A Letter to Winnie 🐾

Hello, sweet girl. Do you want another treat? Sweet potato? Beef jerky?

I started writing this post the night before you leave our family, perhaps in hopes to find a sliver of relief or solace. I’m a mess. I’m broken.

You see, this Thursday morning, the scheduled ultrasound confirmed a mass that the other veterinarian felt in your abdomen. It revealed the mass measured larger than a 16” softball, tumors all over your liver and on your spleen. The ultrasound also showed free floating liquid, indicating internal bleeding; likely from a tumor burst. The cancer is all over.

It happened too fast. Of course we noticed the quick weight loss, the odd continued peeing of the bed (but some meds seemed to help after a few days). But the blood tests were seemingly normal save high white blood counts. The growth on your ribs was benign. You still barked at the mailman but your spunk was gone, you took less trips up the stairs, reduced bedtime participation, didn’t eat all of the kids’ droppings and laid around more.

I guess I should’ve known better. I’m sorry.

In a twisted way, the decision was easy; there is too much, all over. And a tumor could’ve burst at any time and your organs could stop. In a minimal array of gratitude, we are grateful that we weren’t offered a path to put you through surgery, recovery and emotional waves of false hopes, and months of more vet visits.

So, tomorrow morning, you will be at peace.

But this in no way is easy.

You see, you’ve been my girl for more than 30% of my life, nearly 11 years. Longer than any job or relationship. My first real pet. I got you from PAWS Chicago as a single girl in the city. You were about a 10-week-old puppy. I stayed in on a Friday night to go visit PAWS, met you and your puppy brother; woke up early (!) on a Saturday morning along with my then roommate who blessed the commitment to get you. She — “daddy” — loved you dearly. The name they gave you was “Goddess of Rock” (odd) and offered that your tail was bitten off in the womb. You were found in Indiana, and given my family and my Hoosier ties, I knew you were meant to be mine. Winnie seemed like a fitting name for such a cute and love-able furry friend.

Baby Winnie Dee - maybe 10 weeks old

Baby Winnie Dee - maybe 10 weeks old

I had you meet the family in Indianapolis over Thanksgiving, enrolled you in doggy daycare three days a week (you got picked up by a school bus) and a walking service the other days as a responsible young professional new doggy mom.

About a year later, we both met our loves. You met your furry love, Wally the English Bulldog (the king of the West Loop), as well as the human love of your life, Dustin, who we share. Perhaps a small part of the reason I fell in love with Dustin was because of the love he showed to you. At the first meeting at my condo while Dustin and watched the Bears game, one of our first dates, Wally threw up on my cowhide rug. And at your first visit to Dustin’s condo, you returned the favor and pooped in Dustin’s bedroom. You and Wally were the best of buds. You took care of him with many of his health challenges. I hope you are excited to see him and clean his face.

Wally and Winnie at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

Wally and Winnie at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

You’ve been a part of three moves, countless life events and happy memories (with wonderful accompanying photos that I poured over) — like trips to the beach, park frisbee and the birth of our human babies. You loved them instantaneously, protected them and showed crazy patience, perhaps more than me.

We made the decision to have one more night with you so the kids could say goodbye, specifically Jayden (nearly 3.5), whether he fully would understand or not. Thursday night, I told Jayden that we needed to say goodbye to you. He looked at you and in expected three-year-old fashion, he asked me why. I’m not sure what was the right answer, but I told him that your body is sick, you are going to play with Wally and won’t be at our house anymore.

This is was the first time I really cried in front of Jayden - like ugly cry. He kinda froze, then asked, “what’s wrong, mama?” I told him that I’m sad that we have to say goodbye to you. A few minutes later, in his sweet tone that makes me melt, he nuzzled up to my leg and asked: “are you feeling better, mama?” I replied, “I’m still sad about Winnie, but it’s ok to be sad.”

You see, Winnie, I probably knew deep down this past month-or-so that this was a reality. But couldn’t bring myself to accept it.

We took some photos and off to bed they went. I carried you to our bed and cried and snuggled you and bawled.

Saying goodbye - Thursday, Sept. 5

Saying goodbye - Thursday, Sept. 5

***

Yesterday morning, we said goodbye. It was an awful morning. You put your paw on daddy’s arm up on the vet table to nearly tell us that it’s okay. I shattered. When we were ready, and it was done, I have to say that you looked peaceful laying there; your face wasn’t nearly sad or strained. We drove home in tears and shock. We walked through the door at our house; I bursted out instantaneously, the house is already empty. There is no tapping of your nails, no greeting at the door, no visual of you napping on the couch. I hate it.

(We’ll have you know that we forced ourselves to grab a quick late lunch after we tried to do some work; and when we came back the basement was flooded — a broken toilet due to Jayden’s excess toilet paper fun — I’m sure you would’ve had crazy anxiety with all the noise and workmen coming through.)

My heart is broken, I have a pit in my throat and stomach… a piece of me is gone. I’m crying uncontrollably and just want you to be nuzzled next to me and snuggle you.

My sweet girl, I hope I was a good mommy to you. I hope you enjoyed your life. I know I was sometimes hard on you; and I’m so sorry for that.

Thank you for showing so many love, licks and snuggles. I know that the beautiful memories will make me feel a bit better and I’m endlessly grateful for them, but it hurts so bad. More than I could have ever imagined.

But now, everyday, you really will be next to Wally.

I love you. Please watch over us (especially the crazy redhead).

Custom oil paintings of Wally and Winnie

Custom oil paintings of Wally and Winnie

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ONEderland First Birthday

I love a good party. I love crafts. I love to create. I’d like to think I have a good eye for design, it’s some of what I studied in college (and, hello, AP Studio Art in high school).  I catch myself in a happy place when I’m creating, when ideas pop into my head and I put my hands into action. So it makes sense that I love designing events.

I was excited to put together a party for my sweet daughter’s first birthday at our home. My husband firmly directed that we, ahem, I, to not put on such an extravaganza as we had for our son’s “Hole-in-ONE” Masters-themed first birthday at a cool West Loop (Chicago) restaurant with open bar. Photo below.

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With a now three-year-old, full-time job, commuting to the city, schedules, other household needs, yadda yadda it was a challenge to get everything done. Sure, I would have liked to have a few more things come to life, but I think it turned out pretty sweet. And I was grateful for some work PTO to get errands done!

My daughter’s room is a mix of Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Secret-Garden with whimsy elements, blush tones, rich greens a special Alice in Wonderland vintage book (proudly on display from my late grandfather!), drawings and trinkets. This influenced the “Sydney’s ONEderland” theme - and, hey, it’s a bonus to use and repurpose party items permanently in her room. 

I am a big Disney lover but the pink striped Cheshire Cat movie creative wasn’t what I had in mind. So I went down the Pinterest hole and scoured Etsy shops and found some perfect Alice-party brands and decor that fit my vision. 

Now, for a first birthday, one must have an optimal photo area for the “first cake.” I had something in mind and nothing that a few trips to craft stores couldn’t solve. The “grass” background, oversized blooming flowers, garden decor, paired with the vintage Alice images and custom Sydney golden wooden whimsy-lettered sign (found on Etsy here) was the perfect backdrop.

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The cupcake stand with favorites from a local shop (Baker Boys in Ravinia District) of vanilla with rainbow sprinkles and black and white frosting atop banana chocolate chip cupcakes turned out as a perfect scrumptious display. More cupcakes with the known “eat me” in gold glitter with pink ribbons were a great topper.

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With an Alice theme, had to infuse tea party elements into the display table and found some darling succulent-filled gold and mixed-pattered teacups as accessories. 

You can’t forget the Mad Hatter, so I tapped my father-in-laws’ calligraphy skills for the “In This Style 10/6” top hat note. I paired some fitting colored sashes around the top hat thanks to an afternoon fabric department spree, full of ribbons and tulle that I hand-picked for her “high chair” banner — of warm pinks, white blue, and checkered tones and a golden “one” overlay. Want a mom hack?! Depending on your high chair brand, use tiny Command hooks and strategically put them under the table portion. The weight of string banner will push forward and stay generally well (better than tape, I think). 

Check out more photos below of the party details.

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Golly, Gee. Turning 3.

My son turned THREE years old. It’s a struggle to think that he’s been on this earth for three whole years. And it’s hard to imagine life without him. My boy is kind, stubborn, opinionated, pointed, observant and oh so cuddly.  

 

For his birthday, I asked on many different occasions what he wanted to do for his birthday party theme and he responded with Mickey a few times. So it was.

 

We we rented out a local indoor play place and everything went flawlessly, was so easy (thanks WeOrbit). Check out some of the fun pics from his themed celebration.  

A sweet setup and backdrop. 

A sweet setup and backdrop. 

Cake pops! Mickey heads, gloves and no. 3.

Cake pops! Mickey heads, gloves and no. 3.

Red and white Mickey ears (mini Oreos) cupcakes! 

Red and white Mickey ears (mini Oreos) cupcakes! 

My family. Not a half-bad pic. 

My family. Not a half-bad pic. 

Baby Girl Nursery Progress

When my daughter was three-and-a-half months old, we moved her into her own room so I figured that it was time to ramp up getting her nursery in order. 

 

I knew that I wanted white, soft pink and mauve hues with bronze accents as the color approach. The theme was propelled by my late grandparents’ vintage mirror which hung in their Indiana home entry and had been in storage waiting to be hung for years. The leaf and bow detail is gorgeous. Additionally, I have a copy of an early edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with original drawings (that was my grandfathers) and I not only love the story but the original whimsy artwork. Both helped shape my whimsy-wonderland-garden theme nursery idea!

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Floral wall decals were a must and I perused through what felt like thousands of options. As baby girl has “rose” in her name, I ended up working with Urban Walls out of Canada for a custom black and white rose set. After receiving, tweaking the layout a few times, the wall application process was easy and it’s the perfect add. See some of the steps below as well as a few more pieces that I think help shape the room! It’s still a process and more to come.

 

- The Anthropologie velvet Louise Curtain in mauve was the perfect texture and shade (I returned two other curtains!) 

 

- To accent the decals, I placed some preserved round boxwoods throughout the room, because cute plants that look real are good. Hi, my name is Leah and I’m a plant killer. 

 

- The “Avignon” knob in bronze reminded me of the hallway of doors scene and the “crying door” in the Disney version.

 

- The Golden twisted side table (for sound machine and tissues next to the rocker) was a light and functional addition.

 

My grandparents’ gorgeous mirror. 

My grandparents’ gorgeous mirror. 

Decals! Step 1 - cut around the flowers and leaves.

Decals! Step 1 - cut around the flowers and leaves.

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Step 2 - lay out your design with painters tape and take a picture! (I laid out on the ground first).  

Step 3 - remove! 

Step 3 - remove! 

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Velvet mauve curtains.

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Round boxwood topiary.

 

The perfect touch of whimsy - reminded me of the Alice “crying door.”

The perfect touch of whimsy - reminded me of the Alice “crying door.”

Gold twist mirrored side table. 

Gold twist mirrored side table. 

 


 


A Likely Avoidable Adventure

This week has been one for the memory bank. On Saturday morning, we ventured on our first road trip with our toddler boy and infant baby girl from Chicago to Columbus for a child-friendly Labor Day family wedding. Given said trip, in preparation, my husband went to the dealership the day before for an oil change and car service/maintenance inspection. I had to write a post on this as it was just too wild. Thankfully, we are all safe [long post warning]...


My son hadn’t a had a proper nap in three days, because family playtime and strange hotel rooms. Due to nonexistent naps — and, well, being two — we’ve been dealing with much whining, moodiness and crying. He did enjoy some wedding dancing. On Labor Day Monday morning, we were very anxious to get home Monday afternoon and relax. Ten minutes into our six hour drive and pre-Starbucks run (as we just missed the hotel breakfast), our front tire pressure was suddenly rapidly decreasing on the dash. We pulled into a questionable residential area off of the highway, got out and our front right tire was flat. We unloaded our luggage to access the spare tire and called for tire change service. The infant was luckily sleeping so she stayed in the A/C in the car given the 93 degree heat.


The tire changing gentleman secured via State Farm (their service was very easy and efficient!) arrived surprisingly quickly on Labor Day Monday. After an exchange with a disgruntled angry-at-the-world neighbor due to our setup being in guest parking (I mean where were we supposed to move?), a stray cat with one eye of the Night King (or likely glaucoma) following Jayden around, the tire man confirmed that the spare tire on our Jeep didn’t fit on the front axel (gah!). He added that it didn’t look like any object punctured the tire, that the tire was very badly worn down.

 

A tow service thankfully came within 20 minutes and took us to an open and nearby Goodyear tire shop. On our ride, tow driver Willie shared some wisdom that an old boss taught him about his business: “treat your customers like how you would treat your own wife and kids.” Simple. Willie also shared that the tire was very worn down.


We arrived at the Goodyear shop and while I waited inside with kiddos, the car was taken down from the tow bed. The three-person team and on duty manager reconfirmed that the spare didn’t fit in the front, that our flat tire was in desperate need of alignment and rotation, was completely worn down and didn’t find any object damage. Mind you, much of this was frustrating was compounded given aforementioned dealership visit just three days prior.


The Goodyear Manager shared that we needed a specialty sized tire, and called around to three open tire shops who didn’t have it in stock. The local Jeep dealership was closed given the Labor Day holiday, but the kind Willie took our car there in hopes that they would have the special tire and could put it on when they opened. We’d have to spend the day and night with the kids. 

 

While I was nursing on the ground of the Goodyear tire shop (this is now added to the ongoing unique breastfeeding locations) and my son was briefly entertained by coloring, stickering and throwing the Goodyear balloon blimp the sweet manager gave him, a gentle-faced middle-aged lady customer approached me. Her name was Kathryn and asked if we needed a ride somewhere, that she had a newly fixed and that “she’d been there” given our situation as she has five grown children. After trying to figure out our best plan, we quickly made a reservation at the closest Marriott, took her up on her offer and loaded up our gear into her van. So kind of her - I insisted we give her money, at least for the gas and she declined. There are good people in this world. 


We attempted to take a family nap after check-in and a very late lunch but realized naps were not in the cards after an hour plus of toddler screaming. I took Jayden to the lobby bar for snacks, a glass of wine for myself and to meet up with the mother-of-the-groom, my angelic Aunt Cheryl, who lived 20 minutes away. It was so comforting to have a familiar face during our stressful day. She took me to the local Kroger where I quickly stocked up on diapers (because no mama wants to be stranded without diapers), snacks and dinner for my son.


The local Columbus Jeep dealership didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. the next morning, and my husband and I started a makeshift bedtime routine in our hotel room to wind down from the day. Both kiddos got to bed around 10:00 p.m. and woke up at 7:00 a.m., we were grateful and started our day hoping that we could go home. After breakfast, my husband Ubered to the dealership where our car was waiting.


In parallel path, while trying to feed an infant and keep a toddler entertained (lots of Blippi videos), I spoke to our Chicago dealership trying to find a solve and, if needed have them overnight this specialty tire. There were many communications with their Service Director while my husband was exploring solves in-person with the Columbus dealership. He offered questions to ask the local dealer from afar which was appreciated. 


The Marriott where we were staying also gave us a generous late checkout time. I think many of the staff knew of our situation by now and a few would say hello to Jayden by name in the halls. My husband’s colleague and family offered up heading to a park and a night stay if needed. Again, some good people.


After searching, the Columbus dealership tracked down the right sized tire (but not the matching one — I would go to our dealership to get the matching specialty tire when we got back), we purchased it and pushed this shop to slate an opening to get it on our car so we could get home. 

 

The car ride home was very anxiety-ridden. I was hoping that the rest of the tires were ok, wondering if there was something else overlooked, etc. Not to mention we had to pick our fantastic football teams! Thankfully the kids slept most of the way, and we only stopped twice — for gas and a quick pull over to burp the baby after her bottle (so kinda pulled over twice for gas, lol). We got home around 9:15 p.m., gave our son milk and crackers and put him to bed. 

 

The wildness doesn’t end. My husband Dustin came in our bedroom after his morning workout around 6:45 a.m. and said that he had to talk to me. I knew something was up. We knew that we had a power surge Monday evening as our neighbor found our garage open and closed it when walking their dog. We didn’t think much of it at the time. Dustin said that the power had turned off in our spare refrigerator/freezer, causing the  325+ ounces of my frozen breastmilk was in there. I immediately broke down. The milk was sorta cold, but he quickly plugged it back in, so the verdict is still out if it can be salvaged. Not too confident.

 

I frankly couldn’t muster up the energy to go to the dealership on Wednesday, so I went Thursday and was there nearly two-and-a-half hours with my infant. I tried to understand while we were proactive in taking our car into the dealer the day before our first family road trip as to why this happened which caused unexpected expenses, stress and more which could have been avoided. More to figure out on that front so I won’t share too much right now.  

 

Oh, and while our dog was staying with my in-laws, she likely assumed some after effects of an area skunk. She smells kinda like walking stinky pee despite getting a bath.  

 

While my husband and I were on the road, we reflected on how the multitude of kind people we came in contact with who went above and beyond and empathized with our situation. It’s humbling, really. And I’m grateful my babies are safe. 

 

If you’ve read this far, I’m impressed. Thank you. Check out some photos below I snapped of our journey.  

Tire damages.  

Tire damages.  

Waiting for roadside service in the shade off of the highway. 

Waiting for roadside service in the shade off of the highway. 

Coloring at the Goodyear Columbus tire shop with goodies from the manager!

Coloring at the Goodyear Columbus tire shop with goodies from the manager!

Hanging at the hotel bar. 

Hanging at the hotel bar. 

Ready to go home!!!  

Ready to go home!!!  

Baby Bag

With baby #2 due ANY minute (ready when you are, baby boy OR girl), my hospital bag is ready and waiting by the door.

 

Here's some of what I'm bringing this time around... 

 

  • Carry-on suitcase (love our Victorinox traveler)
  • Lip balm - my lips got crazy chapped last time around 
  • Cozy slippers
  • Nursing bra (iLoveSIA have worked for me and are cost efficient)
  • Nursing top
  • Nursing pillow (Nook from Sprout San Francisco)
  • Cosmetics (Bio oil for the belly, makeup, face wash, toner, eye cream, lotion, shampoo, hair clips & ties) 
  • Dry shampoo (Oribe)
  • Face spritz (Mario Badescu rosewater and aloe)
  • Cozy robe
  • Comfortable pajamas
  • Extra long phone charging cord
  • Baby hats (for boy and girl)
  • Receiving blankets (for boy and girl - Monica & Andy have the most darling prints)
  • Baby home outfit
  • Loose pants for going home
  • Extra lightweight tote for hospital items and gifts (diapers, pads, etc.)
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Whirlwind at Heart

Cannot believe that I haven't posted here in months! Argh, I'm awful - let's reset, shall we?! But where do I begin? 

Perhaps with the fact that I'm currently 39 weeks and four days pregnant? That our now two-year-old son has been boycotting naps and not sleeping? Or perhaps that my husband had open heart surgery weeks ago? Or that we're still living with my parents because our renovations to our home aren't complete?

They say life is crazy and I'm in no business of comparing to others but I know I'll look back at this time and simply think: what the.... ?! 

I'll share something that I posted on social media surrounding my husband's surgery. How do you share the news with friends, colleagues and more of a monumental life happening? Not sure of the right answer but here's what I shared (with a few tweaks)...

Tomorrow morning, my 35-year-old husband will have open heart surgery to repair a “4 out of 4” severely damaged valve and other associated complications. It’s still surreal to say and type. Mere weeks ago, we were focused on final remodeling decisions for our new home, a growing belly (32 weeks now), preparing for our son’s 2nd birthday, childcare for baby no. 2, busy summer work seasons and more... while these life pieces still stand, our world was additionally turned upside down.

The past weeks escalated quickly filled with myriad appointments, tests, doctor consults, expert opinions from across the country (literally - Dr. Craig Smith, Bill Clinton and Barbara Walters’ cardiac surgeon, Dr. Tara Nerula and others), ongoing doctor questions, new developments, switching of doctors/surgery teams, rescheduled surgery date and no shortage of emotional highs and lows. It’s a curious thing when you hear a thud at night and find your 6’3 husband in the best shape of his life lying on a kitchen floor after learning of needed heart surgery, rushing him to the ER and then for weeks thinking any loud noise could be him suffering a stroke or heart attack and not wanting to leave him alone.

There is an odd sense of relief of now having the top Chicagoland team and surgeon performing the surgery (Dr. McCarthy at Northwestern helped develop the ring going into his heart) but there are still many unknowns these next months. We will somehow navigate through. He has been nothing short of superbly amazing; poised, patiently explaining developments to friends and family, coworkers and more. He has been a rock, my rock.

We are grateful for support from many... parents flying back early (we will have all four grandparents help for little man), siblings, relatives, the Zeno and Midmark families, friends and more. Much love and good thoughts and prayers from all. 

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Bring It, 2018.

Just a few things to report in past few months:

 -Moved into my parents house from the city to the suburbs with my husband, dog and toddler son (staying in my old bedroom - ya, it’s a strange feeling).

-Little man started a new daycare (wow, that first week was brutal).

-Started commuting into work via train. It’s a love-hate relationship.  

-Got tapped to lead a top beverage brand account at work. 

-Construction began on our home and is fully underway... So. Many. Decisions.  

-Was able to escape to Florida for a few days for little man to meet family - note to self: get him his own seat. Wowza.  

-Oh, and got pregnant, due in June 2018. 

 

Needless to say, I never feel like there are enough hours in the day sometimes. And I know any inkling of me time will completely disappear come little baby this summer. 

 

Moral: take everything one day at a time. And breathe. 

 

 

Master bathroom shower progress.  

Master bathroom shower progress.  

Up in the air with Elmo. 

Up in the air with Elmo. 

Moving On

It's been a while since I posted. Just a few things happend of note... 

 

After searching for about 6-8 months, my husband and I found a house, we walked away from said house, we couldn't pass up the offer (so yes, drama), we closed and will be moving away from the city after 13 years. Did I also mention that I had four work trips during this time?! Holy wow, has it been a whirlwind!  

 

So many emotions, uncertainty and excitement for the next chapter... but mostly anxiety.  

 

So here I write, surrounded by half-packed boxes, tape, clothes everywhere asking for good wishes and minimal emotional breakdowns. So many house/real estate/construction updates to share and hope to push myself to do more posts! 

 

Any and all moving suggestions welcome. Send wine.  

 

  

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Summer Skin

Not proud to say, but I really haven't focused on skincare until my 30s. I wish I would've been regimented earlier. I'm certainly seeing those lines and spots - and felt a shift post-baby.

 

While I'm sometimes insecure about my uneven, often blotchy red skin (I'm getting a laser treatment for it hopefully in the winter - a blog post sure to follow!) I wanted to share my daily skin routine and some of my favorite products. 

 

With a toddler almost fully mobile, I don't have time for a long routine, so this is pretty much my go-to. And, full disclosure, it's nice to have a best friend dermatologist (for those in Chicago - Dr. Rachel Pritzker, MD at Chicago Dermatology) to help me curate along the way. 

 

  1. Cleanser - iS clinical Cleansing Complex. A powerful lightweight cleansing gel that doesn't dry me out and is gentle. 
  2. Toner - Circ Cell Dew PH. Balances the skin while providing rich, dewy hydration. Balances pH, soothes redness, minimizes the appearance of pores, restores moisture. 
  3. Vitamin C Serum - SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. Anything Vitamin C for the face is all the rage and this come recommended by multiple professionals. It combines antioxidant vitamins C & E with ferulic acid protecting against UVA/UVB rays, helping with aging and stimulating collagen. Note: you'll get used to the funky smell. ;)
  4. Scar Cover - silagen scar refinement. Many might know that I was in a recent car accident and my face got scratched. I put this medical grade silicone and chemical free SPF 30 gel to prevent hyperpigmentation and flatten and smooth my scar.
  5.  SPF tinted moisturizer - elta MD UV Elements broad spectrum SPF 44. A tinted moisturizer with sunscreen is a MUST! Love this one. 

 

A few times a week, especially during summer, I exfoliate too. My favorite inexpensive ones are Vasanti BrightenUp! (minuscule micro-crystals that really liven up the skin) and Mario Badesco almond & honey non-abrasive face scrub. 

 

And IF I have time, I LOVE the Sea 2 Skin active hydration mask. It is unreal. It rejuvenates with natural sea botanicals and marine collagen. I once put this on for 15 minutes post friend's wedding and before a four-hour flight and my skin still felt hydrated AFTER the flight and long night of boozing! 

 

Would love to hear any must-have products to try! 

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Sound Serene

I just tried a new class. Not a new HIIT workout, not Barry's Bootcamp (but can't wait to try!) or a class that challenges my out-of-shape mom bod but something a bit more mentally fulfilling. I went to a sound meditation class after a friend pushed me to go. Frankly, I was a bit scared. 

 

With so much daily overstimulation, screen use and being a working mom, I knew I should try. And hey, if I fall asleep that's a bonus nap! 

 

It was a smidge daunting walking into a beautifully calming room with floor beds knowing that you will be laying next to strangers for an hour. But I settled in and let the knowledgeable owner take over and walk the class through what's to come all cozied up like a burrito. She spoke about how many doctors are increasingly looking to sound therapy for many ailments - fascinating if you ask me.

 

Then the sounds started.  The crystal bowls, gongs and more exuding sound waves and vibrations completely enveloped me. My body was immediately tingly. I'm not quite sure if I fell asleep - I may have dosed off - but I felt so refreshed. Tip: brIng socks and a light long sleeve shirt, it was a smidge chilly.

 

Visit the Anatomy Redifined website (1241 West Madison, Chicago IL 60607) to see some of their other class offerings and more about their practice and some photos I snapped below... 

 

Sound is a powerful tool to care for yourself physically AND energetically. It has been used for thousands of years all over the world, and is one of the oldest tools for healing. Often, we spend so much time caring for only our physical body that we forget our energetic field and wonder why we are stressed, anxious or exhausted.

Modern science has proven everything is always in a state of vibration. Within the human body, different organs, bones etc. are each vibrating at a specific rate, that together create your own resonant frequency. When you’re in a state of health and vitality, you are actually vibrating at a specific rate. When you become stressed, sick or simply feel out of balance, your frequency changes, literally causing internal and external dis-harmony. Through the use of sound, your body works to re-balance and re-harmonize itself.

The music of therapeutic instruments used at Anatomy Redefined including planetary gongs, quartz crystal singing bowls, and the monochord are especially helpful at soothing a busy mind. In our modern world full of noise and stimulation, it can be very difficult to abruptly bring the mind into a silent room and expect to quickly achieve meditative states or even relaxation. More often than not, the mind ends up in circles especially for new meditators.

In sound meditation, the palpable vibration of the instruments played gives the mind something to focus on, naturally and gently easing you into meditative states. Sound meditation and the use of sound can be a powerful tool for stress reduction, deep relaxation, enhancing creativity, gaining insights into life’s questions, uplifting your spirit, balancing your energy field, expanding consciousness and so much more. 

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Mom Wisdom

I was thrilled to be included in a round up of rad mom wisdom in the latest Make It Better magazine.

 

It's wonderful to hear tips and tricks of how other moms make it work and just get through each day. It's a great reminder that good enough is OK, especially on days when nothing seems to go right, things are in chaos and you just want to lie down.

 

Read the article here and would love to hear any adds! 

My son at eleven months calling it quits on the floor. 

My son at eleven months calling it quits on the floor. 

Hawaii Hotels

My husband and I recently spent ten days in Hawaii (Maui / Wailea) sans our little man. This was the longest we've been away from him - it was hard but the 'just us' was much needed.

 

The trip was especially sweet as the majority of our time there was part of a work sales incentive trip. Who doesn't love a free trip to Hawaii?!

 

We were grateful to enjoy time at two top Wailea resorts with a day visit to a property where we stayed for our babymoon... it was during this trip that we fell in love with the island and was one of the best vacations we had as a couple. 

 

Below are some of my notes and thoughts about a few properties (all on the beach), many of which I've shared with my own friends! 

 

Andaz Maui at Wailea (Hyatt)  

  •  Their brunch at Ka'ana Kitchen was hands-down the best of all three properties - hand-pressed juices, amazing hot and warm stations 
  • Restaurants: Morimoto, Ka'ana Kitchen, Bumbye Beach Bar (I had the Ahi Poke three days in a row), Lehua lounge 
  • Four gorgeous infinity pools, all on different levels
  • The insanely narrow bathroom was enough to call out - there simply wasn't enough space for me and my 6'3 husband to move around when getting ready 
  • The turn down service includes a fresh jug of filtered water, because, hydration
  •  Enjoyed of the best massages I've ever had at awili spa  
Andaz Maui at Wailea

Andaz Maui at Wailea

Four Seasons Resort Maui 

  • One of the top properties on the island 
  • Head to the adult-only Serenity Pool with one of the best swim up bars and you will never want to leave - the panoramic island view while enjoying a blueberry mojito and complimentary amenity ever hour is just heaven 
  • The lanai had lush furniture, perfect for taking a rest in your robe and flip flops while enjoying alfresco morning coffee from your Nespresso 
  • Love the create-your-own smoothie option for breakfast  
  • We loved their gym and equipment - somehow running on a treadmill in their alfresco workout area makes the time a smidge more enjoyable  
  • Restaurants include: Wolfgang Puck's Spago, Ferraro's, Duo 
  • Enjoy a nightcap or pre-dinner cocktails in the Lobby Lounge (may I suggest the Thai-garita) while enjoying a live hula demonstration at sunset or late-night music
Four Seasons Maui Serenity Pool

Four Seasons Maui Serenity Pool

 Grand Wailea (Waldorf Astoria)

  • One of the largest resorts on the island (nearly 800 rooms!) wonderful to stroll through the bright, manicured grounds  
  • Nine interconnecting pools, including an adult pool (because quiet), lazy river, a waterfall, slide, water elevator - perfect for families
  • Spend an afternoon at Spa Grande, the largest in Hawaii, a sprawling spa with access to a hydrotherapy circuit of healing spas in addition to top treatments (tip: walk in your robe to the spa's lanai on the upper spa level to watch a peaceful sunset). It's wonderful. 
  • Restaurants: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Bistro Molokini, Grand Dining Room (brunch/breakfast), Volcano poolside bar 
  • Found my favorite acai bowl at Cafe Kula - the Grand Bowl (Strawberry | Banana | Blueberries | Haupia Yogurt House Made Granola | Honey | Coconut Chips) - on my babymoon, I had it every day and had to go back this time 
  • For me, they have the best art collection of all the properties -  the highlight being nine Fernando Botero sculptures scattered through the lobby - grab a drink in the Botero bar and enjoy the fleshy views 
Grand Wailea  

Grand Wailea  

Year One...

It's been one year since our sweet man arrived (4/4/16 @ noon). And it's true what they say - it goes by quickly! Like at lightning speed, people... just yesterday we were driving little man home from the hospital. 

 

I've read numerous mom websites and blogs with first year lists of "things I've learned" or "I survived XX" or "tips" and felt inspired to share some of my own memories, thoughts, notes and randomness. 

 

Here is my list of 365 things... just kidding. However, here's a lot, enjoy. 

 

FIRST MONTHS

-It's ok to have baby blues, those trying, "I just can't do this" moments and just cry it out... a LOT. It will happen. Have faith that it gets better. 

-Take time for yourself... your baby should have one-on-one dad/partner time  

-Accept that your body will never be the same  

-Trust your mom instinct - it magically appears and is usually right. 

GENERAL

-A little Facetime with family never stunted a baby's development 

-Pick a few blogs, apps that you like and stick with them for information - most are pretty exhaustive. Too much information is just overwhelming.

-Grateful for only one ER visit which resulted in double conjunctivitis, ear infection and croup... all at the same time, poor guy. It was scary and he did better than mom and dad. 

-You WILL make it through long road trips and plane rides (we visited Boston, Washington D.C., Park City) where only 1.5/6 of those flights was a disaster

-You will appreciate your parents more - think it's nearly impossible not to. Tell them you love them. 

-I've already forgotten about the endless nights of exhaustion, despair and no sleep - guess that's how people have more kids! 

NURSING

-When I stopped pumping at eight-and-a-half months (yes, that half-a-month is important!), it changed my life. Despite months after baby, I finally felt like a real person and like a weight was lifted.

-When you can't keep the milk supply up, it will be sad. (I may or may not have freaked out when I had one frozen bag of milk left.) It's ok and little man accepting formula was easier than I thought. Fed is best. 

-You might need to pump in the most obscure places (most memorable: a NASCAR racetrack with 160,000 attendees cheering in the distance)

-It is possible to carry on 104 ounces of formula on a plane (!)

BABY GEAR

-Get an extra bouncer chair for your bathroom so you don't have to lug myriad apparatuses throughout your home (I've seen them for as low as $20-$30). A few minute shower is a day changer... (see my previous post here about some of my baby gear favorites)

FOOD 

-No baby exploded from eating a non-organic piece of fruit or cracker

-Babies will survive licking and biting dog bones and toys  

-Carbs, carbs, carbs is the name of the game

-Husband suddenly stuck a finger full of peanut butter in his mouth at a Halloween party for his first time. I don't advise that route but all was ok. There were doctors in the room. 

-Offer them different foods, textures and flavors (while who knows if my little man will be a good eater when he's a toddler), I do believe that food opens up their world. If they reject at first, try again. And again. And again.

POTTY TALK 

-There's been only one public occurrence of runny diarrhea onto white pants while at a trendy outdoor summer bar (note: a Dreft or Tide pen is a diaper bag MUST.)

-We avoided poop in the bathtub and in the bathroom-to-nursery transport. For that I am grateful 

-Experienced only one spout of projectile vomit... at home, avoiding the bed, carpet and walls (who knew such a little person could output so much?!)  

PHOTOS

-Snap photos of you and your little one - puffy, pale and all  

-Do not let daycare teachers style your child for school pictures, lesson learned (he looked like a 60 year-old accountant) 

-Take pictures of their feet, hands, and toes. 

-Amazon Photo is your friend... most moms have an Amazon Prime membership, so Amazon Photo is FREE! Unlimited storage, hooray! 

CHILDCARE

-Do what feels right for YOUR family and base your selection on that, not anyone else's... same goes for your doctor

-Your child will do better than you do at the first day of daycare. Throw tissues in your purse. 

-We received a handful of "incident" daycare reports... falling, bumping, blood and the like. It's normal. 

 

I could go on and on. In closing, you will never experience love like this and won't remember your life without this little human. Sometimes when you look at them, your body will ache with love. Cherish the quiet, giggly and happy moments - allow them to consume you. Enjoy the magical journey. 

Photo:  Chad Husar Photography  (taken October 2016 - 6.5 months old) 

Photo: Chad Husar Photography (taken October 2016 - 6.5 months old) 

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Bag of (Hospital) Tricks

Nearly one year ago my water broke hours into my maternity leave. I had planned to take a week off the week before my due date for prep, R&R, errands and vegging but we grabbed my bag and headed out as baby boy was ready.  

 

I'm often asked what I packed in my hospital bag, so wanted to share my list. 

 

-Two pillows (one for you, one for hubby), the hospital pillows are quite flimsy and your own pillows will help with that extra comfort

-Toiletry bag... face wash, face lotion, body lotion, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, comb, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil/styling creme, nail file, extra hair ties, hair clip, Qtips, deodorant, body wash/soap (I took a shower and blow dried my hair my second day at the hospital and felt like a completely new person!)

-Small makeup bag (after one of said best showers, I curled my lashes, put on a smidge of coverup, blush, natural eye shadow and mascara)

-Comb and brush 

-Contact solution and drops  

-Chapstick  - it gets so dry in those rooms! It literally sat right next to me the whole time 

-Extra long power cord phone charger (spring for a long one, not all cords will reach your hospital table)  

-Rosewater spray - for a quick pick-me-up  

-Slippers  

-Cute robe  

-Swaddles (for your own photos) 

-Take home baby outfit  

-Warm socks  

-Extra shopping bag and ziplock gallon bags 

-Loose pants for ride home (shouldn't be too tight - you will not be wearing a thong home!) 

-Comfy, non-zip sweatshirt jacket  

-Baby journal and pen  

-Maternity tank tops or nursing tanks  

-Nursing bra  

-Soft t-shirts 

 

And while you can get after, you may want to pick these up and throw in your bag... Motrin and Colace. 

 

What are your must haves that I might have missed?