flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

I don’t talk much about working out on this blog. For a lot of different reasons. But mostly because my workouts are boring these days. And I’m usually ok with that.

I tried it all–every kind of exercise and diet–in my 20s. I was always worried about calories and weight. And I tortured my soul (and my thyroid) restricting both. I yo-yoed between two or three pant sizes for ten years. And it wore me out.

When I blew out the candles on my 30th birthday, something happened.

I changed.

After two really rough years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, I decided it was time to be kinder to myself. To go a little easier on myself. On my heart–and my soul. 

I stopped all the crazy, hard work-outs. And even crazier, harder diets. 

I fell in love with yoga and barre because neither hurt my body.

And I read the book “It Starts with Food”–that Whole30 thing. This was a life-changer for me.

And that was that. 

I’m 35 now. I run a little. I yoga a little. I barre a little. I don’t own a scale. And I eat real food.

My heart and soul–and body–are happy and healthy. And I haven’t changed pant sizes for years.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I get bored and lazy with the same old exercise routine. Don’t we all? Sometimes we’re so busy (I hate that word) being a wife and a mom and really hard-worker at our desk-jobs that we lose a little bit of our spark. The spark inside our hearts and soul that gets extinguished by all. of. the. above. 

And for me–that’s usually when the universe starts whispering. 

Last week she whispered to me through an Instagram post of a woman flying through the air with the greatest of ease–on a silky trapeze.

I just reread that and it made me laugh out loud. But whatever. She did. 

I knew I needed to try something new and different to liven up my old exercise routine and bring back a little of that good, old Angie-spark. 

I signed up for an aerial fundamentals class last week at Defy Gravity CU. And it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

The instructor was kind and patient–and made us all feel welcome and comfortable. We warmed up and did a few strength and stretching exercises and then we got to work on the hoop.



And the trapeze.


I was so nervous. I think all of us in class were. Flying through the air on a hoop–or a trapeze or silks or anything–is a little out of this mom’s comfort zone. But all the other gals in the class were so encouraging of each other. It was amazing and uplifting. And refreshing. 

Defy Gravity is a pole fitness and aerial arts studio (located at 24 E Green Street, suite 11 on the north side of building) in Champaign that welcomes people of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages–no matter what your fitness level. Their classes are designed to help you not only gain strength, confidence and a positive body image–but to also interact with a diverse and supportive community that will cheer you on as you meet your goals and have loads of fun. All of their instructors are certified aerial fitness professionals with the knowledge to make your experience safe and energizing. 

Did you read that? Everybody is welcome. Word. Also refreshing. 

I got a great work-out and felt so cool flying around the air on a bunch of circus apparatus. 

And I only farted (loud) once. Whoops. The instructor assured me it happens all the time. Phew. Bahaha. 

And when I left the studio I felt that good, old Angie-spark I haven’t felt in awhile. Boom.

I’m going to keep going back. I like work-outs that don’t hurt and still make me sore the next day. Check and check. My abs are still tender almost a week later. And I like working out with gals and guys who share good hearts and souls–and that good, old spark.

Feeling bored with your work-outs? Defy Gravity CU is having a Black Friday sale today. They’re offering a one month pass for $80. Sign up. Tell them I sent you.

We can all fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Let’s all be daring young (wo)men on the flying trapeze.

on loving yourself. even in a swimsuit.

So this week I got in the pool. 

. . . 

Yesterday morning when I was running around frantically packing the pool bag before swim lessons Johnny grabbed my hand and stopped me in my tracks.

Why don’t you ever swim with us in the big pool, mom? 

Good question, sweet child of mine. Good question. 

In my head I have a million reasons. 

Because I need to shave my legs. Because my boobs are a 36L, as in long. Because I can’t find a good one-piece swimsuit made for a tall person so I wear a two-piece–and I really shouldn’t wear a two-piece. Because everyone will see I have stretch marks and a mom pooch and my butt is bigger than it used to be. 

Oh Angie, stop. Please stop.

I didn’t say any of that. I told him I didn’t know he wanted me to swim with them in the big pool. 

And I put my swimsuit on. 

. . .

I don’t love myself as much as I should. And I worry way too much about what other people think or say–or rather what I *think* they are thinking or saying. 

It’s just who I am and how my brain works. And you don’t have to beat me up about it. I already beat myself up about it all the time–and then I beat myself up for beating myself up. Ugh.

But I don’t think I’m alone. Actually I know I’m not.

I’ve nodded my head along to all those articles about how moms should just put on their swimsuits and get in the pool or the game or the picture or whatever–we all have. Because it’s easy to nod your head and shout YES while you’re reading those articles. But it’s a whole other kind of hard to put your money where your mouth is–or your swimsuit over your long boobs–and dive in.

I’m not going to tell you to put on your bikini and get in the water with me. I’m not going to tell you what you’re missing by sitting on the sidelines or staying out of the picture. You’ve already read enough articles like that–and you know. 

I am going to tell you I get it. I feel you. I do. Sometimes diving in is just too hard.

I think we could all be a little easier on ourselves–a little kinder to ourselves. We could try a little harder to love ourselves like we love our people. We could all try a little harder to replace some of our negative self-talk with some positive. 

And we can stop beating ourselves up for beating ourselves up. One round of that shit is tough enough. Right? Right.

I think I can handle that. And you probably could too.

. . .

So this week I got in the pool. Damn it.

My kids were happy–and I was happy. And nobody thought or said anything about anything. Not a thing.

How about that. 

Oh and that negative self-talk? It was still there–I’m not going to tell you it stopped with one quick dip. Ha. But I heard less and less of it with every splash.

Happy Summer, friends. I’m working on loving myself as much as I love these guys–and all of you. XOXO.

This pic is an oldie. From two years ago, actually. I know, I know–I’m working on being the mom who stays in the picture too.

A Father’s Day Gift Idea. With J Hilburn.

Father’s Day is two weeks from today. Need a gift idea? We have you covered.

Our pops has always been a sharp dresser. But last year he came home with some new shirts that took his sharp dressing game to a whole new level.

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He’d met with J Hilburn personal wardrobe stylist extraordinaire Sara Seed a few weeks prior–and she hooked him up. Look how handsome he looks in his J Hilburn shirt!

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Sara Seed just happens to be one of my favorite high school teachers–if you’re a townie I’m sure she was one of your favorites too. And now she’s a personal wardrobe stylist with J Hilburn. She meets her clients at their convenience (at no charge and with no obligation) to set up a unique measurement profile and help create clothing that is fit and styled exclusively for them.

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J Hilburn delivers quality custom clothing and personal styling services at a price that won’t break the bank. They offer exclusive Italian shirting and trouser fabrics, luxury performance knits and a top-shelf accessories line that marries the best in handmade designs and European quality. Each of their garments is crafted from fabrics that have been carefully selected from some of the finest mills in the world (more often than not, the mill is Italian).

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Their custom shirts are my favorite–they are beautiful and unique–and a perfect Father’s Day gift for our pops and yours. This shirt of Danny’s was cut on the bias with a split yoke on the back–so sharp, right? You can even have the shirts embroidered with anything you’d like–dad’s initials, kids’ initials or even I Love Dad.

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And would you look at all their fabric choices?! Something for everyone. Boom.

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I invited Sara over last weekend to show you how quick and easy it is to set up a unique measurement profile. Even with my two little “helpers” running around she was in and out of our house in less than 30 minutes. Check it.

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Why, yes–of course they are tying each other up with Sara’s measuring tapes.

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Along with her measuring tapes (she measures 16 different points)–Sara brings her big book of choices–all the fun stuff to customize your look.

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One more thing–Sara and J Hilburn can make a dress shirt (or any other garment or accessory for that matter) for dad AND mom–or anyone who loves beautiful, unique clothing that fits perfectly. Because–guy or gal–who doesn’t love a crisp dress shirt? So fly.

Here’s Sara’s website www.saraseed.jhilburn.com. Check her out. You can give her a call today–217-898-5495. Or shoot her an e-mail at sara.seed@jhilburnpartner.com. Tell her I sent you. And if you think her job sounds like fun–it does, right?–let her know that too. She’s always looking for new stylists to join her J Hilburn styling team.

Thanks for coming to play, Sara. Danny loves his new special shirts. And Happy (early) Father’s Day to all the papas (and the mamas who serve as both the mamas and papas) out there. XOXO.

paleo soft and chewy double chocolate cookies. and the cutest apron.

We’ve been celebrating World Baking Day all week over here. Strawberry Banana Coconut Muffins, a rhubarb pie (from scratch, never again) and these PaleOMG’s Soft & Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies.

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The cookies took the cake. They were good. So good.

And how cute is this little apron?

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The kid on my hip is pretty cute too.

I have a thing for aprons. I’ve amassed quite a collection–a whole drawer full of them actually. This apron–a coffee shop design (allllll the caffeine. she knows me too well)–came from my girlfriend Alexandra at Altruist Aprons. Alex is a crafting and sewing queen and an animal lover. She really, truly has the biggest heart–she gets it from her mama who is one of my favorites too.

Alexandra sews all her aprons (and pillows!) by hand, made to order. Check her out. And treat yourself to one of her sweet little creations (this blue floral vintage apron has your name all over it, don’t you think?). Oh and you can spice up your kitchen look and help fight animal cruelty at the same time. Alexandra donates $2 from each of her handmade apron sales to Animal Equality International, a non-profit organization that aims to defend all animals through public education, campaigns and investigations. So win, win.

. . .

Here’s the recipe for those PaleOMG’s Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies. Enjoy.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup thick almond butter (Make sure it’s not too oily or the cookies won’t come together. A few of our cookies kinda fell apart, this is why. They were still delish.)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix almond butter and coconut sugar. Johnny was begging to use the “mixing gun”. image.jpegDon’t do it. It made a huge mess. Just use a spatula. Then add the egg and stir again until well combined.

3. Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder at a time. I used my hands to knead the cocoa powder into the dough. Add all the cocoa powder and knead completely.

4. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and chocolate chips and knead until everything is well mixed. It’s messy, but eh. (Your dough should be a very thick. If it’s not, you need a thicker almond butter).

5. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and form into round balls. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I had enough dough for about 14 cookies.

6. Once you’ve placed all your cookie balls onto your baking sheet, use a fork to press the cookies down just slightly.image.jpeg Don’t flatten them, just get them to look more like cookies than balls. If you press them down too much, they’ll come apart when they bake so be careful–this happened to some of mine. Again, eh.

7. Bake for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheet to place on cooling rack. If you try to remove these from the baking sheet too soon, they’ll fall apart. You were warned.

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Ours went straight from our baking sheet to our mouths. And I didn’t Maggie Hockenberry them either. I ate four, maybe five. And then I answered the door and had a long conversation with the Fed Ex man with teeth covered in double-chocolate cookies. Nice work, Hat.

TGIF…

ode to the minivan.

Full disclosure. I sell cars. I have since college. I work for Napleton’s Toyota of Urbana, formerly O’Brien Auto Park of Urbana. And they’re paying me to write this post. So read it. Share it. Click on and through the links. And if you’re in the market for a new vehicle (Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Mazda or anything pre-loved) give us a shout. We’d love to earn your business. You will help me convince my boss this kind of advertising works–the honest mom kind–and I’d love you forever for that.

Also full disclosure. I would have written this post anyway. Even if they weren’t paying me. Because I really really really love my Toyota Sienna Minivan. And I want to tell you allllll about it. 

. . .

I remember my girlfriend Carrie telling me once that she loved her minivan more than her husband.

It was before I had kids so I didn’t really *get* it. I thought maybe she’d (we’d) just had one too many glasses of wine. And we had. Or she was trying to flatter me–her favorite car salesperson. And she was.

But at that time she was a mom of two little baby girls–and she was 100% serious.

Five years and two kids later–I get it, Carrie. I feel you. Sorry Danny. Haha. I love my Swaggerwagon so hard.

. . .

I got pregnant with Dean when Johnny was just a few weeks old. I was lugging around a heavy infant seat and soon realized I’d be lugging around two heavy infant seats. I felt the need to make my life as easy as possible. So I traded in my SUV for the mother of all vehicles–literally. The minivan.

We bought our Toyota Sienna four years ago. And I love it just as much today as I did that first day we brought it home. Here are my top ten things I love about it–in no particular order.

1. Smart Key and Power Sliding Doors and Rear Lift Gate. Look ma, no hands (literally)! Unlock, lock and open the sliding doors and lift gate with the click of a button. So handy for a mom who has her hands full.

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2. It’s spacious. Mine fits eight passengers. Plenty of room for my good vibe tribe. Here’s a pic of us from a few years back–Danny, Uncle Nic, Nanny Carol, the boys and Grandpa Hat and me (in the way back). We ride around like this all the time. So. Much. Space.

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3. The back-up camera and parking assist. I can see what’s behind me. And my van beeps at me when I get too close to anything–like the side of the garage–which I hit twice with my old car that didn’t have this feature.

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4. Dual View Entertainment Center with ear phones. They can hear their show. I can hear my music. Win. Win.

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5. Sun Shades. Keeps the sun out of their eyes. So I don’t have to listen to them whine about it.

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6. Climate Control. Backseat passengers can control their own AC and heat. And the driver and front seat passenger can control their own too–perfect if one of you is cold blooded and the other is hot blooded. And now you’re singing that song.

7. Navigation with touch screen. Because one of us is always getting lost. And the other hates asking for directions. You can guess who is who.

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8. Safety Features (Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, Blind Spot Monitor, Front and Rear Parking Assist, Air Bags, Latch systems in four locations, including lower anchors and tethers on outboard secon- and third-row seats. Child Anchor Locks. Ummm…all that because of all that precious cargo. Enough said.

9. Eco Driving Indicator, MPG. Soooo, I may have a little bit of a lead foot. Or I did. Before I discovered this feature that lights up to tell me when I’m driving in a way that conserves gas and emissions. Now I drive super slow. Boom.

10. These hooks on the back of the way back seats. And the way these way back seats fold down. The hooks are great when I actually remember to bring my re-usable grocery bags to Schnuck’s–or when I don’t (they hold plastic bags too).

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Or if I clean out my closet and want to drive around for three months with three bags of clothes I need to donate to Goodwill. Please tell me you do that too. Whoops. And four bag chairs I drag around all week for Saturday morning TBall games).

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. . .

I could probably come up with 100 things I love about my minivan. Tons of cup holders, tons of nooks and crannies to hide snacks and hair bands, the hands-free Bluetooth phone, a CD player (yes, I still listen to CDs), satellite radio and USB port, how my husband looks driving it, etc.  But you get the gist.

And something else to love? Toyota is offering $1000 rebate or 0% for 60 months (to qualified buyers) this entire month of May. What’s better than free money? Nothing. Nothing is better than free money.

Thinking about a minivan? Come see us at Napleton’s Toyota of Urbana. Tell them I sent you. And get some Swagger(wagon) love in your life. You’ll thank me, I promise.

realer than real deal holyfield.

I may or may not be listening to that song right now. It’s Friday, lay off.

. . .

We ordered Chinese for dinner twice this week–and Pizza Hut once. But I also cooked a few healthy meals for my family too because I like to cook–and I really like to cook healthy meals for my family.

I have three laundry baskets and all three are exploding clean clothes all over our bedroom floor today. But the laundry is done–and the dishes are too–because I’m home all day on Fridays. And I feel accomplished when the hamper and the kitchen sink are empty.

There are board games everywhere–strewn across the floor of our basement–scattered in between 7000 Imaginext figures and 9000 Legos and puzzles and trains and play food (and probably some half-eaten real food too because I have little kids and that’s how they roll). But the rest of my house is spotless and organized because I want it to be–and I don’t mind cleaning and organizing.

I yelled at my kids before school today. And we haven’t built a snowman or been sledding yet at all this winter–oh the horror, I know. But I know I’m a good mom. I genuinely love spending all my free time with my kids–just not outside in the freezing cold. Ha. I know they feel my love from all angles.

I’ve been lazy this week and I’ve worn the same pair of yoga pants and an old college sweatshirt every day since Wednesday. But today I ran and barred because health and fitness are important to me. And tonight I’m going to make-up/big-hair/hot-pants-it-up because we’re going out and I like feeling pretty–and looking fashionable.

I’m nervous and anxious–about everything and nothing at all. And I always want everyone to like me. But I’m still open and honest–and authentic–and I put it all out there even if it scares me and no one likes it–or me. I’m proud of myself because writing–and living–this way takes gumption.

I think it makes us feel better to know we’re all kind of a mess. But I think it’s important to remember we’re all kind of amazing too. And to celebrate both.

There’s beauty in the breakdown. And beauty–in the beauty. It’s important to appreciate that juxtaposition.

Here are a few pictures Johnny took with my iPhone last week–proof that my bed’s not ever made, the laundry (and apparently every board game we own) really did explode and the real me is almost always no-make-up/no-big-hair/no filter/barre-sweaty.

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But these pictures are also my favorite pictures anyone has ever taken of me–of us.

Because they’re real–the real deal. They’re proof of just how hard I love them. And proof for years to come that even when it was messy–it was awesome.

I’m a mess. But I’m awesome too. I’m not apologizing for either–and neither should you. There’s beauty in all of our real-deals. It’s time to celebrate it.

Happy Weekend, XOXO.

stella ella ella ella. with katy behnke.

A few months ago I posted this picture of my chicken scratches on Instagram.

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It was what I pictured my blog looking like when I’d close my eyes–scribbled out at 2am when I couldn’t sleep the night before.

I’d been thinking about writing more–writing this blog–for a long time. And I knew if I posted that picture of my scribbles–and put it all out there–there’d be no turning back.

My girlfriend Katy Behnke was the first to comment on my post that day. She said, “Yes!! Pretty pumped for this! Can’t wait to follow along!” Yaaaaa, buddy–big high fives for girlfriends who believe in their girlfriends.

I’ve known Katy for twenty-plus years. We went to grade school together. She’s a *little* bit younger than me–ok, a lot younger. But we still have a lot in common. We’re both true townies. We’re both in sales. We’re both toddler boy-moms–so we both really like wine. Ha.

She’s smart and sweet–and stylish. And she’s someone I really love and admire.

Katy’s an Independent Stylist with Stella and Dot. Stella and Dot is all things accessories–jewelry, watches, bags, wallets, purses and scarves. She can help you host a trunk show to share her exclusive accessories with your girlfriends in the comfort of your own home–or online. And she can also help you choose and style your accessories for any special occasion or just an everyday look.

For the past few months she’s been sharing her fabulous jewels with me–and helping me style all my fly looks. I’ve had so much fun wearing all her pretties.

Here are a few peeks of my favorites. See something you like? You can order anything from the Stella and Dot catalog here. And anyone who places an order–large or small–through that link will be entered to win my absolute favorite earring of all time–The Raven Earrings.

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Look at those beauties. They’re feathers and sparkles and rose gold–the most fly combination. And they’re sold out–they really are exclusive. So treat yourself!

Let me know your favorites. And thanks to Katy for sharing her jewels (do I *really* have to give all this stuff back?!)–and supporting a girlfriend. XOXO.

. . .

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We all know I love all things Hippie-Boho-Kimono. So I think this Totem Pendant Necklace, Bracelet and Chandelier Earring were pretty much made for me. You can wear the necklace and earrings three different ways too. Also shown, the Turquoise Stone Cuff and the Alila Lace Cuff–and my nostrils and part of my staircase.

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These may be my favorite necklaces of alllll the necklaces. The Crescent Necklace and the Arc Pendant Necklace. Delicate–and a little bit bad to the bone. Also shown, the Mondrian Ear Jacket–it can be worn four ways.

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The best part about all these Stella and Dot accessories is how well they layer together. Love this Legend Pendant and this New Moon Necklace. Again, delicate and bad–in a good way.

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The new Stella and Dot spring collection boasts a ton of little chains–on necklaces, on bracelets and on rings. This is the Swag Necklace. I wore the Drape Collar Necklace and the Bridge Bracelet Chain Ring to dinner last night–so fly–check them out online.

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Rose Gold. I guess I’m late to the game on this one, but I really love it. This is the Tiered Lariat Necklace. And it looks amazing with my wicked pre-cancerous mole removal scar (that’s what that is, for any of you wondering) and the Raven Earrings I’m giving away to one of you lucky shoppers.

The Stella and Dot Rebel line was also made for me. Ha. This Rebel Stone Statement Necklace may not make it back to you, Katy–sorry! I wore it with the Aria Drop Earrings and Aria Cuff to pretty much every holiday party I attended this season. If big statement necklaces aren’t your thing, try the Rebel Cluster Necklace with the Rebel ring–it’s perfection too.

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Last but not least, the Eden Tassel Lariat Necklace and Chandeliers. The necklace can be worn three ways. If these don’t scream SPRING IS COMING!! I don’t know what does. Love, love, love.

. . .

Just so you know, I’ll be featuring a local sponsor (could be people, could be places, could be things–all fly stuff I love) once a month for these Fly as a Mother blog posts. I appreciate you supporting the local businesses that support me. Check out all Katy’s Stella and Dot goodies online this weekend. Treat yourself to something fly. And I’ll let you know who wins those fabulous Raven Earrings by the end of the month. Happy Saturday, XOXO.