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Friday Favorites – Big-Hearted Charlie Runs The Mile

It’s no secret how much my family and I love to read together. We read together every night before bed, sometimes in the morning before school and sometimes in between. I especially love stories that share a strong message of inclusion and kindness, or show a strong character with determination to meet their goals. When we were asked to review the book Big-Hearted Charlie Runs the Mile by Krista Keating-Joseph we were thrilled! #ad

My kids love getting in on the book reviews for my blog. They often give me notes on what they liked best. They both thought this book was “really good” and “two thumbs up!” They especially loved watching Charlie go from being the underdog to a winner by using his own determination.

The main character, Charlie, was the smallest runner on his team, but he never gave up. He worked hard every day to push himself to be better.  It pays off in the end when he finally grows into his big heart and wins his first race. Charlie later uses his strength and determination to become a Navy SEAL and an American Hero.

I admit I became a little emotional reading this book. Not just because this was a great read and the story behind the making of the book is touching, but my father in law was named Charlie. He was  smaller in stature, but he was a strong hard worker and followed his heart. He was a Vietnam Veteran and will always be our American hero. Maybe there is just something about the name Charlie that generates a big heart.

Krista Keating-Joseph wrote this book about her son without intending to publish it. His grandmother even illustrated it and it was tucked away for over a decade. Then Charlie died while serving in Iraq. Krista, a Gold Heart mom, knew she needed to muster up the courage to publish the book and honor her son by channeling one of the most admirable qualities of her beloved son – his perseverance.

While Charlie’s SEAL career is mentioned, his passing is not, leaving children and families with an uplifting, positive story about hard work, dedication and perseverance from someone who lived his life that way every day.  I think saving the kids the details of Charlie’s passing makes it more relateable to kids and age appropriate. Knowing those details as a mom did have my heart in knots reading this story through the lens of another mother’s memories.

Final verdict is this is a great story the whole family will enjoy. The kids can relate to Charlie’s hard work and determination to make the team and reach his goals. We are so grateful for this story!


A portion of the proceeds from book sales will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and K9 for Warriors in Charlie’s Honor.



The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 


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Friday Favorites – Vero Brava Giveaway!

Happy Friday all!

I know you have all been waiting to find out who won the 3 Disc collection of Leslie Sansone HIIT Walk DVDs!! But first let me tell you all about my new favorite thing- Vero Brava headbands! These headbands are essential accessories for your next work out,  or to keep those fly-a-ways from your mom bun from escaping.

I can never keep a head band on my head! It will pop off, or slide off my head and I am constantly adjusting the band to stay put. It’s really annoying and kind of embarrassing when I’m at the gym. BUT! I have found that my Vero Brava headband stays put! Whether I am working out, or wearing to keep all those wispy little fly-a-ways at bay while running errands, this thing has holding power! These amazing bands were created by mompreneur Veronica Shogren who shares my frustration with finding just the right headband. Now she designs, sews and shares her creations. Every purchase you make helps support her efforts to give back to children suffering from Cancer.  

I wore this colorful print during a gym workout on the elliptical machine. It stayed in place! The last headband I wore to the gym literally pulled off like a sling-shot despite the rubber grips guaranteeing me it would stay in place.  All lies. But this flexible little fabric headband actually stays where I put it. It’s comfortable and it wicks away sweat (bonus). You can even wear it a few different ways. As a headband, a pony tail holder, a bun wrap, even as a neck cover. Whatever works and feels most comfortable. Comfort and style? Yes please! Giving back to kids with cancer – a win for all!

As I was scrolling through the pages of prints I discovered the mystery print grab bag for only $7.99! There are 9 headbands for less than $8! Great stocking stuffers! Or, just stock up for yourself!

I can’t get over the selection of prints! Not only do I love the rainbows and hearts, but I love this galaxy burst print band that I am giving away today!! You can have it to wear during your walks with Leslie! Which by the way that brings me to the winner! Are you ready? Congratulations  AMY HF you are the winner of the 3 disc set of Leslie Sansone HIIT walking DVDs!! You have 24 hours to claim your prize by confirming your mailing address before I move on to the runner up!

Thank you ALL so much for playing along! I truly love bringing you my favorite things and I especially love when I get to give some of them away!! Enter for your chance to win your Vero Brava headband in galaxy burst print now! I have one more giveaway for you next Friday! I’ll announce the Vero Brava winner then!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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This post contains affiliate links from Amazon which means I earn a small commission if you purchase using these links. There is no difference in price if you use the links in this post. I did not receive financial compensation for this post. In exchange for my enthusiastic and honest review, I received individual product for review. Giveaway sponsored by Vero Brava.

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3 Simple Christmas Traditions for Young Families

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year for most folks. But add to that sleepless nights, colds, teething, temper tantrums and just trying to keep your kid from knocking over the Christmas tree you worked so hard to put up, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a holiday that isn’t any fun.  Well, since I started reading The Whatever Mom (Roxanne is my mama spirit animal), I’ve come to the conclusion that often less is more. My main goal with motherhood is to keep my sanity and have kids who are happy and healthy.  Here are 3 things we do at our house to simplify Christmas with our 17 month old, while still making it memorable and fun for our family, and something we can look back on fondly.

Holiday Traditions

For our family, the easiest way to guarantee fun each year and make the holiday special is to start a family tradition (or two). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  We use a fun little Christmas plate for meals starting the day after Thanksgiving and we break out the advent calendar.  Not a lot of work to grab these two out of our attic and they’re so cute in pictures each day.  Here’s one of our banana and pancake breakfast this morning!  


You can find similar plates just about anywhere.  I believe we got this one from the dollar section at Target, but if you shop online you can have it shipped directly to you and you don’t even have to leave your house. (See shopping links below).

We also like to use an advent calendar to count down until Christmas.  It makes for a fun little daily tradition and cute pictures too! Here’s one from Pottery Barn, which holds up great, but if that’s not in your budget this year, you can make a paper chain or coloring chart, or look for one that’s half off at the end of the season!


No Fuss Decorations

When you have young kids, they want to touch and hold and play with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So put away the $100 crystal ornament you inherited from your great grandmother; and the sentimental (breakable) ornaments you got the first year you were married. Instead, fill in those spaces with some fun ornaments your kids help you make.  It will give them hours (or at least several minutes) of fun and they will have keepsakes they can take with them some day.  Most craft stores have little wooden ones for a dollar or two that can be colored-in with markers.  If you’re really brave, you can even get out the paint!


Plan Ahead

Making a plan may sound like work, but it can actually give you peace and sanity this time of year.  Talk with your husband (or co-parent) and your kids (if they’re old enough) about what activities are most important to them.  Then, make a list of 3-4 activities that you know are doable, and make a plan to do just those activities.  You might be surprised what means the most to you and your family.   

Our list typically looks something like this:

  1. Set up Christmas Decoration
  2. Take Family Photos for Christmas Cards
  3. Visit the trains at the mall (They have an Amazing electric train display at our mall, that our little guy LOVE to go see).
  4. Make cookies
  5. Go look at Christmas lights

The great thing about planning ahead, is now we don’t have to think about what we want to do and no one is left feeling like they didn’t get to do what they wanted.  As an added bonus, if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s OK!  Didn’t get a chance to make cookies? That’s OK! We’ll buy some festive ones from the store or local bakery.  Our little guy got sick last year during the week of Christmas and we opted not to take him out to look at Christmas lights, but we’re hoping to this year!

Spending time with each other is the most important thing this time of year so make sure to carve out a little time to relax, drink some cocoa, enjoy some wrestle snuggle time and watch a Christmas movie or two.  You’ll be glad you didn’t overwhelm yourself with a huge to-do list this year!

peter-and-rosieRosie Bynum is a boy mom and owner of The Dinosaur Clothing Boutique. Her son Luke and husband Peter help her run the family business. Check out all the adorable creations on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


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