Friday, May 15, 2009

Monday 5/18 - Sunday 5/24

My family participated in what should have been an Olympic event on Saturday - three birthday parties in one day.  Really, we are not that popular, this is our first time on the tot birthday circuit since last year.  One of the parties we attended was at Pig Pen in Rogers Park.  I loved it so much that it inspired the thought of the week...

Thought of the Week: Shop Local, Be Green, Have Fun
Be green.  Everyone's doing it.  Just take your canvas bag to the grocery store and throw all your cans and bottles in the blue bin.  That should save the earth, right?  Not really.  The only way we can save the earth is to stop shopping, stop consuming, stop buying things.  But that isn't much fun.  How about just putting some thought into your shopping.  At Pig Pen in Rogers Park, you can feel good about your purchases.  All of the children's clothing is either gently used or locally made.  While I found several cute previously owned Janie and Jack items for my son, the girls clothing and accessories really shined.  There were adorable gently used items that looked like they came straight from an expensive children's boutique.  The handmade dresses, tops, hats, bibs, and burp cloths were absolutely darling and unique.  The locally designed bows and barrettes were some of the cutest accessories I've seen.  The best part: Pig Pen is half clothing store and half arts and crafts studio.  While you shop, your kids can paint, glue, glitter, sticker, and stamp their little hearts out.  Kids under age 4 can spend an hour crafting for $5 while kids 4 and older are $10 for an hour.   Tara, Pig Pen's owner, throws a great birthday party at a great price.  Hit the link to Pig Pen's website above to check out the space and the goods.   Renew, reuse, and rack up at Pig Pen.


Purchase Your Tickets TODAY:  Tickets for the Illinois Railway Museum's Day Out With Thomas event went on sale yesterday.  Dates and times for riding the Thomas train sell out so if you don't buy a ticket in advance you could get stuck with a ticket during naptime.  The event includes: 20 min train ride on Thomas, Sir Topham Hatt meet and greet, clowns, puppet and magic shows, live music, story time, crafts, etc.  The Railway Museum is a bit of a haul, but if your kid is a Thomas fan, this is one of the highlights of the year.  Tickets are $18 for all riders over the age of 2. 
Where: buy your tickets online (link above) • IRM is located in Union - west of Crystal Lake
When: buy your tickets now for one of the following days: Fri 8/14, Sat 8/15, Sun 8/16, Sat 8/22 or Sun 8/23.

Barnes and Noble Story Time:  Are you looking for a free activity for a rainy day?  You can enjoy a latte while your kids enjoy story time at one of the Barnes and Noble city locations.  2-3 times a week the city locations offers a story time activity for children ages 0-3 years.
Where: Webster Place (1441 W. Webster) or State and Elm (1130 N. State)
When: Webster- Every Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am / State- Every Mon & Sat 10am

The Alder Planetarium: Tuesday is a free admission day at the Planetarium.  Take your kids there to see One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure staring, you guessed it, some of the most popular Sesame Street characters. Big Bird, Elmo, and a friend from China, discover fun facts about the stars, planets, sun and moon. Weekday shows are at 1p and 2:30p and weekend shows are 12n and 3p.  An extra show has been added for Friday - Monday of Memorial day weekend at 10am.  If you hit the Sesame show on Tuesday the cost is $9 for adults and kids ages 3-14.  Otherwise the cost of entry plus the show is $19 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3-14. 
Where:  1300 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Mon-Fri • 10a-4p Sat-Sun 10a-4:30p (opens 1/2 hour early and closes 1/2 hour later Memorial Day weekend 5/22-5/25)

Animal Houses: This new exhibit at the Morton Arboretum allows visitors to explore whimsical interpretations of animal houses built to human-scale.  Your kids can climb through and explore houses designed by artists which include a squirrel drey, raccoon den, an ant colony, a spider web, a coyote den, and several more. 
Where: 4100 Route 53, Lisle
When: Daily starting Friday 5/22 through 11/15 • 7a-7p

Naperville Parent's Night Out: Napervillians, do you need a date night?  If so, the park district is offering a Friday night of fun for your kids consisting of crafts, games in the gym, pizza and a movie.  The cost is $16 for residents and $24 for non-residents.  Open to ages 4-10.  Click the above link to register.
Where: Cowlishaw School gym • 1212 Sanctuary Lane, Naperville
When: Friday 5/22 • 6p-9p

Corduroy Appearance:  A Corduroy (the bear) costumed character will appear at the Evanston Barnes and Nobel location during storytime.  
Where: Sherman Plaza • 1630 Sherman Ave, Evanston
When: Saturday 5/23 • 10:30a

Fleet Feet Soldier Field 10 Mile Run/2 Mile Walk: The 10 mile run is already sold out, so you have a perfect excuse to push your jogging stroller in the 2 mile walk.  The walk route takes place on the grounds surrounding Soldier Field.  There is also a Kids Sprint in Soldier Field for kids ages 5-12.  Click the above link for more info and to register online.  
Tip: if you are determined to do the run, i found four people on Craigslist selling their bib numbers for the 10 mile race.  search "soldier field 10 mile".
Where: East lawn of Soldier Field • 1410 Museum Campus Drive
When: Sat 5/23 • Run starts at 7:30a, Walk at 8a, Kids Spring at 7:45a

Ocenarium Opens at the Shedd:  Are you one of the many parents that visited the Shedd Aquarium in the last 8 months only to leave with a disappointed child who was not able to see the penguins, seals, whales, etc?  Not to worry, the half of the aquarium that was closed to visitors while it received a $100 million face lift, is reopening this weekend.   Included in the rehab is the new Polar Play Zone.  This exhibit, which was designed with 2- to 7-year-olds in mind, allows kids to explore the North and South Poles through touch pools, dress-up areas, a playscape, and a submarine.  Kids can climb rocks and crawl through caves while learning about the Poles.  There is a also a new food court and an lakefront terrace where visitors can enjoy their lunch.  Adults will be able to wade into the Beluga habitat and interact with the whales.  
Where: 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Ocenarium opens on Sat 5/23 • Weekdays 9a-5p Weekends 9a-6p

Bike the Drive: It is a Memorial Day weekend tradition in Chicago - the one day of the year that Lakeshore Drive is closed to traffic and open to bicyclist.  Participants start at Bryn Mawr and head south 15 miles to the Museum of Science and Industry or vice versa.  Riders that start early enough can do the entire 30 mile loop.  The post-ride festival includes live music and an all you can eat pancake breakfast.  Click the link above to register.  The cost is $42 for adults, $12 for kids under 17, and free to kids in bike trailers.  
Where: Lakeshore Drive - start at Bryn Mawr entrance or at the Museum of Science & Industry
When: Sunday 5/24 • start between 5:30a-9a (bikers must exit LSD by 9:45a).  Post-party goes until 12n.


Brookfield ZooIn the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, the Brookfield Zoo has created a Jurassic Park experience minus all the scary stuff. Kids can touch and control the movement of life-sized dinosaurs along a wooded path in an outdoor forest setting. The exhibit also features a dig site that allows visitors to find replica dinosaur fossils. General zoo admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 3-11. Admission for Dinosaurs Alive! is an additional $5 for adults and $3 for children 3-11. The exhibit runs through October.

Chicago Botanic Garden -Model Railroad Garden: Summer through fall, the Botanic Garden features an area devoted to model trains. Seventeen trains travel across bridges, through tunnels, and around various American landmarks in a miniature garden setting. Admission to the Botanic Garden is free but there is a $20 per car parking fee. There is an additional fee of $5 for adults and $3 for kids for the Railroad exhibit.
Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
When: Daily 5/9-10/25 • 10a-8p 

Garfield Park ConservatoryEvery Wednesday is Little Green Thumb Wednesdays at the conservatory. Little gardeners can unite to dig in the soil, plant pretend veggies, play with wheel barrels, and other gardening activities. No registration required. FREE!
Where: 300 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago • Outside in the Demonstration Garden (moves indoors to the Children's Garden in bad weather)
When: Every Wednesday through 10/28 • 3p-6p 

Green City MarketVisit Chicago's largest Farmer's Market in the heart of Lincoln Park every Wed and Sat through October 31st. Be sure to stop by the Growing Home booth for your organic produce. My son loves to run around the park and boogie to the live music while I shop for our groceries.
Tip: if you are not a zoo member, consider becoming one. why would i pay to join a free zoo, you ask? zoo membership gives you free parking adjacent to the zoo and a short walk to the farmer's market (as well as a short walk to the nature museum, the beach, etc). plus zoo membership is tax deductible. we usually get an early start on saturday mornings and hit the farmer's market and then make a stop at the zoo. this makes for a full morning of outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy!
Where: The south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton.
When: Every Wednesday and Saturday 7a-1p

The Kids' Table offers cooking classes for 2-3 year olds almost every day of the week. Classes for 4-6 year olds, 7-10 year olds, and 11-16 year olds are offered several days a week as well. The classes for toddlers and kids are one hour and cost $25. The classes for teens are 1.5 hours and are $110 for a series of four. 2337 W. North Avenue. 

Pump It Upwhen it is too hot or cold to play outside, Pump It Up offers indoor play in Chicago and the suburbs. Kids can jump, slide, and climb on giant inflatables during Pop-in Playtime on the weekdays. The city location has a separate area designed for little kids ages 1-4. Pop-in playtime is $8 -$10 for 1.5 hours. Hit their website for hours and the address of the location nearest you. Locations include: Chicago, Glenview, Elmhurst, and Vernon Hills. Don't forget socks!

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