life advice for my daughters.

  1. seek out the people and places that set your soul on fire.
  2. it’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. but wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. you don’t belong down there.
  3. your body, your rules.
  4. naps are for grown-ups too.
  5. reserve your apologies for when you mean it.
  6. we are all different. it’s okay to be who you are.
  7. push through your fears.
  8. work for your passions.
  9. when you’re trusted with a secret, keep it.
  10. if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it.
  11. use your manners.
  12. find your tribe, and love them hard.
  13. hold the door open for strangers.
  14. celebrate your successes.
  15. always trust your gut.
  16. tell people when you are proud of them.
  17. you will make mistakes, and that’s okay. learn from them.
  18. have “me” time.
  19. say goodbye to the people who don’t lift you up.
  20. laugh. a lot. life is too short.
  21. forgive your enemies, just don’t forget their names.
  22. don’t let your envy set your goals.
  23. stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard.
  24. smile and use eye contact.
  25. always protect your siblings.
  26. know your worth.
  27. enjoy your metabolism while it lasts.
  28. magnify people’s strengths, not their weaknesses.
  29. have a few regrets. it’s what makes life interesting.
  30. remember that i love you. to the moon and back.
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letter to my daughters about love.

my little loves, i’m sitting here thinking about how it’s even possible that i have a seven and ten year old. you’re both so full of life and wonder. your personalities are really coming through and you’re developing into who you want to be.

you girls are so great about telling me your opinion about EVERYTHING, yet you still let me tuck you in to bed every night and kiss your forehead sweet dreams.

my girls, you still believe in fairy tales, yet are faced to think about hard life questions like, why doesn’t mommy and daddy live together anymore?

your dad and i were young; we were high school sweethearts. he was all i ever knew.
choosing a divorce wasn’t easy, but sometimes the right thing to do isn’t always the easiest or most fun thing to do.

what i have learned through all of this is not to settle, and to love yourself. i want you girls to be reminded of that every day. take life slow, enjoy every opportunity that comes your way, every moment. learn to truly be yourself and fall in love with the idea of being the best version of yourself. it’s a beautiful world out there; live it.

no matter how our world changes, you girls always be my first. we’ll love another together, and we’ll grow together, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

to the moon and back,

your perfectly, imperfect mother

a photo journal – wndr museum

i encourage you to seek adventure. fill your life with it and have stories to tell. we live in such a big, beautiful world and most people live and die in the same corner in which they were born and never get to experience any of it. don’t be most people. life is meant for spectacular adventures.

i was in dire need of some time with friends and adventure. so my friends chelsea, brandi, and i decided to take a day trip into the city. to avoid traffic and parking downtown, we took the train in while enjoying drinks and catching up.

we were all hungry and decided to grab some dinner at one of chicago’s staples, lou malnati’s. the three of us hadn’t hung out in quite a while so it was really nice to chat for a while over good food and some margaritas.

i was super excited for our plans after dinner; we had purchased tickets to check out the wndr museum located in the west loop. walking through the doors of the museum, i knew immediately that i had found a new favorite activity…pop-up museums.

if you haven’t heard about the wndr museum and exactly what it is, it is a new pop-up in chicago, and it’s main attraction is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room.

the wndr museum opened in september 2018 as a temporary art exhibit, but due to its popularity, it has now earned a permanent location. the website describes its theme as a place where science meets art.  

in an effort to maintain its popularity and presence in the city, the museum will close periodically to assemble new exhibits.

wndr is a space where beauty and imagination meet. each of the rooms is filled with illusion and beauty , making your mind wander.

there were lots of opportunities to leave your own mark throughout the museum and contribute to the artwork.

we spent about an hour there, and then headed back to the train station to end our girl’s night. i would recommend everyone to go to the wndr museum; it really was such a neat experience and lots of “instagram-worthy” photo opportunities.

check out the awesome video time out chicago captured of the wndr museum below.

a photo journal – missouri

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this blog post is way overdue, and i mean 6 months overdue…oops. i was going back and forth debating to share it, but it’s memories and something i’ll enjoy looking back at later.

back in september we celebrated my grandma’s 75th birthday by throwing her a party. we have a very LARGE family, and we were so thankful that a lot of the family and her friends were able to come.

because it was just going to be a weekend trip, i rode down to missouri with just my parents and sister.  it was nice to have that time with them since i hadn’t taken a family vacation with just them since i became a mother over 10 years ago.

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my dad is a go-getter in the morning, so were up and at ’em at 5 in the morning and ready for our 8 hour trek.

as a family we’ve drove to missouri MANY times growing up. a large part of our family is from there, so we spent lots of time there. and as many times as we’ve passed through st. louis and commented that we should go up in the arch, we never did. we made the same comments this time, except this time dad convinced us to actually go and made a u-turn.

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anyone that knows me knows that i HATE heights and small spaces; so i was freaking out a bit. the four of us had to squeeze into this tight car that traveled up the arch, where it would eventually let us get out of at the top and look out the tiny windows over the city of st. louis.

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after two quick glances out the windows and a few quick photos, my trembling knees were ready to head back down. i enjoyed the experience, glad i did it, but i have zero intention of doing it again.

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back on the road, and a long nap later we were about there. i was so ready to get out and see grandma.

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grandma was waiting for us inside the hotel and her smile says it all.

we spent our first night there just visiting with family and setting up for the party the following day. i love that we can go months, and even years, without some of us seeing each other and just pick up right where we left off. i love my big, crazy family.

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saturday morning we woke up, got ready, and finished up all last minute preparations for the party. everything turned out so well and grandma especially loved that we decorated in her favorite color.

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a big part of my responsibility for the party was creating a book for grandma, filled with notes from everyone that i collected over the previous few months. some people wrote sweet “i love you’s” and others shared some of their favorite memories with her. giving grandma her gift and seeing her face light up when i told her what it was, was well worth all the work put into creating it.

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before everyone left, we got a few photos of grandma with all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that were able to make it. that lady is loved by so many!

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if we were having coffee. round 3.

long time no talk! i feel like i haven’t posted in forever, but it really hasn’t been that long. two months, maybe.

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but let’s face it, life got on top of me. the beginning of the year has been chaotic with life changes, and even though its been quite the ride, they’re what was needed.

“making a big life change is pretty scary. but you know what is even scarier? regret.”

 

but hey! i’m back! i have things to say. posts to post.

so let’s get to what this post is about…pull up a chair and grab whatever you’re drinking; i’ve got some more to share with you.

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if we were having coffee, i’d tell you all about how my youngest just turned 7, and i still can’t believe it. there are days where she’s more sour than sweet, but i wouldn’t change a thing.  she’s becoming into her own personality a lot lately and i’m really love her free spirit.  she’s got such a good heart,  is creative, and makes me laugh till i cry often. it’s hard for me to accept that my baby girl isn’t really my baby anymore, but i can’t wait to watch her grow up and become the best version of herself.

if we were having coffee, i’d want to tell you about something that i did that i’ve always been hesitant to, but just took the leap. and i can’t say this  enough…i’m so glad that i did. i booked myself a boudoir photo shoot with Leigh Photography (Rockford, IL).

i’ve had so many people express their opinions about my choice to do so; some were extremely supportive, and some…not so much.  but, if other people’s opinions affected half of the things i chose to do, i would have missed out on so many amazing opportunities and adventures.

Alyssa, owner and photographer of Leigh Photography, said it best…

“Life is short, do the photo shoot. If I had one piece of advice to my potential Boudoir babes, that would be it! I don’t care what age, size, color, height, bra size, or nationality you are. Boudoir is for everyone. Everyone deserves a little ‘feel good’ action! Do the photo shoot!”

if we were having coffee, i’d share with you all about my recent visit to the Wndr Museum in Chicago.  never heard of the wndr museum and curious what it is? it’s the newest experiental museum in the city; a place where art meets science. for all social media users, it’s full of perfect photo ops, including 19 art installations.

my friend and i took the train in and met our friend from wisconsin at the train station.  we made a night out of it by grabbing dinner at one of chicago’s staples, lou malnatis pizzeria, had a few drinks, and then ventured to the museum. if you haven’t checked it out already, i’d highly recommend taking a trip to wndr.

if we were having coffee, i’d rave all about how my girl’s rocked their basketball season this year. and honestly, i’m sad that it’s over. both of my girls played this year, and i LOVED being their biggest fan on the sidelines cheering them on every saturday morning. they both said they’re playing again next year, but until then, i’ll be their cheerleader through soccer season.

if we were having coffee, i’d chat all about how lucky i feel to have the support system that i do. days have certainly been wild lately, and some have been extremely hard. but i truly believe that those who really matter, have been there for me through it all and helped kept my head above water. i’d much rather be with them through any storm, then warm and safe all alone. only surround yourself with people who lift you higher.

a photo journal – 2018, looking back gratefully

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“without rain, there are no flowers”.

2018 was really, really tough for me…so many ups and downs, adventures and surprises, challenges, and successes.

but i’m taking this year as something that i will look back to, and be grateful for where it took me. and 2019, i’m ready to live.

as exhausting as this year was, there will be always be moments that i’ll be grateful for. i took a few minutes to look through my year in photographs, and wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

2018 began with my first trip on a plane and out of the country. i was given the opportunity to photograph a friend’s wedding in mexico, all while spoiling myself with some cocktails and much needed time on the beach.

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kaylei has really enjoyed playing basketball, and as 2018 rolled in, her second season came to an end. i enjoy watching her play so much, twice as much as she enjoys showing off her well-deserved medal.

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we took the girls on our first big family vacation. the beginning of the trip was spent in virginia beach, where they got to experience the ocean for the first time.

the second part of the trip, we drove out to washington, dc and did all the typical touristy things.

the girls began a new school year.  it’s crazy to believe that we already have a fifth and first grader!

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we enjoyed the summer with friends including our fair share of cubbies games, cookouts, and county fairs.

my grandma turned 75 in september and my mom, dad, sister, and i took a quick trip down to missouri to help throw her a birthday party. a bunch of our family came and i really enjoyed the mini vacation with my parents and sister.

one of my favorite memories from this year was the mother-daughter trip the girls and i took to the apple orchard this fall. so many laughs and pictures taken; these are moments that i’ll never forget.

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as always, halloween is one of the girl’s favorite holidays. 2018 was no different with our very own where’s waldo and bunny rabbit.

the first snowfall this winter and the girls had to use the opportunity to catch some snowflakes and play in the snow.

kaylei and mahkena had a quick visit with santa, and for the first time, mahkena wasn’t terrified of him.

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2018 basketball season began in december and this year, mahkena followed in her big sister’s foot steps and decided to play too.

christmas came and went by so fast, but not before lots of eating, gift-opening, and time with family.

2018, thank you for all the lessons. 2019, i am ready.

fun christmas traditions with my girls.

the holidays are approaching and my favorite time of year is very near…christmas!

i love christmas time. we all get to take a break from our busy schedules and get to spend time with those who matter most to us.  it’s a time for us to be grateful for those who we are surrounded by and feel the joy that is created by all the memories that are made. now that i have my own family, i especially appreciate this time of year and continuing traditions with them and creating more.

here are some of my favorite christmas traditions that i enjoy with my girls:

advent calendar

every year around this time, we buy two advent calendars, one for each of my girls.  it’s a fun way for them to count down until christmas, and one of the very first things they like to do every morning.

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here are some of our favorites:

elf on the shelf

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we started this fun tradition probably 6 years ago, and every year i question why we ever did because it can become quite a hassle, but my girls LOVE it, making it SO WORTH IT.

you can find more about the elf on the shelf tradition here, but in short, every night between thanksgiving and christmas when the kids go to bed, parents move the elf into a new hiding spot.  the idea is that elf is santa’s little helper, and goes back to the north pole every night to report to santa if the kids were naughty or nice throughout the day.

i’d recommend buying the elf on the shelf bundle, which comes with the children’s book that explains the story. you can buy your own here.

christmas lights scavenger hunt

i’m like a little kid when it comes to this family tradition; i enjoy it probably just as much as the kids!

for the past few years, around the week of christmas, i print out some fun christmas lights scavenger hunt lists that i find online, we all load into the car, and drive around marking ones that we see off our lists.

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you can find the one’s that i plan on using this year here. simply kierste design’s blog always has the cutest things!

christmas music and decorating

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the weekend after thanksgiving, we take down all of our fall decorations, blast christmas music and put up everything christmas! it’s one of my favorite parts of the holidays and i just love how festive our home becomes.

cookie baking day

ever since i can remember, my mom, sister, and i would spend a full day before christmas baking what seemed like millions of christmas cookies. we’d make trays and trays of them and deliver them to our neighbors, teachers, friends, and family.

it was a tradition that i looked forward to every year, that time with my sister and mom. and now, my girls are involved, and they get to join in on making these special memories with the three of us.

chrismas movies and popcorn on christmas eve

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after all the christmas eve day festivities are done with, we always invite grandma’s and papa’s back to our place. we pop some popcorn and throw on a christmas movie. it’s always a toss up between the same two movies every year…elf or the grinch.

it’s something as simple as watching a movie together; it makes memories that you’ll never forget.

build a gingerbread house

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this tradition, i’m not necessarily involved with but one of my girl’s favorites. during the beginning of the holiday season, they will go over to grandma’s house and make a gingerbread house. it’s so fun to pick them up, see what they’ve made, and their huge smiles across their faces.