Our deepest fear

dyaa-eldin-103.jpgToday I packed up my little office cube, as my company prepares to move from the suburbs to a downtown office. I filed a little piece of paper with my favorite quote and wanted to share it with you all (all = mom and friends).

This little quote was given to me by an old co-worker. It has been a daily reminder, always pinned up near my phone or monitor for five years. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me want to do more and push myself past that slightly uncomfortable feeling to get to the other side.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates other. – Marianne Williamson

I think this quote might be slightly altered from the original but this version has been starting at me for five years and I wanted to share it with you. Because we need a reminder every now and again a reminder that our playing small does not serve the world.

Here’s to playing big!

Five Tuesday Reads


Happy Tuesday!

What’s your email style? I like to keep my inbox to a few hundred messages and marvel at co-workers that can sift through a few thousand. I organized my space today, re-read saved articles and wanted to share the best with you:

  1. Have you ever created a stop-doing list? I love the idea.
  2. The bittersweet space in motherhood of wanting to press the pause and fast-forward buttons.
  3. Eight ways to bring more joy into your home. Why am I so scared of #5?
  4. I’ll gladly accept this definition of supermom.
  5. The sweetest little book! I ordered one for Louie and can’t wait to see his eyes light up at the familiar faces and photos.

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the last few days before the holidays!



This space has gathered a fair amount of dust over the last few months. It would be easy to say that life is busy and I simply can’t find the time to write and share. Truth is, Happy by Design’s mantra hasn’t aligned with my life stage since midway through my second pregnancy. My son Louie just turned one so, yeah, that’s a lot of dust-gathering.

During intense seasons of motherhood, I essentially – and unintentionally – lean back, shut down and outsource. For me, it’s not the time to pursue passions or try something new. I attempted to get into weaving small wall hangings during pregnancy, in order to give my eyes a break from one of the multiple screens. Patience was thin, the DIY loom had issues and work always won.

Our family had to shift to make space for our son, Louie, and I unknowingly took a break maximizing, foraging ahead and trying anything new. Rather, I looked inward and focused on the essentials to keep the family afloat.

So, now what? It’s been a few months since the fog has lifted and, dare I say, it feels like there’s a regular cadence to our life.

My first pregnancy led me to create a personal blog where I tracked my daughter’s progress and confirmed that parenting cliches are indeed true. It was a space for me to share the “firsts” with family and friends and process my thoughts through writing.

Happy by Design was created because we had an itch we wanted to scratch, to explore other things that fill our hearts in addition to parenthood – our careers and health. But here’s the thing, those three topics: motherhood, career and health – they are not on the same playing field. Although training for a race, by nature, requires discipline, mental toughness and running shoes; motherhood is MOTHERHOOD and requires all of you. It’s an art, not science – and art gets messy. 

Today, Happy by Design means living an intentional life that includes big plans and mini-milestones: house projects, travel, community with a few personal and professional goals (vague enough?). What I’m getting at is this site will go on with thoughts on motherhood, wellness and DIY home improvements attempts.

Are you wondering, “What about Jamie?” We are fierce friends and our writing pursuits led us in different directions. Her space is about her thoughts and pursuits in writing, reading, career and life. I highly recommend checking it out and subscribing to her updates. I’m not just saying this because she’s one of my closest friends but her point of view is always spot-on, interesting and hilarious.

I’m thrilled to restart this little engine and refuel it regularly. However, if I need to hit the pause button and this space ends up in the repair shop, once again; thanks for understanding because, life!

A clean house equals a clear mind

"Wait...are you sure we're doing this right?"

“Wait…are you sure we’re doing this right?”

Today, I was able to get some deep cleaning done, open the windows, get some things organized, and just in general NOT think about all of the other chaotic parts of our life. It actually made me feel like I accomplished something this weekend and like I wasn’t a complete mess.

So enough with the woe is me schtick. Let’s talk about how easy it is for your kid to embarrass you at Target.

Ohhhh so easy.

Today I took Jackson to Target after his nap. We were mostly picking up cleaning supplies and then trying to find a rain coat for him (success on both fronts, if you must know).

While in one section of the store, he proclaims that he found a ball. We weren’t even near a toy section, but lo and behold he holds up this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ball like it’s the Ring of Sauron (my precious). He’s so ridiculously happy he found it.

And personally, I was happy too. It was an incentive to keep him in line while we were wandering through Target. “If you’re good and stay by me, maybe we can get that ball.”

Except that….it wasn’t your normal ball. It’s shape was not exactly round, but more like when you smash 30 bouncy balls together and call it a day. It never went where he intended to bounce it. Which resulted in a lot of him jutting out in front of someone or their cart and me going, “JACKSON, WATCH OUT!”

Did I get a “Sorry mama!” Of course not. The little twerp looks at me and says, “No, YOU watch out mama.” Luckily for him, he wasn’t screaming it at me, but more like lazily using my own language against me like a teenager distracted with video games. I really didn’t even have a response but to sigh and then pull him over towards me.

Then at one point after repeatedly telling him to hold on to the ball, not to bounce it, he let it fall and then broke away from my grip. He went for it, but a woman stopped it with her foot. She and her husband looked at me with this weird expression that seemed like a mixture of pity and confusion.

I, of course, went into embarrassing mom mode and sputtered out the following, “Argh! I’m sorry. It just doesn’t…it’s not like a regular ball…it’s like one of those…” but before I could even finish, she just pushed it back over with her foot and then turned around and walked away.

It was awkward, to say the least.

And yet, I just kind of laughed it off. It was almost comical how disheveled and frazzled I looked at that moment, letting my kid run around Target with me. But he was so happy to play with that ball. And I was okay putting up with it….this time, at least. So really, it may have cost my dignity and three dollars, but all in all, that’s a price I can afford to see him light up for a couple minutes when he’s not being a complete psycho (which I’m told is just a phase, and I’m holding on to that for dear life).

Tomorrow it’s back to reality. Normally, I’d look forward to going back to work and digging in, but as the tables have turned, it was nice to get some real work done on the house this weekend – both house projects and cleaning some much-deserted areas of the house.  And also nice to see some friends, be outside and play with footballs, basketballs, baseballs and even odd-shaped bouncy balls.

So happy Sunday to you. Regardless of how you spent your weekend, I hope you got to find a couple moments to take a breather before the work week begins again.

The calm before the storm

Me: Jake, get in the shot. It's a family shot.  Jake: Wait I'm not rea--

Me: Jake, get in the shot. It’s a family shot.
Jake: Wait I’m not rea–

Today is technically my Friday. The next two days I’m taking PTO and I’ll return to the office on Monday. What are my big plans? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I scheduled this time off a couple weeks ago anticipating that I would need it. Right now, work is in our not-so-busy season, so it makes sense to take time off before it heats up again in a couple months. So that’s not the metaphorical storm I’m referring to in the title of this post. It’s the storm of change starting to swirl around our home life.

I’m finding, much like everyone else on the planet, that I’m a creature of habit. I didn’t realize how much this was true until I started to be confronted with these changes.

Here’s what’s going on in our house.

Potty training

is taking off. In a good way, though! Jackson is taking to it really well, but because he’s too short to get on the potty, he still needs our helps to get undressed, wipe, etc. Honestly, I could relay the adventures for the past month, but there aren’t too many horror stories. So yeah, go us!

New toddler bed

We’ve had over a week with his new toddler bed. Or should I say, The PAW Patrol bed.

Crib turned toddler bed turned PAW Patrol hangout.

Crib turned toddler bed turned PAW Patrol hangout.

That was quite the adjustment for the first week. There was a lot of training and enforcing the rules of not getting up to play or going to the potty 800 times. He’s doing well at night. He only came into our bed once, the first night, and then after that he would call for us if he needed something. So week 2 is going better. Now, it’s just funny to see how his morning rituals have changed because he can just go roam the house for whatever he wants. Case in point – this morning he came into the bathroom to find us getting ready. I thought he had just woken up. Turns out, he had been up, gone down to the living room, found Jake’s iPad and navigated to the App store where he was just about to purchase something related to Super Why (a PBS show). But it wasn’t working and he needed help. So THEN he decided to go find us. Ummmm…alright. Lesson learned. Keep the Apple TV remote and the iPads out of reach before we get downstairs.

The nightmare that is selling a house

The real REAL storm, though, is preparing our house so that we can put it up for sale in June or July. Ugh. It’s the WORST. Have you been through this? Since this is our first home that we haven’t rented together, we’ve never had to go through the “selling” part of it. We’ve only ever had to figure out which house to buy and cleanly break off our rental agreement. Oh to be in that luxurious situation, now.

Here’s the kicker, we’re not even close to listing it yet. I mean, we’ve just started down the path of DECLUTTER EVERYTHING, so you ask why am I complaining? Because it’s already hard. It’s already disruptive. It brings out the worst in us (okay maybe just me). It’s a break from our typical weekend routine and it’s just all around stressful.

We have too many conversations around, “No, here’s what we NEED to do to get the house ready” and we’re both novices so it’s really just one “man’s” opinion against the other’s. Not to mention, there’s the almost three-year-old who isn’t totally cool just doing his own thing. There are moments of that, yes, but for the most part it’s a lot of divide and conquer in our house. Jake will work on the basement while I play stomp rocket with Jackson in the park. I’ll look through the boxes that Jake wants me to sort through and he’ll play dump trucks in the living room and change the channel eight million times for a boy who can’t make up his mind. And nap time? Yes, that’s the one time when we can both work on something together. But as a parent, that blows SUPER hard. Excuse my language, but it does. Do I want to take the one opportunity to rest and relax and gather my senses to go dive through boxes and clear out clutter and make hard decisions? No. Never. But that’s our life for the next…however many weeks.

So I grumble. But I’ll do it. I’ll pitch a fit and disagree…but I too just want to get the damn thing sold.

And this orneriness from having to do things I don’t want to do (yes, I know I sound like a teenager. I get that vibe too.) has ripple effects in other areas of my life. If I’m going to spend 2 hours sorting through boxes than I’m sure as HECK not going to go workout. Two icks in one day? Nope. Dinner? We’ll see. Cleaning? Well what’s the point. We’re just going to get it all messy anyway. Reading and writing in my spare time? No, I need THAT spare time to make up for the loss of my weekend spare time.

You see? It’s just disrupting everything. I become a person with excuses, not an overcomer of obstacles. And I don’t like being this person. So I very much can’t wait until we’re in our new house. And I’m glossing over SO many steps that need to happen so let’s assume that will be November of this year…the perfect time for work to get crazy again.

Stop complaining? Yeah. I should. 

I was just about to hit post on this bad boy when I went out to our About Us page to quickly glance through what had been written almost a year ago. Man, we were certainly chipper, back then! Okay, okay, we still are. But here’s the passage that struck me. It’s the part near the bottom of the page…

Why are we here? Because we follow our passions and our passions include motherhood, careers and being good to ourselves. We don’t wake up and stumble upon happiness. We set our alarms a few minutes earlier so we can enjoy coffee before the rest of our household wakes up. We run during nap time. We want to be rock stars in the office. We work hard in order to enjoy a glass of wine (or three) at the end of the day. Like you, we strive to be happy and we design our lives to make it happen.  

Am I living up to this? I know my alarm hasn’t been set in over a week, that’s for sure. And maybe I can’t run during nap time (see above), but am I taking some time for me? Not as much as I should, but tomorrow and Friday are a good start. Am I rock star in the office? I mean, I guess there’s always room for improvement. But finally, am I designing my life  in a way that works towards being happy? Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but I know it’s because I’m the middle of the journey. So I think that answer is yes.

So here’s to a little time off, a little R&R, and maybe a little extra coffee over the next two days…before the storm continues on.

How was your Easter?

Don't let that innocent face fool you. He's got one thing on his mind. FIND THE CANDY.

Don’t let that innocent face fool you. He’s got one thing on his mind. FIND THE CANDY.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I’ve got about five minutes left in the tank because we just got back from an extended Easter weekend up near my side of the family (Hudson represent!).

So my only question is, how was your Easter weekend? Did you do anything special? Do you have any annual traditions that you celebrate?

The weekend before Easter, we spend with my husband’s side of the family and his extended relatives. It’s always a good time to see everyone, and it’s the same time every year, which is nice, because then we can celebrate with both sides of our families.

However, Easter on my side of the family is kind of a toss up, right now. Last year, we stayed in Milwaukee and did our own thing. This year, though, we went back to see the family. Now that little man is almost three, it ‘s definitely more fun to be surrounded by all of his cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., so I have a feeling we’ll continue to head up there for Easter in the next coming years.

The hunt is on.

The hunt is on.

And how was the trip? Overall, it was a lot of candy-fueled excitement. Which was fun, but kind of taxing at times. In a nutshell, here’s how it went:

Friday: Driving, pee stop, driving, lunch, 1/2 hour nap, driving, pee stop, arrive at my parent’s house, play, play, play, tantrum, bed.

Saturday: Play, breakfast, tantrum, play, lunch, play, tantrum, nap, visit cousins, bathtime, tantrum, bed.

Sunday: CANDY!!! OMG THE EASTER BUNNY CAME!!! tantrum, breakfast, play, cousins arrive, play, lunchtime, play, tantrum, nap, more cousins, early dinner, CANDY!!! EASTER EGG HUNT!!!! play, tantrum, tantrum, tantrum, OMG THESE TANTRUMS, pass out at 9:30 from tantrum-induced exhaustion.

Monday: Breakfast, getting ready to leave, driving, pee stop, driving, lunch, driving, home, unpacking, playing, dinner, bath, bedtime snack, bed.

Were there a lot of tantrums on Saturday and Sunday? Heck yes. But that’s what’s to be expected with too much candy, not enough sleep, and a lot of new situations and dynamics to deal with. Oh but that’s not an excuse. Believe me, there was almost an equal amount of time outs happening with those tantrums. There’s never an excuse to behave like a rabid Saint Bernard by the name of Cujo (you think that’s an exaggeration, but there was a point where grandpa was actually bleeding from something little man threw at his head).

All in all, though, it was a good weekend. And since it was the first time we’d been up there since Christmas, it was great to have some quality time with that side of the family.

So spill it! I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Annnnddd….go!

Making sure no stone is left unturned. Or in this case, no planter pot left uninvestigated.

Making sure no stone is left unturned. Or in this case, no planter pot left uninvestigated.


The tank ran dry at approximately 8:38pm last night

Even super woman has to put her foot down, sometimes.

Even super woman has to put her foot down, sometimes.

Sometimes, when you have a long day, doesn’t it just feel good to write down exactly how long of a day it was? Well, bear with me, because that’s what is happening. It’s not about who does more or who is more productive, or who has their sh** together. It’s just to say, “Phew! Glad that’s over with. Let’s get on with the next day!”

And with that I give you a pretty common place day in my world, with one minor exception. Jake wasn’t around most of last night because he had to go to a secret meeting of men who gush about how much they love their wife and child(ren)…I can only assume. Otherwise, he would have been my partner in crime.

4:30 am – wake up and go work out
6:15 am – shower and get ready
7 am – fight with my almost three-year-old about why he has to wear underwear to daycare
7:40 am – leave the house
8am – fight with almost three-year-old about the need to go to daycare instead of running into the street
8:02am – carry kicking and screaming almost three-year-old into daycare
8:03am chase almost three-year-old around classroom trying to get him to remove his coat and hat
8:05am – leave daycare with a, “Good luck!” to his daycare teachers and drive remaining two blocks to work
9am – meeting
9:30am – meeting
10am – hour-long meeting
11am – hour-long meeting
12pm – eat while on a phone call/meeting
12:30pm – rush to get some other projects tied up
1:30pm – two-hour team session
3:30pm – meeting
5pm – leave office to pick up almost three-year-old from daycare
5:05pm – go look at the bunny he made that day
5:07pm – still looking at the bunny he made
5:15pm – leave daycare and drive home
5:50pm – bribe son to sit on the potty
6pm – set out to make sweet potato french fries.
6:15pm – dance party to Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift
6:45pm – attempt eating sweet potato french fries
6:50pm – make toast for son who declares, “These aren’t french fries!”
7:30pm – help almost three-year-old go potty, put pjs on, brush teeth, find blankies
7:45pm – watch “just one show” together on mama’s iPad while snuggling in bed
8:10pm – put almost three-year-old to bed
8:20pm – go sit with almost three-year-old so that he can calm down because he’s upset that he has to go to bed
8:37pm – finally get almost three-year-old to be okay with going to bed if he has the “big blankie”
8:38pm – go back to bedroom and think at the same time, “Finally I can get some writing done!” and “Oh my god I need to go to sleep.”

For all the rough moments and failed dinner attempts, yesterday, there were still some silver linings. I worked out AND I did about a half hour of writing/editing last night (even though the tank ran dry at 8:38pm last night I managed to make it on fumes for a bit longer). And for all the fights with an almost three-year-old, there were still a lot of fun moments in between.

Tonight might be more of the same as we’re getting ready to head up to my parent’s house for a long Easter weekend, but at the very least, this morning we got to daycare on time and not ONE fight was had. Success…for today, at least.

Do you ever do the above and make a list of everything that happened the day before? How does it make you feel? I’m curious because I’m energized by knowing that I survived such a hectic day. Others though? I wonder if they see it as overwhelming. Share how you deal with crazy days like this.

Brought to you by the letter, “W”



I’m writing this post on a Saturday night and it’s sponsored by the letter, “W.” Anyone want to take a guess as to what that could stand for?

Oh you’re all so clever!

Okay, let me just get into it before the W really kicks in.

This week was HARD. Hard. With a capital “H.” Nose to the grindstone, mess with the bull and you’re going to get the horns kind of hard. Hard.

And now it’s the weekend. And according to hubby “WE’RE OFFICIALLY ON VACATION!!!” But I’m not. It’s seems I never get my timing right on these things. I have a couple more things to wrap up before we officially leave for our Florida vacation on Monday. It’s how this always goes. He goes into “I’m on vacation!” mode and then I get jealous and hide in corners of the house trying to wrap up those few last things (which, let’s be honest, it’s never a few things, it’s always a lot of things that I have to be dragged away from kicking and screaming until he finally plops me in the vacation spot and I look around and go, “Oh this is nice! Okay, let’s do this for a bit!”)

I wonder if it’s just me or if this happens to other people. I want to be so present on my trip to Florida that I’m worried that if I don’t get EVERY LAST THING DONE before I go that I’ll just constantly be thinking about those things. And then what good is a trip if I can’t even get away from those things in my mind? Alas, I will get away from those things.

I mean, it’s Disney. DISNEY. Oh my goodness, I’m finally going to Disney World! I’m so excited. And I’m excited to have five days of adult freedom with the hubby.

No “When was the last time he’s eaten? Has he had any protein? Do you smell something? That’s him, right? Jackson, KEEP YOUR SHOES ON! Wait, where is the chapstick? Oh it’s on the floor collecting dust. GET OFF OF THE DESK. THIS IS NOT OUR HOME. Fruit snacks? No I don’t have fruit snacks. You can have an apple. Apple juice? No, that wasn’t an option. Where is grandma? At her house. Yes, her house. Why? Because that’s where she lives. No, you can’t go there now. KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON IT’S FREEZING OUTSIDE.”

None of that. Of course, I say all of that knowing I’ll TERRIBLY miss all of that, but alas, he will be having the time of his life hanging out with the grandparents for five days. And I’m sure I’ll get in some good craziness when we pick him up next Saturday.

But alas, the W is getting low and I have “a couple more things to wrap up” so I’m going to stop now so that I can go be “productive.” (FYI – those were all air quotes denoting sarcasm…not actual quotes)

Happy Saturday night, you hooligans!


So this is Christmas…

It’s officially Christmas day. The presents have been opened from Santa and from family (all but a few saved for when the rest of the family joins us at lunch). I’ve got my coffee cup in hand and am bracing myself for the bountiful energy and excitement to come as cousins and  second cousins (to Jackson) and aunts and uncles and grandparents and great grandma (shout out to grandma Nelson!) gather at my parent’s house to celebrate the festive occasion.

A moment to reflect

We are so grateful for so much. Grateful to spend time with loved ones. Grateful that our biggest problem right now is the spotty WiFi (gotta write this quick!). Grateful that we can wake up on Christmas morning in a warm house filled with love and glittery ornaments and overflowing presents and relatives from afar. Grateful that we can make memories. Grateful that we can snuggle on the couch together and watch our favorite Christmas movies (or Bubble Guppies….so much of the Bubble Guppies).

When I think of all I’m grateful for, I go back to a conversation I had with a couple coworkers last week. One of my coworkers was talking about her experience as she and her daughter visited a women’s shelter to deliver the presents they had bought for the family they “adopted” over Christmas. She knew it was important to show her daughter the harsh realities that others live on a day-to-day basis and she wanted her to realize how lucky they were to live the life they lived and how important it is to give back to others in need.

She stopped her daughter just before they got in the car on their way out and said, “You see? Our problems…you think they’re problems. They are not problems. They are nothing compared to what these families go through. Please remember that and be grateful.”

Her daughter, living the life of a new college freshman is old enough to understand the message her mother was imparting. But as someone who once lived that life, I can tell you it’s likely that that message won’t sink in for years to come. Still, it’s good to do your best and keep your little ones grounded to the truth at any age. And I applaud her for this.

 Moments of joy

I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the kids opening presents last night, so here are some of Jackson opening his presents from Santa, this morning. As a note, this is from my parent’s living room as we’re celebrating the holidays up here for the next couple days.

Starting to unwrap presents

The near and the dear ones, the old and the young…

A very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any tears.  -John Lennon-

Enjoy your time with loved ones, this holiday season.


Santa in a tub. Need I say more?

Why? Just...why?

Why? Just…why?

Okay, admittedly, I probably do need to say more.

Have I told you all how much I love Christmas? Even to the point of combining it with Thanksgiving in order to truly extend the season into November? Thanksmas ring a bell? Okay moving on. You get the point that I love Christmas. Well, as I love it so much, I have started scouting out my go-to Christmas music playlists. I found the good ones on streaming stations like Pandora and Songza. And now, I’ve found a three-hour long medley of Christmas songs on YouTube.

I was elated. Mostly because my employer recently chose to block Pandora and Songza and I now have to resort to Youtube playing in the background (also, dear employer, please don’t block YouTube).

Anyway, most of the medleys are just a continuous screenshot of some warm, fuzzy Christmas scene. Maybe a decorated tree next to a roaring fire (in a fireplace, not like out in the woods or anything…weirdo), maybe a nostalgic picture of a Santa looking at his “list.” Most of the images are pretty common place.

And then, there was Santa in a tub. I kid you not, Santa in a tub gets a good chunk of time throughout that three hour medley. Check it out for yourself (or just use this as a way to listen to an AMAZING Christmas playlist…you know I won’t judge).

And then I started to think about who would come up with this as a decoration idea? Who thought to themselves, “You know what our living room display needs? A big fat Santa undressing and slipping into a nice warm tub. But don’t worry, we’ll just use white stuffing as the body. Totally normal. Nope, nothing weird about that.”

Also, can we talk about the teddy bear? How does that make sense? Have you ever taken a stuffed animal with you into the tub? Let alone, when was the last time you saw a grown man take a bath? I mean, I know of a couple individuals who used to take baths and I completely don’t judge them, but I’m just saying, it’s not the typical advertisement for selling bath bubbles.

I realize there’s no way to wrap up this Santa in a tub story in an elegant manner, so let’s switch gears and talk about one of my favorite clips from New Girl. Basically, the fit of giggles I get from watching this clip is about equivalent to my immediate reaction to Santa in a tub.

Puuuuuupppy……in a….ccuuuuuuuupppppp. I’ve so been there, girl.

And that about wraps up the deep thoughts I’ve had today. Yeah, not much going on upstairs, obviously. But I hope you got a bit enjoyment out of this.

Cheers, friends!

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