We’ve Been Doing this One Holiday Tradition Every Year

This post is sponsored by Woodfield Mall. All opinions are my own.

PSA: Saint Nick has arrived at Woodfield Mall! The big man in red is at Woodfield now until December 24, when he returns to the North Pole. Make sure you bring the kids to chat with the jolly and joyous man himself to make all their Christmas wishes come true.

Guys, between tree decorating, lighting displays and shopping, shepherding your kids around to be enchanted (or terrified) by Santa Claus is a tradition that remains central to the holiday experience for many families including mine. But wherever you land on the joyous/traumatizing side of this divide, it’s nice to know you can find a “nice Santa” locally at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. He looks legit, has a full belly and a real white beard, and friendly eyes–so hopefully your little ones will be more delighted than scarred for life. And with Woodfield Mall’s Grand Court transformed into an Ice Palace complete with lush evergreen trees and fake snow, surely this photo opp will make all your tinsel dreams come true.

Here are a few tips to make sure your Santa Photo Experience at Woodfield Mall goes smoothly:

  1. Skip the line. Don’t be a sucker and make sure you sign up for special times to reserve a FastPass to dance right past that long line of overly sugared kids.
  2. Plan your family’s outfits and coordinate colors and styles for potential holiday card photos. Do you want everyone to go dressy and traditional or fun with Ugly Christmas Sweaters?
  3. Prep your kids to think about what they want to ask Santa for in advance. This helps keep the line moving swiftly for others in line behind you.
  4. Look up Woodfield Mall’s shops and restaurants beforehand so you can use the Santa visit as either the incentive or reward for the little ones, who may get ornery from waiting. Woodfield Mall has over 2 million square feet of retail shops, restaurants, and family-friendly amenities so there are tons of options. Our favs include Rainforest Café and the LEGO store!

My kids love the Woodfield Mall Santa! This year, Roman asked him for an Xbox and an iPhone; Rhys wants an Avengers LEGO kit, and Cole wants monster trucks. The Woodfield Mall Santa Photo Experience stylishly combines convenience and holiday heritage for Chicagoans–we’ll keep coming here as a tradition even when the kids don’t believe anymore!  

Back to School Shopping | Woodfield Mall’s Got You Covered

This post is sponsored by Woodfield Mall. All opinions are my own.

Can you believe summer vacation is coming to an end? It’s bittersweet because I love having the kids home from school and being free of a schedule, but the excitement of back to school shopping helps soften the blow a little. A couple of weeks ago I took my niece out for a one-on-one back to school shopping trip. We had so much fun ditching the boys and having a little girl time. But don’t worry, my boys weren’t totally left in the dust – we hit up Woodfield Mall for my family’s annual back to school shopping trip. With more than 2 million square feet of retail shops, restaurants, and family-friendly amenities, there’s so much do, shop, and eat at Woodfield Mall and we got everything we needed.

I always loved back to school shopping when I was a kid and it’s still fun now as a mom. I now have a second-grader, a first-grader, and a preschooler! But with three growing boys, I try to do it smartly while still having some fun style-hunting. Here are a few back to school shopping tips:

1. Have your child try on last year’s clothing. Make a mental list of what needs to be replaced either because they have outgrown it or it’s in bad shape. Hand me downs are your best friend but make sure your kids get to pick out some fun new items for the school year themselves, too! We love these super comfy stretch camo jogger pants from Abercrombie Kids. Our favorite retailer at Woodfield Mall!

2. Buy backpacks with prevention in mind. We love the old skool checkerboard backpacks from Vans at Woodfield Mall – they have wider, padded shoulder straps and a padded back (recommended by pediatric doctors to prevent injuries) so they’re super comfortable for my kids. I always feel so bad seeing the teeniest kids shouldering giant backpacks so it’s important to make them as comfortable as possible!

3. There are plenty of great sales to take advantage of during the back-to-school rush, but that doesn’t mean all deals are the best deals. Try to stock up on summer items on clearance and remember that fall apparel are priced their highest when they first hit stores in August. If you can, layer on the summer t-shirts for the first few weeks of school, buying you time to shop for fall and winter clothing during holiday sales.

4. My boys love Buckle‘s shirt from RVCA! Too bad it doesn’t fit Cole. The Giant even found jeans for himself (he’s really hard to shop for because of his 6’6″ height!)

5. A trip to Woodfield is not complete without a stop to Timberland. We found some winter boots for the boys and you can check out those style here , here, and here!

Happy back to school shopping, mamas!

Spring Forward with an Easter Bunny Photo Experience at Woodfield Mall

easter bunny experience at Woodfield shopping mall

Happy first day of Spring! If this photo doesn’t give you spring fever, lest I convince you that every family’s gotta nab that Awkard Family Photo with the Easter Bunny for posterity’s sake, am I right?

Mom and Dad always seem to be awkwardly placed behind the giant overstuffed bunny like we’re the bodyguards, and there’s a 50-50% chance of your kids looking thrilled or bored. Case in point above. And I love it. Sure, sometimes the Bunny can be a little creepy-looking, but this is one can’t miss family tradition (along with photos with Santa) that I’m going to push onto my kids every year until they’re at least 18 and have flown the nest.

easter bunny experience at Woodfield shopping mall

By the way, the Bunny at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg is hands-down my fave. He’s pretty innocuous (and dare I say, cute), as far as oversized, overdressed rabbits go. My kids also enjoy telling the Bunny what they would like for Easter this year. Last year the Easter Bunny gave Roman a bike, so this year he asked for another new bike lol. This tradition is getting expensive! If you’re in the Chicagoland area, I love bringing my kids to Woodfield Mall for its family-friendly amenities and events, like photos with the Easter Bunny and more. The Easter Bunny Photo Experience at Woodfield Mall is happening now through April 20. Pro tip: You can reserve your FastPass and skip the line to see the Bunny! (Also, if you live in Chicago, don’t forget to check out Woodfield Mall’s Easter Eggstravaganza event on March 30, or Pet Photos with the Easter Bunny on March 24.).

easter bunny experience at Woodfield shopping mall

I’ve been coming to Woodfield Mall since I was a teenager, and bringing my own kids now gives me all the feels. Woodfield Mall is just 30 minutes outside of Chicago and is one of the largest shopping destinations in the United States. With more than 2 million square feet of retail shops, restaurants, and family-friendly amenities, there’s so much to do, shop, and eat here. A perfect day spent at Woodfield Mall for us includes swinging by the LEGO store and building at the Make & Take LEGO station (purchase it at 10 cents apiece and it’s a win-win for not having to step on that sh*t at home!), then grabbing lunch at Rainforest Café, and finally, letting off some steam at Yu Kids Island (a fab kid-friendly indoor playspace inside the mall, which we come to at least twice a week especially in the winter!).

May your first day of Spring be filled with warm weather, flowers and pretty pastels – and go get your Awkward Family Photo with the Easter Bunny, you won’t be sorry!

This post is sponsored by Woodfield Mall. All opinions are my own.


easter bunny experience at Woodfield shopping mall

Our Couples Getaway at Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa

When my friends over at Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa invited me to stay on property, I jumped at the chance to extend my sunny Christmas vacation in Florida visiting the in-laws. If this doesn’t make me a legit “snow bird”, then I don’t know what does. Not to mention, this was a prime opportunity to ditch the kids for a few days with free, built-in babysitters (their grandparents) and have some alone time with The Giant, who was approaching a milestone 40th birthday. With the windows down and music blaring, we screamed “Be good!” and “Peace out!” to the kids and headed for the Treasure Coast for four days of uninhibited beachside fun.

Road-tripping through Florida is nothing to write home about (unless you count the hugest and busiest rest stop I’ve ever seen, it’s a very flat state with no interesting scenery), but the benefits of being together with your sweetheart – without kids fighting in the back seat – far outweighs anything else! After the two-and-a-half hour drive from our in-laws’ home, we arrived at the most gorgeous oceanside luxury resort, Hutchinson Shores Resort, that made us want to strip down to our skivvies and jump right in!

But first, we checked in to our room, which was airy and fresh with modern coastal touches like bold striped curtains. We had a breathtaking oceanside view from wall to wall glass doors, which we left open at night to fall asleep to the salty sea breeze and to wake to the gentle rolling waves. Our balcony was perfect for hanging out on every day. I’m obsessed with soft linens, and the bath towels at Hutchinson Shores Resort were heavenly – so much that I looked at the tag and saw the towels were all dated with utter care by month and year. That’s the mark of a luxury hotel, in my opinion.

We dined several times at the resort’s restaurant, Drift Kitchen + Bar, which was beyond delicious in a fresh seafood meets modern Italian kind of way. For our first dinner at Drift we got a bit wild, ordering a little surf and turf. My blue crab crusted grouper was the yin to The Giant’s yang (a center cut NY strip steak). The flavors were so perfectly nuanced, the sear just right – kudos to having a delicious meal just an arm’s length away from our home away from home the next few days. (And might I add, breakfast was pretty special too; think crab cake benedicts, amaretto French toast, short rib hash, ya know NBD.)

The truth is, Hutchinson Shores Resort seemed very family-friendly and I spent a few seconds thinking about how my kids would have really enjoyed it here… but somewhere in between a romantic horseback ride on Jensen Beach, checking out a cool car museum, lazily exploring charming downtown Stuart – oh, and poolside drinks – I’d be lying if I said our time alone here wasn’t just right. I cannot wait to “flock” back down to Hutchinson Shores Resort the next time we visit our in-laws!

This post is in partnership with Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, but all opinions are my own.