View Chicago’s Skyline From A Seadog Cruise

(Disclosure: I will be going on a Fireworks Seadog cruise in July during BlogHer but thoughts are my own.)

I love living near Chicago. It’s such an exciting place to be and an absolutely beautiful city. I don’t get to the city to explore as much as I’d like but the BlogHer conference is in my hometown this year so this July I will be spending a lot of time doing “touristy” things. One of the things I can’t wait to do is go on a Seadog cruise along Chicago’s scenic lakefront.

Seadog offers four exciting ways to see and experience Chicago from the water:

Lakefront Speedboat Tour

This 30-minute cruise along the shoreline offers a descriptive tour of Chicago’s famous skyline, while playing your favorite music.

Extreme Thrill Ride

This cruise is perfect for the dare-devil in you! This 30-minute ride features splash down stops, 180-degree turns, slalom runs and more.

River and Lake Architectural Tour

Enjoy historic views of Chicago’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods during this 75-minute cruise on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Lakefront Fireworks Cruise

Enjoy front-row seats to the spectacular fireworks display aboard the Lakefront Fireworks Cruise! Cruise along Lake Michigan with an exciting speedboat ride paired with an informative tour of the Chicago skyline, then end the evening with a dazzling fireworks show and top-40 hits playing in the background! The open aired vessel allows for panoramic views, providing a perfect view. The Seadog Fireworks Cruise is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays, running from Memorial Day – Labor Day.

Seadog is great for both individuals and groups and they offer customizable group events for up to 450 people. Seadog also features specific holiday cruises, such as Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Halloween.

For more information, please visit www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/ or call 888-636-7737.

Language Stars Programs {$500 Giveaway}

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.)

When I was in Junior High and High School I took Spanish classes. It was required to take either Spanish or French and so I sat through 6 years of it. I learned some vocabulary words and phrases but found that learning this second language was hard for me.

Looking back, I now know that the reason it was probably so difficult was because once a person hits puberty the brain changes and makes learning another language harder. If I would have learned it when I was younger I would have probably picked it up a lot quicker. I love that Language Stars has classes for young children to learn another language because kid’s brains are like sponges and they are at the right ages to learn a new language.

Language Stars currently has Summer programs going on that provide an opportunity for increased language exposure through a variety of fun outdoor and indoor activities to reinforce the language. I think that’s what I love most about these classes. They make learning another language fun! Children won’t be sitting there going over vocab flashcards the way I learned in school. They also have different options to work for your family’s schedule. They offer 5 day camps, half day options, and one day classes.

Learning doesn’t end after Summer. Language Stars offers programs during the school year like Parent and Tot classes, Kids only classes, and Foreign Language Blasts. The “blasts” are one time immersion classes with a fun theme that will get the kids excited about learning another language.

Language Stars offers a free trial class so you can check out the program before committing to a full class or program. I’m also excited to offer a great giveaway for $500 worth of Language Stars classes {and extremely jealous that I can’t enter myself}! Enter the giveaway by completing the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Has your child ever taken a 2nd language class? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section below.

Six Flags Great America’s New igNIGHT Show

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Six Flags Great America. As someone who loves Great America I am happy to share about this exciting new show and provide my readers with a discount on admission.)

Six Flags Great America is pleased to present the premiere of igNIGHT – Grand Finale, a mesmerizing and immersive nighttime spectacle bursting with energy, vivid colors, brilliant visual effects, lively performances, fascinating imagery, and pure imagination.

 

The groundbreaking new high-tech show — the most advanced show in the park’s 37-year history! — plays on all your senses, taking you on a wonderfully wild journey to a beautiful never-before-seen world. Watch in wonder as igNIGHT illuminates the dark night, magically bringing to life a phenomenal bright and vibrant multimedia universe filled with music, singing, dancing, laser lighting, and pyrotechnics right before your very eyes. Guest interaction along with advanced audio, enhanced video projection, and special effects round out the brand new show that is sure to stun and delight audiences of all ages.

 

igNIGHT – Grand Finale will premiere in summer 2013 and will take place in the evenings right before the park closes because there’s no better way to end an adrenaline-filled day at Six Flags Great America than with a big bang!

 

My Readers Save $20 Off One-Day Admission to Six Flags Great America http://www.windycitykidsguide.com/coupon.php?bid=11220&dealid=1287


Summer Fun At Magic Waters

(Disclosure: I am receiving a family pack of tickets for posting about Magic Waters.)

Hey, Chicago! Looking for something fun to do on a hot summer day this summer? Visit one of the largest water parks in Illinois! Magic Waters is located just off I-90 near Rockford. Experience the Double Dare Drop 75 ft. Speed Slides, Tsunami Bay Wave Pool, Typhoon Terror Adventure Ride and the thrill a minute Splash Blaster Water Coaster Ride. Enter the dark tunnel of the Abyss for lots of twists and turns or relax on the 1,200 ft. Splash Magic River. Have tons of fun at Tiki Island where a 1,000 gallon pineapple water bucket spills to the delight of guests! Coolers welcome or grab lunch at the new Ocho’s Cantina! Luxury cabanas available. Free Parking. Visit magicwaterswaterpark.com for more information.

Water park opens June 8th 2013. Open Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Mon & Fri 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Special Offers & Events

$12 Buck Bargain Days: Tues, Wed, Thurs during the 2013 season.

Friday Family Fun Nights: June 14 through August 16.

Meet & Greet: Sunday July 14th. Disney band IM5 will be at the park for a Meet and Greet. Go to magicwaterswaterpark.com for details.

Get your season passes now!

This is an exclusive offer brought to you by WindyCityKidsGuide!

Zoos Go Blue

I recently learned about “Zoos Go Blue” and am really excited to share about this with you all. Through a national partnership with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, member Zoos & Aquariums from across North America will be participating in the inaugural “ZOOS GO BLUE” event in April to support Autism Awareness Month. Find out if your zoo is participating here. You can register for up to 6 people for free basic admission and parking.

If you live in the Chicago area, Brookfield Zoo’s special event is April 28th. The Zoo is also going blue that day so I’m really excited to visit with my family and see everything lit up blue.

In addition, there is a toolkit for families who want to visit the zoo that will help them prepare their child for the visit. Lucas is a little young for this but I think it’s a great resource for families with older children. (The toolkit can be found at the link provided above.)

(Disclosure: Like most of my Autism related posts this is not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with any Zoo, other than having a membership to one that I paid for with my own money.)

 

Girls Night Out: Be Bold. Go Red. {Ticket Giveaway}

Be Bold. Go Red and join B96, 104.3 K-HITS and Bath & Body Works to celebrate the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement on Thursday, February 28, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Alhambra Palace Restaurant, located at 1240 West Randolph Street in Chicago.

Treat yourself to a Girls Night Out! Get the red carpet treatment, with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, beauty services, consultations and more when you Go Red!

Plus, VIP Attendees will receive a beverage ticket and a Girls Night Out Swag Bag packed full of fun goodies including Bath & Body Works Forever Red fragrance mist, Garrett Popcorn, cosmetic and hair care samples, sweets, treats and more!

Top off the night with a high style Spring fashion show, previewing collections from Chicago Fashion Incubator’s top designers.

You can purchase VIP and general tickets on Eventbrite here.

GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive 2 VIP tickets to the Be Bold. Go Red. event

HOW TO ENTER

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

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to attend this event

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Follow @SassyMomChicago on Twitter

Giveaway ends February 17, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Winners must be 18 or over. This giveaway only includes tickets to the event. Transportation, parking, and any other fees will not be covered. Since this is a dated event, the winner will have only 24 hours to respond to my email or I will have to choose another winner.

(Disclosure: Be Bold. Go Red and join B96, 104.3 K-HITS and Bath & Body Works for a fun and charitable event on Thursday, February 28th, at the “Girls Night Out Benefiting Go Red for Women” at Alhambra Palace Restaurant. I was selected to host this giveaway by Sassy Moms in the City. This is not a compensated post…just sharing for a great cause!)

Butternut Squash Tortelloni {Recipe}

 

Photo by Tim Turner

Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL, 312-626-2444) is featuring a delicious Butternut Squash Tortelloni on its menu in celebration of National Tortellini Day, February 13. Tortelloni is simply a larger version of tortellini. The sweet yet nutty flavor of butternut squash creates a comforting dish, perfect for a cold winter’s day.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try making your own to celebrate National Tortellini Day :)

Pasta Dough

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 8 oz ap flour
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp whole milk

Combine ingredients into a mixer with a dough hook on medium speed and mix until dough is smooth and elastic. 10 to 15 minutes. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes

Pasta Filling

  • 1 pound butternut squash
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano -Reggiano
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper taste

Dice Squash into 2 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in an over (350°) until tender for 30+ minutes. While the squash is still warm, fold in the cream cheese, olive oil, Parmesan and salt/pepper. Let the mixture cool.

Roll out pasta dough into sheets, you should be able to see through the pasta. Cut pasta into 4 inch diameter squares. Place squash/Parmesan mixture in the center of each square. Egg wash the corners of the pasta. Make a triangle out of the square and then bring the two corners together to make the tortelloni. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly.

Sauce

  • 1 oz. butter
  • 4 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 oz. fresh sage
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. When butter is brown, add cream and sage. Reduce by half and check seasoning. Add cooked pasta to the sauce – gentle – to lightly coat pasta and serve.
Garnish with fresh sage

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but Benny’s Chop House provided the recipe and image for me to share.)

Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: Get the Sillies Out! Tour {Recap}

This past weekend the boys and I went to see Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!: Get The Sillies Out. I didn’t know how Lucas would do since he doesn’t like to sit still but he was mesmerized by the show. It was also nice that children were encouraged to get up and dance so if he had decided to get up he wouldn’t have been the only one. The show was so fun that even the parents and grandparents were up on their feet dancing along with the kids!

The music was upbeat and full of good lessons like the importance of eating fruits and veggies. The well-known brightly colored characters kept children involved in the show. Even Biz Markie, the famous beatboxer, was on the stage doing his thing and teaching kids to beatbox.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the show:

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My tip for going to the show: make sure you bring cash! All theaters won’t have the same parking rules but the one we went to in Chicago had a “cash only” parking lot with no signs about it until you had pulled up to the ticket booth. Needless to say it was a huge hassle and there was a line at the ATM across the street. {It should be noted that the licensed Yo Gabba Gabba! items being sold inside could be purchased with a debit/credit card.} Thankfully the parking issue didn’t ruin the experience for us and we still greatly enjoyed the show and our night out.

Wondering if the tour will be at a location near you? See the tour dates here. Tickets start at $23.00. VIP Party packages are available as well which include a ticket in the first 15 Rows, a pass to “Get the Sillies Out” in the private VIP room featuring a super fun party with the Gabba Gang (costumed characters) and more. Children under 1 year old do not require a paid ticket to sit on a parent’s lap.

(Disclosure: We received tickets to the show but all thoughts are my own.)

Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: Get the Sillies Out! Tour

The sillies are crazy little creatures that live inside of us and need to be shaken out! DJ Lance Rock and everyone’s favorite cast of colorful characters are calling all fans in to get ready to jump, shake and shimmy them out at the new live tour Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: Get the Sillies Out!. The tour will visit more than 50 cities across the U.S. in 2013.  For a complete list of tour dates, cities and show times, and a preview of the show, visit www.yogabbagabbalive.com

CHICAGO SHOWS:

Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE!: Get the Sillies Out! will have four performances in Rosemont at the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on Sat., January 19th/ Sun. January 20th. CLICK HERE for ticket information for the shows (2:00PM and 5:00pm both days). Tickets start at $23.00. VIP Party packages are available as well which include a ticket in the first 15 Rows, a pass to “Get the Sillies Out” in the private VIP room featuring a super fun party with the Gabba Gang (costumed characters) and more. Children under 1 year old do not require a paid ticket to sit on a parent’s lap.

I’m so excited to take my boys to get their sillies out with the Yo Gabba Gabba crew! Will you be there with your little ones?

(Disclosure: I am receiving tickets to this show but all thoughts are my own.)

 

Parental Guidance Movie Pre-Screening {Free Tickets}

If you are in the Chicago area I have a special treat for you! I get to offer 20 of my readers a pair of tickets to the pre-screening of this movie. I’ve seen the previews for it and it looks like it’s going to be a hit. Here’s the synopsis of the movie:

Old school grandfather Artie (Billy Crystal), who is accustomed to calling the shots, meets his match when he and his eager-to-please wife Diane (Bette Midler) agree to babysit their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott) go away for work. But when 21st century problems collide with Artie and Diane’s old-school methods of tough rules, lots of love and old-fashioned games, it’s learning to bend–and not holding your ground–that binds a family together.

This movie opens in theaters Tuesday, December 25, 2012 and is rated PG.

Want to see it early? Here are the details:

Event Info:
December 13, 2012 at 6:30PM
Chicago, IL

Get your pair of tickets here:

https://www.gofobo.com/rsvp/promotion/dafeed2920b3ad631797da6b460911ed

Hurry because there are only 20 sets!

*Please note that the screening is overbooked and seating is first come, first serve*

(Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I am happy to offer this special treat to my readers.)

Energizer’s “Power The Creativity” Event With Crayola

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

{Sorry for the blurry picture. He was scribbling so fast I couldn’t get a good shot!}

A couple of weeks ago the boys and I had the opportunity to go to an event sponsored by Energizer and Crayola. While I networked with other Chicago bloggers and learned about some of Energizer’s new products the boys had a chance to play and try out new Crayola toys. We had a great time and it was fun to attend an event with the boys since they love seeing what mommy does when she goes to “acago” {aka Chicago}.

The first product I learned about was the Energizer Flameless candle. I had received one previously from Energizer and loved it because it had the look of a burning candle but was safe enough to have around children and pets. What I did learn at the event though was that there was a timer on it so I could set it to go on and off. I currently have my candle sitting on a high shelf in my entryway and it turns on in the early evening and offers a nice flickering of light in an otherwise dark area.

The other product I learned about were the Energizer Max Batteries with Power Seal Technology. These batteries can hold their power up to 10 years on the shelf! Wow! They’d be great for an emergency kit because they last so long.

Energizer currently has a great promotion going on with Crayola. Here are the details:

I am excited to get some of the Crayola products the kids tried out, especially the Color Wonder Light-Up Paint Pallete. Here’s what the Crayola website says about our favorite product: “Create like a real artist in a magical mess-free way! The Magic Light Paint Palette lights up to match the color of whatever paint you use. Dip the brush in blue, it lights up blue – in red it blushes red and so on!”

(Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Energizer. I attended an event and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.)

 


iPad Mini {Giveaway}

I’m back with a new site design and an amazing giveaway to start your Holiday season! I’ve told you all about Evzdrop before but if you missed the post I’ll give you a refresher… Evzdrop is a location-based interest network that lets people stay connected to what’s happening at places in real time. Sinisa and I tried it earlier in the month and we loved being able to get suggestions about places we were at or were going to.

Evzdrop is currently hosting a Holiday contest on their blog. Between November 23rd and December 21st, they are asking users to “drop” at all their shopping, dining and holiday preparation locations. Using the Holiday Drop Quest list (found on their blog) users will need to mention one of the items in their Drop and then they will be entered to win a number of great prizes. Each Drop, every uploaded picture, and every Drop shared on Facebook and Twitter will earn people another entry. You can find all of the details on their blog.

In addition to the great prizes available from their Holiday contest they are offering an iPad Mini as a special prize for my readers and the readers of a few other local Chicago blogs. You can enter that giveaway on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends on December 29, 2012 and is open to US readers only. Good luck!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Batman Live {Chicago}

For the first time in DC Comics history, Batman – the worlds most popular DC Super Hero – is now an all-new, live-action arena spectacular which is taking the world by storm. BATMAN LIVE is a 15 million dollar stage production with an original story featuring a 43 strong cast of actors and circus trained acrobats, a 3D Gotham City landscape, a bespoke symphonic score, custom-built state-of-the-art stage, a 100 foot bat-shaped LED video wall, pyrotechnics and the impressive Batmobile, designed especially for the show by legendary racing car designer Professor Gordon Murray.

Faithfully adapted from the DC Comics characters and stories, BATMAN LIVE focuses on Robins quest for justice, which leads him to follow in the footsteps of his hero the mysterious vigilante known as Batman, much to the dismay of his protective guardian, billionaire Bruce Wayne, whom the audience knows is secretly Batman. This dynamic triangle resolves itself in a non-stop thrill-ride across Gotham City that transforms Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson into the legendary crime-fighters, Batman and Robin. The adventure transports the audience from the Big Top of Haly’s Circus to the depths of Arkham Asylum, and from the glittering peaks of the Penguins Iceberg Lounge to the subterranean wonders that await inside the Batcave.

Batman Live is coming to Rockford November 30th to December 2nd!  Save $10 use promo code: BATMAN  http://www.usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=460&bid=10937&dealid=1033

(Disclosure: I am receiving a family pack of tickets to go see Batman Live.)

New Exhibit At Kohl Children’s Museum: The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

On Exhibit: Now – January 6, 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit features larger than life pop-up books that dazzle the eyes and stimulates the mind. Each section of this exhibit, based on the book published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, is an oversized three-dimensional page from the original story. Experience science, art and history through the magic of this timeless story and instill a love of reading and storytelling in young children. My readers receive $1 Off Child admission with this coupon.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was developed by the Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
(Disclosure: I am receiving tickets to the museum to take my children to the new exhibit.)

Introducing Evzdrop, A Location-Based Interest Network


Sinisa and I have spent the past couple days trying out a new iPhone app for a location-based interest network called Evzdrop. Evzdrop lets people stay connected to what’s happening at places in real time. The free mobile app and Web platform allow users to “evzdrop” to get an inside look at any place they’re interested in through the people who are present and posting about what’s going on at any given moment.

Here’s what makes Evzdrop different from other location-based networks:

Evzdrop lets users “listen in” from nearby or afar. Was the referee correct on that controversial call? Use Evzdrop to see what people at the game have to say. How does the band sound from the front row? Check out the comments and photos on Evzdrop, either via the mobile app or Web platform. Thinking about visiting a certain bar on your business trip next month? See what people at the venue right now are saying about their experience on Evzdrop.

Evzdrop gives consumers a voice. Even if you have 10,000 Twitter followers, chances are they are only interested in a small portion of your tweets because the content can vary so widely. Evzdrop gives people a large network with a targeted following by providing them a microphone through which to broadcast their experience at that point in time. The platform allows you to be heard where and when it matters most: in the moment

Evzdrop’s geo-fencing technology allows users to Drop anonymously while still maintaining credibility. Mobile users often want to be heard but don’t necessarily want to be found, and Evzdrop’s Stealth mode lets users contribute while still protecting individual privacy. By design, all Drops are location-verified, but consumers are able to use the Stealth function to post anonymously if they choose, and location makes their insights valid.

Evzdrop allows consumers to influence change. When a user Drops, it sends a ripple effect through the app, reaching other users who are tuned in to Radar or that particular place. Evzdrop’s common connection – location – means that users are able to reach a constantly changing set of people who share similar interests. But consumers aren’t the only people listening; businesses are too. In many ways, Evzdrop serves as a digital comment box that’s open to the public.

Evzdrop brings focus and relevance to the overwhelming amount of content being created on social media. Evzdrop employs the interest graph as the thread that ties its network together, letting you listen in to the places you care about. The app provides a collective snapshot of a location at any given time and opens up a lens of insight well beyond one’s social network.

We’ve been asked to use the app as we go about the week so we can give my readers and followers and the members of the Chicago Blogger Network a peek into the lives of a busy mom and dad on the go. You can follow us as we “drop” our locations around the suburbs of Chicago by following us on Twitter. My handle is @aliciamarie112 and Sinisa’s is @DADofJAKEnLUKE :)

We will be back this weekend with a full review of the app and the network!

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for being an Evzdrop Ambassador for the week.)

Supporting Hesed House, A Chicago Area Ministry To The Poor & Homeless

As you all know, I have been sharing about making this an “others” focused holiday season instead of a “gift” focused season. I’ve shared about many issues lately that are focused on other countries but I wanted to show Jacob that there are people near us that need help, too. We talked about how some people in our town and towns around us don’t have any homes and sometimes stay at a place called a homeless shelter. We found one near us, called Hesed House, and looked at the list of items they were in need of.

Knowing that we could easily provide some needed items, Jacob, Lucas, and I headed to our local Walmart and shopped the health and beauty aisles.

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We bought soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorant to donate to the shelter.

We put everything into bags and headed to the shelter. Once there I told Jacob to hop out of the car and help me with the bags. It wasn’t until we were standing outside in front of the shelter that I had noticed Jacob hadn’t put his shoes on and was standing in his socks outside the homeless shelter office.

Once we were let inside we dropped off our bags full of toiletries and briefly learned more about the mission.

Hesed House’s mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again. Today, Hesed House is a national model for ending homelessness – one person, one family at a time. It is the culmination of nearly three decades of strategic evolution from a formerly acceptable model of “eats and sheets” to a Comprehensive Homeless Resource Center – a campus of centralized highly skilled professionals collaborating to provide the tools necessary to help individuals and families break free of the shackles binding them to homelessness.

I think it’s a great ministry and one that I plan to be more involved with in the future as a volunteer. We’ve also already started a donation basket for our next visit to the shelter and will be shopping off of their Christmas wish list as well.

If you live in the Chicago area and would like to donate to this shelter please leave a comment and I’d be happy to meet and pick up donation items from you. :)

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This post is part of a #DialCFK Simple Service Project with Champions For Kids. They believe that no child should ever go to school hungry, cold or without the resources they need to thrive and as a mother I am thrilled to support them. You can connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook.

See my Google+ story for more pictures!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Dial Soaps  #DialCFK  #CBias #SocialFabric )

Chicago Toy & Game Fair {Giveaway}

The North Pole might as well be in Chicago the week before Thanksgiving, as over 25,000 visitors will head to Navy Pier to shop and play with thousands of toys and games on display from over 250 exhibitors. The 10th anniversary Chicago Toy & Game Fair, the largest public toy and game show in the nation, features the holiday season’s newest offerings from some of the bestselling brands in the world, as well as critically acclaimed, award-winning games from independent retailers.

The Chicago Toy & Game Fair will be held at Navy Pier in Festival Hall A on Saturday, November 17th and Sunday, November 18th.

Highlights include:

All Weekend:

– Giant-sized games such as: Bananagrams, Perplexus, Doggie Doo, Word on the Street, Pajaggle, and more
– Settlers of Catan North American Catan Championship
– Meet the Moshi Monsters
– Autographs from renowned toy and game inventors
– Free contests and game tournaments
– Speed Stacks sport stacking demonstrations and tournaments

Saturday:

-Young Inventor Challenge
-Stars Wars Lunch (Additional Cost)
-Official Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest
-Top Trumps Guinness Book of World Records Attempt

Sunday:

-Stage Performances from Radio Disney, Blues Clues LIVE! presented by Naperville’s Center Stage Players, Elan Dance
Company, Ben’s Bubble Show, Lil’ Buds Theater and more.
-Boy Scouts Top Trump Tournament ((Boy Scouts are admitted into the Fair an hour early)
-Pony Royale Princess Party (Free pony to each girl, while supplies last.)

Tickets:

FREE ADMISSION FOR: Teachers, librarians, members of the military, Boy/Girl Scouts in uniform, children under 3 years of age. On Sunday, grandparents accompanied by kids admitted free of charge.
$10: ages 14+
$5: ages 3-13
(Click here for ticket info and a $2 off coupon)

Win Tickets!!

I will be giving one weekend Family pack away each week!

Winners Chosen: 11/1, 11/8, 11/15

How To Enter:

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

1) Tell me what your favorite game or toy was as a child

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow me on Pinterest

6) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends November 15, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this information. I received tickets last year and it was a lot of fun so I wanted to offer tickets to my readers this year even though I can’t attend. This giveaway is only for tickets to get into the fair and doesn’t include travel, parking, or any other expenses. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

How Sweet the Sound Gospel Celebration {Ticket Giveaway For Chicago Event}

Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ Gospel Celebration unites communities and cities across America in celebration and song.  The tour pays tribute to gospel music and provides local choirs a platform to showcase their talent with a broader community. Choirs rejoice in song and praise; sing in front of gospel greats and fans; and compete for a chance to win up to $50,000 in cash and prizes.

 This year, regional events will take place in the following cities:

·         Dallas – Sept. 6 at Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie

·         Atlanta – Sept. 10 at Philips Arena

·         Washington, DC – Sept. 12 at Verizon Center

·         Newark – Sept. 13 at Prudential Center

·         Detroit – Sept. 15 at Joe Louis Arena

·         Chicago – Sept. 17 at United Center

·         Los Angeles – Sept. 21 at Staples Center

·         Finale – New York – Nov. 4 at Barclays Center

GRAMMY® award-winning, songwriter, producer, arranger and music director Donald Lawrence will return as host and be joined by GRAMMY® award-winning entertainer, producer, author and syndicated radio host Yolanda Adams. In addition, Erica Campbell of Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and CeCe Winans will serve as resident judges for this year’s competition, which will feature each region’s top six choirs.

Tickets to the 2012 Verizon How Sweet the Sound™ tour are on sale now.  For more details about Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ including video content, judging criteria, ticket sales information, and official rules, please visit www.HowSweettheSound.com.

TICKET GIVEAWAY:

I have one pair of tickets to give away to the Chicago stop of this tour.
The event is September 17th at the United Center.

{Giveaway does not cover transportation to the event, parking or any other costs}

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me why you want to win!

For an extra entry, share this giveaway on a social network :)

Giveaway ends September 11, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. Winner will have 24 hours to respond due to the timely nature of this giveaway.

(Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Moms program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.)

My On The Field Experience With The Chicago Cubs {And How YOU Can Have A “Priceless” Experience Too!}

As a blogger in a big city I get to do a lot of fun things but there is nothing I like more than being able to involve my friends and loved ones in my blogging events. When I was invited to enjoy a day at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs courtesy of MasterCard and allowed to bring a guest I knew exactly who I wanted to bring. My little brother is a huge Cubs fan and I knew he’d really have a lot of fun during this once in a lifetime experience. {Make sure to read below to find out how YOU can have a unique experience in Chicago, too!}

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Love that they promote their social media channels here!

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My little brother, Brock, right after he stepped onto the field :)

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Brock playing catch on the field.

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Brock standing in front of the ivy wall at Wrigley Field.

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ME! Enjoying a relaxing morning on the field

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Hope of Digital Megaphone {she’s the one who invited us along!}

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Me and my little bro :)

During this experience we also enjoyed batting practice in the Chicago Cubs batting cages, got to take souvenir balls, and went to a private party at the Captain Morgan’s Club where we had lunch.

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Do you want to have a once in a lifetime experience like this? YOU CAN!!

This event was part of MasterCard’s Priceless Chicago promotion. MasterCard offers priceless experiences to their cardholders. You can find out more details on MasterCard’s website but here are a few experiences that may interest you or your family members:

Pre-Game VIP Party at Wrigley Field

Brunch at the American Girl Doll Place with Author Valerie Tripp

A day of beauty at Neiman Marcus’s Michigan Avenue store

Private 15 Course Meal with Top Chef Richie Farina

(Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of MasterCard and Digital Megaphone free of charge. All thoughts are my own.)

My Little Bears Fans!

Image Courtesy of JcPenney Portraits

Love this shot we got at JcPenney Portraits today!

And the pictures were only $4 a sheet! At that price I got one of every pose I liked :)

{Disclosure: This is not sponsored. I paid for these pictures myself.}

Santa’s Village Ticket Giveaway {Family Pack For 2 Winners}

As the last few weeks of summer are upon us I wanted to share about a fun place to take the family, Santa’s Village AZoosment Park in East Dundee, Illinois. This park is ideal for families with young children. The park features 16 rides, over 5 animal exhibits, sleigh and pony rides, and live entertainment. My family will be visiting there later this month and I will share a review of the park then but I wanted to run my giveaway now so the winners could enjoy the park while the weather was still nice (though they are open through October).

GIVEAWAY:

2 winners will each win a family 4 pack of tickets to Santa’s Village

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Tell me who you would bring with you if you won the tickets

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Santa’s Village on Facebook

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

6) Subscribe to my blog via email {look in upper right corner}

Giveaway ends August 16, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US only. This giveaway is for tickets only, no transportation to the park is included.

(Disclosure: I received tickets to bring my family to Santa’s Village and they have provided the tickets to giveaway.)

How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular {Discount Code}

DREAMWORKS HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR is coming to Chicago! It will be at the United Center this weekend. The first show is on Thursday, July 26 at 7:00 PM. Other showtimes are Friday, July 27 at 7:00 PM; Saturday, July 28 at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM; and Sunday, July 29 at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. All shows have free parking at official United Center parking lots for all performances.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR was created by DreamWorks Animation, producers of the Academy Award®-nominated film, How to Train Your Dragon, which opened as the #1 film in more than 30 countries, and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the international phenomenon Walking with Dinosaurs, the #1-grossing world tour of 2010. 

The live production rolls fire-breathing action, epic adventure and heartfelt laughter into an original captivating story set in the mythical world of Vikings and wild dragons.  Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it centers on Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers.  Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

Find more information about the show at www.dreamworksdragonslive.com.

Ticket Prices:

Tickets are on sale now and start at $26.50 plus applicable facility fees and service charges.

Discount Code:

Save 25% nationwide on select seats for weekday performances (including Fridays)

with code MOM on ticketmaster.com

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(Disclosure: I received a family pack of tickets to attend the show in exchange for posting about the show and sharing my honest opinions afterwards.)

Free Vision Screenings At The Taste Of Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city. I love walking along the lake and staring out into the water and watching as the boats bob up and down. I love walking down the streets and seeing all of the intricate details of the buildings as I peer up into the sky and see buildings disappear into the clouds. I love seeing nature in the city and walking among flowers in the various gardens that offer green space in between all of the brick and concrete. I love learning about history, science, and more at our many museums. If parking costs weren’t an issue I’d be bringing my children into the city every weekend to introduce them to everything Chicago has to offer. The few times they have been downtown they just stand in awe of the city, especially when they stand next to the skyscrapers!

Transitions Optical is hosting a sightseeing tour and will be listing the 10 top sightseeing spots in Chicago. You can check out their website in the coming weeks as they unveil their list. I’m interested to see if some of my favorites made the list. If I were making it I would include the Sears Tower {yes I know it has a new name but I refuse to call it anything other than it’s “real” name}, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, Michigan Avenue, and the lakefront.

The Taste of Chicago is in town through the 15th and that brings a whole new variety of things to see. I love going to the Taste and trying new foods. I also love “people watching”. So many people crowded into one area makes for an interesting experience but it’s a lot of fun regardless of the crowds.

If you are headed to the Taste of Chicago make sure to look for the tent to get your vision screened compliments of Vision Works. I think it’s great that these screenings are being offered because I know that when we are all busy it’s not something we think to get done but getting your vision, and your children’s vision, tested is so important. You wouldn’t want to walk around the city of Chicago and not be able to see it’s beauty clearly!

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Learn more about Transitions Optical, the official sponsor of sightseeing at http://seemoresights.com/

Connect with Transitions Lenses on Facebook

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Ways to give back:

I wanted to share about My Eye Promise. According to Transitions Lenses, nearly 50 percent of vision loss can be prevented with an eye exam. If you make a promise to take care of your eyes, Transitions Optical will donate a brand new book to a mobile literacy initiative. Sounds like a win-win for everyone! Find out more details at myeyepromise.com.

There is also a  “Sight of the Day” photo contestwhere people can enter to win an amazing getaway. For every photo uploaded a quarter will be donated to Optometry Giving Sight.

(Disclosure: I received compensation to participate in a SocialMoms and Transitions Optical blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.)

Pamper Me Fabulous Chicago {Event Ticket Giveaway!}

Pamper Me Fabulous is the ultimate women’s day event – for one day only on Sunday, July 22nd, savvy Chicago influencers come together at the River East Art Center to network, be empowered, educated, celebrated and pampered by the best brands in town. Think of it as a modern day “sex and the city” for your mind, body and spirit!

It’s everything you and your girlfriends love, under one chic location: Free flowing Qream liquor, Hypnotiq champagne, healthy goodies from Think Thin and Sokenbicha, face mappings from Dermalogica, makeovers from Mirabella Beauty, Aveda treatments, and skin care consultations from Beyond Clear, fun lounges and food samplings and an awesome gift bag, this event you do not want to miss! Each guest is also gifted with a coveted KlutchBox, full of swag!

There’s more! In the fitness area, women will get opportunities to take yoga classes and meditation classes from Chicago’s favorite studios, attend workshops about fashion, health and wellness topics in the Expert Corner from speakers like Valeo Spa’s Katie Hurley and nutrition authority Dawn Blatner.

GIVEAWAY:

Four readers will each win a pair of tickets to the event in Chicago

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Tell me why you want to attend this event

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Like Pamper Me Fabulous on Facebook

5) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

6) Follow @PamperMeFab on Twitter

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

8) Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email {look in the upper right corner}

Giveaway ends on July 16, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only. Transportation to/from event not provided. This giveaway is just for admission into the event.

(Disclosure: I am receiving compensation for posting this information in the form of tickets to attend this event.)

My Experience At Ribfest {With Ty Pennington & Sears}

I posted back in June about the Sears “Grilling Is Happiness” live event and how I was so excited because Ty Pennington was going to be there. I wanted to follow up and update you all about my experience and share lots of pictures, too!

Friday night I went to a media/blogger event at a beautiful hotel. There were about 10 bloggers, people from Sears, and then the cooking and lifestyle experts. The experts that attended the event were Ty Pennington {best known for Extreme Makeover Home Edition}, Robyn Lindars of Grill Grrrl, Perry Perkins of Burnin’ Love BBQ, and George Hirsch {a cooking and lifestyle expert}. We ate delicious food while chatting about grilling and blogging. It was also a great chance to get some pictures taken:

Ty & I

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Robyn & I

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Some of the Collective Bias Social Fabric bloggers at the event: myself, Laura, Kelly, and Michelle

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The dessert- yum!

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Saturday I attended the Ribfest in Naperville, IL. This is an annual event with many barbeque restaurants participating. This year Sears participated and hosted a “Grilling Is Happiness” event with live grilling demonstrations, pictures opportunities, and a chance to enter their sweepstakes to win some great prizes. Here are some pictures I took at the Ribfest:

George Hirsch showing off the Kenmore Grill he is using

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Shrimp that George Hirsch made with the help of Ty Pennington {I tasted it and it was delicious! He paired it with asian style noodles.}

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Ty being interviewed by ABC News

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Trying to stay cool on a hot day

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Perry showing what he uses to grill

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I learned a lot watching the experts grill and think it’s great that Sears included a woman in their panel of experts. I don’t know a lot about grilling but seeing that a girl could grill just as well as the men could made me want to go outside and figure out how to use the grill I just bought last month. I also loved how she made a variety of things on the grill that I’d never think to make. She even makes dessert on the grill! {Check out her grilled pound cake recipe}

I had so much fun at the event and took over 60 pictures! You can view the rest of my pictures in my Google+ photo album. I also took two videos at the Ribfest. The first is of Robyn giving a couple of her grilling tips and the second is of Ty sharing a grilling story with the crowd.

If you are in the Chicago area I encourage you to attend the Naperville Ribfest next year! You will not be disappointed. The food is amazing, they have live bands playing throughout the fest, and they even have a fun family area with lots of things to keep the kids busy.

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Connect with Sears:

Sears on Facebook, Sears on Twitter, Shop Your Way on Twitter, Sears Local Ad

Connect with Ribfest:

Ribfest on Facebook, Ribfest on Twitter

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears. #CBias #SocialFabric #GrillingIsHappiness All thoughts are my own.)

Our Experience At Medieval Times {And A Giveaway!}

When I was younger I went to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament with my mom and brother. It was an experience I wanted to give my children as well so I was really excited when my family was invited to visit the castle and attend the debut of their first new show in five years.

View of the castle from the highway

Since my youngest is only two years old I chose to invite my mom and four year old nephew to attend the show with Jacob and I. We spent the car ride playing a guessing game of what kinds of things we thought we’d see at the show. We also were on the lookout for the giant castle that the show is in. The castle in Illinois is near a major highway so as we were driving we could see it and the boys started to get even more excited.

Jacob, my mom, and Camden

Once inside the castle we received crowns to wear. Since it was VIP night there was a cocktail party beforehand with drinks and delicious appetizers. We chose to buy the boys light up swords as well and I was happy to find that they were reasonably priced.

The King is coming!

Before the tournament there is a little show in the lobby area. The King comes out and there is a knighting ceremony. People who attend the show can pay extra to participate in this experience. After the ceremony, everyone is let into the arena and seated according to what knight they will be cheering for in the tournament. {Ours was the black and white striped knight.}

Once seated inside we were given our dinner in courses. We were fed soup, bread, a huge piece of chicken, a spare rib, potato wedges, and an apple danish. The chicken and soup were my favorites. I ended up with leftovers to take home to Sinisa because there was so much food. Keeping in line with the “medieval” theme, the food was served with no utensils so you may want to keep that in mind if you bring little ones who might need a spoon for their soup or straw for their drinks.

While eating we watched the story unfold in front of us, watched the jousting tournament, and cheered for our knight. Here’s a little more about the new show at the Chicago castle:

While the new show has undergone a complete overhaul, some traditions remain. The live show still features two- and four- legged performers with a true medieval utensil-free meal, all in a recently updated, castle-inspired arena. However, the new live production presents even more of audience favorites such as live jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and falconry. Guests become part of the action, filling arena seats and cheering for one of six “Knights of the Realm,” named after historic regions of medieval Spain.

“The new show is designed to keep our guests on the edges of their seats from the opening moment,” says Saj Rizvi, vice president and general manager of the Chicago Castle. “New & returning guests will feel the electriticty in the air from the riveting new battle scenes and grand costumes, to the new lighting and on-going action set to a fresh musical score.”

After the opening, guests will witness intricate battles that are in reality precisely planned sequences with have been practiced daily. With authentic weaponry and enhanced armor, the new production presents non-stop action tied to the tempo of the music. And while there’s still a general theme of “good versus evil” throughout the show, guests will see much more of what they’ve requested – fight scenes that maintain the highest quality and safety standards.

Since Jacob is only three, I wasn’t sure how he’d sit during the show but he behaved very well. He was entranced with the show and, though he didn’t follow the story line, he enjoyed all of the action. My nephew liked the show too, however it ran a couple of hours past his bedtime so he started to get sleepy towards the end of it. Overall, we really enjoyed the dinner and tournament and I am happy that my son got to experience the show that I have great memories of watching as a child.

PURCHASE TICKETS:

Tickets can be purchased here.

Pricing for 2012: Children under 3 are free if they sit on a lap and eat of the adults plate, children under 12 are $39.95, and adults are $59.95.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a complimentary admission ticket to Medieval Times {Chicago Castle only}

Ticket is valid through September 30, 2012.

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to win.

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Medieval Times on Facebook

4) Share this giveaway on a social network

5) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends June 1, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. Giveaway does not include travel to Chicago or anything else other than one ticket.

(Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets for my family to attend the VIP night at Medieval Times. Italicized information in this post came from the press release but all other thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

Spring Fun In Chicago

My family has enjoyed a lot of outside time these past couple weeks. It’s been wonderful but as much fun as we’ve had in the backyard, I am already looking forward to getting out and about around Chicago. I headed to Kidgrade.com for some ideas of places we could go that are family friendly. I like the site because there are ratings from other parents on how kid-friendly places are. Here are a few of the places I want to take the boys this Spring:

Places we have never been to before:

Blackberry Historical Farm (Aurora, IL)

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL)

Exploritorium (Skokie, IL)

Kaitlin’s Hideout- A Play Center For Children With Autism (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Places we have been to before and can’t wait to return to:

Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield, IL)

DuPage Children’s Museum (Naperville, IL)

Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL)

Wilderness Falls (Bolingbrook, IL)

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If you live in the Chicago area what fun places are you looking forward to taking your family?

(Disclosure: I am a Kidgrade Ambassador but all thoughts are my own. I was not asked to write this post and am not being compensated for it but I do receive “perks” as an ambassador.)

Disney On Ice: “Dare To Dream” Is Coming To Chicago

Get tangled up in the newest thrilling show to hit the ice, Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream. Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths!  Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss.  And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime!  Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!  Playing Allstate Arena Jan. 25-29 and United Center Feb. 1-12, with ticket prices starting at just $12 on opening night.

DISCOUNT CODE:

Use code MOMMY to receive 4 tickets for just $44 for all weekday shows (Monday-Friday, excluding Friday evenings and holidays) or to save $4 for all weekend performances (Friday evening-Sunday).

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

(Disclosure: I received tickets to this Disney on Ice show but all thoughts are my own.)

Christmas Fun In The Chicago Suburbs {8 Places To Take Your Family}

Do you live in a Chicago suburb and are looking for places to take your kids to do some fun Christmas things? I have some ideas:

BASS PRO SHOPS (Bolingbrook and Gurnee)

BOLINGBROOK PROMENADE (Bolingbrook)

Symphony in light shows every evening from 5-9pm until December 31st. Find more information on the Bolingbrook Promenade here.

BROOKFIELD ZOO (Brookfield)

Chicagoland’s largest light festival takes place at Brookfield Zoo. There are lots of lights, animated light displays, a laser light show, music and entertainment. Find out more information here.

CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDENS (Glencoe)

Take a magical adventure to a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Outside, 750,000 lights sparkle and welcome you and your family to the Garden’s wonderland. Inside the Regenstein Center, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of miniature trains winds through more than 80 miniature Chicago-area landmarks. In addition to the Wonderland Express exhibition there will be decorated trees, a gingerbread village display, and a wreath display and sale. Find out more information here.

MORTON ARBORETUM (Lisle)

A holiday favorite returns! The “Enchanted Railroad” rolls through with model trains of different colors and styles. One train even has a tiny camera on board so visitors can see what it would be like to ride along! Nine trains operate via remote-controlled interlocked signals, allowing them to cross tracks safely, and two trolleys that reverse direction automatically. Bring the kids and spend 30 minutes or more “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” at the toy trains. Find out more details here.

LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER (Schaumburg)

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago invites you to celebrate the season during Holly Jolly Holidays. Festive decorations will deck the halls of the Center throughout the month of December. Guests will also enjoy special seasonal games, group builds and plenty or LEGO-tastic holiday fun! Find out more information here.

CUNEO MANSION & GARDENS (Vernon Hills)

The Drive Thru Holiday Light Show presented by the Village of Vernon Hills in cooperation with the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is held annually on the magnificent grounds of the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens.  The event opens Friday November 25, 2011 and runs thru December 31, 2011. Find out more information here.  

COSLEY ZOO (Wheaton)

20,000 twinkling lights and spectacular displays transform Cosley Zoo into a fairy tale winter wonderland from Thanksgiving Friday through the end of December. The lights come on at 3p.m. and the zoo closes at 9p.m. Visit the animals and purchase your Christmas tree, wreath, and holiday gifts! FREE to the public! Find out more information here.

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Make sure to visit Kidgrade to get more ideas of where to head for family fun in the Chicago area!

{Chicago Suburbs} Special Kids Day

One of my friends in a Facebook group for moms of children with SPD posted about Special Kids Day and I just had to share with you that are local. Special Kids Day is a day where all children with special needs and their families are invited to a FREE Holiday event just for them. Santa Claus will be there for children to get their pictures taken. I love that they are having this event because it’s so hard to go out in public and get stares or comments and this is pretty much a safe, non-judgmental event where everyone can be themselves and have fun in an environment designed to accommodate their special needs.

EVENT DETAILS:

{Chicago Suburbs} Nazarene Recreation and Arts Program GIVEAWAY

I know not all my readers live in Chicago but I had to share about the Nazarene Recreation and Arts program because the program is awesome! Both my younger brother and sister played sports through this program and I spent a lot of time helping with the programs when I was a teen (I even helped coach volleyball one season!) Now one of my friends is the Director of the program so I am excited to watch the program grow!

My little sister playing Naz Rec Soccer (about 10 years ago)

The Nazarene Recreation and Arts program, located in Lemont, has programs for children ages 18 months to adult. You can see a list of all the programs available here. The Winter Session runs from January 3- February 27, 2012. There is a week long “open house” that starts tomorrow and runs through Friday so you can see what they offer. Registration is available online and in person.

One of my favorite things about the recreation program is that it’s not competitive. The slogan when we went there was: “Where every kid’s a star”. I also love that they have an Award Ceremony where every child is recognized and gets an award. Just an extra something that you don’t get from other programs.

GIVEAWAY:

I’m giving away one FREE registration for any league or daytime class!

(Approximate Value: $85)

HOW TO ENTER:

Check out their website and leave a comment telling me which league or class you’d sign your child up for.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES:

(Leave a comment for each you do)

1) Share on a social network and leave a comment

2) Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email (look in upper right hand corner)

3) Enter another one of my giveaways (they can be found here)

Giveaway ends December 20, 2011 at 11:59pm Central Time.

(Disclosure: All opinions are mine. This is NOT a compensated post.)

Opportunity To Play Game With Inventor {Chicago}

If you live in the Chicago area I have a special opportunity for you! One lucky reader will have the chance to play a round of the game Telestrations with the the inventor himself and others at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. The winner of the game will receive a supply of USAopoly board games just in time for holiday gifting. The game with the Telestrations inventor will take place on November 20th at 2 p.m. at the Telestrations booth.

What Is Telestrations?

ABOUT THE GAME: Telestrations is the laugh-out-loud sketch, pass and guess party game by USAopoly where players simultaneously draw what they see, then guess what they saw to reveal outcomes that are hilarious and unpredictable. In essence, it’s the telephone game sketched out!

WHAT’S DIFFERENT:
 Everyone plays at the same time, it’s multi-generational, interactive and engaging. It’s light-hearted and provides instant fun and laughter. Telestrations is simple to learn and play. It’s a great icebreaker and perfect for game night.

BASICS:
 In this fun and modern twist on the classic “telephone game,” everyone plays at the same time. Each player gets their own erasable sketch book, dry-erase marker and word card. A roll of the die determines each player’s secret starting word. The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess what they see, write it down, and passes again. The timer is turned and everyone draws what they see. This play continues until everyone’s sketch book passes by every player and returns back to its original owner, at which point it’s time to see what happened to each secret word. Points can be scored if the last guess matches the secret word, and for favorite sketch and written guess in each book. Just like the game of “telephone”, the outcomes are unpredictable and the laughter is inevitable.
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GIVEAWAY
One reader will win a ticket to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and a seat at the table to play the game.
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HOW TO ENTER
Leave a comment saying you’d like to play the game
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Giveaway ends on November 16, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of the game but all thoughts are my own.)

Fashion Bloggers and…. ME!

Earlier this week my friend, Paula, and I attended an event with the Chicago Blogger Network. While I had fun, I felt out of place because almost everyone there was young, fashionable, and well, basically me before I had two kids. (Though I don’t think I was ever as fashion forward as these fashion bloggers were!)

You can check out all the really cute outfits here. Pictures were taken by @Tyliner of Darkroom Demons.

Here was my look:

Jokingly I asked Sinisa before I left if he thought I would win an award for being the most stylish. He said “NO!” He explained that he didn’t like my scarf or my jeans and probably could have went on but I stopped him. I said “thanks honey. You were just supposed to say yes.” Haha.

So Sinisa didn’t think I was the most fashionable but I thought I looked cute. What do you think? If you think I look at least somewhat decent I would love if you could visit my post on the Chicago Blogger Network page and leave a comment under my picture. I made it easy for you all and linked right to my page. The person with the most comments gets an IPod Touch! :)

To find out more about the party you can view the tweets from the evening with the hashtag #CBNTRIBUTEPARTY.

(Disclosure: I attended this event free of charge as a member of the Chicago Blogger Network.)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus {In Chicago}

Don’t miss Fully Charged, the all-new surge of circus entertainment from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey where megawatts of thrills explode off of the arena floor with breathtaking dare-devilry, superhuman stunts and never-before-seen performances that energize Children of All Ages! Playing Allstate Arena November 3-13 and United Center November 16-27.  Get your tickets today at www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or at either arena box office.

A Special Offer Just For You:

Use code MOMMY to receive 4 tickets for just $44 for all weekday shows
(Monday-Friday, excluding Friday evenings and holidays)
OR
Use code MOMMY to save $4 for all weekend performances (Friday evening-Sunday)
Code expires: 11/27/2011
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(Disclosure: I was given a family pack of tickets to the circus but all opinions are my own.)

Building Blocks Toy Store

Building Blocks Toy Store (located in Chicago)

15th Anniversary Sale

 20% off everything in stock!!

 October 21, 22, & 23

Friday, October 21: 10am – 7pm

Saturday, October 22: 9:30am – 6pm

Sunday, October 23: 9:30am – 5pm

Stock up on gifts – Did you know you can return anything at anytime, even without a receipt? They have a great exchange/return policy!

And don’t forget:  You’ll also get one entry for every $25 you spend as part of their 15th Anniversary GIANT Giveaway

Find out more about Building Blocks Toy Store on their website.

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My family and I attended a “Boogie With Building Blocks” event at the Building Blocks Toy Store in Wicker Park. The boys had such a fun time playing with the train table and the Thomas trains. I loved the selection of items the store had. I had looked all over for “dot” painters and not had any luck but Building Blocks had them! The best thing about the store was that the prices were reasonable. I often think of smaller toy stores as being really expensive but I didn’t find that this was the case at Building Blocks Toy Store.

We enjoyed relaxing in the “Blogger/Media” area (courtesy of ChiIL Mama), I got a mini-manicure next door at JUKO Nail & Skin Rescue, and we loved the fantastic gift bag we got. A huge thanks to Building Blocks for having us and I’m looking forward to the next event there! :)

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but I did receive a gift bag from the store and a mini-manicure while I was there. All thoughts are my own.)

Chicago Toy And Game Fair {Ticket Giveaway}

The largest public game and toy fair is coming to Chicago November 19-20, 2011. At the Chicago Toy and Game Fair you can play, preview, and purchase the hottest new toys and games so it is a great way to kick off your Holiday shopping. There is lots to do for the whole family including live entertainment, free tournaments and contests, Star Wars breakfast, giant-sized toys and games, and costumed characters roaming the fair. Tickets are $10/adult, $5/child and ages 3 and under are free. You can find more information on their website here.

GIVEAWAY

Four readers will each win a family pass to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair

(One winner will be chosen per week- 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, and 11/14)

HOW TO ENTER

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each you complete)

1) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS

2) Tell me what your child’s/grandchild’s favorite toy is

3) Check out ChiTag’s website and tell me what you are most looking forward to

4) Follow me on Twitter

5) Write a blog post about this giveaway and include a link to this post

6) Share this giveaway on Facebook

7) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which you entered

8) Stumble, digg, or social bookmark this giveaway

9) Tweet “Enter to win a family pass to ChiTAG from @aliciamarie112 (4 winners!) at www.makingtimeformommy.com

10) Comment on one of my non-giveaway posts

Giveaways end on four different dates with four different winners. Winners chosen Monday, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, and 11/14.

(Disclosure: I received a family pass to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and will be attending the media preview. All thoughts are my own.)

Social Media Masters Summit (For Bloggers!)

The 3rd Annual Social Media Masters Summit is coming to Chicago October 25th and 26th! This is one event that you do NOT want to miss since it is a fantastic way to learn about the best practices in the industry as well as meet other fabulous bloggers and brand/agency reps. They wanted to make sure the event was easy for you to afford, so a VIP blogger ticket to the event is only $99 (corporate people are paying $349 for the same ticket!!)

Your VIP Ticket includes all events on October 25th and 26th…

Bonus Sessions on the 25th include:

7 Day Video Challenge: V-log guru, Danielle Smith (@DanielleSmithTV), will be leading a session that will help you take your v-logs to the next level. This session will be very interactive as Danielle helps YOU become more comfortable in front of the webcam in addition to helping you create v-logs that will draw more viewers!

Driving Traffic with Community Building, SEO & Beyond: Sean McGinnis and Dan Newman started 12most just a few months ago, but their site already receives hundreds of thousands of unique visitors regularly. Joining Sean & Dan on this panel is Emerson Spartz of Spartz Media, which generates over one hundred million unique page views across their three websites. How did they do it? Let them tell you first hand!

Community Management on the FLY with Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is hands down the leader when it comes to the airline industry and social media. Brooks Thomas from the Emerging Media team at SWA will lead a Power Session on how they leverage Twitter, Facebook and blog to interact with customers and increase customer satisfaction and will also share about their new blog that uses customer generated content.

Dress to Impress Red Carpet and Avatar/ Headshot Photo Session: Come to this event looking your best! We’re going to have professional photographers on hand to take head shots that can be used as your default picture across all your social media networks. Remember – this is often the first thing someone sees when visiting your various networking pages. First impressions count!

And of Course, First Class Networking… Bring your business cards, a firm handshake, and a smile! You’ll be mingling with the speakers, bloggers, your peers, and of course, our wonderful sponsor – Critical Mass!

Don’t Forget The Full-Day Summit on the 26th featuring Walgreens, Kellogg’s, Jockey, Pepsi, Domino’s and more…

As if it couldn’t get any better, they just added two VERY cool sessions – Just for you!!

Blogger/Influencer Breakfast sponsored by Jockey and Calumet Photo

Meet with brand representatives from Jockey and Calumet while you enjoy breakfast with other bloggers and social influencers. After breakfast and mingling you’ll have the option of going on a power walk lead by a fitness expert or a Photo tour lead by Teresa Peek who will show you how to enhance your photography skills by taking photos from a different perspective.

Danielle Smith / Aliza Sherman – Mom, Incorporated Book Signing

Meet Entrepreneurs Aliza Sherman (founder of Cybergrrl, Inc., Webgrrls International and Mediaegg) and Danielle Smith (founder Danielle Smith Media and ExtraordinaryMommy.com) who have joined forces to write a book that helps women who are already moms (or are thinking about becoming moms in the future) learn how to take charge of the family/work balance by starting their own businesses. Mom, Incorporated is a holistic, user-friendly book that draws on Aliza and Danielle’s own experiences as well as the experiences of other moms who’ve started their own successful businesses.

If you can’t make it to the summit you can still come to the Breakfast and/or the Book Signing which are free. If you can make it to the summit you’ll get a free copy of Mom Incorporated with the paid $99 VIP Blogger Ticket!

A HUGE shout out to the breakfast and book signing hostesses @SassyMomChicago and @selfmademom!

How do YOU go VIP?

Just pick the VIP Blogger Ticket option when you register!

REGISTER TODAY

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Are you a business that wants to attend the Summit?

Full event details are at: http://smmsblogger.eventbee.com

EARLY BIRD PRICING ENDS THIS MONDAY, OCTOBER 17TH AT 2PM.

Register today using code “cb20” and save 20% on your registration.

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(Disclosure: I am receiving a ticket to the Summit in exchange for spreading the word about this awesome event. All thoughts are my own.)

I’m A Kidgrade Ambassador!

I’m happy to announce that I have been chosen as a Kidgrade Ambassador for the 2011-2012 school year! Kidgrade.com is an awesome site that lets you rate how kid-friendly places around the Chicagoland area are. Here is more information about the site:

Once you become a member of the site it’s easy to “grade” a place. You just login, rate the location, and you also have the option of leaving comments.

Our first group meetup was at a place called Kookaburra Play Cafe. The children played, we enjoyed snacks and chatting with one another, and also learned more about our role as Kidgrade Ambassadors. While there we graded the location:

As you can see the location information is provided including address, hours, and pictures of the play area. The location was also graded on price, location, parking, and if it was kid-equipped. Instead of heading out to a place without knowing much about it you can head to Kidgrade.com and see what real parents think about the location! What a great idea!

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting about Kidgrade or the meetup at Kookaburra Play Cafe but I am receiving special perks as an ambassador and received a gift bag from Kidgrade. All thoughts are my own.)

Chevy Cupcake Quest

A couple weeks ago I spent my morning with other bloggers participating in a Chevy Cupcake Quest organized by Sharon and Chevy. We were put into teams (my teammate was Paula from Frosted Fingers) and drove around the city of Chicago in a Chevy Traverse, visiting cupcake shops and completing challenges. We did things like tweeting about the cupcakes we tried, sharing facts about Chevy’s 100 year anniversary, and doing a number of picture taking challenges. We were also given the opportunity to nominate a hero we knew for Our Town, Our Heroes program.

During the quest we had to visit four different cupcake shops: Swirlz Cupcakes, Sugar Bliss Cupcakes, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Sweet Mandy B’s. At each shop we got a cupcake (or two) to try, took pictures, and learned about the different cupcakes. At Swirlz Cupcakes I tried Gluten Free cupcakes that were amazing and tasted just like regular cupcakes. The Gluten Free Chocolate Mint one was my favorite (and best of all? It’s sold at Whole Foods all around Chicagoland!) At Sugar Bliss Cupcakes I ate a huge carrot cake cupcake with frosting shaped like a flower on top. At Sprinkles Cupcakes I ate a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake that had a layer of peanut butter on top which was an unexpected surprise! At Sweet Mandy B’s I enjoyed a pumpkin cupcake and the old fashioned feel of the Lincoln Park bakery.

At the end of the quest we gathered for a “sweet-up” at Bleeding Heart Bakery where I enjoyed some peach pie and talked with other bloggers and representatives of Chevy. While we were there we learned who the winners of the quest were and guess what? Paula and I won! I was very excited because I had just spent the morning eating cupcakes and having fun and was now being rewarded with a $100 gift certificate to Bleeding Heart Bakery and a week long loan of the General Motors car of my choice.

Being the awesome mom that I am I came home with a bag full of cupcakes and cake balls for my children. Couldn’t keep all the yuminess to myself! Now the question is: which vehicle do I choose? A “mom” van or a hot sports car? :)

(Disclosure: I received a gift card to cover my expenses for the day but all thoughts are my own.)

Chicago Blogs To Check Out

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday I want to share ten wonderful blogs that focus on the Chicago area:

1) ChiTown Moms

2) The Chicago Moms

3) ChiTown Cheapskate

4) Toddling Around Chicagoland

5) Super Suburbs

6) My Chicago Kids

7) West Of The Loop

8) Go West Young Mom

9) ParentSphere

10) Sassy Moms In The City

Want to find other Chicago area bloggers? Here’s a list!

 

Plum District Deal {And A Fundraiser For Chicago Schools}

The busiest people in the community — moms — are often the most plugged-in.  And for them, the Internet is often the best tool to (re)discover what’s in their own backyard.  Plum District was created just for moms.

Plum District connects moms with daily deals and inspirations from businesses in their community, and helps them get the most out of their day—for their families and for themselves.

Plum District deal and giveaway that ends TODAY, Sunday, September 18th:

  • Use the code fall2fab at checkout for an extra 15% off all Plum District Deals!
  • Plum District is also giving away a virtual gift basket of deals to one lucky winner.  (How do you win? Just purchase a deal TODAY and you are eligible! Virtual gift baskets are worth $230. Winner will be notified the following day by email. You are eligible by purchasing any local or national deal.)


EASY FUNDRAISER FOR CHICAGO AND NORTH SHORE SCHOOLS:

About Plum District’s School Fundraisers for Chicago (city only) and North Shore Schools

Plum District offers Chicago and North Shore schools the EASIEST SCHOOL FUNDRAISER EVER!

Every time a parent from your school (or their friends and family) subscribes to Plum District, Plum District will donate $3 to your child’s school.

And the best part – this fundraiser does not require ANY BUYING OR SELLING!

Here’s How It Works…

  1. Fill out this online form for your school.
  2. Plum District Chicago will send the appointed person your school’s unique referral link and an email template to send to parents.
  3. Publicize your school’s unique link to your school families and friends (email newsletter, fliers in the students’ backpacks, etc).
  4. For every parent that signs up as a new subscriber to Plum District using your school’s referral link, your school will receive $3!

Some of the Logistics

  • There is no cap on the number of people that can sign up (and no limit to the amount of money your school can raise).
  • Plum District will send a check to your school within 4 weeks from the fundraiser end date.
  • No buying or selling is required.

School Fundraiser Contests

  • If you fill out the online fundraising form before September 30, your school will be entered into a drawing to win an additional $250.
  • The Chicago school that raises the most money for their school through Plum District’s fundraiser by October 31 will get an additional $300 for their school!

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post and the information is provided by Plum District.)

Chicago’s Most Valuable Blogger Finalist

I have some exciting news! Making Time For Mommy is a Finalist in CBS Chicago’s “Most Valuable Blogger” contest! I would love if you could vote for me! There is no registering required, just a simple click on the button here and the vote button once you get to my page. You can vote daily. This is such an honor and I really appreciate the support! :) THANK YOU!

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Six Flags Great America {Fun For Young Children, Too}

Photo courtesy of: Lisa from Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

For my birthday a few weeks ago my family and I headed to Six Flags Great America with some other bloggers and their families thanks to Discover and Chicagonista. I had always thought of Six Flags as a place for older children, teens, and adults but when I put on Facebook that we were going to Great America I was told that there was lots to do.

We started the day eating lunch with the other bloggers, the family from the Coaster Tour, and representatives from Discover. We listened to a family tell us about their roadtrip from Six Flags in LA to the Six Flags in Chicago and stopping at three other Six Flags on the way. It sounded like a fun trip and great bonding time for the family of four. We also learned about the perks that Discover card holders get when they go to Six Flags like early admittance to the park, a 5% discount at the park, and cashback bonuses (you can learn more about the perks and more here).

After lunch our family headed to the children’s area. The boys didn’t go on many rides but Jacob rode his first rollercoaster! I wasn’t sure how he would like it but he loved it so much he wanted to do it again. We ended our day at Hurricane Harbor which is the water park inside of Great America. My children are so young (2 and 3) that we were only able to go in one area of the water park but we could have easily spent all day in that one area. There were small slides that both boys went on and also large tube slides that Jacob and I both went on. We climbed all the way to the top and I was told only one person could ride at a time so I went first and waited at the bottom for Jacob. He was supposed to lie on his back all the way down but ended up rolling around and had a mouth full of water on the way down. I thought he would be done with the slides after that but he wanted to keep going on them!

We left in the afternoon because it was a long day in the sun for the boys and they normally nap at noon so by four they were exhausted. We didn’t even make it to the front gates before they were asleep! If you have children of any age I think they will love Six Flags Great America :)

(Disclosure: I attended this event free of charge and received Discover cards to cover my expenses but all opinions are my own.)

Look Who #CrushedIt With Chiquita

Lately my family has been eating better so I was excited to introduce them to Chiquita crushed fruit snack products. Chiquita has crushed 2 servings of fruit into these little bottles and best of all, they are easy to grab on the go! Check out my ThisMoment story to learn more about my shopping trip to Dominick’s and what my family thought about Chiquita’s product.

In honor of Chiquita’s new product, they are encouraging others to share their #CrushedIt moments on their Crushed It Today Facebook page. I am inspired by some of the things that other bloggers have done!

Laila #CrushedIt by completing her Masters in counseling all while working and being a single mom.

Lisa #CrushedIt by working hard one weekend to make her backyard a beautiful place to be.

Kris #CrushedIt by ordering her business cards and crossing something off her to-do list.

Jennifer #CrushedIt by running 5.29 miles (over a mile more than she planned to run).

Cherise #CrushedIt by having success in helping her children with potty training.

Michelle #CrushedIt by gathering a large amount of items to donate to a charity.

Lisa #CrushedIt by getting stains out of her son’s white baseball pants.

Tamara #CrushedIt by surviving a 20 hour road trip with the kids.

Val #CrushedIt by finding cheap parking in the city of Chicago.

Alexandra #CrushedIt by eating healthier and exercising.

Paula #CrushedIt by saving a lot at the grocery store.

Maria #CrushedIt by catching up with the laundry.

Tricia #CrushedIt by tackling some DIY projects.

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How have I #CrushedIt lately??

I have been working 60+ hours a week.

And making time for myself!

Now it’s your turn to brag on yourself!

How have YOU #CrushedIt this week??

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(Disclosure: I am the Campaign Leader for the Chiquita #CrushedIt campaign through #CollectiveBias. I am being compensated for my time but all thoughts are my own.)

Bebe Paluzza Ticket Giveaway


Bébé Paluzza, the largest Maternity, Baby and Toddler Show in the USA is hosting their second annual Bébé Faire in Chicago for expectant parents, seasoned parents, grandparents and caregivers of babies and toddlers. Hosting a four city tour, Bébé Paluzza events feature over 450 exhibitors and sponsors, and attract more than 15,000 consumers collectively. Exhibitors include manufacturers of baby and child-related products, service providers, national brands, and mom-preneurs who are creating unique products based on their personal experiences and needs. The company was started in 2007.

The second annual Bébé Faire at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. This family event will showcase some of the best maternity, baby and toddler exhibitors such as BUY BUY BABY, Costco, Language Stars, Mabel’s Labels, Miracle Cord, My Gofer and many more. Parents, grandparents and caregivers can expect live entertainment, expert speakers, and activities for the little one. Eddie and Jobo of K-Hits 104.3 will be hosting Bébé Boogie, a dance party for toddlers on Saturday, so don’t forget your dancing shoes!

LOCATION:

Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center

1551 North Thoreau Dr. Schaumburg, IL 60173

 WHEN:

Saturday July 30, 2011, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sunday July 31, 2011, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

PURCHASE TICKETS:

Tickets to the event are $10 each and include all-day access. Visit the Bebe Paluzza website to purchase tickets or learn more.

 GIVEAWAY:

Two readers will each win 2 tickets to Chicago’s Bebe Paluzza.

HOW TO ENTER:

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each.)

1) Tweet this: “I want to win tickets to #BebeFaire #Chicago from @Bebe_Paluzza and @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com”

2) Share this post on Facebook

3) If you are a blogger you may blog about this giveaway

4) Enter another one of my giveaways

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Giveaway ends July 18, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: Winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org. Must be 18 years of age and a Chicago area Resident. I received tickets to attend Bebe Paluzza.)

Spark Energy’s Six Flags Promotion

Did you know that tomorrow, Tuesday, June 21st is the first day of summer?  Spark Energy in Chicago is powering that summer fun, with lower-cost electricity for ComEd customers as well as a promotion to power family fun at Six Flags.

From June 21st to June 26th, Spark Energy is offering Two FREE General Admission tickets to Six Flags Great America/Hurricane Harbor and a parking voucher (that’s almost a $140 value) to the first 200 households that make the switch to Spark Energy at www.sparkenergy.com/sixflags.  Be sure to use the promotion code SIXFLAGS to be receive the tickets and be a part of the promotion.

Have you made the switch yet? If so, what do you think about Spark Energy?

(Disclosure: I may receive a gift card as compensation for posting this.)