Monday, August 31, 2015

Must-Have Back-To-School Products

It honestly feels like it was just yesterday I was picking the kids up on their last day of school, holding back tears over the fact that another year had come to an end, and where does the time go? (Also, tears of fear, because gosh, summer is L-O-N-G, even when it includes two weeks of tennis camp and a four week vacation to Greece.)

Well, guess what? In a few days, kids are heading back to school for another year. As much as I'll miss having my two boys around me all day, I know we're all looking forward to routine again. And hey, some free time for me to work and uh... shop will be just lovely.

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, I get really excited. I've always loved shopping for essential school supplies, like backpacks, lunch containers, and anything that'll help keep me—and the kids—organized.

I was on CTV Morning Live talking about some great back-to-school products—here are some of my favourites:


Net Nanny: Net Nanny is something all parents should invest in—it's the number one parental controls software that protects children from online predators and cyberbullying. Keeping my family safe online is very important, and Net Nanny makes it easy to monitor what the kids are doing online, even when they are not around me, so I don't have to worry. Peace of mind is essential for staying on top of your game as another school year starts! 

Time of Day Calendar: As much as I'm addicted to my iPhone and technology, there is nothing (in my opinion) more essential than a paper calendar you can hang by your fridge or in a busy area of your house. The Time of Day Day Ja View Calendar is awesome because it provides enough room to write important information on each day of the week, and it also comes with stickers so you'll know what's going on each day in a simple way.

Skip Hop: I wish I was going back to school myself so I could stock up on all the adorable Skip Hop products! From backpacks to lunch containers and pencil cases, Skip Hop is the cutest and your kids will love choosing their new backpack and lunch containers. You can find all the great Skip Hop products at Well.ca, and also at Chapters-Indigo.



Staples: Staples is my go-to store for school supplies. From pencils to backpacks and erasers, I love shopping at Staples with my boys, especially because Staples is huge on giving back. Staples Canada, Me to We and Acco have partnered to create a line of school supplies and with each purchase, a life-changing gift is given to a child in need through Me to We's charitable partner, Free the Children.

MyFunkins.com: Funkins takes litter-less lunch to the next level. These eco-friendly 100% cotton napkins (or placemats) are a smart alternative to disposable products and perfect for environmentally conscious families. I love the different patters—something perfectly suited for each unique child.



National Geographic: Get the kids ready for school with some great books from National Geographic. My boys are reading the Almanac 2016 which is packed with photos and tons of interesting facts about science, nature, and animals. The Little Kids First Big Book of the World is also a great book to pick up to get a head start on reading before school starts! I love the kid-friendly maps and facts about each continent. It's perfect for my geography loving seven year old.



Good Luck to all the parents out there with back-to-school. I hope some of these products will help you make the transition easier.

Here's to a great year!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

50 Shades Of Greece (A Travel Adventure)

I'm home after a four week vacation in Greece. We spent last summer in Greece and had such a great time, we had to go back. The tales of traveling to our destination (a ten hour airplane ride with 11 people including a three month old baby) is an adventure in itself, but I want to talk about the beauty of Greece—the history, the culture, and the food.


These are the reasons tourists flock to Greece every summer, and always come back—the lifestyle and beauty of this European country can't be beat, despite the economic uncertainly and questions of what's next for Greece and the European Union. For the record, I didn't notice a single thing out of sorts in Greece—no line-ups at the bank machines, and no shortage of food or hospitality by the local people.

Just one look at this country will take your breath away. There are sunsets and then there are the sunsets of Greece, which are mesmerizing no matter where you are.  The sea, the mountains, the culture—travel perfection, really.



As the days go by you'll easily fall into the Greek routine, which consists of eating dinner no earlier than ten p.m. (The first week we were there, we'd head out to eat at 7, only to realize most restaurants were still closed.) Not to worry—waiting to eat later at night is worth it, as the food is always delicious. If you're travelling with young children, you should definitely take advantage of siesta time, otherwise it'll be impossibly hard to keep the young ones awake and happy so late at night.

The Greek diet consists of fresh yogurt and Greek honey for breakfast, a frappe or freddo iced coffee, Greek salads (all the time!) fresh baked bread, gyro, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, potatoes, tiropita, and fruits you can pick off trees literally everywhere you are. It's fresh eating, all the time. It's healthy food, and it's all so damn delicious. (Not to mention the countless numbers of bakeries and ice cream shops on literally every street corner that'll tempt you daily.)


What can you expect when you're in Greece? The feeling of wonder, as you stand in a modern metropolitan city like Athens, surrounded by ancient ruins. The enchanting landscapes, rocky mountains, deep blue sea, and ancient ruins surrounding you will take your breath away.

Greece is also carefree and so sexy, and the perfect place to travel to as a couple. Make sure to put a few of the famous islands on your list—Santorini, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Zakinthos, and Lefkada will leave you wanting more, and the entire time you'll feel like it's still a dream and not reality because of your surroundings. The nightlife of Greece is also crazy—be prepared for many sleepless nights! I was lucky enough to get away for a couple of days with the hubs to Lefkada again, and the Ionian Blue hotel was pure heaven.


What's more perfect that a summer swimming in the Ionian and Aegean sea? Not much, if you ask me. Many of the golden sandy beaches (or rocky beaches, depending on where you are) have been voted "Blue Flag Beaches." (The "Blue Flag" is the most recognizable international symbol of beach quality in the world.) The beaches have to have excellent quality for bathing and must meet 32 other criteria, like safety, protection of the beach, and environmental awareness. Greece was ranked third in the world this year among 50 countries, after Portugal and France.


Not everything in Greece is perfect, though; the driving is still crazy and you have to get used to driving through tiny, narrow roads with lots of sharp turns, (you'll feel like an F1 driver in no time!) and drivers who drive carelessly,  not obeying any traffic laws, (stop signs are merely a suggestion, it seems) and the constant passing of cars on mountain roads, which is super scary. There are great highways in Greece, too, but to get to some of the islands and inner cities, be prepared for some crazy driving.

From Athens to the islands, you'll love all the coffeeshops, stores, museums and art galleries. When you're not swimming, you'll be sightseeing and eating.

There are so many places to stay when you're in Greece, and you'll find some gorgeous five-star resorts, too, so you can get the best of both worlds: the sea and infinity pools.

Greece is the perfect summer vacation destination because it offers something for everyone; for the history lover, for the party animal, and for the beach lover. It's great for families, for couples, for young people seeking adventure and fun, (hello, Mykonos!) and so much more.














Greece is the word—and if it's not on your travel bucket list already, I hope it is now!

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