ROBOTS-4-U And Art & Design Summer Camps Now Enrolling

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Planning your summer fun? I have two new camps to share with you today that are all about S.T.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)! The first camp is ROBOTS-4-U - where fun, thinking and learning comes to life!  Campers will be learning about Robotics and Science, in an independent and exciting way! The other camp is the DYNAMIC ART & DESIGN Summer Camp – where technology meets creativity. Campers will have a BLAST, while learning and playing in a dynamic environment.

The camps are for girls and boys ages 7 to 14 and offer hands on learning that is self-paced for beginners to experts with a ratio of 1 instructor to 16 participants. Each Camper Individually uses a ROBOTICS or DYNAMIC ART Kit. Robot kits do not go home with campers but are available for purchase!

Camps are offered in one week sessions during June, July and August. Each camp is 1 week (5 days) long. They are Monday to Friday from 9-11:30am and 12:30-3pm. Visit the web sites www.ROBOTS-4-U.com and www.dynamic-art-design.com to see dates and locations for these Chicago-area day camps.

Register early as camps do fill up quickly! Get 60% Off Robotics Science Summer Camps using the code: “USF1550r”.

Free Kid’s Clubs For Chicago Sports Fans

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Have a child who loves sports? I’ve rounded up all of the FREE kid’s clubs for Chicago teams. Most of these teams also have kid’s clubs with membership fees that offer more options. Know of another free one? Leave it in the comments below!

Chicago Bears: http://www.chicagobears.com/kid-zone/kids-club.html

  • Membership card
  • Welcome letter and Staley autograph card
  • Periodic newsletters and contests throughout the year
  • Invitations to Kids Club events
  • Pro Shop discount
  • Birthday postcard

Chicago White Sox: http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/cws/fan_forum/kidsclub_index.jsp

  • Pack of White Sox Baseball Player Cards
  • Two (2) Upper Level game tickets (to be redeemed online with a promotional code)
  • Membership certificate
  • Two (2) Digital Newsletters
  • Other special ticket and merchandise discounts

Chicago Wolves: http://chicagowolves.com/fans-den/gameday/skates-mates-kids-club

  • One (1) free ticket to one (1) home game
  • Autographed photo of Skates
  • Autographed photo of a player
  • Birthday E-Card from Skates
  • Wolves games & prizes
  • Discounts on Wolves merchandise

Chicago Fire: http://www.chicago-fire.com/club/jsc

  • Membership Card
  • Welcome Gift
  • Special Ticket Offers
  • Monthly E-Newsletter
  • Access to Exclusive Contests
  • Invite to exclusive player autograph session

Jewel-Osco’s New Savings App: MyMixx

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

I am a full time working parent and always short on time to do my grocery shopping. Recently I have discovered a brand new mobile app by Jewel- Osco called MyMixx that will revolutionize my shopping experience. Jewel-Osco is a staple grocery store in our neighborhood and the app will make Jewel our top grocer.

MyMixx is a free app available for apple and droid products. Very user friendly. Once downloaded you will want to choose your neighborhood Jewel-Osco for the updated ad of the week. Once you are signed up MyMixx will do all the work for you beside push the cart. MyMixx sends paperless receipts via email, lets you create a shopping list and discover recipes, and the best exciting part is the electronic coupons directly at your fingertip. It was always hard to find time to clip the coupons and remember to bring them and now I do not have to anymore.

Jewel has absolutely created a very unique personalized shopping app. In a blink of an eye I was hooked. I constantly look for something to do on my phone so now I can do something useful and creative. But most importantly MyMixx saves me time and money.

Looking up recipes and then creating a shopping list is easy and fun. MyMixx remembers your purchases and promptly finds savings on selected items. Redeeming the coupons and savings is easy as pie at the checkout. All someone has to do is enter their phone number they used for signing up. I found this very useful especially at the self checkout.

Over the next few weeks there are several exciting occasions happening such as Valentines Day and beginning of Lent so I will be looking for special recipes and deals to share with everyone. Try the app and let me know what you think and if their shelves are stocked with Sobe let me know.

Free Chicago Museum Days This Month {February 2015}

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One of my favorite things to do when I head to the city is visit the many fabulous museums we have. Every month some of the museums have free days but this month, two of the best are free for the whole month of February. It’s the perfect thing to do on a cold day here in the windy city.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY

From February 1 through February 28, 2015 the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago is offering FREE MUSEUM ENTRY to kids, ages 3-11. (Two free kids tickets permitted per presented voucher with purchase of one paying adult)

To claim this special offer and receive your voucher, visit msichicago.org.  Vouchers for Free Kids Museum Entry must be printed in advance and redeemed on-site at the Museum ticket counter; they cannot be used for online ticketing.

FIELD MUSEUM

All Illinois residents enjoy free entrance to the Field Museum during the month of February which gives them access to most of the permanent exhibits at the museum. Want to check out some special exhibits? Illinois residents have the opportunity to see ticketed exhibitions and 3D films at a special price throughout the month.

OTHER FREE DAYS:
Chicago Children’s Museum: Thursday Evenings 5pm – 8pm
Shedd Aquarium: February 2, 3, 9, 10, 13, 14 , 15, 16, 17, 23, 24

Art Exhibit Encourages Parents To Talk About Tough Topics

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As a mom of young kids, the hardest topics I have to talk to my children about these days are sharing, being kind to others and taking turns. In a few years though, I know I will have to tackle tougher topics like drinking, drugs, and physical intimacy. I’m actually very nervous about those talks so I’m happy to be partnering with Rosecrance, a private not-for-profit organization offering behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and families, and learning more on how to approach these conversations.

I participated in a Twitter party earlier this week and loved hearing from parents that have teens now, women that I admire in business who are also amazing moms. I also got some tips on talking about difficult subjects from Dr. Wright, the Chief Medical Officer at Rosecrance. Though my oldest is only six, I’m already in the process of figuring out how I am going to approach hard topics.

If you are a parent of tweens or teens and live in the Chicago area I’d highly recommend checking out the “In My Shoes” art exhibit at the Robert Crown Center in Hinsdale, IL during National Drug Facts Week. The exhibit was created to help parents understand teenagers’ points of view about the pressures they face and how they are confronted with the potential to use and abuse substances.

Developed by teen patients at Rosecrance’s adolescent campus in Rockford, “In My Shoes” displays shoes that have been painted and decorated by teens to tell their stories about substance use. From shoe selection to showcase, the process of creating shoe art is a meaningful experience because each shoe is unique and tells a teen’s story about addiction, recovery, and most important, their hopes and dreams for the future.

Here are all the details:

  • WHERE: Robert Crown Center, 21 Salt Creek Ln, Hinsdale, IL 60521 (SEE MAP)
  • WHEN:  Monday, Jan. 26 – Friday, Feb. 6, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Open house: Jan. 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • WHAT: During the open house there will be activities, presentations and screenings to raise awareness about substance use and prevention.
  • WHO:   Jennifer Thammavong, art therapist, will be onsite during the community open house on Saturday, Jan. 31
If you don’t live in Chicago, see if the exhibit is coming to a town near you here. They also have other resources on their site like this ebook about teens and weed.
Join in the conversation online using the hashtag #InMyShoes.

 

Pizza Making And Fun At Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

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(Disclosure: My family and I received accommodations courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago but all thoughts are my own.)

What’s more fun than eating pizza? Making it! My boys stepped into the kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago during our recent stay there and had a lot of fun creating their very own pizzas.

The kids donned their chef’s hats and were greeted with an assortment of pizza ingredients on a table and a cook who was there to help them create the perfect pizza pies. First they slathered sauce on the dough, then they sprinkled cheese on and finally they started adding the ingredients.

Jake tried making his as colorful as he could by adding lots of peppers and ingredients by the handful. Lucas on the other hand was very specific in placement and put each ingredient down in just the right place, as if he was creating an artistic masterpiece.

The boys really loved creating their own pizzas and still talk about the fun they had. They were very proud of what they made.

After we made the pizzas we headed upstairs to our room for the next surprise- dessert before dinner! The “Ice Cream Man” (who was actually the ice cream lady) arrived at our room so we could create our own personalized sundaes.

Jacob and Lucas liked the assortment of toppings available and loaded their sundaes with whipped cream, sprinkles and chocolate sauce.

Even mommy got her own ice cream sundae! So delicious!

After our ice cream we decided to checkout the indoor pool area. The 50 foot long pool is in a gorgeous domed room and there is a hot tub for adults, a swimming lap lane, and plenty of lounge chairs.

Pool image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Chicago website

The kids worked up an appetite while playing in the pool so we called down to the kitchen to have the pizzas made. They were quickly brought up to our room on a room service cart. The boys were excited to see that their doughy creations had turned into our dinner.

While the boys had fun making the pizzas I don’t think they realized that whatever they added would be on the pizzas we were going to be later eating. If your children are picky eaters you may want to remind them of this fact. Jacob likes peppers so he was okay but Lucas added a little of everything to his and then wanted everything picked off his slice when it was time to eat.

After dinner we decided to check out another area of the hotel- their kid’s clubroom. Seriously, the fun at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago doesn’t end! We went up to the room, opened the door, and discovered a room full of toys and games. The room also had a great view of the city to enjoy while playing.

When we were done playing it was time for some family cuddle time while we watched a movie. The hotel had a nice selection of family friendly movies that you can borrow to watch in your room.

They also provided us with popcorn and coke that we could enjoy while watching the movie.

Once the kids were fast asleep it was mommy’s time to relax and I got to pretend I was at a spa and take an {uninterrupted} bubble bath in the extra large tub. It was heavenly.

The perfect ending to our day in Chicago was being able to sleep in a nice bed.

The next morning I got to lounge around and enjoy the view a bit since the bedroom had a door to separate it from the sitting area.

Want to enjoy a little family getaway to Chicago? When you book your stay at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago just request the Let’s Get Away package. It includes:

  • A visit from the Hotel’s Ice Cream Man or Martini Man, or Pizza Making Class with a chef
  • A USD 50.00 Spa credit or overnight valet parking for one vehicle
  • Age-appropriate in-room amenities
  • Luxurious accommodations in an Executive Suite

Always available to guests of Four Seasons Hotel Chicago:

Gurnee Mills: Great Deals & Fun For Everyone {Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: I received a gift card from Gurnee Mills but all thoughts are my own.)

A couple weekends ago the boys and I headed to Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall to do some shopping. What I love about Gurnee Mills is the great selection of stores with many of them having deep discounts on items. Being on a budget I really appreciate being able to keep my kids in the same brands they typically wear while being able to save money.

Shopping with kids is an experience as we always tend to get sidetracked. The first store we went into was The Disney Store and my little Toy Story lover found the Lotso bear that he’d been hunting for. I liked the price which was over $30 less than the only other Lotso bear I had previously found at a toy store. He also found a bunch of other little friends and with the buy 3 or more discounts (and armed with a gift card) we went a little crazy…. 

Lucas had the biggest smile on his face and kept thanking me and hugging his stuffed friends. Jacob on the other hand kept asking where the LEGO store was. I promised him we’d stop there after mommy got some clothes for them.

I shopped at Carter’s, Gymboree Outlet, OshKosh B’gosh and The Children’s Place Outlet which are all the stores I typically go to for kid’s clothes. I found so many great deals it was unbelievable. I typically find good prices at outlets but there seemed to be even more sales than normal. Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Apparently yellow and gray are popular colors this season :) I swear I bought plenty of colorful items including a few matching shirts for the boys. Don’t they look handsome in these blue shirts?

When we were done looking at clothes, I fulfilled my promise of stopping at the LEGO store so Jacob could pick something out. Both boys made a few custom minifigures which they loved doing. Jacob has really been into LEGOs recently and has told me that when he is an adult he is going to collect all the minifigures. They each picked out an Advent Calendar also which is something I had my eye on last year but never bought. When we went to check out we got four free gifts. Four! Each boy got a LEGO magazine and then we got a little LEGO Chima set and a LEGO Astronaut set.

After a busy afternoon of shopping we enjoyed an early dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. I’ve been to three locations and I have to say that their Gurnee Mills location was the nicest one. It wasn’t too busy which was nice. Lucas loved the kid’s macaroni and cheese which he said was “Heaven”. I’d never heard him describe food like that so you know it was good :)

As we were walking around we discovered there was a lot more to do at Gurnee Mills than shop. There was a movie theater, an arcade, golfing and even an ice skating rink! Though I’d been to Gurnee Mills before I’d never noticed all the fun things there were to do there.

After a long afternoon carrying numerous bags I was exhausted (note to moms everywhere: pull out the stroller…trust me….). We headed home and I listened to the boys talk about how much fun they had. Lucas played with Lotso and the Peas in a Pod and Jacob looked through his LEGO magazine and talked about minifigures. Before they drifted off to sleep Jacob asked me when we’d be going back again. Considering we’d spent most of our time in clothing stores I’d consider this a win :)

GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win a $50 American Express Gift Card

(Please note: If you win you will have to pick it up at Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall)

HOW TO ENTER:

Comment on this giveaway telling me why you want to win

For an extra entry, share this giveaway and leave the link in the comments below

Giveaway ends October 1, 2014 at 11:59pm CST.

Walking Around Chicago {$50 Aerosoles Gift Card Giveaway}

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Sinisa and I got to go on a date this past weekend which was so nice because quality one-on-one time is so rare. AEROSOLES sent me a pair of shoes and gave me some spending money to go out so we headed to Chicago to enjoy the warm, sunny weather before Chicago turns into “Chiberia” again. There are so many things to do in the city and most of them we don’t get to experience with the kids so we took full advantage of the day and tried to cram as much as we could into our afternoon.

First we stopped for lunch at Da Lobsta. I had my first Lobster Roll in Boston back in July and I’ve been craving one ever since. If you love lobster this is a must-stop lunch place! We then decided to head over to Navy Pier.

Navy Pier seemed more crowded than normal since it’s under construction but I love how lively it is. You get a beautiful view of the city from the Pier and an even better view from the 150-foot high Ferris Wheel. I hadn’t been on the Ferris Wheel in years since I was nervous to take the kids on it but it’s a nice activity to do without the kids. It should be noted though, that if you have less than 4 people in your group they make you sit with other people which is a little uncomfortable at times (like if you are with a couple who seems to be getting engagement photos like we were!)

After we walked along the Pier we took a taxi over to Millenium Park. We walked along the path that went by the garden area, watched families splash in the huge fountain area and stopped at “the bean”. The park was pretty busy because there was a festival going on.

We ended up at The Park Grill’s outdoor patio where we enjoyed drinks and an appetizer. I had almost forgotten how nice it was to sit and just talk without being interrupted! It started getting late so we headed back to the Pier and home to pick up our babies. It’s amazing what half a day can do for a person and a relationship! I felt calmer and more connected.

All this walking and relationship building wouldn’t have happened without my AEROSOLES shoes! AEROSOLES designs women’s footwear featuring exclusive technologies that deliver the most comfortable shoes possible. They feature unique “Diamond-Flex” soles that absorb impact and disperse friction with every step and “Stitch ‘N’ Turn” technology which creates the MOST flexible and comfortable shoes possible; with no break-in time required. I really loved how comfortable they were. Many times when I wear flats, the bottoms of my feet hurt after a few hours, almost as if I’d been hitting the pavement barefoot. I didn’t feel like that at all with these shoes. My feet were well cushioned.

Want to try AEROSOLES yourself? Enter to win a $50 AEROSOLES gift card below!

 HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Comment on this giveaway with your favorite city to walk around in

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow Aerosoles on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

Giveaway ends September 20, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident and 21 or over to enter.

Celebrate Play in the Windy City this Saturday with Let’s Play!

#LetsPlayChicago

As many of you know, I’ve been working to help share the importance of play in the lives of children as a Play Ambassador for Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple to get kids and families active by providing them with the tools, places and inspiration to make physical activity a daily priority

Play is important to children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. It is more important than ever for kids and families to get outside and play, especially in Chicago, where playgrounds are often lacking at public elementary and middle schools, according to research shared by the Chicago Tribune.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that Let’s Play is helping bring play to Chicago this Saturday, August 9 and we want you and your family to join the fun! In the morning, Let’s Play will be working with its partners KaBOOM! and Good Sports and a team of volunteers to build a playground from the ground up at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy and donate nearly 2,000 pieces of new sports equipment valued at $68,000 to eight youth organizations in Chicago.

In the afternoon, you can come on down to #LetsPlayChicago, a FREE community event for families and kids of all ages, featuring fun play activities like bouncy houses, obstacle courses, face painting and snacks. The #LetsPlayChicago community event is from 12:30 p.m. 4:00 p.m. at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy (6024 W Warwick Ave., Chicago, IL 60634). It will be a fun time for all and a great way to get active with your family!

For more information and to register to join the fun, visit LetsPlay.com.

Disclosure: I am currently serving as a “Play Ambassador” for Let’s Play. This is a sponsored post, however, the opinions expressed are my own.

 

Travel Back In Time At Medieval Times

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Looking for something fun to do inside where it’s nice and cool? If you live near a Medieval Times this would be a great time to visit a castle! My family had the chance to go to a complimentary show a couple weeks ago as part of a blogger event and enjoyed our evening there.

As soon as you step into the castle you are transported back into time. From the knights on horses to the way employees are dressed to the dishes you eat upon- everything is similar to how it would have been back in the Medieval time period. It’s fun to getaway from life for a bit.

Before the show starts everyone is given a paper crown to represent the knight that they will be cheering for during the show. We cheered on the black & white knight, Don Iofre Santa Creu – defender of the ancient shrine at Santiago de Compostela. Our section of seats was pretty loud but then again it was full of bloggers and our kids– we can be a rowdy bunch ;)

During the show we enjoyed a large feast. Included in the meal is garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, oven roasted chicken, a spare rib, herb-roasted potato and an apple pastry. There is so much food that I always have leftovers to bring home! (Parent tip) Keeping with the themed time period there are no utensils so if you have kids make sure to put a couple spoons in your bag if they are too little to sip their soup from the bowl.

We enjoyed the show and the story of the Knights and the Princess. The sword fighting got the boys attention and I loved all of the beautiful horses that were part of the show. The castle is pretty amazing as well.

Want to learn more about Medieval Times? Visit their website. While you are there sign up for their birthday mailing list and get free admission on your special day!

Brighten The Day With A Colorful Snack

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Chicago is gearing up for the Color Vibe race tomorrow and, to celebrate, I’m partnering with Tum-E Yummies for this sponsored post.

The Color Vibe event is a fun event where you’ll get blasted with color while you run the 5k. To go along with the theme, I thought I’d share a quick, colorful snack with you all that my kids love. This would be the perfect thing to snack on during the race or really anytime!

I made a snack mix with cheerios, fruit loops, peanuts, m&m’s, and raisins. The fruit loops cereal and m&m’s made it a very colorful treat! For more fun we paired it with the Tum-E Yummies fruit flavored drinks. Luke’s favorite was the red fruit punch flavor. I liked the green apple one.

You’ll notice Luke wearing a colorful wiggly headband and ribbon as well. We found those at Target by the party favors (along with some rainbow colored necklaces). We are ready for a day of colorful fun!

Want to join in? Check out the race schedule below to find one of these colorful races near you!

 

Energizer Night Race For A Brighter World {Giveaway For Chicago Race Registration}

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(Disclosure: I am a Blogger Ambassador for the Energizer Night Race but all thoughts are my own.)

Did you know that 1.3 billion people lack access to clean lighting, forcing them to rely on kerosene lamps? It sounds innocent, but kerosene is actually responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually. Without adequate lighting, children in these rural communities can’t study effectively. Physicians can’t provide proper medical attention after daylight hours. And, kerosene is so expensive that it ends up costing these families half of their income.

Energizer has decided to help by donating 14 million hours of light to families around the world through their partner, One Million Lights – a non-profit that provides clean, safe, affordable solar lighting to rural communities globally.

 

Energizer is hosting a series of races this year where participants race at night, with the light of an Energizer® headlight to guide them, letting them unite to raise awareness for the global need for safe, affordable solar light for the 1.3 billion people in the world living without electricity. This year’s Chicago Energizer Night Race is on June 7th.

GIVEAWAY:

Two readers will each win registration for the Chicago 2014 race

HOW TO ENTER:

 Tell me why you want to win

FOR AN EXTRA ENTRY:

Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends June 1, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident to enter. Giveaway includes registration only and does not cover any other costs including travel, parking, etc…

Family-Friendly Event: Run Or Dye Chicago {Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: I will receive compensation and admission to this event in exchange for this promotional post.)

Run or Dye, the world’s most colorful 5K, is headed to Toyota Park on May 24, 2014!  Bring all your friends and run a color-blasted 5K, where you get showered in safe, eco-friendly, plant-based cornstarch dye every kilometer. Then enjoy the world-famous Dye Festival afterward, where you can Tie-Dye the Sky (not to mention all your friends!) in this ultimate celebration of life, friendship, fitness, and fun.

Run or Dye is for everyone! Whether you’re a recovering couch potato or an avid marathon runner, you’ll love the atmosphere and experience at Run or Dye. You’re welcome to walk, run, dance, or skip your way to the finish line. And Run or Dye is family-friendly — kids 6 and under participate for FREE and do not require registration!

Use the code: BLOGCHICAGO to save $10. CODE EXPIRES MAY 17th!  If you join a team you can save another $5!

GIVEAWAY:

Enter below for your chance to win two codes for free admission to Run or Dye in Chicago on May 24th, 2014. Giveaway ends 5/10/2014 at 11:59pm. Winner will be send the codes via email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway.

 

So who wants to join in on the fun with me?!

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago: A Kid-Friendly Luxury Hotel

Ritz baking collage

Despite living only about an hour away from Chicago, we don’t really go downtown that often. I wanted to go somewhere over President’s Day since the boys were out of school and I had the day off from work, so our family headed to Chicago for a couple days of fun in the big city. I was really excited about this trip because I would be reviewing The Ritz-Carlton Chicago hotel. I had heard of this hotel, and assumed it would be too “fancy” for me to bring the boys to, but when they invited us for a “family sleepover” we decided to go and I’m so glad we did.

When I checked out the website I noticed a few things immediately that keyed me in to how great it would be for kids. Room-wise they offered childproof rooms which I think is great for people with young children. They also had a bunch of amenities just for the kids. To keep children occupied they also had a pool, cookie baking, and a candy cart that you could have come to your room.

When we first walked into the suite I was amazed at how large it was. We were staying in their Deluxe Lake-View Suite. It was about the size of my first apartment. Here is a video walk-through of the suite:

This suite was located on the 24th floor and was on the corner so we had lake views from every room. I even got to wake up to the lake outside of my window as I laid in bed! That to me is a dream!

The boys were so excited to see a little tent in the room. One of the maids also came before bedtime for “turn down” service and made the pullout couch into a bed for the boys. Some of my other favorite kid-friendly features in the room were the bathrobes and kid-toiletries. 

We didn’t make it to the pool but the boys loved baking cookies in the kitchen. They were then delivered to our room about an hour later with whipped cream and sprinkles so the boys could decorate them and then eat them.

There were delicious treats for mommy and daddy, too!

Along with the fun inside the hotel, guests of The Ritz-Carlton can take an elevator down to the Water Tower mall. This was perfect for our winter visit to the city because we could enjoy the mall and it’s restaurants without having to put on our coats and walk in the slush and snow outside. The boys enjoyed playing at the LEGO store and Luke and I walked through the American Girl store. We also went up every escalator in the mall and then took the elevator down.

Another thing I liked was that the check-in and check-out times were really generous. Check-out was at noon so we were able to walk down Michigan Avenue and relax in our room a bit before we had to leave. We wanted to avoid this wintery weather for as long as we could….

Are you looking to enjoy an evening in Chicago? While the $785/night suites are a little pricier than my family would normally stay in, I think it’s worth splurging a bit to experience the luxury that we did! When I checked there were also hotel rooms priced at $295/night. Along with the beautiful hotel located in the perfect spot on Michigan Avenue, the staff was excellent and the beds were really comfortable. I think both couples and families would enjoy staying at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. It is definitely a hotel we will go back to!

(Disclosure: My family received a free stay at the hotel but all thoughts are my own.)

Chicago’s Favorite Chocolates

Fannie May gift ideas

(Disclosure: I received a box of chocolates for review but all thoughts are my own.)

You all know I love chocolate. As a Chicagoan, I am lucky to have one of the very best chocolate companies based right here in my area- Fannie May! I can’t remember a Christmas without a box of Fannie May chocolates. My favorites include their pixies and their mint meltaways. I also enjoy their boxes of assorted chocolates.

I’ll tell you a funny story that I am extremely embarrassed to share…. when I was younger (a long time ago) we had a box of assorted chocolates in the fridge. I don’t remember how old I was but I was young enough that I couldn’t just eat as many chocolates as I wanted because they were limited to a dessert item. Well I had my favorites and then flavors I had never tried. I was in the fridge one day when I decided that I wanted to try the other flavors but didn’t want to be selfish and eat the whole piece of chocolate so I took a bite of a few of them and left the other halves in the fridge.

At the time it made sense in my head to share the other half with someone else but, as you can imagine, my dad was not very happy that I had left half-eaten chocolate in the fridge. He probably would have preferred that I just ate the whole piece. Looking back I realize now that a knife would have been a better cutting choice than my teeth. I think about that story every time I have a box of chocolates from Fannie May and it brings back memories of my childhood every time I bite into a piece of chocolate. 

Along with the special memories I have of Fannie May chocolates, I think the chocolate is delicious. I took a look at their website and chose some of the gifts I think *someone* would like if you haven’t bought me them a gift yet ;)

Sea Salt Caramels

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Milk Chocolate Pixies

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Artisan Holiday Bark

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Mint Meltaways

I checked and it’s not too late to place your order for Christmas. There is a 20% off sale and free 2nd day shipping promotion as well. Head on over to their website for full details!

How To Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

sugar cookies

With baking season in full-swing I wanted to share these 9 tips from Country Woman magazine to help you make the perfect sugar cookie. I’ll be baking with the boys tomorrow so these tips came just in time!

1.    Don’t Be Too Touchy: Use a light touch when handling the dough. Over-handling will result in tough cookies.

2.    Stay Cool: Refrigerate the dough before rolling for easier handling.

3.    Avoid Sticky Situations: Prevent sticking by lightly dusting with flour both the rolling pin and work surface. Be careful—working     too much extra flour into the dough will make the cookies tough.

4.    Start Small: Roll out a portion of the dough at a time; keep remaining dough in the fridge so it stays easy to work with.

5.    Create An Even Playing Field: Roll from the center to the edge, keeping a uniform thickness. Check thickness with a ruler. Uneven dough means cookies will bake unevenly, and thinner cookies may burn before thicker ones are done.

6.    Get a Clean Cut: Dip your cutter in flour or use nonstick cooking spray to keep dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.

7.    Take Out the Tools: Keep cutouts intact before and after baking by transferring them to and from the baking sheet with a large    metal spatula or pancake turner that supports the entire cutout.

8.    Keep it Simple: Limit designs and colors when decorating. Too many colors and shapes can be overwhelming.

9.    Leave Them Out to Dry: Let decorated cookies dry overnight before packaging them for gift giving or freezing.

Illinois Moms: Become A Field Mom

field moms

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post. I am an Illinois Farm Families Ambassador® but all thoughts are my own.)

Have you ever wondered where your food came from? If so, I have an exciting opportunity to share with you! Illinois Farm Families® is now accepting applications for it’s 2014 Field Moms program.

“Field Moms” are moms from the Chicago area. They visit different Illinois farms throughout the year to learn more about the farmers and their families and what they do on their farms. Four Saturday trips are planned for the year. They also get to ask questions about food and farming topics they see in the news.

2013 Field Moms

Along with visiting farms, the 2013 Field Moms followed the growth of an acre of soybeans and an acre of corn at Donna’s farm and a pen of pigs at Jen’s farm. This gave the Field Moms a chance to experience first-hand what it is like to be a farmer.

Here are what two moms had to say about the Field Moms program:

“As a person concerned with the overall public’s health and as a self-declared ‘foodie,’ how (and where) our food is provided, butchered and served is of utmost importance to me. Clearly, cattle steering is not an easy way to earn a living. I was impressed with the family’s candor and openness when faced with tough questions.” –Renee Keats, 2013 Field Mom

“Integrity, hospitality, hard work, intelligent, precision farming are all words or terms that shined through on this visit to Paul and Donna Jeschke’s farm. We learned so much about corn and soybean planting. They hosted us even though they were still planting on the day of our visit.” –
Susan Herold, 2013 Field Mom 

Want to join in on the fun and learning? Find out more about the Illinois Farm Families, the Field Moms program, and how to apply here.

 

Chicago Toy & Game Fair {Giveaway}

chitag

(Disclosure: I am receiving free tickets and attending their complimentary media breakfast but thoughts are my own.)

Kick off your holiday fun! Go to the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, the largest toy and game fair in the US that’s open to the public. Come out to preview, play with the hottest new TOYS and GAMES from around the world, and meet the inventors who created them. Other fun includes: tournaments, contests, meet costumed characters, see Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew, live stage entertainment, contests, and much much more!

I went two years ago and found lots of great new toys and games for my family.

Where:

Navy Pier, Festival Hall A

When:

Saturday, November 23, 2012 – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday, November 24, 2012 – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Click here for ticket info and a $2 off coupon.

GIVEAWAY:

3 people will win Weekend Family Passes to ChiTAG

HOW TO ENTER:

1) Tell me what your favorite game or toy is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends November 15, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be a US resident and 18 or older to win. This giveaway includes tickets only. All other fees including parking/travel are the responsibility of the winner.

Family Fun At The Pumpkin Farm

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(Disclosure: We received free tickets into Pumpkin Fest but all thoughts are my own.)

I love going to Fall festivals with my family. Last weekend we went to Pumpkin Fest at Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Crest Hill, IL. There was so much to do there and the kids were in awe as they ran from activity to activity. We only were able to stay a couple hours but they jumped on inflatables, rode a pony, went on a hayride, went through a haunted barn, went through an obstacle course, saw animals at the petting zoo, and played on giant climbing structures.

There were pumpkins for sale throughout the farm and a big pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Other activities we didn’t get a chance to do included paintball, stories told by the Pumpkin Princess, a big bouncy inflatable “cloud”, a giant corn maze, a rock climbing wall and a train ride.

Here are some pictures from our afternoon of Fall fun:

The boys posing on the pumpkins {the one must-take pumpkin patch photo!}

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Wooden train play area

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The cornfield maze

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Jacob and Daddy

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Big spider web climber

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Luke on his pony ride

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The haunted barn we went in (which wasn’t all that scary but good for kids)

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The playland area the kids loved

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The pick your own pumpkin patch we got to by hayride

What a fun afternoon! Visit Siegel’s Pumpkin Fest in the next couple weeks to make great memories with your family.

Chicago Mix Popcorn

Chicago Mix Popcorn

(Disclosure: I received samples but thoughts are my own.)

Chicago Mix Popcorn

Have you ever heard of Chicago Mix Popcorn before? It’s a concept that is fairly new to me but I love it. What it does is take the sweet taste of caramel popcorn and the salty taste of cheese popcorn and combines the two flavored popcorn into one bag. No idea how it got it’s name but it’s delicious!

I recently received samples of GH Cretors Popcorn. The caramel corn is made the old fashioned way: by hand, in copper kettles. Cane sugar, brown rice syrup (a non-GMO alternative to corn syrup with a lower glycemic impact) and real butter is heated over a flame and then stirred slowly by hand to develop its rich complex flavor and crunch. For the cheese corn, real cheddar cheese is melted in special kettles and then gently mixed with locally-grown, air-popped corn. The result is a perfect combination of tastes, two-cheese to one-caramel in every bag. And, this treat is all natural and completely free of GMO’s, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives!

Not a fan of mixing your popcorn flavors? You are in luck because GH Cretors sells “Just the Cheese Corn” and “Just the Caramel Corn” separately. Also, just in time for Halloween, they are selling single serve sized bags of the popcorn that is just right for handing out to Trick-or-Treaters.

Which flavor would you try first?

Literacy Events Around The Nation Today

jumpstart

Join the record-breaking literacy celebration today, October 3, with Jumpstart! People all across the country will read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long in support of Jumpstart’s mission to work towards the day that every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Joined by Tiffani Thiessen, actress and star of USA’s White Collar, Jumpstart hopes to break last year’s record of 2.3 million participants reading the same book at the same time.

Jumpstart will host several large scale events on October 3 in cities and towns across the country with marquee events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, many of Jumpstart’s campaign Reading Partners and sponsors will be hosting events. Gymboree will host events in every Gymboree, Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree Play & Music locations across the country. Additionally, official Reading Partner, We Give Books will have Otis available to read online for free in both English and Spanish at www.wegivebooks.org.

”Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a meaningful way for Americans to support the critical need for high-quality early education in our country,” said Jumpstart’s president and CEO, Naila Bolus. “We know that for children living in low-income communities, this need is significant. By the time these children enter kindergarten, they are already 60% behind their more affluent peers. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record brings light to this national issue and gives citizens a platform to voice their support for this cause.”

Learn more at http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.

Chicago Area Events

Chicago will hold two events today in honor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

The Lincoln Park Zoo will host three readings of “Otis” by Loren Long on Thursday morning. The readings are open to the public, and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley will attend. Readings are at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum:

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also hold an event. Kraft Family Free Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be readings of “Otis“ throughout the night.

 

 

Bears Football And Buffalo Wild Wings: The Perfect Combination

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Buffalo Wild Wings for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m sure you all know by now that I love football.  I loudly cheer for my Chicago Bears and have even been getting my young boys into the game (though lately my 4 year old has started cheering for the Packers so I obviously have some more work to do there).

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One of my favorite football foods is wings and not just any wings but honey bbq boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. I often send Sinisa out to pick them up when there are night games since the kids are sleeping. Thursday night games are great because then he can get a deal on my wings during Boneless Thursdays.

Mid-day Sunday games are my favorite because we can go as a whole family to enjoy the game and some family time at the restaurant after we go to Church. The boys love the arcade like games they have as well and I don’t have to worry about them being loud because the whole restaurant is loud- especially when our team scores a touchdown!

I look forward to many more football games at Buffalo WIld Wings with my family because there is nothing better than football and wings with the ones I love! Connect with Buffalo WIld Wings! Follow Buffalo Wild Wings on Twitter or Like Buffalo Wild Wings on Facebook.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Microsoft’s Creative Workshop in Schaumburg, IL 10/3 {Microsoft Gift Card Giveaways}

artmobb

Tomorrow, LA artist ArtMobb is going to be in the Chicago area for a Microsoft Store “Creative Workshop” event at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Mike Farhat and Chris Hoyle of Art Mobb have established themselves as two of Los Angeles’s most innovative artists by creating sought after mixed-media artwork for the NBA elite and other top athletes. ArtMobb will be demoing different things you can do with the “Fresh Paint” function on Microsoft’s Surface tablets.

Image via artmobb.com

ArtMobb’s is also going to be debuting a cool, brand-new unique Bears painting while in town. As a huge Bears fan I’m so jealous of everyone who will be there and can’t wait to see it!

EVENT DETAILS:

Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL

Thursday, October 3

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

GIVEAWAY:

5 winners will win a $50 Microsoft gift card

HOW TO ENTER:

 {Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me what your favorite Microsoft product is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @artmobb on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

5) Follow @FreshPaintTeam on Twitter

6) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends October 16, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or over and a US resident to win.

(Information and prizes courtesy of Microsoft.)

Kuipers Family Farm: Apples, Pumpkins, And Trees {Maple Park, IL}

kuipers 4

(Disclosure: I am receiving a family pack of passes to the pumpkin farm.)

Kuipers’ Fall season began in August when the orchard opened for apple picking (Sat & Sun only) and the aroma of fresh apple cider doughnuts, home-baked pies, fudge, pasteurized apple cider and hand-spun caramel apples from The Orchard Shop and Bakery lingers in the air.

September 21st the west side of the farm opened for some down-on-the-farm-fun like The Maize Corn Maze, hayrides, farm animals, a haunted forest, tractor tire mountain, peddle tractor derby, nature walk, jumping pillows,  pumpkin picking and much more.  Be sure to catch the Pig Races and The Cowboy Randy Roping Show on the weekends.  The Pumpkin Farm is a great place to host your child’s birthday party or visit with your Scout group (see website for package details). 

November and December at the farm is dedicated to the holidays with pies and specialty foods for entertaining, unique gifts for giving and of course, Christmas trees.  Harvest your own right from the fields or select a freshly harvested Fraser Fir from our huge selection.

Save on Fall fun at Kuipers Family Farm with this coupon! Visit Kuiper’s Family Farm online here.

Find Fun Near You With SpotOn.it {Chicago Children’s Museum Passes Giveaway}

children's museum giveaway

It’s rare to find “free” time where I’m not working and the boys aren’t in sports, school or other activities. I love taking the kids places when we have that extra time but the hard part is figuring out what we can go do. I was contacted by SpotOn.it and have decided to partner with them because I love the service they offer.

Parents can create wishlists based upon their different interests and discover new things to do in their city. I created two wishlists to start- “fun for the kids” and “time for a date” {a mom can dream, right?}.

One thing that I think sets this site apart from the other “event” type sites I have been on is that you can look for events based on when you are available down to the time of day. Want to see what is going on tomorrow afternoon? You can search the date and time of day along with a category (ie. kids, food & drink, etc…)

There are lots of great locations on SpotOn.it that are sharing their events and activities. One of those places is the Chicago Children’s Museum. I’m thrilled to be able to offer 2 of my readers a family 4 pack of tickets to this fabulous children’s museum located on Navy Pier in Chicago. Giveaway ends at midnight on October 13, 2013.

(Disclosure: I received passes for the Chicago Children’s Museum in exchange for posting. Thoughts are my own.)

Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm {Crest Hill, IL}

siegel's

(Disclosure: I am receiving admission to the pumpkin patch for my family but all thoughts are my own.)

Live in the Chicago area? Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Crest Hill, IL has lots of fall fun for your family! The Siegel’s have been farming this same land since 1909 and is a 4th generation working family farm.

Harvest your Family Memories on 40 Acres of “Affordable Family Fun” with over 20 different attractions included in General Admission. Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm features a pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins right from the vine! Not many places around Chicago let you do that. Also, new this year are the Statesville Zombie Paintball Ride and Lexi’s Jumpin’ Blob Jamboree!

Make sure to grab this coupon before your visit and save $5 off the price of a ticket if purchased ahead of time or $2 off at the gate.

First Swim Lessons At Goldfish Swim School

goldfish swim school collage

(Disclosure: My boys are receiving free lessons at Goldfish Swim School but all thoughts are my own.)

My boys started swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School last week. I was really excited to check out the facilities and get the boys back in the water swimming.

Goldfish Swim School is definitely a happy place to be! Look at all the bright colors and fun murals on the walls.

The viewing area for the parents is even fun.

Arriving early is no problem because there is plenty to keep the kids occupied while they wait for their lessons to start.

I like that Goldfish Swim School has small class sizes. My boys class size will never be more than 4 kids to 1 instructor. Also, the water is always nice and warm at 90 degrees. Cold water was one of the things that Jacob hated at other swim lessons. We won’t have that problem at Goldfish!

There was also someone doing assessments of the children while they were swimming and at the end of the lessons we were able to see how where they were at skill-wise. The boys even got ribbons and balloons to celebrate their first lesson. What a nice treat for the kids!

After lessons we headed into private changing rooms to get out of the bathing suits. There is also a hair drying station which will be nice when it’s cold outside and I don’t want to bring the boys outside with wet hair. Goldfish Swim School seems to have thought of it all.

Overall, the boys loved their first lessons at Goldfish Swim School. We can’t wait to go back next week and continue to learn how to swim.

Fall At The Morton Arboretum {Giveaway}

Morton Arboretum Visit {Fall 2009}

Morton Arboretum Visit {Fall 2009}

Fall is quickly approaching and The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL is a great place to see amazing fall color, and enjoy the smells, tastes and sounds of fall. We love visiting the Arboretum and the Fall is one of our favorite seasons to go. Here are some fun events coming up in the next couple of months:

Tails on the Trails

For the first time, man’s best friend is taking over The Morton Arboretum. Tails on the Trails will be offered Saturday, September 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Enjoy a “paw”fect day out with your pet as you meander down the Arboretum’s 16 miles of hiking trails. Then, check out canine demonstrations and local vendors by Meadow Lake.

The cost is $5 per dog. A portion of the proceeds will go to a local animal shelter. All dogs must be current with vaccinations, be social with other dogs and be kept on a leash at all times while on the Arboretum property.

Honey Bee Weekend

September is National Honey Month. Celebrate at The Morton Arboretum’s annual Honey Bee Weekend, September 7-8. Explore the Honey Bee Expo, featuring honey and bee-themed products such as honey mead, candles, lotions and beekeeper kits.

One out of every three bites we eat depends on pollination by bees. But recent headlines have been full of warnings about the health of our bee populations – should we be concerned? Over a honey-themed buffet lunch, entomologist and author May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois will update us on the health of our honey bee populations during Honey Lunch & Learn: Healthy Bees, Healthy Food, Saturday, September 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Learn their biology, find out just what honey bees eat, hear the latest on Colony Collapse Disorder and more! Cost is $22 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or by calling 630-719-2468.

An opportunity to have May Berenbaum’s books signed by the author will follow at 2 p.m. at the Honey Bee Weekend booths in Arbor Court.

Learn all about honeybees, their favorite flowers and how honey is made on a Family Honeybee Hike. Hike includes a viewing of Arboretum beehives and sampling of our Arboretum honey! 45 minute hikes are available Saturday, September 7 or Sunday, September 8 at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Cost per person is $5 for members, $6 for nonmembers. Designed for families with children ages 2 and up. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or by calling 630-719-2468.

Take a Bee Hive Tour on Friday, September 6 or Sunday, September 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. with Greg Fischer, the Arboretum’s beekeeper. Bee netting will be provided. Enjoy a sample of honey for a sweet finish to the tour. Cost is $22 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or by calling 630-719-2468.

Submit your own honey in our second annual Honey Competition on September 6. A certified judge will award best in class and best in show ribbons in a variety of categories. A complimentary workshop on how to prepare honey for competition will take place on Sunday, July 28 at 1:00 p.m. in the Sycamore Room. No registration required.

Enjoy honey inspired food paired with mead, a honey wine at the Arboretum’s second annual Honey Mead Dinner on September 5. Arboretum beekeeper, Greg Fischer will be present explaining the pairings and how mead is made.

Wish the Children’s Garden a Happy Bee-day! Celebrate the garden’s 8th birthday by making bee masks, meeting a real beekeeper and checking out the hives we have in the Children’s Garden! The party is happening September 7-8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free with admission. Cook DuPage will be present with their Observation Bee Hive.

Interested in starting your own hive and harvesting your own honey? Already have a hive and want to learn more about managing it? Join Greg Fischer of Wild Blossom Meadery and beekeeper for the Arboretum, for Beginning Beekeeping. Explore the history of beekeeping, bee anatomy, starting and managing a colony, equipment basics, honey bee pests and diseases, harvesting honey and more. All participants will receive their own hive tool to take home. This four week class will be held September 10-October 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost is $80 for members, $94 for nonmembers. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or call 630-719-2468.

Theatre-Hikes®

Follow the action – literally – of some time-honored stage productions during the unique Theatre-Hikes® program at The Morton Arboretum. Performances are each Saturday and Sunday, through October. Shows in September begin at 1 p.m. Shows in October start at 3 p.m.

The first Sunday performance of each month will be a low-impact hike (suitable for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs). Each performance lasts approximately three hours, so please wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather and bring a chair or blanket, water bottle and insect repellent. All performances begin at the Thornhill Shelter (Parking Lot 21).

Tickets are on sale now and include Arboretum admission. For members, tickets cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. For nonmembers, tickets cost $19 for adults and $13 for children. Season tickets are available and cost $40 for member adults, $25 for member children, $60 for nonmember adults and $45 for nonmember children. To purchase tickets, call 630-725-2066, visit mortonarb.org, or stop by The Morton Arboretum Visitor Center.

A Walk with Mark Twain

Weekends in September Meet Mark Twain as he shares two of his famous stories: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The Diaries of Adam and Eve. In our first story, Jim Smiley, a man with all the luck in the world, finds his luck has run out when he gambles everything on a giant frog that he figures can’t lose. Then, Twain retells the creation story, with a reclusive Adam who finds himself unprepared for the arrival of Eve, a talkative, emotional female. Will they find a way to get along? Appropriate for all ages.

Fall Color Festival & 5K

Fall Color Festival kicks off with The Morton Arboretum’s 10th annual Fall Color 5K Run & Walk and Kid’s Dash on Sunday, October 6 at 8 a.m. The 5K follows a challenging USATF-certified course along the East Side Main Route through rolling terrain. ChronoTrack B-Tag timing system, a technical t-shirt, awards and recovery food and water are included. Cost is $25 for members, $30 for nonmembers, or $35 on race day including admission.

The Kid’s Dash begins at 9 a.m. for ages 2-10 and includes a cotton t-shirt and participation ribbon. Cost is $10 for members, $12 for nonmembers and $15 on race day. Register at mortonarb.org or in the Visitor Center.

Scarecrow Trail will be back around Meadow Lake, with nature-based scarecrows created by local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. Open daily in October, 7 a.m. to sunset.

Plus, fulfill your fall food cravings at the Fall Color Festival. Enjoy juicy brats, build-your-own taffy apples and other mouth watering bites available for purchase in Arbor Court. Plus, sample complimentary wine tastings. The festival will be open weekends in October and Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Glass Pumpkin Patch and Workshops

This fall, The Morton Arboretum announces the return of the Glass Pumpkin Patch, a cornucopia of unique blown-glass artwork set against a backdrop of the Arboretum’s colorful trees. From Wednesday, October 16 through Sunday, October 20, the event will feature 3,000 glass pumpkins and other autumnal designs such as apples, gourds, acorns, and more. The Glass Pumpkin Patch will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and is free with Arboretum admission.

During glass blowing demonstrations, visitors can watch top glass-blowing artisans, called gaffers, from around the country turn molten glass turn into works of art. Meet the artists and see how they work the molten glass, adding colors and creating different patterns and shapes. The glassblowers use an outdoor furnace, assembled on site just for the Patch, which reaches temperatures higher than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

After watching a demonstration, visitors can walk through the Glass Pumpkin Patch to see finished pieces in a wide variety of styles, sizes and colors. The Glass Pumpkin Patch will be open for viewing and glass blowing demonstrations on Wednesday and Thursday as well as on Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The pieces will be available for sale starting at 1 p.m. Friday, October 18. The pumpkins and autumnal designs range from $35 to $300 per item based on the artist’s experience level, techniques used, color, size and style of the pumpkin, and are only available for sale at the annual Patch.

The event is co-produced with Shannon Jane Morgan, of Girl Glass Studio in Sacramento, CA and features many local glass artists.

Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden {Fall 2009}

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a family four pack of tickets to The Morton Arboretum

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me which event you think your family would love attending

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow Morton Arboretum on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

Giveaway ends September 19, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or over and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: Information provided by the Morton Arboretum. I was not compensated for posting this event info and giveaway.)

UniverSoul Circus Is Coming To Chicago {Giveaway}

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UniverSoul Circus, one of the top three circus acts in the country, is returning to Chicago Wednesday, September 18 in Washington Park, as well as expanding to Union Park beginning Oct. 11. The unexpected, one-of-a-kind show features an incredible cast of performers hand-selected from around the world, from Africa and Ethiopia to Trindad and Ivory Coast. The cross-cultural spectacle incorporates pop and hip hop music for a truly modern take on the traditional circus act.Among the awe inspiring performances will include:

  • Caribbean dancers – Decked out head to toe in colorful, festive costume, dancers from the the islands of Trinidad and Tobago perform stimulating, show-stopping routines.
  • Irina Markova’s comedy dogs – The talented dogs take the show to new heights with jumps, leaps and tumbles through hoops.
  • Contortionists – Twisting and contorting in unimaginable ways, the unbelievable Ethiopian performers are known to stun audiences.
  • Teeterboard acrobatics – One or more acrobats jump from one end to launch a flyer from the other, propelling into the air for a must-see display.

Tickets, ranging from $16 to $35, are available now at www.ticketmaster.com and 1-800-745-3000. Children under 1 are free.

There will also be a free “Circus Camp” on September 17 at Washington Park from 3:30 pm until 7:30 pm. Kids will be able to come after school and learn a thing or two about how to be a circus performer, with everything from mini tightropes to small scale stilts.

 GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a 4 pack of tickets to UniverSoul Circus in Chicago

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me what your favorite part of going to the circus is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends September 18, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or over and a US resident to win. Giveaway does not include coverage of any other costs such as parking. This giveaway is for the tickets only.

It’s Football Season!

GO BEARS

Football season ranks at the top of my Fall favorites list {right up there with Pumpkin Spice Lattes} so you know we are all wearing our Bears jerseys today in honor of the first Bears game of the season.