So here we are, I guess.

Five months ago we were averaging 25% of the daily cases that we’re seeing today and in-person classes came to a halt, replaced by virtual learning for the rest of the school year.

On the upside, I’d like to think that we’ve learned a bit about COVID-19 since then … more people than not are wearing masks out in public and social distancing has become the norm, even though there are definitely still some among us – some in positions of power – who will fight tooth and nail for the right to ignore this global pandemic and pretend that it’s not the reality that we all live in today.

I know that our teachers will do the best they can because that’s what they always do, but I also feel like in critical times like these that that’s not good enough.

I’ve read posts over the weekend about teachers not being given enough supplies by their administrations to clean and even protect themselves, which isn’t surprising considering the laundry list of supplies that parents are asked to contribute to classrooms each year … but if reopening schools was really so damn important to kickstarting the economy, it sure would’ve been nice to actually see teachers getting the support that they need for a change.

As for our three kids, we’ve opted to send two of them to in-person classes and the third will do virtual school at home with the help of his in-home therapist who he’s been working with all summer.

I, for one, am incredibly nervous and we went back and forth all summer about whether we’re making the right decisions, but ultimately A) the two that are going in-person are much more likely to actually wear their masks than the third, and B) virtual school for Pre-K is kind of a throwaway anyways … so we decided to give these choices a shot and if we either see that things aren’t working or if new cases start absolutely skyrocketing, we’ll have to deal with that when/if it happens.

Obviously that’s my biggest fear because as much as everyone likes to tout that “Kids are basically immune to the virus!” and “Their risk of exposure is very, very low…”, I can’t help but think that it’s mostly due to how quickly we isolated the kids in school during the spring that has helped to keep their numbers so low compared to the rest.

I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, but if we’re being honest, kids are like walking petri dishes even without a global pandemic at hand, and as much as I’m sure everyone is going to try to keep them distanced and masked as much as possible … well, I guess I just hope that they do better than the worst of the adults right now who are getting in fights with store clerks over masks and acting like COVID-19 hasn’t already killed 180,000 Americans in the last five months.

We’ve spent the last five months trying to emphasize to the kids why they need to wash their hands thoroughly and how we can’t do certain things that they love right now because of all of the germs that are getting so many people sick.

I hope we’re not expecting too much of them by sending them back to school when the end of this thing still seems like it’s nowhere in sight.

Given how much stress the rest of us are under trying to juggle life under this bizarre pandemic, I think it’s easy to overlook the impact it has on the little ones in our lives.

This is a topic that came up with my therapist last week when we were talking about struggling with e-learning and new behavior issues, and I kind of surprised myself to realize that I wasn’t really thinking about how the kids were being affected by everything taking place…

  • They haven’t been able to go to their school in a month. And play with their friends. And see their teachers.
  • They can’t go to the playground, or Legoland, or Busch Gardens, or any of the other places for fun that we visit outside of the house.
  • Home has become more than just a safe place where they can unwind – now they’re expected to learn here, and follow schedules that they used to relate with the classroom.

Not to mention, typically taking away things like the playground or time with friends is a punishment, but in this case they didn’t do anything wrong! 

I’m sure it’s very confusing for them, and then on top of it they’re seeing Mom and Dad struggling with these new responsibilities and the stress cascades down to them. It really shouldn’t surprise us that they’re acting out more and picking fights with each other and getting into trouble because we’ve essentially taken the world that they know and turned it upside down.

And occasionally I’ll try to explain that, “We can’t go to Legoland right now because lots of people are sick…” but it’s obviously a lot deeper than that, and probably deeper than anyone could really expect a three to six year-old to understand.

It stresses me out to know that almost three quarters of a million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and that 36,000 of them have died of it … but kids aren’t going to understand all of that.

They don’t get all of the masks, and the restrictions.

And they don’t get why the rest of us are stressed, either.

So more and more I’m trying to give the kids a break when they’re acting out because once again, none of this is normal, and just because they don’t understand it doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting them.

If anything, I’d argue that it’s affecting them all the more because they don’t understand it.

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.

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