Monday, January 26, 2015

All about Bedbugs #BedBugFeud

Disclosure: Special thanks to Orkin for sponsoring this post. 

Sadly, our city is among the top 10 bedbug capitals in the world. 

Bed bugs can be found almost anywhere, even in four star hotel rooms. Infestations are on the rise, no thanks to resistance to pesticides, increased travel, global warming, and lack of public awareness.

Monster Jam Heading to Allstate Arena with an Exciting New Competitive Format Featuring #MoreMonsterJam!

Monster Jam® tour is heading to the Allstate Arena, Feb. 5-8!
And this year, Monster Jam is featuring more of what you love about Monster Jame: more trucks, more action, #MoreMonsterJam!


Chicago Theatre Week: Our Top Three Family-Friendly Picks

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Chicago Theatre Week (CTW) is the star of February. For a couple bucks more than a ticket to the movies, you can witness the magic of live theater with your family. From February 12-22, over 100 productions will offer discounted tickets for $15-30, with many offering further discounts. Here are three CTW children's plays on our radar for Chicago Theatre Week 2015. 

The Selfish Giant - Chicago Children's Theatre

Based on Oscar Wilde's classic story, this show centers on a selfish, grumpy giant who forbids children from playing in his garden, setting off an eternal winter. Chicago folk music legend Michael Smith and master puppeteer Blair Thomas join forces to present this imaginative and whimsical show, which promises live music and plenty of fun for both kids and grown-ups. The Chicago Children's Theatre performs at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, steps from the Magnificent Mile.

Lions in Illyria Lifeline Theatre

Adapted from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and featuring a fun cast of animals in place of stuffy Elizabethan royalty, Lions in Illyria is the story of Violet, a young lioness, who must brave a new land all on her own after her brother is lost at sea. This magical comedy brings all the animals of the jungle onstage - from peacocks to warthogs - for an adventure in the weird and mythical land of Illyria. This production is recommended for children ages 5 and up (children under 2 not permitted), and runs one hour with no intermission. Lifeline Theatre is located in the North Side neighborhood of Rogers Park at 6912 N. Glenwood Avenue.

Short Shakespeare! Macbeth - Chicago Shakespeare Theatre 
Short Shakespeare! Macbeth

Haunted by visions of the murdered Banquo, Macbeth (Chris Genebach) is silenced by Lady Macbeth (Lanise Antoine Shelley), as the concerned court looks on in Short Shakespeare! Macbeth. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Short Shakespeare's Macbeth is a condensed but certainly not dumbed-down 75-minute version of the original. Before the show even begins, one of the ensemble members takes a moment to speak to the kids in the crowd. His message: if you are having trouble understanding our words, look to our actions. Listen to us as you listen to a new song. The action certainly held my 10-year-old son's interest when we saw it for the first time, and provided a wonderful entry into the world of Shakespeare, where witches, battles, intrigue and madness are all part of the show. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Tickets are already on sale, so check in at

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Celebrate Snow in Chicago!

This post originally appeared at, where I am a contributor.

There is nothing quite like waking up to a city blanketed with snow. Snow days are one of the big reasons why my two kids love living in Chicago. Bundle up and head outdoors to celebrate snow at these six fun programs, performances and events.

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

On January 24 and February 21, Northerly Island and the Chicago Park District host the annual Polar Adventure Days. This is your chance to pet Siberian huskies, wolves and other winter-loving animals. Snowshoes will be available for rental, or you can stay inside the visitor's center to make a nature-inspired winter craft. Hot cocoa will be on hand to keep everyone warm and cozy.

Don your "skates" (aka your socks!) and jump into the Snow Much Fun! exhibit at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier (above). You'll enjoy all the best of snow with zero chill factor. Build a snow fort, throw snowballs, dress up a snowman and skate on the rink in your socks.

There are plenty of great sledding hills in Chicago and beyond. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has a great guide for sledding in the city. Our family's favorite sledding hill is at Caldwell Woods, near the corner of Devon and Milwaukee. Afterward, head over to Superdawg, home of Chicago's best hot dogs, located just around the corner. Since it offers old-fashioned window service, you can keep your winter gear on and enjoy a delicious dog from the comfort of your car.

MB Financial Park in Rosemont is a 200,000-square-foot entertainment and dining complex, and this holiday season ushers in the brand-new FROZEMONT ice skating rink and a four-story tubing adventure "Polar Peak," (above) opening to the public December 12. For a complete schedule of skating and tubing hours, click here. Admission to the ice rink is free; skates can be rented onsite for $8. Tubing tickets can be purchased online or onsite for $20 per hour.

Spend some time with the princess of all things icy and snowy: Elsa is coming to the United Center on January 28 - February 8 when Disney on Ice presents Frozen. Audiences will get to sing along with such musical masterpieces as "Let it Go," "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "Fixer Upper." For tickets, visit

Snow Days Chicago

Navy Pier is celebrating all things snow at its annual Snow Days Chicago (above) event the weekend of February 7-8, at Gateway Park, located just in front of the pier entrance. This fun celebration is your chance to play in the snow - and offers everything from snow sculpting to snowboarding to snow painting!

The snow sculpting competition brings together teams of talented professional snow sculptors from around the world, with each team creating an imaginative sculpture out of a 10-foot blocks of man-made snow. The Interactive Snowboard Experience gives kids the chance to experience snowboarding for the first time on a special interactive course with obstacles. Kids can also paint a masterpiece on snow, enjoy live entertainment at Navy Pier's Family Pavilion, and warm up indoors while browsing Navy Pier's many shops and attractions. For more information on Navy Pier's Snow Days, visit Navy Pier's website.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My 5-year-old daughter's latest obsession: Shopkins!

My daughter, age 5, is completely enamored with a bunch of miniature items you might find at your local grocery store...

Yes, the Shopkins craze has hit our home hard. 

Shopkins are the cutest, collectible characters from your favorite supermarket. There are over 140 Shopkins to collect, with fun themes such as Cute Fruits, Sweets, Dairy and more. (Here's the full list of all the Shopkins available). My daughter loves the cute Shopkins shorts (we're hoping for more in the near future!). We're planning on hosting some of her friends for a Valentine's Day Shopkins-themed tea party and I adore the (free!) printables - invites, decor, etc. - available on the Shopkins website
Kooky Cookie is my favorite Shopkins character
Do you remember your first time collecting mini-figurines as a child? I amassed quite a collection of these little blue friends before I moved on to these. I love seeing my daughter delight in her little collection of Shopkins: she loves setting up her very own little grocery store and she even made a little bed for her Shopkins out of a small box last night!

The Shopkins supermarket playset is available at Toys R' Us

What did you collect as a child? What do your children collect today?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Celebrate the 2015 Doll of the Year at American Girl Place Chicago

This post originally appeared on, where I am a contributor. 

Meet Grace Thomas. She's an avid baker with an entrepreneurial spirit, and she's the 2015 American Doll of the Year. 

American Girl Place Chicago will be baking up some fun with Grace the entire month of January. girls visiting the store during Grace's debut, through January 3, will receive a specially- packaged doll-sized apron and have the opportunity to participate in several activities including:
  • Free Grace-themed Scavenger Hunt: Travel along with Grace on her Parisian adventure with the Journey Through Paris! scavenger hunt 
  • Free Craft Activity: Grace's Travel Tags
  • Grace Photo Opportunity: Capture a memory of your visit by getting a photo taken at the store. 
Grace shows girls today that following your dreams can lead to sweet rewards, as she works toward opening a bakery of her very own. A trip to France widens her perspectives and teaches her a few new tricks of the baking trade. Available for only one year, Grace will launch with two books that tell her story, a beautiful 18-inch Grace doll, and an array of fun accessories. A full-length movie based on Grace's stories will debut on DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment later in 2015. To further Grace's inspirational message for girls, American Girl has created For Goodness, Bake!--a year-long fund-raising initiative in support of No Kid Hungry, the campaign to end childhood hunger in America from Share Our Strength.

At American Girl Place Chicago, you'll find all your favorite American Girl dolls - from historical favorites to the Bitty Baby and the Bitty Twins. The bookstore offers titles that focus on creativity, history, and of course, girl power. The in-store Hair Salon will help you fix up your doll's 'do and at Creativi-tees you can make your own matching doll and real kid t-shirts. The events calendar at American Girl Place Chicago updates frequently, so check back often, and plan your visit around one of the many festive happenings. Consider spending your night at a Magnificent Mile area hotel that offers special, sweet amenities for girls and dolls.
To make a reservation for the American Girl Chicago Cafe, call the reservation hotline at Call 877-247-5223 or book online at