Monthly Archives: January 2009

Funny Playmobil toy reviews on Amazon

Web 2.0 has brought the web many fine features, but none may be more entertaining than user reviews.

Take, for example, these reviews on for 2 Playmobil products; Playmobil Security Check and Playmobil Police Checkpoint.

Here is one of the more popular comments for the Playmobil Security Check.

CheckpointI was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”

And then there are these reviews of the Playmobil Police Checkpoint:

PoliceThis playset is one of the best purchases I have made for my three-year-old. In the past, when we have been stopped at roadblocks, or when during one of Daddy’s arrests, he would start crying uncontrollably. Now, after playing with this for the past several months, he is perfectly docile.

As an adjunct to this product, I would also recommend that you purchase the Playmobil Armed Standoff Playset, Fisher-Price Little People Battering Ram, and the Nerf Tear-Gas Canister Deployment Gun.


I was pretty pumped to get this model. After my Leviathan teddy-bear burst at the seams and my Guantanamo slip and slide tore into several pieces, I was looking for a petty distraction as durable as state tyranny itself.

Finally, I found the Playmobil Police Checkpoint. It’s everything a colorful plastic method of indoctrination should be: mobile, plastic, and filled with red warning signs. I love setting it up outside my house. That way I feel like I have to show papers to get in. I know I own it, but it’s cooler if the state lets me in. They know best.

Still, I have a complaint about this darling set. I mean, I’m no curmudgeon, and I hate to nit-pick, especially over such a usefully didactic toy. But I must-

No taser?

Oh, how I do love user generated comment. Read plenty more over at Amazon.

Dadventure now on Twitter

I’ve been playing with a dadventure Twitter account for the past few days. If you use Twitter and want to follow me here I am.

If you have no idea what Twitter is, it’s a microblogging service to send out short bursts (140 characters or less) of information to a network. In my other life I use Twitter quite a bit and find it is a really useful tool for quickly sharing information that often doesn’t fit in to a full length blog post.

Putting your kids life online – a cautionary tale

I struggle with how much information about my kids I should reveal on my blog. It is one thing for me to make the conscious and informed choice to share me online, quite another for me to make that choice on behalf of my kids.

Part of what holds me back is a respect for their privacy. From the get go, I decided not to use their names on the blog, instead referring to my daughter as “The Girl” and my son as “The Boy”. There has been the occasional lapse where their first names have slipped, but for the most part, as the About Me says, names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sometimes I feel that this is a restriction that limits how truly personal I can get with the stories I share on this blog. But for the most part, it is their life and I have to respect that their future selves may not feel the need to be quite as transparent as I.

And then I read Alec’s story and it snaps me into another reality. One that I sometimes forget about as I get more comfortable putting myself out there/here. Sometimes the online world is just an icky place filled with icky people.

Alec is a smart man. A university professor who studies educational technology and social networking. He lives his life online; open, transparent and social. But last week an incident occurred that shook him. Innocent photos of his 4 year old daughter were favorited by someone on Flickr. When Alec followed the links back to see who this person was, what he found was disturbing.

What I saw was three pages of favorited photos of preteen girls, most shots in bathing suits or with little clothing. Had I viewed any of these photos individually, isolated from the others, I am sure that this same feeling of disgust would not have come over me. But these photos, viewed together, favorited by some anonymous user, told a very different story. These photos of these girls were without a doubt being sexualized, and my four-year-old daughter was amongst these images.

Alec’s story has got me thinking hard about what responsibilities we, as parents, have in protecting our children’s identity online.

A knee jerk reaction would be to stop posting anything about my kids. But that feels too extreme. Like Alec, I feel the vast majority of people are good and decent. I dislike living my life in fear and feel that our kids are in far more danger from the people they know than complete strangers on the internet. And besides, if you’re a Dad going through stuff like I am, it’s nice to be able to connect and share in ways our fathers couldn’t.

On the other hand,  I am a Dad who wants to protect my kids. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna and ignore the realities that there are nasty people out there. So I am still juggling to find that happy balance between sharing and protecting.

While I was writing this post, I was doing some research on protecting your kids online and came across Blogging smart: How to protect yourself and your family online from Seattle Mom Blogs – a good set of guidelines for parent bloggers. But it was the last guideline that stuck with me:

Don’t be scared… be smart. When I started blogging, and then started thinking about safety, the horror stories nearly scared me off blogging altogether. That’s certainly not my intent here. Blogging has a lot to offer. Just be sure that you’re informed about the risks so that you can make good decisions that you feel comfortable with. And then, blog away!

What about you? How much personal information do you share about your kids online and what are your internal guidelines for what you post about them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, I need to head over to Facebook and check my privacy settings.

Bratz Dolls May Give Girls Unrealistic Expectations

At some point, you have to be okay with your little head and be okay with having a nose. Once again, The Onion peels up a priceless slice of satire.

Dad, CLOWNS!!!

Originally uploaded by Fun House

A little while ago, The Girl caught wind that I do not like clowns. I suspect traitor Mom. Anyway, one of her favorite games to play with me is to come barreling down the hallway screaming,” Dad, Dad! There is a clown in the backyard!” And then she falls down in hysterics, thinking this is the funniest thing she has ever heard.

A slight variation of this game involves her running up to me and saying, ” Dad, Dad! There is a clown in the backyard…and he is carrying a pickle!” Yes, you guessed it. I don’t like pickles, either.

Anyway, I don’t know where this clown phobia comes from, but methinks I might have run into this guy when I was a kid. That is some serious Jell-o that clown is packing in the backyard.

via Boing Boing

Bob Marley, McFerrin whatever

G rocking out to the right Bob

This is a tragic tale.

Last fall I went to the Experience Music Project in Seattle. While there I bought my son a very fun shirt with a picture of Bob Marley on it and a caption that says “B is for Bob” (like this one). He loved it and it quickly became his favorite piece of clothing.

Since he got that shirt, Bob Marley has been in high rotation in our house, and The Boy has been singing along with Bob and the Wailers. His favorite is Three Little Birds. It’s damn adorable to hear him sing the song. If you are not familiar, it’s one of the most optimistic songs on the face of the earth. It starts:

Don’t worry
about a thing.
Cause every little thing
is gonna be all right

This is where it gets tragic.

One day, the (seriously fantastic in all respects except this one) daycare workers at his daycare saw him wearing his Bob shirt and heard him fumbling out the lyric, “don’t worry”. For some reason, they filled in the next line with “be happy.” As in don’t worry, be happy by another Bob – Bobby McFerrin. So now they have gone one step further and, thinking that Graeme loves that song, have got it on a CD and are playing it in the daycare in high rotation for him. He is being brainwashed by Bobby McFerrin.

Now, Bobby McFerrin is a mighty fine musician in his own right and has produced some excellent music beyond the unfortunate phenomenon that was Don’t Worry, Be Happy. But he ain’t no Bob Marley. And now somehow my son is getting it into his head that Bob Marley sings “don’t worry, be happy.” And THAT, my friends, is a tragedy.

Waiting for all hell to break loose (but we’ll still give them goodie bags when they trash the house)

Snowman cookies

Snowman cookies ready for the goodie bag

I don’t know what we were thinking. Tomorrow we will be invaded by an army of preschoolers, many with their younger siblings and parents in tow. For tomorrow, The Girl turns 5.

It feels like this birthday party has taken on a life of it’s own. What started as a small affair with 5 friends has somehow tripled in size. There will be 14 kids here between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. Add in at least a parent, maybe 2 for each and we are going to have a houseful.

In the living room, my wife is putting the finishing touches on some of the goodie bags. Like many, we wrestled with whether to do goodie bags or not. But I know that The Girl looks forward to that bag of trinkets when she goes to a party. Let’s face it – kids LOOOOVE goodie bags. Plus, I think it is a nice lesson in gratitude for our kids to learn. These kids were nice enough to come to the party, so let’s thank them for their time and generosity by giving them a little something in return.

The one thing we did decide about the goodie bags was to forgo the cheap plastic dollar store crap and try to go for something homemade and useful. So my wife, being the crafty girl she is, has been working with Maggie this week baking and crafting up a storm of goodie bag treats. The package includes a homemade sugar cookie Maggie and Mom decorated as a snowman (snowmen are the theme), a small picture frame from the local craft store that the kids can colour with markers, and a package of “snowman soup” – hot chocolate mix with a couple marshmallows, kiss and a candy cane stir stick that we had leftover from Christmas. Simple, tasty and no trinkets. I think the kids will like it. Hell, it’s cookies and chocolate, what’s not to love?

So, wish me luck. We have batten down the hatches, hidden as many breakables as possible and have stocked up on copious amounts of wine to help us deal with the aftermath tomorrow night. But this ain’t about us. There is only one person I hope has a great time tomorrow. Happy birthday, my girl!

The fear of a five year old

Last night I was getting The Girl ready for her bath when, out of the blue,  she suddenly got quite upset and started crying. At first I thought it was a bath stall tactic, but as it went on I realized that her state was sincere and she really was upset about something important.

My mind quickly floods with horrible possibilities. Did something happen at daycare today? Was there an altercation with another kid? Did she get hurt?

“Maggie, what’s wrong?”

Between sobs she spurts out, “I’m scared.”

“What are you scared of?”



This too shall pass

While I am not sure I would have refered to it as “Death Valley”,  John Boynton’s post Is My Marriage Solid? over at Dad-o-matic has been resonating with me since reading it last week.

In a nutshell, Boynton says that as we move through life a significant energy shift takes place for us Daddy types. As we age, our energy decreases – and as someone who has fallen asleep on more than one occasion reading bedtime stories to the kids I can personally attest to this – while at the same time the demands for that energy increase, usually in the form of young kids and increased job demands as we enter our prime wage earning years. When you have an increased demand for a decreasing product, something has got to give and what usually gives is our primary relationship with our spouse. It’s not that we fall out of love, but rather the relationship undergoes a major transformation in the middle years of our lives.

There are times when I get frustrated at not having enough time with my wife to be able to do all those things that first brought us together. But I hold out hope that someday that life will ease it’s way back. It will probably never be the same as it once was, but I suspect I will be okay with that because something richer will be there to take the place of that early love. Our relationship will be deeper knowing that together we survived this incredibly chaotic, roller coaster ride called parenthood.

In the words of Lou Reed, it’s the beginning of a great adventure; an adventure I am not on alone. And once I arrive at the next way-point, I know my partner will be right there with me ready to step off into the next great adventure.