9 Months of Gifting: Celebrating a Long-Distance Pregnancy

When my sister announced her pregnancy last month, a surreal moment happened and I saw her in a way I never had before. It was new and it was delicate and it was warm. She’s going to be a mommy.

Since she lives across the country and I won’t be experiencing the subtleties day-to-day, I decided to remain aware of the monthly changes and engage in her nine months of growth by sending care packages—one every month leading up to her delivery day.

And while I’ve been absolutely seduced by the baby category, I’ve decided to focus solely on sister. As with any expectant mother, she’s still a woman going through tough and new changes with her body, as well as a wife still in need of connecting with her husband.

So I’m thinking couples massage bars from Lush, Blue Apron dinners, booked facials, and easy solutions like the Hatch Layers Bag. Since she loves and misses Michigan, I might toss in some things from home like Traverse City cherries or fudge from Mackinac Island (where she and her hubs were hitched!).

This month I sent along the Mom's One Line A Day Memory Book that will log her next five years from bump to toddler. The time baby spends in the womb is so fleeting, you know? I loved the idea of looking back a year later and reading about the small and seemingly insignificant while your baby was still brewing.

For beauty and other gift ideas for the expectant mother, I'm digging what Mother magazine suggests here and here.

Turning 29: Redefining Life's Stages

I turned 29 last month.

We ran off to the water to escape the wake of buyers making offers on our house and backing out, car trouble and career moves, and to forget the viscous house selling cycle we were caught in the loop of.

To just be.

Without a preconceived plan, we hit up Lemonjello’s in Holland to take coffees out to the beach. The winds were high that day, making the hot cup in my hands even better and perfect for the cake in the back of my car. It was a chocolate and flourless recipe by the Mast Brothers—I’ll have to give it to you. It’s only four ingredients and stupid rich and dense and perfect.

We soaked in the hours—the day to ourselves—unfussy and unplanned. For weeks we’d both been so stressed and worn to the bone, I just let myself alone. I didn’t reflect on the past year, not because I don’t believe in its importance, but because I didn’t need to. Instead of looking back at what I accomplished, I let it all go. Stayed present. Tapped into my senses. I’m a serious advocate for giving your body what it needs, and that day I just needed to be clear of mind.
I believe society holds preconceived notions about where you should be and what you should’ve accomplished in your 20s. But I call bullshit.

I used to get down on myself when I’d read about other twenty-somethings nailing a lofty position in New York or Chicago. As I got older, I realized I didn’t want New York. I didn’t want Chicago. Or Seattle. Or Portland. Or San Fran. Or even hip Palo Alto. 

During my last year at college, there was a major push by the faculty to get out. Detroit didn’t even count. Just move away. Get out of here.

But I didn’t want to. I had a mad and fierce conviction about it too. This was my home, and this place had marked me. I knew the roads well, and had history with its cities. I grew up on the water and never felt more at peace when I’d return to it. It’s where my ancestral tree took root from Germany, and where my parents were living out their golden years. I found my love for Michigan wine in the summer, road-tripping up US-23, and all the hidden gems like Hollander’s and French Paper Company. The four seasons were in wild distinction, there were peninsulas and islands to explore, and mad beer to experience.

And I was going to strip myself from all this… in the name of the job?

No. I’m not done here. And my sole purpose in life is not about chasing the corporate dollar to prove my “worth” to the Joneses.

No. The job doesn’t define me. My identity falls somewhere deeper. Somewhere unshakeable. Somewhere between a place of empathy and acceptance. A place of mindfulness and essentialism. Where the care and keeping of relationships with others as well as your own body presides.

So hello, 29. May this be a year of growth, opportunity, contentment, and courage. And to hell with the standard benchmarks.

Summer 2016 Musts

Earlier this week I was in the grocery store restocking up on sun lotion and sparkling water when I saw it. The end of season sale. The floor had been cleared and there stood all the gardening tools, grills, patio lights, and lawn chairs in their discounted glory.

As I write this—bum planted on a blanket in the grass, shoes off, hair up, the sun dipping low to the west leaving a warm humid breeze—I must say,

Summer’s not over.

I was an August baby, and have lived Indian summers my entire life. July is merely our midpoint. Our peak. And while this season has been a bit more tied up for the two of us due to Chris’ new position and our impending move, there are still a few things left on our non-negotiable list to round out this summer:

1     Go to a wine tasting and try something we've never had before.
2     Try stand-up paddle boarding. At sunset.
3     Hit a new trail north of here.
4     More beach days, more bonfire nights.
5     Shop all the indie art fairs.

Something I’ve recently been introduced to and now love is Eventbrite. You're able to look up any city, even remote areas up north, and save happenings you want to get to. One of my favorite finds is a free summer cocktail workshop that's just screaming for a backyard party under the stars (scroll through what else I’m planning to hit up and add to my non-negotiables right here).

So summer is not over babes. Grab your sunscreen, chill the aloe, and hit the road with me.
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