Midway Done My Way!

MidwayFor a brief, shining moment, Justin thought I was the greatest “Gamer” on the planet. He looked at me with awe and envy because I was able to do what he could not: I beat a video game!

Lego Dimensions is the video game of choice in our house. If you haven’t played it, it’s a Lego game that incorporates characters from popular movies and television shows, such as “Ghostbusters,” “Doctor Who,” and “The Simpsons” and allows the player to complete challenges in each world using items like “Echo1” and the “Back to the Future” hoverboard.

One of the final Player Packs that was just released is called “The Midway Arcade Level Pack.” As the Gamer character, your task is to complete ‘80s/retro Midway games like Joust, Rampage, and Defender. Justin knew these games by name. What he didn’t know was that these were the games that I spent YEARS mastering in my youth. Nothing was better than having both pockets full of quarters and spending time in the darkened arcade of Perimeter Mall in the late 80’s.


Excitedly, Justin opened the new pack and loaded his game onto the Xbox 360. Out of curiosity, I stayed with him to see how authentic these Midway games were. (Spot on!) Once he was in the game, his character was given a series of challenges. Repeatedly, his character failed each challenge because he could not complete the basic levels of the retro Midway games.


“Dad?” he said meekly as he handed me the controller. “Can you try and get me past this level?”


AH-HA!!!! I had been waiting for this moment for YEARS!!! Now, my oldest son was about to witness my true talent! GenX Daddy was about to teach a lesson in “8-Bit Video Game Whoop-Ass!”

With ease, I was able to complete level after level. Justin kept looking at the television and then back at me as if I was performing miracles. Finally, I handed him back the controller and announce – “The levels are open!” It blew his mind.

And, then I confused him when I took my ‘80s video game pop culture references too far by asking him in a robotic voice: “Shall we play a game? How about a nice game of Chess, Joshua?”


“Um…my name is Justin,” he replied. (Note to self: Show Justin “War Games.”)

Garrett’s Five Finger Yo-Kai Discount


This is Whisper

As a parent, there are times when you have to decide to either react immediately to something your child did or ‘wait and see.’ If your child were to run up to someone and hit them, then you’d react. But sometimes….there’s a grey area. There are times when something bad happens, but maybe it was an accident or perhaps good intentions accidentally led to a bad decision. This is one such story:

Justin has become a Yo-Kai Watch fanatic. It’s a toy watch that is part of a role-playing game. The watch is supposed to help the person wearing it identify other Yo-Kai who haunt people and cause mischief. (Imagine Pokemon with a watch.)

Since Justin has become enamored with Yo-Kai, so has his little brother. (Garrett’s really only interested in it because Justin is.) Garrett wants to watch Yo-Kai with Justin, play the Yo-Kai video game with Justin, and even watch Yo-Kai on TV with Justin.

On Saturday, I decided to take Justin and Garrett out to the mall. I made it clear that they were allowed to buy one small toy each. Garrett found a small Lego toy that he wanted in Target. After Target, Justin dragged all of us to GameStop to see if they had any Yo-Kai tokens for his watch. They did and I allowed him to buy three packages.

While Justin was shopping, I took a step back and allowed Garrett to browse the aisles of the store as well. He clearly knew I was there, but he probably didn’t think I was watching him closely. With the Target bag in one hand, I could see him casually pick up another toy, check it out, and then put it back on the shelf. However, when he found a stuffed animal version of Whisper from the Yo-Kai world, he held onto it longer than he had with the other toys. And then, I saw him put it in the Target bag and walk away. (By the way, Whisper looks like a giant sperm. Seriously. He’s translucent/white with a tail. He’s a sperm.)

Here’s the moment when I could have reacted, but I decided to wait. Was he shoplifting or was he having an absent-minded moment? I wasn’t sure.

After a few moments, he walked up to me and asked me to hold his Target bag so he could continue to look around. I agreed. As he walked away, I looked in the bag and saw Whisper staring back at me…and imagined him quietly mouthing the words “Help me!”

I removed him from the bag, put him back on the shelf, and didn’t say anything to Garrett. I honestly could not tell if he had done this purposely or if it was an accident. So, I decided to wait. I would not have to wait long.

About an hour later, we arrived home. I unlocked Garrett’s car door, unbuckled him, and handed him his Target bag. He took the handles of the bag, spread them apart to look into his bag, and only saw his Lego toy.

He looked up at me with an expression of stunned dismay and outrage. With a furrowed brow he screamed, “HEY!?!?!?! WHERE’S WHISPER??? HE WAS IN MY BAG!!” (It was like a movie moment when the thief realizes that he had been double-crossed.) He was so angry that he checked the bag a second time. Nope….Whisper still wasn’t there. I told him that I saw what he did and returned the toy to where it belonged. The look he gave me after rechecking his ‘stash’ said, “I’ll get you for this!”

Well, that answered that. My 4-year old was a thief and he got double-crossed by his own father!

There's no Whisper here!

There’s no Whisper here!


I Caved and I Kragled It

Lego-1Legos are a fantastic toy. Justin loves them. Garrett loves them. Heck – even I still love them. You know when I don’t love them? A) When I step on them in the middle of the night? B) When I’ve been asked by Garrett to rebuild his Lego toy after he’s purposely smashed it for the 50th time.

One of the few smart things I’ve ever done is to keep all of the Lego instruction manuals away from the kids and in a waterproof, Ziplock bag. No earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster will destroy the Rosetta Stone of Lego instructions I’ve saved.

Justin is the kid who is perfectly fine building his Legos from the instructions one time and then destroying them to build something from his imagination. Garrett is the kid who needs it rebuilt the way it is on the box over and over again.

For Garrett’s birthday this year, he requested one of the largest Lego structures that’s currently sold – The Lego Fire Station. In addition to that, he also got other Lego sets from other family members.

I still love building Legos….but, the thought of building these massive structures only to have Garrett destroy them and then beg me to rebuild them gave me ‘Lego Anxiety.’ I was so apprehensive about the task that it took me five days to summon the courage to begin this project. 5 DAYS!!! Garrett had the patience of a saint to wait 5 days for me to build the one toy he’d been begging for for months.


As I stood in the kitchen staring at the Lego box, I had an epiphany. Maybe “President Business” from “The Lego Movie” wasn’t the bad guy after all! Maybe his son was a jerk who kept messing up his stuff, even when he was told not to!! Maybe the Master Builders were idiots!!!!

In that moment, I reached into the kitchen cabinet, grabbed the Krazy Glue, and did what every Lego enthusiast tells you not to do. I became “Lord Business” and I glued every piece of that Lego Fire Station together…brick by brick!


I did it to prevent Garrett from destroying my hard work! I did it to save my sanity! And, I did it while singing “Everything is Awesome!”


Legos of Love

Lego“Garrett broke his Lego firetruck again.”

These are the words I was greeted with as I walked through the front door after a very long and exhausting day. In addition to being tired and mentally ‘fried,’ I had a sinus infection and the antibiotics had not begun to take effect yet. Or, they had begun to take effect, but were somehow putting me in a foul and mildly lethargic mood.

My mother-in-law showed me a pile of Legos on the table that, at one time, resembled a firetruck. Now, it was simply rubble. As MoGWE, informed me of her afternoon and evening with the boys, I continued to look over at the pile of Legos. I think the day had taken its toll because I wasn’t exactly listening to what was being said…and I was thinking about the Legos, but kept losing focus while having my eyes roll into the back of my head out of exhaustion. I keep doing the ‘head bob’ of an old man almost falling asleep while sitting up and then being jolted back to life at the last second….all while thinking of Legos.

After MoGWE left, I sat at the kitchen table and began to reassemble the firetruck once more. Not because I wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid the screams and crying the following morning as to why the firetruck hadn’t been magically fixed yet. (Yes, I am a superhero known as The Night Lemming. My secret power is to sneak around after hours and clean up toys.)

It took me about 20 minutes, but I rebuilt the Lego Firetruck. Afterwards, I slithered into bed and passed out.


There was excitement and glee in the air the following morning as Garrett got his firetruck back!! And, all was well with the world!

The following evening, as I walked into the house, I was greeted by the nanny. Her exact words were….

“Garrett broke his Lego firetruck again.”


Lego My Potty

In an attempt to explain potty training to Garrett, I used his Legos to demonstrate how it was supposed to work. He was not amused. Just after I took these pictures, he demolished what I had created.



However, with a little more time and a few more Legos, I created the Super Pooper 5000!! Behold – my Lego Potty creation!!



Today Is Justin’s 8th Birthday!

Baby Justin

“Put me back!!! I’m not ready yet!!”

Eight years ago, I looked down at my newborn son and thought, “Wow. This kid’s ugly.” He was wrinkly, slimy, hairy, and he was missing his teeth! He looked exactly like my Grandpa Eli. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Justin from the moment I saw him. (And, I was very fond of Grandpa Eli, too.) I just wasn’t prepared for the fact that Justin didn’t look like the Gerber Baby immediately after he was delivered. As the nurses cleaned him off, I remembered slipping off one latex glove and putting my bare hand on his chest. I knew I had to be the first person to touch this child…and I was. We have been inseparable ever since. Today may be Justin’s 8th birthday, but to me it’s a reminder that the last 8 years have been the best time of my life.

Dear Justin – What an unbelievable year you have had. I don’t even know where to begin. You have grown so much physically and emotionally. You have excelled in school, made lots of new friends, and you’ve been a wonderful (and helpful) brother to Garrett. You have made us laugh with your goofy puns, you’ve amazed us with your incredible reading and storytelling, and (begrudgingly) I will admit that you have become a better “Gamer” than I will ever be. Although – I still blame you for burning down my Minecraft house!

Together, we’ve played video games, built Lego projects, read books (you love “Harry Potter”), done massive homework projects, cooked, fished, (and then cooked the fish…which you refused to eat), thrown the baseball around, gone swimming, taken vacations, and so much more. I love sitting next to you while watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” because your laughter is infectious. And, I love taking you out to play golf. Like any true golfer, you complain all the way to the golf course. But, once you’re there, you play better than me and then complain when we have to leave.

Watching you grow up this year has been incredible and I can’t wait to see how great “8” will be!!

Love you,


PS. – You weren’t that ugly when you were born. You were more like a gooey, screaming, albino raisin!


Happy Birthday, Justin!!