MY BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY

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Pregnancy is very intimate and personal to each individual woman. The experiences are different, the symptoms are different, emotional are different etc. There are so many women who provide pregnancy advice and tell you all about their awful pregnancy experience (just take it with a grain of salt). It is also okay, to kindly decline hearing any negative pregnancy experiences.

I know women are trying to be open and honest about what I could possibly experience, however, when I want to discuss a specific situation about pregnancy I will ask for advice. I want to put myself in a different mind frame. I do not want to go into labor and delivery scared or intimidated because all that does is interferes with the production of oxytocin. I have full confidence that my body knows what to do, after all we were created for this.

I found myself anticipating a negative experience early on because that is what I was ‘conditioned’ to believe. When I release all that negativity and decided to embrace my own pregnancy journey and just block out everything I had been told, my experience has been amazing! I am almost 9 months pregnant and still very active.

I believe staying active through this journey has been beneficial. They say staying active helps with labor, so anything to help with that process. I also work out daily because self-care is very important. I focus on Yoga, kickboxing, and pilates.


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PREGNANCY DIARY: SECOND TRIMESTER

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Second trimester was a breeze! I felt like myself again. Of course, there were occasional days where I felt lethargic, but that just comes with the territory. Overall, my energy was up, my appetite came back and I was able to work out daily. I went to the gym three to four days a week and did prenatal yoga and pilates on the other days. When I wanted a more intense workout, I did prenatal kickboxing.

I did not have any strange food cravings. I continued to eat clean to make sure my son gets all the nutrients needed for him to grow strong and healthy. I noticed I got full pretty fast and I was hungry more often. I transitioned from eating three meals to four meals a day with small snacks in between. I really listened to my body and ate when I felt hungry.

The only purchase I made for myself that related to pregnancy was a pair of maternity leggings, a pair of maternity jeggings and two maternity tops. I made purchases that would be beneficial for me during and after my pregnancy. We purchased the most amazing house shoes that I have EVER owned. The brand is Vionic and it is an understatement to call these slippers amazing. They really deserve their own post (coming soon). I really wanted to keep cost down and just make purchases that were necessary.

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FIRST TRIMESTER MUST HAVES

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I felt so many different emotions during my First Trimester. I was not prepared for the morning sickness, the food aversions, my hormones wouldn’t let me be great, I felt weak and tired, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. During week seven, I actually had flu like symptoms. It is rare that I get sick. During that week I was hot and cold, nothing satisfied my tastes buds, I could only eat chicken noodle soup and drink orange juice. I love water and I try drinking a gallon a day, however, during week seven it took everything in me to drink a sip of water. My husband and I do not speak of week seven. Around week thirteen I finally started to feel okay… not great, but a lot better. 

  1. As soon as I found out I was expecting I purchased natural prenatal vitamins. I later switched to a different brand to include DHA (per my doctor).

  2. It was important for me to have a pregnancy journal to document my experiences on this journey. There is so much that goes on both mentally and physically, I thought it would be a great idea to keep track of each stage of my pregnancy.

  3. A cushioned toilet seat was a necessity for me! My husband found a great seat on Amazon and it is so comfy.

  4. I never left the house without my GinGin’s. They helped so much with nausea. GinGin’s are ginger candies that really help to settle the stomach.

  5. My belly constantly itched towards the end of my first trimester. I bought Aloe Vera Gel from Whole Foods to help soothe my skin.

  6. I also ordered Mother’s Special Blend from Amazon. I love this oil because it can be used before, during, and after pregnancy and it is all natural.

  7. I carried my water bottle with me everywhere. It was important for me to stay hydrated during my early stages of pregnancy. I liked the water bottles with the measurements on the sides to keep track of my water intake.

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FAMILY AFFAIR

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Happy New Year!! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, I sure did! My family and I were all in Raleigh at the Rooks’ estate. We ate good, played games, exchanged gifts and enjoyed each other’s company. My mom bought us these super cute shirts for Christmas. I knew they would be perfect to for an impromptu photoshoot. It’s so funny how it somehow turned into a family shoot.

I know it’s been a while since my last post. But, so much has been going on lately. Both my sister and I are expecting boys this Spring!! She is due two weeks ahead of me. It’s so special to have my best friend on this incredible journey with me. I must say, I am going to miss her being in the delivery room with me.

Feeling my son kick and squirm and seeing him grow at each doctors visit has been the highlight of my pregnancy. I can slowly see his personality shining through which is amazing to me. My husband and I have been going back and forth on names. But, we do have initials... AJ!

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SUN-KISSED

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My husband could not get over how tan I got while in Punta Cana! He says, I have the perfect tan! I went from golden brown to a deep mahogany brown. I enjoyed every minute of our vacation! We were only in our room to sleep. I wish we would have spent more time in our room because we had an amazing two-story suite!

We were out and about enjoying the resort, weather and our family. My honey and I jogged on the beach, we played beach volleyball almost every night hence, the beautiful chocalatey tan. We played pool at the sports pub, enjoyed the live entertainment each night, had a family swim competition, we played ping pong, swam in the ocean. We participated in Dominican Night, where we ate Dominican food and enjoyed Dominican entertainment. We also shot archery. My mom and sister hit a bullseye! I didn't pull the bow back hard enough because I was too worried about the string popping my inner arm. The only thing we didn't do, that I wanted to do was go on an excursion. I will definitely go on one next time!

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CARRIBEAN PARADISE

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This was my grandma's swimsuit! It's definitely over 30 years old and fits me like a glove.

This was my grandma's swimsuit! It's definitely over 30 years old and fits me like a glove.

We had an amazing time in Punta Cana! The staff was friendly, generous, helpful and extremely pleasant. Hearing stories from the native Dominican people were so heart felt and in some instances very relatable. My husband I had a conversation about the hospitality and how everyone was so attentive and catering to us. Staff and locals greeted us by saying “welcome home family" or "good morning family."

Unfortunately, I did not take a lot of pictures. I wanted to enjoy my time and Punta Cana with out the interference of recording and taking pictures every second. My brother gifted my sister with a Nikon camera as an early birthday gift. She captured every moment! I planned an all white party the night before my wedding. I wanted to get everyone together to meet one another before the big day! We ate dinner at the Lobster Bar. After dinner, we watched live entertainment. There were activities every hour and live shows every night. 

During my time in Punta Cana I ate some of the best food I have ever had in my life! I am all about presentation and this resort prepared some of the most beautiful dishes. There was a variety of cuisine and beverages available to us because we booked an Excellence Club suite. This gave us special seating at the beach, exclusive restaurant reservations... we basically ran the joint (lol, kidding). 

Traveling definitely put things into perspective for us. This was a very humbling experience and it made us even more grateful for our opportunities. This was our first time traveling out of the country together, however, we plan to incorporate travel into our family vacations. It’s important to get out of your little box to see and experience everything life has to offer.

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FOREVER MOORE

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My husband and I decided to have a destination wedding in Punta Cana. I worked with a travel agent who handled the logistics of our travel arrangements. I told her what I was looking for and she found the perfect location for our ceremony. In Punta Cana, warmth radiates from the tropical sun and the Caribbean Sea. Excellence El Carmen is an Adults Only Resort. This resort was secluded and romantic, with charming rooms and suites.

My wedding was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It was off to a rocky start, but it quickly turned around and ended perfectly. The day my parents were scheduled to fly out my mom had  flight issues and was not able to fly out as planned. It started to look like she wouldn’t be able to make it to our wedding... but, God! He got my mom to Punta Cana the day of my wedding! 

Getting married on the beach was a dream come true. One thing I did not take into consideration was the wind whipping off of the ocean. I felt my hair blowing uncontrollably, my veil comb loosening up from my neatly pinned bun. But, there was something so beautiful about the wind blowing and the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the sand. It almost felt as though a powerful presences was there with me... Hey Gram! I tied a charm around my bouquet so I could have my grandma with me every step of the way. I know the movement of the elements was her way of showing me she was already there.

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BRIDAL SHOWER BLISS

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Bow chicka wow wow!

Bow chicka wow wow!

But, First let me take a selfie.

But, First let me take a selfie.

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Okay, ladies... Now, Let's get in formation!

Okay, ladies... Now, Let's get in formation!

I traveled back home to Wisconsin over the weekend for my bridal shower. My sister, who also happens to be my Matron of Honor planned an absolutely beautiful event. She personalized and detailed every aspect of my shower. Her and my mom worked closely together to make this special occasion a success. 

My dad escorted me to the shower, where I was greeted by amazing people who played a special role in each stage of my life. It was so good to see all of my family and friends! Ladies traveled from all over Southern Wisconsin to support me as I enter the next chapter of my life. I definitely felt the love!

I pieced together a super cute outfit for my bridal shower. I wore a beautiful cape overlay with floral appliqués and paired it with an opal colored Calvin Klein dress. The color was perfect, the fit was just right, the material was super comfortable and to top it all off I found shoes that brought the whole outfit together. Not bad for a last minute wardrobe change. 

Special Thank you's to Kaleia (sister), Deann (Mom), Kenny (Dad), Brandon (Brother) and Alivia (little sister) they all contributed to the success of my bridal shower. Also, thank you to all the ladies who took time out of their day to celebrate us. 

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PUPPY LOVE

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For my twentieth birthday, I decided I needed a dog. As if going to college full-time and working two jobs wasn't enough. I called around looking for a white and strawberry blonde female Shih Tzu. I finally found the little puppy I was looking for in a small town about 45 minutes away. She was the only girl left in her litter. This adorable little girl wrestled around with her brothers. I got her the day before my birthday. She was only 7 weeks old. 

I still can't believe that such a little package can hold so much personality! Korbi is feisty, but sweet. Cute, but sassy. Friendly, but not to other dogs. She likes to be carried on the hip like a baby. She has been with my parents since she was 3 months old. It was only suppose to be until after I graduated from college, but the terms of the conditions changed after I graduated because my parents were attached to her and she to them. 

Korbi stayed in Knoxville with us for a month. It was a sad day taking her back to Wisconsin, but I know that is home for her now. 

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ROOKS ESTATE

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My honey and I went to visit my sister and brother (I don't say brother-in-law) over the weekend in Raleigh, NC. They are legit the best hosts' ever! They always have fun things planed for us to do and takes us to the best eateries. Not to mention, our money is no bueno, unless we find a sneaky way to pick up the tab.

There is a bakery that I always go to when I am in town called Rise Biscuits Donuts. Their chicken biscuits are delish! We also dinned in at a new restaurant. It was a Peruvian spot. There Yucca was so tasty and hands down the best I've ever had! I put on a few extra pounds this weekend, but it was definitely worth it! 

We had the opportunity to snap a few shots on Friday. The weather was absolutely beautiful! I grabbed my nephew so he could enjoy some beautiful weather and he stole the show! He was definitely the star of our shoot!

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PAS·SION ˈpaSHən/

Can you imagine working your current job for the next 20 to 30 years? If the answer is a yes, lucky you! Not everyone is able to live out their God given purpose in life. Many people do not even  realize they have a passion and several others are too afraid to make the leap. I am here to tell you to make the leap! Do what makes you happy. 

Living in a capitalist society, we are brought up to believe the more money you have the happier you will be. Unfortunately, I do not believe that ideology is always true. Doing what you love makes a difference in your attitude towards life and ultimately the world around you.

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CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

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The Christmas season is here! Don't be the one who procrastinated and waited to the last minute to start your Christmas shopping. Shopping for others can be a bit of a challenge. However, don't let that overshadow what this time of the year is really about. Hopefully, after reading the Gift Guide 101, you can check off Christmas shopping on your To-do List.

The key to shopping for Her is knowing what she likes. Is she into make-up, fitness, fashion?  This guide provides gift ideas for a broad spectrum of women from the fitness woman to the stylish women and even the simplistic woman.

Men, there are gifts that you can never go wrong with purchasing. You know the saying, "diamonds are a girls best friend." We appreciate diamonds in any form, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, body jewelry... Should I continue? We always welcome protection from the elements, especially winter. That includes hat and glove sets, Winter boots, and even rain boots. Also, a good handbag never goes out of style. 

Fellas, always remember this... We love to smell good, look good, and feel good. A gift that covers at least one of these elements she appreciates the thought... two she is impressed with the idea and all three, SCORE! She is captivated by your ability to understand her innermost needs. Just remember, stick to your budget and it's the thought that counts! 

If you're like me, you'll appreciate this last suggestions. Put the money that would have been spent on gifts into a vacation account. Creating memories supersedes materialistic things any day. 

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Fellas, I didn't forget about you! While us women like a more exclusive and thought provoking gift our guys like simplicity. Men appreciate gifts that will make his life easier. Most men aren't like us. They don't use subliminal messages or throw hints throughout the year. 

Shopping for Him may be more complex. What it really comes down to is knowing your man, what he likes, what he needs, his hobbies, what he looks at when you take him to the store. If your man is like mine, he wants no parts of the mall. Many men are self-sufficient, meaning if he wants or needs something he buys it himself (we do it too). That's where creativity comes into play. Think outside the box.

Ladies, you can never go wrong with a classic tennis shoe and/or athletic gear for a more athletic man. A more techie man, would appreciate electronics. Any man would be grateful for a nice watch and/or a winter coat, especially if he doesn't already have one already. 

Ladies, if all else fails... Put a bow on yourself, I'm sure your man would appreciate that (fellas thank me later). 

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SURVIVING COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL

With graduation on the horizon, I want to discuss my own experience and give tips on how to survive cosmetology school. I came into this journey very focused and determined. I zeroed in on my studies, as well as perfecting my craft. One thing about me is I stay in my own lane. I don’t get caught up in drama or gossip. I am always professional and polite with everyone I encounter. 

In this environment, it is important to think twice before addressing a situation. You have to pick and choose your battles wisely. Surround yourself with positive energy. Be confident in your skills and abilities because your clients definitely pick up on your vibes. Don't get caught up in complaining because to be honest, no one really wants to hear it. A positive attitude is mandatory! 

I have so much respect for my instructors. Believe it or not, their job is tough and they don’t get enough credit for the time and energy they put in to help mold us into professionals. Show them respect and it will be reciprocated.

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TODAY IS A SPECIAL DAY

From left to right: me, my mom, my sister and my beautiful grandma in the middle

From left to right: me, my mom, my sister and my beautiful grandma in the middle

Today is a very special day. It’s my grandma birthday! Gloria Jean would have been 76 today. My heart is full of admiration when I reflect on the life lessons she taught me, the spiritual wisdom she instilled in me, and the unconditional love she showed me. What I miss most about her is her beautiful spirit.

As a little girl, I looked forward to spending the weekend with my grandparents. Whether it was cleaning up around the house or doing yard work, I just wanted to be in my grandma's presence. As she watched her old western movies, I would run, jump and slide in the bed with her almost as if I was stealing home base in a softball game. I would lay on her chest and throw my arm across her stomach. 

Gram taught me to be confident, classy, and encouraged me to follow my dreams and pursue my passion. She is the inspiration behind my website. Several people ask me why I named my website V41. Its paying homage to Gloria Jean! She drove a black Eldorado, which was so her personality. She had custom license plates that had V41 on both the front and back plate. V, for her last name and 41, the year she was born. Happy Birthday my beautiful Angel! 

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HOMETOWN PRIDE

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When I was younger I would always say, "I am a small town girl, with big city dreams." I am thankful for Beloit for instilling in me the passion and desire to want something bigger. My dad has several idioms, but one that stood out to me as it pertains to my livelihood is "broaden your horizons." It was important for me to expand my knowledge, discover new things and venture off to new places.

I am so proud of all the growth in Beloit. Every time I go back home there are new buildings, schools, and businesses. One of my favorite areas is downtown. Downtown Beloit is rich with history and culture. I will forever have hometown pride! I appreciate my roots, embrace where I'm from and am grateful for the town that helped mold me. 

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In the beauty industry and in life in general, it is important to dress for success. More specifically, always polish your speciality area. For instance, in the beauty industry, your make-up should be flawless. In the hair industry, your hair should be neatly styled. In the fashion industry, your attire should be trendy and current. You are a walking advertisement and you want people to look at you and want the services you offer. 

I went on an early morning run to the grocery store. I literally rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, put on my workout gear and ran out the door. I did not bother with my hair because I planned on washing it when I got back home. It was a fifth day wash and go bun... All my naturalistas know the struggle and how dry and crunchy my hair appeared. Any who, I arrived at the store and walked down the hair product isle. A gentlemen stops me and says, "I noticed we have the same kind of hair and wondered what products you would recommend for me to use." After telling him my recommendation, he says "Wow, you know your stuff!" Too embarrassed to tell him this is what I do for a living, I smiled and scurried off to the register before I ran into anyone else.

Moral of the story, you never know who you will run into. And remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL IN YOUR 30's?

Many people think that by 30, you should have everything figured out. For some, including me it doesn't always work out that way and there's nothing wrong with that. You will face detours, crossroads, one-ways and more... I like to say, I took the scenic route.

I am currently in cosmetology school and it has been an adjustment, but being back in a school environment is a very humbling experience. I find myself actually studying and working to perfect my craft. Since the material I'm study now will be used in my daily life, I find myself reading through chapters, researching information, watching videos and really trying to understand and digest the material.

I have completed more than half of my program. I have not been late or missed a single day since I started seven months ago. The way the attendance policy is set up, if you miss a day you push your graduation day back. I plan to complete my program on my actual graduation day!

Attending cosmetology school at this stage in my life made me appreciate and enjoy my experience so much more. Everyday, I study, read, and practice. The beauty industry is ever-changing and I want to be on top of my game post graduation.

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WINDY CITY DREAMING

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I had an amazing weekend with my family in Chicago. Chicago is hands down one of my favorite cities. If I could relocate today, I would jump at the opportunity. This beautiful metropolis is close to family, in the Midwest, tasty food, and plenty of diversity. It's never too late to relocate... We'll see what the future has in store.

We were mainly in the downtown area, Magnificent mile to be exact. We had lunch at my favorite pizza spot, Giordanos. We created lasting memories at the Bean! There was a concert, live music, and a parade all happening during the coarse of our visit. We could not leave Chicago without having the famous Garrett's popcorn. I ordered the Garrett's mix. The combination of salty and sweet made my taste buds happy!

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