5 toy Lines begging for a relaunch

 

With the impending end/re-start/buyout/liquidation/tbd of Toys R US coming/not coming soon, I got a bit misty-eyed thinking about some of the toys of my youth I wish I could see again in the toy aisle.  Here are a few I would love to see relaunched someday. Hard to know what what the future of toys will be (I hope it is not all online), but one can dream right?

Five Toys Just Begging For A Relaunch!

 

An open letter to BLACK PANTHER

My 5 year old son loves superheroes like most kids his age.  He is big fan of the Avengers, but I have to admit that Batman is his favorite.   As much as he likes them, he does not like seeing them in the movie theatre.  I think the prospect of a very dark room combined with very loud explosion is not very attractive to him yet.  Also, his attention span does not allow for home to really sit thru 2 hour movie before he gets bored or needs a bathroom break (he ‘s not the only one).

So, it took me by total surprise when he said to me this week:”Why haven’t you taken me to see Black Panther?”  He has seen ads for nearly every superhero and animated movie you can imagine, and this question has NEVER come up.  EVER.  He never even asked to see “Cars 3”, and he loves him some Lightning McQueen!

I personally think that seeing commercials for an action-filled adventure full of characters that have the same skin color as him really resonated, even if he didn’t know it consciously.  Don’t get me wrong, he has absolutely no problem playing dress up as Iron Man from the Avengers or Catboy from PJ Masks.  But, for the first time, I believe he could really see himself as THE superhero.

HE could be Black Panther.

HE could be the one to save the day.

HE can do cool flips off of the roofs of cars and rule a kingdom.

So, with that in mind, I would like to do my best Oscar Award-type acceptance speech, and say a few thank yous…

Thank you to Marvel for boldly making this movie and creating a vision on-screen so captivating that the commercials alone encouraged my wife to get a babysitter so we could see it as a couple (she LOVED it by the way!)

Thank you to the cast and crew for creating such an amazing-looking world and filling it with equally amazing technology, costumes, and effects while staying true to the African roots of the source material.

Thank you to the casting director for getting the national treasures known as Angela Bassett and Forest Whittaker into the Marvel Universe as well as a 91 year old woman making her first feature film appearance

Thank you to Disney for putting $1 million towards the Boys and Girls Club STEM center in Oakland, California with more cities to come including Baltimore, Chicago, Harlem, Hartford, Memphis, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Watts.

Thank you to STAN LEE and JACK “KING” KIRBY for creating a black superhero in a time period when strong black heroes we few and far between.

Thank you to the woman in our theatre who yelled out loud with joy when (SPOILER ALERT) T’Challa was found alive, but very very cold in that bed of snow.  Clearly she had not seen a Marvel movie before because pretty much everyone in the theater knew getting thrown of that waterfall was not gonna kill him since he is the star, but to hear that kind of childlike innocence and sense of surprise from an adult gave me goose bumps.

Thank you to Martin, Malcolm and the many many others who fought for our freedoms and rights.  They are a reason a movie like this could happen.  Hopefully it is only the beginning of a trend in Hollywood.

Thank you to the world for putting Black Panther in the Billion dollar club.

Thank you  Michael B Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and the many other black men in the movie for making want to get into better shape (Jury is still out on that happening or not)

And thank you to….(uh-oh, the music is playing so I have to stop now)

If you are wondering what happen with my son, I offered to take him out see it ASAP, but apparently he still does not like movie theatres, even with the lure of unlimited Sour Patch Kids and popcorn, so we will have to wait for the DVD or On Demand.

Maybe he will be ready for the theatre experience by the time the sequel comes out.

-coolminivandad

A small gesture goes a long way….

This entry will be pretty short.   Not because I don’t have much to say, but mainly because I think I can say what I need to say without saying a lot.  Know what I’m saying?

We are 2 weeks removed from Valentine’s Day, which for many people around the country and the world put people thru a variety of emotions.  For some, there was anxiety about forgetting to make plans with your better half or buy flowers and/or chocolate.  For many others, there was a sense of mourning surrounding yes another awful tragedy that was unfolding, this time at a high school in Florida.  And for some, it was just another Wednesday.

Now, if you think I am going to go in to a big story about how my wife surprised me with a V-Day dinner date without the kids because she had hired a babysitter and we were going to get 3 kid-free hours to enjoy each other’s company without a trio of under 5-year-olds interrupting our ever word, prepare to be disappointed (although this did all happen and I am forever thankful my wife pulled of this feat)

And if you think I will follow up this story with an equally engaging tale of about a group of valet parking attendants who had lost track of the keys and to whom they belonged and were literally pulling up in random cars, shouting out car models in hopes that one of the 30 people waiting for their cars in the cold was the owner of said car…I am not (but this also happened)

What I found most interesting about the evening was my 2 minute walk from the car to the house.  Since the valet parking debacle made us 20 minutes late getting home to relieve our babysitter, I dropped my wife off at our front door rather than have her search for parking with me so our sitter could get paid and then get home as quickly as possible.  I circled my block a few times, but it was late and most people had settled in for the night, so there were no open spaces.  After about 10 minutes, I managed to snag a spot right next to the gas station that is only a short walk from our apartment building’s front door.  I pass thru this gas station twice a day with all 3 of my kids on the way to school.  It is well lit up all night, so it adds a great sense of security overnight and I quickly parked the minivan.

As I left the car, locked it up and made sure to push in my side view mirror (I won’t make that mistake again) .  I crossed thru the gas station and who was still there?  A young man who had set up a table a few days earlier to sell Valentine’s Day gifts .  You know those folks  you see setting up shop 2 or 3 days before Valentine’s Day with a fold up table, lots of single roses, bouquets and overpriced teddy bears for those men and women who liked the luxury of gassing up their vehicles and not going home empty handed.  He was pretty low on products, which was good Considering Valentine’s Day was nearly over.  He only had a few single roses and some heart shaped balloons left.  I had seen him every day since he started selling his heart shaped merchandise in front on the gas station the weekend before V-Day, since I had to pass him to bring my older son to school with the twins right there along for the ride.

Little did I know that he had seen me.

As I said “Hey!” to him while he sat in his chair probably hoping to sell the last of his Valentines Day loot and be on his way, he said “Hey!” back and then grabbed a rose and ran up to me and said, “This is for you”.  But before I could respond, I must had had a look of bewilderment on my face at being handed a rose because he quickly said “I see you everyday out here pushing those 3 kids back and forth to school man, so this for you”.  I thanked him a few more times, and went on my way.

I was honesty choked up from the encounter because he sees 100’s of people daily, so I was genuinely surprised he recognized me without the kids in tow!  But his generosity in that moment was just a really great gesture we don’t see enough of these days.  It was his very simple way of saying “You are doing a good job as a dad”, and to have that come from someone you don’t even know is paying attention to you can really go a long way.

So, if there is someone out there you think deserves an “Atta boy” or just a smile of acknowledgement, share it with them.  It could go a long way.  And probably help you forget the Valet Parking debacle you managed to escape from with your actual vehicle and not the BMW you tried to claim as yours.

P.S. Writing less than 1000 words is keeping it short for me, so I win.  J

Enlisting Help from Siblings (cause you need it!)

Not everyone who has multiples has help like I do.  No, I don’t mean my wife who of course is as helpful and loving as they come.  I am referring to my older son who will turn 5 this April.  His help with the the 2 years old twin tots has been essential in keeping them safe, happy and sometimes even fed!  I was able to write an article on this for the FATHERS OF MULTIPLES site so please take a look if you are looking for some advice on how to get those siblings to really chip in.

Operation Newborns- Getting Help From Siblings

The Day My Twin Stroller Died (and I almost cried)

 

It started out as an ordinary day in my life as a stay at home dad. Most mornings , my wife helps me get all 3 kids ready for the walk to school , where our firstborn is in pre-K. It’s about a 13 minute walk from our apartment (I can do it in 8).   After she leaves, I pack up the twins in our  5 year old, reliable, City Mini double stroller (it was a hand me down from a friend with twin boys). I make sure to grab cups of milk for the road, bundle up Justin, and head out for the walk. Sometimes, it is a harrowing journey depending on how the weather decides to treat us.

However, today, wifey takes Justin to school on her own and this spares me the journey. I was thankful to be able to stay in my pajamas for a few hours more until launching into the afternoon ritual of walking to pickup our son from school with the twins in tow.

But not today.

Shortly after I had masterfully put the twins to sleep using our  “Superman !” routine,  I checked my Phone and saw a text from my wife.  The school nurse has called her to say that Justin had thrown up at lunch, needed new pants, and must be picked up.  Oh dear.

Initially I was fearful that he was really ill since the  flu has been an epidemic this winter season.  Then, I was selfishly annoyed that I was a going to have to pack up to half sleeping kids into winter gear and take them with me to get Justin at least 2 hours earlier than I had planned.

Nevertheless, I went into hyper focus mode and proceeded to get myself dressed, grab the twins coats and socks and shoes, dress them while they were half asleep with all the stability of a bowls of jello, place them in our old reliable CityMini double  and we were out the door in record time(, if people kept records of uninteresting times that is).

I was accustomed to  taking this trip  every day early in the morning and late in the afternoon  since Justin started UPK.  I would see the same faces; adults bringing kids to school, local workers at the gas station always greeting us and neighbors on their way to work.

But I noticed that this was was different; it was the middle of the day, kids were already in school, most adults had arrived at their jobs already.   The streets were very empty, like a ghost town.

That’s when the wobbling started.  It did not strike me as odd since the stroller was sometimes shaky and the sidewalks are not level in all places.

Then I heard a cracking noise.

I stopped pushing the Stroller and looked down at two wheels that looked oddly familiar.  They were the same as the City Mini wheels.    That seemed odd.  The twins were still asleep and the concrete was cold, but not covered in snow, so I put on the safety brake to keep the stroller from moving and I stooped really low for a closer inspection.

Lo and behold, 2 of the 4 wheels had popped off, so my City Mini was down to 6 wheels.

I felt about 50 emotions in less than 10 seconds.

Anger.  Why is this happening now?  I have to get my sick son and now I have to deal with this?

Frustration.  This day has already been a mess, this makes everything much worse.

Fear.  How the heck am I gonna make it to my sons school on 6 wheels and back home?  What do I do if the other wheels fall off?  Carry the stroller on my back like ATLAS carrying the earth? Why are the streets so empty with no one to lend me a hand or ask if I need assistance?

Sadness.  This was the one emotion I didn’t expect expect to feel in this moment.  I was sad,   not just because the wheels falling off meant paying big bucks for a replacement, but because the wheels falling off meant that this trip to pick up my sick son would likely be the last time I could use the city mini again.

We had been through so many adventures, Trips to Vermont, trips to the Intrepid and so many more that would never happen.

After fiddling with the wheel and realizing the issue was beyond my limited mechanical skills, I took off the breaks, put the two broken wheels in the back pocket of the stroller, and took off up the block wheelbarrow style to continue my journey.

I arrived my son’s school 3 minutes later and after scaling the steps with the twins still asleep in the stroller because I was too stubborn go around the corner to use the wheelchair entrance, I pressed the buzzer to let the office know I had arrived to pick up my son.

Minutes later, they brought him downstairs in a pair of shorts I am pretty sure where not his because I had forgotten to put replacement clothes in his backpack for occasions just like this.  He did not look ill, but said he had fish sticks.  I am guessing they just did not agree with him because he ate like a horse the rest of the day without any issues.

Luckily, the walk home was much less eventful and the rest of the wheels stayed on the City Mini, with twins still fast asleep in their makeshift wheelbarrow stroller. Seeing the two wheels in the back pouch, my son asked question after question about what happened to the stroller. The  City Mini is still at its usual spot in our home.  For some reason, I did not have the heart to put it out that Friday night so it would be taken on the garbage truck Saturday morning.  It had been with us through so many good times  (and another family too). I did not want to rush to trash it quite yet.  It deserves (it’s still there) a few more days before being recycled, hopefully into a new deluxe city mini to be used by another family.

Sofia eventually woke up but was still sleepy so I put her on the couch with a blanket and, while Justin and I were playing in the bedroom, Jackson still slept in the stroller.  He slept until he woke up and half asleep tried to exit an imbalanced stroller.  Luckily the stroller is low to the ground. Justin and I heard a crash and rushed to the living room to find Jackson on the floor with a look on his face as if to say “What on earth did I miss?”   If you only knew, buddy.

Maybe I will read this story to him in a few years to get a good laugh.

Give Thanks at Thanksgiving (and 364 other days a year)

If you look at the picture I posted you’re probably wondering why I would be thankful that our car was broken into, the radio stolen, along with Bruno Mars CD the Day before Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful because we have insurance.

I’m thankful that we woke up to just a broken window and not an empty parking space.

I’m thankful this happened on the day when I have the babysitter so I could take care of stuff without having to drag the twins with me.

I’m thankful because my wife and I were able to team up and take care of all the issues surrounding the car.

I’m thankful I have a good memory so I can just sing 24 karat magic and Perm in my head until I get a new CD.

A part of me hopes that whoever stole the radio, will sell it and use the money to buy their family some food for Thanksgiving or put it towards something meaningful. Regardless it’s important to remember to be thankful in all situations, good and bad.

It’s not easy, but it helps.

#blessed

 

Where did I go?

Has it really been over a year since I last posted?  In a word:  Yes.

When I first started this site, I thought I would be a blogging machine in between diaper changes and nap times.  Come to find out, being a stay-at-home dad is MAD work (feel free to say “DUH” out loud like most people would say if this were an actual conversation).  Now, I knew this would be difficult coming in because I stayed home with my oldest son when he was just a few months old before going back to work full time along with my wife.  He is now 4 and quite the delightful handful himself.  But being home with twins is another animal that no singleton or set of books can really prepare you for.

While I can’t update you on everything I have been doing over the the last 12-18 months, I can tell you one of the big items I have been working on is a YouTube channel for kids where a pirate puppet named Captain Vernon (a stretch, I know) and a nerdy professor (yet another stretch, I know) do toy reviews combined with educational lessons on a variety of cool subjects.

The Professor (see picture to the left) even did a few live performances for kids recently talking about gravity, geysers, and green milk and was asked to return despite some terrible jokes.

But you might be wondering, why start blogging now after being home for almost 2 years.  Well, 2 reasons.

The first:  back when I first started this Stay-At-Home dad life, I did not have much to say.  I was learning on the fly for the most part, and could not really think of stuff to write that would be anything more than a paragraph or 2 about what had happened in any given week.  I figured a few updates to friends and family on Facebook would cover that.

My second reason for starting this up again:  this photo.

To give you some context, it was taken by a reporter who did an article about spending 72 hours at the world’s largest Stay-At-Home Dad convention hosted by the National At-Home Dad Network in Portland this past September.   I wanted to attend last year, but could not work out the details and this year posed similar problems.  But when I saw all these dads wearing masks for the photo to show a sense a unity, 2 things came to mind.

First:  Because I am child of the 80’s and 90’s (amazing decades on their own, epic when combined), I immediately remembered the masks the robbers used in the classic Patrick Swayze (RIP) and Keanu Reeves movie Point Break and how I need to watch that movie again simply for nostalgia’s sake (yes those robbers used presidential masks but still..).

The second thought that hit me:  where are the black, brown and tan masks?

This is not to say I have any issue with National At-Home Dad Network or the photo.  I am sure the attendees wore the mask that best represented them and that there are masks in other colors as well.  MY issue is with people of color representing at all events, but especially when it comes those events that show how much we love caring for our kids.  Seeing this photo helped me realize that I have a voice and a perspective that could be helpful to all people of all backgrounds, but may be even more helpful to that brother out there caring for his kids on his own because he is the only breadwinner, or the brother who stays home with the kids because he just loves to do it and his wife loves that he does it willingly (and also because the babysitter comes in once a week to give him a full 8 hours of freedom).

Either way, to quote the terrible, terrible Will Smith movie Wild Wild West, maybe if I start planning for the 2018 SAHD Convention  (sounds like a downer as an acronym), I will be able to a “…add color to these monochromatic proceedings”.  In the movie’s defense, this is one of the funnier scenes with Smith and Branagh going tit for tat with comments that highlight Smith being black and Branagh being stuck in a wheelchair but that is a blog for another day.

So, I am back on the scene for as long as I can be and hope I can bring a perspective that is helpful to dads and moms (and all caregivers) alike.

Daily posts?  Doubtful.

Weekly posts?  Maybe.

Monthly posts?  Likely.

Subjects will run the gamut from childcare to Netflix reviews to some Paw Patrol commentary and everything in between.  No subject is out of bounds!  Except maybe politics…

Whatever happens, I look forward to sharing it with you.

Let’s do this!

coolminivandad