Ready for summer {with kids}?

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Is this the image that comes to mind when you think of summer? Long, sunny, worry free  days out on the sailboat?

yeah, me either. (or is it neither?)

This is the image that comes to my mind….and I think I may wear my eye makeup like this as well this summer.

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School’s out for summer, school’s out forever

 

There are a few good things about the kids being out of school such as:

no more packing lunches, no more racing to school praying not to be tardy, no more busy overlapping sports schedules, no more morning yelling, no more bedtime, no more being late to pick up at 3:00, no more homework, studying and bad grades. oh ha! just kidding…..

But seriously, the list is so much longer of why summer – is totally stressful.

Which brings me to my point. Summer with teenagers is very-stressful. Yes, teenagers need to be watched JUST LIKE TODDLERS becauzzz “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

So guess what happens then? You book their schedules up so full that it’s actually busier in the summer than during school. Summer break actually costs as much as a year of private education. Now most kids go to summer school, so there is homework! Which puts the yelling  back on the schedule. There are overlapping schedules. They still need to eat lunch,  so lunch planning is back on. They go away to camp and need so much stuff. It’s like it’s not really all that different except the weather is nice.

I wish someone could explain this “summer vacation” business. Why oh why can’ t we go to a year round school system like France? Who is on this committee that makes this schedule?

{I’ll bet they don’t have kids and they are not French}

To add to all of this great, fun sounding stuff, maybe a family vacation could get thrown in. Woo Hoo. If you tell the kids you are taking them anywhere less exciting that the Serengeti, they are going to do the eye roll. Why?  What is there to do there? Are we flying? Can I bring a friend?

We did a mini family vacation last weekend. Thought we would give them a little family vacation “appetizer” for summer. Two nights, about 5 hours in the car, to Missouri. It actually went really well. Except that they both wished they were somewhere else.

Do you remember family vacations?  KN and I love talking about our childhood summer vacations. His family actually had one of those gigantic station wagons with the wood on the sides. The family vacation my family talks about the most, is when we rented an RV and drove 10 million miles……This is going way, way back, before my youngest brother was born, because actually my mom was pregnant with him.  I think I was 14 or 15, (yeah, that moody hormonal age), my bother was 18, my sister was 8 and my little brother was 1. It was a hot mess on so many levels.  We all hated it. We were all stuck in an RV together day and night with nothing in common. BUT the things we remember and laugh about! My mom says I had a gigantic zit. She remembers that, ha! I remember my brother driving and my dad navigating and driving “past” Boston. Here we are in this big RV, been driving for days to Canada and Maine but not stopping to see Boston. Maybe there was a good reason but it wasn’t a good reason to a teenage girl stuck in an RV with her dad, older brother, usually  annoying little sister, crying baby brother and pregnant mom. My mom asks us “Do you only remember the bad stuff?” But that’s just it! Sometimes that’s the good stuff!

Are you planning any trips this summer? I mean, why not? My sister suggested Mt Rushmore and Gettysburg. This is the stuff teenage dreams are made of.

This picture is cheesier than Wisconsin. BUT it is a memory of all of us together and that is what I want my kids to have. Memories are not made sitting in their bedrooms on their computers watching You tube videos. They don’t know that, but I was lucky enough to have parent’s that built memories for us and I hope one day my kids will realize that too.

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Gallery wall

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This is what happens when you have a lot of pictures and you really don’t have anywhere else to put them!

We started this picture situation shortly after we moved into our house 2 years ago. It was this big blank wall. What are we going to put there? Neither one of us had a big fancy artwork collection. {Wait, that is a lie. KN had Blackhawks, Nascar and Green Bay Packer “art”.} And since that wasn’t going to work out, I thought maybe we could make it a long narrow closet because this house does NOT have enough closets or storage. KN shot that down. “Are you going to put your clothes in the family room?”
well………maybe…..they have to go somewhere.

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I know it isn’t perfect and not fung shui but I love it. All my peeps are represented. 8 nieces and nephews, mom and dad, siblings, wedding pictures, some artwork we have purchased, kids, memories of places, old pictures and clocks. KN loves to know what time it is. {This little family room has 3 clocks.}

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My mom stopped by recently and loved looking at the pictures. She laughed and noticed that we added more pictures. Yes, I am sure that they will probably go all the way to the ground eventually. I can’t stop.

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My mom said she wanted me to help her do a gallery wall. I don’t have a lot of advice on how to do this sort of thing. I do know that you cannot be shy about putting nails in your walls {Dana}. Behind those pictures it looks like a bb gun shooting range. I change out the frames or change my mind about the layout and move things around. One evening a picture jumped off the wall and we all thought someone was breaking in. Of course, on its way to the ground the frame left a big gouge in the wall.

To get started, you need to map out the wall space on your floor. Move the coffee table and the magazine rack out of the way. Get some masking tape and measure out the area so you know what you have to work with. You need to have a lot of different shapes and sizes of frames. Hit up Michael’s or Hobby Lobby on frame sale week. Some of our frames didn’t even have pictures at first but they “fit”. Start laying the frames on the floor and moving them around until you feel like you like the look. I had to put the pictures down and move them over and over and then go out for a chocolate malt to calm myself down. Then come back to see if I still liked it. You have to leave the room to clear your brain because you can easily get frustrated {or MAD} about it and say “JUST FORGET IT, this was a STUPID idea anyway”. But in the end it is worth it, its even a tiny bit better than a closet :)

 

I can see by looking at these pictures of my wall, that all of the frames are not perfectly level. That must be from my aggressive and frequent dusting…. To fix this problem, you need that gummy stuff. (Otherwise known as tack, here) If you get out the level, set the picture and then put a smidgen of that stuff on the back, it will generally hold it level.
I am also noticing that my plant is getting kinda big and I want to change out a couple of frames…..

high heels

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Check out these bad boys (shoes).

KN surprised me with these. Mr. UPS dropped off a box by the front door and these were in it! I don’t wear heels very often, maybe that’s why he bought them for me….

They are not easy to drive in. I took off in the car, headed to the city in rush hour traffic and my braking was quite erratic. I had to take one off  so that I could stop slamming on the brakes like it was an emergency stop, every second.

 

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Wondering if driving without a shoe on causes bunions or if its just the high heels that cause them.

We had a lovely dinner at a new steakhouse, {because Chicago doesn’t have enough of them}, called prime & provisions. It was delicious and we received a great deal of attention, as the place was only on its 3rd night.

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KN ordered prime rib, which I personally think is gross. That is just a gigantic piece of meat. And of course, wine. Wine Wednesday, ya know! We had one of our favs, Palermo. Followed by a s’mores dessert, which, dang it,  I did not take a picture of. It was a big chocolate globe that the server poured hot chocolate over, to melt it into the marshmallow and graham crackers. Oh my goodness, it was crazy good.  (This all seems like a good idea until the 6:30 TFW workout in the morning.)

{People wonder how or why we go out “all of the time”. Well, Wednesday is always date night since my boys are with their dad. Oh, and I do not love cooking or grocery shopping. So I’m the last guy to turn down dinner OUT.}

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Before dinner we stopped over at Block 37. There was a Windy City blogger event to promote “Block 37″ which is an indoor shopping mall on State street. I can’t pass up anything shopping related. {I’m sure you’re shocked}. It was a wonderful night!

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Outfit details here:

Shoes

Jeans

Long top

tank top

just browsing the web

p1034796361-4I spend a little extra time surfing around the web on the weekends. Before we get started on all of KN’s weekend warrior projects  {clean up, update, fix up, replant and rehab projects} we like to drink coffee in bed until at least 8:00 and search for:

him– sports scores, Nascar, Hawks tickets …..

me– shoe sales, recipes, blogs, shopping, shopping, shopping.

Here we go, from around the web:

I am going to try this version of guacamole for Cinco de Mayo, yum.

This is a great idea! Healthier crunchy taco shells.

Seriously need to have these 2 ingredients around the house for easy, emergency pina coladas!

Skinny jeans are not here to stay, so do you think you will replace yours with these?

Shut it! Did you know Barbie has an Instagram account? She is perfect :)

I bought these (when UO was having a 25% off sale) and these (but in snakeskin print at 50% off at the Piperlime going out of business sale). No, I didn’t pay full price! Thats why I shop online constantly.

I think this would be a great item by the back door, 4 storage slots, one for each of us. No more purse laying on the couch and 3 backpacks laying on the floor.

And finally, yes, KN bought Hawks tickets yesterday morning and we went to the game last night. Have you ever been to a Hawks game? Even if you do not follow hockey or know a thing about it, you will leave that stadium a fan. Hawks fans are intense and loud and the enthusiasm is contagious! {before I met KN, I had never owned an article of clothing with a team name on it, lol}

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Have a great week! Spring is here.

XO

Kelly green striped dress

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Maybe you have already seen this dress?
It was on the cover of the Anthropologie catalog! I love it. There was no wishy washy maybe I like it. Sometimes you just know.

I wore it to the school auction despite it being freezing and raining. How long can we wait to wear NON WINTER CLOTHES?? I threw on a short black leather jacket and tried not to fall on my face as I was running from the parking lot to the front door of the place. Brrrrrr.
When I tried it on in the store, the salesgirl was like “don’t save this dress for dressy occasions only, put on some flip flops and a jean jacket”.
YES!
SOLD!

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Dress here

Sunglasses similiar here

Shoes similar here

Lipstick here

8 simple tips for surviving parenting

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One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

 

This is what raising kids has done to me and KN. Here we are on a typical evening. If we could check into the funny farm, we would do it voluntarily.

So many people say they hate Facebook because its not real life. It’s just all happy and sappy. Yeah, well no kidding! Maybe because people want to remember the good things and prove that they really are not living like psychotic crazy people all-of-the time. Sometimes our family does fun things too. And if we had to post bad grades, hours and hours of kids on the iPad or phone, messy bedrooms, saying no, bacon for breakfast and dinner and mad kids, no one would like us anymore.  We all just want to prove that we have not given up on life and are not living on Lower Wacker.  There is nothing wrong with that. I am happy that there are families on vacations, families having dinner out, kids playing sports, and good things going on. I mean, it gives us all something to strive for, right? A picture for Facebook that the kids are actually smiling in?

Anyway, back to teenagers.

How do we know that they are going to be alright?

From talking to other “mom’s of teenagers”, we are all worried! All of the sudden it hits, how in the world will this kid ever have a job? Like a job where he could support a family? Or seriously, go to college? how will they find food? or their socks? let alone go to class and study?

We all think everyone else’s kids are going to be successful.

“They are so smart! Best player on the team! Ambitious! Popular! Polite! Handsome! On the honor role! Athletic, self motivated, organized!”

Then you talk to the mom and the mom is like “Ugh, no, no, no, you have no idea!”

I started this post the other day and then gave up. I was not sure where I wanted to go with it. Maybe I was just venting. But then a blogger that I follow, There is no wine in mom, had a post called “Keep it Real”. And then I realized, that is what I was trying to get at.

We are all stressed to the max about our kids. No matter the age of our children, we are worried. Worried that we are completely mucking up this parenting business and they are going to fail. I can’t even count how many times I have said that I would “saw my arms off for you” to get my kids to understand HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM and that I am not trying to ruin their life, I AM TRYING TO PRESERVE IT.

My current struggle is tough love. I like huggy, lovey dovey, warm chocolate chip cookie love. Unfortunately, teenage boys push push push the limits. And no chocolate chip cookie is going to make them tell the truth. My kids struggle with turning homework in on time and sometimes turning it in at all. They do not always tell the truth. They are insecure, impatient, and kick each other under the dinner table.  They leave their towels on the floor, their dirty plates on the counter and repeatedly loose their North Face coats. They hang around with the wrong kids, eat the wrong food, watch too much You Tube, are lazy and make me and KN seriously crazy.

How to survive?

1) Talk to other moms. No matter where you are. All you have to say is “my kids are dirty rotten scoundrels” and you are guaranteed a conversation of commiserating, unless of course, it is a parent that is in denial. ( I am not talking to you).

2) Pray your booty off.

3)  Talk to your own parents. Oddly enough, they might have some advice. My parents had 5 kids. I asked my mom the other day why she didn’t shoot all of us? She actually said, “I don’t remember it ever being that bad”. hahahahahahahaha. God is good. He even gives parents the gift of forgetfulness. Maybe someday I’ll say it was all good stuff too, maybe after I trip and fall down the stairs right onto my head.

4) Pray. Yep, keep doing it.

5) Do something that is only for yourself and has nothing to do with your kids. Sometimes getting away from them allows you to have a fresh, insightful approach. Have a date night, weekend, week, month…..however long it takes.

6) Laugh.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the goings on and it drags us down. Take a minute to stop taking yourself so seriously. Step outside and look in at the situation. Maybe it is truly a Saturday Night live skit right in your own family room.

7) Never get tired of doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:13) So many times I feel like saying, I don’t care anymore. It seems like it would be easier to not care.

8) Check out Facebook. Look at all those kids succeeding! If they can do it, your kids probably can too!

If all else fails, take them to a Hawks game, and they might actually smile and say thanks.

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blue maxi skirt

 

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I bought this easy breezy skirt for our trip to Maui. It’s easy to wear to dinner or to the beach. I love the contrasting waistband. I think it would be cute with an oxford shirt tied at the waist too.

Shop the post

top here

skirt here

sandals here 

 

 

Easy pasta for dinner!

Pasta with chicken sausage and broccoli
Pasta with chicken sausage and broccoli

I know it has been said before, but how is it “time for dinner” EVERYDAY?? I love eating but I don’t like dinner time….deciding what to eat, grocery shopping , then cooking, then clean up..just like yesterday….

So the good news is that I came across this recipe not too long ago and we all liked it.
Holy macaroni, I’ll be making this again.
AND
if you know me, it isn’t difficult either.

Only 6 Ingredients
Only 6 Ingredients

seriously, you might have this stuff in the house, except for the sausage

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fry it up
fresh grated cheese  (as much as you want)
fresh grated cheese
(as much as you want of course)

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Pasta with chicken sausage and broccoli

12 oz rigatoni

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sliced onion

package of cooked chicken sausage links, sliced

chopped broccoli ( 1 small bunch)

1/4c grated parmesan


 

 

Heat oil in skillet, add onion for about 3 minutes, add sausage and toss until heated through and browned.

Add broccoli and 1 1/4 c water to skillet with sausage and onion, simmer till broccoli is tender.

boil and drain the pasta and toss the pasta in the skillet

add cheese, salt and pepper to taste.


 

I have tried a different flavored sausage but my kids like the chicken and apple because it is almost sweet. I tried the Italian and it was good as well.

lust or must

lmCollageWe all love designer everything. It just looks different, feels different, smells different, BUT the PRICE is also stupid, and therefore usually a deal breaker.

I like to see what high end designers are doing because they direct the trends.  After my extensive research….

I search out something similar with a smaller number on the price tag.

Here are some ideas:

Denim can be so expensive. Sometimes it’s worth it if the fit is perfect or if you know you will wear them to death. If you are not sure or if you feel like it’s a trend you may not like forever, then it’s probably a good idea to try out a cheaper pair. ( I have these Gap jeans and I love them!)

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Paige denim

Gap

 

Wedges are great for everyone. They can be casual or dressy and they are way easier to walk in then heels. It seems like they are a summer staple. I have sold almost these exact shoes at a garage sale because I felt like they were old but they are still in! Guess what? I’m going to get another pair…

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Jimmy Choo
Steve Madden

 

Oh my gosh, these fringe heels are too stinking cute. Fringe is in! These would spice up any l.b.d. If I had a glamorous job, I would definitely get these or I may get them anyway and wear them to Target. People would think I was someone important.

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Valentino

Zara

I love all these lacy, cutout, crochet tops. So delicate and sweet looking.  You can wear them with anything from shorts to skirts {or with ripped jeans. yes!}. It looks like this style is a must have.

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Alice & Olivia

Anthropologie

 

Everyone should have a trench coat, so if you do not have one, go get it. It’s the most consistently in style piece of outerwear. It’s the fill in coat when you have no idea what is going on with the weather : is it going to be cold, windy, or rain or all of the above? You’ll be glad you have it.  Over a dress or jeans, to work or to a wedding. (P.S. Banana Republic has a sale every minute so you could definitely pay less than $225.)
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Burberry

Banana Republic 

Stripes-yes! I have like 13 striped t-shirts. Love these striped dresses, fresh and warm weather ready. {Gotta get those L’oreal tanning wipes I told you about, for your legs, before you start flitting around in this short dress}stripes

Diane von Furstenberg
Loft

 

I could do this all day! I love looking for trends at a manageable price. What are you looking for? Maybe I could research it…..

xo

 

spring break recap

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Maui is sublime!

It was KN’s first time to Hawaii, I have been there before but it has defiantly been awhile: {once when I was in 8th grade, once in college, and once when I was pregnant 13 years ago.}

The only downside of going to Hawaii is the long flight, the 5 hour time change, and the inflated cost of all things….

However, the good thing with all of that flying time plus pool time, is I was able to read 3 entire books! These are the three that I read and I would recommend all of them. I probably liked the Daughter the best. It definitely was hard to put down, I wanted to know what happened to that girl and you don’t find out until the very end!
The Secrets of Midwives was a story of a grandma, mom and daughter that are all midwives with secrets that need to be shared, also very good.
I read Fly a Little Higher for inspiration. Reading about other people’s faith during strife and the power of prayer is a great encourager and reminder.

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There was no shortage of calories consumed.

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We rented a Jeep and drove around the island and did the zip line tour!

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Insert tangent here:

I need to share this info with you.  These L’oreal self tanning wipes are AWESOME. I highly recommend them. I looked very tan using these.  You get 6 for $8 and they work perfectly.

 

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We went whale watching and snorkeling on this sailboat. It was so beautiful.

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We did wear coats one time! Actually, 2 coats, a hat and gloves and we were still cold up on top of the mountain. Sunrise at 10,000 feet which is above the clouds.

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Then we biked down. All down hill, all braking and no pedaling!

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Every night was a beautiful sunset.

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‘Twas a fabulous vacation! If you have not been, you need to put it on the bucket list.
We are counting this as our “honeymoon” since we never really had one {we had a wedding and a house rehab in lieu of a trip!} My boys were on vacation with their dad so we thought this was the perfect time to get away ourselves.

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