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PR agency leader. Football mom. School council member. Weekend foodie wanna-be. These are just a few of the roles I juggle, like many of us moms. Life can be crazy enough jumping between these roles without having to worry about what to wear for each occasion.

One of the fun outfits I put together at Christopher and Banks: This is the Diamond Quilted Vest, CrissCross Neck Pullover Sweater in Mantle Grey

The last few years have been challenging for me, fashion-wise. Due to side effects from a new medication, I put on some weight that I haven’t been able to lose easily. It’s not good being uncomfortable in your clothes and like you don’t have any fun, attractive clothing to wear.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the folks at Christopher and Banks, a clothing store based in Plymouth, MN, but with locations all across the country. They invited me to learn about their new fall fashions, which can be found in a range of “Petite (4P-16P)”, “Missy (4-16)” and “Women’s (14W-32W)” sizes. I think it’s awesome for women who are plus size to be able to find the same items on the same racks, rather than delegated to a separate section or store.

Last week I visited the Christopher and Banks headquarters to meet with their style/trend experts and learn about the brand and where it’s heading. They’ve been working to include more styles which appeal to exactly my age group – the ~40 year old woman who wants to look fashionable, but not like a teenager. I loved meeting them and hearing the “behind the scenes” of how they planned the fall fashions, which are just coming out this month.

Then came the BEST part – this weekend I went to my local Christopher and Banks store and shopped the styles with the help of a couple of their associates. I also brought a dear friend who has NO FILTER so she could keep me honest to make sure the items I liked looked good and reflected my personal style. I can’t wait to show you all the fun things I found!

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In July 2017, Lisa Chan, a Minnesota mom to a child with food allergies, was planning to approach her local city, Shoreview, to ask if they would help educate people about food allergies and (hopefully) prevent allergic reactions at the parks. As part of the process, Lisa researched if signs like this exist and asked other parents in the Minnesota Food Allergy Support Group Facebook group, which is where I first heard about this initiative. No one in the group had seen signs like this before, but that didn’t stop Lisa.

She shares her story below in this Q&A interview on the new signs she requested and were successfully installed. Thank you Lisa for sharing your story and inspiring so many families.

What do the new signs say?

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Oh friends, our summer family vacation did NOT go as planned. I spent most of it in a hospital. The bad news is that I had emergency surgery. The good news is that I’m okay and now recovering at home in my own bed.

Our first day in Tennessee was great – we were able to spend time with two of my cousins and their kiddos. We rented a cabana by the pool and everyone had fun hanging out and swimming and going on the water slides.

Towards the end of our first full day there, I was experiencing sharp abdominal pain in the lower right side, you know, the side with the appendix. Eek. It wasn’t letting up so the next day I drove to the local ER while Jason took the kids swimming again and to the arcade.

Long story short, they sent me home that day with a theory that I probably had a burst ovarian cyst causing pain and inflammation (turned out not to be it…). The pain kept getting worse and two days later I went back to the ER – and that’s when they kept me overnight for observation. The next morning the surgeon recommended a laparoscopic exploratory surgery with a camera and likely appendectomy. Gulp.

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Many people ask if Ruby’s microchip is also a GPS tracker. No, microchips simply store identification data – if scanned by a vet or shelter, the chip can tell you our names, address and phone number. Of course she has a dog tag on her collar with my cell number on it as well.

In the last 6 months or so, I’ve been called twice by neighbors saying Ruby was hanging out in their yards. Which completely freaked me out because we always keep her safely in the house or fenced in the back yard – she’s not allowed to roam.

Yet she has gone exploring a few times. Once the back fence was left open. Another time during home remodeling a contractor left a door wide open. And each time I have a heart attack. What if she was lost? What if she gets hit by a car? What if someone steals her? She’s gorgeous, who wouldn’t want her?

A friend told me about Whistle for dogs, so I checked it out. Overall, it had very good reviews and pet parents seemed to like the peace of mind that comes along with it. I also looked at pricing, which as of today is $79.95 from Whistle directly, Amazon and Chewy. All three have free shipping and you can read lots of reviews on Amazon and Chewy. We’ve been using it for a month now, so I can confidently say that I am really happy with it. You can see the device attaches to her collar in the picture on the right. It’s light and pretty inconspicuous. She doesn’t seem to notice it at all and we rarely do. Continue Reading


Yesterday I shared this story on my Facebook page after an interesting encounter I had. The post had a lot of positive discussion and engagement, so I decided to include it here on the blog as well.


Can you help or will you walk away? This is the question I asked myself today in the Walgreens parking lot. I heard a man’s voice bellow “What are you doing to that child? I’m calling the police! I don’t like how you’re handling her!” He was an older man in his 60s, driving past a woman in her 50s who was trying to get a child into a car seat who was throwing a temper tantrum. I hadn’t seen what was going on until I heard his voice. He was clearly trying to get the woman to stop struggling with the child, concerned about abuse.

She looked desperate, not angry. She said to him that she was trying to get her granddaughter into her car seat. Now I could hear the little girl screaming angrily and the man was giving the woman the stare down. I don’t know what he saw, but I bet it was something similar to what I’ve been through with my kids throwing temper tantrums when they were younger – a power struggle. I waited a moment to see what would happen. She stuck her head back in the car and was pleading with the child. The man was glaring at her with his phone to his ear. Holy smokes, this situation needed some compassion and help, not threatening and screaming.


I walked over and smiled and said “How can I help?” The woman fearfully explained that the other man was calling the police and she’s scared and just trying to get her granddaughter to calm down.”Did you hit her?” I asked. No, she said, but I threw her shoe in the front seat because she was hitting me with it. I responded calmly and reassuringly, “I’ve been through this before with my kids when they were little. I’ll stay with you, we’ll figure this out.”

At first when I tried talking to the little girl she screamed at me. “Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, get away from here.” I nicely encouraged Grandma to take a deep breath and take a little break. Within just a minute or so I was able to earn the little girl’s trust, get her to happily jump into her car seat all on her own, buckle her own straps and let ME help her get her shoes back on. We talked about how much she loves her grandma and her grandma loves her. She wiped away her tears and gave me a high five. And grandma? At this point she had tears spilling out of her eyes and I gave her a hug. The man in the car was gone. I hope he saw the situation had deescalated and everything was going to be okay.

There was a very good chance that grandma could have screamed at me to get away and mind my own business. In which case I still would have watched and waited to make sure that little girl was okay. But I had it on my heart that I could at least try to help and I’m so glad I did because I know it made a difference. I’m not sharing this to brag or get praise – but to hopefully help inspire someone else to reach out with a smile in a similar situation. Because most parents or grandparents in that situation feel humiliated, powerless and afraid someone will call the cops. Many of us have been there. We can be on the other side, too.

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Marketing Mama® features articles on parenting as a working mom, food allergies, home decor, family activities and cool products.


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