The BUMP -- Mikko James

From Hawaii to Arizona to Minnesota -- I've been on a mission to document my bump progress every two weeks. It's been so fun to look back and see the growth each and every month!

I think 22 weeks is where I really “popped” but I can’t tell for sure!

8 Weeks

8 Weeks


10 Weeks

10 Weeks


12 Weeks

12 Weeks


14 Weeks

14 Weeks


16 Weeks

16 Weeks


18 Weeks

18 Weeks


20 Weeks

20 Weeks


22 Weeks

22 Weeks


24 Weeks

24 Weeks


26 Weeks

26 Weeks


28 Weeks

28 Weeks


30 Weeks

30 Weeks


32 Weeks

32 Weeks


34 Weeks

34 Weeks


36 Weeks

36 Weeks


38 Weeks

38 Weeks


“40 Weeks” — holding Mikko James (one week old) on my due date!

“40 Weeks” — holding Mikko James (one week old) on my due date!


I gained a total of 31 pounds this pregnancy… it sure felt like more! My hubby likes to remind me that I lost all of my muscle tone… lol. It’s true!

Oh well, I’m too busy with baby snuggles to think about any of that right now.
Busy with baby snuggles and grateful beyond measure for my body that created this miracle.

August in Review | Home Sweet Home

Sweet, sweet August in Minnesota. I don't know if there's anything better!

Crisp morning air and sun filled days... I've loved every minute of it and so has George!

It was a busy month, I'm sure each and every one of us could say that!

Walks to the park, a trip up north and spending time with family. We did the State Fair and a birthday party at the Mall of America. We celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and my 31st birthday. We had baby appointments and pediatric appointments and sure enjoyed the downtime in between.

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The most exciting part of August though, was purchasing our first ever HOME.
We did it! We found one and they accepted our offer!

We got our keys at the very end of the month and it's been an incredible whirlwind of days since.

You guys, it feels like we've waited so very long for this moment and it's here. I cried twice on moving day. My greatest dream is to create place for my children to grow and flourish.. a place they can always come back to.. a safe, warm home with good food and so much love.

I see it here, I see it all here! 

My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

I've been dabbling in my dreams a bit and we've been almost too busy to fully grasp what it is I am doing here but I know there is magic to be made ahead.
Women. Photography. Art. Light. Words.
I have faith it will all come together at the perfect time!

243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

I appreciate all the shared enthusiasm this month - family and friends, near and far, personal and social - you're all the best! Thanks for following as I document the biggest life transitions for my family. What a trip.

There are a few of us still going strong for our 365 Project Blog Circle. I'm so grateful for these talented women who keep me motivated to shoot every day. If you click through to Alyssa Kellert's post, you'll see a beautiful new website with a summer recap. These are the Days

Onward to September!

 

What It Takes | Story of an Ironman

It starts with a decision. You make a commitment to yourself backed with discipline, determination and grit.

For the past two years, my husband Tom has trained at an Ironman level. Not only have I seen him at the finish line wrapped in glory, lights and a cheering crowd but I've also seen him in the trenches. The grueling hours, weekly sacrifice and that early morning wake up 6 days a week.

I'm excited to share a sliver of his story with you. This is what it takes.

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When I got the final assignment for my Visual Storytelling class at the Define School, Tom came to mind right away. He does this day after day and I wanted to help him see it from an outside perspective.

I'm so proud of him and he truly inspires me to do what it takes to make my dreams come true.

Anything is possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Lots of love and Aloha,

Elyse'

Living in Limbo // May Recap

It's been a nice first month back on the mainland! I thought for sure I'd be having Hawaii withdrawals by now but I'm doing pretty good!

On May 1st I found myself making the drive up to northern Minnesota. We were only home for 6 days and our main focus was house hunting! It was so hectic and went by quickly! This past week we were signing a purchase agreement so as long as all goes well we just may have found a home!

TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt  so right!

TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt so right!

Our little chia seed is now the size of a pear and this pregnancy is flying by! At the end of this month I'll be 15 weeks pregnant.
When I was pregnant with Thomas George it felt like it took forever to get to this point... but right now I feel like I just found out.
Yesterday I asked the hubby to dig out my maternity clothes. Does it get more real than that?

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A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to slowly transition to the mainland. This time in AZ was relaxing and allowed me to gather myself before making our (hopefully) final move.
But I'm ready.
I'm so ready to unpack and get settled.
The road life is starting to get to me, starting to get to all of us!

When you hear from me next month, I hope there is a photo of us standing on the stoop of the new Jokinen house -- ready to be made a home.

Fingers crossed.

The photos in this post are part of a 365 project that started January 1st. I've taken a photo a day, every single day. I could never have stayed motivated doing it on my own and have relied heavily on the support of the brilliant group I'm a part of. You can click here to see some work of the other talented photographers in the group starting with Alyssa!

On The Road // April Recap in Photos

April began as a total whirlwind. We were wrapping up our last days in Hawaii -- packing, shipping, selling, planning and saying our good-byes.
Each moment of each day we were knocking the to-do list -- gearing up for the biggest move of our life.

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Mid-April we boarded a plane to Phoenix, one-way ticket in hand. There were times it never felt like we were going to make it to this point, but we did!
It was a grueling 6 hour flight. We had a crying, tired baby and an upset dog but as soon as the tires touched down we let out a sigh of relief. We made it!

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Since we arrived in Arizona, we've been completely taking it easy and enjoying our time with family. From the chaotic start of the month to these quiet moments of blogging and doing puzzles. A welcomed 180°.

When it comes to my creative work, I feel like I've lost my footing a bit. I'm excited to be diving into a class at The Define School in May, ready for a spark.

We're 1/3 of the way through our 365 project! Up next is Alyssa Kellert. Such an amazing photographer. Please check out her photos!

Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you guys next month!

 

You want to be WHAT when you grow up? // Life Stories | 1

During my senior year of high school there was a display in the commons that shared what each student wanted to be after graduation.

I shit you not, when I filled out the form, I put, "Roller coaster tester."

So now that we all know where my head was at in 2006, let's move on!

No, but in all honesty, what did I want to be?

At that point in my life I truly had no idea.

I knew I wanted to get the heck out of the small town I grew up in. 
I knew I wanted to enjoy what I was learning.
I knew that I could never fit into any kind of box.

I can't lie to you and tell you college was ever something that interested me, because it wasn't. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted to do and just flat out refused.
Not because I didn't want to learn, I wanted to learn!
Just in a different way.
Plus -- there was a lot to see and a lot to do out there in the world and I was aching for experience!

So? One month after graduation I packed up my car and headed to a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I moved in with my aunt and started to job hunt. 

Not long after moving to the cities I enrolled in cosmetology school. Honestly, it was fun! I had so much fun and I loved learning it. It felt creative and I met some great people. Afterwards I got a job at a really cool salon (Coles) and began what I thought would be my career. (Ohh boy.)

During my first few months at Coles, the CEO gave us a book, Play to Win. It was the first inspirational self helpy type of book I ever read. The pages sucked me in.

It talked about taking risks and following your heart.

Not long after I began to get restless. Although I worked with some of the coolest, talented people in the industry, I couldn't help but wonder what else was out there. 
I remember one day specifically finishing up with a client and as he left all I could picture was myself standing at the same station having the same conversations -- 30 years later.

For a lot of people that would be great and I would never knock it... but for me? Well, I was 20 years old, spirited and feeling inspired. I had to hit the road.
The very next week I sold my car, packed up two little pink suitcases and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii.

I said goodbye to Minnesota, got on an airplane and flew 3,000 miles landing on the island of Maui. I had never been to Hawaii before but nothing felt so right.

My life as a roller coaster tester was just beginning.

MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

6 Surefire Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Funk

I was 34 weeks pregnant sitting with one of my friends and she asked me, "Elyse, what is your biggest fear about becoming a mom?"

Here she expected me to talk about labor and delivery or maybe the sleepless nights or you know, the fact that I'll be raising a little human in this crazy world.

Nope.

Without missing a beat, I instantly replied, "Getting frumpy."

It was seriously what was keeping me up at night.

Am I going to totally lose myself in mommyhood? I pictured spending day in and day out with baby and no time to nourish my inner free bird.

So now, here I sit, with an almost one year old.
Did I dodge the frumpy life or did it get me?

I guess I could say yes to both of those. There were times I was most definitely so far in the pits I thought I'd never get out and then there were days, even weeks, where I was running on a mommy ass-kickin' high.

When I'm in a funk or feelin' frumpy I have to consciously choose how to spend my days.. choose to do what could pull me up when I feel myself slippin' into endless unwashed hair and a Netflix marathon of Friends

Oh! And you definitely don't need to be a mom to get into a funk -- all it takes is the routine of the adult life sometimes . A routine that MUST be shaken up every so often.

So alright, these are my musts musts.

1. MUSIC - MUSIC - MUSIC

I seriously had to get real with myself and turn off the damn TV because it turns me into an unhappy zombie to binge watch shows. I get sucked in so easy. Oh geeze, it's 2pm already and I've done nothing productive today.
Sometimes, it's nice for ONE day but not multiple days in a row.. at least not for me! I don't do well with that.
MUSIC just makes me feel happy and alive and I love hearing an old song that I haven't heard forever but LOVE. I love to dance and sing and jam and it just makes me really happy. So maybe you too?
CCR Pandora usually has me covered -- or I'll throw on my Island Vibes playlist on Spotify!

Make a kickass Spotify playlist of all your feel good tunes and let it lift you UP! 

2. Make Art

I struggled with what to make number one, this is such a close second. Don't let your creativity die, EVER. Make art, in some way shape or form, somehow, someway. Write, knit, draw, dance... take pictures! Whatever you have to do to keep that spark, do it... you don't even need to share with anyone ever, just do it... for you, for your soul!

3. MOVE

There are no rules attached to this one... no time commitment, no specific routine. Just MOVE in some way shape or form. Go for a walk -- that usually always works. Get on your Yoga mat. When you turn on that music from number one, dance. I've been dancing a lot, in the living room with a gawking one year old lookin' at me like I'm totally crazy but still, I dance. Find something that makes you feel GOOD (not punished) and do it for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, or 30 minutes. Whatever you CAN do for however long you CAN do it. DO IT. 

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4. GO

Number four is a tad bit aimed at my mom friends, specifically my stay-at-home mom friends... and maybe you don't do this at all... but maybe you do. But - don't let too many days go by without leaving the house. You've got to go. And for me, two days at the house is too many, and three for sure so find something that is out of home and do it. GO.

5. Connect

Connect with others. I don't know about you but when I'm in a funk I tend to sort of keep to myself. I keep to myself to a fault. I know that each of us has that someone in our life that we can connect with -- be it your partner at the day's end, a phone call to your sister, a meet up with your mama (mama's always make things better) -- tell someone you love you're feeling funky and TALK to them. It helps. I know it.

6. PAMPER

Lastly, I asked my Earthen Women group a while back... what do you do to get out of a funk? This is a collective of their response: Make yourself feel good/pretty. Polish your nails your favorite color. Get your hair cut. If you don't normally, try putting on a little makeup or lip gloss. If it's in the budget, get a massage. SHOWER + shave (your WHOLE leg - haha) or even take a bath. Dress up in that thing you love but you're saving. You don't need to be extravagant (or hey, if you can/want to - then be extravagant. You're worth it.).

Alright, I think that's it for me. Do you do one of these already? What one do you agree with the most? If you're favorite's not here, please please share. I'd love to know.

Also, I should say that sometimes for me it just feels good to put the PJs on and be a slug on the couch and sometimes we need just that. Just not for prolonged periods of time, ya know. It's all about listening to your inner wisdom. She knows.

Alright, so have an amazing year you guys!
I hope it's filled with golden moments and less funks. I'll be here, always! xo

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Searching for the Answer

"I would seriously cut off my pinky toe for some alone time. Seriously. Even just TWO DAYS." I dramatically whine to my husband over the phone.

He's about half way through his work trip on the East Coast and he's homesick for his family.

I see him there, staying at a nice hotel in DC, and I'm not going to lie, I'm jealous.

He wakes up, works out, gets a coffee, heads to the conference where he discusses important things with important people (adult conversations!) and gets to eat a tasty dinner at a lively restaurant before bed.

Damn right I'm jealous!

I've been stuck in an endless cycle of feeding baby, changing diapers, picking up dog poop while trying to keep up with the house.

It's been over a month since I've been anywhere without my 9 month old.

Now here's where things get funny.

My husband, well, you see, he's jealous.

He misses his boys and his wife. He see's my snaps of our son trying to walk and talk. As we FaceTime Thomas George is learning to clap and giggles while I kiss his toes. I tell Tom how intense his son's determination is as he tries to swim in the pool and we laugh, Finn nuzzled on my lap.

All he wants is his family.
All I want is some space.

FREAKIN' LIFE RIGHT.

So it got me thinking about always wanting what we can't have, the whole grass is always greener thing.

I'll never forget a Tony Robbins video I watched years ago, I'll do my best to paraphrase, he said that the biggest source of unhappiness is being in one place (location or situation) and wanting to be somewhere else.

Oh goodness, I can be so guilty of this. For someone who has studied mindful living and who has spent hours on a Yoga mat, you think I'd have a better handle on it. Patience is not my strong point and it's something I'll be working on until the end of time.

And, yes, it's good to have dreams and direction for what you want out of life and of course there are certain situations that should be left promptly... but generally speaking, living outside of the now can surely rob you from being happy.

There's got to be a healthy balance and I suppose since I'm writing this post I should offer up some sort of advice but this is something I'm still figuring out. An answer that I'm still searching for.

Is the key to happiness presence or gratitude?
Is acceptance the answer?

Maybe it's.... perspective.

I'm not sure right now. All I do know is that all we can do is our best and we've just got to keep truckin' no matter what. We've got to be grateful for what we do have because when you stop to really think about it, it's a lot.

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Let's Be Honest -- Life's Not Perfect, But It Is Amazing

I was talking with my sister the other day about the positives and negatives of social media. 

We discussed how being connected is such a powerful way to share your life with friends and family near and far. We also talked about how it can sometimes make you feel like total shitty shit. 

I'm so easily inspired -- I love to be. I love to see what is out there and dream. Seeing people doing cool things in cool places. Social is highlight of their lives and it's awesome -- most of the time.

There are just some days, when I'm in a mood, and I start scrolling to see these beautiful, perfect images and instantly my mind begins --

"Gosh, I need to quit being such a home body and get out more."
"Well look at that mama all fit -- I really should make some more time to work out -- got to make more time to work out."
"Ah, why aren't we traveling more. Why does it feel so hard to travel with a baby -- maybe I'm doing something wrong."

Just as I'm about to put my phone down someone that I greatly admire shares a glimpse of their imperfection and it's just a sigh of relief. Ok, yes, we all struggle sometimes. It's a quick reminder that perfection doesn't exist.

I know that I too mostly share the highlights. For me, I think -- I'd just rather focus on the good. The last thing I want to do is fill my feed with all the struggles. 

But I'm going to get honest with you here.

There've been times I've posted a photo praising my husband for being incredible (he is!) and that same night we get into a heated argument that has me storming around the house.

I've posted a photo of my son, calling him the cutest darn thing in the whole world (he is!) to find myself hours later in tears because he's going on 45 minutes of crying and I just need a break.

I have days where I get shit on, like actually, literally shit on.
Days where I shatter a baby food jar on the kitchen floor before 7am.
Times when I don't even actually know what day it is, or when the last time I showered.
I lose my temper, I feel inadequate and man there are times I feel so blue about the world.

Yet, big picture, I have a beautiful life. Sometimes I sit out on the lanai, looking up at the moon and wondering how on earth I got so lucky to be living this glorious existence.
My family -- they're all so darn amazing -- Hawaii, a dream -- we're healthy and my goodness what is greater than that?

Any and all of the love that oozes out of me into my posts IS SO REAL and that is the part of my life that I wish to document -- it's those moments that inspire my images and words.

It's a fine balance though, I suppose, and honestly, it's up to each of us to decide how much we want to share. We get to choose how we want to use our own personal platforms, the type of content we share and why. 

Just remember though, next time that you're scrolling away and find yourself feeling maybe a little bit like shitty shit, that we're all human. These little squares and stories are glimpses into our lives, but not the whole picture.
I know this truth, you know this truth, it's just easy to forget sometimes.

Life's not perfect, no -- but it is, absolutely amazing.

Thank you guys so much for listening and you'll be hearing from me again next month!