2017 in Review

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WOW! I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close. It’s been a year of personal growth, adventure, travel, family moments, and so much more. I learned a lot, and have come up with some exciting ideas to take with me into 2018. I plan to jump even more outside of my comfort zone this upcoming year, and see where the wind blows.

I want to thank each and every one of you this past year for supporting me on this journey…for reading this blog, for joining one of my health + fitness Challenge Groups, for commenting on a Facebook post, direct messaging me on Instagram, watching my IG Stories, giving me all of your advice and feedback on outfit choices or motherhood woes or workouts…or just telling me that you are inspired by a post or that you can relate. It truly means SO much to me. I started this blog and my brand really as a creative outlet a few years ago, but it’s turned into an incredible community which I am so grateful for. So THANK YOU for your continued support, and I hope you continue to take the journey with me in 2018!

Below is a look back at some of my favorite memories and experiences of 2017:

 

Zack and I finally went on a “Paint Night” Date and we loved it

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I was obsessed with smoothie bowls:

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I learned a ton about gut health + drank lots of kombucha (I did a LIVE @ 9 Episode on this which you can find on my Facebook page, but I promise to create a blog post on this for 2018 so it’s in written form):

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Boys both fell in love with soccer just like their mama:

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Helped hundreds of Challengers get on track with their nutrition with these amazing portion control containers:

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Little sis got engaged and asked the entire fam to be in the wedding ūüôā :

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Zack and I had a week-long road trip together to Asheville (thanks Mom + Dad!):

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I was able to take the family on an all-expenses paid trip to Punta Cana with Beachbody as a reward trip for my work with the company. To say they had a blast would be an understatement:

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I developed a passion for nut butters lol ūüėČ

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Hubby and I did the Ultimate Reset Challenge Plant Based Cleanse program and we learned so much about our bodies, our eating habits, and made many tweaks and changes to our habits going forward (again, I owe you all a full synopsis of this experience in blog post form…coming at you in 2018!):

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Went to the Dave Matthews Concert with the fam:

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Spent many summer days at the NY Beaches + riding the rides at Coney Island:

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Took Nico on his first roller coaster ride at Hershey Park with the family:

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Celebrated our 10 Year NYC Anniversary:

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Went to Rhode Island with the hubs to watch one of my best friends walk down the aisle:

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Went to NOLA for my 3rd Beachbody Summit with my amazing team. We continue to grow, and I love training each new person how to become a #boss and build businesses that give them happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives:

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Completed multiple workout programs including Shift Shop, T25, Insanity Max 30, and 3 Week Yoga Retreat:

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Celebrated my sister’s Bachelorette Weekend in VA Beach rooftop style:

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Luca got his 1st haircut:

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Nico turned 4 and Luca turned 2 with a Construction themed Birthday Party:

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My challengers got amazing results with their fitness + nutrition:

Christie Transformation

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We went on family vacation to Cape May:

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and the OBX:

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Nico started his first year of “real” school through the NYC DOE and is loving Pre-K. Luca started a 2’s playschool co-op, and it was a bit of a transition at first, but he seems to be enjoying it now:

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We threw at Rainbow Sprinkle Themed Bridal Shower for my sister:

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My little sis and her high school sweetheart finally tied the knot after 13 years:

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Took the boys on their first-ever camping trip this fall with good friends:

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Had an epic Halloween dressing up like The Wizard of Oz characters:

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Did ALL the the holiday things to celebrate the season (and enjoyed my most favorite/stressful time of the year):

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Welp!!!!

That is a WRAP. Wow. What.a.year.

It’s been a good one full of fantastic memories. Thanks again for your continued support of popcorn and pandas. I appreciate you all SO much. More than you know.

I wish all of you an incredible New Year!!! I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.

XO,

Gina

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On Overcoming Pain

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So you may be looking at this photo, thinking “What the heck does this have to do with pain?” Bear with me. You all know I typically love to keep this space a happy, positive, fun place, but if I only shared the happy stuff, that wouldn’t be real life, right?

The other night, I was sitting on my couch prepping for my Leadership class that will go on tonight, and turned to the Chapter in John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Leadership” titled “The Law of Pain.” Ugh. To say that I was less than excited to dive into this chapter is an understatement. But this class has been so amazing and eye opening for me that I knew I had to continue on and reading this chapter is all part of the growth process.

So I dove in…and it was not easy. This chapter forced me to go back and think about all the painful experiences I have had in my past. And it asked me to evaluate how I had responded to this pain. Because no matter what…you can be the best person out there…but bad experiences have a way of¬†finding you. It’s just a fact of life that there are ups and downs that we are unable to control. But what we CAN control is how we react and manage the pain.

As I looked back into my “pain file” of bad experiences, I looked over at my Christmas Tree and thought about one of the hardest times I have ever had in my life. It was a fall of 2012. It was supposed to be a happy time. I had just found out I was pregnant with my first baby. We named the baby Peanut. We were ecstatic. We called our closest family and friends and shared the news. Everyone was bubbling with excitement. We started looking at baby things online and thinking about how to shift our apartment around and decorate a nursery. And then only a few short weeks later, when I was 7.5 weeks pregnant our world came crashing down. I had started having some complications, but we were hopeful because we had seen a heartbeat on the monitor. But after one rough weekend, I knew something was wrong and come that next doctor’s appointment, our little Peanut was no longer on the screen.

It was the first time I saw my husband cry. And actually now writing this…as I thought I had come a long way from my pain, I am seeing that maybe it’s not true and it’s still very much there…as the tears are welling up in my eyes once again. I don’t know if I dealt with my pain very well at the time. I know I cried. A LOT. I know I felt empty inside. Like something was missing. Like I was supposed to be a mom, but then I wasn’t. It was just ripped away from me. Stolen. Like it was a fake, imaginary, dream…well more like a nightmare. Like this couldn’t possibly be my first experience at being pregnant. This negative, awful, scary feeling. Thoughts rushed through my head of “Would I ever be able to have a child?” and “Is there something wrong with me?” I think I closed up into a ball for awhile when I was alone and just wailed…and in public, I tried to put on a brave face and pretend that I was okay.

I think I finally decided to truly embrace my pain when I wrote about this experience on this here blog. When I decided the walls needed to come down. I decided that it wasn’t my fault, and that this terrible experience was out of my control. And that I wasn’t some weird anomaly. This happens to a lot of women, and they just don’t talk about it. So I decided to talk about it. And deal with it. And I pretty much wrote that post as therapy for myself I guess…but I never expected what would happen in return. I got an outpouring of messages, comments, + e-mails from other women who had gone through the same thing. People that I was close to, and had NO idea they had gone through this. People that I hadn’t talked to in years came out and wrote me. People said “thank you” for sharing this, and I realized wow…I am not alone. And neither are they. I truly wish no one ever has to go through this horrible loss of an unborn child…but if they do, I am glad that I was able to be there for them as someone who could relate to their pain.

Now what does this all have to do with the photo on this post? Well, this wooden rattle was the first toy that we had gotten for our little Peanut. My husband brought it home from work, and we just loved it. We were so excited. And when we found out the horrible news, I just couldn’t bear to hang onto it for another child or to give it away either. It was Peanut’s rattle. We weren’t really sure what to do with it…so when Christmastime came along, we decided to make an ornament out of it as a symbol of our little Peanut. So that we would never forget that first little ray of sunshine. I suppose this was a positive way to deal with our pain.

Each year we open our Christmas box, and we take out that ornament to put on our tree…and I don’t get sad anymore. Instead I feel happy. I feel that Peanut is a part of us. That he or she is watching down over us on this special time of year and is blessing our little family, which now has two happy, healthy little boys. And I keep that hope that eventually one day I will get to meet my little Peanut in “person.”

I hope that whatever pain you have dealt with in your life or you may be dealing with now during this holiday season, that you can find a positive way to overcome it and growing stronger because of it.

Lots of love and light this Thursday evening to you all!

XO,

Gina

Let the Countdown Begin

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This photo was taken 2 years ago at our last family trip to the Outer Banks. Nico was almost 1 year old, and I was so excited to bring him there for the first time. You see, the Outer Banks is like a second home. My parents grew up vacationing here, and then I grew up with my sister and cousins vacationing here. My uncle lived here for 25+ years, and my cousin also calls this place home. We have family friends here, we know our way around, we have our favorite restaurants, beach spots, shops, and traditions we keep. We spend long days here lounging in sand or playing corn hole on the beach. We ride the waves and sit in chairs getting lost in conversation until we realize we are halfway in the ocean lol. We go for jogs and walks down to the pier and back. We spend our evenings with a quick dip in the pool then off to celebrating summer birthdays, dining on restaurant seafood + home cooked pasta and meatballs, and mingling with family. Our late nights are spent here playing board games, drinking wine and playing guitar/singing out on the deck. It’s the one time of year where my entire family gathers to be together at once. We may need more than one house to fit all of us there, but we make it happen and we create the best memories.

I’m sure many of you have a place like this that is so special for you and your family. What is that place for you???

As I think about our upcoming trip to the OBX in 4 days, I think about my little Luca…who is the age and size that Nico was in this photo. I am excited for him to experience all of this for the first time, and happy that Nico may even be old enough to carry some of the memories home with him (and maybe some seashells too).

I may be raising little city kids up here in Brooklyn, but they sure as heck will be OBX beach babes every summer.

Counting down – 4 days ’til OBX fam

XO,

Gina

Take Me Home

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Long Sleeved Rugby Polo: Ralph Lauren (old) / Blazer: Piperlime (old) / Denim: Rag & Bone / Boots: Target | on Luca: Overalls & Button Up Onesie from Carters

These photos were taken over Thanksgiving weekend on an unusually nice, warm day outside at my parent’s house where I grew up. There is something comforting in the fact that my parents still live in the house where I was born and raised. That familiar smell when you walk in…the same hand-sewn curtains hanging in my old bedroom window…the fact that I can still maneuver around in the pitch black dark and not run into the walls since I am just so familiar with every nook and cranny of this comforting abode. Staying up way too late past my bedtime, just because I am there and you know Dad will always be up (or asleep) in his chair before you hit the hay. Walking around those 2.5 acres of land and breathing in those fresh country smells of grass and trees…maybe even some horses down the road. It strangely smelled like spring there on this particular day. The familiar¬†old tractor, the old shed, and that same spot to hang the hammock in the backyard. While things have certainly been updated since my childhood, I love that sense of comfort and security I feel when I am there. It’s nice that I am able to bring my children here to have a similar experience, much like I had in my grandparent’s house where my Dad grew up. Nico is always so excited when we arrive. He knows exactly what toys will be there, where his chair is, and the places he loves to roam outside already. It makes me smile to know although we live 4 hours away, he still feels that same sense of comfort that I do at his Mimi and Nano’s house. I am looking forward to when my little Luca will feel the same. If my dear parents are reading this, I hope they know they can never move away ūüėČ

XO,

Gina

#14 Take a Photography Class

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This was me on my birthday this past summer. ¬†So excited for my brand new camera. ¬†Cameras have always excited me. ¬†Ever since I was a child, I loved taking photos. ¬†I remember I got my first camera in Disney World when I was 7. ¬†I went around that park taking photos of everything I could. ¬†Back then there was no such thing as digital. ¬†So we took our photos to CVS or Ritz Camera to get them developed, and it was always exciting to remember what pictures I had taken or which ones turned out properly. ¬†My passion continued through middle school and high school. ¬†I would bring my camera to field trips, recess, prom, and other school dances. ¬†I brought my camera to college documenting football games and sorority functions. ¬†I loved having a physical memory to hold on to. ¬†I had albums for days. ¬†And I still have them. ¬†Memories locked up inside books that I could flip through at my leisure. ¬†People always ask me how I am able to remember everything so well. ¬†Well, I think it’s because of my photos. ¬†I can remember where we were or what we were doing or even what we were wearing, because I can see the photo in my mind. ¬†Eventually photos became digital, and I started taking so many photos that I could not keep up with my albums. ¬†They were starting to takeover my room, and I had no more storage for them. ¬†Luckily, Facebook was invented, and I have since been storing all my memories on the computer. ¬†As much as I have always loved taking pictures, I never had a good camera until this summer. ¬†I would try to take artsy shots with my point-and-shoot, but they never really turn out how you want them. ¬†When I decided that I really wanted to start blogging more often, I realized it was finally time to get a nice camera. ¬†The only problem with that is…I don’t really know how to use it. ¬†All this money for a beautiful new camera and lens, and not a clue of how to get the most out of it. ¬†Which is why I decided to sign up for a photography class at the School of Visual Arts. ¬†This is something I have wanted to do for a long time (bucket list/great adventure item #14!), and I am very excited to embark on this journey. ¬†It might be tough, and I may get frustrated, but I cannot wait to learn and become completely enthralled with this craft. ¬†Today is my first class, and I am not quite sure what to expect, but I know I am definitely looking forward to it. ¬†I am hoping to be able to share with you some of what I learn on this blog, and most importantly, I am hoping my new skills will show in the photography I continue to post.

Happy Wednesday Everyone! ūüôā

Gina

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