Gurnee Mills: A Simon CenterI keep saying it, but I still can't believe we have a kindergartner here this year. Essentially, if you've been reading THE ROCK FATHER for awhile, you've seen Addie growing up, and while last year we were shopping for Pre-K, this year it's officially time for Back-to-School in preparation for "big girl" school - kindergarten. Gurnee Mills here in Lake County has always been a regular haunt for us, and this year we've teamed-up to show off some of the great fashions and supplies available at the largest value and outlet destination in Illinois (which is in the midst of a remodel and now boasts a fantastic "full-price" wing), by sharing our own Back-to-School shopping experience. This past week, my wife and I took the two girls (Little Finn is in on the action, too) to get decked out for Fall...

Published in Chicagoland

Gurnee MillsIn just a few weeks, we'll have a kindergartner here at Rock Father HQ, and that means that this Back-to-School season is pretty special for us. We're getting Addie ready for some new adventures, and as such we want her to be well-dressed and ready to Rock the Halls as she moves from Pre-K to "big girl" school this year. The big stop for our Back-to-School shopping is a familiar haunt - and this year, GURNEE MILLS and THE ROCK FATHER have teamed-up to showcase some of the great fashions and accessories available at the largest outlet and value shopping destination in Illinois. While I'll have some great features rolling out in the week ahead, Gurnee Mills and I want to kick-off the season in-style with something special for my local readers - a chance to win a $50 American Express Simon Gift Card in my #GurneeBTS Giveaway!

Published in Chicagoland

Last night, I found myself in one of the more awkward situations that I've been placed in since starting this site back in 2011. I'd actually written this review right away last night and revisited it today prior to posting, half-considering saying nothing at all. But I have to...

As a writer and reviewer (my first review published way back in 1992... a full 22 years ago), the hope is that you'll be impressed and be able to share a great experience with your readers. Sadly, sometimes that's just not the case, and that's when my own brutal honesty comes into play. I'll always be honest, and I'll never sugar-coat it. In the world that I work in, sometimes certain people have a problem with that (advertisers, PR folks - and only a small fraction of them), and I'm fine with that. When tasked with writing about a live event or a "place" - especially one geared toward families - the scope and emotion are a little bit different than when I deal with an album, a movie, or a toy. It's the culmination of various elements that come together to create that "experience" - and there's many forces at play (human forces) that can tip the table in sometimes unexpected directions. I don't want to come on here and tell you that we had a less-than-stellar experience at a local business... but if I told you that it was without major issues, it would be completely dishonest. What I witnessed last night at JUMP AMERICA (880 Lakeside Drive, Gurnee, IL 60031) is an operation that could be great, but was sadly plagued by a shocking level of disorganization, customer service issues, and rampant poor user experiences... mainly for parents. But my kids LOVED it.

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