Keepin’ it Old School at Medieval Times in Schaumburg

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to Medieval Times in order to facilitate this review. I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions are 100% my own.

I have lived in the Chicago area my whole life and can honestly say that it’s been years since I’ve visited Medieval Times Chicago (actually located in Schaumburg, IL). My daughter, now a teenager, was probably no more than 5 or 6 years old the last time I was there so naturally, I wanted to take my 4-year-old to see the show too. And boy, I’m really glad I did!

Medieval Times_Castle Exterior

If you have never visited one of Medieval Times’ nine North American locations, you really have no idea what you’re missing. Medieval Times is a dinner and tournament show featuring a royal court, knights of the realm, jousting, and the crowning of a Queen of Love and Beauty taken straight from the audience. Definitely a sight to see!

My son couldn’t help but to ask to take a picture with the princess when we arrived. She was so sweet to oblige! Medieval Times_Princess

When you first enter the large arena, you are taken to your seats. Seats are color-coded based on the knight you’ll be supporting. We had the red and yellow knight.

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Before the jousting began, the crowd is treated with a showing of the horses’ skills and the Lord Chancellor introduces the crowd to the knights. The whole crowd is really into it and the arena will be very loud. (Please keep this in mind if bringing kids with special needs or sensory issues.) Then the jousting begins and the crowd cheers for their knight. We were in the lucky section because ours just so happened to win – hurray!

Medieval Times_Menu

While the jousting is going on, your food will be served. Just like in medieval times, silverware is not provided. I remembered this from my first visit years ago and brought some from home for my son because I knew he’d have a hard time eating without a fork and spoon. And the food is absolutely fantastic! Full bar service is available during the show, but be aware that the cost of any alcohol is not included in your ticket price and will be billed separately. Also, remember to bring some cash to tip your server!

My crew!

My crew!

Overall, we had a great time at Medieval Times, and I was happy to see that the attraction is still so popular. The place was almost packed on a Sunday afternoon!

Added bonus to head to Medieval Times, now through September 7, 2015, kids under 12 are FREE with the purchase of a full-priced adult admission. See website for full promotional details.

Connect with Medieval Times

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Ringling Bros. Built to Amaze Show {Review} #RinglingInsider

I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

My son and I recently went to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Built to Amaze show and we had a great time. So many of the acts brought on a sense of nostalgia with me, because I vividly remember some similar acts from when my parents took me to see this as a kid.

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A little bit about the show:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ®Presents Built To Amaze! ® — Experience all the things you know and love and be amazed by things you’ve never seen before! Witness superhuman stunts so close you can FEEL it! Astonishing performers, awe-inspiring athletes and amazing animals from around the globe have been assembled in one place providing a riveting display of unimaginable proportions that is Engineered for Excitement and Custom Built for Family Fun!

Favorite moments from the show:

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The woman hanging from the ceiling then landing right on top of a moving horse was stunning.

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Shooting hoops from a unicycle? Impressive!

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The dance routines were so fun!

Ringling-Bros-Trapeze

This looked like a trapeze act – sans the trapeze. The men were just throwing those girls around and they were awesome!

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The dogs almost stole the show for me. So cute!

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The motorcycle spinning on a rope always amazes me.

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My son calls this the “giant hamster wheel”.

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LOVE those elephants!

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Closing the show!

The one negative I will take from this experience is the noise level. The arena was not at capacity, yet with how loud the speakers were, you would think they were trying to project outside the arena. My son has a few sensory issues (loud noise being one of them) and he had his fingers in his ears almost the whole time. He had never done that before. We’ve been to countless shows and he’s never had an issue, but I have since ordered headphones for him, just in case we have to deal with this in the future. But even without the sensory issue, the noise really was too loud for the amount of people that were there.

While the show has moved on from Rockford, you can still catch this fun show throughout the country through October 2015! Check their website to see if they’ll be coming to a town near you.

Ringling Bros. Built to Amaze Show is Coming to Rockford, IL May 8-10, 2015! #RinglingInsider

I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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The circus is coming to town! It’s been a couple of years since my son has been to the circus. We went when he was two and he still remembers his favorite parts – the elephants, the clowns, and the tigers! I’m so excited that the circus will be near ne again in just a few weeks.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ®Presents Built To Amaze! ® — Experience all the things you know and love and be amazed by things you’ve never seen before! Witness superhuman stunts so close you can FEEL it! Astonishing performers, awe-inspiring athletes and amazing animals from around the globe have been assembled in one place providing a riveting display of unimaginable proportions that is Engineered for Excitement and Custom Built for Family Fun!

My family can’t wait to see this show! If you’re in the Rockford area, the Built to Amaze show will be at the BMO Harris Bank Center at the following times:

Friday, May 8, 2015: 7:00 pm
Saturday, May 9, 2015: 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm
Sunday May 10, 2015: 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm

Get your tickets today!

Hilarious Movie Hot Pursuit Opens May 8, 2015!

If you’ve watched any television lately, I’m sure you’ve seen a trailer for the new movie, Hot Pursuit, that’s set to hit theaters May 8, 2015. I’ve been a big Reese Witherspoon fan ever since I saw her in Pleasantville and one of my favorites, Legally Blonde. And Sofia Vergara always cracks me up in Modern Family. Pairing the two of these funny ladies together is just genius. I, for one, am really looking forward to see this movie.

Hot-Pursuit-Banner

If you haven’t heard about it, the movie, Hot Pursuit, an uptight and by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sofía Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen. What could go wrong? Probably everything. This movie is going to be hilarious!

Looks great, right? Make sure you grab a buddy and head to the movies on Friday, May 8, 2015!!!

Visit HOT PURSUIT all over social media – #HotPursuit

Follow on Twitter, Instagram & Google+

Like ‘Hot Pursuit’ on Facebook

MUST-SEE Chicago 2015: Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities #KURIOS

If you’re looking for something fun and unique to do in Chicago this summer, I’ve get the perfect solution for you. You can never go wrong with a Cirque du Soleil show. This summer, Cirque is bringing their newest production, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, to the Windy City and it promises to be epic!

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Written and directed by Michel Laprise, the new touring production will premiere under the iconic blue-and-yellow Big Top at the United Center parking lot, located at 1901 W. Madison Street, beginning August 6, 2015.

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KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities premiered to the world in Montréal in April 2014 and is Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production. Since its debut, the critics have been raving: “KURIOS is Cirque du Soleil’s strongest act in years…one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on a stage” (Toronto Star) and “KURIOS is the best Cirque du Soleil show in a long time.” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Contortion-credit Martin Girard shootstudio.ca

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is a tale in which time comes to a complete stop, transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where everything is possible. In this realm set in the latter half of the nineteenth century, reality is quite relative indeed as our perception of it is utterly transformed. The name of the show refers to the humble and strange characters that inhabit the Seeker’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Tickets will be available for purchase beginning TODAY, April 17, 2015 by visiting Cirque du Soleil or calling 1-877-9 CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783). Tickets range from $35 – $145.

Have you ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show? Which one did you see?

Disclosure: I will receive complimentary admission to KURIOS in exchange for this post.

DreamWorks Animation’s HOME Opens on 3/27 + a $25 VISA Giveaway

It’s almost here! My son still asks to see DreamWorks Animation’s HOME daily. He even saw a promo poster for it at a theater and started screaming “MOMMY – it’s here! We can go see it now!!!” I curse you, Promo Picture! It was so hard to calm him down from that. I am thrilled, however, that we can finally go see HOME a week from today. YAY – maybe then I can get some peace & quiet around here!

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Are you planning on seeing this adorable movie?

There are also a ton of cool printables to get your kids fired up to watch HOME.

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Home Maze

Home Puzzles

Home Bookmarks

Connect the dots

Spot the Characters

Spot the Difference

How to make a 3D Oh

How to make a Bubble Mobile

Home Coloring Pages here, here, here, here and here!

GIVEAWAY

One lucky Thoughts from Her reader will receive:

    • $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters
    • HOME Mug

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Prizing courtesy of 20th Century Fox & DreamWorks Animation, Open to US mailing addresses only.

Use the easy Rafflecopter form below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We Can’t Wait for DreamWorks Animation’s HOME

Every time my son sees the commercial for Dreamwork Animation’s Home, he cracks up. I can’t even tell you how many times he has said “Oh, no! My hands are in the air like I just do not care!” SO funny! Since my son has been to the movie theater before, he keeps asking to stop there to see this movie every time we pass by. It’s tough trying to tell a 4-year-old to wait till March 27th!

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Here’s a brand-new clip from the film. What do you think? Will you be at the theater on March 27th?

About the Film

When Oh, a lovable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human, and together they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

Starring: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez

Directed by: Tim Johnson

Connect with Home

Follow DreamWorks Animation on Twitter
Like ‘HOME’ on Facebook
Visit the Official Website
Get to know The Boov’s at Meet the Boov!
#DreamWorksHOME

Moochie Kalala: A New Chicago-Based WTTW Show

Hey – have you heard? There’s a new kids show on WTTW (Channel 11) that just started and it inspires Chicagoland kids to discover science – Moochie Kalala!

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The show follows two kids and Chicagoland residents, Mandy (Evelyn Alumbreros) and Kyle (Gregory Vasquez) as they form a “detectives club” to uncover the scientific truth behind their grandpa’s (Police Academy star and Saturday Night Live original, Tim Kazurinsky) wild folk stories.

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“Moochie Kalala Detectives Club” follows two Chicagoland kids who go on fact-finding missions to local museums – like the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, the Lincoln Park Zoo and more – and get help from their real scientists!

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Plus, each episode is followed by a real Chicagoland elementary classroom leading kids through a hands-on experiment.  Many Chicagoland institutions came together to make the show possible.

My son is a little young to understand the full concepts discussed on the show (I’d say the ideal audience would be kids aged 7-12), but my son is obsessed with all things galaxy-related, so he loved hearing about the question discussed on the first show that aired January 18 – Is there water on Mars?

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At the end of the show, their discoveries are tested at a local Chicagoland school.  The show selected six local teachers and their students to appear during the last few minutes of the show leading kids through fun, hands-on experiments! The first school selected was Winfield Central School in Winfield, IL. What I love most is that the producers of the show, Dreaming Tree Films, will also host “Moochie Kalala Detectives Club”-themed, in-school science events at numerous schools across Chicagoland this spring, and is delivering 1,000 complimentary DVDs to local public schools. I LOVE THIS!

My son is a smart cookie, and I will definitely support him in all of his STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and math) interests. I could be bringing up the next great scientist!

Episode Names and Broadcast Dates

The full synopsis for each episode is available HERE.

  • Episode 1 – Featuring the Adler Planetarium, “Space Dragon of Oceanic Mars”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 18
  • Episode 2 – Featuring Museum of Science and Industry, “The Grabinators & Hoagies of Skunksville”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 25
  • Episode 3 – Featuring Lincoln Park Zoo, “We’re All Good at Something”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 1
  • Episode 4 – Featuring The Field Museum, “Cave Girl & The T-Rex”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 8
  • Episode 5 – Featuring Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, “Magic Blocks of Creation”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 15
  • Episode 6 – Featuring Shedd Aquarium, “A Whale of a Tale”; launches 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 22
    **Each episode repeats on Saturdays at 7am and also runs March-June 2015 on WTTW Kids.

Will you be watching?

Hanging Out with Ingrid Hoffman, Food Network, and JCPenney at Ravinia #EatDrinkRock

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my day, but never have I had more fun (and ate more FOOD) than at a recent concert at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL.  A few weeks ago, the Food Network hosted a fabulous event at Ravinia, the oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S., dubbed Food Network in Concert, sponsored by JCPenney.

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I ate, drank, and jammed throughout the day – and had a blast!

JCPenney had an amazing lounge area at the event, featuring lots of their products and furniture.  Did you know that JCPenney sold furniture?  Yeah, me either.  Mind. Blown.

Ravinia JCPenny

Totally gorgeous, right?  Just about everything you see below can be purchased at JCPenney.com.

Ravinia JCPenny Lounge

I was lucky to be able to tour the Greatest Hits section where 50 chefs and 100+ wineries served up their greatest hits – including Columbian-born Ingrid Hoffman!  So amazing and gracious was Ingrid that she agreed to meet me and autograph a copy of her new book, Latin D’Lite!

Ingrid Hoffman and Me

Fun fact: Ingrid’s first book, Simply Delicioso, was the first cookbook I purchased in 2009 when I started dating my Puerto Rican husband.  I has hopeless in the kitchen, and wanted to learn how to make some Latin dishes.  I’m pretty sure my first attempt at empanadas started with Ingrid Hoffman.

I was so inspired by my encounter with Ingrid Hoffman, that I made one of her delicious soups from her book, Latin D’Lite, for my family this weekend.  Soup, just about any kind, is my go-to meal to cook on a chilly weekend, and this weekend certainly delivered that.  Ingrid’s book promises delicious Latin recipes with a healthy twist.  There are so many yummy soups in Ingrid’s book that are perfect for a chilly day – 18 to be exact! – that it was so hard to choose just one, but we settled on the Mexican Corn Soup – with the healthier option, of course.

Ingrid Hoffman_Mexican Corn Soup

This corn and tomato-based soup is “Simplemente Delicioso” topped with some cilantro, queso fresco, tortilla chips, and crumbled bacon (because, c’mon, what isn’t good topped with BACON?!?!)  So easy to make, done in about 30 minutes, and my family raved about this soup.  It’s already on request for next week!

You must check out Ingrid Hoffman’s line, Simplemente Delicioso at JCPenney!

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Who doesn’t want to add a little color to their kitchen?!?!

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Paddington Bear is Coming to Theaters! #PaddingtonMovie

Every time I think about Paddington the bear, I am transported back to my childhood.  Sitting on my bunk bed, long after the lights should’ve been out, I would read my favorite Paddington books.  I loved Paddington because he was so sweet and super-duper polite – and he was so cute & cuddly too!  That’s why I’m so excited that my favorite bear, Paddington, is back!

This Christmas, a small bear will make a big splash.

From the beloved novels by Michael Bond and producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER), PADDINGTON tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he  begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.

Paddington also celebrated a birthday last week!  In celebration of Paddington’s birthday today, June 25, and in anticipation of his feature film debut this Christmas, Macy’s and The Weinstein Company are proud to announce that Paddington, the world-famous Peruvian bear will trade his London digs for a place in the sky above the Big Apple marking a return to the  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®!

With a Thanksgiving Day adventure and a new star-studded big screen debut that is set to become the must-see family film of the Christmas season, at 56-years old today (according to one of the Brown family’s birthday edicts that marked Paddington’s birthdate as the day that he came to live with them), Paddington is sure to delight a new generation of children with his comic misadventures.

How excited are you to see the Paddington movie?!?!

Head to Home Depot for a FREE Mr. Peabody & Sherman Workshop + a $25 Visa GC #Giveaway

My little guy is only 3-years-old, but I’ve recently realized that I have never taken him to see a full-length movie at a movie theater before.  I’m nervous that he won’t sit still through it all, or that he’ll talk through the whole show (and anyone who knows my son knows that he can be very loud).  Although recently I saw a promo for a movie that I think he’ll just love: Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

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ABOUT THE MOVIE

Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell, Emmy Award® Winner –Phil Dunphy from Modern Family), the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman (Max Charles –The Amazing Spiderman), use their time machine—the WABAC—to go on the most outrageous adventures known to man or dog. But when Sherman takes The WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they accidently rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history.  Before they forever alter the past, present and future, Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, ultimately facing the most daunting challenge of any era:  figuring out how to be a parent. Together, the time traveling trio will make their mark on history.

Check out the trailer.  Think your kids will like it?  It hits theaters March 7th, 2014!

HOME DEPOT KIDS WORKSHOP

Build a Trojan Horse Bank with Home Depot on Saturday, March 1 – FREE OF CHARGE!

To celebrate DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Home Depot is offering a FREE hands-on workshop designed for children ages 5 – 12. The event will take place at participating Home Depot locations between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Kids Workshop activities are scheduled on a first come/first served basis.  All participants get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin. Register online now!

GIVEAWAY

MPS-HomeDepotPrize

One lucky reader will win a Mr. Peabody & Sherman prize pack that includes a $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters, Trojan Horse Bank Kit (the activity featured at Home Depot Workshops nationwide), and a Mr. Peabody & Sherman glasses & bow tie set.  Follow the easy Giveaway Tools form below to enter.  Open to US mailing addresses only.  Prizing courtesy of 20th Century Fox & DreamWorks Animation.

CONNECT WITH MR. PEABODY ONLINE

Visit the official website, Like Mr. Peabody & Sherman on Facebook, or Follow @DWAnimation on Twitter using the hashtag #MrPeabody.

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