Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Parenting Teens: Connecting Through Movies @Netflix_CA #Streamteam

It's Complicated ...
Such is the life of a teen or tween.
Such is the life of a parent to a teen or tween. 



The view from here...
We stand on the sidelines watching our kids juggle worries, concerns, pressures, and expectations: school, family, friends, dating. They start to push us to the sidelines as spectators rather than participant, or coach. They think we don't understand, like we've never been a teen. Whether we do or not matters little if our teens and tweens think we're clueless and tune us out.


Wah Wah Wah Syndrome ...  
Starting conversations, getting teens to talk, actively listen and hear our words of wisdom becomes challenging. It becomes a daily struggle to find balance between wanting to protect our kids and allowing them the independence to grow and mature. Ideally my kids can avoid some of life's mistakes and learn some of life's lessons through cautionary tales, rather than personal experience. 

Special Delivery ... 
How the message is delivered becomes as important as the message itself. It has to be presented in a way teens and tweens are willing to hear it. Movies and shows about teen life, choices, consequences, responsibility and self-worth can be very effective message delivery tools, and a great way to connect, bond and start dialogues with your tween or teen. 

Middle School & High School: In my day ... 
In my opinion may of the issues were the same, as were the challenges of parent-teen communication. When I was in high school (back with the dinosaurs) we had to deal with bullying, drugs, alcohol, suicide, teen pregnancy, sex, birth control, STD's, sexuality and social status. The fact is we started to deal with these issues in middle school. There were expectations and pressure regarding academic performance, marks and career choices. As well as expectations and pressure in regards performance in extra-curricular sports, arts, music. My parents limited my time on our land-line phone rather than a cell phone. My school had cliques and groups: the popular kids, jocks, keener smart kids, geeks, stoners, and punk rockers.

That was then, This is now ...
What has changed is the reach and the 24-7 access social media and the internet allows. In my day our circle of friends, influences, resources and support were largely limited by geography. Both have their pros and cons. Not only does the internet and social media open up new avenues for predators, and ways to bully, it also opens up ways to find support, and access information and resources.

Bonding, Dialogue and Finding Common Ground:
Below I've listed some shows and movies that might help to start dialogues about issues that face teens and tweens today. Many deal with the real issues facing kids today, without sugar coating. Some are examples of what not to do, or poor judgement and choices. We can't pretend these issues don't exist. We need to provide our kids with information to make good life choices, and model tolerance, acceptance and empathy. We know we need to be involved as parents, and movies or shows can help us to understand and relate to our kids, provide common ground and work as a great segues to conversation. Watching them together can also be a way to bond with our fickle tween or teen. 

Separate and Together:
I recommend watching these yourself so you are able to decide which are best for the kids to watch on their own, together with you, or just for you to watch to gain some insight and perspective on the pressures and issues facing teens today. 

Shows:
Switched at Birth (TV-14) (family, parenting, disabilities)
The Fosters (TV-14) (parenting, interracial same sex parenting, family, adoption, teens, sexuality, LGBT)


Gilmore Girls (TV-14) (single parenting, teen life, academic pressures)
Glee (PG) (sexuality, acceptance, tolerance, empathy, LGBT)


Life Unexpected (PG) (parenting, teen life, single parenting)
Dance Academy TV-PG) (pressures to succeed, competitive dance)
Freaks and Geeks (TV-14) (acceptance, tolerance, empathy, teen life)
Friday Night Lights (TV-PG) (competitive sports, pressures to succeed, parenting, teen life)
The Secret Life of the American Teenager (teenage pregnancy, sexuality, teen life)
Hjordis (sub-titles) (TV-14) (bullying, acceptance, empathy)
About A Boy (Series) (TV-PG) (acceptance, single parent, adult role-models)


Movies:
Family Party (TV-14) (family, culture, expectations, academic success) 
White Frog (NR) (special needs, Asperger's syndrome, labels, family, death, grieving, LGBT, parenting)
The First Time (PG-13) (teen life, sex, dating, relationships)
About A Boy (Movie) (PG) (single parenting, suicide, role models, acceptance, bullying, peer pressure)
Mean Girls (PG)
A Girl Like Her (PG-13) (bullying, suicide, teen life, social media, acceptance, peer pressure)
Prom (PG)
Boyhood (14A)
Easy A (PG) (teen life, acceptance, peer pressure, relationships, dating, sex, labels, stereotypes)
Breakfast with Scot (PG) (stereotypes, labels, single sex families, LGBT, acceptance, friendship)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (PG-13)
Ender's Game (PG-13)
4 Minute Mile PG-13) (mentor, life choices, grief, teen life)
Billy Elliot - The Musical (NR)
Man Up (NR) (teen pregnancy and parenting)
Paper Towns (PG-13)
A Birder's Guide to Everything (parenting, death, grief, remarrying, friends, teen life)

How do you start challenging conversations and dialogue with your kids? 


Happy Streaming! 
Look for the #Streamteam hashtag and Netflix_CA on twitter to follow along on the Streamteam adventures.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about parenting teens. 

Note: As a member of the Netflix Streamteam I receive Netflix and a streaming device free of charge for the purpose of my Netflix reviews and posts. All opinions are my own. 
Images for The Fosters and Glee courtesy of Netflix.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Movies & Shows Set In #NYC #What2Watch #W2WW @Netflix_CA

What to Watch

A list of movies and shows set in NYC.



New York City is at the top of my travel bucket list, but until I get there I thought streaming some shows and movies set and filmed in NYC would be fun. Believe me there are more than enough to plan an entire travel itinerary around iconic NYC sites and set locations featured in movies and shows.


So this week the answer to what's good to watch? is a list of some of my favourite shows set in NYC currently found on Netflix. And just so you know, I share movie and show recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud every Wednesday (aka #W2WW). 

Shows: 
Brooklyn Nine - Nine
Daredevil
Friends
How I Met Your Mother
Life on Mars
Master of None
Taxi Brooklyn
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
White Collar

Movies:
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Dead Man Down
Enchanted
Five Flights Up
Ghost Busters (1 & 2)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Premium Rush
Sex in the City: The Movie
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Godfather (all 3 of them)

Take a minute and let me know what you thought of this week's recommendation, or what you're streaming these days. Enquiring minds want to know!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post and my #W2WW, What to Watch posts are simply something I like to share with my readers. They are not connected to Netflix, or my involvement with the Netflix Streamteam.

Monday, 16 May 2016

A #BuyProduct @DoveCanada Style+Care Frizz-Proof Cream Serum #Haircare

Buy Product of Cathy Thinking Out Loud:

I'm Thinking Out Loud About What Products to Buy



Growing up my Mom had a term: It is buy-like or look-like. Meaning is it nice enough to actually buy or just nice to look at. Deciding if a product is worth spending your hard earn cash on can be challenging, and I'd like to help by sharing my product experiences with you.

Why it's a Buy Product:


Dove Style+Care Frizz-Proof Cream Serum (under $5) is definitely a #BuyProduct in my opinion. I can't remember a time when I could wash my hair and just run a brush through it, without fighting tangles and knots, even after using generous amounts of conditioner. It isn't just a problem of the ouch factor, my hair ends up breaking and damaged from brushing through the tangles. In an effort to put an end to this "hair-endous" situation I purchased this Dove product for 2 reasons: I'd purchased Dove's Mens Hair products and my kids and Hubby seemed to like them, and the price. Not really knowing what I was looking for or needed, I wasn't willing to invest a small fortune in high-end products while I figured it out. The $3.74 I paid for this serum seemed like a pretty low risk place to start my quest for hair happiness. 
WOW! It worked like a charm!


  • This serum worked wonders on hair manageability whether applied to wet or dry hair.
  • Cream formula is easy to work through hair.
  • Made styling my hair so much easier!
  • Almost completely ended my issues with tangles and knots. In the past I struggled with my brush pulling and sticking to my hair, but with this product I can easily brush through my hair without pulling or breakage. 
  • Easy to use dispenser.
  • It doesn't weigh down my hair or impact volume.
  • It goes on smooth with a natural look, without appearing like I have product in my hair. 
  • Gives my hair a smooth, shiny look and reduces the look of frizziness. 
  • Can't beat the price point. 
  • It even smells nice. 
Note: If this came in a foam format making it easier to control the amount and distribution of product, and still worked as well, I'd be over the moon. 

If you have feedback, or know a product you really like, please share. I always feel better shelling out my hard earned cash on a product if I know others have tried it, and were happy with their experience and purchase. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about "buy-products" and products worth buying.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers my personal experience with these products. All opinions are my own.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Series #Spotless on @Netflix_CA Is Definitely #What2Watch #WhatToWatch #W2WW

What to Watch? 

I say ... watch Spotless. 
It's Wednesday and time to answer the ever popular question: What is good to watch? Well it's actually Friday, but better late than never. (Usually) I share movie and show recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud every Wednesday (aka #W2WW). This week's recommendation is a British series that was recently added Netflix Canada called Spotless. Please note the rating for this series is TV-MA.

Spotless Trailer in English - Link 

Interview: Spotless Brendan Coyle

(2015 , 1 session - 10 episodes,  TV-MA)

Spotless is part crime drama, part thriller, and part comedy. When the main character, Jean, gets a visit from his brother Martin, the consequences to a series of bad choices follow him to Jean's door step as well. Now Martin's problems are starting to become Jean's. Unfortunately you can't pick your family, or the string of bad luck, and a comedy of errors that comes with them. Personally I think it is one of the best dramas I have seen in a while and I definitely give it 2 thumbs up!

Take a minute and let me know what you thought of this week's recommendation, or what you're streaming these days. Enquiring minds want to know!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post and my #W2WW, What to Watch posts are simply something I like to share with my readers. They are not connected to Netflix, or my involvement with the Netflix Streamteam.

Monday, 9 May 2016

My #BuyProduct Recomendation: #SoftLipsCube 5-in-1 Lip Care

Buy-Products of Cathy Thinking Out Loud

My Recommendations on What Products to Buy


Growing up my Mom had a term: It is buy-like or look-like. Meaning is it nice enough to actually buy or just nice to look at. Deciding if a product is worth spending your hard earn cash on can be challenging, and I'd like to help by sharing my product experiences with you. 

Why it's a Buy-Product:


Softlips Cube 5-in-1 Lip Care: Peach-Mango (around $5) Softlips Cube is a Buy-Product.
Beyond the Balm: What are the 5's in 1 cube? Hydrates, Replenishes, Smooths, Protects, Adds Shine.
Well I'm not sure about replenishes, but it does seem to hydrate nicely, and has SPF 15 to protect, and indeed adds shine.


  • I like the look of the design, size and format ... what can I say ... it's cute.
  • Small and compact so perfect to throw in your purse, pocket or backpack.
  • The format offers a larger surface than a twist-up style, which allows for easy application, and seems less likely to break a twist-up balm.
  • I like that it has SPF 15 sun protection. 
  • It goes on nicely and leave my lips feeling soft and looking smooth.
  • I like that I get some shine without being a full on gloss.
  • I doesn't feel heavy or sticky. 
  • The Peach-Mango cube I have smells nice, but isn't strong or overwhelming. 
  • Over all I think at around $5 it's good value, and I would buy it again.
Note: It would have been nice if I could have found more product information on the Canadian site. Most of the product information I found was on the US Softlips site. My confidence in a brand is influenced by how user-friendly their site is to access information about the product and the brand. 

You can find Softlips Canada on Facebook 

If you have feedback, or know a product you really like, please share. I always feel better shelling out my hard earned cash on a product if I know others have tried it, and were happy with their experience and purchase. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about "buy-products" and products worth buying.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers my personal experience with these products. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Mother-Child Relationship: It's Complicated #What2Watch #W2WW #MothersDay Edition

What to Watch:

Mother's Day Edition



It's Time for What to Watch Wednesday (aka #W2WW) where I answer the oh so important question ... What's good to watch? With Mother's Day around the corner it I thought this week's recommendations should be about mothers, motherhood and the complicated relationship between mother and child. You can stream all of the movies below on Netflix Canada.


Pregnancy and preparing to parent, whether planned or not ... life's complicated.



Parenting styles and the mother child relationship ... life only gets more complicated. 

The movies below illustrate just how varied and complicated it can get.


Motherhood is rewarding and wonderful at times, heartbreaking and challenging at others, but always life changing

Motherhood has taught me this:
We are all perfect parents until we have children. 
All our parenting fails will happen in full view of perfect parents. It's a Murphy's Law type thing. 
Cherish every moment of it, because in the blink of an eye you go from baby to young adult. 

Happy Streaming!

Yep, just me Mama Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch. 

Note: I have not been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own, and my #W2WW and What to Watch posts are simply something I like to share with my readers. They are not connected to Netflix or my involvement with the Netflix Streamteam. 

How do I love thee? A Love Letter to Mom for #MothersDay



Parenting can be tough ...

Two years ago I wrote this post, but it's just as true today as it was two years ago. The day to day trials of parenting two now young adult boys is challenging, at least in my experience. On the really bad days, when I question myself and my parenting skills being able to put out and read something that reminds me that my efforts do not go completely unnoticed is a gift. A Love Letter to Mom is what I really need more than flowers, chocolates, jewellery or brunch. 

The importance of articulation and communication ...

The act of my sons thoughtfully articulating why they love me is a gift I'll cherished more than any they can buy. In some ways it's a gift to them as well; as it makes them examine their feelings, and even if just a little, become more comfortable being open about and sharing those feelings. I know the ability to articulate and communicate their feelings will impact their happiness and every relationship they have in life. But maybe more important, learning to share their feeling and reach out when they're unhappy or in crisis may actually save their life. If I can help my kids do this, it's a gift. 

Post from May 7th, 2014:
"Getting teenage boys to share their feelings is no easy task, but never being one to shy away from a challenge, I've decided to ask my two teenage boys to do just that. I'm asking them to focus 100% of their attention on the specific task of writing a two or three paragraph essay or letter, once a year, telling me why I am important, inspirational, or add value to their lives, including a few specific actions, activities or memories over the last year that are meaningful to them."
Read more...

To the Moms out there Happy Mother's Day, to those missing their Moms on Mother's Day I hope you have some happy memories you can cherish and hold on to, and to those dreaming about being Moms may your dreams come true.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud and again about Love Letters to Mom for Mother's Day.

Monday, 2 May 2016

My #BuyProduct Recommendations: @MaybellineCAN #FitMeFoundation & #FitMeBlush

Buy-Products of Cathy Thinking Out Loud: 

My Recommendations on What Products to Buy. 



Growing up my Mom had a term: It is buy-like or look-like. Meaning is it nice enough to actually buy or just nice to look at. Deciding if a product is worth spending your hard earn cash on can be challenging, and I'd like to help by sharing my product experiences with you. 

Why it's a Buy-Product:



Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation is a buy-like buy-product in my opinion, and I would definitely recommend this product.



  • Good price point.
  • 11 shades making matching my pigment challenged skin colour easy.
  • Stick format makes it easy to take on the go and and store in a purse with less chance of breakage compared to compact, or to leak like a liquid.
  • Stick makes it easy to apply.
  • Light-weight and gives a nature look.
  • Good coverage to even out skin tone
  • Gel outer circle makes this foundation glide on smoothly and blend easily.
  • Powder core gives a shine-free matte finish.
  • Easily doubles as a concealer. 
  • Can be used with compact powder without looking heavy, or used on it's own you still get nice matte coverage and finish.
Note: I love a stick-style gel-powder matte foundation, or basically a hybrid of concealer and powder compact all rolled up into an easy to apply twist-up stick format. This is much harder to find than you'd think, so I was very excited to find this Maybelline's Fit Me foundation. 

Maybelline Fit Me Blush (under $8)
Maybelline's Fit Me Blush is a buy-like buy-product in my opinion, and with a price under $10 it's very good value. 


  • Good price point.
  • 7 colour shades.
  • Lightweight and applies and blends easily with a matte finish.
  • I found the "fade-free colour" claim to be true. 
  • This worked nicely with the Fit Me Foundation.
  • I was pleasantly surprised with the brush, which I thought I would hate. It worked well and stores with the blush making it easy to take in your purse and use when you're on the go.
Note: I personally would have loved if this also came in a stick format similar to the foundation. Not only does it make application easier, and less likely to break.

If you have feedback, or know a product you really like, please share. I always feel better shelling out my hard earned cash on a product if I know others have tried it, and were happy with their experience and purchase. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about "buy-products" and products worth buying.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers my personal experience with these products. All opinions are my own.

YOW - PHL - MAD: @BesideU_Canada Backpack's International #Travel


MY Beside-U Minneapolis Backpack Goes On A Travel Adventure.


Madrid MAD - Philadelphia PHL - Boston BOS - Ottawa YOW 
4 Airports - 4 Cities - 2 Airlines - 5 Flights - 3 Hotels


But wait ... I did say MY backpack. So how did it manage to go with Thing 2 to Spain? Good question! The story goes something like this: The door bell rings ... Me: "Oh look my Beside U Minneapolis Backpack has arrived!" Thing 2: "Thanks, mine now!" and runs away. He immediately packs it with all his school notes, laptop, tablet and textbooks, then quickly hides it in his room. For the next month I only catch quick glimpses of MY backpack as he walks out the door for school, until we drop him (and it) at the airport for his trip to Spain. His first solo trip abroad, without one of his parents. I admit I was a bit nervous about this trip, and all the things that might go wrong.


The RFID guarded pocket in MY backpack reduced my worry about Thing 2's debit card information being scanned and stolen. The RFID guarded pocket is big enough to easily hold his wallet and passport.  This was important since he had only taken a limited amount of cash and his debit card was his only way to access the rest of his funds. 



MY backpack was perfect as a carry-on, being lightweight, with lots of compartments and pockets Thing 2 easily organized all the items he'd need for his trip and to keep up on his school work while travelling. It has a separate pocket for his laptop and his tablet, and still room for his camera, snacks, water bottle, and a travel blanket. Being organized means he's less likely to lose or forget items along the way. Just saying ... in my experience teens aren't always the best at keeping track of their stuff, so any help they can get is a good thing.



Once there he could load MY backpack up with all the items he needed for the day: Hat, camera, phone, jacket, sunscreen, sunglasses ... or in the words of Thing 2.

  • "It's smallish (that's a good thing) and has separate pouch for laptop and tablet. It's lightweight and I can fit all my stuff in it." 
  • "I like the style, it's plain (or understated, also a good thing) and not too busy, but still looks good." 
  • "You can tell thought went into both the exterior and interior design, and the quality." 
My brain auto-translates everything Thing 2 says into Mom speak, so I actually heard this: 
  • Nice simple design that incorporates lots of compartments without looking too busy.
  • It has a strong, light-weight water-resistant exterior.
  • I like all the pockets and compartments, including two large exterior pockets each with a smaller zipped compartment on the pocket flaps, that makes staying organized easy.
  • Separate interior sleeves to protect a laptop (up to 15 inches) and a tablet. Finally somewhere to put a tablet.
  • Interior RFID guarded zipped pocket large enough to fit a wallet, to protect against identity theft, and blocks RFID signals from being unknowingly scanned.
  • Padded adjustable straps and top carrying handle.


Lightweight, just the right size and oh so stylish. 
Just look how it strikes a pose all over Madrid! 

Check out this sweet ride! 



Found some great bars in Madrid - and by bars I mean bars on this fence. 


Me and this great view! We look Marvellous! 


Just hanging out taking in the street culture in Madrid. 


I love my son but trying to get him to articulate what he liked about this backpack is an exercise in frustration. Thing 2 is a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes. He took this backpack almost three months ago and has used it continually since then, for school, night school, on weekends when he's out with his friends, and yes to Madrid and back. I originally chose this style for a conference I attended in April, but I probably could have predicted it being confiscated by Thing 2 when I chose it. He was beside me giving unsolicited opinions on which backpack I should choose.

It was good advice because this style is very versatile, well suited to multiple purposes, and appeals to both genders and across generations. Like Mother - Like Son: We both had a hard time deciding which of the many great Beside U Canada products to pick, we both were impressed with how fast it was delivered, we were both impressed with the design and quality of the Minneapolis backpack and both Mother and Son give it two thumbs up.

Now it's your turn to check out all the great styles and products BesideU Canada has available, and enter to win a bag of your own (winner's choice up to a value of $100 Cdn. - Style and colour subject to availability.) This giveaway is open to Canada and runs from May 2nd - May 29th, 2016.
Good Luck! 
Stay up to date on all Beside U Canada products at their website, and on twitter and facebook.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about MY Beside U Canada backpack. 

Note: I received a BesideU Canada Minneapolis Backpack for the purpose of this and my Ode to My Minneapolis Backpack post. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with the brand and product.