Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hasbro Angry Birds Star Wars Games & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Just in Time for May 4th, Star Wars Day, Comes Angry Birds Star Wars!
When Angry Birds first came out as an iPhone app, my 7-year old son (and husband) were completely obsessed by it.  Cheers of elation were heard in our household whenever a "pig" was defeated, and the game level subsequently completed.  When Angry Birds Star Wars came out as an app, my family was similarly enthused.  So, it is for them, all Angry Birds fans, Star Wars fans, and lovers of games that I announce Hasbro's exciting Angry Birds Star Wars games line!  Available now!  Great for Star Wars Day, May the 4th!
Hasbro's Angry Birds At-At Attack Battle Game!
In Hasbro's Angry Birds Star Wars At-At Attack Battle Game, the Angry Birds crew is in costume as miniature Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, R2D2, Han Solo, Rebel Trooper, Storm Troopers, and more! There are 12 figures in all (2 are exclusive to the At-At set).  Just like in the Angry Birds videogame, launch the "birds" to defeat the "pigs", and knock down the 21 blocks on the At-At (bad guy vehicle).  Each pack comes with a special code to unlock in-app content.  Game is for ages 5+, retails for $39.99.

Also available, Angry Birds Star Wars Millennium Falcon Bounce game, for 1-2 players.  Ages 8+, retails for $19.99.  Or check out Angry Birds Star Wars Foam Flyers, ages 5+, retails for $9.99.  All Hasbro Angry Birds Star Wars games are available in-store now.

May the "4th" be with you!

CONTEST! (~OVER~)

WINNER: Jennifer I.

WIN Hasbro's Angry Birds Star Wars At-At Attack Battle Game!  Sorry, this contest is only open to USA readers...my apologies in advance to Canada.  Ends Tues May 7th, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating if you like Star Wars, Angry Birds or both...and mention a favourite character if you have one.  Then, use the entry form below to enter.  GOOD LUCK!  

WIN Hasbro's Angry Birds Star Wars At-At Attack Battle Game! USA Only

Koala Kid on DVD Today!

Koala Kid on DVD Today!
As a parent, I appreciate a movie that tries to interfuse witty dialogue and humour, with the kid content in the film.  Truth be told, we parents watch a lot of kid's content, so a nod in our direction is always appreciated!  Koala Kid features the comedic all-star voice cast of Rob Schneider, Tim Currie, and Alan Cumming.

Koala Kid is set in the Australia outback where Johnny (Rob Schneider) is a rare white koala bear, who just wants to make friends and fit in with the other animals.  But when Johnny is mistakenly taken for a courageous defender of all  animals, the name "Koala Kid" sticks.  

Johnny takes an awesome adventure across the outback with  a lizard, Tasmanian devil, and a female koala who can wield a boomerang!  Is he over his head when he comes up against evil crocodile Bog (Alan Cumming), or will he prove himself a true hero after all?

Watch to find out!  Koala Kid is on dvd today - only at Wal-Mart stores!

Do you like Rob Schneider, Tim Currie or Alan Cumming?  Have you ever been to Australia before?

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Monster in Paris on DVD! Featuring the Voice of Sean Lennon!

A Monster In Paris: Now In Stores
Have you seen the CGI- and 3D-animated A Monster in Paris?  It came to dvd and bluray combo pack this April, and features the voice talent of Vanessa Paradis and Adam Goldberg.  It also features a big surprise: singer Sean Lennon (the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono) as the English singing voice of Francoeur.  

A Monster in Paris is a charming movie about a flea that is accidentally grown into larger-than-human size (the "monster").  But the movie isn't only about the monster, called Francoeur (Sean Lennon), it is also about the unrequited love of shy film projectionist Emile (Jay Harrington), and his love interest Maud (Madeline Zima).  There is also love in the Parisian air for Emile's friend Raoul (Adam Goldberg) and Lucille (Vanessa Paradis).  All this is set in 1910 Paris, during the flooding of the River Seine.

Lucille is looking for a new singer at her cabaret, (and without spoiling all the fun), the monster Francoeur has an enchanting voice and fits the bill.  Needless to say, lots of commotion ensues!  The music in A Monster in Paris is beautiful, haunting and nostalgic.  My family did enjoy listening to it very much.

As an adult, I did like A Monster in Paris, but unfortunately it did not hold my children's attention.  I think that although the movie's dialogue was fun and witty, it just was beyond the age of my kids.  Or perhaps there was too little action in some scenes to keep them engaged.  As a result, I would recommend this movie for kids aged 8-years and older.

Buy A Monster in Paris in stores everywhere!     

Have you ever seen A Monster in Paris?  Have you ever visited Paris, or would you like to go one day?

Hot Toy for Spring & Summer: Maxi Kickboard Scooter! (Review)

Hanging Out at the Skatepark With the Maxi Kickboard Scooter
Spring was long coming in Toronto and the GTA, but it was well worth the wait!  Friday night, right before the beautiful weather begun, Maxi Kickboard Scooter showed up on our front steps, thanks to our friends at Mastermind Toys!  It assembled quickly: just by snapping the t-bar into the skateboard frame, with no tools required.  We were ready to roll in under 5 seconds, no exaggeration!

The box of the scooter states it is intended for ages 5+, although the Mastermind Toys website gives a range of ages 6-10 years old.  It's for children weighing up to 118 lbs (50 kg), up to 5'4", and it weighs only 5.5 lbs.  The Maxi Kickboard is a 3-wheel scooter and retails for $154.95 from Mastermind.

As soon as we removed the scooter out of the box to assemble it, all 5 of my kids rushed up to it like a tidal wave.  There was a lot of excitement surrounding it, and the question was which child would go first?  We got all kids into safety helmets and headed outside. 
Look Who Claimed the Scooter!
I was very surprised when my 4-year old pushed his way through my 7- and 6-year old children to test the scooter.  Even at his age, he will gravitate toward a free ride in the stroller instead of walking.  However, green is his favourite colour and the scooter just spoke to him.  Imagine my surprise when he spent an entire hour on the scooter, not allowing the other kids to try it up until that point.


It is true that Mastermind recommends the scooter for an older child, but my 4-year old son was well-supervised and had no issues with falling off.  With one foot on the scooter and the other food kicking off on the ground, he was very stable and did not fall.  The design of the Maxi Kickboard Scooter definitely added to this stability, with 2 wheels at the front, as opposed to the single wheel scooter design that is often seen.  It has a spoon-brake on the rear wheel, but my kids just stepped down with one foot to stop.  The scooter was incredibly easy for my kids to use. 

The lean-to-steer mechanism was very simple too, and it was great for a younger child as the t-bar does not veer off into one direction or the other.  Take a look at this video, below, which shows the scooter in motion!
video
Demonstrating the Maxi Kickboard Scooter (Video)

I was very impressed with the Maxi Kickboard Scooter which offered a lot of fun for the kids, and kept them engaged and active.  I was especially impressed how well it did over a variety of surfaces, including concrete, gravel, and wood bridges.  It also performed well uphills and downhills.  I was thinking that the scooter would not perform well on such surfaces, but I was wrong.    
The Maxi Kickboard Scooter Performed Well on This Gravel Pathway
The Maxi Kickboard Scooter is a high-performance, Swiss-designed toy.  It is smooth-gliding, easy-to-manoeuvre, and lots of fun to ride.  Made from reinforced fibreglass, the scooter is both durable and lightweight.  After having tested the toy with my kids ages 4-7-years old, I have to say that it is fun for all these age groups.  
My Son Has Claimed the Maxi Kickboard Scooter! (Video)

I would absolutely recommend the Maxi Kickboard Scooter if you are looking for a fun and exciting toy that will engage your child and keep him or her active this spring and summer.  I was very impressed with this toy, and found it much easier for my kids to use than 2-wheel scooters.  Without my coaxing, this toy got my sedentary 4-year old active and enthusiastic about outdoor play!

Visit the Mastermind Toys Website
Like Mastermind Toys on Facebook
Follow Mastermind Toys on Twitter

What is your child's favourite outdoor activity?  How do you get your family active in the spring and summer months?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Sleep Over Camp Memories & Muskoka Woods Summer Camp!

I'll always remember my year at sleep away camp, almost 30 years later.  I was 12-years old, and all of my friends were going away to sleepover camp for the summer.  My parents asked me if I would like to go too.  I had never been away from home, but I decided that it would be a fun opportunity to hang out with my girlfriends all summer long!

The camp was a 3 hour drive to Northern Ontario, tucked away in the wilderness.  Once I arrived, I realized there would be more freedom than I had ever known.  I got assigned to a cabin with my friends, other 12-year old girls and 2 camp counselors.  We each chose either a top or bottom bunk.  Too bad: I wasn't quick enough and got a bottom bunk.  

At once, the more camp-savvy girls started planning on how we would "sneak out" of our cabin at night (which never happened, as the counselors "busted" us).  At 12-years old, we thought we were clever, but we were nothing compared to the seasoned counselors!

Our cabin in the woods was so freezing, that I slept with my winter jacket over my face!  Our very first morning at the camp we woke up after a fitful sleep, only to find a big surprise courtesy of our prankster counselors: all the girls had had their faces painted like clowns while they slept!  Even the girls on the top bunks!  And we had been totally oblivious to it!  This one memory encapsulates my time at sleepover camp: lots of fun and big surprises!

There was so much to look forward to at camp, like nature walks through the woods, swimming, sailing, canoing, arts and crafts, cook outs, camp songs and archery.  I'll never forget the spooky tale a counselor told us around the camp fire about "Anson Minor", a ghost tale of a man with a wooden leg, which dragged along the ground and made an eery scraping sound as he looked for unwitting victims!  Of course, there is always the "When the Log Rolls Over, We'll All Be Dead" story, which still makes me smile to this day.  (Don't know it, look it up!)   

How great it was when one week, the entire camp was divided into teams, and we battled to find out who was the "best".  I still recall that I was on team "Armageddon", and our team had to wear yellow tank tops to show our unity.  Our team song was sung to the tune of "California Girls", and it was taunting the other teams that they could never compare to team Armageddon.  Fun, happy times.  Lots of laughter, teamwork, and friendships forged.   

I also remember that at sleepover camp, it was my first time ever falling in love...with peanut butter!  They had the easy to spread Skippy kind, and it became my new favourite food.  And could I ever forget "Tuck"?  It was the camp store that would open once daily, and allow each camper to select their own treat like a pop, bag of chips, or chocolate bar!  I saved up one week of my snacks, only to find that another hungry camper cleaned me out in minutes.  Camp!

Camp was a great time to make new friends, solidify old friendships, get to fraternize (within reason!) with campers of the opposite gender, learn new skills...and to appreciate your family better.  When I returned home from my time away at camp, I was so delighted to see my mom, dad and brother.  I was also so exhausted that I slept for a full 24 hours...sitting up in a chair!  My mom had to put me into a reclining position!  I woke up at the very same time the next day, ate my dinner, and then went back to bed!  That was the only time in my life that I slept a full 24 hours!    

My kids have been going to summer camp for the past 2 years now, and it has been nothing but a positive experience!  They will be attending again this year.  At camp they have enjoyed fun, sun, gone swimming, made new friends, learned new skills, stayed active, laughed at silly camp songs, brought home camp crafts, participated in special theme days and field trips, made baked good...and always asked to go back next year.  Even though price is always a consideration, we send them anyway, as we believe that summer camp is a great way to keep our kids healthy, happy and active.  

MUSKOKA WOODS SUMMER CAMP


ABOUT: Have you heard of Muskoka Woods summer camp?  It's a Christian Youth Resort located on Lake Rosseau, Ontario, that welcomes young people of all walks of life, and offers life-changing experiences.  Their vision is "to inspire youth to shape their world".  Campers choose from athletics and water sports, arts and media, team building and leadership programmes.

Muskoka Woods operates all year round as a non-profit youth organization.  Staff selection is based on trustworthy character, aptitude with children, and love for their Creator.  The camp is a safe place where kids grow spiritually, socially, physically and mentally.  It is a place where creativity flourishes, friendships reigns, and confidence grows.  And all this in a FUN atmosphere!  

AMENITIES: The resort It is located on 1,100 wooded acres with 2,800 feet of breathtaking footage on beautiful Lake Rosseau.  It's a perfect blend of unspoiled nature, modern buildings, and cutting-edge athletic amenities.  Their assets include cabins, dining halls, meeting rooms, a new purpose-built Leadership Studio, concert hall, guest lounge and boathouse.

Muskoka Woods boasts the largest and highest ropes course in Canada, an 80,000-square foot indoor action sports park, 15,000-square-foot gym, 50-foot climbing wall, 12 tennis coasts, two beach volleyball courts, dedicated gymnasium facility, three playing fields and a golf training centre with driving range, putting green, and chipping green.  And Lake Rosseau offers calm waters and sandy beaches.  It's a secluded summer camp set up like an all-inclusive resort!

Campers at Muskoka Woods enjoy clean, fully-enclosed cabins with bunkbeds.  Guests keep their own cabin tidy during the week, and the washrooms are cleaned by camp staff.

ACCOMMODATION:


7-9 years old (WILD campers): stay in cabins with 2 counselors and up to 10 other campers.

10-11 years old (J1 campers): stay in cabins with 2 counselors and up to 10 other campers. Their cabins are close to washroom facilities with showers and hot water.

12-17 years old (J2 and Senior High campers): stay in cabins with 1 counselor and up to 11 guests. Their cabins usually include amenities with showers and hot water.

MEALS:
Their food is akin to a cruise ship!  Meals are served three times per day, buffet-style, with additional snack times.  The buffet boasts lots of tasty choices to suit picky eaters, including a daily vegetarian option and a fully loaded salad bar.  If your child has special dietary needs, Muskoka Woods will be glad to cater to them.  At most meals, campers dine with their cabin group and a counselor or an athletic staff member.  ALERT: Please do not send snacks containing nuts of any kind, due to campers and staff with nut allergies.  Check out a sample menu here!

Intrigued?  Call 1-705-732-4373 to book a tour!
Or get started and Register for the Muskoka Woods 2013 summer season here!

Have you ever been to sleep away or day camp?  What was your favourite part of it?  Will you be sending your kids to camp this year?

Disclosure – I am participating in the Muskoka Woods Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our Visit to Shoppers Drug Mart!

It All Started With an Empty Milk Jug
I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® . #cbias #SocialFabric

If you've followed my blog, you'll know that I'm the mom to 5 young children aged 2- to 7-years old!  That means shopping: lots and lots of weekly shopping, and errands to fill in the gaps between shoppings.  Gaps for us mean we've run out of milk, bread, peanut butter, mustard and/or night time diapers.  My kids can drink more milk than a baby cow!

As usual I ran out of milk today, and decided to run to Shopper's Drug Mart for some more.  Luckily I checked for bread before going, as I was also completely out of bread.  I also checked the freezer, and there were only bread ends left.  Not enough bread to make 5 sandwiches for 5 hungry kids.
Plenty of Ice Cream, But Bread is Low!
So I decided to run to my local Shoppers Drug Mart.  I'm not joking when I say that I have 6 locations within a 5-minute driving distance of me.  All locations have a grocery section, so I often go there to do a little grocery shopping, which is very convenient.  I regularly shop there for grocery essentials, snacks, pharmacy items, baby stuff, bath and body products, toys, magazines and books.  They do carry a lot of merchandise that we require in order to run our busy household, and I love their extended hours.

I got the boys into the car and they made this little video of their pre-trip.
video
The Boys Excited for a Car Ride & a Trip to Shoppers!

It was a quiet day for me with only two kids, instead of the usual five!  The drive over to Shoppers Drug Mart took us only minutes, so it was a fairly uneventful drive.  Our Shoppers is in a plaza with a Sobeys supermarket, Pizza Pizza, Subway and Roger's store.
Our Shoppers Drug Mart Plaza
I love that our Shoppers Drug Mart is open late, as I can't tell you how many times we've come after hours to buy urgent medicine for the kids.  It has been a big relief to us, and it's very convenient when all other stores are closed.
Our Shoppers Drug Mart is Open Until 10pm
We found lots of parking right away, which was great!  With my two sons in tow, I like when the parking lot is manageable.  The parking lot was not too busy, so we parked and walked over to the store.  My older son started asking about the candy inside the store.
Need Milk?  Yes, We Do!
As we walked up to the store, there was a sign advertising the milk that I needed to purchase.  It was a great reminder for me, as I have often left the store without buying what I had originally intended to.  What an added bonus that the milk was on sale!
Get a $10 Gift Card When You Spend $50 At Shoppers!
Once inside the Shoppers Drug Mart, I saw this sign for a $10 gift card when $50 is spent in-store.  I didn't think that my purchases would total $50, but I filed this information away for later.   
Mommy's Little Helper
My son reached for a shopping basket, but I reached for the Shoppers Drug Mart weekly flyer, and decided on a shopping cart instead.  Maybe I would be purchasing more than $50 in products after all!
My Shopping Cart & Flyer
I put the flyer in my shopping cart and started to look through the advertised specials.  With my boys ready to tear through the store, I only had a few moments to glance through.  
Bingo!  Guess What Was On Sale?
In the flyer I spied the bread and milk that I was looking to purchase.  Bingo!  Both were on sale, so I decided to stock up a bit more.  I was originally going to buy one loaf of bread, but decided on 2 loaves that were priced 2 for $5.
Look What The Boys Found!
As usual at Shoppers Drug Mart, the boys found toys that they begged me to purchase.  I had to sadly decline, as they already made me purchase the very same on a previous trip!
Grocery Section
We made our way to the grocery aisle, as the boys touched toys and candies along the way.
We Got the Milk!
In the refrigerated section of Shoppers, the milk was clearly marked with the sale price.  My sons helped me get the milk into my shopping cart.  My littlest guy begged for me to buy orange juice, which he tried to put into the cart without my permission.  Sneaky for a 2-year old!
Sandwiches, Here We Come!
We found the Dempster's bread that was on sale 2 loaves for $5.00, which was conveniently located on an end cap.  They had to display it with peanut butter and snack bars, which caused more begging from the boys.

Toys, Toys, Toys!
The boys found more toys, and made a beeline for the section.  Needless to say, there was more begging and each boy carried around a big, squishy porcupine toy ball throughout the store!
The Baby Aisle
Thank goodness I remembered that we were almost out of night time diapers, so I retraced my path to the baby aisle.  I'm always filled with remorse when I leave a store, and then remember there was something else that I had to buy.
Check The Sale on Pull-Ups!
I had not browsed the Shoppers Drug Mart flyer for Pull-Ups, but check at my score!  A package of 44 pull-ups for only $14.99, usually priced at $27.99.  They were blowing them out.  I bought 3 packs, score!
My Shopping Cart At Check Out
The boys were getting a little bit restless, so I decided to end our trip.  Luckily no one was sick, so we did not visit the pharmacy this time.
Look What I Got From Shoppers Drug Mart: a $10 Gift Card!
No one was in front of me when I went to check out of the store.  Thank goodness, as the boys were grabbing at the candies by the register.  The cashier rang through my purchase, I paid, then she handed me a $10 Shoppers Drug Mart gift card!  I was really surprised about it, although I had noticed the signage in-store advertising the promotion with a $50 purchase.  After stocking up on Pull-Ups, I was now at $56.00, and eligible for the promotion.  The gift card entitles me to $10 off a purchase of $10 or more, sweet!
Home Free!
I left with my purchases just in time, as the boys were getting loopy.  I loaded up the car and went to pick up my other kids from school.  As I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized I should have purchased a second bag of milk.  And I was right: the kids drank most of the milk already!  See you again tomorrow, Shoppers!

Do you like to shop at Shoppers Drug Mart?  What do you usually buy at your location?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Measuring Your Child's "Firsts" and Milestones! And FREE Natrel Baboo

First Bath - Newborn
With 5 kids, 7 years and under, I've had lots of babies in my household at the same time.  When my youngest was born, I had kids aged: 0, 1, 2, 3 and 5 (my 5-year old had just had a birthday)!  At one stage I had 5 kids in night time diapers at the same time!

Regardless of sleepless nights, being run-off-my-feet busy, and a whirlwind of activities, I managed to enjoy each of my kids' "firsts" or milestones with pride and enthusiasm.  The photo above shows my middle son's very first bath at the hospital.  Just look at his red skin and you'll know that his anger was mounting, from being unwrapped from his blanket and stripped down to his birthday suit! 

Recording your child's firsts are so important, because as time passes they become harder and harder to remember.  Also, if you lose the opportunity to document your child's milestone with a photo or video, then the moment becomes lost forever.  Especially in the early years, your child changes so much--and by capturing the moment, you're also capturing their age, size and personality.  (Okay, don't forget about immortalizing all the cute outfits!) 
First Bottle Feeding - Newborn
The photo above shows my same son having one of his first bottle feedings ever.  You can see how he is hungry and red in the face with anger--and then calm and pacified once he is fed.  He is just a newborn a few days old in the photo.  I was thankful that bottle feeding is offered as a choice for parents who cannot nurse a child, or seek an alternative method.  The end result is the same: a happily fed, thriving infant.
First Smile - 1-Month Old
Here is a photo of my son's first smile at age one-month old.  It is a special picture to me, because even to this day my son is a little bit on the serious side.  He had just enjoyed a feeding in the rocking chair when he turned to me and gave me his first big smile ever.  It made me so happy inside!  Mealtime still makes my little guy happy.
First Time Raised Up on His Arms - 3-Months Old
Look at my cute and chubby little guy, when he was 3-months old!  He was such a strong little guy, and I remember being so proud when he was able to raise himself up on his arms from tummy position.  He was a backsleeping baby, as recommended by paediatricians, and yet he was strong enough to raise himself up.
First Solids - 6-Months Old
This is a happy photo for me, my son's very first solids at 6-months old.  At this age, he could anticipate that something special was about to be put into his mouth.  And he was right!  He did very well with his very first feeding of rice cereal.  However, he ended up being  stubborn with feedings, and waited until he could feed himself before embarking on additional solids.
Sitting Up - 6-Months Old
6-months old was also the age that my son learned how to sit up.  When you see the look on his face in this photo, you will know how delighted he was to be able to do it himself.  It also became an easier time for my husband and I, whereby we could place him on the floor with a toy or book as we took care of cooking, clean or caring for the other children.
9-Months Old - Never Cruising But Walking!
When my son turned 9-months old, I wondered when he would start to cruise?  He could pull himself up into a standing position using the couch, but never pulled himself along.  I thought that if he had never cruised, then his walking might be delayed.  I admit I was a little bit anxious on this point.  

So, imagine my surprise when my son began walking at 9-months old--without ever having cruised!  In the photos above you see him standing (left) and walking (middle), when he was 9-months old.  When he turned 10-months old (right), you can see how confident he is walking already.  The picture shows him sweeping the floor with a toy broom!
1st Birthday Party - 12-Months Old!
I just love this photo at my son's first birthday party!  He had such a busy time at his party, that he fell asleep during the singing of the happy birthday song!  You can see my late father-in-law holding my fast asleep son at the cutting of the cake!  

NATREL BABOO
I like that there is a plenitude of choices when it comes to raising my child.  From how to feed my son, to how to put him to bed, to how to dress him, and how to raise him.  With my second child, my only daughter, I got into a conundrum when it came from transitioning her from nursing to whole milk.  She just would not drink it, and she was already weaned.  She would not drink anything.  After days of stubbornness, she would only take grape juice in a sippy cup.  A 12-month old drinking grape juice!  

I wish there had been a product like Natrel Baboo that I could have tried out with her.  It is a transitioning drink product for toddlers aged 12-24 months that contains a percentage of fresh milk.  It also contains vitamins A, C, B6, calcium, thiamin, riboflavine, phosphorus and magnesium.  If you are curious about the drink, here is nutritional informational about Natrel Baboo.
Natrel Baboo Drinking Boxes for Ages 12-24 Months
Would you like to try Natrel Baboo drink transitional beverage for free?  If so, click on the banner below to receive a coupon for a free 1 L sample.  

Do you remember some of your child's first milestones?  Did you capture the milestones with photos or videos?  How did you celebrate?
  
Disclosure: I am part of the Natrel Baboo Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Is Netflix Right for Your Family? And CONTEST! (~OVER~)

WIN a Roku 2 & 6 Months of Free Netflix!
I had heard about Netflix for years before I took the plunge and set it up for my family.  The truth was I was not sure how it worked, and the idea of watching television and shows exclusively on my computer or phone did not appeal to me.  There's a kind of magic about watching a great movie in the comfort of my own home, on a nice flat screen tv! 

One evening while I was going through our extensive dvd library, I got a brainwave that it would be nice to have digital copies that did not take up storage space in my home.  I went to the Netflix website, but  I could not find the detailed information that I sought.  It was clear that you could watch Netflix on the tv via XBox 360, PS3 or Wii, but I did not own any of these devices.  You can also watch on some HDTVs, but I was betting there was some catch, and it would not work on my tv.
Some of April's Movies on Netflix
As I thought back on my favourite tv shows, I reflected how many were either retired or outright cancelled: Desperate Housewives, LOST, The 4400, Flash Forward  and others.  My family pays over $85 for our television subscription, but we watch at most 1 hour of television per week.  That's a lot of money for something we don't regularly use.  I took a leap of faith and thought I would try the Netflix service, feeling there was nothing to lose.  They offer a free trial of the first month, and it says you can cancel online at anytime if you don't like it.  And I did like that the cost of this service was $7.99 per month.

I decided to get a Roku 2 to make the tv viewing experience as similar to cable, with which I was already accustomed.  When I say that it took me minutes to set up Netflix, I'm not kidding.  First, I created a Netflix account on my computer.  Even if you sign up with a free trial offer, you do need to provide PayPal or credit card information in case you decide to keep the service.  Then I set up a Roku account on my computer, which was also simple.  You choose the options that will appear on your television, if viewing that way.  Then I connected my Roku internet streaming box via HDMI to my HDTV, and it worked instantly.  I was stunned, as I had anticipated problems and delays.
Making a Selection on Netflix
I selected a movie to watch and in about 2 seconds it was playing, no exaggeration.  There was no long delays waiting for the film to load, like the internet.  I also found the quality of the picture to be very similar to watching regular tv, although there was very occasional pixelling or blurring.  The sound was excellent.  I flipped through the Netflix Canada menu and saw that there were many recent and classic movies and shows to watch.  My husband was thrilled, and we started watching Netflix almost nightly! 

Some of the movies I've watched on Netflix so far have included The Hunger Games, X-Men: First Class, In Time and The Road.  My husband has watched wrestling and some documentaries so far.  My family has been very pleased with the service, and I would say my husband is doubly so.  Netflix Canada has a good-sized movie and show library, which I hope they continue building with more new releases and popular titles. 
Some Great Kid's Shows on Netflix
The kid's shows on Netflix are great!  My children watch about 1 hour of movies every night or so, and Netflix has a great selection.  They watched The Spy Next Door with Jackie Chan, Chipwrecked, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, a Thomas the Train movie, and also started watching the 4th season of Sponge Bob Square Pants.  Instead of asking if they can watch a movie that night, they now ask if they can watch Netflix.

My family has really been enjoying Netflix so far, and we plan to continue on with the service!  

CONTEST (~OVER~)!   

WINNER: Dawn R.

WIN a Roku 2 streaming box, Roku remote control AND and 6-months of FREE Netflix!  Contest open to Canada & USA.  Ends Monday May 20th, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating what movies or shows you'd love to watch on Netflix (whether it's on Netflix or not), and then use the entry form below to enter.  ♧ GOOD LUCK! 
WIN Netflix 6-Month Membership & Roku Player! CAN/USA

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oblivion Movie With Tom Cruise in Theatres April 19th!

Oblivion From Universal Pictures Opens April 19, 2013! 
When I heard that Oblivion from Universal Pictures was coming to theatres April 19th, I knew that I wanted to attend the advance screening!  I've been a fan of Tom Cruise since the Risky Business and Top Guns days--and I'm also an avid fan of science fiction movies and literature.  As I had really enjoyed Tom Cruise in Minority Report, based on the Philip K. Dick novel, I thought that Oblivion definitely held promise.  It is directed, produced and co-written by Joseph Kosinski of Tron: Legacy.

Oblivion is set in the year 2077 on a war-devastated Earth.  60 years earlier alien scavengers (Scavs) destroyed the moon, and Earth defended itself from the Scavs using atomic bombs.  Earth won the war, but at the expense of losing the planet due to nuclear destruction.  The only two people left on Earth are drone repairman Jack Harper (Cruise) and communications officer and bedmate Victoria (Andrea Riseborough).

The human race has supposedly fled to Titan, where Harper and Victoria will soon rejoin them once their 5-year tour of duty is complete.  As a security precaution, Jack and Victoria have had their memories wiped clean--although Jack regularly sees glimpses into what cannot be his past.  These glimpses both haunt and intrigue Jack.  As massive collection units drain the Earth's oceans, Harper must ensure that the armed drones are in combat-ready condition against the Scavs.

Not wishing to spoil the plot, I'd like to say that Oblivion features breath-taking scenery, amazing special effects and really neat futuristic gadgets.  It also showed hope for the future, and the message that Earth and humanity will endure.  Some of my favourite technology in the movie includes a clear glass airplane, which is a combination of a WW2 gunner plane and egg beater.  I also loved the low tech-futuristic look of Harper's motorcycle, and his streamlined living habitat.  And I did like the tone of the film, which projected hope for the future, instead of the apocalyptic vision I've seen in sci fi films of recent years.

I did find Oblivion somewhat predictable, with nods to movies like The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey,  Star Wars: The Clone Wars and others.  I also found that the film lacked emotion in key scenes where I was expecting it the most.  The movie did offer somewhat of a surprise when the Scavs brought a capsule down from space of the Odyssey space ship, but motive was lacking as to why the drones sought to attack the capsule.  There were many unanswered questions.  I was also disappointed that Morgan Freeman appeared very briefly in the movie as Malcolm Beech, although he acted his role well, as usual.

If you love science fiction movies, Tom Cruise, or high tech gadgets, then you will enjoy watching Oblivion.  It comes to theatres from Universal Pictures on April 19th, 2013.  See it in IMAX if you can and you won't regret it.  Click here for the movie trailer of Oblivion.

Are you a fan of science fiction films or of Tom Cruise?  What is your favourite science fiction film (ie: Star Wars, The Matrix, etc)?  Are you planning on seeing Oblivion?    

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony Returns to Toronto & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony Comes to Sony Centre on May 18, 2013!
Bugs Bunny at the Symphony returns to Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, on Saturday May 18th, 2013 (2:00 pm and 7:00 pm shows)!  The show is a composite of classic Looney Tunes projected on a big screen, with the charismatic original Carl Stalling scores performed by George Daugherty and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony! 

The show contains some animated favourites like The Rabbit of Seville (my personal favourite),What's Opera, Doc?,  Baton Bunny, Long-Haired Hare and Rhapsody Rabbit.  Also enjoy The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl!

Feel the power of the music and get drawn into the fun of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony in the musical clip, below!  Click to buy tickets to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony!

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNER: Nicole C.

PRIZE HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO 4 FAMILY TICKETS!  SHOW TIME IS NOW 7:OOPM!  WIN four (4) tickets to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony in Toronto at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts!  Performance is the Saturday May 18th, 2013 evening show (7:00 pm).  Contest closes Monday May 6th.


HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating your favourite cartoon or symphony.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!  CLICK "READ MORE" for entry form!

WIN 4 FAMILY Tickets to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony!

Monday, April 15, 2013

My 100-Day Fitness Update & Zaggora Review!

My 100th Day of Fitness
 Trying Out My Zaggora Pants
I can't believe that it's been 100 days since I started my family on a healthy eating and daily exercise routine! How time flies!  In past blog posts I wrote about how I turned around my family's health and nutrition in 2 months, 10 simple strategies to get your own family health and active, and how I lost 15 lbs by tobogganing! But today, I want to write a little update on what has changed in the 100 days since my family has started getting healthy.

Three-and-a-half months ago I had pains in my knees due to excessive body weight as I climbed the stairs in my house.  My body was in its worst shape of its life, including a new double chin, a big stomach, and a plump back.  After 5 pregnancies in 5 years, I had let my health and fitness slide--and I had no one to blame but myself.  I knew that if I didn't do something quickly, that my health would decline for the worst--and I'd not be much of a mother to my kids, or a wife to my husband.  And importantly, I wouldn't be the woman that I want to be for myself.

Now 100 days into a fitter and healthier me, I have lost 2 pant sizes.  I no longer wear the biggest size available in the store, and no longer wonder where I'd shop next if my size were to continue to increase.  Over the summer, I'm expecting to drop one more pant size and I believe that's where I'll stay.  My mealtime routine includes eating healthful foods and showing portion control--and no junk food.  I eat when  I'm hungry, and no longer eat for recreation.  My kids are fed similarly, with junk food only at special occasions like birthday parties.    

I work out in a gym environment about 3-4 times per week, with 30 minutes of the elliptical trainer, 30 minutes on the treadmill, 20 weight-assisted chin ups, and 20 knee-to-chin lifts from a standing position (using handbars).  On the days that I'm not at the gym, I take a daily walk for 1 hour with the kids.  My kids, who weren't heavy to begin with, have enjoyed physical activity at the YMCA about 3-4 times per week.  I have noticed that the kids have toned up quite a bit, and even notice that their clothing has been fitting them better.  

It's worth mentioning that good nutrition and fitness has been a real family affair, and my husband has come along this journey in full force!  Although he's never been a heavy person, he has been eating better and exercising more regularly over the past 100 days.  He's looking quite trim with nicely defined muscles.  Nice job!

It has been a very rewarding 100 days, and I'm looking forward to reporting the next 100!  Stay tuned!

ZAGGORA FLARES 2.0 Exercise Pants Review
Zaggora Flares 2.0 Exercise Pants 
PRODUCT - In a quest to try new exercise gear, I ordered these Zaggora Flares 2.0 Exercise Pants.  Zaggora claims that these pants increase metabolic rate up to 18% during exercise, when worn for at least 30 minutes.  They also claim that they're safe to wear during intense aerobic exercise, as the pants aren't supposed to cause an increase beyond acceptable exercise temperature levels.  The inside of the Zaggora pants read "Cellulite Technology", so this product does make a claim that it combats cellulite on some level.  You can see me wearing the Zaggora Flares in the top photo in this post.  I ordered the full length pants pair.

Rear View of the Zaggora Flares 2.0 Exercise Pants
FEEL - When the Zaggora Flares arrived, I tried them on and found them true to size.  I had measured myself and compared my measurements to the sizes on the Zaggora website before ordering.  The legs and thighs fit me well, but the tummy was a little bit roomy--which I didn't think was a bad thing.  The Zaggora Flares are made from a neoprene blend, like a wet suit (minus the rubber layer), so they are more rigid than cotton exercise pants.  They do also have the scent of a wet suit, and must be hand-washed in cold water.  When you walk in them, they make a chuffing sound, like a cyborg with hydraulic pants, but it wasn't a loud sound.  They have a very high-tech feel to them. 
Zaggora on Social Media
FIT - You do have to pull them up the Zaggora Flares like tights to fit yourself into them, but the ankles are zippered for easier access.  You match your knees up with the knee joints of the pants, for a correct fit.  I measure 5'8", and still found that the pants had extra length to them, so if you are shorter than my height, you may find these pants a bit long for you.  The pants definitely offered some stretch, which was a good feature of these pants (they have lycra in the blend).  You can expect the pants to reach just below your belly button, although I did pull up mine a bit higher.  
Front View of Zaggora Flares 2.0 Exercise Pants
MY WORKOUT - During my first workout with the Zaggora Flares, I was concerned that the pants would make me too hot.  To tell the truth, my least favourite part of exercise is getting hot!  So, I brought an extra bottle of water during my workout.  The fact is I didn't drink more using the Zaggora pants.  I did find there was a learning curve wearing the pants, and they made my workout a bit more challenging, due to the rigidity of the fabric.  (Using the pants did become easier, after my second workout on a different day.)  I did love that the knee joints were made of more breathable fabric and allowed some ventilation and flexibility.

When I removed the Zaggora Flares 2.0 pants, I found that my legs were moist wherever the pants had touched, which is usually not the case with my cotton workout pants.  As a result, it was my impression that the pants made me sweat more during the workout, which can be considered a plus for someone actively trying to lose weight and burn more calories.  I did also find that my body smelled like neoprene after I removed the pants, as you would expect after removing a wetsuit.

FINAL THOUGHTS - I did like the Zaggora Flares 2.0 exercise pants very much and have worn them for 2 workouts so far.  Although I haven't used them enough to speak to their cellulite technology claims, I did enjoy them immensely as high-performance exercise gear.  If you are considering trying a pair, I would absolutely recommend this Zaggora product.

Check out Zaggora on Social Media:


What do you do to stay active (ie: a walk, a swim, a workout, etc)?  What are your health and fitness goals for this year?
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