See Chicago with Seadog

Chicago is MY kind of town! Ok, so I’m really not a city girl.  The suburbs are more my speed. Literally, I can’t handle city traffic.  But I can’t imagine living somewhere else because I LOVE having the easy access to Chicago.  And if you spend much time near the water ways of Chicago (which you WILL do if you do much walking around the heart of downtown) you are very likely to catch site of a Seadog boat!  I’ve never been on one of their cruises but they always look like they are a blast when they go cruisin on by!  Which is why I’m super excited to check them out next month while I’m downtown for Blogher’13!  Thanks to Seadog and Madame Deals I will get to enjoy an evening with fellow bloggers on a Fireworks Seadog Cruise!

SD_Chi_exterior9_Fireworks

Are you ready for an entertaining cruise experience along Chicago’s scenic lakefront?

Come out to Navy Pier and let Seadog show you the city April-October, weather permitting.

Seadog offers four exciting ways to see and experience Chicago from the water:

Lakefront Speedboat Tour
This 30-minute cruise along the shoreline offers a descriptive tour of Chicago’s famous skyline, while playing your favorite music.
Extreme Thrill Ride
This cruise is perfect for the dare-devil in you! This 30-minute ride features splash down stops, 180-degree turns, slalom runs and more.
River and Lake Architectural Tour
Enjoy historic views of Chicago’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods during this 75-minute cruise on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.
Lakefront Fireworks Cruise
Enjoy front-row seats to the spectacular fireworks display aboard our Lakefront Fireworks Cruise! Cruise along Lake Michigan with an exciting speedboat ride paired with an informative tour of the Chicago skyline, then end the evening with a dazzling fireworks show and top-40 hits playing in the background! The open aired vessel allows for panoramic views, providing a perfect view. The Seadog Fireworks Cruise is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays, running from Memorial Day – Labor Day.

Seadog is great for both individuals and groups. We offer customizable group events for up to 450 people.
Seadog also features specific holiday cruises, such as Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Halloween.
Not only can you enjoy a Seadog Cruise, but your dog can as well! Dogs ride for free, space permitting.
For more information, please visit www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/ or call 888-636-7737.

I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience after our cruise!

THE GRAND GENEVA RESORT & SPA ANNOUNCES NEW DATES FOR SUMMER CONCERT SERIES

Grand Geneva is a great resort as it is but visit certain weekend this summer and you can enjoy some great music for free as well.
ggc
The AAA Four-Diamond Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, owned and managed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, invites guests to revel in the sounds of the season during the second annual installment of the property’s Summer Concert Series. Held outdoors at the resort’s ski chalet, the season-long series offers lawn seating where guests can kick up their heels and enjoy a bevy of up-and-coming musical acts, including:
  • Friday, June 28 – The Eddie Butts Band – a Midwestern favorite that plays a mix of soul, blues, and jazz classics.
  • Friday, July 12 – Geoff Landon & The Wolfpack– Known for their powerful vocals, the band pays homage to today’s top musical acts and award-winning musicians.
  • Saturday, July 13 – Bella Cain – This local country group brings their high-energy act to the Grand Geneva as part of their annual pre-concert event before Wisconsin’s Country Thunder festival. Concert goers will be able to enter for a chance to win sold-out Country Thunder Tickets, Brad Paisley Meet and Greet Tickets, and autographed guitar, and more.*
  • Friday, August 2 – The South of Disorder Band – A suburban Chicago act that transports listeners to the islands with their renditions of classic rock standards from Jimmy Buffet. 
Doors open at 7 p.m. for each Summer Concert Series event, with live entertainment beginning at 7:30 p.m. Each concert will feature a variety of themed-menu offerings and drinks. Concert admission is complimentary for resort guests, and $10 for non-guests.
*For the Bella Cain concert only, doors will open at 6 p.m., with complimentary admission for resort guests, and $8 tickets for non-guests. Country radio station 106.1 will host a live broadcast from 6-8 p.m.; with live entertainment beginning at 9 p.m.
For more information or to reserve accommodations at the Grand Geneva, please call 800.558.3417 or visit www.GrandGeneva.com.
For more information on the latest news and updates from Marcus Hotels & Resorts, please visit: http://media.marcushotels.com.
About Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is an award-winning all-seasons resort set on 1,300 acres in the legendary southeastern Wisconsin community of Lake Geneva, just 90 minutes from Chicago and 50 minutes from Milwaukee. The property features 355 guest rooms; WELL Spa + Salon; two championship 18-hole golf courses; The Mountain Top, a three-chair/18-run ski and snowboard facility; 62,000 square feet of meeting and convention space; three restaurants; and a 4,100-square-foot executive airport.
Grand Geneva recently completed property-wide renovations, which included improvements to all guest accommodations, the outdoor pool deck and WELL Spa + Salon, and the addition of Embers Terrace, an outdoor fireplace experience. For more information, please visit www.grandgeneva.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter(@Grand_Geneva).
I have not been compensated for this post.

Take Dad Out to the Ball Game

The best gift to give this Father’s Day is the gift of time spent together.  With the Chicago White Sox you can spend the day at the ball park affordably! Every Sunday features specially priced tickets starting as low as $5 and parking for only $10. Tickets are available to all non-Sunday games for as little as $7.

The Chicago White Sox have dedicated Sunday, June 9th as Father Daughter Day. On this special day, all fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, father-figures, and their daughters are invited to enjoy a day at the ballpark and watch the White Sox in action. In addition to specially-priced tickets, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy various activities at Gate 1 before walking around the field together in our Pre-Game Parade(*based upon availability*)!! Following the ballgame, be sure to stick around for the postgame fireworks.
Game time is at 1:10 p.m.; to participate in the parade please be at the Gate 1 area no later than, 12:15.
** SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARADE PASSES: Please make sure to add the parade passes when purchasing your tickets. After you have selected the delivery method for your tickets, scroll down to add the parade passes. There is no additional charge for the parade. Parade tickets are limited to the first 1,800 people, and is weather permitting.
Tickets normally priced at $40, $15, $15, and $10 are available for $30, $10, $10, and $5.

*Lower Level seats are extremely limited, so act quickly!*
For more info or to purchase tickets visit the White Sox online here.



The White Sox have a great giveaway for kids this Sunday, June 9th as the White Sox face off against the Oakland Athletics. The first 10,000 kids ages 13 and under will receive a White Sox XL Kids Jersey presented by Pepsi. 


Do you remember YOUR first game?


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Earlier this season we took the boys to a White Sox game and they LOVED it.  It is a truly family friendly field with convenient parking (and tailgating is an option), a kid deck and so much more!

Holy Cow, Cubs

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE baseball? Oh I have?  Well, have I mentioned that I am a life long, die hard, bleed blue CUBS fan!? Oh, I did?

Well I KNOW I didn’t mention that the fact that last week they actually swept the cross town classic series against the White Sox much to my deviant third born’s dismay. (Yes, somehow one of my offspring decided that he is fact a Sox fan first and foremost. What can I do, I’ll legally required to house and feed him for 13 more years.)  But it’s apparently proven (through highly scientific market research) that a child will become a life long fan of the team where they attend their first MLB game.  And yes Bryan’s first game was the White Sox just this year! But I didn’t learn that fact until we were already AT the game.  Oh well, at least he’s not a Cardinals fan!


So anyway.  Earlier this year when Cubs tickets went on sale I decided it was time to take all the boys to a game at Wrigley (Timmy had an amazing opportunity to attend last year for a once in a life time experience courtesy of MasterCard check it out here).  So I bought the only tickets I could afford to take a family of five to for the one home game I am still hopeful we will be able to attend without any conflict of our own sports schedule.  $36 a ticket and I’m pretty sure they’ll hand out o2 masks on the way up due to high elevation!  But it’s Wrigley!  Maybe the friendly confines can convert my youngest child to sport the proper colors once again!




But long after the season was underway and our Wrigely tickets were safely tucked away….extended family members (many of them living just north of the cheddar curtain) decided that it’d be a fun family day to go to a game at Miller Park in Milwaukee when the Cubs play the Brewers.  Despite my required disdain for the Brewers, I do admittedly love the stadium lovingly referred to as Wrigley North.  It’s easy to get to, plenty of party, and has a retractable dome so NO RAIN OUTS!  But the clincher was when I found out how much the tickets were….$18.  Now I can’t be certain til we go but it looks like essentially the same seats!  And I don’t know if its because they were group tickets but that was $18, REAL price…
For our Cubs tickets, our “$36” seats were actually closer to $50 when all was said and done. 




So here’s the deal Cubs…
I love you, I’ll always love you.  But I think I have to stop seeing you at Wrigley!  But don’t worry, we’ll still try and see you when you play the Brewers or the White Sox.  I mean Wrigley’s beautiful and we’ll be back…someday.  But for now you’re just to expensive.

Celebrate Spring Chicago with Miracle-Gro at HomeDepot #Sponsored

Thanks to Miracle-Gro and Home Depot my boys and I created some things to beautify our yard.  Available exclusively in Chicago Home Depot store and only THIS month, check out what you can do with Miracle-Gro Premium Plants Chicago’s blooms will be bigger* and better than ever this season. And with Mother’s Day around the corner one of these potted annuals or hanging baskets make the perfect gift. One that keeps on growing!


“We’ve taken all we’ve learned over the years in gardens around the globe and created thriving plants for long-lived success. From begonias to petunias, to geraniums, they’ve been cultivated with care to help you achieve beautiful results in your home or garden. And with their roots firmly planted in a custom soil blend, they have everything they need to succeed. You’ve trusted us to help you care for plants, now you can grow with us right from the start.

    • 3-month money-back guarantee

 

  • Fast blooms and vibrant colors that last all season

 

 

  • Available in potted annuals and hanging baskets

 

 

  • Limited time only at The Home Depot stores in Chicago

 

*Compared to conventionally grown plants”

Mother’s Day sounded like the perfect reason to create some pretty potted plants with Miracle-Gro premium plants, so I gathered the boys and off to Home Depot we went.




After wandering the garden section for awhile we found a great selection of Miracle-Gro plants.  The hardest part was getting the boys to agree on colors! I thought that these plants looked pretty full and healthy compared to the other available brands so I’m super excited to see what they will look like as they grow.



The Miracle-Gro premium Plants happened to be outside (on the sidewalk) at our location, not sure if this the norm or not but there were plenty of available employees in the garden section to ask for help.


Once we made our selections, which included two plants for friends and three plants for ME, we headed back inside.  There we grabbed some Miracle-Gro Potting Mix and some nice pots for our new plants.


I was very pleased that even with a little hunting for the plants, and some ‘discussion’ on which ones we wanted we were in and out with the trunk all loaded up in less than half an hour!


These are the plants we picked to give to two close friends who I wanted to honor for Mother’s Day because they have been so amazing to us helping to get the boys taken care of and to sports etc when I needed an extra pair of hands!
 

They boys were eager to jump in and get dirty repotting the plants in the Miracle-Gro potting soils.  We filled the pots with the soil and the boys loosened up the dirt the plants were already in to allow the roots to spread.


Once they were all done, Bryan had to give them the sniff test?  He says they smell great!


The boys had fun helping with this project and have been carefully watering the large pot that stayed with us since. I love how easy it was and can’t wait to see the pot fill in.


Since we don’t have any good locations for flowers in our yard (nothing with the right combination of location for they are safe from feet, light and soil) I am hoping we do well with our pot and maybe next spring we can add more pots to our collection so that we can add more color to our yard.

Thanks to Miracle-Gro for providing us a gift card so we could check out the Premium Plants line.  All thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.

Overwhelmed

It feels a little ironic that almost a week later I’m struggling to put into words an experience that revolved largely around my writing.  Last Sunday I took the stage with 16 (mostly) new friends as a result of my declaration to make 2013 the year of stepping outside my comfort zone.  I can tell you it was worth it.  If I got nothing more than the friendship of these beautiful, talent and kind woman out of that, that would have been more than enough.

Listen To Your Mother, Chicago 2013 cast

But on Sunday, I awoke early and got all gussied up and took the train with two fabulous friends to meet the rest of the cast and walk through our show for the first time on stage.  That’s the part I was planning…stepping out of my comfort zone that usually looks like this….


And walking on to a stage…alone…to read my own words in front of hundreds of people.  It looked kind of like this….

But then, as if that weren’t enough to make me wake up and need to vomit that morning.  (No really I did.  Just once thankfully, at home.)  No, taking that leap was to be just a piece of this day, you see we knew that LTYM creator Ann Imig would be in the audience (which in of it’s self is a little like babysitting someone’s baby while they watch you) but she was also being interviewed for a piece on NBC Nightly News.  And apparently they asked our lovely co-producers something like, who’s the most likely to pee their pants on stage out of fear (ok, that’s not really what they asked but that’s pretty much what they meant.) And OF COURSE they thought of ME!

That’s Tracey, giving me a hug after telling me they’d thrown me under the bus suggested me for an on camera interview, hoping I’d still love her.  They did a LOT of footage so who knows if I will end up actually in the piece but it is currently slated to air tonight at 5:30c assuming there are no heinous crimes today deeming late breaking coverage.  But I’ll share the piece whenever it airs whether I am in it or left happily on the cutting room floor.

But honestly, I’m at a loss for words when it comes to describing this experience.  I don’t know how to explain what it feels like to bare your soul on stage.  To share such a personal story in front of hundreds of people you don’t know who have no idea what you’re able to share with them.  Many of the other pieces were hysterical. Those ladies go immediate feedback with laughs at the perfect moments.  I got stony silence.  But then, after the show…I got hugs and thank yous and appreciation from complete strangers for sharing my story.  People who’ve never met me, took the time to find me to share how brave they thought I was.  Friends of cast mates asked for information about me, wanting to know how my stories ends.  And strangers hobbled on crutches to tell me their own story because they felt connected to me because of mine.  There are really no words to describe the way that feels.  I am humbled, I am honored and I am overwhelmed.

Thank you so much to Tracey and Melisa for all your hard work to make this show possible, for picking my piece and having faith that no matter how scared I was, that I could do it.  Thank you to the rest of the cast, you all hold a very special place in my heart now, forever!  Thank you to all those who came out to see me.  And thank you to those who took the time to send thoughts of love and encouragement in the days leading up to the show.

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Persico

My Listen To Your Mother Piece


Following is the piece  I read as part of the cast of Listen To Your Mother Chicago, on May 5, 2013.
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
No One Knows by Lisa Noel

There’s a knock at the door.  I open it and he greets me with a worried smile. Relief and fear come over me at the same time.  I’m so lucky. He loves me. He wants to marry me. He wants to raise this baby with me. All we have to do is tell my mom.

My mom.

The two of us have been through a lot over the years. She likes him. I know she’ll be disappointed. I’m only sixteen, but I’m smart, an honor student in fact. Yes. She’ll be disappointed, but surely she’ll be supportive. Right? What’s done is done. I’ll still finish school.

We’ll be ok.   

We all sit down. Me, my mom, my stepdad, my boyfriend, and I say it. I just say it. I’m pregnant.

They both ask if I’m sure.

Yes, I’m sure. We went to the health department.  I am pregnant.

Mom asks what I plan to do.

I announce we’re keeping the baby. I see no other option. 

They both shout at my boyfriend to leave the house. Saying nothing, I watch him go.  He looks back, eyes pleading to not let them do this. Tears come. I hear them tell me to go to my room. They need to talk.

I go, feeling more alone than I’ve ever felt. I cry and wait. Wait and cry. I think I’m going to be sick. It’s worry not morning sickness.  

When she’s calm enough to talk, she sits down with me and tells me her story. The story of her own teen pregnancy. A story I’ve never heard.

She tells me all boys are the same. One left her young, pregnant and alone.

Surely the same will happen to me. I really need to think about my options. I have such a bright future.

She asks how I’m feeling. Have I been sick? She apologizes for her anger, tells me she wanted better for me. She thought I was smarter than this. Again, she asks what I plan to do. I tell her of our plan to stay together and raise this baby.

He loves me. He has a good job and wants to raise this baby.  

She reminds me of his age. He’s eighteen. They could have him arrested. Then what would I do? I’m a minor, and he’s eighteen. That’s statutory rape. They’ll call the police if I ever see him again. 

I can’t think through my tears. When she finally leaves, I’m exhausted. 

        In the days following, I sneak off to see him. I promise him I will not do what she’s asking.

I wouldn’t. I couldn’t.

But the hours turn into days, and the days turn into what seem like years, and the constant comments, stories, and guilt get the better of me.

What right do I have to bring a child into this world?  I’m still in high school. What kind of mother could I possibly be?

Defeated, lonely and tired, the day comes when I relent.

I tell her to make the appointment.  She calls, but I have to talk to them. Tell them this is my choice.

Apparently I’m a good liar.

A counselor sees me before the procedure. He asks me to confirm I’m here by my own choice, and even asks my reasons.

My heart screams for me to tell the truth, but the lies eventually bring silence. I tell them everything they want to hear. What they think I should feel.

They believe me. 

Within a couple of hours I walk out of the clinic, empty.

Empty womb. Empty heart. Empty soul.

Mom puts me to bed when we get home. She even calls my boss to let him know I won’t make it to work tomorrow, and that’s the last it’s ever mentioned in our house.

Slowly it eats at me. I hate myself.

For some reason he doesn’t hate me. We continue to date for the last two years of high school behind her back. Then I go off to college. Off to do the great things I was destined to do…before

Somehow I make it through the first year. Then slowly it all falls apart.

My grades don’t cut it and I lose my Honors Scholarship.

More pieces of me die.

I no longer have control of my body. I am constantly ill with no traceable reason.  The depression has overwhelmed me and I can no longer function. My worry is irrational and undeniable. I go home for a weekend and can’t bring myself to return. I am unable to work toward the bright future I had….before.

I am consumed with thoughts of how old my child would be. What he or she would look like. Any encounter with a child pains me.

I am a mother without a child, but no one knows.

Mother’s Day comes. I grieve silently.

This was the right thing. They assured me. Why does it feel so wrong?

 I am a mother without a child, but no one knows. 

White Sox Family Field Day and Garage Sale

Spring has FINALLY sprung here in Chicago and what better way to celebrate than by getting outside with the family!

Check out Family Field Day Saturday, May 18 for a chance to play a game of catch in the outfield at  U.S. Cellular Field.  Get a player’s perspective — warm-up in the bullpens, visit the dugouts and dive across the outfield to make a game winning catch at this fun even to benefit White Sox Charities. Tickets for Family Field Day are $30 per adult and $12 per child.

Also, don’t forget to join stop by the Garage Sale located in the Patio area. You can shop for game-worn jerseys, game-used bats, pants, equipment, autographed memorabilia and more! The Garage Sale is open from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and admission is free. 

My family had a fabulous time at a recent Sox game! While I’ll always be a true blue Cubs fan we are CHICAGO sports fans and after taking in a game at the Cell we loved all that it had to offer including one thing you simply can’t do at Wrigley….tailgating!!

For ticket to Family Field Day click here.

 

Tick Tock

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That is how I started my morning.  Plucking one of those little buggers off my first born’s neck.  Yes I’m thankful it was on his neck because otherwise one of his friends may not have spotted it while they waited in line to start school.  It may have crept to a darker spot and created a much more serious problem.  Yes, I AM thankful.  But, gah, seriously, could karma just cut me the slightest break.  At least this week.  Please!

Sunday is the show for Listen To Your Mother.  I found the perfect dress to make me feel like a star weeks ago. I had great plans to get my hair cut and colored, to have my eyebrows and nails done.  I expected to have time to practice how I wanted to do my make up.  And instead, I’ve done NONE of that, I have a virus that is robbing me of my voice AND I have a disgusting cold sore that seems to be defying my ‘go to’ treatment.  Yes, I know, the show will go on.  I’ll do the very best I can and will be proud of myself for accomplishing something I never would have imagined trying a short time ago.  But really, pretty pretty please, could I just get a moment to breath.  To drink my hopefully magic OJ in peace?

Tickets are still available, and I promise even if I lose my voice completely and have to learn sign language in 4 days I WILL go on, and TODAY ONLY 25% of ticket sales are going to Greater Chicago Food Depository (all other sales 10% was donated).

Fierce Friends #LTYM Chicago

L-R Top: Erin Skibinski, Samantha Schultz, Tracy Jensen, Tracey Becker, Shannan Younger, Robin Frisch, Sheila Quirke & Nadine Warner. Bottom: Lisa Noel,Sarah Zematis, Marianne Walsh, Jocelyn Geboy, Melisa Wells, Elizabeth Rago, RoiAnn Phillips, Shannon Duffy, and Liz Joynt Sandberg


This photo makes me smile.  It also makes me a little teary to be honest.  To fully understand that, you’d have to really know these ladies.  You CAN get to know them, through their blogs and through what is certain to be an amazing, heartfelt and emotional show THIS Sunday.  But sadly, for you at least, you probably won’t ever get to know them like I do.  You WILL be able to see and hear their beauty and their talent if you come to the show.  They’ll make you laugh AND make you cry.  But you won’t know who knows how to make fudge, or who you can count on to bring the flask for those preshow jitters.  These ladies are amazing.  I am humbled to be sharing the stage with the ranks of talent in this years show. And I am honored to call them all friends.  I hope to see you Sunday so that you can catch a glimpse of how truly, awesomely FIERCE these ladies all are.

Tickets are still available, find out more here.

Photo courtesy of  Sabrina Persico