Category Archives: Family

Check In With Sofia: 9 Months Old + Giveaway

Last weekend I had a brunch with a great friend of mine. We had a very interesting conversation. It had to do with what we are passionate about.

Before I had Sofia, I was really apprehensive about being on maternity leave for almost a year. I loved being surrounded by people, so the thought of being home all this time kind of scared me.

Fast forward 9 months. I’m loving it. Of course, I LOVE spending time with my daughter and seeing her grow. But what’s even more, I feel like I’ve never been so comfortable with myself. I’ve learned so much about myself.

she decided to live the life she'd imagined
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This may sound selfish, but I really don’t think it is. We are normally so caught up with work, groceries, this and that, that we barely spend any time to think and reflect about who we are and what it is that truly makes us happy. Yes, it may seem pointless, but it is a truly rewarding process.

By knowing yourself better, you will be happier. When you are happy, your happiness passes onto others. It is the best gift you can give to yourself and others.

Yet… I can’t believe that our little chunky monkey turned 9 months old last week!

Sofia 9 months old

Over the past month Sofia has learned a lot! Now she crawls on all four as opposed to sliding on her stomach. Honestly, it’s the cutest thing! She knows her way around the house, so she moves ahead with determination. *If you know what I mean.*

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She stands up everywhere. And I mean, EVERYWHERE! The most favourite place at the moment is my bookshelf. Sofia is fascinated by my books, and they MUST be pulled out if possible! *That’s how I know that she’s a mommy’s girl! Haha!* Also, our baby girl enjoys to walk with our help. I wouldn’t be surprised if she soon starts walking on her own.

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And everything has to pass the taste test!

The funniest thing is when Sofia is in her stroller or on a swing *another favourite place to be*, she loves to hold on to it with one hand. Imagine you’re driving your car and stick one hand out. That’s how it looks! Too cute for words!

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Obviously, she does a bunch of cute things like waving ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, doing ‘high five’ and clapping her hands. We are head over heels in love with her!

Sofia now ways 17.8 pounds and measures 72 cm. That’s a lot of happiness right there!

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If you’ve missed previous check-in’s, here they are:

Also don’t forget to participate in my giveaway for the Armpocket! It ends at 12 am on April 26th. So don’t waste any time, and head over here to enter your chance to win it!

Do you have kids? What are your fondest memories of when they were babies?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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MamaDances: Newborn Dance Class Through A Mother’s Eyes

Good morning, darlings!

This post is so long overdue! Sofia and I did the Mother and Baby dance class from October to December last year. We started it just a couple of weeks later after a baby yoga class. *Read more about it here.* Needless to say, it was a blast!

Surprisingly, I had never heard about this kind of class before. And I am eternally grateful to a friend of mine who simply sent me a message to see if I would be interested to check it out. It didn’t take much convincing. I watched a video online and I was sold. This is the exact reason why I wanted to dedicate a post to this baby class. I wanted other moms to be aware of it. Not only it’s a great way for new moms and their babies to bond, but also have fun, relax, while socializing with others.

My instructor, Eryn Dace Trudell, was absolutely amazing. And even though I can’t call myself a great dancer, I felt right where I belong!

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Sofia was only 10 weeks old when we started the class. She was really responsive to everything that was happening around her, especially at the beginning of the class when we snapped fingers and clapped to create our own ‘music’. In addition, she enjoyed being in my arms as we danced around and moved past other babies in a class. In the second part of the class, we put our babies in carriers. Sofia was asleep within the first few minutes, while I focused on learning new dancing styles and techniques.

I asked Eryn if she would do an interview with me because I wanted you, my dear readers, to get the most information out of it. And she kindly agreed.

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Here it is, without a further ado.

First things first.

Go-to music: For classes I use: Snatam Kaur, Oka, John Hughes, Ali Farka
Favourite dance style: Contact Improvisation, Skinner Release Technique (of which I am a certified facilitator)
Dancing tip: Breathe and let go

Eryn, could you tell us more about yourself and your fitness background?

I have a BFA from The Juilliard School, and so my original training is in classical ballet and modern dance. Since studying these classical forms, I began exploring new dance and post-modern dance techniques. I love the somatic approaches such as Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centering , Feldenkrais and all their developments. I am a certified facilitator of Skinner Releasing Technique and a practitioner of Contact Improvisation.

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How did you come up with the idea of a Mother and Baby dance class?

I had the privilege of witnessing a professional dancer trying to present at a choreographic workshop while her child tried to upstage her. It was the most beautifully authentic dance I ever saw. She eventually brought the child on stage with her to continue the presentation.

As necessity is the mother of invention, when I became a single mother in 2006, MamaDances was the solution to finding a way to support my little family by applying my skills and experience. Sensitive to competition I wanted to create work for myself that would offer a complementary revenue source and demographic to the profession of dance.

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Could you walk my readers through your everyday class? What can people who attend it expect?

We begin with rhythm and socialization studies to loosen up the intimidation factor and get to know each other. Next we do a floor warm-up including lower back release and abdominal strengthening. On the first day we move with our babies in our arms within a study called “ Soft feet”. Technically, we are learning to let go of holding patterns in the knees and the feet to allow fluidity to come into the body through the contact and dialogue from the floor through the skeletal structure to the head. The principal being taught is the idea of letting go into the direction of movement. This creates availability and a state of readiness to respond with suppleness. This exercise seems very simple but there is a lot going on.

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What impact does music and dance have on a child’s development?

I am not specialized in this area of knowledge. I have no academic background in child development. In fact I am only beginning to embark on this area of research now. I only know from experience that the babies enjoy it. My own children who have been exposed to a musical and movement environment are very tuned in musically. My oldest daughter now plays several instruments and my younger daughter has an amazing ability to replicate a tone and sing musical phrases.

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Sofia and I really enjoyed dancing with you! Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind dance classes for babies and moms? What sets you apart from other baby classes out there?

When I began MamaDances in 2007, there were very few activities for mothers and babies. I had heard about Salsa Babies, but there was only one class being offered in Montreal that I could see. Mom and Baby Yoga was just beginning. Cardio-Pousette [cardio with a stroller] was happening at Parc Lafontaine. Since, then many activities have been introduced to the market, particularly things like Music classes.

MamaDances merges many of the concepts you will find in other classes, such as music and rhythm awareness, and stimulation for the babies. Plus , stretching and strengthening like in yoga and pilates. And then the fitness comes in, when we realize we have been moving non-stop for 60-80 minutes without even noticing. The material is integrated in a way that the movement of the moms and the babies becomes a synergy of expression and connection.

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Can moms with no previous dance experience still have fun in your class?

Yes. All the material is prepared to be equally beneficial for those with or without experience. That is one of the biggest challenges of creating material for a class. There is a huge range of ability and experience in a class.

Do you teach any other classes apart from Mother-Baby class?

I teach Contact Improvisation and Skinner Releasing Technique. I also have a Parent and Child Program which is a development of the Mom and Baby program.

What are your goals for this coming year?

I have a lot of inquiries about this method from people in other parts of the world. I am hoping to create an online teachers training program and to begin sharing and expanding MamaDances globally.

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Finally, any fun stories you’d be able to share with us? I am sure you had quite a few laughs with your members during the class.

The obvious is that we are putting one of the most aesthetic practices, dance, together with the most fundamental, maternity. The dance of eternity. I love it when a mother finds something that her baby really loves and the babies start laughing and so Mama starts laughing and then it’s all quite funny. We can’t take ourselves too seriously, yet here we are now responsible for another human being in the world. It’s a wonderful dichotomy.

Thank you very much for your time and an incredible, one of a kind, dancing experience with my daughter!

Mama Dances Class

If you are a new mom in Montreal area, definitely check out MamaDances website to register or to get additional information: www.mamadances.com. If not, see if you have similar classes where you live. You’ll have the time of your life with your little plus one!

*You can read more about my postpartum fitness journey here.*

Have you tried a dance class with your baby? What was your experience?

Have you followed my TwitterFacebook and Instagram page for most recent updates? You can also subscribe to receive emails to always keep in touch in the little window to the right.

xoxo
Olena

 

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

May your day be filled with happiness and laughter!

Happy Easter

xoxo
Olena

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Checking In With Sofia: 8 Months Old!

Hey, hey!

Time flies… I’ve repeated this many times and will say this over and over again… I feel like the time is just like sand fleeting through your fingers; and I am desperately trying to hold on to every single moment. Yesterday my baby turned 8 months old!

8 months old

Justin and I have watched Sofia reaching many milestones over the past month. She first stood up on her knees and several days later was able to stand up while holding on to her little car.

8 months old - standing up

Yesterday, she tried to climb a couch by stepping on her car to get to the 8 months sticker as I was snapping the picture above…

She loves to pull herself up in all the places you *me?!* would never think of: “Oh, mommy, you’re cooking? Let me pull myself up on a bottom drawer of the stove, so I can see better!” She’s done it all: kitchen drawers, garbage bin, chairs, sofas, TV stand, toilet… *Who needs the Discovery Channel? There’s so much to discover at home!* I honestly think she would do at least 10 pull ups if only her grip was stronger!

Sofia also started clapping on International Women’s Day. How fitting! I was overjoyed. It was the best gift of all!

Bella and Sofia

This week our baby girl even started waving hello/bye-bye. She’s doing it in her own endearing uncertain way, and I’m trying to engrave it in my memory.

We’ve introduced new foods as well! New types of cereal, fish (haddock), avocado, cauliflower, pear, peach, nectarine, pineapple, and mango.

Feedings can be messy. I love watching Justin getting frustrated when Sofia splashes food all over the tray by hitting a spoon with her tiny hand. Somehow he is always caught ‘by surprise’. In response to his mumbling, I say, “Wait till she starts eating on her own!” *Fun stuff!*

Sofia is a big girl now because she even tried drinking water from a grown up glass. *It’s a big deal, don’t you think? Wink!* 

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While she really loves drinking water, she is still getting used to doing a starfish on her back at the swimming pool. *More on the swimming classes next week.* 

Sofia also became my official running buddy. Over the past week, I’ve gone running with a stroller 3 times and it was a blast along with puddles of sweat. *Haha!*

Sitting up

What have you been up to, my friends?! Stay tuned, many interesting posts are coming up in the near future!

xoxo
Olena

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Baby & Mommy Yoga

Good morning, beautiful people!

As promised, today I will tell you about Sofia’s baby yoga classes.

Those of you who have followed or have known me for a while are well aware of my love for yoga. What you may now know is how it all started.

My first encounter with yoga happened when I was still in elementary school. I remember my dad pulling out this book with pictures of strange looking people. *Not to discount this guy’s talent, it’s actually quite impressive what he’s doing here… but, c’mon, you  we all know what I’m talking about! Haha!* 

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Anyhow, let’s move on. I remember being very intrigued, but at the same time being super confused. Breathing through the pain? Moving slowly? Breathing on counts? To add to my confusion, it went pretty much against my rhythmic gymnastics training and I didn’t see the point of standing in a pose where nothing was pulling. *I was flexible, remember?*

I never read that book *No colorful beautiful pictures, remember?*; nonetheless, I my fascination never faded away and I kept on leafing through the pages every now  and then. Fast forward to my early twenties, curiosity was still there. What was different is that now I wanted to learn. I’m turning 30 later this year *gasp* and I’m addicted to yoga. I love how practicing yoga makes me feel and don’t plan on quitting. Those stretches feel way too good! *It’s crazy how our bodies change, don’t you think?*

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I actually wanted to attend prenatal yoga in addition to my prenatal aqua class. Unfortunately, both class were held at the same time, so I improvised.

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Sofia’s first yoga class happened when she was almost 2 months old. I was thrilled to have that experience with her, yet I had no idea as to what to expect.

Well… It was interesting! Definitely not what I expected, but there is nothing wrong with it! I guess going into it I was thinking yoga flows… deep stretches… What I forgot to account for is BABIES! *Duh?!* Also, generally baby classes are great for socializing; thus, majority of moms were beginners and we had to go at their speed. *Once again, there is nothing wrong with it. Just regular overambitious self! Haha!*

2nd baby yoga class

Babies LOVE Savasana

All jokes aside, there is a big deal I learnt at baby yoga classes!

Probably, the coolest part was learning various stretches for babies. Sofia still enjoys them!

First, we would warm up babies’ various muscle groups, just like we do for ourselves, starting with upper body.

Exercise #1

Lay baby on her back on the floor. Hold on to her wrist. Lift baby’s arms up and then bring them down. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise #2

Begin in the same position as before, but alternate sides: Right arm – up, left arm – down, switch sides. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise #3

Still on the floor, spread baby’s arm out to the sides, bring them on across her chest, and spread them out again. Repeat 5 times.

The next stage is a lower body warm up.

Exercise #1

With baby lying on her back, hold her feet or lower legs. Gently push one leg up toward her chest while extending the other. Switch sides. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Exercise #2

Now do the same, but with both legs simultaneously. First push both  knees to the stomach, then extend to the floor. Repeat 3 times.

Exercise #3

It’s time to do a bicycle! Guide your baby’s legs in a circular motion as if pedaling a bike. Do the movement 10 times, then reverse the direction.

Exercise #4

With the baby on her back, lift her legs perpendicular to the floor. Gently stretch them to the sides, like a mini split, then bring legs back in the Buddha pose while crossing legs one over another. Repeat 3 times while alternating the leg on top.

Exercise #5

While on the back, bring baby’s knees to the stomach. Move the legs in a clockwise circle, then reverse in a counterclockwise motion. Repeat 3 times in each direction.

At this point, the baby is warmed up for full body stretches.

*In this video Sofia is 4 months old. I was simply playing around with her while doing some of these stretches.*

Exercise #1

Lay baby on her back. Hold baby’s right wrist with your right hand and baby’s left foot with your left hand. Gently pull baby’s left foot to her right shoulder while bringing her right hand across to her left hip (baby’s leg should be above her arm). Repeat 3 times, then switch sides.

Exercise #2

With baby’s feet in your hands, gently bring them to your baby’s nose. Don’t force it. Repeat 3 times.

Exercise #3

Beginning with your baby on the floor on her back, grasp her forearms (if your baby still doesn’t hold her neck properly, you can hold your baby under her arms while still supporting your baby’s neck with your fingers). Gently bring your baby to a sitting position, then to standing. Then in reverse: back to a seated position and, finally,  on the back. Repeat 3 times.

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I may have forgotten a move or two, but you get the gist of it. Sofia absolutely loves these exercises. Believe me, you will be rewarded with multiple smiles while bonding with your baby at the same time!!!

You may also be curious as to how YOU can practice yoga with a baby by your side. No worries, mama! You can still do it!

First of all, the baby can be cooing right NEXT TO you.

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Your baby can be ON you.

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You can also hold your baby in your ARMS. Most importantly, make sure that you are stable in any given pose. If needed, stand by the wall or hold on to a chair for extra stability; but if you’re still in doubt, just put your baby down. It’s better to be safer than sorry.

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Don’t forget to make it a fun activity for both of you. Babies love interaction!

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Have you done yoga with your baby? How do you engage your baby?

xoxo
Olena

 

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My Postpartum Fitness Journey

Salut, mes amis!

How have you been?!

Spring is almost here! Even though it is still very cold here in Montreal, I am full of excitement. Spring is my favourite season. I love it because everything around starts to bud and blossom, coming back to life. I can’t wait to go for long walks again and finally start training for my first half marathon. I bet Sofia will have a blast in her stroller accompanying me!

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Throwback to fall

 

Many of you have asked about my fitness journey since giving birth in July. The truth is I had to, as they say, proceed with caution. Surprisingly, I was given very little guidelines at the hospital in regards to how to recover from having a cesarean. Naturally, I did have a few hiccups here and there when I would ‘push’myself too much without even knowing it and I would end up in a lot of pain that would prevent me from moving completely. I had to be cautious and patient, which, as you can only imagine, is not very easy for an active person like myself.

I started by taking short stroller walks around the block, then slowly increased the distance to 3 and eventually 5 km.

At about 8 weeks postpartum, I began a baby yoga class *read more here* with Sofia, 4 weeks later – a mama dance class. *More on that here.*

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Heading to our first baby yoga class

In October, the incision sight didn’t bother me as much. I thought it would be a perfect time to jump back into it by incorporating 30-day challenges into my daily routine *read more here*: I started with a squat challenge in October, then embarked on an ab challenge in November, and finally ended up with an  upper body challenge, which I found on Pinterest, in December.*Please, let me know if you have a good link for proper credit*.

30 day upper body challenge

In the beginning of January I knew I was ready for more, so I signed myself up not for one but for two challenges, both were totally free and could be done from the comfort of home.

One of them was a 30-day Yoga Camp by Adriene.

I’ve been following Adriene for close to 2 years now. I’m honestly in love with her videos! I totally think we could be best friends if I ever got to meet her. I love Adriene’s approach to yoga: Find What Feels Good. What was different about this yoga camp is that Adriene focused on mental well-being as well. I thoroughly enjoyed daily mantras and emails to go with it.

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If you wish, you can start Yoga Camp at any time by signing up here. *You will thank me later!*

Another challenge that I embarked on was an 8-week challenge by Tone It Up.

I admire Karena and Katerina so much. They are best friends in real life, great fitness role models and entrepreneurs. They were able to build a great online community, which I’ve been a part of for over a year now.You can opt in to get their nutritional plan and buy extra video workouts (which I did), but it is not necessary as there is always a free option available. I love their energy and continuous support through social media and emails.

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It never occurred to me that there is a big Tone It up community in Canada, including Montreal! To my surprise, I was recently ‘found’ through one of my hashtags I used on Instagram by one of the girls from Montreal community, so I am really looking forward to meeting them at the next meet up!

The next 8-week challenge starts within a few days. To hold myself accountable, I’d like to show you my progress from the previous challenge. There are no drastic changes as I haven’t made any changes to my diet. It is more important for me to be able to nurse my baby for as long as I can rather to lose an extra pound or two. That being said, I love how much stronger I have become in such a short period of time. It’s awesome to be in control of my body again!

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What was your fitness journey after having a baby?

*Haven’t read my birth story? Head over here!*

xoxo
Olena

 

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Let’s Play Catch Up: Sofia’s 7-month ‘Time Lapse’

Well, well, well… Hello there, lovelies!

How have you all been?

The life has been nothing short of AMAZING in this part of the woods. I’m pretty sure I’ve already said it at least a thousand times, but I love, love, LOVE being a mom! It’s such a rewarding feeling. Plus, Sofia has been such a great baby. I am sooooo lucky!

Can you believe she is 7 months old?! I know, I can’t. Time flies waaaaay too fast! I mean, I love see her grow, but I also want to freeze this moment forever. I’m torn…

Here is a quick ‘time lapse’ for you.

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The day Sofia was born…

Favorite things: Skin-to-skin contact and eating non-stop 🙂

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1 month

Loves sleeping in a stroller and in a swing, daily walks, daddy’s lullabies and a colorful painting in the living room. ‘Oh, and give me that booby back!’

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2 months

Sleeps through the night, gives smiles every now and then, started going to a yoga class. ‘Aroo, aroo, aroo!’

3 months old

3 months

Very talkative, rolls over from back to stomach, enjoys dancing classes in a carrier and playing with toys on her play mat, sleeps in her own room. ‘Mmmmm! My hand is yummy!’

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4 months

Holds her head very well, treats mommy and daddy to occasional giggles, loves doing airplane and stretching, experiments with funny sounds and smacking her lips. ‘That mobile thing on my bed is fascinating, I’ll definitely try to catch one of those rotating starts sometime soon!’

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5 months

Loves to talk, sleep on her tummy, explores surroundings by rotating on her belly and likes to lean forward in a booster seat. ‘Who’s that dog licking me all the time? Also, I have feet? Let me taste them!’

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6 months

Fascination by Bella prompted crawling because there is an absolute need to touch that doggy and take away her ball. Loves taking out mommy’s National Geographic magazines from a TV stand one by one. Can sit but has to hold herself up with her hands, flips from stomach to her back. Started on solid foods (first cereal is barley cereal, vegetable – carrot puree, fruit – banana) and water, but breast milk is still the very favourite. Goes to a swimming class. ‘Oh, no, I just dropped that toy… Thank you for picking it up for me! Actually… it’s kind of fun! Go pick it up again!’

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7 months

Loves laughing at daddy’s jokes and when he picks her up by hands and feet. Can sit on her own. Reading lift the flop book Toes, Ears & Nose only one time is NOT sufficient. Bella’s tail, door stoppers and wires are the best toys. Also it is always a great idea to crawl to check on what’s happening in the bathroom and kitchen. Tried out many foods so far, but the absolute favourite are sweet potato, butternut squash and zucchini puree. ‘Is eating chicken necessary? And, mommy, that applesauce thing is just blaaaah…’ Drinking water is fun (has to run down the face and make a bib wet or, otherwise, what’s the purpose?)! Nursing is most entertaining when mommy’s face is being pulled in all directions.

This week there will be a couple of more posts, so be on the lookout!

xoxo
Olena

 

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