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?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guthrie Family Adventure - Part 1 - Lowes Royal Pacific Resort Florida

We did it! After 51 weeks of making weekly deposits into our savings accounts, my children, DH & I were ready to head to Florida. I must do a little thank you here to Gail vaz Oxlade for her advice on saving and encouraging our family to set a goal and accomplish this goal as team.

Full disclosure...I paid for the trip myself, with the exception of using our RBC Avion Visa  points to pay for the flights and taxes. This is not a sponsored review nor will you find staged or stock photos, it is all what really happened.

I am biased in saying that flying out of Ottawa is a dream compared to other larger city centres (cough, cough, Toronto). Seriously, the entire environment of YOW is relaxed, which in turn makes the travellers a little less stressed as well.

We flew with West Jet, by choice. They offered direct flights from Ottawa and the kids and I loved the viral #WestJetChristmas video that was circulating around the interwebs. I still cry even after the 15th viewing of that commercial. Secretly, I was also hoping the kids and I could have experienced the Magic Disney Plane for our flight to Orlando. AndiePandie, loved the video as well and might have cried tears of joy as she watch the West Jet elves make their passengers so very happy. She decided to make candy cane reindeers for all the West Jet folks she saw on the way to our vacation destination.
Kid-made, with love, candy cane reindeers for the West Jet family. 

The West Jet team, was lovely in accepting AndiePandie's raggedy, slightly broken, sparkly antlered reindeer. Each person thanked AndiePandie for her thoughtfulness and one extra special West Jetter had the captain thank her over the PA system, just as the plane landed in Orlando. The flight attendant then took her up to the cockpit to sit in the captain's seat. Yes, it was very cool and most importantly AndiePandie just beamed with pride.

Very cool experience sitting in the Wet Jet cockpit with the crew. 

For the ugly part of this flight....Beckett vomited 5 times between take off and landing. Each time, I would hold his head as he gagged into cacow's (a Guthrie word for blankie) and puked whatever grossness was upsetting his belly. He then whimpered and fell back asleep after each vomit session during the (thank God) a direct flight. Upon landing he his bowels let loose and we had sticky liquid flying out of both ends. I tried my best to console my son, whilst not upsetting the other passengers or his sisters, who were catching up on the latest movies & having snacks during our flight. Thankfully our flight arrived 15 early ( I know EARLY!) and I was able to clean Beckett up before leaving for the first part of our adventure.
The calm before the vomiting storm arrived

We hopped into our cab and within 20 minutes were at the Royal Palms Resort. This is a Loews resort located at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. We couldn't pay the taxi driver with our credit card so we had to use cash, just a small issue but it needed to be mentioned. My suggestion, carry at least 200 in American cash for little hiccups like this.

The entrance to Loews Royal Pacific Resort

As my kids exited the taxi they were greeted with colourful lei's and happy bell hops, who helped us with our bags as we checked in. The front desk was quiet and, in no time, we were in our room changing in our swim suits for a quick dip before bed. My kids love to swim & they were beyond excited to swim outside in December. We arrived at the pool with huge smiles & nothing but swim suits on. We were unfortunately told the pool was closed because of the cold weather. My jaw dropped and my smile faded....I'm sorry, can you repeat that...I said. I quickly explained, to my now confused kids, that is was getting late anyway and we needed to get to bed for our big day at Universal....but I was too late the tears started. AndiePandie bikini clad, hand on hip and eyes as huge as saucers said..."What are you talking about? It's not snowing is it?". We did not swim, we headed back to our room and prepped for the next day's adventure.
 Christmas Tree and Gingerbread Village & Train In the lobby of the resort

I spoke to the manager of the Loews Royal Pacific about this small (yet important to my kids issue) and he was fantastic. He listened to what I had to say and thanked me for my time. The front desk staff were also very attentive & courteous . They called my children and I by name, asked how our day at the park was and if we needed anything in our room. The concierge desk, also made an extra effort to make sure there was milk, a fridge and microwave for our use. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty.

There as several restaurants on site, but we only ate at Islands Dining Room. The breakfast buffet was  worth the price, there were many healthy options, excellent coffee and attentive staff. There were two things that stood out for our family about Islands. First,  KT (DD 10) was enthralled by the make your own pancake station, she loved the mechanics of the machine and all the toppings, including fresh strawberries. KT also mentioned how sweet and tasty the strawberries were, her comment was they tasted real..not like the frozen ones we eat at home. She might have cleaned out a bowl or two during our stay. The second characteristic (which Beckett loved the most) of this restaurant I must tell you about is the toy/play/TV room/kids dinning room. This is a huge room complete with TV, toys, couches and pint sized furniture for children to enjoy both playtime and a meal. After a long flight, having the kids run off to play ( in an area I could see from my table) while I partook in third cup of coffee was a huge perk. This hotel and restaurant were made for family travel. We all gave it two thumbs up, that's 10 Guthrie thumbs altogether. The excellent customer service and attention to details we experienced, will make us a repeat customer at the Loews Royal Pacific. The kids have already decided we are going back in 2015 for a week instead of just 4 days.

Part 2 - Universal Studios!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Giving Joy This Holiday Season


It is the time of year that makes people want to sing in the streets, hang up colorful lights and place preciously wrapped gifts under the tree. Or that is what we hope goes on at this time of year. 

Truth be told, there are many families and indviduals that are not in the celebratory mind frame this time of year. That is why Kinder Canada has teamed up with the amazing people at The Children's Miracle Network, again this year, to bring joy to families who need some extra holiday cheer with the "A Joy to Share" program.  The idea is simple, visit the Kinder Canada Facebook page  to create a personalized greeting card with your child, which will be shared with kids in hospital to spread some joy, and Kinder will donate $1 to the Children's Miracle Network on your behalf (up to a maximum of $25,000).

Last year during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we decided as a family that we would give each other something special in 2013. We decided to give each other the gift of time. Time spent one on one and as a group, just being together in a screen free environment. The trick has been to schedule it as important time, not just a chore or duty. This year we rediscovered how much we love building structures, creating extraordinary kitchen creations and unleashing artistic side with unique crafts.

We also decided that giving our friends, family and community organizations time, was important this holiday season. Last year we served dinner, washed dishes and helped clean up after the annual Church dinner. This year we have decided to dedicate time to our neighbors who may need a little extra TLC this year. We are in the middle of creating our holiday plates, for our neighbors & friends and will be delivering the tasty desserts next weekend.

Do you give back to the community, I would love to hear how you give back? It will give us some great ideas for 2014!