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

My family lives in Vernon Hills, we moved here to one house in 2005, and then relocated within the village to a house with a little more wiggle room in 2012.  So Vernon Hills residents for almost 15 years now!

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

We have four children, Charlie age 14, Paige age 12, Ben age 7 & Graham age 7, plus one feisty 2 year old dog, Buster.

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

I’m a fitness junkie, so I love trying new workouts and engaging in group fitness experiences.  I’m currently a member of the Barre Code Vernon Hills, where I have found a tribe of like minded women and wonderful workouts. I also have a membership at the Lakeview Fitness center, for the amenities like the fitness floor, and pools, plus some other great fitness classes.

As a family of 6, we don’t eat out as much as we would like, but we do have a few favorite spots. The Claim Company Vernon Hills is always a crowd pleaser with my crew, the salad bar, burgers, kids menu and especially the brownie dessert. Even better, it’s locally owned by a Vernon Hills family.  A new favorite is City Works Eatery and Pour House in Mellody Farms. The food and service has been great on our first few visits. For date nights, we always enjoy Firkin in downtown Libertyville.  

As a family, we enjoy hitting up the local forest preserve and libraries.  We sign up for all the programs through the Cook Memorial Library District.  I’ve been especially impressed with the tweens and teen programming. It’s free and fun.  Sometimes they have pizza parties, movie nights and more after hours events. I’m actually shocked more people don’t sign up for such amazing programs, although maybe I shouldn’t tell anyone about our little secret.  We get books, movies and more from the library every week and it’s a lifeline for us. The staff is also incredibly helpful.

 

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

Right now I’m not working outside the home. I spent about 6 years involved with Stroller Strides (now Fit4Mom) as an instructor and franchise owner, but when the twins came along, I decided to scale back and focus on the family for a while.  I volunteer within the District 73 PTO, the Aspen School Family council and our local Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America chapter. I am passionate about reducing gun violence in our communities with common sense reform.

Personally, I enjoy social activities with many friends, especially in group settings with a  focus. I’m part of a book club that has been active for about 12 years with amazing women from all over Lake County, a Majong group that struggles lately to coordinate our calendars, but still keeps in touch and support, and a hilarious Bunco group of mainly neighborhood women.  I love these groups because we make an effort to meet once a month, and we always have both an activity to focus on, as well as plenty of time to catch up on all our life.  

My own personal goal lately is to grow my gardening skills. When we moved into this house, my husband built me a garden, which I was somewhat reluctant and hesitant to take over.  But I found it’s so satisfying and peaceful to work with the earth and watch food grown by my own hands. Some seasons have fared better than others, but I never regret my time in the garden.

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

As a stay at home mom, life can be isolating.  I have found my community by getting out there and trying new things. Life changing for me was when I found Stroller Strides when my oldest son was just a few months old.  I felt connected and understood in a new way. I met so many incredible people through my years at Stroller Strides, that I’m still close with. Since then, I’ve made an effort to volunteer or try new experiences that get me out of the house and around new people and pull me out of my comfort zone.  I know how easy it is to stay home, but sometimes you will be so rewarded by signing up for a volunteer experience or joining a new group. I can say I almost never regret getting out and helping, even when I’m not sure I’ve got the energy.


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

I’m very shy and introverted.  That’s why I enjoy volunteer and group experiences so much, I still struggle sometimes to come out of my shell on my own.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom? Oh my gosh, I have gotten so much.  I guess just follow your intuitions and not worry about what everyone else is doing. Everyone has their own parenting style and personality, plus kids with different personalities.  Just stay secure in yourself and follow your heart, that’s what your children need.

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

We love to go to Saugatuck Michigan. There is a special cottage we rent every year, and I have to keep it secret, because if everyone knew about it, it would rent out too fast!  We don’t travel far often, but as the kids are getting to a good age, we have Hawaii on our 1-2 year plan. It was where we spent our honeymoon, and I thought we’d be back for our ten year anniversary.  It turns out our tenth anniversary was spent at Chili’s for lunch while my mom watched our twin babies. So maybe for our 18th anniversary, we bring the family?

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

I really enjoy a lot of historical fiction.  In the last year, I loved “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate, “The Tatooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris and “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.

What is next for you? 

Right now I’m going through an incredible challenge that I can honestly say I never expected to experience.  In January 2020, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, breast cancer. I have had so much empathy for all the women in my life who have struggled with breast cancer, but I can say, until I found the lump, I never really thought it would be me. I had very few risk factors, I eat well, I exercise regularly, barely drink, no strong family history and breast feed my babies.  I was up to date on my screenings and even had screening ultrasounds. But cancer doesn’t discriminate, and it struck my one day “why not me? what makes me any different?” When I went in, it was obvious pretty quickly that they were worried, and it wasn’t just a cyst.

 

So for now, I’m focused on my health and my family.  I’m grateful there is a plan I can follow that will be very challenging, but can, hopefully, cure me.  I spend my days as much as I can the way I did before my diagnosis, but with a renewed outlook, to enjoy every bit as much as I can, and to let the little things go.  I still stress about everyday things, and I worry about my long term prognosis. But I now realize that I can do everything possible to live a long and healthy life, but I can’t sweat all the small stuff.  I look forward to getting back to my Barre Code Vernon Hills Studio, and my volunteer opportunities at school and around the community. I look forward to spending time outdoors with my family, exercising, playing and gardening.  I look forward to the little things each and every day. I have been so overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity we have felt from our local community, people have been so wonderful, and the connection is incredible.  

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