Elf on the Shelf, Macaroni Adventures Week 2: Chicago Family Photographer

Craziness ensued this week – so even though Macaroni didn’t “do” much, with the help of some simple props it was a very effective week.

1.  Wrecking Ball

It had to be done ūüôā


2.  Moustacioed in the Village

Peepin’ in yo windows!



3.  Camouflage


4.  Happy Birthday to Me!

Hey – I thought it was the 7th anniversary of my 29th birthday?!?


5.  New nativities for the kids

I had some JUST like these when I was a kid Рsomehow it got lost.  I found these two at an antique shop (that I got to frequent on my birthday).


6.  Decor for the kitchen

Apparently Macaroni was not pleased with my spartan choices for the kitchen. AND IT IS SNOWING!


7.  Snoozing in the doll bed

This was a last minute choice….made festive with a naughty/nice pillow ūüôā


Christmas Card Envelopes: Wrapped Lights – Lettering is Fun! | Chicago Family Photogrpaher

I used to take the easy way and print my envelopes with beautiful lettering, but now I’m A) too frugal to pay a professional printer to do it and B) have a terrible home printer and can’t do it anymore without wasting half the envelopes and taking up 5 hours trying to unjam the thing.

Alas, writing names by hand is the easy way now, and since I’m able to stretch my creative legs abit now-a-days, I decided to have a little fun this year. ¬†I added a little detail of wrapped lights around the names on the cards. ¬†Small detail. ¬†Unnecessary to my husband, of course, but every time I looked at them I smiled. ¬†Isn’t that reason enough?!

First, you must start with an overcluttered mess of a dining room table. ¬†Got that part done? ¬†YAY! ¬†I knew I wasn’t alone ūüôā Next, address your envelopes.



Take a fine tip marker РI used Zig because I have 1,000 left over from  my scrapbook days. Draw a messy line around the letters Рpretending to go behind the letter now and again.



Here’s a closer shot to see what I mean about “Going Behind The Letters” – make more sense now?


Take the bigger tip side of the marker and make some sockets for the lights.



Find pretty colors – add the lights.





So pretty – so fun – and actually pretty darn easy ūüôā ¬†I’m assuming it didn’t cause the Postal Service much duress, because I think most of the cards have been delivered by now.


Have a Lovely day!


Elf on the Shelf: Macaroni Party – Chicago Family Photographer

I’ll admit – I’m an elfer.

I don’t know if that’s what we’re really called, but I love Elf on the Shelf! ¬†Ours is named Macaroni, and came to us in 2008.

BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER РHACK YOUR ELF!  Its easy!  Its life changing!  It makes doing crazy things with your elf SO. MUCH. EASIER!  There are a ton out there, but I used this one by Dirty Diaper Laundry. It is definitely worth your time!  Your elf with thank you.  And will not fall off when put it precarious positions.  Awesome.

Anywho. ¬†I’d love to say I am super organized and keep a neat calendar that I strictly adhere to, but that’s not how it works around this ranch (literally. ¬†I live in single story ranch house). ¬†I make a master list and write down any idea that I think is fun, and if/when I have the time/energy, it is easy to reference and put something together. ¬†Generally, or at least this week, Macaroni takes it easy on the week days, just moving to and fro….then gets a little more crazy on the weekends.

Here are 8 elfy things Macaroni did this week! ¬†Sometimes he did more than one spot in a night – and then I changed my mind (like on day 4 – I decided my two kissing bears might be a little risque for explaining to the kids. ¬†No, I’m not a prude….just trying to avoid kid conversation about inter-species kissing)

Day 1 – Macaroni Arrives!


Day 2 – Macaroni gets caught up in Great Gram’s ornament!

I should note – this was a happy accident. ¬†As often happens when you bring out ornaments, you reminice and talk, especially about the old ones. ¬†This is precious to me – not only did Great Grandma make this (and she’s been gone for many years now) it still has the tag attached. ¬†I told the kids that they are the perfect size for hershey kisses (aaaaaannnnnd we found one inside…probably a good four years old. ¬†YUCK!). ¬†Apparently now Macaroni comes back and fills them up every night. ¬†Not sure how that started, but I certainly like the attention it has brought to an old heirloom ūüôā


Day 3 – Macaroni eats a choking hazard!

I won’t let my kids eat these because I’m paranoid. ¬†But apparently elves can’t choke, so they can eat them!


Day 4 – Macaroni gets caught up in the moment!

Lets just see where this goes – whatever happens, happens.



Day 5 – One of the four major food groups – CANDY!

Nuff said.


Day 6 – More fun with kissing bears!

L discovered the bears are actually magnetic, and stuck them to the stove. ¬†They thought they’d have more fun up here.


Day 7 – Macaroni gets into Hijinx!

Its a classic, but high impact for kids getting up in the middle of the night.


Day 8 – Macaroni gets a good team together!

To the North Pole!  AND BEYOND!


Camilla - This is to much. I am cracking up over here.

Rustic Elegance | Illinois Wedding Photographer

It was a gorgeous fall day in the Kankakee River Valley.  I was excited to accompany Kelli from Silver Castle Studios as a second shooter for a picturesque country wedding.  The outdoor ceremony was in a gorgeous grove, and the reception in a completely transformed 4-H Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See Hall.

Congratulations Erica and Dave, may you have as many beautiful blessings in life as you had on that magical day!

Letters to Our Children – October 2013

Welcome to the October installment of “Letters to Our Children”

This month, dearest Liam and Lola, I would like to make yet another confession. ¬†I know, most of my posts are about something I feel terrible about or feel guilty for – but I just can’t help it! ¬†There are many things about being a mother that come natural to me – but oh so many shortcomings too. ¬†The point of this is this: ¬†30 years from now when you’re in therapy hashing up crazy things your mom did to put you in whatever position you are….just have them read these letters. Maybe it will give you some perspective – and help you give me some forgiveness!

Back to my confession: ¬†I am a Helicopter parent. ¬†A worry wart. ¬†A Nervous Nellie. ¬†However you want to call it – it sometimes when you do something that has even a minutia of physical risk, it makes my heart feel like it is going to beat out of my chest. ¬†Its not that I don’t think you can do things…..it is just that I’m terrified of you getting hurt. ¬†Of breaking a bone. ¬†Or breaking your neck.
I know – its graphic….but that’s where my mind goes sometimes. ¬†Part of the territory from living with a lifetime of anxiety and depression, I suppose. ¬†Right now, depression is pretty low. ¬†Non-existent, or as non-existent as it can be – which is great! ¬†But the anxiety ¬†OH THE ANXIETY!!! Now that, for whatever reason, is sky high. ¬†And I fight it in one vain or another every. single. day. ¬†Its not bad enough that I need medication at this point, but it is on close watch.
So, when you ask to do things that are fun (like, for example, jump on an old school trampoline with no kid-keeping net on it!), I have to fight every urge in my body that wants to tell you NO! ¬†Instead, I say “Of Course!”. ¬†In my mind (or maybe outloud…) I say “Just don’t jump too high. ¬†And stay exactly in the middle. ¬†AND NO FLIPS. ¬†AND KEEP AWAY FROM THE EDGE!”.
And what happens?  Well, for Liam, nothing.  Nothing but fun anyway.  For Lola Рshe fell and scratched her face trying to get UP on the trampoline.
Kids, I know my anxiety will always be trying to pull to keep you safe in a bubble. But I know there is so much to experience and explore in life. ¬†I will do my best to step back, squash the fire alarms ringing in my head, let you learn and grow and explore. ¬†After all, it is the only thing I can do so you can experience the wind whooshing through your hair as you bounce on a cool fall morning under a canopy of jeweled leaves! ¬†It will be no easy battle, but the smiles and joy on your faces I know will be worth it ūüôā

Please follow the circle of fun and awesomeness to Tanya Karaman!

Jes Gwozdz - I am a worrier too. I am going to assume you didn’t buy this trampoline, right? It won’t fit in the bubble. Is it at a friend’s house? LOL ūüėČ

Stacy Loveridge - I am the same way! I always think of the worst possible outcome…it sends my husband crazy, he tells me I am crazy! LOL. Adorable pictures and wonderful letter.

F a c e b o o k