Month: June 2016

Wonder, Imagination and Creativity with Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”   – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Get ready for an imaginative, mind blowing and visually stunning performance in Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival.

Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

Many of us grew up with the tale of Alice in Wonderland (or maybe even the Disney production of the book) so we all know how on a beautiful summer day in 1862, a ten year old Alice and her two sisters are told a story about a young girl, a white rabbit and a trip down a rabbit hole into a whole new world. But many of us have never seen the story come to life in person. The Shaw brings this difficult story to life in a unique and exciting new manner.

Foster Imagination and Growth with Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

On an extremely hot summer day, we took a trip to the Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake. The sun was shining and the grounds were full of families, couples and individuals there on their own. The grounds around the Shaw Theatre are spectacular and it is worth it to arrive earlier and explore outside or even have a seat on their patio with a cool drink. My boys found their own special little spot which became our own little magical spot. We spent some time out there relaxing in the shade talking about the show we were about to see and just spending some time to unwind.

Foster Imagination and Growth with Alice in Wonderand at the Shaw Festival

When we took our seats, we could not wait  for the show to begin. The elaborate and detailed backdrop with Alice staring at you, gets you right in the mood for the show to start. As a complete side note, there were so many young girls dressed up like Alice – such a sweet sight! Be prepared – there is a good mix of children and adults a like in the theatre but they never distract the performance at all.

The story comes to life in song, incredible visual displays and humour. Alice in Wonderland is not an easy show to bring to life on stage but Peter Hinton brings it to life in a unique and jaw dropping way. They were able to shrink Alice, make her grow to astounding heights, capture her tears that threatened to drown everyone and even the mysterious Cheshire Cat who would pop in and out of scenes. How they managed to do this was incredible, it takes your breath away watching the scenes unfold.

The costumes matched the flair and extravagance that is Alice in Wonderland. Their characters bring these costumes to life, my favourite had to be the Queen of Hearts and her army of cards. Her army of cards were hilarious as they tried their best to please her and she cracked me up with her lines. We still at home tease each other with “Off with their head!” whenever someone is being naughty. Tara Rosling is a wonderful Alice with her charming personality and child like wonder. She ties the whole play together.

Alice in Wonderland is truly a special performance full of wonder, imagination, creativity and a uniqueness that is special to the Shaw Festival. The stage brings this wonderful story to life in a way that draws you into the play and captures your complete attention, leaving you wondering how did they just do that?! Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival is truly a play that will spark the imagination from the youngest member of the house to the eldest and is a definite must see this season. The play is running at the Shaw Theatre until October 16th, 2016, so make sure you pick up your tickets and head to Niagara on the Lake to get in on this spectacular performance.

If you want to see how Alice in Wonderland came to life on stage, check out this awesome video:

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” – Lewis Carroll

Disclosure: I received tickets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

My Father’s House

Litfuse Book Tour

In My Father’s House, Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to one constant – her father’s love.

My Father's House

About My Father’s House

But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and the life she’s lost. Marriage promises fulfillment, but her happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Her husband’s sophisticated façade hides a brooding man with even darker secrets.

When all illusions shatter, Lily must make hard choices, abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to who she’s meant to be in her father’s house.

My Thoughts

A powerful story of love, hurt, forgiveness and survival. When Lily lost her Father, she lost so much more. She was constantly on the search of that replacement love. She thinks she has found this in her husband, a man she sees as perfect. But under this façade is more hiding, which she quickly learns. The man she thought was perfect and who would love her forever is as far from this as possible. It doesn’t take her long to realize she needs to leave and with some help from an old family friend, she escapes her terrifying present life to relocate to the house she had inherited from her Father.

Once she is away from her harmful marriage, Lily must take the steps to healing her heart from her past and her marriage in order to move forward. With the help of some heart warming characters, Lily begins the slow process of healing her heart and her mind. She reminds us all that there is always hope, even when we are hurting the most we can still find hope.

I loved every moment of this suspenseful and heart warming novel. You will fall in love with her writing, her characters and the hope that is sprung from this novel. An excellent read from start to finish!

You can find more reviews on the Litfuse blog tour page. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Rose Chandler Johnson is the author of the award winning devotional God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments. My Father’s House is her first novel. She happily makes her home near Augusta, Georgia.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Make Parenting Simple Again with These Top Picks from Raincoast Books

Raincoast Books

When we first find out we are pregnant, we know that we just want to succeed in parenting and raise the healthiest and happiest child. We want to get all the safety, health and nursery right. We want to stimulate our babies mind while encouraging growth. So we probably read many parenting books, websites and blogs all in the hopes of learning how to succeed in parenting.

While these books are great (and honestly you really should read them), they miss out on some important aspects of parenting: letting your child play, imagine, create and how to just sit back and have fun. Too often we want to break up play we feel is dangerous (I know I has this habit!) even when it was something we did as a child ourselves. Sometimes we may be holding our child back by not allowing them that same freedom we had as children. These incredibly helpful parenting titles explain why.

Make Parenting Simple Again with Raincoast Books

Balanced and Barefoot

In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook
shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s
cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure
that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults.

Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need rough and tumble” outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses?

Using the same philosophy that lies at the heart of her popular TimberNook program-that nature is the ultimate sensory experience, and that psychological and physical health improves for children when they spend time outside on a regular basis-author Angela Hanscom offers several strategies to help your child thrive, even if you live in an urban environment.

I fell in love with this book, literally could not put it down as the facts and strategies were fascinating. She looks at important statistics like how our children are weaker physically than children in the 80s and more to help us figure out where we need to change our parenting style. While some of the statistics are shocking, I am sure once you read them you will be able to see the truth in them. You may recognize other children or even your own (the child that does not like to touch grass or certain textured food). She uses examples of her own children, her own parenting experiences and practice experiences to guide us. She speaks in an open way that you feel as though it is a conversation with her and she truly gets your struggles. I found myself nodding a lot at times and I am sure my husband and kids thought I was a tad bit strange!

She even had me examining my own parenting and stopping me from interrupting disputes, organizing play for my kids and stopping play that I deemed unsafe (not to the extreme level but rock jumping and tree climbing should be okay for kids). I looked at my kids and for the first time I understood why they were happiest outside and why they get angry and have outbursts after too much screen time. It just clicked. Since then, we have spent more time outside on the field, in the front yard and just letting them choose what they want to do. I have held myself back more instead of trying to organize activities and instead encourage them to use their own minds to create games.

This is an excellent book for parents to be, parents of toddlers and young children who may be struggling. She gives helpful ideas, explanations that you can truly understand and real world advice.

Make Parenting Simple Again with Raincoast Books

Let’s Color Together

Scribble your way to fun with your kids through face-to-face colouring in Let’s Color Together!

Colouring books are all the rage with everyone from preschoolers to grandparents, so why not share the joy of coloring with those you love the most? Featuring beautiful spreads specifically designed for two people to color at once and enjoy at once, Let’s Color Together is the perfect opportunity to sit down, connect, and share some fun with your kids.

Who doesn’t love a good colouring book? It’s even more fun when you get to enjoy it with your child (or in our case they didn’t even wait for me and started colouring before I could join them!). The designs ranged in difficultly and size of the lines/spacing so that this book could be appreciated by a wide age range of children and adults. It is the perfect unwinding tool from a long day at work and at school and an even better way of spending some quiet time with your child.

Make Parenting Simple Again with Raincoast Books

Mothers of the Village

So many mothers feel like something is out of joint, something is missing – and maybe the truth is that we’re all just missing each other.

C. J. Schneider found herself in the middle of a perfect storm after giving birth to her third child and moving to a new neighborhood. Conditions for misery and postpartum depression were ideal: she was isolated, lonely, and exhausted with three young children at home. As she started talking with other mothers, she realized that she was not alone in her experience of feeling alone.

In her unique voice, Schneider intelligently and compassionately offers practical advice on how to create the essential community that mothers need. Given the many examples of communal mothering from the past and around the world, as well as modern examples of communities in which mothers are thriving, the research is clear: since the beginning of womankind, mothering has been a communal effort.

Mothers of the Village affirms that as mothers connect with each other and learn to work with each other, despite the challenges, they may find a piece of themselves that they have felt missing all along.

Make Parenting Simple Again with Raincoast Books

Why Can’t We Just Play?

Facing summer with her two boys, ages ten and seven, Pam Lobley was sifting through sign ups for swim team, rec camp, night camp, scout camp, and enrichment classes. Overwhelmed at the choices, she asked her sons what they wanted to do during summer: Soccer? Zoo School? Little Prodigy’s Art Club?”

“Why can’t we just play?” they asked.

A summer with no scheduled activities at all . . . The thought was tempting, but was it possible? It would be like something out of the 1950s. Could they really have a summer like that?

Juggling the expectations of her husband (“Are you going to wear garters?”), her son, Sam (“I’m bored!”), and her son, Jack (“Can I just stay in my pajamas?”), Pam sets out to give her kids an old-fashioned summer. During the shapeless days, she studies up on the myths and realities of the 1950s. With her trademark wit and candor, she reveals what we can learn from those long-ago families, why raising kids has changed so drastically, and most importantly, how to stop time once in a while and just play in Why Can’t We Just Play.

Parenting your child shouldn’t be a rigid schedule of to-do lists, sports events and music. Sometimes we all just need to sit back, be in the mood and play. Now you can enter to win a copy of Let’s Color Together and one of the above mentioned titles. Enter via the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received Let’s Color Together and Barefoot and Balanced in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Performing Arts Are Brought to the Centre Stage in Julie’s Greenroom


Kids love to imagine, create, pretend and sing, it is such an important part of their childhood. Too soon we tend to take away these early moments of performing arts from our children for more structured activities, for school work and for organized sports. Our children need to know how important it is to play pretend, to imagine and to create with their own minds.

Julie Andrews (squeal!!) will be starring in Julie’s Greenroom where she brings her love of the performing arts to children through her teaching of the “Greenies” who are puppets and her students. With Ms. Julie’s guidance they will learn a mashup of skills including mime, dance, improve, circus arts, voice and so much more!

Performing Arts Are Brought to the Front Stage with Julie's Greenroom

Every episodes includes a special guest star. So far the confirmed list of guest stars includes: Alec Baldwin, Sara Bareillies, Joshua Bell, Tituss Burgess, Carol Burnett, Chris Colfer, Robert Fairchild, Josh Groban, David Hyde Piece, Bill Erwin, Ellie Kemper, Idina Menzel, Tiler Peck and Stomp.

This project brings to life one of Julie’s life long dreams to educate children about the wonder of the arts. She partners with her daughter, Emma, to help bring this show to life (is that not the best thing you have heard in a long time?!).

Here is Julie talking more about her new show:

So if you are like me and love the performing arts with a preschooler at home (hey I love her so much I would watch the episodes without my son around), then get ready for Julie’s Greenroom coming to Netflix globally in early 2017.

Disclosure: I am a #StreamTeam Member and receive perks associated with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Anchor in the Storm Book Review

Litfuse Book Tour

In Anchor in the Storm, we have one plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance-and danger.

Anchor in the Storm

About Anchor in the Storm

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy—even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

My Thoughts

I LOVE this novel! It picks up with some of our favourite characters from Through Waters Deep (the Avery family) but this time the focus is on Lillian. Lillian is a strong, independent young woman whose only short coming (viewed by others this way but never by her) is an injury to her leg. I loved her confidence, her hope and her drive. She never gives up throughout the novel even though society is against her moving into a typical role filled by males.

She moves to Boston and there she begins to form a friendship with her brother’s best friend, Arch. While this seems to be more of a friendship it is very difficult for both of them to admit it. Arch has been hurt in the past with women who only want his money and Lillian who was mentally and physically abused by a past boyfriend because of her leg. Both have trust issues and have to learn to trust each other and open their hearts to each other.

In between this is a huge drug scandal that rocks the army in Boston, that Lillian and Arch are responsible for discovering!

This was one exciting novel full of hope, forgiveness, understanding and mystery. I loved every moment of reading this novel.

You can find more reviews on the Litfuse Blog tour page. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading