Celebrate Earth Month by watching these family-friendly documentaries on Netflix

If there’s one thing I love watching, it’s documentaries. Growing up, I refused to go out on a Friday night until 20/20 was over.  There’s something very captivating about documentaries.  They’re both educational and entertaining.  As a visual person, I’ve learned a lot from these types of films; granted, its not always about history or self-help, I often enjoy dramatic documentaries the most.  Either way, I was hooked from an early age.

Earth Day Documentaries

That’s why I was so pleased to learn that Netflix has an array of documentaries available at a touch of a button. With Earth Day coming up (April 22, 2014), there were several selections to choose from that touched upon this important theme including The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans, Moving Art: Oceans, A Sea Change, Chasing Ice, Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?, Addicted to Plastic and more.  These documentaries are perfect for both parents and older children.  They’re also a great way to strike up a conversation with your kids.addicted-to-plastic

As a parent, I understand all too well our society’s obsession with plastic.  Most toys are made from it, but even worse, the amount of packaging that most toys come in is astounding. For some reason, our huge big recycling box is always filled to the max every other week.  It’s packed with boxes, paper, plastic bottles, etc…  It bothers me, but the cycle keeps going. That’s why the documentary Addicted to Plastic caught my attention.  I watched it with utter amazement.  It was both surreal and hit close to home. It’s interesting to see how different countries deal with the same issue differently. While it’s unrealistic to get rid of plastics completely, it’s important to come up with creative and economical ways to decrease it.  This movie touches on a few good ideas.  I would recommend watching it.

While my young kids don’t share my love for documentaries yet, Netflix offers a range of children-friendly shows that do a great job introducing kids to nature.  Some examples include Bubble Guppies: Boy Meets Squirrel, Go Diego Go: Rescue of Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, Dinosaur Train: Stargazing on the Night Train / Get Into Nature and more.  A personal favourite of ours is Go Diego Go.  It’s a great way to get them thinking and learning about the Earth without them knowing that they’re really doing it.go diego go

Another great way to get them excited about the Earth and all of it’s natural beauty is to create Earth-Art.  Now that the weather is finally cooperating, my kids and I are spending a lot more time outdoors.  This week I plan on creating art work with them using pieces we find outdoors like leaves, acorns, sticks, dirt and flowers.

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?

20 Life Lessons for Boys

I often wonder what it’s like to raise girls. Do you get roughhoused, elbowed or kneed to the head several times when you play hide and seek? No? Just me?

Well, based on my experience to-date and with a third boy on the way, here’s my life lessons for my boys!Color (8)

Life Lessons for Boys

Remember to share, especially with your siblings. But finish what you’re doing first and then share. Life is full of distractions, take your time and play nicely.

Love your siblings unconditionally. They will be the longest relationship you will ever have. You might as well make it a good one.

Always wash your hands before meals and after you use the bathroom.

Play outdoors and get dirty. Play with mud, sand and dirt. It’s okay if you end up eating some accidentally. It will only strengthen your immune system.

Celebrate and embrace your religion, traditions and values but keep an open mind and respect everyone else regardless of their race, religion, sex or age.

Be a gentleman and treat a girl with respect and as an equal but don’t let girls walk all over you or boss you around. Be a “MAN”

Pick your friends wisely, they will be some of your greatest influences in life. Don’t measure your “coolness” factor by how many friends you have, but how many real ones you have. You know, the ones that will stick by your side even when things get bad.

Remember your manners and always say please and thank-you. There will be times when you’re upset, just remember, violence is not the answer, use your words, even if they’re not always “nice.”

Don’t be a bully. Be gentle and kind to everyone you meet.  You never know when you will meet that person again. They might become your future employer or superior. Don’t let yourself get bullied either. Stand up for what you believe in and seek support when you need it.

Enjoy school and study hard but remember that getting straight A’s doesn’t guarantee you the perfect job, a well-paying job or any job for that matter.

Get a job that you love and makes you happy when you wake up every day. If you haven’t found it, keep searching for it. Life is too short to wake up unhappy every day.

Fall in love, get married (if you want) and love hard. But don’t settle down too young. You will change a lot in your 20s.

Go see the world while you’re still young. Better yet, meet the love of your life before or while you travel so you can explore the world together before you experience “real-life” challenges like mortgage and kids.

Always call your mother and mother-in-law. Especially on holidays and birthday and always return their phone calls.  You don’t have to like it, you just need to do it.

Listen to your parents. The majority of the time they’re right. Even if they’re wrong, the are looking out for your best interest.  You won’t know this until you have your own kids, so just trust me on this one. And remember that parents are just humans, they’re not super heroes; they can make mistakes too.

Life is short, so live in the NOW but don’t be reckless. Put your health first, especially before beauty and brains, but not always before happiness. There’s nothing wrong with eating dessert as a meal every once in a while.

Life is unfair. Don’t look to blame others or the situation. Take matters not your hands. Be in charge of your own destiny.

Bad things happen to good people. If this happens to a loved one, lend a shoulder or a listening ear. Don’t ignore the situation, you can make a difference. If bad things happen to you, don’t suffer alone. Reach out to someone, talk about it and get help.

If you want to experience new things or experiment, do it when you’re young. Just stay out of trouble and ask for help If you need it. But don’t do anything stupid that will land you in jail or make you a dad before you’re ready.

Take care of your parents when they’re older. You’ll never know how much they loved you until you have kids of your own.

Raincoast Children’s Board Books Giveaway!! (Canada)

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you likely know that my oldest son loves books.  In fact, it’s his favourite gift to receive. Well… perhaps not as much as hockey-themed gifts, but it’s up there.  It’s also the one thing that he will use over and over again unlike most of his other material possessions.

More exciting, is that within the last few months, my youngest son has also started to show a love for books.  He’s often wandering around our house carrying a book in hand, looking for anyone to read to him.  It’s pretty cute but even more so, it makes me so proud.  I may not win Mom of the Year, but this is a great parenting win!

I was so excited to receive a box full of board books for my son for review. Each book was beautifully illustrated, bright and perfect for my curious boys. These interactive board books are appropriate for ages 0-4.

Peek-A-Zoo

peek a zooMy youngest son is slightly obsessed with animals so any book that has animals in it,is a win-win! While he typically just enjoys listening to me make the animals sounds, he actually listens to me read this book from start to finish. In fact, one of his favourite books is from this series; Peek-A Who? The Peek-A-Zoo book features cut-outs that gives clues, and invites readers to guess what’s coming next. As indicated by the title, all of the mysteries involve animals you might find at the zoo.

Daddy Wrong Legs

This is a fun flip book where your toddler can try to match the bottom half of the body with the top half. Its also funny when they mismatch.  Each page only has a few words on it, which allows you to read as quickly as your little one flips the pages. The illustrations are eye-catching and bright and my son enjoyed flipping through the hard pages.daddy wrong legs

A Tree for all Seasons

A tree for all seasonsThis book, while short (only 3 pages long), is beautiful, bright and shaped like a tree. As the title states, it’s a story about the four season that highlights how tress might look in winter versus summer and what might be found on the tree throughout the seasons. I would highly recommend this book as a newborn gift. It’s a perfect addition to anyone’s children’s book collection.

You Are My Baby Ocean, You Are My Baby Garden & You Are My Baby Farm

These series of books are just so sweet.  While I rarely get a chance to read the entire book to my toddler, I love the sweet and simple writing that allows the reader to guess which baby animal matches its parent.  Of course, my son just wants me to say the animal sound or to sing a song that goes along with the animal (i.e. Old McDonald Had a Farm or The Itsy Bitsy Spider).  You are my babyEach book is comprised of two parts; the bigger top part is the animal parent and the bottom smaller part is the baby.  The young reader can turn the pages to match the baby animals to their parents.  Flipping the smaller pages happens to be my son’s favourite part. This is a really cute series with beautiful illustrations. Other books in this series include Pet, Woodland and Safari.

This books are available in Canada at Kidsbooks.ca, Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Giveaway

Together with Raincoast Books, one lucky Mayahood reader will win all six board books valued at $58.  Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below (please give it a few seconds to load).  Contest is open to Canadians. Contest ends Thursday May 1, 2014. Good-luck!

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TIFF Kids International Film Festival; April 8 – 21

If you live in Toronto or the GTA, and you don’t live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).  The festival draws celebrities from near and far, including some of Hollywood’s biggest names.  What you may not have known is that TIFF also has a kids film festival.  That’s right, a whole film festival dedicated to kids.  If you have a film buff on your hand, this is the show for them.  The great part is, the film selections are geared for children of all ages, including both feature length and short films. I checked out the selection and found a few short films that would be perfect for my 3.5 year old son.  What’s great is that online, you can sort through the films based on your child’s grade, age, programme (i.e. feature or short) and country (where the film was made).TIFF Kids International Film Festival

We received a few of the short features to view including Sarah & Duck, Goose Trouble, Night of the Elephant, L’ami, and Twins in bakery.  The films ranged between 3 to 7 minutes and were all cute and enjoyed by my son, even though my husband and I thought that a few were “strange”. But hey, what do we know about kids films ;) twins in bakery

Some of the feature films that caught my attention include Rio 2, Bears (a Disney movie to be released shortly), The House of Magic and Finn.  Ticket prices are $8.50 for children aged 3 through 13, $12 for Adults and $9.50 for Students/Seniors or you can purchase a family 10-pack.

Another great exhibit at the festival includes the digiPlaySpace. An interactive area where kids can engage hands-on with various media focused technologies and let their imagination run wild.  I will be going there on Easter Friday with my little one and we can’t wait to check it out. Note that tickets must be purchased for a specific date and time and that strollers and food are not allowed in the play area. If you’re looking for something to do on the Easter long weekend, make sure to check out the digiPaySpace which is open until Easter Monday.TIFF digiPlaySapce

For further information regarding the films, events and tickets, check out TIFF Kids Festival online.  

 

Netflix original series Turbo FAST & Enter to Win a Free Six Month Netflix Subscription {Canada}

If you have little ones, you are probably all too familiar with animated movies. Even if you’re not a parent, you may still enjoy them. One of my current favourites is Turbo. A story about your typical underdog daring to dream big; in this case, a snail who dreamed of becoming a professional racer.  As luck would have it, through some fortunate circumstances Turbo finds himself with the speed needed to compete and win on the race tracks.

For some reason, animated movies are either a hit or miss with my oldest son Kyle, but Turbo really caught his attention. He watched it over and over again at the cottage during the winter break.  Needless to say I was excited to hear that Netflix will be releasing an original Turbo series called Turbo Fast.  New episodes, 22 minutes long, were made available as of April 4th and can be easily found on the Kids section of your Netflix subscription. When I told Kyle that he can now watch Turbo Fast shows on Netflix, he wanted to see it immediately.

Warden Rudy Guana proves a worthy competitor for Turbo and his stunt team in DreamWorks Animation's Turbo FAST only on Netflix

Warden Rudy Guana proves a worthy competitor for Turbo and his stunt team in DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo FAST only on Netflix

In the first episode, Crazy Fast, you will get introduce to Turbo and his friends (known as the fast action stunt team), a bunch of friendly, outgoing characters.  Turbo must save the city from beetles who are causing destruction in their path.  He challenges the Beetle on a stunt-filled course and together with his team, they get the Beetles to leave the city. While the series is super cute and focuses on the themes of friendship and believing in your dreams, there are a few differences between the show and the original movie. There is more action and ‘scarier’ characters in the show compared to the movie. The action scenes also resemble anime (Japanese animated productions). However, these subtle differences were not noticed by my son one bit who enjoyed watching the show from start to end.TFast_ep101_007_v1.1

Together with Netflix, one lucky Mayahood reader will win a free six month subscription to Netflix along with a fun party watching kit (valued at $150).  Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below (please give it a few seconds to load).  Contest is open to all residents of Canada. Contest ends Thursday April 24, 2014. Good-luck!

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Custom Handmade Keepsake Box by ARicher Designs – Giveaway {World Wide}

I’ve written several posts about my love for customized gifts. Not only are they unique, but they tend to be a keepsake that can be cherished for many years to come. One of my latest customized finds includes wooden boxes that are hand-painted by the very creative Ashleigh Richer from ARicher Designs.

I thought this would be a perfect gift for my brother-in-law’s wedding. While we were giving them cash, I also wanted to give them something to commemorate their special day. I asked Ashleigh to create a box that would include a scene from Mount Tremblant (where they got married) but that would also incorporate their love for the cottage. The end result was spectacular. Ashleigh also included their names, wedding date and the saying “Eat, Drink and be Merry” which definitely represented the wedding theme. The couple loved their customized box and plan to use it for storing various memorabilia from their wedding weekend.Keepsake wedding box

The other item that I got from ARicher Designs was a ring-box. My son was a ring bearer at their wedding ceremony and we were trying to figure out a way for him to carry the rings. I thought that if we got him a box to hold on to, it would be a perfect solution.  My son took his rule so seriously, it worked out great! ring bearer box

While most of Ashleigh’s work consists of making beautiful handmade keepsake boxes, she also has a variety of other customized items. Some of my favourites include: throw pillows, cutting board and spoon, ultrasound pictures frames (I already purchased one) and finger print trees (perfect for weddings and showers).customized wooden spoon and board ultrasound picture frame Customized throw pillows

Contest

One lucky Mayahood reader will receive a handmade customized box valued at $40 (which includes shipping world wide).  Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below (please give it a few seconds to load).  Contest is open world wide. Contest ends Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Good-luck!

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Cheeky Chompers Neckerchew Teething Bib Giveaway {Canada}

If you have a baby, more than likely you have a drooler on your hand. Whether as a newborn or while teething, drooling is part of being a baby.  While the drool is part of nature’s course, it’s not always easy to deal with. Specifically, there are the wet clothes and if it’s due to teething, there is usually an unhappy baby too. While my boys didn’t drool much they were both obsessed with their pacifiers.  This lead to a whole new host of issues including but not limited to dropped, dirty and lost pacifiers. With my first son, he was almost three years old before we were able to wean him off. My youngest son, Ryan is 14 months and we’re starting to think about weaning him. So? How do we go about doing it?

There’s a super cute, new and fashionable product that’s available to help with both the drooling and to bypass the pacifier. Cheeky Chompers Neckerchew was developed by two moms in the UK after they witnessed their own and their friends’ kids struggle with drooling and dropped, dirty and lost pacifiers.  The bib’s fabric is jersey cotton that is reversible and the attached teether is made of silicone that will never flake or peel. The Neckerchew is super soft, fashionable, reversible and includes a soft chewy triangle at the end.  Truly, it’s not a bib, but rather, a fashion accessory.Neckerchew fabrics

I tried the Neckerchew with Ryan and not only did he look super cute, but he enjoyed chewing on the soft and safe chewy teether. I think that this will really help us wean him off the pacifier in a “painless” manner for him (and us).Neckerchew

The Neckerchew is available in a variety of colours and 9 different fabric designs. They retail for $22.99 (for the patterns) and $19.99 (for the solid colours).  They can be purchased online at Babies “R” Us. This would make a perfect gift for a baby shower or a perfect product to help sooth your drooly baby.

Contest

Mayahood blog is giving away a Cheeky Chomper Neckerchew to one lucky winner. Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below (please give it a few seconds to load).  Contest is open to Canadians. Contest ends Friday April 18, 2014. Good-luck!

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Cheeky Chompers