Chicago North Shore Moms site curators Ellie and Shawn
This week Chicago North Shore Moms is celebrating a three year anniversary and thus, this week’s Chicago North Shore Moms’ Meet a Mom is spotlighting the site curators behind the content, Ellie and Shawn! Enjoy getting to know more about us – where we came from, where we live, what we love (and what we don’t), favorite restaurants and last but not least how Chicago North Shore Moms was formed.
But real quick, we’d first like to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to our local moms and dads – anyone who has ever referred to our website for information, liked a post, sent us a DM, etc. You know who you are. And we’d like to tell our local partners how grateful we are of their support over the years. Partners like our Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three, Mary Gifford, your support has an exponentially positive impact on our local North Shore communities.
Hi everyone! We’re Shawn and Ellie and we’re so pleased to introduce ourselves! A little more about us…
Shawn: Hi! I’m Shawn, a Site-Curator at Chicago North Shore Moms. I grew up near East Lansing, Michigan and knew at a pretty young age that I wanted to live in a “big city”. After college I moved to Chicago and haven’t looked back. We moved to the North Shore the summer of 2020 and have two boys, ages six and nine.
The move from Michigan to Chicago wasn’t very far, but just far enough to be away. My sister is in Chicago as well, which has been so nice for us and our family- two birds with one stone! I love that we’re able to get together for brunch or to watch a game at each other’s homes easily, and that our kids have grown up near each other. Even now with my family in the “burbs” and hers in the city. We have 2 boys that are super high energy, and I’m a girly girl, so seeing my niece is always a treat.
Shawn and family
Ellie: Hi! I’m Ellie, Co-Founder (2018) and a Site Curator for Chicago North Shore Moms. When people ask me, “where did you grow up” I typically respond with the Los Angeles area, “The Valley.” But, most people don’t know that I was born and raised in Potomac, MD and moved to “The Valley” when I was 10 years old. I moved to Chicago with my hubby in 2005 and then Highland Park in 2011. We’ve lived in the same house since 2011 and don’t plan to go anywhere soon…. at least until the youngest graduates from high school LOL.
We have three kids, a boy who just turned 12, a daughter who is nine and a son who is six.
How did you meet your partner?
Shawn: I met my husband through a mutual friend at a spring Cubs game. He had recently moved from NYC and was looking for a slower pace- but still craved that city life, so Chicago it was. We spent a lot of time together within our group of friends that summer- and have a lot of funny stories of each other’s escapades before officially dating that we can joke about now!
Shawn and hubby
Ellie: I met my husband at a family bar/bat mitzvah trip to Israel in 1997 as sophomores in college. No, we didn’t actually start dating right there and then 🙂 We chatted here and there for a few years and finally decided to try long-distance dating from Boulder (CU Alum – Go Buffs!) to Chi-town when we were about 22 years old. We both moved to San Diego in 2001, married in 2004 and moved to Chicago’s North Center in 2005 for better a standard of living and to be close to his side of the family.
Ellie and hubby
What do you love about where you live?
Shawn: Moving to the North Shore wasn’t planned, but it has been the best decision we’ve made as a family. Our kids LOVE that we live in a neighborhood where friends pop by to play in the yard, we ride bikes everywhere, there are numerous beaches within a quick walk or ride, and the food and shopping options are just almost equivalent to that of the city’s- but easier to get to! I absolutely adore Chicago and city living, but you can’t beat the North Shore with kids. I feel so fortunate to be here every single day, and it’s amazing that I get to be a part of this resource site- not only for locals, but for new families settling here. It truly makes our day when someone sends us a DM saying that we have helped in some way.
Ellie: Apart from severe cold, I am extremely thankful to live here. Our neighborhood has that old school feel of being able to freely ride bikes and knock on friend’s front doors after school or on the weekends. Walkability here is the bees knees. I frequently walk to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, our local beach and bike trails year-round. And you can’t beat the buzz that the neighborhood feels when it’s Ravinia season! Not to mention the top notch education.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Shawn: To follow my own interests and not the crowd so much through my teen and college years. Being popular isn’t important – being happy and kind goes much further. I also wish I had traveled more during college and post college. I’ve been fortunate to visit a few gorgeous countries and landscapes before kids, but not nearly enough! Neither mine or my husband’s family live in the state, so far off, extended trips are tough until our kids can join & keep up.
Ellie: I’d tell my younger self to push outside of worry and fear more. I had a ton of anxiety as a teen and in my 20’s and my worrying “what-if” brain prevented me from participating in a lot of events, including a few girls trips during college! But most importantly, I’d tell my younger self to be more assertive and less apologetic and I’m trying to teach my daughter those traits!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Shawn: Honestly, for the first time in a long time, I’m pretty happy with where we live right now! We’ve moved… A LOT, so that’s pretty big for me to say! I love being near a large body of water, and not too far from a city, but still with plenty to do through the gorgeous villages in the North Shore. Water and an urban setting are essential for us. I will say, if my family wasn’t so far from the California coast, I would prefer the weather in one of the southern beach towns there! I also love that good Skiing is a drive away when in CA rather than a flight here. It’s the one downfall of Chicagoland, but being near family is most important while my kids are young.
Ellie: I, too, love where I live and really wouldn’t change it now that I have a family. Well, maybe ask me in January, but seriously, it’s worth a few months of cold! I moved here from San Diego so I get a lot of confused faces about that. San Diego has a lot of amazing qualities about it… when you’re a visitor. It’s not the same as “living” there. Having said that, we’d probably move back if we didn’t have kids.
What’s something you really, really do not like doing?
Shawn: Speaking in public, group sports, or meeting a new group of people are all really hard for me. I’m very shy. If I have an event or even a wedding, I have anxiety about it for weeks ahead! It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life, and that I’m constantly working on.
Ellie: Going outside when it’s cold, and for me that’s anything below 45 (cringe). In the last 16 years that I’ve lived here, I haven’t yet found a warm enough coat for the real Chicago temps. I’m always the most bundled person you’ll see, and still cold. Now that I have kids in outdoor sports, this is a bigger problem. I’ll figure it out one of these days, ha!
Ellie and the kids
What parenting skill are you trying to work on?
Shawn: Yelling. It’s a battle! I’m constantly asking my kids to do something 3+ times before I just lose it and start yelling- which I really don’t like. I see this as more than just me working on losing my temper though. It’s all of us working on listening, respecting each other, becoming more organized, and actually scheduling breaks for my self to workout/relax – so I don’t get to the point of feeling like I’m going to burst.
Ellie: Patience. I don’t know, I think a person is born with a certain amount, no more, no less, but it’s something I work on every day. Honestly, I really see a difference in my level of patience with the amount of exercise I’m able to grant myself. I’ve taken to walking quite a bit and I’ve seen a huge decrease in my level of stress, which does help with patience.
What is your proudest parenting moment?
Shawn: Any time that I hear that my kids have been kind, well behaved in class or when visiting someone’s home it makes me proud. They aren’t the easiest when with with me, but if they can hold it together for others, I’m happy with that! I actually emailed my sons teacher recently asking about his behavior because he has been pretty difficult at home. She informed me that he’s been wonderful in class – which was shocking, but so great to hear. Going from remote and 1/2 days, to a full day of school is a big change for kids this year. I suppose if I’m the one they take their frustration or exhaustion out on, I can deal with that;)
Ellie: Ditto Shawn’s answer. Without a doubt when someone voluntarily offers me a story about how my child made someone feel better, or said something kind, it truly makes my heart sing. To add to that, now that I have a 12-year-old, I am super proud when he makes good choices and doesn’t follow along with foolish crowd behavior. The old adage, “little people little problems” is really starting to make more sense to me now.
What are a few of your favorite North Shore restaurants?
Shawn: We’ve been eating a lot of Guanajuato, Freds Garage (my kids favorite) and Grateful Bites in Hubbard Woods, Depot Nuevo and Napolita in Wilmette, Sushi take-out from 5B2F Akira Sushi and we all enjoy the family meal options at Great Coast. I also love the meal kits from Fresh Market and Midwest Fresh to make at home. I’m not great in the kitchen, so we do a lot of take out and kits!
Ellie: We absolutely loved eating at a newer restaurant called Pixca in downtown Highland Park. I’ve only been there once but can’t wait to go back. Their craft cocktails are the freshest I’ve had on the North Shore. Our favorite sushi spots are Kyoto Sushi in Hubbard Woods and Happy Sushi in Downtown Ravinia. I adore the Lake Forest landmark Deerpath Inn for the outdoor courtyard and the transformative Pub where you can also order their sushi. A few staples in our house for nicer dinners would be Bluegrass for amazing Cajun and Southern fair (shrimp and grits are everything) and Longitude315 in Highwood for South American fusion. And the entire family can agree on Backyard Grill for dinner, which has something for everyone.
What are three things that instantly lift your mood?
Shawn: A walk with my pup who I absolutely adore, listening to a favorite playlist, and a stop by the lake. Looking out at the lake is so calming to me, and needed through the week. (A glass of wine in the evening never hurts either!)
Ellie: An aerobic walk while listening to one of many podcasts, sitting down at our dinner table to a home-cooked meal with my entire family and seeing how happy my dog gets when she sees us, and how happy the kids get when they see the dog 🙂
When and how did you become involved with Chicago North Shore Moms?
Shawn: I began as a site curator for Lincoln Park Area Moms and launched the site April, 2020. I spent the next few months getting to know our local businesses and really just supporting them as best as I could with everything being closed – everyone was struggling of course. In the summer of 2020, we began to feel the walls of our condo collapse in on us metaphorically speaking. Space and school became our number one priority. So after only a few visits to the area, we moved to the North Shore. Ellie saw a post that I had put out calling for a site curator to take over Lincoln Park Area Moms, and she reached out to me to see if I’d like to join her at Chicago North Shore Moms. The rest is history!
Ellie: I was going on two years of being a SAHM with three very young children mentally in a very dark place. I was tired (nope, exhausted) and felt a near complete loss of self. At the same time, I couldn’t really imagine not being available for the kids at a moment’s whim. Randomly one night I saw a post on a mom Facebook group from The Local Moms Network – they were looking for site curators to start up local networks. I jumped on it. With my previous experience in Marketing in Advertising, my current experience as a mom, and my love to help others, it seemed like a great fit! This month we are celebrating our three year anniversary of Chicago North Shore Moms and we’re just getting started!
Shawn joined me in September of 2020 and it’s been symbiotic ever since. We are friends and business partners!
What’s one thing you would like the Chicago North Shore Moms audience to know about you or the business?
Shawn: I suppose that we are, indeed, a small business, and it’s just us two busy moms creating 95% of the content that you see on our website and social media. We put a lot of time and heart into the information on the site, and into supporting local businesses. We hope, in turn, that people appreciate the local content, resources and information that we provide on our social feeds and the website. All of this could not happen without the support of our local sponsors and advertisers. So, when you occasionally see an ad or a “special thanks to our sponsor…” in our content, it’s simply our local businesses supporting local as well!
On the subject of social media, we are not influencers. At times we share small snippets about what we’re up to around town, or at home with our families – we simply love shining a light on a favorite local shop or product, restaurant, park or business that you may or may not be familiar with. We truly try to support local any time we’re able. Once in a while we’ll throw in something that we just love as women or parents as well- and that’s just sharing the love;)
Ellie: I’d love people to know that Chicago North Shore Moms is part of the national brand, The Local Moms Network, which was started in 2017 as Greenwich Moms in Connecticut. We are proud to be part just one of four sites here in IL, and just one of about 100 local sites nationwide. It’s truly a great sisterhood and we love getting to know what works and what doesn’t work from Palm Beach, FL to Katy Tx, to Beach City, CA and loads in between. So, when you’re traveling, keep us all in mind for awesome local resources!
Oh! And if you enjoy our content on Facebook or Instagram, throw a quick like up there. It’s not to rub our egos, but rather so more of our helpful and relevant posts will show up in your social feed. Those algorithms are tricky little buggers…
What are you most looking forward to this Fall?
Shawn and Ellie: Seeing family! We have family visits scheduled with different members, each weekend of October. It’s so good spending time together again now that we’re all vaccinated and while we can be outdoors before winter. There are so many fun festivals and events through October in the North Shore and it will be fun to explore with them! We’ll keep informing you all about all of the great resources and events going on and around the North Shore. Next up, holiday light tours, hot chocolate and cozy, cozy things to do as a family! So be sure to stay tuned to our website, Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date.
About CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom Sponsor:
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ sole Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!