Sunday, August 29, 2010

Redmoon's Joyous Outdoor Event - (Festival J.O.E.)

Redmoon is one of Chicago's performance art treasures, with uniquely styled theatrical performances pulling from contemporary art forms and ancient theatrical forms, with pageantry, gadgetry, acrobatics and ephemera. (I plagiarized most of that past sentence directly from Redmoon’s web site, because I couldn’t quite put that into words quite as well as they do. Suffice it to say, they're known for being FANTASTIC.)

In just a few days, Redmoon is launching its first festival of quality family entertainment, public art installation, quirky small scale performances and live music acts, right at Chicago’s lakefront. Four fantastic days of children’s entertainment will include storytelling, clowns, music roaming performers, and a “living room” where your family can picnic right on the Lake Michigan Shore. Families can also enjoy activities throughout the festival including hula hoops, ring toss, lawn bowling, tug of war, and 3-legged races.

There’s one feature to this festival that will be a truly unique - and nearly out of this world - experience: the Luminarium. It’s a sensory experience presented within a walk-in piece of art. It’s an inflatable maze made of translucent pvc, and as you can see from the video below, it’s like walking into another world. Indulge your senses and be surrounded by iridescent color and light, and feel like you’re being transported away to another time and place. You may even find a storytellers and musician performing inside!

The event takes place at South Belmont Harbor on Thursday and Friday evenings beginning at 6pm, and Saturday through Monday starting at 1pm. Tickets are $25. Visit for more details.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tall Ships at Navy Pier

Tall Ships sailed into Chicago earlier this week, and you can still get tickets to see these ships - and maybe even set sail - through Sunday.

More than 20 majestic and historic tall ships from around the world will be docked at Navy Pier, and you can view all of them, board up to 12 of the vessels, and even take daily sails aboard five of the tall ships.

Ships will be docked in three places at the Pier - Nautical Mile (North Dock), Canada Cove (NW Wall at the front of the Pier) and America Alley (SW Wall at the front of the Pier). In addition to the ships, you can enjoy other activities at the Children's Village including international entertainment at three festival stages, and nightly fireworks shows.

You can make a day of it, and grab a bite, take a whirl on the ferris wheel, or even float away on the Aeroballoon.

Tickets for Tall Ships start at $9 and are available at

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nature's LunchBox - No twinkies here

Just as schools all over Chicago are welcoming kids back to school - and to cafeterias and brown bag lunches - Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is opening a new permanent exhibit, Nature's LunchBox. (Did you notice - PERMANENT exhibit, that's how important this is!)

Nature's LunchBox provides information on food’s life cycle – from the farm to the market to the compost bin – to encourage visitors to think about how their food choices impact the environment.

Kids and parents can learn about where their food comes from, and have fun with hands-on activities like hunting for vegetables, shopping healthy at the "Supermarket," and sniffing out healthy foods. Parents can get ideas for healthy lunches that they can put into practice at home.

Bottom line - packing a healthy lunch for your kids can be quick, and delicious!

It's sponsored by Dominick's - and I admit I'm not quite sure which came first, the sponsor or the exhibit - but it's a worthwhile activity if you walk away with some tips that will make your kids' lunches easier and healthier.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Get your treasures, moms - mamaloot is here!

With so many deal-a-day web sites popping up lately along the lines of Groupon, I’m excited to write about a newcomer to the field that’s specifically geared toward moms, right here in Chicago. It’s MAMALOOT – and c’mon, the name alone screams “treasures!”

Mamaloot has special offers for all sorts of services that will appeal to moms. The concept is simple – you sign up, get emails letting you know about the newest deal, and if you’re interested you get online and buy in. Unlike Groupon, there’s no minimum number of buyers required in order for you to be able to get your deal.

And so far from what I see, the deals are from places that moms will love. Some recent deals include a $50 1 month membership to Kid City; 40% off 1 day of Art Camp at the Paintbrush; 54% off Open Play admission to the Family Grounds Café; 71% off a Nutrition Consultation with Nutrisults - and yesterday's deal was 50% off Hoohobbers, which is an awesome local manufacturer of kids products who I wrote about in one of my very first blog posts.

Learn more and sign up at

Friday, August 20, 2010

DeKalb Corn Fest

This weekend, Friday - Sunday, is DeKalb Corn Fest, one of the last remaining free summer music festivals in Illinois. If you don't mind hopping in the car and taking a drive outside Chicago, you'll be rewarded with all sorts of fun activities for the entire family. And - it's FREE!

This festival features a carnival complete with rides and games, food booths, live music, an inflatable bounce house, balloons, games, tattoos, a craft show and family entertainment.

On Friday night, Kid’s Fest presents the NI Dance Center at 5 pm and Monkeys and More Exotic Animal Rescue Show from 6-7:30 pm on the Community Stage. Then on Saturday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm and on Sunday from 12:00, the Kishwaukee YMCA will be hosting an Art Fest in the Kid Fest area.

On Sunday, Colonial will be hosting an Ice Cream Eating Contest for all ages. Registration starts at 11:30 in the Kid Fest area and the competition begins at noon. There's even a laser tag arena!

For more details and directions, visit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Win tickets to Disney on Ice Princess Classics

It seems like quite a contradiction to be thinking about anything on ice while it's still summer, but it's time for Disney on Ice's latest performance, Princess Classics. And we're giving away two family four-packs of tickets to the show - you can enter to win here.

Disney On Ice presents Princess Classics is an amazing journey to the magical lands of Disney’s classic fairy tales. Travel to a kingdom under the sea, an enchanted French castle, an Arabian palace and more! With special guest Tinker Bell, enter the worlds of your favorite Disney princesses – Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan and Snow White – and see their dreams come true as this royal skating extravaganza brings magic to your hometown!

The show is playing the United Center September 8-12.

We're also offering a special ticket deal to readers - get four $24 tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 sodas for just $99, a savings of over $30! This special offer is good for performances on Friday Sept 10 at 7pm and Saturday September 11 at 11:30am and 7pm.

For more details on the special offer, visit this link.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Great kids music - Recess Monkey, Verve Pipe, Dan Zanes

Yesterday, we had the fantastic experience of enjoying a concert featuring some of the top Kidzapalooza performers - all in the comfort of the crowd-free and rain-free James Hotel. (plus - admission-free!) The event was put on by The James Chicago and Kidzapalooza, and families were invited to enjoy children’s artists Recess Monkey, The Verve Pipe and Dan Zanes. In addition to these great performers, there was a complimentary continental breakfast, giveaways from Paul Frank (I somehow missed the raffle entry and am still kicking myself, the prizes were awesome!) And attendees all received a pretty impressive goodie bag with funky freebies from Paul Frank’s “Small Paul” line.

The show started with The Happiness Club, which is actually a group of local kids who use dance and music to promote positive social messages and values. Mia was literally captivated.

Next up was Recess Monkey, who we were introduced to just a few weeks ago. Mia’s been jumping up and down to this fun, catchy CD since hearing the very first note, and the live performance really delivered. These guys are great in concert – they interact with the kids and get them dancing and taking part in the music. Even little Mia was following instructions and shouting out on cue. They relate well to kids, and understand how to get them engaged and involved in the show.

Next was Verve Pipe, who we have loved since their show at Schuba’s in April. You probably know their hit song “Freshman” – and watching them certainly doesn’t really feel like watching a kids’ band. Great lyrics, infectious tunes and a real rock feel - and their humor resonates with kids and adults. Their performance ended with the song “Cereal,” with the lead singer shaking loads of cereal out of his guitar over some guy’s head. As the kids in the audience sized up the situation and got ready to make their moves, he stated, “the 5 second rule has expired.”

Dan Zanes, a kids’ music legend, finished up the show. When he started playing, it was like the Pied Piper had taken over, and all the kids gravitated to the front of the room and sat down. He literally captivated his audience, including Mia, who had never heard his music before. His guitar and harmonica were all that were needed to go along with his music, and we loved his cool, laid back vibe.

Overall, this was one of my favorite concerts so far this year. Did I mention the awesome goodies from Paul Frank? A kids t-shirt, onesie, zipper pull, ID tag necklace, socks, lip balms and a beanie monkey head. Unfortunately for Mia all of the clothes were for a 12 month old, but as soon as I know she won’t eat the lip balms, swallow the zipper pull or misuse the necklace, I’ll let her check those out. For now, she’s mastering her zipper skills with the funky monkey head.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicago area water parks

With temperatures expected to rise into the 90s again this week, I thought I'd post details on some Chicago area water parks that can help you beat the heat. This information was originally sent out in the regular weekly newsletter a couple of weeks ago. If you're not already subscriber, make sure you sign up now so you don't miss important information like this! Here we go....

KeyLime Cove Water Resort, Gurnee
Avoid crowds here and book a room, as this waterpark is only for resort guests. Splash around in this 65,000 square foot indoor waterpark with wild rides for the older kids and adults and a play pond kiddie pool for the little ones. Check web site for rates.

Hall Quarry Beach, Batavia
Hall Quarry Beach occupies a former stone quarry owned by the Batavia Park District. It features a sand bottom swimming area covering 60,000 square feet that includes islands, slides, and a diving area. Admissions: $10, $7 resident.

Pelican Harbor, Bolingbrook
Relax on the Lazy River, experience the thrill of water speed slides, head into the diving well and let the little ones play in the zero-depth entry pool or spray playground. Admission $13, $7 residents, under 2 free.

White Water Canyon Water Park, Tinley Park
Five acres of wet family fun, with a zero depth entry interactive children's play area, diving board, 3-meter drop slide, continuously flowing lazy river, interactive fountains, water cannons and more. $13 nonresident, $7 resident.

Raging Waves Waterpark, Yorkville
Kids’ splash area, a family interactive play structure, a lazy river, wave pool, the Boomerang tornado ride—featuring a four-story drop and a 60-foot tunnel. Over 48" $26.99; Under 48”: $18.99; 2 and under free.

Dolphin Cove Family Aquatic Center, Carpentersville
Zero-depth beach area with geysers and slides for infants and toddlers; "Rip Tide" body slide, "Typhoon" tube slide, 12 foot deep diving well and more. Residents $5, nonresidents $7.50; resident child 3-9 $4, nonresident child $6.50, 2 and under free.

Adams Water Playground, Chicago
This is a little gem in the city, a Chicago park with a small water play area that's perfect for a hot day when you don't want to trek to a crowded water park. Located at 1919 N. Seminary Ave. in a shady area of Lincoln Park. Read my recent blog post about this park. Free!

See our complete listing of local Water Parks by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Retro on Roscoe

By now you've probably heard about Kidzapalooza, taking place at Grant Park this weekend as part of the Lollapalooza music festival. It's sure to be amazing - it's an enormous event, but with that comes enormous crowds... and a not too tiny ticket price.

So if you're not planning to spend the weekend - and some serious cash - with Lollapalooza, there's a great smaller festival that has some equally big performers.

Retro on Roscoe takes place this Saturday and Sunday in Chicago's hip and family friendly Roscoe Village neighborhood, near Roscoe and Damen. This has always been one of my favorite city festivals, even before Mia was born, and now as a mom it's not any exception. This festival has an amazing kids music lineup, with a price tag that can't be beat ($5 donation)

The Family area, ope from noon - 6pm, offers games, activities, face painting, a balloon artist, inflatables and crafts.

The entertainment lineup includes:

Saturday August 7

12pm Trinity Irish Dancers
1pm The Sparkle Monkeys
2pm Justin Roberts

Sunday August 8

12pm School of Rock
1pm Mad Science
2pm Ralph's World

Justin Roberts and Ralph's World are two of our favorite kids' performers, and I am SUPER bummed at the timing of their performances. They're both at 2pm, right smack in the middle of Mia's naptime.

The non-kid lineup is pretty fantastic too, featuring Mr. Blotto, 16 Candles, Too White Crew and Trippin Billies, which if you've spent any time at local street fairs, you've likely heard of. Depending on when Mia wakes up, we may end up spending some time with her over at Hairbangers Ball. Maybe we'll see you there!