Growing up with a stay at home mom, I never truly experienced the concept of a working mother until working with my current boss and mother of a 2-year-old son, Mercedes Ritchey. Mercedes has not only excelled in her career, but she never misses a play date or doctors appointment, bakes brownies for day care class parties, and plans family get togethers, all while having time to listen to everyone's ups & downs. She has become the go-to on our team for, what I like to call, "adult problems" ...
Molly hails from Minnesota but has called Chicago her home for almost 10 years. After graduating as a psychology major from Northwestern University, she joined a renowned branding firm. Throughout Molly's pregnancy, she always remained incredibly relaxed and easy-going, taking each "bump" in the road in stride while still working full-time. Her happiness and excitement for starting the next phase in her life and growing her family seemed to overshadow any of the hardships associated with being pregnant.
Allie is a designer, a survivor, and most importantly a mother.
Prior to becoming a mother of two beautiful babies, Allie was (and still is) one of the most trendsetting and fashion-forward women in Chicago. After seven years of heading her own ready-to-wear women’s line, Doris Ruth—which gained national attention from Women’s Wear Daily, Elle, InStyle, Lucky Self and The New York Times (just to name a few!)—Allie emerged into the world of bridal and special occasion gowns, custom designing unique and intricate gowns for chic brides-to-be. She is an incredibly astute businesswoman who has seamlessly transitioned into an extraordinary mother.
Jennifer Worman recently had her first baby (a boy) and you wouldn't even know it!
This chic, always pulled-together mom balances her family life and being a businesswoman extraordinarily well; always with poise and grace. Jennifer, a former auditor for a big accounting firm, has started an amazing fashion blog here in Chicago called Red Soles and Red Wine (www.redsolesandredwine.com), which we can't go a day without checking in on (her outfits are fantastic!). In addition to being a dynamic fashion blogger, Jennifer spends her days designing incredible jewelry for her company t+j Designs (www.tplusjdesigns.com).
This is a struggle to write an introduction for Katie Driscoll. Not because there isn’t anything to say, but rather there is so much to say. I pondered what words to use. I sought help by asking those who know her for a few words they would use to describe her. I heard things like, "energizer bunny mother," "talented," "innovator," "teacher" and "compassionate." All true.
When this week's MOTW was created, the universe smiled because, at that very moment, all was right with the world. Tricia wears so many different hats that you would do her the ultimate injustice by attempting to affix only one label to her or put her in only one box. She is a wife, mother, doula, educator and tireless advocate for social justice. She doesn't look for the route that's easiest or most convenient, but the one that's right. It is not in her nature to sit idly by and wait for change to come. She is the change.
What to say about the woman who is so great with words? (This might just be my most challenging introduction yet.) I met this amazing Mom of the Week, Melanie aka "Mel" aka "Coffee," long before either of us had contemplated motherhood. It was our Freshman year in college. We became fast friends and were thick as thieves (sorry, that's where the tales end, because she undoubtedly has just as many embarrassing stories about me as I about her).
At Bellē Up, we understand and appreciate that being a mom is the hardest, yet least recognized, job ever. Yes, we said, EVER! We created Mom of the Week (MOTW) as a way of recognizing moms who do the hardest job ever and then some. It is our honor to present you our Mom of the Week … HOLLY SIMON!
Though I introduce her here, this is a mom who clearly needs no introductions. If you've ever been in a room with Holly, you know exactly what I mean. Holly has more energy than any can of Red Bull or bottle of 5 Hour Energy could ever hold ... combined. And, get her on a subject that she's passionate about—which is anything having to do with children being misjudged or mistreated—and that energy quickly turns into a kind of infectious hurricane of resolve to make the world a better place ... one person at a time. Holly is a force to be reckoned with. She is no holds barred, and I'm pretty sure that she's the kind of person to whom you shouldn't pose the question if you don't really want to know the answer! (Yes, you've been warned.) If we were judged by our children, however, this is where Holly moves from being merely impressive to being a total Rock Star Mom. Not only do her children adore her, but they adore (and celebrate) each other. And the family rallies around Holly's youngest son, Nathaniel (who happens to be one of the cutest, spunkiest nine-year-olds ever) breathing its zest for life into every part of his being so that the world's disabilities do not define his capabilities. It's clear that the mantra "I Am Who I Am" (i.e., the moniker of the new nonprofit organization that Holly heads) was born and bred in Holly's own home long before she founded the organization. As a mom who just birthed a child with special needs, imagine if instead of being greeted (by medical professionals, family and friends alike) with long faces, apologies and even sympathies, you were greeted with smiles, congratulations and celebration (I mean, you did just usher a new life into the world, right?). That is what I Am Who I Am is about (see I Am Who I Am "Congratulations" baby blanket now being delivered to special needs babies born at two local hospitals, left). I have no doubt that Holly will not rest until differently-abled children are celebrated—from birth—as the gifts that they are intended to be. We could all stand to take a page or two from Holly's book, the sum of which is this: live life, reach your potential, but, above all things and at all times, just be You. ~Jamenda, Owner of Bellē Up
Q&A with Holly
Name: Holly Simon
Hometown: Oak Park
Current Town/Neighborhood: Beverly
Age: In my mind? 24
Names & Ages of Your Children: Lindsey 18, Nick 16, Luke 14, Ben 12, Nathaniel 9.
Family: Our family is a pretty normal dysfunctional family. It’s full of lots of laughs, hard work and loads of love. My husband is a Sergeant right here in our neighborhood. My kids amaze me daily and exceed my expectations all the time. Just when I think I am going to burst with pride and love they bring me to an even higher level.
Career: I began as a hairstylist 30 years ago. I was fortunate enough to work for L’Oreal and travel the country teaching hair color. I am still a stylist, a handmade handbag designer and the Executive Director of a not for profit ‘I Am Who I Am’.
Cause and/or organization that is most important to you and why: Nine years ago, the greatest thing happened to my family. My youngest son was born with Down syndrome. Unfortunately at birth all the doctors and nurses could muster up was an "I’m sorry." My cause would be to erase the "sorries". Erase them every single moment of the day. Nathaniel is not only a magical gift to us, but to our community as well. I started the I Am Who I Am campaign to celebrate all children that are different. To shed light that these special kids are more alike than different. Celebrating acceptance through awareness has become my passion. It’s not a talk or a lecture; it’s a way of life. I am a huge believer that things are meant for a reason. Natie has come to be known as ''the mayor' of Beverly. He can begin his mission of acceptance right here in Beverly. I am so friggin' lucky to get to be by his side as he changes the world. One hello at a time. One genuine smile or hug can change the life of so many. It’s a gift that we are all so blessed with.
Hobbies: Painting, writing (www.glitterontheside.blogspot.com), dreaming, shopping, sewing, traveling and exploring.
Hidden Talents: Uh oh….hidden? I’m pretty extroverted- nothing hidden!
Favorite family activities: Just being all together. It’s the simple things I love the most. Like when we are all together watching a movie. Or laughing about our day. We all enjoy going out to eat and perusing flea markets. Probably our favorite thing to do is watch Nathaniel as he entertains us for hours. Usually with Saturday night live skits!
My favorite part about pregnancy was the miracle that was inside.…(I loved every single moment!)
My least favorite part about pregnancy was the clothing options. It was really bad back in the day!
When I was pregnant, I wish I had known to take a breath, relax, and slow down. Enjoy. Because as you are thinking and worrying…the moment has gone.
I would tell a new mom the following three things:
(a) This too shall pass;
(b) Be careful what you wish for; and
(c) It is what it is (enjoy more, complain less).
When I became a mom, I was surprised to learn that I was damn good at it!
When I hear the term “Work/Life Balance” I know that everyone’s ‘balance’ is different. Do not follow the road of the neighbors. Strive to find the balance that works for you and only you.
The most important thing my mom taught me about parenthood was "to accept." If I were to complain about my lack of sleep or the dirty laundry, she once said to "accept that it is what it is, the day you realize that this is your path is the day you will find peace." Amazing how I still go back to those words.
Eighteen years ago my parenting style [was probably] best described as a neurotic mom. Now, I am definitely more laid back and open minded. I do not judge them until I hear the story and I give them a lot of space. I have been told that I am a ‘cool’ mom by my kid’s friends. I know that fun only lasts so long until life gets in the way. I want my kids to have a childhood full of laughter, great memories and Technicolor moments. Their journey is theirs, I am only able to guide them….
The most incredible part of parenthood is that they grow up and into your friends.
The most difficult part of parenthood is spending so much time developing [your kids'] wings … BUT then letting them fly.
The funniest part of parenthood is that actually, I have no clue what I am doing. But somehow it has all worked out.
My greatest hope for my children is to be happy, to love deeply and loved back even deeper. To give to others and to soar to great heights. To be kind, generous and understanding. True richness comes from within. Happiness is a choice.
My mom is my inspiration as a mom, because through her guidance and standards I have learned how to be the woman I have always wanted to be. A woman just like her.
I try to set aside at least one hour per day as “me time”. I spend this time hah- usually napping or watching awful TV. The more ridiculous the show, the better. I let my mind go and don't ‘think’.
To nominate a Mom of the Week, e-mail email@example.com.
At Bellē Up, we understand and appreciate that being a mom is the hardest, yet least recognized, job ever. Yes, we said EVER! We created Mom of the Week (MOTW) as a way of recognizing moms who do the hardest job ever and then some. It is our honor to present you our Mom of the Week … KATRINA PAVLIK!
Katrina is one of those women who's just MAJOR! Don't believe me? How many women do you know who can boast that they organized a Guinness World Records event to help set a World Record?!@ I had the pleasure of working with Katrina when she approached me last year to host The Great Cloth Diaper Change of 2011 (left). Katrina organized and executed the details, as I mostly sat in awe of her and her power to move people. As the founder of Breastfeed Chicago™, Katrina and her Board members are currently gearing up for another monumental event: a World Breastfeeding Week celebration at Garfield Park Conservatory on August 4, 2012. Katrina's passion is infectious, yet her disposition remains calm and humble. Engaging her in conversation is like medicine for the soul, but beware: she's a total mother hen and she is unapologetically protective of her family, friends and those who (for whatever reason) cannot protect themselves. She's just one of those genuinely good people ... who happens to leap tall buildings when no one is looking! ~Jamenda, Owner of Bellē Up
Katrina is a wonderful friend, caring mother, and peerless advocate for women. As an advocate for mothers and babies, Katrina is able to educate without judgement and lead through her example. We are lucky to have her in our community. -Kelly Vaughan
Katrina pays attention to the way in which she impacts other people and the world, and she tries to make that impact a positive one, both on a large scale—in her work to reduce waste in landfills by promoting cloth diapering or to provide advocacy and education for breastfeeding—and a small one (in the calm and compassionate way in which she interacts with others). -Dr. Mirjam Quinn
Q&A with Katrina
Name: Katrina Pavlik
Hometown: Glendale, WI
Current Town/Neighborhood: Beverly
Age: 35 (when did that happen?)
No. of Children: Two boys, ages 6 and 3
Tell us about your family: Great hubby, two great kids and one little one in heaven.
Career: I love connecting people and organizations. By day, I work part-time for a non-profit called Communities in Schools of Chicago. I help connect Chicago Public Schools with needed resources to better serve their students (www.chicagocis.org). I focus mainly on connecting students with eye exams and glasses.
By night (and on the weekends), I run Breastfeed Chicago—an organization that connects breastfeeding moms with each other to share resources, advice and experiences. As a postpartum doula and a lactation specialist, I’ve learned that mothers learn best when they have access to the wisdom of other great moms. Breastfeed Chicago is all about supporting moms to achieve their personal goals of breastfeeding.
Hobbies: In the winter: knitting, watching romantic comedies, snuggling with my boys, reading. In the summer: gardening, gardening, gardening. I’d like to say that yoga is also a hobby because I love it, but I don’t get to it nearly enough to call it a habit … yet.
Hidden Talents: I make terrible puns.
Favorite family activities: Driving out to Palos and picnicking/hiking, playing outside, family fun nights (“beach night” in the middle of winter is a favorite).
My favorite part about pregnancy is/was feeling the baby kick. I LOVED that a little someone was living inside of me and moving their little body around.
My least favorite part about pregnancy is/was the swollen ankles. Oh man, were they huge!
When I was pregnant, I wish I had known giving birth is only the first part in the process of parenthood. You have a lifetime of learning after that!
I would tell a new mom the following three (3) things:
(a) Birth can be really awesome if you have the right people around you.
(b) Good parents are not perfect, and good parents need help to become better parents.
(c) Go easy on yourself. Babies need two things: love and food. If you’re providing those two things, you are doing a great job.
When I became a mom, I was surprised to learn that I had a lot more strength than I ever gave myself credit for. It took me a while to find my "mommy voice" that advocated for myself and my children, but when I found it, I realized I was unstoppable.
When I hear the term "Work/Life Balance" I giggle uncontrollably.
The most important thing(s) my mom taught me about parenthood was parenthood is hilarious, kids are treasures, and mud is good.
If you put me in a philosophy, I think my parenting style is best describes as ... attachment parenting, but nobody sticks with one credo for everything. As my kids are getting older, I’m loving the mutual life discovery that we are doing together. I’m learning about new things as the kids are learning about them. I know more about construction equipment, trains, bugs, wild animals, and cars than I ever thought I would know, and I absolutely love it!
The most incredible part of parenthood is getting a smile and a snuggle from your kid for no apparent reason.
The most difficult part of parenthood is feeling like you don’t have enough to give to everyone who needs you.
The funniest part of parenthood is the crazy theories your kids come up with. I was told by my 6 year old the other day that a worm hole (in outer space) would be better to go into than a black hole, because you can get out of a worm hole, but you’d be stuck in a black hole forever.
My greatest hope for my children is that they feel good about themselves and they care for other people.
My mom is my inspiration as a mom, because she is my sounding board, my therapist, my cheerleader, and my comforting hug when I need her the most.
I try to set aside at least a couple hours per week as “me time”. I spend this time taking myself out to a movie alone, or hunkering down in my garden to weed – both are therapeutic.
Favorite book about pregnancy or child birth: Ina May Gaskin’s "Guide to Childbirth"
Favorite book about parenting: Dr. Sears' The Baby Book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League),
Faber's Siblings Without Rivalry
Favorite movie about motherhood or parenting: "Away We Go" – hilarious!
Favorite children’s book: The Lorax by Dr. Suess
Favorite children’s movie: "Mary Poppins"
Favorite item at Bellē Up or BelleUp.com: All the Melissa and Doug toys – great gifts for our baby friends!
To nominate a Mom of the Week, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Bellē Up, we understand and appreciate that being a mom is the hardest, yet least recognized, job ever. Yes, we said EVER! We created Mom of the Week (MOTW) as a way of recognizing moms who do the hardest job ever and then some. It is our honor to present you our Mom of the Week … KERRY LYNCH!
This was Kerry (left) when I first met her. A gorgeous, yet unassuming, mom-to-be(-turned-model) whose eyes draw you in and melt your heart. Kerry is the genuine, hometown, "Girl Next Door" who everyone loves to root for. This quality serves her well these days because an entire village began cheering for Kerry in December 2011 ... and we haven't stopped since! Last December, Kerry joined the ranks of an elite club of "Warrior Moms" when, soon after delivery, she and her husband learned that their beautiful daughter, Mary "Cate" was born with a rare condition known as Apert Syndrome. Kerry often lays her raw emotions bare in the family blog (MyMaryCate)--and her words are far superior to my own, so I encourage you to read them--but what consistently shines through is the overwhelming strength and power of this momma's love. Kerry did not choose this path, but she inspires those she encounters along the way (myself included) because she walks it with style, grace, love and an abundance of laughter. Kerry chooses to celebrate life. So, what are you waiting for? Join the party! #TeamMaryCate ~Jamenda, Owner of Bellē Up
Q&A with Kerry
Name: Kerry (Ryan) Lynch
Hometown: Evergreen Park
Current Town/Neighborhood: Beverly
Children: Mary Cate - 7 months
Tell us about your family: Chris and I have been together for 13 years, and were married on December 31, 2009. We welcomed our first child, Mary Catherine (Mary Cate) on December 8, 2011.
Career: I am a nurse liaison for Coram, a home infusion company. I have three hospitals that I cover (Advocate Christ, Northwestern Memorial and University of Chicago). I work with the doctors, case managers and social workers to get the patients setup for their infusion needs at the home.
Tell us about the cause and/or organization that is most important to you and why: My daughter, Mary Cate, has become the "cause" most important to me. On December 8, 2011 our lives changed forever. We welcomed our first child, Mary Cate, and despite a healthy pregnancy, physical abnormalities were apparent immediately. Within hours, Mary Cate was diagnosed with Apert Syndrome, a very rare condition that causes anomalies in the head, hands and feet. Apert Syndrome only occurs once in every 160,000-200,000 births (about 25 born per year) in the United States, and requires lifelong treatment and and extensive surgeries (20+).
It is completely unknown at this point, what this syndrome will mean for her physically and cognitively, so our cause is to give Mary Cate the best of care and the most full and happy life possible, while also raising awareness of this rare syndrome. For more information, please visit our website: www.mymarycate.org.
Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family, reading, blogging (newfound hobby).
Hidden Talents: Irish Dance (don't really know how "hidden" that is). I can touch my tongue to my nose!
Favorite family activities: just spending time together; lately playing, laughing and smiling on these beautiful summer evenings in our backyard.
My favorite part about pregnancy was watching/feeling my body grow a new life.
My least favorite part about pregnancy was painfully swollen "Shrek" feet the last few weeks.
When I was pregnant, I wish I had known ... I did know, but never listened to all of those who said to try to "rest up" before the baby arrives…I plowed through pregnancy working full time and we moved to our new home two months before baby arrived…all of a sudden baby day was here and I was EXHAUSTED!
I would tell a new mom the following three (3) things:
(a) CELEBRATE EVERYTHING (this is my new life motto).
(b) Enjoy the middle of the night snuggles those first few weeks/months, even though you are sleep deprived and want to just go back to bed, it flies soooo fast…I already miss those 3 a.m. feedings when the world was quiet and I could just cuddle, bond and kiss every piece of her.
(c) Keep your heart open and be thankful for any gift that you are chosen to receive
When I became a mom, I was surprised to learn that I could function on little to no sleep…coming from a girl who was nicknamed "gram" in college for being in bed by 9pm on weeknights!
When I hear the term “Work/Life Balance” I like to think I have mastered it pretty well. I really enjoy my job and my patients. I miss Mary Cate every minute that I am at work, but when I am home, I am 100% attuned to my little lady.
The most important thing(s) my mom taught me about parenthood was have fun and laugh…I vividly remember dance parties, baking, road trips with funny games…always laughing with my mom, dad and sisters!
My parenting style is best describes as ... I am still quite new to this only 7 months into being a first time mom, but I would like to say I just try to enjoy it all and roll with the punches!
The most incredible part of parenthood is everything: the smiles, laughs, toots, unconditional love, and most especially watching her personality develop!
The most difficult part of parenthood is watching your child in pain, physical and/or emotional. I know Mary Cate will have to endure a great amount of both of these over her lifetime, and I want nothing more than to trade places with her…It hurts me to think of her in any amount of pain.
The funniest part of parenthood is what we call "MC TV"…watching our video monitor after she goes to bed each night, seeing her rolling around, playing with her blankie, and stick her cute butt up in the air.
My greatest hope for my child is (sorry, I can't limit this to one) to know how much she is loved, how many lives she has touched, and for all to accept her as the sweet and beautiful girl she is.
My mom is my inspiration as a mom, because she loves me, is always there for me, and is my best friend (even after some VERY difficult teenage years…sorry mom.)
I try to set aside at least 30 minutes - 1 hour 4 times/week as “me time”. I spend this time going to the gym…or enjoying a glass of wine with a girlfriends.
Favorite book about pregnancy or child birth: The basic… "What to expect when you're expecting".
Favorite book about parenting: "Bloom" by Kelle Hampton.
Favorite children’s book: On the Night you were born by Nancy Tillman.
Favorite children’s movie: Beauty & the Beast.
Favorite clothing item when I was pregnant: My Ripe maternity jeans from Bellē Up.
Favorite item at Bellē Up or BelleUp.com: EVERYTHING.