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Tales of Transformation: Going Native

Moving day came and went. The hired movers were seamless, the contractor finished on time. We were ticking off boxes, getting things done. We both found common ground on some of the design challenges. We were both commonly broke.

Our plan for the garden areas and lawn were to wait a year to see what grows. Let nature do its thing, and we can then evaluate, germinate, propagate and other gardening terms that end in “ate” next Spring.

We came to the ‘burbs without a rake, a hose or a pair of pruners – nothing. Some of my city apartments had a deck or a back door for a few pots. In the summer, I’d have a red geranium as a nod to my grandfather who planted them in two pots at the front of the house back in Arlington, Mass. That, and catching up on the entire 5th season of Showtime’s "Weeds" while visiting my parents in Florida for a few days in February, was the extent of my green thumb.

Photos and design by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.We decided to hold off buying yard/garden tools for a bit so we could tackle some other items on or to-do list. We hired a high school kid with a John Deere and a rake to cut the grass and pull weeds on Mondays, while we focused on unpacking, setting up and getting back to work.

Spring had sprung and we were beginning to see nice purple tulips popping up along side some yellow daylilies. The yard was beginning to take shape. It was tidy and inoffensive. Even the birds found shelter by building nests and laying their eggs in the trees close to the house. They too could look past the tacky industrial grade front door and settle in.

April showers may bring on May flowers, it also brings on May and June weeds. While my husband and I were inside drawing up to-do lists and giving congratulatory high-fives for painting our toddlers bedroom, the outside had a mind of its own. We had our own "Little Shop of Horrors" on all four sides of the house. Feed me! It was becoming clear that the weeds were boss and taking over. It was time to refocus our to-do list, put the paint bushes down and pick up a 1.33 gallon of Roundup Pump N Go (with up to 5 minutes continuous spray.)

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Weeknight Dinners: Green Pepper Chicken Chili

Our latest "Weeknight Dinner" is a crockpot recipe for Green Pepper Chicken Chili from GWYM reader Jamie Saam. Thanks, Jamie! If you have a recipe you'd like to share, please email it to editor@gowestyoungmom.com.

Green Pepper Chicken Chili


3 Chicken Breasts, halved

2 large green bell peppers

1 seven ounce can green chilies

1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or cilantro depending on your tastes)

1 tablespoon dried onion or 1 large fresh onion, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sour cream


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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.