Back to School, Back to Sports


Trying to #DropthePop

A few years ago I gave up caffeine.  One day I just got sick of the control it had over me and how much I NEEDED it daily.  I didn’t do it for health reasons or to lose weight (as much as you hope it does help with weight loss) but simply because I hated the addiction.  At some point after that, I did commit to healthier eating and working out and lost 60 pounds.  I felt really good.  And then life happened.  First I wasn’t able to get to the gym and working out felt impossible.  Then I let the eating slip slowly but eventually back into my worst possible habits.  And even eventually feeling the demands of being a single mom without the energy to handle them (most likely thanks to the poor fuel I was putting into my body) I dove back into my sugar filled caffeine addiction, except this time I added not just regular soda but full on energy drinks and sugary coffee creations.

So here’s the thing, I’m not going to lie.  A good coffee (one that doesn’t really taste like coffee anymore) makes me HAPPY.  Like it feels like it brings joy and meaning to my life.  Yeah, I know that’s bad.  AND expensive!  When the budget’s tight and I feel the withdrawal headache coming on, I’ll opt for a quick run through McD’s for a large soda (no ice of course cuz that’s just less soda!)  I’m right back where I was years ago and even the boys know, when mom’s crabby they suggest a good caffeine fix!

So when my brother posted his Wake Up and Be Happy challenge, I wasn’t exactly in love with the idea.  And I honestly haven’t taken the full leap and done 100% healthy eating BUT I have committed to dropping the pop and trying to kick the caffeine addiction…again.  I’ve also cut out obvious sugars.  I’m sure there’s lots of hidden sugars, and we’ll keep working on those but I’m working on baby steps here.  So today is day three with no soda or coffee…if you can’t find me…check under my desk, I may be napping!

Birth complications: When the unexpected happens…

Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from

Ask any parent what the happiest day of their life has been and they’ll probably say the birth of their children, perhaps followed by their wedding day.

And, while most births end just as they should; with the new mum and dad joyfully holding the latest addition to their family, complications can and do arise.

Compensation claims for problems arising during birth can be some of the highest made to the NHS, to take into account the costs, for example, of looking after a child who has been left disabled.

In one case, an eight-year-old received £9.5m after the oxygen supply to his brain was cut off at Royal Sussex County Hospital due to pressure on the umbilical cord and he was left with cerebral palsy.

In another, 11-year-old Milly Evans was awarded £10.8m at London’s High Court after complications at Lincoln County Hospital. Milly suffered fetal distress during her birth, is now confined to a wheelchair and needs 24-hour care.

They’re just some of the high profile cases that resulted in compensation as a result of mistakes made during birth. But, there are many other circumstances in which you may be entitled to make a claim:

During pregnancy

Pregnancy can naturally be a worrying time as you try to make sure you’re taking the right supplements, that you’re getting enough rest and that you’re not eating or drinking anything which could harm your unborn child.

But, there are circumstances which you simply can’t control. It may be that a condition such as pre eclampsia has not been diagnosed as early as it could have been.

Birth defects

Every mother longs for a healthy child. But where a little one has little chance of having a good quality of live, painful decisions may have to be made. Defects such as Down’s Syndrome or Spina Bfida can be detected before birth. Where they haven’t been and where a mother would have terminated her pregnancy if she had known, a claim for birth injury compensation can be made, usually to provide for the future healthcare of the disabled child.

Errors during birth

Mistakes made during the birth itself can have a devastating impact on mum and baby. Damage can be caused by improperly using medical instruments or anaesthetics while, for the child, there are many potential injuries which can be caused if proper care isn’t taken during the birth. These include cerebral palsy, brachial palsy, injuries to the spine or fractured bones.

Tragic cases

The worst cases can even result in the death of mum or baby. In the US, for example, a father is suing a New York hospital after his wife and their premature twins died during a natural birth. Victoria Rexach told doctors she would need a caesarean section but her husband claims she was forced to go ahead with a natural birth. The hospital meanwhile says it did everything it could to save her.

Meanwhile, in the UK, mum Sareena Ali and her baby died after poor care at Queen’s Hospital in Essex. Midwife Rebecca Matovu went home because she had finished her shift rather than helping with resuscitation efforts.

It’s easy to be scared by such stories, but the vast majority of births are happy occasions. The unlucky few who do suffer as a result of medical negligence quite rightly expected that they would be cared for properly. When that duty of care has not been met, a claim for compensation can be the way forward to make sure a family is able to properly look after mum or baby in the future.

We Saw @MissLorti at @GurneeMills

I LOVE my friend Miss Lori.  You may know her if you’re a mom of kids who’ve ever watch PBS Kids from Miss Lori’s Campus.  So when I found out that she was coming to Gurnee Mills with the PBS Kids Readers are Leaders concert we HAD to go see her.  And if she’s coming somewhere near YOU, you need to check it out too because there was…

…playing and winning…

gurnee mills simon company shopping


dancing and singing…



…and smiling….



…Arther meeting…



…and selfie taking….



And thanks to Aldi and Gurnee Mills and other sponsors there were lots of goodies including books and Aldi coupons!! It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait to see Miss Lori again!


For updates on appearances check out Miss Lori’s Campus on Facebook here.

Rock Stars



I bet you didn’t know we were really rock stars.

Check it out, we’re totally ready for the big stage…10534927_433188866824362_605536235_n If only we could actually sing we’d totally be the next Queen lol


Back to School with @GurneeMills #GurneeBTS

424406_381164108577830_792061652_nNow that the kids are back to school you might be done with shopping, at least you hope, until that next big shopping season.  But if you’re like me, you didn’t rush out and buy the kids a whole new wardrobe before the first day of school.  You see, as the mom of three boys there’s one thing I learned…buying anything they CAN grow out of just because means they WILL grow out of it.  So we keep on more of a weight an see sort of schedule for new school year shopping.  Maybe if I had lil fashionista’s it’d be different and a new wardrobe for the first day would simply be a must, as it was when I was growing up but boys fashion really doesn’t change much.

Accept, apparently when it comes to SHOES.  Yes, yes, you heard right, shoes are the end all be all of fashion in the boy world. Or at least in my boys’ world. And it seems their current shoes, which are still functionally just fine, were not currently making the grade. So it was with the mission to find new COOL shoes for school that we headed off to Gurnee Mills.  And there were plenty of choices specifically fitting this mission including but not limited to: Adidas, New Balance Factory Store, Nike Factory Store, the PUMA Store, Skechers USA Outlet, Stride Rite and Vans Outlet.  And that’s just a few of the specifically shoe stores of course there’s shoes at many of the other stores like Macy’s, Marshalls and Neiman Marcus Last Call.  With so many choices it can be a bit overwhelming.  But we started with some of their favorite brands and used the map that can be found online to come up with a game plan.  A few places they decided they had to check out were Adida, PUMA and Nike.

Once we got to the mall is when I was really schooled on the IN styles for shoes.  Apparently, subtle or neutral is OUT!  I can’t say my inner 80s child doesn’t LOVE the brighter trend but it was very different for me to see my boys heading toward the neon colors.  And while I did steer them slightly from the true neon which may not have coordinated well with anything in their closets we definitely bumped up the brightness a few watts!

Johnny new shoes back to school shopping gurnee mills nike outletTimmy new shoes shopping back to school gurnee mills kids sneakerss gym shoe nike outlet

Of course, as the mom I had to make sure they weren’t only stylish but fit well.  We always make sure to try on BOTH shoes and to do a few laps around the store to really get a feel for fit before we make a final decision.







Once we got the big kids A+ shoes, it was on to some shopping for the tiniest of my trio.  He had relatively new shoes and really isn’t caring much yet about style.  But he has had a rough start to the school year with a new school without his brothers there with him.  So he wanted to head to The Disney Store Outlet and I simply couldn’t say no.  And I’m glad I didn’t. When we got there they were having an activity where all the kids got to color their own Captain America shield.  And if that weren’t cool enough, when they completed their shield they were given a lanyard and fun pins (not official Disney trading pins, small buttons).  All that fun and stuff….for free!  Disney for the win, as always!


And of course, having started on the Captain America kick…the small one decided that his must have item was…..

20140907_120824..a brand new Captain America costume of course.  And with the many tears we’ve dealt with for the last month, I simply couldn’t say no to that smiling face.  So, it’s not exactly a back to school item, but it helped make the back to school blues a little bit better!

Of course I know not all of you have boys, there’s tons of fun places for girls, and even moms.  I swear I could spend all day in Charming Charlie, much like I used to do years ago in Claire’s!20140906_101147



If you’re in need of a little break from all the shopping fun don’t forget about the super fun Rain Forest Cafe. 20140906_101741

Just watch out for that snake ;)




Are you dying to get shopping at Gurnee Mills now?  Lucky for you, I have something to help you out.  Enter to win a $50 gift card for Gurnee Mills here!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Get the Philips Airfryer @BestBuy and Start Frying Healthier #PhilipsatBestBuy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.


Why is it that the best tasting foods are often the worst foods FOR you?  Sure, we all know we should be eating more whole fruits and veggies, but sometimes you just really want a big ole pile of french fries.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have those fries with a lot less guilt?

Enter the Philips Airfryer to help you out.  With the use of Rapid Air technology you can get great tasting fries with 70% less fat*!   How is this possible?  Well, the Airfryer circulates hot air around a metal mesh cooking basket, requiring little or no oil as it fries, bakes and grills. The starfish design on the bottom of the Airfryer facilitates air circulation, ensuring your favorite foods cook evenly. So now you can eat healthier without giving up the taste and texture of your favorite foods.

Customize the settings to cook your food exactly as you want. The Airfryer’s integrated timer allows you to preset cooking times up to 30 minutes. The fully adjustable temperature control allows you to preset the best cooking temperature for your food up to 390°F. The Rapid Air technology also lets you grill, bake and even roast your favorite dishes for a one stop solution for all of your meals

The Airfryer comes with a recipe book full of of low-fat fried food recipes that you can make in the Airfryer. It also introduces you to recipes that showcase the versatility of the appliance so that you can grill, bake and even roast food healthier, faster and more conveniently.

And if you’ve ever fried food you KNOW what a mess it can be but the removable nonstick coated drawer and the food basket are dishwasher safe for a quick and easy clean up.


It sounds too good to be true, right?  So here’s the real scope I found after using the Philips Airfryer in our house.

First of all the unit is a little large, it works in my kitchen because I have the counter space and the storage space.  But when deciding whether you can make it work it’s comparable to a large food processor or a slow cooker in space required.  But despite it’s size I wasn’t sure that it could really hold enough of food to feed my crew.  The cooking basket simply didn’t look that big but it actually held way more than I would have guessed.

Secondly, I’ll be honest when I heard of this I was ready to start making some serious fried foods that I could consider not AS bad for you.  You know, think carnival food.  Well the thing isn’t magic, it won’t make me a guilt free fried chocolate bar.  But the recipe book did have a few recipes that created whole new worlds of ideas and I haven’t tried them yet but you can make donuts in it!

But for ME, the Airfryer comes in most handy for making some of the things we already loved, just in a new way.  For everything from french fries, fish or chicken strips the Philips Airfryer can make them quickly and deliciously whether you are using frozen or homemade.  The quickness if a fabulous feature for because of our hectic schedule, it helps me not lean on fast food and carry out so much.  The other thing that made me fall in love with it was that in addition to making these types of things better tasting than baking them, and better for you than frying them by using the Airfryer there was no noticeable heat added to the house.  For me this is huge in the warmer months when you’re battling to keep air conditioning costs down I often default to not wanting to cook as I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven.


Find the Philips Airfryer at Best Buy online.



 *As shown in a laboratory using fresh fries, canola oil and compared to a deep fryer

NFL and USA Football #MomsClinic with Chicago Bears

20140902_200002Recently I was able to attend the Mom Football Safety Clinic thanks to the NFL, USA Football and the Chicago Bears.  After attending the clinic at Northwestern a couple months ago with USA Football, I wasn’t sure if there was much I’d learn at the event but I’d never pass up a chance to get back to Halas Hall and the Walter Payton Training Center.

The Bears spoiled us moms with great content, some fabulous goodies to take home and fun photo opps with current and former players.

I have always taken hydration pretty seriously but after learning more about proper diet and hydration from the experts I will be even more diligent about making sure my kids (and any others I can influence) are properly hydrating, before, during and after sports.

I also got a few minutes to speak one on one with Chris Golic (wife of former NFL player and current ESPN radio show host, and mother of three college athletes) about being a football mom.  I asked her about how she encouraged her kids when they struggled and how she dealt with sideline drama and how she managed to keep all those active kids fed.  It all boiled down to two things:

1. Enjoy it.  This passes quickly and is supposed to be FUN!  If that means you have to step away from the pack, shut out the negativity or whatever just let it be fun!

2.  Support your kids 100%.  There is enough critique and criticism coming at them as an athlete so just be the one to tell them you love them and support that no matter what.

Another great remind came with this slide of reasons most moms will site as reasons for signing their kids up for sports.  It’s important to note that 8 & 9 are VERY statistically unlikely so if that’s your reason you may be unhappy eventually.  But there ARE still plenty of great reasons to let you kids play sports.




If it’s all about the fun (while of course keeping safety in mind) I definitely was on the right path that night because it was a ton of fun!

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Thanks again to the NFL, USA Football and the Chicago Bears!10654886_1461446080798648_584809863_n

Join Me and #Manwich for a Twitter Chat



Join me and the fabulous @MommaCuisine on Thursday for a #Manwich chat.  Chat with fellow parents about having family meals that everyone will be happy to sit down for. And of course there will be prizes like kitchen tools and even a VISA gift card to help you plan the perfect Manwich meal!


Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time: 7:00 p.m. CDT

Host: @MommaCuisine

Co-Hosts: @Lisanoel03, @aliciamarie112,@taranoland ,@BenSpark and @Daddymojo

Hashtag: #Manwich and #NoPhoneZone

Find Healthy Pasta Ideas From #PastaFits #MC #Sponsored

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central for the National Pasta Association. I received pasta samples and a stipend to facilitate the creation of pasta recipes as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

roasted garlic parmesan noodles pasta

As a busy mom, figuring out easy, quick, and wholesome meal possibilities can be tricky .  For our family pasta is often the answer.  When paired with fiber-filled vegetables and beans, heart healthy fish and oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed poultry and lean meats it can make a delicious meal that will satisfy my troops.  Pasta sometimes gets a looked down upon by so many trying to lose weight but complex carbohydrates like in pasta provide the optimum type of “fuel” to power your muscles and brain.  This is especially important for my young athletes! It doesn’t hurt that its a budget friendly option that can is versatile enough to please even my picky eater.

If you need help finding some new and healthy pasta recipes offers recipes, nutrition information, contest and promotions, as well as
general cooking tips and pasta facts.  Pasta Fits is a nutrition and culinary education and resource initiative sponsored by the National Pasta Association.

I made my first recipe from this week and it was fabulous.  All of us are a big fans of garlic and Parmesan so this Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Noodles recipe jumped right off the recipe page and called my name.  When I clicked and found it only had a few ingredients (that I’ve actually heard of), I was sold.  If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m not exactly an expert in the kitchen.  And this recipe was no exception.

I mean it started easy enough preheating the over and boiling noodles…that I can do!


But then…well what sounded simple tripped me up.  The directions said to cut the tops of the heads of garlic.  That SOUNDED easy.  But whether I lack the proper tools or know how, or whether mine were technically pre cut I want’s really sure but there was no way to cut any more of the ‘top’ off without destroying the entire head.  So I do what I do…I improvised and crossed my fingers.  I cut my heads of garlic in half and proceeded.


It didn’t take long before the boys came looking for what smelled so good.  Once they were done it took me a minute to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing when it says to “squeeze the roasted garlic into a small bowl” but I swear this recipe is idiot proof because it quickly made itself evident and I tossed the garlic into my hand chopper with the rest of the ingredients and a couple minutes later we were eating.


I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re not a garlic fan because…well there’s not much else too it.  But I think it would be a great pair with so many proteins.  We had it with baked pork chops but I think it’d go well with any milder flavored meats.  When I make it again (and I will) I will probably use more Parmesan because I added more on my plate and it toned downt he garlic perfectly.

Be sure to check out PastaFits online, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.