Every teen will relate to Carson Phillips, the protagonist of "Struck By Lightning." Carson is an aspiring writer, stuck in a high school with people he hates. Desperate to escape his small town and depressed mother, Carson will do anything to get into Northwestern University. When his guidance counselor tells him he must create a literary magazine to bulk up his application, he realizes there is only one way to procure submissions: Blackmail the jocks, cheerleaders, and rich kids.
Carson pens all his feelings in a journal, and the result is a multi-dimensional, honest portrayal of a teen with big dreams. At times heartbreaking, sweet, and funny, I couldn't help but feel that this character is real. He has contempt for everyone, yet at the core longs to be accepted and understood. He has big dreams, and is too naive to accept they may not come true. I think many teens and adults will see something of themselves in Carson Phillips.
Chris Colfer ("Kurt Hummel" on Glee) is unquestionably a talented singer, dancer, and actor. He also happens to be a very good writer, and I hope that this won't be the last of his young adult novels.
(A cautionary note: Foul language and sexual references are present throughout the book. Personally, I would recommend for ages 14+, but of course everyone has different levels of comfort. )
And we're giving away one copy of "Struck by Lighning"! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below. You have until Dec. 10, 2012 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win.
Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a YummyMummyClub.ca member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until December 10, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using www.random.org. See full contest rules.
Performance evaluations. Rude colleagues. Projects. Presentations. Demanding boss. Deadlines. Lunch on the fly. Take-home work. TGIF!! Sounds like a typical week in the life of a career woman, but it could very well be an average week in the life of a school child.
According to Canadian Mental Health Association,"Stress costs Canadian business an estimated $12 billion every year in health claims, lost productivity and absenteeism." Although it may not be quantifiable, stress takes its toll on children too.
As an adult, it's hard to conceive of school, a place where kids play, make friends, and learn, as a stressful place. But, consider the following realities in the life of a schoolchild:
Fitting in, dealing with bullies, and navigating friendships all need to be managed.
Pressure from parents, teachers, and children themselves to succeed academically is ever increasing.
Large class sizes makes it harder and more intimidating to ask for help.
Add to that list scheduled after-school activities and homework, and it makes for a very hectic life.
Employers are paying a lot more attention to the importance of supporting a work/life balance for their employees. Maybe we parents should borrow a page from the corporate world, and do the same for our kids.
In a parent-child world, that starts with not over-programming. Understand your child's temperament. Some kids are high energy and thrive on activity, while others need more down time. One child may easily handle four activities, while another may only handle two. Either way, make sure activities are not cutting in to key elements that promote a balanced lifestyle: Having family meals together, getting a good night's sleep, down time, and exercise.
Most importantly, listen to your child.
Learn to recognize the signs of stress and help your kids deal with it by tapping into great resources, like this one.
And don't forget to take care of yourself and relax! Chances are if you're struggling with managing stress, so are your kids.
This is proudly sponsored by our friends at Pfizer Canada.
Created by the Psychology Foundation of Canada in collaboration with Pfizer Canada, Stress Lessons is a free resource designed to help you teach children how to manage stress today, and for the rest of their lives.
When the freezing cold of winter arrives, I love to cuddle with my family and warm up with a good movie. Deciding on whether to munch popcorn or sip hot chocolate is the easy part. If only deciding on a film were that straightforward. It can be tough to please EVERYONE in the family. Not too mature for the kids, and not too many high-pitched chipmunk voices that make adults cringe. Preferably, the movie is both entertaining and interesting. Now, that's a tall order!
Here is my list of 8 family movies that you can enjoy along with the kids. If you've already seen a few, you probably won't mind seeing them again. They're just that good.
Akeelah and the Bee: Eleven-year-old Akeelah lives on the wrong side of the tracks, but she is determined to make it to the national spelling bee. This film is about much more than spelling. It's a movie about the special bond between a teacher and student, the meaning of confidence, and about finding true friends. Uplifting and inspiring, a MUST see! Ages: 8+
Iron Giant: The story of a special friendship between a nine-year old boy and an alien robot. How do you keep a 50 foot robot secret, especially from evil government agents? It's the classic scenario of the misunderstood alien, and the grownups who just don't listen to the kid. The animation and narration lend this film a beautiful fable-like quality. Ages: 8+
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: From the songs of the Oompa Loompas to the chewing gum that inflates Violet to a giant purple gumball, this film captures all the quirky scenes from Roald Dahl's beloved book. Johnny Depp plays a creepy Willy Wonka. Ages: 8+ (Many prefer the Gene Wilder version.)
Wizard of Oz: Magical scenery, great acting, and catchy songs. It's hard to believe this film is over 70 years old, because it's still so relevant today. Who hasn't heard "There's no place like home," and "I'm melting!" So what if I've seen it at least 10 times? I'll watch it again. Ages: 6+ (Witch may be scary.)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Disney's first full-length feature, released in 1937. Even though the animation lacks today's technical prowess, Snow White's graceful movements contrasted with the evil queen's heinous transformation is masterful. So much attention to detail in the animation. The scene of the witch tempting Snow White with the red apple is unforgettable. Relive the magic! Ages: 5+ (Scary witch.)
ET A blast from my past! I remember seeing this movie in theatres, and munching on Reese's Pieces. Drew Barrymore was just a little kid, and everyone was talking about the most loveable alien ever. Still a touching moving about friendship and misunderstood children. My kids loved it. Ages: 5+
Toy Story Haven't you ever wondered what your toys get up to when you're not around? I love the toys with identity crises, and "The Claw." Clever dialogue and plot devices for adults, and kids love the characters and computer animation. Ages: 4+
The Sound of Music Every holiday season, my family room is alive with the sound of The Sound of Music. My sister and I have been acting out every scene since we were kids. Have you ever noticed the unbelievably spectacular acting of the Baronness? Just look at her deliveries and smirks, as she watches the Captain fall in love with Maria. Anyway, the transformation of the Von Trapp children under the influence of Maria is a story kids love. Scenes are so well shot, it's just a pleasure to watch. Ages: 6+ (Nazi scenes can be frightening.)
Hope you enjoy these movies as much as my family does!