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Chicago

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I’m a Chicago girl and there is nothing I love more than sharing my hometown with my daughters. I love taking my children to visit my family and introducing them to the city I love. It’s nice because while I’m figuring out all the best things to do in Chicago with teens and kids, I get to play tourist.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities but when you live somewhere you never play tourist because you.live.there. When you’re young, you’re like no way, I’m not wasting my time because you think you’ll always be there. Everything tourists come to Chicago to see, we saw on field trips a zillion times with school. You couldn’t pay us enough to go willingly.

READ ALSO: Chicago Ten Things to do Before You Die

But then you grow up and you realize OMG, all of these amazing museums, art galleries, Planetariums, Zoos, Aquariums and theater were right her and I took it all for granted. You realize that there are amazing things to do, food to eat and different cultures all around and you took it all for granted. But no more.

Here is a list of things to do in Chicago during the Winter months

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The Museum of Science and Industry

During the winter months, November through January, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is displayed. Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.

It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

READ ALSO: Spring Break Make It Yourself at MSI

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. This year, I took my parents and my daughters and it was truly magical. My only piece of advice, it is very busy over the holiday break between Christmas and New Year.

Also, if you are going during a busy season or when a popular exhibit is at the museum, be sure to get tickets for the exhibits that you want to see. There are some free exhibits that are very popular and so tickets are given on first come first serve basis, plot your plan and get your tickets as soon as you get there so you don’t miss anything.

Free admission days: The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents with valid ID on the following dates in 2019: January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31, February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28

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Shedd Aquarium

If you are looking for a leisurely day to spend with children of all ages, the Shedd Aquarium is perfect. You are inside from the elements, whether it be the sweltering heat of the summer or the brutal cold of Chicago winters, and children (and adults alike) love the serene beauty that surrounds you.

Discover Aquatic Animals from around the World. You can purchase tickets online and save time. Encounter Penguins. Meet Beluga Whales. Award Winning Exhibits. Hands-On Activities. Watch Shark Feedings. Shows: Shark Feeding Tour, Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Beluga Encounter, Penguin Encounter. Our favorite was the Dolphin show and the Beluga Whales. It’s a great day of exciting aquatic fun.

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Don’t forget about the free admission days January 17-21, February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28 more will be added to the shed aquarium page free admissions page at a later day. Check back frequently because it’s a great deal.

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Field Museum

Who can forget the iconic shots of Kevin Bacon in She’s Having a Baby at the Field Museum? If your child or teen is into history at all, Field Museum is the place to visit. Even if they aren’t, I think the FIeld Museum could convince them to be. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. It’s where real science, dinosaurs, and world-class exhibits inspire fun for all. My girls and nephew loved the mummies exhibit, Sue the T-Rex and Maximo the Titanosaur.

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There are Free Admission Days, which is free basic admission for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Discounted passes are available in person and cannot be purchased online in advance.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Millennium Park, is a hub for summertime festivals like Lollapalooza, the Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago but it’s really a great place to visit during the winter months as well. There are many pieces to be adored and to give your family something to think about Wood’s American Gothic, Matisse’s Bathers By a River, Monet’s Water Lilies, Rivera’s Weaver and even Renoir’s Two Sisters. There are O’Keefe, Toulouse-Lautrec and Warhols. All these I remember seeing as a child. But even among the Dali’s and Van Goghs, the piece I love the most is Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. Having a place to go and share these pieces with my daughters, feels a little bit like going to church at the Sistine Chapel. We are overcome with awe and wonder. The art Institute is a must visit when you’re in Chicago.

Just like all the other amazing museums in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago has free admission days.

Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premier resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers and bonus, it is right next door to the Shedd Aquarium so you can make a day of it with the kids. If your child is interested in astronomy or space in general, how it works, what’s out there, or just connecting the constellations in the night sky, they will love the Adler Planetarium.

Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days—where Illinois residents receive FREE General Admission to the museum. General Admission provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the historic Atwood Sphere Experience and sky shows.*) 2019 Illinois Resident Discount Days

January 21-22, 29-31
February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
April 2-4, 9-11
June 3-5, 10-13
September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
October 7-9, 14-16
November 8, 11
December 2-3, 7, 12-13

Navy Pier

If you’ve never been to Navy Pier, make sure to visit on your next trip to Chicago. Originally completed in 1916 as part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago, Navy Pier is an iconic city landmark inspiring discovery and wonder. Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million visitors have come to enjoy the Pier’s 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. As Navy Pier enters its second century, the venue is evolving into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.

There is so much to do at Navy Pier. There are restaurants, art, shopping, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and even rides. Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions: the magnificent Centennial Wheel, offering soaring views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. And let’s not forget about the Pepsi Wave Swinger, carousel and more. Honestly, there is so much to do…just add teens and instant good time.

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Medieval Times Schaumburg

If you’ve never been to a Medieval Times, you are missing out. I always wanted to go but never made the drive ase I said, when you live in Chicago, you don’t do the touristy things). A couple of years ago, I found myself at a work event with my family and guess where we ended up? Medieval Times. We loved it so much, this past holiday season when I was home visiting my parents, we took them to Medieval times in Schaumburg (just north of the city) and they loved it and so did my kids.

For the first time in Medieval Times 35-year history, a woman is in charge. All hail Queen Dona Maria Isabella. Enjoy an electrifying show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience. Enjoy a “hands-on” feast as the dynamic performance unfolds before you. A sweeping musical score and brilliant lights provide a fabulous backdrop for this spellbinding experience that blurs the boundary between fairy tale and spectacle!

Yes, there is a blue knight and a red knight and you eat with your hands but so is everybody else and it was magical and splendid and I can’t wait to go again. There is a 2-hour medieval jousting tournament, 6 competing knights with real weapons, beautiful horses and a live flight of the royal falcon. Medieval Times is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.

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Save BIG 40% off adults and teens & 20% off kids. Use code HOL4020. Valid for shows through 1/31/2019. Restrictions apply.

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If you love the theater, Broadway in Chicago is the place to be. Hamilton, anyone? The theater district is vibrant and located within walking distance of so many great restaurants and entertainment opportunities, including the Joffrey ballet. There is no shortage of things to see and places to be while experiencing Broadway on Chicago. There is a constant assortment of plays and musicals to see on the stage, something for everyone, even the most discerning critics.

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There are so many more things, these are just a few and the list gets longer during the warmer months. What is your favorite thing to do, see and eat in Chicago? The best part is that all of these places are great for just adults too.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience

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What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago with teens or kids?

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3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Our Spring Break started on Friday and since we just returned from Walt Disney World and our Disney Dream Cruise, we wanted to head to one of our favorite cities close to home, Chicago and visit the Museum of Science and Industry to experience the Make Festival and the Make Shop. I love sharing my childhood favorites like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) with my girls. Chicago’s my hometown and I love nothing more than sharing it with my girls.

Chicago is one of our favorite Spring Break destinations because it’s a quick drive away, we get to visit with my parents and sisters and you will never run out of things to do. In fact, last year we spent the entire week drinking in all the sights and sounds of the Chicago.

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Disclosure: We were hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago but all opinions and experiences of the Spring Make Festival and the Make Shop are my own.

We were extra excited to head to the city and MSI this year because they are hosting their first ever Spring Make Festival. What is the Spring Make Festival, you ask? It’s four weeks of MSI hosting a special program for expressing your creativity, including hands-on activities like a high-tech maker workshop (the Make Shop), evening events dedicated to brewing and collective digital art and a marathon Mini Maker Faire. There is something for everyone of all ages but I was most excited about my girls getting some hands-on time with technology.

I remember when I first got to Purdue, everyone I knew was studying to be an engineer and I had no idea what an engineer was or did. I heard “engineer” and my mind automatically went to a train engineer. I don’t want my girls’ to go through life not knowing all the amazing places science and math can take them. I want them to embrace all things STEM.

I’ve come a long way from the girl who was white-knuckling her word processor. I did not go gently into the Internet era but now, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I literally make my living on the Internet. I am one of the biggest tech geeks you could ever hope to meet and I want that for my girls. Let’s just skip the whole white knuckling part.

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What is Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Spring Make Festival?

The first ever Spring Make Festival, which runs March 9 through April 8, offers a robust combination of daily activities and special events designed to help guests see themselves as designers, makers, and tinkerers including the MSI Chicago Mini
Maker Faire; a facilitated workshop offering LED circuitry building, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting; Hebocon, a renowned “crappy” robot competition, adults-only events and new hands-on challenges. Hands-on high tech 101 and the facilitators make it all seem so easy and attainable. My girls never felt overwhelmed with any of the concepts.

Simply put, the Spring Make Festival is a vacation from all the things you have to do and an opportunity to create your heart’s desire using today’s most technologically advanced methods. You are truly only limited by your imagination. It’s the place where your innate creativity meets high tech and anything is possible. It’s teaching our children that they can rule the world with their minds.

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Spring Make Festival is a celebration of high and low-tech ways that people, especially kids, can tap into their creative potential and see firsthand that there are multiple paths to a STEM-focused career. The Spring Make Festival introduces children to the wonders of modern technology in a way that invites participation and does not overwhelm.

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The Make Shop takes that process one step further with a more intimate setting and a docent to explain the entire process as you experience it.

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My girls are 10 and 13-years-old and they loved the Make Shop. The Make Shop is a place where you and your children can try out the technology literally reshaping the worlds of design and production. My girls were in STEM heaven. Kids today are so tech savvy that they have high expectations from their experiences and my girls were not disappointed.

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The Make Shop introduces you to the kinds of technology that you’ve been hearing a lot about: 3D printing and building, vinyl cutting and LED circuit building. This new facilitated experience allows you the chance to try out some of these cutting-edge fabrication tools in an approachable, beginner-friendly environment. What’s more, you get to bring home the proof you did- a custom craftwork; a constant reminder of the inner designer, maker and tinkerer in all of us. A reminder that there isn’t anything that we can’t do if we set our minds and hearts to it.

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We are all makers. It is intrinsically human to create, tinker, innovate and express ourselves through made objects. As you create, you will learn about problem-solving skills, the diverse community of local Chicago makers and how making can have a positive impact on communities. By exchanging ideas, we push one another forward to invent and build new and innovative things.

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As a tech aficionado, I felt like I was at a tiny CES. I’ve railed on and on about the wonders of 3D printing and now my girls saw it up close and firsthand. My 10-year-old rattled off about a million things she wants to create and invent on a 3D printer. She’s already put it at the top of her Christmas list for next year. I just loved seeing their eyes light up when they accomplished these feats of technological wonder.

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The Make Shop takes technology that seems like far off ideas to most people and breaks it down into digestible parts. It takes it from overwhelming and unachievable to hands on. It removes the doubt and replaces it with, you did it!

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In the Make Shop, you have access to new tools and that is empowering. It inspires you to creatively problem-solve and invent. We shape our world with the ideas we share and the things we make.

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Select experiences and events require an additional ticket purchase. A full schedule with pricing along with additional information is available online at msichicago.org/springmake

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Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This past weekend, we took a road trip to Chicago. I still can’t believe that there is so much that I haven’t taken the girls to do in my hometown. Over spring break, I took the girls to see some of the more nationally known sites in Chicago. Usually, we just go to grandma’s house.

But last week, I took the girls home to some of my old stomping grounds i.e. the beach. My girls hear me talk about “the beach” all the time. They know I spent all my summers swimming and playing in the waves at “the beach” but as they’ve gotten older, they are all, “Hey, ma! There’s no beach in Chicago. It’s a lake!” And I‘m all, nope, Mommy doesn’t do “lakes” in the traditional sense because..ewwww, fresh water ( more like doesn’t move water) barely moves and unless there are rapids or waves, I’m not getting in. You’ve heard about those parasites that go up your nose and your urethra. No thank you!

Anyways, I totally digress, my point is I had to show them that my beach was a beach like the coastal beaches they’re used to, not like a rock covered pool of stagnant water buried in tick country. Yeah, don’t invite me to your lake house. I won’t come. I took the girls to the beach twice in 3 days. They get it now. They know what I mean. They loved it. They want to move to “the beach”. This makes me happy.

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We also consumed lots of food that is indigenous to “the region”. The region is where I hail from, it’s the Chicagoland area but not the city. We are 20 minutes from downtown, on “this side” of the border. Meaning everything we grew up doing was in Chicago but since you could walk to the state line in 5 minutes from my house, technically, I lived in Indiana but I knew nothing about Indiana. I never even saw corn until I went to college. Boiler up!

We hit our usual local eatery favorites; Barton’s Pizzeria and White Castles. You can take the girl out of the region but you can’t take the region out of the girl. Then we hit Portillos. I had a hot Italian beef with all the Giardiniera they could put on it. The spicier the better. It was delicious. My youngest ordered a Chicago dog with nothing on it but ketchup. WHAT? She nearly lost her ish when they brought her a poppy seed bun. Fortunately, she was too hungry to go into a full on refusal.

But this trip was even more special than usual because aside from hanging out with cousins and barbecues and beaches, we took the girls to the city for an extra special date night that included a stop at the Joffrey with my two ballerinas to surprise their besties visiting from North Carolina.

A side trip to Marshall Fields (oops Macy’s! Who am I kidding it’ll always be Marshall Fields to me the way the Sears tower will never be the Willis Tower) because mama made an unwise shoe choice and then we had dinner at the Randolph Tavern about a 1 minute walk from the Cadillac Palace Theater. It was delicious and even on a Friday night, it was perfect for the kids. Even had an awesome kids menu and did I mention the Sangria because I should have. It was delicioso!

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But the piece de resistance was that we took the girls to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theater thanks to the generosity of Broadway in Chicago. You know how we love our theater. If you have the chance to take your kiddos to go see it…go see it! It was amazing. In fact, you don’t need kids to go see it. If you watched it back in the day when you were a kid, it’s even better on stage. Bet you didn’t think it could be possible did you? Well, it is. I like live productions and 3-dimensional characters. I was in theater heaven.

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The Cadillac Palace is a gorgeous old building located in the heart of Chicago’s theater district.

Aladdin the musical, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including, “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

That was the press release version of Aladdin the musical.

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This is my version of Disney’s Aladdin on stage.

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The colors are vibrant. The atmosphere is vibrant. It’s electricity and you can feel yourself drawing from the energy of those on stage. It started with a bang. I honestly was not sure that they could pull it off, bringing an animated story to the stage. I thought it would fall flat of my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised by how animated and magical it all felt.

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The music was pitch perfect and so animated that you almost forget that you’re watching it on stage as you are transformed into an animated world of Agrabah.

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Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, was a show stopper. He was absolutely hilarious and played the part as larger than life. The only thing more grandiose than his stage presence was his powerful voice.

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Aladdin, played by Jacob Dickey direct from the Broadway production, looked a bit like a young Rob Lowe. He was the embodiment of the animated Aladdin. I didn’t think it could be done but he really brought the character to life, literally.

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Jasmine, one of my girls’ personal favorite princesses, played by Isabella McCalla, was the tiny, spit fire that I always hoped Jasmine could be. She was feisty and sassy and perfection.

 

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Another favorite character of mine was Jafar’s sidekick, Iago, played by Reggie De Leon . Firstly, I loved that they changed the character from a bird to a human on stage. It just played better. He was a sidekick no more. He was hilarious, perfectly timed and his dry humor was appreciated more than I can convey.

 

I loved that the Abu character was replaced by 3 friends of Aladdin (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) not only did it play better in a live production, it gave the story a new dimension that made more sense in the real world. They were sort of an attractive, endearing version of the three stooges but they had pipes.

I know that everyone loves the “Whole New World” scene in Aladdin the animated movie but I have to say the magic carpet ride in the live production was nothing short of magical. I swear I saw no strings and I still don’t know how they did it. It must be that Disney+Broadway+Chicago=Magic.

Now, I will warn you, if you are a die hard Disney Aladdin animated purist, like my husband, there have been some changes.  I will list them here so that you know they are coming. There are more songs ( because it is a musical), Abu has been replaced by 3 male friends of Aladdin ( so there is no monkey on stage), Rajah has been replaced by 3 female attendants (so again, no tiger on stage. I think that’s safer for all involved), Iago is not a bird but instead a human and Genie is not a cartoon but he is larger than life and very animated.

My personal opinion, I’ll take the live action production on stage.The animated movie is still near and dear to my heart because of the hundreds of times that I’ve watched it with my girls but you can’t beat the magical feeling of being part of a live production. I think my daughters and my nephew totally agree with me.

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Aladdin is now playing in Chicago as part of the North American tour launch at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph Street) for a limited premiere engagement through September 10, 2017.

Tickets for Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre start at $44.  In Chicago, tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago by Broadway in Chicago but all opinions and love of Broadway stage productions are my own.

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Cubs, Cubbies, Let's go cubbies, Go Cubs Go, Chicago Cubs. World Series, Game 7, Chicago

Well, I never thought I’d be writing a world series post on my blog about the Chicago Cubs. But here we are and I say to hell with the curse! I’m a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and, well, to be honest, it just never seemed plausible. The Cubbies are an underdog and when you grow up in Chicago you know that when you root for the Cubs, you are not just rooting for a baseball team, you are rooting for a way of life. You are rooting for the impossible. You are dreaming the impossible dream and that makes it endearing.

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I’ve spent my life thinking “this is the year” but knowing that it probably wasn’t. I remember growing up and walking in the door every afternoon after school during the spring and the television being tuned into WGN and the Cubs playing. I remember wearing our Cubbie t-shirts and rooting for the win, even in the face of a shut out. That’s the unbreakable spirit of Cubs fans.

Cubs, Cubbies, Let's go cubbies, Go Cubs Go, Chicago Cubs. World Series, Game 7, Chicago

I remember field trips as a child to see a game at Wrigley field. I remember going with a group of friends as a teenager; eating hot dogs and laughing and then, as an adult, taking in a game with friends or that special someone. It didn’t matter who you were, your walk of life or what suburb you grew up in when you were at Wrigley Field on a warm day…we were all Cubs fans and being a part of something so huge was magical. I’m pretty sure this is how all Cubs fans feel. It’s been 108 years and it’s been too long. It’s happening!

I haven’t lived in Chicago for many years now but it’s still where I call home. It’s still where my parents live and where I spent my childhood and all of my formidable years. Chicago is home because Chicago is where my heart is and the Cubs symbolize the underdog spirit of the city I love.

It’s about more than winning a game. It’s about all the people we love or have loved that have loved the Cubs; parents, grandparents, friends and family alike who aren’t alive to see this. This is for them. This is everything. If you are a Cubs fan, you know what I’m talking about! I’m thrilled to have the memories and to be sharing this world series with my girls and the next generation of Cubs fans.

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Anyways, my chest if puffed up just a little bit because my heart is bursting with pride. We’ve got this Cubbies! Rizzo, Chapman, Bryant and all the boys… We’ve waited a lifetime and we deserve this. Let’s get that W!

This is gonna change everything. I can feel it!

Cubs, Cubbies, Let's go cubbies, Go Cubs Go, Chicago Cubs. World Series, Game 7, Chicago

 

Let’s Go Cubbies!!! Go Cubs Go!

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The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

One of my favorite Disney Cartoons is The Little Mermaid. Even before I had children, I loved it. I thought it was all about the music but this past weekend, I took my daughters to see Disney’s The Little Mermaid the live production at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a Broadway musical adaptation of the beloved film, staged by award winning director and choreographer, Rachel Rockwell. I fell in love all over again with this charming tale but this time for completely different reasons.

Every summer we make a trip to the city and spend the day at Navy Pier. It always starts with a family series production at The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. If you’ve never been, you really must go. Each year, the productions seems to get better and better. Last year, the girls saw Seussical and the year before, Shrek the Musical but we all agreed, the 75-minute production of The Little Mermaid is our new favorite.

The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family,ursula

There is just something so charming about bringing your child (or your own) childhood favorite cartoon to life. It truly is magical and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater never disappoints. The theater is intimate and interactive, with characters flowing in and out of the aisles. The stage is so close that you not only feel like you can reach out and touch the story but you feel a part of it. If you want to teach your children to love the theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a great place to start. I took my children to their first production when they were 5 and 3-years-old.

Ariel, The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

This summer’s Chicago Shakespeare theater production surprised me because I saw the story through new eyes, maybe it’s because I am a parent of daughters now, myself. The musical follows Ariel, (Rachel Eskenazi-Gold) a young mermaid that longs for a life beyond the sea. In her adventure to independence, she defies her father, King Triton (Matthew Jones), makes a deal with the sea witch, Ursula (Rebecca Finnegan) and find her happiness with Prince Eric (Brandon Springman) all while accompanied by her loyal friends, Sebastian (joseph Anthony Byrd) and Flounder (Matthew Uzarraga).

This time, I not only saw the story of a young girl trying to assert her independence and the arc of falling in love for the first time, I saw the story of a parent letting go and I found myself crying in the audience. It was unexpected and beautiful. This time, it wasn’t just about first love it was about the ultimate love, that of a parent and a child. I don’t know how I never saw it before.

My daughters are only 8 and 10-years-old but the letting go has already begun. The asserting of independence started almost immediately and now, well, tweens seem a lot more independent then when I was their age.

The stage design was vibrant and beautiful and I felt like I was under the sea with Ariel and all of the others. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater really made The Little Mermaid come to life and it was beyond memorable.

Ursula, The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

If you have small children or as the lady sitting next to me, have grown children who grew up on The Little Mermaid, bring them. They will love it and you will all leave the Pier feeling absolutely nostalgic and wanting to hug one another, just a couple minutes longer. That is the magic of the marriage of Disney and the stage.

The 75-inute production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is best enjoyed by ages 5 and up and runs from now until August 16 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $22-$24 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier Garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s box office at 312-595-5600 or visit the website at www.chicagoshakes.com

While you’re there make a day of it. Navy Pier is growing like crazy. We had lunch at Harry Caray’s and dessert via Garrett’s Popcorn (Chicago Mix, baby!) but there are so many options and you can’t beat the view of the city! Just walk outside and wander after a show and the possibilities are endless.

The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family,ursula

If The Little Mermaid is not your favorite Disney production, which one is?

Disclosure: I was provided tickets for review purposes of The Little Mermaid but all opinions are my own.

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Seussical, Chicago, Shakespeare Theater, Dr.Suess, Review, arts, culture, kids

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents Seussical A whimsical adventure through the world of Dr. Seuss July 5–August 17, 2014.

Do your kids love Dr. Seuss? Do you? I grew up reading Dr. Seuss and now, I read Dr. Seuss to my girls. They love the Lorax, the Whos in Whoville and especially the Cat in the Hat! Well, guess what? The awesomeness that is Dr. Seuss has been made into a musical, perfect for kids of all ages to enjoy this summer.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is bringing the humor and magic of Dr. Seuss to life onstage this summer for young audiences and their families in the Broadway musical comedy Seussical. I hear that it’s playful, energetic and full of whimsy and Seussical engages the imagination with clever lyrics and melodies, unforgettable characters and the colorful world of Dr. Seuss. I don’t know how they will top last year’s production of Shrek the Musical but I can’t wait to see them try.

Seussical will be performed July 5 through August 17 in CST’s Courtyard Theater with a run time of 75 minutes.

Every performance features special opportunities for audiences to interact with the actors for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, CST partners with the Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) to offer hands-on craft activities in CST’s Lobby. Tickets start at $18.

My girls can’t wait. They look forward to our annual family trip to The Shakespeare Theater. It’s become quite a tradition. We walk along Navy Pier, have lunch in the city, ride the merry-go-round, munch on some Garrett’s popcorn and just go where ever the day takes us. The best part of the entire weekend is that we make memories; just the four of us and that makes me look forward to it too.

Aside from getting to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Chicago with your family taking in the arts I get to giveaway a family 4-pack to the 2 pm shows this Saturday, July 12th, to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment naming your favorite Dr. Seuss book and/or quote below and 1 winner will be chosen randomly. But hurry. The contest ends on Wednesday July 9th at midnight. Good luck.

I can’t wait to tell you all about Seussical and our weekend in Chicago this weekend!

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Recently, we took our children to see Shrek the Musical at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.

Our girls have been waiting to see this production since they knew it was on Broadway. Unfortunately, we live in the Midwest and so we have been waiting patiently for Shrek the Musical to come to us. Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for about 4 years now. Our daughters have been to many performances at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater but never have we seen a production like Shrek the Musical. It was bold, bright and outrageous; everything any child or child at heart would want in a production.

Just like the movie, in a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre, Shrek, not the usual expected handsome prince, shows up to rescue a feisty princess, Fiona.

Throw in a donkey who won’t ever shut up, a hilariously small bad guy with a temper, a fire breathing dragon who needs some love, a cookie with an attitude and a whole bunch of other fairy tale misfits and you’ve got a story that calls for a real hero.

I was really concerned how an onstage adaptation would measure up to an animated movie but let me assure you, it exceeded my expectations in every way. The characters were rich and vibrant, passionate and colorful, and even though they were not cartoon characters, they were larger than life.

Every actor in the production lived and breathed their character. The characters were multidimensional and lovable. I felt like I was part of a fairy tale. If you’ve ever been to a Chicago Shakespeare production, you know that the stage and theater are small and intimate and you feel like you are part of the story, part of the production itself.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, FamilyI’d advise anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area to bring your whole family to Navy Pier this summer for this heartwarming, 75-minute musical adventure based on the Academy Award-winning film. It recounts the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim his once-secluded home.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, Family

Accompanied by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon and rescues the cursed Princess Fiona. On this fairytale journey, Shrek discovers the value of friendship and realizes that true love is more than skin deep.

Following each performance, audience members are invited to meet the cast in the theater lobby. We did and my girls, and my husband, were thrilled to have their photo taken with Donkey.

In my opinion, make a day of it! We had lunch at Harry Caray’s and walked the pier. It was a beautiful July afternoon in Chicago. The girls rode the merry go round and we made some memories. Then we picked up some Garret’s popcorn and headed home.

If your children liked the Shrek movies, they will adore the stage production.  I don’t know that I have ever been quite so captivated by performers. Shrek the Musical calls for big, larger than life character to deliver a larger than life story and this production pleasantly exceeded all of my expectations.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, Family

Shrek the Musical will be running at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater from now until September 1, 2013. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children 12 and under.

Disclosure: The Chicago Shakespeare Theater provided me tickets to the production for review but all opinions are my own.

 

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Sight, Transitions lenses, vision, life, motherhood

 

Sight or Sound, which would you choose? When I was young, and we’d play that game, would you rather, and I was asked, “Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?”  My answer was always, hands down; I’d rather lose my sight. Why you ask? I absolutely loved music. I know there is a soundtrack to everyone’s life but I need to hear mine. Music and my soundtrack make the movie of my life worth watching, or it did. Then I gave birth to my daughters.

Now, I cannot imagine not being able to see my children’s faces as they grow from newborns to grown women. I don’t want to miss a moment of it. Every ounce of enthusiasm that I put into music has been focused on photographing my girls. I want to remember it all and I want references for years to come.

I cannot imagine not being able to see their little faces when they do something for the first time or getting their knowing looks when they are scared, overwhelmed or sad. Those looks are ones that only a parent can decipher. How could I stand it if I missed a cue to swoop in and rescue them; to make it all better? I certainly can’t imagine a world where I couldn’t have seen their tiny, squished little faces when they were first born. Honestly, the thought of missing that moment is unthinkable.

I couldn’t be happy knowing that I was missing the most important moments of their lives; satisfaction when they dance on stage in the ballet, pride when they graduate or achieve a long sought after goal, happiness when they see their groom for the first time as they walk down the aisle or the overwhelming gratitude that will fill their hearts when they first set eyes on their own babies at birth. I can live without hearing these moments, though I prefer not to. I don’t know if I could survive not seeing them happen.

My sight is what commits the moments of their life to my memory like the memory that I have of when the girls were 5 and 3 and we went into the city for the day to see The Emperor’s New Clothes at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. I remember getting the girls dressed that morning and driving into the city. It was a beautiful June day and I could see the excitement in the girls’ faces as their eyes widened, as the skyscrapers got larger and larger as we approached them. The girls wore matching dresses and were talking a mile a minute on the drive. Their elation was palpable and contagious. The Big Guy and I smiled the entire drive into the city.

sight, Transitions lenses, vision, Chicago, Navy Pier, the Taste of Chicago

Father & Daughters, Sight of true love

We arrived at Navy Pier. The girls became even more excited when the Ferris wheel and all the people and hustle at Navy pier came into sight. It was their first trip to Navy Pier. My sister, her husband and my nephew met us to watch the show. It all felt so comfortable and normal and it was so nice to be sharing it with my sister. We watched the show. Well everyone else watched the theater production as I watched the girls’ faces as they smiled and giggled at the characters on stage. They were enthralled by the production and I was captivated by them.

The day went on and the memories just compiled; blue skies, the warm sun on our backs as we walked along the boardwalk. The belly aching laughter, lunch with my sister’s family in a familiar jaunt, the smell of the lake reaching up to meet the sweet smells of Garrets popcorn that permeated every square inch of the pier that day made it the perfect day.

I love sharing the places of my childhood with my children and seeing the wonder and excitement in their eyes that I share of the city I love. This was a day that I was grateful for my vision because without it, I would not have been able to see the looks on their faces. The happiness, the wonder and the magic would have been lost.

I received compensation to participate in a SocialMoms and Transitions Optical blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

If you are at the Taste of Chicago this year, stop by the Transitions both and have your vision checked for free so that you don’t miss out on the most cherished sights of your life.

transitions What are the most cherished sights in your life?

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The winner of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater family 4 pack to Macbeth is ….
comment # 2, Bertha “OMG, I LOVE Shakespeare! I have always wanted to see one of his plays and have never had the opportunity! I also am within 20 min of Chicago, so to be able to enjoy a Full day of festivities in Downtown Chicago is also something I don’t get to do very often, But would love the chance to! English was one of My Strong points in school, and Macbeth was one of My favorite plays, so please consider me when giving these tickets away! Thank You so Much!”

Congratulations and I hope that you have a wonderful time at the play. You will have a blast.Please email me at truthfulmommy@gmail.com so I can get your information to get you your tickets!For the rest of you, I hope you will still go see the production. It is always a fabulous time and stay tuned, there is usually a production every couple of months.

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As many of you know, I have been very lucky to have a relationship with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. I have been to many of their shows and it is always a brilliant time.We’ve been to family friendly shows for the entire family and romantic date nights for the Big Guy and I. No matter when or why we are there, it’s always an amazing time.We like to make it a day, or night out. Our girls love a show at CST, a nice lunch and some walking around and shopping or taking in the sites downtown. Or if you are doing a date night, the pier under the stars is a great follow up to watching a production with your special guy.

I couldn’t make it to this production myself due to some scheduling issues but I wish I could have. Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. But the good news is I have a family 4 pack to give away to one of my lucky readers! Yey, for you! It’s very easy. All I ask is that you click on the “more info” tab at the top right hand side top of my homepage and then become a GFC follower and then leave me a comment telling me how you would spend your day in the city or your favorite thing about the city! It’s that easy. I will randomly select a winner this Friday @ 10 pm EST. Good Luck!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) provides an introduction to William Shakespeare for all audiences with Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, a 75-minute abridged production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth adapted and directed by David H. Bell. A perfect outing for busy professionals and families, Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. in CST’s Courtyard Theater as part of the CST Family Series, providing an opportunity for adults and young audiences alike to be introduced to Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Tickets for Short Shakespeare! Macbeth Saturdays at 11 a.m. from January 22 through March 5, 2011, in CST’s Courtyard Theater are $16–$20 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is recommended for ages 10 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.


Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Short Shakespeare! productions give busy professionals, families and young audiences the chance to watch the magic of Shakespeare’s verse come alive, performed by a cast of professional artists—all in just 75 minutes. Immediately following each Saturday performance of Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, actors remain on stage for a discussion with the audience about the Macbeths’ quest for power and their own experiences stepping into Shakespeare’s iconic roles. After the discussion, audience members are invited to join the actors for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities in Chicago Shakespeare’s lobbies, which provide stunning views of the Chicago skyline. CST patrons can make an afternoon of it on Navy Pier, with specially priced menus at the Pier’s most popular restaurants available by displaying their tickets day-of-show. Visit Chicago Shakespeare’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com for more information.


A theatrical, percussive world of swords, sound and the supernatural make Macbeth one of William Shakespeare’s most spellbinding plays—and CST’s 75-minute abridged production, Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, provides a perfect introduction to his work. When Macbeth and his wife hear of the haunting witches’ prophecy that they will soon rule the land, they move to plot the murder of the King. Greed, torment and evil pave the Macbeths’ path toward destruction, ultimately proving all of the witches’ divinations true.

Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. from January 22 through March 5, 2011, in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $16–$20 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is recommended for ages 10 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.


Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to giveaway for Macbeth by The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were NOT influenced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

*Contest open to US readers only, 18 years old and older.Must be in or around the Chicago land area at time of performance. Contest ends 2/18/11 at 10 p.m. EST. Winner will be chosen randomly. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment unless it’s visible on your Blogger profile. (If I can’t contact you, a new winner will be drawn.) Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If winner does not claim their prize in the 48 hour period, a new winner will be chosen at random.

*Subject to availability. Valid by phone or in person only. Not valid in combination with other promotions or on previously purchased tickets.

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