Game Show at Stage West

Review by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

It's the Comedy YOU Play.  This was the first time I've been to Stage West and it wasn't a musical.  But that's okay.  This show had me laughing!  I'm not one that would raise my hand to go onstage, but there were several eager audience members that had the chance to step onstage and become a part of the show.  The "Game Show", with game show host Troy Richards (played by Home Improvements Richard Karn, and former host of "Family Feud".)  Members of the Stage West audience are randomly selected to take part in the "live" taping of the "Game Show" as contestants actually win some GREAT prizes by answering trivia questions.

Karn had that charismatic personality, as I expected.  He was great with the audience and quick witted with his response.  I often get that embarrassed, uncomfortable feeling whenever real people get involved in audience participation.  And this show was no different for me.  I hoped that when they stepped on stage they would get the questions right and not make too much of a fool of themselves.  They all did great.  Mind you they chose to be a part of the show.

This production of Game Show had me laughing through out the whole show.  And like every good show there has to be the mischievous character, played by Chantal Perron, Ellen Ryan was the "Game Show" producer who works her wicked ways to have it all! But what will have you on the edge of your seat is the unscripted happenings.  This show has a twist, and without giving away too much, know that you'll love the outcome!

Another GREAT evening out with their delicious buffet and high calibre talent.  Thank you Stage West, another amazing show.

Coming up at Stage West
Chicago April 18th
Uptown Girls June 27th

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Home Alone - Safely!

The time has finally come. Your child wants to stay home alone. Are they ready? Are you ready?

There are many reasons that lead us to the home alone stage. For some children, the chance to take on this responsibility doesn't come soon enough. Sometimes, it's Mom or Dad who are relieved at the idea of letting after-school care go.

According to parent educator Ginger Wilson, “By the age of 10 or 11, most children can handle the responsibility of being left alone for short periods of time. However some simply lack the maturity to manage the challenge. As a parent, you need to determine when is the best time to add on this responsibility."

But, before you even consider this new stage, both parents and children need some new skills to meet the challenge.

Determining if your child is ready to stay home alone is the key. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • How well does your child adapt to new situations?
  • Do they feel safe being alone?
  • Do they have any fears or concerns?
  • Does your child follow your household rules?
  • Can they reach you or another responsible adult by phone?
  • Can they go outside?
  • Can they have friends over?
  • Is cooking allowed?
  • Do you need homework or chores done?
  • Remember clearly communicating your expectations is the key to success.
Ginger suggests that one way to test your child's readiness is to play
the "what if" game. Ask, what would you do if:
  • The phone rings and the person insists he needs to talk with Mom or Dad?
  • A stranger knocks on the door?
  • You hear a scary noise?
  • The smoke detector goes off?
  • You lose your key?
  • You call Mom with a problem and the line is busy?
  • You call Dad and he is out of the office for the afternoon?

This game has two purposes: The first is to test your child's problem-solving skills and the second is to teach your child the ins and outs of staying home alone. Play this game casually while you're traveling in the car, eating breakfast or doing the dishes. The list of "What would you do if" questions is endless, so be creative as you and your child play.

If your child can tackle these and other similar situations successfully, it's likely he can handle the responsibility of being home alone safely. "But remember," says Ginger, “success also depends on how long a child is by himself." An hour goes by quickly; three hours is a long time for even the most confident and qualified preadolescent to be alone.

“Simply put,” says Ginger, “the cornerstone of all of this is that good parent and child communication that takes place ahead of time.”

For more information please visit www.calgaryschild.com. 

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Hair Raising ~ Part 2

(Please refer to Hair Raising - Confident Curls part 1 ~ this is Vanessa's Story Part 2)

© Confident Curls
My childhood was a stereo-typical childhood filled with Kool-Aid, Slip & Slides, Camping and tobogganing…..I was blessed to have what one would call a ‘normal’ childhood. I remember swimming lessons, and always hating to have to have a bone cold shower afterwards to get all the chlorine out of my hair. I vaguely remember my mom brushing my damp hair before bed, and putting it into a scrunchie so that I had wavy hair in the morning. I remember the smell of my freshly shampooed hair after my mom would blow dry it, and never being allowed to go outside with wet hair, or I’d ‘Catch a cold!’

I also remember the day my mom found my first bald spot on the top of my head.

I look back at pictures of my very first haircut at 1 years old, and more pictures of my gorgeous brunette hair as I grew into a toddler, and then a young girl. I look back at pictures of myself and it seems that between the ages of 9-12 there aren’t many pictures of me, or the ones that there are, are sad and hidden poses of me.

© Confident Curls
I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Alopecia shortly after my hair started to randomly fall out in patches on my scalp. At first, we were not alarmed (at least I wasn’t, I’m sure my mom was more concerned then she led on). This was the beginning of a very different life then I was used to. Within 2 years all of my hair had fallen out and I was left with ‘baby fine hairs’ that to this day grow to an inch or two and fall out. Constantly repeating itself.

I always remember feeling never good enough, never as pretty as the other girls, even at a very young age. I started to feel ugly and began wearing hats, and as I grew up I started wearing baggy jeans and oversized hoodies. I was very aware at a young age how much hair was a defining part of who you were, as I watched my mom style her hair in the same way every morning. I was teased daily for not having hair and one day decided that I would do anything to get back to normal, so we decided to buy my first wig. This was nothing like I hoped for, expected or wanted. The wig was way too big, heavy and had way too much hair for a 12-year-old child. This just fueled the teasing even more. My parents only wanted the best for me, and didn’t know what to do. I stopped wearing wigs for a couple of my teenage years, and opted to go au-natural, even with my teenage bravery I barely made it out of Jr. High and High School alive.

It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I really started to notice all of my friends talking more about their hair….trying new styles and colors. I remember one year, almost everyone had the ‘Rachel’ haircut from the TV Show ‘Friends’. I cute little bob in brunette with blonde highlights. I remember really starting to feel the need to have my hair back around this time. I wanted to talk about the same things, and it seemed like life revolved around boys, our first jobs, boys, makeup, boys and well…. Hair.

© Confident Curls
I started looking into my wig options again at 16 years old and came to learn that in the short 5 years, Wigs had come a ways into the younger styles. I was in luck! They weren’t the coolest styles, but at least it wasn’t horrid. I remember the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I walked into school again with hair. We had bought it over the summer and thought that with having a break, the transition would be easier. I was wrong. Kids pulled my wigs off, they still teased me and the little bit of self-confidence was killed.

Boys picked on me while all of my friends had boyfriends. I had a few close friends, lots of friends that grew up with me in school, and even to this day I think of how many of them dropped off over the years. A few, including my best friend stuck by me, and always tried to keep me included. I always hated when we would get together to go to a movie or out for dinner and all of my friends would be sitting around on the floor with little mirrors trying to get their hair styled perfectly (in case we ran into our Prince Charming). All while I sat on the bed or couch and waited…. patiently, usually annoyed because I would have killed for BAD hair let alone decent or great hair. It always made me wonder why on earth would someone fret over one or two strands of hair that just wouldn’t stay put? I never understood and I probably never will.

© Confident Curls

Now, I have much more self confidence in who I am, and I have chosen to wear wigs during the day while out running errands or out with friends. It will never be the same as my own real hair, but it makes me feel put together, sexy and I hate to say it….but normal. I can blend in with everyone else at the grocery store and focus on my children. I can sit and be engaged in a conversation while out with my husband or friends without feeling like a million eyes are on me. I don’t have to worry about my kids seeing people stare at me, or approach me and ask how my treatments are going. I like to use my own discretion when I tell people about my hair loss; I am still guarded when it comes to telling someone about my Alopecia because of all the teasing growing up. I’m getting better and my goal is to be a stand up advocate for women and children dealing with my same issues every day.
It’s amazing that Hair, something that’s dead and is mostly a nuisance can have such an impact on someone’s morning, day, month (ever had a really bad haircut?) or life.

Hair is Hair, but to some people it’s quality of life.

~ Vanessa McWilliams

Join us at the 1st Annual Hair Raising Gala.

Confident Curls is proud to support the 
Kids Cancer Care and Angel Hair Foundations by hosting the
March 1st, 2013 at the Deer Foot Inn & Casino.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 and donate 100 ponytails.

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Hair Raising ~ Confident Curls

by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

It's a love/hate I have with my hair.  Born with what I called Orange hair, it wasn't easy growing up with this unique "gift".  Sure, as an adult it's great.  Having hair that everyone says they wish they had.  Oddly enough people seem to be a bit intimidated by a red head, which always drove me crazy.  Some didn't even give me a chance to be nice, thinking I was just a "feisty red head".  But as a child it really was something I had to grow to love.

But not only did I have red hair, but I had A LOT of it.  It wasn't easy to manage.  Especially because I wanted to have it long.  I HATED to wash it and comb it.  (Not much has changed today... I still hate the process of "doing" my hair.)  And as I got older, it was just BIG hair.  Curly, big, red hair.  Who wants that?  No one when you're 7, 13 or even 18.  I did cut it a few times, only to just grow it back out.  I don't know why I bothered with the process.  I think it was because people always convinced me that I had great hair.  Adults did anyway.  Not the kids.  I was often teased, or made fun of because of my hair.  Not so much for the color, but for the "rats nest".  I really hated to comb it.  It was just a lot of work for a lot of grief.  It wasn't until after I graduated that I figured out how to straighten it properly, AND dye it blonde.  After dying it blonde I met a whole new world of people.  People approached me more and talked to me more.  But why?  I was the same person, just a different color of hair.  But was I?  Maybe I was different being a blonde.  Maybe I had more confidence being a blonde.  Maybe it was me!!  I felt more confident when I chose the color of my hair, and didn't have to deal with the grief red hair gave me.  I stayed a blonde for a long time, from 21 through to my early 30's.  Only to wake up one day saying, are you kidding me, I DO have great hair.  But I had to overcome the obstacles I placed in front of myself when dealing with my own self esteem.  I still dye my hair blonde from time to time because I like how it looks, and eventually grow it back out to being a red head again.  Except this red head is more confident in who she is and doesn't let anyone dictate on how she should look and act.

Love Hate for my hair!
© Christina Rowsell

But more recently, I realized how important my hair is.  It's a part of me, and a part of who I am.  I still straighten it and highlight it.  But I now realize I was given a beautiful gift.  I have hair.  I can grow it, and cut it.  I can straighten it and curl it.  I can put it up or braid it.  But not everyone has that luxury.  As a child, I never knew anyone with Alopecia.  Alopecia is an auto-immune disorder that affects people with various degrees of hair loss.  Even children are affected by Alopecia.   I wonder if my hair "issues" would have been such a big deal when I was younger if I knew anyone with Alopecia?

But today I do.  Her name is Vanessa McWilliams and she is the owner of Confident Curls Mobile Wig Boutique.  She has educated me on her story and what Alopecia is.  She is a wig wearing woman who helps women and children wear wigs.  I had flashbacks of my childhood when I heard her story.  I felt sick to my stomach that I even complained about my God given gift.  But at the time, they were my real issues, and I overcame them.  And now, I have the opportunity to give that gift to other children.  I've been growing my hair now for 2 1/2 years to donate it to the Confident Curls Hair Raising Gala, March 1st at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino.

Thank you Vanessa for making me feel beautiful everyday ~ no matter what style or color of my hair.  Vanessa is truly and amazing woman.  Her heart is gold and she has a passion to making every woman and child feel beautiful.  Thousands of children in Canada suffer from the life-altering effects of medical hair loss from cancer treatments, alopecia, burns, scalp trauma and surgery.  And through this Hair Raising Gala, money and hair donations will support Angel Hair and the Kids Cancer Care Foundation.  By providing a small gift of a wig, Angel Hair for Kids Program aims to help these children regain a sense of self-confidence and some normalcy as they struggle with the daily trials of living with hair loss.

Confident Curls is proud to support the 
Kids Cancer Care and Angel Hair Foundations by hosting the
March 1st, 2013 at the Deer Foot Inn & Casino.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 and donate 100 ponytails.

Links from this story

The Hair Raising Gala raised $20,000! AWESOME!
And now I'm back to short hair!



by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

Remember when you were a kid and you rode your bike everywhere?  Remember that feeling of freedom to choose your trail and ride wherever you wanted?  When did we lose that drive to be out in nature to explore the world on our bikes?  I know for myself, I used to love the challenge of a steep hill and the reward of sailing down the other side.  I loved being out in nature and listening to the wilderness at every pit stop.  But life changes.  It gets busy and we sometimes put our childhood passions aside.  I still ride my bike with a chariot attached and two kids in tow, occasionally.  It usually happens in the spur of the moment during the summer when we have a lazy day and think, "hey let's go for a bike ride."  But I would love for it to happen more often.  I may have found a group to give me the CycleTherapy I need!

I recently met up with Kelli Taylor at a Brighter Business Empower Seminar.  Shannon Bowen-Smed, President and CEO of Bowen Workforce Solutions, was the guest speaker.  Shannon asked the audience to get up and out of their seats to do some networking and to introduce ourselves to someone we don't know.  I'm glad I had the chance to talk to Kelli Taylor.  She lead me to discover this amazing organization CycleTherapy!  

CycleTherapy is a non-profit organization based out of Calgary, AB. It consists of a group of cyclists ranging from beginners to pros who ride to raise money for various charities of their choosing. But that's not all, it's also about passion.  Watch this video, it'll give you a sense who CycleTherapy is, created by Alexa Gilker.

CycleTherapy began in 2009, when a few friends trained for and participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer relay.  Not only was it an opportunity to work on physical fitness, but it was also an opportunity to raise money for an important cause.  After that first event, it was life changing for those in the club.  They cycle because they love it, but they also get to give back to our community!  They ride for purpose and are always mindful of their goals. They've raised money and rode for organizations such as KidSport, ARBI (the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured), the Ride to Conquer Cancer and the MS Society.

What a GREAT idea with AMAZING people who have found their passion and are able to give back!  You can follow the CycleTherapy Blog here!  

CycleTherapy: "We ride for pleasure; We ride for purpose"

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Not Spaghetti Again!

by Calgary's Child Magazine

Going out for dinner is the easiest way we know to tame the “What’s for Dinner”  battle cry. A night out at a restaurant can be a big treat for everyone in the family. We’ve heard many stories from families (the good, the bad and the ugly), about their restaurant experiences.  So from the trenches, we present our favorite restaurant survival tips.

First, identify family-friendly restaurants in your area — does it have a children’s menu, high chairs, booster seats, crackers and crayons available?

Before you even step out of the car, outline your expectations to your children about good restaurant behavior, but keep them simple. The use of inside voices, the importance of staying seated at the table (no running through the restaurants) and good manners are our three staples.

Don’t hesitate to cut your dinner short and leave if your children don’t behave. It’s our experience, that you only need to leave one restaurant one time and the children learn that you are serious about these expectations.

Breakfast and lunch are an ideal time to introduce your children to restaurants and teach them the rules. With lower prices, and faster service, it’s often easier to enjoy a successful outing.

Cafeterias and buffets offer a large selection of food making them excellent choices for picky eaters and provide instant gratification for hungry children.

Children’s menus can sometimes become tiresome for diehard restaurant goers, so for a change try ordering off the appetizer menu for your child's main dish. And for those with big appetites, some restaurants will bend the rules and let your children order off the senior’s menu.

Hungry children are not patient. Eat a half an hour before your child's regular dinner time to reduce fussing. Ask your server for crackers while you are waiting for your meal.

When you arrive, order the children’s food immediately even if you’re not ready yet to order yours yet. If the restaurant is busy, this will ensure yours child’s order gets in early. They’ll have lots of time to linger over desert, while you finish your main course.

Take along a coloring book, a small quiet toy to play with or a book to read at the table.  Some inventive parents we know pack a special restaurant bag with toys and treats that only comes out at the restaurant.

Keep your children entertained with simple games, like ‘I Spy, or playing tic-tac-toe with the sugar packages. Our children even polished up on math skills by learning to add creamers and sugar packages.

A trip to the bathroom can be a good distracting technique for a restless child. Try going after you order and before the food arrives — it might save a trip in the middle of the meal.

If your child isn’t drinking from a regular cup yet, don’t forget to bring their sippy cup and we always pack a washcloth or pre-packaged wipes to help cleanup during or after the meal.

And finally, leave soon after your meal is finished. As much adults might like to linger over dessert and coffee young children cannot sit still.

Bio: Ellen is the publisher of Calgary's Child Magazine, Calgary's favorite and must trusted parenting magazine. For more information, you can pick up Calgary's Child Magazine free at hundreds of locations in and around Calgary and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

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W.Brett Wilson Virtual Kiss

by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

W. Brett Wilson is a well know Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He also recognized as one of the “Dragons” on CBC’s Dragons’ Den.  

Reading up on Mr.Wilson via Wikipedia, he is originally from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, he graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and work for Imperial Oil in Western Canada.  Eventually bringing him to graduate from The University of Calgary’s MBA program, the first person to graduate with a specialization in entrepreneurship, in 1985, and began work as an investment banker with McLeod Young Weir Limited, now known as ScotiaMcLeod or Scotia Capital.  He then co-founded an investment banking advisory firm, Wilson Mackie & Co., in 1991 – a firm that enjoyed considerable success brokering oil and gas companies and properties.  And that was just the beginning.
“Never be afraid to fail.  Be afraid of not learning from mistakes.” – WBW
So what does one do with their success and rise to the top of the ladder?  You continue to strive to be the best you can be. Making investments in opportunities that hopefully lead to success.  But, he clearly has made mistakes in the past, but always learning from them.  He outlined that in his recent book “Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes” available through Penguin Books.  (Read a review of his book through Brighter Business Empower’s Sheri Bruneau here.)

But what really catches my eye and attention with Mr. Wilson is his passion and dedication to give back.  His philanthropic ways can be found on his website www.wbrettwilson.ca.  He’s been described as a “capitalist with a heart.”  Nothing wrong with that!!  Perhaps that’s what I love most about him.  He’s made it a priority to give back.  He actually does care!  And now is your chance to give back too.  And you can give back with a big old KISS. 

Until Feb.15th, you can go online to www.wbrettwilson.ca and plant a virtual kiss on his cheek through animation on his site, and Brett will donate 50 cents per web kiss, up to a max of $10,000, to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in support of heart disease and stroke research.  Last year, Wilson donated the full $10,000 in a similar campaign.

To get the ball rolling, I met up with the philanthropist and planted a kiss on him… I hope that counts Brett!  Go show him some love!  Go now!  It ends Feb.15th. (Okay... I got a little more than expected... a double smooch... with Eric Francis (from Jack FM) and Brett Wilson!!  For that I'll personally donate $10 per kiss!!  Thanks Gentlemen!)

W. Brett Wilson Online
W. Brett Wilson Facebook
W. Brett Wilson Twitter
W. Brett Wilson Pintrest

Heart and Stroke Foundation Online
Heart and Stroke Foundation Twitter
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