Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

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Ultimate Blog Party 2011


Welcome!

Come on in - just stomp the snow and ice off your boots and throw your winter wear on that chair over there.

Cold? Ya. Me too. I am rather tired of snow!

Here, have a cup of coffee to warm up...

(all the food pictures are from Kraft Canada - click on the picture for the yummy recipe pictured!)

I know it is cold up here in Northwestern Ontario, Canada but don't worry... Spring DOES come eventually :).

My name is Tara and I am so glad you stopped by my little corner of the interwebs. This is me with my husband Doug and our youngest child Olivia...


Help yourself to some yummy appetizers, sit down and get comfy so we can get to know each other a little bit!





I am a married work-at-home Canadian mom who is addicted to social media... how's that for an intro?




I have been blogging since October of 2006 and I really do love it.






I work as a Virtual Assistant for @Shasherslife and Social Media Manager for a marketing company. Shash and I were online friends for a couple of years before she hired me as her right-hand woman. We worked together for almost a year before we met in-real-life for the very first time at Blissdom Canada 2010. It was so much fun!

This is a picture of us at the Blissdom Canada Costume Party...


We will be going to Blissdom Canada again this year and I am very excited!


 

Would you like a drink? I chose bright and sunshiney drinks to help us forget that it is snowing outside.





I have 3 children. My son Aiden is 8 (almost 9!!), my son Owen is 7 and my daughter Olivia is 4.




My children are wonderful and I adore them... but we do face some challenges. 

Aiden has been diagnosed with Autism and depending on which doctor you talk to he also has ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Learning Disabilities. But basically all that is just a part of Autism

Owen has some ADHD and sensory issues which we are currently investigating but overall is doing quite well. 

Olivia is a fairly typical 4 year old princess wannabe.

All three of my children have dreadful Asthma. In fact we just finished up a round of pneumonia and bronchitis.






I think I need another drink. You?







One of the reasons I started this blog was as a stress-reliever and sanity-saver. I have blogged about my struggle with depression, my thyroid disorder that drives me crazy, my angst over parenting my kids, my inability to keep up to date with the laundry, and everything in between. I maintain that blogging is amazing free therapy.






Chocolate helps too.







We are in the midst of a fairly major transition. My husband has been the pastor of a very small church here in our town for the past two years and unfortunately they have run out of money and are no longer able to pay our salary... which means that as of the end of June my husband is out of a job. On the up side the job ending is simply a financial thing... it is not like we were fired or driven out of town by angry villagers with pitchforks.

On the down side we have to look for another job and since my husband is a pastor that means a job change will also require a location change and as of right now we have NO idea where (or when) that will be.

I am not a huge fan of the unknown. Shocker. I know.

Would you like some cake? Cake makes everything better.

(all the food pictures are from Kraft Canada - click on the picture for the yummy recipe pictured!)

 Well that is enough about me... now it is your turn to tell me about yourself!

Please enter the link to your Ultimate Blog Party post here so that we can all visit you too...


Thanks so much for stopping by!

Here, take a cupcake for the trip home :)


Happy Partying!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tangled

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FILM SYNOPSIS

When the kingdom’s most wanted—and most charming—bandit Flynn Rider (voice of ZACHARY LEVI) hides out in a mysterious tower, he’s taken hostage by Rapunzel (voice of MANDY MOORE), a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Flynn’s curious captor, who’s looking for her ticket out of the tower she’s been locked away in for years, strikes a deal with the handsome thief, and the unlikely duo sets off on an action-packed escapade, complete with a super-cop horse, an overprotective chameleon and a gruff gang of pub thugs. Tangled is a story of adventure, heart, humor and hair—lots of hair.



OUR REVIEW

We ALL love Tangled! It is an absolutely delightful movie. It adds some really fun and entertaining twists to the classic Rapunzel storyline. The graphics are just beautiful- my favourite being the scene with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in the boat during the lantern festival. I also really enjoyed the songs. I really have no complaints about Tangled!

I asked my kids what they thought of Tangled and here is what they said:

Aiden (age 8): I love it (said with enthusiasm). She has a crazy amount of hair! It is funny and not really scary because even the bad guys are kind of funny.

Owen (age 7): I love the Max the horse and when he hits Flynn Rider! It is so funny! If I were her I would have just climbed down my hair ages ago. I like the lizard and how he can change colours. That's cool.

Olivia (age 4): Rapunzel lives up in the tower and her mean mother who is not really her mother won't let her go out but she could climb down her hair and she has a lizard for a pet and can you believe how much hair she has? I want a paper lantern. And her hair glows and fixes people's owies and I think Rapunzel's hair looks pretty in the braid with the flowers but it is way too much hair. And Flynn Rider almost freaks out about her hair but then he doesn't because he pretends he is a bad guy but he really isn't because he is a good guy.... ( etc. etc. etc.)

We have watched Tangled dozens of times since it arrived at our house... it really is a new favourite around here! I definitely recommend it to everyone!

Thanks so much to Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for sending me a copy of this Blu-ray to review!! We love it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Veggie Tales: 'Twas the Night Before Easter

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'Twas the Night Before Easter

Product Description

It's Easter time in Crisper County and cable news reporter Marlee Meade (Petunia Rhubarb) is hunting for a way to help others. On a tip that the old town theater will be shut down, Marlee cooks up a plan to save the stage and make a difference through the power of musical theater. With a cast of costume-clad townies, massive props and a 20-foot robot rabbit - Up With Bunnies is hatched! There's only one thing missing the star of the show! When news spreads that singing sensation Cassie Cassava (Melinda Doolittle) is arriving to perform in her hometown church s Easter service, Marlee gets worried.  Concerned about the competition, she schemes to steal the starlet for her own pageant! But when things go haywire, will it be curtains for Marlee s dreams   or will she discover the true meaning of Easter and what helping others is really all about? Find out in this hare raising adventure!





OUR REVIEW



We enjoy Veggie Tales. All three of my kids have watched 'Twas the Night Before Easter a few times since it arrived at our house. Here is what they had to say about it...



Aiden (age 8): I liked the part where the peas are wearing slippers and hats. I liked the whole show. Easter is about Jesus. Easter is not just a bunny holiday. The show is funny.


Olivia (age 4): I liked Marlee and no one has any hands but they can still do things and sing. 


Owen (age 7): I liked the silly song and the giant robot rabbit. It's funny. 


I loved that this movie was able to convey the true meaning of Easter in a fun and entertaining way. This would be great for a Sunday School class as well. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunshine in the Afternoon

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Spring is still far away for us. It was below zero outside today and the frozen ground is still covered in several feet of snow. There are no flowers peeking through and not even the smallest bud has begun to grow on the trees. My kids have all been asking when winter will be over... I'd like to know too :) .

This afternoon the sun was shining through our dining room window and my daughter was drawn to that square of sunshine. She brought some toys over and lounged in the sun for a long time. She told me that she loved how warm the sun felt.

Oh I can't wait for Spring.

Olivia, Aiden and I are still pretty sick. Olivia is definitely on the mend but Aiden and I are still feeling pretty rough. Maybe Aiden and I should have curled up in the sun patch with Olivia this afternoon too :) .

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Get Sponsored for a Blog Conference - Guest Post by Shash

Pin It The other night the amazing ladies of Blissdom announced the location for this year's Blissdom Canada conference. It will be October 2011 in Toronto. The exact dates haven't been published but Twitter is already buzzing with #blissdomcanada chat!

My bloggy bff Shash and I went together last year and we are even on the front page of the Blissdom Canada website right now...

(CL Buchanan Photography - Blissdom Canada 2010)

If you would like to see Shash and I meeting in real life for the first time last year you can see a video of it on my Blissdom Canada 2010 post. It was truly a beautiful thing and makes me smile to think about even still. You can see some of the highlights on my 13 Things I Learned post.

I was sponsored by several different sources for the conference last year and this year I will be searching for sponsors once again!

Shash has agreed to share her sponsor-getting wisdom with us today...

It's never too early to start planning for sponsors, there's a lot of behind the scenes to do, the more you prepare in advance, the less running around you'll have to do later.  Remember the saying  "poor planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on mine".

Here are some tips for getting sponsorship:

  1. Put together a "Media Kit" or press/pr kit. Here are a couple of samples: mine at Shasher's Life and Lynette's from My Wee View . It should list a description of your blog, your stats, samples of what you've done, companies you've worked with and of course the reason others should work with you. 
  2. Don't just leave it there. Start reaching out to brands! As Adria from GM Canada said in my interview with her a couple of months ago. Send them an email, give them a call... send them a vlog - make an appointment to meet them! Be proactive and do something.
  3. Consider partial sponsorships from multiple brands/companies. I had more than one company help me get to Blissdom Canada 2010. They each covered a portion of a need I had. And don't just think "BIG"! I've had more success with smaller, local businesses that need the social share lift and friendly PR. Here's a list of sponsors I had from an event I just recently put on, "Total Woman" retreat. If there is a company that you seem to have a very special relationship with then ask them first!
  4. Consider partnering up with another blogger! Have you heard the saying, one is a lonely number?! :) If you're just getting started, this may benefit you big time. Tara's View of the World and I teamed up and put our combined stats, social influence, experience and skills to work. We were able to go to brands as a team and both get to Blissdom Canada 2010.
  5. Along with your Media Kit... send them a "Sponsorship Package". Tara and I did this very well. We put together a powerpoint presentation with various tiered "packages" that a business could "partner" with & left room for some bonuses like clothing for our "red carpet" moments. The amount of PR coverage and work was determined by the level of business the brand/business was willing to pay for. **If you promise it.... DELIVER it!** If you don't follow through with what they're expecting, you'll ruin it for the rest of us.
  6. Follow up a few weeks after you send your pitch off! It's a good way to remind them who you are and why they should respond but don't stalk them! Brands are busy so be patient and kind! Remember... you're basically applying for a job/position within their company.
  7. If you're turned down, don't get nasty! Send them a "Thank You" note either way - always leave a good impression. You never know what the future may hold.
  8. Be positive! The old saying goes, "You can get more bees with honey than vinegar!". If you're looking for sponsorship, watch what you say online! Don't be negative, a nag or a grump all the time. 
  9. After the event is over and you've done the work that you promised... send your sponsors a link to the posts or even better... put together a presentation of the event with screen shots of the responses you got from it. They'll love it!
  10. Have fun! Never take yourself too serious or think more highly of yourself than you ought! :)
You have 7 months until Blissdom Canada 2011 comes to the Hilton Toronto - probably about 5 months until registration opens and money is needed so you better get started today! *Most brands or companies may require you to pay up front and send in your receipts for reimbursement so be prepared for that.

Getting sponsored for a blog conference takes a "Can-Do" attitude, a bit of creativity and good budgeting skills! What are you willing to do to get there?!

Good Luck - I hope I'll see you there!
-Shash



Thanks for guest posting on my blog Shash! You know I love you :)


(Shash and I at Blissdom Canada 2010 at the costume party)

* If you would like to sponsor Shash and I to go to Blissdom Canada please contact us! *

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pneumonia, Bronchitis and Asthma Oh My!

Pin It Well it has been quite the week here.


Olivia has been so sick and yesterday I was so worried about her that I took her into the ER. As it turns out I was right to be worried. She was dehydrated and has pneumonia. Poor kiddo.

When we first arrived at the ER the receptionist told me it would be about a 4 hour wait to see the doctor once we saw the "triage" nurse. The nurse saw us right away and after taking a look at Olivia said "well sweetheart, you just got bumped to the front of the line!" and took us right in. That just confirmed for me that I wasn't imagining how sick she was.

The nurse had me give Olivia meds and liquids through one of those medicine syringe things for an hour. After that she got a chest x-ray and the doctor looked her over and almost 2 hours later she was able to give a urine sample. The nurse gave her 3 popsicles over the two hours as well which Olivia loved. Once the test results came back the doctor said "It looks like she has pneumonia and maybe some sort of other infection - she has gunk in her lungs and white blood cells in her urine... but I don't think we should subject her to anymore tests so here is a strong general prescription that should knock whatever nastiness is in there out".  And then we went home.


Prescription meds are a beautiful thing... Olivia is already doing so much better. It will take awhile I think but I am relieved that she has perked up so much.


Aiden is sick too but not nearly as bad. Apparently he fell asleep at his desk at school yesterday which is REALLY unlike him. We had our regular scheduled pediatrician appointment for him today and the doctor took a listen and said he probably has some mild bronchitis but nothing all of our regular asthma meds can't keep at bay. Good to know.


Owen is doing just fine now after being sick for a couple days. He bounces back so well.


I am exhausted. Wiped right out. I feel like I've been hit by a truck. I think I probably have bronchitis too ( I usually get it at least a couple times per year thanks to my asthma). I'm all achy and pathetic. I just want to sleep... too bad life won't let me!!

And today? I went to the dentist for the first time in several years (yes, I know I should go yearly but it was just too expensive) and found out I have two cavities. TWO!! I haven't had any cavities since I was a kid. And the irony of it all? They are both under/beside the two fillings I already have from when I was a kid. Go figure. Lucky me.


So I am going back to bed now and hoping that tomorrow I can function a little more normally!

( all the pictures in the post were taken by my husband since I haven't bothered to take a single picture since last week... oops)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Fairy Wings (LINKY)

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My husband Doug took this picture and I love it. I got Olivia these jammies during our mini-vacation at Old Navy and I just love them! So cute.

Enter your Wordless Wednesday link here:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Les Misérables : 25th Anniversary

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Les Miserables

Experience the event of a lifetime with this spectacular 25th anniversary celebration of one of the most popular musicals ever written, Les Misérables. Honoring 25 years of this incredible show, this momentous film captures the excitement of two magnificent sold-out performances that were watched live around the world. With a phenomenal all-star cast, including pop star Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers), Tony® Award winner Lea Salonga (the voice of Disney's Mulan and Princess Jasmine), and over 500 additional artists and musicians, revel in the songs of the unforgettable characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution.



Guest Review by my mom!

I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD. The fabulous music of this remarkable production triggered memories of the stage production I saw many years ago. I am moved by the beauty and quality of the orchestration and vocals showcased here, as well as by the passion expressed throughout this tragic story. If you love music, this is a must see. I recommend it for teenagers to the elderly.

 Thanks so much to Universal Studios Home Entertainment for sending me a copy of this DVD to review.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kiddos in a Row...

Pin It While we were away on our mini-vacation we had the chance to meet up with some of our friends that we haven't seen in about 7 years. It was really fun!

At one point the kids were all lined up at the foot of the massive king sized hotel bed watching cartoons. I tried to get them all to smile for me but it didn't really work out. They were darn cute though...






Thanks for visiting us Chris & Katherine!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sick...

Pin It We are laying pretty low today. All three kids have fevers and coughs but the puking seems to have stopped... for now anyway. So far Doug and I are ok... I have a cold but nothing major. I hope it stays that way.

I took these pictures of the kids on our drive home from our mini-vacation in Winnipeg yesterday. This one is near the beginning of the trip- before the van had warmed up. Olivia pulled her hat down over her face and was asleep within seconds. Thanks to Gravol she and Aiden slept the vast majority of the ride home. Except when the puking was happening of course. Ick.



This is near the end of the 4.5 hour drive.  Olivia and Aiden both looked so pale! Owen wasn't really that sick yet so he spent the hours watching movies. Oh how I love our portable DVD player!!



I really hope this sickness nastiness goes away quickly. 

Oh...  and tomorrow is the first official day of Spring. It is snowing like crazy here. No Spring anywhere in sight for us :( .

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mini-Vacation in Winnipeg part two...

Pin It On Wednesday I told you about the most amazingly gorgeous Castle theme room we had the privilege of staying in this week and today I want to show you the fabulous pool. The Canad Inns Destination Fort Garry REALLY impressed us!

Here is the pool area ...



the smaller side pool is the hot tub and the larger raised pool is the kiddie pool...



the water was clean and clear and the perfect temperature!


The kids had a fabulous time...


they especially loved the waterslide and all three of them went down it about a zillion times...




There were also amazing murals all over the walls....


I have no idea who the artist was but they did an amazing job.


I thought they were extremely well done...


We were VERY pleased with the pool and waterslide! It was perfect for our family.

Our whole stay at the Fort Garry Canad Inns was wonderful. We had wonderful customer service from start to finish. I HIGHLY recommend it!!

(and no, I was NOT paid to write this post... I just really genuinely loved it!)

Unfortunately our trip ended with Olivia spending the entire night puking ... and Aiden started puking on our drive home today. Not an ideal end to an otherwise wonderful mini-vacation :( .

Oh... and I would like to make an official apology to the lovely cleaning lady who had the most unpleasant task of removing all the puked on towels and sheets from our room. I'm so sorry.

However I must admit I am pretty darn happy I don't have to clean them up.

But you know what? Even with the puking we are SO glad we went. What a treat! Hopefully this flu bug goes away quickly though.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hotel Castle Theme Room in Winnipeg = Fabulous!

Pin It Since it is our Spring Break we decided to do something special. We are on a mini-vacation in Winnipeg and it has been great so far! I want to tell you about the amazing hotel we are staying at. Let me preface this by saying I am not being paid or sponsored in any way for this post... I am just really impressed!

We booked a family theme room at the Canad Inns Destination Fort Garry hotel. The room is "Castle" theme and it is FANTASTIC!! We have stayed in theme rooms before at other hotels and this one so far surpasses them all that it is unbelievable.

We had been in the room for about 15 minutes when the front desk called up to make sure we were happy. Then about a half hour later the general manager called to make sure we were satisfied!! Talk about amazing customer service!!

Let me give you a little tour of this gorgeous room!



Here is the bedroom area...


It has a lovely king size bed and two robes were folded up just waiting for us on each corner.


I absolutely LOVE all the detail work in the design- everything from cool closet doors and amazing murals to themed kleenex boxes and curtains.


This is the gorgeous jacuzzi with my children posing nicely for you all...




There is a little sitting area with a table and on it was a personal note welcoming us to the hotel and gifting us with a complimentary bottle of wine, juice, a cheese / fruit / crackers plate and a cookies / strawberries plate!


The food was delicious and such a nice treat!



 This is the kids room with a very cool mural...
 


They even made the desk area lovely...

  


My kids love this Castle theme room and so do we!!


Tomorrow I am going to take my camera down to the pool / waterslide area and take some pictures because it has the greatest murals everywhere! 


Happy Spring Break everyone :)
 
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