Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cirque Shanghai Dazzles and Amazes!

My daughter Mia just turned 2 in April, so we're starting to try out more activities that require an actual attention span. And I'm not quite sure she's ready - her attention span currently seems to be about that of a flea's - but we're going to keep trying. Today, I tested her out at Cirque Shanghai, playing at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage.

First, let me say that this is a really great, intimate venue. It's not too large, it's laid out so that you can get a good view of the stage from any angle, and it's covered, which is obviously great in case of rain.

I admit I was quite concerned from the start with keeping Mia interested in the show. When things got started, with performers in beautiful, colorful costumes running down the aisles to the stage and getting right into the show, Mia was elated. The first 10 minutes for her was great - she was laughing out loud, pointing at the stage, and having a seemingly wonderful time. At the 10 minute mark, she said "I want to go home," and that was the end of her attention span (perhaps because there were no elephants at this circus, as my husband had mistakenly promised her earlier in the day.) So my husband took her outside of the stage area where she played with iPhone apps for the remainder of the show, while I stayed behind to watch with my mother-in-law.

The show has changed from a few years ago, losing the hokey narration and gimmicks between acts, which I didn't miss at all. This year, it was just act after act of daring feats, amazing acrobatics, stunning, colorful costumes and displays of superhuman strength. We saw plate spinning, tumbling through hoops, trapeze and rope acrobatics, contortions, human pyramids (and other shapes), and a balancing act that had me holding my breath as a tiny woman climbed nearly 50 feet in the air on top of a stack of chairs - that she was helping to stack.

As far as I could see, Mia was the only kid in the place whose attention span gave out so early. There were plenty of young kids at the show who were completely enthralled, and I'd say that this would be most appropriate for kids at least 3 years old.

Ticket prices are quite affordable, at $14.50 for adults and $12.50 for kids 3-12. Parking is another issue, but it's worthwhile if you can plan to make a day of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taste of Chicago Family Fun Stage

You've always known that it's a good idea to bring your appetite to Taste of Chicago, but did you know it's just as good of an idea to bring the kids?! In addition to the great food that Taste is known for, the Family Fun Stage is hosting daily entertainment that includes some of Chicago's finest.

Every day, from 11:30am until at least 5pm, the stage is filled with family friendly music, dance shows, comedy and more. Some highlights include Ella Jenkins, the Little Miss Anne Band,
ComedySportz, Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies, and Justin Roberts & The Not Ready for Naptime Players.

On Sunday June 27 at 11:30, it's Taste of Talent, where finalists age 4-14 compete for prizes in a judged competition - and yours truly will be one of the judges!

This will make for a lengthy post, but here's the totally awesome Family Fun Stage schedule:

Friday, June 25, 2010
•11:30 am - Dauphin Theatricals
•12:30 pm - The Shushybyes
•2 pm - On Broadway Dancers from Coal City, IL
•3 pm - Michael Jackson “King of Pop” Tribute featuring Rico “Michael Jackson Tribute Artist,” Tiny Temptations, So Crucial Dance Team, fcbc Educational Theatre “Expressions of MJ”, Dance lessons by Chicago Dance Institute, and Dance Party with DJ Yella of WeJam DJ Services
•6:15 pm - The Happiness Club

Saturday, June 26, 2010
•11:30 am - The Shushybyes
•12:45 pm - Ella Jenkins
•1:45 pm - Kidz Clog & Cloggin’ Craze
•2:45 pm - Linda’s Dance Studio – Blast from the Past Dancers (2009 Taste of Talent All-Star)
•3:05 pm - Gospel Motion of Praise
•3:35 pm - Just Us Kids of the All City Elementary Youth Chorus
•4:30 pm - Stomping at the Taste – Step & Drill Team Showcase
Featuring: Alphonsus Academy & Center for the Arts Step Team, South Suburban Drill Team, Calumet Step Team, Mu Sigma Theta Elite Step Team, North Lawndale College Prep Step Team, Alphonsus Academy & Center for the Arts Varsity Cheerleaders, Alpha GEMS, HF Steppers, New Generation Fancy Drill Team, Alpha GENTS, Wheeling High School’s Crucial Step Clique
Hosted by WGCI’s DJ MoonDawg, music by DJ Zo of WeJam DJ Services

Sunday, June 27, 2010
•11:30 am - 15th annual Taste of Talent (finalists ages 4-14 compete for prizes)
•3 pm - The Little Miss Ann Band
•4 pm - M.A.D.D. Rhythms
•5 pm - The Ankle Todd Show! Chicago’s Newest Show for Kids of All Ages
•6 pm - Jeanie B. and The Jelly Beans

Monday, June 28, 2010
•11:30 am - Misericordia Heartbreakers & Heartzingers
•12:20 pm - It’s Hip Hop, Baby!
•12:40 pm - Special Music by Special People
•1:30 pm - It’s Hip Hop, Baby!
•2 pm - Dave Rudolf’s Beach Party
•2:55 pm - It’s Hip Hop, Baby!
•3:30 pm - Breakdance Chicago
•3:50 pm - Fun with Wontons ~ Cooking demo with After School Matters Chef Gloria D. Hafer
•4:30 pm - Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew (games, music, prizes)
•5:40 pm - It’s Hip Hop, Baby!
•6:10 pm - ZC Flawless Drumline (2009 Taste of Talent All-Star)
•6:35 pm - Faith Bardney (2008 Taste of Talent All-Star)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - International Day presented by Jamaica Tourist Board
•11:30 am - Samba 1 Dance Group
•12 pm - Jamaican One Man Band
•1 pm - Cirque Shanghai: Cloud 9
•1:30 pm - McNulty School of Irish Dance
•2 pm - Indonesian Performing Arts Chicago
•2:30 pm - Japanese Culture Center
•3 pm - Halau ‘O Manulani
•3:25 pm - Las Guitarras De Espana (The Guitars Of Spain)
•4 pm - Everyone Loves a Story! Interactive presentation of Oba-Tales for the entire family
•4:30 pm - Dahnyeekah African Dance Troupe
•5 pm - Urban Flamenco Arts Project
•5:30 pm - Building Bridges – African Folk Tales with Drum…A wonderful celebration of human spirit and the family of mankind
•6 pm - Jamaican One Man Band

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - Little Rockers Day presented by 93XRT
•11:30 am - XRT Show
•12:30 pm - The School of Rock
•1:30 pm - Rock For Kids
•2:30 pm - XRT Show
•3:30 pm - Old Town School of Folk Music presents Young Stracke All-Stars & Friends
•4:30 pm - Old Town School of Folk Music presents The Dreamtree Shakers Quartet
•5:30 pm - 2nd Thought

Thursday, July 1, 2010 - Healthy Kids Day presented by United Healthcare
•11:30 am - Stretch-n-Grow, Fabulously Fun Fitness for Kids!
•12:20 pm - Family Bootcamp with Dewayne Montgomery, Kobra Fitness (cardiovascular, calisthetics & core exercises for all fitness levels)
•1:10 pm - Hip-Hop Yoga with Mindful Practices
•2:15 pm - You Are What You Eat! Join Greg Christian, Chicago’s Conscious Caterer, to learn about identifying and cooking with local and organic foods!
•3 pm - Healthy Kids Challenge: Ready, Set, Cook, Eat (cook-off)
•4 pm - Miss Lori and The CAMPUS Kids – Awesome Health Tour
•5 pm - ComedySportz
•5:45 pm - PKay’s Health & Fitness Hoop Aerobics (hula hoop fitness)

Friday, July 2, 2010
•11:30 am - Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies
•12:45 pm - CircEsteem, The Chicago Youth Circus
•1:30 pm - Recess Monkey
•2:45 pm - ComedySportz
•4 pm - 3rd annual Battle of the Bands (finalists ages 13-19 compete for prizes)

Saturday, July 3, 2010
•11:30 am - Recess Monkey
•12:30 pm - Six Flags Great America presents the Mr. Six Dance Party – Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie!
•1:30 pm - Super Stolie and The Rockstars
•2:30 pm - Six Flags Great America presents the Mr. Six Dance Party – Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie!
•3:15 pm - Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew (games, music, prizes)
•4:30 pm - ComedySportz

Sunday, July 4, 2010
•11:30 am - Justin Roberts & The Not Ready for Naptime Players
•12:30 pm - Max Lulich (2009 Taste of Talent All-Star)
•12:55 pm - Chi-Town Cheerleaders (2002 Taste of Talent All-Star)
•1:20 pm - Amy Lowe Trio
•2:20 pm - Justin Roberts & The Not Ready for Naptime Players
•3:20 pm - Chi-Town Cheerleaders (2002 Taste of Talent All-Star)
•3:30 pm - ComedySportz
•4:15 pm - Jesse White Tumbling Team

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chicago Father's Day Ideas for the Family

Happy Father's Day, Dads! There are lots of ways that kids can help celebrate dad's special day here in Chicago.

Wagner Farms Father's Day Dairy Breakfast: On Saturday, Wagner Farms hosts a Father's Day Dairy Breakfast & Farm Day. Your family can feast on a delicious farm style breakfast, complete with fresh dairy items and farm tours, demonstrations, hay rides and hands-on farm activities.

Father's Day at Arlington Park: Take the family out to the park this Sunday for a day full of fun features a petting zoo, pony rides, and arts and crafts.

Father's Day Barbecue: Give dad a break from doing the barbecue work and let him be treated instead. On Sunday at Brookfield Zoo your family can chow down on an all-you-can-eat barbecue held at noon in The Pavilions, and then you can walk around the zoo grounds. Registration required.

Dad & Me at Iron Oaks: If you want to spend time with dad enjoying the outdoors, this could be the event for you. Start on Sunday at the Iron Oaks Vollmer Road Lot and enjoy a nature hike, climb the tower, and do a craft together. Registration required.

Father’s Day Brunch at Lamb's Farm: If dad loves to eat, here's where you can take him for a hearty buffet on Sunday featuring country favorites made from scratch. Feast on our country fried chicken and breakfast favorites including french toast and omelets-to-order. Delicious homemade desserts round out the meal. Reservations required.

Father's Day Pig Gig at Heritage Prairie Farm: This farm hosts a Father's Day Pig Gig on Sunday from 1-4pm. There will be lawn games for the whole family including horseshoes, bags, kickball and croquet. You'll also enjoy live music, local beer and wine, BBQ, farm animals and more! Call for tickets.

You can find more Father's Day event by searching our calendar at Have fun, dads!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Printers Row Lit Fest

The Printers Row Lit Fest (or as I still call it, Printers Row Book Fair) is taking place this Saturday and Sunday in Printers Row, around Dearborn Street from Congress to Polk. This event is the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest.

This may sound like an event for adults, but the family entertainment is reason enough to bring the whole family on down for this one. The family fun at Lil' Lit Park is presented by Navy Pier, and includes music performances, kids theater shows, and appearances by some of Navy Pier's favorite characters. The fun kicks of on Saturday with a performance by local kiddie rock legend Justin Roberts. He's playing a 45 minute set with the Not Ready for Naptime Players starting at 10:15, and a few more concerts during the course of the festival.

The entertainment lineup:

Sunday, June 13

10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players perform

11 11:15 a.m.
Patch& Pickle Show: Extreme Pirate Make-Over

11:15 a.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Carolyn Crimi, author of "Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates"

11:45 a.m. to Noon
Patch Pickle Show: MasterPatch Theatre

Noon to 12:45 p.m.
Susan Meddaugh author of "Martha Speaks"

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Peter Yarrow performs "Songs For Little Folks"

2 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Patch & Pickle Show: Extreme Pirate Make-Over

2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Pam Allyn, author of "What to Read When" will read from various children's books

2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Patch & Pickle Show: MasterPatch Theatre

3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players perform

3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
World Kids Show

Sunday, June 13

10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Patch & Pickle Show: Extreme Pirate Make-Over

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
World Kids

11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players perform

12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
The Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew

1:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Patch & Pickle Show: MasterPatch Theatre

1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The Dot & Susan Show

2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Tom Lichtenheld, author of "Shark vs. Train"

2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Patch & Pickle Show: Extreme Pirate Make-Over

3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players perform

3:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
W. Nikola-Lisa author of "How We Are Smart"

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Little g Band at Do Division Festival

This weekend is one of my favorite kid-friendly festivals - Do Division Family Fun Festival, on Hoyne in the block north of Division Street. The festivities go from noon to 6pm, and the family entertainment includes arts and crafts, cookie decorating, entertainment, a petting zoo on Saturday and ponies on Sunday. I'm bummed that I'll be missing the event this year (although not too bummed, as I'll be checking into a downtown hotel for a girls weekend with some college friends!)

If you make it to the festival, make sure you check out some of the youngest little rock n' rollers you're ever going to see, with the Little g Band. Brother and sister duo Emi and Louis Garnier, ages 5 and 7, along with mom and dad, will be belting out rock hits from groups like the Beatles, Bob Marley, U2 and more.

For these kids, learning and playing music with mom and dad is a their 2-hour per day after-school activity. And they're the stars - Mom and Dad are just back-up.

You can get a sample of their talent here:

A $5 donation at the door for the Do Division festival will help support local public schools including Pritzker and LaSalle II.

Learn more at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Get ready to Boogie Down

There's a big party taking place this weekend for your entire family, brought to you by one of my own favorite local resources, NPN (New Parent Network.)

It's NPN's Annual Wake Up & Boogie Down Family Festival Fundraiser, taking place this Saturday June 5 at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St.

The event features:

- Live musical performances by the Happiness Club, Bubbles Academy, and Miss Shana
- Face painting, balloon twisting and family friendly activities
- Healthy and fun snacks for parents and kids
- Exciting instant win raffle prizes
- Dancing, giveaways, and fun for the whole family

You can find more details on NPN's web site at

If you don't already know about NPN, you should check them out. I'm a member and I've been to their great preschool fair, and have used the discussion boards for advice (toddler sleep issues!) and even to help find childcare. The discussion boards are SUPER active, so it's a great place to connect with other local parents and to learn about great community resources.

The party this weekend runs from 9:30am - 12:30pm, and tickets are $20 adults, $10 kids; or $50 for a family of four. Under one year is free.