Meet the Contributors

Alex P.

Alex Peak

Alex lives in Midtown (born and raised in Westport), having only left Kansas City to attend Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. She lives with her husband; toddler daughter, Olive; and chocolate lab. She and her husband met in sixth grade and started dating in eighth grade. Alex works full time as a marketing director for a wealth management firm and sporadically as a freelance graphic designer. Outside of work, Alex spends most of her time chasing her daughter and volunteering in her community (she’s a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is involved with Kansas City Women in Technology). Reading, soaking up all the hilarious aspects of living with a toddler, discovering great music, buying fancy pens and working out are among her favorite things to do. Alex is hell-bent on “having it all” — minus sleep.

Amber D.

Amber Dawkins

Amber was born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, and despite a few fabulous years in Nashville, has always called Olathe home. She lives with Cystic Fibrosis and CF Related Diabetes, and she is still on the quest to finding balance in the business of motherhood and medications. After an emotional journey down the road of fertility treatments, Amber fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming a mother. Oliver was born with red spiky hair, an empathetic heart, and a contagious smile. Amber recently resigned her position as a middle school teacher to focus on another passion of hers: photography. What started as a mother-daughter hobby slowly grew into a small business, and she still shakes her head in awe at the blessings that Amber Dawkins Photography brings to herself, her family, and her clients. Her photography philosophy is woven throughout her Life as Art project and blog. Amber loves sushi, singing karaoke, binge-watching Netflix, and filling Oliver’s life with new experiences. Most recently, she finds herself in search of Pikachu.

Amelia R.

Amelia Ryan

“I am Amelia. I am a wife and mother to three energetic, fun, and lovable boys, twin 6 year olds and an almost 4 year old. We love going to parks, playgrounds, and new kid-friendly places all around Kansas City. My boys generally have their shoes off and have mad skills in climbing up the slides. I struggle when it comes to keeping up with laundry. I would much rather write or post about it than actually fold it and put it away. I work at Children’s Mercy Hospital as a Child Life Specialist. My work experiences impact the ways I mother my boys, for both the good tendencies and the over-paranoid ones. I think the connection we create when we genuinely and honestly relate to one another, especially as moms, help make life beautiful and meaningful. You can follow my blog at Something’s Burning.”

Beth T.

Beth Talbott

Beth is a mama to a busy toddler, Benjamin and is expecting a little girl in September of 2016. And she can’t forget their four-legged furry child that barks, Lily! She has been married to her husband, Aaron, since 2008. They are transplants originally from Minnesota but have lived in St. Louis, as well, and have called Prairie Village home since 2012. Most often you can find her in her active-wear, spending her days exploring all Kansas City has to offer with her toddler. Helping people is her passion, whether as a former kindergarten teacher or currently as a part-time health and fitness coach, working with women to improve their overall health and wellness. She loves to get dressed up for a fun night on the town! She enjoys all things fashion, a nice bottle of wine, traveling, and indulging in reality TV (hello Bravo and Bachelor Nation!). You can keep up with her shenanigans at bethtalbott.wordpress.com or follow her on Instagram at @Fitmombetht.

Betsy K.

Betsy Kersten

Betsy lives in Hyde Park with her husband and 1-year-old son. She has a sizable sweet tooth and loves to sleep in as much as possible (ha – mom joke). As a part-time working mama, her typical day varies; from adoring her adventuresome son, to fine-tuning architectural designs at the office – she’s always planning a project whether in sweatpants or a skirt. On the weekends, you might find her strolling the River Market, delighting in local coffee shops, or hopefully, catnapping. Things that might help her wake up early include design, travel, and photographing families and newborns. She loves the outdoors and would joyfully spend a week camping without a shower or mattress as long as there was scenic hiking, warm campfires, and brilliant stars. And of course, plentiful s’mores. Catch her family & newborn photography blog at littletownstudio.wordpress.com.

Britt L.

Britt Lagemann

Britt is a former nomad, who happily put down roots in the Kansas City suburbs to start her own family close to her parents and siblings. After three professional degrees and a brief stint as an elementary teacher with Teach for America, Britt now spends 40 hours a week working in the legal world. In what little free time she has left over, she pretends to do yoga, install toilets, cans vegetables, quilts, entertains family and friends, and seeks adventure around KC and beyond with her two favorite boys. Though she and her husband, David, are new to parenting their 8 month old son, Benja, they already agree that they love him more than coffee. They just not-so-secretly hope that no one ever makes them choose between the two.

Brittany C.

Brittany Carter

“I’m Brittany, a wife to Jimmy, mom to 4-year-old Charlie, 2-year-old Maddie and baby Mikey (who we welcomed to our family in July 2016). My husband and I are Kansas City born and raised and we love exploring all that our great city has to offer now that we are raising our own family here. By day, I am a finance manager at a global stock exchange and by night, I play the role of mom, friend, daughter, wife, house cleaner, cook and DIY-er. Other items on the top of my love list include working out, freezer cooking, budgeting (Excel is my everything), Quik Trip fountain drinks, blogging, shopping online and catching up on the latest Netflix shows.”

Diana W.

Diana Wiard

“I’m Diana, wife of 11 years to Brett, and a laid-back SAHM with a spunky girl squad – 6, 3 and 1 – through birth and adoption. A Kansas girl from the start, I grew up in Lawrence, went to Southwest Baptist University, then started marriage and family with nine years in Austin, TX, teaching pre-K and high school and everything in between. Back in the KC area, I’m adventuring with new eyes and active children. My happy place is in the kitchen, trying new recipes and experimenting with old favorites. When not hugging my minivan or slow cooker, I’m pursuing eating well and dressing well – on a budget! I talk food, family and fun on my blog Life on Olive Street.”

Helen R.

Helen Ransom

“I’m Helen, married to my semi-famous husband, Nick, for 13+ years, mama to 3rd grade identical triplets Jackson, Ty & Chase, and kindergartener Lily. We have a crazy dog named Gus, and some creepy dolls named Margaret. I’m a big lover and supporter of small businesses, but also love my Starbucks. I have a little photography studio in Waldo, Faces You Love Photography, and you can catch up with my every day life at my personal blog, Three Times the Giggles!”

Jenna B.

Jenna Brack

“I’m Jenna, mom to a 3-year-old boy and 9-month-old girl who always keep things an equal blend of sweet and crazy. Our family lives in Midtown where we love learning from our neighbors and exploring the city’s many amazing coffee shops, restaurants, and attractions. By day, I can be found playing on the imaginary baseball field in my living room, getting snuggled (pounced on) every time I sit down, and always searching for that elusive hidden gem called ‘nap time.’ By night, I’m a college English instructor and freelance editor. I love good coffee, college football, serious conversation, and not-too-serious fiction. Find me on Twitter at @jennabrack.”

Jessica J.

Jessica Jackson

“I’m Jessica! Married to my best friend and mother to some pretty wonderful little people. My family makes this life pretty exciting and I strive to do my best to make this world better for them. I grew up in rural Colorado but decided to trade it all in for a life changing move to the Caribbean islands. After 3.5 years of world traveling and beach bumming, I decided to plant roots in Kansas City. We now call the charming city of Lee’s Summit home and couldn’t be happier with this amazing community. I am the owner of Lee’s Summit Play and work hard to promote learning and adventure in youth. I love to shop small and support all of our wonderful local business owners. My favorite parts of this area of Missouri are the fantastic local breweries, beautiful parks and outdoor spaces, and the passion behind all of the welcoming people. You can usually find me sipping a local brew, working on a community project to spread love and kindness, and experiencing all the Lee’s Summit and the Kansas City area have to offer.”

Julia W.

Julia Willhite

Julia lives in Olathe with her husband of 9 years, her 3 year old daughter Gretchen, and their crazy pug Boopers. Julia grew up in Lawrence and received her Masters in Social Work from KU in 2010. She currently works part-time as a hospice social worker. On her days off, she enjoys meeting up with friends for play dates, exploring new parks, and checking the end caps at Target for smokin’ hot deals. She loves hosting parties, Dr. Pepper, consignment sales, and watching every single Royals game. She blogs about her family and other randomness over at Pugs Not Drugs.

Julie B.

Julie Breithaupt

“Hello, fellow moms! I’m Julie, a mom of two wild women, 3-year-old Mia and 10-month-old Reese. My poor husband Grady is outnumbered big time in our house. Even our cat, Gabbana, and dog, Marge, are girls. We spend our days and nights trying not to step on Disney Princess MagiClips and Shopkins and also trying to make sure the baby doesn’t eat the former or the latter. I work full-time and am currently transitioning from a 14-year career behind the scenes in local TV news to a government job. I enjoy craft beers (or really any kind of beer – who am I kidding?) and am attempting to enjoy training for a half marathon. Enjoying the craft beer has proven to be a much easier path. So needless to say, I am full of blog-worthy material that I can’t wait to share to hopefully make me and anyone else feel a tiny, slight bit less crazy in this lovely world.”

Julie H.

Julie Heckman

“I’m Julie and my family consists of myself, my husband, Gary, step-daughter Charlotte who is 8 going on 20, step-son Joel who just turned 7, new baby Dylan who is 6 months old and our faithful cocker spaniel, Presley. As a Johnson County transplant, I live in the Northland and love it. I’m a Kansas Citian from birth and love being here with all of our families close by. I am a tech geek by day writing software for a finance company and a homemaker by night cooking, sewing, crafting and creating. I’m always on the lookout for ways to simplify life, spend more time with our family and squeeze in date nights with my handsome husband. We can often be found at nearby parks, Royals games and kid-friendly events around town. In those rare moments of free time, I usually have my nose in a good book.”

Katie B.

Katie Barilaro

Katie is a SAHM of three who, as you’ve already guessed, drives a minivan. She and her husband and kids live in a messy house in Overland Park (and not in a cute “Look at my kids playing in unfolded laundry!” way, but more in a “Don’t stick your hands under the couch when I still haven’t investigated that smell” way). As a Kansas City native, she wants her children to experience the same fond KC memories that she had, even though she has usually gotten a late start, and nobody has napped, and we’ve forgotten the snacks, and, wait, did anyone eat lunch yet? She is most proud of her children when they sing David Bowie songs in public and correctly use the word “well” instead of “good.” She occasionally blogs at destroyherblog.wordpress.com.

Kristal R.

Kristal Ronnebaum

“I’m Kristal, wife to Joe and mother to a very joyful, creative and opinionated 3 and a 1/2 year old named Connor and Miss Jordyn (14 months) who thinks he ropes the moon – all while taking on the world one Honey Nut Cheerio at a time. I am blessed beyond measure to call them mine and am thankful every day for all they are teaching me. I have loads of life adventures that will undoubtedly allow me to teach them a thing or two – and the rest we will figure out together! I am a Kansas girl at heart who enjoyed spreading her wings in Orlando and New York in her 20’s. I found my way back to my roots and couldn’t be more proud to call this great place home. My loves include spending time with my family, co-hosting Baby Love, KC’s Only Baby Fair, and sharing my passion for this incredible city by volunteering with the Junior League of Kansas City. My full-time career is in veterinary pharmaceuticals, but you can also find me ‘getting my zen on’ in the BACK row of Zumba and Dance Jam! Best attempts to bribe me are trips to the beach, brunch/pedicures with girlfriends, Pinot Grigio and dark chocolate-covered almonds.”

Kristin R.

Kristin Ruthstrom

Kristin is a recent Lee’s Summit suburb transplant, after living in the Brookside and Plaza areas for over eight years. Raising two young boys with her husband, Jake, has helped her to embrace the messy, wild side of life where love is expressed in bear hugs and body slams. Professionally, she is co-owner of The Makery KC, and can also be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor in the areas of Business, Marketing and PR. She is able to provide her students with applicable, real-life knowledge as she draws from several years working in the corporate sector. Lucky for her, she can also translate that knowledge into helping build and promote her small business. “Free time” (ha! what’s that again?) is spent on an occasional date night to favorite local restaurants, reading blogs on everything from home design to politics, riding her sweet beach cruiser bike and thinking of ways to convince her husband to do yet another home improvement project.

Mallory S.

Mallory Shannon

Mallory is a wife, mother of 3 small ones, doula and entrepreneur who currently resides in Overland Park, KS. While her family has relocated, her heart remains deep within the downtown area. As a young woman, Mallory was certain she would leave KC and head for greener pastures. Once she got older, however, and truly experienced the culture that is here, she planted her family’s roots firmly in the ground. Owner of the fastest-growing doula practice in the area, she currently serves as a birth and postpartum doula and creative director for her company, Kansas City Family Birth. When she isn’t serving clients or designing websites, you’ll find her and her family exploring downtown, eating or grabbing coffee at one of their favorite local spots, or dreaming and planning in her Bullet Journal. Visit her at kcfamilybirth.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/kcfamilybirth.

Marsha R.

Marsha Roth

“I’m Marsha, the devoted wife of a Nebraska Husker fan, mother to a sweet laid back 7-year-old boy named Kellen and a 5-year-old spunky know-it-all named Rowen. I am a Kansas City native, proud Northwest Bearcat Alumni, and enthusiastic 4th grade teacher! I enjoy stolen moments where I can read in peace, indulging in chocolate chip cookies whenever possible, tending to my vegetable garden and finding new ways to annoy my daughter! My goal in life is to be my authentic self, follow the motto of ‘She did what she could,’ and share that with other moms!”

Mary H.

Mary Humphreys

“I’m Mary, mama to two beautiful babes who keep me on my toes every day. Briley is an energetic, strong-willed, 4-year-old princess, and Brinley is an inquisitive, super active, curly haired, almost 2-year-old. Together with my wife, we are raising our family in the Kansas City area where we are both full time teachers. I am an English teacher and a head boys’ tennis coach, and my wife is a PE teacher and head athletic trainer. Though our life can get crazy busy, we always take time to ‘adventure’ together in or around Kansas City. I’m passionate about education, helping my kids experience diverse people and places, camping, sports, and anything fitness related!”

Michelle B.

Michelle Brack

Michelle is a Millennial mom to her 7-month-old son, Maverick. Raised in the Northland, Michelle left Kansas City to attend Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Following graduation, Michelle landed her first job in the “real world” that brought her back to Kansas City and led her to meet her boyfriend, Shawn. It wasn’t long before life took an unexpected turn and Shawn & Michelle jumped, head first, into the crazy whirlwind that is parenting and home ownership. When Michelle isn’t juggling work and motherhood, she can be found jamming out to Dave Matthews Band, DIY-ing home projects and spending time with her family.

Pip C.

Pip Cross

Pip lives in Brookside with her 18-month-old son, Archer and husband, Daniel. She was born in New Zealand and lived in London, Paris and New York before discovering there is no place like home in Kansas City. On a daily basis, she revels in living in a house that’s bigger than a shoebox and having outside space that is bigger than a dining table. She has finally gotten over her big city hang up of not talking to strangers, and can now strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and wave at passing cars like a true midwesterner. Pip has a Masters in Sustainability and works part-time for a food company on ethical supply chains.

Rachel C.

Rachel Ciordas

Rachel was born the same year the word “foodie” was officially added to the English language, and boy, did that turn out to be appropriate. A reformed junk food junkie and couch potato, she successfully lost 100 pounds through healthy lifestyle changes, including cooking and eating fresh whole foods. Her cooking classes focus on delicious whole food recipes. She is the owner of the wellness business “This One Bite” and shares healthy recipes and kitchen adventures at ThisOneBite.com. Because that just left too much time on her hands (ha!), Rachel also operates a bakery business, Lucca Bakery, that can be found at farmers markets throughout the season. Rachel is a lifelong learner and has several degrees, certification from the Mayo Clinic and has studied cooking around the world including Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She loves to travel, and brings experiences from over 30 countries to her culinary creations. Luckily, she also has a tall, dark and handsome husband and a couple of adorable kids who never mind licking the bowl.

Rachel L.

Rachel Leimkuehler

Rachel Murphy Leimkuehler is a writer, editor and trivia host in the Kansas City area. She currently lives in the Northland with her husband, Aaron, and her two large, energetic dogs, Indiana Jones and Short Round. In late September, the Leimkuehlers will welcome a daughter into the family. Rachel is 36 and resents the terms “geriatric pregnancy” or “advanced maternal age.” Rachel has a passion for travel, great food, and beverages of all ilk. She’s excited to dive into the world of motherhood. She loves connecting with people through words and experiences and is always looking for something new to learn. She can’t wait to apply for a baby passport for her daughter and start showing her the world, one step and bite at a time. You can find her work at NorthlandLifestyle.com or in the Kansas City Star.

Shea S.

Shea Sayers

Shea lives in Olathe with her husband, Aaron, toddler son, Jona, and their spoiled mutt, Ellie. She’s a busy working mom who finds her balance in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes that her picky toddler won’t touch. At the end of a long day, you’ll either find her curled up on the couch with a good book, or busy writing posts for her life and style blog, Shea Lennon, where she hopes to inspire women to look good and live well on a budget. Whether she’s reading or blogging, she’ll likely be accompanied by a bowl of ice cream (the chocolatier, the better) or a glass of wine. And on a good night, both.

Stacey S.

Stacey Stark

Stacey is a Kansas City area native who currently resides in East KC with her husband, Tim, and their two adorable kiddos: a feisty 3-year-old girl, and a wild 1-year-old little boy. When she’s not having adult conversations at her part-time job as a non-profit bookkeeper, she can often be found doing something outdoors with her kids, exploring Kansas City, or reheating her cup of coffee for the second or third time. Stacey and her husband grew their family through local, open, domestic infant adoption (did you catch all that?), and she loves sharing about the process with other families! Books and coffee are her love language, and motherhood is both the hardest and most beautiful thing she has experienced.

Stephanie A.

Stephanie Avey

Stephanie lives in Shawnee and is a newbie to the KC area. After living in the state of Utah collectively for about 10 years, she decided she really missed the humidity of the Midwest and convinced her husband, Lance to move closer to her home state of Nebraska. A few months later, they added to their collection of redheaded children by welcoming their daughter, Allison (9 months), who has only one goal in life: get all of her big brother, Jack’s (3 1/2) toys. Although new to the area, Stephanie has already acquired a healthy supply of KC tees and tried several of the local craft brewery offerings. Her love of sports runs deep and though she bleeds Husker red, she has also fallen in love with the Boys in Blue. When she’s not working full time from home, or trying to convince her two kids to sleep, she enjoys running, knitting, reading, attempting to bake, and catching up on Bravo reality TV. Above all, she loves exploring this new city with her family and everything that it has to offer. You can follow her day-to-day snippets on Instagram (@stephavey) and her occasional ramblings at Run, Knit, Hitched.

Tessa S.

Tessa Shull

Tessa Shull is a lactation station, personal assistant to a threenager and lackluster wife who grew up and resides in the Royal heart of America. A working mom of two, she enjoys exploring the city, keeping up on social media trends, reading, trying new restaurants and drinking coffee – especially when it’s still hot. When she isn’t working or fumbling after her toddlers, you may find her writing, catching a Buzz event or visiting First Fridays. Check out her ramblings about life, Kansas City and motherhood on her blog, Homemade Experience.