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Five Great ... Ways to Improve Public Pools

Last week, we brought you the Go West “Pooley Awards,” celebrating what’s great about the public pools, beaches, splash parks and spraygrounds (mostly owned and operated by park districts) in the far western ‘burbs.  This week, we want to suggest five changes that could be made to make them even better.

Naperville's Centennial Beach, pictured here, has nights for families with special needs. More pools should do the same. Photo by wuperruper on Flickr.Bring Your Own: Most of the aquatic parks don’t allow you to bring your own food and drink inside. That means if you’re at the pool over lunch or dinnertime, you’re going to have to pay $3 or $4 a sandwich for concession food that’s not healthy and usually not too stellar in quality, either. With sides and drinks, a concession bill for a family can quickly top $25. Aquatic parks should let visitors bring in their own coolers with food to eat in the concession area. The kids will still likely end up buying popsicles or ice cream. But I’m all for vigilantly enforcing the “no eating by the pool” rule.

All in the Family: A few of the newer aquatic parks have family restrooms, but they’re not that common overall. I know it’s a space issue, but family restrooms are a godsend when you have a adventurous toddler who likes to climb out from underneath the stall or changing room curtain while mom is getting dressed. I’m sure they’re appreciated by larger families, too, when one mom is trying to keep track of a group of young kids. And of course they’re useful for dads taking their daughters to the restrooms.

More Hooks!: Please add some more hooks and shelves to the bathhouses. The floors are always sandy and wet – and while you might be lucky enough to find space on a bench on which to to balance your beach towel and bag, it usually ends up falling to the messy floor. Ick.

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The Ice Cream Diaries: The Dairy Hut on Main in Oswego

You know the old saying. If you can’t stand the heat, you might as well just eat ice cream. So it’s a perfect day to welcome back one our personal favorite features from last summer, “The Ice Cream Diaries.”

Photo by Tara Burghart.Name: The Dairy Hut on Main

Address:  121 South Main Street in Oswego

Hours: Summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Note that those hours become more limited once summer is over and it closes entirely in the winter. To make sure you’re not making a trip that might end in disappointment, call 630-554-6800.

Good For: Anyone who likes ice cream – or a slice of Americana.

The Experience: The Dairy Hut in Oswego is located on Main Street, and that’s perfect, because it seems as American as apple pie – even if that’s a weird comparison to make for an ice cream shop.

Once known as the “Dari-Boat,” this tiny ice cream joint has been around since the 1960s. While you place your order and pick it up inside, the seating is all outdoors, much of it under an awning that provides good shade.

The Dairy Hut services soft ice cream – vanilla, chocolate or twist – and it’s one of the least expensive spots I’ve visited recently. A small cone is $1.65. A “kiddie” cone is just 50 cents. If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can order sundaes, shakes floats, smoothies and “tornadoes” (like a DQ blizzard). If you bring your pup along, you can order a "Doggie Dish" for him.

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Weekend Spotlight: Beat the Heat With Some Indoor Activities

This sauna-like weather we’re having is supposed to continue through Sunday, so here are a few family-friendly activities happening this weekend inside. Out of the sun. In an air-conditioned room.

Photo by Artful Magpie on Flickr.Saturday Stories: Nearly every Saturday morning, the Oswego Public Library offers a free, drop-in storytime for children ages 2-6. The 10 a.m. storytime is offered at both the Oswego and Montgomery branches.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow: The Elgin Summer Theatre is performing the classic musical “Annie” at the Hemmens Cultural Center on Friday and Saturday night and Sunday evening. This one is a hot ticket, so if you’re interested, call the box office today.

Geodes and Gems: The Elgin Public Museum is having a free drop-in event on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. focusing on geodes and gems. Your kids might even get a chance to crack open a geode to see the wondrous quartz formations inside.

Oompa Loompa: Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles is performing “Willy Wonka Jr.” on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon. It’s an adaption of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and features songs from the film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

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A Go West Mom You Should Know: DiDi Foley

Diana Foley has a lot on her plate.

She is the Aurora/Copley Campus Manager for Waubonsee Community College. She recently completed work on her master’s degree. And she also works part-time as as DJ at radio station WTMX (101.9 FM). Did I mention she has two young children? Foley and her husband Sean are parents to Duncan, who is nearly 6, and Roxanne, who is 18 months old. Sean is the director of human resources for a security company in Chicago.

Photo by Waubonsee Community College.Nearly everyone calls Foley, 35, by her awesome nickname “DiDi.” She grew up in Naperville but graduated from high school a year early because she was so desperate to get out on her own. Now she and her husband are back raising their children in Naperville – proof that you really can go home again.

Read on to find out why we think DiDi Foley is a Go West Mom You Should Know.

Q. I hear you jut finished your master’s degree. Congratulations! How on earth did you manage to get an advanced degree while working two jobs and having two children? Any advice to share with other moms trying to keep many balls in the air?

A. I just completed my Masters in Leadership Studies from North Central College.  I look back and don't know how I did it, but I know that I could not have done it without the support of my husband, children and my mom and stepdad. They were all instrumental in the logistics and the support.  My co-workers and supervisor at Waubonsee also gave me a lot of encouragement.  I took one class a quarter (minus two due to bed-rest and the birth of my daughter) and it took three years to compete the program. While I was unable to always give 100% to everything (something has to give, right??) I just kept plowing through. I knew it was all temporary and the education that I was getting will be an asset during my life and also to my children's.

I am not sure how to relax. I need to practice! I enjoy being busy and am always moving.  I think the busier that I am, the better I function. I don't think I can pass any specific advice on to someone with out knowing her situation. What works for me might not work for her. However, you must believe in yourself that you will accomplish your goals. Just stay focused and persevere!

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She'sWrite: Making the Most of my Mobile Home

Who knew that with motherhood, I’d also be gaining a mobile home? It’s got a dining area, a great place for the kids to play, nap and nurse, and there’s office space for Hubby and me.

Enjoying breakfast in the Jeep. Bacon, blackberries and blueberries. Yum!My mobile home is my SUV. I’ve served breakfast, lunch and dinner in my Jeep Commander, changed the poopiest of diapers, napped alongside my children, blinded high school boys in the Kohl’s parking lot with my boobs while breastfeeding in the backseat.

I’ve edited stories, had conference calls, written blog posts, filled out birthday party invitations. The list (obviously) goes on and on.

My husband marvels at all that’s in the car. I’ve got diapers stashed everywhere, along with juice boxes, bottled waters, changes of clothes, a quart of motor oil,

Goldfish, a stroller, blankets, toy cars, trucks, binkies, “emergency” lollipops. (The “emergency” usually being I need Logan to not speak while I’m in the middle of an important phone call.) The most unique item is a small doohickey (the technical term) that if your car was submerged in water, it effortlessly breaks the glass so that you can escape.

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