Sunday, 30 April 2017

Worth the Wait



Before I was pregnant with Sebastian, I had two miscarriages. One of them was particularly difficult. I remember thinking when I was pregnant with Sebastian that there was no way I would really be able to fully love this child. I remember thinking that he was our backup baby. That the baby I loss in my first miscarriage was my "real child".

Remembering these thoughts haunts me. I know they were a product of the grief I was feeling for those babies that were never to be, and I carry guilt when I think of how I used to feel about being pregnant with Sebastian. Because now when I look at Sebastian as he turns five years old, I know in the depths of my heart and soul that he was the child I was meant to have.  

I do still wonder about those other babies. I remember them and send warmth and love their way, wherever they are now. I ask myself sometimes what they would have been like. Were they boys or girls? Would they have been better sleepers at night? Would they have loved Pokemon, and Shopkins, and I Spy books with Sebastian's passion? How would I be different if I hadn't had that year of loss in my life? Would I have still struggled with postpartum depression

When these questions come and threaten to spiral in me, all it takes is one of Sebastian's smiles, hugs, or laughs and I know that he was entirely worth the wait. Worth the pain. Worth the tears. And I know that my fears of being unable to love him fully were unfounded. 

Now I feel that we are so blessed to be his parents. If I hadn't experienced those two losses, Sebastian wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have gotten to be his mom. He would have never known the joys of life, and we would have never known the joy of him and who he is and the gifts he has to offer.

It's hard to feel thankful for loss, but for the path that lead me to him, I will be eternally grateful.

xo
Jenn



Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sebastianisms Vol 3


If you've ever spent any amount of time with a pre-schooler, you know they can say the cutest things. Here's a collection of a few of Sebastian's gems lately.


Sebastian loves books (I wonder where he gets that from hehe). When we talking about having one of his friends over to play, I told him that we could invite someone for a playdate, and he responded with, "...or for a read-date."


This was a little while ago, but I remember after one busy day he said, "I am soaking tired!"

As a French teacher, this one hurt my soul a little...
Sebastian (looking at a French book) : What is this book called?
Me : says title in French
Sebastian : What's it called in real words?


This past weekend, we were at a baptism for my friend's son. To give you an idea of how often we don't attend church, here were a few of Sebastian's questions during the mass:
"Which baby is going to get a head dunk first?"
"Why can't I have a treat?" (meaning the host)
"How long until the show is over?"


Talking with this little guy is always a highlight in my day. He's turning 5 next week, and I just want to bottle up all of his curiosity and adorableness and keep it forever!

xo
Jenn

For more, here are Sebastianisms vol 1 and vol 2.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

I Found You by Lisa Jewell - Book Review + Giveaway


Synopsis:

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgement, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, 21 year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

23 years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable - and it's not just that he's playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with "beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets" (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.



I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book, but I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. The suspense is slow-building (in a good way, not a slow-but-I-really-mean-boring way), and by the end, I could have easily stayed up late into the night finishing this one.

I always love novels that have a few storylines that meet up near the end, and I Found You really winds the three plotlines together beautifully. The characters were each odd and quirky in their own way, but I cared for them. I really wanted "Frank" to regain his memory, and at the same time, I was also was terrified of finding out who he really was. Is it possible that he killed someone? Is Alice being too trusting by letting him stay at her home? And my heart broke for Lily, who was in a new country where she didn't know a soul, and then her loving husband completely vanished. And what does a tragedy from 20 years earlier have to do with anything?

Fans of Paula Hawkins or Liane Moriarty will enjoy reading I Found You. It would be an excellent vacation read this summer for sure. And while this was my first Lisa Jewell novel, I already have The Girls in the Garden on my bookshelf and TBR pile!


Enter below to win one of three print copies of I Found You. And you connect with Lisa Jewell on TwitterFacebook, and her website.

xo
Jenn

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Disclaimer - I received a copy of I Found You courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To hear what other bloggers had to say about this book, you can also check out the full book tour here.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Our Trip to Mexico According to My iPhone

Over March Break, Rob, Sebastian and I headed to Cancun, Mexico. In a dozen or so years of being a teacher, I have never traveled anywhere warm for March Break, and after the challenging Christmas break we had this year, I was so grateful we had already booked this trip for a serious dose of rest and relaxation.

We booked a week at the Crown Paradise Club. My requirements for booking a resort were these: not too far from the airport, super kid-friendly, serves daiquiris, and has hot weather. The Crown Paradise Club met all of these, even beyond our expectations. This resort is perfect for families. I actually would probably not go here unless I was with children, because there were kids everywhere. In a great way though. There was a ton for them to do.

Here's a quick recap of our trip according to my iPhone!


This was me mid-packing. I spent more time thinking about the books I wanted to bring than I did about the clothing. I ended up reading Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon throughout our trip.

While in Mexico, I pretty much lived in this J. Crew bathing suit and cover up, and these Gap shorts (in blue denim). I also brought and loved this dress from Old Navy and a tank similar to this one from Lululemon.

#becauselife, I ended up insanely ill the morning we left for Mexico. I was nauseous and sick and I, quite honestly, barely made it onto the plane. I'm not sure if I ate something bad the day before or what, but I spent the first two and a half days of our trip basically living in our hotel room, drinking water, and eating soda crackers. Thankfully, this was the view from our balcony.


Rob and Sebastian did a ton of fun activites at the resort though. The kids club there has organized and supervised activites all day long and a massive kids waterpark. They had water ballon fights, piñata-making, a chocolate eating contest, cookie decorating, and different movies in a real movie theatre each night. The staff there were very friendly and knew Sebastian by name within a day or two.

Tip - if you want to leave your child/children for the themed evening activity, you need to pre-register. There's no cost, but that is the only time the kids club is not drop off.





Sebastian especially loved the rainbow drinks and elephant towel!









Finally, on Day 4 of our 7-day trip, I was feeling better.



The last four days we swam, beached, and played a boatload of mini golf. There was a course right at the resort, and it was one of Sebastian's favourite activities.










The water was beautiful and warm and the sunsets were extraordinary. There was bar right on the beach, and often we could get service right to our beach chairs. You do need to play the game of reserving your lounge chairs by the main pool or the beach (if you want a cabana to provide some shade) by 7 or 8am. We also really loved the covered pool. It's not as busy, and still has plenty of sunshine.


 



We would absolutely go back to the Crown Paradise Club. There was a whole teen section we didn't even get a chance to explore with a larger waterslides, a rockclimbing wall, and a zipline.

And, mostly, it was so lovely to get away somewhere warm together as a family.

xo
Jenn



Monday, 3 April 2017

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson - Book Review


My friend and fellow writer, Lia Davis Munro, has a term for strong and determined female characters in literature. She calls them "gutsy heroines." Ruby Sutton, from Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson, is absolutely one of these gutsy heroines.

Ruby is a young American journalist. As WWII breaks out in Europe, Ruby is sent to London, England to work for a local magazine covering the war. Even during wartime, Ruby is excited about this new opportunity to start fresh across the ocean and leave the secrets of her past behind. In London she forms bonds with many new friends at her work, especially as they live through the nightly horrors of the Blitz. Ruby depends on the kindness of strangers to help her keep going both as she takes on new projects in her magazine and as she falls for a captain in the military who has his own secrets to hide.

Redbook described Goodnight From London as, "An enchanting historical fiction reading experience that will break your heart only to put it back together again, Goodnight From London is the ultimate trifecta of suspense, romance, and unputdownable prose." I couldn't agree more. I have been a Jennifer Robson fan for awhile, and Goodnight From London was just as wonderful as I had hoped it would be.

This book is a tribute to the entire generation of World War II. Whether they were on the battlefield or at home waiting for loved ones to return, men and women all over London fought to endure during a time when they were faced with darkness each and every day. Ruby's story is a story of hope, a story of friendship, and a story of love.

Finally, I always love learning about how authors are inspired for the different stories that they write. What is interesting to keep in mind while reading Goodnight From London is that parts of the story are inspired by the wartime experiences of Jennifer Robson's own grandmother.




Goodnight From London comes out April 11th in Canada and May 2nd everywhere else. It is available for preorder here. Be sure to check out more from Jennifer Robson on Facebook and her website. And if you are in Toronto on May 9th, Jennifer Robson has a free speaking event at one of the local Toronto Public Libraries. Here are the details.

If this book sounds like something you'd love, also check out my review of Jennifer Robson's Moonlight Over Paris.

xo
Jenn

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

My New "Go To" Dessert (that is wicked simple, but seems fancy at the same time)

We visit Collingwood, Ontario a few times a year, and I always try to stop by the Collingwood Olive Oil Company. This adorable little store has over 50 different olive oils and balsamic vinegars to try!

My mom introduced me to all of these delicious oils and vinegars a few years ago. I love their basil-infused olive oil, and when I was at the Collingwood Olive Oil Co this weekend, I tasted their Neapolitan Herb Balsamic.

My absolute favourite though is their Decadence duo. This pair turns a simple bowl of ice cream into a yummy and unique dessert. The Decadence Duo is made up of a bottle of Blood Orange Olive Oil and a bottle of Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar



Begin with a bowl of regular vanilla ice cream.


Top with 1 teaspoon of blood orange olive oil first. Then add 1 teaspoon of the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.




And voilà! The easiest, three ingredient dessert you ever did make. Fancy enough to serve at a your next dinner party and yummy enough that it also passed the 4 year old's taste test.  I'd garnish with sliced strawberries or clementine pieces.

The best way to check out the Collingwood Olive Oil Company is if you are able to visit the store and taste their products; however, they also ship within Canada. The Decadence gift set is $10 (+ shipping). 

xo
Jenn

Friday, 10 February 2017

Celebrate Valentine's Day With a Harlequin Prize Pack!



Last week my friend and I attended a romance author event at a local library. We started reading romance a few years ago (and even took a road trip to stay at Nora Roberts' actual Inn Boonsboro). We weren't sure what to expect when we went to the library event, but we ended up having so much fun!

We listened to award-winning author Molly O'Keefe talk about the role that romance books have played in her life and how she became a romance author herself. Though it was not an especially large event, there were certainly women there of all walks of life. I think Dani and I were actually the youngest people there!

Yet, instantly we felt welcomed and connected through our shared interest in the genre, and this author event ended up being a place for everyone to talk about romance in a non-judgmental environment. 

Importantly, romance has allowed women's sexuality to be talked about in a positive way and encourages optimism in how relationships work out. Whatever kind of problem or experience you are having in your life right now, you can find a romance novel with that theme and then be able to read a story of a heroine who perseveres. As readers, we want the authors to take us on an emotional journey, but reading is our way to relax and with this genre we can always trust the authors to deliver a happily ever after. Some of my favourite romance authors are Bella Andre, Nora Roberts, and Sarah Morgan.

In the spirit of love, Valentine's Day, and happily ever afters, Harlequin Books is giving away a fantastic prize pack to one of my readers! 




The prize pack includes:

  • 4 newly published paperback books 
      • Forged in Desire by Brenda Jackson
      • The Last Di Sione Claims His Prize by Maisy Yates
      • Her Secret Fortune by Stella Bagwell
      • Courting the Cowboy by Carolyne Aarsen
  • 1 newly published e-book
      • Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan
  • Fringe Studio Water Studies Sunrise Square Soap
  • 1 Heart Stud Pouch

To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below. Open to residents in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Québec, unfortunately.) Contest closes February 15th.

xo
Jenn

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