Month: July 2017

Carving out “Me” Time #StreamTeam


Our family life is hectic. Both of us work full-time (thankfully no more night shifts!), both of our boys play competitive soccer which means we are on the pitch four to five nights a week plus weekends, I am finally finishing up two diploma programs and my husband coaches too. I wouldn’t change our life for a second, I love watching the kids on the pitch, I love my work and I even love the non-stop moving but sometimes we just need a break.

With this go-go-go lifestyle, I find I am sometimes worn out, irritable and there are some nights I just crash on the bed exhausted at the end of the day not even wanting to move. Last week, both of my kids spent five days at their Grandparents house about an hour away from our home. While I cried the whole way home after dropping them off (completely irrational I know), after day one I realized this was just what I needed to recover from the busy lifestyle we were leading. Not only did we need it as parents, our kids needed it too.

While this is a bit of an extreme example, as I know most of us don’t leave our children at family for the week, taking a much-needed “me” time break is so important for both our physical and mental health. When Netflix asked Moms what this me time did for them, they received responses from it helped them to be a better parent to getting peace to decompress alone. Dads, I know you will feel the same too!

Carving Out "Me" Time with Netflix #StreamTeam

We know it’s important so how do we take it? Here are my tips for taking time for you!

Get Up a Little Bit Earlier Before Your Kids

While this may seem hard at first, trust me you will love it. My first hour of my day is time for just me, my coffee and catching up on my latest shows that are not kid friendly (i.e. Luther, Orange is the New Black, Grace and Frankie!). It gives me such a sense of peace and relaxation – it allows me to focus on the day ahead and unwind before it all starts. When I don’t get it, watch out! I feel like I am thrown off my game all day and I even find myself getting irritated at little things that normally wouldn’t bother me.

Carving Out "Me" Time #StreamTeam

Take a Nice Hot Bath

We all deserve a nice hot soak in a bubble bath at the end of the day. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get the iPad out and lock that bathroom door – headphones are optional if you really want to unwind!

Carving Out "Me" Time #StreamTeam

Go For Daily Walks

These walks don’t have to be long but just get out there. The physical activity will really help you de-stress and unwind after a busy day. I usually bring my kids along and we stop for ten minutes at the park. It goes a long way for both of us.

However you sneak in “me” time, there is no question about the importance of it. You deserve time alone, doing whatever you need to so that you can be a better parent and spouse. Whether it be catching up on your favourite Netflix hit or listening to music, you deserve that time so make sure you take it!

How do you take time out in your busy day for yourself?

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

Continue Reading

A Letter from Lancaster County Book Review

Litfuse Book Tour

In A Letter from Lancaster County, two sisters get a second chance at life and love.

A Letter From Lancaster County

About A Letter from Lancaster County

Angela: Her mother’s untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life

Rose: Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and still isn’t happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn’t be more different. Both strong women, will their sibling rivalry ever end

When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother’s Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose’s romance with a new beau.

Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.

My Thoughts

In A Letter from Lancaster County, we find two sisters who are so far apart from each other that it hurts to watch their relationship at time. Both of them love each other so much but there are years of hurt, distrust, jealousy and regrets that have put up huge walls between the two of them. Their Mother’s death seems to be the icing on the cake for their relationship to spiral even further downwards.

When they receive a letter from their Aunt that they haven’t spoken to in years because of a strained relationship between their Father and their Mother’s family, they decide to visit her and the Amish town. It is here where they discover family secrets, the Mother they never truly knew and the family they were not allowed to really get to know.

We watch as the two sisters struggle not only with their past, their family but also with each other. They both have to come to terms with the unhappiness that is currently plaguing them in their life at home but also the past that is eating them up inside. A Letter from Lancaster County is a beautiful story of pain, regret, sister love, hope and faith. Even when we struggle and are in pain, we can always find a way to move forward if we have hope, faith and love in each other. It is a truly inspirational novel that you will love to read over and over again.

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

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Kate Lloyd is a bestselling novelist whose books include “A Portrait of Marguerite” and the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy. A native of Baltimore, she enjoys spending time with friends and family in rural Pennsylvania and is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.

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

Continue Reading

Children’s Illustrated World Atlas #BackToSchoolDKCanada

DK Canada

Children love to learn about the world around them – the people, the culture and the wildlife in exciting new places. It is so important to fuel this love with exciting facts and colourful imagery to help draw them and DK Canada’s Children’s Illustrated World Atlas does this and more!

Children's Illustrated World Atlas

About Children’s Illustrated World Atlas

Children’s Illustrated World Atlas is a visual atlas that brings the world and its people to life with modern mapping, pictures, facts and stories.

Using modern mapping Children’s Illustrated World Atlas takes kids on the ultimate round-the-world trip, from the Americas to Australasia and Oceania.

Each detailed map is accompanied by pictures and stories that explore the society, culture, and history of each region, giving young readers an immediate sense of place not conveyed in standard atlases. Bite-size, country-by-country facts and stats are included at the start of each chapter for additional knowledge, and a place-name index identifies 7,500 locations around the world. Kids will even learn about popular discussion topics such as globalization and the environment in a contemporary introduction section.

Chilren's Illustrated World Atlas

Our Thoughts

As we begin purchasing back to school items, it is important to also keep in mind helpful tools and books that you can purchase to help your child before and during school. DK Canada’s Children’s Illustrated World Atlas is a beautiful, fully updated hard cover visual atlas that encourages children to learn more about the world around them.

The book is divided up first by continent and then again in each section by region (for example in Africa, the book examines North, Northeast, Central, West and Southern Africa). Each section has a map that shows mountain regions and key cities and provinces in each region. Each region has an introduction, roughly a couple of paragraphs long, followed by key imagery of the most important cultural, artifacts, festivals, diet, animals and more of each region.

The bright, bold colours of the print and images will help capture your child’s attention as they start their journey around the world (and maybe even pick several countries that they want to visit like ours did!). The back of the book includes a Gazetteer that holds all the key cities that are mentioned throughout the book and on what page it is mentioned on, so if your child wants to find information quick they can head to the back to find out exactly what they need.

The Children’s Illustrated World Atlas is a must have item in your back to school and home library collection! You can purchase a copy of Children’s Illustrated World Atlas on DK Canada.

Rating: 5/5

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

Continue Reading

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night DVD Giveaway

Shout! Kids Factory

Growing up, I loved My Little Pony – I had what felt like hundreds of the ponies to play with and my Mom has kept every single one to this date. While My Little Pony has gone through a few changes, they are still fabulous and full of adventure and magic. The Equestria Girls are back in an all new DVD, Magical Movie Night, set to release August 8th, 2017.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night

About My Little Pony Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night

There’s a reason these seven girls look familiar, as they step through a magical mirror, they transport from the world of My Little Pony, transforming into teenage girls at Canterlot High.  Full-time students and part-time magical pony-girls, the Equestria Girls are always ready to save the day with the Magic of Friendship!

The new DVD features three mystical adventures (Dance Magic, Movie Magic and Mirror Magic) and a bonus sing along.

Dance Magic

With the Camp Everfree fundraising deadline looming, the Equestria Girls realize they need a new plan to raise more money. Rarity finds out about a music video competition, with a huge cash prize, and she’s eager to convince her friends at Canterlot High to enter the contest. However, the girls soon learn that Crystal Prep Academy is also interested in participating in the contest. The students at CPA have many more resources and are better dancers! The girls learn that sometimes coming together instead of competing is the best plan of all!

Movie Magic

The Equestria Girls have been specially invited by A.K. Yearling to go on the set of the upcoming Daring Do movie and they are overjoyed. For super-fan Rainbow Dash, watching behind the scenes as her favorite heroine comes to life is a dream come true. However, when a rare and important prop from the set goes missing, putting the movie on hold, Rainbow Dash’s dream becomes a nightmare. The Equestria Girls take it upon themselves to track down the missing prop and end up trotting into a real-life Daring Do adventure!

Mirror Magic

As the pages in her journal run out, there’s only one thing for Sunset Shimmer to do: return to Equestria as a pony to get a new journal! There, she meets new pony Starlight Glimmer and agrees to bring her back through the mirror portal to experience life as a human girl at Canterlot High. However, while Sunset Shimmer is away, a revenge‐seeking Juniper Montage finds a beautiful hand mirror enchanted with Equestrian magic. Not only can it provide a window into another land, but if you push the right button, It can also make things disappear into limbo, trapped between the two realms! Sunset Shimmer and Starlight Glimmer return to find the Mane 6 missing and Juniper Montage acting extremely suspicious. Will Sunset Shimmer and Starlight Glimmer save the girls, or are the Mane 6 lost in limbo for good?

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night

You can now pre-order a copy of the DVD on Amazon and Shout! Kids Factory.

Do you want to win a copy of this awesome all new Equestria Girls hit?

The Giveaway

My American and Canadian readers can now enter to win their own copy from Shout! Kids. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Continue Reading

Aaru Book Review

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…” -Friedrich Nietzsche

Aaru Book Review

About Aaru

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear. She is sixteen years old. Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an Arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale. What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts

Death is one of the hardest things to deal with in life. The fear of the unknown, the fear for our loved ones and the pain of missing them can be overwhelming and crushing.

In this novel, the pain of losing a child and a sister is at the forefront. Rose is a young girl, her life was full of happiness and promise until she was diagnosed with cancer. Her health quickly declines and we watch as she goes from bitterness to acceptance of her fate – she just wants the pain to end. Like so many people can relate to, her family has the hardest time accepting her fate. They want her to keep pushing through, to keep fighting and to try just one more treatment. Koren, her younger sister, can not imagine a life without her sister, her protector and the one she always goes to.

Then enters a man who promises a way out – a way to save Rose and to keep their hope and connection alive. At the time no one could understand or even appreciate the technology that he is referring to. It isn’t until after Rose’s death that they fully understand what the man had offered them. The technology uploads a full copy of the person’s mind – in essence the parts of us that make us who we are not our outer shells – into a virtual world where there is no pain, suffering and they can turn it into whatever they want.

This novel was intense, heart breaking, hopeful and challenges what we feel about death and life after death. The novel was well written and powerful, many times I found myself in tears over the unfairness and the powerful emotions that flew off the pages. As the story evolves, you are full of hope and fear especially as the technology is brought to the public.

Aaru is a well written novel that draws you in and challenges how you feel about death, love and life – a definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

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

Continue Reading