Category: Reviews

Recap – Kiss IPF Goodbye Charity Event

Photo courtesy of Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Facebook page.

Incurable disease are the two of the scariest words in the English language. In a perfect world, if you are diagnosed with anything, there would always be an encouraging prognosis for it. We don’t live in a perfect world, though.

I guess that’s why  Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) resonated with me, when I first found out about it. PF is a rare and fatal lung disease. Per the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (CPFF)  website, if you have PF, your lung tissue become scarred and thicken. Over time, it spreads, and the lungs lose their ability to function properly, depriving your body of the oxygen it needs. In Canada,  approximately 30000 people are affected with this disease; deaths from it are projected at 5000 per year.

I heard about PF from an unlikely source – NBA player (and fellow Canadian) Nik Stauskas. Nik’s grandmother passed away after a long a battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and he’s been involved with raising awareness for the disease. One of the ways that he did this was by partnering with the CPFF to host the Kiss IPF Goodbye Charity Basketball Event recently . I heard Nik promoting it on a local sports radio station, and decided that B and I should check it out.

Now, truth be told, B was supposed to have a meet and greet with Nik before the event started, including some court time. B was obviously pumped for this, and wanted to show off some of his moves in front of an NBA player. Unfortunately, due to the joys of Toronto traffic, we were late in arriving, and missed out on this opportunity #dadfail. Fortunately, Nik did still give us a few minutes of his time, which redeemed me a bit, in B’s eyes.

B with Sauce Castillo himself.

Now, truth be further told, my real intentions were to treat the event as a learning experience for B.  Being charitable and generous are important traits to instil in a child, and I figured this was a cool way to show B examples of this, while supporting a great cause.

The event itself was a lot of fun. The game featured a mixture of  mainly local celebrities, and people who paid to play, but they all put on an entertaining show. B got super into it, and was impressed with the hops on a couple of the players (as was I).  The Toronto Raptors Dance Pak were even there, to hype up the crowd! The game went to overtime, too, believe it or not, as the participants really stepped up the competitive level late in the proceedings.

In the end, I think a good amount of  money was raised for IPF, and I know a lot more awareness was raised. On a personal level, I think B’s eyes were opened from the experience, which was a positive takeaway from attending.

Hopefully, the organizers were happy with the results, and, hopefully, the momentum can keep building towards finding a cure for PF one day.

For more information, please visit http://cpff.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

#GoNuts For The Lansing Lugnuts!

(Note:  The city of Lansing, Michigan hooked me up with accommodations and tickets to a Lansing Lugnuts game, in exchange for me writing about my experience in the city. The opinions given are my own, unbiased thoughts. Enjoy!)

Now, I’ve mentioned before on here that my family are pretty big Toronto Blue Jays fans. The last couple of seasons, we’ve even done road trips, to watch them play in Cleveland and Philadelphia. This year, since the Jays aren’t having such a great season, I decided to do something a bit different. We packed our bags and made the trek to Lansing, Michigan, to check out the Lansing Lugnuts!

 

See, the Lugnuts are a Class-A minor league baseball team who are affiliated with the Jays. Notable alumni include Carlos Beltran, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez,  and Superman himself Kevin Pillar. Most recently, two of the top prospects in Major League Baseball, Vladmir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, played there. Really, it’s a great opportunity to see some potential future stars on the come up. Throw in the fact that Lansing is only like a four or five hour drive from the Greater Toronto area, which is perfect for a weekend road trip, and attending a game should be a no-brainer, for any Blue Jays fan.

I’m used to watching ball games at the cavernous Rogers Centre, but the Lugnuts’ ballpark, Cooley Law School Stadium, is on a whole different level. Quirky is probably a good word for it. One of the seating options is the lawn aka the grass behind the outfield, for example. The home run fence also varied a lot in height, across the field. It reminded me of Tetris, where it’s like a few more pieces are needed, to make the walls complete. The quirkiest part, though, were the apartments in the outfield. For real, you can actually live in a baseball stadium!

We went on a Sunday, which was “Kids Day”. In terms of maximizing the fans’ experience, the Lugnuts do a top notch job.   When we arrived, a table was set up near the entrance, which had a bunch of animals on it, like snakes and rabbits, that you could pet. Near that table was a face painting station, for the kids. Players were on the concourse signing autographs, as well. It happened to be Minions Day at our game, so Minions were wandering about, doing Minions things, and taking pictures with the fans. While we didn’t make it in time to partake, if you arrive early enough, you’re allowed to go down on the field, and play catch. Kids were also able to run the bases, after the game.  Behind left field was an awesome play area, too, which featured a couple of inflatable bouncy castles. Between every inning, something entertaining was always going on (word of advice -be sure to make friends with some of the staff there. The Lugnuts ran a ton of in-game contests, so who knows, if you play your cards right, you might get picked to participate in one!).

 

In terms of pricing, the costs of the tickets ranged from $9 for the outfield lawn seats, to $15 for executive box seats. The food choices were pretty varied (we stuck to hot dogs, chicken tenders and fries, but I heard that there were some more funky options throughout the concourse), and the pricing was about average.  All things considered, my whole family thoroughly enjoyed the game. The fact that the Lugnuts won was a bonus (a Blue Jays team that actually wins? Crazy talk!). It’s good value for your money, especially when considering the other stuff there, which engages fans and non-fans, of all ages.  It’s the type of place that you could take your family and happen to watch a baseball game, while you’re there, if that makes sense.

 

Other Thoughts

  • Cooley Law School Stadium is located in downtown Lansing. There were a bunch of restaurants and pubs near the stadium, if you want to take in the night life after a game
  • Also downtown is Impression5  Science Center. Timing wise, we weren’t able to go, but it sounds like a ton of fun, and I think my kids would have loved this place.
  • We did make it out to the local zoo, Potter Park Zoo.   Besides the nice variety of animals and displays, the best part about it was the size. You could walk through and see everything in a couple of hours, which when you’re chasing after two hyperactive kids while pushing a stroller, is just about right. 
  • Lansing is also home to Michigan State University, which we checked out for a bit. Having never been to a “big-time” American university before, I was impressed with the facilities and how beautiful the campus looked.
  • We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Lansing at Eastwood.  It’s one of the city’s newest hotels and definitely the most modern hotel that I’ve stayed in. Very clean, very friendly, patient staff, and a very tasty hot breakfast! It’s conveniently located, too.
  • There’s a lot more going on in Lansing than I haven’t even mentioned. Bottom line, if you like baseball and cool little cities, why not make the trip there and #GoNuts ?

 

For more information about Lansing, please visit www.lansing.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Time With The 50 Foot Long Ketchup Covered Slide

As much as I enjoy hanging out with the family, I do also enjoy occasionally not hanging out with them, too.  However, with two small kids, a baby, and a pretty hectic  lifestyle, this isn’t easy to do.

Which is fine, obviously. No complaints here. It just means that whatever non-family time I have needs to be taken advantage of, to the fullest.

Yesterday, for instance. A buddy and I had made plans a while ago to go to the Toronto Blue Jays – New York Yankees game. However, earlier this week, I saw this press release come across:

 

Holy random, Batman! Now, there’s a lot going in that release. Like, unexplainable, how did someone even come up with this combination of stuff, levels of randomness. Nonetheless, since it was happening before the game, near the Rogers Centre, and I was in the area anyway, I figured that it was worth checking out. After all, I’ve never been apart of a world record before….or experienced a Brett Lawrie  hosted affair….or been able unleash my inner french fry and get dipped in ketchup….or even felt the urge to unleash my inner french fry. Anyway, a lot of my boxes were checked off, in terms of time being well spent, so off I went.

In all honesty, the event was an interesting spectacle, but it wasn’t quite like what I expected. I knew that coveralls would be provided on site, to keep your clothes clean. This was key, since I didn’t want to have to spend the afternoon at the ball game covered in ketchup stains. However, for some reason, I pictured the slide being like a playground style one, with steps and stuff. The fact that it was a flat, Slip N Slide one threw me off.

Then, my experience with those slides was that you needed a running start, to get enough momentum to go the whole length. The thing is, the one at the event didn’t allow for much space. As such, I saw people taking a few steps and belly-flopping, ketchup spraying everywhere, and gliding a few feet before getting up and either walking the rest of the way, or belly-flopping again. Anyway, the end result was people were still getting really messy, underneath their coveralls, and all on their faces. It did look like everyone was happy about being drenched in the sticky sweet condiment, though, and there was a decent sized crowd of people willing to take the plunge.

I, unfortunately (fortunately?), chickened out. Keeping my threads looking fresh to death won out over being a record-breaking human french fry. Pringles did make sure to have free samples of the ketchup chips available, which I’ve tried before, and are pretty tasty. Oh Canada, indeed. I also got to chat with the host himself, Brett Lawrie.

Yes, I’m rocking my Lawrie jersey, by the way, because that seemed like a cool thing to do. Missing from that clip is a question my son B had for Brett, which was, when he was a little kid, what team did he want to play for when he was older (Brett’s answer: he didn’t have one, he just wanted to play baseball).

So all in all, I have no idea why that event went down like it did, but it happened, and I went to it. Time well spent? I don’t know. It wasn’t a waste of time, though, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One Review (and Giveaway!)

First impressions are everything, man.

For example, I remember the first time that I tried wasabi.  Completely oblivious to what it was, my initial bite was a BIG forkful, which clearly was a BIG mistake. It also somehow ended up in my eye, which was painful as it sounds. I didn’t touch wasabi for years after that. To me, it was uncomfortable, and not a good look.

Now, to be honest, the same way that I felt about wasabi, was the same way that I felt about baby carriers. See, our first carrier was an old, used one, and I wasn’t a fan of it as soon as I put it on. It was uncomfortable, and not a good look. It turned me off of carriers for years…..

Until my good friends at BabyBjörn hooked me up with a Baby Carrier One!

 

After using this bad boy for a few weeks now, I can honestly say that the Baby Carrier One was a real game-changer for me.

For example, my back felt sore after a few minutes with my old carrier on. However, because the Baby Carrier One is ergonomic, I feel fine every time that I wear it. As well, I really like the soft, thick shoulder straps.  The straps in my old one weren’t nearly as well designed, and dug into my arms. I should also say that it’s pretty easy to use. My old one required a lot of reaching behind me and stretching, to properly put it on.  I’m just not that flexible anymore, dude, so I’m down for slipping the Baby Carrier One over my head, buckling up appropriately, and being good to go.

 

The wide head rest and seating  seem to make for easy, comfy riding for KJ, as well. He appeared to be content (for a while) and well-supported when being lugged around in it.

 

I’m not just talking from an in-facing position, either. The Baby Carrier One is designed to carry your child inwards, outwards, or on your back, depending on their age. Speaking of that, I was surprised to see that it is equipped to safely handle newborns through to approximately three year olds! BabyBjörn ain’t lying when they say that’s it the only one that you need.

 

So, yeah, my experience using the Baby Carrier One has opened up such a whole new world, that I’m feeling like Peabo Bryson now (get it?). Bad Aladdin analogy aside, who knew that carriers could be so stylish, comfortable, and versatile? Definitely not I, that’s for sure.

 

Truth be told, my opinion is heavily skewed positively, as comparing what I was using, to what I have now, is like comparing apples to a Cadillac – there is no comparison.  But hey, don’t take my word for it. Even NHL superstar Connor McDavid thinks this thing is dope!

Disclaimer: I have no idea if NHL superstar Connor McDavid thinks this thing is dope. I have never met him, and this is a picture of me next to a lifelike image of him.

Ok, seriously, if you’re in the market for a carrier, do your research.  I’m sure you’ll see that the Baby Carrier One is a premium product that’s worth your money. I’m also sure that your first impression of it will be better than my wasabi experience.

Don’t forget to check out BabyBjörn’s latest #dadstories campaign, by the way.  I’m on board with any company that understands the evolving role of fatherhood, and promotes the power of “dads inspiring dads.”

Alright, giveaway time. Let’s hook one lucky reader up with a BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One. Enter below, for your chance to win!

DATES –  Giveaway closes at 11:59PM on May 21, 2017.

ELIGIBILITY – Open to all residents of Canada, except for Quebec.

TO ENTER –  Use the form below to complete the mandatory and optional entries, for your chance to win.

GOOD LUCK!

 

Do The Right Thing

 

Do you and your kids have a thing?

You know, a thing?  

Yo, I’m talking about that common interest which helps you bond with them.

It dawned on me recently that J and I don’t really have a thing. This realization made me feel kind of guilty, for real. Sure, we get along well and do lots of dope stuff together. However, unlike Amerie back in 2005, we don’t have one thing. B and I, for example, talk, watch or play basketball a lot. J and I don’t get down like that, though.

With this in mind, when my good friends at Culinary Adventure Co invited me out to one of their food tours, I jumped at the opportunity!

See, Culinary Adventure Co. is Canada’s largest culinary tourism and experience operator, offering a variety of neighbourhood food tours and other tasty adventures. J is curious by nature, and also loves to try new eats. A food tour would be right up her alley, right? We’d walk around a ‘hood in Toronto, learn some history and sample some scrumptious foods. Perhaps this would be start of our new thing: daddy-daughter foodies!

So how did it go, you ask?

Well…….

Ok, let me start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed our particular tour of the Riverside and Leslieville area in Toronto. Our guide, Ian, was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and filled us with all kinds of cool information about the neighbourhood.

Our tour group consisted of a bunch of hardcore foodies. I’ve never been around that many people who were so passionate about their dining. They were the type who would have choked on their baba ganoush if I had told them that I had Kraft Dinner for supper the other night. Even though I lacked their sophisticated palate, and even though I was the only one who had a child with them, everyone in the group was very friendly to J and I.

In terms of the food, I really liked everything that we had, but don’t take my word for it. I  did make a point of listening in on the opinions of the group at each stop. Truth be told, I heard a lot of compliments from the hardcores about the tastes and presentations.

However, truth be told, I also had two unexpected issues come up with J.

The first was, while normally very open-minded, she picked that day to be a picky eater. Despite normally liking what was offered at the Middle Eastern restaurant we stopped at, she refused to try anything, because it looked “spicy”. Despite liking canned tuna, she refused to try the fresh tuna at the fish market, because it wasn’t canned. Despite loving bread, she refused to try the fresh bread at the bread factory, because it didn’t come in a  plastic bag (curse you, Dempsters!).

The other issue was, while I was digging the hot knowledge that Ian was spittin’, J couldn’t have cared less. This was my bad, as I misjudged the age appropriateness a tad. As such, she spent the day entertaining herself, usually separate from the rest of the group:

 

While Ian told us about the historical significance of where we were standing, J wandered off to explore the area.

Here she is using Google Maps to play Pac-Man. Seriously.

At the bread factory, she wandered off into the kitchen, and was amazed with how big the mixer was.

Instead of eating at the Middle Eastern joint, she filled up on a mint lemonade.

This is the face of someone who was not impressed with seafood…..

 

But here is the face of someone who is impressed with her doll-placing handiwork.

 

I can’t front. She seemed to be having such a blast, that I had to join her most of the time.

Ice cream selfie! Well, actually, blood orange/raspberry gelato selfie.

To summarize, I thought Culinary Adventure Co. put on an excellent experience.  The one that we went on is a bit better suited for kids older than J (re: older than five-ish). Even if they aren’t that age, however, they’ll still be entertained.  Regardless, any foodie definitely won’t be disappointed.

At the end of our tour, as we walked hand in hand to the car, I asked J if she had a good time. I expected her to say no, and that it was boring, and yucky or something. Instead she smiled, mouth smeared with blood orange/raspberry gelato, and said that she had “sooo much fun”. I had to smile too, because I also had a great time with her.

Being daddy-daughter foodies probably isn’t be the right thing for us.  And you know what?

That’s cool.

Maybe our thing is that we don’t have a thing. Yet. Hanging out and spending quality time together right now, doing whatever, is really all that matters.

 

 

 

 

The Canadian Basketball League – Turning Hoop Dreams Into Reality

 

I’ve mentioned before on this site that one of the best things about being a parent is sharing my interests with my kids. Take basketball, for example.  It’s always been my favorite sport. B’s picked up on that vibe and become a huge hoops fiend, too.  If he’s not playing ball, then he’s talking about it constantly.  It’s that interest which led me to stumbling onto the Canadian Basketball League  (CBL).

The CBL is the brainchild of Butch Carter, the Toronto Raptors’ former head coach. It’s a fledgling, four team professional league in its first season, with all four teams located in the GTA. I discovered this while randomly looking at things to do one weekend recently. To my surprise, one of the teams is located in Hamilton. As such, I copped a couple of tickets, and B and I checked out a game: the Hamilton Basketball Club vs. the Scarborough Basketball Club.

You’re probably now wondering what the game was like. And to that I say it was…….professional. Lemme explain.

I think one of the keys to operating any sports league or team is to not come across as rinky dink, or lame. With that said, I think the CBL does a pretty good job with that. The league website looks pretty slick, for example. They also have their own online ticket buying site, as opposed to going through Ticketmaster, which I think is pretty clever (both them and the consumer save paying Ticketmaster fees).  They even have a TV deal, as they show some games on Yes TV.

Hamilton plays it home games at Mohawk College, which has a decent sized facility, and a fair number of rafters. B did ask about buying snacks at the game, as we were driving there. Being familiar with the campus, I knew that there weren’t any concessions. However, that just meant we had to make a quick stop at Bulk Barn, to load up on goodies. When  we got there, the attendants at the game didn’t care that we brought our own food and drinks. In a neat touch, we were given a free Hamilton Basketball Club rally towel as we walked in, too.

In terms of in-game presentation, I was pleasantly surprised. There was an announcer who did his best to hype the crowd up, and played music throughout the contest (similar to an NBA game).  The players looked like real basketball players, for lack of a better term, which was good, because they were real basketball players.  I read their bios, and they were all legit. From local stars, to former US high school standouts, to college grads looking for another chance, there were a lot of talented dudes, which made for some quality, entertaining basketball.

It really is an interesting niche to go after. Ballers who aren’t ready to give up their hoop dreams yet, and need a place to play, to take the next step up in their careers. They are paid for their services, too.  There is another league in Canada, the National Basketball League, which is bigger, and has been around longer, and I think does the same type of thing. However, the CBL’s rosters seems to skew on the younger side, most likely by design.

One other interesting thing of note.  B and I sat in the front row, so we could hear everything that was being said on the court. I don’t know if it was conscious effort by the players and coaches, but we only heard one use of profanity the whole game. The rest of time, there was a lot of “Shoot!” or “Dang it!”, stuff like that. When you’re with small kids, this is huge. I was happy that the atmosphere was so family-friendly.

Now, obviously, it’s not the same as going to an NBA game, or even a D-League game. To say the attendance was sparse would be putting it generously. It’s a shame, but I guess that goes with the growing pains of a new league that isn’t heavily promoted. Regardless, it was still fun.  We went to a Hamilton Bulldogs (a  junior hockey team who play out of the FirstOntario Centre, which is a borderline NHL-caliber arena) game a few weeks prior to the CBL game, and the products were similarly entertaining.

B was really into it, by the end, cheering the home team on (even though they ended up losing).  It was also an eye-opening experience for him, as he didn’t realize that you could make a living playing basketball outside of the NBA or D-League.

When I say that the CBL is professional, I mean it as a compliment. The effort is obviously there, to make for an enjoyable fan experience, and it’s pretty good value, relative to other pro sports in the GTA.  Hopefully, the league continues to grow and improve!

 

https://canadianbasketball.com/

https://secure.cbltickets.com/online/index.asp

 

 

Top 10 Halloween Treats

Well,  another Halloween is in the books.

This year, B and J (dressed as Drake and a rocker girl, respectively) had a blast trick or treating, and came home with a pretty good haul of goodies. Mounds of junk food, for real.

One thing that I noticed was that some treats were better received than others. Uh, not just by B and J, but by me, too. As such, I figured I’d rank them. Consider this the top 10 Halloween treats that my kids got this year. There’s no real criteria; it’s just based on my own subjective, unintelligent, unreliable opinion.

Got it?

Ok, let’s get our Ryan Seacrest on, and count ’em down!

10. Granola Bars

20161031_220904

Coming in at number 10 is a good ol’ granola bar. While not as exciting as the other contenders, it does have its charms. For example, it’s probably not that unhealthy, so it can be used in candy negotiations (ie. “Daddy? Can I have a chocolate bar?” “No! No more junk. Go eat a granola bar or something.”). Plus, since nary an apple was found in any of the loot bags this year, it’ll have to do, as the only nutrional option.

9. Rockets

20161102_225259

Conversely, let’s talk about Rockets. These sweet tasting packages of sugar tablets have little in the way of nutritional value. However, they are a favorite among the kids, since they are sweet tasting packages of sugar tablets. The only reason that they aren’t higher on the list is because of J’s habit of playing with them and pretending they’re medicine.  The idea of a little girl and her stuffed animals play-popping pills is kind of weird, what can I say.

8. Smarties

20161102_225142

Don’t get it twisted, American readers. What we call Rockets up here in Canada, you guys call Smarties down there. Our Smarties are multi-coloured, candy-coated chocolates, however, and are, as the kids say, da bomb dot com. Oh Canada, indeed!

7. Tootsie Pops

20161102_224423

I have no idea if B and J even  like these. When I saw them in their bags, it made me think of that Lil Kim and Sisqo song “How Many Licks”, so that counts for something, right? Pretty sure that song wasn’t about Tootsie Pops, though.

6. Coffin Crisp

20161102_224952

Another Canadian specialty. This is a bite sized, Halloween-themed Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. Big ups for getting into the holiday spirit! In fact, the only thing better would be if the kids somehow got these full sized.

Wait, what’s that?

They did?

20161102_225007

Sweet! Hey, that was kind of fun. Let’s do that again!

5. Random Chocolate Bars

20161102_224832

These are cool…….

20161102_224640

But bigger is better!

Aight, one more time!

4. Caramilk Bar

20161102_225027

OK, now turn it up!

20161031_211926

Woooo!

Huh?

Check the back? Why?

20161031_211939

This expired in July? Who the heck gives out expired candy on Halloween?! That’s cold like Minnesota, yo.

Man, I need a new number 4.

New 4. Doritos

20161102_225616

Perfect. Cheesy, nachoey goodness. And most importantly, not expired.

3. Pringles

20161103_011711

Potato chips are always a hit, but the kids seemed to really like these mini Pringles cans, to get their salty fix.

2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

20161102_224558

My personal favorite.  The only reasons that they aren’t number 1 is because when they are left in less than ideal temperatures, they melt, creating a gooey mess which the kids still eat, resulting in gooey messy children.

1. Cans of Soda

20161031_220822

 

Pop pop, homies! At the top of this chart are beverages! Maybe the people who handed these out did it deliberately. Or maybe they did it because they didn’t have any candy to give out, so they raided their pantry (sucks to be the kid who got a can of corn from them).  Regardless, B and J’s eyes lit up the most at these unusual handouts, so that’s why they are number 1. I remember feeling the same way when I got a can of Coke while trick or treating back in the day. It’s like ordering a pizza, and getting a steak instead. #whatapleasantsurprise

And that’s that. Peace out, starboys and stargirls.

I hope your Halloween was as spooktacular as ours!

Review – LEGOLAND (Vaughan Mills)

I’m always on the lookout for interesting things to do with the family. The more fun, the better. So, when my good friends at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre offered us tickets to come check out their Vaughan Mills location, you know that we jumped at the opportunity to go, faster than you could say “Everything is awesome”!

If you’ve never been before, LEGOLAND is a spacious 34,000 square foot playground full of rides and attractions, dedicated to all things Lego.  A land of Lego, indeed!

After you are admitted entry, you are soon given the opportunity to take part in an interactive, hands-on “factory tour”, where you learn about how the bricks are made. Your kids will probably enjoy hearing about the process. My kids enjoyed running off and playing on the stations.

20160325_112524_HDR

Next up for us was the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. We sat in A “chariot”, and rolled through the dark, using laser zappers to shoot at various dangers.  Points were awarded for hitting the targets.  This part was probably better suited for older kids, as B and J struggled with the zappers. They still liked the ride and the thrilling action, though.

20160325_113801

J and I on Kingdom Quest. Did I mention it was really dark?

We then made our way to MINILAND, which featured replicas of many Toronto landmarks, made entirely of Lego! This was easily my favourite attraction.

20160325_120056_HDR

After MINILAND, it was off to the theatre, to check out The Lego Movie 4D A New Adventure. Now, if you enjoyed the Lego Movie like I did, then you’ll like this short film, too. It has many of the same characters, and a pretty clever storyline. I found myself loudly chuckling at some of the dialogue (much to the dismay of the children around me). Y’all been warned, though – you may get wet. 4D ain’t no joke!

20160325_121615

Ok, kids! Smile for the camera! Or make weird signs with your hands, Your choice.

We then made our way over to the Merlin’s Apprentice carousel ride.

20160325_130320

Don’t let J’s smile fool you in that picture. She was legit ticked that, despite me peddling furiously, K and J still flew higher in the sky than we did!

With the rides checked off, K and I let the kids explore the facility at their leisure. B and J spent a long time together in the Lego Fire Academy, which is a play and climb area. They then split off and did their own things. B loved the Racers Build and Test zone. He used Legos to build a vehicle, and then tried it out on the tracks, against the creations of the other children there.

20160325_120553_HDR

legoland

 

 

Some of these kids’ cars were not well-designed, like the one girl’s car that had a single wheel. Conversely, one car was engineered so supremely that I  wanted to ask the boy if Elon Musk was his father.

J played in this zone for a bit, too, but she spent most of her time in Duplo Village, or as she mistakenly called it, Suplex City (sorry, Brock Lesnar!) and in Lego Friends.

20160325_130742_HDR20160325_120700_HDR

 

They spent so much time playing in these areas that we didn’t even see a bunch of the other attractions, like the Star Wars display, or the cafe, or the Earthquake tables. The only other part which I saw them visit was the “Partied So Hard That I Need To Pass Out On This Bench” attraction:

 

 

 

20160325_130902_HDR

Just kidding. This wasn’t a real attraction.

We spent two hours there, and could have easily stayed longer You know a place is a success when your kids don’t want to leave, and B and J did not want to go when we wanted to. In case you were wondering, there is a Lego shop connected to LEGOLAND. It’s a great place to grab some parting gifts, or to act as a bribery tactic if your kids don’t want to leave.

One other observation – we went on a holiday, and it was really busy, especially the lineup to get in. I would suggest buying tickets online beforehand, to save time and money.

Overall, we all really enjoyed LEGOALAND.  It compares very favourably to other local family-friendly destinations. I definitely recommend checking it out, if you’re planning a day trip with the kids!

 

 

Kellogg’s All Bran Buds Energy Balls Recipe

Now, if I can keep it real with you, I’m not the greatest cook in the world. I used to really suck at it, actually. Since becoming a parent, I have become more competent in the kitchen, pretty much out of necessity. I’m still the type of dude who would rather eat, than create eats, though.

So imagine my surprise, when I received this package, from my friends at Kellogg’s:

20151029_224019_HDR

What Kellogg’s has done this fall is partner with three top Canadian chefs – Craig Harding, Connie DeSousa and Alexandre Gosselin. And what these chefs have done is come up with fifteen new healthy, upscale comfort food recipes which feature Kellogg’s All-Bran! The results are restaurant-worthy dishes, chock full of fibre.

Not only that, but Kellogg’s challenged me to “think inside the box”, and incorporate All-Bran into the meals in my house.

More fibre in our diets is definitely not a bad thing, so I stepped up to the challenge!

I figured I’d start off simple. A big bowl of All-Bran cereal.

This did not go well:

DEXATI20151110232047

Always pour the cereal first, then the milk. Not the other way around.

OK, OK, that photo is fake. The real flames were bigger. I edited them out, so you could see my face.

My next attempt was to actually try one of the chef-inspired recipes. It would require me to seriously come correct with my cooking game. The dishes looked so darn delicious, however, that I was down for trying.  Feeling in a seafood mood, I narrowed my options down to Chef DeSousa’s All-Bran 30 Minute Tuna Crudo with Citrus and Jalepano or Chef Harding’s Hazelnut and All-Bran Crusted Lake Erie Pickerel with Infused Romesco Sauce.

Unfortunately, these were a no-go when I overheard my kids talking.

B casually told J that he only liked fish that tasted like chicken, and not fish that had eyes and swam.  No clue what he meant, but busting out some fish for dinner afterwards probably would not have gone over well.

Any idea if this tastes like chicken?

Does a ratfish taste like chicken?

Undaunted, I finally settled on a recipe that I thought would be a winner in our house – Chef Gosselin’s All-Bran Energy Balls!
20151113_223015_HDR

These balls are made with dates and nuts and reinforced with All-Bran Buds. The best part for me was that they didn’t involve using the oven at all, so there was no worrying about over/undercooking.

They were pretty easy to make, as well. I gotta admit that I did make one mistake – I misread the recipe and rolled the coconut into the balls, as opposed to rolling the balls into the coconut. This worked out, though, because it made for less messy eating (re: there wasn’t a trail of coconut droppings as the kids wandered around the house munching on them).

The balls turned out well, and were a hit with the family. They really do make a a great, healthy anytime snack!

Don’t be afraid to think inside the box. Try something new, and incorporate All-Bran into your recipe repertoire this fall!

All-Bran Energy Balls

Ingredients

1/3 cup roasted skinless hazelnuts

1/3 cup roasted skinless almonds

2 cups pitted dates

7 tbsp almond butter

Pinch of cayenne

1/3 cup goji berries (can be substitued with dried blueberries or cranberries)

2/3 cup All-Bran Buds

2/3 cup grated coconut

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of your food processor, grind the hazelnuts and almonds finely. Transfer to a bowl and set aside
  2. Add the dates, almond butter and cayenne pepper to the food processor. Mix into a puree. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine the nut mixture and the date puree, goji berries and All-Bran Buds. Mix until smooth.
  4. Shape into balls the size of a lime and roll into the coconut. Refrigerate at least one hour before eating.

*Energy balls have a shelf life of ten days. Keep refrigerated.

 

For more ideas, check out the All-Bran website,  www.AllBran.ca. For even more ideas and recipes, including the ones by the chefs, visit here, https://www.pinterest.com/allbranca.

 

 

Review – Safari Tales! An Educational Gaming Experience

Note: While this is a sponsored post, the opinions given are 100% my own.

My kids love handheld devices. If given the opportunity, I am sure that B and J  would mess around on them for days at a time, uninterrupted. If given the opportunity, I am also sure that they would eat ice cream 9 days a day. Regardless, we obviously monitor and limit their usage on the devices.  This does present some challenges, especially when it comes to gaming apps. Ideally, whatever it is they’re playing would have lots of educational value, and not just be mindless timekillers. Once they get it into something, they really get into it, you see, so their engagement levels are through the roof sometimes.  The problem I’ve had is finding educational games which they’ll actually enjoy and engage in, instead of just the mindless ones.

5

Now, that’s where Safari Tales comes in. Developed by Kuato Studios for 4-10 year olds, this is a pretty sweet game. Basically, you select your character (you start with a baby elephant, but can find others eventually, to play as them) and then you’re free to roam an African savannah. Because it’s a 3D world, you are really encouraged to explore the environments. The key to Safari Tales is that it enhances literacy skills.  Throughout your adventure, you play various mini-games, and collect artefacts. Along the way,  you learn numerous facts and figures about the environments and their inhabitants.  One neat feature is that your session is recorded while you’re playing.  Then, at the end of it, an interactive storybook is created, so you can read about about what you did, on your adventure.

4

Going back to what I was saying about monitoring device usage. Safari Tales has an option called Parent’s Corner, where you can personalize the game to your child’s liking. For example, you can adjust the reading age accordingly. As well, you can pick the session length, so playtime doesn’t go on and on!

2

We downloaded this game onto our iPad.  While it was a bit tough for J (who’s three years old), B (five years old) loves it. He especially likes interacting with the character, Darwin, who’s a meerkat. Darwin’s almost like a guide, in that he helps lead you through the game. However, at any time, you can also ask him questions, by selecting words, to form proper sentences. Darwin will then speak the answers to you. As far as I can tell, all of the Q &A is related to facts about the animals or the environments, which is pretty cool. Sometimes, B doesn’t even play the rest of the game, and just kills time talking to Darwin!

3

Overall Safari Tales is one of the better downloadable educational games that I’ve experienced.  It’s fun, easy, and engaging, with graphics that are top notch. It’s reasonably priced, too. Definitely recommended for young kids.

Download it here!

 

Loading...
X