Month: April 2017

Connecting with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression and Stress Through Television


The teenage years are exciting, scary, unsure, full of changes and can be so hard to navigate – not only for teens but their parents too. Teens are given more freedom but at the same time treated as children. They are expected to make decisions about their future younger and younger each passing year. They have school, peer, work and family pressures just like adults do but without the freedom and experience to make difficult decisions. Connecting with your teen can be an even harder job for parents! We may be out of touch with the reality that teens face or even the changing social scene. We may not know how to start the conversations or even what is important to talk about.

As my son enters into his teen years, I am reminded of my own teen years. They were full of both ups and downs marked by my own depression and anxiety. High school was full of rumours, fights, parties, the importance of getting good grades, getting into university and stress (lots and lots of stress!). I remember the constant pressure to give and be at 100% all the time but still trying to fit in with your peers and give off the appearance of not caring. I worry for my son as he enters his teen years, I want him to know that I am there for him no matter what and that he can and should reach out to those who love him when he needs help.

But how do we connect with our teen about the tough topics, like suicide, depression, stress and bullying? One of the best ways we as parents can understand what teens are facing is watching television series that resonate with them (there is a reason these shows mean so much to them!). Teens want to talk to their parents but can find it hard, finding a common ground like television series can really help open up the tough conversations.

Connect with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Stress and Bullying Through Television Shows

Recently, 13 Reasons Why on Netflix has come under fire from critics claiming it glorifies suicide. The resulting comments and debates hurt me personally as I struggled with depression in high school and there were times where it felt like I needed a way out and that may possibly be the only way out. High school is hard, rumours hurt, bullying hurts and for some when this is combined with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, suicide can be the only way out to stop all the pain that they are feeling. It is not glorifying suicide, it is laying out the steps that lead to suicide. No one wants this way out, no one wants to feel alone and no one wants to hurt the people they love the most. I feel as though my brain works differently when I am depressed and suffering through increased anxiety. Even little things bother me in ways they would never have before.

Before I let my son watch the show with me, I had to watch it alone. I wanted to see what the hype was about and if it could really help build an understanding and become a starting point for the tough conversations. I was blown away by the first episode and kept watching late into the night. It was raw and honest. It showed how the start of one rumour and the sending of an inappropriate (not to mention out of context) picture started the downwards spiral of one young girl. Teens have access to technology that as parents we never had access to, they just sometimes don’t understand the implications of this technology as we see so many times throughout this series. I didn’t have access to this technology but my son does. We all feel our child will be responsible but this series shows, they not always are and they make mistakes. It helps teens understand the consequences of these mistakes and how it hurts others.

There were so many important lessons in this series for teens from bullying to not standing up for a friend and changing relationships. The honest and raw emotions spoke to me personally. Life in high school isn’t always happy and full of sunshine. Teenagers feel the same pain adults do but have less skills and opportunities to help them through it. Television series like this help teens realize how actions and words can hurt and how quickly situations can spiral out of control. It is also a great tool to use for parents to help our teens understand that we are there for them and want to help them. Kids and parents want to talk, we just need to learn how and have a starting point.

13 Reasons Why is my number one pick for parents to help understand their children and to have a great conversation with their teen about. Here are some more great picks from Netflix that will really help you get the conversation started with your teen:

Connecting With Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Bullying and Stress with Television


If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website.

How do you connect with your teen on these difficult topics?

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

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A Fragile Hope Book Review

Litfuse Book Tour

In A Fragile Hope, hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.

A Fragile Hope

About A Fragile Hope

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

My Thoughts

I LOVED A Fragile Hope. Josiah teaches others how to have a successful marriage and is quite good at it. BUT he can’t seem to realize when his own marriage is falling apart and what his wife needs and wants from him. Their marriage is falling apart and yet neither of them can talk to each other and work through it.

One moment changes everything for them and turns their whole world upside down. Josiah is forced to examine his life, his marriage and his own faults. We are able to view pieces of their married life from both Josiah and his wife’s views. What we get is this picture is of a couple pulling apart as their careers evolve and priorities change. This is extremely difficult for Josiah and he has to decide whether he has the strength both mentally and physically to build back his relationship.

An incredible story of hope, marriage and the strength of love. It had my angry at times (how could Josiah not see what he was doing?) and crying at other times. It was honest and real, you can relate to how this couple was being pulled apart and also how they struggled to find a way back together. It is a truly beautiful book from start to finish.

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

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novels, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from thirty three years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than twenty award winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist among other honours. Her latest release is the novel, A Fragile Hope.

One of her greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write to Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

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

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More Than a Soldier Book Spotlight

Italy Book Tours

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

More Than a Solider Book Spotlight

About More Than a Solider

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

You can purchase a copy of More Than a Solider on Amazon.

More Than a Solider Book Spotlight

About the Author

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

The Giveaway!

My Canadian and American readers can enter to win a $25 Amazon giftcard via the Rafflecopter form below – GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Read with Phonics: An Interactive App to Help Your Child Master Reading

Learn to Read with Read with Fonics

Learning to read is a difficult task for children to master, the English language is not an easy language to learn! You want to support the education they are receiving at school but sometimes I find that as a parent, it is a tough job. I don’t know if I am teaching them the wrong way, is it similar to the teacher’s style and how do I teach them in an easy way that is fun and won’t discourage them. Just a small order right?

What is Read with Phonics?

Read with Phonics was developed by Sophie, a primary school teacher, who wanted to create the best way for children to learn to read but also make it fun and simple. Her method? Learning phonics! Phonics helps us to learn the sounds associated with each letter which in turns helps us to understand and read word in the English language (versus learning sight words, which is a common method in schools). The bonus? There are only forty-four sounds in the English language, which makes this method far easier for children versus trying to memorize hundreds of words. She also wanted to make it fun for children because lets face it, if they aren’t having fun children can become easily frustrated which slows down the learning process. Sophie not only created the idea, she designed the program and even loaned her voice to all the sounds you hear in the app! All of her hard work paid off when the app was launched and feedback came pouring in.

Learn to Read with Read with Phonics

How Does It Work?

The Read with Phonics app is split into four worlds: water world, forest world, lava land and jelly city. The main character, Albee the Alien, is there with your child the whole time, helping them figure out their mistakes. Your child works their way through each world letter by letter, each letter having roughly seven activities attached to it. Each activity helps your child sound out the letter, identify it in a word and match words. As your child passes each sound level, they unlock a new sound! The best part of this app? The positive reinforcement! Your child starts at zero and works their way up to a higher score.

Learn to Read with Read with Phonics

Our Thoughts

We LOVE the app! It was easy to figure out how to use, it was interactive and fun to use. I tried it out first to make sure I would be able to help our youngest but then I let him take over. He had no problem following the on-screen prompts and got a kick out of Albee (and his sound munching!). The lessons were perfect for his age (he is five) and he was able to easily correct himself when it was required. He never became frustrated with the app and instead I found him laughing and saying the sounds out loud! It was definitely age appropriate for him and very user friendly.

The graphics were perfect and visually stimulating without being overwhelming. The choice of words that accompany the sounds was very suitable for his age group. Overall, this is the perfect app to download to help your child learn to read. It is a platform that they love to use, it is fun and interactive and they can work their way through each level boosting their score and confidence. Learning the sounds that correspond to each letter is by far a better method of learning to read then memorizing.

You can purchase the app on the Apple store or Google Play. You can find more information on Read with Phonics on their website.

Disclosure: I received the Read with Phonics in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Time to Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

With two young boys and competitive soccer practices five nights a week, my car takes a beating throughout the year. At any given time, you can find water bottles, soccer balls, blankets, crayons, books and toys spread out all over the backseat (and stale food that I don’t even want to begin to think of!). For some reason, throughout the winter I can not keep on top of keeping the inside of my car clean. I know this drives my husband absolutely crazy and he has even refused to drive my car at times because of it. Since my boys play soccer, you can imagine how dirty my car carpets get, I constantly find myself cleaning! My husband recently bought me some custom car mats and they’ve been an absolute lifesaver. It’s saving me so much time and I’ll be forever grateful!

I know when we think spring cleaning, we think our home and closets but this is all the best time to also clean out and organize your car. It is the perfect time to get rid of that mess we have been ignoring because it has been too cold outside to clean up and then re-organize the space we have so that it works for not only you but your children too.

STEP ONE: Plan it Out

Our needs change in the spring/summer for not only what we need to carry in our cars for emergencies but also for extra curricular activities. You no longer need the brush for your car for snow, extra winter hats and gloves or extra bottles of salt. Instead maybe you need extra folding chairs for watching your children play sports or an extra pair of sun hats, sunscreen or first aid kit. Write it all down: the must haves, the I wants and what you already have and what you may need to purchase.

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

STEP TWO: Clear it Out

This is by far the part that I hate the most but it is definitely the most rewarding. Start off by laying a blanket down beside your car and completely empty your car. Take out everything from the front to the rear and all the small items that may have fallen in every little crook. Keep a garbage bag to the side and as you empty your car, toss away the old receipts, broken crayons or toys, coffee cups and anything else you may have acquired over the winter season.

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

STEP THREE: Organize!

Organization is key. I am usually the most organized person in my life and in my house. My calendars are colour coordinated, I have several to do lists and I love everything neat and in its proper place. For some reason, I struggle when I try to apply this to my car. When you begin to organize your car, it is important to think of not only your own needs but the needs of your child too. If you go on longer rides, having items in the car for them stowed in an easy to reach manner is important to keep them busy (and you sane!).

Spring Clean with Diono Stow N' Go

The Diono Stow n’ Go is perfect for children as it easily attaches to the back of the driver or passenger seat and stores all of your child’s goodies tidily and in an easy to grab location. It is slim, looks tidy and matches the interior of your car with its black design. It has several pouches that zip up, which hides the toys, books and snacks that your child likes to bring on car trips. The back seat of your car (and quite possibly your spouse as in my case) will thank you!

While spring cleaning can be a bit of a pain at times, it truly helps prepare you for the new season ahead of you. You clean out the garbage and unused items and it gives you a chance to organize yourself and your children. You want to make sure that everything is clean, particuarly before you go off on a long journey, so maybe now it’s time to invest in getting something like the best car vacuum cleaner? It might make your spring clean that much easier. How do you spring clean your car? Is it a priority in your house?

Disclosure: I received a Diono Stow n’ Go in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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