We’re Going to Kennywood & Sandcastle! Discount Tickets for EVERYONE!


kennyIt’s no secret that my family are theme park enthusiasts. We find NOTHING funner than spending the day together riding coasters and screaming at the tops of our lungs- so when I got an e-mail inviting us to Kennywood & Sandcastle in Pennsylvania, I couldn’t say no! Well, actually, my kids overheard me and my husband talking about it and took it as basically a blood oath, so even though we were already going to say yes, it was a done deal at that point.

We’ve only heard rave reviews from locals and families that have made memories there for their entire lives- because Kennywood offers something for everyone and has for SO long! It is one of only two amusement parks listed on thesand National Register of Historic places.  Thrill rides, historic wooden coasters, and extremely kid friendly! Parker is especially excited that there are SO many rides with height limits he actually meets (something he often gets upset over)- and we can never pass up a good water slide! Sandcastle features 15 waterslides, a wave pool, a lazy river and two children’s areas right in the heart of Pittsburgh!


We can’t wait! And we want you to enjoy it, too!

Grab a Weekend FunDay admission ticket for $37.99, or a Weekday FunDay admission ticket to Kennywood for $33.99 by clicking here.

Grab a ticket to Sandcastle for $23 by clicking here!

Our family is looking to visit in early July- maybe we’ll see you there!

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Fuck This Shit: The Parenting Mic Drop

By: Matthew Koehler – DC Daddy’s Wine Time



Sometimes I’m just over parenting. That’s it. I reckon you fellow parents feel the same way.


There are times when we become acutely aware of the wrought chaos of parenting: the ubiquitous toys, dismantled art projects (evidence of recent tantrums), clutter, laundry, clothes, old bits of food stuck to the ancient carpet, foul smelling underwear, the disgusting kitchen (a chronic struggle), and the monster itself. I want it to disappear for a few hours. For a day maybe. Perhaps a week.

I try to recall what it’s like to not be perpetually frazzled, but I can’t. This attention parasite, my toddler, is usually all consuming. Most of the time, this is just a passive observation, but some days, or weeks, every mundane task becomes an epic, tedious struggle. All the tiny facets of our days no longer fit and there is conflict after conflict after conflict. I stand outside myself, watching our mutual frustrations grow, for one minute or several thousand minutes. Time perception is flexible when in the presence of your little angel.

I can’t even tell a story without a correction every 5-10 seconds.

You know what, sweet child? Tell yourself the story, I’m out.

This all seems pretty selfish and petty of a parent to say, and I would agree with that sentiment. But it’s not like I, or any average parent, feels this way all the time. We feel this most when our absolute authority clashes with infinite stubbornness for too many consecutive days. When the sacred routine, including your hard won free time, simply vanishes with no immediate return in sight, you start to bend. After nights of sleeplessness, days of never-ending crankiness, bad appetites, constant pacification and struggle, you start to break.

If I could cautiously borrow war terminology here, I would call this trench-warfare parenting.

I’m over this shit, a mantra that repeats over and over and over again.

Not permanently, mind you, just for now. For this day or the next few days, a poor soul could do without the soul-sucking toddler’s never-ending demands of daddy, daddy, daddy, “Daddy?!!?”

“What, damnit?!?”

“Don’t get frustrated with me, daddy.”

Aw, how cute…

I probably sound like a complete asshole now, don’t I?

Listen, I said these occasions were rare, but nothing brings this parenting sentiment on more than a weeklong sickness, and neither of you can escape eachother’s presence. Then your significant other gets sick and you find yourself sleeping on the couch. Not by request of your loved-ones but out of self-preservation. You can’t fix them; bad colds just have to run their course. You mentally prepare yourself for the week ahead, but this in an intellectual understanding, not a day-to-day experience.

The first day, Sunday, I felt horrible for both of them.

On Monday, I wanted to do whatever made the toddler happy. I made her favorite food, just so she’d eat something. Pancakes all damn day. I even let her have “screen time” (parenting lingo for the 21st century) all damn day, too. Kid happy, me happy.

By Tuesday, I was zoned out; my patience supply not properly replenished. The kid had been sleeping in the bed the previous two nights, which never works well for the adults. Co-sleeping is just something she does when she’s sick. It’s either that or she’ll come to the bedside every hour screaming bloody murder in my ear.

I powered through.

Wednesday: what happened on Wednesday? I don’t recall but she was still sick, so no playgroup (she’s part of a co-operative playgroup). Chronic fatigue had set in and the weather sucked. I was having difficulty remembering what day of the week it was. My hope was that by the following day, I’d be able drop her, snotty nose and all, at the co-op for a few hours so I could sit on a park bench and stare at the clouds in peace for an hour or two.

Thursday: what’s my name again? Ah, it’s Protozoa- I’m a mindless organism that survives on instinct. All higher functions, including my sense of humor, were gone.

Friday: the meaning of the word “nebulous” was lost to me. I wasn’t sure, but I’m pretty sure that I was just a vast nebulous region of mostly disconnected thoughts. I relinquished my fatherly duties at 9 am that morning only to take on the mantle of babysitter to another toddler (to help some friends out who’d just had a baby).

I could no longer adequately communicate to others of my own kind.

Saturday: I transformed. My gracious wife granted me a reprieve and I headed to a wine social (no, I didn’t pay for it, I won tickets). After each glass of wine, and later a few 14% beers, the nebula of me slowly congealed to form a magnificent inebriated star. I had returned from the nether regions of space.

On Sunday, I gazed upon the fruit of loins, and I recalled what an amazing little person she was/ is. I looked at her as only a parent could, with endless joy and love…

“Hey, baby! Get over here. You have boogers coming out of your nose. No! don’t wipe them on your fucking sleeve! Lemme get it!”
“No, I goddit daddy.”

Aren’t they cute?

All was right with the world again.


Matthew (DC Daddy) blogs as a coping mechanism for dealing with chronically irrational beings. He’s also fascinated by the absurd sublimity of raising children. While raising a child at home has been an unexpected personal boon, both intellectually and developmentally, his antiquated instincts of fatherly roles stupidly rail against his current profession. So writing his experiences and thoughts on parenting, especially as a house parent, makes him feel like he’s contributing something as an active member of society. And, it keeps him sane.

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

To the Mom with the Screaming Kid in Public:

I know that look. I recognized it as soon as your eyes met mine. It’s not the one that’s panicking because your kid isscream freaking out like they just lost their entire life savings on the Stock Market. No, you’ve got this. You know you’ve got this. The look in your eyes as they peer over the aisles between us is the one searching for the inevitable judgy eye. The one belonging to the person who is gritting their teeth over having to listen to your kid lose their shit. The eye of the person who is ALWAYS there every time your kid flips out in public, glaring. The kind that thinks your kid is a bad kid, or you’re a bad parent, just because they DARE to melt down in front of other humans. The kind who will go on Facebook when they get home and rant about how shitty kids are these days and how the world is doomed because “parents just aren’t controlling them these days.”

You’re looking for the inevitable narrowing eyes of someone who thinks kids should be seen and not heard. The kind who give advice like “you should just hire a sitter when you go shopping so that doesn’t happen”, or “you shouldn’t leave the house if you know your kid is going to throw a fit.” or “You should just leave the store immediately and take your kid outside.”

You hear the intercom over head come on calling for a “code 10” and you swear that someone has gone and reported you to management, even though you’ve done nothing wrong, and your kid has done nothing wrong– because these days, that’s not so far out of the realm of possibilities. With kids being banned from establishments and the word “entitled” being flung about so carelessly in reference to both children and parents, it’s almost expected. Sadly, you wouldn’t even be surprised. Thing is, you don’t want to be there with a screaming kid any more than anyone judgy shitbrick wants you to be there, but you have things to do. You know that life can’t just halt because you had children- in fact, life moves even faster. You have more responsibilities. MORE things to do. You don’t think you’re entitled to “ruin” someone’s shopping experience just because you decided to have kids. You don’t think having kids makes you “better than” everyone else, or that anyone should just accommodate you. No. You’re just trying to do what you need to do to take care of those dependent on you, the best way you can. Tantrums or not.

You’re not in a movie theater or a quiet restaurant. You just know that kids are human and this kind of thing can’t really be prevented all the time. You can’t just “hire a sitter”- not everyone has those kinds of resources. You can’t just leave your cart behind- you already spent a torturous hour in the place and you just want to get it over with.

You hurry, occasionally taking a break from pointlessly trying to quiet your red-faced child to look up and scan for those eyes, and you found mine. But I don’t look at you the way the ones who judge do. I look at you with a smile, because I know your look. I recognize it because I’ve worn it myself so many times before and it just happened to not be me today. But it has been. And it will be again.

I know you don’t need me to tell you, because you’ve got it handled (even if you don’t think you do), but I just have to say- who cares what anyone else thinks? You’re brave- and not just because you took your kid out in public (a feat in its own right). You’re brave because you’re powering through. Because you know that this is life. That your kid is being a kid. You’re being a good mom by not giving in to their a-hole behavior. You’re not ruining anyone’s day, week, life. You’re just getting shit done. You’re living. And the Judgy McJudgersons will live, too. Do what you gotta do, and screw all the narrowed eyes.

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Holdin' Holden 2 Comments

The Fun is Just Beginning at Busch Gardens & Water Country USA!


If you missed “Kidz Bop Live” last weekend at Busch Gardens, don’t fret. No need to feel sad, or future FOMO, because Busch Gardens & Water Country USA have your weekends COVERED for the foreseeable future. And if ya ask me, it puts Kidz Bop to shame.

I don’t know about you, but I’m over here screaming YES! THANK YOU!

My winters are miserable because I can’t visit my favorite places, and once spring is in full swing, all of that changes.

This weekend, May 21st is Water Country USA’s opening day! The weather might not be warm, but the water will be, and the lines will be short.

As if that’s not enough the following weekend is one of my favorite weekends of ALL the weekends- the start of Busch f&wGardens annual Food & Wine Festival! If you’ve never been, if you’re wondering if it’s worth the drive, worth the time, worth the anything- YES. YES IT IS. I dream of the fritters from the Caribbean stand. Not kidding. This year, they’re introducing a NEW stand- HAWAII! The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting Friday May 27th – Sunday June 26th.

Don’t miss Water Country USA Splash Nights- Friday June 24th & Friday August 5th. Only pass members get to enjoy this exclusive after-hours event!

That’s JUST the beginning! Make sure you check out the Official Busch Gardens website for schedules & up-to-date information.

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Terrible Twos and “I Love You’s”

By: Jenna Stewart, Motherhood With a Twist of OCD



Terrible Twos- how bad can they really be? This is the question I asked myself on my daughter’s second birthday, as I watched her jump up and down with pure glee at the sight of her new tricycle.

The answer after 9 months of pure mental and physical exhaustion? – hard, really, really, hard. The child is trying to kill me, I swear. My sweet, sweet, little gem of a baby turned into a defiant, uncooperative, stubborn, and independent to a fault, little monster.

The first five minutes of the day with Riley are my favorite. I walk into her room where she is usually still snuggled in under her blankets, sucking her thumb. She smiles at me and says “hi momma.” I ask her how she slept and she says, “good,” followed by “ I go downstairs?”

We head downstairs where she says, “ I watch something?” On mornings when I’m running behind, this is usually an automatic “yes.” Frankly, there is no time to play dress-up, build houses out of magna-tiles, or scrape play-doh off the floor, when you have exactly 42 minutes to provide breakfast, pack lunches, bottles, diaper and dress two kids, pack the car, inhale coffee, and make yourself look presentable, before rushing out the door in order to make it to daycare and work on time.

On days when we are ahead of schedule (which rarely happens…), the answer is “no.” This has the same effect as a punch to the gut. Riley collapses into a dramatic pile on the floor, screaming, “Noooooo, I want to watch something.” Followed by “you’re a meanie” and “you’re a mean guy.” Two phrases that she has picked up at daycare from one of her lovely two-year old friends. I retreat to the kitchen, leaving her to pick herself up off the floor.

She follows me in a few moments later like nothing happened.

Riley: “ I have cereal?”

Me: “ Sure. Plain or with milk?”

Riley: “Plain.”

I pour cereal into the bowl and hand it to her.

Riley: “ No, I want the blue bowl”

Me: <<SIGH>>“OK.”

I pour the cereal into the blue bowl and hand it back to her.

Riley: “No, I want milk.”

Me: << Double SIGH>> “OK.”

I reach for the milk and pour a little in.

Riley: “ No, I don’t want milk, I want it plain.”

At this point I’m about to lose it, and remind Riley of our ongoing conversation about how we can’t waste food, and that if she asks for something, she needs to eat it.

Riley: “I don’t want it. I want muffins.”

Me: “No. You need to eat the cereal you asked for.”

I put it on the table and walk away.

Repeat the same situation as earlier; Riley in a puddle of fake tears on the floor, as she pleads for muffins, yogurt, pancakes, and anything else BUT the cereal that she just asked for not more than two minutes earlier.

Eventually, she eats. I chase her around trying to get her out of PJs and into school clothes. Bode is usually watching from his “Jump-a-Roo” with pure delight, squealing and laughing at the fun game he thinks we are playing. When in reality, I’m 2.5 seconds away from tears and letting Riley go to school in her cupcake jammies.

At 8:05AM, we make it to the car.

Riley: “I listen to wheels on the bus?”

Side note: her “wheels on the bus” is Google Play’s kids playlist. It includes Wheels on the Bus, along with any other kids song you can imagine. By the time I get to daycare, I have come close to slamming my head into the steering wheel more than once, because surely physical pain would be better than this musical torture.

Me: “Sure.”

I put it on.

Riley: “I don’t like this song.”

I change it.

Riley: “I can’t hear it.”

I put it louder.

Riley: “It’s too loud, it hurts me.”

I put the volume down.

Riley: ”I want Farmer in the Dell”

I skip through looking for the stupid farmer and his stupid dell until I hear the familiar intro music.

Riley: “Mommy, you like this song?”

Me: “Yes.” Followed by me attempting to sing the first line “ The farmer in the dell. The farmer in the dell…”

Riley: <<screaming>> “NO I SING IT. Only ME.”

Fine. Child. You sing it. I take a sip of my coffee wishing it were wine and take a deep breath.

This kind of dialogue continues through the rest of our day, including drop-off, pick-up, dinnertime, bath time and bedtime routines.

I am literally in a constant tug-of-war with her until 7:30 PM, when I have managed to get her back into her cupcake jammies (one of the few pairs she likes to wear), read five stories after agreeing on two, brushed our teeth, had milk and water. She is finally in her bed, with all four of her blankets, two pillows, lamb and zebra stuffed animals, and a book that she insists she can read in the dark, by herself.

Riley: “Where are my stars?” she asks, referring to her Winnie the Poo nightlight.

I put them on and lean over her.

Me: “I love you. Do you know how much I love you?”

Riley: “So much.”

Me: “That’s right.”

I turn for the door, and just as I am about to close it, I hear her sweet, sweet, voice say, “I love you too, Momma.”

The struggle is real, but worth it. Oh so worth it.

Posted on May 18, 2016 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment