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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pack Your Bags! We're Moving!

So... remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was thinking of moving this blog over to ChicagoNow, where I would hopefully gain a larger audience and eventually be paid for writing? After much deliberation , I decided to go ahead and make the move. So this will be my last post on From now on, you can find me at
I'm a little nervous about this new adventure! I'm used to having a lot more control over my blog, such as being able to put my own html codes in the sidebar, and being able to track my readers via Sitemeter. On the other hand, I'm excited about getting my blog out there in the world, and meeting new friends through ChicagoNow. We'll have to see how it goes!
Come check out my new site, and say hello to me! I'd love your comments and ideas.
See ya soon!
- Nicki

Monday, August 9, 2010

Elmhurst Art Museum

Place: Elmhurst Art Museum
Location:  150 Cottage Hill Avenue in Elmhurst, near Wilder Park and the library.
Type of Place: art museum.
Secret: You won't find this on the website, for some reason, but during the summer you can go to the art museum on any Wednesday or Friday between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm for a quick drop-in art lesson and art project!
Appropriate ages: Preschool and up
Cost: Kids are always free, and everyone is free during the months of July and Augarust. During the rest of the year, it is $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for students. Tuesdays are free.

I've been wanting to take the kids to the Art Institute, but for me its easier said than done. For one thing, I'd have to drive in the city, which is something I'm not great at. Second of all, the price is pretty hefty. Third, the Art Institute is usually crowded with school and camp groups and families, especially on the free days! It seemed a little overwhelming, and with my squirrely three, I wasn't even sure it would be worth the two hour round trip car ride. A trip to the Elmhurst Art Museum sounded like something I could manage much more easily... especially if I combined it with some playtime at Wilder Park, which shares a parking lot with the museum. The museum also participates in Passport To Adventure, so we could get another stamp in our booklets!
We went on a Friday, because during the summer they offer a free mini art lesson and art project for kids on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. This month they were doing a project based on some of Holly Renald Cohn's paintings. They had lots of circles and half-circles cut from cardboard, and the kids were supposed to place multiple shapes onto their papers to make a design, trace them, and then color in the spaces. Here is Little Bear's work of art! (Pufferfish, who is only 3, just scribbled on the paper.)

Then, the kids agreed to take a walk around the galleries. The art museum offers a brochure with scavenger-hunt-like questions for kids, such as "how many trees do you see in such-and-such painting." But Little Bear doesn't really even have the attention span for that... she was already bouncing off the walls by this time... so I made it a little more simpler and asked the girls to pick out their favorite works of art in each room. This at least encouraged them to check out each painting or sculpture and decide which they liked best.
The girls seemed to be drawn in by paintings that were a little freaky, such as this painting of a skull on a table...

... or this picture of a lady with a frightening face.

Here are a few more they liked...

I loved our trip to the Elmhurst Art Museum because it was an easy way to introduce Little Bear and Pufferfish to the concept of viewing art. The museum was small enough, and close enough, that we could make it a short visit, and end it with some time at the playground to burn off energy. We'll definitely be going back there!


This is usually where the Events Of The Week list would be. But after I spent four hours working on it last night, the computer froze, and I lost it all! Usually Blogger saves my work every minute or so, but for some reason, this time, it didn't work. I was so mad!
I'll put up a weekend list later in the week.... but in the mean time, refer to past Events Of The Week lists... many of the events reoccur on a weekly basis.
Have a good week!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dog Of The Week: Bermuda!

Hi everyone! Every Saturday I volunteer at Almost Home Foundation, which is an animal rescue organization that springs about-to-be-euthanized dogs from high kill shelters, puts them in temporary foster homes, and matches them with permanent families. On Saturdays, the dogs are brought to Petsmart stores so that people can meet them in person. My volunteer job is to "handle" one of the dogs, introduce him to people, tell them background information on the dog, and hopefully find him a home! Generally I have a different dog each week. I thought that I would start a new feature on this blog, where I will tell yot u about one of the dogs I met who needs a home. Maybe this way I can help a few dogs and families come together!

This week I was in charge of "Bermuda." (The Almost Home people give the dogs pretty random names, but of course new owners can change the names!)

 Bermuda is a tiny little chihuahua (maybe mixed with rat terrier) who is three years old. She's a little shy, probably because she's so small, she's pretty defenseless! Bermuda charmed me right away when I first met her. She cowered away when I tried to pet her, but then she stood up on her hind legs and wrapped her "arms" around her foster dad's leg... exactly like a toddler who doesn't want her mommy or daddy to leave! The foster dad laughed, kissed Bermuda on the head, and said that she always does that when she thinks he's leaving!
Bermuda needed a little while to warm up to me. She is clearly not sure about new people. I just sat down on the floor and gave her space, and extended my hand out to her to sniff every once in a while. Soon she was letting me pet her, and then she sat on my lap! By the end of the afternoon, Bermuda was curled up on my lap sleeping, and even occasionally looking up to lick my face!
She still sort of snarled at new people who tried to pet her though... but you just have to be willing to spend twenty minutes or so letting her get to know and trust you!
The thing is, Bermuda has been to the adoption show at Petsmart twice now, and nobody has expressed interest in her. Maybe her shyness puts people off. All I know is, she's an adorable little doggy, housetrained, good with other dogs, good at walking on a leash, etc, who would be a great addition to someone's family!
Bermuda's foster father says he'd like her to find a home without small children... not because she'd hurt a child, but because she is so little and shy, rambunctious and unpredictable kids might be a little too much for her. She'd be perfect for an adult or older kid who wants a lap dog!
If you're interested in meeting Bermuda, check out the Almost Home website for information, or call them at (630) 582-3738.
I really hope Bermuda finds a home!

Heavenly Cupcakes In Elmhurst

Place: Heavenly Cupcake Shop
Location:  162 N. York St in Elmhurst, near the corner of York and Palmer in downtown Elmhurst.
Type of Place: Bakery specializing in cupcakes
Secret: Three bakery is pretty small, but if its a nice day out, take your order to go, and sit outside! There are several kid-sized, whimsically painted picnic tables along the street,  and at the north end of the block is a plaza with a large fountain and lots of benches.
Appropriate ages: everyone
Cost: $1.15 - $3.00 per cupcake.

My little sis and her friends visited this place a while ago, and they told me about eating a cola flavored cupcake. A cola flavored cupcake? Being totally addicted to pop, I had to find out more!
It turns out that the Heavenly Cupcake Shop is a little bakery in downtown Elmhurst, where extraordinary cupcakes are made. They bake the cupcakes from scratch each day, and they have so many flavors that they can't possibly make all of them every day! So, depending on what day of the week it is when you go there, you'll get the chance to order cupcakes with flavors like coconut, brownie sundae, rootbeer float, peanut butter and jelly, french toast, margarita, rainbow sherbet, or fluffernutter. They also offer their main flavors every day: chocolate or vanilla with either chocolate or vanilla frosting, red velvet, or York.
Little Bear and Pufferfish and I had a few things to do in Elmhurst, so I thought I'd take them to Heavenly Cupcakes for a treat.
The first sort of cruddy thing is that its nearly impossible to find a convenient parking spot in downtown Elmhurst. They have free parking lots, but this means you have to walk a few blocks after you park. For someone like me who enjoys a good walk, this can be a positive thing. But when you're dragging two little kids along with you, it can be a negative.
The poor, suffering children survived the five minute walk to the cupcake shop. I had planned to sit down inside and eat, but found that the shop was pretty small and cramped. The few tables were all taken. Luckily, Little Bear had the idea to take our cupcakes down the street to the City Centre, where there is a fountain and benches!
I was excited to see that, because it was Friday, the cola flavored cupcakes I'd heard about were offered. I ordered one of those.
Pufferfish and Little Bear then both chose cola flavored cupcakes. They're such copycats!
I thought the cupcakes were absolutely delicious. They didn't exactly taste like cola, but they came as close as one could expect a cupcake to come. They were so moist! The frosting was sweet! And the little swirl of cream on top... to die for! I do not know what that cream was. It wasn't whipped cream. It wasn't buttercream. It reminded me almost of creme brule. Whatever it was, I couldn't get enough of it!
But the kids' opinions were different. They each took one bite of their cupcake, put it down, and wouldn't eat it. They kept promising to eat the cupcakes "later," which I think was because I had made such a big deal about how great the cupcakes were going to be, and they didn't want to hurt my feelings. While they splashed around in the fountain, I kept munching little pieces of their cupcakes, starting, of course, with the cream on the tops. Finally I just asked them, "Are you going to eat these, or should I?" and I got their permission to polish the cupcakes off.
If you have kids who are not-so-adventurous eaters, you may want to steer them towards flavors they'll find more familiar, like regular chocolate or vanilla, or maybe even Peanut Butter Cup, strawberry, or funfetti. You probably shouldn't encourage them to order the french toast flavored cupcakes. i've heard they have bacon bits in them!
Anyway, I will definitely be going back to the Heavenly Cupcake Shop. Whether or not I will bring the kids there again remains to be seen.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Burger King Play Place at Butterfield And Finley In Downers Grove

When its a rainy day and you're in a pinch for someplace fun and cheap to take your kids to, sometimes McDonalds Playplace is the only  thing that comes to mind. At least, thats how it is for me! I don't always like to take the kids to the same old neighborhood McDonalds, though. I try to make things a little more exciting by finding new Mcdonalds to check out. You can easily find a list of McDonalds restaurants with playplaces by entering your zipcode into the McDonalds Locator.

Okay, so the place I'm about to tell you about is not actually a McDonalds, but I didn't know how else to classify it. If I had a category called "Fast Food With Play Places," this could fit there, but all the rest of the places in that category would be McDonalds's! So, lets just call this rare Burger King play place an alternative to McDonalds!
I have been driving past, and even ordering food from, this Burger King, for ten years or more, and I never realized it had a play place! It seems like most of the Burger Kings around here have eliminated their play places. Anyway, a parent at Little Bear's school mentioned that she and other moms often take their kids to this Burger King because it is cleaner and less crowded than most of the McDonalds Play Places. Of course, Little Bear, Rafael, Pufferfish and I had to go see for ourselves!
The first thing we noticed in the play place was that one corner table had been set with a table cloth and candles... pretty unusual for a Burger King! Little Bear speculated that this was where the Burger King sat with his Queen. Of course they wanted to sit there to eat! And of course, they had to put on their paper crowns! I was glad to see that Burger Kings still have those crowns.

The kids were excited to play on the play structure. It looks a little different than the McDonalds play structures usually do, but is basically the same idea... a series of tunnels, ladders, slides, windows, etc.

As for cleanliness, I wouldn't say that it was a lot cleaner than the typical McDonalds Play Place. It was smaller and more cramped, but less crowded.
So... really, the Burger King play place is not much different from a McDonalds Play Place. But if you're tired of McDonalds, you may be glad to try the Burger King one out, for a change of pace!
Let me know if you know of other restaurant play places!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Events Of The Week For August 3 - August 8, 2010

Hi everyone! This events of the week post is a little late, since its been a chaotic few days and I didn't get a chance to use the computer. But I just wanted to remind everyone that tonight is National Night Out! I hope everyone has a great time taking a stand against crime!
Anyway, here are the events for the rest of the week...

The AMC Theater at Yorktown Mall will host "Summer Movie Camp" every Tuesday at 10:00 am, for the rest of the summer.

The Cinemark Theaters in Woodridge and North Aurora will host a Summer Movie Clubhouse every Tuesday at 10:00 am, for one dollar per ticket. (A package of ten tickets can be purchased in advance for $5.00.)

Story Time at Pottery Barn Kids in Oakbrook Mall, 11:00 am. Kids who attend five times get a special gift! Kids can also play in the store before and after the story time!

Picture Book Picnic at Lufkin Park, 1000 S. Ardmore in Villa Park, from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm. Families are invited to bring a picnic lunch to eat while enjoying a storytime presented by the Villa Park Library!

From 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, kids and caregivers can stop into the Elmhurst Historical Museum,  120 E. Park Ave in Elmhurst, to do a magic-themed craft project. This will take place on Tuesdays throughout the summer! To participate, visit the Education Building at the museum. The cost is $2.00 per child.

Classic Cinemas will be hosting Wednesday Morning Movies for kids, each Wednesday at 10:00 am, throughout the summer. The doors will open at 9:00 am on these mornings, and there will be games, character meetings, etc, before the movie starts. Admission is just one dollar! Check the website to see which movie is playing each Wednesday at the Classic Cinema closest to you.

Marcus Theater will host Kids Rule summer movies on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:00 am, for $2.75 per person. The price includes popcorn!

Story time at Bloomingdale Barnes and Noble, 10:00 am.

Preschool Playtime at Prairie Gymnastics in Batavia. 10:15 am to 11:30 am. $5.00 per child.

Excel Gymnastics Jr. Open Gym at Excel Gymnastics in Batavia, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. $5.00 per child.

Story time at Oakbrook Terrace Barnes and Noble at 11:00 am.

Its time for Wild Wednesdays at Lakeview Nature Center, 17 W 063 Hodges Rd in Oakbrook Terrace! Children will get to participate in a story time, and then meet an animal up close and in person, for free, each Wednesday!  The event takes place several times throughout the day: at 10:15 am, 11:00 am, 11:45 am, and 1:00 pm. While you're there, you can  go fishing, go paddleboating, play on the playground, and more! Lakeview Nature Center also participates in Passport To Adventure.

Its Kid's Day at the Whole Foods in Naperville, 2607 W. 75th Street in Naperville! From 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, kids can stop by the Customer Service Center to do a "mystery craft." There will also be free samples, especially for kids, in every department of the store!

Or, try out a different Wild Wednesdays program at Cantigny! (1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton.) Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, you can gather in the backyard of the Visitor's Center for a hands-on, nature exploration program for kids ages three to ten years old. This event is free, and no registration is required, but you still have to pay for parking at Cantigny. ($5.00 per car.)

Kids can get a taste of art at the Elmhurst Art Museum, on Wednesdays and Fridays any time between 1:00 and 4:00. In this drop in program, kids and parents can tour the galleries and then create their own works of art.

Excel Gymnastics Jr. Open Gym at Excel Gymnastics in St. Charles, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. $5.00 per child.

Yorktown Farmer's Market is the happening place to be, every Wednesday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. In addition to fresh produce and bakery goods being sold, there will be weekly activities and free samples! This is outside the Shops On Butterfield, by Yorktown Mall, at Highland and Butterfield in Lombard,

Rick Kelley will perform an interactive children's concert called, "Don't Just Sit There...Read Something!" This will take place at Darien Community Park, at Plainfield and Clarendon Hills Roads in Darien, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

The Lifelong Learning League hosts an event called "Dancin' In The Street,' where everyone can do some ;30squaredancing and/or dance to hits from the '30's and '40's! The event takes place from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, at the Ruggard gazebo at the Prairie Path, near Ardmore and Central in Villa Park. Be there, or be square!

Cool Cars Under The Stars takes place every Wednesday night in the Elmhurst City Centre from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Outdoor summer concerts will take place every Wednesday night in downtown Clarendon Hills, starting at 7:00 pm. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on! No coolers or glass containers allowed. Food will be sold starting at 6:30.

Yoga For Teens at the Whole Foods In Naperville! The class costs $10 and starts at 7:00 pm. Sign up at the customer service desk!

Marcus Theater will host Kids Rule summer movies on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:00 am, for $2.75 per person. The price includes popcorn!

Story time at Land Of Nod in Oakbrook Mall, at 11:00 am.

Excel Gymnastics Jr. Open Gym at Excel Gymnastics in St. Charles, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. $5.00 per child.

The Oakbrook Terrace Park District is hosting a free Kiddie Carnival, with carnival and inflatable games, prizes, water fun, balloon twister, face painting, and more. This takes place at Heritage Park, 1 South 325 Ardmore Avenue in Oakbrook Terrace. There is also a splash pad at the park, so be prepared to get wet, too! (The splashpad opens at 1:00 pm.)

York Center Park District,  1609 S. Luther Ave in Lombard, hosts a free Kids Klub every Thursday at noon, throughout the summer. Different events and performances will be taking place each week. Seating is on the ground, so bring a blanket or lawn chairs if you'd like. There will also be concessions for sale.

Don't let your kids' brains go numb over the summer! Help them get a nice history lesson with History Alive! every Thursday at the First Division Museum at Cantigny, 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton. Each week, a different war will be presented, and kids will play games and do crafts based on that war. Kids are welcome to dress up like soldiers, as well! This is a free event, and no registration is required.

Do your kids complain about having to do chores on their summer break? Visit Kline Creek Farm, at  1N600 County Farm Road in West Chicago, and try out the types of chores kids in the 1890's had to do around the house and farm! Show up at 1:30, 2:30 or 3:30 pm. The event is free and no registration is required! On Mondays you can help Mom, and come back on Thursdays to help Dad!

Westmont Cruisin' Nights take place every Thursday night from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, along Cass Avenue and Irving Street in downtown Westmont. There will be kids' activities, musical entertainment, raffles, and more!


Excel Gymnastics Jr. Open Gym at Excel Gymnastics in St. Charles, 10:00 am to 11:00 am. $5.00 per child

Open Gym And Moon Jump Friday at Gymnasti in Carol Stream, 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. $5.00 per child.

Kids can get a taste of art at the Elmhurst Art Museum, on Wednesdays and Fridays any time between 1:00 and 4:00. In this drop in program, kids and parents can tour the galleries and then create their own works of art.

Preschool Playtime at Prairie Gymnastics in Batavia. 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm. $5.00 per child.

Story time at Bloomingdale Barnes and Noble, 7:00 pm.

Kids ages 5-12 can go to Home Depot between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm, to learn how to build a school bus pencil organizer! Kids who participate will get a free orange apron just like the employees wear, and an achievement pin! There are Home Depot stores in Dupage, in Oakbrook Terrace, Downers Grove, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Woodridge, Darien, and Naperville.

The Webkinz Van Tour will be at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton,  from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. The first 50 kids to get there will receive a Webkinz trading card pack. The van will also bring fun games and activities!

Do you have trouble getting kids to eat their vegetables? Take them to Veggie Fest and show them what fun vegetables can be! Veggie Fest is all about vegetarianism, but you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it! There will be live music, speakers, workshops, samples, vendors, and more. For  kids, there will be arts and crafts, games, inflatables, and free snacks! It all takes place at the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, 4S175 Naperville Road in Naperville, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm... and Sunday, too!

Story time at the Oak Brook Borders at 2:00 pm.

Kids can go to Graue Mill, 3800 York Rd in Oak Brook, any time from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, to go on a scavenger hunt. You'll get a treasure map to help you along. If you find all of the treasures, you win a prize! Graue Mill also participates in the Passport To Adventure program, so bring your passports!

Do you have trouble getting kids to eat their vegetables? Take them to Veggie Fest and show them what fun vegetables can be! Veggie Fest is all about vegetarianism, but you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it! There will be live music, speakers, workshops, samples, vendors, and more. For  kids, there will be arts and crafts, games, inflatables, and free snacks! It all takes place at the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, 4S175 Naperville Road in Naperville, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm...

As part of their 90th Anniversary Celebration, the Elmhurst Park District is hosting Family Fun Day at the East End Pool, 463 Schiller in Elmhurst. The day is free to people with pool passes. Other people pay only 90 Cents each! There will be music and entertainment, plus relay races, water balloon tosses, chalk drawing contests, and other activities... and, of course, swimming! The event takes place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!
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