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Thursday
Jun022011

A Go West Giveaway: Tickets to 'Dot & Ziggy' at Chicago Children's Theatre

Updated on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 10:26AM by Registered CommenterTara Burghart

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I traveled into Chicago to see a new show called “Dot & Ziggy” performed by the Chicago Children’s Theatre. We had a great time, and now I have not only two tickets to give away to a lucky Go West reader, but also a discount code good for $2 off tickets for those of you who don’t win the giveaway.

Ziggy is a skunk. Dot is a ladybug. Eventually they learn to share and compromise. Photo courtesy of Chicago Children's Theatre.But first let me tell you about “Dot & Ziggy,” a play about a skunk and a ladybug who are neighbors but not yet friends. It was especially created by the acclaimed Seattle Children’s Theatre for babies and toddlers.

This production by the Chicago Children’s Theatre is being performed through June 26 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Theater.

In case you think theater for tiny ones is a bit – umm, indulgent – theater for the very young has been popular in Europe and Australia for more than two decades.  Arts programs for young children have been shown to have all sorts of benefits, including encouraging children’s innate sense of discovery, developing socialization skills, increasing awareness to movement and sound and much more.

Plus, seeing "Dot & Ziggy" with my 2 1/2-year-old daughter made for a really memorable outing for us. Yes, driving into Chicago's Lincolnl Park from Geneva was a committment -- and finding parking a bit of a headache -- but it was definitely a highlight of the last few months.

Before we went to "Dot & Ziggy," I hadn’t taken Johanna to see any plays or musicals for children yet, even though I'm a huge theater lover. I wasn’t sure how she’d do in a traditional theater seat – would she even be able to see the stage? -- and whether she’d stay put and quiet for a 90-minute show.  

But “Dot & Ziggy” was just perfect for her. It’s only 35 minutes long, and it’s performed in a big rectangular room with windows on one entire wall. There are four colored blocks of carpet on the floor, and you sit with your child on the floor in any block you choose. The actors playing “Dot” and “Ziggy” perform in areas between the carpet squares; you can rotate as needed to see the action.

There are puppets, props, songs and some interactive elements, too.  As I watched my daughter clap and laugh and smile, I thought that she was just the right age for “Dot & Ziggy.” And then I look across the room to another carpet, where an adorable red-haired girl who couldn’t even walk yet was sitting with her mom, eyes as big as saucers and a smile on her face.

The official age recommendation for “Dot & Ziggy” is babies as young as six months up to 4 year olds, and that seems just about right to me. The show is being performed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.; on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and noon through June 26. Tickets are $16 each on weekdays and $18 each on weekends.

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Wednesday
Jun012011

Preview of the Geneva Green Market

Farmers markets are back! Tomorrow we’ll bring you the updated Go West Guide to Farmers Markets, which features a market nearly every day of the week in the far western suburbs. The guide will also list nearby farm dinners, farm stands and a few pick-your-own places. 

But first, we have a Q&A with Izabella Kowalski, a farmer who is heavily involved with one of our favorite farmers markets – the Geneva Green Market.  The Geneva Green Market’s 5th season will get underway tomorrow, Thursday, June 2, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The market is held in downtown Geneva at 75 N. River Lane, in a parking lot on the west side of the Fox River and just a block north of Route 38/State Street. It will run every Thursday morning through October.

Kowalski was kind enough to answer a few questions via email, especially helpful for those who haven’t visited the Geneva Green Market before.

Q. Can you tell Go West readers what makes the Geneva Green Market unique from many other farmers markets?

A. We visit all the farmers and producers.

We have more requirements then other markets. This includes no reselling; the farm/product must be grown/produced under 200 mile radius from Geneva; and farmers are required to provide a sustainability statement. ... We do not allow chocolate or tropical fruits.

We strive to be as green as possible and educate our customers.

We feature Kids Corner, which is a partnership with Delnor Hospital and Fit For Kane, that offers assorted activities for children of all ages related to food and agriculture, encouraging children to sample fruits and veggies, try to grow some of their own, etc.

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Wednesday
Jun012011

June's Early Literacy Activities Calendar

Here's the Early Literacy Activities Calendar for June, courtesy of one of our favorite libraries, the West Chicago Public Library. We re really enjoying this monthly calendar in our house; I hope those of you with young children are, too!

Photo by catd_mitchell on Flickr.June 1: Read a Mother Goose rhyme together.

June 2: Run your finger along the print as you read a favorite book.

June 3: Sing a song together.

June 4: Throw a large sheet over the kitchen table and read a book underneath.

June 5: Pitch a tent or stack some pillows on a blanket and read outside.

June 6: Count the houses on your block.

June 7: Sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider song, making the spider with your fingers.

June 8: Make a grocery list together.

June 9: Write the first letter of your child s name, talk about the sound that letter makes.

June 10: Sing the Alphabet Song together.

June 11: Take a nature walk together looking for bugs.

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Tuesday
May312011

The June 'Go Guide' to Outdoor Pools and Splash Parks

Ready or not -- swimsuit season is upon us! Here at Go West Young Mom, we're gearing up the “Go Guides” again for this summer, and first up is our guide to pools and splash parks in the Fox Valley. If you know of a pool or splash park in the far western suburbs that's open to the public but not on this list, please share. We'd also love to hear your personal take on any of the pools and splash parks below.

OUTDOOR SWIMMING POOLS

The toddler pool at Otter Cove Aquatic Park is enclosed by a gate. Photo by Tara Burghart.Otter Cove Aquatic Park, part of the St. Charles Park District
Address: Located in James O Breen Community Park, at the corner of Campton Hills and Peck roads in St. Charles
Hours: From June 4 through Aug. 14, open swim is weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. On Saturdays, open swim is from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents and pool pass holders can swim earlier; check the site for details. Shorter hours are in effect from May 28-June 3 and Aug. 15-Sept. 4.
Closing date: Sept. 4.
Amenities: A zero-depth entry activity pool; 25-yard swimming pool; body slide; tube slide; two diving boards, lap lanes; some sprayground-like features; gated toddler pool; lazy river; concession area; family restrooms and a children’s sand play area.
Admission Rates: For non-residents, $12 for children ages 15 and under, $13.50 for adults. (Check the site for resident rates.) Twilight rate is $5 for all ages, whether you're a resident or not. It's from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyday but Sunday, when the twilight swim is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Go West’s Take: This 9-acre facility has been in the planning stages and then under construction for several years, so I'm sure St. Charles residents will be especially eager to see the results. I got a sneak peek of the pool in May before it opened and was impressed. You can read that story by clicking here. If you've visited the park already, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Swanson Pool at Pottawatomie Park, part of the St. Charles Park District
Address: 8 North Ave., St. Charles
Hours: Note that the newly renovated Swanson Pool will reopen for the season on June 4. Open swim through Aug. 14 is weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:3 p.m. On Saturdays, open swim is from noon to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. Residents and pool pass holders can swim earlier; check the site for details. Shorter hours begin Aug. 14.
Closing date: Sept. 5.
Amenities: A zero-depth entry activity pool; 50-meter pool; two waterslides; drop slide; a diving board, lap lanes; some sprayground-like features; concession area; family restrooms and a children’s sand play area.
Admission Rates: For non-residents, $7.50 for children ages 15 and under, $9 for adults. (Check the site for resident rates.) Twilight rate is $3 for all ages, whether you're a resident or not.
Go West’s Take: My daughter and I enjoyed a beautiful twilight swim here  last July. Swanson Pool is more than 70 years old, and has a true sense of history in lovely Pottawatomie Park. I'm eager to see the renovations done while it was closed in 2010-2011. But even last year, it struck me as a very nice, general-use pool the whole family would enjoy.

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Monday
May302011

She'sWrite: Semper Fi -- A Marine's Run

We usually run the guest columns of She'sWrite on Wednesday mornings. But as you'll discover, this column just had to be published on Memorial Day.

Looking to change up my exercise routine, I ran a race Sunday that honored those in the military. The real honor came at the end when I cheered for Yuyri Zmysly, a man who doctors said could forever be in a vegetative state.

Photo courtesy of Salute, Inc.It was Salute Inc.’s “got freedom?” run. My crazy-runner friend texted me on Friday to see if I was running it. I smirked, running it, ha! I hadn’t even heard of it. At 5:30 race morning, I decided to give it a go.

I left the boys at home and headed out. At the starting line, I stood there, feeling pretty proud of myself for leaving the boys to go run a 5K on a whim. (There was a 10K option, which naturally I didn’t do.) Then the starting gun went off. And we were off.

The weather was cool and it was strangely foggy. I felt good the whole race and there was a quaint sense of community as several event volunteers were local high school kids or Girl and Boy Scout troops. Also, many people stood in their front lawns with their pajamas and morning coffee cheering us on. One woman even turned on her garden hose to mist us.

Soon the race was over. Me and my crazy-runner friend (who ran the 10K) were gabbing over bananas, when we noticed the crowd at the post-race party grew quiet and walked over to line the last few blocks of the course.

We followed suit and heard shouts of: “Here he comes!” “There he is!” Standing on my tippy toes, I saw him. He was in a wheelchair, his body was thin, his fingers were slender and gripped the air. Wow. I wonder what happened.

He had a mini-entourage around his wheelchair. Well before the finish line, they all stopped and a burly man stood in front of the chair. The man helped Yuriy to his feet, held out his arms for support as Yuriy took a step. We all held our breath.

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