A Grace Full Life


Psst....Netflix, I'm Not Looking Forward to Them Going Back. #StreamTeam

There is definitely a line in the sand this time of the year.
When you receive an email from Netflix saying, "contain your excitement....the first day of school is so close you can taste it", I don't know how to feel.
I guess it would depend on the day I read it.

If I had read it on last Monday at 4:35 in the afternoon after listening to my two daughters arguing incessantly over a can of hairspray, it would be a toss up.
Or telling each other to get out of their respective rooms for the 23rd time.
I think the best one was arguing over who was better at Wii Bowling.
And the seven year old crying because her sister's character was too close to hers in her lane.
At the virtual bowling alley. 
Then maybe I would have definitely had strong feelings about them going back to school.

Side note- it makes me laugh when people say, "there is such an age gap, do they really argue??".
Yes, they are sisters, they argue.
Especially this time of the year.
And yes, there are moments during these times that I do whisper to myself and maybe even say aloud, "I need school to start".
But there is never a time where I need to "contain my excitement".
I never, ever get excited this time of year.
In fact, this time of year has always rang a little depressing to me.
The end.
Of summer, of freedom, of never ending days.

Call it being "lucky" enough to be a stay at home mom but I enjoy having my noisy, messy kids home.
I love that I have the privilege of being able to be home for them all year round but summer is the best because it is when we have, for the most part, less of a schedule and more of a time to enjoy each other.
But this isn't my first rodeo, I know these days are fleeting and as each school year starts, I realize that I need to treasure these summers.
I cling to them like a drowning woman clings to a life preserver.
Holding on for dear life.

This summer was the summer that my oldest learned to drive which brought many an emotion, the biggest being that this might be the last summer that we have this much time together.
Next summer she will be driving and have friends who have cars and might possibly even have a part time job.
So this summer when she asked to drive anywhere, I gladly obliged.
When her driving instructor said she had had lots of practice, I laughed.
Yes, yes she has because she has a mother who is holding on tight under the guise of "getting lots of good driving practice in".
Maybe too damn tight,  but I feel that life preserver getting slipperier by the minute.

This summer was full of lots of family time, lots of practice homework sheets, reading, reading and more reading.
Most of it not done by me, sadly but proudly to say.
This summer was full of daily cheer practices and soccer camp, pool parties with friends and a first sleepover for a certain seven year old.
This summer was full of family time with grandparents who we got to spend a full two weeks with.
It was in that two weeks that we realized how much we dearly miss out without them and how much we so desperately want to be near each other.
We cherished that time with them and it was in that time that we realized that we would all do better with a dog in the house, especially for the seven year old.

This summer was full of Netflix shows and movies.
Lots of documentaries and Ella introduced her Mamie to Barbie's Life in the Dreamhouse.
She loves it in case you were wondering.
Really, if you haven't watched it, you need to.
It is hilarious even for adults.

A few favorites this summer:

Our favorites

Paul Williams Still Alive

Remote Area Medical


20 Feet From Stardom

I Hate Christian Laettner

Anna's Favorites

Grey's Anatomy

Secret Life of an American Teenager

Pretty Little Liars

Ella's Favorites

Gilmore Girls

Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse

Pioneer Woman

Powerpuff Girls

So as this summer winds down, there is no "excitement" as they head back to school, at least not on my part.
Maybe for them as they get to see their old friends, get back into routines, make new friends, learn new subjects, meet new teachers and experience new things but there will be no clicking of heels, drinking toasts and saying THANK YOU'S to the sky as they head back these next few days.

But I am happy that we had a great summer and I can't wait to do it all again next year.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. Meaning, for the next year, once a month I will be writing posts about how my family is using our Netflix. They provided me with a Roku and a voucher for my Netflix account.


Things About Me That Will Make You Feel Good About Yourself

My M. O. here on the blog is first and foremost to be honest.
And to talk about my love of all things taco's and Bruce Hornsby.
Not necessarily in that order.
Unless it is about John Hughes.
Then usually it is John Hughes, honesty, tacos then Bruce Hornsby.
Sorry, Bruce.
That's just the way it is.
Some things will never change.

I like to share posts with you to make you feel good about yourself because:

a) I feel like a lot of the time, you might be reading me at work/working at home/mopping the floor/staying at home with the kids so you need a lift. Also, a lot of you are sending kids to college and it is making me all weepy. OMG ALL THE TEARS, ALL THE DAMN TEARS.

2) life can really suck, so why not write about something that makes you feel a little less suckish?

c) why the hell not?

So here are my list of things about ME that will indeed make YOU feel really, really great about yourself starting now.
You are welcome.
Start hugging yourself.
You ARE pretty awesome.
Okay that's enough.

1- I once ate two Big Mac's in one sitting.

My mom can attest to this.
It was in a hotel room in Ohio.
That sounds so dirty.
Granted, I was much younger....34 years old.
Okay not like spring chicken young but still a good ten years younger than I am now.
And I regret nothing.

2- I have blown my nose on my shirt on more than one occasion.

You have done it too.

3- I have used a mini pad to blow my nose when I was in the car and I had nothing else to use. 

I have also used a maxi pad to wipe the crusty old lipstick off my mouth when I had no kleenex in my purse.
It happened after Listen to Your Mother and we were on our way to the restaurant afterwards.

4- I don't know how to:


Because those kind of people scare the bejeebus out of me.
I tried to write my resume and it was all out of whack.
Paragraphs all over the damn place.
It looked like a haiku.
As did my eyebrows.

Don't get me started on the tire.
Or the oil.
I will learn.
Or maybe not.
Probably on the road.
With a flat tire.
Or I will just die in the wilderness.
With bushy eyebrows and a really bad resume.

5- When I walk down the aisle at Target and I need to fart?

I always say, OMG WHO DID THAT?? and then point to another person.
I am so bad.
If I had a dog, I would totally blame them.
I am going to burn in hell.
So if you are with me at Target and smell something?
It's me.
Or maybe it's you.

6- I have fallen off the treadmill at the gym and had to have a woman clearly in her 70's help me up.

Then I stayed away from the gym for a good week because I was too embarrassed to go back.
But when I did, she remembered me and she and her friends started walking next to me.
So I think I am in her walking club now.

7-  I love the smell of wet skunk on a hot summer night.

Not inside of my home but outside in the wet hot air.
I blame this on my rural roots.
Not that rural people smell like hot wet skunk.
Just that when you grow up in rural areas, people hit lots and lots of skunks with cars.
Or skunks get scared and spray random things.
Things like raccoons, dogs, chipmunks, houses, people, cars.
Apparently, skunks have bad eyesight hence the smell everywhere.
So when I get the whiff out here, MMMMMMMM.
This is why this post is titled Things About Me That Will Make You Feel GOOD About Yourself.
And why Wendy is gonna kill me when she sees this graphic. 

8- I hate driving in the city by myself.

This is what I look like when I drive in the city:

Heh heh.
More like this:

And a little like this:

And mostly like this:

Is that E.T.?

I have lived here 25 years and have only driven into Chicago three times by myself.
I can hear my friends with balls of steel laughing now and I don't care.
If I can't take public transportation or have my husband drive, I am not interested.
I have no problem driving through Chicago on the way to somewhere else, it's the actual parking situation that I hate.
If there is a parking garage, I am all good but if it includes finding parking on a street then I am outtie.
I have turned down some cool events as a blogger because they were located in areas where parking was a logistical nightmare.
To me, it is not worth a free lunch and swag if I have to sit for two hours and have to parallel park.
This skunk loving girl will take a suburban parking lot any day.
Or a dirt road.
Yes, that is MUCH better.

9- I love gossip.

I said it.
I need to find me a beauty shop because I really feel like I need me a beauty shop like back in the old days where I could sit under a dryer and stick my head out and say, "ooooheeee did you hear they are tearing down the Piggly Wiggly and putting up ANOTHER DAMN TIRE STORE???"
A few weeks ago, there was a terrible storm that went through our area and I was in the bank for 20 minutes "gossiping" about such things as who doesn't have power, where the tornado touched down, what town didn't have a siren and what not with the tellers who all know me on a first name basis because we all need a beauty shop, apparently.
Anna had to honk the horn on the car to get me to come out because she is driving now and doesn't understand the necessity of gossip.
In my defense, most of my gossip is harmless but I am known to enjoy gossip of the other variety.
Is this a human nature thing??
Do you smell something burning?
Oh that is just my eternal soul.

10- I can't spell the word psychology without looking on Google.

Which used to be something called a DICTIONARY.
Remember those?
Whenever I write an email, I need to pull up Google in another window to see how it is spelled as not to embarrass myself.
Oh who am I kidding, I do that whenever I write a blog post as well because I have trust issues with spell check.
It is the one word, I can never spell without help and I got an A in the course in college.
Probably because they never asked me to spell the word psychology in the course psychology.
That and all my tests were online and multiple choice.
Way to go college, making it easy for people to become "intelligent" one test at a time.

There you have it, friends.
Just a few things to make you feel better about yourselves.
I am glad I could send you on your way today.
Weekdays can suck as it is, now you can go about your week fresh and feeling confident that you aren't as stupid as you thought you were.
I am like a walking public service announcement.
Or a walking back to school special, for those of you kickin' it old school.
That would be "hip speak" for us old people.
Knowing that you are going to Heaven and that you never had to binge eat Big Mac's in a hotel room or wipe your face after with a mini pad.
But I know someone else who has done something worse in a hotel room....

Do you smell something burning??


Our Girls Finally Got to See Bears. And We Didn't Have to Drive All The Way to The Smoky Mountains to See Them.

Recently, we had the opportunity to go to Soldier Field in Chicago to be a part of this cool event called Family Fest where families get to go and experience the Chicago Bears for a fraction of what an actual game costs.
It is very family friendly and has lots of fun things for kids to do.
Except there is beer there.
Lots of beer.
And hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, cotton candy, etc.
This you need to know: where there is ball park food, there is Kari.
So when the Bears reached out to me and sent me four tickets to see a scrimmage, I was excited.
Because the last time I got to see the Chicago Bears play inside Soldier Field was in 1994.
And it was raining sideways.
And I was wearing a garbage bag.
And I wasn't drinking beer or eating a nacho chip.
Maybe I should have been.

The old Soldier Field.
So cool to see this.
Because this was what Soldier Field looked like the last time I was inside here.

In true Kari fashion, we totally missed all of the fun kids activities.
Apparently, they had some amazing free events that we heard all about on the jumbo tron and thanks to social media, I could see other bloggers and my employer, Chicago Parent, touting but we couldn't find to save our lives.
Next year, we will just look at the website AHEAD OF TIME like normal people.
Who knew that Soldier Field was so damn big?
But again, the last time I was here, Ace of Base was on the radio.
Yeah, I said radio. 

But the girls didn't mind that we missed all the "fun activities" because they were awestruck the moment we sat down in the stadium.

So many things to look at.
Even I was awestruck.
Because again, the last time I was in here it was cold, I had limited visibility and I may have had three pairs of underwear on.
And no nachos.
Or beer.


My husband's cousin, who shares his exact name, played for the Bears in 1974.
So he brought us to this wall inside Soldier Field.
It was fun to watch the girls faces light up as they recognized a familiar name on this massive wall.
Dad was pooping his pants in 1974 but seriously, how cool is this??

The Bears don't realize it doesn't take much to woo us.
We had cotton candy, hot dogs, free foam thingy's and music.
The sun was out and it wasn't too hot, a perfect August day.
Then they blew up that big inflatable bear and it freaking blew our minds.

For someone who sometimes has a tough time sitting through a television show, we thought this scrimmage was either going to go really poorly or really well.

It went really well.

Really, really well.
It would seem that our children love a good old fashioned football game.
Of course, this one has been dragged to many high school football games in the past year but there is just nothing like going to the big game.

We even stood up.
A lot.
And not just to try to catch those free tee shirts from the air guns.
By the way, that guy in front of us had to do a gymnastic trick to get his free tee shirt.
I think he might be nursing a broken rib this week.
Which seems like a big price to pay for a tee shirt.
Trust me, I saw the shirts. 

When the Bears came out, it was really exciting.
The girls were so thrilled to see the team in person that they had only before seen on television all these years.
So that's the team that Daddy yells and swears at all the time?? 

Never again will my feet get this close to the field at an NFL football game.
Even though it wasn't really a "game".
But lets pretend it was, okay?
In my cool little blog world, I was at the Super Bowl.
Here are my feet at an NFL football game.

After the "game"/scrimmage, most people started filing out but we figured we would just be sitting in traffic in our car anyway, so we decided to stay as long as we could or until they kicked us out.
Whichever came first.
We ate the remnants of our cotton candy and while everyone pushed and shoved to get out of Soldier Field, we got a front row seat to some cool stuff.
We got to see the players come back out onto the field in regular clothes for a short time and just stand there.
Doing what, I have no clue.
Above is Anna watching Jay Cutler and his son walk across the field.

Honestly, I was more excited to see Lou Cannelis, the sportscaster for the local news here than I was to see the players.
The mystery is revealed, friends.
Your trusty news people are all a farce.
They don't wear pants when they read you the news.
Anchorman humor. 
Psst, Lou...the microphone is in your other hand.
Someone get me a job at Fox News.

An empty Soldier Field.
It is kind of pretty, in a football field-y kind of way.

This, however, is not.
I felt bad for the people who had to clean up after all the messy families.
I can only imagine how bad this place looks after a regular NFL game.

On the way out of the stadium, there is this beautiful wall of water that everyone was touching as they left the stadium.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

It was such a great family day that we all can't wait to do it again. 
A little more nachos next time, a little less Jay Cutler and a little more Lou Cannelis because come on, who doesn't love Lou. 

A big thank you to Gage over at the Chicago Bears for hooking us up with tickets to this event.
He is like the Ron Burgundy of the Bears.
Lou is very jealous. 


Why Did You Stop Commenting? A Tutorial To Get You The Hell Back.

Was it something I said?
You got sick of the complaining.
Didn't you?
Or the constant talk of tacos?
Or Bruce Hornsby?
Or not enough Bruce Hornsby?

It was the third post about John Hughes that did it.
Didn't it?
I knew it.

I can't pay random people off of the street to comment on this blog at times.
I will write something I think is crap and get like 30 comments, which is like BOKOO (Karispeak for a BUTT TON) then I write what I think is a great post about macaroni and cheese and spend an evening creating a graphic on Pic Monkey and I get two comments, which show up as four because I reply to them.

This is what I have gathered.
You don't like sponsored posts.
You are a little on the fence about recipes.
And you definitely don't like DIY.
Hey, guess what?
DIY and Recipes, not sponsored posts, to be clear.

My most popular blog post to date.
This baby has gotten 66,000 and counting page views since 2012.

That is what I used to write about when I started almost five years ago.
All the time.
Every week.
Sometimes three times a week.
Maybe even four!
I know!
No one wants to see me write about a blue door or a wreath made out of saccharine or a magazine rack made out of an old baby crib WHICH IS REALLY DAMN COOL.
It is so sad it makes me wanna cry, want to know why?
Because it means it's all coming to a close.
This era.
Of blogging about DIY, recipes, cool renovations.

In the beginning, I remember I could go months without a comment.
Oh occasionally I would get a comment here or there and I would get SO excited!
Usually it was from a link party host that I had signed up for because I was doing the whole DIY thing but I didn't care because I was so excited!
Once I did have a bad comment, a really bad one and when I wrote about it in a blog post, I had this amazing rally of bloggers who gathered around me like this blogging biker gang that lifted me up and basically kicked ass and took names.
It was spectacular.
Then, the longer I was blogging, I met more and more bloggers and started developing a cool blogging community.
And we would comment on each other's blogs and this amazing circle of blogging love developed!
It was glorious!
It was like reading someone's diary and writing little love notes in the ledgers.


"I think you are a great mom!"

"I love how you decorate your family room, it is so cozy!!"

"I am so glad we have "met", even though we haven't "met, met""

Blogging has gotten a bad rap here and there but for me, it has been the best form of therapy and comments really have been a huge part of that.
When I hear that SWISH from my phone and I open my mail to see a comment on my blog, I wish you could be there when the smile on my face appears or when I am standing in my kitchen laughing.
Once I was at the grocery store in the frozen foods section when a comment came through on a particularly rough day and it was like it needed to come that day.
I started crying right there in the middle of the aisle in between the pizza and the novelty foods.
I was looking around to make sure no one could see me but it was this amazing moment of being touched (very appropriately) by a stranger in this moment that no one talks about in blogging.

I do have the option to leave the comment section off of my blog as well but I keep it there because I want to hear what you have to say.

Unless you want to ask me what color my underwear is, then I don't want to hear what you have to say.

Some artsy fartsy writers will say, oh I don't care what people say because I love to write and it's artistic expression blah poop blah fart blah.
I need your love food in my comment section.
That feeds my artistic soul.

So this is what I am going to do.
I am showing all of you how to comment.
No excuses.
A step by step picture tutorial on how to comment.

I even changed my comment system a year ago so it would be easier for my readers.
This is either going to go really well for myself or really poorly.
Like embarrassingly poorly.
Watch, this post will have zero comments.
The tutorial on commenting will have no actual comments.
That will actually be pretty funny and ironic.
No it won't.
It will be sad.

Step 1-  go to the bottom of the post where the comment section is.

So here is the thing, some blogs stop taking comments after a certain time.
I don't.
You can go back and comment on a post five years later.
In fact, I just got a comment on a post from four years ago, because people are still visiting my DIY posts from way back.
Want to know why?
Bringing my visitors hourly, actually, by the minute.

Here you are at the bottom where the comment section is.
Click where it says  8 comments (4 are mine, by the way....hanging head in shame)

 ...that will take you to this:

Join the discussion!
Don't you want to join the discussion??
I mean really??
And I KNOW you had an opinion on my blue damn door this spring.
And how about the John Hughes tour that I worked three months on?
How about that really crappy post I wrote about open letters??
Good or bad.
I know you did.
I don't need to hear all good stuff, folks.
You can "discuss" things too.

Sooo this is where I lose y'all, I know I do.

It's the having to register or sign in to comment and I get that completely.
Unfortunately, that happens everywhere you have to comment but if you have social media, which most of you do, you are golden.

See those little buttons up there?
You can click those to log in.
D is for Disqus which most of you won't have unless you are a blogger but I am betting most of you have that big fat f up there which stands for Facebook!!
Yes, you can log in with your Facebook account!!!
Or that birdie which is your Twitter or the g which is your Google account!!
See how easy that is???
Or you can just register with Disqus like so:

Really, it isn't that hard and I am giving you a hard time because I love you all so.
And I love to hear from you.
I hear all the time, " I have been reading you for years and just wanted to comment"..." I like your blog and thought I should let you know".....and I love those comments so much.
You know, I write here because of you.
Not because I love to hear myself blather on and on.
As much as you might think, I am not an ego maniac.
I love to write because I kind of have a crush on you.
So hearing from you means a whole lot to me.
When I stop hearing from you, part of me stops wanting to write.
It's as simple as that.
And then I start thinking you want me to stop writing as well.
So your comments are a really big deal to me and I would say to other writers out there but I can't speak for everyone.

I do know there are some days where some of the posts I put out there are probably not as worthy of your comment as others but seriously, your words mean a lot.
It's not as hard as you think.
Even if you say things like  "I think geese blue was a bad way to go, Kari", "Bruce Hornsby sucks my grandpa's pipe", " tacos are the spam of the food world" or "your John Hughes obsession is way overboard girlfriend".
Because you commented and told me how you felt about my words.
Then I will make you come over and re-paint my front door and then go to Mr. Hughes grave with me and apologize while we eat some tacos and listen to Mandolin Rain.
So let's all hold hands, sit in a big circle, braid hair and comment.
Life is too short to not let each other know how we really felt about that really, REALLY ugly crib turned magazine rack.

I love you's guys.
But really, Bruce Hornsby is kind of hot.
Just a little?
He ages really well.
Let's talk about it over a taco.
Meet you in the frozen food section?



Hair Cuttery Share-A-Haircut Program #ShareAHaircut

I was recently contacted by Hair Cuttery to talk about an amazing program that they offer called Share- A- Haircut.

What is it, you ask?
Well, the Share-A-Haircut program was created by Hair Cuttery to give free haircuts to underprivileged kids as they go back to school.
In the 16 years that they have started this program, they have now expanded it to include all ages.

Since this is the 16th anniversary of their program, Hair Cuttery wants to donate tens of thousands of free haircut certificates.
The share-a-haircut program has touched upwards of 925,000 children with haircut certificate donations worth a total value estimated at $16.65 million dollars.

So how does this program work? 
Starting August 1st and running through August 15th, every time a child 18 and younger buys a hair cut at one of the 900 Hair Cuttery salons, a free haircut certificate will be donated to an underprivileged child in their same community.

How will the children receive the haircuts? 
According to Hair Cuttery, "in each community, certificates are distributed with the help of more than 100 local government and non-profit organizations that are closely tied to each community".

You have to get those back to school haircuts any way, so why not help someone in your community in the process?
Won't you be a part of this great program and head over to Hair Cuttery today for a great cause?
I am so proud to be associated with this program and you will too.

You can find your local Hair Cuttery by going to their website and using their salon locator.
You can also keep up with Hair Cuttery by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
I would love it if after reading this, you decide to choose Hair Cuttery for your back to school hair cuts and share with me your back to school cuts on social media!
Share the love, #ShareAHaircut!

Disclaimer: I have received promotional consideration from Hair Cuttery.

Hair Cuttery is the largest family owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 company pwned locations on the East Coast, and in New England and the Midwest. A full service, value-priced salon, Hair Cuttery offers a full complement of cuts and styling, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary as well as a full line of professional hair products. Hair Cuttery is a division of Ratner Companies, based in Vienna, Va. 

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