A few weeks ago we spotted the “Dream Day Vacay” contest hosted by Family.ca. The contest asked for a written submission by our children sharing why our family deserves to win a summer day (24hr) vacation to anywhere in Canada… the prize is worth up to $10,000 and makes that dream vacation come true! Plus, they will film the day so there will be a video memory to treasure.
We have been dreaming up a way to get to PEI and see the “Anne” sites and also see our local Kitchener-Waterloo star AJ Bridel as Anne in the Charlottetown Anne of Green Gables Musical, so we submitted our entry. We have not been able to go on any big family vacations since my son was diagnosed with autism at 2, but if you know me, you know I am resourceful!
We were so surprised to find out WE MADE IT to the TOP 5 FINALISTS!!!!!!
But, in order to win, we had to make a 45 second video AND Our Video Has to Get the Most Votes… So, We Need Your Help!
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO VOTE FOR OUR VIDEO
The Voting begins Monday, June 25 at 10am ET and ends on Monday, July 9, 2018 at 10am ET over here on Family.ca. Clearly, I am not a professional videographer, but we did our best in a tight time frame and the video was made with a lot of love. ❤
Here’s the original Video we submitted… The link for voting is below.
Vote here: Family.ca/contests
Here’s an Eventbrite Event I created so you can easily add a voting reminder to your calendar (it is a daily vote). Thank you! If you can vote daily or as often as you remember, it will really help!
Up to 4 members per Canadian household (all ages, or 13+ in QC) with unique email addresses can vote per day! Rules: http://promo.family.ca/contests/dream-day-vacay/voting-rules.php
When you vote, YOU get a chance to win a
$500 Transat Travel Gift Card!
When you successfully submit your vote, you will get a SUCCESS
screen (see the sample image above) – if you don’t, please resubmit!
I don’t know what the outcome of the contest will be, but THANK YOU for being a part of the FUN!! =) I’ll keep you posted!
❤ ❤ ❤
– The Beckett Family of Waterloo, ON
P.S. Family.ca did not sponsor this post, nor am I affiliated with them in any way.
When we left Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, we had to literally peel my son’s fingers off of the door as he kicked and screamed. Needless, to say, he LOVED every minute and never wanted to leave. This was our first visit, and I want to share with you what we learned, what we loved and why we’ll be returning again as soon as possible!
To Paw Pass or Not to Paw Pass?
For first-timers I highly recommend the Paw Pass! For $64.99 plus tax per kid, you get:
- One MagiQuest game
- One MagiQuest classic wand or classic topper
- One quarter pound of fudge
- One animal from our Great Wolf Stuffing Station (outfit not included)
- One 5×7 Paw Prints water park action photo
- 20 Paw Points and game card for Northern Lights Arcade
- One gift at Scooops Kid Spa
- Two games of bowling at Ten Paw Alley or one game at Wacky Wilderness Mini Golf
- Two Great Wolf Kids activities in Cub Club
- One pair of wolf ears
We did everything on the list except for the activities at the Cub Club. The kids loved getting their wolf ears, their stuffed wolf (just like at Build-A-Bear), and their wands for the MagiQuest. I upgraded the Paw Prints photo for about $6 we got a printed picture of our family going over the Falls in a barrel. We have very few family pictures and I appreciate the kitsch of this souvenir.
Meal Plan or Bring Your Own?
Our package included the meal plan and I loved the breakfast and dinner buffets. There were lots of choices and my picky eaters were all happy. Niagara Wine samples came to the table (SCORE!) and as it was my daughter’s birthday, she received a special dessert and a birthday song from wait staff ending with a wolf howl! So fun!
Check out the video of the birthday song: Great Wolf Lodge Birthday Surprise
Lunch choices were ‘okay’. We could choose from a pizza slice, chips and pop; or a hot dog or burger w/fries and a pop. Not as awesome as the buffet, but it was quick enough and let us get back to the more important task of enjoying the water park.
Next time I will consider bringing more food and possibly not getting the meal plan, it is certainly possible to make do without it, but I also really enjoyed the buffets!
The room had a mini-fridge and microwave oven, coffee maker and sink, so we could definitely have made do while in our room. No microwave popcorn is allowed to be popped in the hotel rooms – there are big warning labels on the microwave ovens. I brought snacks, chips, candy, and bottled water for the room.
Standard, Themed, or Premium Room?
Our room was a themed KidCabin Suite. The kids enjoyed the bunk bed room of their own. My son loved sleeping in the top bunk. My daughter turned 13 on the trip and found the beds very uncomfortable. Next time I would double a mattress for her (they were thinner than a standard mattress) and there were three beds in the suite and only two kids.
We would have been just as happy in a standard “Family Fireplace Suite” as we all really enjoyed the fireplace and would pay a little more for that perk (we visited in January and it was so nice to warm up by the fire and also to dry our towels). My daughter would’ve been more comfortable in a regular bed and would happily share with her brother.
If you have no budget, consider a premium suite. I’d love to try the loft fireplace suite. This would be great to book at Christmas as the room holds up to 8 people and Santa can bring presents to the fireplace! Some of the premium rooms come with dedicated parking right outside your suite so it is easier to load/unload.
We have been to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark in Niagara Falls twice thanks to Autism Ontario attending in the Winter and were rather disappointed both times. My kids are not thrill seekers and they only enjoyed the wave pool there and unfortunately as the day progresses the water park gets colder and colder as patrons go outside to the heated outdoor space letting cold air continually blast into the water park.
We were pleasantly surprised with Great Wolf Lodge as the temperature was nice and warm and stayed warm the whole time we were there. The water park had smaller water slides for young kids or ‘chickens’ like my two. They loved the lazy river (I think half of our day was spent in the lazy river)! The wave pool was a hit and they also loved the smaller swimming pool with basketball nets around the sides. It was easy to access self serve life vests. Heated towels were available and there were lockers for rent. On our second day, we remained at the water park after checking out from our hotel room, so we rented a locker. The locker was about $20 and when we returned our key we had the option to receive the key back or pick a wolf stuffed animal (my daughter chose the wolf).
One night or more?
For the budget conscious, you can get a lot of fun out of a one night stay. If your room is not ready at your 1pm check in time, you can access the water park already! And you have water park privileges for your check out day as well, so you can stay as long as the water park is open! My hope next time is that we book at least 2 nights as there is so much fun to be had and it would have been a more relaxed pace for squeezing in all of the fun activities.
The Happiest Place in Canada?
We used to save up for Disney, the happiest place on earth for me and so many others – but now, in less than 2 hours with no border crossing, our family has found our new ‘happiest place’ and it’s IN CANADA. To celebrate #Canada150 a lot of bloggers are urging Canadians to make Canadian destinations a priority this year, so we will definitely be spending our vacation dollars in Canada and as often as possible, at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Check out all of my Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls videos on YouTube here:
Ready to book?
NEW!! Enter to WIN here, ends May 24 2017:
Great Wolf Lodge Official Website Deals: https://www.greatwolf.com/niagara/deals
Entertain Kids on a Dime posts monthly deals, here are the APRIL 2017 ones:
This Review is not an #Ad. It is my own opinion based on a stay my partner WON from CHYM-FM in Kitchener (Thank you for making me the #BestMomEver ).
Last year, I read Craig & Marc Kielburger’s book The World Needs Your Kid: How to Raise Children Who Care and Contribute and was inspired to help my children find their own ways to give back in our community. Then in April of 2016, Ontario announced a cut to services for children with Autism over the age of 5 (a decision which did not impact my son with Autism, but greatly impacted his same age peers), and suddenly, my daughter and I were off and running. We marched in a rally in our hometown, headed to Queen’s Park for a protest and attended Question Period, and we helped organize a small protest at a local MPP’s office. We engaged on social media (#AutismDoesntEndAt5), posted signs, printed and distributed flyers in parking lots along with many other families across the Province. Thankfully, the government reversed its decision, but for our family, teaching our daughter that she has a voice and can use it, was the best outcome.
Craig and Marc Kielburger were raised in a family who practiced seeing the world through a lens where they were active participants in making the world a better place. At a young age they were moved to create Free the Children (now WE.org) and worked tirelessly to create a world where child slavery could be a thing of the past. Over the years, their effort has morphed into the WE movement. Children all over the world earn their way to attend WE Day events by fundraising and participating in volunteer projects and initiatives.
The first ever WE Day Family!
Many local school children participate in WE Day clubs and volunteer to earn their ticket to WE Day. There they are inspired to do more and find their own way to change the world. Kids come home from WE Day pumped up and excited, and they bring this enthusiasm home to their families. Families were looking for direction and ways to support their children and get involved. This was the inspiration for the first ever WE Day Family event, held in Toronto on October 19th, 2016.
My daughter and I were honoured to join over 20,000 people at the Air Canada Centre where we were treated to inspirational talks from speakers such as Chris Hadfield, Rick Hansen, Nelly Furtado, Paula Abdul, Lilly Singh and music from The Barenaked Ladies, Gord Downie and Hedley.
WE Were Inspired to Spread #GirlLove
Lilly Singh (aka YouTube sensation IISuperwomanII) shared her #GirlLove movement and the Rafiki bracelet she created while visiting Kenya on a WE Villages trip. Sales of her GirlLove Rafiki bracelets help girls in Kenya access primary education. Lilly wants to end ‘girl-on-girl hate’ and spread #GirlLove!
Rafiki bracelets are handmade by women in Kenya! Purchasing Rafiki bracelets through the ME to WE store helps a variety of causes such as access to clean water!
My daughter, was inspired to help communities access clean water and proudly purchased a WE GIVE CLEAN WATER Rafiki bracelet. She also picked up a #GirlLove Rafiki bracelet!
WE were Moved to Tears
Gord Downie is lending his voice to furthering the cause of the Reconciliation movement in Canada. Gord delivered an emotional rendition of “The Stranger” from his Secret Path concept album/Graphic novel collaboration with Jeff Lemire. Gord sang of the tragic death of Chanie Wenjack, who died while fleeing a residential school and attempting to walk to his home (not knowing it was over 400 miles away). Gord walked the stage as if Chanie, falling to the stage floor – a move that left many of us in tears. After the song, Gord was joined on stage by Chanie’s sister Pearl Wenjack, who sang a heart wrenching song. Although Chanie died 50 years ago today (Oct. 22, 1966), his sister’s ever present pain was evident in her voice.
TAKE ACTION: Tune in and watch as a family, then start the difficult conversation of Reconciliation in your home. The Secret Path will be broadcast by CBC in an hour-long commercial-free television special on Sunday, October 23, 2016, at 9pm (9:30 NT).
WE Were Encouraged to Aim For The Stars
Astronaut Chris Hadfield joined the Barenaked Ladies to play his guitar and sing along with “If I Had A Million Dollars”, then joined a room full of children and Mom Bloggers for an inspiring Q&A. When he was little, there was no such thing as a Canadian Astronaut, but he didn’t let that stop him. He dreamed big and achieved his goal through hard work and determination.
His time in space inspired his commitment to WE.org – having a space-eye view of Earth, taught him the “WEness” of us all. WE are all in this together, and WE can make a difference to the lives of others around the globe.
Paula Abdul shared her story of achieving her dream to be a dancer and a choreographer, cleaning a dance studio in exchange for lessons and not letting her petite physique keep her from mastering the grace of ballet. Now she is a WE Ambassador and has traveled to Kenya. Her message was about taking action to achieve your goals, which really resonated with my daughter (who dreams of Broadway).
WHY Should WE Get Involved With WE.org?
If you need a reason to get involved as a family, studies have shown that by engaging your children in WE Movement charities “youth experience profound academic and professional growth and develop critical 21st century skills, including leadership skills, as well as collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills, all of which contribute to creating better prepared students and job candidates.”
By living “WE” at home, families learn how to make a difference through their everyday actions. Families bond over causes that matter to them, and raise children who become caring and compassionate adults.
HOW Can WE help?
If you only do one thing today, take a minute and join the WE movement, visit WE.org and take the WE pledge. $10 will be donated for every pledge taken, up to $1 Million dollars will be donated to support charitable domestic empowerment programs and sustainable development programs in communities oversees.
TAKE ACTION: WE Scare Hunger Campaign
One of the action campaigns my Tween wants us to take on as a WE Day Family, is called “WE Scare Hunger.” With materials available online, we have all the resources we need to organize and collect food for our local food bank on Halloween. A few days before Halloween, we will be delivering notes to our neighbours, so they can be ready for us to collect non-perishable donations for the food bank when we visit them for Trick-or-Treat.
This is also a great way for kids who are starting to feel a bit too old to Trick-or-Treat to stay involved with the Halloween fun!
We Day Family was proudly sponsored by RBC. Check out their Make 150 Count campaign and share how you would use $150 to make a change!
The world needs your family! WE Hope You Will Join WE
❤ Jennpup ❤
We send our heartfelt thanks to Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club for tickets and Media Access to We Day Family, Toronto 2016. Thank you to Canadian Living Magazine, Craig and Mark Kielburger and the WE.org staff for an unforgettable and inspiring event!
As a mom of a child with autism, I have a ready list of worries relating to him being out in the world. I recently took my eldest child to see an advance screening of Pixar’s latest release, “Finding Dory” which we both enjoyed immensely. I chose not to bring my son with autism, because an advance screening means a big crowd, long line-ups and sometimes a late start. It is potentially too overwhelming for him, so it felt safer to keep him home.
He won’t miss out – Cineplex in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada is offering a sensory friendly screening of Finding Dory on July 2nd, so my partner will take my son to see Finding Dory then, when my son can move in his seat, make noise and we can ‘relax’ that we are in an audience of people who “get it”.
But this is just one of the ways that having a child with autism impacts our family. I worry about him every time we leave the house and go out into the community, and even in the house I worry – we have baby gates and high bolts to help keep him from wandering.
I worry about how he’ll do at school, if he’ll be able to attend integrated ‘typical’ classrooms or if he’ll be separated. I worry about potential bullies and people who might harm him due to his sweet nature and trust of other people.
In “Finding Dory”, the main premise is that Dory remembers she has a family and that she misses them, so she sets out to find them. Through flashbacks we learn about her parents Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) and how they worried about Dory. Dory suffers from Short Term Memory Loss and if she leaves home without her parents, her parents are afraid (and rightfully so) she won’t be able to make it home on her own. They practice playing ‘hide and seek’, devise a way of leaving shell paths to help Dory find her way and come up with songs and rhymes to try to help Dory retain important information so that she can be safe when away from them. Dory wants to learn and tries to learn, but her disability prevents her from being successful. Her parents spend every day practicing these drills over and over again, not unlike how we work with our son at his IBI therapy. I can completely relate to their worry about Dory, how hard they work to try to help her and how proud they are when she accomplishes her goals.
Unfortunately, Dory’s parents fear is justified. Dory does get separated from her family, and she does encounter many dangers in the ocean, but luckily escapes harm. She meets Marlin and later Nemo, who end up taking her in to be a part of their community and family. They offer her support and patience and do what they can to keep her safe and help her be included in their community. They accept that she can’t help but wake them up in the night and that she makes unsafe decisions, and they love her anyway.
I hope my child with the support received in his childhood is able to be an independent adult who can find companionship and form a family of his own. I hope that he can be gainfully employed and help make the world a better place with his beautiful spirit. I worry about him and hope he makes it safely through the world into the future I dream of for him. I am hopeful that there will be community living options for him should he need them, such as those offered at the organization I work for*, and I will continue to advocate for a more inclusive world for him, not unlike the reef Dory lives in with Nemo and Marlin (her chosen family).
In her community, Dory finds acceptance, inclusion and a feeling of independence while being supported. These are the things that help me worry less while advocating strongly so this future can be a reality for children like mine.
❤ Jennpup ❤
-*Jennifer works in KW Habilitation’s Residential Services since 2013. Her son was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 with autism and benefited from KW Habilitation’s ELCCFR Special Needs Access Point (SNAP) program which brought additional supports in to his daycare, to address his early social and communication needs, prior to and following diagnosis.
I just took the Stayfree Challenge!
I received this cool test kit in the mail from Stayfree® so I could test the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pad against my current product.
Meet the competition: I chose an Always® Radiant Infinity pad with Flexfoam™. It looks almost like a sponge and I’ve found it to be very absorbent – I thought for sure it would beat Stayfree.
Next I was to pour 5ml of blue liquid on the centre of the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pad, and wait 30 seconds…
After 30 seconds elapsed, I placed a blotter sheet, an acrylic sheet to protect my book – and then I had to place a heavy hardcover book on top.
I chose Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Seemed fitting… 🙂 Then I pressed down for 5 seconds.
After 5 seconds it was time to check the blotter paper! LOOK!!
Well, I wasn’t actually surprised. I had seen Sarah’s results and expected the Stayfree® Ultra Thin® to pass this part of the test. I was sure my fancy Always® pad would do *just* as well.
Next up! The COMPETITOR. Cue the Eye of the Tiger! 🙂
Yep, just like a sponge! It soaked up all of the liquid. I waited 30 seconds (timed with my FitBit Charge HR) and then added the blotter sheet, acetate and same book:
After pressing down for 5 seconds, it was time to see if my product won!
Sorry, Charlie! Not even close! I was truly shocked!
It wasn’t even CLOSE!
Wow! Super fun! I enjoyed sharing the results with my tween – I know we’ll be picking up some Stayfree® Ultra Thins® when it’s her turn to start using pads. We’ll both feel more secure in our new ‘pad of choice’.
Congratulations, Stayfree® Ultra Thin®!
Thanks for following my adventures!
❤ Jennpup ❤
Imagine you are a parent of a child with autism in Ontario. Three years ago your child was diagnosed with autism, and you immediately applied for an IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention) assessment. Your child was assessed by a team who agreed that IBI was the best therapy for your child and you were put on the wait list. Now your child just began, or is about to begin the therapy (the average wait list is 2 1/2-3 years in Ontario), but the Province decided a few weeks ago to change the rules and that your child is now considered too old and will no longer be receiving the therapy. You will receive a one time payment of $8,000.00 (enough to purchase about 8 weeks of IBI therapy), while the average cost for one year of therapy is approximately $50,000.00.
According to the Province, this is the only solution to the wait list problem. Not increasing funding and creating more spaces, but drastically cutting funding and arbitrarily kicking children off of the wait list based on AGE and not by whether or not the therapy IS the best option for that particular child.
Please stand with these ‘lost children’ and ask that they receive the service promised to them when they were first diagnosed with autism and the province assessed them and deemed them in need of receiving IBI therapy.
Write to your local MPP. Keep up the pressure! The Ontario Liberals have changed their mind on closing schools for the Deaf (crazy, right?) and cutting some prescription benefits for seniors. Thank you to all who showed your support on Friday, April 15th at rallies held all over Ontario.
Note: My child was diagnosed with autism at 2 and started IBI therapy at 4 years 9 months. Prior to the changes to IBI, we had agreed to discharge him from therapy at the end of June, to continue working on his social and communication needs within the framework of the school system. The majority of his IBI therapy happened during the year he was 5 and he made great strides thanks to this vital therapy. He is able to attend our local school and has a much greater chance at being a productive member of society thanks to the therapy he received. Please join me in standing up for the “lost children” of Ontario.
Our family also ‘dodged the bullet’ – we were discharged in April, effective at the end of June. Great Post, had to share!
Oh, Kathleen. What. Have you. Done ?!
After hearing the recent changes announced by the Liberal government, regarding the Ontario Autism Program, I felt inclined to write to you again. Forgive me for having not written sooner, but you dropped a bomb on us Kathleen. I needed some time to crawl through the rubble.
I am the mother of a child with Autism, and I firstwrote to you back in June 2014.
Kathleen, you humiliated me. You humiliated all of us that believed you, when you promised additional support and shorter waitlists for our children with special needs.
My husband and I tuned into our local news station, along with other eager parents in the Autism community, on March 29th. The $333 million in funding sounded promising ! I mean really, how could an announcement for additional fundstowards supporting our children with Autism, be bad…
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Check out this amazing contest from OneSmileyMonkey.com!
We love everything Disney and we have a magical time every time we visit Disneyland! Our last visit was just in February but it already feels like forever ago and we can’t wait to go back!!! Now we want YOU to experience the magic and thanks to Park Savers we are giving away an amazing prize pack…
I can’t imagine my life without music! Without Squeeze and without Walk Off The Earth! So proud of this new venture! Please follow, share! 🙂
This is it, the big day here at Music Mommas – launch day. I admit that there isn’t a lot to see here, yet. We still have to decorate and move in all of the furniture, but with a little patience, we will get there.
What can you expect to find here? You can expect to find three moms (hence the name) who love music, who find solace in music, who believe that music is life.
Our goal is to share the stories of people who bring music to life. Full-time musicians, teachers, technicians, and people who run venues will join us to talk about music. If we’re lucky, we might even convince a few musicians to play some music for us.
The postings will be slow at first; most of the Music Mommas have full-time jobs and will post when they can. We are also working on securing more…
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