Friday, January 17, 2014

Can't take your teen to fun places anymore?

The right book at the right time

I'm surrounded by friends living with teens. I have one of my own at home. I remember exactly what it was like to be 15. And I've got to agree with author Michael J. Bradley's book where he emphatically explains: "Yes, your teen is crazy!"

This Christmas, a friend of mine simply could not convince her 14-year-old boy (taller and bigger than she is) to come to the dinner they traditionally have with friends on December 25th. She was devastated. She could certainly not drag him out of the house. She could not bribe him. He took her by surprise. She spent the Holidays mourning the little boy who would follow her everywhere to all the fun places she fancied. 

Tough ride
I had to go through the same kind of mourning when my youngest went from telling me she loved me five times a day to a 24-7 policy of "No Touchie". 

These are mild cases of what parents of teens go through. In my upper-middle class milieu, I've seen a bit of everything: drug problems, drinking problems, high school drop-out, cutting one-self, anorexia, depression, suicide attempt, epic yelling matches...

Bradley's book truly helps makes some sense out of it. He brings lots of concrete cases to our attention, many more extreme than what I have seen around, which he still considers "normal crazy".

The main virtue of his book is probably that it helps you get some distance, not take everything personally and find the motivation to try different ways to deal with your teen. You can't interact with a temporarily insane person the same way you do with a reasonable one.

The book is available in a $10 Kindle version which you can upload on the spot. (Did you know you can install a Kindle app for free on your computer ?)

Top-5 things I retain from the book
• MRIs have proven that our teens' prefrontal cortex (the brain's remote control) doesn't work properly (for the time being, they'll get there eventually).
• Don't ask teens to explain WHY they did something stupid. They can't! And it stresses them even more than it stresses you.
• Peer pressure works for superficial things such as clothes and music but teens get their values mainly from us (they just go dormant for a couple of years).
• How true to ourselves we are is vital. Teens have a very sensitive  "bullshit" detector. If we want to help them become better individuals, we might as well start working on ourselves... and our couples.
• Teens' biggest job is building their identity. Our biggest job is respecting that... while helping them reach age twenty alive.

NOTE: I've created a For teenagers category for this blog where 
I'll keep adding suggestions of teen outings (with or without their parents).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Parents' survival: We're doomed

Small kids are dangerous. Especially if we go through a Zombie apocalypse. 

At last, a blogger who's not afraid to spell it out as it is. As Meredith Morgenstern points out in, small kids are slow, they can not be quiet, and they are delicious. 

About zombies and Walking Dead:
See the amazing promo they did at Union Station one week prior to the new Walking Dead season in 2013.

About the photo:
Part of the Subway Station chapter in Toronto Fun Places 5th ed. where I describe all the fun things to see or do within a 10-minute walk of every Toronto subway station. This sculpture is on the grounds of Toronto Centre for the Arts near North York Centre Subway Station.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Frozen movie at minus 25!

Doesn't get cooler than this!
When my 16-year-old insisted we go see the Disney movie Frozen, I thought it had to be quite good for word-of-mouth to give it such a positive rating amongst the teenagers. We hopped on the streetcar at minus 25 to head to the movie theatre to see the 3D version of it. 

Wow! It was good! By now you must have seen video clips and figured out how charming and funny the characters are. Have you seen the 15-sec. clip of Olaf nose bump? And Olaf Super Bowl clip? Hilarious.

How lovely are the voices. As a francophone who personally knows José Paradis, a singer who's done the Québécois version of many songs for Disney movies, I know first hand how much attention Disney pays to the songs. The best way to illustrate this is the clever 3-min. clip they did of Frozen's Let It Go in 25 languages. 

Forzen's YouTube clips you see  don't convey how gorgeous the whole movie is with an amazing attention to details. I would go back in a flash just to see once more the beautiful  rendition of ice and light on the big screen. The sequence where Elsa builds an ice castle build with her powers is simply breathtaking.

Disney's magic is back!
I knew it as soon as I watched the short movie they presented before the 3D movie. I suspect they don't feature it in the video version as you need 3D glasses to appreciate it. (I still have goose bumps remembering how good it was.) 

It started with a beloved traditional black & white cartoon with Mickey, Minnie, the cows and the big bad cat (you know, the old ones where Walt Disney did Mickey's voice; so cool to see them again on the big screen).

At one point, in the middle of the action, Mickey was thrown in the air... and he "pierced" the screen and landed on our side, in full colour 3D! From the hole left in the big screen, we could see the others characters also in 3D while the cartoon action kept unfolding in black & white.

As you can imagine, eventually, all the characters got on our side and in 3D, with the best visual action to take advantage of this. It was mesmerizing. 

Disney is back and fully into the 21st century.

For cool snowflake templates and ideas (in the spirit of the movie), 
visit my Paper snowflakes board on 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ripley's Aquarium photo gallery (Toronto Fun Places)

Not many people would normally venture south of the CN Tower unless they had to see a game or a show at the Rogers Centre. This is all changing now, thanks to the new Ripley's Aquarium. 

Planned to open this last summer, Ripley's Aquarium could only open its doors in October so by Christmas time, there was still a big hype around it (they've added over 500,000 visitors in three months). 
At night, the building itself looks a bit like an aquarium.

Managing the line-up
When visiting during Christmas time, I could see that they are still adjusting to such a huge success, which came with some logistical problems (line-up management and customer service in general) and maintenance (overuse of interactive displays causing some break downs). 

I would expect that attendance will slow down a bit in the coming months (which should leave them some time to come up with solutions) before catching up again next June for the summer tourism season.

Here are some of the pictures of our visit with our teenagers. We loved it! You can also read about my 5 tips to better enjoy the aquarium experience.

Light balls at the foot of the CN Tower