a #HansenExpansion maternity photo shoot with Dale McDonald

There have been the obvious baby prep to-dos that Hans and I have been tackling: find a pediatrician, pack the hospital bag, finish the nursery, pick a name. (Still working on that last one!!) But there was one suggested “must do” that I wasn’t so sure about: taking maternity photos.  I don’t know if it was a lack of time, confidence or vision, but I couldn’t bring myself to make “get photos of my pregnant belly” a high priority with so much else to do. But after a recent chat with friend and local photographer Dale McDonald, I realized just how special it would be to have this time captured on film.

I quickly realized I would be in good hands with him behind the camera and his wife Jen by his side, assisting on the shoot, after further discussion with Dale about his approach to maternity sessions. We made plans to meet at our house for some initial shots, then to head to one of our favorite and nearby outdoor spots — the Cleveland Metroparks’ West Creek Reservation. Dale’s thoughfulness and professionalism was perfectly balanced by his good humor and fun nature, putting us right at ease from picture number one. Time flew by as we took an array of pictures and before we knew it, another task was crossed off the to-do list!

Dale posted a handful of photos on his Facebook page earlier this week, but since, he’s shared the full set with us. The photos are INCREDIBLE. I’m so excited to share a part of them with you today…

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My deepest gratitude to a tremendously talented photographer and, more importantly, thoughtful friend for sharing his talents with us. Thank you again and again, Dale! Check out Dale’s social media feeds on Facebook and Instagram or visit his website to see even more of his work.

Want to see the first half of the photos featuring Baby H’s nursery? Check back next week as I share them here on the blog. The before and after photos will amaze you!

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event preview: BizConCLE 2016 (presented by Council of Smaller Enterprises & Greater Cleveland Partnership)

As a person that considers herself to be a life long learner, it’s no secret that I love the chance to expand my knowledge base in the areas I’m most passionate about. You’ve read about me attending yoga teacher trainings, blogging conventions and marketing conferences in the past. So my excitement to share another educational networking event shouldn’t come as much of a surprise — especially one like BizConCLE 2016, presented by Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) and the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP).


Join COSE and GCP for BizConCLE 2016 on October 13 & 14 at the Cleveland Public Auditorium & Conference Center. This day-and-a-half convention brings together the COSE Small Business Convention and the GCP Middle Market Forum for a unique education and networking experience for small and middle-market business owners, leaders and their teams.

COSE RTH red Thursday

From the 2015 conference — check out my recaps from last year here and here

BizConCLE 2016 offers a wide-range of exciting opportunities, including:

  • Three nationally known, innovative business leaders. Mel Robbins, the award- winning CNN Commentator and Legal Analyst; Gary Schoeniger, well-known author and entrepreneur; and Casey Gerald, Co-founder and CEO of MBAs Across America, will be narrating their journey to business success.
  • 30 educational workshops. Attendees have access to workshops taught by leading business experts that cover several topics, including business growth and financials, leadership, marketing and sales, information technology and talent recruitment. Specific workshops also are approved for continuing education accreditation for human resources professionals, CPAs and lawyers.
  • Exciting Networking Opportunities. BizConCLE 2016 offers attendees opportunities to explore Cleveland and dine at some of the best restaurants in the city, all while attendees have the chance to share vision and opportunities with other successful small and middle-market business professionals.
  • Business-To-Business Tradeshow. Small and middle-market businesses across the Midwest have the opportunity to showcase their products and services to increase brand awareness and access new leads at the convention’s trade show.

COSE orville

From the 2015 event — photo by Orville McEachron Photography

You do not want to miss out on this year’s BizConCLE, so register today by visiting www.bizconcle.com.  Between now and mid-October, follow the convention buzz on COSE’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube feeds, as well as the hashtag #BizConCLE16.

Disclosure: I accepted an opportunity to serve as an Official Blogger for COSE’s 2016 Small Business Convention, which includes a registration to this year’s conference. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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a relaxing Sunday afternoon at Massage Envy Chagrin (+ GIVEAWAY)

It was earlier this year I recognized a somewhat self destructive personality trait: I stay busy doing things for other people so that I never have time to take care of myself. (Talk about mind blowing, right?!)  Since that discovery, I’ve been trying to do a better job of recognizing when I’m depleting myself by putting others first and how I can make time for myself via things that will re-energize my mind, body and spirit… especially while carrying Baby H around in my belly! That’s meant a lot of hikes, Netflix and the occasional yoga session, but I was so happy to step outside my normal go-tos with the help of my local Massage Envy.


I recently connected with the Massage Envy – Chagrin location and scheduled a mid-Sunday afternoon appointment. There was a good reason for that date and time: 1) to allow Hans to watch the Browns game without my commentary and 2) to allow me to not have to watch the Browns game by doing something far more relaxing! Chagrin’s Director of Operations Linda suggested a back-to-back session of their 60-minute Wellness Massage & 60-minute Healthy Skin Facial. With my eight month baby bump, we agreed the prenatal version of their wellness massage with one of their prenatal specialists was the way to go.

I arrived about 20 minutes early before my appointment to complete paperwork and to meet with a Massage Envy staff member. That afternoon, assistant manager Jasmine sat with me to review the information I provided. Her warm nature was exactly what I needed to start my visit as I found myself starting to get a bit antsy. I asked myself, “I have so much to do — why am I taking two hours of a weekend to do this?!” But the more I spoke with Jasmine, I realized the benefit in making time for the facial and massage — I needed that time to remember that making time to take care of myself was just as important as everything else on my to-do list.

After meeting with Jasmine, I was introduced to Jennifer — the esthetician that would be giving me my facial that day. Jennifer showed me back to the room where I’d be in for my sessions and I prepared to settle in.

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I have to give Jennifer a LOT of credit as she probably didn’t realize she was about to deal with such an over-anxious pregnant lady! While she was doing a wonderful job with her facial cleansing techniques, I was a hot mess as I had trouble settling in for the service — mostly physically related as I found myself too warm and lightly nauseous. (#pregnancyproblems)  But Jennifer was incredibly supportive, helping me to find a relaxing position while adjusting the temperature of the massage bed to a more comfortable setting. Jennifer never missed a beat, jumping right back into the facial at the spot where I had interrupted her. Since it was my first facial, she described what she was doing and with what Murad product she was using. I learned so much about my skin during the experience through her sharing tidbits throughout the hour. By the time she was done, my skin had never looked better!

After Jennifer was completed, I was introduced to DeAnna, my massage therapist. Warm and just as welcoming, DeAnna’s good humored nature prepped me for my prenatal massage experience. DeAnna asks her pregnant ladies to lay on their sides during her prenatal massage so that she can then work from feet to head with her healing hands. I appreciated her checking in with me from time to time to make sure the pressure was enough or too much, as well as making sure the temperature of the bed and room were comfortable. As tempted as I was to chat with this lovely lady for the entire hour we had together (damn ESFJ personality type of mine!), I gave myself the permission to not engage in too much conversation to keep my experience inward. What a treat that turned out to be as I found myself in almost meditative state by the end of our time together. I felt like all my worries and burdens had been lifted off my very massaged out shoulders!

After my sessions, I found Jasmine again in the lobby and thanked her and the entire Massage Envy – Chagrin staff for an incredible afternoon. I highly suggest you make some time for yourself and book a time to check out their location or any of the many Massage Envy clinics around the country. You can request an appointment at the Chagrin location on their website or by calling (216) 464-3689.

…and this week on the blog, you can enter to win a 1-hour facial at the Massage Envy – Chagrin location! Enter via the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until THIS FRIDAY, September 30 at 11:59PM to enter. A winner will be announced the next morning. As this is a giveaway for a local, specific Massage Envy location, please enter if you know you/someone you know can visit the Massage Envy Chagrin location (at 27520 Chagrin Boulevard in Beachwood, Ohio) to redeem the one hour facial.

…and in case you didn’t know, we are just two days away from Massage Envy’s Healing Hands for Arthritis event where $10 from every 60-minute Wellness Massage or Healthy Skin facial session benefits their partner (& my former employer), the Arthritis Foundation!  In addition, 10% of all Murad, Whish®, Wyndmere, Biofreeze®, Bon Vital’® product purchases at Massage Envy locations will be donated to the Foundation. Find a clinic near you to make your appointment for Wednesday.


photo source: Massage Envy – Chagrin’s website

Sending many thanks again to the entire team at Massage Envy – Chagrin for their hospitality — I can’t wait to go back and encourage you to check out their spot soon!  Can’t make it right away to see them? Visit my new friends at Massage Envy – Chagrin online by checking out their website, Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow Massage Envy online at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: I accepted an opportunity to receive a one-hour facial and one-hour prenatal massage at the Massage Envy – Chagrin location.  The Massage Envy – Chagrin location also offered one lucky blog reader the opportunity to win an hour long facial at their location.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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