Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chuck E. Cheese Please

Thanks to their incessant advertising on the various children's television networks, the eldest child, our dear Jacqueline has been requesting a trip to Chuck E. Cheese for about six months. Since we drive past it routinely, we get asked about it just as routinely. Today with the dreary cold weather, and the bleak frozen wasteland of a yard preventing any real time outside, I decided to bite the bullet and take the family for a trip out there to A) wear her down for her nap, and B) either curb the requests, or double them, not sure yet how that is going to work out yet.

I dutifully clipped coupons for a pizza deal, and 20% off some tokens, helped Alison get the kids ready, and off we were to the Bridgewater version of what I thought for certain would be adult hell on earth.

It was not quite hell on earth, not by a long shot. By some measures it might have even been pleasant. In my haste to make a decision for the day trip however, I did make one miscalculation. I never contemplated the sheer volume of birthday party kids that might be present at say 1 PM on a Saturday afternoon. It was pretty chaotic when we first arrived, any design on maybe skipping pizza for the second day in a row and settling on a healthy option from the menu went out the window when we saw the sheer volume of toddlers present in the play area. We just made the quickest decision possible, the pizza pack, bought some tokens and went on a search for a seat.

We found a table, unpacked and I took Jackie around for a pass of the game area. We played a few games including this age appropriate gem.

Around that time the parties got called in, so mercifully the floor cleared, and we played a few of the ticket dispensing games. I was a bit disappointed that there seemed to be a four or 5 ticket cap on each game. This prevents me from parking at the ski ball on future trips and clearing them out of tickets and prizes, a major dissapointment for sure. Jackie didn't quite get the grasp of ski-ball or some of the other ball tossing activities, but she had a great time. The pizza arrived and was better than expected, we played a few more games, let Jackie crawl through the rat habitat they had hung from the ceiling, and we escaped with our sanity and a pile of tokens, we bought way too many with the coupon we had, so we have just prepaid for three or four more trips to the place. Good thing it's close.

I will add that from the reviews on sites like yelp, this appears to be one of the better franchises. I would confirm this, but it's really my first experience in one of these places. It was clean, the staff was friendly and attentive, the games are cheap, the food was edible and better than expected. We shall return. Birthday parties, are probably not in the cards though. The Chucky Cheese character walking around had body language that reminded me of Will Ferrell's ill fated turn at ice capades in the movie Blades of Glory. Then when I expected a bad animatronic rat to be revealed behind the stage curtain they had set up in the party area, which was visible from the entire restaurant, and got precisely what I expected, it seemed a little worse than lame. Kids might not notice, but I don't think I could subject other adults to such things involuntarily.Whatever happened to the good old days of parties at roller rinks. Now that was entertainment.
Playing some kind of game or another, a limit of four tickets is the universal prize. This seems like some sort of everyone gets a trophy and is a precious snowflake type deal.

Can't really describe how thrilled she was to be there, it's a kid thing I guess.

Enjoying some pepperoni pizza

Helping Jackie steer the snowmobile, we won first place

Scurrying through the rat tunnels

This retrofit was a bit strange

She was moving to quick for the camera

Jackie had a great time and Catherine cooperated, what more could parents ask for?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dark Lord of Cuddles

The force is strong with this birthday gift from Uncle Joe and Aunt Lara.

Jackie soundly sleeping with a variety of Lucasfilm and Pixar properties

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

40,000 Page Views on a Content Free Blog

Things have been a little slow around here, for oh say the past year. We have lots of updates that need to be published, maybe we'll get around to writing some of them over the holidays. I'm kind of amazed that there have been 40,000 hits to this blog, which translates to about $60 of revenue from google, (our benevolent internet overlords won't pay until we hit $100). I'm sure a large chunk of it is eastern European spam robots, at least that's my guess based on where the traffic is coming from, but still pretty amazing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Jackie at Preschool: Markers Edition

The preschool sends us pictures of Jackie in class from time to time. This one came in the other day.

She really amazed me with the markers last week. I was supervising coloring time, and with markers I guess you really need too, other wise things can get out of hand in fairly short order, and I was drawing her pictures of cartoon characters she likes, and she was doing a great job coloring between the lines. With the crayons, not so much, but she was using those markers like a champ.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Repost: Grandma’s Ice Cream

My own blogging has hit the skids again, for this I apologize. I'm going to try to link some different tidbits as I come across them to keep things interesting. I came across this today, and I thought it a beautiful sentiment about suffering with grace and dignity, when we encounter hardship. Most of our problems in life are rather small, and how we handle them speaks to our faith and character.

Grandma’s Ice Cream

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Looking Back Twelve Years II

I posted some memories of 9/11 from the Academy last week for 12th Anniversary, today I get to post the flip side of my experience with something a little more uplifting.

The Color Guard at the Academy will typically present the flag at events throughout the NY Metropolitan Area, sometimes at sporting events. In the wake of 9/11 no one was sure when professional sports would be ready to play in the city. Sure the stadiums were unaffected, the Mets and Yankees both being fresh off their appearance in the Subway World Series the year before were in the hunt in their respective leagues for a return the playoffs. The Yankees being at the tail end of their most productive years with their core group of legendary players, would end up playing in the World Series and losing to the Diamondbacks, but that's a story for another day I suppose.

Schedule wise the Mets and Yankees were both on the road at the time, with the Mets due to return to NYC first, their first games after the attacks were in Pittsburgh, the next home stand would pit them against division rivals the hated Atlanta Braves.

The Academy Color Guard was invited to participate in the opening ceremonies with first responders from ground zero. Volunteers were requested, and as a Mets fan and someone struggling to be of use in some capacity, I signed up and was chosen to participate. We practiced a few times, but once the crowd started chanting U-S-A as we walked out onto the field, the bag pipes that were playing and any commands from the Color Guard were completely drowned out, it was amazing.

We stayed for the game, and got to witness Mike Piazza's amazing game winning home run, I will never forget the outpouring of emotion from the crowd. The atmosphere was electric, and who knows if I'll ever experience anything like again (hopefully not, if it means another catastrophic event).

We Mets fans rooted our rag tag team on to the end of the season, but they fell short, and so began a dark time for the Mets that continues, with brief flickers of light in 2005 and 2006. But that one moment, I'll never forget. I remember reading about Mike Piazza when he first came up with the Dodgers in Boy's Life Magazine, I was thrilled when he came to the Mets, and this at least for me is his quintessential moment with the franchise. Forever linked with a moment when some of us were finally able to take a breath and start looking forward again after such a traumatic experience. It's so silly, but I get a little misty eyed, and goosebumps, whenever I watch this moment, as if I am taken back to that night and relive the wonder all over again.