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Chicago, IL

One Chicago Momma, photographing little people, home educating in the Classical Christian theory and editing images into the wee hours of the morning . . . powered by Starbucks & Dr Pepper.


Tiaras & Tantrums focuses on family, travel, photography, education and food. I offer photography sessions product reviews, travel reviews, education reviews and anything else I feel like writing about.

{Editor’s Note: I am VERY interested in doing more travel blogging. If you are putting together a blogger group for a client – I would love to discuss details.}

If you would like more information about Tiaras & Tantrums or are looking to have your product reviewed, please contact me at

Equipped For Summer


When I was young girl growing up in rural Iowa, summers seemed to take forrrrever to arrive and once they did they felt like years. It was amazing! From the crack of dawn to well past dusk I would ride my bike all around the neighborhood and town for that matter(it was completely safe 40 years ago), jump on the trampoline, swim, dig holes, ride my pony, chase chickens, pester my little brothers, climb my grandmother's mulberry tree and eat them right from the tree  . . . while my feet turned purple, and the list goes on and on. I have a catalog in my brain of all these invaluable memories of the smells, tastes, sights and delicious memories of the summers of my childhood. What I wouldn’t give to have just one more of those days.

My kids and I have been creating our own favorite summer memories over the years. Bike rides, camping, visiting family in Iowa, swimming, splash parks, parks, climbing trees, and loads of grilling. Have you seen my Summer Check List? What is on your summer check list?

Little Things Thursday Give Me your Best Shot 1440 Friday Photo Journal Friday Finds   Weekly Top Shot 

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We Are Imperfectly Perfect


As I reflect on the past year I can smile and be proud of my little family . . . we have had a wonderful, amazing year  . . . since last summer . . . our school year went rather smoothly . . . my children grew inches that surpass my wildest dreams . . . my children matured faster than my heart can keep up . . . we lost more teeth that I think is possible . . . we've had braces removed  and retainers lost . . . . tears shed . . . belly laughs have flowed . . .giggles are everywhere . . . smiles are always present . . . and through it all . . . our little family has remained positive . .  together . . . strong . .  unmarred by chaos . .  by nonsense . . . by drama . .  I no longer has to be afraid to say because my words may be twisted to another meaning  . . . I don't have to warn my children to not say a word for fear of repercussion . . . there are no more whispers . . .  no more demanding phone calls . . . there has been less drama . . . less nonsense . . .  . . . but some people live their lives moving from one crisis to another . . . they seek out the chaos . . . I watch these people and wonder how they keep up with themselves . . .  and they try very hard to draw you into all this unrelenting stress . . . we refuse to be drawn into this nonsense any longer . . .  we've let go of people and instead of saying I hate you, we now embrace the saying "We Love Ourselves" . . . we've said enough is enough . . . we've moved on . . . happily . . . we are not dwelling on the past . . . we're not dwelling on the hurt that others have caused us . . . we've let go . . . we're achieving our goals . . . we're enjoying each day . .  together . . . we are living our lives and our future is better and brighter for all this . . . we are imperfectly perfect!

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Summer Family Fun with Netflix #StreamTeam


While our children are taking a break this summer and not attending summer school, we still want to inspire our children’s learning throughout the summer months.


Netflix Titles for a Summer Brain-Power Boost is one way to strengthen and retain our children’s knowledge base. Keep in mind that summer is the perfect time to introduce hands-on learning activities that go along with these wonderful documentaries to our children and keep summer boredom at bay.

10 Netflix Titles for a Summer Brain-Power Boost


For your big kids:

1. Lewis & Clark: The Journey Out West
2. Walking with Dinosaurs
3. Secret Yellowstone
4. The Blue Planet
5. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions


And your little ones:

1. The Great Mouse Detective
2. Busytown Mysteries
3. LeapFrog: Math Adventures to the Moon
4. Turtle: The Incredible Journey
5. The Magic School Bus

Want even more brain-boosting titles? Our friends at Common Sense Media shared 12 age-appropriate documentaries that encourage kids to explore worlds they may not normally encounter, all currently streaming on Netflix, they are as follows:

Wings of Life, ages 6+
Little kids are fascinated by the natural world, and this Disney movie taps into their curiosity by celebrating the earth's unsung heroes. Vibrant footage shows how interconnected the earth's greatest pollinators -- bees, bats, birds, and butterflies -- really are.
What to talk about: Discuss flowers and how your family can help pollinators in your own backyard or a community garden. What can you do to keep the cycle of pollination going strong?
A Place at the Table, ages 9+
In the urban streets of Philadelphia, the rural towns of Colorado, and the hamlets of Mississippi, kids are going hungry. Both experts and real families discuss the pervasive problem of food insecurity in this affecting documentary that'll make your kids grateful for what they have -- and possibly inspire them to help.
What to talk about: Discuss what your family can do. Can you join a local food bank through your community or house of worship? Can you write a letter as a family to your elected officials?
Walking with Dinosaurs, ages 9+
Got a budding paleontologist on your hands? This ambitious production unfolds like a documentary but with a twist: digital technology that recreates the 155-million-year reign of the dinosaurs. Paleontological discoveries from fossil remains and preserved footprint groupings provide the framework; the rest is best-guess speculation and a lot of imagination.
What to talk about: What sorts of things did the filmmakers have to guess about to create this film? Do we really know what color dinosaurs were? Do you think this was exactly the way they walked? Sounded? Cared for their young? Fought one another?
The Dream Is Now, ages 12+
If you want to get kids interested in world affairs, movies featuring real kids discussing their daily challenges are guaranteed to get their attention. The issue in this movie is immigration reform -- and, although it has a definite point of view, it illustrates how political hot potatoes affect all kinds of lives.
What to talk about: Some media, such as news stories and documentaries, often are expected to be objective in the way they present issues. Do you think it's OK for a documentary to take a position? Why, or why not?
Blackfish, ages 13+
Is it OK to hold killer whales -- known to be emotional and intelligent -- in captivity and train them to perform? That's the question this heartbreaking documentary explores in sometimes shocking footage. The movie unfolds like a psychological thriller, making its point with beautiful -- and brutal -- imagery. 
What to talk about: Does this movie make a good argument for closing sea parks for good? What could be an argument for keeping them open?

Bully, ages 13+
Though it's not easy to watch -- and in fact originally received an R rating -- Bully provides an intimate portrayal of the daily lives of bullying victims. The movie's producers launched a national campaign to end bullying called The Bully Project, in which kids can get involved.
What to talk about: What is an individual's responsibility to stand up, not stand by? Is that easy to do? How do you think people can really make a difference against bullies?
Chasing Ice, ages 13+
Global warming is a hot topic, and it's hard to argue with this movie's time-lapse evidence of glacial retreat by National Geographic photographer James Balog. Whatever your opinion, Chasing Ice provides many opportunities for discussion.
What to talk about: What small changes can your family make to be more environmentally conscious? What kind of an impact would your community have if it got on board? Is ecological responsibility something the government should mandate?
Food Inc., ages 13+
For an exposé on the so-called "industrial food complex," this documentary offers a surprisingly simple and hopeful message: Putting your money where your mouth is -- on informed food purchases -- really matters. The movie's website TakePart offers several ways families can get involved.
What to talk about: Does this movie make you think twice about asking for chicken fingers? What about junk food in general?
Hoop Dreams, ages 13+
Mad skills on the basketball court aren't a guarantee of the good life -- you have to be lucky, too. Problems, pitfalls, and poverty lurk around every corner in this documentary about two young basketball stars competing for college scholarships.
What to talk about: Discuss the experiences of William Gates and Arthur Agee both on and off the high school basketball court. How do their family environments help and hurt them? Why do other young people -- particularly young black men -- find themselves in similar situations? What do you think about the boys' long-term goals? What would you have done differently? How are their predicaments similar to and different from those of other children in inner cities across the United States?
Miss Representation, ages 13+
For girls -- and boys -- interested in gender equality, Miss Representation isn't only a movie -- it's a movement. Using advertising images, interviews, and movie clips, this documentary invites viewers to challenge how women are portrayed in the media -- and to actually do something about it.
What to talk about: Discuss how the media shapes our views of women. What messages do you see on TV, in movies, and on the Web? How would you get other people to recognize when women and girls are portrayed negatively and as stereotypes?
Waste Land, ages 14+
"Trash talk" takes on an entirely new meaning in this documentary about the people who work in a landfill outside Rio de Janeiro. Incredibly poor -- but incredibly resilient -- these folks get viewers to see the dignity of people living in poverty.
What to talk about: What is the ability of one man -- in this case, Vik Muniz -- to make a difference in the world? What elements were included in the movie to make Muniz appear like a hero? What do you think was left out? Are there opportunities in your community to "give something back"?
The Square, ages 15+
This Oscar-nominated movie about the Arab Spring prominently features the modern communication tools teens love so much: YouTube, camera-phone videos, and social-media posts. It's raw, but it authentically chronicles events in real time, showing the power of people to affect change.

What to talk about: How were social-networking sites and camera phones used in both the documentation of this movie and the revolution itself? How would this revolt have been different -- in Egypt and on the international stage -- without access to this technology?
The Great Mouse Detective

One popular summer activity is nature studies. Your children can pretend to be Great Detectives on an adventure. I give my kids some jars and set them free outside to catch a few bugs, tadpoles, frogs and snakes. They bring them all home and we have various "homes" for their new treasured pets. We learn what they need to eat to survive and care for them for a few days and then the children set them all free and we begin again!

If you are not that into bugs and critters, you can simply explore without bringing the new pets home. Look on plants, flowers and under rocks. Your children will be amazed with what they find!

My artistic daughters have sketch books and they draw what they see. Sometimes we even look up what they found to create a mini study session. The best part is, they don't even realize they are learning because they are having SO MUCH FUN! Kids always want to know: Who, What, Where, Why and How. Netflix Titles for a Summer Brain-Power Boost has all the answers!

Lewis and Clark

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids

Walking with Dinosaurs
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Packable Snackables with SNICKERS #Refuel2Go


I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. #Refuel2Go #CollectiveBias

Trail Mix with SNICKERS® 2-to-go bars and Dr Pepper TEN.

Packable Snackables with SNICKERS #Refuel2Go #cbias

I have never met a child who didn’t like to snack!  Who can blame them?  Snacking is fun! Snacks are an important part of a child’s day. My children are growing so fast and need frequent refueling. The task of feeding them is never ending, isn’t it?

How many times a day do you hear, “Mom, I’m hungry"?  Over and over and over, probably, just like in my house.

I diligently plan our healthy meals, but I do not always plan for snack time. I seem to just throw something together whenever my kids are hungry.  But this is not working so well for me now that my kids are older and hungrier and busier.  My brain simply can not keep up with my children's hunger pains!

While I do not need to plan each and every snack, I do need to plan ahead for the times we are out running from one music lesson to another. We have many music lessons during the week and my children need to keep their inspiration and energy levels high. I am able to prepare some snacks ahead of time that I can keep bring with us. When hunger strikes, I will be prepared and my children can refuel.

We are constantly refueling on the go and I need to ensure my children are consuming food at the right time and in the right quantities. My children need nutrients and energy to perform optimally at all their musical lessons, orchestra practices and numerous recitals. Remember, refueling is not a normal meal, it is simply refueling the body for future activity.

#Refuel2Go SNICKERS 2 Go

I find it easy to prepare snacks while we are at home. But it has been a bit of a challenge to come up with snacks that travel well. I like something that is transportable, can be eaten in the car, doesn't need a spoon and will not make a huge mess. I came up with the idea of "Packable Snackables"!

Trail Mix with SNICKERS® 2-to-go bars can be enjoyed at home, but it is the perfect snack for taking on the go to refuel. The snack urge can really hit us at any time. Thankfully, my local Walmart is super close and I can pop right in to gather all my ingredients for my SNICKERS® trail mix and grab Dr Pepper TEN for myself right at the check out aisle!

A great trail mix is always a fabulous combination of crunchy, sweet and salty. My children need the protein and healthy fat, so I add nuts and seeds. I also add dried fruit and coconut flakes for the sweetness. I always give a bonus and add SNICKERS® pieces as well.

This trail mix with SNICKERS® satisfies all the snack urges. While my children are refueling on the go with SNICKERS®; this busy home educating mom of three, who drives many hours a day, from one music lesson to another, is refueling with Dr Pepper TEN.

#Refuel2 Go SNICKERS #Cbias #shop

What you need

  • 3 cups nuts (I used peanuts, almonds, and cashews)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • SNICKERS® 2-to-go-bar (cut up in bite size pieces)
  • Dr Pepper TEN

How to make it

  1. Mix together the nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, raisins, dried cranberries and SNICKERS® pieces.

  2. Pack in individual containers for the perfect packable snackable to take on the go to refuel.

Refuel and Win with SNICKERS

Coupon Offer: Purchase (2) SNICKERS® 2-to-go bars and (2) 20 oz Dr Pepper bottles to receive $1.00 off.

SNICKERS® Dr Pepper Refuel Sweepstakes: Purchase (2) SNICKERS® 2-to-go and (2) 20 oz Dr Pepper bottles, then text or email your receipt to and be entered for a chance to win 1 of 250 available Walmart Gas/gift cards .

I’m always looking for more ideas!  What are your favorite on-the-go healthy snacks for refueling?

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Summer Checklist


We have been in summer for a few weeks now and I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely weather and getting outdoors and soaking up the sunshine. There are so many activities to do in and around all your hometown and large cities, remember to take full advantage of all the fun offerings. We have been enjoying our city and other cities as well already this summer. I just wanted to make a summer checklist to remind myself to engage in some of our other favorite activities as well. I hope you are all enjoying the longer days and the warmer temperatures. take a peek at my Summer Checklist to see if you need to check something off as well!

Summer Checklist

Which activity are you going to check off first? I've decided since we have been so busy and already been in 5 different states in the past month that I am going to enjoy a summer book!

Here are some FREE summer activities to enjoy as well! Be sure to check out the FREE Summer Reading Programs available as well!!

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Thrill Seekers


This past weekend we took the children to a local festival . . . we have three children with varying degrees of bravery . . . one daughter who is after an extreme experience of the adrenaline-pumping kind. She is brave enough to face the fastest, highest, maddest rides. She will scream her lungs out on any attraction and say "AGAIN".


My son will slowly build up his courage throughout the day and by the end will be right along side his brave sister. I don't think he would consider himself and an adrenaline addict. The little one is happy with the tot rides and cannot be coaxed by her siblings in any shape or form to sample any sort of adrenaline rushing through her veins. Smart girl I say!

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Good Night Snacks with Kellogg's #goodnightsnack #cbias


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #collectivebias #goodnightsnack

It is not uncommon in my house for everyone to want a good night movie snack while relaxing before they go to bed. But I want my kids to eat the right things before they go to bed. I don't need them eating something that will keep them awake all hours of the night. A small bowl of Kellogg's Fruit Loops cereal is the perfect good night snack and easy to prepare!


My husband and I have been eating cereal for a good night snack for years and it easily carried right down to our children. We love to toss some cereal on a bowl of yogurt and munch away, happy and content.  A plain bowl of yogurt seems so unappealing to a child, but when I toss some delicious fruity Foot Loops on their yogurt for their night time movie snack, they are delighted by the bright colors and fruity aroma. I'm happy because my kids are eating cereal made with whole grains late at night instead of loading up on junk food.

Sometimes my kids will crave a high fat snack late at night and I really want to avoid these as my kids will have trouble falling asleep because their little bodies are working hard to digest all that fat so late at night. A bowl of yogurt covered Fruit Loops are easy to digest and will help them feel tired gradually.

I want my kiddos to be fueled while they sleep as well. Eight to ten hours is a really long time to go without giving their bodies any fuel. Something small and easily digestible like a bowl of yogurt covered in fruity Fruit Loops is a sensible choice before bedtime for my children. This is a great option to fill them up just a bit, while they are watching a movie and getting ready to go to bed soon.

My kids were so excited when I placed the biggest box of Fruit Loops in our cart while shopping at Walmart. My daughter asked if she could open the box in the cart! {I did make them wait until we returned home} Last night I saw my son shaking the last fruity Fruit Loops into a bowl and he looked up at me and told me I need to buy another box. THREE DAYS! The biggest box of Fruit Loops lasted three days in my house. Thankfully, I bought a box of Apple Jacks too!

Being a  home educator, I always save the empty boxes for creative crafts in my homes. My daughters love to get into my supply stash and get their creative craft on. This particular box I thought I had hidden from my daughters, but they did discover it and quickly turned it into an addition to their cardboard box doll house that is ever evolving. It is quite spectacular now that it has a fruity Froot Loops addition.

Currently Kellogg's is having a Planes Fire & Rescue coupon promotion, available on specially marked boxes of cereals at Walmart. In my local Walmart, there was a special display set up to promote all these delicious cereals, making them easy to locate. In addition, you will find these specially marked boxes in the cereal aisle. Two locations for the perfect good night snack to pop right in your shopping cart.

Late night snacks can be the perfect companion to a movie or television show or a good book. Kellogg's Fruit Loops is the perfect companion in our home!  Don't forget to save the empty boxes for creative crafts.

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Chasing Music


I've been so busy of late that I have not had an opportunity to share some images I have been editing for a photography class I am taking this summer . . . something fun and different for me . . . the girls really liked this mini shoot . . . mystical was the theme . . .

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Introducing #PEPCIDTastemakers



There is nothing worse than being woken in the middle of the night by a sharp pain in the middle of your chest. Heartburn . . . it's awful.  Do  you suffer from heartburn ever? I was recently sent PEPCID® COMPLETE® to review and was so pleased with the results.

The past couple of years I have suffered from frequent heartburn. During this period I was miserable and in constant pain while trying to find the right mix of medicines that would work for me. I had a period where the medicines were working and I was actually happy with the results. However, in the past couple of months, I am back to constant heartburn and pain in my chest and need something to alleviate the pain for me.

 Usually when I can't sleep due to heartburn, I will be awake all night long. Last night, I was sleeping peacefully and was awakened from my slumber by a sharp pain in my chest. I was really tired as we had a very busy weekend and I wanted to sleep. I was not happy I would be awake all night long in pain again.

Most nights when this happens, I roam about my house in the dark looking in cabinets for any kind of relief I can locate. On most nights however, nothing works. In the middle of the night last night, I chewed a PEPCID® COMPLETE® and was pleasantly surprised . . . no chalk tasting antacid . . . it actually tasted good! The berry flavored chewable antacid didn't stick to my teeth and was easy to swallow. I didn't have a bitter aftertaste in my mouth either. 

I went back to bed thinking it was going to be a long night again. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning to the sun streaming in my window. I slept! I wasn't in pain all night long! PEPCID® COMPLETE® totally worked! One little antacid tablet alleviated my burning chest almost immediately and let me sleep the remainder of the night. A definite first for me!

If you suffer from occasional or frequent heartburn, this is your ticket to a heartburn-free sleep-filled night. PEPCID® COMPLETE® will quickly relieve your heartburn symptoms AND will give you lasting relief as well.

To learn more about PEPCID® COMPLETE® – visit the PEPCID® Website. You can also join in the conversation on the PEPCID® Facebook Page.

Disclosure: I have received information, product, and materials from McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co., the makers of PEPCID®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post for Mom It Forward.

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