Posts Tagged ‘family fun’

Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

With the nip in the air, and an array of overcast skies, the tell-tell signs of fall are becoming more apparent. This time of year, my mommy-radar says it’s the perfect time to get a jumpstart on some seasonal activity planning. So right now, I’m pulling together my October agenda; which includes at least one pumpkin patch and a visit to Navy Pier (usually on Halloween).

There are a variety of pumpkin patches to choose from in the Chicagoland area, and I’ve heard that Johansen Farms and Children’s Zoo in Bolingbrook is a good bet. But our pumpkin patch of choice that we visit annually is Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm in Homer Glen. Brooke thoroughly enjoys the haunted house, pony rides, pig races, and feeding the animals at the farm. We always culminate our visits there with a hay ride to the pumpkin patch where Brooke runs through the field of pumpkins, thoroughly analyzes well over a thousand, and eventually picks a winner for her father to ever so graciously carry home.

As for Navy Pier, there are quite a number of fall activities for the choosing. Generally, in lieu of house to house trick-or-treating, we stop by the Pier and trick-or-treat at the shops. Brooke enjoys showing off her costume while checking out everyone else’s and participating in whatever featured activities there are for that year. This year, the first 1,500  kids get a bag of treats to help jumpstart their engines before they embark upon the rides, activities and Halloween shows.

Adults and teens are definitely not left out of the Halloween fun at the Pier. There will be a “hardcore” haunted house that I personally will be staying away from. I’m sure it’s fabulous but my nerves just aren’t that good.

Taking in a few films during the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival  will also be a part of our October agenda. The CICFF is North America’s largest film festival for kids and by kids, featuring over 220 of the best films and videos from over 40 countires. Locations and times vary for these unique film features so check out CICFF’s  website for more details. This festival runs from October 23 to November 2.

It’s an understatement to say that the seasonal activites and events around the town are vast. But whatever you choose, just start the seasons right with some great family fun and comment back if you would like to share your suggestions.

Brooke’s Blog:  My favorites at the pumpkin farm are seeing the pig races and riding the frog hopper ride.  The frog hopper is scary when we go up, up, up and then drop back down but I love it!  Also, I love going to Navy Pier with my mom and dad for the Halloween activities. My favorite things there are going through the haunted house for kids and jumping in the Halloween moon bounce.   

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Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

It was built in 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire and is the last remaining riding stable within city limits. It’s location is a little tricky to find and may not be common to most. But if you happen to take North Avenue to Orleans and go south, you will find one of the most intriguing theaters in town.

Over the weekend, Brooke and I attended a birthday party at the Noble Horse Theater. The theater reminded me of a smaller version of Medieval Times, with its dimly lit castle-like auditorium complimented with hostesses dressed in 19th century wardrobe. Once I got past the smell of horse excretions, the aforementioned factors made the venue seem both intimate and inviting. (Who am I kidding — I never got over the smell.)

The feature presentation was the famous Washington Irving folk legend, the Legend of Sleepy Hallow, which will be performed now though November 6th. Not surprisingly, the kids were both amused and engaged by this horse-themed show. After all, who wouldn’t like to see a headless horseman, especially around Halloween?

There was a woman dancing with fire and classic horseback riding mixed with amazing tricks. At the end of the show, pony rides were offered to the audience for a small fee. The only thing that was ill-fitting about the performance were the lengthy breaks in between the narrated story. Somehow the transitions from one scene to the next seemed a bit awkward at times.

But aside from the annoying breaks, Brooke and I had a wonderful time, and plan to catch the Noble Horse’s rendition of the Nutcracker.  I will just be a little more careful where I park on our next go-round.  While taking a short-cut through the side alley, my tires engaged with some horse patties. Needless to say I had to go straight to the car wash.

Brooke’s Blog: My favorite part of the show was watching the scary girl dance with the real fire! It was awesome and lots of fun because I got to ride in the horse-drawn carriage and I even rode on the actual horse too! 

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Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

As if going to the kids’ section of Borders wasn’t already enough of a treat, ON Saturday, Borders will up the ante by hosting a Kids Party.  From 2pm to 4pm, there will be games, storytimes and activities for children of all ages. Check out their new area devoted to kids’ graphic novels and manga, fun toys and games, along with the hottest new series.

You can’t have a party without tasty treats! During the event, don’t forget to pick up your free cookie with the purchase of a large beverage from Seattle’s Best Coffee Café. Make it a great weekend!

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Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

Woooo! After squeezing in a last minute summer vacation, situating Brooke back into the school routine and getting her signed up for fall activities, I’m finally getting a chance to catch a breath. This year, however, I had to cut down on some of Brooke’s extracurricular activities now that daily homework has been added into her equation. But for those of you out there looking for some interesting options, I have a few suggestions that may help.

  • For your aspiring little gymnasts and rock climbers, check out Lakeshore Academy in River West.
  • Chicago Multicultural Dance Center offers a variety of dance styles including ballet that either you or your little one will enjoy. It’s located in the South Loop.
  • For the musically inclined, the South Loops’ Sherwood Conservatory of Music has a smorgasbord of vocal and instrumental classes for all ages.
  • With eight Chicagoland locations, Language Stars is great for an introduction to, or reinforcement of a foreign language.
  • The Entertainment Project in Wicker Park will help your little thespians and artists fine tune their creative niches. 

I know there are countless more programs all over Chicagoland that are excellent options for kids. Feel free to Comment back and share your favorites!

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Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

Remember tunes like …”Conjunction Junction” (what’s your function?), “A Noun Is Person Place or Thing,” and “I’m Just a Bill?” Well, I must say that those catchy little tunes helped me pass quite a few tests back in grammar school, so needless to say, I was ecstatic when Brooke and I recently found the Schoolhouse Rock! Special 30th Anniversary Edition at Tar-zhey (a.k.a. Target).

When I was a youngun’, I remember having to buy each selection on individual VHS tapes and stressing over finding the whole collection. Now there is a two-disc DVD collection with 46-plus classic favorites and newer additions that make subjects like American History, grammar, science and math just a little more interesting.

Schoolhouse Rock! is a notable timeless treasure.  It captured my attention about two decades ago (gosh…that sounds ancient), and now it’s become a favorite of Brooke’s as well.

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Jennifer, NBC5 Street Team

Brooke and I are not typically “party animals” though you probably can‘t tell by the summer agenda.  However, the most recent stop on our activity list was a place full of fantasy.  No, it was not like “the plane, the plane” Fantasy Island.  We visited the next best thing, Lincoln Park’s very own Fantasy Kingdom.

A couple of years back, Brooke had a princess party at Fantasy Kingdom and there was non-stop fun for the kids as they dressed-up and ran around the boutique-style miniature town.  Tried and true, it was definitely a kiddie haven. And as we saw this past weekend at another birthday celebration, Fantasy Kingdom is still a top pick.

It doesn’t surprise me that the toys, dress-up clothes and play structures at Fantasy Kingdom are still in pristine condition.  I’d say that it’s partially due to some basic rules. For instance, you must have on a pair of socks and sanitize your hands before stepping one foot into the play area. But for the most part, this family owned businesses’ preservation and overall success can be attributed to a huge amount of care and professional hospitality.  Always welcoming and attentive, the Allen family runs a well-functioning play-land that is great for private parties, public play times and special holiday events.

So get ready to see sparkling fairy princesses, knights in shining armour, and “a magical world of make believe” (rest in peace Mr. Rogers) as  Fantasy Kingdom proves to be a wonderful world of fantasy right at your finger tips. 

Brooke’s Blog: Fantasy Kingdom is fun!  It makes me happy because I had my 4th birthday there and all of my friends came. I love the dress-up part and giving pretend flowers to my mom and dad.      

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 Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

Been there. Done that. Got a T-Shirt.  But somehow, I’m going back the Allstate Arena for more Wiggles.

My little nephew Artie is coming to town next month and once his plane touches down, its definitely Wiggle-time once again.  We’ll be going to see Sam, Anthony, Murray, and Jeff during their two day stint in Rosemont August 9th and 10th.  


Last Year, I was impressed.  The Wiggles graduated from a typical stage with $50 worth of props to a more elaborate set.  I say they forked out a good $150.  O.k.- seriously, for those of you who know anything about the Wiggles, you know they keep it simple but very appealing to the little ones. I’m just amazed that these guys are still touring the world and putting on an excellent show—they’re no spring chickens.


This tour is called “Pop Go the Wiggles Live!”  Hummm, I wonder what they have in store this time. I bet a stage full of surprises!


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