NELSON Disney Learning

Summertime Doesn’t Mean Kids Have To Stop Learning

We all know that summer is a time for having fun with friends, summer camp and ignoring bed times, but that doesn’t mean that we must completely abandon the lessons our kids have been learning throughout the school year. We still encourage the kids to do some reading every day, usually before bed, but we recently discovered a new learning tool that has the kids asking to do homework. No, I’m serious!

A new collaboration between NELSON and Disney Learning has the kids excited to be working on reading, writing and math so far this summer. When our 7-year-old daughter saw Disney’s Moana on the cover of her new NELSON workbook, she dove in before even asking what it was. Frankly, I’m not even sure she knows she’s learning while working in it because all she does is talk about how much fun it is.

For our son, being 9 years old, I thought it would be a bit of a tougher sell but as soon as his sister bragged that she had already finished 10 pages, he sat right down and got to work until he passed her mark. Oh, the joys of having 2 kids to push each other! The NELSON workbooks are great because we could get specific books for the grades that each child was going into next year and they aren’t too complicated, which gives the kids confidence going into a new grade.

NELSON Disney Learning Math Cards

The workbooks are great but the kids really enjoyed the Math Activity Cards that came with the set. Math is just one of those things that needs to be constantly worked on in order to feel confident in your abilities and the cards are what sets the NELSON learning set apart from the others we’ve tried. I also love that the kids use a dry erase marker on the cards so we can erase the answers and come back to them later.

It’s important to us that the kids keep their minds sharp in between all the summer fun so that when they get back to school the transition isn’t overwhelming. The fact that they are laughing and having a great time with each other while they work on the NELSON learning set makes mom and dad happy campers!

For more information about the NELSON and Disney Learning collaboration sets you can visit nelson.com/disneylearning and if you use code Read10 you can score yourself a discount on your order! You can also follow the hashtag #NELSONLoveOfLearning on both the NELSON Facebook and Twitter pages.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but the kids really did love doing homework in the summer, which truly blew my mind.

Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 2

Safely Jumping Our Way Into Summer With Springfree Trampoline Canada!

For years our children have begged us to get them a trampoline and their wish has finally come true. Thanks to the fine folks at Springfree Trampoline Canada, we are now the proud owners of their Large Oval trampoline and it has been battle-tested multiple times a day for the last two weeks!

What I love most about Springfree Trampoline is that they have gone out of their way to build the safest trampoline on the market. Take a look at these safety features:

No Springs – Springfree uses flexible composite rods instead of metal springs, eliminating pinch points that could trap feet and toes.
Flexible Safety Enclosure – cushions falls and places the jumpers back on the jumping surface.
SoftEdge™ Mat – Springfree has created a shock absorbent SoftEdge™ mat that eliminates any hard edges at the jumping surface and will absorb 30 times more impact than traditional padding.
Hidden Frame – Springfree Trampoline has a fame located well beneath the jumping surface where jumpers can’t hit it.
tgoma Game System – encourages one-at-a-time play that eliminates injuries associated with multiple jumpers. I’ll be talking more about this as the summer rolls on!

Outside of the obvious safety measures, the most refreshing part of having the trampoline is that the kids never want to sit around the house being lazy anymore. We had gotten into a rhythm lately of waking up in the mornings and spacing out in front of the television for an hour or so before going to school. Now the kids are up and jumping in their pyjamas before I can even remind them to brush their teeth!

Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 1

It’s truly been amazing to see how active this 13×8 contraption has made them and as a parent who’s children don’t like going to bed, the Springfree trampoline has been a lifesaver at getting them tired in the evenings. Daddy has even tried it out a few times but is getting dangerously close to the weight limit, if you know what I mean… Hopefully the trampoline will help shed a few of those extra pounds!

I’m also excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free! My next blog post will cover the tgoma game system and I know you are going to love having it with your trampoline!

I leave you with this video describing why the Springfree Trampoline costs more than traditional trampolines and you’ll see why it’s the safest choice out there today.

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

Oral-B Genius Blog Post

My Toothbrush Is Smarter Than I Am…

You know how I know I’m getting old? My new toothbrush has its own app, that’s how! That’s right, Oral-B was kind enough to send me their new Genius 8000 rechargeable toothbrush with position detection technology and I was actually afraid that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it. Luckily for me, and you, there was nothing to worry about and everything to be excited about with this toothbrush.

Oral B App

Examples of how the Oral-B App can help!

A little backstory on my relationship to my teeth. As my dentist will gladly let you know, I have not always been a model student when it comes to checkups. Four root canals, multiple fillings and an extraction later and you’d think I would have learned my lesson, but no. I still stare into the bathroom mirror every morning, mindlessly brushing the same spot for 30 seconds before giving up and moving on with my day.

All that has changed since I started using the Oral-B Genius 8000, which I should add is my first electric toothbrush, because it has made brushing my teeth fun again. Every morning I pull it out of its hardcover case, wave it around like a 6 year old with a lightsaber, and flip open the Oral-B app. The app is outstanding, too. Here is just a small list of the things the app and brush do while I am brushing:

* Oral-B Genius 8000 has revolutionary Position Detection Technology. Using Bluetooth technology, the app uses my Smartphone’s selfie cam and detects my face to help guide better brushing in my mouth.

* When I have effectively brushed a section of my mouth, the app and brush let me know by lighting up on the screen and vibrating in my hand. Inside the brush, there is a Wii-like sensor the communicates to the app where you are brushing.

* The app encourages you to brush for the dentist recommended two minutes. The average manual brush user brushes for less than a minute and Oral-B App users on average brush 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

* The brush will stop over-aggressive brushers (ie. me!) by switching to sensitive mode and lighting up red when they are pushing too hard in their mouth.

* Has new settings including a whitening setting + whitening brush head as well as new pro-clean mode. Teeth will appear whiter in just one use of the Genius.

* My favourite feature is the brushing challenge, which gives me a score based on how well I brushed all areas of my mouth, providing incentive to better that score the next time around.

Oral-B Genius 8000

Yeah, I know! This toothbrush has completely changed the way I look at brushing my teeth and has shown me how terrible I have been at it for such a long, long time. Oh, did I also mention that it comes with stylish travel case that charges both the brush and a smartphone or small device? I can’t wait to test this thing out while on the road!

Ladies, if you are looking to surprise the father in your life with something unexpected this Father’s Day, may I recommend the Oral-B Genius 8000. He may be offended that you are insulting his oral hygiene but he will fall in love with this magical piece of technology! Now if only I could get it to start tweeting for me…

Disclosure: I received this toothbrush as part of this campaign and have never felt more like Luke Skywalker in my life.

Stars on Ice Happy Kid

Where’s The Backflip? – A Stars on Ice Story

Last week we were fortunate enough to bring our daughter and a friend to the latest Investors Group Stars on Ice show here in Ottawa and, as expected, it did not disappoint!

For me as a father, this was a bittersweet event. You see, when we had originally booked these tickets our daughter was right in the middle of her figure skating season and seemed to be loving it. Her coach had just recommended that we move her into a more advanced level of skating, because of course with this kid, and we were weighing our options to try to keep up with all the kids’ activities.

Three sessions later and we were now sending an email to her skating coach to let her know that our future Elizabeth Manley would be stepping away from figure skating to focus on gymnastics. The sudden shift away from her love for skating took us by surprise but was obvious from watching her in those final sessions. We’re not sure whether she simply had too much on her plate or if she really wasn’t enjoying it anymore but I was sad because I really loved watching her skate.

All that said, I was worried that she wouldn’t enjoy the Stars on Ice show as much now that she wasn’t skating anymore, but I’m happy to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m pretty sure that my daughter was more excited to see Kurt Browning, or Brownie as she still calls him, more than my wife was and my wife REALLY likes Kurt Browning… More than that, my daughter was excited to see Kurt do his famous backflip.

As the show went on and the skaters dazzled us with their best moves and amazing routines, she kept asking, “When is he going to do the backflip?”, to which we had no response except for her to keep watching. As Kurt’s final performance ended, she was close to tears as she pointed out that the backflip hadn’t happened. Just then, the skaters came back out on to the ice to wave goodbye, Kurt started his wind up and, BAM, nailed the backflip!

My daughter leapt from her seat in the same way I had when Joe Carter hit the World Series winning homerun. As my wife, who’s excitement matched that of my daughter’s, cheered the backflip, I noticed a little water in her eyes. When I asked her about it later she mentioned that seeing our daughter so happy got her feeling a little emotional. You can’t really go wrong with a mom like that, and you also can’t go wrong by taking your littles to see this amazing show.

For more information on upcoming shows and tickets you can check out the Stars on Ice website. Oh, and Kurt, if you ever want to talk fatherhood, I’d be happy to conduct that interview (insert winky face here). I promise not to let my wife hijack the call…

About Investors Group Stars On Ice

Founded in 1986 by skating icon and Olympic Gold Medallist Scott Hamilton, the Stars on Ice Tour originated in the United States. In 1991, Stars on Ice began to tour Canada and has now played nearly 300 shows in the past 25 years. Past tour performers include Kurt Browning, Jamie Salé & David Pelletier, Kristi Yamaguchi and Elvis Stojko. Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt is produced by IMG, the global leader in sports, fashion and media. For more information about the tour, visit www.starsonice.ca. Keep in touch with Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt on Facebook: www.facebook.com/starsonice Instagram: www.instagram.com/starsonice, and on Twitter: twitter.com/starsonice.

Disclosure: My family was provided tickets to this event.

Stars on Ice Kurt Browning Backflip

Whirlpool Washer Dryer

The King of Laundry Mountain!

Mostly due to the fact that I am overly passionate about the way I feel the laundry should be done, I have inherited the title of “clothes cleaner” in our house. It’s not a glamourous job but it’s one that I have learned to enjoy doing, also because I believe that chores are an act of love. I am a huge laundry nerd, which we will cover in a future blog post, so deal with it!

Plus there’s really no task that music can’t make more fun and exciting, right? I’ll give you a minute to imagine me folding bed sheets while dancing to Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs”. A couple months ago while working on my t-shirt folding salsa dance, I heard a strange noise coming from our washing machine and knew it was time to say goodbye.

Our previous Whirlpool set served us well for 12 years, so when it was time to purchase new appliances, Whirlpool products were the natural choice. I couldn’t believe the innovative new features that were now available since I was last in the market for a washer and dryer. I guess that sounds ridiculous to say considering how everything seems to change so quickly these days, but it still caught me off guard.

Before I get to the cool features of our new washing machine I have to give a huge shout out to my mom for letting me use their washer/dryer for the couple months that we were without. You have no idea how much laundry you actually go through until you spend 2 weeks watching it pile up into a giant mountain on the floor. I was wearing clothes that hadn’t seen daylight in years, possibly ever, but we got through it and I believe we are a stronger family because of it!

The machine we chose was the Whirlpool 4.8 cu. ft. I.E.C. Front Load Washer with Closet-Depth Fit and two weeks in I am loving it. I think my favourite feature about this model is that it has a 12-Hour FanFresh® option which keeps clothes fresh for up to 12 hours after the wash cycle has ended. A built-in fan activates after the wash cycle is over, tumbling clothes for up to 12 hours so you can finish laundry when you’re ready.

Another awesome feature with the washer is the Load & Go™ system, which lets you skip adding detergent to every load. The Load & Go™ cartridge holds enough detergent to wash up to 12 loads of laundry and with their precision dispense technology you can simply fill it and forget it. You can see all the other features, such as Adaptive Wash Technology and EcoBoost by checking the unit out on the Whirlpool website! These innovations have all been inspired by the way families care for each other so that they can get the job done better and faster.

I’m going to be talking a lot about laundry in the coming months because I feel like it gets a bad rap. Now if you’ll excuse me I just heard the beautiful sound of another load of laundry that needs folding!

Disclosure: I was provided with a new washer/dryer set from Whirlpool, however I reached out to them in the first place because we were so happy with our last Whirlpool set.

Disney Moana

Disney’s Moana Review

I took my daughter to go see Disney’s new feature film, Moana, and we both absolutely loved it! While it may not have the same powerful soundtrack that a movie like Frozen had, Moana was fun and exciting from start to finish while also having an amazing message that even my 6 year old could grasp.

Besides Moana, who is a strong, ambitious and bright young girl, my favourite character was Maui, who is played by The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. His arrogance made for some hilarious scenes but his kindness keeps you rooting for his character throughout the movie. As you will see in the video from our experience, my daughter’s favourite character was Moana’s grandmother who is another bright spot throughout the movie.

The one thing that always strikes me about Disney’s movies is that there always seems to be an underlying message for viewers to think about. Whether it’s a strong political message in a movie like Zootopia, which I was lukewarm about, or the emotional roller coaster that was Inside Out, Disney seems to to want to make more than fluff piece movies that you will forget about in a week or two. Moana was no different as it delivers a strong message about the environment and the effects of taking from the land without giving anything back.

I really hope you get a chance to check out Moana because outside of Big Hero 6, this was my favourite Disney offering in a long time. Yes, I enjoyed Frozen, I am not a monster, but this one had so many great scenes that we will definitely be buying the DVD when it comes out so we can watch it over and over again! Feel free to check out the video I put together of our experience at the screening and I’d love to hear what you thought of Moana once you get a chance to see it!

Best Buy Home Entertainment Toshiba

How To Create The Ultimate Home Theatre Experience

One of the top items on our holiday list this year was a new TV for our living room as our current model is about 6 years old and the advancements in home entertainment in that time have been beyond anything I could have imagined. Not wanting to make the wrong decision, we worked with Best Buy to set up an appointment with one of their Blue Shirt associates and home entertainment experts, Ryan, and he helped us throughout the process.

I wanted to share some of his tips with you because it was all new to me so I figured there were more of us, less technology savvy, people out there… Honestly, had I not asked for Ryan’s help, we would have walked out of Best Buy with a mishmash of things that don’t belong together. That said, here are some of his top tips for outfitting your home entertainment system!

Good Sound Is Key!

As great as TV technology is these days, if you want a true home theatre experience, you need to up the ante when it comes to sound. I always used to walk right by the sound aisle because I knew I’d be spotted for the fraud I was while pretending to look impressed by it all. Ryan taught me all about the differences and importance of the various components of sound, pointing out that the sound bar was where the magic happens, while the sub woofer played in important role in the projection of bass. I admitted to him that I had received a surround sound set a few years earlier and had no idea what the sub woofer did, so I just left it unplugged next to the TV… Shame.

Obviously, the sound set from Bose was incredible but it was the Sonos system that caught my eye. I liked the ability to purchase pieces as I had money for them as opposed to having to shell out all the money at once. I also liked that you could connect your mobile devices to any of the pieces through wifi so you could play your music from anywhere in the house.

To Make It Great, You Must Calibrate!

That’s right, I said calibration. Let’s just be honest here, I had no idea what this meant as Ryan talked about it until he showed me the difference. You see, when most people see a TV with bright, vibrant colours, they are immediately drawn to it. In most cases, however, you are not watching with the colours or clarity you were intended to see. Best Buy offers a service where the Geek Squad will come to your house, with all their fancy equipment, and calibrate your new TV for you in the room that you are going to place it in.

What this does is sets the colours and clarity around the specific natural lighting that your room contains. Oh, and don’t worry about losing the calibration due to power outages or other errors because the Geek Squad saves your settings and can easily re-calibrate for you!

Miscellaneous Odds & Ends

Here are a few other tidbits of information I got out of my visit to Best Buy!

1. Make sure you measure your living space before purchasing your TV and TV stand. You don’t want to have to worry about these details while you’re in the store and then pick the wrong sized things.
2. Grab a couple extra HDMI cables and a power bar. Do you know how annoying it is to excitedly set everything up only to realize that you need one more cable??? I do…
3. Don’t be afraid of buying open box items. Not only is this one of my secret strategies, but the store clerks also emphasized that open box does not mean faulty. It is almost always because someone returned it without even trying it and you could save major dollars by taking it off their hands!

That’s all for today’s lesson! I hope it proves helpful for you when you are ready to redesign your home entertainment space. Oh, I almost forgot, here is the TV we ended up with!

It’s the Toshiba 49” 4K UHD Smart TV and we can’t wait to get it fired up! I’ve been told that 4K is the wave of the future so I’m excited to see what it brings. I also love the fact that the TV has Google Cast built in to give us easy instant access to apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify!

I highly encourage those of you in the market for a new home entertainment setup to stop into your local Best Buy and ask for one of their experts to walk you through all the options. Thanks to Erin and the Best Buy team for making this such a great experience for us!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but my wife is loving watching The Bachelor on this giant new TV so I am definitely 100% satisfied with my experience!

Schick Hydro 5

Schick Yourself & Feel Great About It!

The truth is that I’ve been tired lately. Working multiple jobs while trying to coach and be there for the kids as they take part in multiple activities. It’s our own fault for letting them try all the sports they wanted to all at once instead of making them choose one or two. My fault or not, it’s still tiring and with that comes sacrifices, some in the form of personal hygiene.

Before you avoid me like the plague, I still bathe, wash my clothes and brush my teeth, most of the time… My beard game, however, has been bordering on Jabba the Slob for the last couple months and I finally decided to take charge! I kept telling myself that I was a trendsetter and that disheveled dad was the new baby face. I wore the uneven patches of gray throughout my facial hair like a badge of honour after winning another battle over whose turn it is to shower next. The hair in my armpits bec…nah, I’m kidding, who cares about that!?

Of course, all of this is ridiculous and really comes down to simply being too lazy to shave. I considered it excellent timing from the folks at Schick that made me realize just how lazy I had become. They asked me to take the new Schick Hydro® 5 razor for a test drive and even invited 50 of you to try it out as well. More on that later, though! The new Schick Hydro® 5 system has an upgraded Hydrating Gel Reservoir which hydrates throughout each shave, a larger Guard Bar for increased skin stretch, and reduced Blade Span to minimize skin bulge which all help to get a smooth shave – all the while with the signature Flip Trimmer for hard-to-reach places. How could I say no??

So, I shaved, and suddenly being clean shaven after months of slobbery felt pretty darn good. Everyone in the house was excited for the change, especially my children who said they were tired of my beard scratching their faces. Who knew that taking some time to clean yourself up could feel so good? Well, I guess a lot of people who do it regularly knew that, but still! Of note, the Schick Hydro® 5 razor did an amazing job! Even with the thick weeds I had growing on my face it never jammed up once, which has been a problem with different razors for me in the past.

How To Get Your Hands On The New Schick Hydro® 5 Disposable Razor

As I mentioned earlier, I am not only giving away the new Schick Hydro® 5 razors for 50 people to review on Amazon.ca, but also an opportunity for one of those 50 people to win a $100 prepaid gift card! Here’s what I need from you to make that happen.

1. This is open to anyone living in Canada, excluding Quebec.
2. To leave a product review, you must have an Amazon.ca account and have purchased an item in the last 6 months.
3. Send an email to me at winwithschick@canadiandad.com with your Name, Email, Home Address and Phone Number. I will send the 1st fifty people the new Schick Hydro® 5 disposable razor along with instructions on the how to enter the $100 draw.

That’s it! Make sure to get your name in by June 23rd so you don’t miss out!!

*Disclaimer: This program is only open to age of majority residents of Canada (excluding Quebec). To participate, you must have purchased an item on Amazon.ca within the last six months; otherwise, you will be unable to leave a review. All participants will receive a Schick Hydro® 5 disposable razor as featured in this post.” Full Rules Here.

Altitude Sports Puddle

These Boots Are Made For… Everything, Apparently!

Kids are funny creatures. They are completely opposite from us grown-ups in that they don’t seem to care about things such as fashion, common sense or practicality. Okay, they are unlike ‘most’ of us grown-ups…

My son recently received new Bogs rubber boots from Altitude Sports and I was very excited about it. There’s something special about watching a child splash through puddles in rubber boots. It helps remind us of the freedom we once enjoyed as children to do whatever we pleased. The smiles on their faces as they thrash their way through the rain are enough to tell a thousands stories.

As it turns out, what I saw as a simple and practical pair of puddle jumpers meant something completely different to my son. Sure, he still loves splashing in puddles with them but much like a new pair of running shoes, his new boots came everywhere with us! Without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order, of the strangest things my son used his new rubber boots for.

Baseball Practice

Altitude Sports Baseball

*Jose Bautista also plays in rubber boots! (*Not true)

Street Hockey

Altitude Sports Hockey

Everyone knows rubber boots are best for running…

Jumping on the Bed

Altitude Sports Bed Jump

Are my kids living the dream, or what?

Soccer

Altitude Sports Soccer

Actually the rubber boots are good for unleashing crazy kicks in this case.

As you can see, my children are just as weird as yours and I couldn’t be happier about it. Having structure is cool but sometimes you just need to throw on a pair of rubber boots and jump on a bed, am I right? Please tell me your kids do this kind of stuff too…

I should also mention that Altitude Sports is a 100% Canadian company and my transactions with them have all been amazing. Their discount website, The Last Hunt, has some incredible deals from brands like Salomon and The North Face and you should definitely check it out if you don’t mind wearing the previous season’s gear.

Don’t forget to visit Altitude Sports at their Facebook and Twitter pages to say hello and to let them know that you support a solid Canadian company!

Quaker Chewy Super Grains

Why Didn’t You Eat Your Lunch??

We have asked our children this question on an almost daily basis for this entire school year. I have no idea what it is about the lunches we are packing that repulses the children so much but it seems the one thing we can count on in our house is a less than half eaten lunch when they get home from school.

When prompted about their decisions to neglect their lunches we have received a number of different, yet equally unsatisfying answers, that range from “They didn’t give us enough time!!” to the half-mumbled version of “I don’t know” that sounds kind of like Tarzan’s roar if he were to do it quietly and curtly. It is a frustrating daily exercise that we have tried to fix in a number of ways but still seem to be losing the battle.

Much like the rest of you, we have very active kids who compete in multiple sports and activities. I’m actually at a loss on how to explain to them that they need this food in order to fuel themselves throughout the day, as everything we have tried seems to go in one ear and out the other. Actually, if you guys have any tips, please feel free to share them in the comments because I am all ears! All this said, we have found a few items that the kids will eat no matter how little time their dictators, oops, I mean teachers give them.

The latest such items are the new Quaker Chewy® Super Grains granola bars, which were sent to us by Quaker for the kids to try out. In the last week since we have been sending them in the kids lunches, they are the only empty compartment in the lunch bags when they return home and the kids would eat them all in one sitting if I left them out in the open. The things I didn’t tell the kids are the reasons why I am happy they are eating them. The Quaker Chewy® Super Grains granola bars are made in a peanut-free facility and combine super grains like whole grain oats, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, sorghum, and barley to deliver 8 g of whole grains, 5 g of protein and 2 g of fibre. Remember the mention of fuel earlier? This is at least some of the fuel they will need to get through their afternoon activities.

Quaker Chewy Super Grains Kids

I will admit that the lunch time battle is far from over but I will definitely take these small victories as they come. I mean, my kids are enjoying both the Oats & Chocolate and Oats & Honey flavours of the Quaker Chewy® Super Grains granola bars. That’s a win in itself for my picky eaters and we are now one step closer to an empty lunchbox at the end of the day. Now if only we could force them to eat their fruit…

How about you? Do you have picky lunch eaters? How do you deal with it? No, seriously, please help!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but I did in fact have to hide the granola bars because my son is a granola monster who would hide in his room and eat them all in 2 minutes…