Monday, 23 October 2017

The Unofficial Guide To Surviving Life With Boys



Sometimes our dreams whisper to us so quietly we pretend not to hear them because we think they can never possibly come true. That is exactly how I feel about having been invited to participate in this project. Earlier this year, the amazing bloggers from #LifeWithBoys reached out to see if I'd like to contribute a story to their anthology about boy moms. Honestly, I actually thought it was an accident and they had meant to message someone else. After my initial shock, I was so delighted to become part of this fantastic book.




The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Life with Boys is a collection of hilarious and heartwarming stories about what it's like to be a boy mom written by a group of fabulous bloggers. From injuries to sweet cuddles and everything in between, you will love this book about being in the boy mom trenches.

It will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, and certainly give you all sorts of good feels about the special bond that exists between a mom and her son.







Plus, my story is about the time Sebastian asked what a vagina looks like, so......there's that :)




I sincerely hope you read and love this book. I know for me, there are certainly stories in here that spoke straight to my experiences as a boy mom. The ones that leave you saying to yourself, "Yes! That's exactly how I feel."

The stories are the perfect length to read between handing out bandaids and reading about dragons. I would even say you don't have to be a boy mom to enjoy the stories of motherhood in this book. The experiences shared are relatable for any mama.




Plus, if we ever meet up in real life, I can even sign it for you (‘cause now I’m famous lol.)

xo
Jenn

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Beautiful Bookmarks


This bookmark I received in a previous Novel Editions box, and it's one of my favourites! It's the perfect size for mass market paperback novels.



A beautiful wooden bookmark. The quality is excellent. I use this one often. It's a book blogger favourite:)


A beautiful peach and pink bookmark with hand drawn calligraphy.



Jane Austen quote bookmark ($6.47)
A beautiful letterpress bookmark with a Jane Austen quotation. Both sides of this bookmark are so lovely.


Marilyn Monroe ($10.32)
A beautiful silhouette bookmark from the classic Marilyn Monroe film The Seven Year Itch. Perfect for any film lover!



100% Merino wool. The softest bookmark you'll ever see!



I'm cheating here because this bookmark isn't for sale, but you can get something even better -  Brooding YA Hero is an entire book that you can order for tons of gems like this one. For anyone who loves young adult literature, Brooding YA Hero is a must read.


xo
Jenn

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Questions Google Thinks My Blog Can Answer



This month my little blog turns 4! One of my favourite curiosities with blogging are the Google search terms that have led people to my little corner of the internet. Some make sense, and some I'm still trying to figure out. Take a look:

naked at the wedding day
I can't possibly imagine (or I can, but's pretty strange) what someone was looking for with this search term. I can assure you, I haven't written any blog posts about being naked at weddings. I did once put together a post with my favourite pictures from my own wedding day. I'm naked in exactly 0 of them.

seraphine maternity canada
This one was easier to figure out. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me my favourite places to buy maternity clothes in Canada. Séraphine does ship to Canada, and their clothes are beautiful, so I included them in my list.

abm happy life
#abmhappylife is a commonly used hashtag on Instagram for A Beautiful Mess whenever you want to share something joyful from your day. The one thing I've blogged about from A Beautiful Mess is a review of their Happy Mail subscription box. It's perfect for stationery lovers and reasonably priced (though it temporarily paused for rebranding until 2018).

non cheesy anniversary gift
My list of non-cheesy anniversary gifts for anniversaries 1-5 is probably one of my most viewed blog posts of all time. I still stand by every single one of these ideas.

oh my gauze
This was a search term I noticed recently, and I am stumped. I have no idea which post of mine would have popped up in this search result. The Internet is weird.

spiderman birthday party on a budget
Yup. We did this. For Sebastian's second birthday we did the Spiderman thing. I'm pretty proud of our crafty spider web ceiling if I do say so myself :)

when i'm gone: a novel
I do a lot of book reviews, but for some reason or another, my review of When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker seems to be the most searched.

chemo angels program
Chemo Angels is a fantastic free organization, that I'm so proud to be a part of. They pair chemo patients with "angels" or "buddies" and the angels mail encouraging notes and gifts to the patient throughout their treatment. Read more about it here.

books for babies 0-12 months
I love a good round up post, and I do have quite a few of them on my blog. The one I made with my favourite books for babies is visited often.

breastfeeding fanfiction age play 5h
Oh man...I have no idea on this one. Is it a book idea? I'm so curious. What were they looking for? Did they find it? I do have a post about breastfeeding here. I'm not a huge fanfiction reader so, I'm really not sure about that one, but I'm a book blog, so it's not entirely a stretch I suppose. As for the end, I'm still not sure...I have a post about toys for babies, and another about toys for toddlers. Nonetheless, this one leaves me scratching my head.

a splendid messy life baby list
Once upon a time I did put together an enormous list of what to buy for baby. I suspect someone I know personally must have been having a baby to google both my blog name and "baby list" together in the same search term :)

splendid nait
A close friend of mine had a rare condition called NAIT, and so it made her pregnancy very challenging. She put together a guest post for my blog to share her experiences and offer hope to any other mama out there that may be experiencing the same struggle.

Well, that's it for now! Thanks for all of your continued support with A Splendid Messy Life!
xo
Jenn

PS - I totally stole this post idea from Unremarkable Files. You should absolutely see what kind of weird questions Google thinks her blog can answer. She has some gems over there!


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A Newfoundlander In Canada by Alan Doyle - Book Review


While Alan Doyle's first book, Where I Belong, was set primarily in Petty Harbour and St. John's, Newfoundland, his newest release spans from one Canadian coast to the other.

Beginning in Newfoundland, the chapters of A Newfoundlander in Canada are divided into different Canadian provinces. The reader travels with Doyle as he shares stories and anecdotes from his first experiences off the island on the road with Great Big Sea.

Many of the stories are laugh out loud funny and woven among them all is the theme of home and identity. Doyle presents a kind of birds eye view of how the vastly different parts of Canada are still very clearly still part of the same family. It was beautiful to read.

One thing I have loved about both of Alan Doyle's books is that he easily develops a connection with his readers. You get the sense that he is right beside you with a pint of beer telling you about his amazing adventures on the "mainland". On the back of Doyle's first book, actor Russell Crowe is quoted saying, "I feel like I've lived another's life." This holds true for A Newfoundlander in Canada as well.

I have been fortunate enough to have travelled quite a bit in Canada, and I have been to many of the places, and even some of the specific bars, Doyle mentions. That definitely made this book feel extra special to me. Newfoundland itself, however, remains on my bucket list.

A Newfoundlander in Canada is certainly a must read for any Great Big Sea fan, though you do not need to be familiar with their work to enjoy this book, most especially if you are Canadian. It is available for preorder now and comes out on October 17th.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of A Newfoundlander In Canada from Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 25 September 2017

5 Picture Books For Teaching Children About Compassion


As parents, every single one of us wants to raise our tiny humans with a concrete understanding of both empathy and compassion. Here are my five favourite books to help with this enormous task.


Red by Michael Hall - In this book a blue crayon is mislabeled as a red crayon. Everyone tries to get him to be a red crayon, and he tries his hardest to be a red crayon as well, but he is miserable. Eventually he meets a new friend who helps him learn to be true to his inner self. Red is such a beautiful story about acceptance and courage.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel - This book is an introduction to Indigenous totem animals. On each page children can identify with the masks of different creatures such as deer, foxes, beavers, etc. I love this book because the short descriptions of the animals act as a guide for young children learning to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - This is a classic, but if you don't know this story, it's about the relationship between a young boy and a tree. This book is perfect for discussions about the give and take balance in friendships.



Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud - My 4 year-old read this book in his Junior Kindergarten class, and it was a game changer. Both at school and at home we now use the language of "filling someone's bucket" to show kindness or we talk about "dipping into someone's bucket" with a negative action. Readers even learn that it's possible to fill or dip into your own bucket. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? is one of my favourites.

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison - This book is about friendship, bullying, and fitting in. Paula and Maggie have been friends forever, but when some students start picking on Maggie, Paula starts to notice all of Maggie's faults as well and stops playing with her. When the mean girls eventually start to pick on Paula, Maggie steps in to defend her friend. My Friend Maggie is a heartfelt story that packs the same emotional punch as The Giving Tree.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish - Excerpt

I'm so excited to share with you an excerpt from The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. I loved this book, and you can find my review here. It's a psychological thriller that has a very unique twist on the "manipulative woman trying to improve her status in life" plot line. Get a sneak peek below....

Excerpt - Chapter 1

Amber Patterson was tired of being invisible. She'd been coming to this gym every day for three months - three long months of watching these women of leisure working at the only thing they cared about. They were so self-absorbed; she would have bet her last dollar that not one of them would recognize her on the street even though she was five feet away from them every single day. She was a fixture to them - unimportant, not worthy of being noticed. But she didn't care - not about any of them. There was one reason and one reason alone that she dragged herself here every day, to this machine, at the precise stroke of eight.

She was sick to death of the routine - day after day, working her ass off, waiting for the moment to make her move. From the corner of her eye, she saw the signature gold Nikes step onto the machine next to her. Amber straightened her shoulders and pretended to be immersed in the magazine strategically placed on the rack of her own machine. She turned and gave the exquisite blond woman a shy smile, which garnered a polite nod in her direction. Amber reached for her water bottle, deliberately moving her foot to the edge of the machine, and slipped, knocking the magazine to the floor, where it landed beneath the pedal of her neighbor's equipment.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry," she said, reddening.

Before she could step off, the woman stopped her pedaling and retrieved it for her. Amber watched the woman's brow knit together.

"You're reading is magazine?" the woman said, handing it back to her?

"Yes, it's the Cystic Fibrosis Trust's magazine. Comes out twice a year. Do you know it?"

"I do, yes. Are you in the medical field?" the woman asked.

Amber cast her eyes to the floor, then back to the woman. "No, I'm not. My younger sister had CF." She let the words sit in the space between them.

"I'm sorry. That was rude of me. It's none of my business," the woman said, and stepped back onto the elliptical.

Amber shook her head. "No, it's okay. Do you know someone with cystic fibrosis?"

There was pain in the woman's eyes as she stared back at Amber. "My sister. I lost her twenty years ago."

"I'm so sorry. How old was she?"

"Only sixteen. We were two years apart."

"Charlene was just fourteen." Slowing her pace, Amber wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. It took a lot of acting skills to cry about a sister who ever existed. The three sisters she did have were alive and well, although she hadn't spoken to them for two years.

The woman's machine ground to a halt. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Amber sniffed and shrugged. "It's still so hard, even after all these years."

The woman gave her a long look, as if trying to make a decision, then extended her hand.

"I'm Daphne Parrish. What do you say we get out of here and have a nice chat over a cup of coffee?"

"Are you sure? I don't want to interrupt your workout."

Daphne nodded. "Yes, I'd really like to talk to you."

Amber gave her what she hoped looked like a grateful smile and stepped own. "That sounds great." Taking her hand, she said, "I'm Amber Patterson. Pleasure to meet you."

~

Later that evening Amber lay in a bubble bath, sipping a glass of merlot and staring at the photo in Entrepreneur magazine. Smiling, she put it down, closed her eyes, and rested her head on the edge of the tub. She was feeling very satisfied about how well things had gone that day. She'd been prepared for it to drag out even longer, but Daphne made it easy for her. After they dispensed with the small talk over coffee, they'd gotten down to the real reason she'd elicited Daphne's interest.

"It's impossible for someone who hasn't experienced CF to understand," Daphne said, her blue eyes alive with passion. "Julie was never a burden to me, but in high school my friends were always pushing me to leave her behind, not to let her tag along. They didn't understand that I never knew when she's be hospitalized or if she'd even make it out again. Every moment was precious."

Amber leaned forward and did her best to look interested while she calculated the total worth of the diamonds on Daphne's ears, the tennis bracelet on her wrist, and the huge diamond on her tanned and perfectly manicured finger. She must have had at least a hundred grand walking around on her size-four body, and all she could do was whine about her sad childhood. Amber suppressed a yawn and gave Daphne a tight smile.

"I know. I used to stay home from school to be with my sister so that my mom could go to work. She almost lost her job from taking so much time off, and the last thing we could afford was for her to lose our health insurance." She was pleased with how easily the lie came to her lips.

"Oh, that's terrible," Daphne clucked. "That's another reason my foundation is so important to me. We provide financial assistance to families who aren't able to afford the care they need. It's a big part of the mission of Julie's Smile for as long as I can remember."

Amber feigned shock. "Julie's Smile is your foundation? It's the same Julie? I know all about Julie's Smile, been reading about all you do for years. I'm so in awe."

Daphne nodded. "I started it right after grad school. In fact, my husband was my first benefactor." Here she'd smiled, perhaps a bit embarrassed. "That's how we met."

"Aren't you preparing for a big fund-raiser right now?"

"As a matter of fact we are. It's a few months away, but still lots to do. Say...oh, never mind."

"No, what?" Amber pressed.

"Well, I was just going to see if maybe you'd like to help. It would be nice to have someone who understands--"

"I'd love to help in any way," Amber interrupted. "I don't make a lot of money, but I definitely have time to donate. What you're doing is so important. When I think of the difference it makes---" She bit her lip and blinked back tears.

Daphne smiled. "Wonderful." She pulled out a card engraved with her name and address. "Here you are. Committee is meeting at my house Thursday morning at ten. Can you make it?"

Amber had given her a wide smile, still trying to look as though the disease was first in her mind. "I wouldn't miss it."

Copyright HarperCollins 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish is out October 17th. You can also connect with Liv Constantine (the pen name for sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) on Facebook, Twitter, and their website.

xo
Jenn




Tuesday, 12 September 2017

It Takes A Tribe by Will Dean - Book Review


In August, I completed my first Tough Mudder Half event. I have completed a few of their, now retired, Mudderella events, but the actual Tough Mudder Half was a whole other ball game. The course was a whole ton harder and a whole lot more fun because of it.

I was on such a high after the event that once I found out CEO and founder Will Dean had a book coming out about the origins of Tough Mudder, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

It Takes a Tribe is as much about the history, path, and growth of Tough Mudder as it is about resilience. About leadership. About dealing with your crap and moving on to what's next.

I love Tough Mudder, so I really enjoyed reading about how Tough Mudder came to be and the journey the company has been on. I especially loved learning the process for creating and testing new obstacles. The list of "crazy obstacle ideas" that they've passed on was fascinating, and I immediately shared them with my Tough Mudder team. We were all grateful those particular ideas didn't make it through the planning phases :)

Dean also talks about being an entrepreneur and the lessons he's learned starting his own business. He's open about his failures and discusses not only how he started his own company, but also how he was able to set the scene for the birth of a tribal culture among the 3 million Tough Mudder participants. Every person who completes a Tough Mudder event becomes part of "Muddernation". Many Tough Mudder obstacles are designed so that they must be completed with a team. Even for the strongest athlete, it would be impossible to complete 100% of Tough Mudder alone. One of the participants is quoted in the book saying, "there is that human touch point. You don't get held up that much in life, but it's an important thing."

Between each chapter are inspirational stories of individuals and teams who have run Tough Mudder for very special reasons. People who have overcome the worst parts of life: cancer, child loss, blindness, and more waking up and saying "I'm going to do something hard today." It is impossible not to be moved by their stories.

I found It Takes a Tribe to be very encouraging and many sentences of my copy are underlined. It's a quick read, and if you are a Tough Mudder fan, a young entrepreneur, or just interested reading more about the importance of persistence, I recommend you pick up a copy of this book. Mainly, Dean wants you to remember that the obstacle is the point. Whether on a Tough Mudder course or somewhere else in your life, the hurdle in front of you is not "not supposed to happen." You will find your way through, and you will come out stronger on the other side.

And to illustrate the point, Tough Mudder snapped this amazing shot of me slaying the Berlin Walls.
"No matter what place you come in ... 
no one is better than your best, and your best will make you better." 
- Sean Corvelle, Tough Mudder MC

It Takes a Tribe is out today. You can connect with Will Dean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To just check out more about Tough Mudder in general and find events near you, you can visit their website.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received an advance copy of It Takes a Tribe courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and entirely my own. 

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