Category: Citywide

Summer in Chi Town: Don’t Miss Out on These Experiences!

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By , June 3, 2015 11:00 am

With brutally cold winters that seem to last a little longer each year, Chicago is a city that lives for its beautiful summer season. So now that summer is here (finally!) why not try something new to soak up the sun and make the most of it?

Chicago Jet Boat Experience

One of the best ways to see Chicago is from the water, so kick back and feel the wind in your hair on a Chicago Jet Boat Experience. This is a half-hour tour that combines an adventurous ride with the beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the sprawling Chicago skyline. The boat leaves from Navy Pier, and the captain will tell you all about the city’s landmarks, architecture, and hot spots. Jet boats run daily between 11 am and 7 pm, May through October.

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Introduction to Kayaking

To get a little more active on the water, take our Introduction to Kayaking class with the experienced guides of Kayak Chicago. This is a beginner-friendly class that’ll teach you everything you need to know about paddling, boat types, proper gear, safety techniques, and rescue strategies. This expereince lasts about four hours and runs on Saturdays and Sundays from June through September.

Sailing 101 Chicago

Another great water activity to try in Chicago is sailing! Our Sailing 101 Chicago class is beginner-friendly, yet challenging and comprehensive. To complete the course, you’ll need to take four sessions, and each lesson last four hours. So this is a great experience for locals living in the city! Sessions run daily between April and September.

Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park

If you’re more in the mood for a little retail therapy, why not let a shopping expert help you focus and guide you through the city’s trendiest shopping district? Our Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park experience will take you to unique boutiques and introduce you to fashion trends and the creations of top designers. You’ll meet your guide and fellow shoppers at a cafe and then head out to receive VIP treatment and the guidance of a personal shopping stylist. The experience lasts about two hours and starts at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb

If you’re willing to venture outside of the city to explore the surrounding area a bit, check out our Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb experience in southern Wisconsin. This is an ideal climbing destination for beginner climbers, and experienced guides will provide you with all the gear you need. The day begins around 9:00 am and runs until about 4:00 pm. There are more than 2,000 climbing routes here along the picturesque cliffs that overlook Devil’s Lake – perfect for taking a summertime dip after a day of climbing!

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

These are a few of the other summer-centric attractions that are must-dos in the city of Chicago:

  • Lollapalooza
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  • Sox game at US Cellular Field
  • North Avenue Beach
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Chicago Air & Water Show
  • Navy Pier Fireworks

For a list of Chicago’s exciting 2015 festivals, take a look at TimeOut’s 2015 Summer Festival Guide and browse through FunSherpa’s Chicago experiences to find one that’ll make your summer unforgettable!

Best Memorial Day Celebrations across America

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By , May 20, 2015 10:13 am

Memorial Day is a time to remember brave American soldiers who lost their lives in active military service and renew a sense of national patriotism from coast to coast. And for many people, it’s also a well-deserved day off work and the unofficial start to summer!

Tens of millions of Americans travel during Memorial Day weekend to head to the beach, join a barbecue in the park, or attend a festive celebration with family and friends. So if you’re planning to hit the road this year, these are some of the best Memorial Day celebrations to check out in the U.S.

Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the most obvious choice for a Memorial Day celebration is Washington, D.C., but year after year, the nation’s capital doesn’t disappoint! D.C. has been hosting the huge National Memorial Day Parade since 2005, and there are events to attend at Arlington National Cemetery too. This is also the weekend when the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle rally takes place, and you can catch free concerts near the iconic monuments and in parks around the city.

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

St. Louis, Missouri

The Midwest is known for its strong patriotic roots, and St. Louis is a great travel destination for Memorial Day this year. The four-day Assumption Greek Festival takes place over Memorial Day, as well as St. Louis Ribfest, Shakespeare in the Park, the Compton Heights Concert Band Performance, and the Gypsy Caravan flea market.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is another great Midwestern city to spend Memorial Day because street festivals are going strong and it might even be warm enough to lounge on the beach along Lake Michigan! Chicago’s Memorial Day parade steps off at noon and goes down State Street after a wreath laying ceremony at Daley Plaza. You won’t want to miss the Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest that weekend either, which is full of local bands, food, drinks, and street vendors.

Boston, Massachusetts

Memorial Day is a big deal in Boston, a city that’s full of history and American culture at all times of the year. One of the most patriotic places to visit here is the Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags, a place where thousands of American flags are placed in Boston Common. If you get into town a few days early, try to catch a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The team plays home games on May 22, 23, and 24.

Photo credit: mgstanton via Flickr

Photo credit: mgstanton via Flickr

Charleston, South Carolina

For a dose of Southern hospitality with your patriotism, head to Charleston, South Carolina. A group of freed slaves celebrated one of the nation’s first Memorial Day celebrations here in 1865 after the Civil War ended. Charleston is known for its romantic horse-drawn carriages, southern cuisine, and historical attractions. Don’t miss the Spoleto Festival, which goes on a couple weeks and features all kinds of music at Charleston’s best venues.

To find fun things to do in these and lots of other cities around the country, check out FunSherpa’s experience gifts and sort by the city of your choice!

Discover What Rock Climbing Is All About With a Beginner Course!

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By , February 26, 2014 12:42 pm

Rock climbing is one of the most extreme sports on the planet, yet it’s surprisingly beginner-friendly. It’s a fun sport and exciting hobby that challenges both your physical and mental abilities each time you try it. Climbing on a regular basis is also known to sculpt lean muscle, improve coordination, support cardiovascular functioning, and boost mental health.

Getting started can be intimidating for beginners, so the best way to learn is by taking an introductory class to learn the basics and build your confidence. At FunSherpa, we offer both indoor and outdoor classes to introduce you to the sport and teach you everything you need to be safe while climbing. Most beginner classes cost between $50 and $90 and include all the gear and guidance you need to get started. Whether you prefer to learn on an outdoor excursion or in an indoor climbing gym, rock climbing is a year-around sport that’s more accessible than you may think.

Photo credit: Kim Traynor via WikiMedia Commons

Indoor Climbing Gym Classes

The most common place to try climbing for the first time is your local climbing gym. Indoor rock climbing classes are great for first time beginners who feel safer in a controlled environment, intermediate climbers wanting to take their skills to the next level, and advanced climbers preparing for an extreme excursion or competition. You’ll learn the difference between top-rope climbing, lead climbing, and auto-belay climbing, and have the opportunity to try routes that match your current and desired skill level. Many climbing gyms also feature bouldering walls, which help you master hand and foot techniques low to the ground without a rope or harness.

Outdoor Climbing Clinics

Although many climbers get their start in the gym, there’s no reason why beginners can’t head to the great outdoors to experience real rock for themselves. Many outdoor climbing clinics involve comprehensive half or full-day instruction and are designed with true newbies in mind. A clinic typically begins with a short gear and safety lesson to get climbers comfortable with the equipment. Then you’ll learn how to tie rock climbing knots, climbing commands, the climbing rating system, and top-roping techniques. Experience the beauty of nature while challenging yourself and enjoying a whole new perspective.

Private Climbing Instruction

If you’re nervous about trying to climb for the first time, perhaps private climbing instruction is a good option to consider. Private lessons are catered to your specific skill, experience, and comfort level to set you on a track for success. They typically last one or two hours and can focus on top-rope routes, lead climbing skills, bouldering techniques, and climbing moves that work best for your body type and strength level.

Photo credit: Chris via WikiMedia Commons

Since rock climbing is potentially dangerous, the safest and most effective build your skill is by enlisting an experienced professional until you understand the basics. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, climbing can help you overcome your fears, take one step at a time, and bond with like-minded adventurers along the way.

Learning to Inherit the Whole with Dana Lynn Formby

By , January 1, 2012 8:42 am

Dana seeing without the rose colored lenses

Funsherpa chats with Dana Lynn Formby to discover the world of a blue-collar playwright.  Dana shares her interest in giving a voice to the working class and uncovers the secret three E’s of theater.  Her play, Inherit the Whole, will be starting a run at the Mortar Theater this Friday.

F: You’re often described as a ‘blue-collar’ playwright.  How did that come about and why make the distinction from other playwrights?
D: I call my self a blue-collar playwright because my father is a pipe-fitter and my mother was a hairdresser.  They loved and supported me and struggled with money their entire lives.  They rightfully told me I could be anything I wanted… I was an American.  Through the struggle of growing up, I learned, what the media told me I wanted was different from the reality staring me in the face.  I’m interested in taking off the rose-colored glasses I perched on the end of my nose as a kid.  I carefully assembled my glasses out of clippings of American dreams found anywhere from Glamour to Fortune 500. I write plays that question this rose-colored-cutout-pasted-collage, in hopes of preventing certainties that arise when blue-collar economics beg you to stop at your gender.  I do this to look past what the 2D American dream promises, and aim for the impossible.  Through my art, I strive to dismantle the barriers put up by economic classes.

F: We saw another online feature of you that mentions your fondness of listening to Cake to get into the writing mood.  Do you still listen to Cake to get yourself into the writing mood?  Or has your musical taste evolved since then?
D: Cake!  Absolutely!  There is something about how raw and dirty the sound is, that puts me in a nice bit of anger at the world.  This helps me see the obstacles my characters need to face.  Also, I love me some Chris Isaac.

F: As a playwright instructor with the Chicago Dramatists, how would you describe your teaching style?
D: I am a cheerleader.  I wish to empower my students to allow themselves the right to write.  I encourage them to ask questions.  I also ask them to teach each other what I have taught.  I believe the true path to learning is to teach what you know.  When you are forced to do this you realize you didn’t know it half as much as you thought.  And when you have to explain what it is your teaching, you yourself gain a deeper understanding for it.

F: How do you deal with hopeless students?

D: Hopeless is a strange word.  If you mean they don’t do the work there is not much I can do.  If it means they feel they can’t write, than it is my job to empower them.   As a writer there is always this critic sitting on your shoulder yelling at you, “You can’t do this!  You have no right to do this.  This is stupid.”  I encourage them to tell that critic to go eat a bag of chips because work needs to get done.  The critic can come back after you finish a draft.

F: Can you talk to us about your play at the Mortar, called Inherit the Whole?  Why talk about Vietnam now?
D: My father is a Vietnam Vet.  There is no me without Vietnam.  I honestly believe that half of him is still over there.  War causes a separation between all of the survivors of the war.  The country is at war again.  There are daughters and sons who will grow up with this same disconnect with their parent if they have served in battle.  Theatre has the ability to connect strangers through catharsis– through witnessing the journey of a character on stage.  It is my hope that writing about the past– Vietnam, we can quell the taboo’s of war for our soldiers coming home.  I hope lessen the gap between soldier and citizen. This gap will always exist but I believe through art, we may be able to reach over that gap.

F: Why did you bring in the element of the trunk of gold?
D: Honestly?  When my Granddaddy died, his brother’s came to his house looking for a big old bag of silver that my cousin Danny went with him to pick up at the train station back in the seventies.  We never found it.

F: Who did you create the play for?
D:  This is a rough question.  It’s something that an artist must ask themselves but is difficult to answer honestly.  This play came out of the chaos of living paycheck to paycheck.  I wish to give a voice to the working class.  I hope with “Inherit the Whole” Mortar Theatre is able to bring together people from different social economic backgrounds so that we can see our similarities are more in common than we think.  It is through our commonalities that humans find connection.

F: Who do you think will enjoy ‘Inherit the Whole’ the most?
D: People with a good since of humor who can laugh and get angry at the absurdity of life.

F: The story almost seems quite ‘melancholic’.  Is that an accurate description or is there more to what is presented in the play’s synopsis?
D: It is actually quite funny and quickly paced. I mean, men digging a hole in a living room!  Funny.  Dennis Zacek, the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens, keenly taught me the three E’s of Theatre.  First: a play must entertain, the next step is to enlighten, and finally, if we are lucky, the play will take us to a level of Ecstasy.  I believe all three are touched on in this play.  I also believe that I will learn so much about the play by witnessing how the audience reacts to the play.  I believe a production of a play is the playwright’s actual first draft.  The reason I say this is because the play behaves differently when it is on its feet moving around in three dimensional space.  Theatre is a collaborative sport and I am so thankful to have a place to play ball in front of a crowd so that I may grow past what I learned in graduate school.

F: How did you decide to share your play with the Mortar Theatre?  What was it like working with them?
D: I am an Ensemble Member here and I feel we are a great fit for each other.

F: What’s in store for your future plays?
D: Right now I am working a play called The Eve Maneuver.  The play is about a girl named Veronica,18, who wants to uphold the proud Semperfi tradition of her father, a Desert Storm Vet.  Determined to march in his footsteps, she unearths what it means to do or die, leaving her finger on a trigger as she decides between her patriotism towards her father and the heart she found as a child going to Sunday school.

F: Anything vastly different from the plays you’ve created?
D: Looking at what I just wrote above this question it would appear that I tackle the subject of war quite a lot.  I cannot deny that I am moved and feel a need to write about this subject.  But other plays I have written, do not touch on war.  I write very much from my heart.  It is hard for me to see the trees for the forest on this one.  I feel my plays are all very connected. Gender is something I choose to tackle as a writer. Some would say I have masculine plays and feminine plays.  I guess I have to say without one, the other cannot exist.  It is through my definition of masculine that I understand feminine and vice versa.  It is my goal to stretch myself as an artist while maintaining the honesty of my experience in the world around me.

Chicago Mompreneur Builds A Business Around Balancing Life

By , November 7, 2011 8:00 am

Balancing Life with Stacey

Don’t forget to give Mom a huge hug this weekend as Mother’s Day is on Sunday!  Before you scrounge around for some last minute gifts for Mom, check out our final feature in our Mother’s Day series.  Funsherpa sits down with Stacey Hoffer Weckstein, the Chief Mom Officer of the Mom Renewal Project to share some of her fun spots in Chicago and her secrets in balancing a hectic Mom life.  Stacey has built an amazing community to recharge the body, mind, & spirit – so you can live your best life as a woman, mom & partner, so when you have a chance, check out The Mom Renewal Project.

F: What are some of the things you’ve learned from other Mom bloggers?  What have you taught other Mom bloggers?

S: Mom bloggers have taught me the power of a virtual community and beauty of blog karma. Women all across the globe are creating lasting bonds via blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Knowing I have an online community that supports me and will listen to me when I need to share my voice is a gift that the mom blogging community has given to me.

What have I taught other Mom Bloggers? I hope I have encouraged them to take more ME time more often. I hope my social media influence gives mom bloggers (and all moms) permission to reconnect with their authentic selves so they can live their best lives as women, moms, and partners.

F: How do you balance being a mom, writing a blog, living your life, and enjoying what you do?

S: How do I balance it all? In one word, it would be passion. My passion drives me and fuels me. I have passion for being my children’s mom, for blogging, for offering life coaching programs and services, for being a social media strategist, and for spending time outdoors. I focus on my passions and all of the other things fall into place. My house is not spotless, my mail sometimes piles up, and sometimes it takes over 24 hours before I can respond to email messages. This is not because I’m lazy – it’s because I’m prioritizing my life and practicing the art of life balance.

F: You also started a coaching business while being a mom.  What were some of the challenges involved with that and how did you deal with it?

S: I think the number one challenge in starting a business is time. Life is busy. I work full-time, have two young boys, and have to take care of regular home routines. As a “mompreneur”, life coach, and social media strategist, I find my time early in the morning and once my boys are asleep. Once a week I have a mom’s night off and sometimes I also use that time to move my business forward.

Another challenge is the lack of quiet time. As a social media mom, my life is rather noisy. It is filled with some wonderful noise like children laughing and meaning conversations online, but my day-to-day routine is pretty over-stimulating. To be able to focus on my coaching business and on my natural inner wisdom, I take at least 5-10 minutes of quite time each day to help me recharge. This daily stillness gives me the opportunity to listen to my personal wisdom – without this time in my life, I don’t think I would have discovered so many different aspects of my business.

F: What do your kids think about you writing a blog?  Do they play any editorial roles?

S: My children are too young to understand what the words blog means, but they do know I love my computer. My six year old son’s definition of passion is “something you love”. So he thinks my passion is blogging just like his passion is playing Wii. As my favorite author SARK says, when my boys are older, I hope they understand the value of “gifting the world with your words and stories and creating the time and energy to actually do it”.

F: Can you share some Chicago activities that you enjoy doing with your kids?

S: My family loves Chicago, especially all of the natural spaces around the city. If it is above 40 degrees, you can find my family outside at the beach, the Chicago Botanic Garden, walking around Grant Park and Millennium Park’s gardens, biking along Lake Michigan at Northwestern University, or bird watching at Montrose Point. My three year old son’s favorite place in Chicago is the Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where we can hang out in a greenhouse with over 1000 butterflies.

F: Any special message you’d like to share with other Moms this upcoming Mother’s Day?

S: Chicagoland Moms – On this Mother’s Day, I send you the gift of reclaiming, rejuvenating, and re-balancing your life. I give you permission to reconnect with your authentic self, to practice self-care, and to remember who you are above and beyond your role as a mom.

I want to remind you that moms who are physically tired, emotionally drained, mentally unfulfilled, and spiritually disconnected to their natural inner wisdom cannot fully be present in their own lives or in their children lives. So, I invite you to recharge – body, mind, and spirit – so you can live your best life as a woman, mom, and partner. I invite you to put yourself back onto your priority list because you and your children deserve it!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Made for the Chicago Mom

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By , April 30, 2010 6:48 pm

Forget transient flowers and stale chocolates. Chicago moms have other things in mind when they open up their presents this Mother’s Day. We have curated a Mothers Day Gift Guide for the Chicagoan with the most wanted list of gift ideas from our experience store. No matter what your mommy’s style is, we have got you covered, from sub-$100 experiences to an extravagant dinner at top ranked Alinea, but all sure to make mom smile. So, this May 9th, show Mom you didn’t forget about her and give her something she’ll never forget…or simply brag about during her next bridge game.

The hungry food critic mama – your mom a big foodie? Did she raise you with the best organic meals and do you need to thank her for saving you from fast food health problems? Browse unique gourmet experiences in Chicago, from French cooking classes to a dining treat at Alinea.
For the glamorous mama
– mom’s want to be glamorous. They were probably a lot more glamorous until they had you. Find spa experiences perfect for skin restoration or facial rejuvenation. Restore that youthful vibrance that mom once had and treat her to our special organic facial or makeup lesson.
The stressed out mom – if mom is still burning the midnight oil and working hard, give her a spa day to eject the stress. From the Blueberry Moon to the Peninsula Spa, we’ve got you covered and know that she’ll come out on cloud nine.
The P90X workout crazy mom
– is your mom more fit than you? Does she wake up before the crack of dawn to run down the lakeshore and end the day with yoga? Our active experiences have only the best instructors in Chicago to take your mom’s physical stamina and strength to the next level. Who knows, mom might start her own yoga school and outrun you in this year’s Chicago marathon.
For the don’t break the bank experience – there’s no need to splurge to shower mom with a gift she won’t forget. We have dozens of memorable experiences that mom can check out from tennis lessons to a lazy escape down the Chicago river that will leave you with enough dough to buy dad his perfect father’s day gift too!

Moms, Kids, and Technology: A chat with Sara Fisher

By , April 30, 2010 8:00 am
Supermom Sara Surrounded by Family and Technology

Supermom Sara Surrounded by Family and Technology

Sara Fisher, the creative talent behind the Self-Made Mom, demonstrates to Funsherpa how mothers juggle their personal and professional lives to provide their families with the best of everything.  A self-professed ‘former corporate hack’, Sara gives us a glimpse into her transition from the professional scene to motherhood.

F: What do you enjoy the most about Mommy blogging? What does your husband think about your blog?
S: I like creative/ humor writing and I think my blog is the best way for me to get out my creative energy. I wouldn’t say that what I do is “mommy blogging” but rather trying to provide a funny lens for people to see my life with two kids through. My husband is a fan of my writing, but not when it gets too personal. Let’s just say we have creative differences on that front!
F: You mentioned that you’ve transformed from a ‘corporate hack’ to a professional butt wiper. Do you find yourself using any of your corporate skills as a Mom? Any good examples?
S: I think I wrote a post about that a ways back. Yes, I feel that there are many times I’m using my organizational skills, my energy, my “get it done” attitude with my kids. Both for good and bad. For instance, I always would write emails or notes to contacts I met through business, and now, I make sure my older son and I write thank you notes for birthday presents. On the negative side, I probably am a little too demanding of my four-year-old. He’s not a 23 year-old account exec.
F: Can you talk about your experience when you first became a mom?
S: Lack of sleep and doing what you want, when you want were really hard for me to adjust to. I like to do things on my own terms, and now I have the little men who tell me what to do on their terms!
F: How do you manage living in a home full of boys/men?
S: Lots of wine. No, just kidding. I love my house of boys. I’m the queen and I don’t have to worry about how anyone is dressed or hair is brushed. Boys can get away with a little less personal hygiene I think.
F: Upon reading your blog, you seem to be quite a net savvy Mom, using Peapod, Ebay Classifieds, Craigslist, etc. Any other web services you’d like to share that are effective in managing home issues?
S: I use Google all the time, but so does everyone. Twitter is key for me to follow news, local happenings and keeping up with friends.
F: How is social media affecting the way parents raise their kids? Is there anything in the way that social media works that you’d like to change?
S: I think Twitter and Facebook have radically changed how we get and use information. For instance, sometimes if I have a medical or baby question, I’ll post it online before I call the doctor (not in an emergency, of course). On the flip side, I think there are some people that way over-share what they put online about their families and kids, and I’m totally not into that. Those babies are going to grow up to be teenagers and I don’t think they’ll be all that pleased to see a photo of their dirty diaper online.
F: Do you have any ‘Mommy’ role models (real or fictional)? If so, who are they and why do you look up to them?
S: Other than my mom who was a much more patient mother than I am, I think I’d have to say it’s other contemporaries of mine who’ve seemed to make it work having a career and being hands-on with their kids. I have not perfected that yet. Not even close.
F: What have some of your best experiences on Mother’s Day? What would make your perfect Mother’s Day holiday?
S: As I wrote last year, the perfect Mother’s Day for me is being alone! I would like to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, read the Sunday New York Times and shower for an hour. I love my kids, but I think having one day a year by myself is good for all of us.


Discovering Parenthood Through the Eyes of Mom Bloggers

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By , April 28, 2010 8:00 am
Bethany Hiitola

Decoding mommy blogs with Bethany Hiitola

Discover the world of mommy blogging, free things to do in Chicago with your kids, and motherhood with Bethany Hiitola.  Funsherpa sits down with the writer behind Mommy Writer Blog to understand what it is like to be a mom, blog with kids in the house, and find inspiration in creative writing projects.

F: What do you enjoy the most about Mommy blogging? What do your kids think about your blog?
B: I never really looked at it as mommy blogging or anything but an outlet for me to write what I know. I’ve always been a writer and had a few blogs that I sorta maintained off and on for a few years prior to ever being a mom. But, when I had a kid, found myself at home most of the time with no babysitter (and surrounded by mothers who appeared to know what they were doing), I decided to turn to the outlet I always turn to–writing. And thus my blog and website were born (concurrently I also decided to pursue my dreams of writing fiction and getting it published – so they both were jointly born along with the first child).

My kids are still very young– son is 7 and daughter 2 1/2. So their opinion of my online space is yet to be determined. Although my son now can read at a pretty high level, and has his own computer and unfettered access to the Internet–he’ll find me soon. Though, I am not worried. I always try to write from my point of view (not theirs) so I hope they find it fun and entertaining.

F: Can you talk about your experience when you first became a mom? What were some of the things you had to learn/unlearn from just being an adult with no kids?
B: Frazzled. When I had my son, labor was about 20 hours, I was up all night, and well, birth was an experience that once you go through it, you are changed (in more ways than you care to share). But I survived. And had this pink wiggly crinkled thing handed to me and then everyone left the room. There was no instructions, no one to sorta sit down and tell you what you might expect from the first few nights, how to really change a newborn’s diaper, how you are going to survive on so little sleep you won’t know how to hold a conversation. And it just stays that way. No instructions. And really, no schedules and constant change.

The biggest difference from life with no kids to having kids is just learning to be unselfish. Suddenly your life will revolve around this new little being. And you have to let it for a while until you and the baby adjust. Sure, this changes as the child grows older and becomes more independent, but overall, you give us things for your kid. Whether that is sleep, time, schedules. Pretty much everything changes. And you need to find ways to make yourself a priority too (babysitters, help from family and partners, time away, etc).

And really just BE FLEXIBLE. The flexible and laid back you are about the kid, and naps, and feedings, and all that stuff–the easier your life will be. And more relaxed you will be. And the easier time you will need/have to adjust to motherhood (or parenthood. Dad’s have to do all this too). It’s all good. And children bring a new outlook on life for anyone. But as a parent they change the way you look at the world. So take deep breaths and just enjoy the ride–no matter how it takes you on little side tracks.

F: You seem to write a lot. Can you share with us some of your creative writing projects? What serves as your inspiration?
B: Is it that obvious? Yes I do write a lot. I always have written but never dedicated so much time with it until after I had children. But, then again, my children are part of the reason why I have dedicated more time to writing. After my son was born I found myself working over 40 hours a week at all hours of the day (to adjust for working from home with a young baby) and I wasn’t happy. I needed an outlet just for me and one that might get me out of the rat race.

I haven’t quite gotten out of the (corporate) rat race yet, but I knew there was no chance I could do that without giving a real, true, honest-to-God effort at writing books for publication. So here I am.

I’m working on a bunch of projects right now. The first is the 2nd technical non-fiction book about open source software. My first book was about creating podcasts with Audacity (you can find it here) and it was fun to write. So I signed up for another that I am working on now! This one is about using Inkscape as a web designer. It is due out by the end of the year.

I write for a variety of places online that you can find from my website and they keep me sane during the week when my work schedule is driving me crazy. For fiction, I have a book that I’m shopping around now, another one in the works, and some small pieces that are being published in quarterly magazines. Just enough to keep me from not going to bed too early in the evenings. And to keep me writing, no matter what my day throws at me.

F: What are some of the things you’ve learned from other Mom bloggers? What have you taught other Mom bloggers?
B: To relax. Have fun. Vent if you need to. And ALWAYS respect your children–as they are a wealth of blogging fodder (both good and bad) and are the cutest things ever. With them at your side, they sorta define that mom blogger part of your life. But you are also you. And Mom bloggers stick together. We have that common bond of parenting and we often share stories, agree with one another, disagree with one another and then always want the best for our families.

I am not sure what I have taught others. Maybe just that you can blog, have a life, be a mom, a blogger and other dreams too. Funnily enough, I have always associated myself as a writer. Before a blogger, before a mom, before a mommy blogger. So, I just hope that maybe that is what people have taken away from reading my blog.

F: If you could change one thing about being a mother, what would it be?
B: The extra 15-20 lbs I still have of baby fat. A magic potion to get rid of the constant large dark circles under my eyes. And maybe an “obey your mom” card that I can pull out and use for nap times, cleaning rooms, brushing teeth and more…

Other than that, I just want to enjoy the ride as much as I can. My son is 7. And honestly, there are times I still think he might be about 3 years old and playing super heroes with capes in my living room.

F: Any advice to new parents in Chicago to ensure their kids get to appreciate the city they live in?
B: Go to museums, shows, concerts, outdoor events. EVERYTHING you want to drag yourself too. This city offers anything from free to very expensive activities. Don’t be afraid to drag your kids deep into the city or to the ‘burbs. They both offer unique experiences that can enrich your child’s lives. And expose them to just about everything from sports games, to concerts, to small events (like free comic drawing classes), culture, and more. Just pick a few items a year and make it happen!

F: If you could take your kids anywhere, where would you take them? Why?
B: Finland. We will take a trip there at some point, we just haven’t done it yet. But we have a strong Finnish Heritage and I’ve would love to see the country itself. And the small village by the same name as my surname.

But really–I would love to take them all over the world: England, India, Africa. I’d also love to go see the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Ocean. And well just as many new places as we can afford.

F: What have some of your best experiences on Mother’s Day been? What would make your perfect Mother’s Day holiday?
B: I don’t get caught up on the holiday too much. All I really like are hugs, kisses, and some special homemade things from the kids. If I get a few hours of “free time” after a family brunch that makes it all a bit better. Gives me kid-free time to just re-coup and then come home to more snuggles.

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