Tag: canadian dad blogger

Remote Learning Tips For Parents. Sort Of.

 

remote learning tips for parents

 

 

Happy New Year! Mid-January is not too late to say that, right?  Anyhoo, 2021 was supposed to bring about big changes from 2020, and so far, it has! For example, around here, instead of being able to send our kids to physical schools, everyone is doing online learning, because the schools have been shut down! New year, same pandemic, yay?  Now, if you’ve been doing the remote school thing all along,  cool. If, like us, you haven’t, it’s a huge adjustment, for real.  Working full time while trying to help the kids with their online learning is not easy, especially with KJ, who’s in kindergarten. It’s only been a few weeks, but I’ve noticed some things that might be worth sharing, to aid other people with small children. Remote learning tips for parents? Sure, let’s do it!

 

IT WON’T LAST FOREVER. MAYBE.

 

Despite, here in Hamilton,  the school closures going from one week, to extending to February 10. Despite growing skepticism about kids being able to return to in-person instruction even then. Despite Ontario being in a state of emergency currently. Despite super contagious variants of COVID-19 emerging, which is kinda sorta terrifying. Despite delays and issues affecting the distribution of the coronavirus vaccines. Despite  the USA being on the verge –

 

sad man

Any day now, Mike, with the silver lining.

 

Sorry, random sad man. Despite all of this……it will all be over one day soon. Hopefully. Until then….something, something, we’re all in this together etc.  Errr, let’s move on.

 

TAKE ACTION ON THE DISTRACTIONS

 

One common remote learning tip for parents is to limit distractions in their learning areas. However, KJ is four years old. He’s still learning to express himself. Boring things to you or I are still life-changing to him. Tonight, he discovered what pimples are, and his mind was blown.  In essence, his whole world is a distraction.

The other day, he had two pencils and a piece of paper in our loft, to do a writing assignment.  Nothing else.   He then unleashed his inner ?uestlove, and kept using the pencils as drumsticks, banging out songs non stop. Basically, for older kids, there’s merit to limiting distractions. For younger ones, though, it’s probably better to assume that they aren’t going to be as focused, and take it from there. I will admit, though, to finding solace in seeing KJ’s classmates struggling occasionally with distractions, too. Something, something, we’re all in this together etc.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

 

Our school board is big on “live learning”, in-person virtual classes.  Be ready to be on your toes would be my next remote learning tip for parents.  For example, to KJ, navigating the technology is challenging. K and I have to be nearby at all times, to assist him.  We also have to help with other non-technological things as well. One project involved the kids hearing a letter,  then having to find something in the house that started with that letter sound. When the teacher said B, this happened:

KJ *hops up and starts rushing towards the door*

KJ: She said B! Buh-buh-B for buh-buh-boogers!

Me: I don’t think that your class wants to see boogers. And where are you going?!

See what I mean?  You never know when a booger run will break out, so you have be on high alert!

Next, many of us have gotten used to virtual meetings. Similar to the show Big Brother, when your mic and camera are on, people hear and see everything. If, during class, you  forget this, and feel the need to yell at your significant other to take out the garbage, just be aware that a bunch of little kids, and I, are going to giggle at you.

Also, after the holidays,  did you  listen in on your kids’ classmates discussing what they did over the break, and make notes of how many of their families violated the lockdown rules? Or maybe you heard this discussion, and advised your child not to brag about how their three cousins partied with them on New Year’s Eve?  Bad examples aside, the point is, kids say the darndest things, especially little ones, so being nearby to click the ol’ mute button isn’t the worst idea.

 

routinely routine

 

People tell me that little children thrive on repetition and habits. As such, a remote learning school day  should follow the usual  routines as an in-person school day.  Especially at  bed time.  A good night’s sleep is always important. Otherwise, your kid will be  the one sleeping in front of their online class, and no one wants to see that.

 

remote learning tips for parentss

KJ totally fell asleep in one of his online classes.

 

 

 KNOW THE LEDGE

 

Being so “close to the action” does have its benefits. Remote learning tip for parents: accentuate what your kids are learning with practical, hands-on experiences!  Applying knowledge with your children is great……just make sure that you have some actual knowledge, however.

 

best trails in hamilton ontario

Views from the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area.

 

One cool thing about Hamilton is that it has lots of conservation areas and trails.  Nature walks are perfect opportunities to spread wisdom about science stuff.

Not!

Recent hikes with KJ and J had me dropping trying to drop science knowledge real quick.

“Daddy, what do clouds feel like?” “Uhh…like smoke?”

“Hey dad, how  do trees make air?”  “Uhh…they emit CO2?”

“What’s CO2?” “Uhh…it’s what in the air?”  

“Daddy, are we going to see a cave?” “Yeah.” “What animals are in caves?” “Uhh, snakes, and bats.”

“Wait, dad. Bats turn into vampires. WE’RE GOING TO SEE VAMPIRES!?

It was so bad, that they gave me some know how, instead.

“Oh yeah? If you’re so smart, then how do you make a rocket launcher?” “Easy, dad. First, you get some metal. Then you get someone who knows how to make rocket launchers.”

 

I guess, as long as one of us learns something, the experiences aren’t a complete waste.

 

HAVE WELL eSTABLISHED GOALS

 

 

And by goals, I mean bribes. Lots of foolproof bribes.

What?

Hey man, there are times when KJ is as attentive a kindergartener that you’ll ever meet. Conversely, there are times when I’ll look at the gallery view in the online class, and among all of the little happy faces, see one little butt, because KJ has decided to lay down to fiddle with some random object.

There are times when KJ will eagerly log in to his class. Conversely, there are times when he will  fall to the ground, clench his fists, and loudly refuse to join.

There are times when KJ will be engaged for the entire meeting. Conversely, there are times when he’ll complain that the meeting isn’t a short one, and demand to leave, even though he can’t tell time, and has nowhere else to go.

Look,  bribing is obviously not preferred.  I’m sure that you have a bunch of methods or tricks to kibosh less than ideal behaviours, if your kids are so inclined.  I do, too.  I’m just sayin’ , when those all fail,  and your offspring is on the couch screaming bloody murder about not wanting to go online, but you can hear the teacher taking attendance wondering where your child is, like the principal in Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,  whatcha gonna do then, huh? Huh?!

 

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/a-r-e-s-273752/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=501613">Арсений Попов</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=501613">Pixabay</a>

 

 

Well, when you put it that way, bribery seems sketchy! Oh, nevermind. Moving on……

 

DON’t HATE. APPRECIATE.

 

Remote learning  is a challenge for everyone.  And, if the experience isn’t up to certain standards, it’s easy to take that frustration out on the teachers. Final remote learning tip for parents –  maybe chill on throwing shade at the teachers.  Think about it. For the ones who have been in schools, they’ve had to take everything they’ve planned, and put it into a completely different online format, with technology that they might not be that comfortable using. Sure, there will be some rough spots, but I’d like to believe, in general, that they’re all doing the best that they can to educate our children as well as possible.  It’s not easy for the kids, you, or them.  Something, something, we’re all in this together etc.

Except for me. I’m about to leave this post. Until the next one, peace!

 

Three Parenting Stories

 

Now, how’s that for a captivating title? Pretty self-explanatory. Since today is  Black Friday, I got three  random parenting stories for y’all, for the price of, uh, none.  Anyway, let’s get to it!

 

 

THE BIGGER PICTURE

 

parenting stories

 

I’ve talked on here before about how little kids should worry about little kid stuff, and not real world problems.  This obviously isn’t always feasible or realistic, though, especially this year.

For example, the decision of whether to send children to school, or keep them home, has been/continues to be a  contentious issue re: COVID-19. The thing is, though, there’s really no right or wrong answer. If you want to argue that the schools should be closed, OK. If you want to scream at me that they need to be open, alright.  The arguments are  equally valid, either way. Ultimately, we decided for sending B, J, and KJ to school. Everyone is doing the best that they can, to be as safe as possible, until the vaccines come.

it is what it is.

Speaking of that, ‘it is what it is’ was something that I used to say about racism, and systemic biases. I have been trying to question things more, however, and speak up where possible. I ordered a pizza for takeout a few weeks ago, for example. When I went to pick it up at the restaurant, I wasn’t allowed in, and was told to stand off to the side of their patio and wait. I was then ignored. Meanwhile, other people with lighter complexions (coincidentally or not) were allowed in, or had their orders brought to them. I had to start yelling to anyone in earshot about how ridiculous it was, before I was able to go get my food.

Old Mike probably would have just quietly fumed,  assumed the place was openly prejudiced, never went there again, and left it at that. It is what it is. This time, though,  I did speak up. I reached out to the restaurant, and told them what happened. They apologised, and offered several plausible explanations as to what went wrong that didn’t involve race, despite the weird optics of the situation.

And you know what?

That’s fine. This is one tiny example, but I think it illustrates my point. If things seem off, we should talk about them, instead of just accepting that they’re off.

B’s picked up on this as well, since the displays of civil unrest earlier this year started. We’ve had numerous frank discussions about racism, because he sees it, and understands it.  Hopefully, other parents are doing the same.  B did mention to me not long ago that a kid told him that Black Lives Matter was a bad thing, and black lives don’t matter as much, or something along those lines. So, as much as we talk about making changes, we clearly still have a ways to go.

parenting stories

photo credit: Dawn Kelly Photography

 

J, though, has nowhere to go, which bums her out.  Eight months in (Nine months?  A year?  Who can keep track anymore?), and she will talk about going to the movies, or to a water park, or wherever.  I’ll have to remind her that we can’t do that stuff.  They  aren’t open, sorry. It is what it is.

To J’s credit, she’s become really good at creating things to make up for the lack of adventures. The bigger picture, people!

Who needs to go to a coffee shop, when you can make a mini one :

 

Why go to a play gym, when you can build one out of boxes:

 

 

Great googly moogly! Homemade googly eyed glasses make everything more interesting:

 

 

Miss the beach? A little tape and Styrofoam will have you feeling like you’re wearing flip flops in the sand in no time:

 

parenting stories

 

You get the idea. Like everyone else, she’s just making the best of this crazy 2020.

 

 

THE BULLY

 

parenting stories

photo credit: Dawn Kelly Photography

 

That right there, that’s the face of a stone cold bully! Err, allegedly a bully, anyway. You see, little KJ started kindergarten in September. As I noted earlier, K and I chose to send him to school.  His class is comprised of junior and senior kindergarten students, with him being the youngest and smallest one there.  By all accounts, things have been going alright.  He’s understandably shy and quiet in this new environment, but he’s also polite and respectful.

 

So, of course, my lil man done went and kicked a boy UPSIDE the head.

 

Hey, chill out, people. It was an accident! Apparently, he and some other kids were being silly, and amidst the goofing around, KJ inadvertently kicked a boy when he was on the ground . The boy cried, and the teacher let us know what happened afterwards.

 

So, of course that boy went home and accused KJ of bullying him.

 

And that, unfortunately, was not an accident.  Word on the street is that the mother took this allegation very seriously, obviously, and for good reason. Calls were made to the school,  with her siding with her son in accusing KJ of being a bully.

Some context here is needed. The boy in question is in senior kindergarten. He is significantly bigger, advanced, and more outspoken than KJ. I mean, anything is possible, right?. There’s a chance that KJ has been shedding his meek, non-aggressive nature around this one boy only.  Maybe KJ turns into a sneering, cigar chomping, gravelly voiced tough guy around this little fella in particular, to make his life miserable.  Probably not, though.

Almost definitely not.  It’s more likely that there is a misunderstanding about the definition of the word bullying.

KJ’s teacher did kibosh the accusations, to the mom. I’d like to think this incident is closed……

but I’m not so sure.

Word on the street also says that the mother has some serious influence around town, and can be unreasonable. If she still chooses to believe that her son is being bullied by KJ, she is the type who is not afraid to use her clout, and voice her opinions. We’ve all seen what happens when unreasonable people with bigger, advanced platforms who are outspoken start spreading untruths. If they say it enough times, other people will believe it, and the untruth becomes THE truth.

Is this now the face of someone who is going to get the label of the town bully?

 

parenting stories

 

Only time will tell, I guess.

 

40 IS THE NEW 60

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m coming up on the big 4-0 in a few months. And while this is not an old age, relatively speaking, my kids have somehow missed this memo.  They keep trying to make me feel older than I really am!

KJ for, example, keeps insisting that I’m a “wittle bit” older than everyone in our family, including grandparents.

 

What my kids think I look like, probably.

 

B was telling me about a video that he was working on, where he named the best rappers by letter of the alphabet. When he got to J and K, I suggested two of my favorites – Jay-Z and Kanye West.  He proceeded to tell me that he wanted new rappers, not ones from a long time ago. As if the 2000s and 2010s were some eras from ancient history. Kanye dropped a single a few weeks ago, for Pete’s sake!

 

kendrick lamar

The K spot went to Kendrick Lamar. A worthy selection, can’t hate.

 

 

J is a different story. She means well, but…..it still hurts, dude. She asked me  if TVs were in black and white when I was little. On another occasion, she wondered if I was born in the 1940s.  While playing in the snow the other day, her and KJ built a snow horse. I overheard her explaining to him that horses were what I used to ride when I was a kid. You know, since cars weren’t invented.

 

parenting stories

Giddy up

 

Basically, I feel like the oldest almost 40 year old guy in Canada these days, no lie. Or, as the kids say (I’m still hip!), no cap.

 

Let’s put a cap on these three parenting stories.

Until the next one, peace!

 

 

Playground Rules in The New Normal

 

playground rules

 

What’s poppin’! Unlike Jack Harlow, I don’t have a new whip to hop in. However, like Jack Harlow,  I have spent a lot of time locked in. Well, figuratively speaking, because of COVID-19, and not having many places to go. Anyhoo, today we’re talking playground rules during these unique times.

You see, taking things step by step, day by day (word to the hilarious 90s sitcom!) has been replaced by taking things phase by phase. Here in Ontario, we are mostly in phase three presently, which includes the reopening of parks with play structures. This is great, in terms of stifling child boredom. My kids love themselves some playgrounds!

Having now made several trips to different parks throughout Hamilton, I’ve noticed some stuff, good and bad, on these outings. Consider these my playground rules and observations, to help make you make my, err, I mean your, next visit an enjoyable one!

 

I’M NOT CRAZY. YOU’RE CRAZY. OK, MAYBE WE BOTH AREN’T CRAZY.

 

During phase two, when playgrounds were closed, there were many a time when we’d pass one,  and notice people ignoring the caution tape and warning signs to play on them. KJ and J would see this, and eagerly ask if parks were open again. They would be routinely disappointed with the answer. Those people who were breaking the rules were crazy, I’d think to myself. So risky!

 

playground rules

For example, these people on the swings, bypassing the caution tape.

 

Flash forward to the present, when playgrounds are open.  I’ve heard a lot about how it’s crazy to let kids play there,  given how easy COVID-19 is spread. The touching of equipment, the close confines, the ease of snot and spit transfer, etc. These people could be right, of course.

Me?

Within reason, I’m fine with  taking the calculated risk, approved by the government, and letting my kids play there. It’s all about your comfort level, I guess. Wherever you fall on that, it’s all good, my dudes.

 

FROM A DISTANCE

 

Now, according to the Ontario government’s framework, kids are supposed to maintain two metres between themselves at playgrounds, unless they’re from the same household/social circle.  For KJ, his three year old mind doesn’t really grasp this concept. Or most concepts. For example, his concept of time revolves around his meals. 9:00am, 1:00pm,10:00pm, whatever, they mean nothing. Waking up means that it’s morning, because he gets a “good morning snack”. Lunch means that it’s afternoon. Dinner means that it’s almost bedtime. Bedtime means that it’s bedtime snack time. All in all, going to a park with him involves watching him closely, to monitor his social distancing.

J’s old enough to get it, though. And since she’s our dutiful rule follower, she’s quick to point out park-goers not obeying the rules. Our first park outing involved lots of scouting out different play structures before going to them, and her immediately relocating when someone got too close to her.  When she noticed people not socially distancing, like five kids hanging out together on one swing, she reported back to me. If my little park narc had a whistle and clipboard to write down all the infractions, her day would have been made.

 

THE WALKING DEAD

 

I’m a pleasant fellow, usually.  Word of warning, however: If I do see you at a park, I’m going to treat you like a zombie, and stay the heck away from you. If  you cough, I will probably scream in terror. If you sneeze, I will probably take a giant leaping dive away from you, like how someone in an action movie jumps out of the way of an exploding building. Don’t take it personally. In fact, feel free to do the same to me. It’s just the new playground rules, baby. In these COVID-19 times, a little judgemental exaggeration and paranoia can go a long way.

 

I…..I dunno. Moving on.

 

WATCH OUT FOR THOSE PUSHY KIDS

One recent park outing started off so well. The playground was only populated with two other kids, which was perfect. When we arrived, one dad was on a bench, happily lost in his phone, as his daughter roamed freely. I should have known something was up when, as we approached, the other dad there urgently kept trying to get his daughter to leave. Frantically even, with a sense of panic. Finally, he was able to do it, and the two of them quickly took off. The dad said goodbye to the other girl there, by name (l’ll call her Pushy, to protect the innocent).

When we got to the park, J handed me her bag of toys,  which I jammed in the backpack that I had. Her and KJ  took off for the slides. Seeing them, Pushy came over and introduced herself. Closely. With zero regard for social distancing. She was five years old, and with her dad, I heard her remark.  She wanted to play with them. J rolled her eyes, and said sure, doing her best to maintain some space. After a minute of Pushy following J and KJ around while spilling more details about her life, Pushy then came up to me, closely. She demanded to see J’s toys.

Sharing toys with some strange kid isn’t the best idea nowadays, so I nicely said nope, and that I was holding on to them, because they were special.

Pushy refused to take no for an answer!

She then asked J if she could see them. J heavily sighed, and agreed, so I pulled them out of the bag, and handed them to her.  As J showed the toys to Pushy, KJ was hollering for me, so I wandered over to him. When I turned around, though, Pushy was now sitting with J, closely, holding all of J’s toys. J was cringing and motioning frantically for me to come back. Turns out that Pushy took the toys, and wanted to keep them. At this point, I realized why the other dad was so quick to leave before.

I got the toys back from Pushy. We then told Pushy that we had to leave, because we had to go get their brother (partially true, as B was having a basketball practise at a nearby court). As we hurried off,  we all put on hand sanitizer, and I carried the toy bag delicately in front of me, like it contained a radioactive substance. We went to our car, where I proceeded to wipe the toys down with a combination of baby wipes and hand sanitizer. A bit extreme, I know.

I should note, unfortunately,  that Pushy’s dad did not see any of this encounter, as he spent the whole time chuckling at his phone, never looking up #baddadstereotype. Regardless, parents, if your kids are overtly friendly, that’s cool.  Maybe tell them to chill out on getting all up in strangers’ grills,  though.

 

THE GAMES WE PLAY

As luck would have it, B had a baseball practise the next day, which meant another playground outing for J and KJ, at a completely different park. This park was also lightly populated, which was nice. After a good amount of time on the play structures, with frequent breaks to clean their hands, they decided to play “family”.

 

 

In this family, J was a single mother (Yes, J said this loudly, which caused the moms nearby to do double takes). She was at the park with her son.

And who was I, you ask?

I was not part of the family. I was a stranger (yes, J said this loudly, too, which I  had to loudly reply that I wasn’t some random stranger, I was their dad. It’s 2020, and you never know when a Karen might strike, right?). Their game then started.   J played with her son KJ on a spinning ride thing. She then walked off to take a pretend phone call, leaving KJ with me. KJ proceeded to yell that I wasn’t his uncle. No clue why.  J then came back mad, wondering who this stranger was talking to her son.

Yeah, you know what sucks?

Any game in public that involves your kids acting like they don’t know you, and treating you like some random creep!

I kiboshed that game, and I don’t recommend that you play it on your next playground adventure, either.

OK, let’s kibosh this post now, too. Until the next one, peace!

 

Maybe we should stick to beaches.

The Definitive Guide To Splash Lagoon in Erie PA

Splash Lagoon Erie PA

 

Believe it or not, I’m Canadian…but I hate the winter.  Some people love dealing with that cold, numbing feeling of the wind chill hitting your face. I’m not one of them. Escaping potential frostbite to go somewhere warm and sunny isn’t really in the cards, either. Luckily, however, there are places not far from me (or anyone else in the Greater Toronto Area)  to temporarily get away for some summer-like fun. Places like Splash Lagoon  in Erie, PA!

 

 

What is Splash Lagoon in erie pa?

 

Splash Lagoon is an indoor, Polynesian-themed waterpark, located in Erie, PA. At 80,000 square feet, it’s one of the biggest indoor waterparks in the USA. It’s full of aquatic activities (and more) for people of all ages, set to a tropical theme/design.

 

 

GETTING THERE

 

Erie, Pennsylvania is located about two hours southwest from the Niagara Falls border (or the comparable indoor waterpark to Splash Lagoon in Niagara, Great Wolf Lodge). This worked out to a three hour drive for us. When travelling with three small kids, this is about as good as it gets, time-wise, for a road trip. It’s almost doable in one drive, without having to stop for bathroom breaks. Also, you can schedule it so that you can hit the road after a meal at home, negating the need to stop for food along the way. Just throw on The Irishman for them to watch, and by the time that it’s almost over, you’ll be there (note: that was joke. I do not advise showing The Irishman to little children).

 

 

staying there – SPLASH LAGOON ERIE PA

 

I mentioned Great Wolf Lodge earlier, because that is more of the go-to waterpark destination, for families in my region.  My family has stayed at Great Wolf Lodge several times before. I will say that Splash Lagoon is different, but in a good way.

The experience at Great Wolf Lodge is pretty immersive.  Everything at the resort, from the hotel rooms on-site, to the waterpark, to the decor, to the  games and restaurants, all have the same kind of nature-y, rustic theme. The thing is, though, that you really pay for the immersiveness, as an overnight visit can be quite pricey.  You also can’t easily obtain day passes only, to visit the park.  If you want to get your swim on, you gotta get your sleep on there, too.

Splash Lagoon, on the other hand, is its own standalone place. However, it has three hotels connected to it: Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn and Hawthorn Inn & Suites. These have stay and play package deals which include passes to Splash Lagoon. The good thing about these, of course, is that you can stroll from your hotel room to Splash Lagoon in just your Speedo, without having to set foot outside in the frosty winter elements (note: that was a joke. I do not condone unwanted Speedo strolls. Think of the kids, people). If these don’t float your boat, a few of the nearby hotels also offer overnight package deals, and include a shuttle service Splash Lagoon, too.  Then, if none of these are appealing for whatever reason, you are able to just buy day passes to Splash Lagoon, and stay somewhere else .

 

Holiday Inn Express Erie PA

 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Erie PA, which is the closest hotel, proximity-wise, to Splash Lagoon.  Our stay was complimentary, but the rates online for a stay package were more affordably priced than Great Wolf Lodge.  Our room was suitably clean and tidy. Breakfast was included, too. With a family of five, anytime that you have one less meal to worry about is always nice.

One more thing. The Peace Bridge Duty Free store, near the Canadian border, also promotes Splash Lagoon overnight deals, that seemed to be very reasonable, so keep an eye out there, too, when booking  a stay.

 

 

playing there (water)

 

Alright, now let’s get to the wet and wild stuff! Over two days, my family experienced  almost every attraction. Instead of a typical Splash Lagoon review, though, I’ll break them down for you, by age appeal and appropriateness. And yes, Splash Lagoon does have life jackets on-site, don’t worry.

 

Splash Lagoon review

 

 

 

For KJ Sized kids (re: babies and little kids)

Monkey Shines Island

This play area is in a shallow pool, with seven small slides scattered around it, which have a 48″ maximum height requirement. KJ could go down these by himself, but I still had to hang out at the bottom, to catch him.  Some parents took their kids down them on their laps, as an option. There’s also a tipping bucket in this area, and “showers”, as KJ called them.

Adventure Bay

Adventure Bay is a big pool with basketball nets and balls, along with lily pads to jump on (which were off limits when we were there).  While more suited for all ages, little kids can still have fun here, in life jackets, with parents nearby, I think. B and J both commented that the water was colder in Adventure Bay than other areas of the park.  Hoops-loving B could have stayed there the whole time, regardless, challenging random kids to one on one games, like he was at the aquatic version of Rucker Park.

Wild Water Waves Pool

Billed as “the largest indoor wave pool in the Eastern United States”, Wild Water Waves Pool was a hit with my fam. Again, while more suited for all ages, KJ did enjoy bobbing up and down on the waves, some of which got pretty big!

 

Splash Lagoon Erie PA

Underwater selfies in a wave pool are hard!

 

The Frog Pond 

The Frog Pond is an area with a whirlpool for the family to relax in, and leapfrog fountains for little kids to splash around on.  It’s kind of tucked away in a corner, behind the Tree Tops Ropes Course. Not gonna lie, because we didn’t try the ropes course, I didn’t notice the Frog Pond, so we never went in it.  #planningfail

The Lava Pool

This is a small pool, with “lava” for kids to play in. Again, not gonna lie, I assumed that it was a hot tub, and didn’t stop to go in. J checked it out, though, with K, and reported back, in her words “the water was not deep, and  it was hot, and there were benches nearby, and it was relaxing.”

 

For B and J SIZED kids (re: big kids)

Tiki Tree House

This is located in the middle of Splash Lagoon, and is a featured attraction. It’s four stories high, with activities like water cannons, and a giant tipping bucket. I’m not sure why, but the Tiki Tree House didn’t seem as functional as it probably normally is, during our stay.  If fully operational, it appears to be a blast, but I can’t vouch for it, based on our experience.

The Lazy River

This is just as it sounds. Grab a tube, alone or with your kid, and lazily float around the river. It’s a decent size, so you can do a few laps without taking up too much time. Minimal congestion, too, which is sometimes an issue with these things.

WARNING: if you have a mischievous daughter like mine, she will probably steer you towards the waterfall, where you will get splashed worse than a basketball net after a Steph Curry versus Klay Thompson three point contest. I suggest singing the chorus to TLC’s ‘Wateralls’ to alleviate any potential soaking (note: that was a joke. You should obviously sing TLC’s Creep, instead).

 

Things To Do in Erie PA

Thumbs up to TLC song references outta nowhere!

 

 

Big Kahuna

This is a big, curvy water slide that actually goes outside for part of it.  It’s for single or double riders with a tube, with a minimum 36″ height requirement. Children 36″-42″ tall, like J, had to slide with an adult, though.

Python Plunge

Python Plunge is similar in thrillness to the Big Kahuna. It has the same restrictions and tube requirement, too (though this one is a lot of fun with two riders).

Shark Attack

This is a single person body slide, minimum 36″ height requirement.  It feels like you’re going pretty fast, and it’s another slide that takes you outside for part of it.  The lineup for this water slide was a bit confusing. It’s located beside the Big Kahuna, and I noticed a lot of people standing in the line for that because they didn’t realize that the line for Shark Attack was separate.  In B and I’s case, we made that mistake initially before noticing, once we got to the top, that there weren’t actually any people in line for Shark Attack, so we went right on.

Black Hole

This was J’s personal favorite. From the top of the Tiki Tree House, the whole water slide is in complete darkness.  Single riders only, no tube, minimum height requirement of 36″.

Maui Wowie

Maui Wowie is a bit of a quickie single rider slide, no tube. It shoots you down and around the sharp, sudden turns pretty fast. 36″ height requirement.

Cyclone

B’s fav because, in part, of the toilet bowl effect of going round and round before being flushed out into a pool below. For single or double riders with a tube, with a minimum 36″ height requirement. Children 36″-42″ tall gotta ride with a grownup.

Hurricane Hole

This is like the Cyclone, if the Cyclone was on Red Bull energy drinks. A bit more extreme, as it’s for tubeless single riders, which means you go faster, and end up in a deep pool. For people 48″ and up, who are strong enough swimmers to swim out of the deep pool at the end.

for DA GROWNUPS

There’s a bar upstairs called Island Oasis Bar.

What?

Stay thirsty, my friends.

 

extra playing there at splash lagoon

 

All of the above attractions are included in your day pass admission. If you want to spend a few more bucks, Splash Lagoon in Erie PA has some other fun ways to take your money. The aforementioned Tree Tops Ropes Course, for example, costs $7 per person. It’s three stories high,  of various climbing challenges, for kids and adults (36″ and taller).  $7 will also get you a spin on the Aqua Tumbler, a giant inflatable ball that loops you around and shoots water at you while you’re in it.

Upstairs from the park is an arcade. It has a decent selection of games, with the usual selection of prizes to be won when winning tokens at said games.  One unique feature, though, was the Hologate Virtual Reality game, which cost $8/person, and looked pretty interesting.

If you’re like my family, you can expect to spend $20 at the arcade, for the joy of watching your kids win about $1 worth of tokens, which they will then argue about because they want to each cash it in for a different toy. B played one of those claw pickup games, and somehow ended up winning so much candy that even Milton Hershey would have been like “dang, homey”.

Splash Lagoon Erie PA

Spoiler: We did not win 100 tickets on this spin.

 

Things to do in Erie PA

 

During our trip, The FlowRider, a wave simulation ride similar to ones seen  at other theme parks,  was not  operational.

 

 

eating there

 

Outside food is a no go at Splash Lagoon. However, there is a restaurant on site called Laguna Grill. It serves the expected theme park foods like burgers, pizza and chicken fingers.  One kind of odd thing was the ice cream stand. It’s nearby to the Laguna Grill, but to order a cone, you have to place the order at Laguna Grill, and then go to the stand to get your order. However, there was never anyone working at the stand, so you had to wait for someone who wasn’t busy at the grill to come over to scoop your order. K and the kids actually waited a half hour for an order that we placed (it was really good ice cream, admittedly, and almost worth the wait).

 

 

Hooch and Blotto’s Sports Bar& Grill is also connected to Splash Lagoon, and it’s a great place to go for a change of pace of the waterpark. While we didn’t partake in any food,  the menu was pretty tasty looking.  There was nice selection of craft beers featured, which I may have had one or two of. We did hit hit up the lanes there one night, to play some bowling. No shoe rentals required, and small balls with bumpers in the lanes available, so it was very kid-friendly. At the end, though, you might leave the prohibition-themed restaurant with the same thing on your mind as B did: what’s with all the moustaches?

 

 

Beyond these options, there are several restaurants a couple of minute’s drive away. Because, as I have noted before on here, we are kind of suckers for chains that aren’t near us, we went to Applebee’s one evening. It was delicious. Come to Hamilton, Ontario, Applebee’s. Sheesh.

 

applebee's erie pa

Who goes to Applebee’s with their family and takes a picture of his oversized drink? This guy.

 

 

this, that and there

 

Some closing points about Splash Lagoon in Erie PA. Staying at the Holiday Inn Express did allow us to walk back and forth to the waterpark and our room swim-ready. However, I did duck my head into the change room on hand, and it looked really clean. The closeness also meant that we could just leave our stuff in the room. Otherwise, a locker might have been needed, which are available on the premise, for various prices. As an option, there was lots of tables and seating around, which people would claim by leaving their stuff on.

Towels, unfortunately, are not available, unless you want to buy them at the Surf Shop store upstairs, so you gotta bring your own.

Parking is free.

In terms of staff, everyone that I encountered was friendly, and helpful. There were  plenty of lifeguards on hand, too, at every attraction.

 

 

getting out AND ABOUT there in erie pa

 

things to do in erie pa

 

I mentioned above about doing other stuff as a change of pace to Splash Lagoon. In terms of things to do in Erie,PA, it is a nice little city, with some cool options to keep you and your family busy, if you want to take a break from the water.

I loves me a good children’s museum (yes, even more so than my kids sometimes), so I, uh I mean we, really liked The expERIEnce Children’s MuseumLocated about 10 minutes away from Splash Lagoon, it’s three stories high, along with an outside play space.  Each floor focused on a different  play-inspiring theme: creativity, explore, and imagination. I  do think that it’s a bit more suited for smaller kids. B’s ten years old, and was more into goofing around with his brother and sister than most of the exhibits. However, J and KJ both had lots of fun, especially on the imagination floor being doctors, grocery store clerks, and firefighters.  The expERIEnce Children’s Musuem is definitely a nice place for kids to safely run around and blow off some steam, while learning a thing or two, in the process.

 

experience children's museum

 

 

 

experience children's musem

 

 

 

experience children's museum

Surprisingly, this wasn’t taken at Splash Lagoon.

 

 

 

If you want to blow off some steam, in the offline retail variety, Erie is also home to the MIllcreek Mall. It’s one of the largest mall complexes in the USA. Even with the Canadian dollar being where it’s at, there were some good deals to be had there.  Also, there’s no sales tax on clothes in Pennsylvania, to boot.

 

Millccreek Mall

 

For the sports fan, Erie, Pennsylvania is also home to teams like the NBA G League’s Erie Bayhawks and the OHL’s Erie Otters. Neither were in town during our stay, unfortunately.

 

While we didn’t do a heck of lot of sightseeing and exploring in Erie, PA, what we did see and do was very worthwhile.  Splash Lagoon, in particular, was the obvious highlight. When it comes  to affordable road trip destinations where you can pretend to get away to somewhere tropical for a day or two,  put Splash Lagoon at the top of your list.

Until the next one, peace!

 

Disclosure:  though our accommodations and experiences during our stay were covered by Visit Erie, all opinions expressed are my own, as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things To Do In Milwaukee With Kids

 

things to do in Milwaukee With Kids

 

 

Look, I get it. Milwaukee, Wisconsin doesn’t exactly scream family vacation destination. It’s a mid-sized Midwest city known for beer, bratwurst and cheese. How sexy is that? However, I read quite a bit about how internationally-born NBA Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo loved it there. If the Greek Freak, a man who’s been all over the world, and could basically play anywhere that he wanted, chose freakin’ Milwaukee,  then there must be more than meets the eye. For my family, I thought that it would make for, at the very least, an interesting road trip.  Turns out, there’s actually lots of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids, and it’s one of the coolest cities that I’ve been to.

 

things to do in milwaukee with kids: GETTING THERE

 

Now, truth be told, it was a long drive, for us. It involved going through one province, and four states, plus a different time zone. Including stops, each way took a good 11 hours. To keep the kids not at each other’s throats entertained, we pretty much brought more DVDs than an old Blockbuster Video store with us, for them to watch in the van, along with other devices and toys.  As Milwaukee is situated on the coast of Lake Michigan, our drive consisted of going around the lake, to get there.  A ferry called The Lake Express does depart from Muskegon, Michigan, and goes to Milwaukee. We looked into this, and while appealing, because it would have shaved hours off of the driving, it was fairly expensive, so we passed.

 

FUN THINGS TO DO IN MILWAUKEE with kids

 

Milwaukee is a big sports town. I couldn’t walk very far without seeing someone decked out in Bucks, Brewers or Green Bay Packers  apparel.  The aforementioned Giannis, in particular, seems to get a lot of love. While it wasn’t basketball season,  we did scope out the not-brand-new-but-still-has-that-new-arena-smell Fiserv Forum, where the Bucks play.

 

 

 

 

Our visit happened during the summer, so we were able to watch a Brewers game, at Miller Park.   The stadium is awesome, and is a great place to catch nine innings.

 

 

brewers home games

things to do in Milwaukee With Kids

 

 

Beyond that, though, the Brewers do a nice job with the extra stuff.  In case you or the little ones get bored, there are a couple of play areas in the park, for them to blow off some steam. One of them even has a mini version of the famous Bernie Brewer slide.   On Sundays (when we went), you can play catch in the outfield of the Field of Dreams-esque Helfaer Field, located beside Miller Park, before then game.  This is a really popular fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids. Then after the game, children can unleash their inner Christian Yelich, and run the bases on Miller Park’s field!

 

 

kids run the bases

 

When it comes to things to do in the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium with kids, history features prominently. There’s a Walk of Fame and a Wall of Honor commemorating legendary Brewers figures. For you Bud Selig fans, he’s a main attraction at Miller Park, complete with a statue, retired number, and a section dedicated to him called the Bud Selig Experience.

 

 

family fun in milwaukee

I’m more of a Hank Aaron fan myself.

 

Zoos are always a hit with our family, and the Milwaukee County Zoo was no exception.  It houses over 3100 (!!) creatures of the land, sea and sky, sprawled across 190 acres. Coming up with a game plan seemed daunting, but once we got going, it wasn’t bad at all. It was easy to navigate and not very strenuous to walk (re: so no complaints about tired legs from B, J or KJ).  The Milwaukee County Zoo also has some attractions like a carousel, Sky Safari, rope courses and a zip line on site, too (all for an added cost).  In addition, numerous opportunities exist to see some of the animals up close, throughout the zoo.

 

Milwaukee County Zoo

milwaukee county zoo

Milwaukee Kids Activities

 

I will admit to trying to cheat things a bit. We thought that if we took the Safari Train, then we could lap the park and see everything  quickly. Word of advice – don’t do this.  The train is a leisurely ride around the perimeter of the zoo, so you don’t get many glimpses of most of the crowd pleasing animals.

 

 

things to do in milwaukee with kids

Hey guys, if you squint, you can kind of see a monkey in the distance!

Another really fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids is to go to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.  This museum is home to numerous exhibits, some of which are seasonal, but all of which are interactively hands-on with learning elements. KJ and J really enjoyed the Home Town exhibit, because of all the pretend, make believe, role playing aspects to it.

Betty Brinn Children's Museum

KJ and J, puttin’ in dat work.

 

 

B spent a lot of time in the Big League Fun exhibit, putting his baseball abilities and knowledge to the test.

 

Betty Brinn Children's Museum

According to this simulation, B hit one home run 618 feet. The longest home run in MLB history, allegedly, was a 575 footer hit by Babe Ruth. Clearly, my nine year old son is better than Babe Ruth.

 

We barely scratched the surface of the other exhibits on hand (once my kids find stuff that they like, they tend to really like it), which was a shame, as they were all dope. Whereas my kiddos gravitated towards the ones mentioned, yours might like Science CITY more, for example.

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum was such a blast that I didn’t even realize how educational and skill-developing it was. I was too busy acting like a big kid with my kids. It even had an outdoor area, with  amazing #views of Milwaukee’s waterfront, for you selfie-loving Instaparents.

 

things to do in Milwaukee with kids

 

 

Not far from Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is Discovery World. Focused mainly on technology and aquatic stuff, visiting here is another really fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids. It’s a large, multi-level center, full of stations, labs and experiences, which appeal to the inner scientist and engineer of all ages.  Not only that, but it has an aquarium, as well, with a robust collection of interesting underwater animals to check out.

 

things to do in Milwaukee with kids

Discovery World Milwaukee
Due to the size and number of activities to do, it was hard to try everything; we were even there for a few hours! Our visit also happened to coincide with a tournament and some other event happening nearby, so finding parking was quite a challenge. Apparently, it can be even worse during bigger events, like Summerfest. However, Discovery World is the only place where my family “touched lightning”, lied on a bed of nails, gawked at a poisonous dart frog, and walked on a replica schooner while humming “I’m On a Boat” by the Lonely Island (Fine. The last one was all me). How cool is that?

 

things to do in Milwaukee with kids

Y’all thought I was joking about the bed of nails.

 

Discovery World is located on Milwaukee’s lakefront.  I was surprised at how beautiful this area is. It looked like a great location to hang out, or go for a ride along the shoreline, or,  as we noticed on the day that we were there anyway, get married and have the reception on a cruise ship.  Unrelated, but who knew that Milwaukee had such nice beaches?!

 

things to do in milwaukee with kids : dining There

 

Make no mistake about it, Milwaukee is a beer lover’s dream. It’s not just a city of MGD drinkers, however. Milwaukee’s micro and craft beer scene is thriving. I’m sure this isn’t even remotely true, so don’t hold me to it as fact, but when exploring the town, it feels like there is a brewery on every corner, each with their own unique offerings. Many of the breweries offer tours,  too, with samplings. These obviously aren’t necessarily child friendly, though, so we didn’t partake in one while in search of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids. Regardless, whatever your taste is, you definitely won’t be hard-pressed to find good, satisfying suds anywhere during your travels

Walk Off Tripel beer, by MKE Brewing Co.

A city dubbed “The Beer Capital Of The World” having lots of beer in it is hardly a surprise. Conversely, Milwaukee’s culinary scene was pleasantly surprising.  Brats are a Wisconsin staple, and the sheer number of people grilling them up as they tailgated before and after the Brewers game that we went to was impressive. Cheese curds are another staple, and I had no idea that there were so many different ways to make them. Beyond these, the cuisine in the city stretches way beyond traditional Midwest fares. Cool, trendy-looking  restaurants to fill your belly are aplenty throughout the city.

For example, we went to Glass + Griddle one evening. It’s a large, open beer hall environment, with a bright, contemporary interior design. Picnic tables are one of the seating options on the premise which, if you’re with a large party, is actually kind of perfect.  The bar was huge. As Glass + Griddle is located directly beside MKE Brewing Co., their beers are featured prominently (but not exclusively).

The food offered is more or less what you find at a gastropub. There was no kiddie menu, so, in terms of families, I’d probably recommended it as a place to go to while on the way to, or back from, somewhere, to grab a quick bite. We just picked a bunch of scrumptious apps and chowed down on those…..including, of course, cheese curds!

 

glass + griddle

 

One of the most fun things to do in Milwauakee with kids is to go eat is SafeHouse. I think that I’d describe it as a spy-themed speakeasy. The secret entrance is located in an alley, and once you find it, you need to know the password to get in (don’t worry, you can still enter, but no spoilers how here). Once inside, the restaurant takes the espionage theme very seriously.

The staff are all “agents”, as well as you. If you want someone to call you Austin Powers with a straight face, then this is your spot. Spy memorabilia and decor fill the walls; the menu is contains spy references, too.  You can even partake in a scavenger hunt, where you’re encouraged to walk around and find all of the hidden surprises scattered throughout the building.  Stopping by the magic bar is encouraged, because, well, magicians rule, and the one at SafeHouse is really entertaining.  The food was alright, but, as one of Milwaukee’s hot spots, SafeHouse is the type of place where you go to soak in the unique experience.

 

SafeHouse Milwauakee

A covert photo-op mission completed.

Another unique, diverse food destination that we checked out was the Milwaukee Public Market. This is an indoor food market located downtown, which houses many local vendors who offer a wide range of freshly-produced products. We went during breakfast, so we didn’t get to divulge in some of the tasty looking lunch/dinner options. However, I’ll vouch for the smoothies from On The Bus, the big cookies from C. Adam’s Bakery, the coffee from Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.  and the breakfast tacos from Margerita Paradise as all being outstanding.

Milwaukee Public Market

things to do in Milwaukee with kids

 

Milwaukee does has lots of more traditional restaurants. Our favorite was Blue’s Egg. From what I’m told, this is a very popular breakfast/brunch joint. Resultingly, the wait time to get in sometimes can be long. However, we experienced no delay, when we went. The food is American-style, with their own twist on things. The portion sizes were generous, and delicious. The stuffed hash browns came highly recommended, and for good reason! Not only that, but the service, no joke, was the best that I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Above and beyond what you’d normally expect.  Blue’s Egg exceeded the hype, for sure.

 

Blue's Egg

Stuffed hash browns FTW!

 

BEING THERE, SEEING THERE

 

During our trip, we stayed at The Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown.    It’s very contemporary, and our room was bright, clean and comfortable. As a basketball fan,  the subtle hoop themes in the lobby is especially cool.

 

 

You can tell that downtown is experiencing a resurgence. Many buildings and areas are new, or have undergone changes to be more fresh and hip. The best example of this is Fiserv Forum, which I mentioned earlier. It’s the central point of Deer District, a revitalised neighbourhood that is one of the city’s best sports and entertainment destinations. It also happens to be a short stroll away from our hotel.

 

things to do in Milwaukee with kids

Giannis the Greek Freak, larger than life!

 

Marquette University is also located near downtown. Pockets of neighbourhoods have a youthful buzz about them, if that makes sense.  Harley Davidson’s headquarters are in Milwaukee  (there is even a Harley Davidson Museum, in town).  Coincidentally or not, I did notice all kinds of different folks cruising along on Harleys.  Alternatively, it appeared that the electric scooter trend has taken the town by storm. Lots of people were zipping around on them. In terms of things to do in Milwaukee with kids, it is probably safer to walk, when sightseeing.

Travelling around downtown Milwaukee wasn’t too bad, in terms of accessibility. Lots of stuff was withing walking distance, or a short drive (or scooter ride) away. Even getting over to Miller Park can be simplified. Several of the restaurants in the Deer District offered a shuttle bus service to games. If you go and pre-drink, you can take the bus to the game, and it will pick you up afterwards (for the price of a tip to the driver). We took advantage of this service at The Mecca Sports Bar And Grill.  The best part is that the driver acted as a de facto tour guide along the way. She gave us the lowdown on some landmarks, as well as the head’s up on which parts of the city to avoid after dark.

 

THE WRAP UP

Don’t sleep on Milwaukee, my dudes. It’s not just another stereotypical, industrial, Midwestern city. Milwaukee is culturally diverse, artsy, random and eclectic, with a really chill vibe about it.  Milwaukee is full of fun things to do with kids, as well. It’s an unexpectedly vibrant place to check out with the family, full of stuff for you and them to enjoy.

 

 

#visitmke

 

Note: We were hosted by Visit Milwaukee for this trip. Many of the destinations discussed were complimentary in nature to us. All opinions expressed are my own, as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Poison Control Affair

You know what you can’t do, when you have little children? Leave stuff lying around your place.   Inevitably,  said children will weigh their options, and do the worst option with your stuff.  Call it curiosity, skill development, exploration, or whatever.  I call it kind of annoying.  K took up knitting recently, for example.  B and J are constantly playing with and misplacing the needles, and getting tangled up in the yarn, like little colourful mummies. B got his foot caught in a roll once, then ran all around the living room and kitchen, somehow unraveling it so that it was caught on all sorts of furniture. By the time I caught him, the place looked like it was rigged with an alarm system laser maze.

 

Experiences like that just teach you a lesson to be careful with your possessions. For your sake, of course, but mainly for your kids’ sake.  I remember another time, last year, we went up to check on B.  K found him sitting quietly in our room, calmy eating some of her scented body lotion. We thought that it was high up on the back of her dresser. Apparently it wasn’t that unreachable.  How he got it, no idea.  In his words, though, he was just eating dip. We had to go all Law and Order on him, and interrogated him to figure out WTF he was thinking:

Me – ‘Did you eat a lot?’

B – ‘Yeah, a lot’

Me – ‘Or a little bit?’

B – ‘Yeah, just a little bit.’

Me – ‘So did you eat a lot, or a little bit?

B – ‘A little bit.’

K – ‘So you didn’t eat a lot?’

B – ‘No I ate a lot.’

Dangclass6_1a

After going back a forth like this 5 more times, we switched up the questions:

K -‘So did you swallow it, or spit it out?’

B – ‘I spit it out.’

Me – ‘So you spit it out because it was yucky?’

B -‘Yeah. Yucky!’

Me -‘And you didn’t swallow it?’

B – ‘No I eat it. It was yummy in my tummy!’

Did I mention that neither us are cops?

After getting nowhere, I finally called freaking poison control. I had no idea how toxic that cream was, so better safe than sorry.   (” Uh, my son ate some perfumy body lotion, maybe, and I don’t know how much because he won’t tell me. Is he OK”).   They asked a bunch of questions, gave me some advice and that was that.  B was just fine, too, don’t worry.

Yet another lesson was learned on our part, however,  in being careful with our stuff.

The best part of the ordeal? His breath smelled great for a long while after, as well.

It looks scrumptious, but don't eat it!

It looks scrumptious, but don’t eat it!

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