Little one, love your body. It is the only one you get.

For years I pinched every part of my body that I could get even a pea size grasp on. Was there extra weight on my hips, my thighs, or the back of my arms? I obsessed over every bite that went into my mouth and constantly thought about the food that I wanted so bad, but refused to consume. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of twenty-eight, I was just beginning to really get comfortable with my body and food of all kinds. Fills the hole inside me

As my body went through the myriad of changes that occur when you are pregnant there was one thought that kept me on track – I will not let my eating disorder affect my child. As a recovering anorexic and exercise addict I feared that I would unconsciously pass on some of these unhealthy habits. Four years later and expecting my second child I think we have done a pretty good job of teaching our daughter healthy habits and acceptance.

So, when I recently found my four-year-old daughter sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor with her shirt lifted and pinching her belly, I had to take a step back and breath before approaching the situation. After asking her why she was doing it I was sickened to hear that she was copying an image she saw on a billboard we had passed on the way home from the grocery store.

I instantly knew what billboard she was talking about — an ad for CoolSculpting body shaping that I had often found myself evaluating. A woman shown bare skinned from the rib cage down pinching at a slight bulge on her waist. A woman who honestly looks like she is at a healthy weight and had to really work to grab that little flap of mostly skin.

DSC_2115But, how to get a four-year-old to understand we don’t judge our bodies in that way and certainly not by comparing it to other people? Would you pinch a friend like that? No, well we shouldn’t treat our own bodies that way either. Think of your body as your closest friend, someone you care about and want to keep around for a very long time.

I may not be able to change the way brands present their messages and get people to pick apart each little part of their body, but I can help my daughter accept every muscle, bump, and curve of her own and love everything that her amazing little body is capable of.

I can praise her for her accomplishments and not what she looks like. When I see an example of a body positive woman in an ad I can be sure to point it out to her. And most of all, I can love my own body and let her see that acceptance and appreciation on a daily basis as I look in the mirror, as I enjoy my workout because it makes me feel strong, and as I hold my head high and work towards the things that are important to me on a creative, professional, and personal level. I can let her know that her body will change throughout her life, but it will always be hers and what she does with it is much more important than how it compares to the artificial image on a roadside billboard.

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The Second Pregnancy Truth: Special in unexpected ways

pregnancyWhoever said the second pregnancy is easier than the first is a liar. Or they blissfully forgot the reality of having a toddler, expecting a baby, and still living daily life.

You know what to expect

At least this time around you know what to expect. Or so I thought. Really it is more like thinking you are headed back to Rome, IL, but accidently booking a trip to Rome, Italy. You got on the plane thinking you had this all figured out, but once your feet hit the ground you know you are in for a whole new journey.

Yes, I’ve had a baby before, but this time it is completely different. The body changes, stressors, and emotions don’t match up to the first experience. You never really know what to expect in pregnancy.

With the first pregnancy, working full time was no big deal. As I maneuvered career and expecting (or as much as you can expect the biggest disruption to occur in your life) I thought, “I got this”. Work during the day, relax a little at night, and spend weekends blissfully getting the nursery ready.

This go around I feel like something has to give and if I “lean in” any farther I will land flat on my face. Being pregnant the second time means working full-time while juggling things such as drop-offs and pick-ups at daycare, evening activities for a rambunctious toddler, and prepping the house for a second child.

Getting real

Like everyone else I have days where I stop and think, “I can’t do this. What was I thinking!” But, then I stop and I remember the many friends who can’t have a first, let alone a second child. I think about my niece and nephew and how they look at each other and can understand each other in a way no one else can. I think about my own siblings and how we share memories that only growing up in the same house can provide. Or how we can look at each other and instantly know what the other is thinking.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

I think of the way my daughter quietly asks to touch the baby and gently places her hands on my growing belly. Or how she talks about all of the things she is going to give to her baby brother.

Maybe the bigger truth isn’t that the second one is easier – it is just different. Different like everything else in life is distinguished from the first time we did this. Different just like each child will be different and take their own journey.

 

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April round-up: Healthy eats, pregnancy workouts, and furry friends

After March flew by this month has been slightly more focused from a personal perspective. I have tried to spend more time getting inspired, getting motivated to claim what I want in life and take the steps to get there, and connecting with my ever changing body.

Here are a few things we’ve been enjoying, coveting, and anticipating over the last month.

Eats

I couldn't leave without a little baklava :)

I couldn’t leave without a little baklava 🙂

Step one to getting inspired always seems to revolve around food for me. Food and friendship, which naturally go hand-in-hand. That is why I was thrilled to meet up with a good friend at an old favorite I hadn’t been to in years. Gardens of Salonica in Minneapolis never fails to deliver. Over a shared sampler plate of melitzana, fava dip, salata, and patzaria and an entrée of makaronia kai souvlaki we caught up on life, laughed, and dreamed future travels.

Even though I’ve tried to slow the pace of life a little over the past month I do have days when all I have time for are small meals or snacks. I am also five months pregnant so noshing is sort of a must. Trying to keep it healthy I’ve been leaning on a few favorites: CoffeeBars, Nourish clusters, and dried pineapple from Nature Box (now available at Target!).

snacks

Getting Inspired

 Step two to getting and staying inspired is keeping up the activity level — even when I feel like sleeping all day. My growing belly and shifting center of gravity have made it time to make some slight adjustments to my workouts.

While still getting three-mile runs in I’ve had to slow my pace and remember not to push myself when Map my Run pops in to tell me I’ve taking more than 10 minutes to complete a mile.

Even though my abs don’t do quite what they use to I am still squeezing in ab work and weightlifting to maintain muscle tone and make delivery easier. A few places I’ve found some great tips on exercising while pregnant:

Parents Magazine  •  Girls Gone Strong

I’m always looking for different options to mix things up so if you know of any other sites please share!!!

Reads

While Minnesota can’t seem to decide what season we are in — is it spring or winter or maybe a day or two of summer – it is the perfect time to enjoy a good book. Since finishing my MBA in January I have tried to meet my goal of READING at least one book a month. So far, so good.

April’s book of choice was Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by Dave Kerpen. I was hesitant to tackle this book because I had done a good job of staying away from business-oriented books since finishing grad school, but it is a passion so I jumped right in.

There are some great tidbits in Likeable Social Media and if you are new to marketing or tackling it from the small business perspective it would be worth a read. Actually, the overall message is something that all of us could be reminded of at a personal level when using social media – everyone on these platforms are humans and should be treated as such.

I have also picked up the audiobook habit again. I highly recommend checking your local library for audiobook app options to get your free fill. I’ve used One Click Digital for years through our local library and enjoyed some great books when I don’t have a tone of time to actually curl up with a good book. While working I’ve listened to two new books this month – Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

IMG_0368

Our biggest news of this past month, however, is the addition of a furry family member. Meet Clifford! Abandoned on an Indian reservation he ended up with mange and malnourished. He is doing great now and we look forward to having him grow with us.

Looking ahead

The home projects have begun– updates and photos to come next week!


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March Round-up: Travel, recipes, and forks

This past month flew by (this seems to be a theme for my year)!  So let’s jump right into a few things we’ve been enjoying, coveting, and anticipating over the last month. sunset

Travel 

After anticipating vacation for so long it is hard to believe it is already over. The beginning of the month included a quick road trip for Olivia and me to visit my precious new niece in Illinois. An eight-hour drive with a toddler while being almost four months pregnant seemed like a good idea until we pulled out of the drive way. I was concerned when less than an hour into the eight-hour drive she was asking, “we are close?”. All turned out all ok and ended with some sweet memories of Olivia holding her new niece and gave a little glimpse of what life might be like when the new baby arrives.

beach

After two years of grad school we took our first real vacation – no homework, no required reading, and no online check-ins. Just beach, sun, naps, and lots of great food with good company. Stay tuned for more next month on our trip to Fort Myers Beach.

Recipes

Between trips, planning for trips, and trying to get ahead at work I didn’t have much time for experimentation in the kitchen. I did, however, make plenty of time to try out a few recipes I had stowed away on Pinterest.

Recipes

Lemon and Chia Seed Yogurt Cakes – These delicious muffins made for a sweet start to Easter morning. I didn’t take the time to make the syrup and candied lemon slices, but they were still amazing with a bowl of fresh fruit.

Homemade Crescent Rolls – I have always wanted to make homemade crescent rolls, but had never taken the time because it is just so easy to open the can of the refrigerated kind. I finally did it! And they were delicious . . . not always the prettiest, but just as tasty.

Mushroom and Cheese Quinoa Cups – I love quinoa and am always looking for different ways to incorporate it at every meal. These mini cups were a great addition to the menu with a cheesy crust on the outside and even squeezed in some veggies for the little one.

Forks

Consider the forkOne of the joys of being done with school has definitely been my self challenge of reading a book a month. This month, the book of choice was Consider the Fork by food writer Bee Wilson. I am slightly obsessed with culinary history and this book was just the thing I needed to unwind from business books. Bee Wilson has a conversational voice so you feel like you are talking to a witty friend who shares your passion for all things food, cooking, and history. The book covers a wide range of topics and can sometimes feel a little disjointed when it comes to the idea of culinary evolution, but it is full of fascinating tidbits and things to fill your antique shopping list with.

Looking ahead

April is already jammed with activities and things to look forward to. Our daughter is turning four on the 20th so we will be doing a lot of birthday planning. And trying not to be the crazy parent that creates unrealistic expectations for celebrations.

After our March travels I had to start planning our next adventure. The next getaway will include a weekend away for our anniversary in Duluth. Close to home, but something I feel is totally untapped by us.

And the big project for April? Let the home remodel and construction begin!

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February Round-Up: Life stages, cookies, and inspiration

Two months down for 2016 already?! Doesn’t seem possible, especially since we are still in the doldrums of winter weather and birthdays weren’t rousing celebrations this year (no alcohol and constant fatigue tends to put a damper on partying).

Well, I guess it is time to admit that another month is gone. So, here are a few things we’ve been enjoying, coveting, and anticipating over the last month.

Life stages

As a friend recently reminded me, seasons in life come and go. Unfortunately, right now this travel season of my life includes only domestic destinations. So I plan on making the most of even less than exotic travel plans. We are headed to Fort Myers Beach on our first real vacation in two years and I plan on finding some great food, a few local shops, and some relaxing fun. Recommendations welcome!

Cookies from France

cookies

Last year a friend who had recently traveled to Paris told me about these great cookies they had – Michel et Augustin Two Kooky Cookies. So, when I heard that the company reached a deal to have their cookies in Starbucks in the U.S. I was excited I would get to try them for myself.

I love a company with a backstory like theirs – work late nights while working day jobs to perfect their product and grow the company. I don’t normally stop for my coffee at Starbucks, but these cookies were calling my name. I opted for the dark chocolate with sea salt (bummed they only offer two varieties). They were good. I wouldn’t say they were anything special, but I am intrigued enough to want to try more of their cookies when the opportunity arises.

Looking for my own Big Magic

big magicTwo months and already three books down in my #abookamonth self-challenge. The most recent book was exactly what I needed after finishing my MBA and feeling a little lost creatively and professionally. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is more like a conversation with a friend that kicks your butt into gear by being brutally honest with you. It is a quick read for anyone who needs a creative kick start.

 

 

A few dishes join the kitchen notebook

Finally being done with classes means I have more time to try the hundreds of recipes I’ve been sitting on. The #cook90 challenge is also keeping me accountable to my own goal of cooking more and spending a little “me time” in the kitchen. Over the past few weeks a couple dishes stuck out as favorites.

greek tacosThese Greek Tacos were delicious. I opted for extra toppings so it turned into more of a Greek taco salad, but I definitely see the meat in this recipe finding its way into other dishes.

These BBQ pork wraps were inspired by a meal we had wrapalmost a year ago at a small bar in a tiny Wisconsin town. A pleasant surprise the first time around and just as good for the home version. I used the pulled pork technique from this recipe and rolled it up in a large tortilla wrap with crispy onions, extra sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese – amazing!

 

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Cause Box Winter 2015 Review

The excitement of a special gift + unique products + companies doing good =

CAUSEBOX

causebox

We’ve done several subscription boxes at our house, but they don’t seem to stick. I love the concept of having a little something special waiting for you in the mailbox. The excitement of opening up the package to discover little goodies just for you.

Perhaps that is why I was instantly drawn to CAUSEBOX by Sevenly. It not only gave me a quarterly surprise to look forward to but introduces me to some new small companies that are doing something to make the world a little better (two things I love!).

The Winter 2015 box is the first in my annual subscription and I’m hooked already. The beautiful blue box was packed with items from six different brands making great products and helping people along the way.

cause box breakdown

The box breakdown:

basketNavy Hand-woven basket by SoloHope

SoloHope is a non-profit homewares and jewelry company with the mission to serve and restore the women of Honduras. Each piece is handmade by women living in poverty with the proceeds going back to them. These women can now provide for their families and bring hope for a better life. I was instantly grabbed by the natural beauty of this little basket, but now knowing the time and care that went into making it I cherish it even more.

 

 

candleSweet Grace Mingle Candle by Bridgewater Candle Company

Bridgewater Candle Company is steeped in southern hospitality. Based in South Carolina, each candle is made right here in the U.S. in scents that are reminiscent of the good things in life. These clean burning candles smell fantastic and they are a gorgeous addition to any room. The best part is, through a partnership with Rice Bowls each jar candle helps feed a child living in an international orphanage for a day.

 

 

serumGardenia + tea Antioxidant Body Serum by One Love Organics

Maybe it is the prospect of getting older and realizing that my body isn’t what it used to be so I better take good care of it, but I am a lot more particular about what products I use than I was in my teens and early twenties. The One Love products fit the bill when it comes to products that work and make you feel amazing. Their wide variety of beauty products are all made in their St. Simons Island facility in Georgia which is one of only 10 sites in the U.S. that is ECOCERT licensed. This certification shows their true dedication to environmental responsibility and I can vouch for their dedication to making you look and feel your best.

necklaceSeven Bead Necklace by Landmine Design

Sometimes physical pieces of conflict endure and taint a place forever. That is what was becoming of a place in Cambodia called “Minefield Village”. The location of the largest concentration of landmines in one place in the world doesn’t seem like a likely place to live, but over 500 families call this village home. With no electricity or running water and few prospects for steady work the families struggle to take care of their families. The founders of Landmine Design were inspired by the people they met there and actually trained several women to make jewelry as a way to bring in money while avoiding the dangerous work that females in the region often have to turn to. The beautiful necklace is perfect for any occasion and is a perfect reminder of the beauty of the women who made it and the connection we can have from thousands of miles away.

passport casePassport Holder by The Root Collective

The Root Collective is known for their handcrafted shoes, but they used the same materials and care to make this special Passport Holder. Sourcing handwoven fabric from Guatemala the socially conscious organization partners with only women and worker owned weaving cooperatives so that the each pair of shoes is made with the utmost care. These partnerships help workers overcome poverty and other challenges in their lives. And the shoes are super cute and comfy!

 

chocolate barDark Almond Organic Chocolate Bar by Alter Eco

This is a company that lives its tagline – Nourishing Foodie, Farmer and Field – with a focus on high-quality foods produced by small-scale farmers with an eye on sustainability. They offer tasty chocolates, quinoa, rice, and sugars all with Fair Trade and Organic certification.

 

 

 

Overall review: Get your order in now before the Spring 2016 box sells out!

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3 rooms get the perfect make-over for 2016

When I graduated college I thought I’d be making great pay in no time and my dreams of traveling the world would be coming true.

However, I graduated in 2007 and entered the workforce during the Great Recession and waffled on what career path I wanted to take. So let’s just say the big bucks aren’t rolling in at this point. But, I am doing something I love and all my career searching gave me some amazing experiences I wouldn’t trade for any pile of money.

I have been fortunate that I’ve kept traveling; even if not as frequently as I dreamed of. So that means after years of attempting to escape home I’m now working on building a little cocoon for myself and my family. A place that we can call home, but also feels like a world away. A place that recharges and relaxes us.

So, we have been chipping away at projects over the two years in our home and I have big plans for this year.

Organized chaos

This year’s goal is to get our closets organized. We’ve been inspired by all those empty hotel closets and drawers and the well-curated collections you see in magazines. You know, the ones that look more like an art collection than a wardrobe.

The Container Store and Target have been our go-to places for cute organization systems that fit with our décor or the décor we hope to start establishing in said room. It has to be functional, make it easy to find anything we are looking for and take good care of our clothes. We’ve made progress in the master bedroom, but now we have to tackle the little munchkin’s chaos.

A few of our favorites so far for organizing our chaos . . .

Organized chaos

  1. Lynk Vela Over-the-Door Shoe Shelves – Target.com $24.99
  2. Wide Underbed Drawer – Containerstore.com $24.99
  3. InterDesign 16 Loop Over-the-Door Scarf Holder – Target.com $7.99
  4. Platinum elfa Mesh Start-A-Stack – Containerstore.com $119.00

Family room

When we bought our current home we were really excited to finally have a space for lounging that is tucked away, out of sight when visitors stop by. When we moved in things sort of got cobbled together and I haven’t had much time to think about what I want the space to look like. My Pinterest board is a place to start, but this year I hope to really focus in on it and make it a really special place for our family.

That means a few construction projects for the hubby 🙂

Family room

  1. Hemnes Sofa Table – ikea.com $219.00
  2. Carson 5-Shelf Bookcase with doors – Target,com $129.99
  3. Threshold Turquoise Chunky Knit Throw – Target.com $24.99
  4. Stocksund Armchair, Nolhaga dark gray – ikea.com $349.00

Office

During my MBA, the office became tiny catch-all room. This year, the plan is to design an escape where we can go to be creative, get inspired, and get things done.

Office

 

  1. Bookcase Grey 5 Shelf – Target.com $149.99
  2. Happy Wood Panel – Target.com $19.99
  3. Threshold Parsons Desk with drawers – Target.com $169.99
  4. Gray Portland Twilight – Valspar
  5. Purple Lavender Bliss – Clark + Kensington
  6. Hudson Swoop Chair – Target.com $199.99

Any big projects planned for the year?

 

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