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Strength comes in all sizes

This post was sponsored by Floating Hospital for Children as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. Thank you for supporting brands that support my blog.

I glanced over the packet of papers the genetic counselor handed me and Sam over the cool, white table in her office. Numbers and percentages and words like “Tay-Sachs” and “cysitc fibrosis” filling the page. I furrowed my brow, not quite sure what to make of it all, and I felt my heartbeat quicken in my chest and the anxiety over what this all meant settle in my stomach like a piece of lead.

“Good news,” she said with a broad smile on her face, “You are at no greater risk for carrying any of these diseases than the general population.”

At that moment I realized I had been holding my breath, and let out a deep exhale. My heartbeat returned to its normal cadence and I felt that relief pour over me.

Before I was even pregnant with Eve, I already had the health of my future children on my mind.

Eve-birth

Sam and I are both of Ashkenazi Jewish decent, meaning that both of our ancestors are Jews from Eastern Europe. My family, which came to the United States in the early 1900s, can trace its roots back to Russia and surrounding countries, and Sam was born in Moscow and emigrated with his family when he was six years old.

While this hertiage ties us together on a deeper level, it also put us at greater risk for being carriers of a host of genetic disorders.

Even though we are both healthy, we wanted to make sure before we tried to have children that we weren’t putting them at risk for being born with a debilitating disease that would cut their life short.

Fortunately, since we live near Boston, an area reknowned for its top-notch medical care, we were able to go make an appointment at Tufts Medical Center for genetic testing. We met with a genetic counselor, who talked us through the process, the various diseases we could potentially be carriers for, and the testing process.

A blood draw each and a few weeks later, and we were thankfully in the clear.

As parents, there is almost nothing we care about more than the heath of our children. In Eve’s 2 1/2 years, we’ve dealt with a few fevers, constipation (and a resulting x-ray that she was not at all happy about), colds, a double ear infection, a stomach bug, and two bouts of conjunctivitis.

We’ve been, knock on wood, really fortunate so far.

kitchen_helper

As the daughter of a pediatric oncologist, I know all too well that unfortunately that is not always the case. I have seen my dad carry the weight of caring for his young patients — the pain they feel, and the fear that they and their parents face.

Fortunately, for families in the Boston area, they can turn to Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

They are committed to creating a child-friendly environment to help kids feel strong when they may be scared and physically weakened.

I remember as a little girl going to visit my dad at the hospital where he worked and playing in the playroom there, a space designed to be inviting and take children’s minds off of the reason why they were there. At Floating Hospital, they really bring the fun to an extraordinary level. There are monthly mini-horse visits to the inpatient floors; pet therapy dogs; and The Toughlings, small and mighty animals that can be found around the hospital to remind the children there how strong they are.

Toughlings

(My personal favorite is Elbo, the octopus with seven legs.)

Floating Hospital also offer Child Life Services through caring individuals who are trained to help children and their families deal with the stress of hospitalization through play. With a background in child counseling, I understand the importance of play and what an incredible tool it is for children to use to work out complex feelings that they don’t yet have the words to express. Floating Hopsital pionereed play, incorporating it it into their daily routine.

For children who don’t require hospitalization, Floating Hospital offers a convenient network of of pediatric specialists right in their community. In those cases where an emergency arises, they are able to see children quickly with their 24-hour child-centered Pediatric Emergency Department which is equipped with a play waiting area. They also offer this fantastic tool called InQuicker. For children who have a non-life-threatening emergency, parents can check in at home so they don’t have to hang out at the hospital indefinitely waiting to be seen.

It is through the dedicated staff and array of programs that Floating Hospital reminds children “You Don’t Have to Be Big to Be Strong”.

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They say that breaking up is hard to do

2016 has been a year of growth and change in my business. I started out the year working with a business coach who helped me to make some improvements and to realize where I want to go with Linkouture.

I am in the midst of a seismic shift with the jewelry part of my business. I have decided to massively scale back from shows this year and am hoping to get my jewelry in more stores. After months of tinkering and investing in some metalsmithing equipment for my home, I have decided that to revamp my entire line of jewelry. (You can see a preview of it on my Facebook page.) I even took the plunge and hired a local photographer to do all of the product photography!

I have also decided it’s time to say goodbye to all of my old jewelry, and I am having a massive sale in my Etsy shop, with pieces up to 60% off!

Swarovski crystal pendant neckalce

Sterling silver chunky bracelet by Linkouture

The pieces will be up through the end of May or whenever I am ready to launch my line, whichever comes first. If there is something you have been eyeing in the past, now is your chance to snag a great deal. Once the pieces are gone, they’re gone.

Check out the sale now!

 

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3 smoothie recipes to start your day right

As a Stonyfield YoGetter, I received free Stonyfield and Barlean’s products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

I’ve been working hard to fight off the temptation of sugary breakfast cereals. They taste so darn good, but talk about unnecessary (and unhealthy) calories.

A few months ago I started making overnight oats, but I also like to mix things up a bit. I have found when you have something delicious to look forward to for breakfast, it makes it that much easier to get up in the morning (especially when you’re all snuggled up in your warm bed when your internal alarm wakes you up at 5:00 am most mornings!).

As an alternative to overnight oats, I like to make breakfast smoothies. When done right, you can pack a lot of nutritional punch into something super tasty. (I also really like what a portable breakfast or late-afternoon snack they make!)

Start your day right with smoothies made from Barlean's and Stonyfield!

I fit in a little creative time in the morning experimenting with smoothie recipes, seeing what fun and delicious combinations I can come up with. When I was given several bottles of Barlean’s Omega Swirls and Super Seeds to try out, I was able to take my smoothie-making to a whole new level.

Start your day right with smoothies made from Barlean's and Stonyfield!

(First I had to fight off Sam and Eve with a proverbial stick, who dove right into my bounty to experiment with some pancake recipes. They practically used up my stock of Flax-Chia-Coconut before I had a chance to write this post!)

Eve-pancakes

I generally eat healthy, but I find it doesn’t hurt to add in things like fiber and Omega-3s into my diet where I can. Unlike gel capsules, Barlean’s Omega-3 Swirls are creamy and delicious without any of the oily or fishy after-tastes (as Sam and his mostly full bottle of omega-3 capsules sitting in our pantry can attest to!). They come in a variety of delicious flavors such as Mango Peach Fish Oil, Key Lime Fish Oil, Orange Cream Total Omega, and Pomegranate Total Omega.

No more hitting the snooze button in the morning! You'll practically leap out of bed in the morning to a enjoy these delicious smoothie recipes featuring @Stonyfield Yogurt and @Barleans Omega Swirls and Super Seeds. They pack a nutritional punch that will start your day off right! #ad

Along with Barlean’s Forti-Flax and Flax-Chia-Coconut blend, when paired with Stonyfield yogurts and fruits and vegetables, you’re off to a delicious and filling start to the day!

No more hitting the snooze button in the morning! You'll practically leap out of bed in the morning to a enjoy these delicious smoothie recipes featuring @Stonyfield Yogurt and @Barleans Omega Swirls and Super Seeds. They pack a nutritional punch that will start your day off right! #ad

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

No more hitting the snooze button in the morning! You'll practically leap out of bed in the morning to a enjoy these delicious smoothie recipes featuring @Stonyfield Yogurt and @Barleans Omega Swirls and Super Seeds. They pack a nutritional punch that will start your day off right! #ad

Blend together the following ingredients

Peanut butter chocolate smoothie

Peanut butter chocolate smoothie

Blend together the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain Stonyfield yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Barlean’s Fortiflax or Flax-Chia-Coconut blend

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Tropical fruit smoothie

Blend together the following ingredients:

Want to try out these recipes for yourself? I’m giving away four bottles of Barlean’s Omega Swirls and two coupons to redeem Stonyfield Organic Grassfed Yogurt for free. 

Enter the giveaway now!

(You must 21+ and a resident of the U.S.)

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4 reasons every parent needs a creative outlet

As parents, we pour so much of ourselves into the care of our children.

Love, attention, time. It often comes at the sacrifice of our own needs. We may have days, weeks, months where we feel tired both physically and emotionally, drained from that constant giving.

I have found in order to be the best mom I can bea parent who is happy, engaged, fulfilled, and able to reign in my own feelings when I am on the cusp of losing it — that there is one thing above all us that allows me to be that parent.

Namely, having a creative outlet.

Today I’m honored to be at Parenting from the Heart sharing with you four reasons every parent needs a creative outlet.

Think you're too busy as a parent to make time for creativity in your life? You'll see just how beneficial it is and why you absolutely need to make time for it!

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Don’t let the shyness hold you back

Aunt Jojo likes to tease me about our friendship that almost didn’t come to be. When we were about eight years old, Nana and Jojo’s mom decided that she and I should be friends. They arranged a playdate and Jojo came over for what I’m sure she was expecting would be an afternoon of fun. After all, she had seen me a Hebrew school on Sunday mornings acting all giddy and silly and full of non-stop chatter with my childhood best friend, Liz.

Instead, what she got was a playdate dud.

Aunt Jojo, who has always been outgoing and friendly and quick to make new friends, spent an afternoon with someone who barely said two words.

When asked how our playdate was, Jojo told her mom, “I don’t think Bev likes me.”

Thank goodness a bad playdate didn't interfere with us becoming friends
Thank goodness a bad playdate didn’t interfere with us becoming friends

While I can’t be 100% sure of what was going through my 8-year-old mind that afternoon, I can guarantee that I wasn’t so unfriendly because I did not enjoy Jojo’s company, but rather because I afraid of being myself in front of a new person.

That loud, boisterous, fun girl that Jojo saw when I was with Liz turned into a very different person around those who she did not know as well. It was not a reflection of the company, but instead of my own tendencies to be subdued and quiet around new people.

It is no wonder Aunt Jojo thought I didn’t like her.

Looking at your mama now, you would probably never guess that I was ever like that. It took me over a decade to outgrow that shyness.

Bev-fourth-grade

 

That personality trait, fortunately, never entirely held me back. I dove head first into opportunities where I didn’t know anyone. My first summer away at sleepaway camp when I was nine; a 5-week trip to Israel at the age of 15 when I was a self-conscious teenager with bad skin; a semester in Madrid living with a host family that did not speak English; a move to Boston, over 200 miles away from my family, and with only three friends in the area.

And yet, there are moments I look back on that I regret that resulted from being so reserved around many people.

I was a good student, but I imagine I could have been a great student had I pushed myself to share my ideas and speak out in class. I probably could have been a leader had I not been afraid of saying something wrong and looking stupid.

Sometimes I see that shy little girl in you. I see that you can be a reserved around new people, though you definitely thrive in one-on-one situations. (By the way, I absolutely adore that you’ve hit that stage where you talk to and play with your peers. Right now it’s one of my favorite things about being a mom of a two-year-old!)

I just want you know that while there is absolutely nothing wrong with being shy — and in fact I think it’s an asset to be observant of those around you, as you seem to do — I don’t want it to hold you back.

I want you to always be yourself and to be comfortable in your skin and to speak your mind and share your thoughtful, creative, insightful thoughts.

(Ok, you may only be two years old right now, but I have faith you will think many thoughtful and creative and insightful things!)

Don’t let the fear that you might be wrong — and we’re all wrong at least some of the time — or what people might think of you get in the way of being the strong, intelligent, imaginative person I know you will be. Allow yourself to meet new people and put yourself in new and strange and maybe even uncomfortable situations. The people who are worth your time and energy and thoughts will respect and appreciate what you have to say.

And you could end up making a lifelong friend from it.

Bev-Jojo-Dana

This is month four of the “Who I Am” project. This month the prompt is “How you have changed since you were a child” and like my previous posts, I wrote this as if I were speaking to Eve (and any other children I have in the future). 

Who-I-Am-project

The “Who I Am” project is a year-long monthly series that my friend Dana at Kiss My List started, as a way to create a virtual scrapbook of your life to tell your kids, grandkids, spouse, friends, or whoever who you are. You can link up our posts, which goes live the third Tuesday of the month, on either of our blogs, and sign up to receive the prompts at the beginning of each month via e-mail. The themes so far have been Childhood, Love, and Quirks & Habits.

Who I am Project

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