Meet two Moms: Natalie & Courtney aka Gnat & Corky | Libertyville Area Moms


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


I am from Brookfield, Wisconsin. I have lived here since the 5th grade, moved to Milwaukee for a few years and found my way back with my husband and babies


I am from Antioch, Illinois. Born and raised. Lived in Miami while studying and then Chicago building dreams. Found my way back to Antioch to raise babies with my husband.


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


We both have 2 children. 1 boy and 1 girl


My daughter Malena is 11 and my son Avery is 7


My son Matt is 13 and my daughter Mae is 10


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



I just love our city. As a family we enjoy going to all of our museums. The current favorite is Discovery World.

We have so many fabulous food spots around the Milwaukee area, but as a family, I bet our kiddos would say Colectivo 😉 It’s our favorite coffee shop and the kids ALWAYS want to go…and quite honestly, so do I.

As for date night, we have the sweetest, tiny French restaurant just down the street from our house called Lagniappe Brasserie. We adore it.


Photo Credit: Lara M. Huber


We like to take drives and go to parks and hike. Our favorite place to eat is Vegas in Antioch. We are also huge movie buffs- and the Antioch theatre has the best popcorn and is the sweetest little theatre.  Date night is usually at home. We love to cook and play board games. If we can get out- we like to see LIVE theatre or hear music.





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


We are!
Courtney is a writer and Natalie is an Illustrator and together, we are known as Gnat & Corky


We, “Gnat & Corky” are an illustrator and author duo who capture all the hues deep inside our most valuable gifts; children. Our Books are based on the spirit of real kids. The stories are universal, and the message transcends all ages. The pages of our books are filled with whimsical watercolor illustrations and real characters with messages that teach, tug at heartstrings, inspire, and spread acceptance, laughter and understanding; all from a child’s remarkable spirit.


Our Gnat & Corky books are available on Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble.
Gnat & Corky also have greeting cards and prints available for purchase on their website





Natalie picked up her first paintbrush when she was three and she has not stopped painting since. Natalie is a watercolor artist, art therapist, and commissioned artist. You can view Natalie’s work at



Courtney used to memorize Shel Silverstein books and recite them for show and tell. Her love of writing began at young age and never stopped. She works as a professional writer and Creative Director. She has written plays and performed around the world. You can read more of her writing at .



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


We met in the basement of corporate America in a creative agency; actually, a lower level tornado shelter- (you can only go up from there). Natalie would do creative workshops with our agency and that’s how we became friends. Natalie’s husband was Courtney’s boss and he suggested we put our creative brains together to see what could come of it.  We had mutual respect and admiration for the gifts we both have so-we decided to have a jam session to see if we would be a good creative duo.


The Sorrentino family came over to the Kotloski house and over many bottles of wine and great conversation, Natalie shared her whimsical world and a few paintings with Courtney- Courtney said she would go away and come back with 3 stories for Natalie to read. And if she hated them, we could pretend it never happened and move forward. Courtney stayed up all night and drafted three stories that she sent early morning (like 3am).


Natalie responded a few hours later by phone call saying she had finally found a voice for her characters/whimsical world…and from there, we created a blog site to engage kids and families where children could answer our question and then Courtney would interview some kids, write a story based on their spirit and Natalie would paint an illustration. We soon amassed a huge collection and thought we would try to get it published…and after a PAINFUL journey, we found a match with Orange Hat Publishing.



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


Not necessarily “advice” but I often think about the saying “The days are long, but the years are short”. As much as that phrase can be hard to digest on the really long days that parenting can bring, it’s so true. I cannot believe our daughter is entering middle school next year and our baby will be in the 3rd grade. As challenging as some moments can be, I try my best to lean in, be present in the moment and soak it all up~as it really does fly by.


Read to your child every night. Always tuck them in and let the mess go.


What is next for you?


We have so many exciting things in the works!!! Some fabulous partnerships are forming, products developing and many more books on the horizon.



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