Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

It served us well but the time had come to move on. I’ve just gone through researching minivans and I had to share these Tips For Buying A New Vehicle…and please keep in mind my tips are heavy on the what-family-needs-from-a-Mom’s-point-of-view and not very mechanic at all. Oh, and this is not sponsored at all – my authentic and unsponsored Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

Tips for Buying a New Vehicle

I will start with what we purchased…a new 2014 Kia Sedona from Scarboro Kia. (And for transparency: I went to school with the GM there - Dom Vigliatore - a super nice guy – and again – this is unsponsored).  Dom pretty much made the deal with me when he said…

“Buy the car which is right for you.”

Sure there are pretty cars. Cars with low prices. Cars which have features beyond your imagination. However, at the end of the day – you have to buy the car which is right for you.

Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

My number 1 was reliability (and I include safety with reliability). My old van had been completely unreliable of late (leaving us stranded many a time – and parents know – when you have to go pick up kids – unreliable just doesn’t work). We need a vehicle which is reliable. Every. Single. Day.

Next, determine what size vehicle you need. I knew we needed a 7 seater. However, with 7 seater minivans comes challenges…do you loose trunk space? Bench over captains chairs? Leg room?  We tried several minivans to compare comfort for our family. It’s important to “try on” a vehicle to see if it fits you.

Think economics. Price, fuel efficiency, mileage (that should be kilometer-age shouldn’t it?!). And what is the monthly % of financing? Basically, can you afford this vehicle?!

The Mom-in-me needed the family wants. Cup holders (I know sounds frivolous but road trip with 6 other people and you’ll realize cup holders can be battle grounds), trunk space, and storage are important to me. We also crushed on two features which weren’t necessary – but which would make life easier - bluetooth (so we can call hands free) and a usb port (so we can charge on-the-go). And if you do road trip like we do – check out my suggestions for Screen Free Travel Activities.

We knew what we didn’t need (heated seats) and what we absolutely needed (those 7 seats).

I think when choosing a new vehicle it comes down to that…what do you need and what don’t you need. That’s the easy way to determine which car is right for you.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids

We just did an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids for a birthday party and it was a HUGE hit. It was a great way to keep kids active, outdoors, and working in teams. And in this post I share a FREE Printable Template PDF so you can do your own Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids

First, I divided the kids into two teams (and I clearly said there were no prizes so that the kids would understand this was just for fun with no competition). I connected the two teams by giving each “captain” a walkie talkie (they LOVED this). The walkie talkies were a ton-of-fun for them to use back and forth in communication. So though they were in two teams…they were still a group.

I also set clear boundaries. They could walk around the block  but they could not cross any streets or go into any backyards. And they had to stay together as a team. It was a good way to keep the kids safe but give them a bit of freedom at the same time.

I provided clip boards and pens as well. And the kids were good about taking turns (there is something powerful and magical about holding a clip board for a kid – who knows why?!).

And instead of having the kids find things and bring them back (because who needs a bunch of rocks and sticks coming home?!) I had the kids sign their names as to who found what – and then they had to verbally report it back to me.  This was great because it got all the kids talking and sharing back stories about how they found stuff.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids Template

To print out the above Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids FREE Template click here Outdoor Scavenger Hunt For Kids Template.

And check out my  post on Birthday Party activities (fun, frugal, and easy!). And of course my book, Boredom Busters has 50+ activities to entertain and keep kids busy (shameless plug I know – but hey  - see a plug-use a plug!).

Father’s Day Gifts For Dad

What to give a Dad? I’ve come up with a few Father’s Day Gifts For Dad ideas – small budget to big budget. What do you gift the Dad in your life?…

Father's Day Gifts for Dad

Father’s Day Gifts For Dad

  • Mighty Dads by Joan Holub (a fun book to read with Dad) – Indigo
  • Tim Horton’s Gift card (great for coffee or lunch date with Dad) – Tim Hortons
  • Polo shirt (for Dad to wear when you take him on a field trip) – Old Navy
  • Ties (for Dad to wear on those special occasions) – Moores
  • BMW K 1600 GT (because Dad loves boy toys) – BMW
  • Ryobi Drill (see boy toys above) – The Home Depot

I know the BMW is an out-of-the-budget Father’s Day Gift For Dad – but a Dad can dream right?!

You may also want to check out my suggestions for Father’s Day Bar B Q Ideas (yum!) to help make Dad’s special day even special-er!

Prefer a kid DIY homemade Father’s Day craft to give to Dad? Then you must check out my Easy Father’s Day Tie tutorial – is it great to do at home or in a classroom.

Father's Day Tie craft

Travel Outfit

Anyone else thinking travel outfit inspiration these days? Think road trip, airplane voyage, cruise, or that cross-Canada train trip you’ve been planning. For me a travel outfit has to come with layers (I’m a chilly type) and multi-wear options (because I have to pack light for myself – because the suitcase is filled with the kids stuff!)…

travel outfit

  • Women’s Drawstring Dresses Old Navy
  • Women’s Striped Dip-Dye Sleeveless Tops Old Navy
  • Women’s Cropped Jersey Leggings Old Navy
  • Women’s Jeans Old Navy
  • Women’s Casual Asymmetric Hem Top Sleeveless Long basic Tank T-shirt ebay

On a plane, train or car trip - layers are my best friend. A take anywhere dress can be dressed down with sandals during the day and then dressed up with jewelry and flats for evening events. Tanks and t-shirts are never a regret in packing.  My travel plan for this summer is to pack light and comfy while still hoping to pull off fab.

Also travel outfit related: my review on Endless by Diane Kroe Review (have fun and travel light with this multi-purpose piece).

Endless by Diane Kroe Review

And of course I will pack a diaper bag (yes, still doing that – potty training now – so the bag just gets heavier with changes of clothes!), but my Nella Bella bag might also come along on my trips because it is so multi-purpose and yet makes this mama feel like a lady.

Nella Bella London

Share! What are your travel outfit suggestions?

#WW w linky Sangria

Warm, sunny, days…inspires a little #WW w Linky Sangria n’est pas?…

Sangria

and perhaps a little melon?…

Melon

As always comments appreciated and links to your own #WordlessWednesday posts most welcome!

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Screen Free Travel Activities

Planning a trip en famille? I’m sharing  some of my favourite Screen Free Travel Activities. Why? Because sometimes the screens on the airplane don’t work. Or you run out of batteries. Or you hit a travel glitch and you need to fill in activity time. These 20 Screen Free Travel Activities just might make your travel life a little easier…

Screen free travel activities

Pick up a copy of Boredom Busters to see my Wooden Spoon Puppets boredom buster. It’s an easy, inexpensive, and pretty fun activity for kids (and if you happen to get a copy of Boredom Busters – the Wooden Spoon Puppets pictured in the book are actually made by my kids…a bit of Parent Club trivia for you!)

You might also like my Family Travel Packing List - it’s one of the most looked at posts on Parent Club!

family travel packing list

Spring Cleaning Checklist

The only bad thing about the sun finally shining is that you see how much dust has settled in your house over the winter. Thought it timely to share a Spring Cleaning Checklist to do some deep cleaning (and take care of those dust bunnies!)…Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring Cleaning Checklist

I think one of the most important things to do in Spring is to change your smoke alarm batteries (it could save your family’s lives).  Other top-of-the-list Spring cleaning to-dos are: deep clean oven and  deep clean coffee maker (I use both every single day and they get a big work out…I deep clean both once a year…Spring and Fall…to ensure they are in the best conditions possible.

We also make Spring cleaning a family activity. We turn on the music. Give every kid a “job”. And then get to it. We find it goes faster when everyone joins in (and Mommy doesn’t feel resentful doing it all by her one-some). Plus, cleaning is a life skill – so why not kids to pitch in and do their part. Their future wives/husbands/roommates will appreciate it!

I invite my son to help wipe down my Smudge-Proof kitchen (mostly because it’s his little fingers which make most of the messes!). Getting him to help in the kitchen is easy because he loves getting on the step and doing all the wiping and cleaning which he sees us biggies do every day. Yes, with him cleaning it takes longer (and there is always water spillage). But he is happy to take part…and Spring Cleaning is all about pitching in!

With their patented Smudge-Proof™ Stainless Steel finish, Frigidaire Gallery® and Frigidaire Professional® stainless-steel appliances have a new anti-smudge technology that resists those little fingerprints and is easier to clean than traditional stainless steel surfaces.

Smudge-Proof™ Stainless Steel is available on all Frigidaire Gallery® and Frigidaire Professional® products – see the collection here: http://www.frigidairekitchen.ca/en/smudge-proof/index.html

Disclosure:  I am part of the Frigidaire Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Endless by Diane Kroe Review

When I saw Diane Kroe at the One of A Kind Show in Toronto I knew I had to share her designs…seriously, this will make your life easier when it comes to packing! Her philosophy is “Have Fun and Travel Light” – how more perfect can that be for busy Moms travelling with families?! Planning a trip soon – then you will want to read my Endless by Diane Kroe Review…

Endless by Diane Kroe Review

Endless by Diane Kroe Review

  1. One Shoulder Top
  2. Scarf
  3. Off Shoulder Wrap
  4. Halter Top
  5. Poncho
  6. Dress
  7. Skirt

This one-size-fits-most piece is a great addition to your suitcase. I love how this 1 outfit can turn into 7 different looks (think: resort, European vacation, cruise). The fabric is light and easily washable. I note that it’s one-size-fits-most because I fit into 6 of the 7 possible variations (as a skirt it the opening was a tad too big for me…however, I am more slender than the average lady).

However, I would certainly recommend it for any lady. As busy Moms, we are often packing for everyone else and leave our own packing to the last minute (and often run out of suitcase room). Diane’s outfits are easily packable (read: you don’t have to iron!). And the functionality factor of these items is not to be missed.

Diane Kroe is a Canadian designer with a complete collection of convertible dresses, tops, and pants. Her wardrobe really does allow you to pack lighter. I have a fashion crush on her Convertible Dress (think: weddings, events, parties, travel, work, date night!).

And if you need more reasons to love Diane…

“My design philosophy is to create timeless yet functional clothing for women who love to travel.    I am committed to supporting our economy by continuing to design and manufacture quality merchandise here in Canada.”

Diane Kroe

Canadian, functional, fashionable…is this not a great find?!

#WW w linky Imagination Movers

It was one of the BEST live concerts for kids I have ever seen…we were out-of-our-seats when they sang “Mover Music (Jump Up!)“,  they were awesome at engaging kids to sing and move, nothing “silly” (you know how some live performances for kids can be over-the-top silly – I so dislike that)… AND my ds and I had the opportunity to meet the guys in person….this is our #WW w linky Imagination Movers

Parent Club w linky Imagination

The Imagination Movers (Rich, Scott, Dave, and Smitty) were all incredibly nice to all the kids.  No lip syncing or pre-recorded soundtracks – they played live – and it was the same great quality as when you see them on their show on Disney Junior Canada. I would love to see them again…and you can too!

Imagination Movers Live In Concert Canadian tour runs from Sept 13 – Oct 1 from west coast to east coast. You can get complete details and purchase tickets online at Disney Junior. Guys, I highly recommend seeing them – we had such a good time!.

As always comments appreciated and links to your own #WordlessWednesday posts most welcome!

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Semi-Formal, Prom, Grad Fashion Tips & #Giveaway

Just back from dress shopping with my 13 year old for her “graduation” outfit thus I thought it timely to share some Semi-Formal, Prom, Grad Fashion Tips. Check out these cost-saving tips…oh, and a little giveaway from Visa Canada below to help make your shopping a little easier…

Semi-Formal, Prom, Grad Fashion Tips

Semi-Formal, Prom, Grad Fashion Tips

  • Sleek Cutout Maxi Dress CAD $23.80, Forever 21
  • Power Brunch Flounce Dress CAD $23.80, Forever 21
  • Pleated dress $19.95, H & M
  • Dress in a lyocell blend $24.95, H & M
  • BELTED HI-LO DRESS $20.00, Urban Planet
  • EYELET FLARE TANK DRESS $20.00, Urban Planet

Yes, I do look at price. Not being cheap but she will grow out of this dress by next season. Do I want to invest a fortune in a grad dress? No thanks. Visa Canada recently released a survey showing thrifty Canadians spend 26% less than Americans on Prom (so I’m not alone in my prom planning philosophies).

I also look at functionality and fashion. Can she dress it up or dress it down? Can she wear it again? (we do have a few weddings coming up).

To help parents and teenagers plan and budget every aspect of prom in order to support responsible spending, Visa Canada has launched a free smartphone app. The free Plan’it Prom app allows users to make a realistic, detailed prom budget and then helps them stick to that budget by allowing them to track their spending as they shop. Plan’it Prom is available in the iTunes store, the Google Play store and from www.practicalmoneyskills.ca/prom. Follow @VisaNewsCA #prom

Plan'it PromCost-saving tips for grad shopping:

  • The Favourite – Focus on investing in one desired item and spend frugally on other items (we bought the dress she loved but used accessories she already had to compliment the dress).
  • The Makeup and Hair – Suggest your teen partner with a talented friend to do their hair and makeup for free (she needed a trim anyway so I arranged for a hair appointment on her special day – our regular hair dresser – knowing the day was special – put in some curls for free).
  • The Outfit – Considering they will only wear their prom outfit once, suggest that your teen start looking early for a great deal on their formal wear (yep, I had my teen surf online checking stores, prices, and specials before we went shopping).
  • The Transportation – Split the cost of a limo with friends or research untraditional transportation like renting a bus (we drove her and picked her up – easy transportation – and I think having extra time with us helped calm her nerves.

GIVEAWAY!

The good folks at Visa Canada want to help make your semi-formal, grad, and prom shopping easier. Enter for a chance to win a $50 pre-paid Visa card (think: dress, shoes, hair…these cards are accepted on-line and in stores pretty much everywhere!). This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec.  [Read more...]

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas From Kobo

Is Mother’s Day sneaking up on you?! (yeah, me too!). Ok, here are some awesome Last Mimute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas From Kobo – easy, one-size-fits-all, and a little something every mother would love…I’m obviously including myself in that…nudge nudge family members!…

Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Ideas From Kobo

  • Kobo Arc 10HDFor the techy mom KoboArc 10HD offers the highest resolution screen on the market and it’s ultra-fast.
  • Kobo Arc 7HDFor the social mom TheKobo Arc 7HD is the best HD tablet for eReaders with Internet browsing capabilities and downloadable apps like Facebook, Skype, Netflix and others.

You will remember I reviewed a Kobo Arc and can authentically attest to it being a fantastic Mother’s Day gift contender. Personally, I found the tapestries feature (where you can pin apps, games, and pretty much anything you want into categories on your main page) to be really unique and handy. It plays videos with amazing definition and the sound is pretty great too.  And yes, browsing is easy and awesome (great for keeping up with your social network in real time!).

Both devices are brilliant for busy Moms *waves hand*. Great size for portability. Super resolution. Brings all the apps you need for work/life/entertainment along with the apps you don’t need but love (I’m looking at you Firetruck-game-which-my-kids-are-addicted-to)

Kobo’s Mother’s Day Offer:

To celebrate Mother’s Day in Canada, Kobo is offering $10 off the Kobo Aura and $30 of free content*, $20 off the Kobo Arc 7D and $30 of free content*, and $50 off the Kobo Arc 10HD and $30 of free content* from April 23 – May 11. Available at IndigoBest BuyFuture ShopStaples, and The Source.

*Free content includes eBooks and eMagazines.

I have always been curious about trying out eMagazines (ok, I admit I love turning a magazine printed page but feel guilty about the amount of magazine paper which ends up in my recycling bin). This free content deal in the Kobo Mother’s Day bundles would be a great way to test drive eMagazines (and from everything I hear…they are pretty great).

Has anyone tried eBooks or eMagazines…thoughts?

Gifts For Mom and an Umbra #Giveaway

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. Buying for Maman can be tough – so this is the post where I try to make life a little easier by sharing some ideas on Gifts For Mom and an Umbra #Giveaway. So what are you thinking of gifting Mom this year…

Gifts for Mom

Gifts For Mom

  • little black dress $20.00
  • foresta turtle jewelry box $20.00
  • burst jewelry tree $20.00
  • ulove wall multi frame $40.00
  • mantra wall decor $30.00
  • family tree frame $50.00
  • pelica book prop $20.00

All of the above items are available at Umbra

Gifts For Mom Tips…

Think about what Mom would love. Kitchen gadgets? Wine bottle opener? Picture frame? Bath items? Fun small things? I’m one of those Mom’s who love it all. However the Pelica book prop pictured above is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for me…wouldn’t a copy of Boredom Busters look great on it?!

Think beyond YOUR Mom. Do you Mother’s Day shop for your Mother-in-law? Grandma? Aunt? Friend? Favourite Mom neighbour? Shop at Umbra now for your Mother’s Day gift giving…and enter the giveaway below for a belated gift (or you could keep it for yourself!…I won’t tell).

And I’m thrilled to share this exclusive deal for Parent Club readers. You can get free shipping (valid May 7-24, 2014) by using the promo code*: PARENTCLUB at checkout on www.umbra.com! No minimum purchase required, valid with regular priced items only.

*Valid for Canada and US (excluding Alaska, Puerto Rico, Western Territories and Hawaii). Promo code cannot be stacked with any other promotion

GIVEAWAY!

The folks at Umbra want to help make your Mother’s Day shopping a little easier. Enter for a chance to win a Family Tree Frame from Umbra ($50 value!). This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S., excluding Alaska, Puerto Rico, Western Territories and Hawaii,  and Canada, excluding Quebec.  [Read more...]