Earlier this year, I was introduced to a “new to Canada” remedy for cold and flu symptoms – Sambucol Canada.
Sambucol is the original extract from a fruit called black elderberry. Black elderberries originate in Europe and North America, however it is cautioned that you do not consume the black elderberry raw, rather stick to the extracts in sambucol elderberry syrup. Elderberries are full of antioxidants that help keep immune systems strong.
My introduction to Sambucol was the first time I learned about elderberry syrup and the antioxidant properties that black elderberry has. I had done some sniffing around online in the past about elderberry and the benefits of use for treatment and had found it listed under assistance with weight-loss, cold, flu, fever, burns, bladder and urinary tract infections and to combat inflammation to name a few. It’s been used in many cultures around the world for hundreds of years.
Studies have shown that elderberries are unusually rich in the phytochemicals known as flavonoids. Among all fruits, elderberries are the most concentrated source of anthocyanins, a class of flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants to maintain the immune system and protect the body’s cells from harm. These anthocyanins are found in the purple pigment of black elderberries. Research has shown that the anthocyanins in black elderberry can boost the production of cytokines, the proteins that act as messengers within the immune system, and thereby help boost your body’s immunity to fight off viruses.
With the holiday season coming up and our annual vacation with friends to the Caribbean in January, I don’t want to take any chances with my kids going down sick. Especially since I was already caught earlier this year in my own parenting fail of being unprepared on the road with my kids. I’m now stocked up with Sambucol cold and flu products for both the kids and myself to help ensure that we recover twice as fast on the off chance that we pick up a flu strain other than what is being vaccinated against or we catch a cold from too much sweaty, outdoor play or kissing relatives at Christmas.
Who doesn’t want to recover twice as fast from colds and the flu? Do you want to give it a try? Enter the giveaway below!
To learn more please about the whole Sambucol family of remedies, please visit these links
Disclaimer – Yes, I did receive complimentary product of Sambucol Cold and Flu to test and sample and attempt to keep my kids and I well through this cold and flu season!
This means I can offer you a chance to win a prize pack too! Enter the raffle for a Sambucol cold and flu giveaway of the items shown above! Approximate retail value of product = $100. Complete all actions for more entries and a greater chance at winning!
Please note, giveaway open to Canadian residents only!
“How come there is five years between them? You just didn’t want another back then?”
I had just laid down in the dentist chair, the hygienist was completely oblivious to what she was saying. She had just asked the ages of my children. My nine year old daughter was in another room getting a cavity filled. My four year old son sitting in the chair to my left, watching something on YouTube on my phone so I could keep him under control long enough to have a quick scaling and polish.
“Well”, I started with, “Sometimes life isn’t fair” I said, trying to keep the conversation about this as short as possible. The hygienist herself is a Mom and I thought that was all I needed to say.
“I don’t get what that means” she said.
“Okay, well it means life sucks sometimes.” Please be all I needed to say, please be it. My god, don’t even…
“Tell me about it, I’m a single Mom, but I think you’ll regret that age gap”.
There’s a point sometimes where I want to just leave things alone. There’s also a point where I feel the need to shut someone’s mouth because they clearly don’t get it. Did she read back in my medical form past five years ago when she asked if there had been any changes to my health? Did she not see that there was another pregnancy and that baby is not here? Or that the age of my younger child didn’t add up to the age that should have been sitting there?
“I don’t and won’t regret that age gap because it wasn’t up to me”.
Sometimes Life Isn’t Fair
This was definitely not the first time I’ve had someone who has known me for a hot minute make reference to the years of birth of my children – 2009 and 2014. It’s not their business of course, but people are nosy about why I waited so long. Really, five years is not long, it’s not like eight or nine years, that’s kind of long, but proper financial planning really if you are hoping your kids will go to medical or law school. I did shut one person down once harshly with, “a baby died inside me”. It’s not a great conversation starter, so it’s never my lead.
I don’t get upset anymore as much as I get annoyed by insensitivity. Where in the manual of womanhood did it ever become okay to poke around and ask questions or make assumptions about people’s personal lives? I’m not sure my eyes can roll any harder at the ignorance.
I don’t know, maybe if you just haven’t been through it, it doesn’t even cross your mind. I mean, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, so that could be like 75% of the population of women maybe haven’t had to hear “I can’t find the heartbeat”. That’s clearly not the correct number, but you catch my drift?
But for the rest of us, seriously. Don’t go there. Even if you are well meaning, you have no idea what can of worms you are about to pop open.
They say you can’t put a price on happiness. I say, that yes you can and the regular price of admission to Toronto Happy Place for a family is absolutely ludicrous for the experience.
What is Toronto Happy Place?
Happy Place is a pop up installation with larger than life installations like rubber duck rooms with a bathtub and an upside down bedroom, famous for celebrity Instagram pictures. It was first conceived and executed in Los Angeles, then visited the awesome city of Chicago and now it’s hanging out in Toronto until January 1, 2019.
The pop up is occupying the space in the Harbourfront Centre that previously housed Purina PawsWay.
The admission cost is $42.49 per person ages 5 and up. For us, we purchased tickets and it cost us a total of $127.47 – that is 2 adults and one child aged 9. My son, who is 4, was free. I didn’t blink spending that amount of money, after all I am a seasoned Torontonian (used to everything costing too much), but my kid’s father gave me a stink eye when I told him what I paid.
Right upfront, I saw a lot of social media coverage – pictures and videos from those who had attended the media preview for Happy Place and then subsequent early attendees and IT LOOKED SO FUN! Everyone is smiling in all these fun photos and videos all over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I bought tickets online as soon as I could, timed for a Saturday morning, first entry slot.
Now here’s what is obviously different about the media preview from the regular folks who show up:
The media/influencers didn’t have to wait in line to enter each immersive experience
They likely weren’t timed by staff to move on
They didn’t have to worry about oblivious people not moving out of their pictures
My guess is they didn’t have to pay for coat check ($3 per coat) after the cost of the ticket
Make no bones about it, I have great pics of the family here. However, what I didn’t comprehend before going was this is that this is a place solely for taking pictures in what seems to be really fun situations that we could only dream of! I mean, flying confetti? Yes please! Upside down room? Only at Happy Place!
Worth The Price Of Admission?
I don’t think so. The experience is fun for the young kids, my son 4 year old son loved it. My nine year old daughter is swift enough to catch on that all there was to do was take pictures. She joked that we were only there to fill my Instagram feed. Ouch.
It takes approximately 1.5 hours to go through and take pictures in all the different multi-sensory immersive rooms. If you are only looking to smile and pose for Instagram pictures to flood your feed, pay the price and go. I’ll be posting pictures on social media for sure because I now have them. In regard to going, my recommendation is to try and find a groupon if it exists or a discount code. I just think the cost of admission is way too high, even for a Toronto experience now that I have done it. I know for a fact, we can jump in ball pits at kid’s activity centres and at birthday parties.
If you’re looking for something more to do in Toronto next weekend, save your money and check out my friend Chris’s 48 Hour Toronto Itinerary.
Thinking of spending some time in my awesome city?
It’s the most happiest time of the year! Aside from heading off on a vacation or hitting the road – that’s when I’m truly happiest… the months of November and December are my most joyous as I plan holiday gifts and presents for all the loved ones in my life. Rumour has it though, I’m incredible hard to shop for. I’m not (I think), so I created The Ultimate Holiday Wish List For The Traveling Mom to help guide those husbands, boyfriends and children who don’t know what to get their partner or Mom to show them how awesome they are.
Full disclosure – I’m always been more impressed by an experience over something material. There are material items that I’ve accumulated over the past year that I truly love. I would find them to be perfect gifts for the traveling mom. And I have created for you, based on my tried and true purchases and a couple on my wish list (hint hint for those who love me), a list of amazing gifts for the adventure seeking Mom who has it all.
The Ultimate Holiday Wish List
For The Traveling Mom
I was on a recent trip and my feet got eaten by a combination of mosquitos, sand fleas and I blistered my feet with ill fitting flip flops. To the rescue? FITKICKS.
My Special Edition Coco Palm FITKICKS shoes served me well walking the sand, on the sidewalks and inside restaurants of the resort. I wore them to the pool, on the beach and even with a nice dress.
The Flex Form sole technology are so relaxing! The soft stretchy upper is form-fitting and comfortable. It features a protective toe guard to prevent excess wear points and an elastic strap for grip and fashion.
I already have another new pair at the ready for my next travels and brand new pairs for the kids. Keep an eye out for our adventures in the new year and you’ll be seeing us wear them.
I have never, ever worn an everyday travel dress, or regular wear, non-fancy, non-cocktail dress that made me feel so sexy! Also, did you know I have a semi-amazing Mom-body that I spend a lot of time in the gym on? I have curves (at least in this dress)!
I love my black Foundation Dress from prAna so much, I’ve ordered another one in hunter green. The Foundation Dress is constructed from a lightweight heathered lenzing modal jersey. The short sleeved boyfriend t-shirt dress features a shirred pencil skirt, V-neckline and a fully lined skirt. It’s incredible comfortable and clings in all the right places.
What I love about prAna is their commitment to sustainable clothing. When you invest in prAna, you invest in social and environmental responsibility and the safety and well being of the people assembling their clothes.
Retails for $104.07 Canadian plus tax and shipping, BUT Black Friday sales are roughly 30% off!
PrAna currently is offering FREE SHIPPING on orders until December 13, 2018! I have done ore holiday shopping for myself on the prAna website this past week knowing that shipping was free!
To shop prAna, click the banner below.
It’s a nursing cover. Wait, it’s a car seat cover. Also, it’s an infinity scarf AND a cart cover. Hold on – what is this? It’s all of that.
Designed by a Mom of four (yes, 4!), this versatile and stylish product is the first all in one strapless, ringless, cordless nursing cover that allows the Mom on the go to breastfeed her baby freely and be completely covered if they want to be. The flexible neck is designed to be worn under one arm to help the Mom be free while nursing and the neck material has enough give that you can peek in on the baby.
When not using it to nurse, it covers the car seat from bugs, pets and the elements. Done nursing, but not ready to give it up because you’ve used it for some long you have now bought clothing to match it? Suddenly it’s a fashionable infinity scarf! Got a toddler who likes to ride in the cart in the grocery store? Use it as a cart cover and worry not about what they’re touching (or licking) on that handle.
Retails for $34.99 USD, comes in a wide variety of prints, solids and stripes.
Whether I’m cozied up at home reading a book in bed or in a tent or a yurt, I need warm pyjamas and Lands’ End cotton flannel brushed pyjamas are it!
They’re soft and comfortable and the envy of everyone in my family. Now that I have a pair, the kids want one too. The pants have an elastic waist and tie up to adjust size. And they have pockets!
The bonus? Mine are personalized with a K monogram.
Insider tip: Sizing runs a bit big, but then they shrink a little bit in the wash. The top and bottom are sold separately.
Retails from $62 Canadian for the top and $55 for the bottoms. Not inexpensive, but a good investment for quality product. Monogram costs $11 extra for a single letter. It helps insure you don’t have them stolen by your mother!
Did you know that selfie lights have more than one use? I’m not vain for having one of these because I use them not only to take those infamous pictures of myself with, but I also use my particular selfie light to brighten up my environment for live streaming, angle them for product shots, read to my kids with when we’re having a story time by my work space.
The one I like the most is a USB plug in to your laptop or desktop computer and has different light settings – warm or cool light, each setting with dimmers. It has flexible arms to position the light in the right place, a separate mobile phone holder in case you’re not live-streaming directly into your computer and it can clip onto your desk or chair.
This one in particular is a great price point for what you’re getting. Retails from $19.99 Canadian
Lifeproof iPhone case
I don’t think anyone could ever comprehend how many times I have wrecked, broke or cracked my iPhone screens in my life. Over the years, I have owned the iPhone 3, 5, 6 and now an X. Cracked screens I can kind of live with… But these incidents come not just at my hands, but at the hands of my children too. My iPhone 6 was the victim of a smashing at the hands of an eight-teen month old with a Thomas The Tank Engine toy in his other hand. Additionally, my iPhones have been wrecked by being dropped into a sink while washing dishes, being dropped onto a concrete floor while meeting with my accountant to name a couple instances.
While I now possess a swanky new iPhone X that’s supposed to be waterproof (or resistant up to 30 feet or so), I don’t trust all the “what ifs…” that come from my life and mothering and general clumsy experience. I invested in a Lifeproof iPhone case. Shock proof, waterproof, water and snow proof, it fits all my hiking, camping and water sport needs. I’ve now taken my iPhone into the pool to get footage of my son jumping in solo for the first time. I didn’t trust myself taking it snorkeling last time, but with a wrist or a neck strap that I intend on picking up, I feel confident for next time. At least confident enough to take it on the boat to get pictures!
Retails from $37.93 Canadian on Amazon, plus shipping.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone Quadcopter and Camera Bundle
Perhaps the most extravagant item on the travel mom holiday wish list – a drone. Not just any drone, but a DJI Mavic 2 Aoom Drone Quadcopter along with the camera bundle. I suppose if no one buys me one, I’ll buy it for myself! I really want to up my own video production game (not spy on my neighbours).
It’s one thing for me to receive all the footage from producers and directors and make their vision come to life, but I really want to ensure I’m pushing my own vision going forward with creating my own content. I think a drone is one of the last pieces I am missing to make my content stand out.
Retails from $1,628.00 Canadian.
A trip to Scandinavia Spa, Blue Mountains
This has been on my list of things to do for quite sometime. I have been to the Blue Mountain and Collingwood area in Ontario more times than I can count. Have I ever had the opportunity to visit the this spa? Nope, I’ve been too busy running my kids to skiing lessons or chasing them around the village or up to Scenic Caves.
I want nothing more than to be sent for a massage or a hot stone therapy there. In fact, send me there for a day to be in silence and relax in nature. I’d be extremely happy. I don’t think there are many Moms out there that would disagree with me on this one.
Reservations open 4 months in advance. Weekends book up first and can be quite busy.
Convinced to run away from the family and spend some time there? Book your stay in the Blue Mountains area so you don’t have to travel far to the spa here:
How About Some Stocking Stuffers?
What traveling mom holiday wish list would be complete without some stocking stuffer ideas! Here you go shoppers – a Leatherman ultimate utility tool for the hiking and camping mom, waterproof cases mobile phone and passport holders, hiking socks, a Joby mini tripod with swivel head, Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming”, humourous adult colouring book, coloured pencils, engraved wine glass AND a travel pillow.
If none of this is suffice in terms of a gift for that traveling Mom in your life – a trip to anywhere, size Window Seat is the best gift. Not the cheap family vacations type ticket – luxury travel please.
Does the thought of dining with hypothyroidism outside the comfort of your own home or community, let alone in a foreign country on vacation make you shudder? What if I told you that dining with hypothyroidism at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort was easy! Don’t believe me? Check it out!
Here are my thoughts and tips on Dining With Hypothyroidism at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort:
One of my biggest worries when constantly dining out is the fear of my food being cooked in canola oil. As a lot of us know, canola oil is a cooking staple in so many fast food and chain restaurants in North America. Canola oil is especially harmful for those of us with Hashimoto’s, which is the autoimmune disorder of which hypothyroidism is a symptom. Lucky, the chefs at all the restaurants at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort restaurants are accommodating when asked for substitutions. Not only that, the menus at all the restaurants are full of choice.
Eggs: Whole eggs are best, as much of the iodine and selenium are found in the yolk, while the whites are full of protein.
Meats: All meats, including lamb, beef, chicken, etc.
Fish: All seafood, including salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp, etc.
Vegetables: Most vegetables are fine to eat. Cruciferous vegetables are fine to eat in moderate amounts, when cooked.
Fruits: berries, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, etc.
Source out gluten-free grains and seeds to be safe: Rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds and flaxseed.
Dairy: All dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. is okay as long as you’re not consuming their foods 4-6 hours within taking your medication.
Beverages: Water and other non-caffeinated beverages.
All of the above are easily obtainable at every restaurant at the resort.
These are the foods I avoid when on vacation (and on a day to day basis) because I don’t want to feel sluggish and not enjoy myself:
Soy: Affects thyroid hormone production as well as interferes with the synthetic thyroid hormones (so caution on salad dressings and mayo)
Raw, cruciferous vegetables: no broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, radish, boy choy, kale, arugula, collard greens unless cooked. Cooking deactivates the goitrogenic compounds. A goitrogen is a substance that interferes with the thyroid’s uptake of iodine.
Pass on the bread: I’m lucky, I’m not gluten intolerant, but so many who are who have hypothyroidism or Hashimotos are.
Sugary treats: Cake, pies, donuts and all are fun. And I love them. If I have to indulge, I keep it small and only once a day. All of the refined carbohydrates from such processed foods require extra insulin and can knock your blood sugar out of whack. When blood sugar is out of whack, so are the hormones. This means I limit Pina Coladas as well.
To Answer Some Questions I Have Received:
Was it easy to find somewhere where I could eat?
Yes. There are 22 dining location options at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort, featuring five star prepared meals. There is a mix of ethnic, seafood, American style food and lots of pizza and chicken fingers for kids.
Do all the restaurants serve food a la carte?
No. There are a mix of buffet and a la carte options.
Is there anywhere to prepare my own meals?
Yes. You can book accommodations in Key West Village that come with a full kitchen if you’re adamant that you don’t want to dine out for every meal. Insider knowledge – there is not a grocery store on site, so you will have to hire a car and driver, get a taxi or rent a car yourself.
Which restaurants do you recommend?
Ohhhhh, I have a few favourites! For breakfast, I like Schooners (but they do serve a lot of grains there) – it’s a la carte or the buffets at Marios or Giuseppes.
For lunch, I like the buffet at Arizona’s, the simple Courtyard Bistro or the seafood a la carte restaurant, Neptunes.
For dinner, I have a lot of recommendations – Barefoot On The Beach, Sky Restaurant and Le Petit Chateau, all are a la carte options. The last two have diner age restrictions.
Did you eat at the Mac & Cheese Truck?
No, I did not. I just can’t stomach pasta in the heat. I wanted too, but the weather did not cool down enough for me on this last visit. Maybe next time.
Were you restricted in what you could order?
Not at all! I’m a red meat aficionado. I literally could eat it at every meal cooked every different way. That said, I eat as much variety as I could – fish, chicken, steak… more steak… For breakfast I made a point of consuming a lot of fruits and eggs. When I ordered burgers for lunch or dinner, I got lettuce instead of the bun and turned it into a lettuce wrap bun. All restaurant menus can be found online here: https://www.beaches.com/main/tc/tc-dining/ so that you can look ahead of time if you want to place your meals instead of winging it.
Now beverages is a different story. I’m going to have a Pina colada daily while on vacation. If I want to indulge in a bit more than one or two, I should stick to vodka and club soda or wine.
Do you know what’s really easy to do when you head off on vacation? Throw your diet to the wind! Eat and drink everything you want and forget about what keeps you “healthy”! Believe me, I want to do that… Every. Single. Time. Especially at all inclusive resorts.
Anyways, being hypothyroid and adhering to my dietary restrictions while on vacation is not very tough, especially when I’m mindful about it. And you know what? I found it easy to stick to what I needed to eat and dining with hypothyroidism in Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort was a breeze!
Please note – I am not a doctor or a medical professional and I cannot give you advice about how to treat your thyroid condition. I am only sharing what works for me. Please consult your doctor or medical professional if you have any questions about your symptoms or medication.
I was invited to attend Social Media On The Sand at Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos in October, 2018 and my opinion was not swayed by drinking any pina colada flavoured kool aid.
If you have never done it, would you ever want to scuba dive? If the answer is no, why not?
Is it the fear of swimming many feet below the surface of the water with an oxygen tank strapped to your back?
Are you panicked at the idea of having to remember to check your oxygen levels, check your depths, descend and ascend at a very controlled and slow pace? Are you worried about getting the bends?
What if you could go to depths of just 20 feet below the surface and not have to worry about any of that? What if you could just go with a mask and a regulator to breathe through and be tethered to an oxygen umbilical cord floating on the surface?
It’s called SNUBA and it’s a nice, gentle intro to scuba diving without all the schooling and equipment.
If you’ve been reading or following my adventures for a while, you know that I chase after experiences that make my knees weak. Or my heart race. Or a combination of the two. I recently attended Social Media On The Sand, an invitation only social media conference at Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos and the opportunity was presented to me to try out an offering with their water sports – SNUBA.
What exactly is SNUBA?
SNUBA is a hybrid underwater experience of snorkelling and scuba diving. You breathe through a simplified regulator, that is attached to an airline and is attached to a tank of air that’s in a raft on the surface. There can be 2 or 4 divers attached to each raft.
Essentially, it is like being tethered to your oxygen and your dive buddy and you’re only going 20 feet deep.
When can I try SNUBA?
Anytime, except during hurricanes or tsunamis, that wouldn’t make sense.
I tried SNUBA at Beaches Resort on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. The resort dive shop is a 5 Star Padi diving facility, so you know everything there is top notch. What’s interesting about doing it here, was that we walked and then swam out from the beach, opposed to taking a boat. I’ve never done a beach scuba dive before.
Aside from it being something I had never done before, why did I want to SNUBA?
Here are my Top 5 Reasons Why To Try SNUBA:
Trying out SNUBA is easy – you don’t have to be a certified diver or an experienced snorkeler – although it does help to be really comfortable in the water. You go through a 15 minute pre-dive orientation session, equipment outfitting, a skill demonstration, then out you go! The entire experience can be completed in one hour.
SNUBA is intended to be an activity for anyone over the age of 6. I can see this being an amazing family activity for my kids and I! Well, once my son stops crying at swimming lessons, but that’s a different story.
SNUBA tours take place on “well worn trails”, that is well trafficked areas where there is minimal risk of a dangerous fish (shark) to attack. While it is extremely rare for a scuba diver to be injured during a dive by a shark or other sea mammal, it is a risk.
As a lapsed open water scuba diver who requires a refresher course before my next scuba dive, I’d rather do a SNUBA experience. Vacation time with my kids is really precious and I don’t want to than lose out on any time with my kids doing the actual refresher course if I cannot do it ahead of time.
Getting up close and personal with the fish and marine life! When you snorkel, you’re at the surface and can only go as deep and and stay under as long as you can hold your breath. With SNUBA, you can go 20 feet down!
And to be completely transparent with you:
I Had A Panic Attack Trying Out SNUBA
Yes, I am an adventure seeker who jumps out of planes and I am a certified open water diver. Yes, it’s been a few years since that last dive, by a few, I mean about six years. I thought it would be just like riding a bike, especially since this was supposed to be gentle and easy.
Yet, somehow, I had a panic attack trying out SNUBA, I hyperventilated and I sucked up a lot of air. I can’t explain why.
We walked and then swam out to the water from the beach, I was ready to go, super excited to be doing this. Got underwater, started swimming along, equalized once and then… BOOM! I couldn’t breathe right, I started inhaling hard and fast and my heart was pounding. Am I going to die in a foreign country? No, I’m not because I’m going to do the most dangerous thing ever and sprint to the surface as fast as I possibly can! Luckily, because it’s SNUBA, I wasn’t coming from very deep depths at all. But you should never, EVER do that.
It makes all the difference in the world when you have the right dive buddy and dive master with you. My dive buddy was fellow Canuck, Sara from Solo Mom Takes Flight. She said all the right things and our dive master, Johnny was amazing with the situation. He held my hand, kept me breathing, looked me in the eyes and sadly lost the wrestling match to keep me under the water. It took me almost 10 minutes to get my bearings, talk myself down off of my psychological ledge and re-join my dive buddy and our dive master.