresh, eh):

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Uh, your kids aren’t in this.

 

Oh. Right. No worries! They were too busy building masterpieces, to stop and pose for pictures! Hey B, what did you make?

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“A PRESENT!”

 

Well, happy birthday to you! Yo J, what do you got?

 

"I DON"T KNOW!"

“I DON”T KNOW!”

Nice?!

Huh? No, you can’t have that playset. It’s not for sale, just for show.

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No really, you can’t have it. Quit trying to open up the display case!

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Stop looking at it so forlornly!

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Ahh, jeez. Please stop looking so sad.

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Snacktime! Oranges. J was so in the building spirit, that, after she peeled her orange, and took the pieces apart, she tried to put them back together. Irrationally, she kept get getting madder and madder when the pieces wouldn’t stay together. Us trying to appeal to her sense of logic fell on deaf ears, as did the offer of a new orange. Soon enough, the tears started flowing. I’ve noticed that there’s always at least one crying kid, in pretty much any situation involving kids.  I guess that we were due to be the parents of that kid.

Anyway, when J’s upset, she wants a soother. However, we’ve been trying to get her out of this habit. So, when she asked for it this time, I said no. She then did what any soon-to-be three year old girl would do – check K’s purse for a soother, and then, after coming up empty-handed, walk over to the coat section, and start checking pockets for one. I’ve noticed that there’s always at least one pickpocket in pretty much……………man, even I can’t justify that. Sorry, VIPs in attendance that day. We didn’t take anything, promise!

Because we’ve learned to pick and choose our battles, we let her have her pacifier.  This made her happier than Pharrell.  In the meantime, while this was going on, B was playing with some train tracks. I could be wrong, but it look liked he made an elevated track to nowhere, complete with some dude in a car who’s plummeted off of the edge.

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We were there a for about an hour, and could have easily stayed longer, but we had to get going. Before we left, K tried to get a nice picture of us:

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Yes, that is me pleading with J to take her soother out, for one lousy photo. No dice, of course. She’d pose for the camera, but only with the soother. Fine. Whatever.

Say cheese, guys!

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Dang it!

Whatever. Still the best picture of the three of us that we’ve ever taken. Welcome to my world.

All kidding aside, big ups to Disney Junior and LEGO® DUPLO® for inviting us to check out the tour. We seriously had a blast!  Here is where the tour will be visiting, over the next few weeks:

February 28 – March 1 Laval, Québec Carrefour Laval
March 6-8 Montréal, Québec Fairview Point Claire
March 14-15 Vaughan, Ontario Vaughan Mills
March 21-22 Surrey, British Columbia Guildford Town Centre
March 27-29 Calgary, Alberta Chinook Centre
April 4-5 Edmonton, Alberta West Edmonton Mall
April 11-12 Toronto, Ontario Fairview Mall
April 18-19 Etobicoke, Ontario Sherway Gardens

 

It’s fun, it’s free, it’s indoors, and it’s definitely worth making time for with your kids, if it’s in your area!

 

 

 

 

 

The Making Of An Adequate Dance Dad, Part 2 (The Departure)

I’ve come to the conclusion that, just because your kids really want to go somewhere, doesn’t mean that they’ll make it easy for you, the parent, to take them there.

Say you came up to me, like “Yo Mike! I got an extra ticket for the Toronto Raptors game tonight. You down?” I’m a big hoops fan, so I’d be down, no doubt. However, once we got to the Air Canada Centre, I wouldn’t suddenly drop to the ground, and need to be dragged to my seat, kicking and screaming the whole way. That’s ridiculous.

And yet, with my kids, I can usually expect to be given a hard time, when trying to leave the house with them. Doesn’t matter where we’re going; there’s going to be an unnecessary struggle. I don’t get it.

Take dance class, for example. Like I said in part 1, J really enjoys it. Once she walks into the dance studio, she has a blast. Actually getting her there, though?

Yikes.

Lemme explain. Here’s a typical Saturday morning:

♦We wake up. I tell J that we are going to dance class. Even though she loves it, she will refuse to go. She’ll throw a fit because, well, toddlers.

♦ Time to get her dressed. Depending on her mood, this varies in levels of sucktacularness. If she’s feeling like a mommy’s girl, she’ll freak if I attempt to change her, because I’m not her mom. She’ll insist that K get her ready, instead (It’s all good. My feelings aren’t hurt that badly when she does this. She’s only choosing mommy over daddy. No biggie…………  Sniff. No, I’m not crying. My eyes are just secreting liquid!)

If she’s feeling like Destiny’s Child and wants to be an independent woman, then she’ll freak if I attempt to change her, because she wants to dress herself. Now, I’ve never tried to squeeze my body into tights and a leotard before. I am pretty sure that I would struggle, if I did, though. It’s a lot of cramming/pulling/ stuffing. Normally, J is more than able of dressing herself, in everyday clothes.   As such, after spurning my offer to help put on her dance stuff,  J will start off all sassy and confident. Eventually, she realizes that she is in over her head . She will then suck up her pride, and come to me for assistance (tights hanging loosely off her butt, leotard around her ankles). I can then get her dressed.

♦ I  get her ready, but only after much effort. One time, she started doing pelvic thrusts on her back, while I was trying to change her diaper.

Brainstorming

If B’s around, he’ll play the role of big brother to a T, and bug the heck out of her.  As if putting on her clothes wasn’t challenging enough, try adding in some arguing and squirming.

♦ I style her hair.

Ha!

Just kidding. She likes her hair loose and unruly. Most of the time, she has that Albert Einstein look going on, if Einstein was a toddler girl.

Albert_Einstein_1947

Even if she did let me touch it, I’m not much of a stylist anyway.  I’ll admit, I may have gotten confused many times once trying to take the elastics out of her hair, and ended up using scissors to hack them off.

♦ We grab some breakfast. After that, we make sure that her dance bag is packed with all of the required items.  One item will inevitably be missing,  which requires a time consuming search for it.

♦ We hit the road. Usually, we crank some jams in the car. We also have conversations about whatever is on her little mind. Lately, she is concerned about what she is going to take for lunch when she goes to school in a few years. Yep.

Sometimes, she cracks jokes. Like this:

J – Knock knock.

Me – Who’s there?

J – John Cena!

Me – John Cena who?

J – UPTOWN  FUNK YOU UP!

Me – (confused silence)

J – Oh. That’s not John Cena.

 

Bruno_Mars,_Las_Vegas_2010

Yeah, yeah, I know, Bruno Mars. That yours and Mark Ronson’s song.

 

♦ We arrive. When I go to open the door, to get her out of her car seat, she’ll lock the door with her foot. While I mutter under my breath, fumbling in my pocket for the keys, to unlock the door, she laughs hysterically.

♦Once we enter the studio, everything is awesome.

And that’s our routine.

I mean, yeah, it’s a bit……… annoying, but it could be a lot worse. As long as she gets there, tries hard and has fun, then really, I can’t complain.  I’ve been wrong about a lot of this introductory dancing stuff (hey, did you know that they don’t teach little kids the Shmoney dance? Go figure. ) but on this regard, even I know that it’s all just part of the job as a dance dad.

Or, I guess, job as a dad, in  general.

The Making Of An Adequate Dance Dad, Part 1

 

dance

A few months ago, there was a big milestone at our house – we signed J up for her first dance class! Introductory level for wee ones, held every Saturday morning.  My initial reaction was that this was a fantastic idea. It would be some nice mother-daughter bonding time between K and J! Tutus and jazz hands and ballerinas? That stuff is way too foreign to me. I’d limit my involvement to just going to the recitals and taking some pictures.

Sit back and enjoy the show, right?

Yeah, not so much.

Like most things parenting-related, I was wrong.

Well, firstly, I wasn’t actually allowed by the dance studio to take pictures at the recital. Secondly, there was a time conflict. B also had basketball Saturday mornings. As a result,  one parent had to take him there, while the other had to take J to her class. Shockingly, no one else thought that it would be best if I took B to hoops all of the time.  It was decided that we’d take turns each week, taking the kids to their activities.

So……..

that meant…………..

I would now have to be………..

A DANCE DAD!

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Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!!!

Now, in all honesty, the first few weeks didn’t go too badly. I say this beause K took J, not me. Luckily, however,  J did take a liking to the class immediately. The objective set by the instructors was to let the parents in the dance room for a couple of weeks, to get the kids used to the class. Eventually, the parents would not be allowed in the room, and instead would have to watch in the waiting area,  through a window.  J, bless her heart, was cool going solo in the room after about two weeks. And luckily for me, that meant that I would never have to be the “last parent standing”. You know, that parent who has the kid that is the only one left who freaks out when their mommy or daddy try to leave the room. The parent then has to spend the whole class prancing along to Let it Go with the other toddlers, while the dance moms laugh and snicker at them from behind the window.

Awww, dance moms.

Not gonna lie, hanging out with them is what had me shook the most, initially. I had seen parts of the television show ‘Dance Moms’. Since reality TV is totally like real life, I assumed that there would be lots of yelling, gossiping and mean chick cliques, none of which bode well for yours truly.

Of course, this wasn’t the case at all, and everyone there, from the parents to the instructors, is pretty chill. As one of the only solo dance dads among the dance moms each week, I did feel that I had to formulate a strategy, though, to fit in. Social awkwardness ain’t no joke.  I went about my strategizing  by observing the other guys that would come to the studio. For example:

– Some used the ‘drop and go’ technique. They dropped their kid off, and came back an hour later, when the class was done. Even though it’s 9:00 AM, I imagine that they’re going for beers. Or not. I have no clue. This wouldn’t work for me, anyway, as J was a bit too young (not quite three years old) to be left by herself, I think.

– Some used the ‘sit and stay’ technique. The waiting area has lots of chairs. As such, some guys preferred to grab a seat and spend some quality time on their phones. I did briefly employ this tactic during the first week that I took J. However, driving home after, when I asked her how she did, she recapped some stuff, but then ended it by saying, sadly, “you missed it.”  I swear, as if to really make sure the mood hit home, Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross came on the radio, too. From then on, no more sit and stay. I try to watch as much as possible, through the window. Now, when J does something that she’s really proud of, like throw a scarf in the air and catch it, she’ll look over to me, grinning, like ‘Yo, did you just see that?!’ I’ll grin back to her like ‘Darn right, I saw that! Do ya thang, lil girl!’

– Side note: one guy came to a class a couple of weeks ago, and spent the hour watching videos on his phone, with the volume cranked up. From what I heard, the videos were all of people talking to each other in Japanese, over random hip hop instrumentals. 50 Cent probably never thought the beat to Disco Inferno would end up there. Haha, I bet if you  found this guy in da club, bottle full of bub, you’d have 21 QUESTIONS for him,  amirite, 50 Cent?

50_Cent_(Cropped)

Shut up, Mike.

 

Sorry, Fiddy.

Anyway, the man had a blast watching these videos, laughing uproariously, completely oblivious to the dirty looks everyone was giving him. I now aspire to one day have that guy’s ‘I Don’t Give a F**k’ level.

– Some made the most of their time by chatting up the moms. While this is a great way to kill time/make friends if you’re a talkative individual, I, unfortunately, am not. Also, I did observe one man once say something to a lady (I didn’t hear what), which led to nervous laughter by her, a step back, and awkward silence.

Yikes.

Forget that option. No need to  make someone else as uncomfortable as me. You never know who’s packing pepper spray nowadays, too.

Nonetheless, from these observations,  I was able to find a groove. I’m that dude, chillin’ at the window, watching the toddlers work it.  Mainly keeping to myself.

It’s all good, though, for real.

See, the end of the class is what makes it all worthwhile. That’s when the instructors wave the parents into the room. We all head in, to sit along the walls, and watch whatever routines the kids learned that day. When J sees me, she always cracks a big smile and runs over, to excitedly tell me something. Yo, even I know that these are the moments that are to be appreciated.  In a few years, she won’t always be happy to see me, or even care that I’m there watching her.  I get that. Until then, it’s nice to feel the love.

The routines that they do are straight jokes, too. Half the time, J is an active participant, bustin’ a move; other times, she just stands there picking her nose, glaring at the parents. Either way, it’s always entertaining, just sitting back and enjoying the show (hey, I was right about that!).

That’s all I got for now. Keep an eye out for the epic conclusion to this two part series. In that part, my journey to becoming an adequate dance dad is completed, but along the way there are dragons, Mortal Kombat-style death fights and drag races.

Or you know, there’s none of that, and I just recap some more stuff that happens at introductory dance classes.

Later.

 

 

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J, rocking her dance gear.

 

 

 

 

Catch Me If You Can

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yeah, man. It’s the holiday season, which means that it’s the time of the year when we can stuff our faces with holiday goodies!

One of my favourite treats during this season are fresh, home-made gingerbread cookies. I’ve discovered that decorating these cookies is an easy activity which the whole family can enjoy, especially little kids.

Today, I’m going to share with you some steps, so you can make your own fresh, home-made gingerbread cookies, just like my family!!!!

Step 1

Pre-heat the oven. Pull out the following ingredients:

 

Well...no, I guess not.

Uh oh…….

Step 2

Realize that you’ve never made fresh, home-made gingerbread cookies before, and that you don’t actually have a recipe. Turn oven off. Go to a store and buy a premade decorating kit (we went with a kit that had a whole family of gingerbread people, complete with a gingerbread pet dog).

Step 3

IT’S JUST YOU AND MEEEE!

Jordan_Knight_at_the_1990_Grammys

Source: Alan Light

 

Go away, Jordan Knight!

I’ll karaoke “Step By Step” later.

Anyway, come home and open up the kit, in your kitchen. Listen to your son and daughter argue over who gets the biggest cookie. Tell them that they don’t get the biggest cookie. Give them each the next two biggest ones, of equal size. Keep the biggest for yourself.

What?

You’ve earned it.

Step 4

Open up the icing packets, and, using your cookie, carefully show your kids how to spread the icing on, to properly decorate it. Ask them which colour of icing they want, to start.

Step 5

If your son said green, but your daughter said red, as soon as you’ve given him the green packet, he will immediately change his mind and say that he wants the red one. Habitual douchebaggery, as I’ve mentioned before. He will freak out, when you explain that he’ll have to wait his turn. As such, in a firm but authoritative voice, tell him that, if he doesn’t knock it off, you’ll smash his cookie into so many little pieces that he’ll need a magnifying glass to see them.

He’ll knock it off.

Step 6

Tell your daughter to stop eating all of the icing, and just decorate her cookie.

Step 7

Tell your son to stop eating all of the icing, and just decorate his cookie.

Step 8

Tell your son that he can’t open the packet of sprinkles yet. Chase son around kitchen when he won’t give the sprinkles to you. Curse Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.  Don’t stop running until you’ve caught him.

Step 9

Your daughter now has more icing on her than on the cookie, somehow. Wonder how she managed to get icing in the back of her hair.

Step 10

While you’re wondering this, your son will grab the sprinkles, and rip the package open, because, well, WTF. The sprinkles will, uh, sprinkle everywhere, and make a big shiny disaster all over the table and floor. Accept your son’s apology because he seems remorseful.

Step 11

Gather up some sprinkles with a spoon and sprinkle them on your cookie. Ask kids to do the same.

Step 12

Tell your daughter to stop eating all of the sprinkles, and just decorate her cookie.

Step 13

Tell your son to stop eating all of the sprinkles, and just decorate his cookie.

Step 14

Twist off the lid of the narrow tube of icing, the one that looks like a tube of crazy glue.  Gently dab drops from it onto your cookie, to adhere the facial features. Open package of candy, and put candy on the icing drops, to make the eyes and a nose. Ask kids to do the same.

Step 15

Your son will squeeze tube as hard as he can, to get as much icing out as possible, because, well, WTF. Grab tube from him, and give to daughter. Daughter will carefully dab drops on, but will still somehow get more icing in her hair.

Step 16

Tell your daughter to stop eating all of the candy, and just decorate her cookie.

Step 17

Tell your son to stop eating all of the candy, and just decorate his cookie.

Step 18

Because of all of the icing he globbed on, your son will try to get as much candy as possible to stick onto the face. It will look like the gingerbread man has multi-coloured acne. When it doesn’t all stick, your son will be upset for a minute, but he’ll get over it by eating the candy. Your daughter, in the meantime, will suck on the tube of icing like it was two years ago and she was still being breastfed. #throwbackthursdays

Step 19

Voila!

You’re done! Just like my family!

Granted, you won’t need to follow most some of these steps.  Your kitchen probably won’t look like the set of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” video afterwards, too, like mine did. With any luck, though, your kids will have had a blast.  And, most importantly, hopefully, your cookies turn out like this:

 

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BON APPETIT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine That

hcky

 

 

One of the cool things about small children is that they are easily entertained. “I’m bored!” is not  really in their vocabulary yet, so they can always find some way to amuse themselves.  Currently, my kids like to play ‘camping’, for example.  They can play that for like an hour at a time.  I have no clue what they’re doing.  They pile up a bunch of stuff (stuffed animals, toy shopping carts,  high heel shoes etc.) and then pretend to sleep under some blankets.

Whatever, though. The key point is that an hour of  them happily playing means an hour free for me!  I do the most productive things during this spare time, yo. You know, like chew through an episode or two of a show all of my child-less friends binge watched years ago, that I missed out on  (Did you know that Dan was the Gossip Girl, all along? OMG!).

Sometimes, a kid’s imagination is an uncreative parent’s best friend, for real. Other times, however, you gotta keep their imaginations in check. Those things can go 0 to 100 real quick, if you don’t.

B and I used to have this thing, where we would ‘zap’ each other. He’s pretty ticklish, so as a joking consequence to something, I would shape my fingers like a gun, poke him and make a buzzing sound, causing him to giggle. He started doing it to me, too, when I got out of line. My reaction was to act like I was being electrocuted.  It was stupid, I know, but it was easy to do, and it amused him, for some reason.

Last summer, I saw him zap a little girl. Just out of the blue.  She looked at him exactly like you’d expect she would, when a weird kid is poking her in the arm with his finger, while saying “bzzzzz.”. I then imagined what would happen if B ever got into a fight.  I’m pretty sure that a punch to the face trumps a zapper 100% of the time.

We don’t zap each other very much nowadays.

I’ll give you another example. It was an afternoon a few months ago. B was messing around, and he somehow found a sponge ball. So, randomly, do you know what he wanted to do with it?

Find a scantily clad woman and perform and elaborate juggling act?

Find a scantily clad woman and perform an elaborate juggling act?

Huh?

No, not that. Play hockey with it, that’s what he wanted to do!

Now, I’m not that into hockey (Sigh. Yes, I’m Canadian. Not everyone here is a hardcore fan), but we do own some mini sticks and nets. So, off to the basement me, B and J went.  National Hockey League, here he comes? Well……let me give you the Sportscentre recap of that afternoon’s events:

1) No goalie allowed (his rule), so I took a shot and scored. He dropped his stick, and hopped on J’s pink tricycle:
Me – ‘What are you doing?’
B – ‘It’s my break bike.’
Me -‘A break? From what? You didn’t do anything.’
B – ‘It’s my work bike. I’m doing my work.’
The work just involved doing laps of the basement, like a Zamboni driver. I grabbed a seat and waited.

2) Work’s done, so he picks up his stick again. We stand up, he whiffs on a shot, and then he’s back on the bike:
B – ‘OK, the Zamboni has to clean the ice now!’
He does more laps and talks to me about cleaning the ice, in a deep, manly voice.

It was like James Earl Jones' voice, but deeper.

It was like James Earl Jones’ voice, but deeper.

 

3) The ice is  apparently clean, and it’s time for more hockey! As soon as he parked the bike, J walked over to it, and started riding it. And as soon as she did, B whacked the ball as hard as he could and sent it flying into a pile of boxes:
B – ‘The ball is gone forever! I need a break.’
Me – ‘A break from what? You still haven’t done anything!’
B – ‘I need to clean the ice again!’
He chased J down, got the bike back, and did more laps. More manly Zamboni driving voice, too.
4) I found the ball, and started taking light wrist shots at him with it, while he was riding around. What? It was made of sponge, it didn’t hurt. I used to do the same type of thing at the driving range, to the person in the golf ball collector. Anyway, he got off the bike, and it’s game on, finally. He steals the ball from me, scores, and then tells me it’s my turn. I take a shot and the ball ends up flying into a box. Swish! So then:
B – ‘OK, it’s break time.’
Me – ‘A break from what?! You still haven’t done anything!’
B – ‘Can we play basketball?’
Me – ‘We don’t have your basketball. It’s in Mommy’s car.’
B – ‘Well I need to ride my bike then.’
More laps.

More laps.

Eventually the laps dissolved into him wanting to collide into stuff. J lost interest, so she headed upstairs. We soon followed.
Total time spent playing hockey – about 42 seconds
Total time spent not playing hockey – about 30 minutes
Sidney Crosby, your job is safe…..for now.

Doesn’t really matter. Whatever it was we played, it was still pretty fun.

Who could have imagined that?

Zamboni man, your job is safe too...for now.

Zamboni man, your job is safe too…for now.

 

The Great Unknown

You can’t watch your kids 24-7.

It’s impossible. You, and them, need to sleep.

As B becomes more resourceful and J becomes more mobile, I’ve learned the hard way that there is one real shady part of the day.

It’s that time between when the kids wake up…. and when I wake up.

See, they could both wake up and entertain each other on their own, before K and I emerge from our slumber. Or, they could wander into our bedroom first and ask when we’re getting up, resulting in me mumbling some random answer to buy me a few more minutes of sleep, before they take off again. Whatever the reason, this period where they are left unattended usually results in the most ridiculous, illogical things. It’s like an abyss of WTF moments.  Like, I don’t understand what they’re thinking as they’re making a mess in the playroom with shampoo, or covering their faces with chapstick, or emptying bins of cars in our in bedroom so that our floor looks like a Hot Wheels factory.

Maybe they  were playing Home Alone, and were setting a booby trap for the Wet Bandits.

Maybe they were playing Home Alone, and were setting a booby trap for the Wet Bandits.

 

Take the other morning, for example. B and J were up early (like, before roosters early).  I awoke with B between my legs, rowing them and rocking back and forth as if I was a stupid kayak or something, while J laughed. I told him stop and go watch TV in the playroom, so off they went. Cool. All was quiet for a bit, but then they wanted breakfast . Fine, whatever. I grabbed some food for them, told them to eat in the playroom,  took a quick look around to make sure they hadn’t gotten into anything, and then went back to bed.

After what I said about this great unknown timeframe, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, right?

Of course, not, yo.

I dozed off, and not long after (maybe  20-25 minutes), I vaguely think that there was yelling from K about someone eating candy. Anyway, I got out of bed and saw disposable baby wipes everywhere. On our floor, in the playroom, in the hallway.  The kids had gotten into a bag of them. I groggily went into B’s room and saw B by the bag, holding a wipe. He proudly told me to look at how clean his room was, because he polished the walls.  Man, getting him to pick up his toys is a struggle. Of course he chose this time, with the wrong object, to become Mr Clean.

After politely telling B to stop, I went to work in gathering up the wipes. Started in B’s room and worked my way out. I noticed that some of them were red. Not blood red but a goopy red. My immediate half awake thought was that episode of Breaking Bad where Walt and Jesse tried to dispose of a body by putting it in some hydroflouric acid.  This was followed by my next completely logical thought of  ‘Oh, shoot, where’s J?!’

OMG, Mr. White, what did you do??

OMG, Mr. White, what did you do??

 

Have no fear, she was just halfway down the stairs, no diaper on, holding a goopy wipe, polishing the hall walls. She saw me, came up the stairs, walked into our room, wrapped the wipe around a dresser handle, smiled at me and went into B’s room. Normal chain of events.

Wait, pause, no it wasn’t!

I followed J and found B had gotten into the bag AGAIN. He had wipes all over his bed. Polishing his sheets, I’m sure.

Anyway, I took the bag with me this time, and went downstairs to find the source of the goop. All of the lights were off except for the one in the pantry so I went over to it. I walked past some candy wrappers, opened the door…..and stepped in a big puddle of pee. We don’t have pets, by the way. Even old Sherlock Homeboy here cracked this case. J took her diaper off, went to help herself to some treats and took a leak on the floor. Once again, perfectly reasonable behavior. After cleaning up that mess, I was more than a little peed off (and on….my foot) so it was back upstairs to talk to J. I stormed into B’s room, and found them like this:

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B said that he didn’t like his bed, so he made up a new one out of a chair. J has a toothbrush because…..I don’t know. Hey, dental hygiene is important after sneakily gobbling up candy. My anger turned to confusion, so I just had to laugh at them.

The goop was (and still is) a mystery, however.

Welcome to the great unknown.

 

 

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