Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom series where we feature our local mamas – what they’re up to personally and professionally. To date, we’ve feature just under 100 women, woah mama!
Today’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Highland Park born and bred, now Glencoe resident, Mrs. Sarah Rempel! The former Bikram Instructor is now a stay at home mom (SAHM) cooking up simple and fun crafts to keep her two little ones busy right now a la her public Instagram account @crappycoronacrafts (LOL). Sarah shares with us a basic list of items you can have on hand to keep your young ones busy little bees as well as how she’s coping in the coop up. Welcome Sarah!
Hi Sarah! Please introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Sarah Rempel. My husband and I both grew up in Highland Park. I went to college in Boulder, Colorado. From there I lived in San Francisco, moved back to Denver, then to Honolulu, and finally found my way back home in Chicago. Two years ago, we moved our little family from Wicker Park to Glencoe. My husband didn’t want to leave the city. I didn’t want to stay. I won! He won’t admit it, but he loves Glencoe.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
We have a 7 year old English Cream Retriever, Sammy. She was our first baby. Then came our beautiful daughter, Margo who is 5 years old. And finally, and our energetic 2.5 year old son, Jacob, completed our family!
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Everything! It’s the best thing in the world. To love unconditionally and be unconditionally loved in return is the most powerful bond. You create these little humans, little replicas of yourself, and get to watch them grow into smart, kind, beautiful people. It’s pure magic.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I’m a Bikram Yoga Instructor. I got certified in 2007 by Bikram Choudhury in Hawaii. If you’ve seen the Netflix Documentary Bikram, everything they say is true. It was an insane experience and my heart broke when I watched that documentary. I haven’t taught for years, but I do hope to teach again one day.
The nature of these Meet a Mom interviews have changed quite a bit due to the unprecedented pandemic and stay at home directives. Do you have any current and favorite mom tips that make your everyday life a little easier during these times?
Oh man, these uncertain times are so tough! I wake up every morning and it feels like the movie Groundhog Day. However, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that seem to be working:
1. Have a positive attitude. Attitude is EVERYTHING when you’ve got little ones. Get excited to see their faces in the morning (even if some days you have to fake it). I can almost guarantee they will mirror that excitement. We call the shots, our kids are just along for the ride. Make it enjoyable.
2. Reach out to old friends or family. Re-connect. My group text chats are my lifeline during this quarantine. I’ve got my Camp Marimeta Alum sisters, my college friends, my best mama friends, and a family group chat. I can hardly keep up, but when I have a chance to look at my phone, I can always count on a good laugh.
3. Have an outlet. Do something for yourself every day. Even if it’s just a 15 minute hot shower. Breath. And know you got this.
4. Lastly …. CRAFTS or anything else you can dedicate an hour or two to the kids each day. You’ve got all the time in the world right now so find something that your kids will look forward to doing. Both my kids up wake up every morning and the first thing they ask is “What craft are we going to do today?” Give yourself and your kids some quality time to look forward to each day.
What has been the absolute hardest experience or experiences you’ve felt during this time?
I miss my mom like crazy. She’s my best friend. She lives in the city with my step dad, and we used to see her every Thursday. It was our day to spend together with the kids. First, we spend the morning just us, then pick up the kids from preschool and head for lunch. It’s my favorite day of the week. Both kids are obsessed with Nana and constantly ask when they will be able to see her again. My kids are young, so for them to fully understand what’s happening is impossible. They miss their family, their friends, their teachers, and their routines. To be honest, this whole experience has made me look at what’s truly important in this world. Family, friends, health and sanity. When things get back to a new normal, I hope I can remind myself to never take that for granted.
Amen to that! Do you have any podcasts or apps that help inspire you, calm you, help run your life, organize your life, recipe apps or favorite websites, etc.
I’m not big into Podcasts, even though my husband forwards his favorites to me all the time. I get my daily news emailed from CNN’s 5 Things To Know. I’m definitely a Pinterest and Instagram junkie, both for entertainment and inspiration.
What are your favorite takeout and delivery restaurants right now?
Wait, you can order take-out and delivery right now? Kidding!! I know we should be supporting local businesses, especially since my dad is the owner of Norton’s in Highland Park, but we’ve never been big on take-out. I cook, and now I just cook a whole lot more! For me, preparing meals is a great way to relax. BTW, I feel compelled to mention that Norton’s will reopen for curbside pickup and local delivery this coming Tuesday, May 5th! The hours of operation will be from 4-8pm. Yay!
When life gets back to “normal” what are your favorite local family hangouts AND what are your favorite local date night restaurants?
I mean, let’s be honest. We miss the city when it comes to restaurants, but we’ve definitely found some fantastic local options. For the kids, obviously, Nortons! Irving’s, in Wilmette, for the best Chicago style dog on the North Shore. Meg’s cafe for a weekday lunch is great. During the weekends, we love walking to the Hubbard woods train station and getting off at the Evanston Central stop. There’s an amazing old school diner called Prairie Joe’s – it’s one our favorites. For dinner with the kids, we often go to Little Ricky’s (you have to ask to get seated near the fish tank) and then we’ll walk over to Games on Lincoln and let the kids play. It’s a little hidden gem! Graeter’s ice cream is a summertime favorite after playing at the Hubbard Woods splash pad. For date nights, we love Guildhall, Minos and some of the classics in Highwood: Froggy’s, Longitude, and Miramar.
That is a seriously impressive list! I first came to know you via Instagram when all of sudden these awesome craft ideas started popping up in my feed. And the name, I must say, is quite catchy. Please introduce Crappy Corona Crafts (@crappycoronacrafts)…
Originally, when the stay-at-home order first started, I sort of panicked like most parents. I needed to keep some sort of routine, some way of keeping structure and order in my life. So each day, I created a schedule which usually included some sort of daily arts & crafts activity for the kids. One night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch talking about our new normal, and while he was talking and I was ignoring most of what he was saying, I looked down and my hands and fingernails were literally dyed blue from all the damn crafting I had been doing! He looked at me in all seriousness and said something I didn’t ignore, “You’re killing it with the kids, Sar. I’m so proud of you.” And with that, I was motivated to start my crafting Instagram account to share ideas with other mamas seeking inspiration and ways to fill the day.
How did you come to form this handle?
What’s crappier than Corona??? Perhaps some of my crafts?! Maybe. 😉 I tried being clever with the name, adding some humor. I tied in toilet paper humor since TP was all the rage, but mostly because it’s the BEST and cheapest craft material. I landed on Crappy Corona Crafts. Has a nice ring to it, right?! Monday through Friday I post a new and simple craft along with a list of items needed and simple directions for that you can do with your kids. Check it out on Instagram, @crappycoronacrafts.
Where do you get your craft inspiration from? Any influencers you follow?
The first Friday that school was canceled because of Covid-19, most people ran to the grocery store. I threw my kids in the car and drove like a mad woman over to Michaels crafts. We literally loaded 2 carts with supplies. Best decision I’ve made since this all started! I’ve always been a craft nerd at heart. I can spend hours on Pinterest and Instagram researching crafts. There are some truly great influencers that I recommend following if you need some inspiration: The Artful Parent, Mother Could, and Meri Cherry LA.
Here’s my go-to craft list that will help you during these times:
1) Liquid Water Color Paints
2) Oil Pastels, Crayons, Dot Markers, chalk
3) Tempura Paint
4) Glue Gun, glue sticks, and a huge bottle of Elmers Glue
5) Tape – colored masking tape, duct tape, washi tape
6) Paper – this is actually key. Get yourself colored construction paper and tons of white poster board paper
7) Eye droppers or Pipettes and straws
9) Foam Shaving cream (for puffy paint, our fav!)
10) Crafting items: pipe cleaners, wood craft sticks, paper tissue, feathers, pom poms, googly eyes, beads.
You mentioned that you’re a stay at home mom. What advice do you have for working moms to help them get through life being on top of each other?
Just remember to breath. Don’t be so hard on yourself and trust that this will pass. In the meantime, know that kids thrive on structure. Try and create some sort of schedule that you can follow each day. The days are long, the tantrums are awful, and the moods are unpredictable. But at least you can give yourself a small way to help organize the chaos.
Did you have a career before being a SAHM? What was the impetus for leaving your career to be a SAHM?
I started my career as an account executive at Weber Shandwick right out of college. I got to work with incredibly smart, creative, and talented people. After a few years, and many long hours, I left PR in 2007 to follow my passion to become a yoga instructor. While I was emotionally fulfilled, I quickly found out I needed a bit more income than yoga provided, so I balanced yoga with a job in sales at Groupon. I really had the best of both worlds going, and decided to mess it all up and get pregnant! After maternity leave, I had every intention of going back to Groupon, but after 5 days back at work, I had a change of heart. My heart literally hurt when I wasn’t with Margo, so I quit and made the decision to become a SAHM. Best decision I’ve ever made, and I’m fortunate enough to have never looked back!
What else would you like us to know about you?
I’m excited to announce the debut of my gofundme page entitled, Crappy Corona Craftbox. Donations will go to the nonprofit Center for Disaster Philanthropy for COVID 19 relief efforts. Starting now through May 31, 2020, when you donate $20 or more, you will receive a custom Crappy Corona Craft-Box! The box will include all materials required and easy-to-follow instructions to do three kid-friendly crafts at home. For more information, please visit my gofundme page and @crappycoronacrafts page for all of the cool crafts! #inthistogether