Rainy Days / Hot Days: NFB Films

After a month (more?) long drought in the Niagara region we are finally having a proper rainy weekend! Like many afternoons so far this summer spent escaping the heat and humidity, we are finding ourselves turning to indoor projects. Lego is always a big hit, of course, and we had a brief success with one of the Green Kid Crafts project boxes. JBot found some super-on-sale dance games for the Kinect which has been a great way to stay active, and we still spend lots of time with our week’s supply of library books. Then there is the never-ending home-repair projects, the forgotten stack of board games, and other toys waiting to rediscovered…

Sometimes it is fun to try something new however and one of our favourite discoveries this week has been the kids cartoons on the NFB website. T-Rex hadn’t seen many of these yet and really enjoyed them! The Log Driver’s Waltz and Blackfly get sung a lot around here, and the kids have watched The Cat Came Back at school. T-Rex really liked:

Peep & The Big Wide World:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/peep_and_the_big_wide_world/embed/player/

Peep and the Big Wide World, Kaj Pindal, National Film Board of Canada

How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/how_dinosaurs_learned_to_fly/embed/player/

How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly, Munro Ferguson, National Film Board of Canada

The Dingles:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/dingles/embed/player/

The Dingles, Les Drew, National Film Board of Canada

The Girl Who Hated Books:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/girl_who_hated_books/embed/player/

The Girl Who Hated Books, Jo Meuris, National Film Board of Canada

(There are a lot of great films for adults as well. My own nostalgia leans towards Waterwalker, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and The Man Who Planted Trees. Have fun exploring!)

 

Disney Parks

Check out this great Disney mash-up made by Lindsay McCutcheon!

We have a family vacation to Disney World coming up soon and I wanted to blog about some the helpful hints for planning for trips like this:

  • During Disney World’s slow season they offer special incentives to attract people to the parks. For example, with the package that we bought, we have 7-Day “Park Hopper” tickets, our hotel room, and FREE “Quick Service” Dining Plans to use the week that we are there. G-Man is turning 10 a few days before we go and qualifies for the adult meal plan which will work out great. His tastes have moved beyond the “hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza” that seems to fill most of the kid’s menu options at the majority of the restaurants.
  • We had a lot of success booking with a travel agent rather than through Disney Park itself. Once those annual free dining plans vacations are available,  travel agencies buy a large number of rooms during that season. Trying to book directly through Disney didn’t work for us but going through Small World Vacations worked great!
  • Finding your way around Disneyland in California or Paris is relatively easy. These parks are a reasonable size to get a grip on. However, Disney World in Florida is massive and you really need to do some homework before you go. It feels sort of counter-intuitive to have so much research to do before a relaxing family vacation but, if you are like us, being prepared and feeling like you are making educated decisions really helps with our family’s economy and enjoyment.
  • Disney’s website is a good start for reading about attractions, special occasions, hotels, and dining. It is also where you will make all of your reservations for Fast Passes (basically a reservation for major rides), dining, and buying any of the other extra bells and whistles you want. Example – Disney has a photo service, they deliver special presents to your room or dining table, etc.
  • There are many excellent resources to help you wrap your head around Fast Passes, dining plans, restaurants, whether to stay on-site or not, which hotel to chose, how early you need to make all of the all-important reservations. My favourites are Touring Plans, Disney Food Blog, and Mouse Savers. Touring Plans publishes guidebooks of course but one of their major assets is their planning software on their website that helps you to create itineraries that minimize your wait times. If you are thinking about taking a trip to Disney World, try planning at least a 6 months (or more) in advance so that you can pick the best time period for you. Restaurant reservations begin 180 days before your date and they fill up VERY QUICKLY. There are different levels of dining plans. If you chose the “Quick Service” option like us there is only ONE “table service” restaurant that you can make a reservation at – “Be Our Guest” it takes a dedicated plan of attack to score those seats.
  • We chose to take advantage of the sale on dining plans but we are also super excited to go during Disney’s Halloween season so that we can go to the “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.” This is the only time that you can enter the park in costume. Plus, Halloween is awesome. And trick-or-treating at Disney sounds super awesome!

What Kind of Traveller Are You?

Like anything, there’s all kinds of travellers in this world.  From those that barely go far enough to lose sight of their homes to those that travel to far off lands with the lightest of ease.  I would consider my family to veer towards the latter, as we’ve been lucky enough to travel to multiple countries with very little weighing us down.  Speaking of weight, I couldn’t imagine dragging giant rolling suitcases everywhere I go, like some travellers seem to always do.  2000 year old cobblestones and rough, unbeaten paths don’t work well with those flimsy luggage wheels, anyway.

So what kind of traveller are you?  Sarah Cooper of The Cooper Review has create cute illustrations that show different types of travellers (or, travelers for you Americans).   Here’s one, with more after the break (go to The Cooper Review for all of them!):

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If It Were My Home

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country?  Well, wonder no more!  A website titled If It Were My Home attempts to compare your country with another in a wide variety of data points.   For example, here’s a small number of comparisons between Canada and Costa Rica:

If It Were My Home (Canada vs Costa Rica)

Of course, the comparisons can be a bit sketchy since we’re not only talking about averages within an entire country but also comparing statistics that are collected differently in different parts of the world (e.g., unemployment isn’t counted the same way everywhere).  Nonetheless, the site is an interesting look at the grass on the other side.