Get Out and Bounce!

OK.  I’m calling it.  Yes, it snowed in Toronto last night, but winter is over.  Officially.  The calendar and I both say so.  It’s now just a matter of mind over sub-arctic winds.

As hard as it may still be to imagine a summer’s day, the sunny weather IS coming, and with it, the chance to gather outdoors for your parties, fairs and assorted extravaganzas.

Adventure Mania has a great range of bouncy castles for your events, with products to suit toddlers to teens.

A brand new offering for 2015, they’ve just brought in a movie screen bouncer, so that you can transition from daytime bouncing to night-time movie theatre.  The rental comes complete with a PS3 console, a loud speaker, and a projector, with a movie screen that is 9 feet long, and 5 feet high.

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There is a huge selection of bouncers with movie and game tie-ins, and you can combine them with various things, like slides and basketball hoops.  For your little Frozen fans, one of their most popular rentals is the line of Frozen bouncers.

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There is also a bouncer that operates rain or shine, so if you want your bases covered for your event, this is a great, safe bet.

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Haley Chiappino is the Event Specialist at Adventure Media, and she is a delight to work with.  Such a friendly ally in what can often be the stressful process of event planning.  You can reach her at (905)864-3290 or info@adventuremania.ca.  Best of all, if you mention this blog post, you will get a 10% discount for your rental.  They rent everything from bouncy castles and slides to sno-cone makers and carnival games.  All you need for a fun day in the sun.  Based in Milton, they serve the entire GTA, and you can check out their full range of offerings here.

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*Adventure Mania offered 4mothers1blog a rental for review consideration.  The opinions expressed are our own.

Disney Daze

We’ve just come back from several enjoyable and unforgettable days in Florida. Each time I travel with my family, I learn something new about them. Traveling, even somewhere as relatively mundane as Florida, pushes out the walls of your comfort zone — and as Oprah-ish as that might sound, I think it’s a good thing for all of us to have our boundaries pushed at a little. My own boys seem each to be a year older and six inches taller today, and I swear that’s a by-product of being somewhere other than home for eight days.

Travel also reminds you of things you already knew, but probably have forgotten. To wit:

1. No matter how obedient your children might be, there will be moments when corrective action need be taken to keep their behaviour in check:

2. Not only are my boys friends, they are also best friends. Sometimes, they even act as if they are:

3. Theme parks are loud, crowded, and boisterous. They can be incredibly fun places if one is in the right frame of mind to be jostled, well prepared for the crowds, armed with a touring plan (we really liked this website, for that) and armed with a sense of humour and a large packet of patience.

Wine helps, too. Especially when you can sip that glass of wine anywhere in the park:

4.  I’m convinced that there exists over Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park an invisible bubble, which keeps in all the fairy dust, happy, scented air and whatever else it is they spread around there that makes it virtually impossible to be angry or grumpy at anyone for the entire duration of your stay. About ten minutes after you leave, you will find yourself doubly confused, both by the sudden return of your cynicism about all things Disney, as well as by the gaping hole in your wallet where your money once was.

5.    Every now and again, it’s okay to get a little Goofy:

Boys, Guns, Violence, and Self-Definition?

Like the other mothers writing here, gun play usually depresses me.  I understand the needs for kids to work through their fears and master their worlds, and not all violent play gets me down.  But in my mind, the “pow wow, you’re dead”, much like the competitive parallel of “I’m going to win and you’re going to lose” doesn’t really reflect these needs.  It often seems like mimickry of something, and the something is not especially nuanced or valuable.

I have developed a certain sensitivity to all things ugly, which I wrote about to some degree here.  Having spent the last nine months alternately elated, sick, sore, and worried while trying to bring a baby to life does not take the edge off this vulnerability.  At present, I am quite unabashedly unimpressed by our society’s quick sells of power to boys through violence, just as I am of its parallel pitches or power to girls through exploiting their sexuality, as noted by one of our commenters this week.

At present, gun play is not a big issue in our lives.  My kids are relatively young; I don’t know how these issues will pan out when they are older.  For now, we don’t have any overtly violent toys around.  Actually, and for the record, I’m the mother on the street who tries to have mostly toys made of natural materials and which are open-ended.  The plastic guns that my sister once presented to the boys quickly disappeared.  We’ve also received many gifts and hand-me-downs (Power Rangers, Star Wars paraphrenalia, superhero stuff) that aren’t exclusively defined by violence, but I’ve re-directed these too for a range of reasons, including a desire to avoid the slippery slope phenomenon.

Water “squirt” toys, I’ve allowed.  I can’t prevent a cardboard tube from becoming a spear and I won’t try to, but I’m more comfortable with that.  If the play seems to come from within rather than without, I feel better.

I suspect that we have fewer issues with weapon play partly because we don’t watch TV and thus avoid commercials.  We have a handful of carefully screened DVDs that get an occasional viewing.  I’m somewhat less fussy when we go out, partly because I don’t want to be a social pariah and partly because I don’t want the children to live in a bubble.  But deciding what they have access to in terms of toys and imagery at home, I see as a fairly basic mothering task, along the same lines of determining what to encourage and discourage in their worlds in terms of eating, sleeping, and other behaviours.

There’s no perfection here, but it’s good enough.  My boys fight and hit each other, but at the least it’s their own brand of conflict, not something lifted from Disney or Pixar.  My older son has Spiderman pyjamas, even if he doesn’t exactly know who he is.  When he’s tired, my husband watches movies (that might as well be) called Shootdown Massacres III (I’m hardly free of escapist vices, but my husband’s conveniently fit here because we’re talking about guns).  I can’t complain that he’s more violent as a consequence, because he isn’t.  But I’ve noticed that when he’s more on his game, he’ll watch more engaging films, or read, or play guitar, or do something active.

I guess that’s what I hope for for my own kids, that they’ll be able to make better choices for themselves if the narrow societal notions of male power and violence have less of a hold on them, if they’re less accustomed to the messages that boys are fed early in and throughout their childhood.  Whatever violence remains in the act of growing up and getting sorted and finding one’s place, I hope the boys will, at least, be able to call their own.