Monday, April 21, 2014

A Blogger, A Doctor, A Travel Writer and a Community Manager Walk into a Conference....

I was not planning on attending another blogger conference. It was not in the plan, more so it was not in the social media budget. An opportunity arose with my friends at  Active for Life and I decided to attend the Bconnected Conference in Ottawa. 

Leaping without thinking is my forte. I then realized, I had RSVP's my son for 2 birthday parties, my oldest daughter had three days of swim meets & my middle daughter had a 3 hour training session at her gymnastics club. It would have been easy for me to say no thank you or thanks but no thanks. But something was edging me to go besides wanting to let my community know about celebrating everyday physical accomplishments. 

Walking in late (as usual) on the first day,  I picked the table closest to the door and promptly introduced my self to my table mates. It turns out I was sitting with some of the most amazing people that I have never met IRL. I actually felt sorry for the speaker at that point because I could not sit still nor stop chatting. To make things worse the wifi was not being cooperative so I had to converse the old fashion way, a face to face conversation in a hushed whisper like a kid in math class (go figure).  They all laughed as I handed out  Active for Life stickers, postcards and talked about physical literacy. 

My then table mates, now friends are: 

Alexis , the Naturopathic doctor, was here to  expand her social media presence with Eco Chic Movement , introduce people to her exclusive line of products and generally meet new people in Ottawa. 

Lisa, the fabulous blogger at  Fab Frugal Mama and social media maven, was here to step outside her comfort zone and present to the entire conference all the while holding a barf bag. For the record, she knocked it out of the park. 

Ashely, the funny Tales of Mommyhood having he first night away from her  "littles" in years (literally years) and expanding her social media presence and generally being hilarious. 

Vanessa , of TurnipSeed Travel fame , the adventurous travel blogger, who told us amazing stories of never ending train rides and is obviously an expert conference speaker. 

This was exactly what I needed. To be inspired by the people around me and to conceptually understand that we are all on our own path, at different stages,  but still belong to the same community. 

Letting my hair down for two days, talk passionately about physical literacy, being a general smart aleck and making our table feel like home for my table mates and I ....just perfection. So, the purpose of this post. The purpose is to say thank you to my table mates, really that's it. 

What can I say? Even though there was no sleep to be had on that weekend and I missed a couple of KT's races along with not eating the obligatory pieces of birthday cake, that weekend made an impact on my social media path and began my collaboration on a public level, with the not for profit social enterprise Active for Life. 

Did I mention there is only 6 months Blissdom Canada (yeah, I went there...) and I will once again be celebrating physical literacy as a Parent Contributor for Active for Life (and yes, I am a little excited). 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter at the Guthrie's

Eleven years ago we celebrated our first Easter. We had no idea what we were supposed to do, besides buy chocolate. My husband and I bought Easter chocolate, jelly beans, cream eggs and marshmallow treats for our 8 month old. I know what you are thinking...we were idiots. 
Forcing the kids to climb to gather their eggs. 

Over the past 11 Easters we have reevaluated our strategies for Easter.  Here are our tips for a successful, tear free, fun filled Easter morning. 
The Easter Bunny thinking about taking a dip in our pool. 

1. Equality: This does not mean everyone receives the exact same item ( however for years in our house it had to be EXACTLY the same).  I put the child's initials on each item they are find for the Easter egg hunt and colour code the break open eggs, ensuring that each child has the same number of items at the end of the hunt.

Another Kinder egg hidden on the other end of the much running around! 

2. Hiding: The key to a good hunt is not hiding the eggs & treats too early. If your items are outside do not put them outside the night before or the squirrels, raccoons and neighbourhood pets may eat or steal them. If you are hiding the items inside the house remember the age level of your "egg- hunters" and keep a running total in your head of how many Easter treats you have hidden. Believe me this will help with the clean up & reduce the number of tears when the four year old cannot find the eggs hidden in the piano. 
Eggs hidden in the wood pile, more climbing and searching. 

3. Easter Breakfast: The Easter egg hunt is over and the kids are consuming chocolate, jelly beans and putting together kinder toys. As some point the sugar crash will occur for both kids and the adults alike.     I highly suggest pre-making a simple breakfast with easy to prep items like a fresh fruit salad, bagels with cream cheese, cheese and crackers and carrots with dip. For the adults espresso shots all around. 

Can I PLEASE have an egg....PLEASE!! 

4.  Managing the Whine: Just as the picture suggests, Beckett could not wait to rip into our Kinder treats this Easter. As much fun as it is to see our children with over flowing baskets of Easter treats we have learned that our kids are very happy with quality items rather then the quantity of items. Another key tip to success is setting limits to the number treats they consume each day and to include a healthy dose of physically activity to help burn off the extra sugar. 

Climbing up the slide is OK when searching for Easter eggs! 
Once again, Kinder has partnered with Children's Miracle Network and will be providing 12 baskets to CMN hospitals. As well, Kinder will be donating another $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America. 

This is what happened as soon as I was finished our photo shoot:

Yes, that is one happy boy. I am sending everyone happy thoughts this Easter and a huge thank you for  making us part of the Kinder Canada family. 

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

March Break at Great Wolf Lodge 2014

*Disclosure - I do not work for Great Wolf Lodge, nor do I get discounted or free rooms. However, I have found great deals online and by calling the lodge directly. 

It was a full house during our last visit over March Break! 
This is our 6th trip to the lodge, since Andie was a little cub we have been making the trek from Ottawa. It is an 7 hour drive, if you add in snack & bathroom breaks and traffic. We usually bring my sister, niece, my parents or family friends to make this a true celebration.

Each year we try something different from Scoops Spa to the Bear Claw Cafe, we have enjoyed many of the amenities the Niagara Falls location has to offer. This year, my niece and I tried the adult only outdoor hot tub. It is the quietest place in the lodge. A small wintery oasis in the middle of the lodge, perfect for a moment of peace and quiet.

We took great pleasure is spraying each other & racing around the structure. 
We called Chipmunk Cove (a haven for toddlers) our home base each time we visited the lodge but as our children have grown, so has their  need for adventure. At 10, 8 and 5 we spent most of our time on the large structure just inside the park.

On a side note: 
I had a very humbling experience, as I was dragging a two person water tube up the 96 stairs to the top of thinking how nice it would be to be sitting in the hot tub again. I started chatting to the parent beside me. He too was heaving a two person water tube as his daughter clambered up the stairs beside him. The father said this was his favourite slide and since his operation this is the only thing his daughter has wanted to do. The man showed me his scar from his breast to his belly button, he has had three surgeries since Christmas to remove tumours that have invaded his body.  I told him how amazingly strong I thought he was. His daughter told me, he was stronger then cancer. Yes, I stopped the inner whine immediately. 

The forrest themed dinning room.  Clean tables, attentive servers and a excellent selection of buffet items.

We loved the breakfast & dinner buffets, each person was able to find their favourite items. Great Wolf Lodge sells meal packages for children and adults, each meal package includes breakfast buffet, a quick service meal and dinner buffet. The children meal package costs approximately $22.00 while the adult meal packages cost approximately $47.00 (Canadian). We typical purchase one pass per person for a two night stay, rather than a package per day.

A diet of pizza and cupcakes for Beckett

This year the three older girls took part in a magical quest at the lodge. Each participant is given a wand that interacts with various artifacts throughout the lodge. This is NOT a one hour event, to complete the quest can take days, literally days! Our three enjoyed the adventure but were to interested in getting back in the water to complete the entire quest.

Yes, that is my triple shot coffee...why do you ask?

Great Wolf Lodge did not disappoint. Even with a completely full house we had no complaints during our stay. One upgrade I must mention is the Northern Lights Arcade. You no longer have carry around coins, everything is tracked and managed by swipe card (BRILLIANT). We did not have a chance to play in the new Ten Paw Bowling lane as we just ran out of time. However, Beckett loved the sounds colours and excitement of the ally.

We cannot wait until our next trip. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Truth about Winning

My family and I are lucky. It's true, we win little things here and there like movies, toys, clothes. We have also won bigger items like phones, trips and bicycles.  I cannot tell you the secret to winning or why we win draws or contests. What I can tell you is that for as much as I win, I give away. My family and I understand the importance of sharing. I am also have an opportunity to give prizes away on my blog. There is nothing better than sending an email to a potential winner and reading their excited response. 

Kinder Canada is giving their fans an opportunity to win. When you and your little one crack open a Crack 'n' Win Kinder Egg and find the PIN (that's on either the toy itself or on the toy leaflet within the capsule) head over to Kinder Canada's Facebook Page where you can easily enter their pin and check to see if it is a winning pin. Easy and simple and with a little luck, your family might be a winner! 

Beckett loves his Kinder Egg Action figures #Winning 

There are many prizes up for grabs including a Fiat 500 POP! Two lucky Kinder fans could win a family trip to Orlando, Florida and enjoy the sunshine. Over 27,000 Kinder fans could win a family night out to the movies, and 201,000 fans could win a free Kinder treat. I cannot wait to hear what you have won! 
Go ahead crack and win and if you win the trip to Florida, and are looking to 'share' I will come! 

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Becoming Heart Smart

I have never had to worry about my heart. It was never on my radar as a health concern. I was only concerned about the size of my waist and the amount of cellulite on my backside. Things changed quickly when a local hockey coach, around my age, from our hometown, suffered a heart attack. As a parent of three under 10, educator of many and active community volunteer, I cannot take the chance of being hospitalized because of a heart issue.

One of the reasons I need to stay heart healthy.

Shoppers Drug Mart is featuring a Heart Age Calculator on their website to determine what my cardiovascular age and assess risks. There are 12 slides of questions like age, height, weight basic lifestyle questions, that took me less than five minutes to answer. Taking five minutes out my busy day, to know if my heart is healthy is time well spent.  As an educator I know that knowledge is power and in this knowing what my heart age is will direct how I continue to live my life. I also love that this is the only scientifically validated online tool available that provides a personalized heart age and cardiovascular risk profile as recommended by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines.

I truly had no idea that Heart Disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada. That shocks me, to know that we can lose people in our lives from something as simple as not being heart healthy. There are several factors that influence your heart age, including blood pressure levels, cholesterol and risk factors like smoking. All of these factors can make your heart age faster than your chronologically age.

Using the Heart Age Calculator I found out that my Heart Age is 39.2, three years less than my chronological age. I am slightly below the Canadian average for heart disease but I defiantly have some changes to make in order life more heart friendly.  I need to be more physically active, less sitting more movement. This is simple right, but I still struggling with finding time in my schedule to work out. I’m not blaming anyone for this but myself, I need to take the time for myself in order to keep myself on this planet longer.  Simple steps that any Canadian can make to make themselves more heart healthy include; stop smoking, monitor your blood pressure, regulate your cholesterol levels and basically take control of your life.
Setting a good example by running with my daughters in our first 5K. 

Now it’s you turn. Use the Heart Age Calculator and find out what your heart age is. It’s time to get Heart Healthy. It’s free to use, and you can find out what steps you need to make your life more heart healthy.

 Disclosure - Although this post has been sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect the views, opinions or positions of Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. or its affiliates or licensees. Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information within this blog post and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Disney On Ice - Celebrating 100 Years of Magic

Disney On Ice will be bringing  100 Years of Magic  to Ottawa, February 19th - 23rd 2014 at the Canadian Tire Centre. 

This show promises to be spectacular: 

"Join the celebration as more than 60 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!  You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses.  Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!"

I am very happy to announce that I have two different discount codes of my readers. Disney on Ice will have shows in both French and English. 

1. Use code MUM44 to purchase 4 Disney On Ice tickets to a weekday show for $44.00 

2. Use code MUM4 to receive 4 dollars off weekend shows 

Excludes Front Row, Rinkside, and VIP tickets. No double discounts. Additional Fees May Apply. Weekday is defined as Monday thru Thursday and Friday Matinee. Weekend is defined as Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday.

Click here to purchase tickets to Disney On Ice. 

I have a family four pack of tickets to give away to one of my readers. The tickets are for the opening night of the show, February 19th, 2014 at 7:00pm at Canadian Tire Centre.  I will be making the draw for the tickets on Saturday February 8th, 2014 at noon. 

Follow along with conversation using the hashtag #DisneyOnIce, like us on Facebook  or on Twitter

It is simple to enter, just answer this question in the comments below. You can enter once per day. 

Which Disney character would you like to skate with on the canal?