Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday 9/21 - Sunday 9/27

This rainy Sunday evening sadly reminds me that summer is coming to an end.  Luckily, we're heading into one of the best reasons to live west of the west coast: the Fall Season.  I'm planning an apple picking trip next weekend, and will feature you-pick-it apple farms in next week's blog.  In the meantime, enjoy what could be our last 80 degree days this week!

Thought of the Week: Painless Puree
In desperate need of restocking our shelves after being out of town for over a week, I bravely took my 2 year old with me on a Sunday run to Costco.  In other words, hitting Costco at peak hours on the weekend is not my idea of fun, but it was necessary and the coupon book has loads of amazing deals, including diaper coupons, so off we went.  The only positive to a midday Sunday Costco run is the food samples. Our lunch today consisted of waffles, yogurt, various cereals, quiche, and a brownie.  The lunch of champions?  Maybe so, as the brownie was made with spinach.   Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in the power of the super foods and shove pureed spinach, raw spinach, cooked spinach, any kind of spinach, in as many dishes as possible.  As much as I love cooking with purees, it is extremely time consuming to steam the veggies, puree the veggies, freeze the purees in ice cube trays, put the cubes into labeled bags and store them.  I was happy to stumble on Hooray Puree today at Costco.  This local company sells frozen puree veggie packets that you can pop into all kinds of meals.  You don't need the Jessica Seinfeld book of recipes to add spinach puree to your lasagna, butternut squash to your mac and cheese, cauliflower to your scrambled eggs, broccoli to your spaghetti sauce, etc.  And while ideally I'd love it if the Hooray Purees were organic, I'm happy that the veggies they use are grown by US farms that practice sustainable agriculture.  For less than $9, I received 10 packs of frozen veggies and gained back hours of quality time previously allocated to my food processor.  


Shedd Aquarium Discount Days: Monday and Tuesday this week are free general admission days at the Shedd.  Of course this means you'll have to fight larger than average crowds.  You'll pay a discounted price if you want to see the Wild Reef, Polar Play Zone, and Oceanarium.  It basically boils down to the upstairs portion of the aquarium being free and the downstairs portion available at a discount.  If you have a pre-schooler, keep in mind that every Tuesday is "Tots on Tuesday" at the Shedd featuring special activities for the pre-school set.
When: Mon and Tues 9a-5p
Where: The Shedd Aquarium • 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago

Alder Planetarium Free Admission Day: Tuesday is a free admission day at the Planetarium.  You'll still need to pay for special shows like One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Big Adventure. High agility parents looking for bargains can bring their kids to both the Shedd and Planetarium on Tuesday due to their close proximity.
When: Tuesday 10a-4p
Where: 1300 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago

Oktoberfest: St. Alphonsus brings German drinking festivities to Lakeview this weekend.  Parents can take advantage of a brat and a brew while kids are entertained at Kinderfest.  The kids' fest takes place Sat 11a-2p and features crafts, face painting, inflatables, music, dunk tank, karaoke, etc.
When: Fri 5p-10p Sat 11a-10p Sun 12n-9p
Where: Corner of Lincoln, Southport, and Wellington

Lakeview East Festival of the Arts: Wrap up your summer festival season with a little culture this weekend.  Parents can enjoy browsing through art work, furniture, and jewelry and kids can take advantage of the interactive children's area.  There is also a sculpture garden, music, a wine/beer garden, and food options from local restaurants.  FREE admission
When: Sat 10a-6p and Sun 10a-5p
Where: Broadway from Belmont to Roscoe

Farm-in-the-Zoo Members Only Open House: If you are a Lincoln Park Zoo member (if you are not you should be - see a plethora of reasons below in On-Going Activities) you are invited to a members only event at Farm-in-the Zoo on Saturday and Sunday.  There will be a garden tour, various chances to interact with the animals, herb tastings from the garden, etc.  Children 5 and under are free.  $8 for members 6 and older. 
When: Sat and Sun 10a-12n
Where: 2200 N Cannon Drive

Midnight Circus: The annual traveling acrobatics show hits Chase Park this weekend.  This is an awesome opportunity to see clowns, contortionists, acrobats, etc without having to leave the city.  The event benefits the Chase Park playground rehabilitation - great show for a great cause!  Tickets are $15.  Kids 2 and under are free. 
When: Sat 2p and 5p • Sun 1p and 4p 
Where: Chase Park • 4701 N Ashland, Chicago


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 TimeAre 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 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 GardenStarting 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 ConservatoryEvery 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 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.

Lincoln Park Zoo's Edible Garden: Don't have room for a garden on your back deck? Bring your little ones to the Farm-in-the-Zoo's Edible Garden where kids get hands-on growing, weeding, compost making, and harvesting practice. Your kids may leave with an understanding that corn and tomatoes are grown somewhere other than Jewel.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo Farm-in-the Zoo • 2200 N Canon Drive, Chicago
When: Garden is open Wed and Sat 10a-1p

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 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 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