Category: Lifestyle

Cherish Family Moments with Medieval Times #MTCelebrate

The holidays are a hectic time of the year. This busy schedule starts in November and goes right up until the last present is opened. There are tears, frustration, success, happiness, lots of food and more. The only downfall? Not enough time to just spend together and focus on your family. There is always something else to bake, wrap and another party to attend and sometimes the true reason for the holidays is lost.

The kids were about a week into their school holiday, the Christmas get togethers were done and we strongly felt that we needed a day to focus on our family. We wanted no cooking, no cleaning and no technology to disturb us – just laughs, quality time and fun.

What better way to achieve all of this then to travel to the Middle Ages with Medieval Times?

Not only was it a break for Mom and Dad from cooking and cleaning, the entertainment and education value for the kids is superb (honestly as a Mom, this is a huge win for me if I can get my kids learning without even realizing it). A complete win-win for every family member!

We did a bit of research on jousting and a medieval feast, starting with the Medieval Times website and then doing our own searches online. Our youngest was really curious about how the jousting happened, if they would really injure each other and how a winner was chosen.

I strongly suggest arriving at the Medieval Times castle prior to the doors opening (roughly seventy five minutes before the start of the show). We were greeted by Lord Cedric and the Queen and welcomed into her Castle in true royal style at that seventy five minute mark and it was worth waiting for. I was a bit nervous on how they would assign seats, but they have a truly efficient system set up that moved the flow of traffic from the front doors into the great hall quickly while still enjoying the atmosphere, allowing you to take photos and take in the design of the castle and pictures with the Queen.

We really wanted our younger kids to fully immerse themselves in the experience and purchased the knighting ceremony add on for them. Both of the kids were made a Princess and a Knight of the Realm in a special ceremony in the Great Hall prior to the start of the show. The looks on their faces was just priceless. The Queen knighted them and presented them to all of the people in attendance for their great acts of courage battling a dragon.

We were then allowed to wander the hall until the show started. We found swords, a falcon, and so much more. Once we were allowed to sit, the excitement level went through the roof! Between the lights, sitting in the benches, cheering for our knights with the serving wenches and the realization that they get to only eat with their hands, the anticipation and excitement was incredible.

The show itself has something for everyone – an incredible falcon show (the falcon flew so close to us, our youngest was convinced it hit one of the crowns), the horse display and then the knights. It is hard to pinpoint one part that we loved the most – it was all executed so well with such great attention to detail. You truly feel as though you have stepped back in time.

The knights were fantastic to watch as they completed challenges and then jousting. Our yellow and red knight started off very strong but was ultimately defeated. They were animated, full of strength and bravery – they were truly a pleasure to watch as they performed.

Ready to plan your visit?

Head over to Medieval Times now to book your trip – right now you can save 40% on adult tickets and 20% on children tickets using the code USF4020. The code is valid until September 30, 2020 so you have a lot of time to take advantage of this fantastic deal. Make sure to check on the extra add ons for your trip (they are well worth it).

Feeling lucky? Enter to win tickets now here (good luck!).

What would you celebrate at Medieval Times?

Make sure to follow Medieval Times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with promotions, giveaways and more.

Disclosure: I received tickets in order to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Strengthening Confidence and Ease: #theOriginalStretchlace

When I first heard the word Stretchlace and how it created slip ons out of any shoes, I was intrigued by the hows.

I visited their website and kept looking at the images, the laces didn’t look any different, it didn’t change the look of the shoe or how the model wore the shoes, so how did these actually work?

The creator of Strechlace (Jamie Montz) originally developed the laces to help her three boys learn to tie their shoes. How many parents here can relate to that?! This is one of the most trying lessons to teach as a parent. What seems like an easy concept, can end in tears and frustration. Even when they do master the skill, there will be moments when they will struggle, their laces will come undone during an important game and they will panic.

Stretchlaces are just that – they stretch. When they came in the mail, I wasn’t sure if there was a trick to them and I am going to be honest, I kept looking for instructions in the box. I expected them to have a loop somewhere or that they would need to be threaded differently in your child’s shoes. I can be quite honest with you, I had to google to make sure all that I had to do was thread them and then tie to them to ensure they are tied properly on your child’s feet.

After they were tied, because of the stretchy material in the laces, it gives the shoes that extra room for your child to slip the shoe on and off. That was the real magic, it is the extra give in the laces that allows the shoes to come on and off easily.

As most children (and adults), already like to slide their shoes on and off, we know the damage this causes to our shoes (or our walls as they ricochet off your child’s feet when they wont slide on!). Shoes with regular laces are not meant to slip on and off, the stretchy material in these laces changes that.

Here is what I loved the most:

  • The stretchlaces look identical to regular laces! This is so important for younger children, who don’t want to look different than their peers.
  • They are easy to thread through the shoes and once on and tied, you can forget about having to re-tie the shoes.
  • The company offers fifteen different colours, allowing your child to express themselves and to better match their shoes.
  • The company also offers nine different lengths of laces, which allows people of all ages to benefit from the laces.

I didn’t list it here because only time will tell, but I do have a strong suspicion that this will actually increase the life span of my son’s shoes. He breaks the backs on them quite frequently (I am also guilty of this as I don’t untie my shoes to take them off) because he turns them into slip ons, when they were not meant to be. I suspect because of the extra give in the front of the shoes, this will not happen anymore.

What I also noticed (and can fully appreciate), is how many adults would benefit from these laces.

Adults that may have any type of mobility issue which can make it difficult to bend, pull and tie, would benefit greatly from these laces – once they are tied to fit their feet, they will no longer struggle with these actions. I also noticed how Jamie mentioned that it also benefits those who suffer from swollen feet (right here!!), parents who have their hands full all the time, and those with special needs.

The Stretchlace is reasonably priced, with prices starting at $9.99 and can be purchased on their website.

Want to learn more? Visit the Original Stretchlace website and make sure to follow Stretchlace on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Middle Eastern Cuisine in Hamilton: Paramount Fine Foods

Hamilton has become recognized in the GTAH area in the last several years for the development of great restaurants, great shopping and cultural experiences. You can find excellent restaurants that offer you more than just the commercialized dining experience.

Located on Upper James and just past Stonechurch Road in Hamilton, is Paramount Fine Foods. Don’t let the name throw you off – they are an unique, family centred, high end restaurant serving delicious Middle Eastern cuisine. I was not actually aware that the location was even there (thinking that the closest one to us was in Mississauga area!). The location is ideal – close to major shopping stores, car dealerships and the main parkway (Lincoln Alexander Parkway) that connects the east and west mountain and major highways (Highway 403 and Red Hill Valley Parkway) entering into Hamilton.

The restaurant itself has a laid back but upscale environment. It felt like we were walking into a family’s home – we felt welcome and enjoyed the warmth and presence of the restaurant. The atmosphere is warm and elegant with a lot of attention paid to the small details. The staff were extremely welcoming, kind and helpful.

The restaurant even includes a small child’s playground area, which when you are dining with kids is an excellent option to have. They can get bored sometimes waiting for their food to arrive, they tend to finish faster and so on. Having an option for them to go play, climb and explore is a fantastic option for parents, who really just want to relax during their meal and take everything in (especially when you don’t get out much!). Even with having the play area in the restaurant, the noise level was never high and it was never distracting (in fact the kids were adorable as they tried to climb the highest).

The food at Paramount Fine Foods is divine. You can taste the quality of the ingredients and the love and pride that they put into their food. I don’t think that there is anything on the menu that we don’t like – from their manakeesh (cheese is my favourite), to their shared platters to featured mains like lamb chops, there is something for everyone on their menu.

The restaurant also features a children’s menu if you have a picky eater or want smaller portion sizes. We are easily able to share a platter as a family of four with everyone getting something they love (funny enough on the platter – the favourite is the rice and beef skewers and shawarma!). Bonus – everyone is completely stuffed by the end of the meal (like make sure you have stretchy pants on because your stomach will be full and satisfied!).

You can learn more about the Paramount Fine Foods story on their website. Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: We were invited to visit Paramount Fine Foods in Hamilton. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Bringing Communities Together: Pokémon GO #SafariZone

How many of you grew up as a fan of Pokémon?

In my childhood home, my siblings and I were huge fans of Pokémon. We loved watching the shows, purchasing our favourite keepsakes (still have our giant Pikachu pillow from twenty years ago!). Pokemon was a huge part of our childhood but as we grew older, the craze died down a bit and it became more of a fond childhood memory.

That was until the Pokémon GO app was released and we were able to rediscover the world of Pokémon all over again. But this time it was an enhanced experience where we could connect with others in real life.

Not familiar with the game? In the app (can be downloaded on either the Apple Store or Google Play), users create an avatar and explore the world of Pokémon by moving through their everyday routines. The app shows your world on the screen and intertwines the Pokémon world within it (gyms, PokeStops, Pokémon, etc). You can capture new Pokémon, make friends, battle in raids and complete challenges for rewards.

What makes this game even more special for us?

That we can participate as a family – my kids LOVE the world of Pokémon! It has brought us closer as a family, as we spend several hours a week going for walks, going to parks, hiking and playing the game together. We have discovered new locations in our community and even at my work on campus (I found new sculptures on campus that I never knew even existed). It not only gets us active but learning about our community and each other. As a parent, there is no greater feeling then seeing the smile on your child’s face as they speak about something they love.

The second best part? The amazing trainer community. The trainers in our area are a special group of people that support, laugh and encourage us. At the last community day, we headed out to the Bay Front and my kids were giving high fives and receiving congratulations on their captures. The feeling was so special and so difficult to put into words. There is such a strong sense of community and inclusiveness in this global community. The game brings together people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Pokémon GO Safari Zone at Montreal

This past weekend my family and I had the privilege of attending Pokémon GO Safari Zone in Montreal. To say my son was excited was an understatement – he had a countdown and could barely sleep! We packed up our car at 1:30 in the morning and made the long trek to Montreal.

The event was held in the beautiful Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at Parc Jean-Drapeau. The location was stunning with beautiful views of the water, gorgeous beach and stunning pathways through greenery. There were so many spots to relax – we ended up walking close to 25 km on the Saturday!

Our youngest was in Pokémon glory. He was bouncing around, dancing to the theme music playing and talking to other trainers. He loved catching his shiny characters and showing off his finds to those around him. We caught so many new characters and my husband (new to the game) leveled up quite quickly.

The group was huge (we later found out over 39,000 people attended the three day event) and spanned all ages and genders. I loved watching the young toddlers dressed up as their favourite Pokémon characters and helping their parents capture those shinys (talk about complete heart melting moments).

My favourite photo of the day is this one:

It is everything that this game means to us – that no matter how many years separate us and how busy are days are, this brings us together. We laugh, joke, support and play together. When we play, it is our time to come together as a family.

This event was an incredible experience from start to finish – hats off to all of those individuals who came together to make it a magical experience for all. Fingers and toes crossed for another event in Canada soon!

Make sure to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. You can also find some great groups on Facebook that will connect you locally with other trainers to complete challenges and raids together.

Disclosure: I received Early Passes to the Pokemon GO Safari Zone. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Calm Mindfulness for Kids Book Review

DK Canada

Calm: Mindfulness for Kids shows that supporting a child’s positive mental health doesn’t need to be expensive, time-consuming, or difficult. Activities help children to de-stress, focus, and get moving while having fun.

About Calm Mindfulness for Kids

Teach your kids how to focus their thoughts and notice the world around them with this fun mindfulness kids activity book.

Mindfulness activities are a great way to teach children about their thoughts and feelings and how to understand them–while having fun at the same time.

This book is packed with activities–make a mindfulness jar, learn how to appreciate food with mindful eating, and get out into nature and explore the outside world. An illustrated journal section at the back of the book encourages children to make notes about their own thoughts and feelings.

Calm: Mindfulness for Kids has everything you need to know about focusing your child’s mind to help them enjoy and appreciate things that they take for granted every day, while boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Children are guided through each activity, to make sure they achieve maximum enjoyment and awareness. All children will learn and react to each activity in a different way and parent’s notes give advice on how to encourage children to embrace mindfulness in the modern world. Each specially designed activity is flexible for each child’s needs and inspires them to seek calmness and tranquility in all situations.

Our Thoughts

Mindfulness is something we hear a lot about in the news, media and research. It is an important to tool in the busy times we live in. It helps us to focus, pay attention and remain present in the moment.

Sometimes, children can be overlooked and brushed off as being too emotional or acting out. Children feel a lot of emotions but many don’t have the tools to help them understand their feelings and how to process them. We need to teach our kids these skills in order to be successful later in life.

What I really liked is this book is geared towards children. She writes to the child first – you as a parent can read a long and help but the child is the most important part in this book. She speaks to the child in a mature, open and caring manner that encourages your child to open up, read more and try each activity presented.

She presents six chapters and encourages your child to move through them in any order they need – the choice is up to them. The chapters include: focus, calm, move, change, care and reflect. Each chapter has activities, crafts and exercises that they can do alone or with a parent or a friend. Each section has helpful tools to encourage your child to reflect on the activity, exercise or craft – this helps to reinforce the learning process. We started with rainbow breath and unwind stress – these were also amazing for Mom too! Our next craft to try is energy slime!

This is an extremely thoughtful book for children of all ages to help them get in touch with their emotions, feelings and body and encourage a positive outlet for them.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Indigo.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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