Yearly Archives: 2015

Travel Inspired Birthday


We celebrated Evelina’s first birthday at the zoo in San Jose, Costa Rica. Our wobbly walker was all over the place, pointing and looking like she knew just what to do. A real animal lover, that one.

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Shortly after, we followed it up with a travel inspired party in Tennessee for family and friends. It was held at the airport in a nice spot overlooking the runway, which felt perfect for our tiny traveler.


The tassel banner was the same one we used at our baby shower and it hangs in Evelina’s room in Tennessee. The travel cases were my Grandmother’s. (Evelina has her feet! :) I stuffed one with pink roses, and filled the other with popcorn.


I ordered two simple white cakes to decorate myself. The pom banner is from Michael’s and my Mom had the “E” on hand in her craft supplies. The globe and silver plane were also decor Mom had on hand. I was all about using things we already had!


I cut triangles out of an old atlas to make a banner, printed square prints at Walgreens of our favorite photo’s from this year, and pinned them up with miniature clothes pins.


The second, larger cake was decorate with a paper pom and tiny paper airplanes.

The butterfly is from…Big Lots!


I also scooped up her intials at Micheal’s for a buck each! Perfect to use in her room later!

Travel party

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I created a photo backdrop with gold wrapping paper and poms. We took lots of group photos but unfortunately my camera settings were off and they’re not exactly blog worthy, but memory worthy for sure!


Happy Birthday, E!

We love you!


Evelina – One Year


I feel like I was just posting her first monthly update, and here we are, one year in. And what a year it’s been!

That little face up there, I kiss 1,000 times per day. Watching her personality develop has been one of the biggest highlights of my year. Motherhood is quite a ride. A combination of heightened emotions, a new kind of exhaustion, and amazement. From watching her discover her hands, to feel helpless over her first “boo boo”. The excitement when she started sitting up, and then all of a sudden, becoming a wobbly walker. The change and growth in the first twelve months is really just unbelievable to me sometimes, and I’m so grateful for these moments.

Here is what life looked like in month twelve:


  • Weight: 21.5 pounds
  • Length: 23.5
  • Eyes: blue
  • Hair: blonde
  • Size:  size three diapers.  Size 9 – 12 months in clothes.
  • Looks: Like Alex and various family members on certain days. So interesting!
  • Personality: Happy and ENERGETIC. She’s a girl on the go! She got a heart full of love, kissing or patting on people and objects.
  • Nicknames: Juice, Juicy, Jubish, Bubishta, E
  • Feeding/Sleeping:  Still getting formula but loving solids, too. Potatoes, green beans, fruit smoothies, and bites of anything we’re eating are her recent favorites. She doesn’t seem to like cold foods at the moment, even food she likes otherwise. Bedtime is around 7-8pm and wake up is at 6:30/7am. She takes a decent morning nap but afternoon rest is hit or miss.



  • Animals. The pointing, the “mwah”-ing, it’s just too sweet!
  • Walking! She took her first steps on November 2nd and life became a big game of chase ever since.
  • Laughing. Especially a big, over-exaggerated laugh like her dad.
  • Remote controls, Christmas ornaments, plastic kitchen items
  • Giving hugs! And they are the best, head laid on the shower, maybe a pat or two, kind of hugs. The BEST I tell you.
  • Reading book.
  • Rubbing baby powder on her belly after shower.
  • Putting things in, and taking things out.
  • Discovering everything. 
  • Events and excitement. She is definitely an extrovert.



  • Playing alone.
  • Blankets. She has a 6th sense for kicking them off in her sleep.
  • Sitting in high chairs.


Other highlights and happenings this month: 

  • Trips to Playa del Carmen and Cancun
  • Pointing to “ask” for things.
  • Pigtails!
  • Shaking her head “yes” and “no”.
  • Saying a few words: bottle, baby, bubble (which all kind of sound like “babu”), Ellie or (“eh-yi”) for her elephant paci, mama, dada, and a very high pitched “ki-ki” when she sees a kitty.
  • The 7th and 8th teeth.
  • Discovered the fun of parks. Slides and swings are ok, but grass and dirt are better. :)
  • First Thanksgiving.

Adiós, Mexico

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Tomorrow we leave Mexico and we’re pretty sad about it. If everyone were as nice as Mexicans the world would be a better place. From helping us with our limited Spanish to lending a hand when needed, we’ve been touched by the kindness we’ve felt over the last few weeks. From Puerto Morelos, to Tulum, to Playa del Carmen, and finally Cancún – it’s a little hard to believe we’ve been here for more than a month, the time truly as flown. The days were a blur of baby life, beach moments, and spreading the buzz about my new biz, Fosterie.

In a few days we’ll celebrate Evelina’s first birthday (and if you think I’m shock that this is happening you’d be correct.) Then, it’s time to head home for the holidays (and hopefully cool off a bit.) I can’t think of a better way to close out this year than spending time with my family in Tennessee. We started this adventure almost six months ago and as wonderful as it is, everyone needs a little break once in a while.

Birthday updates and more coming this way soon!

Thanksgiving & Grace

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If I could only choose one thing to be thankful for this year, it would have to be this little girl right here. At this time last November, I was in the final days of pregnancy. And this year, we’re a little less than a week away from celebrating her first birthday. (And, no, I have no idea how that happened either.)

I never could have imagined anything quite like this motherhood journey. The amount of love. The instincts. The savoring of every moment so much it hurts. Every age and stage is bittersweet. From the first moment I held her, the first time she smiled, rolled, sat, stood, cooed, crawled, and most recently, walked. It’s a year of never-ending firsts that happen all to quickly. A new skill or funny face, transformed or forgotten for the next. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it, they said. I didn’t blink, but I already miss it.

This is my last “first” holiday with her and I’m emotional about it.

Alex asks me why I always want to cry when we talk about her growing. And I really don’t know. I’m happy she’s happy. Healthy. Smart. And sweet. As much as she’s learning, also am I. The love she brings to this life is as tangible as reaching out and grabbing it. She has Evelina Grace’d my life with the hugest blessings that come in the form of petite moments. Seeing eyes light up at her first baby doll, experiencing my parents as grandparents, my friends as “aunties”, her tiny, tender hugs, the joy she (and we) find in simple things.

It’s a love so pure and astounding that I think maybe I fear one day it’ll disappear, as quickly as her cute snorty face laugh, or her tiny kicking chicken legs all day every day until one day they just didn’t. But then she started giggling like a little girl and it made my heart smile even bigger. And she stopped kicking because she decided to walk. When she holds my finger for support with her tiny hand my insides turn into a puddle of mush. And maybe that’s why I cry. Because I’m so happy about what she’s done that I forget to think about what’s to come. And because I don’t want to forget a single second of it.

I am so grateful for the “firsts”. And glad they were the first of “many’s”.

So here’s to the past, the present, and everything beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and mine to you and yours!

(And thank you for reading the words I write and supporting me here and elsewhere. It truly means more than you know.)

Introducing, Fosterie


coming soon*butterflies in my belly*

I’m very excited (and a little nervous!) to let you in on a little news…

But first, a story.

Travel has always been an important part of my career and my personal life. It’s an eye opener and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much – different cultures, different surroundings, different struggles.  It brings awareness to what’s really important like nothing else can.  From hungry children in Cambodia and Nicaragua, lack of maternal and infant care, to the lasting effects of natural disasters, the scenes are sometimes hard to stomach.

On the other hand, we get to see beautiful places, meet wonderful people, and my personal favorite, a first hand look at local artisans and their stunning handmade products.

Motivated to combine my experience in retail buying and passion for travel with a greater purpose, the idea for Fosterie was born. To “foster” means to encourage or promote development and I’d like to do just that.

lifeofuseMy goal was to partner with a philanthropic institution as a recipient to a portion of proceeds but I struggled to narrow it down. There are so many causes I’m passionate about, how could I choose just one?

Thankfully, serendipity took over and I was lead to Heart to Heart International, an organization that strengthens communities through improving health access, providing humanitarian development and crisis relief worldwide. From disaster response and community support, to children’s health and medical labs, they go where the needs are domestically and internationally, providing Care Kits, volunteers, and supplies and I am absolutely thrilled to have partnered with them. (They’re narrowing it down for me!) And most of all, I’m elated to announce that for each item purchased from Fosterie, 10% will be donated to Heart to Heart International.

For now, I’m beginning with a small collection of bracelets, inspired by my first souvenir living abroad. My hope is to further expand very soon, adding more jewelry styles, as well as unique, handmade accessories from around the world.

The shop will officially open this Friday, November 28th. There’s a line up of holiday sales on the roster (as well as a few giveaways!), free shipping (every day, yay!), and lots of love coming your way so please give it a like on Facebook and a follow on Instagram for the latest scoop (and a few sneak peeks in the meantime). And please, spread the word!

On Thanksgiving Eve, I’m filled with gratitude for this opportunity and am so thankful for your support as friends and readers. I truly hope you enjoy these items as much as I do.

Inspired by the places where we’ve left our hearts, making a mark in the hearts of others.Launch


P.S. The blog isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to stay! :)

Chillin’ in Cancún


After tons of playtime in Playa del Carmen, Cancún gave us a chance to hunker down and catch up on things. We stayed in town, outside of the main stretch of beach and tourist area, so we really only biked to the beach once, which was exhausting for my out-of-shape self in the heat. After all that struggle, the ocean shore was murky and we never made it back to water after that. Two weeks passed quickly with Alex and Evelina catching a cold and me trying to launch Fosterie in time for Thanksgiving. We biked around town some, but mostly I loved all the parks and shady sidewalks between neighborhoods, so I could take Evelina for walks and let her practice wobbling around on the grass. (You’ve gotta see this vid.) Once she realized that we had a little routine down, we couldn’t pass the slides and swings without her pointing and wanting to stop. One day, I met a Russian mom and her baby, so we met up with the family for dinner later that night. Traveling has introduced us to so many people we wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths with, it’s truly a gift.

We didn’t take many pictures of our time there, but I do love these few.

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And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard our “shark” story, but it’s like a total thing now. Everywhere we go it seems like there’s some kind of shark reference. (And yes, that’s a shark stroller.) Had to have a pic of this artwork in the park!

Playin’ around in Playa del Carmen

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We spent two awesome weeks in Playa del Carmen. This touristy spot was kind of the perfect stop for us after months of exploring smaller cities and beach towns. To have everything we needed at our disposal, (hi Walmart!), endless food options (to cook or to dine out), and a quick walk to the beach – we were in Heaven. We ate our weight in street food (so much flavor!), met up with a super awesome fellow travel fam we’d connected with via Instagram and became IRL friends, and drank a responsible amount of local beer.

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We also took the ferry over to Cozumel a few times, which made me pretty seasick, but was fun once we were back on land. (Side note, did anyone else’s equilibrium change after pregnancy? I’d spent tons of time on boats before baby, but my stomach can barely handle it now…bummer.)

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We visited Chankanaab on Cozumel, a place I’d been once before with my cousin on a cruise and it was strange to be back there with Alex and Evelina. Mainly because it was during that trip two years ago, as I laid on a massage table in the shade by the beach in February, that I realized there are places in the world where it’s summer year round, and I wasn’t currently living in one of them. (Life back then looked more like this.) When I got back to Chicago, I told Alex we should move to an island, and the rest is history. We don’t live on an island. (We don’t really live anywhere). But it’s always summer where we are! Chankanaab isn’t a place I thought I’d ever be back to, and it was pretty fun to experience it with an almost one year old.

Evelina was absolutely glued to the water show. I knew she liked animals, but whoa.

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She basically sat like this whole time…


And she got kissed by a sea lion!

She’s part mermaid though I guess it makes sense.

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Ciao, PDC. Onward to Cancun!

Time in Tulum

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Mexico has been amazing so far. We recently spent some time in Tulum, which wasn’t anything like I anticipated, though not a negative thing, just different from what I invisioned based on information that floats around.

After our time there, in my opinion, there are two Tulum’s. One, the strip of beach filled with resorts, vegan restaurants, yoga studio’s, and darling shops. And two, the town, about a 35 minute bike ride inland. We stayed in town, and I’ll tell you, without the beach breeze to cool us down and blow away some mosquitoes, it’s a different situation than the Tulum that supermodels and celebrities probably experience. That said, our time in there was pleasant and I loved the bike path’s along main routes. We had our little routine of an early breakfast at home, a mid-morning walk to the coffee shop, street food for lunch, and afternoon naps. And since the seaweed was running rampant, we only visited the beach once day during our week stay, but it was lovely and the pina colada made it worth the almost heat stroke I endured riding bikes to get there.

Something I continue to realize the more we travel, is the contrast of what you hear about places versus reality. Never have I heard about the extreme heat and mosquitoes in Mexico like I did warning us against Nicaragua. However, I don’t ever remember being this hot, or this covered with bites in Granada… Interesting, huh?

Our rental home came with bikes, one of which was equipped with a baby seat, and Evelina loved sitting behind Alex as we rode. I would pass by and wave and she would just smile and giggle. Seeing her experiencing these little things really does fill me with simple joy.

And now, for a few photo’s.

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Onward to Playa de Carmen!

P.S. More Tulum you might have missed – Halloween and the Mayan Ruins.

This trip was Ruined


While in Tulum, we also visited the Mayan Ruins. In all honesty, it so blazing hot that day that we barely stopped to read the signs and information posted around the site. Sad but true, we rushed from one to the next, trying to find the next shady spot.  I do find the Mayans so interesting, what bits I’ve picked up being in Mexico, and I’m searching for a good book or documentary so I can learn more. In my past life I always researched places and things before visiting, but as our time between destinations is shorter and a toddling almost toddler under foot, I’ve developed the habit of going where the wind blows then wikipedia-ing later. Here are some of pictures taken before we both thought we were going to faint in the heat. (Seriously.) (If you plan to visit bring water!) True to my easily distracted form, I also took about 98 pictures of sunbathing iguanas, a few I will bestow upon you below.

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P.S. More Tulum!