When We Last Spoke – Review and Giveaway

“Humor, heartbreak, and triumph are served with whipped cream and lots of local nuts in this heartwarming tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness in Fireside, Texas.”

This post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through the use of one of my recommendations, I may receive a small commission, which would be a lovely little blessing for my family. I received this book in exchange for this review, the opinions stated are my own.

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna is a sweet look back at 1960’s smalltown Texas, through the eyes of a young girl who, along with her sister, have just been dropped off at their grandparents house to live, while their mother goes off to pursue her acting career and their father goes to war.  This book is a lovely story, with really interesting characters and setting.  As a Canadian, I especially loved the Southern-isms, some I even had to look up what the meaning behind them were.  I found that the story flowed really well, the writing was beautiful, and the characters were quite lovable.  It was a book that I had a hard time putting down, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet Southern story.

And you can win your own copy! This giveaway is open to the US and Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also win a copy for your kindle on Amazon courtesy of the author from February 20-24!

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

Our Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and it was so much fun with two little ones this year.  Last year, we made some cute Valentines for our friends and family.  This year, Autumn coloured pre-made Valentines and we gave those to family.  It was a lot of fun!

This year was also really fun!  I spent the day with my two adorable little ones.  They wore special Valentine’s Day bonnets, and outfits I picked out special.  Autumn LOVES bunnies, so I was so happy to find this little shirt from Joe Fresh.  I was a little disappointed with the variety of Valentine’s Day clothes in the baby boy section, but I am in LOVE with the shirt I found for Aiden.  It’ll fit him for a while, too, which will be so great since it’s adorable!

For dinner, I made us pizza twists, and for dessert: Chocolate Lasagna! (though, a pink-ified version 😉 )

Then, what was probably the best Valentine’s Day present ever, both babies went to bed super easily and we got to have our romantic date night-in!  We watched Armageddon and had dessert, and Starbucks.

It was a lovely day <3

How was your Valentine’s Day?

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Parents

Valentine’s Day is coming up and as a parent of little ones, sometimes that means figuring out a date night for after bedtime, right in your own home!  I love stay-in date nights, especially in the winter, because you don’t have to go anywhere, you don’t have to go out in the cold, and you don’t have to scramble for a sitter. Win-Win!  Here are a few ideas for the perfect Valentine’s Day Date Night In <3

This post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through the use of one of my recommendations, I may receive a small commission, which would be a lovely little blessing for my family

Alright, let’s set the scene.  The kids are in their beds, they’re actually asleep!  It’s Valentine’s Day. You and your significant other go to the dining room to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day Date Night In.  What do you need?

01 // A pretty candle to make your after dinner desert romantic
I like having a candle burning of ambiance, but especially on Valentine’s Day!  We’ll have a nice dessert and a hot beverage, and have a candle going!  It’ll be so lovely.

02 // Matching Couples Mugs for your coffee or tea
What’s better than Luke & Leia quotes for your Valentine’s Day Date?  The lines are classic, plus, it’s really cute to have matching mugs <3

03 // A game to play for two
What could be more romantic then trying to get your affections known by the princess?  Love Letter is a fun game to play with two or more, so it’s perfect for a date night with your love.  It’s also really easy to play, and quick, so it works well if you don’t have a lot of time to play!

04 // A gift to personalize for your love
It’s fun to write cute messages to each other, and this journal is even cuter because you can write in whatever you want in an adorable package!

05 // Couples Pillowcases … to end the night 😉
I love the idea of matching pillowcases for the bed, and these are just darling!  <3

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

What to watch on Canadian Netflix if you’re feeling salty about Degrassi

If you follow me on twitter, you will know that I am very upset and hurt (read: furious) about the fact that there is only one season of Degrassi: The Next Class on Canadian Netflix.  This is a Canadian show, and it’s on basically all the other versions of Netflix in the rest of the world, EXCEPT Canada (and France).  It’s tremendously unfair that Canadians can’t watch the show that is based in their own country without trying to use a sneaky way to watch American Netflix.  Oh, just kidding, that doesn’t work anymore.  So, if you’re like me, and you’re feeling really salty about the unfairness of this, I’ve compiled a list of movies and tv shows that star some of the actors who have been on Degrassi, too.  Please note that although I am recommending these titles at this time, know that I haven’t watched most of them so I cannot speak to quality.  But they are filled with Degrassi people, not just from The Next Class, but some are from The Next Generation!

Enjoy!

  1. Full Out
    This movie has Zoe, Becky, and Craig! Love it!  In this, Zoe plays a girl who feels super entitled and then loses everything she’s been working on and has to rebuild.  Sound similar?
  2. Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure
    Apparently Eli is in this. haha
  3. Being Erica
    Paige Michalchuk plays a young version of Erica’s mother.
  4. Date with Love
    Darcy is in this.
  5. The Vampire Diaries
    This one is pretty obvious I guess, but Mia is in this 😉
  6. 4th Man Out
    Craig is in this one!
  7. Blood Pressure
    Craig is in this one, too.  One of the guys from Glee is also in it, if that interests you.

And, if you are wondering what you can do to get Degrassi: The Next Class, seasons 2 and 3 on Canadian Netflix (where they belong), check out this petition!

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

Aiden at 8 Months!

Aiden is now 8 months old!! In such a short amount of time, we’ll be celebrating his 1st birthday (cue mama tears). It’s going by WAY too fast and I just can’t believe it.

This month, Aiden has done so much!  He said mama and dada (dada first, of course haha) and he said his first word: POOP!  He’s not crawling, but he spins in circles and backs up really well.  He loves reaching for your face and reaching for toys.  He loves watching his sister play.

Aiden’s current favourite foods are anything Autumn is eating, and lucky for him, she likes to share her food with him.. whether she should or not.  Specific foods he likes are chicken, sweet potato, and the baby cookies I make.  He HATES salmon, and he has mixed feelings about broccoli.

Aiden’s favourite toys are his o-ball car, and his little people toys.  He likes looking at and waving to himself in the mirror.  He likes waving at everyone!

He’s overall such a happy little baby, I love watching him grow <3

xoxo,
Alysa

Autumn at 8 months

Continue Reading

Parenting with Grace and Truth: Book Review & Giveaway

I read a lot of parenting books. I really enjoy reading about different styles of parenting, and in each one I definitely take things away that I can use in my own parenting journey.  So when I was contacted to review Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn, I jumped at the chance of reading it!  I want to be able to parent in a way that is modelled after Jesus, and that is what this book is about.

As I say, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review.  Everything said here is my own opinion.  This post also contains affiliate links.

When I start reading any parenting book, I usually start by looking at the author’s bio on/in the back of the book.  I look to see what their qualifications are.  Dan Seaborn mentions on the back of this book that he has four kids with his wife.  That makes me think, ok, so he kind of knows what he’s talking about!  I read a longer bio that also said that he has worked as a youth pastor, so he really knows what he’s talking about with regards to teenagers.  I think it’s important to mention this, because there have been books I’ve read in the past that the author didn’t mention anything about whether or not they were a parent.  I know there are lots of non-parents that are very smart and everything, but as a parent, I take the advice of fellow parents more seriously.  So, I really like the fact that he mentions on his bio that he has children.

The way Parenting with Grace and Truth is set up is each chapter is about a truth about parenting.  Some examples are, The Truth About Developing Good Character in Your Children or The Truth about Effective Parenting.  I found it really interesting that Seaborn talks about these parenting issues as basic truths, and not just any truth, but truth with a foundation in Jesus.  I really liked that.  Another thing he does in each chapter is, he finishes each chapter with a number of questions to consider.  I think that makes this a good book to read with a small group.  There are questions that would make wonderful discussion questions with other parents.  And finally, he has a little blurb at the very end called “Dan’s Reality Check” where he is real about the truths he just talked about in the chapter.

Reading through this book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement about quite a few things.  I found myself hi-lighting sections of the book because I wanted to remember exactly what it said, so I could tell other people about it later.  I think that this is such a great resource for parents!  Though I am currently in the baby/toddler stage of parenting, and he talks a lot about parenting teenagers, I still got a LOT out of this book, and there was a lot I could take away and use in my life right now.

One of my favourite chapters is when Seaborn starts talking about specific parenting styles.  So he describes authoritarian style parenting, helicopter style parenting, and the very best parenting style: Jesus style parenting.  The way he describes Jesus style parenting made it seem actually attainable.  Jesus style parenting is perfect, but the way we do it doesn’t have to be perfect.  If we’re striving for Jesus style parenting, that is enough.

Another thing that I really appreciate about this book is the fact that there is scripture throughout each chapter.  Seaborn writes about parenting in a way that is based in biblical truth.  I think that is the one of it’s huge assets.  You can read exactly which verse he means when he gives his advice.

Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn was a really great read, and I think it will be one that I go back to again and again as my children get older.  And good news, friends!  You have a chance to win a copy of your very own as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US/Canada.  Good Luck!

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

10 Things I Hate About WINTER

I know, every blogger is always going on about how much they love Autumn.  Fall is the best.  Winter, especially winter after Christmas has passed, is the worst!  Here are my least favourite things about winter:

01 // EVERYTHING IS STATIC!
I have fairly long hair.  Long, thin hair.  So anything that has static reacts to my hair.  I get it caught in zippers, I get it caught in car doors.  It’s really annoying.  I’m shocking people left, right & centre.  My clothes are filled with static electricity.  EVERYTHING is.  AH. It’s so annoying

02 // All the LAYERS
In order to go anywhere, you need a coat, you need mittens, you need a hat, you need a scarf.  Your children need all these things.  Once you get places, you have to figure out where to put all these things so you can be comfortable inside.  It’s exhausting to think about. Plus, it’s all filled with static.

03 // How long it takes to go anywhere
Since we need soo many layers, it takes a billion years to get a baby and a toddler ready to go anywhere.  One Billion Years.  And, if I’m by myself, it takes TWICE that!  Plus, getting the car seats safely ready to go.  It’s a lot.  And all of it.. staticky.

04 // Ice Ice Baby
The world is ice outside.  If we had a smaller vehicle I would DEFINITELY want studded tires for it.  It’s so scary when you can’t stop your car!

05 // Everyone is grumpy
Everyone is grumpy because they take a billion years to get ready to go anywhere, and there’s static, and ice and cold. 😉

06 // It’s dark ALL THE TIME
I know it’s technically starting to get dark later now, but it still feels like it’s dark SO early!  There’s a comic where a mom is asking if it’s midnight because it feels like midnight, and it’s only 5:00.  I know that feel.

07 // Snow
My daughter hates the snow, so it makes it less enjoyable for me, too.  Plus, there’s just so much of it this year.  Do we really NEED more? (no)

08 // Fruit is more expensive
We have to buy foreign fruits so it’s more expensive to buy at the grocery store! The worst.

09 // All the effort
If the path hasn’t been shovelled, which..let’s be real.. it hasn’t, that means that it takes so much extra effort to walk across a short distance.  When I was actively using My Fitness Pal to track my exercise and calories, I always felt a little ripped off by it in the winter because my simple ~10 minute walk~ of a few blocks actually burned up WAYY more calories than normal.  I felt like it didn’t take off enough.  I don’t track it anymore, but I still feel like I’ve put forth a lot more effort when I have to walk through almost knee high snow.

10 // The COLD
I don’t know if you knew this… but I live in Winnipeg, which often gets referred to as WINTERpeg.  It gets pretty darn cold here.  It is often colder here than it is on Mars.  And that is a fact.  It’s too cold to do anything.  LUCKILY, my favourite winter activity is staying in and cozying up with a hot beverage. 😉 I mean.. this week isn’t soo bad, but last week. yikes!

So, there you go.  A very annoyed persons list of horrible things in winter.  If you want a more optimistic post, check out my post from last year: 5 Things to do to Beat the January Blues

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

Our Verse for 2017

For the past two years, I’ve done the ~Word of the Year~ thang, and shared it in my blog.  This years word is BOLD.  Another thing we’ve done as a family for the past two years is choose a verse to go along with that word!  Here is the verse for 2017

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles
They will run and not grow weary
They will walk and not grow faint”
– Isaiah 40:31

Last year, our verse had to do with starting a new journey.  We knew we were going to be looking for a new place to call our home church, and we knew we were starting out on something new.  This year, the word we thought of when we were praying over what verse we should put in this spot was strength.  We found our new church and we have begun making friendships and connections there.  We want to strengthen our friendships and relationships with the people we’ve met in 2016 at our new church, as well as with our friends.

It’s tough making friends, especially as a mom with little ones.  I have found that this is definitely a time of life where the phrase “for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” comes up a lot.  There are friends we don’t talk to as much anymore, and there are friends who have become even closer to us in this time.  I’m so grateful for the people in my life who have stuck by me through the pregnancies and births of both my children.  It means so much to me, not only that they’re still wanting to spend time with us, but also how much they love and care for my children.  This year will be about strengthening and developing those relationships <3

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading

Aiden at 7 Months

December just zipped by, and this baby is now 7 months old!

He’s growing so fast, too.  He’s outgrowing a lot of his 6 month stuff, and getting into the 9 month sizes and the 6-12 month stuff.

Aiden loves to eat!  He’s even started to get  jealous when he sees that Autumn gets to have something and he doesn’t have anything.  We usually give him breakfast and dinner of solid foods, but now he’s starting to ask for something to eat at lunch time, too.  He likes pretty much everything we give him.  He had a really funny reaction to broccoli, but still ate it!  The only thing we’ve given him that he wasn’t fond of was a certain spaghetti sauce, but it was a little spicy.

Aiden’s favourite toys are his Star Wars tsum tsums, and anything with wheels.  He really likes to pick things up and drop them, or get me to pick them up and then he drops them.  He’s not quite crawling, but he’s managing to maneuver himself around somehow.  I’ll put him down and when I come back in the room he’s in a different spot than where I left him.

Aiden is still waking up a couple of times a night.  He’s a really good cuddler, and he loves nuzzling into our shoulders.  He’s pretty laid back, he likes people watching, and he especially likes watching his big sister.  She is very interesting.  He doesn’t like being left alone for too long though. He’d rather be where the people are.

So excited to see what the next month is going to bring <3

xoxo,
Alysa

Autumn at 7 months

Continue Reading

Best of 2016

2016 was a crazy year.  In the world, especially, but in our house it was fairly busy as well.  We became a family of four, I switched from wordpress.com to a self-hosted website, and I started making bonnets in an etsy shop!  Very busy year.  Here are the top 10 most viewed blog posts from 2016!

  1. Baby Cereal Muffins
    I didn’t even write this one in 2016, but it’s been the top post for two years in a row.  I loved making Autumn these muffins and I will be making them for Aiden soon, too.
  2. And then there were four – My Birth Story
    I love this post so much.  Aiden’s birth story was not 100% what I wanted it to be (I would have liked it to happen sooner haha) but it was amazing.
  3. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change Your Family Review & Giveaway
    I was surprised to see this one.  Maybe it’s just my own feelings on the book projecting though.
  4. Baby Baby! Book Review & Giveaway
    This book is SO cute!  I still really enjoy reading it to my babies.
  5. DIY Thank You Gift for your Midwife
    This was a really fun DIY!  I got the idea for it from my baby group for Aiden, and was so excited to give the gift to my midwife.  I still think it’s funny that like two weeks or so after I gave it to her, she called me and asked where I got it!  I’m glad it was well-receivied.
  6. To My Daughter on her 2nd Birthday
    love this one too!
  7. How To Go Church Shopping
    This was a big part of our year last year and I am so glad with where we ended up.  Our church has been amazingly welcoming and warm and it truly does feel like home.  I love it there!
  8. Bump Update: 40 Weeks
    When my due date was supposed to be haha
  9. DIY Little Tikes Kitchen Renovation
    This was another fun DIY I did this year!  It took a very good chunk of the year because I started it before Aiden was born and finished it a few months after he was born.  Oh well 😉
  10. Secrets for Surviving Two under Two
    This was a great roundup with some stellar tips for dealing with two babies under two.  I was glad to be able to read the tips and share them.

Looking forward to seeing what will make this list next year!  Happy 2017! <3

xoxo,
Alysa

Continue Reading