Friday, May 31, 2013

Kraft Celebration Tour & CONTEST! Community Is Important!

Happy Times at the Playground!
Growing up as a child in the 1970s, the summers were wide open for fun, activities and outdoor adventures!  As a 6-year old I could play outside all day long with my friends, as long as I told my mother where I was going to be--and came home for lunch and dinner.  Oh, there was one other little rule: come back home before dark!  I would come calling at my little friends' homes and ask their mothers: "Can so-and-so come out and play?  We'll just be staying in the neighbourhood."  

And so our little group would grow and become more merry!  We all had bicycles, so we would go on a "park hop" to the 5 or 6 playgrounds in our neighbourhood.  It was good, clean fun getting exercise and sunshine as we rode around on our bikes.  At the playground we would play in the sand and pretend to "dig to China", or swing on swing sets and pretend we were flying, or climb the jungle gym and zip down the slide, landing (on purpose) in a puddle.  The puddles were also great for some quality mud pies, which we could "sell" to one another, or pretend to eat.  We always knew to stay in our own neighbourhood.
Hanging Out at Our Skateboard Park
Although the times have changed greatly in 35 years, I do enjoy taking my 5 young kids to the playground, the park and green space, to nature trails, and to walk around our local pond.  In fact, when my husband and I bought our current home 15 years ago, we sought to be close to parks, playgrounds and green space.  We did hit the jackpot with our current location, and since that time they have even added a skateboard park nearby and some splash pads (in neighbouring communities).    

     
CONTEST
Have you heard of the Kraft Celebration Tour?  You can nominate your very own community to WIN $25,000 to improve an existing neighbourhood area (like a park, playground, skateboard park, swimming pool, splash pad, skating rink, etc), or to build a brand new one!  As part of the prize, you would also WIN a broadcast about the project on TSN!  Your imagination's the limit when choosing a project, but it should contribute to your community's passion for sports, a healthy and active lifestyle, and to building community spirit!  Enter the Kraft Celebration Tour contest here!  

Contest is open to ALL Canadian communities, and closes June 7th, 2013.  Check out the Kraft Celebration Tour Facebook page here!  For full contest rules and regulations, click here!

If YOU were to WIN $25,000 to give back to your community from the Kraft Celebration Tour, what would you use it for? What is your favourite community area where you live?

Disclosure – I am participating in the Kraft Celebration Tour Blogger Campaign. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Disney DVD: Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz Comes to DVD on June 11, 2013!
If you have young kids like me, you've undoubtedly tuned into Disney Junior Canada to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and other great kid's shows!  I remember the very first time when my husband and I watched the show with our toddler son and all called "Oh Toodles!" together.  It's an amazing rush that only parents can appreciate.

Did you know that Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz is coming to Disney DVD on June 11th, 2013?  It's an adorable remake of The Wizard of Oz movie, coming at you with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse style.  It's a full-length musical adventure that's bright, colourful, and gentle for young viewers.  The DVD includes two other Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes, including The Golden Boo-Boo and Goofy's Gone.  Total run time is 101 minutes.

DVD bonus features include a FREE download of the Minnie Mouse Bow Maker digital book app ($3.99 value), and 10 Minnie's Bow Toons! 

CONTEST (~OVER~):  

WINNER: Amy L.

WIN a copy of Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz DVD for your little one!  Contest is open to both Canada & the USA.  Ends Thursday June 20th, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER?
Leave a COMMENT below stating where you'd LOVE to travel if you had a magic pair of slippers (it can be a real place or fantastical)!  Then use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!      
WIN Disney DVD Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz! (CAN/USA)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fisher-Price NEW Laugh & Learn Website + Best Little Laugh CONTEST!

My Happy Little Guy!
When I think of what has made my kids laugh when they were babies, it was always the simple things: bathtime in the tub, playtime with their toys, or funtime with their siblings, mom and dad.  Hearing those laughs always filled me with joy and made me feel privileged to have shared in such a golden moment.  It is in this spirit that Fisher-Price has launched their new Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn website!
It's the Two Amigos!
The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn website is an exciting place filled with fun games, activities, music and learning apps, webisodes, great Laugh & Learn characters, and the latest Laugh & Learn news!  It's a happy and lively place to explore with your little one!

My formula to induce unroarious laughter with my kids is to play hide and go seek with them, "pretend" to tickle them, or to play tag with them.  In a game of chase, if I pretend the "tickle monster" is after them, the kids are in hysterics and sometimes drop to the ground because they're laughing so hard!  As the weather becomes warmer, the kids love putting on their swimsuits in the backyard and beg me to squirt them with the garden hose or sprinkler!  I have to tell them to keep the noise down because of the neighbours!
     
CONTEST:
Would you like to WIN 1 of 8 weekly Laugh & Learn toy prize packs, including a $100 gas card?  Submit your little one's "Best Little Laugh" in the Fisher-Price Best Little Laugh contest to enter!  Contest open to Canada, excluding Quebec, and runs until July 15, 2013!  See contest rules and regulations.  

What makes your child or grandchild laugh the hardest?  At what age did he or she first smile? 

Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price 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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Smucker's Bookworm Brunch with Ted Staunton & CONTESTS! (~OVER~)

It is with great excitement that I announce the Smucker's Bookworm Brunch event, with celebrated Canadian children's author Ted Staunton this June!  Ted wrote the classic Puddleman and Morgan series of books.  

I will be giving away Family admission AND an awesome lootbag to TWO TORONTO and TWO CALGARY SnyMed blog readers--and their entire families (2 adults and all their children)!  2 FAMILIES FROM EACH CITY WILL BE SELECTED TO ATTEND!  


Ted Staunton will be on hand at the Smucker's Bookworm Brunch event, to do an interactive reading with the children in the audience (June 8th, Toronto) and (June 15th, Calgary)!  This is a private event, by invite only.

The Smucker's Bookworm Brunch event will include storytelling, singing, tips on how to encourage reading, and interactive recipes that will thrill your children's tummies and their imaginations.  Guests will get a goodie bag that will keep the kids reading--and enjoying Smucker's products--all summer long!

Ted Staunton has partnered with Smucker's on this campaign to help get Canadians excited about reading and storytelling.  Families can have fun and learn together, by reading with their children beyond the bedtime story (ie: by introducing Breakfast Story Time, or Story Time at the Park, etc).  Ted is passionate about inspiring a love of reading with Canadian children and enjoys touring the country with speaking engagements at schools, libraries and festivals.
TORONTO event - June 8, 2013, 10:00am - 12:00pm, Toronto location.  By invitation only, use TORONTO entry form below for a chance to WIN family admission and a lootbag!  

CALGARY event - June 15, 2013, 10am - 12:00pm, Calgary location.  By invitation onlyuse CALGARY entry form below for a chance to WIN family admission and a lootbag!
      
In conjunction with this event, families can WIN a personalized story by Ted Staunton about a special moment in their lives! The book will include hand-drawn pictures from a notable Canadian children's illustrator and will become a treasured family keepsake for generations to come! CONTEST goes live June 5th, 2013.

TORONTO CONTEST (2 FAMILIES WILL WIN!) (Smucker's Bookworm Brunch AND Lootbag)!  

TORONTO WINNERS: Sabrina P. & Jennifer V.

WIN Family admission to the Smucker's Bookworm Brunch in TORONTO on Saturday June 8th, 2013 from 10:00am - 12:00pm.  ("Family" would mean all your children and 2 adults.)   2 FAMILIES WILL BE SELECTED!  WINNING families will also take home an awesome lootbag of various Smucker's products, some of Ted Staunton's books and some other goodies.  Be sure to use the TORONTO entry form below to enter, below.  Ends Tuesday June 4th.  GOOD LUCK!   

CALGARY CONTEST (2 FAMILIES WILL WIN!) (Smucker's Bookworm Brunch AND Lootbag)!  

CALGARY WINNERS: Andrea A. & Caryn S.

WIN Family admission to the Smucker's Bookworm Brunch in CALGARY on Saturday June 15th, 2013 from 10:00am - 12:00pm.  ("Family" would mean all your children and 2 adults.)  2 FAMILIES WILL BE SELECTED! WINNING families will also take home an awesome lootbag of various Smucker's products, some of Ted Staunton's books and some other goodies.  Be sure to use the CALGARY entry form below to enter, below.  Ends Tuesday June 11th.  GOOD LUCK!

Do your children or grandkids enjoy books?  When do you read to them, and what are their favourite books?

TORONTO - WIN Family Tickets to Smucker's Bookworm Brunch & LOOTBAG!
CALGARY - WIN Family Tickets to Smucker's Bookworm Brunch & LOOTBAG!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rice Krispies Brown Rice Cereal is Gluten-Free!

Trying Out Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice Gluten-Free Cereal
My kids do not have any food allergies, which is something that I am eternally thankful for.  However, it seems that Celiac Disease is really taking families by storm.  As many as 30,000 Canadians could have the disease.  Aside from the terrible symptoms and pain that accompany Celiac Disease, it is often very expensive to purchase a special gluten-free diet.  When I learned that Kellogg's Rice Krispies had offered a Brown Rice variety that is gluten-free, I was thrilled!

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice cereal is made from whole grain brown rice, it's a source of 10 essential nurients, contains no artificial flavours or colours, and is trans fat free.  One cup of the cereal (without milk) is only 120 calories, or 180 calories (with 1/2 cup 1% milk).  It is an excellent source of iron, thiamine, magnesium and manganese.  Of interest, the cereal has only 4 ingredients, so it's fairly simple.
Want Gluten-Free Rice Krispies?  Look for This Box!
Looking for gluten-free recipes made from Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice cereal?  Kellogg's Canada has a selection of such gluten-free recipes on their website.  Check out their gluten-free apple crisp recipe, gluten-free brownies recipe, or gluten-free parmesan chicken recipe!  Here is the Kellogg's Rice Krispies Gluten-Free Squares Recipe, as is printed on the inside of the box.  

Gluten-Free Rice Krispies Squares!  (Source: Rice Krispies dot com)
Be Sure to Use Rice Krispies Brown Rice Cereal & Follow Instructions Carefully

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Gluten-Free Squares Recipe

*Note: as product formulations vary from one brand to the next, be sure to ALWAYS check the ingredients list to be certain that the brands you selected are gluten-free!

To be gluten-free, this recipe must be made with Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice gluten-free cereal, gluten-free marshmallows, and gluten-free margarine.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons gluten-free margarine1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular gluten-free marshmallows
6 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice Gluten-Free cereal

Directions:

1. In large saucepan melt gluten-free margarine over low heat. Add gluten-free marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add Kellogg's Rice Krispies Brown Rice Gluten-Free cereal. Stir until well-coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with gluten-free margarine. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares.
Have you tried Rice Krispies Brown Rice Gluten-Free Cereal?  Do you have any family members or friends living with Celiac Disease?

Friday, May 24, 2013

EPIC Film Review: Leafmen, Boggans & Stompers!

I wrote about the new Epic family movie that is coming to theaters today, May 24th!  Since then I've had the opportunity to watch an advance screening of Epic with my family, and to weigh in on the film.  Epic is from the creators of the Ice Age movie, and is based on The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, written by William Joyce.  It is a 3D CGI-animated film that is rated PG, although I comfortably brought my children aged 2- to 7-years old without concern.

Epic is voiced by Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, and Jason Sudeikis.  Steven Tyler and Beyonce Knowles also lend their voices to the film.  Directed by Chris Wedge.  A Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox Films movie.
Synopsis:
After the passing of her mother, teenager Mary Katherine "M.K." (Amanda Seyfried) moves in with her eccentric estranged father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis).  M.K's parents had divorced a decade earlier because her dad's work had consumed him, and he was convinced that  "little people" were living in the woods nearby their home.  Professor Bomba is a nutty, and absent-minded professor with numerous homemade contraptions used to locate the "little people".  In the family home is amiable 3-legged doggy sidekick Ozzie.

After returning home for a short while, M.K. concludes that her father is still hopeless in his search for "little people", and she cannot have a relationship with him, as hard as she tries.  She packs her suitcase to leave, but Ozzie accidentally gets out of the house and bounds straight into the forest.  So begins the adventure. 

Deep in the woods, there is a battle raging on a miniature scale.  Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles) must choose an heir to her throne.  Her advisor and chief of The Leafmen guardians, Ronin (Colin Farrell) begs the queen to have a private ceremony to pick the heir, as the evil Boggans and their leader Mandrake (Christopher Waltz) wish to destroy her.  

However, Queen Tara is guided by her heart, and wishes to go through with a public ceremony.  In the background, Ronin tries to keep Nod (Josh Hutcherson) as a Leafman protector, and honour the promise he made to his fallen father.  But Nod is young and wants to choose his own path. 

The ceremony goes off without a hitch at the swamp, as Queen Tara chooses the pink water lily that will bloom into her heir.  The bloom is tended by Mub the slug (Aziz Ansari) and Grub the snail (Chris O'Dowd).  I enjoy films with great sidekicks, and Mub and Grub were exactly that.  There were many times that the audience laughed out loud at their antics.  Those guys are hilarious!  

After the bloom is chosen by Queen Tara, she is ambushed by the Boggans.  The queen makes a valiant effort to escape, and The Leafman do their best to protect her, but she is shot by a fatal arrow.  As she is shot out of the air, the two worlds of big and small collide, and M.K. catches the fatally wounded queen.

M.K. cannot believe what she's seeing, but tries to aid the queen.  It is too late to save her, but as M.K. holds the bloom that is the heir to the kingdom of the Leafmen, she is shrunk down to their size, and experiences life at a sped up pace.  Before the queen perishes, she asks M.K. to personally deliver the bloom to Nim Galuu the psychedelic caterpillar (Steven Tyler).  Tyler really did this role justice, adding both humour and vocals to Nim's persona.  Of interest, all the music in Epic, was composed by the legendary Danny Elfman.

Not wishing to spoil anything else, let me say that all five of my kids aged 2- to 7-years old thoroughly enjoyed Epic!  My husband and I also enjoyed the movie too, which is a pleasure when the movie also works for grown ups.  The story was fun and interesting to follow, and there were many comedic moments.  It appealed both to my sons and my daughter, and was suited for kids of either gender.  The movie was beautifully animated in 3D CGI, and showed us the bright and colourful natural world of The Leafman, and the grey and dying world of the Boggans.

I liked how Epic focused on the strong ties of family and community that unite us, and how although we are "many leaves", we're all part of "one tree" (one big family).  The film did focus on important family values like teamwork, friendship, forgiveness, and helpfulness.  There was definitely a strong theme about coming of age, and friendships blossoming into love.  And there was a very important lesson about respecting and nurturing the Earth, including it's plants and creatures.  

I've been loving the family entertainment that 20th Century Fox Films has been producing of late, including The Croods, which I also recommend.  Fox seems to have a formula of success which includes employing the voice talent of an all star cast, dazzling us with spectacular 3D CGI animation, creating heart-pounding action sequences, infusing the film with lots of humour, and remembering to begin the journey with an interesting and original storyline!

If you're wondering if you should take the kids to see Epic this weekend, by all means go and enjoy the show!  BTW, if you're wondering what a "Stomper" is, you'll have to see Epic to find out!

Are you planning on seeing Epic with your family?  What are your favourite family movies of 2013 or of late?     

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maple Leaf Prime Tacos & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Tacos Made With Maple Leaf Prime Extra Lean Ground Turkey
Almost 5 months ago I embarked on a journey to make my family's meals healthier and more nutritious.  If there is one thing that I have learned during this time, it's that sometimes small changes to diet make a big difference!  Small changes can be adding fruits and vegetables to each and every family meal, offering chicken or turkey as an alternative to beef, and making homemade meals in favour of take out.  These are just some quick changes that are easy to implement.      
Maple Leaf Prime Ground Turkey & Chicken in the Supermarket



Did you know that Maple Leaf Prime offers delicious fresh ground turkey and chicken?  Just look in the refrigerated meat section in the supermarket, where you would normally find ground beef!  I prefer extra lean varieties, as they tend to be healthier.  I picked up two packages of the Maple Leaf Prime extra lean ground  turkey with rosemary extract, for my taco turkey recipe (if you are feeding a family of 4, one pack would work well for you.  I buy double the amount to feed our family of 7)!

Tacos are a big hit with my family, so I try to make them a few times per month.  The truth is they are very easy to make, and you can put in your favourite veggies if you wish.  The Maple Leaf Prime ground turkey or chicken works great in my taco recipe.  In fact, it is very easy to substitute the ground turkey or chicken whenever a recipe calls like ground beef (ie: lasagna, burgers, meat sauce, or meatballs).
Maple Leaf Prime Ground Turkey Meat Ready for Tacos!
Just season the ground turkey or chicken the same as you would ground beef, and you're ready to go!  Aside from a slightly different taste than beef, ground turkey and ground chicken appear more blanched when fully cooked.  Not an issue for me at all!

Follow Maple Leaf Prime on Social Media!

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Easy Turkey Taco Recipe!

Maple Leaf Prime Ground Chicken may be substituted for turkey in this recipe!
 
Ingredients
1 Package (1/2 kg) Maple Leaf Prime Ground Turkey Meat (extra lean)
8 Taco Shells (about 2 taco shells per person)
2-3 Medium Tomatoes (diced)
1 Medium Onion (diced)
1 Cup Your Favourite Shredded Cheese (garnish)
1-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*Optional: Your favourite veggies
*Optional: Salt & Pepper to taste
*Optional: Low Fat Sour Cream as garnish

Directions
1. Heat a deep pot or frying pan to medium temperature.
2. Add oil and heat until hot.
3. Drop in the onion into the hot oil and fry until transparent.
4. Mix in the whole package of Maple Leaf Prime Ground Turkey Meat and "brown" the turkey until fully cooked.  (*Optional: add salt and pepper to taste.)
5. Drain the turkey/onion combination and let cool for a few minutes.
6. Use a spoon to ladle the turkey meat into the taco shells.  Fill up half way with meat only, leaving room for toppings.
7. Top the turkey meat with a layer of diced tomatoes and a layer of shredded cheese.  (*Optional: add your favourite chopped veggies.  *Optional: add a dollop of low fat sour cream.)
8. Serve and enjoy!
Grab a Maple Leaf Prime Turkey Taco and Dive In!
CONTEST (CAN)!

WINNERS: Linda C. & Ariel C.

Would you like to WIN Maple Leaf Prime FREE Product Coupons?  I am giving TWO lucky readers $20 in FREE Maple Leaf Prime coupons EACH (for a total of $40 in free product coupons)!  Contest open to Canada, and ends Monday June 17th, 2013!  

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave a COMMENT below stating what recipe you would love to make with Maple Leaf Prime ground turkey or chicken meat, then use the entry form below to enter.  I always read your comments, so thank you for that!  GOOD LUCK!

WIN 1 of 2 $20 in FREE Maple Leaf Prime Coupons! (2 WINNERS!)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Speedo Canada: What to Wear This Summer!

Speedo Canada Makes Swim Gear for the Whole Family!
After more than two decades, I finally parted with my oldest swimsuit.  It was old, and threadbare, and...old!  Yes, I'd had other swimsuits over the years, but this was the bathing suit that fit me the best, or rather, still fit me at all.  However, I had to draw the line when my swimsuit turned "transparent" like the Emperor's New Clothes!  

So I contacted Speedo Canada to see if they had any recommendations for me.  I wanted a swimsuit that would be great for both the pool and the lake--but also one that would be great for lounging at the beach!  Over the years I had owned some great Speedo tankinis, but unfortunately I had grown out of them, rather than "outgrown" them (if you catch my drift).
Speedo Canada Endurance Swimsuits, Ladies Swim Goggles & Sports Towel
On my wishlist for a swimsuit: a good, supportive fit; one that looks great on; a fabric that is light but durable;   and a swimsuit that will not change colour in a chlorinated swimming pool (my last swimsuit went from a royal blue, to a pale blue).  Thankfully, Speedo Canada delivered on all of these points.

The Speedo Canada Endurance brand swimsuit boasts that it lasts 20 times longer.  It features a 100% chlorine resistant fabric, and high-impact built-in support for women.  As soon as I put on the swimsuit, there was no doubt that it fit my specific body type.  And as the bathing suit had some "give" by virtual of some stretch, I believe that it would support many different body types and figures.  That's great, because we're not all made the same way!
 My New Speedo Canada Swimsuits: At Rest & In the Pool!
I made a little video of my Speedo Canada bathing suit in the lap pool while I was at Ste. Anne's Spa in Grafton, Ontario (below)!  I love to swim for leisure, but swimming for health and fitness is also one of my primary goals.  You won't notice a bathing cap in my video, as I never wear them.  But I did forget my Speedo swimming goggles, which you can see in the top photo of this blog post!  I love that they have a special pair designed for women, which are smaller and fit better.

The Speedo Canada swimsuit performed quite well and I was very pleased with it.  Whether swimming 20   laps or 200, I was confident that it would stay put so I could concentrate on swimming.  I would definitely recommend the Speedo Canada Endurance swimsuit line!

(VIDEO) Putting My Speedo Canada Swimsuit to the Test!

As the mom of 5 young kids aged 2- to 7-years old, I was also quite pleased with the Speedo Canada kid's swim line, which offers lifejackets, swimming goggles, and water wings.  Although the Canadian summer is short, my family uses an indoor swimming pool all year round.  I like the design of the Speedo Canada child life vest very much, as it has a very slim profile, and is not cumbersome in the swimming pool.  We do have other lifejackets that are just too bulky for the swimming pool.

I also like that Speedo Canada offers children's swimming goggles, which allow for a proper fit.  It's great that once my kids put them on, they stay put and don't let water in.  Adult goggles are too big for kids, and of course don't create a proper seal with their face.  The Speedo Canada water wings are also great for kids learning how to swim, but remember these are not an substitute to a lifejacket.
Speedo Canada Kid's Swim Products
Do you and your family enjoy swimming?  When was the last time you bought yourself a new swimsuit?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Movie Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Movie Poster
I'm a big fan of the Star Trek tv series: from the original to Star Trek: The Next Generation, to Voyager.  I have to admit that the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise series never properly grew on me.  I'm also a tremendous fan of science fiction movies that explore far future, time travel, and of course space themes.  

It is in that spirit that I saw the advance movie screening of Paramount Pictures's Star Trek: Into Darkness. I had seen the 2009 Star Trek movie and had liked the feel of it, as well as the cast.  When I learned that the same cast had returned for Into Darkness, it was a rare treat.  I had really enjoyed Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Zackary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov and John Cho as Hikaru Sulu.

Star Trek: Into Darkness was directed by J.J. Abrams, with a screenplay by Robert Orci.  Although I can only speculate why it's called Into Darkness, as a taste for things to come in subsequent sequels, I can tell you it was fast-paced, exciting, and had lots of great comedic lines from Spock, Bones, Scott and Chekov.  It was gorgeous to watch on the big screen, but I don't think that the 3D experience improved on the movie.    There was also a big surprise regarding nemesis Benedict Cumberbatch's identity (I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen it).      

Into Darkness begins on an M-class (life sustaining) planet that is about to be annihilated by an active volcano.  The inhabitants are quite primitive, and are at the stage where they're yet to "discover the wheel".  As always, Captain James. T. Kirk and his crew are bound by the "prime directive" of not interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations.  However, the prime directive is challenged when the USS Enterprise must show itself in order to complete a daring rescue mission.

After the prime directive is contravened, a report to Star Fleet is filed and Kirk is fired as ship's Captain.  Captian Pike (Bruce Greenwood, who is terrific in the role), puts in a good word for Kirk, and asks him to join him as his First Officer.  After Kirk agrees, there is a major terrorist incident in Star Fleets "archives" room, and all the heads of Starfleet convene to strategize.  

I don't want to spoil all of the film's surprises, but Cumberbatch makes a Matrix-esque entrance, long black jacket and all.

Without revealing the entire storyline, I have to say that I enjoyed Star Trek: Into Darkness, and would would recommend it to fans of action, science fiction, or the quintessential Star Trek fan.  The special effects--from the sights, to the sounds--were excellent, although I did find the story a little slow moving in parts, especially when it came to developing Cumberbatch's story.  However, Cumberbatch's character was absolutely mesmerizing, and I struggled to see if I could believe his story.

I would recommend Star Trek: Into Darkness if you're looking for a fast-paced thrill ride!

Are you planning on seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness?  What is your favourite genre of movies?        

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Canada's Wonderland 2013 Season "Wonderous"! REVIEW

The Excitement of the Main Gates at Canada's Wonderland!
The Canada's Wonderland of my youth was filled with endless summer days, friendship, fun and excitement!  I remember the thrill of getting my first season's pass at Canada's Wonderland, and the feeling of freedom that washed over me.  I loved the exuberant music that pumped me up as I entered the main gates, the enticing scent of the concession stand food, and the fireworks that exploded overhead and sent me off at night.
The Opening Day of Canada's Wonderland May 5, 2013! 
Many years have passed since those golden days of summer, but what remains unchanged is that Canada's Wonderland still offers big fun for kids of all ages--and their families.  It was in that spirit that I returned to Canada's Wonderland with my family on Opening Day, May 5, 2013!
Starting at Medieval Faire!
As our kids are aged 2- to 7-years old, we first had the kids measured and banded for height, so we would know which rides they were allowed to visit.  Then we headed to Medieval Faire to go on The Rage!  My husband could not resist taking the kids 4-years old and older on this gigantic rocking boat!  Check out my video of The Rage, just below this photo!

Captain, Abandon Ship! It's The Rage!
video
My Family on The Rage at Canada's Wonderland! (VIDEO)

From Medieval Faire, we went directly to Planet Snoopy.  It is one of two ride areas of Canada's Wonderland that are perfectly suited to young children.
We Have Landed at Planet Snoopy!
Right away the kids had a very pleasant meeting with the Snoopy gang!  Seeing the characters at Planet Snoopy really added to the excitement of Canada's Wonderland!
The Kids Met the Snoopy Gang at Planet Snoopy!
Next, we went on one of my favourite rides: the Swan Lake ride!  It's a very peaceful ride for parents and children of all ages.  Colourful ride-on swans take riders on a tour of the cool and calm lake, which is wonderful on a hot day (like we had on Opening Day).
Peaceful Swans on Swan Lake!

Swan Lake at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

Note: only one adult is allowed on per swan, although multiple children may ride.  However, "parent swap" is available if each parent wants a turn riding with the same child.  Simply tell the attendant, and you will not have to line up a second time.  Check out my Swan Lake ride video, above!

Snoopy vs. Red Baron Ride



Snoopy Vs. Red Baron Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

Next the kids did a beeline for Snoopy Vs. Red Baron ride!  It's an adorable airplane ride that puts the kids in the pilot's seat!  I remember going on a similar ride when I was a child, and my mom still has footage of my brother and I on film from the 1970s!  Fun then, still fun today!  Click the video above to see my footage of the Snoopy Vs. Red Baron ride!
Our Lunch at The Courtyard Outdoor BBQ Restaurant
It was time to put on some sunblock and think food at this point.  Earlier we had picked up a few containers of fresh fruit for the kids to snack on for only $3.99, which I thought was an excellent value for what we got--especially at a theme park.  Hours had passed since then, so we headed for an outdoor barbecue lunch at The Courtyard Restaurant located beside Medieval Fare.

Choices included burgers, hotdogs, chicken burgers, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, pasta salad and green salad.  There was also a refillable soft drink station.  The buffet was a good choice for us, as the kids were ravenous and had eaten all the little snacks we had packed with us earlier in the day.  Good to note: Canada's Wonderland allows water into the park.
Having Fun at the Character Carousel

Character Carousel at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

Half of the day had already passed when we headed back to Planet Snoopy.  The kids really wanted to ride on the Character Carousel, and each got their very own horse.  This was great fun for all kids, aged 2- to 7-years old!  See my Character Carousel ride footage in the video, above!

video
Snoopy's Space Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

The kids also wanted to go on Snoopy's Space Ride, so we went there too.  The ride can seat 4, so siblings will be able to ride together in the same car.  Take a look at my video of Snoopy's Space Ride, above!

Taking a Ride at Kidzville Station!
We eventually made it to Kidzville, the second ride area of Canada's Wonderland that is devoted to young children.  First stop was the train ride called Kidzville Station: All Aboard!  The ride was lots of fun, as it gently chuffed around the peaceful track.  See my Kidzville Station train ride footage video, below!


Kidzville Station Train Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

Swingtime was a lot of fun for my kids!  I love it because it's a miniature version of their adult ride "Swing of the Century".  In my youth, this same adult ride was called "Swings of Siam".  Swingtime is a sweet little ride that delivers exactly what it offers: an exhilarating swing experience, but not overwhelming for little ones.

Swingtime Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

My husband decided to take the older kids on some more adult rides, so I took my youngest two guys to Jokey's Jalopies, the antique car ride!  It was also a hit with my guys!   I love that it's on a huge, wide-open track and it is a nice welcome to the busy park.  My kids loved guessing which colour car was going to take them for their ride, and "driving" the car.  I enjoyed that the ride was cool and allowed us a short respite from walking.

Jokey Jalopies Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!


Can you guess which ride the boys wanted to visit next?  If you guessed Chopper Chase, then you got it right!  Chopper Chase is a gentle ride that takes you up on an aerial track in a brightly-coloured helicopter.  This is a weather-proof ride that allows you to explore Kidzville below you, at the same time keeping cool from the sun, and dry from the rain.  There is even a set of bicycle pedals in the helicopter to keep your little one occupied.  

Chopper Chase Ride at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

Would you believe that after 7 hours of Canada's Wonderland, we had barely scratched the tip of the iceberg?  There were still many rides that we did not visit in Kidzville or Planet Snoopy, and we had not even explored the rest of the park!  The kids were hot, so we purchased Canada's Wonderland famous funnel cake for the family to share.  6 of my family members ate it, and 2 portions were still left!  It definitely is a great value if you are sharing it among several people.
The Funnel Cake at Canada's Wonderland!

Sharing a Funnel Cake at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

It would not have been a proper day at Canada's Wonderland without playing some of the games!  My husband tested his skill, and the kids ended up with this cute stuffed animal!  Needless to say, there were smiles all around!
Trying Our Luck at Canada's Wonderland!
I was really glad that I brought the double stroller to Canada's Wonderland with shade canopies, as the youngest kids were really tired and the extra shade helped them (although they were wearing hats, and we brought sunscreen with us).  We decided that we would make one more stop and visit Dinosaurs Alive.  Admission cost an extra $5 per person in addition to regular park admission.



A Peek at Dinosaurs Alive Exhibit at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

I didn't know what to expect, but Dinosaurs Alive really held the attention of all 5 of my kids.  My 5-year old was frightened of the roars of the animatronic dinosaurs, but my 2- and 4-year olds were fine with the sounds.  It really was a great exhibit, and the dinosaurs were built to scale.  As you walk through Dinosaurs Alive, there are signs that describe the type of dinosaur that you are seeing.


More Footage of the Dinosaurs Alive Animatronics Exhibit at Canada's Wonderland (VIDEO)!

The best surprise at the end of the exhibit, was a dinosaur dig situated beneath 2 oversized sun umbrellas.  Staff are on hand to help youngsters to unearth the fossil of a T-Rex, and provide encouragement and narrative as the kids dig with special tools.  I was glad that we saved Dinosaurs Alive for last, as the kids enjoyed relaxing in the shade and digging for fossils in the sand.  We had to drag them away eventually, as they did not want to leave.  I would definitely recommend this exhibit to families visiting Canada's Wonderland.  I believe that kids 2 years and under might be free at Dinosaurs Alive.

After about 8 hours at Canada's Wonderland, this family was exhausted and ready to head home!  As we drove home, I reflected on the quality family time that we had had together.  My kids had really loved their day out, and asked us to take them back next month.


There's definitely value in purchasing a Canada's Wonderland season's pass, if you are planning on visiting twice or more this season.  If purchased before May 20th 2013, the season's pass is available for as low as 6 easy payments of $11 ($66).  The park was too big for my family to see the whole park on just one visit, so a season's pass is a great idea for those wishing to return at a later time!

Of interest, the Canada's Wonderland season's pass offers exclusive early ride times, early entrance to the Splash Works water park, food and merchandise discounts, and exclusive tickets discounts.  In contrast, Canada's Wonderland single tickets cost $46.99 (adults) and $34.99 (juniors/seniors).

Canada's Wonderland added Dinosaurs Alive in 2012, and will be focusing on dazzling visitors with their entertainment programming for the 2013 season.  There is supposed to be a great Charlie Brown live so, which we'll have to see when we return to Canada's Wonderland in June!  Just so much to do at Canada's Wonderland!

If you are considering purchasing a season's pass this year, consider the Canada's Wonderland season's pass for 2013!  The park is open every weekend in May, and every day starting June! 
Canada's Wonderland Opening Day May 5th, 2013!

Have you ever taken your family to Canada's Wonderland?  What are your favourite kinds of rides?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Checkup & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Checkup Is Available NOW on Disney DVD!
As a parent, I turn on television for my children that promotes nurturing, tenderness and compassion.  Television shows that have a moral, are a big hit in my household, as well as shows that teach teamwork, cooperation and gentleness.  Doc McStuffins from Disney Junior is such a show, and it has all the favourable qualities that I have mentioned.        

Doc McStuffins is a series that chronicles 6-year old Dottie McStuffins imaginary life as a doctor to her adorable menagerie of stuffed animals.  She cares for her toys as a doctor would, keeping them healthy and happy.  Dottie's mom is a real life doctor, and she emulates her as she makes believe.  She is also a wonderful mom, who loves and nurtures Dottie.   

Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Checkup is a new Disney DVD, available in-store now.  The DVD features 2 full hours of Doc McStuffins episodes, and 5 shows in total.  It is the second DVD instalment of the popular Disney Junior series.  It also includes the bonus of a free growth chart, to track your little one's development!

CONTEST (~OVER~)  

WINNER: June S.

Would you like to WIN the Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Checkup on DVD?  Contest runs until Tuesday June 4th, 2013 and is open to both CANADA & the USA.

How to Enter
Leave a COMMENT below stating what you or (your little one) wanted to be when you were growing up, and then complete the entry form below.  GOOD LUCK!
  
WIN Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Checkup on DVD!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I Hope You LOVE Your Gifts!

Can You Guess What I Got Mom for Mother's Day?
My mom is very special to me, but it was only when I became a mother myself that I could truly appreciate all her sacrifices and hard work.  My mom married at 17-years old, and had my brother when she was just 18-years old.  As a result, she never finished her high school education.  I was born 4 years later when she was only 22-years old.  My mom was a homemaker up until the time I started school at age 6-years old, and then she entered the workforce as a dental receptionist. 

Mom really enjoyed working in the dental office, but yearned to attain more.  With great thought, she went back to school to train as a dental assistant.  She was successful, but again yearned to attain more.  Once again with great thought, she went back to school to train as a dental hygienist.  Again she was very successful!  Decades later, and my mom still loves her job.  She is now close to her retirement years, but plans to keep on working.  It fulfils her.  My mother and father recently celebrated 45 years of marriage.  I'm very proud of my mom and all that she has accomplished with great determination.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Mom, I Got You an HP Envy x2 Laptop & HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One Printer!
It is because I am so proud of my mom, that I wanted to give her a really special present this year for Mother's Day.  I thought I would go big this year, and give a great gift to a mom who asks for nothing.  My mom's computer was on its last legs, and it was really ancient.  It would not be a big stretch to say that it was one of the original computers, with only kilobytes of total memory and a floppy disk drive--not even diskette!
Mom Unwrapping the HP Envy x2 Laptop!
She Can't Believe It!
The HP Envy x2 Undocks & Becomes a Stand-Alone Tablet!
Wait Mom, There's More! A HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One Wireless Printer!
This year we had an intimate brunch at my mom's house for Mother's Day, and I gave my mom an HP Envy x2 laptop tablet as her present!  To say that she was surprised, is a gross understatement!  It weighs in at only 3.1 lbs, about the weight of a kitten, and acts either as a laptop, or undocks to become a stand-alone tablet.  It offers touchscreen and keyboard functionality, a Windows 8 interface, up to 64GB eMMC SSD hard drive, 1.80 GHz dual core Intel Atom processor, and Beats Audio dual speakers...just to name a few features.  It's really cool, and just as its name, gives me serious "Envy".
Look Mom, Print Wirelessly From Your Smartphone & Tablet!
Imagine her surprise when I presented her with another gift to unwrap: the HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One wireless printer!  It can print, copy and scan, but it's "secret power" is that it's wireless, and can print from my mom's smartphone or brand new tablet!  I was kind of floored when I noticed that the printer was touchscreen enabled too.  The wireless printer came with both HP brand black and colour cartridges, which made it easy for mom to get started.    
Some HP Accessories to Get Mom Going
To get mom ready to print on her new all-in-one printer, I stocked mom up with HP accessories such as: HP Bright White Inkjet paper, HP Advanced Photo Paper (to print out important photographs), and an additional two HP 60 XL brand black and coloured cartridges.  These cartridges print up to 2.5 times more pages than a standard cartridge, and are reviewed very well online, wherever I checked.

My mom was a "little" overwhelmed this Mother's Day weekend, so I'm going to let her get settled in and acquainted with her new HP goodies!  I'll update again soon letting you know how she's enjoying her great new items, and what she's been using it for.
My Mom Had a GREAT Mother's Day!
Disclosure: HP products mentioned in this post were supplied by HP Canada.

How are you celebrating Mother's Day this year?  Could you or your mom benefit from a brand new computer?
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