Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility Belt

 

Perplexus is Perplexing

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

A has wanted this puzzle game for some time. Every time we are in the toy department he plays with it for at least a little bit. His grandmother was nice enough to buy it for him this past weekend and he has rarely put it down.

Description

Perplexus reminds me of the wooden labyrinth games from when I was younger. If you don’t know what these are kids, look them up on Youtube they were really challenging. The difference between labyrinth games from when I was a kid and this is that it is in a sphere so the maze is in 3 dimensions. You have to twist and turn the sphere as a ball travels along an increasingly difficult course of 100 obstacles.

I have tried it, A has been addicted to it, even N has tried it. This is great for the younger ones too because it does work on hand-eye coordination and motor skills which is crucial at his age.

Also, this isn’t the only Perplexus game that PlaySmart makes. There is Rookie for beginners, which I will probably get for N to try his hand on. Also there is Epic, and Twist for even more challenges.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

Verdict

Great little toy for hours of fun. The boys love it. It is also great for travel because it is something to do besides play on electronic devices. Give it a try. Your family will love it.

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Children and Germs, my Kryptonite

KryptoniteGerms. I hate them. I hate them. I. Hate. Them. They are Reason #3 why I am not a teacher. So let me do some Common Core Math for you here to make it a little easier to understand. Kids + Germs = Me being sick (constantly). So, as the new school year has only been going for a couple of weeks, I have managed to already get sick by these little germ factories we call kids. I am careful, I wash and sanitize, I clean the house, but it doesn’t fail. For the better part of 4 days I had been achy, fevery, coughy, running nose(y)?

I know why this happened to. It is because this is N’s first time in school. He is being introduced to all these new exciting germs on a daily basis. Germs he hasn’t had contact with previously. Germs, he brings home to dad. Germs that get dad sick. You see, dad has always been one to easily get sick. Strep throat as a kid. Constantly. Ear Infections. All the time. Scarlet Fever. Yep. Now before kids, I was a fairly healthy adult. Seasonal allergies, sure. But not constant sickness. Now here I am, and every school year, I get sick.

But, the worst part is that now that I am getting better and have been very careful around my kids to not get them sick. N is home today because he was coughing constantly yesterday and up during the night with a fever. So the germs finally did him in to. Eventually he will get used to all these new germs while daddy goes through the rollercoaster ride of sickness all school year. At least I don’t have a job I have to go to even while I am sick because I used all my personal time for sick kids. Oh, wait…

Sick kid and his puppy

Sick kid and his puppy

No Weekend Review

I am super suck today and have been most of the weekend. I will not be posting a review because of it. I will later in the week if I can.

Using All Your Tools To Make Something Amazing

This isnt what these are for

You mean this isn't what these are for?

You mean this isn’t what these are for?

I just want to start off by saying I have an amazing wife.

I was out of the house doing some work and the kids were bored so she (the wife) decided to make them forts over their beds. Now, we don’t have a lot of ropes and things to help keep the forts up in their rooms let alone above their beds. So my wife, being the resourceful woman that she is remembered my box full of Ethernet cords, cable wires,usb cables, speaker wire…well you get the point. There is a lot of stuff in there we don’t use. So she decided to use them as guide wires. As you can see it worked amazing. I came home to some monstrosities over the boys beds, but they have loved them so much it has been over a week and I haven’t been able to take them down. Way to go wife.

So what does your significant other do that truly amazes you? I would love to hear about it.

Weekend Review September 8, 2014

Weapons Training

Listen up maggots, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start shooting some guns! How else are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it happens? So, put on your vest, grab your gun and start shooting.

Laserquest.com

Laserquest.com

Laser Quest

We recently went to play Laser Tag at Laser Quest on a hot but rainy Labor Day. Can I just say…It was a blast!

Description

If you don’t know what laser tag is watch the video.

You done watching the video? Good. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Well, that does a better job of explaining and showing what Laser Quest is then me. But, to add to it, they have video games, foosball, air hockey and other games in the area you wait before being let into the briefing room where you learn about the rules of the game. They also have a few big party rooms for birthdays or other events.

Basically, they brief you, you get your vest and gun, activate it, go in and try to kill everyone. And by kill I mean try to get the best score out of all the people playing by shooting their sensors and not letting them shoot yours. The games are 15 minutes long which actually seems pretty long once you are running around this big maze which is lit only by black lights.

 Verdict

You definitely have to try it if there is one near you. So Click Here to find out if there is one in your neck of the woods. Every one enjoyed it. The only thing I can say is I wish they had some smaller vests, because while younger kids can play, the vest doesn’t fit on a smaller child like my 4 year old “N”. His mother and I had to take turns wearing the vest while he had the gun (which is attached to the vest by the way). So we had to follow this little terror around as he ran stalked after girls totally annihilating them. It is pretty difficult to do, but also a lot of fun. Also, leave your pride at the door to the briefing room because once you get in there you will quickly realize that you are going to be beat again and again by a 4 foot tall laser shooting maniac.

 

First Day of School

Ninja TrainingFirst Day of Ninja SchoolSo today it starts. It is old hat for the “A” and it should be old hat for his dad, but it isn’t. Today marks the day my youngest takes the next step away from needing me for everything to be more independent. Today, “N” goes to Pre-K. Today, I am no longer the center of his learning universe. Today, “N” will start learning all his ninja fighting skills from other kids and dare I say it…a teacher (gasp). Today is the day that his world starts to expand exponentially.

It is bitter sweet for me. I will enjoy the little bit of freedom I will have without the boys in theFirst Day 2 house, but I will miss the great adventures they take me on. I know, I know, I will still have plenty of time for them after school, but this new adventure for them makes me realize that I will gradually become less and less a part of  their lives as they learn and grow. I will be the taxi, the waiter, and the hotel concierge. I do realize that I will always be dad. I do realize that “A” and “N” will always love me. I just know that I will miss these full days, even if many of them are just filled with hanging out and watching shows and playing video games together.

So today, I sit here and contemplate the next phase of Ninja Training. Any suggestions?

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility BeltI am going to change up the weekend review a little bit and talk about products, experiences, vacations that I want for either me, as a dad, or for my kids and family as well as products. I am doing this because, lets face it, as a one income family, income is limited and we don’t buy a lot of new things for the kids. We also seem to buy even less for ourselves.

TABLETOPICS

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

This week I am going to talk about something I think would be great for the family. I feel that meal time is very important for all families. This is especially true as children get older and activities and life move people in all directions. Mom goes to work, Dad stays home, kids have school, activities, sports, friends. No one seems to have time to see each other anymore. That is why we love having dinner together. It gets us together and lets us reconnect as a family. We can talk about our days, enjoy a good meal instead of something quick on the go, and just unwind from a hectic day.

That is why I think that TABLETOPICS is a great product. Ever feel like you don’t know

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

what to talk about? Ever feel you can’t connect with your kids? I know I do, and I spend a majority of the day with them. TABLETOPICS is the ideal conversation starter. Kids love to participate and talk about their ideas and opinions so why not engage them, teach some great social skills (without them even knowing) and learn a little something about them. Each box comes with 135 questions such as “what’s your favorite ride at an amusement park” and “who is one of your heroes and why do they inspire you”. They fuel conversations and you never know where the conversation will lead.

The great thing though is that the box makes it easy to take with you, so it isn’t something that you need to keep at the dinner table. You can take them with you on a long trip in the car, at restaurants to keep the easily distracted munchkins entertained and not bugging the people sitting at the table behind them.

There are also many different additions so you don’t need to get it just for family time. They have additions for couples, dinner parties, family gatherings among others.

I know I want it for our family, and will probably be picking up my first box soon. If so, I will let you know how it goes.

The Giving Tree

shelsilverstein.com

shelsilverstein.com

As this summer comes to an end I am once again thinking about my time as a teenager working at Madison County Children’s Camp (Camp Lookout). It was a place that changed me as a person for the better. I often think about it and hope that one day my children will be able to attend a camp like Camp Lookout.

You see, Camp Lookout has been a refuge for needy children. Every child who comes to camp is there because they needed the love and respect that every child is given every day. They do not come from rich families, they do not come from perfect homes. Often, they are broken and need to be built back up. And the best thing is that the families do not have to spend a dime for their children to be there. Camp Lookout is run entirely on donations, grants, Community Chests, and the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Every child’s stay is paid for by the generosity of the community.

Every time I think about my years as part of the staff there, I can’t help to think of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was a man stay on our last night of camp. We read it to the campers and it has basically become symbolic of what the staff does and why we do it for the campers.

For those of you who don’t know, the story is about a tree, and a boy (who grows up throughout the story). The tree gives to the boy everything she has, and the boy takes everything she has. I have realized as I read this story to my children that as you hear this story at different points in your life it means something totally different. As a child you understand it as a parent loving their child and giving them everything they need and want. As a teenager reading this to the children at a camp, I understood it to be about an adult figure giving children the love that they need. As a parent I understand it as a love so strong you will give your children everything they want and want nothing in return. Why? Because you love the boy, very much.

So as I think about my own children and being that tree, I straighten myself up as much as I can and tell my children to sit down and rest. And this tree is indeed very happy.

And the tree was happy.

And the tree was happy.

For those of you who want to make a donation to Madison county children’s camp so that some of the county’s most vulnerable children can attend please go to Camp Lookout Donations for directions on how to make donations.

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility Belt

 

Muppets Most Wanted

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

We rented Muppets Most Wanted last night from rebox for the boys to watch after a long day of outside play, water guns, water balloons, and getting soaked with the hose. It was a good cap to a fun day and a busy 4 days.

Description

I grew up on the Muppets Show. I was glad when Disney decided to do a new movie and was excited to see the sequel too. I love the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and that they are not afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Muppets Most Wanted literally picks up right where The Muppets ended in 2011. As soon as the movie ends, this one begins. They are approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to go on a world tour to capitalize on their recent success. What they don’t know is that Badguy is working with Constantine, the worlds number one criminal (also Kermit’s doppelganger) who just broke out of prison. Constantine ends up pretending he is Kermit as the Muppets travel Europe on their world tour. At each stop of the tour Constantine and Badguy break into museums.

It isn’t until Walter, Fozzie, and Animal (who knew from the very beginning) figure out that Kermit isn’t himself that the Muppets are able to stop Constantine in his evil plot to steal the Crown Jewels in London.

 Verdict

While I love the Muppets and this was a funny movie, it does bother me (as an adult) that none of the Muppets could tell that something was amiss with Kermit. But then I remembered that this was a kids movie and my kids were laughing at the story and the fact that the Muppets couldn’t tell that it wasn’t Kermit while they knew. To them it was hilarious. Isn’t that what it is about? Making kids laugh. Right? I love the Muppets, and I liked this movie enough to say you should at least rent it, even if you don’t add it to your Disney collection.

Weekend Review July 28, 2014

Utility Belt

Lego®

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

This week I am just going to talk to you about Lego®. I grew up on Lego®, and my kids are growing up on Lego®. I do not feel that parents should force their love of things on their children and I have never pushed anything onto them. I am glad I never had to with Lego®. I have always loved building with the blocks and it is relaxing and can take quite a bit of time to build a complicated set. The great thing about this versatile little brick is that it makes for great imaginative play. While putting together the sets is a lot of fun. The great part that I see with my boys is everything else they make out of them and how long it holds their imagination.

Description

Lego® began making the “interlocking brick” in 1949 and has grown (through some ups and downs) into a huge company with more then just the brick. They now have many video games, clothing, movies, and even theme parks. But what it all really comes down to is the tiny little brick that can make imaginations run wild.

FallingwaterThe great thing about Lego® is that anyone of any age can find enjoyment in them. I received them as gifts up until my 21st birthday when I was sadly told I was too old to get them anymore. But I have gotten one of the Architecture series sets. While it did sit in the box for quite some time, “A” and I put together the replica of one of my favorite buildings in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater®. It now sits on my desk with Benny (if you watched The Lego® Movie you know who I am talking about) standing on the bridge holding my phone charger.

The TableThat is another great thing about Lego®. “A” uses all my old bricks to build and add to his collection. He has a table full of all these old sets that he uses to make his new buildings. Some of these bricks are 30+ years old and he still is able to use them and they look the exact same as the new bricks he has today. It gives me great enjoyment and satisfaction to know he is playing with them and enjoys them as much as I do.

Pros (+)

+ Easy to build
+ Great for imaginative play
+ Many different sets.

Cons (-)

– Pricey.

Verdict

Who doesn’t want Lego®? I love them, my kids love them, everyone loves them. Great fun, hours upon hours of imaginative play. What other toy can say that?