Monday, July 26, 2010

Adams Playlot- Big water fun in a small city park

The recent heatwave has sent thousands of Chicago parents to the Water Park page to find some relief from the heat! I also looked for a way to cool off with my daughter Mia, and we headed over to a local water playground that I hadn't yet tried called Adams Playlot, located at 1919 N. Seminary. It's a nice sized park, tucked away in a shady little area of Lincoln Park, and it's a water oasis in the city.

We've got a few water options in our neighborhood (Wicker Park) including some spouting bears at Wicker Park, and a tall bursting water pipe at Dean Park. However, Adams Playlot provided some serious water fun on a day when we really needed it!

The water area was essentially like a large jungle gym with water spouting from a variety of sources, providing different levels of water fun for different kids. Mia was actually a bit afraid of most of the spouting water, but she did enjoy stomping and splashing around in the water puddles and pouring out buckets of water that I filled up for her. Other kids were clearly having a blast, and quite honestly if it had been appropriate, I might have run through some of the water streams and headed down that slide myself.

The rest of the park was also pretty wonderful, providing lots of shade which was much appreciated on a hot day like this. There's also an enormous sand box, which we'll have to try another day, but it's unlike any I'd seen at other city parks I've been to.

For a little park in the city, I was impressed and I definitely plan to head back there again on another hot day. Overall, it is a great option for a hot day in the city!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shrek the Musical - Humor for the whole family

Last night, I saw Shrek the Musical at the Cadillac Palace Theatre - and I loved it! I've seen the movie of course, and as an adult who enjoyed it, I'd anticipated mostly adults to be in the audience. That was not the case - it was mostly families, and the show operated on different levels to please both its adult and child audiences. Just as in the movie, lots of lines and jokes could be interpreted different ways, depending on who was doing the interpreting. So there was plenty of humor for both kids and adults.

The opening scene was pretty somber - a 7-year old Shrek being pushed out into the world by his seemingly cold and uncaring parents. I'm not quite sure how the kids in the audience interpreted this, but it creates instant sympathy for an unlikely main character. Things turn pretty cheery early on though, when the fairy tale critters are banished from the kingdom of Duloc and put on a high energy, hilarious number.

The musical stays pretty true to the plot of the movie, and one of my favorite scenes from the movie – the torture of the Gingerbread man - was definitely done to my satisfaction.

The main characters of Shrek and Fiona were pretty much as I expected. Sometimes it was a bit disconcerting to hear such a beautiful voice coming from Shrek – the songs he sang didn’t always match the persona. However, the character of Donkey completely stole the show. Donkey is played by Alan Mingo, Jr., who played Tom Collins in Broadway’s Rent. His mannerisms, movements and delivery added up to comic perfection, and he lit up every scene he was in.

The songs were overall quite catchy and some of the lyrics had me really laughing – like the Big Bad Wolf, wearing a granny nightgown, singing about how they “tore my cotton granny dress, and called me a hot tranny mess.” At the end of the show, there's a number where the fairy tale characters celebrate their freakiness in a number called "Freak Flag," singing "Let your freak flag fly" and culminating with Pinocchio declaring "I'm wood, I'm good, get used to it!" Some of these lyrics definitely went over the heads of the kids in the audience, but that’s what made it so much fun for adults.

Overall, it’s one of those enjoyable performances that will please all members of your family. It’s recommended for ages 5 and up, which I think seems about right. It’s playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre now through September 5, and you can learn more on the official web site at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Justin Roberts New CD Jungle Gym

We're big Justin Roberts fans in our household, and I'm excited to be giving away copies of his new CD, Jungle Gym, as part of our current prize giveaway on

First, I'll say that my 2 year old daughter Mia is a huge music fan, and listens to anything ranging from kids music to adult music like Rodrigo y Gabriela, Killers, Madonna, New Pornographers, KT Tunstall.. and even some oldies I've dredged up from my past like Newcleus (remember Jam On It?) and other likely embarrasing favorites. I've made an effort to introduce her to all sorts of music, so that I'm not stuck listening to stereotypical kid music all the time.

The music on Jungle Gym appeals to both kids and adults, with the indie feel that Roberts is known for and that adults can enjoy. It's got strong beats that Mia can put many of her different dance moves to. While Mia's too young to appreciate the lyrics of the songs on this CD, I certainly did. It brought up seemingly mundane yet vivid feelings and memories from my own childhood, while also giving me a glimpse into Mia's future. These songs are about the seemingly uneventful things that will some day create lasting memories for Mia, like trick or treating, having a sleepover, getting a haircut, and even getting lost at the mall. I envision Mia relating to these lyrics when she's old enough, and I am sure that older kids will be able to totally identify with these scenarios.

This is the kind of music that we can play all day and not get tired of hearing, and it makes the whole family happy. If you'd like a copy, you can enter to win one at through July 31, or buy it directly from Justin Robert's web site at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Folk and Roots Festival and Benfest

Another weekend, another street festival... but this weekend is going to be REALLY great! First, the Kids Tent at Old Town School's Folk & Roots Festival is packed with great kids music and activities. The fun takes place at Welles Park, at Lincoln & Montrose in Chicago. Entertainment includes Wiggleworms in English and Spanish, Kids Rhythm Circle, West African drumming, Hip Hop and Zumba for Kids and much more. Here's the stage lineup:

Saturday, July 11th 2009
12:00p | Wiggleworms with Little Miss Ann
12:50p | Ecuadorian Folk Dance with Carmen - Nuestra Música
1:40p | Cowpoke Sing-along with Annie
2:30p | Storytime Dances with Jen
3:25p | Laura Doherty
4:35p | Kids Rhythm Circle with Lenny
5:30p | Special Music by Special People

Sunday, July 12th 2009
12:00p | Wiggleworms with Julie
12:50p | Hip Hop Kidz with Lyn
1:45p | Remember the '80s? with The Swing Sets
2:45p | West African Drumming with Rick Neuhaus
3:40p | Erin Flynn Band

I'll for sure be rousing Mia from her afternoon nap on Saturday so we can see Laura Doherty - she's been a fan since she was 9 months old!

The other festival loaded with great kids music is Benfest, taking place at 2215 W. Irving Park Rd. I'm a little late to post for Friday, but Saturday's lineup include:

4:00pm - Emily Palmer
4:30pm - Basketball Skills & Games
4:45pm - Mary Macaroni
5:30pm - Hula Hoop Contest
6:00pm - CircEsteem
6:30pm - Pie Eating Contest
6:45pm - Super Stolie & Rockstar Tommy

And both festivals offer plenty of entertainment for adults as well, so there's fun for the entire family. Enjoy!