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

If you have preschoolers in your house, there's a pretty good chance that Disney Junior is a part of your viewing routine. In addition to some of the current BIG names like DOC McSTUFFINS and SOFIA THE FIRST, there's a new crew of up-and-comers making a voyage to the bottom of the sea... THE OCTONAUTS. Based on a series of books that first surfaced in 2006, the television series actually got it's start in the UK, until becoming a pretty hot import here in the 'States this past year. In an effort to reach new audiences, THE OCTONAUTS entered into a partnership with Westfield Shopping Malls for a live tour, OCTONAUTS: TO YOUR STATIONS [Note: I don't think that Disney Junior actually has anything to do with the live tour]. This FREE family event made it's way to Illinois this afternoon for a stop at the Westfield Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, where we and a couple of my little ones' preschool friends (and parents) took part. It was great fun for the kids, but slightly tainted by a mall staff that had no idea how to properly run a live event or tactfully engage with small children and their parents/guardians.

Published in James' Journal

About a month or so ago, while perusing Facebook and probably posting The Rock Father™ propaganda wherever appropriate, a message appeared to my attention from a gentleman named Crusty Booger. Little did the moisture-devoid poster know, but I was already somewhat aware of his rock prowess. Somewhere deep within the depths of Berwyn, Illinois - home to Horrorbles, Svengoolie, and the late Spire (a stack of impaled cars) is THE BOOGER PLANT - the sonic batcave of THE BOOGERS, purveyors of kid-friendly punk rock jams.

''Ever get the feeling that you've been cheated?'' - John Lydon, SEX PISTOLS

On February 15, 2012 - a mere eight days ago - I posted my review of WONDER!, a 135,000 sq ft. children's mega-store in Deerfield, Illinois. In short, my family and I loved the store - er, the ''experience'' as it was more than pure retail - but the business side of me had some serious questions regarding the operation. Here's what I wrote in the closing portion of my lengthy report...

Published in James' Journal

Note: Just five days after posting this article, WONDER! abruptly closed without warning. Read my follow-up post here.

Last Monday, after a family trip to the Doctor for an ultrasound (which revealed our forthcoming ''new release'' to be a girl), my wife and daughter and I made a stop in Deerfield, Illinois to check out WONDER! - an ambitious new shopping destination geared toward children and families. While shopping might be the initial draw, it's the entertainment and service aspects of the store where WONDER! really goes above and beyond what one would expect in a children's retail emporium.

Published in James' Journal
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