Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Out of office

I've loved seeing so many of your first day of school photos already. I'm still in denial we're back at it in one week around here.

This time of year is always a hectic one in our household, as we try to get organized, establish new routines at school, start back up with extracurriculars, all while my husband is simultaneously in the busiest season at work. It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel depleted at the end of the day, but it's important I remain present for my family.

See you back here mid-September with some new and exciting content!

In the meantime, scroll through some of the most popular posts in the right sidebar or check out the ever-changing resources page.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Are you intuitive?

As I watched my girls playing "guess-what-number-I'm-thinking-of" the other day, I was reminded of a time I too wanted to be psychic. As a child, well before iPads, the classic road trip entertainment involved a lot of "guess-what-I’m-thinking-about-right-now."

As an adult, I have the closest thing to psychic powers: intuition; the knowing without knowing. Studies have shown people born from difficult childhoods often become highly intuitive because of their need to quickly read situations, but we all possess this superpower to some degree.

For as long as I can remember, I've had this deep awareness of my own thoughts and feelings, this strange ability to know what someone is feeling without words, or know exactly how to handle a difficult situation with a boss, or easily put myself in someone else's shoes.

And sure, being intuitive without boundaries can be exhausting for all of these reasons and more, but this high-level intuition is so beneficial in relationships and in having a deep sense of purpose.

Einstein called it "the only real valuable thing," and Steve Jobs declared it "more powerful than intellect."

Can intuition be taught? I believe it can, and should be! There are a few simple things you can do to maximize your intuition:

Be an observer: Spend a moment to take in all that is going on around you. When meeting your child after school, you might observe the chaos on the playground, and see your child's face just before she sees you, and that can be enough to know she had a hard day.

Be a listener: Word choice and tone of voice are so important. It's the "I'm fine" versus "I'm great." Yes, sometimes words are just words (and we aren't always thoughtful with word choices, especially when we're busy), but tones are indicative of feelings too. You can often determine based on the combination whether your spouse needs a little extra support, for example.

Be creative and adventurous: Plan a vacation, take a hike, read a book, whip up something new in the kitchen, get creative in an art class. Do whatever you need to do to unleash your imaginative side and allow you to see things from a different point of view.

Find quiet time daily: Schedule time to think, breathe, feel, and get in tune with your own vibrations and energy. It's often through listening to ourselves, that we're able to best hear the unspoken words of others.

How has intuition helped you? What helps strengthen your superpower?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back-to-school style with Mac & Mia

When a stylish mom and her equally hip kid approach you at a birthday party and start talking kids clothes, you listen. I jump at any chance to let someone else dress my girls, who are not easy customers. One loves all things sparkly and girly, and one prefers ponytails and athleisure.

Jessica is the local mom and brave Mac & Mia stylist who agreed to put together some back-to-school outfits for my girls. Mac & Mia is not a subscription box with a commitment. You request a box of high-quality, boutique-brand clothing and accessories when it works for you. Genius, right?! The clothing starts at $24 and accessories at $9.

The process was so simple. I registered on the website and my girls chose sample outfits, listed color and style preferences, sizes, prices, and where we currently shop. I was charged a $20 styling fee to secure my order.

Boxes ship that week, or on a date of your choosing. I received an email with the tracking information and two days later, the boxes were on our doorstep.

Emmerson opened her box first. In full disclosure, I entered the wrong size (mom fail) so most of the items were too large (is it wrong that I kept a sweater for myself though?), but she loved the cute, comfy joggers and a fun necklace. At eight years old, it's nearly impossible to find anything she loves to wear, so her approval was monumental.

Elin opened her box next and I was blown away. Our stylist nailed it - we loved everything! If it wasn't for a fit issue and a duplicate piece to something we own, we would have purchased it all.

I don't mind spending a little extra money on quality clothing and the most adorable accessories (and stocking up on cheap leggings and basic tees elsewhere) if I'm confident they will get a lot of use out of them. All our pieces were mix and match, so they have many different looks.

I completed the emailed link and commented with what and why we were returning each piece (so our stylist knows for next time), and simply packaged them up in a pre-labeled mailer and dropped it at our UPS drop box. Within a couple days, they charged my credit card for the items I kept (minus the $20 stylist fee because we chose more than two).

If you're interested in trying Mac & Mia, click here for $20 off your first box!

Have you used Mac & Mia? I'm sold! It has definitely changed the way I shop and we will no doubt be using this service again and again!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Whatever happens, love that

For someone who spent years reading only magazines, books have really been showing up for me. "Whatever happens, love that," is the last line in this book (and one that I highly recommend). That sentence got me thinking about what that means in my own life.

As your typical type A person, I always have a plan. And a back-up plan for the plan. Just when I've accounted for every scenario, life happens. And oh boy, I admit I'm not the best at dealing with the uncertainty that comes with it. Instinctively, as adrenaline takes over, I will do anything to to turn the tide in my favor; fighting to the bitter end.

Oh my goodness, what I wish my younger self knew about break-ups, career disappointments, those devastating miscarriages - at the risk of sounding melodramatic, all those times I was convinced my life was ending because I didn't get what I planned for and so desperately wanted.

Because it wasn't what I needed.

It's only normal to believe we know what we need most, and do whatever we can to actualize it. But I've discovered that some of the greatest things have happened when I didn't plan for them. In the moment, it never occurred to me that what I actually needed was to be changed by and grow from heartbreak, failure, or disappointment. Would I have met my husband? Ever taken a break? Be the mother I am? Birthed these exact three beautiful babies?

Acceptance, marriage, children, wealth, that job, that house, that friendship....we are convinced we need things that aren't always true to ourselves or aren't truly needed by us.

So while I will always have a thoughtful plan in my back pocket, show up, and give it my best effort, being able to surrender and accept there is a power and energy greater than myself is essential. We are given exactly what we need at that exact moment in time. Let that sit with you for a moment, because there is so much peace there. I will forever be working on this, and I'm grateful life continues to give me opportunities to evolve and find calm in the unexpected.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Worthy Reads: August edition

Camps and summer sports are ending, and we're slowly coming to terms with the fact that school starts in a couple short weeks. Summer days can seem so long, but this time of year I'm always surprised how quickly the months flew by. I hope you enjoy this month's edition of internet reads with sibling giggles in the background (rather than fighting), knowing full well, you'll miss it all soon enough.

"We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second." What does this mean for us parents? More importantly, what will this mean for our kids?

I love the idea of incorporating a five minute happier workout in my daily routine.

My new favorite instagram account for daily inspiration and reflection.

Did you know Trader Joe's has a recipe section on their website? I'd love to have this for dinner and this for dessert. And wouldn't this make an impressive (but super simple) dessert for dinner guests?

In other food-related news, my garden has exploded! Please send me your favorite zucchini and tomato recipes ASAP.

If you're on the hunt for a fitted but not too fitted, not sheer, perfect white tee, a blogger/internet friend shared her unexpected source with me. And you guys, these are so good and only $8!

I just started this book and I'm already hooked. Have you read it?

Finally, please remember to vote today. More information for my Wisconsin friends here.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Politics, business, and family with Liz Sumner

I’m excited to introduce my friend and all-around amazing woman, Liz Sumner. As a mom, small-business owner, village trustee, and most recently, State Assembly candidate, Liz wears many hats. While I’m over here simply trying to manage my family’s circus, she is conquering it all with enthusiasm and grace.

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of conversation to realize Liz knows her stuff. She graduated from Marquette University before completing her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. After working in Chicago, she returned to her north shore roots to open her own business, finally settling in the Village of Fox Point with her family in 2012.

Liz quickly realized the village board needed a trustee who was deeply versed in the issues affecting young families. In her second term as trustee, Liz set her sights on something bigger: State Assemblyperson for the 23rd district.

Today I asked her some rapid-fire questions on business, family, political aspirations, and how she’s doing it all.

Alright girl, what I really want to know is how you’re managing all these responsibilities so seamlessly?

It takes a village! My parents, my husband, and my sitter are all incredibly supportive of what I am doing. Without them, I could never do all of this. I would love to claim everything runs smoothly around our house and in our lives, but that's not always true. Managing schedules, household needs, business concerns, and village trustee duties can be difficult. I try to make sure everything is on the calendar.

Take us through your average day. 

I drop the kids off at camp around 8:45 then head out to canvass for four or five hours. I try to make it to SHOP for a few hours in the afternoon to check in and discuss any items that have come up and see what new arrivals are in. I close out the work day with yoga at 5:30 - I’m so addicted to hot flow yoga at Empower. It helps calm my mind, and stretch and strengthen my body. Afterwards, I'm home to bathe my kids, read them a book, and put them to bed. My husband enjoys being with the kids in the evenings too (he also owns a business), so depending on the night, I may make dinner for the two of us; or read mail, email, or finish up work or campaign-related tasks. I watch a show or two after dinner while writing thank you notes for campaign donations, then it's off to bed.

Let’s get into the details. Tell us what a member of the state assembly does.

As a State Assemblyperson, I will represent the interests of the residents of the 23rd district while writing and voting on legislation to change or maintain state laws. The first order of business is to pass the budget. When I'm not in Madison, I will do constituent outreach in the district, which includes holding town halls and taking meetings with residents and local elected officials. This is an important aspect of the job because I will be forwarding ideas to the committee that have been brought to my attention by residents. It's important to me that I listen to their concerns and do what I can to alleviate them. 

I'm hearing our residents' concerns about education and the environment. They want quality public education for all children, and want to know that our beautiful lakes and rivers will be preserved for generations to come. Residents also want access to affordable health care, and common sense gun laws passed so that we can all feel safe in our communities.

Who is the 23rd district? 

The district runs from Whitefish Bay through Fox Point and Bayside and into Mequon, Thiensville and Grafton.

Why did you decide to run now? 

I’m very concerned about the direction our state is headed. Our current Assemblyperson is a rubber stamp for the conservative agenda at the state level and I don’t think that's reflective of the wants and needs of the residents of the 23rd.

How has being a mom of two and a small business owner helped prepare you? 

It has taught me how to delegate! I realize that I can’t do everything. I need to focus on what I am good at and let others help me in areas that they excel. It has also taught me patience, flexibility, and quick thinking. My negotiation skills have drastically improved since having kids as well - they negotiate for everything!

What can we do to help? 

Volunteer, donate, spread the word about my campaign, and make sure you and all of your friends vote. We get so busy and think our votes don’t matter, but it's so important to make time to make our voices heard. Schedule 15 minutes on August 14th and November 6th to head over to your local polling place and cast your vote. Get more information on voting here.

Thanks Liz! For more information on Liz’s campaign, check out her website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Summer meals (and a giveaway!)

As part of my ongoing effort to stay organized, I don't buy unnecessary spices. You know, the ones required for one recipe and three years later you find them, expired, in the back of the cabinet? But there are a few spices I use again and again, especially during summer months.

As meal planning takes a backseat to pool days and camps, our dinner menu is simplified. Meal prep might be a couple pounds of chicken into the Instant Pot and shredded. Or a pan of sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spices go a long way to making the same ole' thing different.

Pizza and sandwiches become summer staples. And I can't do it without Penzey's sandwich sprinkle and pizza seasoning. Spice blends aren't the most obvious pantry choices, but I find these two to be so versatile.

Sandwich sprinkle is great on mixed greens with a little shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil. Also, sprinkled over day old bread and tossed with olive oil, it makes delicious croutons (homemade croutons are my favorite part of any salad). This seasoning is even better when used with a half pound of shredded chicken mixed with a mashed avocado and some diced apple or grapes, served with crackers and bread.

The pizza seasoning is equally delicious, and makes for the best summer pizza on a cauliflower crust or naan bread (for individual pizzas). I have a friend who puts a jar of tomatoes, a can of white beans, and a handful of kale into a blender with a generous amount of pizza seasoning to make a healthier pizza sauce. Our favorite pizza variations include:

Barbeque sauce + corn cut fresh from the cob + a handful of shredded chicken + mozzerella (or roasted cauliflower if dairy-free) + diced green onion or cilantro + pizza seasoning

Pesto or tomato sauce + any summer vegetables (think diced asparasgus, zucchini, corn, summer squash, spinach) + mozzerella or goat cheese + pizza seasoning

I'm excited to gift a sandwich sprinkle and pizza seasoning to one lucky reader! Just comment below or on social media with your favorite, easy summer meal and I'll pop them in the mail to a winner chosen at random on Thursday.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What makes a marriage work?

I am getting to an age when friends and acquaintances are separating; and in the middle of a heated argument with my own husband, I can't help but wonder, are we safe? We certainly love each other, but what really makes a marriage work?

I didn't witness a model marriage growing up, and even so, marriage and relationships are so intimate. You can't learn one (or judge one for that matter) from the outside. Truth be told, more than a decade into it and I still have little idea about marriage, but I do have a couple theories.

I now understand why people are delaying marriage until later in life, because as far as I can tell, whether or not you grow together with someone you meet in your early twenties is kind of a crap shoot. Is it still the same perfect fit as the day you were married?

That fit changes so much over the years, especially once children make an appearance. Responsibilities, priorities, and interests shift throughout the seasons of life. During silly marital spats (or even sizable disagreements), I find comfort in the big picture - babies, jobs, and other circumstances change, but the essence of the person next to you does not. You are creating a tangled history with this person - one that will be intertwined with highs and lows.

There seems to be a single thread woven throughout my own marriage, and so many others. It's the thread that says, "I am highly committed to your growth as a person." There is nothing more powerful than supporting your spouse's goals and desires, and standing alongside them through those hard, mucky parts. It seems that the deeper you are willing to go, the less likely your relationship will unravel.

After years of marriage, most people will describe their relationship as stronger now than on their wedding day, but there's no quick way to get there. It's through tremendous commitment and openness that we make a happy marriage, and often a better version of ourselves.
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