We are currently living through extraordinary, catastrophic times, man. Not only that, but one of the worst parts about this COVID-19 novel coronavirus story is that we don’t know the ending. Will it be happy, like the end of the TV show Friends? Or will it be disappointingly infuriating, like the end of the TV show Dexter? Who knows, dude. Until then, all that we can do is cross our fingers, and adjust our lives around the terms that have become part of our vernacular lately. Self-isolation. Self-quarantine. #stayhome. Social distancing. Flatten the curve. The new normal.
The new normal.
Like you, my family’s daily routines have been completely overhauled, in our attempts to ride this out and not get sick. How’s that you going, you ask? Well……
In the economic game of musical chairs, I currently am still working at my day job, but just from home. Because of societal musical chairs, public gatherings of five people or more are currently prohibited in Ontario. As such, the kids and K (who’s a teacher) are also home. And, in all honesty, it’s all good. Doom and gloom aside, it’s nice to hang out with the fam more.
With nowhere to go, it’s led to creative ways to entertain ourselves. There’s an increase in puzzles, board games, instrument learning and streaming services in our house. J is taking to making pictures of me, for unknown reasons, too Here’s a painting that she drew, of yours truly:
I asked her why I’m yellow, and she said that it was because she didn’t have any brown.
Hue problem aside, it’s not bad. Unlike this one, though:
She discreetly took a picture of me, to make a Nintendo “Mii”. Yes, I realize that my Mii resembles a digital, pink-lipped Sherman Helmsley. And yes, I realize that I look like Keenan Thompson from Saturday Night Live in the picture.
YOU WISHED THAT YOU LOOKED THIS GOOD, MIKE!
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
I’ve talked on here before about the continued development of little KJ. With his daycare closed, he’s home, and makes frequent visits to my workspace during the day. Sometimes, it’s just to chit chat about whatever is on his three year old mind. We’ve discussed career ambitions (“Daddy! When my grow up, my want to be a butterfly!”), dietary habits (“Daddy, if my eat carrots, I’ll be bigger!” *eats carrots* “See, mine this big now” *holds arms out as wide as he can*), and family history (“Daddy! When my brudder and sister were in my mommy’s tummy, my was older, too. My wasn’t scared!”).
Sometimes, he requires my assistance. For instance, he dictated a story to me once, and had me draw it out for him:
The Joker. What a jerk.
And sometimes, he just wants to chill out with me:
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work at home with kids….it’s this.
With B being our oldest, he gets what’s going on the most. He’s been the most affected by it, as well. His life, like many 10 year olds, revolves around sports, school, and video games. Two of those three have been removed from the equation. As a result, he has leaned heavily into his one remaining old normal avenue, in these times of the new normal.
For real, I don’t mind the gaming. If he can’t physically talk to, and play with, his buddies, doing so virtually is better than nothing. The problem is trying to get him off to do something else…..when there isn’t much else to do. Many a time of me yelling at him to go outside, for some exercise, is usually met with “BUT I’M PLAYING WITH MY FRIENDS!”.
If B had his way, he would probably disappear into the basement at the break of dawn, play games all day, and emerge at night, red-eyed, with a five o’ clock shadow. OK, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.
you gon’ learn today!
It’s not all fun and games. K and I have been doing some homeschooling, and (more recently since the curriculum was just launched in Ontario as of this writing) online learning, as well. It’s…..going. I’d like to say that, with so much free time, B and J are eager, model students, thirsty for knowledge from bottomless learning cups provided by their parents.
I’d also like to say that my dad bod stomach has turned into a six pack.
Neither of these statements are true.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons, where Bart breaks his leg, and, while recovering in his bedroom, starts to get the wrong idea that his neighbour was a murderer? I’m not saying my neighbours are killers, don’t get it twisted. However, my workspace is by a window, which leads to occasionally peeking out of it. There’s such a monotony of joggers, family bike rides and dog walkers passing by during the day, that anything else has my mind playin’ tricks on me.
A Purolator truck with a big package? Exciting! I wonder what they ordered!
A husband leaves his home, then hours later, another man in a van pulls up, and goes into the house with a toolbox. Service call by the wife? Or something else? Ooooooh, scandalous!!!
Shoot, my one neighbour wasn’t quick on picking up their bins on garbage day, and I was seriously considering contacting the police about a house call, to see if they were alright.
The old me wouldn’t have noticed any of this stuff. Why does the new normal involve me being a nosy neighbour?!
I know what you’re thinking.
“But Mike, what about your family’s toilet paper situation?”
OK, you probably weren’t thinking that, but the answer is…….we good.
See, being on the outskirts of Hamilton means everything is a drive. Let’s say that I need to pick up some toilet paper, eggs and milk. My options that are up to a 20ish minute trip away include Freshco (x3), Fortinos (x2), Walmart (x2), Costco (x2), Real Canadian Superstore, Food Basics, No Frills (x2), Lococo’s, Zarky’s, Sobey’s, Metro, Shopper’s Drug Mart (x too many to count), and Foodland. Plus, Amazon Prime has a program where they will send you the same products every month recurring…..and we’re signed up for that, to receive toilet paper.
Hoarders be hoarding, cool. But in our case, with so many options at our disposal, we have been able to get by fine, so far. Just don’t get any ideas about stealing my limited supply, though, please, if the hoarders turn out to be right.
Y’all dancing on TikTok to combat boredom, while I’m taking tough guy selfies with a chain to combat would-be TP thieves. We’ll see who wipes, I mean, laughs, last!
The old normal seems like a distant memory already. We have gone from looking at Wuhan, and thinking that there’s no way what happened there could happen here, to looking at the new normal and thinking if what used to happen here will ever happen again. Stay safe and smart, folks.
Today’s post is brought to you by the number three. You see, three is a big time number in our house, especially recently, as our third child, KJ, recently turned three years old! Since having a third child, we have been regularly asked three questions:
You have three kids?! This is always asked in a shocked voice, by anyone who has less than three children.
When are you having more? In my head, I follow up by giving the person a crisp slap to the face, for asking such a bananas question. In reality, I just laugh it off.
So who is the third kid most like?
Now this. This is a thinker. As KJ entered into the threes, he really has developed his own personality, to say the least. For example:
Despite not living at a nudist resort, or coming from a family of exhibitionists, KJ loves to not wear any clothes. On a typical evening, I’ll come home from work, and find him in nothing but a diaper, looking like Mowgli from The Jungle Book.
You might be thinking “But that’s cute, Mike. What’s the big deal?”. And sometimes, it is cute. Conversely, sometimes, when I’m trying to get him ready to go to daycare in the morning, and he’s refusing to get dressed, it’s not so cute. There are some things that you just can’t force someone to do. As a fun family game tonight, ask your kids to put a shirt and a pair of pants on you, but make this as humanly difficult as possible on them. You’d be surprised at the number of ways that there are to accomplish this. You’ll win every time! Anyway, I’ve loaded KJ’s diaper-only clad butt in my car on more than one occasion (because he wins every time). That, my dudes, ain’t so cute.
This happened, too, not long ago:
That right there is KJ standing shoeless on a busy winter afternoon in downtown Toronto. If you’ve never done this before….I don’t recommend it.
enunciation IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
KJ’s vocab game is ever-improving. His pronunciation and sentence-making skills are coming along, too. He still has his moments, though. For instance, I took him with me to J’s basketball recently, and we had this conversation while sitting on the sidelines:
KJ – You made me crap!
Me (looking around nervously, to see if anyone else heard) – What did I do?!
KJ (louder) – You made me crap! With your legs!
Me (stunned silence)
KJ – Crap me with your legs! Now!
At this point, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I just sat there with my legs spread. He then crawled between them, and pulled them together, so they were closed around him.
KJ – See? Crap!
I then realized that he meant to say trap. No bowel-moving maneuvers needed.
FICKLE, FICKLE, FICKLE!
When KJ is unhappy, we understand him loud and clear, because he will articulate his feelings loudly and clearly. In his little world, the most petty things tick him off. He’ll look at me pouting, and say “Dad, I’m so mad at you.” The reasons for the rage have ranged from understandable ones, like he didn’t want to stop watching his tablet, to irrational ones, like he didn’t love the voices that I made for the toys we were playing with, or he wanted two ice cubes in his sippy cup, but I only gave him one.
A CAREER IN COMEDY DOESN’T SEEM PROMISING
KJ – Knock knock.
Me – Who’s there?
KJ – My dad is so nice!
Me – My dad is so nice who?
KJ – My dad is so nice because he is nice.
And that was the joke.
He also thinks it’s hilarious to pinch my nose and ask if I’m Batman.
*tumbleweed blows by*
OK. This is pretty funny. When’s the next open mic night?
KJ’s perception of me has changed as he’s entered into the threes, as well. For some reason, he thinks our bedroom closet is my “room”, as if I go there every night, and curl up on a shelf to sleep, snuggled up in Drake shirts, with In My Feelings as my lullaby.
Furthermore, before, he thought this WWE action figure was me:
Professional wrestler Shelton Benjamin. Big, strong, muscular, handsome. I’ll take it!
Lately, though, he has called me this:
A half completed, goofy Mr. Potato Head?! I’m a bit of a hesi-tater when it comes to an una-peel-ing comparison!
A broken, ancient toy car? I’m not as young or as fast as I used to be, but c’mon!
If I were a firefighter, it wouldn’t be so bad. However, I am not. When I told this to J, she asked if I liked black shoes (sure?) and flashlights (I guess?). She then shrugged and said “close enough”.
So who is KJ most alike in our family? The answer can be summed up in three words:
Now, if you’re over the age of 25, this may or may not mean anything to you. However, if you have kids under the age of 25, especially teenaged ones or younger, it should mean something to you. I am by no means a TikTok expert (TikTokspert?). However, I have had some experiences with it, courtesy of my son B, who’s currently 10 years old. Since I’ve talked to other parents who don’t know squat about TikTok, I figured that I’d share my limited knowledge in the form of a parent’s guide to TikTok. Let’s do this, FAQ- style!
I love Ke$ha! Tik Tok is my jam!
Sorry, person-older-than-TikTok’s-main-demographic. I’m not talking about that classic song.
That’s a lot of people waking up feeling like P. Diddy! What is TikTok, exactly?
Still not talking about the Ke$ha song, dude. Anyway, TikTok is an app from China, where users can upload short form videos and share them on the network. The videos are usually only a few seconds long and musically oriented. Lots of lip-syncing, dancing, singing, and random clips set to songs are what you can expect to find on it. Plenty of memes and challenges, too. You know how you saw Ellen dancing to Old Town Road by Lil Nas X, and you pretended to know the song, when you really hadn’t heard it before?
I remember that day well.
A big part of that song’s initial popularity was because of how it blew up on TikTok, by people using it in their videos.
So TikTok iS like YouTube for people who can’t be bothered to watch videos longer than a minute long?? No wonder kids like it.
Not exactly. But yeah, kids do seem to love this app. Some of the stuff on there is pretty entertaining. Plus, with all the silly filters and effects available when creating the videos, it’s a fun way to flash some creativity.
Sounds awesome! I’m going to sign my seven year old up for it ASAP!
Hey slow down, pal. TikTok has a minimum age requirement of 13 years old.
But you signed your 10 year old up for it!
We did, and, in retrospect, it was a mistake. The first time that B had an account, it was because a lot of his schoolmates were on it, and he had a case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out. I’m down with that Gen Z lingo, too, sometimes. Not really). One thing with TikTok is that, unless you change the settings, anything you upload can be seen by anyone. K and I let B have an account, and monitored what he was posting, but not as closely as we should have. It’s easy, especially if you’re young and impressionable, to get caught up in likes/followers/comments chasing. Long story short, in most likely an effort to impress his friends, B posted some stuff that was reckless, embarrassing and inappropriate for a child of his age, so we deleted his account.
Did you say the first time?! You mean you let him have an account after this?
Sigh. Yes, we did. We thought B had learned his lesson, and was going to be more responsible. So, like his fondness for Fortnite, we gave him another chance. And, for a while, he was OK. His videos were mostly just self-made highlight reels of him playing basketball in his room, set to non-explicit songs. I mentioned before that TikTok is a social app, and another aspect to that is the ability to direct message people. Yes, you can slide into DMs (more Gen Z lingo!) on TikTok. Anyway, long story short again, but more recklessness happened. For example, he sneakily pulled an all-nighter one Wednesday night, to screw around on TikTok (with predictable sleep-deprived results the next day). He also posted a video in which he was lucky to have not resulted in more serious ramifications than it did. Because of those, and some other incidents, we deleted his new account, for good this time.
And the award for “Parents Of The Year” goes to.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We screwed up. Every kid is different, right? You want to instil a sense of trust and responsibility in your children, and when it doesn’t work out, it sucks. On the surface, most social media has lots of redeeming qualities, like the positive interaction with your peers. Beneath that, though, sometimes, lies a toxic, addictive cesspool.
Daaaaang, Gina! Tell us how you really feel.
I’m just sayin’, you can’t be too careful when it comes to monitoring your kids’ TikTok usage. For instance, it’s all username based, unlike Facebook or Instagram. Say your friend is named Tyrone Biggums, and you want to follow him on TikTok. You can’t just search up Tyrone Biggums. He might have changed his username to AshyLarry or something. It really does take some effort to find your friends.
I remember B showing me a video that a girl at his school had made, which was pointless and dumb, but had a lot of likes. I quickly looked at her account, and all her videos were in the same vain, but she had, relatively speaking, a lot of followers. When I thought of how ‘out there’ she was, how anyone with or without an account could watch her videos, and how fairly anonymous most of her followers could have been, it made me wonder. Who exactly was following this little girl and why? How many of these people were trying to slide into her DMs?
Is TikTok SAFE FOR KIDS, OR IS IT full of creepy perverts?!?
I….I don’t know. I’m also just a dad with a blog with limited experience with this app. I’m guessing, at the very least, it has the same ratio of normal people to predatory creeps as anything else online, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
Besides monitoring, is there anything else that I can do to protect my child on TikTok?
To their credit, TikTok does have numerous parental controls and privacy measures available, which can help you in this regard. It’s also a great idea to talk to them about cyberbullying, and about making smart choices online.
You’ve said a lot, but I still don’t get TikTok, or its appeal. I’m too old for this app.
Nice self awareness. While you don’t have to like it, you should get used to it, as, data breach controversy aside, TikTok most likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Shoot, like all cool, hip things of the moment, more and more businesses are jumping on the TikTok bandwagon too, as a way to build brand awareness. If you really want to win brownie points at your work, tell your boss that you want to open and run your company’s TikTok account.
Well, if you want to win brownie points, you know what to do.
Just do it. c’MON. We’re about done here anyway.
Fine, here you go. And happy TikToking. Be safe out there, folks:
Look, I get it. Milwaukee, Wisconsin doesn’t exactly scream family vacation destination. It’s a mid-sized Midwest city known for beer, bratwurst and cheese. How sexy is that? However, I read quite a bit about how internationally-born NBA Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo loved it there. If the Greek Freak, a man who’s been all over the world, and could basically play anywhere that he wanted, chose freakin’ Milwaukee, then there must be more than meets the eye. For my family, I thought that it would make for, at the very least, an interesting road trip. Turns out, there’s actually lots of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids, and it’s one of the coolest cities that I’ve been to.
things to do in milwaukee with kids: GETTING THERE
Now, truth be told, it was a long drive, for us. It involved going through one province, and four states, plus a different time zone. Including stops, each way took a good 11 hours. To keep the kids not at each other’s throats entertained, we pretty much brought more DVDs than an old Blockbuster Video store with us, for them to watch in the van, along with other devices and toys. As Milwaukee is situated on the coast of Lake Michigan, our drive consisted of going around the lake, to get there. A ferry called The Lake Express does depart from Muskegon, Michigan, and goes to Milwaukee. We looked into this, and while appealing, because it would have shaved hours off of the driving, it was fairly expensive, so we passed.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN MILWAUKEE with kids
Milwaukee is a big sports town. I couldn’t walk very far without seeing someone decked out in Bucks, Brewers or Green Bay Packers apparel. The aforementioned Giannis, in particular, seems to get a lot of love. While it wasn’t basketball season, we did scope out the not-brand-new-but-still-has-that-new-arena-smell Fiserv Forum, where the Bucks play.
Our visit happened during the summer, so we were able to watch a Brewers game, at Miller Park. The stadium is awesome, and is a great place to catch nine innings.
Beyond that, though, the Brewers do a nice job with the extra stuff. In case you or the little ones get bored, there are a couple of play areas in the park, for them to blow off some steam. One of them even has a mini version of the famous Bernie Brewer slide. On Sundays (when we went), you can play catch in the outfield of the Field of Dreams-esque Helfaer Field, located beside Miller Park, before then game. This is a really popular fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids. Then after the game, children can unleash their inner Christian Yelich, and run the bases on Miller Park’s field!
When it comes to things to do in the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium with kids, history features prominently. There’s a Walk of Fame and a Wall of Honor commemorating legendary Brewers figures. For you Bud Selig fans, he’s a main attraction at Miller Park, complete with a statue, retired number, and a section dedicated to him called the Bud Selig Experience.
I’m more of a Hank Aaron fan myself.
Zoos are always a hit with our family, and the Milwaukee County Zoo was no exception. It houses over 3100 (!!) creatures of the land, sea and sky, sprawled across 190 acres. Coming up with a game plan seemed daunting, but once we got going, it wasn’t bad at all. It was easy to navigate and not very strenuous to walk (re: so no complaints about tired legs from B, J or KJ). The Milwaukee County Zoo also has some attractions like a carousel, Sky Safari, rope courses and a zip line on site, too (all for an added cost). In addition, numerous opportunities exist to see some of the animals up close, throughout the zoo.
I will admit to trying to cheat things a bit. We thought that if we took the Safari Train, then we could lap the park and see everything quickly. Word of advice – don’t do this. The train is a leisurely ride around the perimeter of the zoo, so you don’t get many glimpses of most of the crowd pleasing animals.
Hey guys, if you squint, you can kind of see a monkey in the distance!
Another really fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids is to go to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. This museum is home to numerous exhibits, some of which are seasonal, but all of which are interactively hands-on with learning elements. KJ and J really enjoyed the Home Town exhibit, because of all the pretend, make believe, role playing aspects to it.
KJ and J, puttin’ in dat work.
B spent a lot of time in the Big League Fun exhibit, putting his baseball abilities and knowledge to the test.
According to this simulation, B hit one home run 618 feet. The longest home run in MLB history, allegedly, was a 575 footer hit by Babe Ruth. Clearly, my nine year old son is better than Babe Ruth.
We barely scratched the surface of the other exhibits on hand (once my kids find stuff that they like, they tend to really like it), which was a shame, as they were all dope. Whereas my kiddos gravitated towards the ones mentioned, yours might like Science CITY more, for example.
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum was such a blast that I didn’t even realize how educational and skill-developing it was. I was too busy acting like a big kid with my kids. It even had an outdoor area, with amazing #views of Milwaukee’s waterfront, for you selfie-loving Instaparents.
Not far from Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is Discovery World. Focused mainly on technology and aquatic stuff, visiting here is another really fun thing to do in Milwaukee with kids. It’s a large, multi-level center, full of stations, labs and experiences, which appeal to the inner scientist and engineer of all ages. Not only that, but it has an aquarium, as well, with a robust collection of interesting underwater animals to check out.
Due to the size and number of activities to do, it was hard to try everything; we were even there for a few hours! Our visit also happened to coincide with a tournament and some other event happening nearby, so finding parking was quite a challenge. Apparently, it can be even worse during bigger events, like Summerfest. However, Discovery World is the only place where my family “touched lightning”, lied on a bed of nails, gawked at a poisonous dart frog, and walked on a replica schooner while humming “I’m On a Boat” by the Lonely Island (Fine. The last one was all me). How cool is that?
Y’all thought I was joking about the bed of nails.
Discovery World is located on Milwaukee’s lakefront. I was surprised at how beautiful this area is. It looked like a great location to hang out, or go for a ride along the shoreline, or, as we noticed on the day that we were there anyway, get married and have the reception on a cruise ship. Unrelated, but who knew that Milwaukee had such nice beaches?!
things to do in milwaukee with kids : dining There
Make no mistake about it, Milwaukee is a beer lover’s dream. It’s not just a city of MGD drinkers, however. Milwaukee’s micro and craft beer scene is thriving. I’m sure this isn’t even remotely true, so don’t hold me to it as fact, but when exploring the town, it feels like there is a brewery on every corner, each with their own unique offerings. Many of the breweries offer tours, too, with samplings. These obviously aren’t necessarily child friendly, though, so we didn’t partake in one while in search of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids. Regardless, whatever your taste is, you definitely won’t be hard-pressed to find good, satisfying suds anywhere during your travels
Walk Off Tripel beer, by MKE Brewing Co.
A city dubbed “The Beer Capital Of The World” having lots of beer in it is hardly a surprise. Conversely, Milwaukee’s culinary scene was pleasantly surprising. Brats are a Wisconsin staple, and the sheer number of people grilling them up as they tailgated before and after the Brewers game that we went to was impressive. Cheese curds are another staple, and I had no idea that there were so many different ways to make them. Beyond these, the cuisine in the city stretches way beyond traditional Midwest fares. Cool, trendy-looking restaurants to fill your belly are aplenty throughout the city.
For example, we went to Glass + Griddle one evening. It’s a large, open beer hall environment, with a bright, contemporary interior design. Picnic tables are one of the seating options on the premise which, if you’re with a large party, is actually kind of perfect. The bar was huge. As Glass + Griddle is located directly beside MKE Brewing Co., their beers are featured prominently (but not exclusively).
The food offered is more or less what you find at a gastropub. There was no kiddie menu, so, in terms of families, I’d probably recommended it as a place to go to while on the way to, or back from, somewhere, to grab a quick bite. We just picked a bunch of scrumptious apps and chowed down on those…..including, of course, cheese curds!
One of the most fun things to do in Milwauakee with kids is to go eat is SafeHouse. I think that I’d describe it as a spy-themed speakeasy. The secret entrance is located in an alley, and once you find it, you need to know the password to get in (don’t worry, you can still enter, but no spoilers how here). Once inside, the restaurant takes the espionage theme very seriously.
The staff are all “agents”, as well as you. If you want someone to call you Austin Powers with a straight face, then this is your spot. Spy memorabilia and decor fill the walls; the menu is contains spy references, too. You can even partake in a scavenger hunt, where you’re encouraged to walk around and find all of the hidden surprises scattered throughout the building. Stopping by the magic bar is encouraged, because, well, magicians rule, and the one at SafeHouse is really entertaining. The food was alright, but, as one of Milwaukee’s hot spots, SafeHouse is the type of place where you go to soak in the unique experience.
A covert photo-op mission completed.
Another unique, diverse food destination that we checked out was the Milwaukee Public Market. This is an indoor food market located downtown, which houses many local vendors who offer a wide range of freshly-produced products. We went during breakfast, so we didn’t get to divulge in some of the tasty looking lunch/dinner options. However, I’ll vouch for the smoothies from On The Bus, the big cookies from C. Adam’s Bakery, the coffee from Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. and the breakfast tacos from Margerita Paradise as all being outstanding.
Milwaukee does has lots of more traditional restaurants. Our favorite was Blue’s Egg. From what I’m told, this is a very popular breakfast/brunch joint. Resultingly, the wait time to get in sometimes can be long. However, we experienced no delay, when we went. The food is American-style, with their own twist on things. The portion sizes were generous, and delicious. The stuffed hash browns came highly recommended, and for good reason! Not only that, but the service, no joke, was the best that I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Above and beyond what you’d normally expect. Blue’s Egg exceeded the hype, for sure.
Stuffed hash browns FTW!
BEING THERE, SEEING THERE
During our trip, we stayed at The Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown. It’s very contemporary, and our room was bright, clean and comfortable. As a basketball fan, the subtle hoop themes in the lobby is especially cool.
You can tell that downtown is experiencing a resurgence. Many buildings and areas are new, or have undergone changes to be more fresh and hip. The best example of this is Fiserv Forum, which I mentioned earlier. It’s the central point of Deer District, a revitalised neighbourhood that is one of the city’s best sports and entertainment destinations. It also happens to be a short stroll away from our hotel.
Giannis the Greek Freak, larger than life!
Marquette University is also located near downtown. Pockets of neighbourhoods have a youthful buzz about them, if that makes sense. Harley Davidson’s headquarters are in Milwaukee (there is even a Harley Davidson Museum, in town). Coincidentally or not, I did notice all kinds of different folks cruising along on Harleys. Alternatively, it appeared that the electric scooter trend has taken the town by storm. Lots of people were zipping around on them. In terms of things to do in Milwaukee with kids, it is probably safer to walk, when sightseeing.
Travelling around downtown Milwaukee wasn’t too bad, in terms of accessibility. Lots of stuff was withing walking distance, or a short drive (or scooter ride) away. Even getting over to Miller Park can be simplified. Several of the restaurants in the Deer District offered a shuttle bus service to games. If you go and pre-drink, you can take the bus to the game, and it will pick you up afterwards (for the price of a tip to the driver). We took advantage of this service at The Mecca Sports Bar And Grill. The best part is that the driver acted as a de facto tour guide along the way. She gave us the lowdown on some landmarks, as well as the head’s up on which parts of the city to avoid after dark.
THE WRAP UP
Don’t sleep on Milwaukee, my dudes. It’s not just another stereotypical, industrial, Midwestern city. Milwaukee is culturally diverse, artsy, random and eclectic, with a really chill vibe about it. Milwaukee is full of fun things to do with kids, as well. It’s an unexpectedly vibrant place to check out with the family, full of stuff for you and them to enjoy.
Note: We were hosted by Visit Milwaukee for this trip. Many of the destinations discussed were complimentary in nature to us. All opinions expressed are my own, as always.
Three quick posts for the price of one today, dawg. Let’s go!
TRAPPED IN A CLOSET
A while ago, lil KJ outgrew his crib, so we upgraded him to his own bed. For the most part, it’s been alright. Sometimes, though, I miss the containment of the crib. Take the other night, for example.
I had put him down to sleep, which was a laborious, time-consuming process. About an hour later, I heard his door open. He happily came bouncing down the stairs, fresh as a daisy.
The increase in bed freedom has led to an increase in late night wandering. He usually comes to our room later, though. Why he was up so early now, no clue. Regardless, I took him back to his room, and he was out within minutes.
I had promised J that I would crash in her bed (that’s a whole ‘nother story), so that’s where I ended up. At around 3AM, I was awakened to KJ screaming for me, and crying. In theory, I should have just gotten up, but I was barely conscious, so I yelled for him to come to me. I must have dozed off, because, the next thing that I know, I heard KJ frantically yelling for me, plus a lot of indecipherable, two year old toddler gibberish (“Daddy, lkfjk$ajfuebt! Daddy!”). I had to get up now. I stumbled around upstairs, in the dark, trying to find where the yells were coming from. It was like the sorriest game of Marco Polo ever. Eventually, I realized that the screaming was coming from B’s room.
Or more specifically, B’s closet.
See, B has a dresser in his closet, with a gap between it and the wall. The gap is roomy enough for me to stand there, for example, but I’m too big to easily wedge myself into it. KJ, presumably in his hunt for me, in the dark, decided that I must have been in that gap.
He got himself into it, but then couldn’t get back out, and started freaking. I saw him, lifted him up, and as soon as I did, he calmed down. Fresh as a daisy, he then said ‘Oh, hi daddy!’ as if he was surprised to see me.
Legit, I think that, with R. Kelly making headlines, I had been reading a lot about him and his music lately. KJ must have been secretly reading along with me, too. Otherwise I don’t think that I’ll ever understand why he was trapped in a closet.
Speaking of big new stories, the Momo Challenge was a huge deal recently. As parents, K and I had the same sense of moral panic that you probably did, which meant that we had to confront what our kids were consuming on social media head-on. It’s crazy how impressionable a child’s mind is.
Take J, for instance. In her six year old eyes, a heavy set toy delivery man in a red suit, magic reindeers, unicorns and giant, chocolate-dropping bunnies are all very important to her. Shoot, for a minute, so was a ghost-hunting Elvis Presley.
Knowing this, a few weeks ago, J casually asked me the following:
“Is YouTube Real?”
I was slightly distracted, so I said of course it was real, without hesitation. Real live humans, posting real stuff. In retrospect, this was not the greatest idea. YouTube is reality, but there’s also a lot of phoney bologna which can fool a naive young brain. Later on, we had this conversation:
J – “Daddy, I’m scared of the Bad Elf.” ( J loves the Elf On A Shelf, and takes the whole thing very seriously. In turn, I have to treat it seriously. Imagine her dismay when she came across some dastardly video, of elves behaving badly and ruining Christmas for kids).
Me – “The Bad Elf isn’t real. You have nothing to be scared of.”
J – “But I saw him on YouTube.”
Me – “So?”
J – “You said YouTube is real.”
Oh. Right. I did say that.
Despite my attempts to explain myself, she was worried about this creepy little jerk for weeks afterwards.
Another time, while out for dinner, J casually told us that she had been watching the news. This was odd, as current events isn’t really her thing. She continued on by discussing how mermaids existed, and where you could go to find them. Believe it or not, she didn’t see this on CNN. It was some random YouTube news channel. Fake newz at its finest, which I had to explain to her.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, despite the Momo Challenge being (most likely) a hoax, the idea of the Momo Challenge was terrifying, because of how easy it could be real. In my house, anyway, it doesn’t always take much to sway one of my kids.
‘ROUND EVERY CORNER
Speaking of my house, I’d like to think it’s a pretty typical home. I still shake my head at the stuff that takes place in it, though. ‘Round every corner lies a possible surprise.
One night, I turned a corner and almost stepped on J. Instead of going to sleep as asked, she stubbornly put together a makeshift bed in her doorway, and slept there. I mean, based on the amount of effort that this would have taken, it would have been easier and more comfy to just to lie in her regular bed, but what do I know?
KJ was calling me here, on two phones (he drips too hard, as the kids say). They’re actually a calculator and a broken walkie talkie. The reception on those things is horrible.
On first glance, I was grossed out when I entered B’s room and almost stepped on this. Luckily, it’s just a brown deflated balloon.
B wasn’t home when I walked into his room to see this, so you can imagine my reaction. Luckily, it wasn’t some sort of bizarre, inappropriate class project. I found out later that he had an audition, and was practising some lines.
J decided to play dress up. Here she is, as Marshmello, the famous DJ. Curse you, Fortnite.
KJ was walking around eating and drinking. He then pulled a toddler David Blaine. I looked, and his snack had vanished. I finally found it here, down low, on a shoe rack. I’ve heard of waffle shoes before, but this is ridiculousness!
Anyway, you get the idea. You just never know what to expect, with kids.
One thing that I do know, however…..is that this post is over. Later, y’all.
In my house, we have a Fortnite problem. My son B is kind of obsessed, people. Lemme explain.
Now, truth be told, I’ll admit to being a casual gamer. I first discovered Fortnite when I saw a video of Drake playing it. Since I’m somewhat of a Drake Stan, I figured anything good enough for Drake is good enough for me. Plus, it was free. After playing it for a bit, I realized three things – firstly, I sucked. I was routinely killed quickly. Secondly, the game isn’t really free. It’s “freemium”. Like, it’s free to play, but your character is basic. To not be such a plain Jane, and to get better stuff so you might last longer, you have to either do well, to earn in-game currency (V-Bucks) to buy better stuff, or use real-life, hard earned currency to buy in-game currency. Running around dressed in a fish costume is cool, but not $20 cool to me. Thirdly, a big part of the appeal of the game is goofing around online with your friends. I have zero gaming buddies, though. Having strangers in weird outfits shooting my basic butt just wasn’t very enjoyable. Go figure.
Anyway, since the game is such a huge phenomenon worldwide, it was inevitable that B would discover it. It started off pretty harmless. One of his friends got him onto it, and the two of them would play together. Not long after, we got him a headset with a mic, since his buddy had one. Socialising with peers, no biggie, right? From there, things snowballed. Turns out, kids love Fortnite. Specifically, a lot of kids that B knows love Fortnite, including him. If he wasn’t playing, he was talking about playing. Or watching videos of people on YouTube playing. One time, he went off and came back wearing a ridiculous outfit. Backpack, goggles, Nerf gun, backwards hat. When I looked at him confused, he told me that he was wearing a Fortnite skin.
And don’t get me started on the dancing. OMG, the dancing! B is constantly busting out moves that he’s seen in Fortnite, which, while amusing, is also kind of annoying. Ever try to have a serious talk with someone, but midway through it, have to say “Hey! Stop flossing and listen!”? Oddly enough, pre-Fortnite, he was a stiff, awkward dancer. Now, though, he’s pretty slick. It seems as if other kids have stepped up their abilities to emulate the moves, too. At B’s basketball practises, boys who, on first glance, look like they have two left feet, all of the sudden will boogie like they’re auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance. I guess I gotta give Epic Games props, for improving the next generation’s co-ordination, worldwide.
For a while, B was happy just playing the game. Unfortunately for B, like father, like son. He inherited his old man’s suckiness. Initial glee would turn to screams of ‘”No! Don’t kill me!” or sad comments like “Hey guys, can you wait for me? I died.”
Compounding the situation was that his friends all seemed to have upgraded characters and weapons. He was stuck with the cheapo, free ones. One day, he said this to me:
“My friends all have battle passes and make fun of me because I’m a newb. Can you buy me some V-Bucks?”
Those are all English words, but I didn’t know WTF those sentences meant. The gist of it was that he wanted real money, to buy stuff in the game, so he wouldn’t suck. Newbs are slang for beginners. His birthday was right around the corner, so, luckily for him, he did get his wish. He got a gift card that he used to get V-Bucks.
No joke, overnight, after he bought some new skins, he went from this sorry, basic B, to a cocky, bold, trash talker,making fun of newbs. Like, less than 24 hours ago, his game was lame, but now that he’s dressed as a giant tree making it rain, he’s stuntin’ on some fools?!
There’s a bunch of other parenting things, as well, about Fortnite, that need to be monitored. Being careful talking to strangers, for example. Making sure he’s playing nicely with his friends, for another. Keeping track of his time, too. Yo, If you ever want to see someone lose their mind, try telling a kid that they have five minutes left to play Fortnite, then, in five minutes when they protest that they need more time, turn the game off, anyway.
They’ll explode like this, except worse.
The final straw was a social studies test that B had recently. It was about looking at a map and naming the provinces and capitals in Canada. Normally, he gets good marks……but he failed it! Now, how in the world of Carmen Sandiego does a boy, who can easily look at a map in Fortnite, memorise every nook and cranny in it, and successfully parachute down to a location on the map of his choosing, not know where Ontario is, in Canada? He lives in freakin’ Ontario! Yeah, between that and some other issues, it was time to take away Fortnite for, uh, at least a fortnight.
And that’s where things are currently. B can talk about it all he wants, and do the dance moves, but he’s not allowed to play it.
To any other parent who thinks their child has a Fortnite problem….I feel your pain.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sneak in a round or two of Fortnite Battle Royale.
B can’t play, and there’s no point letting his V-Bucks go to waste. Later, newbs!
The best cruising songs, according to a one year old? How did we arrive at this point?!
See, 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. The fact that no one has thought that this is a one of the best cruising songs since like 1989 does not matter. 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. It holds up as one of the best cruising songs to this day. 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. This is the best cruising song on this list. 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.
Something very troubling, that I never experienced with my other kids.
He’s flipping the script on awkwardness!
As he has grown out of babyhood, and is heading towards the terrible twos, he has a knack with putting me in less than ideal situations with strangers.
It’s a real problem, people! Here, lemme give you some examples:
Once, KJ wandered over to a dad and just stared at him for a while, until I took him away. The dad was clearly super uncomfortable, too, and I don’t blame him. It’s like KJ had an awkward radar, and he picked out the person in the room who would get the most squirmy.
Sometimes, the radar is off. The person he’s randomly staring at will be OK with it, and then try to make him laugh. Instead of cracking a smile, KJ will continue to glare at them with a cold, hard gaze. Watching a grown person acting goofy, while a toddler looks on at them with the demeanour of a British guard, is as weird as it sounds. I will then have to start chuckling like an idiot, to ease the mood.
Speaking of chuckling, KJ has also walked up to strangers, pointed at them, and started laughing. What’s so funny? No clue. He lacks the vocabulary to explain. All I know is that if I walked up to you, pointed, and laughed in your face, you’d be justified in breaking my pointy finger and punching me in the face.
Speaking of violence, while walking through a park, we saw a father hide behind a statue, jump out, and scare his son, who looked to be about seven or eight years old. The boy proceeded to scream and lose his dang mind. Pure meltdown mode. Having been in public situations involving bad tantrums before, the worst part is when people stop to enjoy the show. You can almost feel them judging you as a parent. Thus, I tried to shoo KJ along and allow the dad to soothe his son in peace. KJ stopped to look, of course, and wouldn’t move. He’ll probably grow up to be the type who slows down to gawk at car wrecks on the highway. Anyway, the boy was holding a balloon during this meltdown. He accidentally lost the grip on it, though, sending it high into the sky. The dad then noticed us noticing him, so he tried to laugh things off, but the kid went into sicko mode (word to Travis Scott). He yelled that he hated his dad. He hit him hard over and over, like he was trying to knock him out like a light (like a light). To distract KJ and move on from the ugly dispute, I pointed out the flying balloon, which got him to continue on walking. On last glance, the boy stopped hitting the guy, then stormed off in the opposite direction of us.
While at one of J’s baseball games, some kid had to use the portable toilet. KJ noticed this, so he went………and sat down outside of it. Worse, he tried to insist that I sit down beside him. He got mad when I picked him up, to take him away. Not sure what his intentions were here. He’s not even potty trained. Maybe he wanted to give them a standing ovation when they came out. Regardless, pretty sure most folks don’t want to see a seated audience when they emerge from a public washroom of any kind.
Long story, but I had to take KJ to the emergency room at the hospital recently. He’s fine, don’t worry. While there, however, his energy level somehow changed from lethargic to lit! So lit that he wanted to play Ring Around The Rosey. He’s too small to Fortnite dance, and he doesn’t like most songs, so this is his jam. I can only imagine what the staff there must have thought, listening to us going round and falling down. I’m surprised that they didn’t drug test me. Or escort us out of the building.
He took my hat off one time, ran off, and tried to give it away twice, to two different random men. Either he was trying to make some new adult friends by impressing them with his dope, stolen headgear, or he thought these guys had bad hair and needed to cover it up. Not sure. Doesn’t matter. Anyway, the first dude at least politely declined. The second guy looked like he was considering keeping it, which meant that I had to intervene (awkwardly, of course). It was a nice hat, what can I say.
I could go on, but I think that you get the idea. Until KJ becomes a bit more socially refined, this is my life now. I apologize in advance for any awkward encounters that we may have.
Since my mom passed away last October, holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have me in a reminiscing state of mind.
See, my dad was never in the picture, growing up. Like, at all. I only had my mom. The single parent thing isn’t uncommon, of course, but back in the day, when I was little, at my school, it wasn’t normal. So, for Father’s Day, when other kids were making cardboard ties and whatnot for their dads, I was usually the only youngster making one for their ‘father figure’ aka my mom. I didn’t really care, though. Between that and Mother’s Day, she was the only one getting twice as many dope gifts from their child!
Having small kids now, my favorite thing about this time of year are those type of gifts that they make for me. Knowing they took the time to hook me up with a present which they worked hard on is a beautiful thing, no doubt. It reminds of when I was a young boy, which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
Truth be told, being a parent is the best, most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done. Yeah, I usually share the nonsense on here, because there’s a lot of nonsense. Heck, the other day, at B’s baseball game, I kept hearing people talking about someone named Dawson. “Good job, Dawson!”, and stuff like that. I eventually realized that they were talking about B. For no apparent reason, he started telling people that his name was Dawson.
Nonetheless, random 90s teen show aliases aside (and yes, we sent “Dawson” up the creek, for that stunt), there’s a lot of goodness to parenthood, too. I can’t imagine not being apart of B, J and KJ’s lives. How anyone looks at the prospect of being a parent, says no thanks, and bounces, never to be seen or heard from again, is ridiculous to me,
Another point along these lines. If K’s out doing something, and I’m on my own with the three kids for a while, it’s a guaranteed struggle. Fortunately, my difficulties are only temporary, however, and we go back to being a tag team soon enough. You do anything for your kids, period, but I appreciate now how hard it was for my mom to do what she did, on her own.
Someone called me a ‘superdad’ the other day, which, while nice, isn’t accurate at all. I’m just a basic guy who tries to be there for his kids as much as possible. But to the real superdads, super father figures, and people who are just trying to be the best that they can for their family, to you I say….
It’s summertime, which can only mean one thing – it’s lemonade stand season! Money math games are needed!
Err…well, I guess it means more than that, but bear with me.
See, B and J have already set up shop once this summer, and raked in some serious (to them) money by selling lemonade. They now look forward to taking their earnings to a store and making it rain, bruh!
Or just buying a bunch of candy at that store. One or the other.
Anyway, B and J, while experienced hustlers, still have a lot to learn about the art of money. Fortunately, my good friends at Education.com have a fun, easy game to play, to help any young, budding entrepreneur or shopper. We had a great time when we played it at our house. Check it out!
Grocery Shopping Game
Want to make sure you raise a money-savvy kid? Start them out right with this activity that hides valuable math skills within a fun grocery store game. An added possible benefit of this game? It may encourage your child to join you on your next grocery pickup!
What You Need:
Several small objects
What You Do:
Explain to your child that you will be the grocer and he will be the shopper.
Lay out the small objects on the table. Objects can be anything from toys to clothes to food.
Have your child help you make little paper tents out of the construction paper. (The simplest tent? Just a regular sheet of paper folded in half.)
Write a price on each paper tent. Try to keep prices varied, but only as complicated as you think your child can handle.
Group the items together and place a price tag in front of them. For example, all the 5 cent items should be in one group. All the $1 items are in one group and so on.
Give your child a purse or baggie with some cash. If he has a wallet, this would be a good opportunity to use it.
He can “buy” a number of things from you. But before you accept his money, ask him to tally up how much he owes you.
If he gives you more than he owes, give him back change and ask him to count it.
Continue to let him buy things until he runs out of money.
Now let your child be the grocer. Have him organize the items by price on the table.
Set him up with some coins and a couple of bills so that he can give you change.
Go “buy” a couple items and pay him for them.
If you want to challenge him, give him an incorrect amount of money and see how he handles it.
After a couple rounds of this grocery game, he will be ready to shop at a real store!