Meet Two Sisters, Moms & Entrepreneurs: Tara and Mandi | Libertyville Area Moms

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

Tara
I’m a true Chicago native!  I grew up in Lincolnshire and I went to Stevenson High School.  I went to Northwestern for undergrad and then I moved downtown for law school, where I attended Loyola University Chicago Law.  I loved living in the city and stayed there until I moved to Deerfield when my kids were born. 

Mandi
I am from Lincolnshire (a Stevenson High School alum).  After attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I moved downtown (where I lived down the street from Tara) and attended The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. I haven’t left the city! I live in Wicker Park now. 

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

Tara
Yes! I have four kids.  My oldest is Elle (11).  I have one boy, Cade (9).  And a set of twin girls, Camryn and Audrey, who are 6.  And we have a 2 year old Aussiedoodle named Kaya. 

Mandi
I have a 2-year old daughter named Maeve and a 6-year old sheepadoodle dog named Remy
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What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?

Tara
My favorite thing to do in the area with kids is to spend time at Tennaqua Swim and Racquet Club in the summer.  It’s a very relaxed, family friendly club and just a great place to be all day long in the summer.  And it just so happens to be BYOB!  And I LOVE racquet sports.  When the kids aren’t around, I love to play tennis (summer) and paddle (winter) at Tennaqua. 

One of our favorite date night restaurants is the bar at Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest.  Rosati’s pizza in Bannockburn is great with the kids. 

Mandi
I love spending time with my family at the beach (the dog beach in particular), strolling through the city, hiking in forest preserves and finding new playgrounds with climbing equipment to entertain my 2-year-old! For a special night out, I love the restaurant Galiet in Lincoln Park and Kai Zan in West Town. 

 

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.

Tara
I love shopping at Fleet Feet in downtown Deerfield for running shoes (and Goodr sunglasses)! 
  Renu Day Spa in Deerfield is the best for skin/waxing treatments.  Apricot Lane is a boutique clothing store in Glenview and is great (and owned by a Deerfield mom!).  Jimmy Thai is the best ramen bowl I’ve found in the suburbs so far!  (I like to hit up Furious Spoon for ramen when I’m downtown with Mandi.) I also go to Reds in Northbrook– I get my gardening supplies there in the summer and we get firewood there in the winter.
 

Mandi
I LOVE my hair stylist, Frank at BlackBox Studio in the West Loop. I frequent the store Mulberry & Me in Wicker Park and the Red Balloon children’s store in Wicker Park. 

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

Tara
I own my own law firm,
Trust – Estate Planning for New Families.  (www.estateplanningfornewfamilies.com).  I started my firm after my oldest daughter was born because I was meeting a lot of new parents who come to the realization that “I have a kid, I should probably have a will!” 

 Having a will, trust, and other estate planning documents in place is incredibly important, especially once you have children.  I know how hard it is to try to get these kinds of things done with young kids around! My goal is to make it easy for parents to check this off their to-do list and make the process comfortable and non-intimidating.  Everything I do is designed to be family friendly –  online tools to make sharing information and scheduling meetings easy, evening appointment availability, and children are always welcome to join us. 

I really enjoy working with families to get this important task completed and love the collective sigh of relief around the table when my clients finish signing their documents. 

Mandi
I founded the practice, Neuro Educational Specialists (NES) (https://www.neuroeds.com). At NES, we are a team of school and clinical psychologists who provide comprehensive neuropsychological and psychoeducational evaluations for children. We believe in utilizing evidence-based neuropsychological and educational approaches to assessment and intervention.  Through our evaluations, we help answer questions and develop unique recommendation plans for educational and treatment planning. We believe that the best way to empower all learners is to utilize brain-behavior principles to help each child, their parents, and educators to understand the child’s unique learning profile and to help bridge the gap between families and educators!  

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

Tara
A lot of my clients come from “moms” groups on Facebook!  I love helping families work through their estate plans, which at first can seem like an overwhelming task. 
 

And I feel so grateful when people tell me how easy the process was and then recommend me and share my contact information with the group. 

Mandi
I got into this field to work with kids.  However, I’ve also learned how much I love working with parents to help them understand their child’s unique wiring, what interventions and supports are available and how the school can also support their child. Through working with parents, and now being a mother myself, I cherish this community.   I cherish developing relationships with parents and school districts.  Becoming a mother has completely changed the empathy, support and care I feel for parents who have a child going through a rough patch.  I have received a lot of clients through word of mouth from this community and I am forever grateful!  

 

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

Tara
I
really love Bluegrass music (and have started to really enjoy country music as well)! 
 

Mandi
I was a starter for my high school varsity basketball team  

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

Tara
The most meaningful advice I ever received was that everything is temporary (the good phases, but most importantly the tough ones too).
 

The best specific advice I ever got was that you can put sleep sacks on kids backwards!  That saved me one desperate night when my twins were toddlers.  They each kept undressing themselves before bed – I’d get one dressed and the other one would undress herself.  After a few rounds of this (while both of them were laughing), I remembered this sage advice and put their sleep sacks on backwards so they couldn’t figure out how to unzip them.  Instant silence.  Mom win!! 

Mandi
“You are the calm, confident leader of your household.” When things get tough, take a deep breath, and always remember that you are capable of handling each phase.” 

 

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

Tara
We love Orphans of the Storm
Animal Shelter and always donate to them.  My daughter, Elle, has loved elephants since she was 2 so we always “adopt” an elephant from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
 

Mandi
My dear friend’s cousin lost her battle to pediatric cancer.  I always try and support Dancing While Cancering to spread awareness and bring  joy to children going through treatment     
(https://dancingwhilecancering.org) 

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

Tara
I LOVE visiting National Parks.  My family has a goal of visiting all of them.  We even towed a 34 foot camper to visit Voyaguers National Park in northern Minnesota during the “covid summer.”  Most recently we camped out at the Shawnee National Forest.
 

I also really like to be outside so any place here or far away is great as long as I can be on a beach, by a pool, go for a hike, go on an adventure, ski, or sit outside with a nice view and glass of wine. 

Mandi
I love aimlessly wandering through Europe and taking adventurous vacations through places like Costa Rica.  My dream vacation is a safari!  I can’t wait to take my daughter (and her cousins!!) traveling when she gets older.  

 

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

Tara
I like listening to
Mark Bittman’s podcast “Food” – I love to cook and garden so I’m really interested in a lot of the issues surrounding “food.”
 

Mandi
Personally, I have absolutely fallen in Love with Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us. I especially feel inspired by the episodes about vulnerability. Professionally, I avidly listen to The Testing Psychologist podcast. 

Tell me about your favorite books. I love receiving fiction and non-fiction recommendations!

Tara
I love to read
, especially long books.  My favorite fiction books are usually historical fiction books – just about anything by James Michner falls into that category.  I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series and the Outlander Series too.  My favorite non-fiction book is Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michal Pollan changed the whole way I thought about food and inspired me to become a (pretty good) cook and gardener.
 

Mandi
When I’m not re-reading Harry Potter, I really enjoy any novel by Jonathan Franzen. 

 

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

Tara
I love seeing moms supporting each other!
Your website is a great resource for all things local!

Mandi

I continue to be amazed by women who work towards finding the work/life balance.  Geez, it is not easy! I feel empowered when I learn from other moms and am so grateful to be part of such a wonderful community.  

What is next for you?

Tara
I want to continue to grow my firm and doing all of the “mom things” that 4 kids need.  Now that my kids aren’t babies, I hope to travel more.  And, of course, to continue to work on my tennis game.

Mandi
My goal is to continue to grow my practice while I manage the working mom life balance. Currently, my practice is made up of clinical and school psychologists.  In my dreams, I envision creating a multidisciplinary practice with speech and language pathologists, tutors, counselors, and occupational therapists.  That way, parents would have a one-stop shop to receive all evaluation and intervention services under one roof! 

 

*This post was sponsored by Trust Estate Planning

 
 
 
 

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