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What is on My Nightstand for 2016

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The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston

When Ben wakes up in the hospital, he doesn’t know why or how he got there. He starts to recall snippets of what he remembers. He was a limo driver to the rich. His son died, which drove him and his wife to separate. Cola, his younger brother, has shady people after him.

Maggie, Ben’s wife, is stuck at home with a pile of bills and can’t find employment. She is still distraught over the loss of their son. Maggie turns to her brother, Francis, for help despite him being known for the viral video, “Drunk Priest Propositions Cops.”

This is a sincere and truthful story about many broken people who try to love and heal from their hardships. It was easy to slip into the book over an evening. Billie Livingston has done it again.

The book is now available at your local bookstore.

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Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

It was just like any other weekend for Quinn and Esther. She leaves her roommate on a Saturday night for some fun at a local bar. Quinn wakes up early the next morning not alone. She excuses the one-night stand fast and waits for Esther to return with her coffee and bagel, as per their weekly routine. Only Esther doesn’t show up. Quinn begins to search her room to find out what happened to her. What she finds out makes her wonder if she knew Esther at all.

A mysterious woman appears in a small town just outside of Chicago. She befriends eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo where he works at the local coffee shop.

What comes next had me up late at night to find out what happens in the story. It is Mary’s best tale to date.

The book is out on May 17, 2016.

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The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

Hannah and Kate have been friends since they were in school. Hannah celebrated when Kate married her husband, David, and they started their family.

Hannah and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby. When she is told she will never get pregnant, the heartbreak is immense. Then, Kate offers to be Hannah’s surrogate.

This strong bond of two friends is fierce, until a devastating tragedy sends them on a tailspin that they might not heal from.

It is a raw and honest tale of two friends who risk everything for each other.

The book is out July 12, 2016.

 Disclosure: I was sent copies for all three books for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

What book are you looking forward to reading this year?

Supporting Local Families #autism


Autism is now diagnosed in 1/68 children. There are many families in BC that have one or more loved ones diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). You may see them at school, the parks, and at the local stores like London Drugs.

London Drugs has been in BC neighbourhoods since 1945. They now have 79 stores in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. I am pleased to hear that London Drugs, Puzzled Jewelry, and The Pacific Autism Family Centre have teamed up to raise awareness about autism. From January 8th until February 19th, a 925 Sterling Silver puzzle necklace is available to purchase at all BC and Alberta stores. Puzzled Jewelry was started by three mothers after their sons were diagnosed with ASD. Each necklace cost $25 plus tax, and the proceeds from the necklace will go towards the new Pacific Autism Family Centre. It is slated to open this summer.

With the escalating number of kids being diagnosed, the centre will become an education place while providing the much needed support and services required. The centre will provide individuals and families with resources for their entire life. PAFC will also provide treatment, counseling, and assessments. What makes the center unique is that it will have physical ‘hub and spoke/satellite” centers to reach out to communities all over the province.

Be sure to stop into London Drugs to get your necklace by February 19th. It will make a great Valentines gift while helping get the centre up and running for families like mine.

I am the one you see at the playground, school or store shopping. Autism lives here.

Thank you London Drugs, Puzzled Jewelry, and Pacific Autism Family Centre for helping all of us who can use extra support.

You can find out more about the Pacific Autism Family Centre:

Follow them on Twitter: @pacificautism

Follow London Drugs on Twitter: @LondonDrugs

Disclosure: I did receive a necklace for helping spread the word about the fundraiser. All opinions on this blog are of my own.





Discipline Without Damage: How to Get your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe.

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I’m so tired of parenting labels: Tiger Mom, Helicopter Parenting, Free-Range, and more. This book does not label any parent. Instead it helps you address the cause of your child’s misbehavior without relying on parenting pop culture.

“They misbehave because they’re emotionally disregulated.”

Dr. Lapointe has structured this book to help parents connect instead of disconnect. She shows you how to approach the meltdown through a compassionate lens. Young children need to connect to feel safe, secure and regulate. Walk a mile in their shoes. No one knows our kids as we do.

The book’s format is easy to follow along as it is divided into two parts; part science, and part practice. The doctor also includes personal examples in her parenting journey. All through the book the guiding mantra is: See It, Feel It, Be It. She makes a great point about how there is no such thing as a guaranteed strategy for making discipline work.

I kept nodding throughout the whole book.

I have a question for Dr. Lapointe: Any advice for kids who do not have self-regulation skills? My 7 year-old is on the spectrum and has meltdowns in public and at home still.

This book is great for parents of infants to teenagers. It can assist you from getting out of the house in the mornings, bedtimes, and all of the minutes of the day. I highly recommend it. You deserve to hear that you are good enough.

Our New Favorite Bedtime Story


Wilma Lee Wu, from The Change Your Name Store, is back for another adventure. This time it is with her younger brother to explore. She is bored with the plain, beige food her mother cooks. So Wilma and her brother knock on neighbors’ doors, eager to learn how to cook new food.

They learn how to make food from pad Thai to quesadillas and more! It’s when they get to Monsieur Poutine’s house makes them rethink the beige food.

Everyone will enjoy reading Wilma’s spunky adventures. It isn’t necessary to read the first book. However, you will want to add The Change Your Name Store to your bookshelf. You may find, like we did, to read it again and again for family story time.

Leanne Shirtliffe is an award-winning humor writer. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family. You can find our more about her at:

Tina Kugler is an illustrator and author. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. You can find her at:

What is your family favorite bedtime story? Care to share?

Both books are available at your favorite bookstore.

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of the book for my honest review. All opinions on this blog are my own.

My 2016 Word

journalUsually, I don’t make resolutions for every January 1st. I routinely make my goals a birthday priority. That changed in 2015 when my health took a bad turn. Now, things are looking up, and I am not making resolutions. Instead, I am picking a theme word. It will stay with me through out the holidays, birthdays, and mundane Mondays.
My word for 2016 is CREATE.
The verb meaning of create is to bring something into existence.
What I hope to create in 2016:
1. Query my favorite magazines. Do it, instead of wishing it.
2. Finish my YA Fiction book. As above, I keep talking about it. It is time to do it.
3. Keep creating a healthier me. Last year was rough. I know what I need to do to be better, just in smaller steps.
4. Create smiles wherever I go. The world needs more smiles.
5. Make memories for my family. I only had 10 years of memories with my mom. I want to fill my kids memories of good times.
I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring. Hope it is a wonderful one for you and your loved ones.
Do you make New Years resolutions? Care to share them?

Why Am I Still Grateful, 2015?


GratitudeWhen I picked gratitude as my 2015 word. I did feel grateful. I didn’t feel grateful in the OR. I did feel grateful in the ICU. I felt grateful to hear my family, even though I couldn’t speak. I’m grateful for the healthcare system. I was grateful to go home. I didn’t feel grateful to not be able to have coffee. I did feel grateful for showers. I didn’t feel grateful when people disappeared when I needed to lean on them. I’m grateful for the loved ones who sent messages, thoughts, and gifts.

I am grateful for the first results. I wasn’t grateful for my next test results, tumor markers were too high. I’m not grateful for friends passing away. I’m not grateful for thinking I was having a heart attack. I am grateful to have a name to my mental illness. I am grateful for the “See you in six months,” from the doctor. I’m not grateful for the torn leg muscle while playing with my kid. I am grateful my kids didn’t seem to care that we stayed home a lot this summer.

I am grateful my kids love school.

I am grateful for good friends and the blogging community.

I am grateful for proactive healthcare to have a lump removed.

I am deeply grateful that I got to celebrate my 42nd birthday this year.

Okay, I feel gratitude for the small things that turned out to be so big and mean so much more.

See you, 2015! I am grateful to see you go!



From the Archives: Motherless Mom’s Christmas

cropped-Me-and-Mom-Header-2.jpgWhen I think they believe that I am asleep, I get out of my bed carefully. I tip toe to my door and open it a crack. I sit by the floor ready to jump into bed if I hear them come down the hall. I can hear my mom and dad watching tv and sipping their drinks at the other end of the house. I barely allow myself to breathe. I hope they go to bed soon so Santa can come. I am wide awake in anticipation to see Santa. After about an hour, my parents shut off the tv.

Finally, I think they need to go to bed. Only they don’t. I hear lights being turned on and furniture being moved. I go down on my belly trying to peer down the hall into the living room to see what is going on. Then I hear my mother. “I am tired. We should get the stuff out. Do you want the cookie?” she asks my dad. His reply is muffled by the sound of paper rustling and a box being ripped open. I can’t take it anymore so I open my door and creep down the hallway to get a better look. My heart stops when I see the Barbie Dream House being built by my dad. Packing materials strewn everywhere.

I almost speak up when I hear my sister moving in her room which is next to where I am standing. I race back into my bed and pull the covers over my head. I wonder if Santa didn’t have time to deliver a put together house so he left it for my dad. Before I could think of anymore sad thoughts, I fall asleep.

“Mommy.” Before I crack an eye open I am smothered in kisses by my three-year-old daughter. She bounces over to her daddy who is pretending to still be sleeping. “It’s Christmas. Santa came. Let’s go!” she demanded. “Keep it down. You will wake your sister.” I requested too late. All the family is up now. We go down the stairs together to the living room.

I smile at the dream I had about that last Christmas I spent with my mom. I never did tell her I found out Santa was not real. The look on my children’s faces makes me wonder if there is still Santa magic. It has been 26 years since my mom died and I still miss her, including the holidays. I still remember her sitting in the black vinyl chair, cane at her side, smiling at us enjoying the Christmas presents. Each day is hard and easy all at once.

Once I gave myself permission to embrace the grief that my children do not have their grandma, I felt lighter. By letting go I began to tell my daughters stories of when I was a kid. Showing them pictures reminds me of the happy times. I do things that remind me of her, like watching her favorite Christmas movie and enjoy her special coffee. She will always be a part of my heart and soul.

My youngest toddles over to me with her new Elmo toy. She gives it a big hug and joins her sister back on the floor. I take a deep sip of my coffee with Baileys just like mom. I feel warmth of the day and the knowledge that my daughters know their grandma. I take great peace in that.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. May you make new traditions while appreciating the past ones.

Holiday Party Fun: Coloring for Adults

KeepMerryColorDo you need an icebreaker for the adults attending your holiday party? Kids can’t have all the fun when it comes to arts and crafts.

Keep Merry and Color On is full of 75 holiday seasonal illustrations. Put a few of these books out with markers and invite adults to color festive pictures of snowflakes, reindeers, cookies and more. You may find the art of conversation taking an interesting twist this season.

The perforated pages can make for unique and joyful party favors for guests to take home. You can even use them to decorate or frame as a memento of the party for years to come.

Adult coloring books are a great way to relax and de-stress throughout the year, even better during the holidays. They also can help get you into the Christmas spirit.

Now, if you need me, I will be at the coloring table with a glass of wine. It is a party after all.

Keep Merry and Color On is available at most major stores. To find out more, check them out online.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for my honest review. All opinions on this blog are of my own.

Tips to thrive during the holidays and in-laws

Autumn Floral Heart

Sitting at our local coffee shop, I overhear my friend on the phone with her husband trying to map out their travel for Christmas Day. It reminds me of when I had similar talks with my husband. For years we ran back and forth on the holiday to see everyone from both sides of the family. We didn’t want anyone’s feeling hurt. Then, I had enough. I worked in retail before kids and Christmas Day was my only day off. Christmas became an obligation and not a celebration.

We changed our ways and I loved it. Feelings were miffed at first, until all sides of our family realized they didn’t have a vote. We would visit one house Christmas Eve .For years we would alternate whose house we would go to on Christmas Day, just one house.. The pressure off made the two of us relax and enjoy the family branch we were visiting. We could actually slow down and visit.  The next year we would reverse and enjoy just the same.

Since being parents, our extensive branches have moved away or passed. We remain at home most of the day, if not all. No packing up to race into another town. No chasing after my kids to make sure they didn’t break anything. Now we have one family member nearby and we take turns hosting. It may seem lonely, but it is not. We can let our girls enjoy the day with their new toys and remain in their pajamas all day if they wished. We would make the phone calls to those afar.

While I do miss not getting someone else to cook, I appreciate Christmas for the magic that it is. Giving thanks and being relaxed is what it is about for us. My friend gets off the phone looking rather frazzled. I remain an ear as I hear her complaints about the madness to juggle it all. She tells me I am lucky to not have that. I think she is right.


Creative Gifts for Your Holiday List


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How to Tell A Story by Daniel Nayeri

When I opened up the mail and saw a copy of How to Tell A Story, I got excited. I have been writing stories since I was a kid. My fourth grader has just started to learn the conventions of writing in school. I ‘may’ have been eagerly anticipating all the stories we can write together.

The beautiful 144-page book contains 20 six-sided storytelling cubes, perfect for little hands too. The book is a guide in principles to creative storytelling. It covers elements like conflict, characters, motivation, dialogue, theme, and climax. You learn the mechanics of what it takes to make a story.

Of course, the book can be a starting guide. Roll the blocks to discover the magic for yourself. Stretch your creative muscles to make stories together.

This is a must for the artistic person on your list of all ages.


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The Steal Like An Artist Journal by Austin Kleon

Do you like to doodle? Do you like to journal? Do you know someone who does?

The Steal Like An Artist Journal is a one-stop creative place to get the juices flowing. There are lists to fill, challenges to take, places to illustrate, and much more to keep you inspired.

The extra treat in this journal is the ‘Swipe File’ to store all the sticky notes, the backs of envelopes, and crayon bits of inspiration in one spot.

This is a great gift for the budding artist on your list this season.