International Women’s Day

Since Estelle’s birth I have been writing a few blog posts to get my thoughts out. My fingers can type faster than they can write with a pen. Plus, when my tears hit the keyboard it won’t erase anything like tears can do with ink. I haven’t published any of the posts I have written yet, which I likely will someday, but for now they are just for me.

I was just texting a friend about some support my family has recently received and I thought, I really need to share this with more people. I thought about a Facebook post but figured that would get too long. Same with Instagram. So, here it is. My first blog post in years.

Today is International Women’s Day. I often think about the strong women who surround me each day, but I have especially been thinking about them today. As a Mom of two girls, one here and one not, I’ve thought hard about how I can be an example they are proud of. How can I live a life that impacts those around me, especially my children, in a positive way? I don’t have all the answers, and I know I never will, but I continue to try to remain open each day to learn new things and to better myself.

Part of that journey includes being a member of a Mom group on Facebook. I’ve been in a few before that ended very badly. They lived up to the idea that moms judge other moms, and women don’t support other women. Then I stumbled upon a private group only for Skimm’bassadors. If you aren’t familiar with theSkimm, read more here.

The #MomLife group has always been supportive. I’ve never seen threads get out of hand and they are always respectful even when someone disagrees with certain parenting philosophies. It has always felt like a safe place to ask questions or just vent about the journey of being a Mom.

Shortly after Estelle’s birth I reached out to the group. I asked if anyone in the group had experienced something similar or had ideas for her memorial service. Some people had indirect experience with infant loss and offered up ideas for her service, but all offered their condolences, love, and virtual support. It was nice to read those comments and know so many strangers were praying for me and my family.

About a week later, a local Mom reached out to me and said the group had a care package she wanted to deliver to my family. The group is made up of people from all over the country and only a small amount are from the Twin Cities. When she arrived I was nervous. Would I hysterically cry in front of this woman I hadn’t met before or would I not cry at all and appear cold? Turns out, I didn’t cry, but I didn’t feel judged either. She was just another Mom wanting to support us and meet me where ever I was on this journey.

The care package included: candles, bath bombs, books for me, books for Piper, a gift for Justin, toys for Piper, a spa gift card, lotions, cozy socks, a Target gift card, and more. What came next was an even a bigger surprise. They had collected a generous amount of money and we received a check that will pay for over half of the memorial we want to get for Estelle this spring. We’d like to put in a Little Free Library in the park closest to our home where Estelle would have grown up playing with her big sister.

Shocked, and frankly still a bit numb from everyone’s generosity, I emailed the headquarters of theSkimm. I wanted to share how this group formed off of the community they are building and how supportive they are. SkimmHQ emailed back within 24 hours. They were kind and offered to send a box of books to get our library started.

Since receiving the care package from my #MomLife friends, we have received an Angel Bear that was coordinated by another Mom in the group, I’ve received cards from women saying they were still thinking about me, Estelle, and the rest of our family, and we’ve helped support other Moms who are going through a tough time, regardless of the circumstance.

So why do I share this long story? It isn’t to brag about the gifts we’ve received, and let me tell you, there has been a TON of love thrown our way from hundreds of people. I hope to share some of those unique stories later. But on this International Women’s Day, I wanted to share how a group of women, all Moms or women trying to become Moms, came together to support a woman they have never met in person. Though they couldn’t tell me that they knew what I was going through, I knew as women and as Moms, they knew how intense the depth of my pain must be.

We’ve received tremendous support from hundreds of women (and men!) since the birth of our second daughter. I often get overwhelmed by the sadness and fear in our world, but I am going to hold on to this hope and kindness for as long as possible. And I will continue to pay it forward in whatever way I can until I am holding Estelle again.


Trip Out West

I thought I’d spend a little more time this morning highlighting some of the other great aspects of our trip last week. In my previous post I shared our Bottle Feeding Experience at Yellowstone Bear World. It was awesome! That came early in our trip though and we spent three days in Montana afterward.

Our time spend in Idaho Falls was quick. We flew in to a fairly small airport, especially compared to MSP. The flight was just over two hours and was pretty easy. I was slightly nervous about flying, well, I am always nervous about flying, but this time around due to the fact that I still have a little nausea every now and then. It is very minor, but who wants that on an aeroplane? Not me!

Seriously, where is everyone?

Once we made it towards our hotel we decided to stop for lunch since it was about 11:30am and we were both pretty hungry. We stopped by a place called Snake Bite. They had amazing waffle fries (obviously! It is Idaho after all.) and I enjoyed shrimp tacos made with fresh corn tortillas. Yum. Justin started out vacation right with a flight of local beers. Lucky.

Snake Bite.
Snake Bite.

After lunch we strolled through a local farmers market and then went to check in at our hotel. We ended up using our points and stayed at Marriotts while on vacation so nothing too crazy to report there. We are always happy with Marriotts and know what to expect which is nice.

Before heading back for a quick nap before dinner we stopped by the Museum of Idaho. They were featuring, The Race to the End of the Earth exhibit. It was a nice exhibit and we learned about the first two groups to make it to the south pole, which has nothing to do with Idaho. 😉  We had dinner at a recommended spot, Jakers. They had a separate gluten-free menu which I was happy to see, and I had a massive baked Idaho potato and was happy as can be!

Before heading to Bear World the next morning, we stopped down to the falls that give Idaho Falls its name.

Really gloomy, but pretty falls.
First of many selfies.
Gimme all the potatoes.

Bear World is recapped here so after our eventful afternoon we drove to Bozeman. Unfortunately we did not stop for any pictures on the beautiful drive. Not even through Big Sky!!! That is our one regret, but both agreed we would be back and spend more time in Big Sky. The drive was amazing and took about 3.5 hours. We had dinner at Montana Ale Works. We shared a gluten-free spinach dip with tortilla chips, and I enjoyed some fish tacos and a pomegranate No’jioto! Our waitress also is also dating a guy from Afton, MN. I haven’t cracked open my yearbook to find him yet, but talk about a small world.

Cheers to Bozman!
Cheers to Bozman!

Waking up and seeing mountains out the window is by far one of my most blissful ways to wake. For our first full day in Montana we decided to head to Livingston. It had a nice and quaint downtime with a beautiful view. It was labor day so perhaps that is why it seemed like it was also an empty town. We did some walking around though and then enjoyed lunch at Rib and Chop House. They were donating part of the proceeds that day to the Wounded Warrior Project and we couldn’t pass that up. They also offered us 25% off since Justin is in the military. How awesome! They also had a separate gluten-free menu. Wins all around.

Downtown Livingston.
Can’t get enough bear time.
Sacajawea Park.
Paradise Valley.

Before heading back to Bozeman we drove through Paradise Valley which is on your way to an entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  It was amazing. Once we returned to Bozeman we took a nap (such a great vacation theme) and went to the Museum of the Rockies.

Museum of the Rockies.
Museum of the Rockies.

In an effort to wrap this post up before it gets way too long, I will end with our final full day in Montana. We decided to head into Gallatin National Forest and hike to the Palaside Falls. I researched it ahead of time and it was only about a half mile hike to the falls. Nice and easy for this newly pregnant lady.

Gallatin National Forest.
Palisade Falls.
We made friends with wildlife.
Top of the falls. 
Trees for miles and miles.

Hiking at that elevation while pregnant turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected. It took me awhile to catch my breath, but it was a fairly easy pace and we brought plenty of water and snacks. Justin made a nice chipmunk friend and we really enjoyed the view. On our way back to Bozeman we stopped by a little river since we didn’t feel ready to leave the beauty of it all. While we were sitting there having a quick snack, Justin noticed some black animals coming out of the woods. His initial thought was black bears, but we were happy to see they were just friendly cows looking for a bite to eat.

Cows. Not bears. Phew.

As we left the forest and received cell service again, I messaged my parents to let them know we’d be in a tent by the river and they should start driving out with Selby. We LOVED it there. The Gallatin National Forest was about 25 minutes outside of Bozeman and offered other hiking trails as well. It was gorgeous.

For the rest of the afternoon we toodled through the shops in downtown Bozeman. The rest of the evening was spent just relaxing and taking in the last few hours of our vacation. We got a lot of reading done (I finally finished Wild and LOVED it!), took plenty of naps, enjoyed the company of each other and of course, enjoyed the beauty that is Montana. We are already talking about when we will go back and what we will do.

An Active 4th of July Weekend

Anyone else wishing today was not Sunday? I am not ready for the long weekend to be over yet! It has been a lot of fun and Justin and I have really enjoyed not having an agenda all weekend.

Of course we had a few places to be, but they didn’t feel like an obligation and they were all in the name of fun! We’ve spent a lot of time on our bikes, which is a summer favorite of ours. Friday morning we biked to Downtown White Bear Lake, about four miles from our house. Every Friday they have a Farmer’s Market, but we can rarely make it since it only goes from 8am – Noon. We picked up a few goodies, had brunch and picked up a belated Father’s Day gift for Justin’s Dad. In the process of picking up the gift, we met a local writer, Julie Kramer. Sometimes it is fun to make a point to read a local author so I am going to add her to my list!

The 4th of July is a favorite holiday of mine so after a quick nap after our biking adventure, we headed to my parent’s boat for dinner and to watch the fireworks. Stillwater always puts on a good show and rarely disappoints.

photo 1
Justin & I
photo 2
My Mom (right) & her BFF
photo 3
Captain Betty!









After a chilly night on the boat we wanted to continue to enjoy the outdoors the next day. It was warmer than the day before but pretty windy. After our morning walk with the dogs (we were dog sitting the neighbor pooch) we headed back to Downtown White Bear to check something off my 30 Before 30 list. I recently revised the list and this was a newly added item, #23 – Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

We went to Tally’s Dockside, and there was about an hour wait for the paddle boards (we did not call ahead so we considered this wait time lucky!) so we ordered lunch from C.G. Hooks which is the BBQ joint located at Tally’s. If you like BBQ & pulled pork (or pulled anything as they have chicken and beef as well), this place is a must. Plus you get to eat outside and watch the sailboats on White Bear Lake.

Once it was our turn we headed down the dock with one of the nice kids who run the show. Talk about the best summer job ever! He gave us some quick tips, took our picture, and sent us on our way!


We spent about an hour on the choppy lake but had the best time! We started off on our knees, as suggested, which was great way to get the feel of things and at least get ourselves out of the marina. Once we reached a slightly calmer bay, we stood up. I knew stand up paddle boards provided a great core and upper body workout, but holy. It works you from your shoulders all the way down to your toes. Literally, our feet were exhausted.

We both decided that once we have the money (stand up paddle boards are not cheap!!!) we wouldn’t mind owning two. We live near three lakes, and my parents have a boat on the St. Croix so we know they would get used. And just think of the toning that happens while you have fun in the sun!

After our adventure on water, we decided to bike around another nearby lake. The wind certainly picked up and after the paddle boarding and the bike ride, I was exhausted. But we cleaned ourselves up and went to a backyard BBQ to celebrate my cousin and his wife’s one year wedding anniversary. They didn’t have a big reception so that is why they decided to have this party a year later. It was fun to see them and to finally meet their baby girl.

I hope that your holiday weekend has been just as fun as ours. Now, here is to a semi-productive Sunday as we get ready to head into a new work week.


Hello 2014!

Don’t you just love the feeling of a new year? A fresh start. The opportunity to do things differently. To do them better. Although some of us will lose momentum fairly quickly once their busy lives take over again, I plan to ride the wave for as long as possible.

I have spent the last week or so really thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2014. While I was mulling over some ideas I also realized that 2014 is my last full year in my twenties. In just a few months I will be turning 29 and staring 30 directly in the face. Ok, ok…if I am going to be completely honest in 2014, I didn’t just realize this. I have been thinking about 30 a lot. That is what lead me to develop not only a list of goals, but a 30 before 30 list.

While I was developing the list, I reviewed it with and asked my husband for input. He reminded me that although it is a fun idea to develop a 30 before 30 list, he also wanted to make sure I took a moment to recognize what I have already accomplished. So I did just that. I stopped to reflect on everything I have already accomplished, and while it gives me pride in the life I have lived so far, it also gives me more momentum to make the next year even better than the last.

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  1. Read 30 Books – including Little Women. (and yes, the book I finished last night counts towards the total)
  2. Take a Photography Class
  3. Go on a Cruise
  4. Meatless Mondays
  5. Have Dinner With Each of my Immediate Family Members Individually
  6. Lose Weight (No List is Complete Without it!)
  7. Hold a Baby Bear
  8. Write a Letter Once a Week
  9. Blog Once a Week (Lucky You Guys!)
  10. Try a New Recipe Each Month
  11. Do One Craft Project a Month (First One…Happiness Jar)
  12. Go to the MN Zoo
  13. Special Date Night Per Month
  14. Yoga More
  15. Workout 4x Per Week (Should Help Achieve #6)
  16. Go to a Water Park
  17. Figure Out What I Want to do (And Develop my Portfolio)
  18. Less Technology Time (Unplug More!)
  19. Make a Pie From Scratch
  20. Learn About Spices and Herbs
  21. Be Almost Done With my MBA (Can’t Speed That up Even if I Wanted to)
  22. Be Able to do Push Ups on my Toes
  23. Learn Calligraphy
  24. See a Show on Broadway
  25. Go For a Run in Central Park
  26. Master Gluten Free Living
  27. Attend a Cooking Class
  28. Learn to Use InDesign
  29. Take a Trip With The Girls
  30. Have the BEST 30th Birthday Party Ever!

As I head out to embrace 2014 with open arms, I will be keeping these goals with me. I may not be able to complete ever single one by the time I turn 30, but I think it is going to be fun to try.

Also, if anyone has any other fun ideas I am not opposed to adding to my list so feel free to comment or share yours with me. And if you can help me reach a goal (anyone recently find a bear cub?) lemme know! I am sure my list will grow and morph as the days go by, but I think it is a solid start.

Here is to a fun and successful 2014!


The Space Between Us

I am super behind on my book reviews! Book club is still going strong, and I’d like to report that last month I finished the book before we met AND this month’s book is already done as well. Go ME!

I will go back a few months and review, The Space Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar. To sum it up I will share GoodReads description of the book:

The Space Between Us

Poignant, evocative, and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar’s extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.

Although the book was a bit depressing, I enjoyed it. It allowed me a glimpse into the lives of two Indian women. Although they lead very different lifestyles (one is poor and the other wealthy) they both experience sadness and disappointment as they attempt to navigate through the struggles within their lives.

It was a quick read although I didn’t finish it before book club met. :/ I missed out on the discussion so I can’t tell you what the others thought of it. I would definitely recommend it, however, it isn’t a light hearted, feel good read.

If you have read it, or plan to read it, be sure to let me know what you think!


Gone Girl

After last month’s embarrassing book club fiasco, I made it a point to be better at book club. You could say it is a New Year’s Resolution of mine. Luckily the book for January, Gone Girl, was a breeze to get through. When our book club finally met last night, it felt like weeks had gone by since I’d finished the book. And typically I am frantically trying to finish it an hour before we meet. It was a nice change of pace.

There were mixed reviews between the women in my club. Some of the women really didn’t like it, while others enjoyed the read. The biggest complaint wasn’t writing style or anything like that. It was the fact that most of the characters, if not all, were not likable in their eyes. Therefore, they had trouble reading it. I don’t want to go into too much detail, just in case you plan on reading it, but most of the characters are manipulative and everything most people don’t like about the human race.


I agree that there were definitely times I wanted to crawl into the book and smack some of the characters. However, I still enjoyed it overall. It was a very quick story and it kept me engaged. The author wrote the story switching narrators every other chapter. It alternates between Nick, the husband and Amy, the wife. I prefer that writing style only because it makes me want to keep reading to find out what happens in the next chapter devoted to that character.

I am not typically into mystery novels, which Gone Girl is. I never felt like it was too scary or gruesome though. I felt more uneasy when we were reading, The Devil in the White City. The only thing I could have done without, which a couple of the other ladies mentioned as well, was some of the obscene and crude language used by the character, Amy. It wasn’t over the top, but it did occur more often than I prefer, and it didn’t seem to add to the story. It was just there.

I would definitely recommend the book if you are interested in reading a mystery/thriller. It kept me guessing and it wasn’t nearly as predictable as some other novels I have read. Just be prepared to not like a lot of the characters. 🙂

Next up…For Her Own Good, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I have already heard it is a very heavy read and the likelihood of me finishing it cover to cover prior to our next meeting is slim. Here goes nothing!



The Kitchen House

I have to admit, I am still not used to being in a book club yet. I am 2 for 3 for books that I have not finished before we met to discuss. I am struggling. There is something to be said about reading books at your own pace instead of having a deadline. However, I love being a part of a book club so I am going to keep trying.

For December’s book club we read The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom. We also decided to do a cookie exchange this month since we were approaching the holidays at a very rapid pace. Since I was not done with the book, but I was really enjoying it, I was hesitant about going to book club. I didn’t want the end to be discussed and blow it for me. However, my friend Kali was hosting, she lives the closest to me, and I had just spent the day before making a massive amount of cookies.

So, I frantically read as much as I could after work, was still over 150 pages from the end, but decided to suck it up and go. There had been a snow storm the day before so the roads weren’t great, but I was taking it slow. Half way there I realized my cookies were still sitting on my kitchen counter. Cripes. I had to decide…keep going on the slippery roads even though I am not done with the book, AND I forgot my cookies? I decided to throw in the towel and turn around.


Although I was disappointed I didn’t attend book club, especially after I found out wine and schnapps were served,  I really enjoyed getting to the end of the book without any spoilers.

So, what did I think?

Every time someone has mentioned the book to me they have compared it to The Help, a book that takes place during the civil rights movement and chronicles life as an African-American woman working for a white family. The Kitchen House, however, takes place in the late 1700s during slavery. A young, Irish girl who is an orphan ends up living on a tobacco plantation with the slaves. Her world becomes complicated as she enters the white people’s world, but she wants to remain with her “family” and doesn’t fully understand why the color of her skin prevents her from doing so.

As you can imagine the book definitely had some dark aspects to it. Slavery in general is a dark part of America’s history, and I am not particularly fond of “dark” literature, but that is life, and you can’t avoid that. The book was well written and continually kept me engaged and connected to the characters. If you are looking for a book to read, I would definitely recommend it. Especially since it does challenge you to think about our nation’s history (although it is a work of fiction) and humanity in general.

Next up…Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn! And I am happy to report I am already done with it!!! Yay! I won’t be doing a book review on it until after I meet with the book club in January. I would like to be able to include some of the clubs thoughts as well.

Let me know if you have or end up reading The Kitchen House. I’d love to hear what you thought about it.