Mini-Me Mario Kart

August 15, 2019 9:15pm
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Today ended up turning into kind of a disappointing day, so instead of writing about that I thought I’d share something a little more fun…

The last couple of nights I’ve been playing Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U with David & Christopher to entertain them while Matthew has his therapy, and they’re not quite there yet, but it’s still surprisingly fun!

I’ve found that I have to take all of the controllers while we’re getting the game setup because otherwise they’ll push random buttons and back us out of whatever I just finished doing, and occasionally both of them will still get caught up with pressing the Home button that interrupts the game when they start getting bored.

But they really enjoy choosing characters because they get to pick whoever they want – even if they both end up wanting the same one, which is super helpful! Christopher has been playing Mario a lot, though he switched to Princess Peach (and knew her by name?!), while David primarily enjoys being “the monster” (Bowser) and thinks it’s hilarious to see such a huge character riding a motorcycle with a parachute that looks like himself!

I think one place where this game has really shined – on both the Wii and the Wii U – is that it looks beautiful with tons of detail in the background, so when I noticed on multiple occasions as we raced one of the beach tracks that they weren’t actually going anywhere and asked if everything was ok, I got the response, “We’re watching the fish swim by!” which was pretty cool to hear how amused they were by something as simple as the background art!

Truth be told, neither of them ends up getting very far around the track, and when Christopher finally complete a few laps the other night it was because he kept getting “rockets” (Bullet Bill items) to move him ahead, but for 15-20 minutes at a time they seem to really enjoy it, and I can get them to get along by choosing which tracks we’re going to do together, and overall they’re relatively quiet which is about the best that I’ve come to expect for a house with three boys and an obnoxious dog. 😉

I need to go back through my collection to see what others we could branch out into next.

movie thoughts … The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

February 10, 2019 11:45pm
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Today Christopher and I went to see the new Lego movie in the theater, and we both really liked it!

I was a little nervous because the last couple of movies we tried to see didn’t go well – I spent a good 2/3rds of The Incredibles 2 walking around the lobby with him and the Emmet Otter/Fraggle special we tried to watch at Christmastime went, well, poorly… 😯

But indeed, I actually got to watch the whole thing, which was nice because this sequel turned out to be a pretty good follow-up to the first movie after all. I thought it was neat, for starters, to see the plot literally pick up right where the last movie left off – it made for a nice flow, despite the story going just a bit downhill from there.

That said, I was admittedly surprised at how well Part 2 offered such a rich theme around the brother and sister playing together because I was honestly super impressed by how touching and sincere Part 1 was around the son wanting to bond with his Dad while the Dad struggled to give up control of his own childhood toys.

It’s definitely something that I’ve struggled with since having kids of my own who are impressively capable of climbing up the shelves where I used to store my own Legos, so who knows – maybe the moral of Part 2 will rub off on them once they’ve watched it two or three hundred times, too!

Maya Rudolph’s scene talking about the pains of stepping on bricks was quite amusing, too!

…as was Will Ferrell’s last line in the movie… 😉

Oddly enough, one of the most memorable sequences from the movie – just like last time – was the credit sequence, possibly because it was a bit slower than the rest of the movie’s action-packed scenes, so it was a little easier to really enjoy and appreciate the detail that went into all of the animations. Very colorful, and hyper creative – I really liked them!

Oh, and also just like the first movie, the Lego sets themselves that I’ve seen so far for Part 2 are also pretty crazy and out there, which makes for some super fun and unique sets. Overall, Lego has done a really good job with these two movies, both in creativity as well as making them meaningful and not just a mechanism for selling m0re toys. Not sure if they’re planning to do a Part 3 at this point, but so far I think they’re doing great, so I’m game for more if they are. 😀

Toddler Minded Nipping Turtle

February 9, 2019 1:23am
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Story Time!

David and Christopher have been growing this expanding foam turtle for a couple of weeks now. It’s the kind that starts out super tiny and then you submerge it in water and over time it grows to several hundred times its original size.

Last night we finally let Christopher open the bag it was in and take it in the tub to play with, and he had a lot of fun!

So tonight I thought I’d let David do the same because he’s been wanting to play with it all week and he didn’t get a bath last night, but when he came into the bathroom and saw the turtle already in the tub from the night before … he was very nervous.

He was also curious, and peeked over the side, but when I suggested that he take off his clothes – like I’d already done with Matthew and put him in the tub – he was not a fan of that idea at all.

I finally got him into the tub by picking it up and tossing it on the other side of Matthew, and then about sixty seconds later as the water level started to rise and Matthew started moving around, all of a sudden CRYING AND PANIC!

“TURTLE BIT ME!!!!!!”

It was then that I pieced together everything and finally realized … David thought that it was actually a real turtle!

And as much as I tried to reassure him that there was no possible way that this fake foam toy turtle BIT HIM, he was having none of it and I finally had to throw the thing in the sink to recover any semblance of a normal bathtime.

I also kissed the imaginary boo-boo that the mean turtle had apparently made when it bumped into his arm under the bubble bath…

Even so, that kid watched that turtle sitting on the edge of the sink like a hawk for the entire duration of his bath!

He also tried to warn Christopher about the turtle when he came in, but at least Christopher understood – thank god – that the turtle he’d been wearing on his head the night prior wasn’t in fact a real turtle in the slightest.

We even showed him how, unlike real turtles, this one happens to have Made In China stamped on his belly, which Christopher thought was pretty funny, but by then David’s trauma had already been done.

I really hope that kid doesn’t have nightmares about turtles tonight… 😛

I definitely get attached to things, but at the same time I try to remind myself that toys are made to be played with and that sometimes they’re going to get broken.

Granted, I don’t necessarily think that Hallmark created this set expressly as toys, but what can I say? When you’ve got a house full of toddlers, pretty much everything becomes a toy at one point or another…

So as much as it pains me to think that these fine musicians are probably going to get tossed in the trash once this Christmas season is over, knowing how much fun the kids have had playing with them … particularly Matthew, who was known to walk around with Donald’s dismembered torso in his mouth while it still tried to play music (?!) … well, I suppose in the end that’s all that really matters.

BEFORE

AFTER

(Donald Duck on guitar, Missing in Action; also Daisy’s head, Mickey’s nose, and both of Goofy’s arms)

Just some food for thought…

One last advent blog post from our vacation, and something that we were a healthy mixture of nervous and excited about, was the opportunity for us to enjoy a night out…

…without the kids…

It’s something that we’ve really only done a handful of times, always relying on family and sometimes even waiting until the kids were already in bed. We admittedly didn’t really know what to do about finding a sitter between having three rambunctious boys to deal with and then two of them being special needs on top of that.

But Sara ended up finding this local service called Doublemint which offers a variety of sitters who are trained to work with all sorts of children, and because they have people all around the state of Florida, it wasn’t really a big deal for one of their folks in Orlando to come to our hotel for the evening and watch the kids right in our room … which honestly was a nice bonus because we weren’t sure how they were going to take to it because they’ve never had a babysitter before.

And that said, apparently … they did awesome. 😀

We hired a sitter to watch the boys from 6pm – 10pm with the intent that we were only walking over to Jambo House for dinner at Jiko, so we’d be close if anything were to happen.

Well, it turns out that what happened was these kids were fast asleep before we even got dessert, with David even asking the sitter if he could go to bed!!!

I guess occasionally skipping naptime has its perks after all. 😉

So we had a wonderful, adult dinner – I had lobster tails, and I didn’t have to share a bite with anyone.

Afterwards we wandered around the grounds and checked out all of the savannah viewing areas at night, which actually ended up being pretty cool because we got a chance to try out night vision goggles to look out at the animals!

Then we did a little secret Christmas shopping, wandered back to Kidani and checked out the comparatively quiet savannah there, and that was that.

Date night is honestly something that has slipped quite a bit in our lives since becoming parents, and it’s weird because before we had kids Sara and I would go out to eat and see movies and spend late nights at the parks all of the time …  so needless to say we were both quite pleased with how easy Doublemint made sneaking out for a couple of hours, and hopefully in the new year it will be something that we can do for ourselves every few months to help keep the sanity by giving us a night away from the chaos!

According to my Amazon account history, I’ve officially been collecting Funko Pops for about a year and a half now.

Side note: Do we really need for Amazon to store our purchase histories for all time?! I’m not sure that my consumer profile needs to include a 1998 purchase of Top Gun on DVD…

That said, it’s true that the very first Pop that I ever purchased was that Clark Griswold figure from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. At the time I bought it because I thought it was pretty unique and would be a good cornerstone if I were only to get a select few of these things.

Well, a year and a half later, now I have … more … and so recently I decided to splurge on a few of the Christmas ones to round out a bit of my Funko holiday display, if you will!

I think the one I was most surprised to get a hold of was the Darth Vader glow-in-the-dark Chase figure. Believe it or not, the Amazon seller I got that from was actually selling a bundle where you got two Pops – the Chase and then the regular version, too.

Well, it turns out that before I got home, Christopher got into the box that they came in and was “playing with them” … something he knows he’s not supposed to do with “Dad’s toys.” 😉

Sara warned me in advance that one of the boxes had gotten pretty torn up, so I was worried that the limited edition one was the victim, but when I got home, thankfully glowing Darth had been spared!

I ended up putting the regular one in Christopher’s stocking for him to play with, but he brought it to me and told me it was mine because he recognized it from the dozens of others in my office, so at least he’s learning … sort of! 😯

10 Things I Love About Kids…

March 24, 2018 11:33pm
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  1. When you’re holding them and they put their little hand on your shoulder as if some sort of highly regarded confidant.
  2. Their insatiable passion for cookies.
  3. Quietly watching them play from a distance.
  4. Muppet shoes.
  5. Dinosaur roars.
  6. Genuine, earnest laughter.
  7. Teaching them how to fly.
  8. Perpetual, unbridled happiness.
  9. Perpetual, unbridled happiness with regards to food.
  10. Random leg hugs when you least expect them.

Dining with Kids

March 4, 2018 1:19pm
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Last night was the first night in a couple of months that we’ve taken the entire family out to dinner … namely because the last time we tried, it was absolutely terrible!

The three of them have just been at a bad age overall because Christopher isn’t as occupied by his iPad as he’s been in the past, and David & Matthew are starting to become wild in their own right. As much as we really enjoy eating out, it’s just not worth the hassle when you know that 90 minutes later you’re going to walk away cranky after paying so much for food you only got to half eat because you spent more time dealing with kids that didn’t want to be there than actually enjoying the atmosphere…

😛

So last night wasn’t great, but it certainly was an improvement from last time. Still, there were a few points of note that I wanted to write about…

  • Why is it that servers act like they’ve never seated a table with kids before??? When you see me quickly whisking silverware and plates and anything away from the kids the moment you set them down within their reach, maybe don’t put anything else within their curious grasp?! Luckily we had a table that sat six with only four seats occupied, so there were some spots where we could “stage” everything, but even when they bring out drinks, it always shocks me when they put them right in the middle of the table when two seconds later that’s precisely what the kids go for…
  • Time seems to pass slower when you’ve got kids teetering on the edge of cranky. I don’t know if it was because we were one of the last tables of the night, but I swear we had one of the slowest servers in existence – frustrating when you’re waiting on those french fries to occupy the kids, or the check so that you can just get the heck out of there! It’s made me start to wonder if servers treat families like ours like the hot potato because we eat slower and they anticipate a below-average tip … although the second part is a misnomer because I actually try to tip more when my kids leave food on the floor that they have to clean up!
  • Don’t make me beg for water. This one has nothing to do with the kids, but one of my primary measures how I rate food service is how well they do at keeping my water glass full. At a good restaurant, I shouldn’t even have to ask for refills, whereas at a bad one I’m lucky to get a single refill all night … which sucks on nights like this when I purposely order something spicy… 🙁
  • Dessert is ALWAYS to go! As much as we would’ve liked to enjoy a warm dessert there at the restaurant, the kids had lasted about as long as we could possibly expect, and in fact Christopher had fallen asleep in the car before we pulled out of the parking lot. Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses and call it a day!

All in all it was nice to somewhat get a meal actually served to us at a table as opposed to out of a window, and it’s encouraging to see that maybe the kids are getting to the point where they’ll let us score a bite to eat without the prerequisite that two-thirds of them have to be asleep and the third has to be in a really good mood!

Gun Violence Overload

February 17, 2018 2:26am
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My brain is completely fried from everything surrounding this week’s mass shooting at a high school in South Florida.

Yesterday I wrote an essay about my thoughts, which didn’t get the support that I had expected.

Today I spent way more time than I should commenting on threads with people who will never ever ever consider guns to be even one iota of the problem because it’s everybody else’s fault – parents, violence in the media gun-free school zones – you name it, they’ll point the finger and then make sure that we never mention their beloved guns in a negative light on their watch. It’s so apathetic and sad, it leaves me speechless.

When I went to pick Christopher up from school, I couldn’t help but notice that the flagpole out front had the American flag flying at half mast, and I paused for a second to try and figure out how to explain to a four year-old that it was a symbol of respect because a very bad person had hurt some kids at another school.

On the plus side, holding his hand as I walked back through the parking lot to our car renewed my position on this matter because I realized that I’m going to have kids in the public school system for probably the next 15 years and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and just accept that active shooter drills need to be a part of their curriculum because adults can’t get their shit in gear and figure out how to stop bad people from barging into their schools carrying guns.

I’m still VERY ANGRY about the topic, and I’m rapidly losing respect for anyone who shrugs it off and says that there’s nothing we can really do because that’s bullshit and my children deserve better.

It really disgusted me to find before I started writing this that in fact I’ve already written about mass shootings many times before…

I don’t know how we as a nation got to be so lethargic about gun violence, as if it’s just the uncomfortable side of our right to bear arms that we all have to accept in the name of freedom.

The NRA, an organization that as far as I’m concerned should be leading the charge on responsible gun ownership, spends tens of millions of dollars every single year lobbying politicians to steer clear of any legislation even remotely resembling gun control.

And gun sales spike every time there’s a shooting, just like they surged whenever a Republican talked about how Obama was trying to take away our guns when calling that statement an utter lie doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

My mind goes numb just trying to wrap my head around it, but I know that we’ve got to change. We’ve got to have open dialogues about all sorts of ways to combat mass shootings, from mental health to better background checks to more parental awareness, better security in schools, and maybe some guns even need to come off the streets, too.

I know that gun advocates consider that to be treason, but if we can’t even protect our own children in their own schools anymore, we don’t deserve to call ourselves The Land of the Free. 

Kids deserve better from us and adults need to start acting like adults.

When kids who had to hide inside of closets beg on TV for adults to do something, anything to help protect them from all of this senseless violence, every last one of us should be ashamed. 

Parents shouldn’t have to bury their teenagers because you’re too afraid to loosen your grip on the assault rifle that you cuddle with in bed every night out of this paranoid delusion that it’s the only thing protecting you from your government.

The entire world shakes its head and sighs about how pathetic it is that America can’t seem to figure out its gun problem when it has almost as many weapons as it does people and it spends more on its military than it does on taking care of its own people.

America cannot possibly be “the greatest country in the world” when we stand by and do nothing while our kids are murdered at their schools, and I’m tired of listening to people give excuses – young and old, gun owners and paid-off politicians and just crabby Republicans in general – who shrug their shoulders and say, “There’s nothing that we can do…”

Stand up and get the fuck out of the way so that those of us who still care about our kids can do something before even more schoolchildren are chalked up to statistics.

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