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.
The 2014 Chicago Auto Show opened it's doors to the public this weekend (running through February 17th), but on Friday, The Rock Father participated in the media preview to get an early look at hundreds of new offerings and concept vehicles from the world's top automakers. Doing what I do, I'm always torn on how to cover such an event - I run a "family" site, but my personal interests skew toward the... more exciting at times. While my daily drivers here at Rock Father HQ bear the Chevrolet and Scion nameplates, performance, sport and luxury all strike my fancy. What I'm saying is that my inaugural coverage of the Chicago Auto Show is more of a highlight reel of what caught my eye... and that's as simple as it gets. Hopefully I'll get to go in-depth with some of these vehicles, as well as some more family-centric rides as the year rolls on.
Raising a pair of vehicularly-inclined daughters, I tend to find myself in a position to rekindle some of my own childhood interests. Toy cars, racing and yes, even Monster Trucks are a part of that, so when Feld Entertainment and Windy City Kids Guide asked us to check out MONSTER JAM, Addie and I couldn't pass it up. Little Finley sat this one out since she's still a tad too young for it, but Addie and I, along with her friend Richard and my friend, John, headed for Allstate Arena in Rosemont, a familiar location that we typically visit while ice-covered. But last night? It was all about dirt, metal and octane.
On Friday, February 7, 2014, I'll be heading down to McCormick Place in Chicago to bring you my first-ever coverage of the CHICAGO AUTO SHOW. While this is my first "official" visit as "The Rock Father," I've been attending the CAS for years... first visiting as a small boy in the 1980s, and many times as an adult. While I have some new offerings that I'm really looking forward to checking out, I'm curious what YOU are interested in. Do you have something that you'd like me to bring back info on? Hit me up in the comments and I'll try to make it happen.
When I first came across Chicago-based Wild Ophelia's all-natural chocolates last summer, I was intrigued by the vast array of unique flavors that had been crafted by artisans across the country. Now, as a member of their "Blogger Posse," I occasionally get to try out some new flavors and assortments, most recently their new Valentine's Day varieties: Tart Cherry Caramel Milk Chocolate Bites and New England Style Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bites. These little hedgehog-shaped chocolates are so good, I couldn't keep that to myself (and I didn't, my daughter gobbled some up)... so YOU are getting a chance to win a box.
For all of my friends in Chicagoland... If you're looking for some unique fun with your family this weekend, take a look at JUMP AMERICA in Gurnee, Illinois. Located not far from Rock Father HQ up in Lake County, JUMP AMERICA is the premiere Trampoline Park that offers Family Fun Night every Saturday from 6-8pm. Family Fun Night includes 2 hours of jumping for 4 jumpers plus one 18" pizza (cheese, pepperoni, or sausage), and 4 beverages all for $45. Check out the video below to learn what JUMP AMERICA is all about...