Saturday, June 27, 2009

Monday 7/6 - Sunday 7/12

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend with friends and fam. We traveled out of state to visit my in-laws so I'm excited to spend this coming weekend back in Chicago for my favorite festival of the year. See below for fest info and for a new Windy City Tot feature: Deals of the Week.

Thought of the Week: What's for dinner?
Of all the mom chores that comprise my weekly routine, perhaps the one I loathe the most, aside from cleaning the diaper pail, is planning the nightly dinners. I am a casserole queen, as I love the ease of leftovers and one pot meals, but I hate making heavy food in the summer. I also hate the thought of getting home from work and having to prepare dinner late in the evening after my son has gone to bed. Last year, some of the moms in my playgroup shared their love of Dream Dinners with the group, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. For those of you who are not familiar, it works like this: check out the Dream Dinners menu online, pick the meals that sound good to you, then set an appointment time to assemble the dinners at their location on Belmont. Because you assemble the meal yourself, it feels like you're making a homemade meal when you take them from the freezer and throw them on the grill or in the oven. Over the past few months, we've thoroughly enjoyed meals like Steak Salsa Verde and Adobo Pork Roast on the grill, Pulled Pork Sandwiches prepared in the crock pot, and Chipotle Chicken Ravioli on the stove top. My only hesitation, when I was a Dream Dinners virgin, was the commitment of making a minimum of 36 servings before having taste tested the dinners myself. If the concept sounds intriguing, you can try Dream Dinners this week without having to commit to an entire order. Hit the free Dinner and Wine event Thursday night to sample items from their July menu, drink some wine, and have the opportunity to prepare just one meal to take home. It is quick, it is tasty, and this week it is available to try before you buy. RSVP:


Millennium Park Circus Carnival Week: Each week this summer features a different Family Fest theme at Millennium Park. This week kids can feel like they have joined the circus when they become stilt walkers, jugglers, and have their faces painted like clowns. Hit the park early for the daily free Wiggle Worms classes and let the face paint come off as they splash around in the fountains. Bring your suits and towels.
Where: Millennium Park Chase Promenade North • 55 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
When: Mon - Sun 10a-3p (check website above for specific activity times)

Craft Mobile: Throughout the week the Chicago Park District is bringing an outdoor crafting station to various parks and playlots throughout the city. Kids under age 6 can enjoy outdoor craft projects including sidewalk murals, stained glass window hangings, drawing, and more. All crafting supplies will be provided. Hit the above website for where to find the Craft Mobile this week. Stops include the Ravenswood Manor and Senn playlots. FREE.
Where: Various playgrounds throughout the city
When: Mon - Fri this week

Pals Around the Pond: Head to Lincoln Park for an outdoor class for kids ages 3-6 hosted by the Nature Museum. Kids will learn about the North Pond and the critters that make it their home. $7 for members / $9 for non-members. Call 773.755.5111 x6 to register. Remember, Thursday is a free day at the museum so you can visit the butterflies and indoor play area after the class at no additional cost!
Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum • 2430 N. Cannon Drive
When: Thursday • 9:30a-10:30a

Benfest: This North Center fest benefiting St. Benedict's parish and school seems to get bigger every year. Look for the typical street fest music and bands as well as a kids area with carnival rides, games, crafts, etc. $5 before 8p $10 after.
Where: 2215 W Irving Park Road, Chicago
When: Fri 5p-11p • Sat 3p-11p

Folk and Roots Fest: Haven't been to a Chicago street festival this year? No worries because you can hit Old Town School of Music's Folk and Roots Fest this weekend and feel confident that you made it to the best fest of the year. Please, take my word for it, this is THE one to take your kids to. In fact, we love it so much that my husband and I haven't missed it in the last seven years. I can list a million reasons to go, but here's the best one: Folk and Roots is a combo street and park festival. It is a little like Ravinia in the city. Mark your territory in Welles Park with blankets, chairs, tents, coolers (easily hidden in the stroller), etc in front of the Main Stage when you arrive. You'll always have a home base on the lawn to chill out on when you aren't in search of a Jury burger, hanging out in the Kids' Tent, or watching Puppet Bike. Clear your calendar. Hit this fest. Suggested donation of $8 for adults and $4 for kids.
Where: Welles Park • Lincoln Ave between Montrose and Sunnyside
When: Sat and Sun 12n-9:30p

Rock Around the Block Fest: This is another Star Events fest, meaning that the cover bands, the food, the atmosphere will feel exactly the same as their other Chicago fests (typical street fest food, typical fest cover bands, typical fest set-up). The family area promises good things including the Story Bus, games and entertainment. $5 donation.
Where: Lincoln Ave and Belmont, Chicago
When: Sat 12n-10p • Sun 12n-9p

Great Performers of Illinois: This fest celebrates all things Illinois including performances by musicians/artist from our state, local food/restaurants, and wine from six Illinois wineries. Children's entertainment include an 8,000 square-foot corn maze and Abe Lincoln learning activities. (And no, that is not a typo. There will be an actual ginormous corn maze in Millennium Park this weekend. That might be enough to lure me downtown on a weekend.) Free admission.
Where: Millennium Park • 55 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
When: Fri 7/10 - Mon 7/13 • Fri 6:30p-10p, Sat 7a-10p, Sun 10a-10p, Mon 12n-8p

Preggers: Every day this week Preggers is offering deals online and in their stores. Daily deals include 20% off of all maternity clothing, 20% off children's clothing, and 15% off your entire purchase. Hit above link for the details.
The Red Balloon Co: Save 40% on their summer Daily Tea collection when you enter the code SUMMERTIME on their website. Note that Chicago customers can opt to pick their order up in the Bucktown or Andersonville store to avoid shipping fees.


The Alder Planetarium The Planetarium is currently showing One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure in which 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. 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

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

Brookfield Zoo: In 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: Starting this week, the Botanic Garden is featuring 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 Conservatory: Every Wednesday through the fall 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 Market: Visit 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.

Museum of Science and Industry: Bring your kids to see the Harry Potter exhibit, the Green Home exhibit, and to see live science experiments. June through October the museum will host a free farmers market on the first and third Fridays of the month from 7a-2p. The museum will always have free admission on farmers market Fridays. Otherwise, general admission is $13 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3-11.
Where: 5700 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Mon-Sat 9:30a-5:3op / Sun 11a-5:30p

Pump It Up: when 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 also has a separate area designed for little kids age 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!

Tots on Tuesdays at the Shedd: Every Tuesday the Shedd Aquarium offers activities devoted to toddlers and pre-schoolers. There are story times, crafts, animal touch programs, videos and costumed characters.
Where: The Shedd Aquarium • 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Tuesdays • 9a-5p

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