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Monday, April 27, 2015

Family Fun in Toronto with Medieval Times #MTTFan

There are lots of suits of armour and
other fun things for photo opps
Knights, horses, birds of prey, jousting, cheering and eating with your hands. It's all part of the fun when you visit Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. It's been more than a year since we last visited the Toronto Castle, so Boo and I were delighted to head back there last week with a couple of friends. Both of the boys had been before and spent most of the week leading up to our outing talking about how excited they were to be going back!

What is Medieval Times? It's an immersive experience, transporting guests back in time to an 11th century Spanish royal court. While guests dine on a four course meal (eaten with their hands), they are entertained by knights on horseback competing in a variety of skill-based games, culminating in the Champion's Jousting Tournament.  There is also an overhead show starring talented birds of prey, and various displays of the horses' own skills. Each guest party is assigned a knight for whom they will cheer, and seated in that knight's section of the hall. It is really so much fun to cheer on your knight as you enjoy your meal. The energy of the crowd is awesome!

What did our boys think? They loved it all. Eating with their hands was certainly a treat, something frowned upon at home, And all the cheering and combat was right up their alley. Combine that with swords and daggers from the gift shop, and this was definitely a great night out. The last time we went Boo opted for a knighting ceremony, which we bought as part of a package with a Crusader's costume ($30). That also got his name read out as a greeting at the feast. If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or really anything, definitely consider adding on a Celebration Package to your night. This comes with preferred seating, a personalised announcement during the show, slice of cake, framed photo and more.

We were cheering for the handsome Red & Yellow Knight.
Although he didn't win the overall tournament, he fought admirably and did us all proud.

When there's a set of stocks, of course you put your kids in them and take pictures. Our boys upped the ante just a bit.
On this second trip to Medieval Times, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Museum of Torture. There is an entry fee of $2 each, but the artifacts are well worth it. Each item is presented with an explanatory text. It's all quite chilling.

Shrew's Fiddle: the woman in question has her head placed through the large hole, and her hands through the small ones, then is paraded around town; Headsman's Sword for an efficient decapitation; one of a series of masks designed to shame women; an extremely painful looking collar; and a Chastity Belt - two access points lined with sharp teeth. Can you imagine how this would tear at anyone wearing it?
My biggest piece of advice - be sure to arrive early to leave time for parking and entry - but more importantly to allow plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds. You may opt for a group photo with the king or princess on the way in. Your child may want to take advantage of a knighting ceremony. And you'll definitely want to have a look around at the horses and birds of prey, as well as all the medieval arms and armour around the walls. The gift shop is located around the outside of the main room, with multiple staff and check-outs to help. I find the pricing really reasonable for the souvenirs. Boo and his friend got a wooden sword and a wooden dagger for under $10 each. There is also a full service bar for a pre-dinner drink, and don't forget the Museum of Torture!

To keep up with all the happenings, be sure to like Medieval Times on Facebook, and follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

A Giveaway

Medieval Times wants to welcome you to their Toronto dinner and tournament! One lucky RMB reader will receive a family pack of 4 general admission tickets to the show. Tickets are valid through September 30, 2015.  Entries are via the widget below, and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, May 17. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. Winner must be able to attend the show at the Toronto location. Best of luck!


Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to attend Medieval Times for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own, or those of my family.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Spring Cleaning Giveaway for Your Home Sweet Home

It's time to talk cleaning again. Yeah, I know. It's not much fun, but it's something we all have to do. I haven't made a lot of headway with the big spring cleaning projects I have to admit, but Hubs started talking today about some redecorating he wants to do. And that will involve moving around a lot of furniture, and turning our current living room into a family room (read: moving the TV & entertainment system upstairs). That's going to lead to a major scrub of walls and baseboards I know. He also plans to remove a wall downstairs, and then I plan to replace the carpet down there. So I think it's fair to say we are about to head into some major messes.

If that all goes well, the kitchen is next!

In the meantime, I've managed to pass along laundry duties to Hubs (yay!) and I've been making good headway with de-cluttering. The windows have been open as often as possible, and I've been bringing in some fresh flowers to brighten the place up a bit. It will all come together.

For all of you out there who, like me, have not yet got this spring cleaning thing out of the way, Church & Dwight offers these quick tips for success, along with a must-have giveaway for the occasion.

Tip #1: Call in for extra troops
Fighting off greasy stains, tough mildew, and stubborn odours will require an additional set of hands – so make this a family affair and grab as many troops as you can! When it comes down to it, you’re not the only one living under the roof.

Tip #2: Take your time
Remember that while adrenaline may be rushing to get your house looking spotless, it’s wise to spread out a large project like this over a few days. The season is here to stay so no need to panic! The last thing you want is an injury to welcome you into spring.

Tip #3: Map it out
Organize, organize, organize! Work from the top down, inside to outside, and keep an agenda to prioritize. Allocating rooms to each person (or doing it one at a time by yourself) will also avoid unfinished tasks. Setting this up at the beginning will make the process so much quicker and more efficient.

Tip #4: Have fun
Turn on the radio, lay out a few snacks and don’t take it too seriously! Celebrate the season of greener grasses and sunny weather (without the sweat and sunburns).

Personally, I am terrible at Tip 3. I rarely have a plan of attack for my cleaning. Or if I do I am so easily distracted that I wander off course. But Tip 4 is super important. When I clean I play music. Fun, upbeat, possibly loud music. It keeps me moving and if I'm singing and bopping around the work doesn't seem so hard. Water and snacks are important too, to keep your energy up.

Your family’s living space deserves only the best – after all, where else can you unwind and call it your very own home sweet home?

The Giveaway

One lucky Raising My Boys reader will receive the following basket of cleaning goodies, valued at approximately $70:
  • OxiClean™ Laundry Detergent Fresh Scent, 24 paks
  • OxiClean™ Coldwater Laundry Detergent Fresh Scent, 24 paks
  • OxiClean™ Dishwasher Detergent Extreme Power Crystals™, Fresh Scent
  • OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover
  • Arm & Hammer™ plus OxiClean™ Carpet Odour Eliminator, Meadow Fresh 
  • Arm & Hammer™ Clump and Seal Multi-Cat Litter Coupon
  • Scrub Free™ Bleach Mildew 
Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, May 17, 2015. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Church & Dwight Ambassador Program, and as such receive special perks, products, and other compensation for my participation. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

Don't You Lie to Me! #StreamTeam

A couple of weeks ago we had a really lovely, warm and sunny Sunday, so Boo and I took Maxi and went for a nature walk. It was lovely and wholesome and then Boo uttered a word I did not expect to hear coming out of his innocent little mouth.

"WHAT did you just say??!"

Naturally he repeated it. And he couldn't understand my upset, claiming it wasn't a bad word. (wrong!) When I asked him where he'd heard it and who told him it wasn't a swear word, he grew silent. He tried to change the topic. And eventually he muttered, "I can't remember. You know I have a bad memory!" It was so very clear that he was lying. Lying to protect someone, which I guess is kind of sweet.

Now, ignoring the possibility that he actually heard that word from ME, the interesting thing here is his complete inability to tell a lie. Or at least to tell one convincingly. He didn't want to rat out a friend (or face my wrath at telling me it was my word), and he tried so hard to avoid answering my question at all. When that didn't fly he made a super lame attempt at a lie - "I don't remember." I don't believe you. Lying is just not in him. It is something he dislikes in others, and he feels truly betrayed when he feels someone has lied to him. He is honest to a fault. While this may change when he has more interesting things to hide from us as a teenager, it's quite reassuring for now.

We just need to work on that potty mouth. Mine too I think.

Art often imitates life, and there are lessons to be learned from many forms of entertainment. Here are some suggestions of shows and movies you can check out on Netflix, to start a conversation on honesty and lies with your brood.

For the wee ones:

Super Why!: S1,E15: Humpty Dumpty and Other Fairytale Adventures: Pinocchio
Curious George: S1, E19: Truth about George Burger
Clifford the Big Red Dog: S1, E26: The Kibble Crook
The Adventures of Chuck & Friends: S1, E9: The Pothole / Chuck’s Perfect Plans

And your big kids:

Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action!
H2O: Just Add Water
Mean Girls 

And a few for you to watch with your teens:

Just Go With It
Liar, Liar 

Bloodline is a new Netflix original series about the Rayburn family, who have some dark family secrets they’re willing to do anything to keep from coming out -- lying included. It's gotten great reviews and has made it onto "My List" as a much watch. Once I finish House of Cards and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Both of which also involve many untruths. Hmm.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program, and receive special perks as part of my involvement. I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.
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