Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Worst Toys of 2015

I feel as though compiling this list is actually a public service and probably counts as a good deed as Christmas approaches. If it really a time of spreading joy and peace, then these toys are the anti-Christmas and will bring nothing but misery and suffering to all whose home they enter. You're welcome.

If you want to maintain relationships with those you hold dear or your sanity, stay far, far away from these this season.

**I have not personally tried or reviewed these items because 1) blogging does not pay me anything and I wouldn't actually spend money on these even if I had it 2) I'm confident enough they are all terrible ideas that I can warn you about without any personal inspection of them. 

Star Wars Bladebuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber 

A couple years ago, I bought my kids matching plastic snow shovels which they promptly used to try to beat each other to death. This year I could actually buy them each a weapon that looks like a weapon, but that's really a mistake you only have to make once.


By now, you may have caught wind of the horror stories regarding several children who have become ensnared by these tiny balls of terror (which would have made a nice alternate and entirely more accurate name had Bunchems been taken). Once they catch hold of human hair, they latch on tighter than Kanye West to a grudge against anyone who is not Beyoncé..

The only thing better than shrieks of joy on Christmas morning are the screams of panic from young children whose greatest fears in life are a brush and a haircut.

Before these are driven out of the market, somebody please send a complimentary box to Donald Trump.


Toy companies are no longer even trying to disguise the fact that they are trying to sell us shit. And now they want me to spend actual money so my child can play with a replica of the very thing I spent six traumatic months cleaning off walls and doors for free while potty-training. I didn't think you could put a price tag on that kind of horrific experience, but apparently you can, and all it costs is $7.99.

Granted, this probably doesn't smell nearly as bad, but the idea itself reeks of absurdity.

Disney Frozen Sing-Along Elsa 

Just when it seemed the Frozen furor was dying down a bit and the strains of Do You Want To Build A Snowman began to fade into the icy abyss, Disney decided it could keep beating the dead reindeer for awhile longer.

Behold, the singing doll that duets with your child, just in case the 437th time of "Let It Go" belted out at maximum volume hadn't yet completely destroyed your spirit.

Pie Face! 

I imagine the pitch at the Hasbro meeting where this project was green-lighted went something like this:  "Hey, I know! We should create a game where the winner gets a handful of whipped cream or a wet sponge to the face! Parents are totally going to jump at the chance to relive the humiliation and trauma they endured for years of trying in vain to feed their babies and toddlers. Trust me, they are going to love this. Love. This."

Because adding a new element to the never-ending task of cleaning up after little people really is the gift that keeps on giving.

B. Meowsic Keyboard 

This instrument of torture has actually been around for years, but still easily remains the worst thing that ever showed up under our tree.

Nothing says "Please, dig out your own ears with a rusty melon baller" more than a keyboard that features the option to play every note as a cat's meow alternating with a pre-recorded child singing an off-key version of La Cucaracha.

The real magic comes by way of the attached microphone to amplify the sound and spread the joy throughout the house, no matter what room you try to escape too. Mere walls are no obstacle to this degree of evil.

I have spent many episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates day-dreaming of how I can adequately repay my little brother for bestowing this abomination upon us once he finally has children of his own. Ooh, I wonder if Yeezus could customize one that declares he's the biggest rock star on the planet with every note played and also interrupts them any time they start a lecture. Imma look into that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

About those personal avalanches (and my ability to milk a metaphor)

I really try to avoid Vaguebook-ing (the art of posting something ambiguous to invite questions and concern), but I should know by now that as a chronic over-sharer, posting a brief, unexplained snippet from my life might cause that reaction.

The post in question went up this morning:

What I was mostly trying to convey was that often times, I can outrun my demons for awhile (they're surprisingly slow bastards). Yet within a couple hours, I had a number of texts and messages checking in on me, wanting to make sure I was alright. I generally try to be open and authentic with my struggles, instead of just alluding to them. There's just less isolation when you're willing to share that. So I cringed at the thought that people might think I was seeking attention without offering details.

And then, when I'd had a minute to be reasonable, I had to tell those negative voices in my head to shut it and do something productive, like clean my floors (seriously, if they're going to hang around, they could at least make themselves useful. And my floors are disgusting).

Yes, last night was a bit rough. It wasn't the worst I've ever experienced, and yet it wasn't just one thing either. As anyone with anxiety can tell you, often one thing is usually dog-piled on by many other things. And then a couple more for good measure, just to make sure you know that you're getting all the things wrong, all the time. The briefest whisper of unsettledness can trigger an emotional avalanche that gains momentum at an alarming speed, so that one thing looks like one, big uncontrollable disaster.

But for once, this actually isn't about me. These piles are not a new or foreign thing.

No, this is a shout out to the rescue crew, the ones who know where to look for you, and who grab their shovels and start digging to help you find air. A good friend pointed out that most people probably just assumed my post was referring to a rough night with my kids or something else rather inconsequential. That's probably a good thing. If everyone suddenly rushed to my doorstep with pickaxes in-hand, it might alarm the children (yet probably wouldn't actually surprise the neighbours that much We are most definitely that house on the block).

But others called my name, reached out, grabbed my hand and pulled, just in case I was stuck and couldn't get out on my own (and do so time and time again).

I am really fortunate to have these people and this friends, is exactly why you need yours too. That doesn't mean you have to find them by broadcasting every emotion, feeling and observation on the internet (unless you also really want unrelated email pitches, like the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to blog about quality 925 silver products. And who wouldn't?). It does, however, mean allowing vulnerability and openness with a trusted few who know to check in if they have the slightest sense you might be buried.

Find these people and be there for each other when the snow starts to fly down the hill. Jump into the debris with them and dig with your hands if the situation requires it. No special tools necessary, just the ability to show up when they hear the distinct sound of the mountain rumbling.

Also, try to make at least one friend who won't cringe at your floors if they do break down your door.

Friday, July 10, 2015

McDonald's won't just make your kids fat, it'll make them curse like sailors too

Because McDonald's hasn't offended enough people by introducing our children to the pleasurable and intoxicating world of trans fats and super-sized portions, now it seems they're using minions - a fitting and brilliant choice, if you think about it - to teach them the f-word as well.

At least that's what my Facebook feed tells me has the internet's underwear in a collective knot this week. Kim Kardashian must be on vacation.

And everyone knows, when an angry mob hiding behind millions of computer screens gets pissed off, giant chains are brought to their knees. Or at least temporarily inconvenienced for a few days with a drive-thru line-up of three cars, instead of 10. The same mob forgives and forgets easily as soon as the backseat of the min-van crew is hungry and whining.

The best part of the Despicable Me franchise, starring in their own movie released today, have supposedly been programmed to corrupt the nation's youth (sorry Bieber, looks like you're out) to curse, courtesy of a $4 Happy Meal.

The small plastic toys that currently come with a cheeseburger and fries are said to be uttering an unholy "WTF" as part of their limited vocabulary, whenever delighted children whack them down on a table. As someone who has gotten used to being roughed up by her kids, I'd say the toys are just mirroring real life and painting a realistic picture of parenthood, but whatever.

Look McDonald's, if anyone gets to be judged for my kids going on a profanity-laced tirade in Sunday School, it's going to be me and the guy who cut me off on the highway last week. STEP OFF MY TURF.

My kids each got one of the toys earlier this week before they were recalled and since the story broke, I've been entertained by them far more than anyone else in our house.This is what happens when network television is mostly on reruns for the summer. That said, it's easily the best $8 we've spent this year.

Because my kids haven't yet rocked the playground with a newly-acquired string of expletives, I decided to ask them what they hear.

Atrocious, isn't it? I was actually mildly disappointed that they didn't provide me with a new bandwagon to jump on. It's like I can only count on the Play-Doh emporium to turn my offspring into profligate heathens. Thanks for nothing McDonald's.

Photo courtesy of a friend who didn't want her name associated with it


* Google "play-doh penis" at your own risk. You've been warned.