Meet Our Contributors: Katie, Brittney, Taylor, and Sarah

Meet Katie Ripke

My name is Katie and I have spent most of my life in the Mount Vernon/Lisbon area. I attended college at the University of Northern Iowa where I majored in Public Relations. Following college, I thought I was a big-city girl and moved to the Chicago area where I figured out I was in fact NOT a big city girl. I moved back to the area in December 2006 and met my husband Bryan in 2008. Bryan is also from Mount Vernon, but our paths did not cross until we both ended up working for the same company in Cedar Rapids. We got married in 2011 and then almost exactly two years later in the summer of 2013, we welcomed our first son. 27 months after that in the fall of 2015, we welcomed our second son.

I am a full-time working mama work in the marketing field and have found a passion for health care marketing. Although I fear working in the health care field has turned me into a hypochondriac, I love that I get to help people learn about their health care options in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. I learn something new every day through my work and no two days are alike.

When I am not at work, I am most likely spending time with my boys – more and more of that time is spent outside as my two year old has inherited his father’s love of the outdoors. My husband and I love the Cedar Rapids area and are excited to take advantage of all the wonderful things available for young families. With two boys, I am quickly learning all things boy including the difference between a Jedi and a Sith, the names of all the Marvel Avengers characters and exactly how far a tiny male human can pee.

If I do get some time to myself, I enjoy Netflix, LaCroix sparkling water and catching up on my social media feeds (most of the time, all three of those things at once). However, my current favorite luxury is sleeping for more than a four hour stretch of time. I am excited to be a part of this community and can’t wait to meet and learn from moms in the area.

Meet CRMB Contributor Katie Ripke
Afton Marie Photography

Meet Brittney McNutt

Hey mamas! I’m Brittney and I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, IA. A little over 4 years ago, my sister was adamant about introducing me to a man who was younger than me and played football at the University of Iowa. First thought, no thank you.  Then, he hit me with his charm and genuine heart. Cue the sappy music. Really though, after we met it was pretty much love at first sight.  We were engaged in less than a year and shortly after our engagement, we moved to the Philadelphia area with our two daughters: Paris and Sophia. We spent a year in Philly, then came back to Iowa to get married, moved to North Carolina, and then welcomed our third child, a baby boy named Marz. A few months after Marz was born, we decided it was time to move back to Iowa to be closer to family.  We drove 17 hours from Charlotte, NC to Cedar Rapids, IA, a drive I vow never to do again as I can still hear the kids bickering, a screaming baby, and the constant pulling over to nurse. I’m happy to be back in Iowa (and out of the car). I’ve been so impressed with the growth and development in Cedar Rapids in the short time that we were out of state.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with our kids. Paris is 13, Sophia is 11, and Marz is 11 months old. There is a 17 year age difference between me and my youngest sister, and I swore I would never have big age gaps with my children. Ha! I wouldn’t change it for the world though. It’s amazing to watch the girls love on their little brother and Marz is so in love with his sisters.

I love to create magical experiences, memories, and traditions with our family. I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. I dream of having a huge Oprah Winfrey garden someday. Party planning, brunching, entertaining, date nights and holidays are my absolute jam. I’m also obsessed with the NewBo District. Recently, I’ve been interested in learning more about photography and have been getting lots of practice in by photographing my children. I am passionate about my faith, being a wife and mom, and striving to be my best self.

I’m excited to write for CRMB and make connections with other moms throughout the Cedar Rapids area!

Brittney family

Meet Taylor Schminke

Hello! I’m Taylor. I’m a first-time mom wondering at what point things return to normal—and slowly realizing they never do! I am wife to an amazing husband, Cody, and mama to sweet little Everly, born February 2016. I grew up in Story County and attended Iowa State University. I graduated with a degree in Animal Science and now work full-time as a key account manager in the livestock nutrition industry. My husband and I started dating in college while he was studying Ag Systems Technology, and we married after graduation. He now works as a field marketer.

We currently reside in rural Benton County. Cody grew up in the area and we are involved in the family operation. Our farmstead keeps us busy—we have sheep, pigs, corn, soybeans, and hay ground, as well as a seed dealership, a dog named Ace, and a cat named Aspen. We both grew up showing livestock and that has remained a big part of our lives. In our free time, we enjoy working with kids through livestock shows and youth programs. We keep involved in the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement, 4H, FFA, and various other show circuits. We’re excited to share that passion with Everly as she grows up, and hope she shares the same love for the industry that we have!

Aside from the livestock shows, sheep, hogs, and fields, I have a few other activities to fill what little free time I have left to help keep my sanity. My faith, family, and friends are very important to me. I love renovating our farmstead, DIY projects (Cody’s favorite—ha!), traveling, gardening, cooking (although my chef brother probably has me beat), the mama staples of coffee and wine, and anything dark chocolate or salted caramel.

I have also always loved writing, never mind my use of run-on sentences and too many parentheses. This passion became clearer after I became a first time mom. While up all night, I found myself writing in a notebook. It helped me to not only record the memories, but step back and take everything in, to really look at the little moments as they happened. In writing these stories, and reading others (hello, mommy bloggers… thank you for helping me through planning, pregnancy, and even now!) I found that I am not alone. Becoming a mom is unlike anything I have ever done before, and nothing like I expected. It’s one of the hardest jobs I have ever had, yet my favorite.  I’m excited to join you as we navigate through mommyhood together. I hope to bring you a helpful checklist, a new viewpoint, a mindset of grace, and perhaps some light and laughter along the way—whether from when I was a mama-to-be or now as a new mom!

Meet CRMB Contributor Taylor Schminke
Afton Marie Photography

Meet Sarah Mollman

Hi! I am Sarah, mother of two and teacher to many. I grew up in Marion where I met my husband in 5th grade. We didn’t start dating until he called me (on something called a land-line) out of the blue our Senior year of high school. Our first date consisted of conversation between sips of hot chocolate at a local coffee shop. The conversation never ended, only the content. We now find ourselves talking more about how to child proof the cabinets and the silly, new catch phrase spewing from the mouth of one of our babes.

I graduated from The University of Northern Iowa in 2008. While there I was a writer for The Northern Iowan newspaper and a member of Best Buddies. Some of my fondest memories there were running a half-marathon, receiving writing awards from the English Department, and kissing my now-husband under the Campanile at midnight.

After graduation I spent some time substitute teaching and tutoring in the area. I had my son, Jameson, in 2010. I then became a freelance writer, so I could spend time at home, navigating the new waters of parenting. During this stage of my life, I spent most nights rocking my non-sleeper back to bed and writing how-to articles on any topic under the moon.

I began my teaching career at Excelsior Middle School in the Linn-Mar District and have spent the last four years teaching English at Linn-Mar High School, where I once attended. My current classroom even houses a ceiling tile that my classmates and I signed on the last day of our Senior year. I absolutely love my job and aim to teach each day with the passion as if it were my first, or even my last.

I had my daughter, Samantha Jo, in 2014 after spending a month-and-a half on modified bed rest. I feel so lucky to have these two sweet ones. At the end of each day, my energy is drained, but my soul rejoices with the love my family has given me. The perfect ending to my day is simply hanging out with my husband and children on the living room floor. Watching them all giggle and play is all I need. When the kids are tucked in and I am left with that rare “me time”, I pick up a book that requires no annotations, or settle into some relaxing yoga poses.

Meet CRMB Contributor Sarah Mollman

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