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Having only been a parent for just over four years, it's weird to already feel nostalgic about something that happened just a few years ago - October 3, 2010. On that day, we'd taken Addie (then just over a year old) to her first "Pumpkin Patch" experience, at a small place in Lake Villa, Illinois, called Susanna Farms. For Day 13 of 31 Days of Halloween 2013, I'm featuring the family-owned farm in Chicago's Far Northern Suburbs through the eyes of a Dad who recently returned with both of his daughters... Addie (now 4), and Finn (1). While this wasn't Little Finley's first Pumpkin Patch (we did that last year), it was the first time that both girls were big enough to roam the fields together... and the first time that we went with Grandma.

Published in James' Journal

Well, it's official. Addie is signed up for her "fours and fives" Pre-K for Fall. I just got it all taken care of this past week, and now our first Back-to-School season is officially official, and we're getting ready to rock. Last year was "twos and threes" preschool, and while we kept her going through summer in "Duckie Day Camp" (same place, same teachers, largely same class), Back-to-School shopping should be an exciting part of the Fall ritual - one my wife and I both enjoyed as kids. A new stop for us this year was Gordmans, relatively new to our area, but known for their savings of up to 60% off the competition's ticketed pricing. Read on for our experience, The Rock Father's "unexpected" connection to Gordmans, and your chance to WIN a $1000 VISA Gift Card and a $100 Gordmans Gift Card to help with your Back-to-School Shopping!

Published in General News

Next month, our oldest daughter, Adalyn, will turn four. My wife and I didn't actually realize this until last week, but that means we had not attended a concert together since becoming parents. I've gone solo to a bunch (part of the whole "Rock Father" thing), but she and I just seldom actually get a "date night" together (though she went to see NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK last night), and when we have, concerts haven't been our go-to event [Note: She DOES NOT enjoy the metal]. Well, the dry spell ended last Tuesday, as my wife and I finally ventured into the City to catch THE LAST SUMMER ON EARTH Tour at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion. On the bill for the evening: BARENAKED LADIES, BEN FOLDS FIVE, and BOOTHBY GRAFFOE. 

Published in James' Journal

Just North of Chicago, right on the line of where Cook and Lake Counties meet, lies the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. It's often referred to as "A Treasure of the Cook County Forest Preserve," and for good reason - it's 385 of the most beautiful acres that you'll find anywhere. Despite living near it, and driving by it countless times over the past few years, we recently made our first family trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a full day of adventure as guests of the Garden.  

Published in Gardening

Originally Posted July 12, 2013 - Updated, October 9, 2015

I often feel like the "odd man out" when it comes to my views on the current state of childhood play. Despite covering the latest and greatest in tech toys and apps here on The Rock Father, I'm not keen on making them a big part of our daily lives. I've touched on that before, and sure, I like to know about the "cutting edge," but here's the reality: As plugged-in as they are, the current crop of kids are largely missing out. They're missing out on using their minds - experiencing new worlds through imaginative play and interacting with the real world. What happened to playing dress up and creating adventures in your own neighborhood? A lot of kids aren't getting those experiences, and I think it's because some grownups have forgotten about their own experiences, and now they need a reminder.

Published in James' Journal

Earlier this month, the youngest member of our family hit a major milestone: Finley Renoir turned one! I have to get used to the fact that "Baby Finley" is now a toddler, and I still can't believe that it's already been a year since she came into our lives. This past year has been filled with emotions that I never expected to have, fueled by the fact that even before Finn was born, my wife and I decided that we'd be completing our family with the arrival of our second daughter. With each "first" for Finn came a "last" for Dad... as I'd come to realize that I was doing certain things for the final time as a parent as our baby moved towards completing her first twelve months on this planet. The last folding of a 0-3 months size shirt; the last box of plain rice cereal purchased; and recently, the last bottle of formula created, as the little one "graduated" to 2% milk.

Published in James' Journal
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