STIHL Neighbour Kids

Tips On How To Be A Good Neighbour!

Having lived in the same house for almost a decade now, I have managed to develop a pretty good relationship with my neighbours. I know that we live in a different world than our parents did, when all neighbours talked and hung out all the time, so I wanted to share some tips on how you can achieve neighbourly success!

In no particular order, here are my Top 5 tips for being a great neighbour:

1. Watch Their Pool For Them While They Are Away

STIHL Pool Swim

Look, being a good neighbour is a tough job and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and agree to take care of your neighbour’s pool for a few days in the summer while they are away. It not a fun job but it is your duty as a good neighbour to get in that pool and make sure it is staying at a reasonable temperature. How would you feel if you came home from vacation to a cold pool???

2. Help With Yard Maintenance

STIHL Neighbour Helper

Living in Canada, there are many factors that go into helping out with property maintenance. For instance, I share a lawn with a neighbour who works multiple jobs to support his family, so I generally take care of the front yard work for the both of us. In the winter, however, I will often find my walkway cleared of snow very early in the morning.

Everyone plays a role or has a “toy” that they use to help others. One of my neighbours bought a snow blower and helps clear the piles of snow at the bottom of the driveway after the plow comes. I have been enjoying being the neighbour that owns the STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw because it feels good to know you’re contributing something to the area. Just the other day, I noticed a neighbour using a handsaw while trying to dig up some roots from a plant they were moving. It would have taken them hours to get it done, but because my STIHL Chainsaw is both cordless and lightweight, it got the job done in minutes. Needless to say, we spent a good hour admiring our work afterward but that’s because we were so impressed with how quickly the STIHL chainsaw got the job done! Bonus feature that helps in being a good neighbour: the STIHL Lithium-Ion MSA 120 Chainsaw is over 17 decibels quieter than the gas powered MS 170 chainsaw, making it as quiet as an electric drill. This feature significantly reduces neighborhood noise levels and will create much less of a disturbance for your neighbours when pulling out your chainsaw for required yard work.

3. Driveway Rental Service (With Optional Sangria!)

STIHL Driveway Friends

No good neighbourhood would be complete without a musical chairs of driveway parties! It really is the best way to get to know your neighbours, after-all. Everyone brings a couple food items, the kids get some water play in and the grown-ups settle in for some relaxation after a busy work week. Ours happen to include sangria but you make yours work in your own way!

4. Take Turns Watching Each Other’s Kids

STIHL Neighbour Kids

Look, it takes a village to raise kids, right? Well, in this case, sometimes it takes a minivan, 1 hour of trampoline time and a dinner at Lonestar, while you and your significant other spend uninterrupted time doing what you both love to do. That’s right, I’m talking about napping.

5. Provide Pet Sitting Services

STIHL Pet Sitting

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a strict “no pets” rule at the moment. With kids in competitive sports and our work schedules being different, I feel it would be irresponsible of us to subject a dog to that much alone time. That said, I don’t mind borrowing pets from time to time and we have had guests such as hamsters, gerbils, fish and even a dog a couple times. It definitely goes a long way to keeping the “Pro Pet” folks in our house happy, which is basically everyone but me…

These are just a few of the things that have worked for us and hopefully they work for you, too! My suggestion is to go grab some hamburgers and maybe even one of STIHL’s Lithium-Ion Chainsaws, so you can start on your way to winning at neighbouring!

Disclosure: I was provided a STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw to facilitate this post.

Viamede Resort Family Getaway

Viamede Resort Is The Perfect Family Getaway!

We had the privilege of being invited to spend the past weekend at the wonderful Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake in Woodview, Ontario. While you may have seen some of my posts on social media, I wanted to write out a bit more about the trip so you can understand why we can’t wait to visit again!

The main thing that sets Viamede apart from other resorts we’ve stayed at is that from the moment you check in, you feel as though you are part of a small community. The staff were all very welcoming and especially amazing with the kids. The other guests felt like neighbours by the end of the weekend and we were free to do as many or as few of the activities as we wanted, any time we felt like doing them. Need more proof? One of the unlisted activities was the ability to take the owner’s golden retriever for a walk if you wanted to get some extra exercise. How cool is that?

Viamede Resort View

As small as the resort felt, there was actually so much to do that a weekend wasn’t enough time to get to it all. On my list for our next visit are a game of Disc Golf with my son, a fancy dinner at Mount Julian with my wife, fishing and an afternoon in the activity field, playing soccer with my daughter. That said, we did get a lot of fun in during our stay, so here are a few highlights!

Turtle Catching!

Viamede Resort Turtles

During dinner on our first night, Viamede owner, Ben Samann came into the restaurant with a baby snapping turtle and brought it around the tables so the kids could hold it. When he mentioned that there could be more baby turtles making the treacherous trip across the parking lot in the coming days, I knew it meant that my animal loving daughter would be out there for the rest of the trip.

Considering they are the size of a small rock, I was skeptical that we would find any more turtles but my daughter is persistent and wouldn’t you know it, she found not one, but TWO more baby turtles the next day! Seeing the excitement in her face as she brought them to the front desk is something I won’t soon forget. They got them some water and kept them at the front desk for everyone to visit throughout the day and my daughter beamed with pride as they pointed her out as the rescuer. This was the highlight of the trip for me and I was even more proud when she turned down the reward of 25 cents per turtle because she was just happy they were going to make it safely to the lake.

The Food!

I mentioned earlier that we didn’t get a chance to visit the Mount Julien restaurant but we did have multiple meals at The Boathouse and they were all equally excellent, especially the french fries! I don’t want to say I am a picky eater but once I find something I like at a restaurant, I generally stick with it. I decided to go with a new meal all three times we visited The Boathouse and I may have to start broadening my horizons at other restaurants as well! The meal plan also comes with a dessert and I want to give a special shout-out to the Apple Fritters & Ice Cream I had with every meal. I’m still dreaming of you and can’t wait until we meet again.

The Water

Viamede Resort Lake Pool Kayak

While the pool is always a highlight of any family vacation, Viamede Resort outdoes all of that by providing 3 different options for water fun! First and foremost, there is the beach on Stoney Lake. What I really loved about Viamede is that they had canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and life jackets just sitting down by the water. No need to sign in and out, you just take what you want to use and enjoy yourself! As you can see from the picture above, I decided to try something new and it may or may not have worked out for me… Oh, they also has a sweet water trampoline out on the lake, which my kids had some epic battles on!

Viamede Resort Pool

On top of the fun at the lake, there are also 2 pools! One outdoor pool for the hot days and an amazing indoor pool that ensures you can still have fun in the water in case a storm rolls through. I will say that we spent quite a bit of time in the indoor pool because it was mostly empty and they had this really cool waterway that went from indoors to outdoors. The kids thought that was hilarious and had a blast in the water!

Endless List of Activities!

Viamede Resort Activities

I mentioned earlier that there was so much to do at Viamede that we couldn’t fit it all in, but we did get quite a bit accomplished during our short stay. To be honest, we probably could have done more but turtle catching fever really took over. That said, Viamede has a cool little farm on site that you can check out at your leisure. There were baby pigs and turkeys, as well as some very loud and awesome roosters. On top of that, we spent many hours playing ping pong, foosball, darts, basketball, yoga, tennis and many more activities that are freely accessible throughout the stay.

Viamede Resort Farm Piglets

All in all we had a blast at Viamede Resort and will absolutely be back again! It was the perfect balance between relaxation and excitement, with some amazing food thrown in! I’m happy to answer any questions you all may have about the resort in case you decide to check it out for yourself.

Viamede Resort Boathouse Pub

Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Viamede Resort as their guests for the weekend. That said, it was amazing and we can’t wait to return next summer!

Medieval Times Toronto Knights

Why Medieval Times Is A Must-Visit Attraction!

I love a good sporting event as much as the next person and with professional sports teams in all 5 major sports, Toronto is definitely not lacking in the “things to do” department. Other than soccer, I have attended events for each of the other 4 sports on multiple occasions, but there’s one Toronto attraction missing from the list that might be my favourite of them all.

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Medieval Times was kind enough to host my family this past weekend for an evening of fun, fighting and amazing food! It was at least my 5th time attending the Toronto Castle and every visit has been more fun than the last. Honestly, which other sporting event can you attend where they actually encourage you to be rowdy and taunt the other opponents?? Sure, you COULD do that at a baseball game but you will definitely end up as the center of attention as people turn away from you, embarrassed.

If you’ve never been to Medieval Times before, the premise is that there are 6 knights who battle it out in a last man standing competition. Each spectator is assigned a knight to cheer for and are also told which knight is their arch nemesis so you can boo them mercilessly! We drew the yellow knight this time around and while there are no pictures of me during the show, I can assure you that our arch nemesis, the blue knight and his fans, knew who I was by the end of the show!

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Besides the amazing show, there are many other reasons to love the Medieval Times experience. One such reason is that every time your knight succeeds in an event, he gets a flower to hand out to one lucky fan in his section. For the 2nd year in a row, guess who got the first flower?? Now, you might think to yourself, “who cares, it’s just the top of a carnation?”, but I can assure you that the excitement on her face was enough to melt this dad’s heart.

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Finally, it would be ridiculous to talk about how great Medieval Times is without discussing the meal. I will admit as a parent to picky eaters, my kids didn’t eat too much of the meal but that simply meant more chicken and potatoes for dad! Seriously, though, the food at Medieval Times is absolutely amazing! I’m always fascinated when a meal that is being made for over a hundred people still tastes like I would expect from a restaurant.

Medieval Times Toronto Meal

And yes, we couldn’t resist the spoils from the gift shop… If you haven’t visited the Medieval Times Toronto Castle, or any other castle, that is, I highly recommend giving it a shot the next time your family is nearby. My only advice to you is that you go into it ready to be loud and to have fun!

Medieval Times Toronto

Disclosure: Medieval Times hosted my family for our most recent visit to the Toronto Castle, however I have loved the show since the first time I went.

Disney Dream Cruise Ship

My Completely Biased, Non-Objective Review Of Our Disney Cruise

Yep, you read the title correctly. As I sat here and framed out this blog post, I realized that I didn’t have a single bad thing to say about our recent trip aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship. We were there as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration conference but my opinion of the cruise has nothing to do with that either. It was just a really, really fun experience and is something we are absolutely going to do again!

Let me walk through it from start to finish as best I can remember it all. I’ll try to throw in some tips along the way but seeing as how it was my first Disney cruise, what the heck do I know about tips and tricks? That said, tip #1 is to try to get an early boarding time if possible. Boarding was quick and easy, with the added touch of having your family announced on the loud speakers as you walk onto the ship as the staff are all lined up clapping for you. It felt like we were walking the red carpet! I say to try to board early because we walked by the main lobby a couple hours later and people were still being announced! All I could think of was how sore the staff members’ hands would be from all the clapping.

Disney Dream Sail Away Party

Tip #2, which probably should have been tip #1, is to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. You will get an itinerary left in your room each day but the app was a far better resource in finding out what was happening on the ship at any given time. It’s also handy for its chat feature in case you get split up on the ship. We mostly used it to find out when the character meetings would be so we could get there early to avoid lines.

Disney Dream Cinderella

Speaking of Disney characters, they were everywhere! There was definitely no shortage of character meetings and we never saw a line that was excessively long. On the last night of the cruise, you are treated to a long list of characters and it was amazing to see both children and adults alike, myself included, smiling for pictures with Mickey, Minnie and the gang. You can’t help but relive a bit of your childhood while surrounded by so much joy.

Disney Dream Mickey and Dad

Oh, Tip #3, which should actually be tip #1, then bumping the last tip that should have been #1 to #2… Anyway, you should definitely pre-plan your vacation in advance by reading reviews of the ship and even joining a Disney cruise group or two on Facebook. They are incredibly helpful and will have you feeling like a cruise veteran from the minute you get on the ship. Knowing about things like door magnets, fish extenders, pirate night and where the best seats are for the shows can really enhance your experience.

Speaking of the shows, every single one of them was amazing! I’m not just talking about the shows in the beautiful Walt Disney Theatre either. The sail away party, fireworks display and pirate party were all really fun for the kids as well. Tip #4, we grabbed the same spot on the upper deck, right next to the stage for each show and it was a great view for the kids. There isn’t tiered viewing from the main deck so it made it seem like if you weren’t in the front row, you wouldn’t get the best view of the fun. Also, we spent the extra money on pirate makeovers at the Pirates League in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the kids ended up looking amazing and loving their new pirate looks. I have to admit I was skeptical about spending the money, as it wasn’t cheap, but it was totally worth it.

Disney Dream Pirate Night

I forgot to mention the big production shows! Not being a big theatre guy, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the shows on board the Disney Dream but they absolutely blew my mind! The first night we were treated to the Golden Mickeys, which was an award show with some amazing performances. Tip #5, maybe, if your kids like to be a part of the shows, you’ll want to sit in the front row for this one as Snow White needs a few extra dwarves and that’s where we saw them pick the kids from. The next night we were treated to a Beauty and the Beast show that easily could have been on Broadway, not that I’ve ever been to Broadway, but in my mind it was Broadway-worthy! Finally, the show I was least interested in attending prior to attending was called Disney’s Believe. As it turns out, it ended up being my favourite of the trip and not just because it was the story of a workaholic father and a daughter who wants him to find his imagination again. So what if I cried during the show, it’s totally acceptable in today’s society!

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Where was I? Ah yes, the shows were great and the popcorn was even better, which brings us to Tip #6. Not everything is covered on the trip. Popcorn is one of those things but you can cut the cost considerably by purchasing the refillable container on your first day aboard the Disney Dream. Refills are only about $1 after that so you and your kids can enjoy as much as you want without breaking the bank!

Since I mentioned food, we might as well talk about it. This might be the single greatest reason why I would choose a Disney Cruise over almost any other vacation from now on. Every meal I ate became the greatest meal I have ever had and while that sounds like an exaggeration, I promise you I was melting into my seat with each bite. I’m a terrible food photographer but I am excellent at eating food, so I mostly stuck to that skill.

Disney Dream Family Dinner

We had a couple meals at the Enchanted Palace, including (tip #7) lunch immediately after boarding the ship, which I highly recommend doing as it is not very busy at this time. We also ate dinner at the Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate, both of which were excellent. Animator’s Palate was neat because there were video screens on the walls and characters were pop up from time to time and talk to them. I’d also love to give a shout-out to our dinner crew, Ravindra and I Made, who made our dining experience a magical one. From making Mickey Mouse out of ketchup blobs to performing magic tricks for the kids throughout our stay, they were the best duo we could have asked for. Side note and tip #8, there are 2 dinner service times, so make sure you sign up for the one you want way before your trip. Our kids are better suited for the 8pm time slot, so it worked out that I screwed up and didn’t pick one in time. You have no excuse now!

Hands down, the coolest feature on the Disney Dream cruise ship has to be the Kids Club. What is Kids Club, you ask? Well, Kids Club is a magical section of the ship where you simply drop your kids off and then go up to your room for a nap, errr, I mean, you go off and explore all the fun places on the ship that kids aren’t allowed to go, such as the adults only swimming area, packed with a pool, hot tub, lounge chairs and bar service.

Disney Dream Games Room Kids Club

Back to Kids Club, it is a place for kids to hang out any time throughout the day or night to not only give parents some time alone but also for the kids to have a blast and meet other kids. We were allowed to tour the club during the open house on the first day but it was no parents allowed from that point on. Kids Club has a video game room, a movie room, a craft room and a ton of activities planned throughout the cruise such as baking and slime making. There is also an amazing mock-up of the Millennium Falcon that you can sit in and control. Yes, I was jealous. The security is extremely tight when picking the kids up and you get to create a secret password that you have to tell the counsellor before taking your kids out of the club. Tip #9, don’t pick a stupid password like I did because you will be forced to continue saying it throughout the weekend and it never starts to sound less dumb.

Disney Dream Milennium Falcon Kids Club

Also, of note, you know how you go out for dinner and your kids finish their meals before you’ve even taken your first bite of food and then they pepper you with questions and hang off your arms talking about how bored they are for the rest of the meal? Yeah, not on the Disney Dream! One hour after you have been seated, counsellors from the Kids Club come into the restaurant and take your kids to the club with them so you and your significant other can enjoy the rest of your meal, and possibly a fancy drink, and possibly dessert, and maybe a 2nd dessert…

I talked about the adult’s only pool area but there were also a bunch of bars/clubs on the ship for the after-hours crowd. While I’m not much of an after-hours person these days, I did spend a couple nights in the very fancy, Pink, bar. While it is technically a champagne bar, our server, Pen, was more than happy to grab us our favourite IPAs from the bar next door. Tip #10, the next time you cruise on the Disney Dream, please go in and say hi to Pen for me. She was a great host and loves entertaining people!

Disney Dream Kids Ship

Look, even I’m tired of writing at this point but this stuff is important, so stay with me here another couple minutes, okay? I only have a couple more things and then I’ll finish with a flurry of extra short form notes.

The Disney Dream 3-night cruise docks at Nassau, Bahamas and again at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which is pronounced Castaway “Key” for some reason I never bothered to ask about. When I found out that there was a Castaway 5K run, that also came with a fancy medal, I decided to register myself and the kids. It was a lot tougher than I expected and the kids embarrassed me by lapping me and laughing while they did it… Still, I finished, got the medal and then ate some delicious BBQ on the beach!

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Castaway Cay was definitely one of the bigger highlights of the trip for us. Even with her cast on, my daughter had an amazing time in the water, which, by the way, was ice cold, as I pulled her around in an inner tube. We shared fancy, age appropriate drinks, ate amazing BBQ food and lounged like we never have before. There are plenty of excursions you can book for your day on the island but we choose to make it as relaxing a day as possible, which was absolutely the right call for us.

Disney Dream Castaway Cay

Okay, I promised to end with a flurry, so here are a few other notes from our time on the Disney Dream!

1. I was very impressed with the emphasis put on cleanliness aboard the Disney Dream. Not that I expected it to be gross but the ship was immaculate. Every restaurant, event and especially the Kids Club required you to either wash your hands or use a sanitizing wipe before entering and it was great to see how seriously they treated those pesky germs!

2. Our cruise director, Mike, was amazing. We met him on day 1 and he told my daughter he’d have to sign her cast later in the trip. Well, true to his word, we found him on our last night and he not only signed her cast but spent some time asking her about herself. What a great guy!

3. We found out that you can order milk & cookies before bed through room service. Consider this Tip #11.

4. Finally, a huge shout out to Shilpa in Guest Services, who definitely had the biggest positive impact on the trip for us. I can’t really get into it because I’m not sure if she was supposed to do what she did for the kids, but rest assured, they will never forget her kindness, and neither will we. Disney has a great one in her and if you happen to be aboard the Disney Dream, you should definitely go down and give her a high five for us!

Disney Dream Family

I’m sure there are a million things I forgot to talk about but this should cover all your basic needs when it comes to climbing aboard a Disney cruise for the first time! It quite literally was a dream come true to sail aboard the Disney Dream and we will absolutely return for a future cruise! That said, if you do have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or shoot me an email chris@canadiandad.com! Cheers!

Cirque Du Soleil Corteo

Win A Family 4-Pack To Opening Night Of Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo!

Disclosure, I was provided with tickets to the show in exchange for this post.

It wasn’t until my daughter started gymnastics a few years ago that I could truly appreciate the beauty and difficulty of a Cirque Du Soleil show. I’m sure that sounds ridiculous because of course it’s difficult to do what they do, but after seeing my daughter break her arm on a relatively common gymnastics move, I can’t imagine the skill and concentration it must take to fly through the air, gripping only a piece of metal or cloth the way the Cirque performers do!

In fact, up until recently, I thought there were open tryouts for Cirque Du Soleil and had even started putting together my audition portfolio. As it turns out, being really good at softball and a decent all around athlete in your youth does not qualify you for Cirque fame… Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be able to use these photos for something else down the road.

Canadian Dad Cirque Du Soleil Audition

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While a career in acrobatics may not be in my future, I will certainly be attending the upcoming Cirque Du Soleil show, Corteo, with my family when it comes to my hometown of Ottawa from June 27 to July 1 at the Canadian Tire Centre this summer. To celebrate it’s arrival, I want you to be able to enjoy the show, too!! If you’d like to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to opening night of the show in Ottawa, simply fill out as many entries as you’d like on the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll choose a winner in a couple weeks!

“Join the parade and get carried away with life!”

CORTEO brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth. You can get a sneak peek of the show by checking out this Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo Trailer!

If this is your first time attending a Cirque Du Soleil show, I am so excited for you and promise you will be counting the minutes until they return again! Hope to see you there!!

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Rogers Huawei P10

Ringing In The New Year With A Giveaway From Rogers & Huawei Mobile Canada!!

Happy New Year!! After a much needed break from the internet, I am happy to be back for another amazing year of writing, videos and hijinx!! First things first though, I wanted to help you get your new year off on the right foot by bringing you a number of different giveaways on my various social channels!

Thanks to my friends at Rogers, I have a pile of goodies to share with all of you and I can’t wait to give it all away! I’m starting things off right here with the biggest of the prizes by giving away the Huawei P10 smartphone and accessory kit, courtesy of Huawei Mobile Canada!! That’s right, you didn’t get that new phone you were hoping for this Christmas? No worries, Rogers and I have you covered!

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll be bringing home with you as the winner of the giveaway! I’d love to take the credit for this but it is all Rogers and Huawei Mobile Canada’s doing, so be sure to thank them!

All you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter options as you’d like and I’ll select a winner in a couple weeks! The giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Good luck and all the best in 2018!!

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LEGO Boost 1

Building Just Got A Lot More Fun With LEGO Boost! {Giveaway!}

Like almost every kid out there, my children love building with LEGO! Over the years, our building habits have evolved from simply putting together the sets from the instructions, to creating whatever pops in to our heads, but the constant is that LEGO keeps us busy and creative for hours at a time.

With my son taking part in the Coding Club at his school, something I am constantly jealous of, I was excited to hear about LEGO’s newest product, LEGO Boost! Boost is a 5-in-1 model that introduces building and coding in one super-charged LEGO set, letting children add sound, movement and personality to their LEGO creations, bringing to life anything they can imagine! The LEGO BOOST Toolkit recently arrived on our doorstep and the kids were very excited to start their #BUILDwithBOOST adventure!

LEGO Boost 3

You can choose to build any of the 5 models, including Frankie the Cat, Guitar4000 and the M.T.R.4. We choose to start with Vernie the Robot as he seemed like a ton of fun! The kids and I had different ideas about how to start our new project, with them wanting to dump all 11 bags out at once, while I wanted a more level-headed and dadly approach. Needless to say, dad won that round!

LEGO Boost 2

After that, we downloaded the free LEGO Boost app and got started on building Vernie! Before we continue, please note that a tablet running iOS 10.3 and newer/Android 5.0 or above is required to build and play with LEGO® Boost™, so make sure your device is compatible by visiting LEGO.com/DeviceCheck before purchasing.

The app was amazing and very easy for the kids to follow along with. Full disclosure here, with 832 pieces, dad helped a little with the building as the kids were so excited to start giving commands to their creation. Plus, I am a giant child, so the opportunity to build with LEGO is still an exciting prospect for me…

LEGO Boost 4

Once Vernie the Robot was complete, the real full began! First things first, the kids absolutely fought over who would get to test him out first, which was ultimately decided by a rousing game of rock, paper, scissors. I was amazed watching as my kids used the LEGO Boost app to learn how to code on the spot and they had Vernie doing all sorts of tricks within a matter of minutes.

LEGO Boost 5

For the last week now, the first thing the kids want to do when they wake up and then get home from school is to play with their new robot friend. I’m usually careful about how much screen time they are getting but I can’t complain about it when they are teaching themselves how to code while also having a blast with their LEGO. Next up for us will be checking out the incredible BOOST BOTS series on YouTube, where we’ll be able to see what is possible with LEGO BOOST for those of us who like to put away the instruction manuals!

LEGO Boost 6

I honestly can’t say enough good things about LEGO Boost and if your kids are into LEGO, or coding, this would make the perfect gift for them! And because I believe in this product so much, I want to put a LEGO Boost in your home this holiday season! Feel free to fill out as many Rafflecopter entries below as you’d like and I’ll be giving away a LEGO Boost kit to one lucky reader!! Giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec.

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Disclosure: We received a LEGO Boost kit to facilitate this post, however it really is one of the best toys we’ve ever played with!

Win A Maplelea Girls Doll Just In Time For The Holidays!

Our daughter has never really been interested in toys. Of course, we still bought her all the toys and then watched as they mostly went ignored and un-played with. It makes sense considering she spends 20 hours a week in competitive gymnastics, which leaves little time for toys. The one exception to this rule, however, is when it comes to her Maplelea Girls dolls.

She takes her Maplelea dolls, Taryn and Alexi, everywhere she goes and I often wonder whether she is a better parent to them than we are to her and her brother… I kid, of course, but she really, really loves playing with her dolls and I absolutely love hearing the imaginative things she comes up with for them. We even held a big birthday party for Taryn last year, with restaurant singing and all! Check it out!

Honestly, how great was Lonestar for playing along and making our daughter’s night there? Just awesome! As you can see, the love for her Maplelea Girls is very real and we couldn’t be happier that she has something in her life that fosters this kind of creativity. I do have to admit being a little bit jealous though, as Taryn and Alexi have way more clothes than I do…but that’s a story for another time!

Maplelea Girls Doll

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to give the gift of a Maplegirls Girls doll to one of you, to help make your child’s day a little brighter! All you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entries you feel like and I’ll choose a winner in a couple weeks. Good luck!!

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Disclosure: Maplelea sent my daughter a new doll (Alexi) in exchange for our participation in this giveaway, which scored me a huge amount of dad cred!

Sears Canada Back To School

Win A $300 Sears Canada Gift Card In Time For Back To School!

There may still be a couple weeks of summer left but it’s Back To School shopping season for parents! Whether you’re sad to see summer come to an end or excited to get back to a structured schedule, you can’t escape the fact that clothing and accessories need to be acquired and I’m going to send you on a Sears Canada shopping spree to help you get it all done!

Sears Canada holds a place close to my heart as my grandmother worked there for years and would take me there on the bus at least once a week for many, many years of my youth. I don’t remember much from those years but I do remember hanging in the shoe department and the fact that she used to have a bag full of used tissues that she’d pull out to clean my face. I know that has nothing to do with Sears, I just wanted to throw it in there…

Where was I?? Oh yeah, I took the kids to Sears Canada this week to do our back to school shopping and while I’ll be writing about the full experience later in the week, I can say that I was amazed at how much stuff we were able to get for the budget we had set. I was also impressed with the Sears private label clothing line, as were my kids, which you can see in the above photo.

So, how do you win this amazing shopping experience?? Simply fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entries you feel comfortable with and I’ll draw the winning name in a weeks time! Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.