A sabbatical for Megatron

I am not trying to rub salt in Detroit Lions fans wounds.  I grew up in Saskatoon and watched a lot of Detroit cable.  I was there for the Barry Sanders and Wayne Fontes era.  It just happened to have Scott Mitchell as their QB…

In watching Megatron’s retirement talk, a couple of things came across my mind.  One of them was why don’t teams pay a player like Calvin Johnson to take a year off at this point of their careers and get totally healthy.

Give him a couple of months off and then pay him to come back and work out, get back in shape and come back healthy for the year ahead.  Before you discount this as crazy, consider that one of the reasons why Marcus Allen had a such a long run in Los Angeles and Kansas City is that he was rarely used in his late 20s and early 30s because of the insanity of Al Davis and that feud that only Davis really knew what he was mad about.  It had to suck for Allen to go through but it prolonged his career.

The (pretty good) O.J. Anderson had a career revival in New York for the Giants on their 1991 Super Bowl team because in part he was barely used for years after the St. Louis Cardinals ground him to pieces as their feature back.  His body recovered and was great in that three yards and a cloud of dust attack that New York had.

Look at Kurt Warner.  It took him a couple of years for his body to heal after Mike Martz’s attack left him beaten and bruised in St. Louis.  He wasn’t a great, then bad, and then great QB again.  He was always great, his body just needed time to heal after the pounding his took as part of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Part me wonders if the Lions paid Johnson a reduced salary to rest up and get healthy, if he wouldn’t come back.  Being in pain every day takes a toll on you both physically and mentally.  Not all players would come back after a break away but other stars would be able to come back and be better than they were before.  It wouldn’t be something you would do for everyone but there are select “generational talents” that giving a break too would pay off for a franchise and the game.

Young People Staying

Good ad by the Saskatchewan Party although it doesn’t do well on the whole accuracy meter. 

Young people are still leaving Saskatchewan but it is immigration that is keeping the provinces population up.  Also, the government in power during the time  that Wall is speaking of, was not a NDP government, it was the Grant Devine administration in which Brad Wall worked for as a staffer and later chief of staff.   As far as people leaving the province during that time, the population in Saskatchewan actually grew by 40,000 people.

Political ads never let the facts get in the way of a good ad.

Saskatchewan specialist wait times

On July long weekend I was incredibly sick with infection in my leg.  I was overwhelmed with fever, cold sweats and dehydration.  Wendy took me to St. Paul’s Emergency Waiting Room where I was admitted to the quieter ward.  Eventually it all filled up.  Everyone of us had the same story.  We were all on wait lists to see a specialist but our health had deteriorated to the point where we had to be treated or admitted on an emergency basis.  Several of us have waited months.

John Maeda once wrote that more administration need to understand what their users are going through.  It’s why while teaching at MIT, he also enrolled at MIT to understand what his students were going through.  For me, I have struggled to keep treatments going despite them being ordered by the surgeon for no other reason then the nurses are often intimidated by the bureacracy and refuse to act without new doctors orders.  This means new appointments and a frustrated doctor who already left orders.

I wouldn’t wish this infection on anyone but until you go through it, it’s hard to truly realize how brutal our system is and I’ll be honest, lean hasn’t made it any better.

Not only are we suffering (the treatment given at the hospital that day actually made my infection worse) but we are costing the system how much more in emergency room costs and hospital admissions?

Goodbye to all of you. Hello to some of you.

I don’t know if this is an annual tradition or not but I did the same thing on January 1st, 2015 and that is that I unfollowed everyone on Twitter.    Then I deleted my tweets.  To be honest, if I could shed all of the people following me right now, I’d do that as well.

I stopped enjoying Twitter in 2015.  Partly because of changes in work where I have to do it all of the time, also I just found that many people are jerks.  What used to be fun, isn’t that much fun any longer. 

I think the other option is that being sick for all of 2015, when I post or retweet something, I don’t have the energy to follow it up.  I used to love getting emails from my columns in The StarPhoenix and I used to answer each one.  There are weeks when don’t have the energy to even tweet out what I have written let alone engage in some sort of discussion and debate.  Wendy and Mark will tell you there were countless days when I came home from work, took my shoes off and went upstairs to bed to try to recover for tomorrow.  I would lay in bed and tweet something on my phone and then everyone wanted to have their say.  I felt like blocking everyone this year many times.  If there was a “universal block” button, I would have paid extra to hit it.  Instead I started dropping my phone by the door once I got in the house.

It also allows me of piecing back my list of followers in a way that makes sense and discard those that seemed like a good idea at the time but I have no ideas why I am following them.  The goal is to keep the list under 600 people but I’ll see what I can do.

This and that…

  1. The antibiotics are beating back the infection in my right leg.  A week ago the infection had encircled the leg and covered about 80% of the lower leg.  Now the circle is broken and it is about 20% of the leg.  Remarkably if the dog brushes up on it, a kid hits it, or if anything falls on it, it still falls on the painful part of the leg.
  2. A lot of you have asked what the doctors are doing about it.  The don’t really know why it the infection keeps reoccuring.  About 10 times now I have been declared cured and within days of having absolutely no trace of it for weeks, it comes back when I come off the antibiotics.  Each time it comes back with more force, faster, and harsher and I get way sicker in the process.   In all of the opinions I have gotten, the doctors keep telling me that this isn’t supposed to happen. 
  3. I still feel like death.  There is a feeling that the infection has done long term damage to my body, especially the last time.  Mentally I feel better.  The fever takes a weird mental toll on you in that it is exhausting to be either freezing and trying to get warm or burning up and trying to break the fever and stay hydrated.   It’s all I was thinking of for several days.  Despite staying in bed, I was exhausted and not sleeping.  I was too tired to even read anything.
  4. I try not to get angry or frustrated over it but I had some choice words for a doctor who was reminding me that my core fitness needed improvement.  Umm, i have been told to stay off my feet for 14 months now, I barely go out and of course my fitness is going to suck. 
  5. I was going to take this week off my StarPhoenix column to recover as I had nothing left in the tank but I read a great Sports Illustrated column on this years NCAA football season and how he had predicted how Ohio State would be an offensive juggernaut.  It made me think back to all of the predictions that made so much sense in the pre-season of any sport and how few played out that way.  I had some fun predictions for 2016 provincially, municipally and for the Riders.  Prediction columns are fun, where else can I talk about Eric Olauson and Bill Belichick in the same space?
  6. A lot of you know that I have a passion for word processors.  With a new Acer E-11 Netbook for Christmas, I am trying out a few right now.  I just installed Corel Office which is a slimmed down version of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and whatever they use for presentations and I am trying a full blown version of WordPerfect X7.  I’ll let you know how it goes.
  7. Speaking of word processors, with my beloved Windowns Live Writer being discontinued by Microsoft, there is a new open source version called Open Live Writer.  Microsoft has allowed some of their code to be open source (this is a big deal) and it is being developed and upgraded by a team of developers.  The biggest difference is that Open Live Writer is compatible once again with Blogger.
  8. I wish someone would tell Jeb Bush that it is time to pull the plug on his campaign.  It’s over Jeb.
  9. The lack of star NDP candidates for the upcoming provincial election tells me that the NDP knows that it isn’t going to win.  Two relative unknowns in Saskatoon Fairview and Saskatoon Meewasin also tell me the same thing.  Cam Broten may be Premier in 2020 but it seems like the goal is 20 seats (and be a government in waiting in 2016).
  10. Speaking of Saskatoon Meewasin, has there ever been a MLA with a lower profile then Roger Parent.  No website and he even uses a @gmail.com email address on his bilboard ads.   I can’t even find him in Google News (you search for “Roger Parent” and “Saskatoon”, he isn’t there).  He is like the Saskatchewan Liberal Party of the Saskatchewan Party caucus.  I would say this about a New Democrat, Liberal, or Saskatchewan Party MLA but if you are going to do so little work in being a MLA, you don’t deserve to even win a nomination or be elected.
  11. I saw Darren Hill beaking of at Rona Ambrose about this one Twitter but I agree with Rona Ambrose and that is the Liberal Party should have a referendum on changing the way we vote.  Moving from First Past the Post may be the right thing (although I disagree with it) but it is a big of enough change to our democracy that we should have a say in it. 
  12. A couple of things about Brad Wall.  More and more his government reminds me of the Grant Devine regime with it’s dependance on mega-projects to spur the economy.  The stadium in Regina, the Children’s Hospital (which we don’t need nor do we have the population to support) and the carbon capture project.  Huge projects that are costing a recently struggling economy a lot of money.  I might be okay with this but I don’t see a plan from the Saskatchewan Party on how to deal with low commodity prices other than complaining ot the feds (like Grant Devine).  Now with no budget on the horizon before the provincial election and a struggling economy, it gives me an uncomfortable feeling that things are worse than we are being told.  Of course in the end, Brad Wall might not be here much longer and may have his focus on the federal Conservativ leadership race.
  13. I am suprised by the Cleveland Browns inability to acknowledge and get help for Jonny Manziel being an alcoholic and having a drinking problem.    There is a difference between being a party goer and what Manziel is doing.  I am also suprised by Manziel not being able to control his friends cell phone’s.  You don’t think Tom Brady’s friends have cell phones?  Yet you don’t see those kind of videos appearing of him.  In fact with Tom Brady’s Facebook, he has done an amazing job of controlling what people see of him.
  14. This is one of the most damning things I have ever heard someone say of a coach.  Despite that it is what destroyed Josh McDaniels, Bobby Petrino (multiple times) and how many other countless coaches.  Football is a people business and while we talk of the genius of coaches like Belichick with x and o’s, it is their ability to manage and lead men that makes them so impressive.  Not just players but assistant coaches, support staff, and even the guys who take care of the field and bring them all together.  Chip thought it was X and O’s.  He was wrong.
  15. When did Facebook rants become news?  Ryan Meili ran twice for the leadership of the NDP, lost both times and would never run for his party again.  When he runs provincially or federally under someone else’s leadership, I’ll take this more seriously but for now I don’t see this as big news.  I agree that Broten is taking the party to the centre, it’s worked well for the NDP in the past under Romanow and Calvert but it has been a disasterous move for the party federally and provincially elsewhere other than Alberta.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Some thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  1. We gave tickets to the boys and a BB-8 droid this morning.  They were up doing their thing and I reminded them they forgot (gasp) one gift.  They were shocked when they saw the tickets.  Then Oliver started to cry.  Really cry.  Heartbreakingly cry.  He saw Theatre 12 printed on his ticket and took that to mean he had to be 12 to watch the movie.  Once we had a that worked out, it was okay.
  2. The boys loved BB-8.  They were recording holographic images and having a blast.  The dog on the other hand saw a ball with a head on it and wasn’t impressed on being replaced as the centre of attention.
  3. As we drove to the Scotiabank Theatre we were early, Oliver wasn’t impressed.  When we parked, he leaps out of the car and starts to run to the theatre.  Apparently he was excited.
  4. I enjoyed the larger roll that Chewbacca played.
  5. It’s nice to see them bring back a swashbuckling character again in Poe Dameron
  6. I thought Kylo Ren was one of the worst villians of all of the Star Wars movies.   I did enjoy seeing him get his butt kicked by Rey.  I know he was wounded by when Finn scored some shots on him, you knew he was mostly the mask and nothing else.   This was the fallen Jedi that drove Luke into exile?
  7. Also, what is the purpose of Kylo Ren.  He didn’t really command anything.  General Hux was in charge and felt comfortable in challenging him.  Vader would have force choked him twice before the movie had reached half way through.  Ren seemed to struggle with more psychological issues than any of the other fallen Jedi.
  8. Yes it’s a franchise reboot but it needed to be.  Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, the midget who plays R2D2, they are all old and it’s hard to base a trilogy around them.
  9. How many times do you have to have your giant space weapon destroyed before you adopt a new strategy?  It’s like the dark side is controlled by Saskatoon City Council.  Stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
  10. Why so few Rebel pilots still?  The Rebel fleet is of a decent size yet they always keep throughing fairly insignificant amounts of fighters at the Empire/First Order when facing existenial threats.  A massive weapon that can destroy the galaxy you call home?  Let’s send 30 fighters against it.  I know Y-Wings have been around since the Clone Wars but a fighter bomber would have been incredibly helpful here.  It’s like the U.S. military with the F-35.  One kind of fighter should do it all…
  11. I don’t really get Leia in this movie.  Yes decades of war has been tough but she ignores Chewbacca who she has known since she was captured on the Death Star (she also didn’t give him a medal in Episode IV’s finale) and then now comforts Rey who barely knew Han Solo rather than Chewie who has known him and been his best friends for decades? 
  12. Then despite the entire movie being a desperate struggle to find Luke Skywalker and get his help again, she sends Rey to meet him with Chewbacca and doesn’t go herself?
  13. It was worth the price of admission and in two years I’ll be doing it all over again.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to those of you who are searching the web looking for something to read.

Quiet night around here.  It was my first day back at work after the unpleasantness of the previous week.  To be honest, I would have been far better off back in bed recovering.  I came home tonight in tremendous pain and I don’t think a lot was accomplished by me being at work but lessons learned.

The best part of the day was that it was over at four.  Wendy picked me up and we came home and I went to be for a while.  She ordered pizza and let me sleep until around 6:00 p.m.  We opened our stockings, inside was one of these. 

The Minnion, Kevin

Kevin is now in charge of the wifi.

Wendy gave me a new netbook (which is currently upgrading from WIndows 8.1 to 10).  I missed the entire Windows 8 experience and in the 5 minutes I played with it, I can see why so many of you hated it.  There was a new wireless mouse in there.

The boys got me a netbook bag as well as some hiking stuff.  They also gave me a bunch of books on everything from war journalism to The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks, a book I have wanted since it was released and I read this article in The Atlantic.  It will make some great early 2016 reading.  

All of them got together and gave me a Ricoh Theta S which should be a lot of fun.  If you have never heard of a Ricoh Theta S, it takes 360 degree spherical images, a kind of a virtual reality camera that is about the size of a Nintendo Wii controller.  It should be a lot of fun to explore with.

Probably the gift I needed the most was a 500 lumen lantern that Oliver gave me for camping this summer.  On a day where July seems very far away and the idea of hiking into the mountains seems even further, I really, really appreciated it.

Mark wrote about his day here.

The good news and the bad news

So the good news around here is that last week the infectious disease specialist I am seeing about the infection in my leg declared that the cellulitus been cured and was good to go.  I was pretty excited since the infection had been there since 2014.   I even went out and celebrated.

He did say that if he was wrong, I would notice a fever returning.  That’s no surprise as that has been what has happened every other time the infection has been “cured”.

On Saturday I had plans to go out to a Christmas party but I wasn’t feeling that great so I decided to go to bed early.  I woke up with horrible chills.  By the time it was all said and done, I was wearing a toque, gloves, and had a dozen blankets on me.  Since Wendy was sick as well, I was hoping it was just the flu.

Sunday I went into work and was burning up.  Sweat was pouring off me.  Wendy came and got me and took me home.  The chills came back worse then before.  Wendy pointed out that I was delirious at one point and I was either burning up or shaking violently with the chills.  Around 10 p.m. I got up and then fell down the stairs.  Wendy said that I had blacked out.  As I was laying at the bottom of the stairs in a fair amount of pain I was like, “Really, this is getting stupid”.  I also managed to crack a rib.

It was while laying there that I saw the tell tale red streaks going up my ankle towards my knee.  The infection was back with a vengeance and was bigger, redder, and giving off my heat than ever before. 

The specialist had told me “self-initiate” treatment (start taking the antibiotics again) and call his office.  I gobbled down some antibiotics and settled in for the longest night of my life.  I have never been so cold.  Every blanket in the house was on me and I still wasn’t warm.  I thought about heading to RUH emergency but I couldn’t see myself sleeping there and if I am going to be horribly uncomfortable, I might as well be at home.

Wendy got up and called the specialists office today.  I know some specialists are hard to deal with and aloof but I have met several nurses who have dealt with mine and they think the world of him.  While I would prefer not have to see him,  he is always pleasant to chat with and super thorough and accommodating.  His current nurse called right back, reminded me to “self-initiate” my treatment (I love how doctors and nurses talk) and made arrangements for me to see him.  I have never been so happy with how I have been treated.  Of course their urgency is because I am so sick.

So I’m back on an obscene amount of antibiotics for now which work while I am on them.  The next step is to find a solution that will help me long term and finally kill this thing.  I have heard people make MRSA jokes and comments.  There is nothing funny about it at all.  It’s hard to believe that it has been infected since November 2014 and they still can’t kill it.

Suburban Office Complex’s are Obsolete

Something for Saskatoon business owners to remember.

What tenants want in an office building is changing, and the old model of the isolated suburban office park is going the way of the fax machine. That’s according to a new report from Newmark, Grubb, Knight and Frank [PDF], one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the world.

Suburban office parks are losing their luster, industry analysts say.

The old-school office park does “not offer the experience most of today’s tenants are seeking,” according to NGKF. As a result, the suburban office market is confronting “obsolescence” on a “massive scale.” More than 1,150 U.S. office properties — or 95 million square feet — may no longer pencil out, the authors estimate, though a number of those can be salvaged with some changes.

“Walkability and activated environments are at the top of many tenants’ list of must haves,” the report states. Office parks in isolated pockets without a mix of uses around them must have “in-building amenities” –including a conference center, a fitness center, and food service — to remain competitive, according to NGKF: “If tenants are not going to be able to walk to nearby retail or a nearby office property to get lunch, they had better be able to get it at their own building.”

This is the same for many businesses.

The study took a close look at suburban office submarkets in and around Denver, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. In the “southeast suburban” Denver office district, for example, office buildings within a quarter-mile of the new light rail line had a 1.7 percent vacancy rate. For those outside a quarter-mile, vacancy rates were nine percentage points higher.

NGKF’s findings don’t mean that office tenant preferences are in perfect alignment with walkability, however.

This explains the tension in Saskatoon’s governance who are older and therefore prefer to drive.

Parking was also important to the marketability of buildings in suburban Denver. The report notes that a lot of older management personnel prefer to drive, while younger workers want transit access. So buildings that offered both were in the highest demand.

So do you build a office complex (or a city) for the past or for those you want to attract.  So far around here, it is about building for the past.

City of Saskatoon land branch sales fall by $100 million

This is bad news for the City of Saskatoon for a variety of reasons.  The one reason is that it provides funding for civic services and some of the profits were expected to pay of some of the growing city debt that our bridge building spree has cost us.

Long explained most of the land sale revenues go to paying Saskatoon Land expenses like servicing, marketing, land costs and administration.

However, since 2007 about $123 million from land sales has been redirected to pay for other civic initiatives, including another $4 million in the 2016 budget.

“There’s been a lot of benefits from the city being in the business of selling land,” Long said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to city council where the money goes.”

The other thing it means is that this is $100m less in development that is happening in Saskatoon.  I have heard from realtors, contractors, and increasingly laid off or under employed trades people that the boom is over and they are struggling.  Others are making plans to head back to British Columbia or Ontario.  The grass may have been greener in Saskatoon for a while but the fall of oils and the stagnant mining industry has taken it’s toll on a lot of people in Saskatoon.  This is just one of the many number of indicators that show us that things aren’t good right now in Saskatoon.

Council decides to revisit debate on public art funding because two councilors don’t like it.

Saskatoon City Council debates 1% art funding again because Eric Olauson didn’t like it the results the first time so here we are again.  Reporting from the CBC.

Saskatoon city council is still trying to figure out what it’s going to do about public art. At Monday’s council meeting, councillor Eric Olauson tried to rescind a policy to earmark one per cent of the budget of significant capital projects for public art.

The rest of Saskatoon City Council decided to move ahead with this last year but Councilors Olauson and Donauer bring it up again.

Last year, council decided that for high profile civic capital projects of $5 million dollars or more, one per cent of the city’s contribution — up to half a million dollars — would be earmarked to include a work of art. 

The public art reserve is one of the topics that dominated discussion around the council table during the annual city budget review on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Councillor Randy Donauer also questions the policy.

"What we had brought to us at budget this year was a half a million dollar project to put art on sound walls and on fire halls that I don’t think is line with what public perception for funded art is."

He said if art is inside a fire hall, the public won’t see it. If art is on a sound wall it can be vulnerable to graffiti.

Actually, in Saskatoon and elsewhere, graffiti artists leave art walls alone.  It is bare walls without walls that are vulnerable to being tagged.  As for the art indoors, by that  logic, all art should be taken outside of public buildings.

Donauer wants council to re-examine the policy and decide where and when public art should be built.

Council once took hours to debate the kind of material a fence should be made of in Sutherland.  Can you imagine a debate on where and what kind of art should be built?

Meanwhile councillor Charlie Clark said he believes there is some confusion about how the policy is applied.

"Intuitively it’s not one that you would think ‘OK we want to spend a lot of money to add public art into.’ Although I have had a lot of people say those sound walls are pretty boring. And they end up being a scar on the landscape in a way because they’re just plain and divide neighbourhoods from each other."

He said there are innovative ways to make them more interesting while the walls are being constructed.

He gave an example to a privately owned wall along Warman Road intentionally covered by graffiti, which he said has become quite "beloved in the community."

Expect more of this as we get closer to the provincial election where Olauson is desperate to raise his profile and prove his conservative credentials. 

Aunt Beth

I had a great aunt named Elizabeth.  The only reason I knew that is that it was on her Christmas stocking.  I always knew her as Aunt Beth.  She was my grandmother’s sister.  Never married, a chain smoker’s chain smoker, and staunch New Democrat.  She adopted our family growing up as hers and so every Christmas she would come down from Regina (she lived in the senior’s complex that looks like a giant suitcase – you know the one I am talking about) to stay in Saskatoon for a couple of weeks.  She also came down for her birthday and all of our birthdays.  Often for part of the summer and almost always for Labour Day weekend although for that I don’t know why.  Probably to see us off for school.

She travelled the world in between those trips so when I say she lived in Regina, that may have been an overstatement.  Since she did live alone, she never really got the family dynamic down.  She used to drive me crazy when on a Friday night and I was getting read to watch Miami Vice, she would come into our living room and and turn to Dallas.  I would just sit there and quietly put my socks back on.

Of course her entire extended family other than myself and my mom were New Democrats.  Strong New Democrats and union organizers.  Being part of a family where debating politics was a passion, having Aunt Beth here was great as there was a true to life New Democrat in our house who was both as obnoxious as my mom and I were as really funny as well.

The best debate was over Christmas and it was never spoken.  Being Progressive Conservatives, we would have a Christmas card from Grant Devine and Brian Mulroney over our mantle.  That wasn’t going to cut it for Aunt Beth.  So after one year of enduring this, the next one there was a card from Ed Broadbent and Al Blakeney on our mantle, placed just in front of the Devine/Mulroney cards.  The best part was that we never saw Aunt Beth put her cards in front of the other ones and she never saw me put the conservative cards back out front.  It would discretely change several times a day over well over 100 times over the holidays.   I never acknowledged by any of us publically other than a little snicker whenever someone was really discrete with it.  This went on from 1987-1991 when she passed away.

It’s funny but as partisan as all of us were back then, I don’t think a single harsh word was ever spoken about each other’s politics (lots of jokes though), we kept the intense arguments for what was important (I remember getting off the phone with her and she was livid and wanted to speak to my mom.  She had just gone to the Roughriders game and it was a blowout and she wanted to yell about it).  That was the only time I remember her getting angry over anything.

I still miss her.  She was a lot of fun to be around but the biggest lesson she taught me was the family and respect was far more important than making a political point to someone.  We had great talks about all sorts of policies and different world views but it was never personal (well the jokes were) but having your Christmas card in front of the other guys was really important.

Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for 5-8 Year Old | 2015 Edition

Having raised Mark to the point where he is now in high school and with Oliver in Grade Two, I have some experience in Christmas shopping for school aged boys.  You can read my gift guide for teenagers here and my ideas for what to get a school aged boy below.   If you have any other suggestions or ideas, let me know in the comments.

LEGO Superheroes Batman: Man-Bat Attack

LEGO Superheroes Batman: Man-Bat Attack

Includes Batman, Man-Bat and Night Wing (who used to be Robin). You child will be saving Gotham non-stop with this set.

Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet

Fire Kids Edition, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case

  • Not a toy, a full-featured Fire tablet with a 7" IPS display and front and rear cameras. Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
  • 2-year worry-free guarantee: if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free. No questions asked.
  • Unlimited, free access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited included
  • Best-in-class parental controls allow you to manage usage limits, content access, and educational goals

From $89 at Amazon

LEGO Super Heroes Daily Bugle Showdown

LEGO Super Heroes Daily Bugle Showdown

This time it is Spiderman saving The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jamieson from certain doom.  The only question I have is, will Peter Parker get a picture of Spiderman.

$40 from Amazon

Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster

Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster

Nerf guns are all over our house.  There is nothing quite like wandering down into my basement and being ambushed by both my kids.  If you want to add to their arsenal of fun Nerf weapons that are good inside and out, consider the Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster.  Five bullets and lots of fun.

Only $28 at Amazon

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

There are a great gift.  Indoor hockey played on your knees has been a Canadian tradition for decades.  So has mothers complaining about having to patch the knees of pants.  Of course with them being sized or indoor use, they are perfect for when it is too cold to play outside.

$36 at Amazon

Lincoln Logs Classic Edition Tin

Lincoln Logs Classic Edition Tin

The old classic is still around. It includes 86 all wood pieces.

LEGO Super Heroes The Batcave

LEGO Super Heroes The Batcave

If you don’t have your own Batcave, this is the second best thing.

$129 at Amazon

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

How cool is this?  An R2-D2 that projects the time onto the walls. “Help me Obi-Wan, you are our only hope of waking up on time.”

LEGO Kids Star Wars Storm Trooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock

 

A great option for the kid who struggles to wakLEGO Star Wars Stormtrooper Figurine Alarm Clocke up is the Lego Star Wars Storm Trooper alarm clock. Plus nothing helps you sleep well than knowing you are beside an elite trooper who lost a key battle to a bunch of Ewoks.

The stories of Obi-Wan Kenobi / Darth Vader / Luke Skywalker by Ryder Windham.

41m9YA1c2VL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_513ODngVz3L._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_51TX3d00ttL._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_

Nintendo New 3DS XL

New Nintendo 3DS XL

The New Nintendo 3DS XL system combines next-generation portable gaming with super-stable 3D technology and added control features. Take 3D photos, connect with friends, and enhance your gaming experiences with added amiibo support. The New Nintendo 3DS XL system plays all Nintendo DS games. Nintendo DS games will not appear in 3D. AC Adapter sold separately.

Batman Kid-Safe Headphones

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Kid Safe headphones have a volume limiter meaning that your child will not be at risk of hearing damage.  Over the ear design also means that they won’t get headaches either.  It’s a great add on to the Kindle Fire for Kids or the Nintendo 3DS XL

Risk: The Game of Global Domination

Risk, The Game of Global Domination

Despite the game being for players 10 and older, Oliver has been loving the game for a couple of years. Instead of getting your child a game that only they will like for a year or two, why not start them playing some games the entire family can play for a lifetime?

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Remember your first H0 model train set?  How about a set that is modelled after  Colorado’s oldest scenic line?  It combines rich history, spectacular views and stylish accommodations into a train that takes you on a 24-mile journey through the 1,000 Feet deep Royal Gorge. Passengers travel alongside the Arkansas River on a ribbon of rail for an up-close nature show deep in the canyon, observing bald eagles, blue heron, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and flora native to the gorge.

How much fun would any kid have opening this set on Christmas morning?

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

The Hohner is a handcrafted classical guitar with an Agathis top back and sides. This wood match-up creates a crisp texture to the overall sound of the instrument. The smaller scale of this instrument (considered 1/2 sized) is specially designed with the younger player in mind and is highly recommended for the players that are starting between the ages of 5-9. This instrument also comes equipped with light gauge nylon strings for easier fingering as to not discourage the first time player.

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools like a Micro Ear Light, Micro Listener, Micro Motion Alarm and Invisible Ink Pen on every surveillance mission

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools

The coolest utility belt that doesn’t belong to Batman.

Spy Gear Walkie Talkies with a 2 mile range

Spy Gear - Ultra Range Walkie Talkies

Because every great adventure needs a team and a two mile radius is very, very impressive.

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