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.
– 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!
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.
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.
Do you remember when I made a joke about becoming a Pentatonix fan? Yeah, turns out that I wasn’t joking. Even better, that lovable a cappella singing quintet was part of a milestone – our first family concert was to see them live!
How’d the concert go, you ask?
First off, I should say that finding a musical act who we all could enjoy and who wasn’t inappropriate was surprisingly hard. Whereas I like Drake, I could never bring my eight, six, and almost two year old to his concert, for example. Pentatonix hit the sweet spot, though. Their music is pretty tame, plus they do a lot of cover versions of popular, current songs. Since K really likes them, B and J like the songs they cover, KJ has no choice as he has to go wherever we go, and I don’t hate them, we figured we would see them live.
The venue was Budweiser Stage, in Toronto. Our tickets were cheapo lawn seats. Having never been before, I had to do some research. Reviews online, in general, said that the place was great for watching concerts, but food was expensive, and the parking sucked. Strollers and high lawn chairs were prohibited, but blankets were allowed. Taking the Go Train was recommended, but because of the kids/lack of stroller, it was a bit too much of a walk for us, so we had to drive. I figured we would go early-ish, to get a decent parking and lawn spot.
I’m telling you now, the reviews don’t do Budweiser Stage justice. The parking is atrocious. All lots near the premises were full by the time that we got there, but because of the limited entrances, it’s impossible to know they’re full until you get close to them. So picture a long lineup of cars, all being denied by attendants only as they approached them. One open entrance clearly pointed to parking, so a lot of cars, including us, lined up to go into it. However, once you got in and drove up the lane, we discovered that it just led to a roundabout that went back down to the street, no parking. It was basically the equivalent of the escalator to nowhere on The Simpsons.
After waiting for a good half hour in line, one of the attendants finally advised us where the nearest parking lot was. That lot was basically a million miles away, which, again, wasn’t ideal for our family. Now late for the concert, I decided to loop back, drop K and the kids off by the front gate, so they could at least enjoy the show, find a parking spot, then run to meet up with them after. After dropping the fam off, I headed over to the million mile lot. Believe it or not, it was full, too. I then tried a couple of other lots nearby. Also rammed. Who knew Pentatonix were so popular?
After driving around beautiful downtown Toronto aimlessly, I eventually found some open street parking two million miles away from Budweiser Stage. Yo, beggars can’t be choosy. I pulled over, and went to see the rates. After 9pm, it was free, but I was there a bit after 8pm, so it was only $2.
Reading more, it looked like the only way to pay was by mobile, via an app which had to be downloaded. The app required paying $20 upfront, to make an account balance, which could be used at any of the company’s parking spots in Toronto. You know, a city which I don’t live in.
Not wanting to miss more of the concert, but being about a marathon’s walk away, I paid the $20, then ordered a Lyft, to give me a ride back. On the way, the Lyft driver told me that people were waiting for an hour for their Ubers, taxis and Lyfts after another concert, the prior night at Budweiser Stage. He advised me to either leave the show early, or walk up the street when it was over and get a ride off-site, to avoid the long wait. Leaving early was the best solution. You know, to go with me being already late.
Finally, I arrived. First stop was to the concessions. I saw people ordering “bottomless” popcorn, so I asked for one of those. I was subsequently told by the cashier that there wasn’t any, and to try the other concession stand, on the other side of the place…..even though people were clearly buying popcorn near me.
Next, I had to seek out my family. The place was jammed packed, and seating areas were limited. I found them in the very, very back, with a large pole blocking the view. Not only that, but despite the venue stating regular-sized lawn chairs were prohibited, some people had come after my family had set up shop, and placed their regular-sized lawn chairs in front of our blanket, which also impeded our view.
Fortunately, I hadn’t missed Pentatonix, as the opening act, Echosmith, was still performing. All I could do was make the best of the less than ideal situation, and enjoy the evening.
Some random guy came up to us, looking for four people to switch seats. Since there was five of us, we declined. I saw him walking around for a bit, but then he came back over. Turns out, he was the promoter. No lie, he said that we could have his dead-centre box seats, no strings attached! #upgraded
We quickly relocated to his seats (which even had a velvet rope entrance to it) just as Pentatonix hit the stage. They put on a really good show, I can’t hate. They had the whole crowd (mainly tweens with their parents, and people in their early to mid twenties) eating out of the palms of their hands. Err, almost the whole crowd. At one point, Kevin in the group did an amazing beatboxing solo while playing the cello. B was confused, though, as to why he was being such a buzz kill. In his words, it reminded him of the feeling when you lose your dog, so you walk around sad with your head down (note: we’ve never had a dog).
Alas, time flew, and I had to bizounce before the show ended, to get a ride to our car (facepalm), so we could get home in decent time. Don’t fret, though, my pets. Afterwards, K made sure to tell me that I only missed out on the best parts – some hip-hop themed beatboxing medleys which apparently were amazing (double facepalm).
And there you have it. Our first family concert. In theory, it was a good idea, but, man, Budweiser Stage was not the right venue at all for us. Like, I doubt I’ll ever take my kids to a concert there again, unless they are much older. Despite that, Pentatonix were great, we lucked out on the box seats, and the kids had a good time, so it wasn’t a bad night overall.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go to Toronto now, and find somewhere to burn up the $18 on my parking app.
It’s 11:30AM on a picturesque morning in July, and I find myself staring at Drake.
Wait. Let’s back track a bit.
Now, it goes without saying that there is a lot of content available to watch, and lots of ways to consume it. However, quantity doesn’t always equal quality. Some of the content kind of sucks, for real. J, for example, bless her six year old heart, will start down the YouTube rabbit hole of toy unboxing videos, yet somehow end up watching inappropriately profane Barbie and Ken videos. As a parent, you have no choice but to monitor your childrens’ screens more carefully. And, because I like to go the extra mile for y’all sometimes, I decided do some first-hand monitoring. I went behind the scenes to check out some content being made that I hope will be top notch quality for our children.
I’m sitting in the lobby of DHX Studios, a production company in Toronto, awaiting to meet Joanna, DHX’s communication manager. The popular Degrassi TV franchise is filmed here. Pictures of its well-known alumni are displayed prominently throughout the building, including those of a certain Aubrey Graham in his pre-Drake days, which immediately catch my eye. DHX is clearly very proud of the success of Degrassi, and I’m sure that they are hoping to repeat that success with its newest series aimed for kids, Bajillionaires.
Bajillionaires is a single camera comedy series about Max Graham (newcomer Ricardo Ortiz) and the start-up, invention-based company that he runs in his parents’ garage with his friends. It’s an intriguing premise, to the point that it compelled two networks, Universal Kids and Family Channel, to pick up the show already, for 20 episodes, starting to air later this year. It’s also being filmed at DHX Studios, hence my Drake-gazing that July day.
Eventually, Joanna arrives. She has a very friendly, approachable demeanor, and interacts easily with everyone we encounter that day. As we walk outside towards the set of Bajillionaires, we pass the school set of Degrassi. Even though the show was on hiatus, Drake’s presence still looms large, as he had filmed a video there recently, for his song I’m Upset. We then come up on a road lined with houses and stores, where we are joined by Adrienne. She has the same kind of demeanor as Joanna, and is there that day to help her out.
Having never been on a scripted TV show set before, I was surprised to learn that even though the street looked real, it wasn’t. The houses and stores are all part of the set. The attention to detail is what makes it work, an aspect which goes unnoticed by the casual viewer, but can’t be stressed enough during the production process.
To wit, Joanna and Adrienne lead me down the street, and to a house with a garage, where filming is taking place. There’s a large number of people on site, mostly cast and crew (while not all were present, over 200 people are involved with the making of the show), along with a plethora of film equipment in use. I duck into the ‘video village’, an almost space station-like area, with TV monitors, computers and soundboards set up in it. The director calls for action on a scene. It only involves a close shot of a laptop being opened up, but three takes are needed, to get it just right.
There’s a break in the filming, so Joanna takes the time to introduce me to the main cast of kids who the show is based around. Sitting around a table inside of Munchies (a coffee shop in the Bajillionaires universe), there’s a playfulness and sense of camaraderie amongst the young leads. As the conversation touches on topics like flossing and Fortnite, I feel as if I’ve come across a group of friends who are just hanging out. This isn’t a mall or somone’s basement, though; it’s a TV show with some significant, expensive stakes put into it. These kids are professional actors who can work a pretty demanding schedule. The silliness that you’d probably expect among a group of youngsters isn’t apparent (well, mostly, anyway. Jadian Toros, who plays the Chief Financial Officer Zeke, is a quick-witted ball of energy who lightens the mood with his jokes and funny comments. Not surprisingly, he’s also the youngest member of the cast). Questions posed are met with honest, thoughtful answers, which is refreshing. I guess the best thing that I can say is that they carry themselves like stars; Ricardo in particular has a leading-man vibe to him.
There’s a sincere earnestness about the show which is contagious. When Mya Singh, who plays Kaylyn, the head of marketing, tells me that kids will find the characters relatable, I believe it. When her and Arista Arhin (who plays Alicia Windsor) explain the risk taking element of the show, and how it’s nice to see kid characters ‘going for it’, I dig that, too. There’s also an educational aspect, in terms of the designs and concepts of the inventions that get concocted. Joanna shows me one of them later, and it was pretty wild. The components of a quality show are all apparent here. It really is just a matter of what the finished product ends up looking like, I think.
Lingering in the background at all times are the cast members’ parents. This probably also partially explains the well-mannered politeness on display. Being underage on a set like this requires parental supervision in close proximity at all times. Really, the role of a stage parent here is a huge commitment. Having to up and leave your life for weeks at a time, to watch long days of filming, can’t be easy.
One thing that does make the days more palatable, for the palate, is taking a break for lunch. On the way to the lunchroom, we pass the living room set for the Graham family. Again, I’m drawn to the attention to details, like the family pictures on the walls, and the decor used, to add to the authenticness. After much hype by Joanna and Adrienne, the food did not disappoint. I join them in partaking in a delicious spread of pastas, chicken, and salads, along with desserts. The cast all sit together at a table, with their parents dutifully situated at tables nearby. I notice that a couple of the child actors are decked out in ridiculously over-sized novelty shirts. These are to protect their outfits underneath from possible food stains (unrelated, but I wonder if A-listers like Brad Pitt rock these during meals, when they’re filming stuff). The mood in the room is upbeat. At one point, Mya and Arista jump up to lead us in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to Jadian.
After lunch, it’s back to work for everyone on set. Joanna takes me up to the wardrobe area. There’s a ton of clothes and props there, including ones from Degrassi. To the hardcore fans, no, I did not see Drake/Jimmy’s wheelchair. Finally, it’s time for yours truly to bid adieu to the lights, cameras and action. As Joanna walks with me back towards the lobby, past the Degrassi set, past the photos of the famous alumni, I wonder if I’ve come across the next Degrassi-like success story. Bajillionaires sounds like it’s going to be a cool, high quality show. I know me and my fam are going to peep it now, when it’s on.
Disclaimer: My friends at The Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League provided my family with complimentary tickets for their first game of the season. Here are my random musings and thoughts about the experience that night, at Tim Hortons Field:
There’s a palpable buzz towards the team lately. Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winning, former NFL quarterback, has taken his talents north of the border, and is making his “comeback szn” with the Ticats this year!
There were a lot of Manziel fans in attendance. Based on the conversations I overheard, there were also people who weren’t even football fans, but came to see what all the fuss was about.
Admittedly, I’m a very casual fan myself. J and little K accompanied me that evening , but neither are fans. J’s six years old, so she was happy checking out the stadium and stuffing her face with food. KJ is one and a half. He was happy being anywhere.
We spent some time in Stripes’ Jungle, which is a really cool kids area in the stadium. I believe it was introduced last season, but this was new to us. It had a playground, and a face painting spot, while various mascots/team ambassadors were there, too. For little ones who get squirmy or restless during the game, this is a great place to go blow off some steam.
The Ticats’ gameday experience has really evolved over the years. It’s not about just buying a ticket to watch the game anymore. It’s also about hanging out, socializing and partying. Check out the stadium map, for example:
As you can see, almost everywhere you turn in the stadium, you’ll encounter a patio or lounge area of some sort. I’m sure this has helped them attract more of the demographic who are into this type of vibe.
Back in the day, when I was a young boy, I used to go to the odd game. The messed up thing is, while I don’t remember anything specific about the games, or anything kid-friendly that occurred, I vividly remember incidents in the crowd. Drunk people yelling crude and vulgar things. Drunk people fist-fighting. Drunk people making asses of themselves and being dragged out by police. I honestly don’t know if this was a Hamilton thing, or a CFL football thing, or what the deal was. It wasn’t this extreme at say, a Toronto Blue Jays game, for example. Regardless, when I had kids, the memories of boorishness and non-family friendliness made the idea of taking them to see the ‘Cats unappealing. Eventually, I did bring B out years ago, and it wasn’t that bad. There was the odd belligerent person, and profanity spewed, but it was better than I expected.
My most recent game was fine, too, in that regard, in the seats. Some people were cussing out the starting QB, because they wanted Manziel to come in. OK, whatever, not a huge deal. However, venturing out of our seats, to say, get food, or go the bathroom, was eye-opening. The concourses had a sports bar-atmosphere to them. Very rowdy, very alcohol-fueled. While fun, if you’re holding hands with two small kids, trying to navigate through it, it’s a bit treacherous. One large,stumbling dude almost trampled KJ, apologized, then yelled at me about it. “Your kids shouldn’t be walking around here!” He said, “There’s a lot of drunk people here!”
So, by that logic, if the concourses are boozefests, and almost every corner of the stadium has some lounge or patio, which potentially could also be full of inebriated individuals, the only “safe” place for small kids, then, is the Family Zone?
Yo, I’m not saying keep your kids away from Tim Hortons Field. J and KJ both had a great time, and there were lots of other little happy faces in attendance, too. Shoot, one of B’s all-time best memories was when he entered the Ticats’ Halloween costume contest two years ago, as Drake. People that night at the game were going nuts about him, treating him like he was the real Drake. He got to go down to field, be on the big screen, and win a gift card!
I’m saying that, in my experiences attending live sports, I’ve encountered some of the most drunken, disorderly fans at Ticats games. I’m sure lots of people go and don’t have any issues. You get thousands of people together in one setting, looking to have their own version of a good time, well, it’s basically buyer beware, for sure. I’m not complaining; I made the choice to go, right? This is just my observation as a parent, to other parents. Take it for what it’s worth.
Moving along, the Ticats’ all female cheerleaders have been replaced this year with a co-ed “performance” team. When they weren’t entertaining the crowd with routines on the field, they entertained the crowd throughout the stadium. Their engagement level with the fans was more than the cheerleaders used to be, I think. I saw some of them in Stripes’ Jungle for example, interacting with everyone there.
We didn’t stay for the whole game, as KJ and J both started to get sleepy after halftime. From what I saw, Manziel looked OK playing, for what it’s worth.
That’s all I got. With the Tiger Cats feeling optimistic, and Johnny Football in tow, this definitely has the makings for an interesting season in the Hammer. Oskee-Wee-Wee!
And now, the exciting conclusion to the best trilogy since Lord Of The Rings! Well, not the best, but it’s probably not the worst. Maybe. I don’t know.
Anyway, at the end of part two, B and I were heading out the door from our backup contestants gig on Just Like Mom And Dad. The casting director then gave us a silver lining, for my master plan of getting a free trip to Disney World. She mentioned that one of the contestants for the final taping had been in an accident. Thus, they were touch and go on availability. She then asked if B and I were available to be backup contestants again. We agreed.
Two days later, she called me. The other contestant was out.
B and I were in for sure!
For the love of Epcot, Could my plan actually work?!
Leading up to the taping, B and I were very confident. Remember, we had the added advantage of seeing two episodes, so we knew what was to be expected. B’s biggest worry was the plane ride that went with winning the trip (from his newfound flying fear). I was only concerned with coming as across as interesting, but not “go-viral” interesting. You know what I mean. No one wants to be that person on the game show who says or does something so ridiculous that the world thinks you’re an idiot.
Finally, the big day was here. On arrival, we were led to a dressing room, with the other two teams. The casting directors hung out with us the whole time. I’ll admit to being nervous, but they really lightened the mood. We all practised our intros and anecdotes, which put me at ease. The banter with the show’s hosts, Kylee and Sandy, was where I felt that I would fail the most, but since I had some talking points ready, I was solid. We met wardrobe and makeup people, and got mic’d up as well. Our competition for the day, a mother/daughter and dad/son duo, with the kids being close to B’s age, were all nice and personable.
Word to Drake, nice for what, though? While they would make for good TV, my eye was on the prize. Disney World would soon be mine for the taking.
We were led out of the room, and down a hall. I felt like a UFC fighter, making that walk out from the back, to the cage. Just full of nervous excitement, especially as I got to the stage, under the bright lights, and stared out into all of the cameras and people in the crowd.
After we did our introductions, the game was on. It was time for the kid’s round. The parents were escorted to a soundproof room, and given radios with headphones, to avoid hearing what was going on in the studio.
Eventually, we were brought back. First up for me, was a question about what B would do if he wasn’t playing basketball. Going along with our sports shtick, I said baseball. B, however, answered video games. Not an ideal start.
Next was a question about what subject in school B was least excited about.
Now, I knew that B loved math and was good at it. However, less than two days prior, B told us that he hated math. So using the “what have you done for me lately?” logic, I said math. Boom!
Wait, no boom. I was wrong. B said social studies. He loves math. Oops!
The kids were then led to the soundproof room, as it was parent question time.
As the hosts bantered with the other contestants, I ran through what I was going to say, in my head, like we rehearsed. Easy, peasy. So of course, when Sandy came over, he asked me an out of the blue question about my soap box derby career as a child. WTF?!
I guess, in the audition process, I had mentioned this. Completely caught off guard, I rambled and babbled to Sandy until he mercifully pulled the plug and asked what kind of fish B would be.
B isn’t exactly aquatically inclined, so I said a shark. Is a shark a fish even? Like Laurel vs. Yanny, it’s all about interpretation. The judges said it was, so my answer was locked in.
For the next round of questions, I tried to remember what the heck else I said in the interview process, but I was drawing blanks. Kylee then came over, and proceeded to say “We understand that you love Kanye West.”
I know, I know, y’all. Trust me, I know. You gotta remember, this show was taped in October. Kanye’s a polarizing figure, but I do like his music, which I had mentioned during the audition. Recently, however, Yeezy said some highly controversial, incendiary stuff. Stuff that infuriated a lot of people, especially in the black community. So, yes, as things are at peak “everyone hates Kanye” levels, there was at least one brother on TV happily saying that he loves Kanye – me. While not quite game show fail montage-worthy, it was still pretty cringeworthy. From now on, if people ask who my favorite musical artist is, I’m just going to keep it safe and say Pentatonix.
Guess I better see them in concert, if I’m a true fan.
Anyway, Kylee asked a mulitple choice question about Mr. West, with one of the answers being underwear. B’s finds undies funny, so I went with that.
When the kids came back, B got the first question wrong. He even questioned whether a shark was actually a fish. He also, unrelated, is on Team Yanny. Regardless, for those keeping track, that’s still zero points for your boys. The only saving grace was that the other teams weren’t doing so hot, either. On the last question, we avoided the embarassing shutout, as B nailed the underwear question. Going into the bake-off, we were in first place!
The kids had made their 60 second recipes earlier, while we were away in the soundproof area. Oatmeal cookies ala child-trying-to-make-their-parents-barf was on the menu. We had 30 seconds to try each cookie, and then at the end, we had to hold up a number indicating which cookie was our kids. Not gonna lie, them biscuits were nasty. Very uncookie-like, with weird textures and flavour combinations. As part of my non-viral thing, I wanted to play it cool. This turned out to be impossible. Those cookies were gross, son. I was gagging and having trouble swallowing. Longest 30 seconds ever!
B had said on multiple occasions, and even during the audition, that he wanted to make something really spicy. One of the cookies had some kick to it, so I guessed that one. At least the food at Disney World was tasty, from what I’ve heard, so this disaster would soon be worth it.
On the big reveal, the first contestants guessed right, putting them in first place. The second pair was wrong. It all came down to me! Disney dreams hanging on the outcome, I held up 2.
The answer was 3.
While I was happy for the winning team, since they were really nice people, I was super bummed. Then insult got added to injury. The winning duo spun the wheel…..and landed on the Sunwing trip, just as I had knew it would since the day that I came up with my plan. As the crowd went nuts, confetti rained down on the celebrating victors. A great moment for them, no doubt. For me, not so much. I felt like a UFC fighter who went five rounds, toe to toe, winning the fight on the score cards, but then got knocked with five seconds left in the last round. So close, and yet so far. The dream was officially deader than Mufasa in the Lion King.
OR WAS IT?!
Nah, for real this time, it was over.
And that’s the story of when I tried to go Disney World for free by going on a game show.
My seemingly ridiculous scheme didn’t work out, but I was one number away from pulling it off. Feel free to keep that in mind the next time someone tells you that one of your ideas sucks! Also, B and I had an unforgettable, memorable adventure together. I’m proud of the lil dude, and that’s worth more than any vacation (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself). I really can’t say enough good things about all of the JLMAD crew, too. Making a TV show is a tough job, especially when dealing with unpredictable little kids, but everyone was always positive and cordial. Finally, B didn’t walk away empty-handed. He got a cool hockey prize pack, along with some other swag:
For those wondering, Just Like Mom And Dad is currently casting for season two! You can apply here.
Now, if you can excuse me, I’m off to go listen to some Pentatonix. Maybe they got some Disney-themed songs. Later, y’all.
This year, B and J (dressed as Drake and a rocker girl, respectively) had a blast trick or treating, and came home with a pretty good haul of goodies. Mounds of junk food, for real.
One thing that I noticed was that some treats were better received than others. Uh, not just by B and J, but by me, too. As such, I figured I’d rank them. Consider this the top 10 Halloween treats that my kids got this year. There’s no real criteria; it’s just based on my own subjective, unintelligent, unreliable opinion.
Ok, let’s get our Ryan Seacrest on, and count ’em down!
10. Granola Bars
Coming in at number 10 is a good ol’ granola bar. While not as exciting as the other contenders, it does have its charms. For example, it’s probably not that unhealthy, so it can be used in candy negotiations (ie. “Daddy? Can I have a chocolate bar?” “No! No more junk. Go eat a granola bar or something.”). Plus, since nary an apple was found in any of the loot bags this year, it’ll have to do, as the only nutrional option.
Conversely, let’s talk about Rockets. These sweet tasting packages of sugar tablets have little in the way of nutritional value. However, they are a favorite among the kids, since they are sweet tasting packages of sugar tablets. The only reason that they aren’t higher on the list is because of J’s habit of playing with them and pretending they’re medicine. The idea of a little girl and her stuffed animals play-popping pills is kind of weird, what can I say.
Don’t get it twisted, American readers. What we call Rockets up here in Canada, you guys call Smarties down there. Our Smarties are multi-coloured, candy-coated chocolates, however, and are, as the kids say, da bomb dot com. Oh Canada, indeed!
7. Tootsie Pops
I have no idea if B and J even like these. When I saw them in their bags, it made me think of that Lil Kim and Sisqo song “How Many Licks”, so that counts for something, right? Pretty sure that song wasn’t about Tootsie Pops, though.
6. Coffin Crisp
Another Canadian specialty. This is a bite sized, Halloween-themed Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. Big ups for getting into the holiday spirit! In fact, the only thing better would be if the kids somehow got these full sized.
Wait, what’s that?
Sweet! Hey, that was kind of fun. Let’s do that again!
5. Random Chocolate Bars
These are cool…….
But bigger is better!
Aight, one more time!
4. Caramilk Bar
OK, now turn it up!
Check the back? Why?
This expired in July? Who the heck gives out expired candy on Halloween?! That’s cold like Minnesota, yo.
Man, I need a new number 4.
New 4. Doritos
Perfect. Cheesy, nachoey goodness. And most importantly, not expired.
Potato chips are always a hit, but the kids seemed to really like these mini Pringles cans, to get their salty fix.
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
My personal favorite. The only reasons that they aren’t number 1 is because when they are left in less than ideal temperatures, they melt, creating a gooey mess which the kids still eat, resulting in gooey messy children.
1. Cans of Soda
Pop pop, homies! At the top of this chart are beverages! Maybe the people who handed these out did it deliberately. Or maybe they did it because they didn’t have any candy to give out, so they raided their pantry (sucks to be the kid who got a can of corn from them). Regardless, B and J’s eyes lit up the most at these unusual handouts, so that’s why they are number 1. I remember feeling the same way when I got a can of Coke while trick or treating back in the day. It’s like ordering a pizza, and getting a steak instead. #whatapleasantsurprise
And that’s that. Peace out, starboys and stargirls.
I hope your Halloween was as spooktacular as ours!
Ahhh, fun packs. Those single serving sized boxes of cereal where the box somehow functions as a bowl!
Man, back in the day, many a Saturday morning was spent chomping down on these and watching Saved By The Bell/California Dreams/Hammerman/Soul Train/ whatever. Who cared what was on, as long as I got my Froot Loops on, homey!
Nowadays, since I’m kinda lazy K and I are really busy most of the time, we are always looking for quick and easy ideas for the kids to have for breakfast, that they’ll actually eat. While out shopping recently, Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals were on sale, so I bought a package, for the first time in years. How’d they go over with the fam, you ask?
Well…here is my non-biased, unaffiliated with Kellogg’s review!
Now, when I was a kid, there was one thing that bugged me about fun packs: they would come in packages of 8 or 10 boxes, but it always seemed like for every one box of deliciousness, there would be two boxes of Crappios or Lame Flakes, or something like that. This wasn’t the case with Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals, however. All of the boxes were proven winners. Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops + Corn Pops + Rice Krispies = edible supergroup.
Another good thing was the variety. B and J like Rice Krispies, for example, but they won’t eat a whole box of Rice Krispies, if that’s the only option. With Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals, if they got bored of one flavour, there were still three other choices, and only two little boxes of each. This is perfect for kids like mine, who have the attention span of a…. I don’t know. Something with a short attention span, I’ve lost interest in trying to think of a comparison. Regardless, you get all of the benefits of eating cereal without committing to a big box of it! If fun packs were people, they would be side pieces! Or booty calls!
Shut up, Mike.
Anyways, no doubt, I was feeling pretty good about this purchase…..and then the taste test happened.
It was an early morning and I was sleeping. I’m pretty sure B came into our room and asked if he could have some cereal. I groggily said yes then went back to sleep. Yeah, I realize that I wrote about this type of occurrence before, and that it never ends well.
This time, however?
B went downstairs, helped himself to a box of Corn Pops, carefully opened it up into its bowl shape, added some milk, went to the table, quietly ate every crumb, and then disposed of the box bowl in the garbage. The end.
Of course that didn’t happen.
Remember what I said, about the variety, and the kids having short attention spans? B and J apparently couldn’t decide on just one box, so they opened all eight. And not just opened. They took them up to the playroom, and the ones that they didn’t finish eating (which was almost every box ) they dumped out, all over the floor. You know, because that totally makes sense. Don’t worry, they made sure to walk on them, too, just to really grind the flakes, balls and loops into the carpet. It looked like a freakin’ Kellogg’s factory exploded in there. It was like the room got hit by a Cerealnado. Yeah, that’s right, a Cerealnado. Hey, Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, have I got a movie idea for you!
Apparently, all of those fun packs didn’t exactly give B any energy, either. When I told him that he had to clean up all of the mess, he dutifully picked up a few pieces of Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies. Then, when he realized the scope of the job, and how long it would take, he tried to come up with some shortcuts to make it go faster. Bless his lazy little heart. THEN, when those didn’t work (toy cars and books make horrible brooms, go figure), he complained that his arms were tired and refused to do any more. This all happened in a span of five minutes, by the way, but he was whining about his arms like he just completed a CrossFit workout. J, to her credit, tried to eat up the mess, but eventually she gave up/got full/lost interest.
NON-BIASED UNAFFILIATED WITH KELLOGG’S CONCLUSION
If you’re looking for quick, easy breakfast/snack ideas for the kids, you could do a lot worse than giving them Kellogg’s Fun Pack Cereals. My kids liked the Froot Loops the most. There was a trail of loops from the pantry to the stairs, and hardly any in the playroom. This indicates that they were most hyped up to chow down on those first. The one con with these fun packs is that they are a pain to try and vacuum up when your kids pour them out on the floor. You probably won’t have that problem, though. You probably don’t have most of my parenting problems.
Nonetheless, on a scale of confused Garry Moores talking to Tony The Tigers, I’ll give this product 4 Garrys and Tonys out of 4.
Back in the day, my Mom would always complain about how ungrateful me and my sisters were. I was a good lil dude, though! Always polite and well-mannered, yo. Or….. I think I was, anyway. It was a long time ago, I don’t really remember.
Regardless, now that I have kids, I get what my mom was talking about. As a parent, you do so much, and give up so much, for your children, but man they can be sooo unappreciative. However, I’m realizing that, sometimes, it is because they honestly don’t know any better.
Take last year, around Thanksgiving, for instance. B’s kindergarten classmates were doing projects on what they were thankful for. When his teacher asked him what he was thankful for, B said…….juice.
Not you, OJ. Wrong juice!
Yeah, for real, juice. Even a few days later, K asked him again, and he said ‘I told you three times already, orange juice!’
Stupid delicious juice took priority over his fam, friends etc. When I heard that, I went all old school lecturing grump on him:
“When I was boy, we couldn’t afford juice. We drank purple Kool-Aid. I had to walk 30 miles to the store there and back, uphill both ways, to buy some. I was up at 5:00 AM every morning to do my chores, and I used the money to buy my own Kool-Aid. It wasn’t given to me. I had to mix that sugar, water and purple up, too, with a wooden spoon that I made from a tree that I chopped down myself!”
OK, you got me, I didn’t drop that on B. I did feel pretty lousy, though. Clearly, he loves us, but way to communicate that appreciation, buddy. I was honestly questioning whether I was doing a good job instilling the right morals in him.
Then, one night, he came running down the stairs, freaked out . B said that there was a scary wolf in his room and that I needed to come get him. I figured that it was typical Bedtime WTFness, but I went to check anyway (with him behind me, because he was terrified). When we got there, he pointed across his room. I walked over, and there was a book on his floor with a freaky looking, creepy eyed wolf on the front (no, it wasn’t a picture of Kevin Garnett from his days in Minnesota. ZZZZING!) Anyway, it was just a horrible choice for a cover.
However, to chill him out, I told him that the wolf wasn’t bad, and I read the book to him. Turned out that the wolves in it didn’t eat any kids in their sleep. I hid it afterwards, out of his view, just to be safe. B was then cool after that.
Look, I have no idea if B really understands gratitude at this point.
All I know is that juice won’t save him and his sister from wolves. I got their backs for that. And even though they won’t say it now, I’m sure they’ll thank me later.