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She'sWrite: Reveling in my Land of Nod

Greetings and salutations from my own little Land of Nod. I arrived here on Jan. 4 and it’s the best place I’ve been in about five years. I believe you would refer to this dreamy locale as “maternity leave.”

Photo by Eric Lynn Photography.I’m one of the lucky few Americans who has a job waiting for her after taking a maternity leave that’s longer than the 12 weeks granted under the Family Medical Leave Act. I recognize and am soaking up this blessing (and it’s so sad that my situation isn’t more common, but I digress…)

When Logan was born, I took off seven months, and it was needed. He was colicky, I had breastfeeding woes the first three months and despite all of my reading to try to prepare myself, I felt completely inadequate and lost.

This time, it’s been loads easier because Ethan is an easy-going kid and I’ve got second-time-around-mommy-know-how. Plus Logan is still going to daycare, so many days it’s just me and my smiley infant. And it’s perfect.

I spend my days chatting it up with the little guy (he’s a great listener,) lying on the floor watching him play and listening to him coo. When he first grabbed a toy, or rolled over or sat on the floor without tipping over, I whooped it up so much you would have thought Publisher’s Clearinghouse knocked on the door.

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Festivals, Fairs and Fried Food: The Go West 'Go Guide' to Summer Fun Around the State

We've already had "A Taste of Wheaton" and the "Pride on the Fox RiverFest" this month. But if you like fairs and festivals like I do, there are plenty more to look forward to this summer. In addition to festivals in the western suburbs, I've included on the below list a few notable fairs that are within a 2- to 3-hour drive. 

Please let me know if I've missed a fair or festival you think I should include. I'll be glad to do an update! 

Photo by topshampatti on Flickr.PrairieFest


  • Where: Throughout Oswego, with the main festival grounds at PrairieFest Park at 91 Plank Road
  • When: June 16 through June 19
  • Why: This will be the 23rd year for PrairieFest, which is put on by the Oswegoland Park District. It features children's performers, petting zoos, pony rides, camel rides, free children's activities and an Expo Village in which businesses and crafters promote their services and sell their wares.
  • Cost: Free admission.  

Swedish Days 

  • Where: Downtown Geneva
  • When: June 21 through June 26
  • Why: This is a great all-around festival, marking the longest days of the year and the city's Swedish heritage. It features a carnival, music, food, craft show, children's games and a parade on the final day that's particularly good. Friday, June 24, is "Kids' Day," featuring a Kids' Day Parade, a teddy bear clinic and entertainment that will appeal to children.
  • Cost: Free admission. 

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Five Great ... Movie Dads

Father’s Day is on Sunday, and in honor of the holiday, we thought the “Five Great … “ list could take a look at five great cinematic fathers. Is your favorite on the list? If not, make sure to tell us about it in the comment section!

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird."* Atticus Finch, the upstanding attorney played by Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the 1962 adaption of Harper Lee’s classic.

* George Banks the “Father of the Bride.” You can choose between the dad played by Steve Martin in the 1991 version (Kimberly Williams was the sneaker-wearing bride) or Spencer Tracy in the 1950 version with a radiant Elizabeth Taylor as his daughter.

* Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, as played by Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire” from 1993. Come on … he put on a bodysuit with fake boobs just so he could spend time with his kids!

* Chris Gardner, the homeless father played by Will Smith in 2006’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

* Marlin, the fish who braves the dangers of the deep to find his missing son, Nemo. Marlin was voiced by Albert Brooks in this 2003 Pixar film "Finding Nemo." 

Did you miss our list of "Five Great ... Movies About Moms" in honor of Mother's Day? You can find it here.


Weekend Spotlight: Pride of the Fox RiverFest

If you like festivals, then summer is the season for you. I’ll be publishing a guide to area festivals and fairs soon, but in the meantime the Weekend Spotlight falls on one of my favorite events: The Pride of the Fox RiverFest, which this year is celebrating its 29th year of fun.

Photo by Fox Valley Voice on Flickr.Pride of the Fox gets underway today in St. Charles and runs through Sunday. Admission is free; it takes place in seven areas downtown, plus Pottawatomie Park. Shuttle buses are available Saturday and Sunday during the daytime.

You can find a full schedule of events here.

The festival features two entertainment stages, dragon boat races, a carnival, a water ski show, a craft show, a car show, “canine capers entertainment” and car racing. Lincoln Park will be home to children’s activities all day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. featuring a “teddy bear clinic,” a “Picasso tent,” balloon twisting, petting zoo, pony rides, a climbing wall, face painting and a bookmobile.

And don’t miss the 40-foot sand sculpture being constructed in a parking lot near the Municipal Center. I’ve seen it every year since we moved to the area, and it truly is jaw-dropping.

But there are plenty of other fun events going on this weekend other than Pride of the Fox RiverFest. Check the Go West calendar to see them all, and whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a fun and relaxing time with your family.


Dive Right In: Swimming Lessons in the Far Western 'Burbs

Our recent stretch of steamy weather has me thinking about swimming pools. A lot. Plus, several Go West readers have written to ask about swim class options for kids, especially the youngest kids, in the far western ‘burbs.

Photo from iStockphoto.com.So here’s a listing of various park districts and private organizations that offer lessons. Because of the sheer amount of options, this guide is very basic, so please click the links to get more information. And as always, if you know of a group that should be listed here, please let me know.

Note: All swimming pools are outdoors unless specifically noted. Also, while many of these programs’ swim classes for June are full or nearly so, look at their schedules for July and early August for many more openings. (The water is usually warmer then anyway, and that’s always nice if your kid is a novice swimmer.)

* The St. Charles Park District offers swimming lessons at Swanson Pool in Pottawatomie Park and the new Otter Cove Aquatic Park in various sessions throughout the summer. At both pools, lessons are offered for babies as young as six months. Private swim lessons are also available.

* The Geneva Park District offers swimming lessons at Sunset Pool for children as young as 18 months. Sessions are held throughout the summer.

* The Batavia Park District holds its swimming lessons at Hall Quarry Beach starting June 20, with the last session beginning Aug. 1. Classes are offered for babies as young as six months. Unlike many programs that are focused in the mornings, some of Batavia’s classes are offered as late as 5:30 p.m. Taking home sand from the beach with you is a free bonus!

* The Oswegoland Park District offers swim lessons at the Civic Center Aquatic Park in Montgomery for children as young as 3 years old.

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