Europe Here We Come Part 3 ” Santorini, Greece”

Early morning I drew the drapes back and woke up to the most glorious picture ever.  The type of scene set on a postcard.  We had arrived in Santorini, Greece.

Santorini is a small archipelago of volcanic islands located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 125 miles from Greece’s mainland.  It is also known as “Thera”, firing the southern most member  of the Cyclades group of islands.  Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion.

Black-sand beaches, crystal clear waters and whitewashed villages that cling to volcanic cliffs make the island of Santorini a true jewel.

We enjoyed a beautiful view while dining at the top of one of the mountaintops.

The view from our restaurant
The view from our restaurant

Santorini, Greece

My parents through the years had made some friends in Santorini so it was fitting to drop in and say hello.

My parents enjoying an afternoon with an old friend.
My parents enjoying an afternoon with an old friend.

 

 

 

 

My parents purchased some beautiful art work for me a few years ago at this store.   The most unique pieces I have ever seen made out of Murano glass  Every time they visit Santorini they always drop in to say hello.
My parents purchased some beautiful art work for me a few years ago at this store. The most unique pieces I have ever seen made out of Murano glass
Every time they visit Santorini they always drop in to say hello.

 

In Santorini I came across a very unique jewellery store.  It had the most beautiful necklaces and bracelets and murano glass rings.  The items were all one of a kind.  Naturally I had to purchase a few items.  I would definitely come back to visit and spend more time in Santorini, Greece.

Natural Materials is the name of the store.  Its located right outside the cable car entrance
Natural Materials is the name of the store. Its located right outside the cable car entrance

Europe Here we come Part 2 “Villefranche, France”

Our first stop was Villefranche, France.  Breathtaking from the moment you disembarked from the ship.   Villefranche, also known as Villefranche-sur-Mer, is your gateway to the one of a kind French Riviera.  The French Riviera also referred to as the Cote d’Azur ( Blue Coast), offers beautiful beaches, remarkable weather and medieval communities along the way.  This bustling little French town has its own unique charm.

Villefranche offers long sandy beaches, terrace cafes, world -class cuisine and spectacular views. During your visit we made sure to tour nearby neighbours: NICE, CANNES & MONTE CARLO.   We hoped on the train that was located a short walk from the port.  Only 3 miles away from Villefranche is Nice, the “capital” of the French Riviera.

The views leave you speechless...
The views leave you speechless…

If you wanted to visit the Casino in Monte Carlo make sure you are not wearing shorts!  A smart dress code is enforced, no shorts or ope-toed shoes allowed.

The Monte Carlo Casino
The Monte Carlo Casino

This is definitely a playground for the rich and famous!

Exotic cars parked outside the Casino
Exotic cars parked outside the Casino

Stayed tuned for more adventures next week in Santorini, Greece.

Europe Here we Come …….

EUROPE HERE WE COME….

This year my folks celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. So we thought it would be fitting for a family trip to Europe.  In August we packed up the kids, hubby and of course my parents and headed off to Europe for the adventure of a lifetime.

We decided on a 12 day cruise it was the best way to hit various ports of call without packing and unpacking.   The last time I went to Europe was on my honeymoon 16 years ago!  It was time to see what I have been missing.

We arrived a few days early in Barcelona, Spain.  The city really comes alive in the area of La Rambla.  It is a street in central Barcelona, popular with tourists and locals alike. A tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretches for 1.2 kilometres connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.  It is home to many tapas style restaurants .

The Barcelona Port at night with out door mall and restaurants
The Barcelona Port at night with out door mall and restaurants

We stayed at a beautiful hotel in the heart of town called Hotel Catalonia Passeig de Gracia.  Located on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 644, 8007 Barcelona, Spain.  We booked on-line with  www.Bookings.com.  Very easy to book on and you can cancel without penalties at a reasonable time frame.

The hotel was family friendly, clean and modern in decor.   The breakfast was amazing.

 My boys became major soccer fans during World Cup this summer so it was a must to stop at FC Barcelona museum & Camp Nou stadium.

 If you can see Barça play a home match, then that is the best Camp Nou experience but the museum is worth a visit. The Camp Nou stadium and FCB museum are among the most popular attractions in Barcelona attracting millions of visitors a year. Camp Nou has the one of the largest Nike stores in Europe packed with Barca merchandise. Unmissable for football fans. Visitor tip. You can buy cheaper FCB shirts and scarves at market stalls outside the stadium on match days.

 

Biggest Nike store!
Biggest Nike store!
on the grounds of stadium
on the grounds of stadium

The Font Mágica Fountain.

The Magic Fountain is a “must see” Barcelona attraction. You have never seen a fountain like this. It really does feel magic to experience the beautiful show of water, light and music. The Magic fountain was built in 1929 as one of the main attractions for the Barcelona World Fair and the Font Magica is still one of the most famous spots in Barcelona with an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually.

Quite a show at night!
Quite a show at night!

These were just a few stops we enjoyed in Barcelona there are many things to see in this beautiful city.   Our next stop was the Port of Barcelona where we embarked.  Our home for the next 12 days was the Celebrity Equinox Cruise ship.

Next week I will continue our journey through Europe……..

CANADA’S WALK OF FAME 2014 INDUCTEES

left to right: ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey, Dan McGrath Chief Operating Officer, Cineplex Entertainment, Chair of Canada's Walk of Fame, Melanie Hurley, CEO, Canada Walk of Fame, Glenn DeSouza, VP, Retail Cards for RBC, Taylor 2013  RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Award,  NEFE Grand prize winner 2014 Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Prize , Barb Williams, Senior VP of Content, Shaw Media
left to right: ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey, Dan McGrath Chief Operating Officer, Cineplex Entertainment, Chair of Canada’s Walk of Fame, Melanie Hurley, CEO, Canada Walk of Fame, Glenn DeSouza, VP, Retail Cards for RBC, Taylor 2013 RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Award, NEFE Grand prize winner 2014 Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Prize , Barb Williams, Senior VP of Content, Shaw Media

The FOUR SEASONS HOTEL was the venue for today’s announcement of the 2014 inductees to CANADA’S WALK OF FAME.

It was sponsored by the National Premier Partner RBC and Shaw Media and in partnership with RBC Visa Infinite Avion.

This year’s celebrated group was chosen over a twelve month gruelling process of deliberations.  These outstanding Canadians have excelled in their fields and made notable contributions to Canada’s cultural legacy, will walk the Canada’s Walk of Fame Yellow Carpet, sponsored by SunLife Financial.

The event was hosted by ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT’S HOST CHERYL HICKEY.

 

 

 

The announcement also featured the performance of the  2014 RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Prize winner NEFE from Guelph, ON.

Cherly Hickey, Melanie Hurley, CEO Canada's Walk of Fame, NEFE
Cherly Hickey, Melanie Hurley, CEO Canada’s Walk of Fame, NEFE

NEFE is a blues and pop-style singer/songwriter who is currently working on her first CD.  As the Grand Prize winner she will receive a cash prize of $25000.00 along with performance opportunities at Canada’s Walk of Fame events.  Her performance had the room at a standstill.

Live Preformance by NEFE
Live Preformance by NEFE
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Glenn DeSouza, VP of Retail Cards for RBC and NEFE

Following NEFE’s performance it was time to announce this year’s inductees!

The following remarkable individuals  will join Canada’s Walk of Fame’s long list of celebrated Canadians, bringing the total number of inductees to 157.

They are:

1)      Louise Arbour, Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, International Lawyer 

LOUISE ARBOUR
LOUISE ARBOUR

 

2)        THE BAND – MUSICIANS

 

3)         JEFF HEALEY, MUSICIAN (CINEPLEX LEGEND AWARD)

JEFF HEALEY
JEFF HEALEY

4)  RACHEL MCADAMS, ACTOR 

Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams

 

5)  RYAN RENOLDS, ACTOR 

 

6) HAYLEY WICKENHEISER, ATHLETE

Haley Wickenheiser
Haley Wickenheiser

In addition, it was announced that R&B sensation THE WEEKND will receive this year’s Allan Slaight Award that recognizes young, inspirational Canadians who have achieved international success.  THE WEEKND will be honoured along with this year’s inductees during the Canada’s Walk of Fame Show.

"The Weeknd" will receive the Allan Slaight Award
“The Weeknd” will receive the Allan Slaight Award

Canada’s Walk of Fame was established in 1998, it aims to celebrate Canadians who have excelled in music, sport, film, television as well as the literary, visual, performing arts, science and innovation in order to engage and inspire the next generation.  Each inductee is immortalized with their names forever cemented into the sidewalks of Toronto’s Entertainment District.

The actual awards will be taking place Saturday October 18, 2014 but the two hour special will air Nationally on Global Television & Slice , Friday December 19, 2014.  

For more information go to www.canadaswalkoffame.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter to my boys……

I was reading this article that was posted on Facebook a few weeks back.  It really hit home.  My eldest son has found entertainment in his mini iPad along with my youngest.  At first,  he was only allowed to take it out on weekends Saturday and Sunday’s.   During our vacation he had access to it during the flight.  But as our vacation progressed I noticed both my sons were heading to their iPads as soon as they woke up to play the FIFA WORLD CUP GAME!

Even though it allowed me an extra few hours of sleep it really started to bother me.  Especially when my parents were dubbing it as as “ADDICITION” .  So I share with you the letter I read to my sons.  Did it impact them?  Let’s just say they haven’t picked up their iPads for over a week now and are spending more time outdoors playing soccer!

Enjoy friends

KJ xo

THIS IS NOT WRITTEN BY ME ITS A REPOST

A Letter To My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics) – Repost
Posted by Renee in Letter To My Sons, Most Popular, Uncategorized | 629 comments

05 | 27 | 14
I originally posted this letter to my boys in January 2014. Within the first 7 days, this post was viewed 70,000 times. I received comments and emails that left me in tears. So many of us share these feelings and this letter gave voice to what you held in your heart. I am reposting today because as we head into summer, it’s easy to slip into patterns of excessive screen time. I want to remind us that our time is short with our children. Let’s make memories. Let’s claim this time. Original post and comments can be found here.
Important note before you read – If you plan to skim this, please don’t bother to read it. You will miss the point completely. I do not fear technology. My children have access to devices and technology. I’m not setting them up for failure in society. They know how to use computers, phones, and video games. We give limits and train them to exhibit self-control. I welcome all comments, but if you plan to comment in a negative or nasty way, it will be discarded. Thank you and blessings!
Boys back
Dear Boys,
Do you remember the day we went to the drugstore and the lady said, “Wow, you are the first kids I’ve seen all day with nothing in your hands.” Remember how she marveled at how you didn’t need an electronic device to carry through the store? I know how her words made you feel. I know how it reminded you that you are different because your mom limits your electronic usage. I know it was yet another reminder.
The same reminder you receive when we are out to eat and you notice all the kids playing their phones and iPads instead of talking to their parents. I know it was a reminder of all the sporting events where you feel you are the only kids whose parents are making them cheer on their siblings rather than burying themselves in a phone. I know it was another reminder to you that you feel different in this electronic age we live in.
Well, boys, it’s not you. It’s me. Me being selfish maybe. You see I can’t bear to miss a moment with you. Let me explain.
I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.
I could give you all the statistics about how damaging it is to your development, your attention span, your ability to learn. While all of those are valid reasons to keep electronics away, that is not my primary reason why I say no to you so much. It’s more than that. Much more. I need you to understand this.
When we are together, I want all of you. The fullness of you. I want to experience you. Truly experience you. And I can’t do that with you when there is an electronic device between us. You see it acts as a barrier. I want to see what brings life to those eyes. I want to watch the wonder and magic dance across your face as you discover the wonders of this world. I want to watch you as you figure things out. I want to watch you process life, develop your thoughts. I want to know you. I want to know your passions. I want to watch you as you discover your God-given talents and gifts. And when you hide behind a screen, I miss out on all of that. And my time with you….well it will be over in the blink of an eye.
I want to guide you into an understanding of life and who you are. Boys, kids today are starved for attention, true connection and relationship. I don’t want you to feel starved. That is why I say no. I know that feeding the desire to play in your device is like giving you candy. It satisfies for a moment but provides no long term nutrition. It does more harm than good.
I don’t want to look back when I’m out of the trenches of child training and regret a second I had with you. I don’t want to merely survive. I want to thrive in this life with you. We are in it together. We are a family.
Yes, when we are waiting at a doctor’s office for an hour, it would be eaiser to quiet you with my phone. But if I did that, I fear I would send you a message that says I’d rather hush you than hear those precious words falling from your lips.
I can’t bear the thought of allowing you to miss out on the wonders and mysteries of this world. When you are transfixed on a screen, the beauty of this world will be lost to you. In every moment beauty is waiting to be discovered. I don’t want you to miss it.
I want you to be comfortable with yourself. I want you not to feel a constant need to be entertained and distracted. If you stay behind a screen, you never have to experience just being you, alone with your thoughts. I want you to learn to think, to ponder life, to make discoveries, to create. You have been gifted by God in unique ways. I want those to bloom. They can’t bloom in the glow of a screen. They need life, real life, to bring them to light.
I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to be able to look people in the eyes and speak life into them. If I allow you to live behind a screen, you get little practice relating eye to eye. To truly know someone you have to look into their eyes. It’s a window into their heart. You see what can’t be seen in cyberspace.
When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.
I love how God created your mind. I love to hear the way you think and process life. I love to see what makes you laugh. I love to watch those eyes widen when a new discovery is made. And when your head is behind a screen, I miss all of that. And so do you.
In this life we have few cheerleaders. In this family we will cheer each other on. I know it is boring to sit at swim lessons and watch your brother learn to swim. I know it is boring to sit through a 2 hour baseball practice. And in all honesty, it would be easy for me to give you the iPad and keep you quiet and occupied. But we all lose out when we do that. You will miss out on watching your brother’s new accomplishments. You will deprive him of the joy of his moment to shine for you. You will miss out on what it means to encourage each other.
I want you to grow up knowing the world doesn’t revolve around you. (One day your wife will thank me) I want you to learn to give selflessly of yourself….to give away your time, your talents, your treasures. If I distract you with electronics when you should be cheering for your brother, well, I’m simply telling you that your happiness is more important than giving your time to someone other than yourself.
This world needs more selflessness. This world needs more connection. This world needs more love. We can’t learn these behind a screen.
I want to raise sons that know how to look deeply into the eyes of the ones they love. I want my future daughters in law to know what it’s like to have a husband that looks deeply into her eyes because he knows the value of human relationships and the treasure of love. And that is best communicated eye to eye.
I want to watch your face illuminated by the majesty of life – not the glow of a screen. I want all of you. Because I only have you for a short while. When you pack up and leave for college, I want to look back with no regrets over the time I spent with you. I want to look back and remember how your eyes sparkled when we talked. I want to look back and remember how I actually knew those little quirky details of your life because we had time enough to be bored together.
It’s ok to be bored. We can be bored together. And we can discover new things together.
I love you. I love you too much to quiet you with an iPhone or an iPad or a DS. And I can’t even apologize, because I’m really not sorry. I’m doing this so that I won’t be sorry one day.
With all my love,
Mom

The Dolphin Way..what kind of parent are you?

A friend of mine invited me to her book launch a few weeks back. She had written a book on Child rearing. Being a parent myself I was intrigued to find out the category my parenting style fell under.

Dr. Shimi Kang knows of what she speaks she is a mom of three kids. Married to a wonderful and supportive man.   She juggles schedules and activities just like you and I. Dr Kang went to medical school at the age of 19 and completed her research fellowship at HARVARD.   Dr Kang’s childhood was very different then that of her kids today.  She was never enrolled in any extra activities outside school.   She has accomplished quite a bit you would certainly say.   Take a look at her bio below.

Dr. Shimi Kang

The Dolphin Way Book Launch
The Dolphin Way Book Launch

 

Dr Shimi Kang’s Official Press Bio 

“Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning, Harvard-trained doctor, researcher, media expert, and lecturer on human motivation. She is the Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver community, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and the founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital. She has helped hundreds of children, adolescents, and parents move toward positive behaviours and better health. In 2012, Dr Kang received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service.”

So what type of parent are you?

Do you know?

Maybe you are a combination?

Here are Dr. Kang’s three categories of parenting style:

1. The Tiger Approach  The Tiger parent as authoritarian parenting approach originally common in major Asian countries, but now adapted in the West. With modern-day pressures and expectations, children are failing rather then flourishing under this parenting style. This form of parenting results in a hard worker, highly disciplined and high IQ individual who lacks communication skills, empathy and ability to stray from book smarts. Control is never given to their kids.  Essentially, these tiger cubs are not ready to survive the pressures and unpredictability of the 21 century.

2. Jellyfish Approach  is a form of permissive parenting. These parents tend to avoid confrontation and have few to no rules. They fail to develop expectation in respecting authority, social etiquette and personal values. Too much control is given to kids before they are ready. As a result, children of jellyfish parenting tend to float around aimlessly. They lack self control, have low self-esteem, low confidence and low competence.

3. Dolphin Approach is a ‘balanced approach based on bonding, role modelling, and firmly guiding children towards a balanced way of life leading to internal drive for health, happiness, and success’. This form of parenting encourages your child to strive for success, a solid, meaningful relationship with their parents, enjoy the journey that life offers them, and respect authority,while maintaining a balance in body, mind and soul. Rules are created, problem solving skills are encouraged and the child is provided with an environment to which they feel safe and secure, but able to make their own decisions. They are responsible for their reactions and encouraged to see it as a learning experience rather then a fault.

The Dolphin Way
The Dolphin Way

If you are interested in reading more about your parenting style,  you can follow the link below to Dr Kang’s website.

DR KANG’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE TO PURCHASE THE BOOK:  http://drshimikang.com

So it turns out I am parenting THE DOLPHIN WAY WITH A TOUCH OF TIGER MOM!  oh what a surprise!

Congrats Shimi!

Hugs kJ

 

Lets Talk Travel

LETS TALK TRAVEL

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Needless to say this winter has been pretty harsh, with record breaking cold temperatures, an ice storm and we can’t forget all that snow.   So I am not surprised that many of us are heading down south or to some other tropical paradise to seek some much needed warmth.

 

I’ve been calling Miami, Florida our vacation home for the past two years. My family purchased a property there in 2011 shortly after my youngest son was born.   To tell you the truth I had no desire to purchase anything permanent in Florida.   I had not visited Florida since 1999 during my first wedding anniversary, returning after 15 years was a shock to the system. I didn’t realize how family friendly it had become.

The short 3.5 hour flight sealed the deal especially since my folks love cruising and usually depart out of Miami. So now it is our go to destination with the boys.

 

My boys love travelling and getting out. Miami offered quite a bit for the kids too. Here are a few suggestions.

 

The Miami Children museum (located on Biscayne Blvd) is a great place to spend the day or a few hours with the kids. Great Interactive exhibits, arts and crafts for the kids and preteens to participate in.   There is an onsite food lounge too.

 

Next up The Miami Seaquarium it a 38-acre ocean aquarium located on the island of Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay, Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is located near downtown Miami. Founded in 1955, it is the oldest ocean aquarium in the United States. (15min ride from the Children’s Museum)

There are many wonderful animal attractions to enjoy.

 

South Beach is my next stop, I usually hit the beach at Ocean and 5th. There is a parking lot across the street. Great parking.   Then we usually grab a picnic lunch of kebabs and wraps from a great restaurant called “ Freshi”.   Chairs on the bench rent for $10.00 each. These spots are not associated with any hotels. However, if you are looking to quench your thirst with an alcoholic beverage or two there are servers available. They also have a menu for food but I found it very pricey. There are   tons of kids shovels and pails available at no charge for the kids to build their sandcastles or bury their dads.

 

There is also a grocery store called “ PLUBIX” where you can pick up some fruits and drinks as well. Its like are big grocery chains.

 

 

As far as dining goes kids are welcome everywhere.   P.F. Changs near the Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall. Try any of the restaurants on the South Beach strip on Ocean Drive.   The cuisine is usually Italian food. My boys love the South Beach strip for dinner for people watching and checking out the muscle cars on display. “ LIME” is a Mexican chain that is fabulous.

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Feeling the HEAT, check out a basketball game at the American Airlines Building with the MIAMI HEAT!

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To wind down the day take an evening boat cruise and tour the fabulous waterways featuring some incredible water front properties.

Other destinations I have travelled with kids are St. Maarten we stayed at the Princess Heights Hotellocated on Oyster Pond Road #156 | Dawn Beach,

St Maarten-St Martin. Its sits hillside above the Hilton hotel . www.princessheights.com

Great amenities. Groceries can be preordered to your suite.

Turks and Caicos was also another favourite destination for us when I was about 4 months pregnant with my youngest .

 

We stayed at the Seven Stars Resort Grace Bay Rd, Turks and Caicos Islands

Phone:+1 649-941-7777.www.sevenstarsgracebay.com

 

Great amenities once again, the grocery store was literally across the street and the beach was private and perfect.

 

Even though we did visit The BEACHES RESORT in Turks and Caicos I realized it wasn’t’ for us. Very noisy and expensive considering what you had for food and amenities.

 

So as you can see its easy to still travel and soak up the sun with kids. We just do it a little differently now.

Its all good, safe travels

 

KJ