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Entries in guest columnist (115)


Mom to Mom: Go and Enjoy the Show!

We're so lucky here in Chicago's far western suburbs to have many options for children's theater. I try to include them all on the Go West Calendar, and I'm always happy to partner with theaters who want to give away tickets to readers. Today, guest contributor Tamara Hickman writes about why she likes taking her daughter to theatrical performances. 

A year ago, I took my oldest daughter to her first musical. She had just turned 3, and when I think about her experience, it warms my heart. 

I had taken her to see "Sleeping Beauty" performed by the Children’s Theatre of Elgin. It was my first experience as well in a children's theater and we had a spectacular time! The singing, dancing, costumes and the humor were incredible.  

But the best part was watching my little girl sit at the edge of her seat in her beautiful dress, with perfect posture, eyes wide open and the biggest smile on her face! She was clapping as hard as she could, and she kept asking me when they were going to start singing again. This really brought tears to my eyes knowing that she's having this theatrical experience and most especially because we were there together. Oh and did I mention sitting at the edge of her seat because if she didn’t the seat would flip up on her? Too cute!

The Children's Theatre of Elgin will be performing 'Seussical Jr.' on April 12-14 at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. (Photo courtesy of CTE.)

Since then we've been to see shows at the Steel Beam Theatre and the Marquee Youth Stage, both in Saint Charles. I'm looking forward to going back to the Children’s Theatre of Elgin this weekend to see "Seussical Junior" at the Hemmens Cultural Center in downtown Elgin. I’d have to say by far this place has overall been the best experience. I will still return to the other theaters and maybe try some others as well.

I think a lot of people don’t realize that these theatrical performances for children are out there, and they don't cost a lot of money. Depending on the places mentioned, tickets range between $7 and $15. So go and enjoy the show!

Tamara Hickman and her husband live in St. Charles with their two girls. The girls keep mommy busy with arts and crafts and daddy busy playing tag. The family loves to "park hop," checking out parks in neighboring communities. 

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She'sWrite: Talking About Race With My Biracial 5 Year Old

I'm always grateful to today's guest columnist She'sWrite for letting me publish her posts here on Go West. But I'm particularly happy to be able to share this one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

It’s interesting being a parent of biracial children in that like with most things with motherhood, I’m fumbling around in the dark.

Photo by Scott Ableman on Flickr.Digging through my 5-year-old son's backpack, I ran across a worksheet on Martin Luther King, Jr.  Curious, I asked him what he learned about King in school.

He told me that white people used to not let brown people do things and King made a lot of white people mad because he was helping the brown people.

Hmmm. Well, kinda.

Since my husband is a blond-haired blue-eyed Norwegian and I am a black girl from Kansas, I’m always curious as to how our biracial kids perceive themselves when it comes to race. So the conversation began on this day as it has many times before:

“Do you know any brown people?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes and pointed at the chocolate side of my hand. “You.”

“Do you know any white people?”

He smiled: “Daddy!”

“Right.” And then I waited. I waited because usually at this point in the conversation, he gives me a glimpse into his curious little mind.

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Holiday Baking: Cranberry Orange Cookies

We'll be bringing you recipes for holiday-inspired treats over the next few weeks. If you have one you'd like to share, please send it to editor@gowestyoungmom.com. Today's recipe comes from Ann Marie of White House Black Shutters. She lives in the far western suburbs with her three young children, but no matter where you live, you'll enjoy her posts on a DIY life, thrifting and food.

I feel like I’ll be doing the world (and you) an injustice if I don’t let you know how ridiculously tasty these Cranberry Orange cookies are. I might even go as far to say that these are now my favorite cookies ever. 


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped cranberries (I used a whole bag which is 3 cups)

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Great Thanksgiving Books for Children

The following was written by former teacher Jennifer Bloomingdale and first appeared on SaratogaMama.com, an online resource for families in Saratoga County, New York (just outside Albany). If you have friends or family around upstate New York, please let them know about SaratogaMama

Here's a round of picture books for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. While they all are focused around Thanksgiving, they each approach it differently. You’ll find poetry, non-fiction, fiction and a silly one about a little boy’s rules for having a great Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy some of these titles with your family. If you have any Thanksgiving books that are part of your family tradition, please share with us!

Thanks for Thanksgiving, By Julie Markes

This book goes through many of the things kids could be thankful for. While there isn’t a lot of text, the illustrations are very engaging. A great book to get everyone thinking about what they are thankful for this year!

The Very First Thanksgiving Day, By Rhonda Gowler Greene

A rhyming story that introduces kids to Plymouth, the Pilgrims, the Mayflower and Native Americans. There is some repetition as the story builds through the different events leading to the first Thanksgiving. A simple story that can introduce the history of Thanksgiving to young children.

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Organizing the Green Years: Adopting a Family Planning Meeting

I'm very excited to welcome a new guest contributor to Go West. Jenny Totman will be writing regularly about how to help your family live a more organized life. Totman is a teacher and librarian by training. Her business Green Years Organizing helps children and teens learn how to organize their stuff, space and time. Know of a topic you'd like Jenny to address in a future column? Write it in the comments section or send it to editor@gowestyoungmom. 

Fall schedules are in full swing and the holidays are right around the corner. You might feel like your family is pulled in 10 different directions, and you rarely have time to eat dinner together, let alone coordinate schedules. Don’t fret! You can reconnect with your family and reduce stress by taking some time out of your week to plan. A little bit of planning goes a long way. 

Photo by Mike Rohde on Flickr.Adopting a weekly family planning meeting has many benefits for all involved and teaches important lifelong skills to your children. Still, you might be wondering how to convince your loved ones to participate in such a mundane task. It’s all in the preparation, presentation and the sell – everyone loves a party! Family meetings tend to be heavy and tense, so set the tone beforehand for a lighthearted exchange with positive vibes, yummy snacks and possibly some cocktails for you and your spouse. My children are young enough that popcorn and lollipops do the trick, but you probably know what will convince your family to join in the fun.

You Are Invited!

Who: Everyone in the family and anyone else who may play a large role in your daily activities like a grandparent or nanny.

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