Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lots of Laughs! Star Wars Lego: The Empire Strikes Out DVD

My kids really loved Star Wars Lego: The Empire Strikes Out on DVD.  I watched along with them and it was tremendously funny!  It is based loosely on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, although it was a parody on the original--and acted by Star Wars Lego minifigures.  The box comes with an exclusive minifigure: Darth Vader with medal around his neck.  The box reads for ages 6+, and it should be noted that the toy is a choke hazard for children under 3-years old, as it contains little pieces.
I think that fans of Star Wars or Star Wars Lego would enjoy adding this title to their DVD movie library.  I liked that the DVD came with the Darth Vader minifigure, as my son loved it and played with it during the movie and still plays with it today.  I think that it added to the film's excitement for him.  My only criticism of this film was that it was very short with a running time of 22 minutes.  Even my kids commented on the movie's length.  Generally my expectation for a child's film is at least 60 minutes, with 90 minutes to 2 hours being the usual length.  However, the film was enjoyed and we will definitely watch it again.
Star Wars Lego: The Empire Strikes Out was just released on DVD March 26th from Lucasfilm.  Available in stores everywhere!

Do you or anyone in your family like Star Wars or Star Wars Lego?  Who is your favourite Star Wars character?      

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holding Offers: House Wars in Toronto!

I previously wrote about my family’s search for a resale home on The Huffington Post, in Is This the Year The Toronto Housing Market Deflates?   In brief, the article discussed how we “lost” a home we loved in November 2010, due to an irrevocable deposit clause that we wouldn’t accept.  We’ve now been hunting for a home for 28 months in the Toronto housing bubble!  However, last night was the first time we placed an offer in over 2 years—and was the first time ever we participated in a home bidding war!

Whether you’re in Ontario or in a different province, you’ve likely heard about Toronto and GTA housing prices.  Simply stated, it’s not uncommon to pay $850,000 or higher for a typical family home.  I’m not joking when I say that a fixer-upper in a great area of the city is sometimes fetching over a million dollars!  And this has been the way of the road for the past few years.

And with inflated housing prices as stated, would you believe that many real estate agents are also “holding offers”.  In essence, holding offers means that all potential buyers (through their agents) present written offers on the same  specified time and date.  So envision this: oodles of agents and their clients—and cars—descending on the same street at the very same time, fighting over the very same house!  Sheer insanity!

The Object of "Holding Offers" Is To Greatly Increase the House's Final Selling Price 

We’re very cautious with our money, and had avoided house bidding wars for years.  The logic is simple: housing prices are already outrageous to begin with, so why add to the madness by competing with other potential buyers, and pushing prices further upwards?  After all, the object of “holding offers” is to greatly increase the house’s final selling price—and ultimately to receive well above asking.  Therefore, “holding offers” and resulting bidding wars only benefit the seller and not the buyer.

There’s also a popular real estate tactic to price a home well below market value, thus creating hype and mass hysteria regarding the property.  Without fail, this strategy creates a multi-offer frenzy and the home in question usually sells for well over fair market value.  Some properties can sell for hundred-thousands above asking!

Anyhow, we’d avoided participating in bidding wars for over 2 years.  As we already own a home and moving is not an urgency, we were able to delay the perhaps inevitable.  Until last night.  A humble family home presented itself within walking distance to our kids’ school.  It was a little bit more spacious than our current abode, but you wouldn’t call it luxurious.

We Put In a Fair Offer

We asked our agent to put in a fair offer on the home, but then she uttered the dreaded words: “holding offers”.  This would mean that we’d not be able to make an offer on the home until a specified date and time.  This also meant lots and lots of competition from eager buyers, as the home was priced fairly.  The situation worsened when a lawn sign was erected in front of the house, advertising a weekend-long open house.  Lots of house traffic to generate lots of interest!
Next, the listing agent upped his game and offered a house inspection report of the property in question, for review by all prospective buyers.  The report was not perfect, but the home was rated “above average” in most respects.  This was clearly a strategy for all bidders to put their best offers forward, and possibly waive the essential housing inspection clause.  This strategy worked.

It was the morning of offer presentations and we consulted again with our agent.  All offers were to be registered by 5:00pm, and there was already 1 offer on the home.  Our contract was signed and ready with a more-than-generous security deposit and above-asking offer of purchase.  It was a very clean offer, even agreeing to the seller’s closing date of “120 days”. 

My husband and I felt good about the offer, until our agent received a text message asking for a certified cheque for the security deposit--upon presentation of offer.   We couldn’t fulfill this condition on such short notice—nor did we wish to.  As the day wore on, there were a total of 4 contesting registered offers.  My heart grew heavy.

Potential Buyers & Their Agents Lined the Street Outside Our Prospective Home

The night they were accepting offers, my husband and I sat in front of our prospective home.  10 cars lined the street belonging to the 5 real estate agents and the 5 families placing bids.  It truly was a spectacle, as we all sat in the dark, freezing for hours in our cars. 

As we sat out in the cold, our agent received a text message from the selling agent.  There would be 2 rounds of offers allowed for all bidders—and in both cases, we would not know if we were the high or low bidder, as per Canadian law.  All bidders would be in the exact same boat.  Our agent presented our offer inside the house, and then returned to our car saying that the other agent hadn't provided any feedback, so we were bidding blind. 

Given the favourable home inspection report, my husband and I decided to remove the house inspection clause.  After the first round of bidding, we could see lights turning on in the agents’ cars as the same clause was also being crossed out.  Before the second round of offers, the listing agent came outside to our car and asked for some minor revisions to our offer.  We asked how our offer looked compared to the others, and the agent stated “somewhere in the middle”.  This was the feedback we’d been seeking.

Our Agent Received a Text Message With the News...

An hour later, it was time to present our second offer.  Our real estate agent went into the home with the paperwork and returned quickly.  There was nothing to do now but to wait.  Suddenly, some of the competing bidders and their agents drove off the street and left!  The listing agent was texting those whose offers had been rejected.  We were beginning to feel hopeful!  Shortly after, our agent received a text message from the listing agent with the news: our offer had not been accepted.  The house had sold for more than $40,000 above asking price.

Although we were disappointed to have “lost” the house, another decent property turned up today in the real estate listings!  There are already 3 offers on it, so I think we’ll pass this time…

What do you think of the Toronto and GTA housing situation?  What advice would you give to prospective buyers?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Schneider's Easter Ham & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

My Schneider's Easter Ham
When I think about Easter, the first thing that comes to my mind are Easter traditions like wearing an Easter bonnet, the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts, and of course an Easter ham on the table!  So someone please ask me why I had never cooked my own Easter ham before--until today?  For some reason, I had thought that making an Easter ham is difficult, when really the opposite is true: it is spectacularly easy!  

I started out with a Schneiders Country Naturals Tender Tip Hardwood Smoked ham, which cost about $11.50.  I read the ingredients, which really were straightforward: ham, water, sea salt, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, cane sugar, cultured celery extract, spice and smoke.  There were no extra preservatives, which is a great thing!  I also liked that Schneider's Country Naturals line bills itself as "finest cuts of ham, all hand-selected and precisely trimmed".  To me, this means that the ham is a little leaner in terms of fat.    

Unwrapped Schneiders Ham
With no prior knowledge of ham preparation, I was thankful for the cooking instructions on the package of ham.  I was expecting 20-part instructions, when in fact there were only 4 steps!  Here are the directions for cooking the Schneiders Country Naturals Tender Tip ham, which serves about 6 people:

HAM COOKING INSTRUCTIONS
1.Preheat the Oven to 375 F (190 C).
2.Cut open netting, remove all packaging from ham.
3.Place ham in a shallow baking pan and add 1/4" of water.
4.Cover tightly with aluminum foil and heat for 45-60 minutes or until heated through (I cooked my ham for 60 minutes and it was perfect!)  Heat to an internal temperature of 140 F (60 C).  

I decided to cook the quintessential Easter ham by garnishing it with pineapple rings and cherries in the ring's center (I also used peach slices).  I secured the fruit garnish with toothpicks, although it was not necessary with this cut of meat.  I also floated some additional pineapple rings and carrots in the cooking pan.  As you can see from the photo below, my ham turned out great!
Cooked & Ready to Eat Schneiders Easter Ham
If you look at my first photo in this blog post, you'll see that the ham sliced very well!  I am not expert at carving meat, but I was able to cut the ham with a regular sharp knife.  I did not have to struggle!  My family did enjoy the Schneiders Country Naturals Tender Tip ham!  I think that your family will too!

Add Maple Leaf to your social networks:

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Schneiders on Facebook
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Schneiders on YouTube 

CONTEST - 2 WINNERS! (~OVER~)

WINNERS: Andrew P & Angele F

Would you like to WIN $15 in FREE Product Coupons to try Schneiders products
?  Then I invite you to enter my contest!  2 WINNERS of $15 in FREE Product Coupons!  Open to Canada, ends Tuesday April 16th, 2013.

How To Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating what side dish you would love to serve or eat with a Schneiders Country Naturals ham...and then fill out the entry form, below.  GOOD LUCK!
WIN $15 in Schneiders FREE Coupons! (2 WINNERS!)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Toopy & Binoo & the Marshmallow Moon & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

I announced with excitement earlier this month that Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon, is coming to Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, on Saturday April 27th, 2013 at 10:00am!  Due to popular demand, the show is now in its 3rd great run!  This is the live stage show of the popular Toopy and Binoo television show on Treehouse TV (which is based on the popular children's books by Dominique Jolin).    

Toopy is a lovable grey mouse in a striped t-shirt, who shares his adventures with Binoo, his tiny white cat friend.  Together they use their imaginations and anything is possible!  

In Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon show, Toopy must not only find the perfect song to sing, but the perfect venue at which to sing it.  Your little ones will love the show, which combines music, dance, theatre, puppetry and sets that include multimedia elements!  See a video clip of the show below!  Tickets to the Toopy and Binoo show can be purchased here.
CONTEST (~OVER~)

WIN Family Tickets (4 Tickets) to Toopy and Binoo and The Marshmallow Moon in Toronto, on Saturday April 27th, 2013 at 10:00am!  Performance is at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts!  Contest closes Mon April 15th in the evening.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating your child's or grandchild's favourite television show, OR, who you would bring to the Toopy and Binoo live show if you were to win my contest!  Then enter using the entry form, below.  GOOD LUCK!
WIN Toopy & Binoo FAMILY TICKETS!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Croods Family Movie Review!

the croods movie poster
I went to the advance screening of The Croods in 3D with high expectations, as the movie trailer had presented itself as a fun, fast-paced family adventure.  It's about a family of cavemen (comprised of an all-star cast), that for the sake of survival live holed up in a cave.  The Croods family is teen daughter Eep (Emma Store), dad Grug (Nicholas Cage), mom Ugga (Catherine Keener), brother Thunk (Clark Duke), sister Sandy (Randy Thom), and grandma (Cloris Leachman).  I have to say that the movie exceeded my expectations!

Eep loves her family dearly, but wants to see more of the outside world.  However dad Grug only wants to keep his family safe from the prehistoric creatures running amuck, and discourages his daughter from leaving the inner sanctum of the cave.  But like all teenagers Eep wants to explore, and she breaks her dad's rules in order to satisfy her wanderlust.  
eep the croods movie
Eep Yearns to See the Outside World
On her first trip out she meets a handsome stranger, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his pet sloth, Belt (Chris Sanders).  Guy tells her that the world that she knows is literally coming to an end, and tells her that she must leave her cave immediately if she wishes to survive.  Eep is smitten by Guy, but the two separate when dad Grug comes looking for his missing daughter.

The Croods definitely delivers the message that a family makes your stronger, and offers unconditional love and support, and will always stick by you.  These are the kinds of messages that I would like to see more of in G-rated films.  And funny enough, there was nothing crude about The Croods--only lots of family-friendly laughs.  

I don't want to spoil all the twists and turns of the story, but I do want to say that it is an excellent family film with a great storyline, lots of humour and spectacular visual effects.  There were many occasions in the film where parents and children alike in the audience laughed out loud (my kids and I included)!  It was just a clever and tremendously funny film, that will have you memorizing its witty punchlines for later use.  


If you are able to see The Croods, I think your family will be delighted by it and I highly recommend that you see it!  I think that many families will be going back to see it a second time for sure.  From DreamWorks Animation, distributed by 20th Century Fox.  In theaters everywhere now.

Are you going to take your family to The Croods movie?  Does your family like watching comedy films?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Disney's Mulan on Bluray & CONTEST! (~OVER~)



Has it really been 15 years since Disney's Mulan enchanted us with its story of courage, honour, determination, perseverance, and love?  Yes, it was really 15 years ago that I first heard the song "I'll Make a Man Out of You", the haunting melodic score that still gives me chills to this day.  And now, in celebration of Mulan's 15th anniversary, it is offered for the first time in Blu-ray High Definition with newly digitally mastered picture and sound!  

Mulan has been packaged together with Mulan II into a 2-movie collection that your family will enjoy!  It is a 3-disc special edition available on blu-ray/DVD combo pack, to give you a choice of viewing options.
The Mulan story is the retelling of an old Chinese folktale about a young women, Fa Mulan (Ming-Na Wen), who disguises herself as a man in order to join the army and fight the invading Huns.  Why would someone go to such great lengths to do this, you may wonder?  Mulan does this courageous and selfless act to protect her injured father, who has been conscripted into the army.  She takes his place and enlists in the army so that he may survive and rest at home.  

Of course, with every Disney movie, you can count on finding a friend along the way!  In this case, the friend is tiny disgraced dragon Mushu (Eddie Murphy).  Mushu is a big personality in a little dragon's body, voice acted wonderfully, as you would expect from comedian Murphy!  

Having arrived safely in training camp, Mulan meets Captain Li Shang (BD Wong), who teaches her how to be a great warrior, find her "center", and to think creatively.  Li Shang eventually becomes Mulan's love interest and romance blooms by the end of the film.
If you have not seen the movie, or have not seen it recently, then you'll want to add the Mulan two-movie collection to your family library!  It's a family-friendly movie with a great story, animation and wonderful songs.  Some of the singers that lend their voice to Mulan include superstar Lea Salonga and Donny Osmond, so you're in for a big treat!
CONTEST (~OVER~):

WINNER: Jennifer D.

WIN Disney's Mulan & Mulan II on Bluray/DVD combo pack!  Contest is open to Canada (sorry US friends) and ends Friday March 29th, 2013!  

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating something courageous that you've done before, OR, name your favourite Disney song or movie.  Then, fill out the entry form below.  GOOD LUCK!
WIN Disney's Mulan & Mulan II on Bluray/DVD Combo Pack!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Willow on Bluray/DVD from Ron Howard & George Lucas!

Willow Bluray
Willow is on Bluray to Celebrate its 25th Anniversary!
I remember with fondness going to the movie theatres to see Willow in 1988.  My girlfriend and I went to see heartthrob Val Kilmer, whom we had enjoyed in the Top Gun film (with Tom Cruise) two years earlier.  At the time I did know that it was a film directed by Ron Howard, with George Lucas as executive producer.  I was too young to worry about these details, but it is a Lucasfilm, just like the current seven Star Wars films!

When I heard that Willow was being released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, my first thought was it had been a movie that I had enjoyed, and my kids would also like it!  But when I learned that it was being released in celebration of it's 25th anniversary, I felt way too old!  However, I liked that the film had been digitally restored--and with new bonus features, including previously deleted scenes.

Willow is a fantasy film with a charming story, loosely similar to Snow White.  Just like Snow White it features a baby girl that the queen wants destroyed, an evil queen, little people, magic and a hero.  

In Willow, it is foretold that a baby girl bearing a special mark on her body will end the reign of evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh).  Risking her life, the midwife sneaks the baby out of the castle before she is harmed, and sets the baby into a reef basket on the river (similar to the story of baby Moses).  The baby floats near the shore, where Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a Nelwyn (little person), rescues her.
I don't want to ruin the story, but it is innocent and charming, as Willow tries to keep baby Elora safe and fulfill her destiny.  Along the way he meets rascal swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), and the scenes that ensue when he goes head-to-head with Willow are quite comedic!

My children enjoyed Willow very much, although it is rated PG-13 and should be viewed with an adult.  They loved the comedic scenes, the sword fighting, the magic, the baby, and the story overall.  There are some rough and scary scenes, so parents be aware of this if watching with younger children. 

Willow is available for the first time on Bluray/DVD combo pack right now!  In stores everywhere.  Check out a clip of Willow, below!

  
Are you planning on seeing Willow?  Do you like Fantasy movies with magic and imaginary elements?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stonz Makes Kid's Rain Boots Now!

Snow & Mud: Ontario in March!
The Canadian winter is one of my greatest pleasures and one of my greatest challenges as a parent.  If you're in or near the Toronto area, you'll know that it's hard to dress kids for our weather.  March has snow that melts, but winter boots allow water to leak in.  Put your child in rain boots, and he or she will complain of freezing feet.  So what to do with all those great mud puddles out there?
Stonz Rain Boots Shown With & Without Linerz
I was excited when I learned that Stonz had started making kid's rain boots!  This is the same Canadian company that I had loved for my toddler's winter boots and mittens.  I had loved them because their winter wear is quality made, very warm, kept my child's hands dry, and (in the case of the Stonz "booties" and "mittz") my child was physically unable to remove them due to their clever childproof system!

What Footwear Does Your Child Wear on Days Like These?
Stonz rain boots combine logic similar to their infant/toddler boot line: a quality product designed especially for kids.  I noticed that the boots are just the right height for my child: not those short boots that always take in water, and not those hip wading boots that are so high that a child can barely walk.  I also liked that I could add "linerz" boot insulators to my order, to make the boots warmer on muddy spring days in which there is still snow on the ground.  (I had purchased similar linerz for my child's Stonz winter booties, and highly recommend them!)

I Am Canadian!
Stonz rain boots are available in toddler sizes 5 to 13, and youth sizes 1 to 4.  They come in yellow/black, blue/black, pink/black and grey/black.  The boot "linerz" fit ages 4-8+ years old.  The rain boots cost $35.99 and the boot linerz are $18.99.  Orders $50+ are eligible for FREE shipping in Canada and the US! 

Go On: Get Muddy!
You can purchase Stonz rain boots on the Stonz website.  Connect with Stonz on Facebook and Twitter.

What's your winter like right now?  Is it snowy, muddy or snuddy (snowy and muddy)? 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Disney Oz: The Great & Powerful March Break Activities!

Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful is out in theatres now!  To celebrate, here are some fun Oz-themed printable activities you can do with your kids this March Break!

Create an adorable Finley monkey mask!  This monkey is much friendlier than the winged monkeys in the original "The Wizard of Oz" movie!  Just click the image below for a larger printable version, cut along the dotted lines, and don't forget to create eye holes.
Finley Monkey Mask
Or how about this fun Disney Oz memory game?  The sheet has 3 pages of cards (27 cards), so challenge the kids to a match!  (Click the image below for a full-sized, printable version.)
Which Witch is Witch?
My kids love "spot the difference" puzzles, like this Disney Oz one below, and always do them way faster than I can!  Click the image for the bigger printable version.
Oz Spot the Difference Puzzle
And March Break wouldn't be complete without the kids doing mazes and creating their own.  Have them give this Disney Oz maze a try!  The goal is to help Finley the monkey find China Girl at the end of the maze.  Click for the larger, printable version.

What have you been up to this March Break with the kids or grandkids?  Have you seen Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful yet?

Thursday, March 07, 2013

How I Turned Around My Family's Fitness & Nutrition in 2 Months!


On January 1st I decided to make some major changes to my family’s nutrition and physical activity.  Although there was no single event that triggered this life change, I definitely took notice the very first time I experienced pain in the knees when climbing the stairs.  This pain got me thinking that I was quickly becoming heavy due to poor eating habits and inactivity.  The practical part of me calculated that I would soon not fit into standard sized clothing if I continued on my current path. 


I began to think of our 5 young children, all the proper body weights—but with a frequent propensity to eating desserts and exercising too rarely.  They also learned by example, and noticed when I would snack.  Naturally, they also wanted to partake in the goodies being consumed by their mother.  I was setting a very poor example for them, and I was ashamed. 

Bad Eating Habits Are Learned

I started by taking radical action and emptied our cupboards of candies, chips and sweets.  With 5 kids you easily collect junk food at all special occasions, including Easter, Hallowe’en and birthday parties.  My kids were not pleased that I was clearing out their stash, but I made it clear that I would not be eating sweets either.  Somehow, this made it better for them.


Next, I did a healthy shopping that consisted of lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and unprocessed poultry and meats.  I decided that we would make all of our meals at home and read every food label that was to come into our home.  It is uncanny how much salt most processed foods contain—and preservatives.  In a past article, I mentioned how I would add a fruit and add a veggie to every single meal that I would serve my family.

Reading Food Labels Is Important!

Then I set out to get one hour of exercise with my family each and every day, regardless of our harsh Canadian weather.  On days where it was clear of snow, we would walk.  On snow days, we would toboggan.  I wrote previously how I lost 15 lbs just by tobogganing.  It helped tremendously that my husband was onboard with my plan, and was also an active participant in getting active and eating nutritiously.


In mid-February, I decided that I needed a more intense workout—and more structured activities for the kids.  My friend suggested that I purchase a family membership to the YMCA.  There was one nearby which I hadn’t visited in many years. 

I went to check it out and was really impressed with all the scheduled activities for both adults and kids, up-to-date amenities, and the cleanliness of the facilities.  The monthly membership fee for my family of 7 was only $110 per month.  For my husband and I, the price included access to the extensive gym, pool, scheduled activities, and fitness classes.  Swimming lessons, martial arts and dance lessons were included for all 5 of my kids with this membership!

The “Y” offered a 2-week free trial so we could see if it suited our lifestyle.  I really enjoyed it from the very beginning and found the staff and patrons friendly and welcoming.  On Family Day, the YMCA ran a promotion that waived the sign up fee—and my family decided to become members at that time.

I like that I have been able to try new things at the “Y” such as yoga, spinning class, step and arriba classes.  Although I am new to these types of fitness, I have tried to keep an open mind and just do my very best each and every time.  I have challenged myself by doing 30 minutes of elliptical and treadmill during my workouts, as well as stomach crunches and weight-assisted chin ups.  It has made me feel empowered.  My kids have enjoyed swimming at the “Y”, the sports classes, and the bouncy castle that gives them a trampoline-style workout.  I like that we are all together and active.


And now 9 weeks have passed, since I first embarked upon healthier eating and more robust physical activity for my family.   So far in this short time I have lost one clothing size just by eating more nutritiously and becoming more active.  My husband is looking well-toned and lean, and is almost at his target weight.  I can see great improvement in my kids too: not only have they all toned up, but they are not asking for junk food very often.  I am pleased of the decision we made to get our family on track, and look forward to continuing on this journey together!

Are you at your target fitness level?  What do you do to try to stay active?  Do you need to make any changes to your eating habits or physical activity level? 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Toopy & Binoo One Day PRESALE CODE!


Since my readers are the very BEST, I would like to share with you the Toopy & Binoo and The Marshmallow Moon PRESALE CODE: HILARITY  This is a ONE DAY presale running from Thursday March 7th, 2013, starting at 10am and ending on the same day at 10pm.

The Toronto show is at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday April 27th, 2013 at 10:00am!  Toopy & Binoo is in its 3rd awesome run due to popular request!  Don't miss out on the presale!

Buy Toopy and Binoo and The Marshmallow tickets HERE!

Life of Pi Movie - Best Cinematography & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Watching the 85th Oscar Awards, Life of Pi (by Director Ang Lee) was nominated 11 times for awards--and walked away with 4 coveted Oscars!  It won awards for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Direction and Best Original Score.  This is no small feat, given the stiff competition this year at the Academy Awards.

Have you seen Life of Pi yet?  It is based on the book of the same name by Yann Martel, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.  The story is an adventure fantasy about an Indian Boy named Piscine Molitor "Pi", who from a young age explores issues of spirituality and practicality.  Pi is shipwrecked and survives in a boat for 227 days in the Pacific Ocean--with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker, no less.

Life of Pi is available to own on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to add to your library!

Would you like to WIN a copy?

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNER: Theresa A.

WIN a copy of Life of Pi (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack)!  Contest is open to both CANADA & the USA.  Ends on Wednesday April 3rd, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating what ONE item you would bring with you if you were shipwrecked for 227 days.  Then, use the entry form below.  GOOD LUCK!


Monday, March 04, 2013

OVERjoyed: My Reflections on Parenthood & Fisher Price CONTEST

As the mom of 5 young children, I try to take life with a healthy dose of humour!  Going to the mall with the kids, I'm used to strangers counting my kids out loud: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5!", or telling me that I look like a parade with my kids in tow!  I've had so many people ask me "Are the kids ALL yours?", that I've come up with the comical response: "No, I run a daycare for kids that only look like me!"  It's meant in a friendly way!

But I am OVERjoyed to have my kids, and I believe that they have enriched my life and made me into a better person along the way.  After all, there was a time that I was childless by choice and had never thought I would have ANY children.  I know, it seems hard to believe coming from the mom of 5, but it's true!  Here is the story of How I Went from 0 to 5 Kids in 5 Years!

One of Our Triple Strollers!
It may have been a difficult task, but I remember being OVERjoyed as I pushed my three youngest boys in this triple stroller.  Yes, it was big, and it took lots of preparation time to get 5 little kids out of the house, but looking back at this photo I was filled with happiness and pride.
Playing Happily with the Fisher Price Musical Farm House
And here is a photo of my daughter playing with her Fisher Price musical farm, which was one of her earliest toys.  This is when she first started playing independently, and to watch her smile and enjoy herself was a very satisfying feeling.  She's wearing my favourite Old Navy knitted heart sweater in the photo!

Brothers Forever
Here is a photo of my two youngest sons, who are only one year apart.  I remember how careful my older son was when meeting his newborn brother--although he was also just a baby.  That is another moment that I experienced intense joy and pride to be their mother.
Curtain Call!
And look: it's a little show starring daddy and his baby girl!  Daddy had just come home from work, but he still made time to play with the kids.  Look how much fun they had together!  I'm OVERjoyed to have captured this moment.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Kids!
Okay, not my whole gang looks OVERjoyed in this photo, but I was!  This is one of the few times that I captured a photo of all 5 of my kids together.  It's typical of the shots I get: a few kids looking at the camera, one looking away, and one crying.  At least no one tried to run away...I'm OVERjoyed for that!

Check out the photo that I submitted into the Fisher Price #MillionMoments contest!  Can you guess which one of the photos above I submitted?  Do you have your own photo that you will be submitting into the contest?
CONTEST
The Fisher Price Million Moments of Joy CONTEST starts on Tuesday March 5th, 2013 (tomorrow)!  It runs for 8 weeks, with 8 prizes in total valued at $200 each!  The contest is open to Canadians.  Here are the AWESOME prizes:

1.My Little Snugabunny Bouncer ($89.00 CDN)
2.Laugh & Learn Dance & Play Puppy ($59.00 CDN)
3.Ocean Wonders Aquarium ($54.99 CDN)

play-toyplay-toyplay-toy

Enter the Fisher Price Million Moments of Joy Contest HERE!  GOOD LUCK!


“Disclosure – I am participating in the Million Moments of Joy Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Fisher-Price. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Scooby Doo Live Coming to Toronto & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Fred & Daphne in The Mystery Machine!
Hey Toronto!  Scooby Doo Live: Musical Mysteries is coming to the Sony Centre in Toronto on March 15th and 16th, 2013!  Our kids love Scooby Doo and we have a lot of the movies, which are watched enthusiastically.  But I remember the Scooby Doo cartoons from when I was a kid, in which the bad guy allows stated, "And I would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling kids!"  I remember my brother and I always having fun trying to uncover the bad guy!  



My family was delighted when we heard that they made Scooby Doo into a musical, and we are excited to see it this March break.  Take a look at the clip below to get an idea of the show!  Needless to say, the "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" song will be sung during the performance, as well as other great ones!

Jeepers!  When a trouble-making ghost haunts a local theatre, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang are called in to solve a mystery!  This comedic live theatrical show features Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma and good old Scooby-Doo!  Expect zany new characters, awesome songs, and wacky hijinks!  Based on the animated series by the same name, the show is presented by Warner Bros. and Life Like Touring.

Buy Tickets Online to the Scooby Doo Show or call 1-855-872-SONY (7669) to order!

CONTEST! (~OVER~)

WINNER Nancy D.

WIN two (2) tickets to see Scooby Doo Live: Musical Mysteries!  I have a pair up for grabs to the  Saturday March 16th, 10:30am TORONTO show!  Ends Monday March 11th, so do check your spam folders to see if you've won!

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below, of who is your favourite Scooby-Doo character and why (Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma or Scooby-Doo).  Then fill out the entry form.  Good luck!


Jungle Book: The Movie on DVD & CONTEST! (CAN)

The Jungle Book: The Movie DVD from kaboom! Entertainment is coming to Wal-Mart stores on March 5th, 2013!  It is based on Rudyard Kipling's timeless classic of the same name.  The film is gorgeous in CGI-animation, with characters that your children will love to watch.  The DVD includes a special downloadable activity kit, and check out the limited edition collectable figures of Mowgli the boy, and Baloo the bear.  My kids had fun holding the little figurines during the film screening!

My children, aged 2- to 7-years old watched The Jungle Book: The Movie, and all enjoyed it without being restless.  My oldest child related to Mowgli the jungle boy who wanted to be wild and free, whereas my youngest child loved Baloo--and he would not let go of toy that came with the DVD.  I followed along too and was impressed with the CGI-animation, voice acting, and the portrayal of all characters.  I found Bengal Tiger Shere Khan to be menacing, without completely scaring the children.  I would definitely recommend this title if you would like a title that would be appropriate for family movie hour! 

Of interest, the television version of The Jungle Book launched on Disney XD and currently airs in Canada on TVO and Tele-Quebec.  Take a peek of what you can expect from the movie, below.

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNER: Melissa D

WIN The Jungle Book: The Movie on DVD!  Yes, it comes with the Mowgli and Baloo figures!  Open to Canada, runs until Friday March 22nd, 2013.

How To Enter?
Leave a COMMENT below stating what is your, or your child's favourite jungle animal.  Then, be sure to use the entry form below, so I can can contact you if you're the WINNER.  GOOD LUCK!



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