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Entries in vacations (4)


She'sWrite: OK, I Gained HOW Much Weight?!?!

I’ve got a bad hangover. A cruise hangover. It’s not a headache situation, but more of a belly situation that’s hanging over my jeans. I gained a bunch of weight while on my recent vacation, a five-day cruise.

It’s impressive really when you think about it. In five days, FIVE I gained…. (drumroll) 9 pounds. That’s more than my children weighed when they were born. I started off the cruise trying to be good, but that lasted about 45 minutes because of the all-eat-til-you-drop options. Just trying to navigate through the different parts of the ship you had smells of fried chicken, pizza, French fries, jerked chicken,  barbecue, oh it was endless.

And so was my gorging. Not to mention the alcohol consumption. I am proud ashamed to say that I’ve perfected the art of maintaining a nice wine buzz throughout the day and into the night without acting like an idiot or waking up with a headache. There is something kinda cool about being able to perpetually walk around with a glass of wine in your hand at any time of day and no eyebrows are raised.

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Five Great ... Warm Weather Destinations

One of the great things about living in the Midwest is that we get to experience four seasons. I even like winter, mostly because I love sweaters and also because it makes me appreciate the other three seasons more.

Near Cancun. Photo by perisho on Flickr.But enough with this rainy, cold spring we’re having! On Friday, I felt absolutely chilled to the bone -- and I was inside my house! That started me dreaming about places I’ve vacationed where the temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees. I hope you’ll share some of your favorite warm weather destinations, too. The images will give us strength!

* Hawaii: It wasn’t a “babymoon,” but this was my husband and my last big vacation before we became parents. Absolutely paradise. And we only saw Oahu, the most developed of the islands (home to Honolulu). Next time, I’d love to stay on Maui or one of the other islands. Just a warning: I probably won't come home. 

* San Diego: Whenever we have a sunny, lovely 70-degree day, I think, “This is what it’s like nearly everyday in San Diego.” I wonder if that would get boring? Nah.

* Hilton Head, South Carolina: Liked it so much we kind of considered moving there – until we realized we had no idea how we’d support ourselves. I’d probably be quite a golfer by now if we had relocated, though!

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A Go West Getaway to St. Louis, Missouri

So, why would someone who lives in the Chicago area want to visit St. Louis? St. Louis has professional baseball, hockey and football teams, an exciting children’s museum, an amazing botanic garden, a world-class zoo and tons of delicious Italian restaurants -- but Chicago possess all those things, too.

The Arch and the Old Courthouse. Photo by Frank Peters on Flickr.Of course, I could point out that St. Louis’ baseball team actually has winning seasons most of the time, but ... Hey! That’s just a good-natured joke from a Cardinals fan.

St. Louis is definitely worth a visit, however, for any family looking for an easy getaway, located about a five-hour drive from the Fox Valley. Many of the attractions are inexpensive, and while public transit is very limited, with a car you can get from downtown to its near suburbs in less than 20 minutes outside of rush hour.


St. Louis is located on the Mississippi River just south of where it meets up with the Missouri River. It was founded by French traders in 1764, about 70-some years before the city of Chicago was incorporated. Its position as the “Gateway to the West” lends it a different sort of history than the brawny, blue-collar tales of Chicago.

Its most famous feature, of course, is the Gateway Arch, which is located in downtown in a park called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, part of the National Park Service. In addition to the arch, this area includes paved paths overlooking the river and a building called the “Old Courthouse,” where slave Dred Scott unsuccessfully sued for his freedom. 

Once you see the Arch, you’ll likely want to board a tram for a trip top of this 630-foot stainless steel monument during your stay. But so does everyone else visiting St. Louis, so this one requires some advanced planning.

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Traveling with Triplets: Not Glamorous, But It’s Getting Better 

Many of us will be traveling over the coming weeks, as we look to spend some time during the holidays with our extended families. Guest columnist and Geneva resident Edith Tarter, a mom to 7-year-old triplets, reflects on how her travels have changed over the years – from “glorious” trips to Europe to mixing formula at roadside rest areas.

I confess … I have not always loved traveling with the children. Whew – that’s off my chest now!

The author's triplets, at the age of 3, during a roadtrip to Mississippi.Before kids ("BK," as so many of us call those childless years), my husband and I traveled the world. We journeyed to Turkey and Greece over the New Year’s holidays during Y2K. (Yes, we were adventurous and no, we were not spooked by end-of-the-world talk). We toured England, France and Switzerland on a bus with 48 other tourists (mostly Americans and one 78-year-old Spanish lady traveling alone who spoke not a lick of English). We ventured to Mexico countless times and even bought a Mexican timeshare on one trip. This was back in the day when we were DINKS (dual income, no kids). We had plenty of cash to splash around on travel. Ah, those years were glorious!

Fast forward a few years, convert Mama from a working gal to a housewife/mom and we found we had to trade rapid jet travel for slow-paced car trips. We’d roll down Interstate 55, headed south in an overstuffed minivan on a 12-hour quest to visit my family in Mississippi, with three infants in tow.

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