Tag: dad blogger

The 2018 Wrap Up


What up, my dudes! Another year has almost come and gone, and looking back on it, I see that it’s been an interesting one, for real.  Through the many trials, tribulations and experiences (some of which I’ve written about here), I’ve really learned a lot. For example:

– I spent some time behind the scenes, in the audience, and in front of the camera. The TV and film life is cool from a distance, but it isn’t for me.

–  Being excluded sucks, and I’ve tried to remind my kids of this. Hopefully, they aren’t the ones who someday start a club like No Homers.

– From my chaperoning adventure, supervising large groups of kids isn’t my forte.  Yet.

– B’s hoop skills have improved a lot. It’s just a matter of time now before he beats me one on one. When this happens, chances are I’ll cry.  In the meantime, if he’s close to winning, I’ll start faking an injury before the last bucket, so my L isn’t official.

– Fortnite. I don’t get it.

– J’s grown up a lot, too. Reading, for instance.  She started the year as a pretty average reader for her age. She’s gotten a lot better, though, month by month, to the point that she now reads bedtime stories to me, instead of vice versa.

– Speaking of growing, check out her legs in this picture:

It’s from a modeling gig for a catalogue.  I figured that there would be some photoshopping or whatever involved. However, of all the things to digitally enhance, I have no clue why the photographers settled on a six year old girl’s legs. Always expect the unexpected, was my takeaway from that experience.

– We booked a road trip to Lansing last year, in part to see uber baseball prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. About a week before our trip, he got called up to the next minor league level, so we didn’t see him. This season, I bought Toronto Blue Jays tickets in April, for a September game, thinking Vlad would be in Toronto by then.  Then in May, I heard that Vlad was being called up to Buffalo soon, so we made plans to see him there in June.  Before our game, though, he ended up on the injured list, so we missed him again. When September came around, the Jays didn’t call him up to the major leagues, so I didn’t see him there, either.  Conclusion? Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a unicorn who does not exist.

– Baby Shark.  I don’t get it.

– KJ is a sweet lil dude overall, and hilarious, but the ‘terrible twos’ is still very much a thing. He spent the other day alternating between happily playing and losing his mind because he kept asking for “daddoo back”, and because I’m adult who speaks English, I had no idea what the heck he wanted.  If daddoo back was a physical object, he probably would have  beat me with it.

Not daddoo back, FYI.

– The older I get, the more conservative I get. Take this story, for example, of P.K. Subban, Lindsey Vonn and friends, cliff jumping.

About a week before, no joke, I was in the same spot, same cliff, with some of my friends, who took the same plunge as in this video. Where’s my Instagram evidence, you ask? There is none. I chickened out. Those rocks look painful, yo!

– This Is Us. I don’t get it.

– If someone told you that, in the last twelve months, they hung out at a set where Drake filmed stuff on, saw Drake in concert, dressed up as Drake for Halloween, and In My Feelings was their most played song of 2018, you’d probably say, “Man, that teenager sure is a Drake fan!”.  The fact that I’m actually talking about my thirtysomething year old self probably means that some of you are going to stop reading the rest of this now, out of Drake hate. Anyway, in 2018, I’ve discovered that I apparently really like Aubrey Graham.

– Finally,  I think the most important lesson that was reiterated this year was to not take your family and friends for granted. Like Ferris Bueller said, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So enjoy life, and the people in it who make it better.

From my fam to yours, Happy New Year, y’all! See you in 2K19!

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trippin’ – Winter Fun in Cooperstown, New York!

 

things to do in cooperstown ny winter

When I think of Cooperstown, New York, I think of one thing – baseball.  Similar to how Augusta, Georgia is revered by golf aficionados, baseball fans like yours truly hold Cooperstown in the highest esteem. As such, many people flock there in the summer, especially during the Hall of Fame induction festivities. However, being so closely tied to a summer pastime does pose an interesting  question- what the heck goes on in Cooperstown, after the bases are put away, and the diamonds are cleared up for the season? Fortunately for my family and I, we were able to find out the answer to that question, when my friends at This Is Cooperstown invited us down for a fun-filled almost winter weekend! Turns out there are plenty of things to do in Cooperstown in the winter!

Regular readers know that we love road trippin’, and Cooperstown was a perfect destination. To my fellow Canucks in the Hamilton/Toronto area – our drives there and back each took about five hours, with stops. Upon arrival, it becomes apparent quickly how unique a place Cooperstown is. It’s a small village, nestled at the end of a lake, basically. The downtown area has one stoplight. There’s only one grocery store in town. Main Street is lined with restaurants, shoppes and the Hall of Fame, but you can’t exactly drive very fast down it.  I kind of felt like that I was in Stars Hollow, actually, and expected to bump into Rory or Lorelai Gilmore at any time. I don’t mean that to throw shade; I love Gilmore Girls. I’m just sayin’, picture Stars Hollow with a baseball focus, and that’s Cooperstown.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

This Joltin Joe Dimaggio song is now on my daughter’s playlist of favorite songs, no joke.

Most of that focus obviously is on the town’s biggest attraction, the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Things To Do in Cooperstown in the WinterAs someone who’s dreamed of strolling the hallowed halls since I was a lil dude, I was in heaven. The amount of history that it covers, and the items and memorabilia on display, is overwhelming, but in the best way possible.  Walking past the walls filled with the plaques of all of the inductees gave me goosies (word to Jennifer Lopez!).  Things To Do in Cooperstown in the WinterThe Hall does provide a scavenger hunt for children to do, with a prize given out, for completing it. B and J, to their credit, were determined to finish it, which was cool. The only thing was that they zipped through the place to find the answers, and didn’t really want to drink in the awesomeness of it all, which meant that I couldn’t either. I left thirsty (for more).  K thought that more interactive exhibits probably would have helped engage them better, which is probably true. Regardless, my family, who range in levels of baseball fandom, all enjoyed the Hall Of Fame to varying degrees, and it’s definitely THE must-see attraction, when in Cooperstown. Be sure to grab a bite at the iconic Doubleday Cafe, too, before or afterwards. Besides having delicious food with generous portions,  it’s like a two minute walk from the Hall, and there’s lots of interesting baseball memorabilia on display there, as well.

Along those lines, a visit to the Cooperstown Bat Company was also in the cards. They offer tours of their factory, including a bat turning demonstration. The people there were very friendly, knowledgeable and legit seemed to love their jobs. To be honest, my kids, while initially really into it, did get bored after a while.  Maybe just plan on a quick trip, if you go with little children.  However, it’s a fascinating place.  Don’t let the size of the facility fool you, too.  Their capabilities and clients are impressive.  One of the coolest things that they offer is a custom engraving service. A high quality wood bat with a name engraved on it makes a great souvenir.  Since they have an online store that ships all over, it makes a great gift, too, for Christmas!

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

Balancing bats on random things is fun!

Along those lines, the timing of our trip (late November) happened to coincide with some local holiday festivities. For example, we braved the cold one night to check out the Santa’s Arrival Parade. Main Street  was filled on both sides with families eagerly awaiting Santa’s appearance. Things To Do in Cooperstown in the WinterThere was a buzz in the air, as only St. Nick can create, among excited children.  Well, a buzz and a lot of chattering, too. From people’s teeth. For real, it was chilly!

Eventually, after the floats and performers and whatnot went by,  Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived with their ‘reindeer”, police escort in tow, like they were rock stars or something. They set up shop in a park on Main Street, which had been transformed into a Christmas village. Kids then lined up to meet them, which was a nice touch, different from other parades that we’ve been to. Anyway, it was nice to see the community come out, to interact and enjoy the event. I really felt at home there, and not like a tourist.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

 

Also on our agenda was an adventure on The Santa Express, courtesy of the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad.  Train cars were decorated on the inside and outside with a holiday theme. While on board, we went for a slow, relaxing, heated ride along the tracks, while enjoying goodies and Christmas music. The highlight, of course, was an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus. They had gifts for each of the kids on board, and handed them out to everyone, by name. B and J couldn’t believe it, when they received a couple of toys on their wish lists.  The magic of Christmas, I tell ya.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

 

Along those lines, we were magically transported back in time, while in Cooperstown, too! Well, not really, but we did venture out to the Farmer’s Museum, to see what life what life was like 100+ years ago. Things To Do in Cooperstown in the WinterCooperstown in general has a throwback, old-school vibe to it, especially in terms of the architecture, but the Museum takes it up a notch. Past the main barn (which had various interactive exhibits and displays in it) was a historic village. It was comprised of buildings and characters which would have been common in the 18th and 19th centuries, like a school house (with a teacher) and a tavern/hotel.  There’s also a farmstead on site.  My kids’ favorite part, though, was the Empire State Carousel, a retro merry go round.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

Alright. Maybe it was my fav part, too.

Along those lines, my family LOVED our accommodations for the weekend! We stayed at the Oneida Lodge North, courtesy of CooperstownLuxury.com.  This was basically the most spectacular cottage that I’ve ever seen. The lodge was multi-levels,  featuring a beautiful, intricately designed staircase that wrapped around a pine tree.   It was huge and spacious, too, which meant that the kids had lots of room to run around acting lit, or in B’s case,  to work on his Fortnite dance moves. I tried to play hide and seek with B and J at one point, but I gave up after one round, in trying to find them. The place was that big.   It’s also located on a lake, with access to a boat house, and a dock. In the summer, it would be dope. However, even during a frosty November weekend, it was still fun.  There was a games room, loaded with board games, and plenty of flat screen TVs throughout. Fireplaces, too, if you want to level up the cozy factor.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

With lots of windows and balconies, the views were outstanding, and peaceful. Nature rules!

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

The kitchen was well stocked with utensils, and lots of modern appliances, including a dishwasher. No paper plates and plastic spoons for us. Everything about the lodge that I could see was high quality, made with a fine attention to details. Things To Do in Cooperstown in the WinterThe owners and staff were even nice and responsive.  They were in communication our whole time, making sure things were going well.  Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter If you’re planning on staying with a large group of people, this is a great option, too, as our lodge could sleep 10, with bedrooms that were very roomy.  Seriously, if want to treat yourself to something a bit different and more secluded than a regular hotel, I can’t recommend staying at a CooperstownLuxury.com property enough.

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

 

Things To Do in Cooperstown in the Winter

So there you have it. After spending three days in Cooperstown, I think that the question has been answered. What goes on there, after the baseball season has ended?

A lot of fun stuff still, that’s what.

Until the next one, peace!

 

Disclaimer:  while we received complimentary accommodations and tickets/passes to various attractions, thoughts/opinions expressed are 100% my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 7 Cruising Songs (According to a One Year Old)

One of the big developments in the ol’ Daddy Realness household these last few months has been the ever improving vocabulary of little KJ. Between the indecipherable baby babble is the odd word or two that you can actually understand. And not only that, but he will use his words to communicate what he wants sometimes, too.

Take music, for example. Before, we would just play whatever, no questions asked. He’s probably heard more random sports talk radio and 1990s hip hop while riding with me than any one year old would care to admit (if they could even admit it).  Nowadays, though, he’ll demand to hear his favorite jams.

Like, loudly demand.

Like loudly, repeatedly demand, to the point that I have to stop listening to Nas’ Illmatic album, or Steve Philips talking about Jacob deGrom’s chances of winning the Cy Young Award, and put on what he wants.

So what does he like, you ask? Well, let me go Ryan Seacrest-mode on you, and count down the hits!

7. Johny Johny Yes Papa (Parents Version) by Cocomelon a.k.a. HA-HA-HA

 

Coming in at number seven is this song from Cocomelon. Basically, the parents keep getting up in the middle of the night to eat junk food, and then lie about it to each other, even after they’re caught. Eventually, their kids wake up and catch them, so they lie to them, too. They all keep laughing about the dishonesty for some reason. Deception is so hilarious? Anyway,  when KJ starts asking for “HA-HA-HA”, it’s time to press play on this song.

6. Roar By Katy Perry a.k.a Ra-Ra

 

Sliding in at number six is this anthem from Katy Perry. J loves this one, and I legit think that KJ only asks me to play it because it reminds him of his sister. I get that, unlike what’s next, at number five.

5. Baby??

Not gonna lie, KJ will frequently request to hear ‘Baby’, but I have no clue what the heck he wants. I end up random shuffling a Spotify playlist, stopping at songs with ‘baby’ in the title. ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber, ‘Baby Got Back’ by Sir Mix-A-Lot, ‘Baby One More Time’ by Britney Spears etc. Not surprisingly, KJ will continually say no to everything, until he gives up, and asks for something else. Let’s just leave this one here, and keep on keepin’ on up the charts!

 

 

4. Basketball by Lil Bow Wow a.k.a. Ba-ball

Number four is this classic jam (no pun intended) from the artist formerly known as Lil Bow Wow.  Last week, KJ not only wanted to hear it on repeat all the way to daycare, but when I picked him up later, he wanted to hear it on repeat on the way home, too. But really, can you blame him? What one year old child doesn’t love early 2000s NBA references? Oh, nevermind. Let’s see what comes in at number three.

3. Baby Shark by Cocomelon a.k.a. Baby Do-do-do

 

Now this one is a certified banger!  Despite there being a way more viral version of this song, KJ likes this particular one, and this one only. It automatically came on after another Cocomelon video ended, and he was immediately hooked. Truth be told, I had no idea how big a phenomenom Baby Shark was until last week, when I saw Ellen talking about it, on the Ellen Show. Y’all have been doing the goofy shark dance for months now, but no one bothered to fill me in. Thanks, friends. Speaking of viral sensations………

 

In My Feelings By Drake aka Kiki!

Why in the world does a one year old like this Drizzy hit, you ask? I’m guessing it’s because he can say the first lyric (Kiki). Or maybe he just needs a black card and a code to the safe. Maybe he wants me to upload a video of him doing the In My Feelings Challenge. Regardless, this is the one joint here that I don’t mind listening to constantly (clean, radio edited version, of course).   Unlike the number one song on the list.

1. Wheels On the Bus By Cocomelon a.k.a. Bus! Bus!

 

When KJ starts screaming for ‘Bus! Bus!’ then you know it’s about to go down. Cocomelon must have some audio baby hypnosis going on, because he only likes their version of this timeless nursery rhyme, too.  The appeal here are the visuals. Besides a monkey’s naked butt, the video has easy to mimic actions, which KJ does in my car. He’ll give me a big, hokey thumbs up when it comes on, he’ll tell an invisible baby to shush, and so on. No doubt this one is a crowd-pleaser; especially if that crowd doesn’t include me. Nonetheless, its place at the top of the charts is firmly cemented on my drives with KJ.

Until the next countdown, Seacrest…out!

 

 

This Is Awesome! WWE Smackdown LIVE in Toronto!

 

 

Note: The good folks at WWE hooked me up with tickets to the show. Opinions and thoughts expressed are 100% mine.

There really is nothing like watching wrestling live, especially when it’s a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) show. Having been to a few cards in my life, I can honestly say that they put on a good show, and the events that transpire during them are always interesting, to say the least.

Such was the case of the most recent one that we went to, Smackdown Live, at the recently renamed Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In a bit of a swerve, my guests for the night were B and one of his friends, who’s a hardcore fan. My perspective on the WWE obviously differs from theirs (mine probably leans more to the “smark” side), so I was curious to see what their reactions would be like.

B has gone to houseshows before, but not to a TV taping. The main differences are the lighting (much brighter) and the breaks in the action (much more frequent, due to commercials).  During the breaks, videos were shown, though, to keep the crowd into things. Not that the crowd needed much help staying involved. The atmosphere was very energetic and loud, which was contagious. It’s hard not to scream “Yes!” and point along with Daniel Bryan, when 15,000 or so people are doing the same thing!

Among my group, the boys were most excited to see the New Day (B), and Randy Orton and AJ Styles (his friend) in action. While the New Day started off the show, Orton and Styles were saved for the non-televised main event, which didn’t happen until after another show took place, 205 Live. In all honesty, if the kids hadn’t been looking forward to the main event (Orton and Samoa Joe versus AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy), I probably would have left after Smackdown finished, as I’m not that into 205 Live (I can only watch so much wrestling in a week). However, I’m glad that we stayed, as 205 Live was great. The boys thought Hideo Itami beating up a local enhancement talent was hilarious. While we all were initially meh about the Kalisto/Buddy Murphy match that followed, the two tore the roof off and had an incredible encounter! By the end, all three of us were chanting “This Is Awesome!” with everyone else there.

The main event also didn’t disappoint, as the four stars did all of their greatest hits (or signature and finishers moves, as my video game playing young guests called them). The good guys won, too, and celebrated with the fans for a long time after, to send the crowd home happy.

Speaking of that, by far the most popular wrestler that night…..was a bad guy. Becky Lynch had ‘turned heel’ a few weeks before, by turning on her best friend, Charlotte Flair. The problem (I think) is that Becky was pretty justified in being mad, in the minds of many of the WWE fans. So instead of hating her, people seem to be liking her more and rallying behind her. I don’t think this is what the WWE intended with this story. At the end of Smackdown, after Charlotte retained her championships in a match with Carmella, Becky ran out and attacked her. Normally this results in boos from the crowd. On this night, though, the place went bananas. The “pop” or reaction or whatever was huge, and the chants for Becky were deafening.  B and his friend were a bit confused by this, and I legit had trouble explaining why the person who is supposed to be hated had the arena going crazy for them. Like I said, it’s always an interesting time when you see a show live!

This was the apparent overwhelming sentiment.

Three more observations then I’ll wrap this up. 1) Our seats were behind former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas.  Really nice guy, and was cool to the steady stream of people who came up to him. 2) The merchandise available wasn’t that impressive. There was a lot of stuff for Raw superstars who weren’t even there. Also, t-shirts were $35, but they kept showing promos during breaks that said you could buy shirts online that night for $10. Needless to say, we didn’t buy any merchandise. 3) In terms of kid demographics, besides the New Day, Styles, and Orton, as mentioned, B and his buddy were most into Samoa Joe (so good at being bad that he’s hard not to cheer for, if that makes sense), Daniel Bryan, and R-Truth.

All in all, it was a phenomenal night. Two solid hours of Smackdown Live, followed by an entertaining 205 Live, and a crowd-pleasing main event.  The boys that I was with weren’t the only kids that I saw there who left with big smiles on their faces!

 

 

Dad’s Night Out – Toronto’s Festival Of Beer

(Disclaimer: I received complimentary media passes, to come and check out the event. All opinions expressed are my own).

Despite how the saying goes, you can have too much a good thing. Take, for example, Toronto’s Festival Of Beer (TFOB).

Now, in theory, a festival dedicated to all things brewed sounds pretty freakin’ glorious. And make no mistake about, the TFOB is pretty sweet, especially as an option for a dad/mom night out sans kids.  Taking place at Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place, this sprawling festival featured over 90 breweries setting up shop and offering over 400 beers. Not surprisingly, it also featured thousands of people looking to party.

Upon arrival, you’re given a mug, which is the most important piece of equipment that you’ll need for the duration of your stay, because the breweries will only serve you beer in it. You need to buy tokens, too (I went with 20 tokens for $20).  Depending on the brewery, one token usually got you half a pour; two tokens got you a full mug.  Some places required more tokens, though. And this is where the problem of having too much of a good thing starts. With so many options, ranging from the big names, to less popular craft brews, to even non malt-based drinks, coming up with a game plan if you want to sample as much as possible isn’t easy. Shoot, even if you assume just sticking to the two-token half pours is a good idea, since a premium priced product should be superior, this isn’t even true. One of those that I tried was decidedly mediocre, and left me wondering what the fuss was about. To each their own though, especially when it comes to hops.

Complicating things is that TFOB isn’t just about drinking. There was also a nice selection of food choices, to satisfy many appetites. Not only that, but the music was banging, as well. On the night that I attended, the headliner on the OLG Bandshell Stage was Ludacris! I kind of forgot how many hits that guy has, but this didn’t seem lost on the 11000 or so other people in attendance that night, who showed Luda a lot of love and created a dope atmosphere.

 

In addition, there was even non alcohol/food/music stuff to enjoy. I ended up lining up at an OLG truck for a while, to get my picture taken, and to receive a free prize (lottery tickets), for example. Fireside Cannabis also had a big area set up, where you could toast smores over a fire pit. So, of course I hung out there for a bit, toasting smores over a fire pit.

Basically, between the myriad of options of things to do, eat and drink, plus the fact that I staked out a spot in the middle of the crowd to watch Ludacris (negating my ability to go back and forth to grab drinks), I can honestly say that I left TFOB disappointed. Disappointed in a good way, though. It was a ton of fun, and I only wish that I indulged and took advantage more.  And really, for kid-free night out, what more could you possibly you want?

See you at next year’s fest!

 

 

 

How Not To Chaperone A School Trip

One thing I’ve learned about being a parent is that sometimes, you have to put yourself out there, and do stuff way outside your comfort zone. That’s how I found myself as a volunteer chaperone on my daughter’s kindergarten class trip to the zoo recently. See, when it comes to being in charge of a group of children, I tend to suck. As such, I tend to avoid putting myself in those situations. Trust me, people, it’s for the best.

However, when a notice came home requesting chaperones for the zoo trip, J wanted me to go. Like, really wanted me to go. I of course, said no, but J was persistent and insistent, so I finally relented. One mandatory police check, and one random drawing of names later (three volunteers were needed, but eight parents wanted to go), and I was in. Time to face my fears.

I quickly Googled tips for chaperoning, and it seemed like an easy enough gig. Kids would be so excited to see a new face, and I’d be treated like a rock star? Sweet! I pictured them looking up to me in awe at the zoo, and following me around like the Pied Piper, as I regaled them with my knowledge about the various creatures.

On the day of the trip, the first thing that I had to do was sign in at the office. While there, one of the teachers came up to me and said that he never saw many dads volunteering, so it was nice to see me there. While initially flattered, panic then set in. Where were the dads at, all this time? Did they know something that I didn’t?

Uh oh!

When I entered J’s class, J was really pumped to see me, but the other children? Yeah, not so much. A lot were indifferent. Some looked confused.  A few seemed excited, but it was more like how a pack of lions gets excited when some fat, tasty prey shows up at their den.

Me aka dead meat.

One little girl came up to me, and asked what my name is. When I told her, she immediately called me something else. She proceeded to spend the rest of the day calling me by everything but my name, and laughing about it.  Mr. Hat, Mr. Brown Eyes, Mr. Poop and so on.  I’ll give her credit for coming creative with it, despite me feeling like Darryl Strawberry on The Simpsons, when Bart and Lisa heckled him.

Unrelated, but his classic moment was immortalized in pin form! Click the pic, to check it out.

J’s teacher (who did a great job communicating and keeping things organized) split the class up into groups, so each volunteer had six kids that they were in charge of.  I took a head count, and rattled off their names. This would be the first of about 1250 times that day, where I would do this.  One little boy immediately wandered off, leaving me wondering where he went. This would be the first of about 1250 times that day, where I would wonder this about him.

The zoo was an hour away, which meant that we had to take a school bus there. My group sat in my general vicinity, including J, who plopped down beside me. I went to the Juno Awards (Canadian Grammys) a few years ago, and these girls near me kept losing their minds whenever Shawn Mendes appeared. All loud squeals and screams. Some tears, too.  Multiply that by a busload, and that pretty much describes how the ride went. No one was bad…..it was just noisy.

The stupid, confused expression on my face was pretty much how I looked the whole day.

Once we dispersed from the bus (and my group scurried off in different directions), my friend who also was volunteering, but happens to be a teacher, took pity on my over-matched butt.  She suggested that our groups stick together, which I happily agreed to.  Once we entered the zoo,  it was time to use the washrooms, have a quick bite, and put on some sunscreen.  As I helped the kids with their snacks and lotion, I guess the little wandering dude was new to the concept of sunscreen. I turned around and he was happily sitting there, eating his sandwich, covered in globs of the  white stuff. His hands and arms were gloopy.  It was smeared all over his face. He looked like a five year old Pennywise the Clown. Anyway, after a quick wipe down, it was time to catch the trolley to finally see some animals!

At our first stop, the kids all ran off. So much for listening to me regale them with my knowledge. There was no time to regale anyway, as I could only worry about keeping track of my six. While five of my six were into the animals, one little homey was only concerned with the trees. He spent the whole trip picking up sticks, progressively grabbing bigger and bigger ones. It started out as twigs, and eventually he was swinging branches around.  I didn’t want him swinging these things in the crowd, because getting licked with a stick hurts. At one point, I asked him to put it down, and he said no. I asked again, and he refused. I then realized that I had no clue how to properly handle this situation. He then happily walked off, stick in hand.

Later on, after he grabbed one dangerous-looking branch, I tried to take it from him. He accidentally got dinged in the process, and said that he was bleeding. Now, for real, it was the tiniest nick, with only a slight trickle of blood. He was 100% fine, trust me.  At the time, though, my last name might as well have been Myers and it may as well have been Halloween.  I felt like I hacked the poor boy’s hand off, causing blood to spew profusely like a fountain.

Moving on. The zoo had these dispensers around the park, where you put your money in, twisted the handle, and food pellets came out, for feeding the animals. My group had zero combined dollars. However, at one point, I found almost all of them (not the little wandering dude, obviously) around a dispenser, trying to get food out. Stick boy had a twig jammed up it, and was maneuvering it similar to how a thief breaks into a car.  “Hey mommy, guess what we learned at the zoo today? How to commit petty crime!”

The rest of the afternoon was a blur of lunch, counting to six, rattling off names, rounding up my group when they split up, and riding the trolley around the zoo, doing a quickie tour. One girl complained about being bored, but I think everyone else had fun. I definitely wasn’t a rock star, in anyone’s eyes in the end, including my daughter’s  Before the bus ride home, J nonchalantly asked me who I was sitting beside, because she was sitting with her friends now. #savage

And that’s how my first time chaperoning a school trip went.

Let’s finish with some takeaways. First, shout out to anyone (teachers, coaches, daycare providers, whoever) that successfully deals with large groups of children on the regular. It’s never easy, and I don’t know how you do it! Next, if I ever chaperone again, I’ll probably do better.  For example, one of the other volunteers there called their group the Wolf Pack, which made rounding them up easier. Thus, I know now to have a fancy group name. If I just had to yell “Yo! Mr. Poop’s Group! Where you at?”, that would have saved me a lot of counting to six.  Finally, all jokes aside, I am glad that I had a chance to chaperone. Sure, it was stressful, but it was enjoyable, and almost everyone made it home injury-free.  It was a nice to get outside of my comfort zone for a few hours. Plus, it gave me the chance to do things like explain to a kid why he couldn’t pee by a tree near the lunch area.  All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Until the next one, peace!

 

Stolen Cars and Kidnapping Rabbits – An Easter Story

 

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

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

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

She was going to kidnap the Easter Bunny!

My sentiments exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

AND MY CAR WAS GONE!!!

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

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

With laughter.

April Fool’s!

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

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

Then I heard little footsteps.

Then I heard our bedroom door open.

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

Then I ran upstairs to squash that noise!

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

Then she fake slept.

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

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

Sike!

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

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

Stay tuned for the sequel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Retail Stores

Dear Retail Stores,

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

I’ve changed.

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

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

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

Pun totally intended.

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

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

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

No, for real.

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

Home to someone else.

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Mike

 

The Push – Dad 2.0 Summit

 

Dad 2 Summit 2017

I remember being told once that sometimes in life, you’ll feel a little nudge, like something or someone is gently pushing you in a direction. And when you do get that feeling, don’t resist, just go with it.

I felt that nudge recently, and that’s how I ended up at the Dad 2.0 Summit.

For the uninitiated, Dad 2.0 is an annual conference for dad bloggers, held this year in San Diego. It’s an opportunity to discuss all things fatherhood-related, with like minded people and brands.  I personally have never been able to attend one, however, and had always been on the fence about going.

My nudge came in the form of a Miller Scholarship. I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of these by the Dad 2.0 organizers (thanks again, guys!). It included a free ticket, and money to help offset the travel expenses.  Soon after, I found out that I had also been selected as one of five spotlight bloggers. Not only was I attending for the first time, but I was also a featured speaker, where I was going to read this post! To say that I was nervous was an understatement.

Speaker?! Moi?!

See, at Dad 2.0,  there were hundreds of bright, talented, opinionated people (and also yours truly) looking to engage in meaningful dialogue about every subject under the moon. At the core of these conversations was dad stuff and/or social media. The talks occurred formally (like at the workshops, panels and breakout sessions) and informally (like while getting your drank on, at night). The schedule was jam-packed, too, so there always an opportunity to be engaged, if you chose to be.

I went to Dad Voices (formerly known as Dad Slam) on the Friday night. This was a highlight event for a lot of people. Names were drawn, and you could go up and read whatever you wanted, poetry-slam style. I threw my name in, and got selected to go up second. The post I picked out (this one) wasn’t deep, but it’s one of my personal favorites.  Not surprisingly, many brave, honest, wonderful posts were heard after mine, making me even more nervous for my reading the next day. Dad Voices wasn’t just listening to people read, though. An impromptu birthday celebration for the amazing Lorne Jaffe happened.  A ukulele jam broke out. Many tears were shed, and laughs were had. It was an all out cool night, which was neat to be a part of.

Let’s talk about the attendees. The level of camaraderie among them was off the chains.  My initial observation was that Dad 2.0 felt like a get together of old friends, where everyone knew each other already.  Sure, I knew some people, through Facebook, but not personally.  I carry a pretty low profile, and I felt like an outsider, at first. Luckily for me, the dad blogger community in attendance was very open and welcoming, for the most part.  It helped that there were a ton of “newbies” in attendance, who were in the same boat as myself.  As such, I met a lot of awesome guys and girls, who hopefully I’ll stay in touch with. Professional bloggers, wannabe bloggers, amateur vloggers, a fellow Hamiltonian (!!!) who was doing research for a study, it really was quite the range of attendees. I even met Josh Temple, from HGTV!

This was part of an interview that I did with Josh, put on by one of the sponsors, Rheem. The lesson learned there was that I suck at interviews, and should never be put in front of a camera again.

Regardless, I do have to say the sponsor game was on point. Whether it was hosting delicious meals and parties, or taking us out on excursions, I was impressed with the efforts that they made. My own personal fav was getting a straight razor shave for the first time ever, courtesy of Dove Men + Care. Yo, my face felt smoother than Bruno Mars eating a fresh jar of Skippy on a newly polished floor!

Also, whatever you might have heard about the swag at Dad 2.0 is true. I brought an extra knapsack, and came back to Canada with it full of cool goodies.  So big up to all of the sponsors – Dove Men +Care, Kia, Gifted Movie, Rheem, Lego, BabyBjorn, Plum Organics, Best Buy, Facebook, Russell, Hero Clean, Keeper Security, General Mills, fodada, and Smartypants Vitamins.  It was refreshing to talk to so many brands who were legit interested in parenting and fatherhood.

All in all, Dad 2.0 was dope, for real. Numerous people said it was the best conference of this kind that they’ve ever been to.  I gotta give props to the co-founders, Doug French and John Pacini, for making it all happen. It was a whirlwind three days, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to partake in it. Once I got comfortable being uncomfortable (to steal a quote from featured speaker an ex-NFL star Charles “Peanut” Tillman), the Summit wasn’t so nerve-wracking. Oh, and for the record, my reading went just fine.  I  mean, the other spotlight bloggers and keynote speakers were all incredible, but I was OK. I didn’t get booed off the stage, like I feared, anyway.   I think that I even made actor/director/closing keynote speaker Andrew McCarthy chuckle. #winning

If you’re on the fence about attending the next Dad 2.0 Summit, consider this your push. Just do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Choice Is Yours (You Can Go with This, Or You Can Go With That)

Independent thinking is an important trait that should be ingrained early on. So as a parent, you try to mix things up. You know, instead of just telling them what they want, or what they should do, you give your kid some options and let them decide on their own. Then if their decision sucks, they learn to do better next time, hopefully. You have to be careful, however. Kids are tricky like that, so there’s always a chance that you get played for a fool. Or that’s what has happened to me, anyway. Many times. I’ll tell you about those experiences at some point. For example now, though, after dinner one night a few months ago, I figured that I’d ask B what he wanted for dessert. Simple right? Not so much:

Me – ‘What do you want for dessert? A banana, or peach applesauce?

B – ‘A bananee!’

Me – ‘OK, a banana?’

B – ‘No! Not banana. A bananee!’

Me – ‘I don’t know what a bananee is. Do you want a banana or peach applesauce?’

B – ‘Peach.’

Me – ‘OK, you want peach applesauce?’

B- ‘No, a peach.’

Me -‘That wasn’t a choice. We don’t have peaches.’

B – ‘Why?’

Me – ‘We have to buy them at the store. So do you want a banana or peach applesauce?’

B (long pause) – ‘I want a pear.’

Me – ‘We don’t have pears! That wasn’t a choice either!’

B – ‘We have to buy them at the store?’

Me – ‘Yeah.’

B – ‘OK! Let’s go to the store!’ (He starts trying to wiggle out of his seat)

Me – ‘We’re not going anywhere! You’re having peach applesauce, OK?’

B – ‘OK!’

So I get him a spoon and the sauce. J is crying now, probably at the ridiculousness of this conversation, so I turn around to tend to her. I turn back around soon after…..B hasn’t touched the applesauce. He’s using the spoon to slurp milk from his cup, though, with the biggest stupid grin on his face.

Lesson learned…..sometimes kids don’t know what they want, even when you tell them what they want.

pear

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