Saying YES More

10 Feb 2018 Permalink

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulousOver winter break, the kids and I went to Water Tower Place for a little shopping. We first took Julia to the American Girl Doll Store. One of her dolls got her hair done at the American Girl Salon (which usually ends up costing about the same as a trip to the salon for us human dolls!), and Julia picked out a few items using a Christmas gift card.

Ivan did a little shopping too for himself the Lego Store. He’s one of those people that browses the whole store before making a decision on what to buy. He puts a lot of thought into his purchases. He is not impulsive at all.

On Ivan’s second lap around the store, he took a closer look at these Lego architecture sets, and without further hesitation he asked if he could get one.

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulous

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulous

I looked at the box. The structure seemed pretty complicated, and it was targeted for ages 12+, so I told Ivan no. I told him he wasn’t ready yet and that we needed to practice more with the car kids that we already had.

Being the super sweet boy that he is, he said, “Ok, Mommy,” and continued to browse around the store. Within seconds, I regretted I said those words.

Why was I denying my son the chance to challenge himself? If he needed help, we could just do it together…

Most of the time, when I’m about to tell my kids no, I think why not YES? Why not read one more book before bedtime? Why not slide down the slide one more time? Why not get another five minutes of snuggling in? Why not buy the freakin’ Lego set??

So, we bought the Lego set. And you know what? That kid proved me wrong.

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulous

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulous

Ivan worked on that Lego kit for two straight hours when we got home from Water Tower Place. And when he got up the next morning, he worked on that kit for another two hours. By 10 AM he completed that kit. He completed that kit that was for ages 12+. He completed that kit that I thought he couldn’t do.

As a parent, there are only so many moments that you have with your children. I personally can’t believe how fast the years are flying by! I know that my time with my kids is limited. One day soon they’ll be on their own. They’ll be with their friends. They’ll be living their own lives. But right now, I have control over what happens, I choose to say yes.

I choose to say yes to dancing one more song during our dance parties. I choose to say yes when asked to play tag with them at the playground. And I choose to say yes when my children ask to challenge themselves when I myself might initially hesitate.

The Power of YES @KnockedUpFabulous


16 Jan 2018 Permalink


I’ve been sharing a lot of different kid-related activities recently, but truth is, I do my own fair share of adventures, too.

When my kids spend the night at their dad’s, I make every effort to go out and spend time with the 21 and over crowd. Having a couple grown-up drinks and staying out later than I would on a school night is like pushing a reset button for me. It allows me to refresh and get ready for the next round of life.

One of my favorite ways to reset is through live music. I love live music. Any kind. Anywhere. Give me some musicians who are rockin’ out their favorite tunes, and I’m game.

There are plenty of great places to hear live music in Chicago…especially in the summertime! On any given weekend during the warmer months, there are handfuls of street and neighborhood fests…each with their own supply of bands and djs.

Once the temps drop though, it’s harder to get that live music fix. But I have a few favorite spots that always provide me with that soul-filling sound that I need.



I came across the Green Mill on a random Tuesday night. This Uptown jazz club establishment has been around for over 100 years. There is so much history surrounding the Green Mill; from back to the days of Al Capone and prohibition to movie appearances. If those walls could talk…

Besides for the music and the amazing historical atmosphere, I like the Green Mill because they they actually discourage talking during performances. Staff members and other patrons will give you dirty looks if your voice gets above a whisper. Seems a bit extreme? Maybe. But, then again, if you wanted to socialize rather than enjoy great jazz, you’d go to a bar.

Location: 4802 N. Broadway Ave.


Getting in The Bassment is an adventure in itself. Located in River North under the Hampton Social, you’ll find the entry to this cocktail lounge. And not just any entry. A secret entry. The decor automatically takes you on a little time trip before you walk into this 1960’s inspired space.

I would suggest getting in early if you want a table right in front. Spots fill up quickly. The first time I went with some of my girlfriends, we snagged the first table directly in front of the band. It was so cool. It was like we had our own private concert! We sat and watched in the beginning, but after a few rounds, we were tearing up that dance floor.

Location: 353 W. Hubbard



Out of the four places on this list, I’ve gone to Untitled the most. It’s convenient River North location lends itself well for repeated visits…it’s near so many other popular restaurants and bars.

Untitled nights start off with an amazing band playing everything from old school R&B to today’s favorites. And once the band finishes their set for the evening, the dj opens up the dance floor.

Over the summer, I hosted one of my sister’s bachelorette parties there. We actually had dinner across the street, then headed to Untitled for dancing. When we got there, we sat at a table behind the band. It was the perfect spot to be at! All of us girls enjoyed the show as we got the after dinner drinks flowing. Then we danced our little hearts out once the dj got started.

Location: 111 W. Kinzie



Rosa’s is my newest favorite find for live music in Chicago. It is a family-owned neighborhood Blue’s lounge located in Logan Square that’s been around for over 30 years.

As you can tell from looking at these pictures, Rosa’s definitely has a special feel to it. It has that historical vibe like Green Mill does, except this vibe at Rosa’s is way more relaxed. People dance during the sets. People have their favorite takeout delivered. People even chitchat a little. It’s kinda like being at home, but with a live band and a room filled with interesting people.

Location: 3420 W. Armitage


09 Jan 2018 Permalink


Julia and Ivan have been loving all things board games ever since we went to this year’s ChiTAG back in November. Since then, we’ve been spending a few nights a week having family game night by playing different games together after dinner. Sometimes we even play while we’re eating. Such rebels, I know.

Our regular go-to games for family game night have been Monopoly Empire, Bounce Off, and Barbeque Party; but UNO ATTACK! is quickly becoming a favorite.

If you are familiar with the original UNO, then you basically know how to play this edition.



UNO ATTACK! differs from other UNO versions because it comes with a special launcher. Yup, kinda like a rocket. Rather than having a pile of cards to draw from, you simply press the button on the launcher if you need a card. Sometimes you press the button and nothing happens. Other times, a handful of cards will shootout at you! There’s also this sound that occurs when you press the button. It reminds me Jaws. Kinda gets your heart racing a little!

UNO ATTACK adds speed and surprise to the game because you never know when an attack is coming! When you push the button on the card launcher nothing may happen…or you might get a stream of UNO ATTACK! cards!

There are also a few different cards in this version that weren’t in the original UNO. There’s a Discard All card so you can get rid of all the cards that match the color of the discard pile. There’s a Hit 2 card which forces the next player to hit the attack button twice. But our favorite card is the Attack-Attack, which lets you “attack” any player by having them press the launch button twice.

Julia and Ivan usually gang up and use all their Attack-Attack cards on me. Then they laugh their little butts off when cards come flying out. I don’t mind. They get a laugh, and I love hearing their giggles during our family game nights.



Being a mom AND an elementary school teacher, I’ve played my fair share of board games with children. Here’s a few things that I always do to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves…especially on family game night.

  1. Have one person pick the game. (This helps eliminate any arguing of which game to play.)
  2. Set up the game together.
  3. Go over all the rules before playing.
  4. Use encouraging words and phrases throughout the game. Remind your children that you’re all playing to have FUN…not to determine who is a winner or loser.
  5. Once the game ends, clean up together and talk about how fun the game was.

It sounds simple, but these 5 things really help make the game fun for everyone and helps create a positive atmosphere for family game night.

We were given an UNO ATTACK! game during this past season’s Chicago Toy & Game Fair. All opinions are our own.

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

12 Dec 2017 Permalink

I’m always looking for fun, family-centered activities to do with the kids. So, when we were invited to check out the unveiling of the new show at Medieval Times Chicago featuring a queen, I was all about it!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament launched in North America in 1983. They have nine castles across the U.S., and for the first time in their 34-year tradition of casting a king as the show’s lead, they now have a queen who will be the star. (It’s about time!)

Besides for all the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement, it’s so important these days to show how a woman can be a strong leader who’s fully in charge. (Thank goodness Disney started working on their female characters, too. How many more helpless princesses do we really need waiting for their knights in shining armor?!)  And don’t get me started on the lack of strong female roles in children’s books.

I digress…

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

One of the very cool things about Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is that their actual physical building for the tournament is a castle. Yes, a castle. Julia and Ivan spotted it while we were driving on our way there. That sight got them so pumped for the show! And, when we walked in through those giant castle doors, we spotted our friends from All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink. It made the night that much more special.

Medieval Times Chicago

Medieval Times Chicago

When you enter the castle, you are assigned a section to sit in and a knight to cheer for. We were proud supporters of the Red and Yellow Knight! We sat front row and cheered him on his jousting and sword fighting. (The kids were yelling so much that they woke up with sore throats the next day!)

While all this was going on, dinner got served…medieval style. If you love eating with your fingers like children do, then you’ll love Medieval Times! No silverware or cutlery is provided. It’s part of what makes the night that much more memorable. Not to mention, the four-course meal was really delicious!

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

We must have done a great job cheering for the Red and Yellow Knight. He ended up winning the tournament! The queen came down from her viewing post to congratulate him, and then the knight picked a “princess” from the audience. To Julia’s dismay, she was not picked. Maybe next time, Sweetheart.

Dinner and a show is such a great idea for any family! Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament does an excellent job creating a fun, entertaining experience.

My top seven reasons for taking the kids to see a show there?

  1. You get to see professionals and trained horses put on a great live performance.
  2. A female character now leads the show.
  3. There is a special unique medieval “atmosphere” that no other place provides.
  4. The kids get to scream as loudly as they want to without me yelling back at them.
  5. The kids actually enjoy a live performance during their dinner as opposed to watching a show on their iPads.
  6. The meal was so good that Ivan, the boy who only eats Hebrew National Hotdogs, actually ATE it!
  7. I didn’t have to make dinner or wash dishes.

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament provided us with tickets to the show. All opinions are my own.