Meet A Mom: Kat | Libertyville Area Moms

Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?

I was born in Los Angeles, CA area, where I lived until we moved to Milwaukee, WI when I was 10. My husband, Jason, (who is also my co-owner, co-director, co-everything) and I lived in the West Loop of Chicago until baby number 2 made us make the great trek up north to the ‘burbs. After renting in Libertyville during a long house hunt, we settled in Lake Bluff 4 years ago and WE ARE NEVER MOVING AGAIN. 

Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)

We have three amazing, energetic, keep-us-on-our-toes children. Caleb is 7 and a 2nd grader at Lake Bluff Elementary School, Felicity is 5 and Ethan is 3 years old, both in the Primary program at Montessori School of Lake Forest. They LOVE being camp kids in the summer and we count ourselves as so lucky they get to spend their summers somewhere as beautiful as Camp Kamaji!

What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?

We are frequent visitors at O’Tooles…we take the kids to sit on the heated patio, they watch all the cars, trucks and buses while they suck on the lollipops provided with the kids’ meals and Jason and I suck down a beer or two. After dinner, when the weather cooperates, the kids like to play on the playground across the street so we can work out the last of the energy before bed.

We also love going to Elawa Farm, exploring the ravine at Ravine Park and walking down to the lakefront.

For the rare date nights, Jason and I enjoy trying new restaurants in Highwood or even trekking to the city. We also love hitting up our classic go-tos like Casa Bonita (Libertyville), Inovasi (Lake Bluff) or Maevery (Lake Bluff).

In addition to the restaurants you mentioned, can you share your TOP 5 favorite local businesses? It could be stores that you frequent for clothes, kids, home decor, healthcare, fitness, wellness, beauty salons or spas, or family resources (photographer, financial advisor, lawyer)… We love supporting local.

In addition to the restaurants above, I love to meet a friend for a mani/pedi at Botti Nail and then pick up my produce at Heinen’s next door. For a special treat, nothing beats taking the kids to Suzy Swirl.

And when venturing out that one plaza, once a year I get my hair taken care of at the delightful Salon on the Bluff.

Also, as long as we are talking about taking care of ourselves, I have the BEST gynecologist… Dr. Kristin Dolling. She was also my OB and I basically decided to have a 3rd child just so I could continue to see her so often. I even followed her to a short stint in the city- that’s how amazing she is.

Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world?

Together with my husband, we own and direct Camp Kamaji, a sleepaway camp for girls. It has been an incredible journey starting as a camper, then counselor, hired as the Associate Director for 10 years and now being able to say I have owned/directed for the last 10 years- over 25 years at Kamaji! I am passionate about creating a fun, safe, confidence-creating, skill-building, friendship-connecting place for kids to discover their true selves. I am a strong believer in the importance of summer camp- especially Kamaji- but also any summer camp that is the best “fit” for your child. I am a member of the American Camp Association (ACA) , Midwest Association of Independent Camps (MAIC) and The Summer Camp Owners and Directors Association (CODA) which I use for continued professional development and as wonderful resources to challenge me to keep my program the best it can be.

When we moved to Libertyville 5+ years ago we were lucky enough to discover Montessori School of Lake Forest for Caleb. Fast forward, all 3 of my children started there in their Toddler Program and MSLF has cemented itself as one of the best parenting decisions I ever made for my children. Of course I did whatever I could to volunteer and support their teachers as a Room Parent. I was then asked to join the board in 2019 and served on the Development Committee and am honored to now serve as the Board President.

In an effort to keep it real, and not just show the sunny side, can you share with us a past or present struggle in your personal or professional life?Please also share how you overcame it or cope with it (or plan to)? We love gaining new tools for our mental wellness toolbox.

I love my kids. I love my husband. And I find I can love them more deeply when I get some “me time”. In addition to a glass of wine, some terribly embarrassing trashy tv and playing “Word Trip” on my phone after the kids (and husband) all are asleep the BEST thing I have done for me is…

… after Jason takes the youngest kids to school in the morning, I pour a giant cup of coffee, go up to my bedroom, sit in a big comfy chair I put in there and I either listen to a podcast and do a facial steam or just sit for 45 minutes- 1 hour before my shower. Such is the privilege of working from home and being your own boss. It is quiet, peaceful, and just for me. I also strongly recommend having good friends you can text snarky things to.

How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?

Like most of us who move up from the city, I felt a little salty about becoming a suburbanite. But I have not regretted the decision for a moment. Throughout the last handful of years, we have met new friends at the park, neighbors have volunteered to check in on our home, school friends have rallied to help us when we had childcare fall through…I’ve just been so touched and heartened by the strength of community here, it motivates me to also be a better friend and neighbor.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I consider myself an extroverted introvert.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?

Trust your gut and then trust your friends to gut-check you.

Are you involved in any volunteering or philanthropy? Do you have a favorite local non-profit or charity?

I mentioned I sit on the board of MSLF, I also volunteer at Caleb’s elementary school whenever I get the opportunity. I also really love donating our books to Bernie’s Book Bank and every holiday season we help shop for holiday gifts for a family in North Chicago.

I also work hard to raise money and awareness for Camp for All Kids. Camp for All Kids provides camperships that enable Black and Brown youth from historically under-resourced communities to experience overnight summer camp, providing a safe environment that fosters fellowship and social-emotional development. I was once a Board Member and now honored to be a director of one of the partner camps, where CFAK first began.

What are your favorite places to travel near and far and why?

My favorite place to go with my family is a small town in central California, Cayucos. We went there a lot with my family when I was a child so it feels special to go with my own kids and watch them climb the same rocks I climbed and jump the same waves I jumped when I was their age.

I also love Spain, all of it. I think it is a beautiful country and I would love to go back and explore more with my husband.

Tell me about your favorite book/s. I love receiving fiction and non-fiction recommendations!

I’m guessing you’re not referring to “A Camping Spree with Mr. McGee” or “Piggie and Gerald”??

I love to read and don’t do it nearly as much as I should or want to. My all time favorite fiction book is “The Red Tent”, it is an old one but so good.

In non-fiction I laughed and even got a little choked up while reading “Ill Show Myself Out” by Jessi Klein.

Which podcasts and/or TED Talks inspire you the most?

I’m guessing this is not the place to discuss my pension for true crime podcasts?! The ones by reporters and follow a single story are my real jam. Even when I was young I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

Not surprisingly, I am a HUGE Brene Brown fan. Ted Talks, podcasts, books, yes, yes, yes.

I also love “The Deep Dive” with June Diane Raphael and Jessica St. Clair, it is a great combination of fluff and the real stuff that rolls around in my brain. Listening to them feels like I am talking with my own girlfriends.

What is your favorite thing about the Libertyville Area Moms Network?

I like that it feels authentic and not too produced. Sarah feels like a real person truly invested in the community around her.

What is next for you?

I’m totally going to finish unpacking my bag from Winter Break. Joke, joke (kinda). Honestly, I just want to keep connecting with my community, I want to meet new lifelong friends, strengthen the friendships I have already begun here, be a good neighbor and help more families discover all the amazing benefits of sleepaway camp!

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