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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

October, Already?


I think I am on a roll here . . . Every new month that comes up on me, it is simply a surprise. Like, I swear, I see the days passing me by and I am in awe when another month is here . . . right there in front of me and I can't figure out how it happened. I'm in the present, fully participating in the days that are passing me by . . . but simply can't believe how fast life just seems to be going  . . . it is October . . . already . . . and we are full in the throws of fall here in Chicago. I've had my heat on for weeks now . . .  WEEKS! Last weekend, I was scouring for winter hats, gloves, scarves and winter coats!

School is going well for the girls and my son. He has happily adjusted to being at school everyday and we girls have happily adjusted here at home. We rarely see my husband these days and seem to be passing in the halls or swapping kids at gas stations. He is deep in a work project and leaves before I rise and comes home at the kid's bedtime. Vacation next week and I can't wait! Dinner together for a week straight! We will probably kill each other!

Here is a peek into what my week has been like . . .

baby quails
baby quails
homemade bird feeder
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Music Milestones with Netflix #StreamTeam


It is no secret that we are full into music. My girls play the violins, my son plays guitar(both electric and acoustic) and my husband play saxophone and guitars as well. Me, on the other hand, nothing! I have nothing; I am not the least bit musically inclined! My girls violin teacher gets a bit frustrated with me because she has to constantly remind me of something that she has likely told me 12 times already. I just don't get music, I love to listen to it; but can not play any sort of anything.

This year marks the fifth year my girls will be playing their violins! We have hit a milestone for sure. Last year, my oldest daughter played in two youth orchestras and had a love - hate relationship with the work. Because practicing every single day for two hours is a lot of work for a child. This year, we made orchestras mandatory AND we had the little sister audition as well. She made both orchestras! Such a music milestone for her! She is the youngest in her symphony youth orchestra and we are so proud of her.

I think having each other in the orchestras is helping them both. They can practice together and there is a bit of healthy competition there. My girls have so much to celebrate this year in music. They have crossed so many mini milestones musically.

Did you know Netflix also has many movies and TV episodes that highlight a variety of childhood achievements and mini milestones? You can watch with your children and they can have perfect examples of how working hard can lead to achieving goals.  Whatever firsts your family is celebrating this fall, Netflix can relate.

Netflix Titles to Celebrate Mini Milestones

For your kids:

#StreamTeacm #Netflix

New Sibling: The Hive: S01E01, Babee's Room
Losing Your First Tooth: Super WHY: S01E10, The Story of the Tooth Fairy
Getting Glasses: Arthur: S15E09, Through the Looking Glasses
First Sleepover: Bratz Kidz: Sleep-over Adventure

#Netflix #StreamTeam

First Trick-or-Treat: Julius Jr.: S01E06, Dressed for Spook-cess
First Pet: Beethoven
First Move: The Croods
First Big Game: D2: The Mighty Ducks

#Netflix #StreamTeam

First Spelling Bee: Akeelah and the Bee
First Dance: Kickin' It: S01E20, The Wrath of Swan
First Break-Up: Good Luck Charlie: S01E20, Girl Bite Dog
First Road Trip: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

#Netflix #Streameam

First Kiss: Wizards of Waverly Place: S01E02, First Kiss
First Job: Good Burger
First Time Babysitting: The Baby-Sitters Club
First Concert: Taylor Swift: The Journey to Fearless

Plus a few major milestones for mom and dad:

New Job: The Office
Getting Married: My Fair Wedding with David Tutera
Having a Baby: What to Expect When You're Expecting
Life as a Parent: Parenthood
Running for Office: Parks & Recreation
Buying a Home: House Hunters

What milestones are you and your family working on this fall?

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

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Heroic Habits with LISTERINE


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Every once in awhile I get really excited about a product and today is one of those times. In our home I know the importance of teaching good habits. Helping my children learn good dental habits as early as possible will set them up for a life of good dental health! Brushing is an important habit to have. There are some amazing oral care products from LISTERINE that will foster your children's LISTERINE Heroic Habits and set them up for a lifetime of dental health.

Herioc Habits with LISTERINE

When I was a child, I would brush my teeth twice a day. That is it. I never flossed, I never used mouthwash; I basically brushed and rinsed. I was also blessed to have parents who never allowed me to drink soda, consume candy or eat anything that was considered junk food. I grew up in rural IA and fast food and convenience stores did not exist in my area. Thankfully, I have great teeth today. I think my upbringing contributed to my good teeth, but I also think genetics plays a hand in your mouth as well.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in the city, had access to sweets all the time and ate plenty of them. He has horrible teeth and not just horrible teeth, but incredible issues with his teeth and mouth. This past summer he had an Osseous surgery in his mouth to repair severe periodontitis which had developed into holes in the bones around his teeth.

Because my husband never developed Heroic Habits when brushing, it is doubly important that we model this behavior to our children today. Teaching our children good brushing and flossing habits begins with us. They will want to imitate us and develop the strong Heroic Habits I want them to have.

There are many oral care products, including toothpastes and toothbrushes, that are made to meet the unique dental needs of my children. But, my absolute favorite products for my children and my husband are LISTERINE healthy oral care products.

Herioc Habits with LISTERINE

My children actually really love to use the LISTERINE Smart Rinse Anticavity Mouthwash. The anticavity Smart Rinse mouthwash is alcohol free and aides in cleaning their teeth because sometimes they just are not as vigilant as I would like them to be whilst brushing. LISTERINE Smart Rinse protects their teeth while they are sleeping, is super easy to use and tastes great.

I happen to love the LISTERINE Ultra Clean Access Flosser for my children's small mouths. Getting my kiddos into a routine of flossing has not been easy. With the Clean Access Flosser, flossing is so much easier and loads of fun. The Clean Access Flosser is kid-friendly and fits perfectly into their small mouths and doesn't hurt their gums. My husband actually loves the Clean Access Flosser as well. We were able to pick up another one at our local retailers where LISTERINE products are available for purchase.

Since my husband's Osseous Surgery, he has been quite diligent in the care of his teeth. He is super excited about LISTERINE Ultra Clean Mint Floss and LISTERINE Gentle Gum Care Floss. He had to be very careful flossing after his surgery and the Gentle Gum Care Floss was perfect for his healing gums. The soft, springy floss perfectly cushioned his sensitive gums. Currently he uses the Ultra Clean Mint Floss and is quite pleased with the results. This floss actually has micro-grooves built into the floss that enables the floss to remove more plaque from his teeth. This is an oral care product that really benefits my husband's mouth. He certainly does not want to have another surgery to prevent any further bone loss due to plaque built up!

My children are picking up his great Heroic Habits with the amazing LISTERINE oral care products. Like all our other great Heroic Habits such as healthy eating and exercising regularly, we want our kids to have a lifetime of dental health.


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Ode to the Red Door


When we were building our dream home . . . this house we currently live in . . . I always imagined my house with a bright red door. However, since we built a home in a development with a set of rules about what color of siding we were allowed to select as well as the color of our roof and sadly, what color our front door could not be. That was red, my dream front  door.  I couldn't have a red front door.

If truth be told, I've been a bit ticked about it ever since. My door is brown. An ugly, nondescript brown. No one ever remembers a brown door!

I found a red door the other day  . . . and took some photos . . . I wonder what would happen if I painted my front door red . . . I bet I would get a lovely letter in the mail . . . you think?

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Hatching Quail Eggs


My children are pros at hatching eggs by now. We are in our fifth year of home educating and have hatching chicken eggs every spring. However, this school year, I wanted to do something a bit differently. I wanted to educate my children on the process of hatching game birds, so we decided to hatch quail eggs.

We are using the Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 book this year in Science and lessons 2-5 are all about birds. Birds are creatures that were created on day 5 and we are studying most of them through fun activities. One of the amazing activities is hatching quails.

Quails belong to the Phasianidae family of short-tailed game birds. There are about 95 species of quail birds. The Phasianidae family is divided into two sub families: Phasianinae and Perdicinae. These birds build their nests in tall grasses in plains and farmlands. They are heard more often than seen due to their really good camouflage. These birds are often hunted as game birds and today are very commonly raised for eggs and meat.

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Homemade DQ Buster Bar Dessert Cake {Recipe}


Summer is over and we are right in the beginning of fall. It is true. I'm yearning for the hot days of summer and fabulous summer desserts. My children asked me for one of their favorites over the weekend and I was delighted to make it.  This dessert cake is similar to the Dairy Queen Buster Bar dessert, but without the peanuts.  I am not a fan of peanuts IN my food. In my humble opinion, mine is sooo much better! It is so super simple to make, great on a hot summer day OR a cool fall day and pleases everyone in the family! 

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Universal's Studios & Islands of Adventure AND #FamilyForward


So much to do! So much to see! So much to show! So many adventures! So many pictures! We spent an amazing long weekend in Florida over Labor Day and had a blast with the #FamilyForward team.

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Glencoe Beach Engagement Part II


If you haven't seen the sneak peek or part I yet, be sure to look at this gorgeous couple. We all had so much fun on one of the last days of summer. I walked them up and down that beach and was able to capture some really memorable moments with this beautiful couple. Here are Danielle and Corry again in part II of our Glencoe Beach Engagement Session.

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M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats


M&M's Captain America Captain Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats</strong></span></p>
Everyone loves a marshmallow treat bar, but have you ever tried one with a different cereal? Marshmallow treat bars are super easy to make since there is no baking involved. I wanted to create a superheroes marshamallow treat bar for my kids for the movie release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What better cereal to use than Cap'n Crunch! Toss in some bright M&M's and I have the perfect Captain Crunch Bars with M&Ms.

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Glencoe Beach Engagement Part I


I am so in love with beach photography and especially love taking photos of newly engaged couples at the beach! Danielle and Corry were the perfect couple for this gorgeous summer evening we were lucky to have. These two are seriously the cutest couple--- ever!! They were so happy to be cuddling and kissing for me all through our session. I adore the images I was able to capture for them!

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