Category Archives: games and toys

Everyone’s a Winner

Something strange happened yesterday. I took the boys to Chuck E. Cheese’s after school. That’s not the strange part, although anyone who knows me well will be like, Whaa? You took your kids where? For, like, why now?

Here’s the strange part. No matter how well the boys played a game, how many points they scored, or how lucky they were, every machine in the joint doled out four tickets. Four tickets no matter what. Four tickets per customer. Four tickets per token. Four tickets even if they hit the flipping jackpot.


That’s messed up.

What if a ball landed in the Power Shot?


Four effing tickets. Fours as far as the eye could see.

What if the Skee Ball World Champion played next to a five-year-old kid picking his nose and tossing half of the balls in the wrong direction? They’d both get four tickets.

What happens when a kid goes into the ticket blaster at a birthday party? I don’t even want to know!

And when your kid finally runs out of tokens after two exhausting hours and realizes he only has 64 tickets to show for it and can only “afford” a sticker and a plastic spider ring at the prize counter? Dude, that is not okay.

There were signs everywhere that said “Everyone’s a Winner.” Don’t get me started about everything that’s wrong with Florida, but at least you get what you earn at Chuck E. Cheese’s in the Sunshine State (or at least at the Pembroke Pines location). Yesterday was our first and last time at Chuck E. Cheese’s in the Garden State (what’s up, New Jersey?), because even though it was clean and quiet, the four ticket fraud is ree-diculous.

In related news, I’m Mom of the Year because I did, in fact, take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s after school for no good reason. Also, they never want to go back again, so I guess, in this case, everyone is a winner.






Filed under fun stuff, games and toys

Toys, Games, and Activities I Loathe (A List!)

I recently accidentally deliberately let half a dozen containers of Play-Doh dry out on the kitchen table so I could throw them out. I know what you’re thinking. The Internet is chock full of instructions on how to revive dried Play-Doh. What you need to understand is that I don’t want to save it. I want it to die dry so I can get rid of it and never have to play with or clean it up again. I don’t appreciate the mess it leaves on every surface and floor in my house or the anxiety it causes when the colors get mixed together and, despite my children’s pleas, can’t be unmixed, which got me thinking about all of the toys, games, and activities my kids force upon me that make me wish I were prepping for a colonoscopy instead.

1. Play-Doh. (See above.)

2. Bubbles. Bubbles are perfectly fine…at someone else’s house. At my house, bubbles make fingers sticky, which make doorknobs, floors, windows, chairs, tables, and refrigerator handles sticky. Bubble machines, wands, and other poorly manufactured bubble instruments always break, and bubble fluid always spills because someone with clumsy little hands wants to do it “all by myself.”

3. Monopoly, including but not limited to, Cars 2 Monopoly, Monopoly Junior, and Star Wars Monopoly. These board games (as well as most others) almost always result in a child quitting and/or walking away with important game pieces and/or crying because he doesn’t win.

4. Any toy smaller than my thumb, including, but not limited to, Squinkies, Zinkies, Drifters, Trashies, Fighter Pods, and Bonkazonks. These teeny tiny toy terrors, which are meant to be collected, end up lost instead only to be found later inside a shoe, the washing machine, the DVD player, a backpack, the tooth brush holder, the trunk of the car, or all of the above. They are manufactured for one reason and one reason only: to drive Mamas crazy.

5. Elefun. This delightful preschool game challenges toddlers to use nets to catch as many colorful butterflies as they can that blow out of a friendly elephant trunk. It’s tons of fun for the whole family…[insert record scratch]…until it’s time for Mama – on her hands and knees – to collect the uncaught butterflies that are scattered all over the floor and put them back inside the elephant and start the merriment all over again. And again. And again. And again. Case closed.

6. Swings. Before I continue, I want to point out that I’m a good Mama. I am. I often say this (or write this) when I’m about to do or say (or write) something that might seem, well, un-motherly. Here goes. I don’t like pushing my kids on the swings. It was okay when they were babies, but by the time they were toddlers, putting them in the swing was less about enjoyment and more about confinement. (FYI: Saving a toddler’s life every 30-45 seconds in an obstacle course of dangerous playground equipment is exhausting.) Now, after six years of Mamahood, I’ve earned the right to sit on a bench while my children push each other on the swings (reason #249 that I birthed more than one child). Would you like me any less if I told you I had a “Don’t ask Mommy to push you on the swings or we go home” rule? Nevermind.

(I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…)

7. Lincoln Logs. Every time the Lincoln Logs come out, I’m instructed to build the log mcmansion featured in the building instructions. Adding more misery to an already dismal predicament, they want to help. By “help” I mean, hinder, thwart, and sabotage. When the Lincoln Logs come out, I answer phone calls from 800 numbers.

8. Video Games. I can’t help it. The mere thought of playing Lego Star Wars for the Xbox makes me want to fold laundry.

9. Paint. My dislike for paint is more about timing than anything else. My children almost always want need to do an art project at or before dawn, when I’m handling raw meat, while I’m chopping onions (and coincidentally already in tears), or I’m in the shower.

10. Puzzles. This one is complicated. I actually like puzzles and am happy to do them with my kids for several hours minutes. That is, until I discover a puzzle piece is missing. Then Obsessive Compulsive Mama takes over and I want to hurl the puzzle out the window because a missing puzzle piece is totally and completely unacceptable.

11. Powered riding toys. Every time one of my kids takes our battery-powered Lightning McQueen for a spin, we lose a sprinkler head.

Ironically, despite my annoyance with extreme dislike loathing of several categories of toys and games, my house is filled to the gills with them. Hmm.

For the record, I love being with my kids. Most of the time. This is starting to sound bad, isn’t it? Please tell me you hate some toys, too. (Please.)


Filed under colonoscopy, games and toys, Guilty Mama, list, Obsessive Compulsive Mama, toys

Water Drink!


Sometimes I have to think long and hard about what to write about. Other times, it’s easy peasy, like last Friday night when Riley invented his first drinking game.

It started as a matching game (except it’s not a matching game at all). Here’s how it works: We place a dozen small books about different farm, zoo, and sea animals on the floor face down. Then, we take turns giving clues about one of the animals. Whoever guesses the animal gets to flip the book over.

Like most bedtime activities (brushing teeth, going pee, and choosing one – not ten – books to read), the matching game is exhausting, especially when my patience is thin and my Chinese takeout is sitting on the kitchen counter. That said, it is, on occasion, entertaining. Here’s a sampling of some of Riley’s most awesome animal clues: 

This guy is a fuzzy little fella with a yucky mouth.

This guy is a fuzzy little fella who smells.

This mean guy has sharp teeth and scares everyone and eats meat.

We’ve been playing the matching game every night for at least two hundred years weeks. On Friday night, I tried to redirect him. Let’s read a book? I promise I’ll read more than one. You can choose!  Fugetaboutit. “No,” he said. “We’re playing.”

Then things got interesting. “Mommy, where’s your water? We have to do water drink.”

“What’s water drink?” I asked.

“Every time you guess an animal you get to drink water!” he said holding up his Batman cup.

Hmm. It was eight o’clock on a Friday night. I imagined all of the young, hip, sharply dressed, non-parent people enjoying happy hour specials around town.  “Is it okay if Mommy drinks a glass of wine?”

“Sure it is.”

And so began the drinking game.

“This guy is a fuzzy little fella who likes to splash in the water and play with everyone,” said Riley.

“Dolphin?” I guessed.

“Water Drink!” he said. Nice.

“Okay, my turn. This animal lives on a farm and likes to eat grass all day.”

This somewhat accurate description of a cow threw Riley for a loop, which wasn’t a surprise considering his description of a horse a few minutes earlier was “a fuzzy little fella who likes to bark. “Cow?” he finally guessed.


“Water Drink!”  Sweet.

The “Go The F—k To Sleep” guy could probably learn a thing or two from me about how to make bedtime a little bit less miserable. You’ll be pleased (relieved?) to know there’s an educational component to this (inappropriate?) bedtime drinking game. Every time we make a match (and after we take a swig), we open the book and learn something factual about an animal. Did you know tigers like to hunt alone? That pandas like to sleep in trees? That sharks don’t lay eggs, rather they keep them inside until the babies hatch? That black bears aren’t all black?

Expect the unexpected, my friends. And, by golly, WATER DRINK!!!

Do you play drinking games with your kids?

Editor’s note:  No animals fuzzy little fellas were harmed and no one under the age of 21 37 consumed Chardonnay in the making of this blog post. 

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Filed under bedtime, games and toys