Traveling With Kids – Victoria – A Story In Pictures

Victoria Done Like It’s Never Been Done

The Youngest has a way of doing things. His own way. His own unique style.

Below is a pictorial of how he experiences something new.

Hey look! What's that?

Hey look! What’s that? Is it alive? What’s it doing down there?

Oh, it's a dog. Made out of metal. It has shiny parts. First, I will pet it.

Oh, it’s a dog. Made out of metal. It has shiny parts. First, I will pet it.

 

Tne I will kick it. Then I will sit on it. Cuz that's what you do. You sit on things.

Then I will kick it. Then I will sit on it. Cuz that’s what you do. You sit on things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I rub my bum on it. Back and forth, back and forth. My brother giggles.

Then I rub my bum on it. Back and forth, back and forth. My brother pretends to ignore me.

IMG_2595 (2)

Then I will say good-bye. Bye-bye doggie. It was nice sitting on you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it. Next time you’re on vacation and you see something cool, talk to it, pet it, kick it, sit on it, then say good-bye. It works for things like the London Ferris Wheel, the Pope and probably the ruins of Ancient Rome.

The last adventure the boys had was watching one of what turned out to be elusive street entertainers. He told jokes, juggled and made us all laugh. Well, why don’t I show you.

The whole time was a great success. The boys and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world all got to see my friends and family, learned a new game and experienced Victoria with their bums.

They left a little sad to go, I think.

IMG_2604 IMG_2603 (2)

Posted in BC, Blogging, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Double Decker Tours

Buses and Bees and Books

IMG_4987Sitting on top of a double decker is like sitting on top of the world. You get to be like a god, looking down on everyone, watching someone pick their nose in their car, seeing who is balding, or simply getting the big view of the world around us.

That’s why we chose to go on a double decker.

What better way to see Victoria?

There was only one problem. The Oldest is deathly afraid of bees. And if Victoria is famous for anything, it’s flowers. So he was on guard like a Rottweiler waiting for that darned squirrel.

IMG_5191As we pulled out from the Empress, we were told to watch out for low hanging branches, told NOT to stand up in the bus, (we all stared at the Youngest) and not to throw stuff at passing pedestrians. Ok, the driver didn’t say that, we said that to the Youngest.

The Oldest, armed with his iphone camera, ready to shoot pictures to show his dad, noted that no one mentioned the bees. I said that’s cuz we were too high up for them, but the Oldest knows his bee facts and said that just wasn’t true. Score one for him and 0 for me and my invented facts.

FANTANAs we doodled along Government street and around China town, he kept his eye out for a good photo shots and errant people-attacking bees. He loved the blue bridge, was mystified why anyone thought Fan-Tan alley was cool and tried to find free wifi so he could check up on his village in Clash of Clans. Unfortunately for him, there was little wifi and he was forced to look at the sights.

We passed by St Andrew’s church, which looked more like a fortress, then around the Fisherman’s wharf area, then past the Mile 0 and Terry Fox marker and into Beacon Hill Park where we saw the giant watering can someone built to water children (not a bad idea, actually). We almost got off inside the park to pet the smelly animals, but it soon became apparent that we were in danger of breaking traveling rule #2. Always remain well-fed. And since it was apparently frowned upon to eat the petting zoo animals, we chose to wait until a bit later to get off the bus.

Victoria facts we learned.

  • The Uplands managed to have tour buses banned from their roads. Esquimalt has not banned them… cuz no one wants to go there.
  • There are 1500 odd flower baskets (or as the Oldest calls them, bad, bad bee attractors) and two full time staff watering them 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Victoria is the capital of BC, not Vancouver, no, Vancouver is the biggest city in BC, no they can’t move the capital cuz it would cost too much to move the parliament buildings.
  • David Foster comes by sometimes and organizes things. Like event-things. Apparently Nelly Furtado organizes nothing. And Steve Nash has built a whole bunch of gyms with his name. No mention of me and my accomplishments.
  • Christ Church Cathedral had spires planned, but they ran out of money. It’s too bad, but the cathedral is still impressive by BC standards.

Full of facts and hungry, we got off the bus in Oak Bay and raced to top of the street where I knew a kid-friendly restaurant would be. I wanted to go to the Penny Farthing, but I’m just not sure what the rules are these days for taking kids into pubs. Is it allowed? Can they have a pint? It sure would solve a lot of problems if they could.

Either way, we ate in record time so we could catch the bus back. If we missed it, it would be another hour in Oak Bay and, let’s face it, if you spend 20 min there, you’ve pretty much seen Oak Bay. At least for the boys.

IMG_2600

Me being a human seatbelt, holding on to the Youngest’s jacket and nearly strangling him.

On the way back, though, there we were, up top again, sitting at the back so we could all sit together, the Youngest sitting in the middle because that had the best view and was ‘the acoustical sweet spot’, me holding on to him to prevent him from standing up, flying through the wind shield if we stopped suddenly or bouncing out of the bus if we hit a huge bump, the Oldest beside me, dodging low branches that threatened to whip him in the face, when out of nowhere….

BEEEEEEEEE!

It was on a kamikaze mission.

It flew right into his face at full velocity. Pretty much his worst nightmare. Mine is bungee jumping naked with the rubber band around my testicles. For the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, it’s being seen by Johnny Depp in a grocery store on the day she had to rush out in her PJ’s, her hair a mess and a giant sleepy-crease on her face. But, for the OIdest… bee in face… bad stuff.

But here’s the thing. As it hit him square on the nose, he just moved to the left, watched it fly past him and resumed his hunt for free wifi.

It was a transitional moment. He had met the enemy and the enemy flew away. Without stinging him. Without flying up his nose. Without calling all his bee-buddies to sting him to death. It was awesome to see him deal with that fear so well.

munrosTo celebrate, we went to buy everyone a book at the greatest bookstore in the world, Munro’s Books. The Youngest wanted to buy an existential tome. I have no idea why he wanted that book other than it was huge and would likely leave a mark when he hit his brother with it. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world found a book by Robb Lowe. The Oldest eventually found an Adventure Time book.

But Munro’s! Wow. If you see only one book store in BC, see Munro’s. It has a good selection, sure, but it’s housed in a cool old building built in 1909, the same year I was born, and was owned by Alice Munro, one of our greatest writers. How cool is that?

All-in-all, a good day. But it wasn’t done. We still had one more adventure. Next up, that adventure and a picture blog featuring the Youngest and his way of experiencing Victoria.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – The Vikings

IMG_4987Vikings!!!

If in doubt and time is limited, what better way to see Victoria than by double-decker bus?

The boys were stoked. We’d take the bus, climb up to the upper level and see all there was to see.

Right after seeing the Royal BC Museum and their Viking Exhibit.

So, since I am long-winded and can never tell a story in 10 word when 1000 will do, I’m going to do this in 3 parts. 1st part, the museum. 2nd the bus ride and then, How Best To Experience Victoria In Pictures (and it may not be what you think.)

IMG_5401So first, Vikings. In explaining what they were all about (as we stood in line for the tickets), I think I made two little girls ill and I’m pretty sure their mother was looking daggers are me. But hey, the Vikings were pretty violent folks. Hacky-slashie-stabbie types. Oh sure, they were also traders and artisans and settlers and blah, blah, blah, but let’s face it, they furiously plundered and looted and pillaged their way across Europe. With swords and axes and fire.

They were like the Sons of Anarchy of their time. So not people you’d want your daughter to date … unless your daughter was, you know, a Viking.

IMG_5091

The boys couldn’t sail in it, they couldn’t set fire to it, they couldn’t even climb on it, so what, exactly was the point, they wondered?

So I thought the Viking Exhibit at the Royal BC Museum would be amazing. I mean who doesn’t like pillaging and plundering and bad boy attitudes?

Outside the museum had a small, authentic-looking Viking rowboat. Not big enough to carry 50 hefty men with axes and shields, but a pretty cool example of Viking shipbuilding skills.

The picture shows how thrilled the boys were.

Inside, the exhibit focused mostly on the peaceful part of Viking culture. However, there was one sword on display that could be held, and I think it touched something in the Youngest as he channeled his Northman heritage, not wanting to see anything else, not wanting to touch anything else and genuinely confused that he couldn’t take the sword out of the display and hack at his brother with it.

IMG_5402Other than that, though, the exhibit showed where they traded and settled (all over Europe and even down to Constantinople!) It showed how they made their ships, what plants they used for dye, what clothes the wore, and which gods they worshiped (which the Oldest found out were, in fact, mostly superheroes from the Marvel Comics.) If he was a god, he declared, he would be Loki. He liked Loki.

But there was very little about what made the Vikings so interesting – at least to me. I guess it made sense. This was a family exhibit. Want to see what life was really like? Go watch The Vikings on the History Channel. Lots of things get hacked off, blood spurts everywhere and what the Vikings do to the monks, well, the less said the better.

It was a warrior society, born out of hardship and cruel violence. Not something little Suzie really needs to know about until later, if ever.

From IGN

From IGN

However, I wanted to tell the boys about Ragnarök and the end of times. What a story! All the Viking warriors who die in glorious battle gather at a hall to drink and sing until the end of times when the world is broken, the giants storm Asgard and the warriors all muster to fight a final battle, knowing that the only outcome is defeat.

I mean, how cool, how nihilistic is that? I love it!

The boys just wanted to know if Loki survived and if Iron Man would help out Thor.

Ah well.

Still, they did learn that Vikings did, in fact, NOT wear horns on their helmets. A big disappointment for all of us.  They learned how heavy a sword could be and what a ship’s sail felt like. And they learned that Loki and Thor and Odin existed before Stan Lee dug them up and made them famous again.

So, all good.

vikings again

My idea of a good museum tour. Not everyone gets out alive.

However, if I’d been able to make the exhibit, I would have had all sorts of pictures showing the epic battles, maybe allowed the boys to hack at each other with ax and shield, and maybe given them a chance to row across the harbour and sack Esquimalt. Now THAT would be the Viking experience, let me tell you.

I’m not sure the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world would have thought this would have been appropriate.

A megalodon tooth

A Megalodon tooth

The rest of the museum was fun, though. Nothing like a few dinosaur bones, a big scary woolly mammoth, a Megalodon tooth and an IMAX movie about great white sharks to liven things up. But even the shark movie – rated 9.5/10 by the boys – was all PG, mostly talking about where the sharks swam, what music they seemed to like and how people loved interacting with them. Like a Finding Nemo version of sharks. There was very little about limbs being chomped off, seals being devoured or the poor old sharks themselves being used for stock in some moron’s soup.

Just before the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had to apologize for me butting in line at the hot dog stand

Just before the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had to apologize for me butting in line at the hot dog stand

All in all, though, not a bad museum for them to see.

Plus, afterwards, they got to have hotdogs.

And who doesn’t like a morning that ends with hot dogs?

Next up, the bus ride, bees and books.

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Esquimalt, Parenting, Royal BC Museum, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Downtown Tour

The Tour Downtown

IMG_2572 (2)Once, again, I had completely failed to understand what the boys would find amazing-balls. Ok, I could get that the parliament buildings may be a bit dull. No demonstrations. No fireworks. No arch-villains threatening to destroy it while Batman is climbing out of a well in Afghanistan.

But guess what they loved about the downtown tour, (part 1), the most?

I’ll tell you in a bit.

My plan was simple – if monumentally naïve in its scope.  I didn’t say we were going to do a lot of walking, but we were. I said something like “we’ll do some ‘sight-seeing’.” God help me if they ever figured out that it’s code for lots and lots of hiking around.

First, we’d park near the parliament buildings. We’d look at them. If they boys were excited to see them, I’d be stunned. Likewise with the empress, but we’d go inside to show them where the world famous chef worked. With the busker week on, we’d see if there were any interesting acts to watch along the harbour front.

Then a nice stroll along the touristie shops on Government street. No sense in walking by the water, the waterfront is mostly parking lots. Maybe there’d be something they could buy at a souvenir shop. Maybe they’d see a postcard they could send to their grandparents. Oh, wait, hold on, that’s not a bad idea.

rogersI know I’d stop at the Rogers Chocolates, quite by accident, you understand. Sort of, “oh, my, look there, a chocolate shop, I wonder what’s inside?” (and then I’d buy my weight in candy).

Laden down with purchases from Rogers, we’d head to Bastion square. I have no idea if the buskers would be there, but even if there weren’t, odds were there’d be something the Youngest can climb on. Like a big anchor or another wall or a Japanese tourist.

Then we’d saunter up to the comic shops. I hoped they’d be open, but if not, they have good windows to look in. By now I suspect there would be a grumbling about sore feet and a vague, arching of the eyebrows that this is indeed a walk. However, nearby was ice cream so maybe I’d be able to distract them.

Then we’d pivot around city hall which would probably be filled with hippies, hipsters or the odd scurrying politician. If someone was not playing a bongo drum or a didgerdoo, I’d be a bit shocked.

Then it’d time to head back. With luck, no one would have looked at a watch or clock tower. No one would realize 3 hours had passed. By the time we’d get back to the car, the boys would be a bit tired, we’d all be ready for a nice lunch and then we’d head off to see my in-laws.

What could go wrong?

Well, it all depended on us getting out about 9:30.

We got out at 11:30.

So we had to split the tour into 2 parts. Here’s the condensed version.

IMG_4990The sun was out, brilliant and bright in the sky, a perfect day for picture-taking and eating ice cream. But we needed a hat for the Oldest. So, after parking, we made our way to the Inner Harbour and saw a hat seller right on the harbour walkway… right beside a lemonade stand… that served real, honestly real, lemonade. The hats were wicked expensive so we contented ourselves with the lemonade and pictures of all the boys being a totem pole.

As we wandered along the Inner Harbour, we all watched in horror as a creepy guy in a top hat (later to be identified as a horse carriage driver) stopped and scratched his bum. Now, I’m not talking about a quick, one-two, is-anyone-looking scratch, no, he snaked a hand down the backside of his pants and dug in deep. Like he was hauling out a diamond or something, like he was adjusting a kilo of coke up there, like he had hidden the rabbit from his hat where the sun never shines.

I laughed. This is something you’d see in Surrey, not Victoria, but times have changed here.

Satisfied, the bum-itcher moved on after about 3 min of mining, and we moved on to the shops. Hey, we still needed a hat. Worst case, there’d be one at the Bay Center.

And here is where I the boys had the best time.

IMG_2557The Youngest got to pose with a stuffed bear. A real stuffed bear. He beamed like he’d killed it with his own bare hands. The Oldest, though, found amazing enjoyment in …

The Moosestore.

IMG_5108Not surprisingly, it was filled with moose stuff. Moose t-shirts, moose hats, moose hats with moose antlers, moose candy, little plastic mooses, big plastic mooses, books about mooses, postcards with mooses. About the only thing missing was… a moose.

He bought himself a moose shirt – a batmoose shirt to be exact –  and I bought him a hat, (with no antlers, much to his eternal sadness).

IMG_4995Then it was time to go.

We accidently stumbled into the Roger’s Shop and after eating up their entire plate of samples, we bought the best chocolates in the world. Oh the smell of that place, oh the lovely lighting that makes the chocolates glow, oh the super friendly staff who are more than willing to let you try anything knowing full well you’ll buy something eventually.

But, so much for my great plan. We’d have to see more the next day.

On the way back to the car, the boys suddenly found everything interesting.

What’s that?

A pirate ship.

Can we go on it?

Not today. No time.

Tomorrow?

No, probably not. Not enough time.

The next day?

Maybe, but we have a lot to see or do

Wait, what’s that?

A inner harbour taxi.

Can we go on that?

Ah.

Hey, what’s that?

A seagull. You’ve seen them before.

Can we see more?

Sure. *sigh*

Another lesson for me. My planning was flawless. It always is. Right up to the moment I have to enact the plan. Then the agents of chaos  intervene and my plan goes all to hell. Moreover, I never, ever, never thought the boys would love something like the Moose store. I mean, seriously a moose store?

But the thing I realized is to let it all unfold organically. I’ll always try and create enough opportunities for ‘moments’, but the actual moments could come from anything, anywhere, anytime.

Oddly enough, this was a lesson I learned while traveling without kids. I have no idea why I thought it wouldn’t apply now.

Posted in BC, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Down Memory Lane

Everything Remains the Same Except When It Doesn’t

Victoria is supposed to remain the same. The same as when I was young. The same as when I left. The same as when I did tour a year ago. That’s Victoria. Stable. Conservative. Unchanging.

TBCCWDisplayBut it seems Victoria had other ideas.

Oh I know that it’s impossible for NOTHING to change (even in Victoria), but I was worried at how much my beloved city could have been altered. It’s still beautiful, but is it still the same?

I noticed the first change when we arrived at our hotel, the Accent Inn. I’ve stayed there a lot over the years. It’s something that would never change, right?

Ah, no. The restaurant attached to the Accent Inn had been demolished. I dunno why, but it’s a big mess of bricks and stone dust. Maybe somebody was served a bad sausage or something.

Then I find out that the Colwood Whitespot is gone. Gone! Or moved. Either way, it’s not there anymore.

rodd3After doing the whole Fort Rodd Hill thing, I had planned to take the boys there for milk shakes. But no, the building was vacant and the business had moved on.

So, milkshakeless, we decided to take a quick tour through my old neighbourhood.

The boys could care less.

I don’t blame them. They don’t have any connection to my history, and me pointing to my house and saying, that’s my house, well, that’s not exactly amazing or exciting. No aliens landed there. No monsters were spawned in the basement. No great soccer stars were forged in the backyard.

Gone was the driveway I played hockey on, the shrubs I used to hide behind to scare my brother, the flowers mom and dad had planted. I’d been back to the house last year so none of this came as a surprise, but still, my personal history is missing something. Worse, no monuments to me have been erected, the avenue has not been changed to Joe Lane and there aren’t any tour buses parked outside with someone shouting, oh, God, is that really HIS house?

There was a carport added. That’s it.

No wonder the boys weren’t impressed.

330px-Fort_Macaulay_Gun_Emplacement_2In all honesty, the whole neighbourhood hasn’t changed much. Hey, it’s Esquimalt. Not a fashionable area.

But you know what, I was lucky to grow up there, to grow up in a nice-sized house with a large backyard, a backyard where we could play soccer, chase the dog or shoot arrows into our neighbour’s lawn. A block away was the beach. That beach is still there. Macaulay Point is still there, still attached to the beach, though all the cool fortifications we used to climb on are now cemented up and sealed off.

Such is the state of our world now. Everything, everywhere is a threat to children.

Still, we were incredibly fortunate to have that park and to be that close to the sea. But we were kids and it was just normal. I wonder what the boys will find is no longer ‘normal’ when they grow up? Maybe having a good-sized yard. Maybe being able to walk to school. Maybe being able to afford a house at all.

Will they bring their children by their old neighbourhood and bore them with stories of what used to be there or where they used to play? Will they point to the developements that once used to be fields? Or will they be happy in their flying cars, chatting in Klingon while giving their kids a virtual reality tour directly from their brain?

Since I have none of those things, we had to drive. We drove by where I played baseball, cheered on by a cute red-haired girl I was madly in love with when I was 10. We drove by my middle school that has become a French Immersion school. Not a lot of good memories there.We drove by my high school which has not changed at all, save for the addition of a few portables and the fact that Garth’s underwear is no longer flying from the flagpole.

We drove through the army base where most of my best friends lived, then moved on after a year or two. Gone are the tanks and obstacle courses. We climbed on the latter even though we were never really supposed to do that. Now there are only open fields.

langfordAnd then there’s Langford, that place where people from Esquimalt could say, well, at least I’m not from Langford.

Now they’ve gone and made it all Oak-Bay-ish with a fancy roundabout, a fountain and all sorts of colorful flowers. New shops sit under good-looking condos. The old mall has been revitalized. But the theater where they served real buttered popcorn has closed. The should have kept the theater. I will miss that theater.

Like everywhere else on the island, Downtown Victoria has changed a bit. The parliament buildings have not been moved, or if they have, they haven’t moved much. Maybe a little to the right.

victoria2The Empress still stands regally in front of the inner harbour. The tourist shops still sell trinkets, Victoria T-shirts and over-priced maple syrup. Munro’s Books still exists. So does Roger’s chocolates. And John’s Place.

The Eaton’s Center is now the Bay Center, but the building is basically the same. Gone is one of my most favourite model shops, but another has held on, entrenched in a location on Fort st.

In the end, the boys endure a long trip down memory lane without raising a fuss. For them, it’s just a boring drive. But for me, it was nice to see that enough has remained the same. Some things have changed, but thankfully, not too much.

I think that’s the difference between the old and the young. We older folk no longer crave the new, we like our leather chairs worn-in, our shoes comfortable, and the towns we grew up in to remain familiar and ageless.

****

How many people have gone back to their old towns and found something similar? Or has everything changed?

What would you rather have, a home town that remains the same or one that is unrecognizable?

 

Posted in BC, Blogging, Esquimalt, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Smash-Up

The Great Smash Up

Ok, hold on, there wasn’t an accident or anything. We were at my BFF’s place with her and her husband, her two amazing daughters and the oldest daughter’s boyfriend.

It took two days to do this right. This is from the 2nd night.

My BFF, upon hearing that Sunday was Game Night immediately began to research what would be a great game for the boys. She searched high and low until she finally came up with a game.

smash up1Smash-Up is that game. Wil Wheaton has a video on it. It’s a card game where you get to play aliens or dinosaurs or ninjas or pirates or robots or wizards or zombies. It could be the greatest game ever made.

At least as far as the boys are concerned.

We learned the rules on game night, played one quick game and then went back to the motel where they were plotted and schemed. The next night we came prepared and very excited.

The boys were sure this would be the BEST NIGHT EVER!!!

Prettiest-girl-in-the-world talks with my BFF

Prettiest-girl-in-the-world talks with my BFF

I mean, who could doubt it?

They got to have hot dogs, their favourite food, they didn’t have to sit and listen to us talk about work or the world or hemorrhoids, so whoohoo, and they didn’t have to meet new people and behave like they were saintly children from a mythical, well-mannered English family.

raptors

Lots of factions

Plus, you know, they got to play aliens and dinosaurs and ninjas and ghosts and robots and wizards and zombies. Even bigger plus, they got to play with their new bestest friend in the whole wide world. The boyfriend of one of the girls in the family. A teenager! A super nice teenager!! A super nice teenager who makes them laugh!!! (OK, he makes us all laugh).

So, yeah, this was the going to be a great night.

smash up base

The Base

Here’s how the game works. You get to choose 2 factions and they join forces to take over bases. Bases give you victory points and the first to 15 points wins the game.

The players are…

My BFF, AKA, Mom, perhaps the most deadly Magic player of all time, a woman so brilliant, that when she plays with all the chubby, bearded guys who play Magic, they all have to work if they hope to win. She usually sends them all home in tears. In this game, she plays robots and killer plants. An odd combination, but she will make them game winners.

Next is the Cool Boyfriend. He plays Bears and Steampunk. He’s spent the afternoon reading up on the factions and has a pretty damn good head for strategy. He thinks his good looks and charm and sense of humor will distract us all from the fact he means to beat us all and beat us all badly.

lord

The Oldest’s nickname in the game

Beside him is the Oldest who has been planning and strategizing about the game since last night, and that includes in his sleep. He plays the super powerful zombies and wizards. He knows none of his minions stay dead for long. He can bring them all back from the grave. He can barely sit still, bobbing up and down in his chair, waiting to unleash his magical hordes on the world in general (and his brother in particular.)

Beside him, the oldest-girl in my BFF’s family (aka the cool teenager’s girlfriend). She has chosen to play pirates and ninjas. Last night, she giggled every time she plays the saucy wench card and this night should be no different. She has some devious plans for her hidden ninjas who can steal victory points. She is very sneaky.

probe

Aliens!!!

Then there is the elite team of me and the Youngest. I’m there to help him read, but you know what, he doesn’t need my help at all. He kinda knows it, but it makes him feel better to have someone there who can tell him what terraforming means. We are playing the powerful Dinosaurs (that have laser beams shooting out of their eyes), and aliens who specialize in abductions and probing anyone who gets in their way. The Youngest can’t wait to probe someone.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has decided to sit this one out. It’s going to be a bloodbath and she’s wisely chosen to sit and watch. She’s simply too nice to play at this level. Six players enter, One player leaves.

The bases are placed and the game begins. The Youngest is so excited, he’s vibrating. He has all sorts of dinosaurs waiting to be unleashed and he means to show everyone that he’s not just another pretty face.

The Mom devastates a base with a mass of robots. The Oldest spawns zombie after zombie after zombie and, at one point, has so many cards in his hand that the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has to help him hold them all.

The Cool Boyfriend somehow has bears that cannot be killed and has placed them on the best bases to capture. The Oldest-girl had ninja’d victory points from everyone and claps each time she does it, looking sweet and innocent the whole time.

But we’re not fooled.

IMG_5019

So, like, Joe, should I abduct my brother or probe him?

The Youngest and I play a different strategy. Each base gives victory points to the one who captures it, but also to the ones who are in 2nd and 3rd place. So we go for 2nd and 3rd place while the other devious players claw and chomp (and sprout) all over each other to be #1.

We’re also waiting for that probe card. With every draw of our new cards, we pray for one (and by ‘pray’, I mean the Youngest jumps up and down and shouts, I want the probe card!, I want the probe card!!!)

What amazes me, though is how fast both the Youngest and the Oldest can do the math in this game. “So, the 2 plants have 4, +2 points when it’s not their turn, but one ability gives them both +1, and the bears are 2 but it’s the only bear so it’s 6, and there’s our Alien with 3, but in other player’s turns he’s 5, so that’s….”

Me- I pull out a piece of paper. “Carry the one… what was that about the plants, again…. Err, wait, hold on, I almost got this…”

The boys – “Hello, Joe! It’s 17 on your turn, 19 on everyone else’s.”

Ah, right, sure.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world nods. Being a super smartie, she does what she does at work. Add things up and correct people like me who always seem to get it wrong.

IMG_5016The battle rages for an hour. The Oldest impresses me with his ability to know the strategy behind the game after playing it only once before. He’s working combinations and rush attacks and even tries talking a bit of smack. However, to be honest, his smack talk could use a bit of work (“So, yeah, baby, yeah, zombies, yeah, up your butt, and, yeah, zombies.”), but it’s great he’s so comfortable with everyone that he can let go.

The Youngest, too, impresses me with his ability to read complex descriptions on the cards, then figure out a way to use them to crush his enemies. He guns down a whole base with his terraforming card, and his smack talk consists of maniacal giggling.

It’s a close game. We’re up against the best, the most ruthless, the most devious of players.

But then The Youngest and I get a perfect match. A super dino with cannons on his back matched with augmentations that make the cannons really, really big with laser sights and all.

We play the two cards and win the game.

The Oldest is stunned that his brother has beaten him, but takes it so well. It’s hard to lose and yet, he takes the time to congratulate his brother and even expresses admiration for a well-played hand. I am so proud of him.

It was a great game, well-played by all.

The Boyfriend, the Mom, the oldest daughter all vow revenge.

We promise a rematch will be held when they come over.

But the boys were right. It was the bestest night ever!

*****

What games have you played with your kids?

Have you played Smash-Up?

Posted in BC, Blogging, Gaming, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Surviving Coffee Conversations

starbucksCoffee With A Friend

If the boys have to hear us tell our ‘buying the new house’ story one more time, their eyes may roll completely up into their heads and stay that way. It’s just not something that’s engaging to them.

But, when asked about what they’re up to, they don’t seem to want to talk about themselves. There’s a lot of shrugging and vague answers, even to pretty good questions like “what games are you playing?” This may be something we have to work on in the future.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of catching up with friends is hearing about lives the boys are just not that interested in. Especially if that chat involves us just sitting there, you know, and just talking.

It makes sense.

They have no shared experiences with someone I worked with at Toys R Us. They don’t remember someone their mom met at baby classes. They have little interest in topics like dating douchebags, the complications of moving or how Joe got lost for the billionth time. As they get older, I suspect they’ll be able to engage in adult conversation, something I still struggle with, but for now, it’s just too, well, boring.

In truth, it’s not so much they hate talking about stuff they’re interested in, it’s that they hate listening to stuff they’re NOT interested in. And right now, that interest is pretty narrow. Video games, farting, dogs and, for the youngest, hockey.

I’m trying to remember back to when I was a kid. I don’t recall talking to adults much. My brother and I were always welcome, but I remember having little love for hearing how tall I’d gotten or how cute I was or having to talk about what I did in school.

fort rodd 2Plus, if the trip to Fort Rodd Hill taught me anything, the boys will talk when doing something else. Simply sitting and looking someone in the eye and chatting is just so… weird. However, while walking or after coming down from climbing a wall or nearly being blown into the sea by hurricane force winds, then all they get all chatty. Then they’re all keen to share their observations and their experiences.

But this visit was just a nice coffee shop chat in  revitalized Langford with a funny and amazing friend of mine. I had no expectations that the boys would want to be a part of that. So we geared them up with electronics and they sat in comfy chairs and played quietly by themselves.

They didn’t make a fuss. They didn’t complain. They didn’t even fight with each other. They were perfect gentlemen battling something in Zelda or beating up another clan in Clash of Clans, and that allowed us to catch up with a wonderful friend.

It ended earlier than we would have liked, but shouldn’t all visits leave you wanting more? We went off to our next destination and what was to become the highlight of the trip. Because Sunday night is game night and we were going to visit a person who LOVED games.

*****

Was that the best thing to do with the kids?

Should we have fed them coffee?

What other things have you done to keep the kids amused while you have adult conversations?

let me know

Posted in BC, Blogging, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment