Month: August 2019

Big Breath Review

Calm your worries and build your bravery — or relax during a busy day or wind down before bed.

About Big Breath

All day long, you breathe — in and out, in and out — without even thinking about it. But did you know that you can play with your breath, use it to take you on an adventure? All you have to do is find a comfy spot and close your eyes.

Does your breath sound like ocean waves? Like the wind before a storm or a breeze at the start of spring? Can you feel it all the way down to the tips of your toes? By the time you open your eyes, you might just feel a little lighter, calmer, more relaxed.

Our Thoughts

I did not start mediating until I began yoga roughly four years ago. I remember being in my first yoga class and unable to truly unwind and relax enough in order to be present in the moment. It was in that moment that I realized I was letting life take over, I was not present, I was stressed out and not appreciating the tiny moments. It took a lot of practice but eventually I was able to learn how to breathe properly, how to turn my mind off and be present in the moment. This is a skill that I can not stress enough – life is too hectic and busy to not know how to calm the mind. It can be done anywhere, at any time when needed.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated. I read it alone at first and I loved the calming tone of the words. It felt natural, easy to follow, easy to read and fell in a natural progression. I was so excited to practice it with our youngest, who participates in mediation at school but it is not something we do at home on a regular basis. If I am being honest, this is mostly because I don’t know how to help him through the process.

After work and soccer practice, we found a quiet space in our basement and sat across from each other. I read the book aloud to him, slowly and with purpose – giving him the time he needed to follow the directions. We did this without any noise but I do remember how much I loved listening to my class instructor walk me through a guided meditation with the sounds of nature in the background. If you think this would be distracting for your child, this may not be the best idea but if you think it will help – go for it.

This book was incredibly helpful for me as a parent, it helped give me the skills and words to use to help my child through his meditation. He found it relaxing and helped calm his mind and focus. It also helped bring us closer together, as we spoke about his day and his feelings. This is a definite must have book for parents and their children as we look for ways to bring calm and clarity in a rather crazy busy world!

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

About the Author

William Meyer is a high school teacher, longtime meditator, and author. The author of the newly released Three Breaths and Begin: A Guide to Meditation in the Classroom, he is currently working to augment his MA in education from Harvard with a PhD from NYU. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York.

About the Illustrator

Brittany R. Jacobs is a librarian and the author-illustrator of The Kraken’s Rules for Making Friends and other children’s books. She lives in Westminster, Colorado.

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

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Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West Book Spotlight

iRead Book Tours

Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

About Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West

Cowboy Joel and Blackbeard find themselves face to face with El Maton, the most feared desperado in the West. When El Maton mocks him for the way he looks, Joel must confront his biggest fear; a tongue-slingin’ with the outlaw. Can Blackbeard convince Joel to do it? Will Joel find the courage? Note to Mom and Dad: Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it’s not always about punching the bully. It’s about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Authors

The Gagnon family is an atypical, hodgepodge mix of humanity. The entire family enjoyed writing this book, with each one contributing their own input. Every child in the family has their own special story, and every one faces their own unique challenges. Stacey, the mom of this bunch, also has a blog called Ransom for Israel. She presents an honest assessment of the orphan crisis and the desperate need for families willing to adopt. After the adoption of their youngest daughter, the Gagnons started a non-profit called Lost Sparrows. Lost Sparrows is dedicated to improving the lives of orphans and those with special needs through education, proper medical care, and adoption. Their current focus is in areas of Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.

You can connect with them on Twitter, Facebook and their website.

Book Trailer

The Giveaway

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Disclosure: This is a spotlight post, I did not receive compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Blast off into Space with Ontario Science Centre Summer of Space and DK Canada

DK Canada

There is something magical and exhiliarting when we talk about space. It is beautiful, untouched with so much left to learn. We can’t see it, the way we see the Earth around us. We can’t feel it, the way we can touch the grass, trees and our surroundings. But it pulls us in with its beauty and the unknown. It has this power to leave us wanting and needing to learn more.

This summer is all about space at the Ontario Science Centre with their Summer of Space theme. You can find exhibitions, hands on activities, films and so much more when you visit the Ontario Science Centre this summer.

The exhibitions in the Special Exhibition Hall include: Astronaut (learn all about the challenges and life for astronaut on a real space mission) and Women in Space (learn all about some of the leading women in the field of aerospace).

We loved walking through this area! There were many hands on activities, fantastic displays and interactive shows running. We sat through a rocket launch – yes all four of us squeezed into the spaceship and it roared to life (I was not expecting the jolts – it was amazing!), we tested our strength in hand grips (sadly I was the weakest although I think they were cheating on me), we tested out thermal imaging and tested our knowledge out on several interactive games throughout the exhibit (I won these ones!).

We learned all about life aboard a spaceship in space and gained a new appreciation for all the things that we take for granted here on Earth. I don’t think we could have ever fully appreciated how hard it was to wash your hair in space until we watched one of the female astronauts try to put water through her hair and watched the droplets escape on her. We walked through exhibits showing toilets and showers in space, food in space (always so important for the boys) and even plants.

We also took a tour through the Space exhibit on level four and learned about black holes, meteorites and rays. We tried our hand at a gravity game and even a rocket chair (which is a lot harder than it looks).

While the exhibits, displays and activities were so much fun – it was the spark of interest in space, planets and our own home, Earth, that developed in our kids that we loved the most. They left wanting to learn more which makes this trip so important. We want our children to be inspired to learn new things, to explore the world around them and to dream big.

DK Canada has a fantastic line of books in their Reach for the Stars collection that will encourage and satisfy your child’s curiousity about space, especially after an inspiring day at the Ontario Science Centre. The books include many great titles for young children such as:

  • The Space Race: How did we land on the Moon? What will the space jobs of the future look like? And why did we send a car to space? The Space Race answers all of the big questions that kids have about space travel. Sarah Cruddas brings to life the hidden stories behind the most famous space missions, before taking the reader on a journey through our space future. The Space Race is an essential children’s handbook to understanding every aspect of the history, and future, of human space travel.
  • Super Space Encyclopedia: Stunning photographs and digestible blocks of text combine with DK’s classic tradition of depicting information in a systematic way, immersing the readers in an unparalleled journey through the universe. Unravel the mysteries of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, investigate the explosion that created the Crab Nebula, and dig deeper into radio signals from spinning stars! Find out many more interesting super facts about space with Super Space Encyclopedia.
  • Moon Landings: Follow Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Apollo 11’s third crew member, Michael Collins, as they set off on one of history’s most important missions. Learn about the people and spacecraft that came before and have followed since, and discover what it takes to become an astronaut.
  • Did You Know? Space: Did You Know? Space answers all the questions about space that kids ask. What are shooting stars? Why is Jupiter striped? Is anyone else out there? Covering the solar system, stars, galaxies, planets, and beyond, each spread is structured around a question that inquiring young minds ask, with text broken up in manageable chunks designed for providing young readers with a reassuring and fantastic route into space.
  • DKfindout! Space Travel: Learn about the sun, our solar system, the International Space Station, how to be an astronaut, the Space Race, and whole new worlds discovered by space-exploring probes. Read my review of this book here.
  • First Space Encyclopedia: Explore the planets and discover amazing facts about nearby galaxies. A delightful first reference book about space for young astronomers, First Space Encyclopedia takes readers on a journey through the universe, from the beginning of space itself to current space technology.

The Summer of Space is running the entire month of August, with special features throughout the month (so make sure to check out their website before you visit so that you can plan your visit in advance). If you want to prepare for your visit by learning (or be prepared for lots of questions afterwards!), check out DK Canada’s Reach for the Stars line of books that will inspire, encourage and engage young minds to dream big.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to visit the Summer of Space exhibit. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cross-Sections Castle Book Review

DK Canada

Bring history to life with Cross-Sections Castle book!

About Cross-Sections Castle

History comes alive in this incredible children’s illustrated book about castles. Slicing through different areas of a medieval fortress, extraordinary views reveal the people busy inside, and preparing for battle as an enemy army approaches.

Packed with facts, you’ll find out what it takes to build a massive 14th-century castle, dress a knight in armour, or prepare a feast fit for a king or queen. From the drawbridge to the dungeon, Cross-Sections Castle swarms with the people who keep the castle ticking over – the workers, craftsmen, and servants. And, as you pore over every page, look out for the villainous spy. Is he in the well… the keep… the moat? No? Keep looking, he’s there somewhere!

Back in print after 20 years, you can now cheer on jousters, be entertained by a troubadour, and witness the gory details of a traitor’s demise. This unique illustrated book for kids is not just the story of a castle, it bring medieval history to life.

Our Thoughts

As many of you may already know, I am a huge history buff. I love everything and anything from our past – I love learning about where we came from and how we can make the future better.

Castles are breath taking and majestic – I am not sure how else you can describe them. They are powerful, standing out proud against the sky in defiance. They not only impress but they protected their people within the walls. I always imagine how it must have felt to walk the halls during these time periods and even approach these magnificent buildings. Would you be intimidated? What did it smell like? What were the sounds?

This book gives us a great introduction to what a castle is, all of the features (I liked this term – the anatomy of the castle), how it functioned and so much more. The specific chapters include: defense and siege, garrison and prisoners, building the castle, trades and skills, living like a Lord, food and feasting, entertainment, livestock and produce, munitions and punishment (phew – now that is a list)!.

Each two page spread contains one large picture that usually spreads out over both pages. The picture is of the castle (hence the name cross section – t really does remind me of anatomy classes when we were in the lab). Bolted points and their corresponding paragraphs are found throughout the pages with arrows leading to the specific part in the picture. While the pictures could be a bit busy, you definitely learn a lot while reading this book with your child. It is definitely geared towards an older child, unless you sit with your child to explain the wording and pictures. There is a lot of interesting facts (my kids liked learning about a bakers dozen – bet you didn’t see that one coming). This is great book for the child that loves to learn about their past and has a fascination with castles and knights.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Richard Platt has published more than 100 books, 32 of which were for DK. He has written on almost every topic you can imagine, but is particularly interested in the history of science and technology, and social history. He has become a bit of an amateur expert on the subject of life at sea, smuggling, and piracy. Most of his books are illustrated information books for children, but he has also written stories for children and several for adults. Some have won prizes, including the Smarties silver prize, and a Blue Peter award. Richard also writes TV scripts and museum interpretation, and he has appeared on TV and radio.

Stephen Biesty is a world-renowned British illustrator. He made his name in the 1990s for his best-selling Incredible Cross-Section books published by Dorling Kindersley, which have topped global sales of 3.5 million and have been printed in 16 languages. He has won several prestigious prizes, including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award in 1993, and the UK Literary Association Children’s Book Award in 2004. Stephen has created illustrations for high-profile architectural projects, such as the Millennium Dome in 1999 and the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in 2000. He has also worked on digital media projects such as an animated film for an exhibition at Tower Bridge in 2009, and a website for the USS Constitution Museum in Boston in 2010 to celebrate the bicentennial of this famous American warship.

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

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The Fighter’s Kitchen

DK Canada

Real training starts in the kitchen – get ready to be inspired and learn 100 muscle building, fat burning recipes with The Fighter’s Kitchen.

The Fighter’s Kitchen

100 muscle-building, fat-burning recipes, with meal plans to sculpt your warrior body.

Ever wonder how professional MMA fighters in the UFC prepare their bodies for fights? The real training often starts in the kitchen, where the right meals at the right times can give fighters everything they need to be ready for their next match.

Fighters fuel their bodies with precise nutrients delivered at specific times to achieve their functional physiques–and now you can too. The Fighter’s Kitchen provides expert guidance on what and when to eat, and it helps you understand how our bodies use what we eat to burn fat and build lean, strong muscle. Through phased weekly meal plans, expert insight on how and when to take full advantage of your body’s muscle-building capabilities, and 100 delicious recipes, you’ll find yourself looking ring ready even if you have no plans to step into one.

Our Thoughts

There really is a science to eating well and gaining muscle mass and losing weight. When I lost the majority of my weight, I had to really watch my macro nutrients – I kept track of how much protein, carbs and fats (as a percentage of my total calories in a day) and needed to ensure I kept in a very specific ratio for both losing weight and maintaining muscle. It worked really well for me.

This book dives into a greater knowledge of those macro-nutrients, why they are so important and how to use them to achieve your body goals. You can choose from one of four plans: maintenance, strength, muscular endurance and power and explosion. You are told your total calories for the day and the percentage of carbs, protein and fats. For example – the strength plan sees your carbs at 40%, protein 30% and fats at 30% of your daily caloric intake (when I was losing weight my protein was 40%, carbs 30% and fats 30% for example). The key is in counting and keeping track. While this book has a breakdown for each recipe – if you don’t track everything you intake, it wont be helpful.

After a sound background into the meal plans, nutrition, sample meal plans – Chris gives us 100 recipes that are easy to make, full of nutrients and help you meet your goal. There are sections for: breakfast, entrees, salads & sides, sandwiches & steaks and smoothies, shakes & desserts (my favourites!). Each recipe is on its own page and also comes with its own nutritional break down for calories, fat, carbs and protein. The recipes are for the most part very simple to follow (usually only a few steps), some items you will have to purchase specially but if you follow a healthy diet you should have many of these items at home.

This is an excellent resource and recipe book for men and women, who are looking to improve their health, increase their nutrition knowledge and focus on giving their body the fuel it needs to meet their goals. While easy to follow (mostly because of the fantastic writing) – it is jam packed with knowledge and tools that you need to succeed with your goals. A must have for every health conscious individual.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About Chris Algieri

Chris has over 13 years of professional fight experience – the Former World Boxing Organization Jr. Welterweight Boxing Champion, ISKA World Welterweight Kickboxing Champion and WKA World Super Welterweight World Kickboxing Champion.

Chris has a Bachelors of Science in Health Care Management and a master’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology. He is a certified Sports Nutritionist through the International Society of Sport Nutrition and speaks at conferences, seminars and summits on various topics of human performance and nutrition.

From his website:

“Aside from the performance and sports science aspect of food, I love to cook and share meals. I come from backgrounds (Argentinean on mother’s side and Italian on father’s) that stress the importance of food culture and community. I grew up with a sense that the food we prepare and share is more than just macros and micros. My passion and understanding of food preparation comes across in my cooking. Anyone who enjoys cooking, loves to share their creations with others!” “ – Chris Algieri

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

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