Author - Amanda Simkin

Simkin fall mini session 5

Amanda Simkin, a lifelong Chicagoan, created her blog (queenofthelandoftwigsnberries.com) to share how she celebrates motherhood in Chicago. She offers “insider’s guides” for both well-known and off-the-beaten-path family-friendly gems. Her fans include Red Tricycle Chicago and Chicago Parent Magazine.

Help kids choose kindness and respect | NPNparents.org

It was a Sunday night, and we were settling in as a family to watch a Blackhawks game when the game broke away for a nightly news update. The newscaster mentioned a looming storm, a car accident on the Kennedy and showed a clip of the President-elect behind a podium. My five year old looked at the television, looked at me, and then asked me why the President-elect was yelling. And to be honest, I wasn’t really sure since there was so much yelling going on for months and months in the poli...

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 10:50 AM by Amanda Simkin

6 reasons to go to Chicago Toy & Game Fair | NPNparents.org

Don’t let the 60-degree weather in Chicago fool you—lights are going up on trees and holiday music is taking over the airwaves. The holidays are almost here! And if you are anything like me, coming up with great gifts for the kids in my life is a struggle. I mean, I don’t want to be stepping on small figurines every time I walk through my living room, nor do I want to spend a ton of money on poorly made toys that fall apart within a week. That’s why my family and I are taking a trip to Ch...

Posted on November 15, 2016 at 2:34 PM by Amanda Simkin

The top fall family activities in Chicago

It’s that time of year when there is pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING and the weather is absolutely perfect for exploring before old man winter comes and sends us all into a seasonal depression (c’mon, I know I’m not the only one who goes crazy being cooped up inside with energetic little ones, right?!?!).

So make the most out of fall in Chicagoland and create your own family fall bucket list. Need some inspiration? Here’s what is on ours—and be sure to keep up with our autumnal activities ...

Posted on October 03, 2016 at 9:41 AM by Amanda Simkin

Thoughts parents have on the first day of school | NPNparents.org

Right now my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of smiling (and I’m not going to lie, some frowning) photos of kids standing with signs that declare their first day of school. They are absolutely adorable in their best “first day of school” outfits, filled with nervous anticipation of what is to come for the upcoming school year.

But I always wonder what these pictures would look like if there was a parent standing with an adorable personalized “back to school” sign. I mean, would a...

Posted on August 29, 2016 at 9:17 AM by Amanda Simkin

Parenting feats that should be Olympic sports | NPNparents.org

Photo credit: Vincent Angler/Flickr

 

Olympic fever is alive and well in our house. The excitement of close finishes, the talented and determined athletes, the national pride..what isn’t there to love? And what I find even more inspiring is that many of these athletes are parents, which means that while training for the Olympic Games, they are also participating in the Parenting Games.

 

Which got me thinking about what types of “sports” there should be in the Parenting Games…...

Posted on August 04, 2016 at 12:35 PM by Amanda Simkin

I met my mommy match on a blind date | NPNparents.org

 

Motherhood is a mix of emotions: excitement, exhaustion and, of course, endless amounts of love. But here’s the thing: Motherhood can also bring up another feeling that not a lot of people talk about. Loneliness. I am lucky to have most of my family and friends living in Chicagoland, but many of them weren’t entrenched in the world of diapers and feeding schedules like I was. I needed to build my own mama tribe, and I didn’t know where to start.

 

Whenever my baby and I would g...

Posted on July 14, 2016 at 3:21 PM by Amanda Simkin

To the mom missing her dad on Father's Day

Photo: The author, second from left, with her dad, second from right, and family

 

I don’t mean to brag, but my husband is a really amazing dad. Ever since my boys were born, he was hands on and involved in every aspect of their lives, from changing poopy diapers to waking up with them in the middle of the night…even happily going into super-cold pools with them during swim lessons so I could stay warm and dry on the sidelines.

 

And when Father’s Day rolls around, I always wa...

Posted on June 10, 2016 at 8:36 AM by Amanda Simkin

5 family-friendly Midwest vacation spots you can drive to

Photo: South Haven, Michigan

 

You know the saying “Midwest is best?” Well, if you ask me, the Midwest truly shines in the summermonths…the glistening lakes, wealth of greenery, and tons of unique places to relax and unwind. It’s a complete 180 from the harsh winter months that we suffer through.

 

That’s why we always plan a Midwestern summer family vacation. We can avoid the drama and expenses involved with an airline flight, support local businesses and keep our money in th...

Posted on May 23, 2016 at 10:53 AM by Amanda Simkin

Selling your home when you have small kids | NPNparents.org

Selling your house is stressful. Emotions run high, there are many sleepless nights…and I’m just talking about the adults. When there are kids involved with selling real estate, everything gets amped up even more. How do I know? Because I’m going through the process right now and it has been a roller coaster that I can’t wait to get off of.

 

So take some of my advice and follow these 6 tips for selling your house while raising small children:

 

Expect things to take longer than t...

Posted on April 20, 2016 at 1:38 PM by Amanda Simkin

Kid birthday party etiquette—for parents | NPNparents.org

Every party, big or small, has a pooper—don’t let it be you. What am I talking about specifically? Birthday party etiquette for parents. If you are in any local Facebook mom groups or have checked out the NPN forum, you will see that parents are making party fouls left and right that end with tears from both kids and adults. Here’s how to avoid kid birthday party blunders:

 

If you're throwing a party...

No one likes to be left out. So err on the side of caution and invite ever...

Posted on March 18, 2016 at 1:27 PM by Amanda Simkin