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!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

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.

Star Wars Prize Pack Fathers Day

My Top 7 “I Am Your Father” Moments {Plus Giveaway!}

Star Wars has provided me with so much joy over the years, with no line being repeated more than the classic Darth Vader shocker, “Luke, I am your father”. To celebrate the upcoming Father’s Day celebrations, I thought I would share my Top 7 “I am your father” moments! Here we go:

7. That time I told the kids to clear their plates after lunch but they forgot and then went to play outside with their friends and then found the same old half-eaten food on their plates for dinner.

6. When the kids were supposed to shower but defiantly avoided it, so I pretended the shower was broken for a week so they could be the smelly kids at school. Lessons learned.

5. When my son threatened to run away because I wouldn’t let him play on his iPad for an extra half hour and then called his bluff by letting him put his shoes on and walking all the way down the street, only to have him realize it was a bad idea and quickly run back home.

4. The day I became the “Worst Dad Ever” for not buying the toy my kid wanted, 5 minutes before their best friend invited them over for a playdate that they needed a ride to.

3. When I told the kids to bring their toys in from outside in case it rained because I wouldn’t replace them, only to have it rain on their not brought in toys, ruining them for good.

2. When my kids found out they loved sports, so my wife and I took on extra jobs to help pay for the costs of competitive sports fees because we want the kids to have the opportunity to explore their full potentials.

1. The day I realized that I get to wake up and experience something new and amazing with these kids every single day and loving every second of it regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

As you can see, for better or worse, there are plenty of “I am your father” moments throughout the days and I absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way. Speaking of that, check out this amazing Happy ‘I Am Your Father’s Day’ video made especially for the Star Wars fans out there!

How cool was that?! Now I want to hear some of your “I am your father” moments, whether they’re happy, funny or other, and I have a great Star Wars prize pack to give away to help make your Father’s Day that much more special! All you have to do to enter is using the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, but I really am a father…

Subway Panini Delicious

Try The New Subway® Canada Panini On Me!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Subway® Canada had unveiled their newest creation, paninis! I took my job of taste-testing very seriously and have now tried each panini multiple times, sometimes fitting in multiple testings in a single day. Now that I have compiled my very scientific research, I am ready to tell you which panini is the one you absolutely must have.

Here we go. Are you ready? The one panini that stands above all others and the only one that is right for you is….well, the results were actually inconclusive. You see, after falling in love at first bite with the Italian B.M.T. Melt panini, I ate it 3 straight times, ignoring the other paninis. When I finally decided to change it up, I went for the Chipotle Steak & Cheese panini and fell in love with that one, too. I’m guessing you can look ahead to where this story is headed…

Subway Panini Kids

Cute picture of my kids for no good reason!

The best panini for you will depend on the kind of day you are having. Maybe you’re feeling extra sophisticated on a certain day and decide to go with the Chicken Cordon Bleu panini. Consequently, maybe you are addicted to cheese, in which case you’d probably want to go all in with the Triple Cheese panini. All this to say that there is no one-size fits all choice when it comes to the new Subway® Canada paninis because they are all great in their own way.

I understand that some of you may be skeptical because change can be difficult, so I’m giving away a $25 Subway® Canada gift card to one lucky winner, and I’ve also been handing out Subway® Canada gift cards to random folks who have been active on my Facebook and Twitter pages! To win the prize all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll choose a winner in a few days!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and make sure you let me know what you thought of the all-new Subway® Canada panini experience!

Disclosure: I was compensated 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

Shoppers Drug Mart Flu Shot Myths

Debunking Myths About Getting The Flu Shot {Plus A Giveaway!}

I often hear people justify not getting a flu shot by saying something like, “I got the shot and STILL got a nasty stomach bug”! The problem with that logic, of course, is that the 24 hour stomach bug that seems to go around each year is not the flu, and neither is the common cold. We definitely hear a lot of different myths when it comes to getting your flu shot and I thought I would take some time to squash a few of them right now!

Myth #1 – The flu vaccine gives you the flu.

FALSE. Flu vaccinations delivered via a needle are either made with an ‘inactivated’ flu virus that’s not infectious or with no flu virus at all.

Myth #2 – You don’t need to get the flu vaccine every year.

FALSE. Almost half of Canadians (46%) say they aren’t concerned about spreading the flu to others, and the same amount say they aren’t getting vaccinated this year. But pharmacists warn Canadians – “Don’t Miss Out!”. In order to best protect yourself from the flu you need to be vaccinated annually and Canadians can drop in to their local Shoppers Drug Mart any time of day no appointment necessary to get vaccinated this season. Furthermore, the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season.

Myth #3 – You should wait until the height of flu season to get vaccinated so you’re protected for longer.

FALSE. While it’s never too late to get vaccinated, it’s best to receive your flu shot soon after it’s available, likely October. The antibodies delivered via the flu vaccine that protect you against infection take up to two weeks to take effect, and since the flu peaks between December to February it’s important to get vaccinated early so you don’t miss out on those March break plans!

Myth #4 – Pregnant women need to get consent from their doctor prior to receiving the flu vaccine.

FALSE. There is no recommendation for pregnant women to seek consent from their doctor prior to vaccination. However, there are some people who should seek their doctors’ advice prior to being vaccinated, including those who have a moderate to severe illness and patients with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Those are just a few of the misconceptions associated with the flu shot but there are many more. If you have questions regarding the flu shot, your best course of action is to stop in to your local Shoppers Drug Mart and ask to speak to the pharmacist on duty. They will be able to bust any myths and calm any concerns you might have and give you your flu shot at the same time!.

Shoppers Drug Mart Giveaway!

Alright, for being such great readers and for considering Shoppers Drug Mart for your flu shot needs, I am giving away a Cold & Flu Prize Pack which includes a $100 gift card from Shoppers Drug Mart! This should get you through any sniffles you may come across during flu season and prevent you from having to reuse tissues… This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, which I am taking part in because I believe in the flu shot.

Shoppers Drug Mart Flu Shot 3

Top 15 Things I Miss Out On When I Have The Flu

Nobody likes having the flu. For the past two months I have been encouraging you to head to your local Shoppers Drug Mart to get your flu shot and I will do so again right now. It only takes a couple minutes and could potentially help you fend off this year’s flu virus. In an effort to further convince you to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to get your flu shot, I have made a list of the Top 15 Things I Miss Out On When I Have The Flu. After reading this, I’d like you to consider what you’d miss most if you were to get sick. Enjoy!

1. Snuggling with the kids.
2. Yelling at the kids for accidentally kicking me because they can’t just sit still for 5 seconds while trying to snuggle.
3. Exercise. Although not exercising would help your odds of making the Olympic Couch Surfing team.
4. Food. Nothing tastes good when you are sick so you miss out on family favourites such as Meatball Monday, Taco Tuesday and Pizza Wednesday through Sunday!
5. Kids activities. That megaphone won’t run itself at your son’s hockey games.
6. Work! Haha, just kidding.
7. Jogging…to the fridge during commercials.
8. Sky Diving. What? It could happen…
9. Family activities like apple picking, tobogganing, skating and hardcore wrestling!
10. Playing games, such as Monopoly, with the kids. Actually, on second thought…
11. Re-enacting the last episode of Game of Thrones with my buddies the day after it airs.
12. Crushing the neighbourhood kids in street hockey. Because they need to learn that trophies are earned, not given!
13. Running for Prime Minister. Getting the flu is the only reason I haven’t run for office yet. The ONLY reason.
14. Mascot camp. Stop judging! Like you’ve never wanted to pretend to be a mascot for a week.
15. Taking my middle-aged dads rock band from the garage to the top of the charts!

I’m not sure why anyone would risk missing out on any of these amazing experiences by not simply taking 5 minutes to get their flu shot. To further entice you to pop in to your local Shoppers Drug Mart, I am giving away an amazing gift pack that also includes a $100 Shoppers gift card! Think of all the Kleenex you could buy with that!! Good luck and happy flu shotting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, which I am taking part in because I believe in the flu shot.