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.



There’s Still Time To Get to a White Sox Family Sunday

Thanks to the White Sox for hosting a wonderful day at the park!

Two of my favorite things in life are my kids and sports. Whenever you can combine multiple loves, you get the most perfect day! For me that’s what a day at the baseball field is. This season I had the pleasure of spending some special time at the White Sox Family Sunday with just my youngest. His older brothers were at camp and totally jealous but it was great to do something with just Bryan for a change. He played for the “Sox” this summer for T-Ball so we took his hat and he was able to get it signed. After the game he could have run the bases but without his older bodyguards brothers I was too nervous to send him into the herd.
white sox family sunday player autographs kids fun baseball white sox family sunday kids fun baseball
While we did enjoy some VIP treatment in a gorgeous skybox, tickets for Family Sundays are totally reasonable so you can actually afford to take the kids to a game. And parking is easy, no worries of getting hustled for “easy out” parking by some random guy on the side of the street. (yes, yes I love my Cubbies still but I have never loved their parking situation).


Check out tickets now.white sox family sunday chicago baseball


Famous Footwear to Open in Bolingbrook

Visit Famous Footwear’s grand opening of their Bolingbrook for their everyday deals as well as live music, special promotions and a chance to win FREE SHOES.


Famous Footwear  is opening a new store in Bolingbrook, Illinois, marking its 20th location in the Chicago market. The 4,274-square-foot store will open on September 10 and will host a series of grand opening event activities throughout the day. The new store is located in the Bolingbrook Promenade at 631 E Boughton Road.


To celebrate the opening in Bolingbrook, Famous Footwear is hosting an all-day grand opening event on September 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shoppers are invited to experience fun activities including:

·         Special in-store promotions every two hours

·         A local shoe artist customizing shoes for customers from noon to 6 p.m.

·         Drawings every hour from noon to 6 p.m. for a chance to win free shoes

·         An appearance from popular local radio station, WKSC-FM, 103.5, giving shoppers the chance to meet some of their favorite radio personalities

·         A DJ spinning live music


“We strive to deliver easy victories to families who are looking for brand names at affordable prices,” continued Ausick. “Our in-store experience will prove you don’t have to compromise style or amazing customer service when shopping for great values.”


Famous Footwear recently launched their new mobile app which gives Rewards members 15 bonus points just for downloading, makes redeeming Rewards points even easier and gives shoppers access to exclusive mobile offers. The Famous Footwear app is available for download today on Google Play and iTunes or simply by texting APP to FAMOUS (326687) to get a mobile link.


Famous Footwear has more than 1,100 stores nationwide as well as an e-commerce site, The chain offers consumers more than 100 nationally recognized brands through its retail stores and website, including Nike, Vans, Converse, Sperry, Skechers, Naturalizer, Steve Madden, madden girl, Franco Sarto, adidas, New Balance, Roxy, Circus by Sam Edelman and Carlos by Carlos Santana. Famous Footwear is also a proud national partner of the March of Dimes.


For more information, visit or

Tomodachi Life Nintendo DS game available at @BestBuy #NintendoatBestBuy

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.


Tomodachi image.jpg;canvasHeight=360_0

Way back when, when our family got our first Wii, the boys spent hours, if not days, creating their perfect Mii.  They even perfected a Mii for my dad that was so insanely accurate that it sort of creeped me out a little when it would innocently appear in the background of the Wii Sports games.  This love of Mii’s makes Nintendo’s newest game for 3Ds pure genius!  Tomodachi Life is a game all about creating a whole island world full of Mii’s.
The boys all loved this game and even when it wasn’t their turn to play they had fun watching their brothers and talking about the Mii’s they still wanted to make or what they should do with their Mii’s.  I was happy to find that there wasn’t anything too difficult for the 6 year old to do.  He would need occasional help with where to go to “buy food” if someone was hungry or something along those lines but there weren’t any tasks that were hard for him to actually complete, coordination wise.
I was able to steal the game away from them for a bit to see what it was all about and was pleasantly surprised that amidst all the giggle inducing parts of the game there were actually some good lessons in there too.  While I don’t think every game has to have a serious educational element, fun just for fun is ok too, I think that this game can be a good starting point for things like empathy, conflict resolution and budgeting.  In the game things happen life fellow Mii’s getting into a fight, if you’re paying attention you can see that Mii’s are upset and try to help them feel better.  When they are ready, you can even help them work out their fight.  Mii’s also get hungry and want their apartments decorated.  So you have to decide which items to buy, you can get cheaper items that might not be as well liked or chose fewer more expensive items.  You can even get lucky and find special sales on some things!  But it’s important to pay attention to your Mii’s because they all have different things they love or hate.  And you can write songs and watch your Mii’s perform your creations.
Tomodachi Life is a 3DS game but is compatible with the 2DS system which is on sale ONLINE ONLY 8/29/14-9/1/-14 for $99.99 (save $30 off regular price of $129.99).  The Nintendo 2DS plays all the 3DS and DS games as well as takes video and pictures.
We have been long time DS owners but got to try out the Nintendo 2DS along with this game and I impressed with it.  I have honestly thought that all the DS (we have had DS Lites, DSi’s and 3DS) were well made, easy to use and kid friendly.  The 2DS is slightly different in design because it doesn’t close but for me that means it’s just a little more durable.  I think it is a good size and weight and none of us had any comfort issues using it.  I think it’s perfect for anyone starting with handheld games or looking for a less expensive way to play the 3DS games.1805731_sa.jpg;canvasHeight=500;canvasWidth=500

If Tomodachi Life sounds like it’d be a hit with the gamer in our life be sure to check out BestBuy online 8/31/14 to save $5 on Tomodachi Life and other select 3DS games!!!







Kick off ‘Back to School’  With WTTW Kids and Miss Lori at Gurnee Mills.  Miss Lori happens to be a personal friend and is fabulous at inspiring and teaching kids AND adults.  I’m excited to FINALLY get out to one of her Live events with my kids.  I hope you’ll join us.  (Oh and if you don’t believe that we’re friends, check out the pics at the end of this post)





WHAT:           Children and parents alike will spend the morning singing, dancing and enjoying story time, when the WTTW Kids Readers are Leaders Tour makes a stop at Gurnee Mills. This annual event, which is brought to you by WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate, will feature a special guest appearance by Arthur, the beloved children’s book aardvark and performances by Miss Lori’s CAMPUS. Plus, the first 200 children in attendance will receive a free children’s book.

Miss Lori, the first-ever live PBS Preschool Block host, created Miss Lori’s CAMPUS to develop and ignite the imaginations of children and their families. Miss Lori’s commitment to children’s health through creative programming and entertainment has been nationally recognized.

WHEN:           Saturday, September 6  at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:         Gurnee Mills (Lake County Food Court in the Macy’s Full-Priced Retail Wing)

COST:            Free


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