Keeping Your Family Safe with BlackboxMyCar + a Giveaway!

And just like that, Christmas is another year away!  The kids are happy, multiple trips to the mall are a thing of the past, and I can finally put my feet up and binge watch Ray Donovan, haha!

Life is great.

Over the past few weeks, I've been testing out my new Thinkware F100 dash cam from BlackboxMyCar.  To be completely honest, I never thought I would be writing a post about a dash cam and initially struggled with how I would engage my readers about a car accessory that wasn't on the top of my Christmas list.  That thought quickly passed, as it become completely clear why I would need a dash cam in the first place - my kids!

As with any parent, my kids' safety is my number one priority and something that I would never compromise.  I don't know about you, but I've noticed over the years that other drivers seem to be taking risks and not paying attention like they used to.  I often wonder if the main factor of that is distracted driving and the need to be connected at all times via our smartphones and electronics.  The one thing that has really left me speechless lately is that people seem to be confused about what to do when an emergency vehicle is trying to pass!  All of these factors combined with the fact that my oldest child will be driving in about eight years (OMG!) is causing slight anxiety, but I feel that having a dash cam or equivalent would put my mind at ease when the time does come.

The fact that I now have added security with my Thinkware F100 dash cam gives me piece of mind that if anything should happen, I would have the evidence needed to prove my case.  It also enters parking mode when I'm away from my car and continues to film any incidents, such as potential break-ins or hit and runs, making my source of transportation safe and secure.

About Thinkware F100

The new Thinkware F100 is one of the most affordable Full HD/HD dual-channel dash cam systems on the market.  It features Full HD 1080P video recording with a 135 degree wide angle glass elements lens and a Sony Exmore CMOS Sensor, as well as option GPS, built-in parking mode and G-sensor, expandable memory size and loop recording.

My favourite feature?  Piece of mind that my vehicle and family are safe, plus the convenience of loop recording.  This means that I don't have to buy a bigger memory card and I can save any incidents in a separate folder with a touch of a button before uploading videos to my computer.

About BlackboxMyCar

BlackboxMyCar was founded in 2012 by Alex Jang, after he had a personal experience in a motor vehicle accident where the other party denied responsibility, and is now North America's leading dash cam supplier.  Aside from selling the top dash cams on the market, BlackboxMyCar also provides convenient installation services - something I highly recommend as their team is very knowledgeable and professional, and they'll have your dash cam installed within an hour.

{Win It!}

The generous team at BlackboxMyCar is giving one of my readers their very own Thinkware F100 dash cam (a $169.99 CAD value)!  To enter, please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends on January 31, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  All opinions in this review remain my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of BlackboxMyCar and/or their affiliates.  We received a form of compensation from BlackboxMyCar in order to complete this review.  Note that SwankMama does not accept responsibility for sponsors that do not fulfill their giveaway duties.  Winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise, a new winner will be chosen at random.

Photo credit:  JamPR


Shopping with Ford's Active Park Assist

Pinch me because I refuse to admit that the holiday season is amongst us!  A couple weeks ago, I had the honour of partnering up with Ford again to drive their Explorer for the week while navigating the busy Black Friday crowds searching for their holiday bargains.  I remember telling myself that I had to get out and do the craziness in person - not only because I live for chaos, but because I just HAD to try out Ford's Active Park Assist feature.

What Is Active Park Assist?

Active Park Assist is basically an assistant for parallel parking.  As a seasoned driver, I wasn't sure how I felt about the feature at first and it felt a little weird letting a computer do the driving for me.  My first attempt went smoothly until the car was in the process of straightening itself out.  My natural reaction was to reach for the steering wheel to position the SUV in place, but my Active Park Assist(ant) wanted nothing to do with that!  You see, as soon as you touch the steering wheel, it disables Active Park Assist and you're basically on your own again and have to park it "old school".

I love the idea of using Active Park Assist for the purpose of maneuvering the Explorer into cramped parking spots - especially during the holiday season when parking is a premium!  It takes away the stress of the trip to the mall with two young kids knowing that my trusty assistant is looking out for me and my car, haha!  Also, I normally drive a standard sized sedan, so having the piece of mind that I could use this feature with the Explorer if I need to squeeze it into a tight spot.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to capture a video of myself using Active Park Assist (it was a busy week!), but feel free to watch the Ford video below for an inside look at how you can use Active Park Assist to back into a parking spot!

Have you tried Ford's Active Park Assist feature?  I'd love to know what you think about it in the comments below!

xo Kristina


Back to School

Back to school.

It was almost as if it wasn't really happening.  I've been pushing this day to the back of my mind for over a year now - not only because my youngest is entering Kindergarten, but because it's been a loooonnnng ride getting there.

To make a long story short, the past year has been riddled with anxiety for me just thinking about Zoë going to the big school.  I know I'm in the same boat as most parents with kids going to Kindergarten, but this was a first for me.  With Jadon, I was like "bye, see ya" (and that's pretty much how the drop-off went with him this morning LOL).  With Zoë, it was "will she have support?", "how will she be able to keep up with her classmates?" and "what will her mode of transportation be when the entire class ventures to the local park?".

I've spent close to a year gathering Zoë's doctors' and therapists' reports, and submitting them to her school.  Out of pure luck, our Vice Principal is also our learning assistance coordinator and very well versed with cases of muscular dystrophy.  When she told me this, it was as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could really concentrate on the other little things of getting a child prepared for their first big day.  Of course, the preparation would still be different from my experience when Jadon was entering Kindergarten, but at least I had that piece of mind that Zoë was going to have the support she requires and the understanding that I so desperately hoped for.

I could go on and on about the rollercoaster of emotions that's plagued me in the past year, but that can wait until a later post.  Let's get right into the part where Zoë is Zoë and she's been waiting over two years to join her big bro and his friends at the big school!

With the help of Sport Chek, the kids were absolutely spoiled with back-to-school gear for their first day (insert raised hand emojis):

Honestly, Sport Chek has always been my go-to, one-stop shop for all things sports, fitness, back-to-school, Father's Day... you name it!  As a working mom, it's extremely convenient for me to stop at one store (especially when I have that long ride home ahead of me!) and be able to grab whatever the kids need for back-to-school shopping gear, as well as pick up anything that hubby and I may need.

A huge thanks to my Sport Chek fam for spoiling me AND the kids with back-to-school gear!  Jadon can't get enough of his never-ending Under Amour backpack - that thing is like a bottomless pit and perfect for our newly-minted grade three-er!


Disclosure:  All opinions in this review remain my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of Sport Chek and/or their affiliates.  We received a form of compensation from Sport Chek in order to complete this review. 



As the kids grow older and our house becomes more saturated with stuff, I've come to the conclusion that experiences are far more valuable than material items.  The anxiety that plagues me on a daily basis when I get home after a long day of work and see the overwhelming sea of toys and junk the kids have collected over the years is almost unbearable.  I'm so tired, I don't even bother with it.  And then by the end of the week, it's OUT. OF. CONTROL.

And repeat.

Okay, so this post may sound like it's leading into a 'how to organize your life' post or a 'DIY toy storage' post but, no, it's none of the above.  This post is all about experiences - one that we took our kids to last weekend that has been a yearly tradition dating as far back as I can remember!

Whenever our kids are given the chance to experience something, I've found that the need for conversation opens up and they end up learning (and retaining!) from their experience and using those tools towards their daily realities.  It also makes for some very interesting morning commute debates!

Last weekend, we had the chance to take Jadon and Zoë to the first Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show of the year and watch it in style from the amazing (and very convenient) YVR Observation Deck.  Compared to last year where we arrived early and were able to take in the pre-firework festivities, this year we were running late due to some home renovation work.  Thankfully for us, it didn't really matter what time we got to the beach - our seats were reserved!  The only drawback was that it was dusk and I missed out on the natural light (photo wise).  Ah, the life of a blogger!

While we didn't get any blog worthy photos of ourselves on the YVR Observation Deck this year, we definitely had the time of our lives (hopefully you were able to catch the action on my Instastories - @swankmama!).  The kids slept SO good that night and recounted their experience multiple times the following day and during our Monday morning drive in the city.  There's nothing like a little bit of firework magic to spark that imagination!

On your way to the fireworks tomorrow?  There's still some 'save your spot' options to watch the show in style!


Disclosure:  The opinions and views in this post are my own and does not reflect that of Honda Celebration of Light or the YVR Observation Deck and/or their affiliates.  We received complimentary tickets to the YVR Observation Deck in exchange for a review post.


Celebration of Lights from the YVR Observation Deck

Just when you thought summer couldn't get any better, Vancouver's much-loved yearly tradition is just around the corner!  I have many memories of watching the Celebration of Light over the years - from when I was a young child making my way through the crowds with my parents to my teenage years when I made the trek downtown via the SkyTrain with my first cup of spiked Slurpee from 7-Eleven (don't tell me you've never tried it!) to enjoying the show with my own kids and creating new memories of the magical "fire in the sky" show.

Last year we had the time of our lives of watching the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show from the (very) family-friendly YVR Observation Deck:

I can't rave enough about how amazing our experience was watching the show from the YVR Observation Deck and, next weekend, we get to do it all over again!  Everything about it was geared towards families and people who want to watch the fireworks up close and personal, but also have their personal space.  Here are some of the amenities you have to look forward to when you snag your exclusive tickets to the observation deck:

  • reserved seating (perfect if you have younger kids or are running late!)
  • access to a cash bar and food service (yaassssss!!)
  • dedicated washroom facilities
  • all-ages licensed area, with an alcohol-free zone upon request (we definitely won't be requesting that, haha!)
  • background music and fireworks soundtrack broadcast during the show
  • wheelchair accessible
Tickets are $49 plus applicable fees and are available for purchase via TicketLeader for the July 29th, August 2nd and August 5th shows.  

Hope to see you there!