5 tips to keep a clean house

Have you struggled with keeping your house clean and organized ALL week and ALL the time instead of just only the day that it gets cleaned?

I’ve been there and lived through it! In the last year I made it a goal to live in a decluttered house and keep organized! It does good for my soul! So here are my 5 tips that have proven to work for me every single day, making sure that if someone stops by my house I am not embarrassed to welcome visitors!

  • Make the bed firs thing in the morning. This needs to happen before you get dressed, sometimes before you go down to get a cup of coffee. If you run a little behind or the kid(s) drive you crazy, just make sure it’s done before you leave the house! I think that having a made up bed is SO important for your mind! It just starts out the day with the mindset of get it done and it certainly pays off!

 

  • Open the curtains as the second thing in the morning. Ok, so this one I do after I have my coffee made, but definitely most often it’s while I am still in my PJs hanging out with baby R in the living room waiting for the caffeine to kick in. We have curtains in our house and I absolutely love the character curtains bring in! At night we close them for privacy since we live in a neighborhood with people walking on our street in the evening, but in the morning there is just something about opening curtains and having the light flow into the room that wakes you up for the day! It’s a gesture of being ready for the day, even if the coffee isn’t working yet, I always find that my mind is accepting of the day’s work load ahead and I usually accomplish more!

 

  • Distribute household chores between the days of the week. It seems so simple, but this one was the hardest for me to get into a habit of doing. I grew up in a family where Saturday was cleaning day, the kind of day where the whole house is turned upside down and every corner cleaned with dust bunnies picked up from under the bed. I sometimes will still do that, but mostly when I am dealing with some sort of frustration and cleaning helps me clear my mind. Having a chore assigned to each day allows you to have 30 minute cleaning sessions a day (a lot of times less then that) and your work load is much lighter to keep everything looking good throughout the week. For example, Monday is when I clean the bathrooms. So I don’t do any other house work except bathrooms and it feels very manageable. If you need to combine days, move things around, it’s all flexible of course, but having a day dedicated to a room or a chore is definitely what helped me!

 

  • Laundry. The enemy of every mom? The least desired task in the home ever? I remember a woman once told me she hates doing laundry so much she will go out to buy new underwear and clothes just so she doesn’t have to do the laundry. Now, that is wasteful in my opinion, it probably takes more time to drive to the store to pick out a new outfit then it would take to do a load of laundry and fold it into the closet! I have experimented with doing laundry all in one day and then leaving it all to be folded on a different day, or having to do it all at the same time and all in one day (yikes!) but what I found that works best for me mentally and physically is spreading it out. Here is what I mean!

I split the laundry into 3 categories: all whites (which basically includes towels and bedding), gentle cycle clothes (typically baby clothes and dress shirts), and everything else.

I spread out laundry over the week days, for example on a day that I don’t have a lot of house hold cleaning to do I do 2 loads of laundry, so the total amount of chore time is still the same day-to-day. On a day that I have more work – like cleaning the floors, I focus on doing 1 load of towels, which usually is run while I do the floors, and then I fold them and put them away after. Since it’s towels usually it’s the fastest to fold and put away as far as any laundry item.

The most helpful tip for me when it comes to laundry is putting it away within 24 hours of it coming out of the dryer. I find that if I don’t do it the same day then it will probably not get done for a while. The best thing you can do for yourself is build in time for tasks like laundry so it feels less overwhelming and very manageable.

Clothes that you see in your closet will get worn, clothes that are put away into your closet will keep better in long term then being tossed into a wrinkly pile in the corner of the room, and clothes that are easily accessible in your closet will save you money to not have to go search for new things at the store to avoid laundry days.

  • 5 minute check at night. You can create your own name for this part. In my opinion how you start the day and how you end the day is THE key to cleanliness and organization of your home!

At the end of the night before I go upstairs to get ready for bed (or just get ready for bed when you don’t have a multi level home), I take 5-10 minutes to just straighten things out. I have a hard time putting into words but you all know exactly what I mean.

It looks exactly like the 5 minutes you take to make your house look good when you get a call that your in-laws are coming over or your husband is brining a colleague over after work. It’s the 5 miraculous minutes it takes to take your house from a complete mess covered in toys, pillows in the wrong spot of the couch, and random shoes on the floor to a presentable home establishment.

Except, this time you take 5 minutes to do it for YOU! So that what you wake up in the morning to come open the curtains and let the sun into the home, you will find peace when you turn around to face your living space picked up. It gives me hope and energy for the new day and it jump starts my next productive day.

 

Let’s have a quick reality check here. Is my house perfectly squeaky clean all the time? No. I wish! Is my laundry all done on time every week? Nope. But I am ok with that! These 5 rules I created for myself to help me keep accountable and get things done in a timely manner. I am not perfect and when I slack off and things don’t get done it’s hard to get back into the flow. When my system works however, I am at my happiest and I am in my best mindset to be there as a wife, mom, friend and business owner.

I hope you find this inspirational to strive to change 1 thing at a time to a more organized life and home. Don’t strive for perfection, make it a goal to becoming better over time.

 

L.

5 Nursing BRA Reviews

I know I am not the only mom who had a hard time finding a good nursing bra. If this is for you lady, then keep reading – I’m talking my personal experience with nursing bras!

Since I had the baby I feel like my rib cage expanded and its wider, my cup size increased and the shape of my breast changed. As frustrating as it is, these are all normal things to experience for a nursing mama.

When I look for a good bra I look for: support, comfort, underwire, no uniboob, no back boob, reasonable price, refund policy (just incase), soft material but also thick enough not to show nipples though. Sorry if it’s tmi, but those are important to me. When I look at a company, I want the best return policy, just in case and remember its always a good idea to get professionally measured at 2 months postpartum and at 6-9 months postpartum.

But in case you are a DIYer girl, here is a link to see a video on how to find out your size. 

Sleeper bra

My first nursing bra was from Amazon. A still use it as a sleeping bra, its soft and gives me good support during the night, but it’s not enough during the day. The material feels nice, it handles the wash well, I bought the pink one and its lost some color since washing it but I still like it. During the first 2-3 weeks this served as a good transition bra for me. Ultimately it’s not a fantastic fit for the day look because I didn’t find enough support for during the day and this one has a thin material that would show nippling.

Demi Cushioned from Motherhood Maternity 

This is my favorite when you want a seamless look. It is easy to wear under clothes that show lines and lace material through, also any see-through type shirts, this bra is great! I find that it runs small, I would order a size or two bigger then what you normally would wear. The band tends to be very tight so order a size up again. The material is soft and it wears well. This is my favorite bra from Motherhood Maternity and the only one I’d recommend. (I tried 4 from this store)

Jessica Simpson Underwire Bra 

The only thing I like about this bra is the price. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 6. It’s not bad, I still wear it when I need to, but if it was gone out of my closet magically I wouldn’t miss it. It is underwire and the cup material is thicker then I’m used to. What I don’t like is how it shows the lines of it under clothing – especially if it’s a smooth material top. A perk of this bra is that it gives you rounder-ish shape and the shape of the cup stays just the way it is. So if you feel like you need to have the girls stay in nice shape, this will be a good fit.

Third Love Underwire Nursing Bra

This bra definitely impressed me. I had my eye out for the regular line undergarments this company has, and when they came out with a nursing bra, I jumped right on it! I think this one runs a size smaller, but the best part is that you have 100% satisfaction guarantee, they take good care of you! You have to click the link to check it out but I just love the front clasp and the softness of the cups. This bra fits me best out of all of the ones I’ve tried. No side boob, no back cleavage, no weird tight spots anywhere, so it has my vote! When I got the package I love the little tag that says “the best bra is the one you never think about” – what a great moto to have!

Heidi Klum Lace Bra no underwire

I called this one my sexy bra. For the first few months motherhood is so far from glamorous. Spit in clothes and hair, dry shampoo, showers once a week or sometimes two times a day, diapers upon diapers, and just so much pulling and tugging on your body that it’s hard to remember that you are a graceful, beautiful creature underneath that new title mommy. About 4-6 weeks postpartum is when I found this bra and it made me feel all womanly, feminine and sexy again for the first time in what felt like ages. I love the lace and how soft it is! I love the lace detail even when you pull the side down to nurse – that’s probably my favorite thing about it! There are about 5 extra clasps at the end so it accommodates your body changes and the fact that you can loose weight and this bra transitions with you! Heidi sure know what she’s doing with this design, comfort and function! This is my second favorite bra out of these 5!

 

I hope you found this review helpful! This is my personal experience, so take what you need.

P.s. I tried some bras from Target and Walmart and had really bad experience. They didn’t properly, fell apart quickly and just didn’t work for me. You know, the kind of bra you put on and immediately it sounds like you need some wd40 to oil up those corners (or whatever is making that squeaky noise every time you move an arm).

Designer shoes for the best price!

I love shoes!

Seriously, LOVE them! With the baby my wardrobe simplified and now I find that shoes are my perfect accessory! I also love girl bosses who have a business, run the household and take care of a family! So today I would like to share with you a friend of mine who is in the business of shoes and making dreams come true.

So you know how you get ready for your wedding and you want those amazing shoes Maholo Blahnik shoes to wear as your something blue? I was that girl, but I couldn’t afford them. I know many girls have been there and have to choose between the dress, a couple extra guests on the list or the shoes! Maybe you are preparing for prom or a special occasion his summer and you really want to stand out, this may be the perfect option for you!

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Kristine thought of the girl who wants to be in the perfect shoe for the perfect occasion and started a business to make it easier! A designer shoe at an affordable price? Yes, please!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE & CHECK OUT THE SHOE OPTIONS FOR RENT 

There are so many different options for the perfect cinderella moment!

Click here for the Facebook page          &         Click here to see the jewelry and purses

Order the shoes for your next event, family photoshoot, birthday party or a date night out.

Here is how I wore the shoes during a photo shoot in New York:

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DISCOUNT: Enjoy 15% off when you mention this blog post.

PC: NYC photoshoot is done by Delaine, to get more information visit her website:  www.delainedacko.com

Do you have a business that services women and allows dream to come true? Email me for a collaboration and to be featured on my blog.

Stay fabulous!

xoxo

L.

Breastfeeding: 5 things that helped me with milk supply

Increasing my milk supply is hard. I think ultimately it all has to do with genetics, stress levels and on the baby (what kind of feeder/eater baby is). I certainly remember doing all kinds of research in the beginning to find out what would help with my supply; now that baby and I are getting pretty good at this feeding thing and I hope my 5 tips may help someone who’s looking for ideas.

I no longer use a pump and I stopped building a freezer stash as of a few months ago. Around month 4-5 I decided that I will continue to breastfeed as long as my baby wanted, introduce foods and let him try everything he wants. I stopped stressing over it and have felt much better about our experience of feeding, since then its been great for me and the baby since he’s growing longer every doctors apt!

Breastfeeding a hungry little dude is a lot of work! This past weekend our little family went to Long Island, New York, and half way through our trip I started to worry about my supply changing mostly because Rollo wasn’t eating as much as he did at home during the normal routine. He ate more solids on this trip and even took some water from a bottle.

I’m sure every baby is easily distracted at this age, it seemed like everything is more interesting then me and eating is hard now, again. I am not sure if I’m the only one experiencing this with my baby at 7-8 months old, I literally have to hold his head, sometimes his legs and arms too, and even cover his head with a swaddle blanket because otherwise he’s too interested in stuff around the room or where ever he is.

I plan to breastfeed until 12-14 months, depending on how long he would like and how it goes with weaning him. It’s a little selfish too, because we have a big 3 week trip planned when he’s 12 months and I don’t want to make a big change like weaning him before then, making it easier on me to comfort him on a long plane flight (like more then 12 hours long) and bribing less food and formula for the trip when I’ll be focusing on less luggage.

If you have tips on traveling for that long with a baby and what to bring on a plane for a 1 year old, please let me know in comments below!

Coming home this week I went back to what works for me to increase and upkeep milk supply. I know there are tons of milk supply cookie recipies out there, so I will not include that here because that’s not always my go to.

  1. Water! I know, duh! But it really works! At home on a regular basis I drink 100-125 oz of water every day. I literally measure it because otherwise I won’t drink enough. I notice a huge difference in my supply once I started to drink 100 or more oz a day. Since then I’ve been drinking water and visiting the bathroom like when I was pregnant. Added benefit – my skin is feeling great, smooth and hydrated. This time I also added some coconut water to add the hydration to my body. Somehow when I’m traveling I end up dehydrated.
  2. Tofu. Ok, so this has been my go to for increasing my supply anytime I get worried. About 3 months postpartum we went out and I had agidashe tofu, it’s usually served as an appetizer at a Japanese restaurant. The next day I noticed a huge increase in my supply and ever since then it’s been my little secret weapon. I also have used tofu in my cooking at home, and I can link a few recipies if you ladies would find it helpful, it can be hard to eat if not seasoned well because the taste is so different. IMG_1228
  3. Muesli. I love this muesli from Red Mill brand, it’s what I have for lunch or breakfast every morning at home. I add blueberries or raspberries to my muesli with some almond milk and it’s so refreshing on a hot day! I noticed how my milk supply started to be very consistent once I added this mean into my day. I don’t know why exactly, but it must be all the different grains in it! I also know it works because when we travel and I don’t have it for a few days I notice a difference. IMG_1166
  4. Increase feedings. I think babies know home and their own bed! My baby boy certainly loves his bed and will sleep best at home in his own crib. I’m very protective of his sleep, and when we come back from a trip he always takes a day or two to recover. He usually takes an extra nap during the day and an extra hour per nap. It works great for me because I can unpack and get stuff done at home. I add in a couple more feeding sessions during the day to help increase my supply. I don’t pump anymore, unless it’s super necessary, and I feel like making my baby nurse actually increases my supply more then if I was pumping. We both enjoy the extra cuddles after a busy weekend. IMG_1454.JPG
  5. Sleep. Maybe it’s me, maybe its the stress levels, but I find that after a weekend trip, or any trip with the baby, I need a LOT more extra sleep to catch up. I find that sleep and rest, maybe a bath or a massage – whatever helps to relax and catch up to a peaceful state of mind – helps me SO much with letting my body do what it needs to! So make someone baby sit if you need to, and rest up!

 

I am no expert, I am not a specialist, just a mom who tried different things via trial and error until I found what worked for me and my baby and my body.

Best of luck to you if you are in the fight to breastfeed your little one. It’s a good fight to be in, and many of us win in the end and get the hang of it! Keep up the good work mama!

L.

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Our recent trip to Paris was so fun!

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Naturally, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower!

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Fun fact: my husband speaks french and has been to the country 13 times and not been even close to the tower. When we went together for the first time, and his 14th time in the country, I found a hotel with the view of the tower from our bedroom window, and made him go to visit! We climbed all the stars and took the elevator to the very top! He doesn’t think the tower is as ugly as he used to, but he’s still not a fan, which makes him the only human being I know who isn’t wowed by the Eiffel tower.

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We didn’t have a photographer following us around, so the photos may be a little blurry taken with my iPhone. In the end, we decided to leave the camera back in the States (it wasn’t a good idea because of what happened to the camera, long story), yet the memories we made mean just so much!

Back at home we have a bread guy. He lives on our street and sells bread at the public market. On Saturdays my husband walks over to his house to pick up french baguettes and pain au chocolat, they taste just like they do in Paris, which is basically the impossible right?!

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I love Rollo’s hair here! It’s so wild! 

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Fact: we ate bread every day. During this picnic we had a full loaf my husband and I ate and it was the perfect lunch! Because when on vacation calories don’t count right?

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The only pair of heels I brought with me. This trip I was so good at packing!!

There were soldiers walking around Champ de Mars and only days later it made sense since there was an incident at Notre Dame. With so many people out walking and hanging out near the Eiffel tower it was definitely noticeable that the security was increased significantly.

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What we brought with us to the picnic:

(stroller comes in super handy in this case)

  • Baguette
  • Foie gras
  • Camembert (one of my favorite cheeses)
  • Saucisson (my husbands favorite meat to eat in France)
  • White wine, my husband even chilled it so it was perfect!
  • Cups/dishes, thankfully our airbnb host had plates we could use.
  • A sheet. Yup, we couldn’t find a blanket so we ended up using a plain white sheet. It worked just fine and it was to be able to spread out on it.
  • Water – super important when it’s so hot out!

It was simple, but definitely enough food, especially since it’s our favorite snack/ hour d’oeuvres kind of food.

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I think I need to write another post with a list of places where I nursed my baby. It would be basically everywhere. So he was hungry here too.

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I hope you enjoyed some snapshots of our picnic and a glimpse into a Paris afternoon.

Whats your favorite food to take on a picnic? Does it change depending on what country you are visiting?

The Crazies of my 30th Birthday in Paris


That day I woke up at 3 Am in Dublin, Ireland. I got dressed, woke up my baby boy and put him into the baby carrier as my husband packed our luggage into the taxi. I walked through our Dublin apartment and said my last goodbyes to the beautiful Georgian place that was our home away for a few days.


We went through the airport and the 1 hour flight so quickly that the next thing I remember was sitting at the cafe in Charles de Gaulle airport watching the reunited couples making out as their coffee was cooling off on the table, totally a Paris thing, the full on making out in public that is.

Paris in June, for my 30th birthday.

The day when nothing went right but ended up perfect.

So what if my day started out with tired but wired where I couldn’t sleep of excitement and once we came to our Paris apartment, which was also just an absolute dream, I passed out for a few hours for a good nap!


What I found out later, like 2 days later, was that while I was napping my husband went to find a store which sold perfume, with the sweetest of love stories, and since they only sell that perfume in Paris and not online he went to pick it up. After finding the store, of course it was still closed, he waited for a while until past the time it was supposed to open, and there was still no one there, so he came back. (we visited the store 2 more times during this week and it was still closed – no luck, but the thought to get there and all the walking around really counts too)

Walking down on the street where we stayed.

We were staying in 7th Arr. and it was just beautiful! There was a store next door where they sold candles with a perfumer creating a scent for each arrondissement of Paris. Since we were staying in 7th, my husband picked up a candle for 7th and 6th to remind me of the smell and this place! Now that we are home for the last two days I am already burning the candle and it smells just like Paris.


It was a beautiful sunny day out so we went out thinking maybe we could squeeze a museum visit out of it, it didn’t happen once we saw the line. Naturally we went further to get something to snack or even find a place to eat dinner.


This is where fun started. We were walking as a family, looking at this beautiful city, and kept walking, and kept walking, my husband had a specific place in mind with a great view to sit and eat dinner there. We sat down to enjoy dinner, fed the baby, had a great view, a musician came over and situated himself in front of the restaurant playing saxophone, a family walking by broke into dancing and that was really fun to watch.

View from the restaurant. The musician came shortly after thusbphoto was taken.

Then the fun really started! Our food came and baby was sitting back in the stroller chewing some bread when my husband’s stomach pain became too real and he went to get some medicine at the near by pharmacy. He was complaining of stomach pain, but we thought he was just hungry. Within a minute of taking some medicine they recommended he said he was feeling nauseous, got up from the table and barely walked 10 feet before he just threw up. In the street. In front of the restaurant.

Once I recovered from basically dying and going through the ground to disappear from sitting front row center in the middle of the sidewalk, which is usually a great spot for a Paris cafe, I apologized for my husband to the people around, collected my baby and called a cab.

One thing I am thankful for – right before we left for our long walk to get to this restaurant we stopped by the bakery and picked up some dessert for later that night. There was wine at the apartment and two spacious bathrooms with a soaking tub. Once both my babies were asleep, one recovering from a day of travel and being shoved around in the stroller, and the other from food poisoning or whatever made him sick, I filled that tub!


Certainly I didn’t plan to spend my day this way. But life throws a curve ball, you just go with it. Oh, and I ate ALL of the dessert we bought that night.


This year I will take every opportunity to be thankful, for turning 30, going on a spontaneous trip to Dublin and Paris, for having a healthy baby and a trip where no one got sick or injured (well except for the one night ..). This year I am starting with valuing what I have, my family, my friends, people who surround me and love me for who I am. This year I am going to be thankful for crazy memories of diaper leaking in Louis Vuitton (more on that later) and throwing up in front of a restaurant, for missed flights, for mistakes, and most of all for forgiveness.


This was an amazing way to celebrate and a trip I will most definitely remember for a lifetime.

6 months old photoshoot in NYC

Who doesn’t love New York City?

It was my dream for a long time to have a photo with the city skyline in the background. My husband and I visited New York often together, we live only a couple of hours away. We have gone there for a weekend, for a day, and even our first honeymoon was in New York.

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We spent half of our honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in the upstate NY and it was a dream. Then we went to the city for a few days and stayed in the beautiful Novotel in a room overlooking Times Square.

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The day after we got there my husband of six days at that time was moving the car parking spot and was t-boned by a taxi on Park ave. He left his phone (it was supposed to be a quick move the parking spot trip) so I got a call from the ambulance drivers phone to go to the hospital to meet him.

In the end its a crazy story, married for 6 days and could have lost each other. If I was in the car with him, I would have been severely injured, the car was totaled and we had to rent a car to get home. It was my dads car by the way.

Now when we go back to New York, its so many memories!

Our second date was in the city where we almost had our first kiss on Park ave, but I thought it was too early.

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We got engaged in Central Park. And we will continue making memories.

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Favorite spot for food in New York: Halal Guys. We love truck food and we always get it for lunch in the city. You stand in line for a while, then you sit on whatever surface is available and eat. The full experience is great because it brings so many memories for us and you can’t get truck food like this anywhere else in the state or in the country.

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I hope you enjoy these family photos. We had so much fun working with our photographer and would recommend her services any day! She was amazing with our baby and got his attention to make sure he looked into the camera and smiled.

Styling details: 

I am really loving all the blush tones this year! I have a little obsession with cherry blossoms this year. You can find the dress I’m wearing here. Also a similar one here. And another option here and here.

Shoes are Manolo Blahnik, you can buy them here or rent them for a special occasion here.

Makeup:

I am wearing Mary Kay products, on the eyes: Into the garden collection eye shadow palette, it was a spring limited edition and I only have 2 left for grabs.

Lipstick is Matte Mauve Moment – current favorite for a pink nude type of lipstick for this spring, you can get it here, and Light nude lip liner you can check out here. Bronzer is a must this season, I am not tan yet, I am using this bronzer here.

Mascara is a huge deal right now because I am not using any eye liner and giving all the volume to my lashes with this amazing mascara, check it out here, and the review I wrote on it here.

 

I am a woman before I am a mother.

Today is Mother’s Day. You would expect that I would be thinking about what it means to be a mom and how motherhood changed me. But it’s not what I am thinking about.

I have been a mom for five minutes and I feel like I still have so much to learn! Every day brings new joys and new learning experiences, new opportunities to learn about myself and about my baby. One day I hope to be like the mom my children can adore and see Jesus through every word (thats hard for me), and every eye roll, and every hug and every tear.

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I am every woman. I am a mother. I live postpartum. You may see the depth of my eyes and the strong love for my baby, but what I see is the body that carried that baby, the wide shoulders that still carry that baby and won’t let me wear my old clothes. But he needs me.

This past week my thoughts have been consumed by more insecurity and negative thoughts of my body, my wifery (if that makes sense), and the way I am doing this motherhood thing. Today I am thinking of WHY. Why is it that some days I am not able to see past the imperfections of my body and feel proud of what the stretch marks mean, and feel proud of the wide shoulders and strong arms that carry a big baby boy around all day long?!

Why is it that some days I am not able to see past my questions and struggles as a business woman to confidently help others?

Why is it that the emotions and insecurities I used to struggle with as a teen are not going away? Maybe this one you also feel with me.

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I will choose to put my trust in God and take photos like these to remember that I am loved and I need no further reason to get dolled up, more often then I do.

Every time I share my thoughts with a woman or a teen girl, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a married and a single woman, I find we all have something in common. We, a woman, each have the girl inside who is scared and wants to be loved for who she is, especially on the days when she can’t love herself. I feel like a lot of my adulthood revolved around either hiding this girl or pleasing her need to sulk in loneliness.

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I am not going to let the negativity stay. Every one of my fat cells belongs to a beautiful baby boy right now. And I feel like this picture can summarize my joy and my pain all in one. Because with every imperfection I am reminded that God loves me first, He made me in His image, by honoring my body I honor Him. Also, rolls made beautiful by lace.

Today I would to speak to that girl whom you like to hide, from one soul sister to another.

I am with you.

Let me hold your hand, look deep into your eyes until the human connection makes you teary, squeeze your hand a little and feel that lump in your throat that you’re unable to swallow.

I am with you. I feel your pains. I feel your insecurities. I see the imperfections in the mirror.

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I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, you are not alone and NO, you don’t look bloated, and NO, you don’t look 4 months pregnant. People don’t see what you see, they see the smile, the genuine laughter, the strong hugs you give that take your breath away a little, they see that bright lipstick, they see your hair curl and fall into your face, and they think its cute.

You are beautiful! Especially because it is Mother’s Day take a moment to love you, the real you. If you are a mother and if you are not, take a moment to hug that young girl who’s hiding deep inside, bring her out to the sunshine (even if its raining all weekend like it is where I am). Spend a minute with God and let His presence and truth fill your heart with hope. Because when you are filled with love only God can provide and truth only He can make true, you will be equipped to love yourself truly, be a better daughter, a kinder friend, and a more patiently loving wife.

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I teach women how to apply makeup, I love my job. To me there is a great joy in what I do because I am on a mission to make the world more beautiful one face at a time. When a woman feels good about how she looks, when she is equipped to be able to do her makeup the way that makes her feel beautiful, my job is complete. So, here is an open invitation. If you need that feeling, talk to me, find me, and let me help you find your way to beautify.

Take time today to beautify. I love that word because to me it brings hope. You can take anything and make it more beautiful! I believe God does that with every one of us! Start with your hair, do something special, not like every day, add just a little more mascara then usual, wear the good shoes and that dress that makes your body curve in just the right ways. (if you don’t have a dress like that talk to me)

Go out of the house, love yourself and go love on your mom. Bring her flowers with some good quality time.

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I am a mother now and I love things, but no matter how many things I have on my wish list, the best gift for me is spent with my baby when I don’t have to worry about taking care of anything else but him.

I am a mother now, but I am first a woman. I believe that if I am a better woman then I will also be a better mom. If you’re not a momma yet, take the time now to better yourself and prepare because that strength you will need later.

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I hope you will be inspired to be the best version of yourself, the woman God wants you to be. Set aside and fight insecurities! Encourage the woman next to you! Hug your mama extra tight tonight.

Love,

your soul sister.

 

P.s. Photos are taken by Delaine, a New York City photographer. It was a dream to work with her! Something you may never see, she really is good at what she does, is how busy and hectic that morning was for me, my hair wasn’t the way I wanted it, the dress I wanted to wear didn’t come in on time, and other stuff that just kept getting in the way of how I wanted to feel that day. So I put my good shoes on and wore a little extra mascara.

p.s.s. Blue shoes are my favorite. It’s the best statement color because it looks good on everyone!

My Americanized to do list

 

Two weeks ago I took an oath and became a citizen of United States. You can read more about my experience HERE, and see pictures from the ceremony.


When I was in college my two friends Scott and Eileen had a great time making fun of my accent and my immigration status. I was in the process of getting my green card at the time and they came up with a list of things I needed to do to become americanized. 


Here is my list:


Watch a football game  

The first football game I watched was super bowl 2013, we just moved to a new city and were newly married. One of our new friends invited us to a super bowl party and in a couple of weeks we will see him in Ireland where he currently lives. Also, our son was born on his birthday. I just liked the commercials that year, Beyonce was performing the half time show and it was my favorite one so far, I’ve seen 3 more super bowl games since then, and that year also had the absolute best puppy and horses commercials.

Drink a beer

I hate beer. I never liked the smell of it, so I don’t drink it, but the first time I tasted it was by accident actually. I was running Rochester Flower City Half Marathon 7 years ago and at one of the stops they were giving out beer instead of water. I almost choked on it because it wasn’t what I expected. Now I will only taste beer from a brewing company our friends started, even though I don’t think I will ever like beer.

Eat a cadbury egg

I don’t know why this one was significant. I just never tasted a cadbury egg or knew what the big deal was. So my first Cadbury egg tasting was during Intro to Psych class; I’m sure my friend Eileen brought them the next day after adding that to the list.

Attend a baseball game

I am not a huge sports fan and baseball is definitely farthest on the list. My first game in person was in Rochester NY with friends from Grace road church. I remember it was very cold, very long, and it was the first time I had Dippin dots ice cream. Turns out ice cream was better then the game and my friends had to explain everything to me.

Shoot a gun

The first time and so far the only time I shot a gun was in 2011. A good friend of mine took a bunch of us through some good training on safety and let us practice with different guns. Let me tell ya, I did some damage to the dirt in that field and took very memorable photos.

 

Go to a hockey game

Apparently there is a theme to becoming an American and it has to do with sports. I didn’t grow up with sports, its not something a girl does anyway, and even now I am not a huge fan of sports, but I have attended multiple sports events to support events, fundraisers and sometimes just because my husband wants to go. My first hockey game was in Binghamton, NY, with southern tier young professionals group in 2013. It was a great way to meet people in a new city and I haven’t been to a game since.

Visit New York City

 

The first time I went to New York to go to visit and not just drive through the city was in 2010. I went by myself via train, it was the most memorable time as the city was hit with a huge snow storm and it was very cold. I walked the streets for hours, window-shopped, did some actual shopping and caught up with good friends. My favorite part was going to see Wicked on Broadway and people watching. That trip was so important for me, I found inspiration to run in New York and I came back 4 months later to run in my first half marathon, I found peace and forgiveness, I let go of things that were causing me a great deal of pain at that time of my life. I don’t remember how many times I’ve been to the city now, but last time was 2 weeks ago for my baby’s 6 months birthday. It is one of my favorite cities and I will go back every chance I get.

P.s. Lately we have been using AirBnB instead of a hotel to stay in New York. It’s been the best experience ever. If you’d like to receive $50 discount on your stay via AirBnB comment below and I will email you a code to use!

I Am Immigrant.

I am a first generation immigrant.


Today is a big anniversary for my family and since becoming an American citizen 2 weeks ago I am doing a lot of reflecting on what it means and how I got here.


My family immigrated to United States as refugees 15 years ago, no one spoke English and the only person we knew was my uncle who moved to Rochester, NY a few years before we did and “invited” us to move also. I don’t know the official terminology, I just know you can’t simply move, you have to have someone sponsor you into the country. I was under 14 years old at the time so I didn’t need to go through interviews upon interviews my parents went through with immigration officers in Kiev, Ukraine and in Moscow, Russia. What I remember is leaving my childhood, my friends, my life as I had known it in a small town called Smila, Cherkaskiy oblast, and move to a country I only saw in Beethoven (the movie about st Bernard dog) and seen in pictures from the lives of Americans who visited our town.

Fun fact, we now live just feet away from Beethoven St and drive on it every day to get home. I do think about that movie often as it was my favorite for years, I really thought that it was exactly what life was like in United States. I just didn’t know it was called suburbs. Also, feel free to send me that movie on dvd if you find it, I can’t wait for my kids to watch it with me.


So many people from “back home”, as it’s not home and hasn’t been my home for years, thought and talked about America as the country with money and opportunity and money. The way I remember growing up, the memories I have, the good times and the bad times, I know all my memories are coming through the glasses of a naive girl who didn’t grow up with opportunity and felt alone most of her childhood. Maybe one day I will be able to talk about my memories of growing up but for now my heart is filled with greatfulness for what we have. Moving to united states at 14 years old where we were sharing a 2 bedroom half of a house with 8 siblings and an outhouse for the bathroom; if you didn’t catch that, it means no toilet inside the house. Fast forwarding 15 years later I am a wife and a mom living in a 5 bedroom house with 3 (three!!!!) bathrooms ALL inside. I learned the language, learned how to drive a car, got rid of my accent (mostly), earned a degree in English education, started a business, and married an African American who now takes me traveling everywhere.

Another fun fact. The first time I saw a black person in the actual person was at the airport, at 14 years old. I remember it at JFK, but I am sure we saw them on the plane also, I just probably don’t remember.


15 years is a long time. It feels like a lifetime because my life is so different now. Sometimes I wonder if I will even remember my childhood and life in Ukraine because I never think about it anymore.


This country offers so many opportunities for every single individual who will take it. There are so many second chances to get back on your feet after a bankruptcy or losing a home, you have a dream – and you have the tools to achieve it if you look for it. It’s the definition of hard work pays off, my parents are the example of that. We all had worked to get ahead in every opportunity that was given us, and I’m so thankful for the freedom to be able to do that here, in a country I am a citizen of.


My parents now speak English, own their own home, have multiple cars (they still have teenagers at home who drive). I was the first one out of my family to finish a bachelors degree and this year my brother is graduating with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and another brother graduated college last year as a Ceramics Engineer. I can list so many things that my family has come through from good to bad, from food stamps to a life we have now, and I am greatful for every single person who made a difference in my family’s life through this journey.

It’s almost impossible to list every one – but I will do my best to tag you all on Facebook – thank you for your support, prayers, financial support, teaching me to drive, driving my family around when we couldn’t, and being a part of our story!


Tomorrow I will talk about my get americanized list – a list my friends in college created for me as I was going through the process of getting my green card. It’s a fun list for sure and one of the things on there is probably going to freak out my dad a little… if he reads this that is. So subscribe or stop in tomorrow!

I hope you enjoyed my stories and going down memeory lane. Even though I got everything on my list checked off, the things I am most proud of are the accomplishments I talked about earlier, the education, the travel, and opportunities to experience so much in America that I wouldn’t have otherwise.


Treasure our country! I say as an American now and it feels strange because I’ve never said “our” in reference to this nation; treasure the freedom and take every single opportunity there is. You owe it to all the immigrants who came here years ago and made it possible for your life to be on this continent.

I am immigrant.