Because I’ve been asked twice this year…

Twice this holiday shopping season I’ve been asked to recommend a video game system and games for kids around age 10.  Here is my fast and simple recommendation:

PS4

This is the most popular system.  It might be a bit advanced for younger kids, but it’s designed to last years and they will grow into it.  It’s also the system most of their friends will have.  So make your life easy and go with this.  I like the version bundled with Uncharted 4.  This adventure game is filled with puzzle solving and action without being a straight up “shoot everything in sight” game like Call of Duty.

You will see three games from the LEGO franchise and with good reason.  These are low on violence, hilarious, and super popular with kids as young as 5 all the way to to adults.

LEGO Jurassic World

Following the epic storylines of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park,  Jurassic Park III, and the most recent Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World is the first videogame where players will be able to relive and experience all four Jurassic films. Reimagined in a hilarious LEGO retelling.

Snoopy’s Grand Adventure

Lead Snoopy on a grand adventure through worlds full of imagination to help him find Charlie Brown and all of his friends!  This is super cute. Check out this YouTube video to get a sense of the action.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

If your kid loves the Marvel comic books and movies then they are going to love this Lego version.  This might be the most popular Lego game of all time and because it’s a few years old now the price is super affordable.

Also, if your kids love this, there is a sequel called: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

If your kid love Star Wars then this lego game will be perfect. The game features exclusive playable content that takes players on adventures between Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, providing additional insight about the new movie and its characters.

Welcome to the Terrible Twos

Our son turned 2 this past week. It’s amazing how fast this second year went by.

The first year was a strange mix of slow and slower, a feeling like a decade of life had been crammed into 365 days.  But, between year 1 and 2 time was delivered as a crazy-rapid bust. Maybe it’s because he’s moving so much more but I feel like so much is happening and it’s all slipping past me before I can get photos and videos.

Being a parent has been such an amazing experience.  Even if the “terrible twos” literally kicked in on his birthday.  🙂

I gotta admit, as frustrating as the tantrums can be – when I see that little glimmer in his eyes and that sneaky smirk while he’s misbehaving it takes a lot of effort to hold back a my own smile and giggles.

I love that kid.

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Epilepsy, Kids and Cannabis

Lenny and Amy’s 5-year-old son has epilepsy. When conventional medications caused terrible side effects, they started giving him a daily drop of cannabis oil, with dramatic results. But it’s a calculated risk: While there is anecdotal evidence of cannabis’ effectiveness, scientists face research roadblocks because it’s a schedule 1 controlled substance. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports

The Hidden Cost for Stay-At-Home Parents

Bloomberg News posted a fascinating article about the money a stay-at-home parent loses over time.  Beyond the obvious loss of a regular paycheck, it discusses reduced wages when returning to work and the loss of retirement funds.  With the costs of daycare being sky-high more and more families are keeping a parent at home to raise a child.  This is what we choose to do and while we can scrape by each month these expounded costs are eye opening… and a little depressing!

It’s really worth reading if you want to learn how a stay-at-home parent can, “lose about $706,778 in lifetime income from taking five years off to care for a child.”  WOAH!

In our situation at least, staying at home was precipitated by a birth injury he suffered (it’s fully healed now).  We don’t have any family near by to help with raising our kid so to be able to help him recover it was a no-brainer that one of us was going to leave our job.

Being the main breadwinner, I kept working while my wife became a stay-at-home parent. And not having family around means that she is always on, no sick days, no breaks and no extra hands to help out.

We’ve thought about daycare or a nanny-share but now that our income is so reduced it’s just not possible.

On the flip side… If we were both working he wouldn’t see either of us either.  I don’t know how so many families can handle this emotionally.  As his dad I feel like I only get slivers of time in the morning and at night.  It’s a bummer to not be involved with him more.

Weekends are so important in helping us bond – something I really notice when he falls, skins his knee and Mommy is the only he will allow to comfort him (note to self: it’s only a phase!).

At the same time we are all so lucky that he’s been able to bond so closely with his mom. That’s a financial sacrifice we have chosen to continue to make. We know that when he does have his sad moments she can comfort him in a way that no caregiver will ever be able to.  A hug from mom is somehow always that much better.  (Do you agree?)

My wife has the hardest, most exhausting and important job on earth now.  It’s a shame that it’s costing us so much money to provide that to our son.

What do you do?  Are you a stay-at-home parent or are you working?  How do you manage the emotional strain and stresses that each causes?  I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.

Hardcore music, the Children’s Tumor Foundation & Jiujitsu?

A few weeks ago I was asked to put together a video documenting a fundraiser for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The mix of people involved was just fantastic and a reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover.

Please take a moment to watch the video below and see hardcore music Legends John “Bloodclot” Joseph, Hoya de la Roc and the Brazilian Jiujitsu Community put on a great event to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

These guys may be “scary” with tattoos and gruff language but they have hearts of gold and what they are doing to help this family is inspiring.

 

Learn more about John Joseph here:
http://www.purepma.com

Learn more about Hoya and Madball here:
https://www.facebook.com/madballNYC/

Learn more about Clockwork Jiujitsu at:
http://clockworkbjj.com/

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Songs & Sounds

Looking to get any of the VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels cars as part of a play-set or individually? Then you should have an idea of what songs and sounds they make. I took 4 of the 6 cars we have and turned them all on at once so you can get an Idea of the noise generated when your kid plays with these. The sounds trigger when the cars roll, the button is pressed or when the cars interact with any of the coordinating play-sets. It can get noisy! Luckily each car has a switch on the bottom to turn the sounds off. 🙂

BMI gains during childhood may increase stroke risk in adulthood

A new study out of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is suggesting a link between a high body mass index (BMI) in childhood and the risk for strokes in adulthood.

As widely known, the effects of being overweight as a child can influence a wide range of health issues later in life, such as type 2 diabetes.

Read the full article at healio.com

That stuff we all worry about.

Now that summer’s heat is here, it feels like a good time to remember that leaving your child (or pet) in the car can be deadly (not that you should ever be doing this anyway).

In the U.S., 9 children have died this year already because of heat stroke.  These figures come from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NINE KIDS!  That’s crazy sad to me.

MyChamplainValley.com posted a short news story about this and interviewed David Grass, the Environmental Health Surveillance Chief of the Vermont Department of Health.  He had this to say about leaving your kid in the car:

It’s particularly dangerous because the internal temperature of a car [can] increase as many as 20 degrees in 10 minutes. So it can really take minutes for conditions where heat stroke can occur.

When in temperature inside a car reaches 87 degrees, you are 8 times more likely to go to the emergency room because of a heat related illness.