Party Time at the Skokie Exploritorium

Exploritorium Logo

For the last two years, we have been invited to a birthday party at the Exploritorium in Skokie. It’s quite a drive for us, but we really can’t say no to an opportunity to hang out at the Exploritorium. We used to drive to Skokie frequently before my in-laws moved to Florida, but never have we stopped at the Exploritorium. Thank goodness for these birthday parties – it gives us a great reason to come out and play.

Exploritorium Tunnels

The Exploritorium is a large indoor playground that is part of the Skokie Park District.  There are multiple areas that are perfect for interactive play. You can play make-believe in a costumed dress-up area; run your fingers through a water play area; make music, climb a wall, play with trains, experience new heights in two-and-a half-story tubes and tunnels, and so much more. My son loves coming here – it’s just a bummer that we live so far and don’t make it out to Skokie more than once a year.

Exploritorium Slides

This place sort of reminds me of a mini children’s museum, complete with a water table, a train table, and a huge lite brite! It would be so easy to spend a few hours here – too bad the party time is only one hour.

Exploritorium Water Table

Exploritorium Water

Exploritorium Train Table

Exploritorium Gear Table

Exploritorium Lite Brite

When you book a party at the Exploratorium, you get one hour of play time, and another hour in the party room. You bring your own food and cake, which is really nice – but it doesn’t seem like you have a dedicated party helper. The play time alone makes it completely worth the drive to Skokie.

Open play hours are 9 am – 5pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday and 9am – 1pm on Saturday. They are closed on Thursday & Sunday. The cost for non-residents is $5 per person and they are located at 4701 Oakton Street in Skokie.

Save 60% Off ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps

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Thinking about summer camp for the kiddos? Why not try something fun & educational? At ROBOTS-4-U summer camps, kids will experience S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) concepts while at camp! Kids will learn all about ROBOTICS, Dynamic Art, BATTLE ROBOTS and DRONES. Come see what it’s all about at ROBOTS 4 U Summer Camps – where fun, thinking & learning comes to life!

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Campers will have a BLAST, while learning and playing in a dynamic environment, learning about robotics and science, in an independent and exciting way!

Visit www.ROBOTS-4-U.com and www.dynamic-art-design.com to see dates and locations for these day camps. Check out these Battle Bots from Robots 4 U!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Camp runs for 1 week (5 days) long
  • Days: Monday to Friday Times: 9:00-11:30a.m. and 12:30-3:00 p.m.
  • CAMPERS RATIO: 1 Instructor to 16 participants
  • Register early as camps do fill up quickly!
  • Each Camper Individually uses a ROBOTICS or DYNAMIC ART Kit. Robot kits do not go home with campers but are available for purchase!

ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps are now enrolling and my readers can SAVE 60% Off with Code: TEX1660M15 at www.ROBOTS-4-U.com. But act now, this promotion expires 3/31!

For current Robots-4-U Camp Offers: http://www.usfamilyguide.com/coupons.php?bid=9123&dealid=315

 

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Celebrating Baby’s “Firsts” with Pampers + a GIVEAWAY #PampersPrimerasVeces

Disclaimer: This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Latina Mom Bloggers and Pampers.  All opinions are 100% mine.

I think every mother remembers when their children were born. The first time you saw their face, held them close, and kissed their chubby cheeks. I don’t think any parent would deny the love at first sight feeling. You are, quite literally, enamored the second your eyes meet. There’s no other feeling like it. I’ve had two kids now – with an 11-year age gap – and each time was just as special. Granted, they were special for very different reasons, but each in their own way.

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My daughter provided me with the greatest gift ever – my first time becoming a mom. I was young, and so in love with her. I got to experience all the motherhood firsts like her first tooth, first time crawling, first time walking – and now that she’s a teenager, her first time driving a car. *YIKES!*

Teen Driver

She’s taught me so much about life (mostly patience), and every day seems to be an adventure. We’ve been through ups and downs…many of them…but I know that everyday with her is a gift. I’m still experiencing “firsts” with her – 16 years later!

Baby-First

With my son, I had already experienced baby firsts, but he gave me so much more. As my first (and only) boy, there was a lot for me to get used to, but my one regret with him was his first haircut. And not getting it sooner. A LOT sooner! This unruly, curly, fuzz ball of a head of hair was with us until right after his first birthday. #momfail

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As the #1 choice of hospitals in North America* and the first diaper worn by millions of babies, Pampers Swaddlers comforts and protects babies through their entire journey of firsts, helping to ensure their happy, healthy development. And Pampers Swaddlers now comes up to a size 6!
*Based on sales data

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Pampers understands there is nothing more joyful or rewarding than the precious first-time moments shared by little ones and their families. In honor of this special journey, Pampers has released a compilation video entitled “Firsts” that highlight those wondrous “first” experiences together. From the first time parents see their little one on a sonogram to the first evening home from the hospital, the Pampers “Firsts” video showcases precious, heart-felt moments babies and parents share together.

Join @PampersLatinoUS and Latina Mom Bloggers on Thursday, February 12th at 6 pm PST/9pm EST for a Twitter party to celebrate Valentine’s Day and baby’s firsts! Prizes include a Canon DSLR Camera, an ERGOBaby Carrier, gift cards and more! To be eligible to win prizes, you must RSVP at LatinaMomBloggers.com.
Pampers recognizes that all first moments, no matter how big or small, are moments to be cherished and celebrated. Pampers is honored to be a part of the journey of firsts for millions of families around the world every day. That’s why they want to offer one of my readers a Pampers Prize Pack!

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky Thoughts from Her reader will receive a Pampers Prize Pack celebrating #PampersPrimerasVeces that includes:

  • My First Valentine’s Day Bib
  • Pottery Barn Stroller Blanket
  • Alex and Ani “Mom” Bracelet
  • Tiny Love Follow Me Fred Toy
  • I Love You Through & Through Board Book
  • Pack of Pampers Swaddlers
  • Pack of Pampers Wipes

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Follow the easy Rafflecopter form below to enter.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids #VisitIndy

This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Indianapolis with my family.  Considering I live in the Chicago area – and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the Windy City – I’m surprised that I’ve never ventured to Indy before.  Little did I know that Indy had so much to offer families visiting the area.  From parks and museums to festivals and fantastic food, Indy has it all!  I broke it down to my family’s Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids – do you have a favorite spot that I’m missing?

Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids

5. Indianapolis Firefighter’s Museum

Firefighters Museum_Indy

This small museum is sure to please any fire truck enthusiast in your household.  The upstairs is designed like a real, working fire house and you’re introduced to everything from the beds the firefighter’s sleep in, to the uniforms that they wear, and the equipment they use.  Located in the trendy Mass Ave. Arts District, there’s plenty to see if you take a stroll afterwards.  Have some froyo right across the street at YoguLatte.  Their coconut mocha latte is delish!

4. Indianapolis Zoo

Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo is a must-see in Indy.  Their new International Orangutan Exhibit was completed this summer, and a new aerial cable ride (not yet open when we visited, but check the park for current availability) will allow guests to view the animals like never before.  We saw orangutans climbing the structure and they are mesmerizing to watch.  The zoo’s Dolphin Adventure Pavilion is gorgeous too and their interactive dolphin show is very entertaining.

3. Rhythm! Discovery Center

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My 3-year-old had a blast at the Rhythm! Discovery Center, and I’m not gonna lie – I totally did too!  We must’ve banged on every drum, shaken every tambourine, and played every xylophone in the place!  Probably our favorite parts of the museum were the sound-proof rooms that allowed you to play a real drum set and be as loud as you wanted to be – we felt like rock stars!  Handy Tip: Visit this museum late in the day.  We arrived about an hour and a half before closing and had the entire museum to ourselves.  I’m sure it’s very noisy (and migraine-inducing) at peak times.

2. Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum

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Visiting the Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum was, by far, the highlight of our trip – for me at least.  We also had two teenagers with us, and they would undoubtedly say the same.  The historic aspect drew me in, but there’s so much for kids to experience here too.  For one, their indoor Discovery Station is designed for younger kids and allows plenty of room for free-play, exploring, crafting and climbing.  The Civil War exhibit even has an outdoor splash pad (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) and an indoor play area with a large climbing structure.  All that is really fun for kids, but it’s the people at Conner Prairie that really make this visit worthwhile.  They never break character, and you really feel like you’re living in the 1800’s.  I cannot say enough good things about this place – get there if you can!

1. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Childrens Museum of Indianapolis

What visit to Indy with kids would be complete without a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis?  The almost 500,000-sf facility is the largest children’s museum in the world and is visited by more than 1.2 million people each year.  We love visiting children’s museums and I can honestly say that we experienced things here that we haven’t at any other children’s museum we’ve seen.  Where else can you let your imagination run wild and run a Chinese restaurant , slide down a long Great Wall of China slide, be transported to the land of dinosaurs, or create a colorful sculpture – all in one place?  Only at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

HOTEL BONUS: Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel

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Image courtesy of Marriott

Staying at the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel was a no-brainer for us.  With two teenagers in tow – that had NO interest in visiting some attractions with my preschooler – it was important to me to be located near a place that they would find interest in.  Thank goodness for Keystone at the Crossing, a shopping mall located within walking distance of the hotel!  The hotel itself was great too – friendly staff, clean rooms, and a nice swimming pool are all things I look for that will be sure to please my family, and the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel did not disappoint.  Be aware, however, that this hotel is located about 25 minutes from the downtown area so plan your excursions accordingly.

GOOD EATS BONUS: Great Restaurants in Indy

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I honestly didn’t think I’d be overly-pleased with the food in Indy, but I’m so glad to say that I was wrong.  Breakfast at Café Patachou was one of the highlights of my dining experience with their fresh and healthy food (and fabulous coffee too!), dining outside at Iara’s Italian Restaurant with my whole family was fun – and their portion sizes were huge – we definitely did not leave hungry, Shapiro’s Delicatessen was a delicious surprise, and Arni’s Restaurant probably had the best pizza I’ve ever had – and I’m from Chicago so that’s saying a lot!  You won’t be disappointed with all the restaurant options in Indy!

As you can tell, we had a fabulous weekend in Indy – and I am confident that we will be back.  It would be impossible for me to list all the fun things to do with kids in Indy, and I feel like we just hit the tip of the iceberg on our weekend stay.  I wish we had planned on a weeklong visit – there’s still so much to see.

What about you – have you ever visited Indy?

For more information on the Indianapolis area, connect with Visit Indy!

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Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Indianapolis by the Indianapolis CVB, Visit Indy, and were provided with complimentary admission to many attractions and a hotel stay.  I was not compensated for this post.  I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Get Ready for Back to School with Walgreens #WalgreensLatino #CollectiveBias

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As much as we don’t want to think about it right now, getting the kids back to school is right around the corner – just about 3.5 weeks away for us!  My daughter is entering her second year of high school, and my son will be headed off for the very first time to preschool!  I can’t believe the time is flying by so fast!  The last things I want to think about back to school essentials.  I’m not ready yet!

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For many of us, back to school means following a to-do list of things that need to be taken care of before the start of the school year.  I, for one, am already stressing about everything that needs to get done before the school year starts.  There’s making sure all your necessary paperwork is filled out, ensuring that fees have been paid, purchasing school/gym uniforms for the year, getting new shoes for school, buying school supplies, and making sure the kids are all up-to-date on their vaccinations.  Lots and lots of things to before the first day of school.

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My son doesn’t even want to think about getting an immunization.  I just briefly mentioned the word while we were at Walgreens and he immediately turned around, saw the bandages, and said, “Oh, I’m going to need these if I go to the doctor!”  Adorable, right?

Walgreens-Bandages

As much as our kids might not like the idea of getting a shot, they are necessary for many kids before the start of a school year.  To make things easier on us moms to prepare for back to school, Walgreens and their Healthcare Clinics are serving as a convenient option for school immunizations such as whooping cough and meningitis (for children 11 and up). For every school immunization your child receives, Walgreens will help provide a life saving vaccine to a child in a developing country through the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign.  A win, win if you ask me!  So get ready for back to school with Walgreens!

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So while you’re visiting  the clinic and getting vaccinations, you can also pick up school supplies at Walgreens too.  Walgreens makes it easy to help moms finish purchasing their back to school list without going back to the big department store when all you needs is just a few items. Walgreens always offers great deals on school supplies too.

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So what are you waiting for?  Visit a Walgreens Healthcare Clinic for your child’s immunizations today and be ready when they first day of school rolls around.  You do NOT need to call ahead – walk-ins are always welcome.  When I visited Walgreens, in fact, there was no line at the Healthcare Clinic.  There was even a touchscreen computer to check yourself in – I was really impressed with the technology at the clinic!

Walgreens-Clinic-Touchscreen

If you want to keep the conversation going and have a chance at some fabulous prizes, join us at the bilingual #WalgreensLatino Twitter Party for inspiration and ideas on how to simplify your back to school prep with the help of Walgreens. From essential supplies to easy ways to stay healthy with the Healthcare Clinic, #CollectiveBias will be sharing information on how to satisfy all your back to school needs in once place and giving away $550 in Walgreens gift cards!  RSVP here: http://cbi.as/zkmgo

Are you ready for the new school year yet?

Legal Disclaimer: Vaccines subject to availability. Not all vaccines available in all locations. State, age, and health related restrictions may apply. Visit walgreens.com/gobackhealthy for details.

Keeping Our Cool with a Klondike #KandyBar

Disclosure: This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Klondike, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #KandyBar http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

I don’t know about you, but my family is so excited that summer has finally arrived.  We suffered through a really long winter and the warmer weather is definitely appreciated.  Lately, through a bout with chickenpox, my son hasn’t been able to leave the house – and trust me, he is not happy with his quarantine!  There isn’t a kid around that likes to be outdoors ore than my son.  He’s used to almost daily trips to the park or somewhere else fun, so staying at home has been really hard on him.  The only place he’s been able to go lately is…our backyard.

Our backyard is nothing fancy.  No big swimming pool or swing set.  No tree house or basketball court.  Just a plain ‘ol backyard with a little water table that my son can play in for hours.  Literally, hours.

Klondike Water Table

If he’s not playing at the water table, he’s probably running through the sprinkler.

Klondike Sprinkler

Kids have a ton of things they can do to keep cool outside (water balloons or water guns, anyone?), but what about us?  The adults watching them?  It’s just as hot for us outside as it is for the kids.  Sometimes I bring a book out with me, or I scroll through my Facebook feed, but most times I just sit there…hot.

I’m sitting in the sun, watching my son play, and all I can think of is a a cool treat.  Something that will take my mind off the scorching sun that’s on my back.  Something tasty.  Something sweet.  For all those things, I love Klondike Kandy Bars.

Klondike Kandy Bars

Have you tried these yet?  They taste just like a candy bar…only colder!!!  They are decadent and delicious, and will certainly keep you cool while watching the kids play around outside this summer.  Only problem is…keeping the kids away while you eat it!

Klondike Kandy Bar Steal

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There’s Lots to Do at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, MI #ExperienceGR

One of the biggest surprises for my family during our trip to Grand Rapids was the John Ball Zoo. We had no idea we’d have such a great time, and even see some animals we’d never seen before! My family – my husband and I, my teenage daughter, my toddler son, and my mom – spent about 3 hours at the zoo, and only wish we had more time to explore more.

John Ball Zoo_ExperienceGR

The John Ball Zoo, just a short drive away from the downtown area of Grand Rapids, is a smaller zoo with a surprising number of animal exhibits. Admission to the zoo in the summer is $8.50 for ages 14 and up, and $6.50 for ages 3-13 (admission prices vary during the off-peak season). There are a number of concession stands throughout the zoo, as well as picnic table areas.

One of the neat features of the zoo is the Idema Funicular, a train-like vehicle that can take you to the highest point of the zoo (or back down near the zoo entrance). It’s a great way to quickly move from one side of the zoo to another, although you won’t see any animals on the ride. There is an extra charge of $3 per person for a one-way ride.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Another unique feature of the John Ball Zoo is the number of “adventure” opportunities offered. You can take off on a zip line ride ($6 per person), navigate a ropes course ($6 per person), ride a camel ($5 per person), and touch some stingrays and sharks in a small pool ($1 per person). I really wanted to try the zip line (an item on my bucket list), but both my husband and teen had no intention of trying it with me.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Some of the exhibits here seemed too close together to me, but that didn’t take away from our experience at all. One of our favorite exhibits included the Pelican Pier, located near the entrance of the zoo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pelican in real-life, and I was mesmerized by these beautiful birds.

John Ball Zoo_Pelican

My toddler loved the Aquarium, where he got to play with a penguin. It was so cute – the penguin would follow him from one side of the tank and back. He got a kick out of his interaction with the penguin, and we all did too!

John Ball Zoo_Penguin

Red’s Hobby Farm, the children’s zoo at John Ball, was another family favorite. Both of my kids got to pet some sheep and goats!

John Ball Zoo_Children's Zoo

We also enjoyed watching a zoo keeper interact with a grizzly bear, watching a mountain lion pace back and forth in his habitat, and watching the monkeys playfully interact with each other.

John Ball Zoo_Grizzly Bear

John Ball Zoo_Mountain Lion

John Ball Zoo_Monkeys

Overall, I’d say that my family would definitely revisit the John Ball Zoo the next time we’re in Grand Rapids. A new tiger exhibit, set to resemble their natural habitat, should be completed in 2014 and it’s a great reason to bring my family back next year!

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

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This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

Find Cute Personalized Gifts for Kids at Tolalu.com #Sponsored

imageAt this point in my son’s short life, I can honestly say that it is really hard to buy things for him.  Not gonna lie – that boy is spoiled.  SO much so that we had to convert out dining room to a playroom just to fit all his “stuff” – and it’s already overflowing!  When we find out that he’s into something, we tend to go a little nuts and buy him everything we can find.  It’s quite unhealthy, actually.

Tolalu_Logo

The one thing I know he would love is something with his name on it.  He has enough dinosaurs, cars, spaceships and letters (enough to fill a dining room…ha!), but what he doesn’t have are things that have his name on it.  That’s why personalized gifts from Tolalu.com are perfect for him!  Tolalu offers so many personalized items for kids – everything from Calendars and Notebooks to Stickers and Growth Charts, Tolalu has so many items that kids will love.

Tolalu Collage

For my son, I ordered the stickers, bookmarks (comes in a set of 4), a chore chart and an Alphabet Painting Book.  He loves them!  The first time he saw everything with his name on it he was so surprised and happily exclaimed “Is all this for me?!?!”  It was adorable.

Tolalu_Alphabet Book

It was so easy to shop, select and customize your items at Tolalu.com.  I only wish I would have personalized some of my items with a photo. Sad smile But, if you sign up for their email list, you automatically get $5.00 off your order – so that was a nice treat!

The only thing I wasn’t so crazy about was the fact that shipping did take a long time – more than 2 weeks!  If I was ordering for a gift I probably would have been more upset, because my order likely wouldn’t have arrived when I needed it.  So, my advice to you would be…order early!  I love the items though, so I would still recommend the company, I would just allow more time for shipping.

There are so many cute gifts on Tolalu.com.  Which one would you buy for someone?

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Huntley, IL: Deicke Park is Worth the Drive

One of my favorite things to do with my son is to visit lots of local (and even some not-so-local) parks.  It’s the best way for him to burn off some pent-up energy…and it doesn’t cost me a dime.  I’ve been trying to keep my spending in check so we’ve been visiting a lot more free venues and activities for kids.  Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend doesn’t mean your kids need to stay cooped up in the house, ya know?

Deicke Park Sign

We have visited so many parks in the far northwest and west suburbs and I won’t review them all here, just the ones that we think are extra, extra cool…like Deicke Park in Huntley, Illinois.  It’s one of our favorites, and has a fantastic toddler area, Discovery Zone, for smaller kids.  The entire perimeter of the Discovery Zone area is secured by a black iron fence with only two entrances – so you can rest easier knowing your kids can’t just run right out of the park.  Not to say they shouldn’t be supervised, just a perk of not having to watch them like a hawk either.  A restroom is located just outside of the Discovery Zone area.  Definitely not one to miss if you’re in the area.

Deicke Park Discovery Zone

Here are some of the things you can expect to find in the Discovery Zone.  The first thing my son was drawn to was the GIANT red fire truck to climb on with a couple of slides.  There’s even a panel on the truck that lists 5 rules of fire safety!

Deicke Park Firetruck

Deicke Park has a really large sand area too – one that even has a water element (shown in the photo above).  Fun times for the kids, but I’d bring extra shoes and a change of clothes because things can get very messy in this area.

Deicke Park Sand Area

The music area at Deicke Park is pretty impressive.  If you stomp on the musical notes (inside the red stars) you’ll hear music!  Bring your own chalk if you want to write on the large chalk walk located just on the other side of the music section.

Deicke Park Music Overview

Playing on the percussion instruments is really fun too.

Deicke Park Music

A favorite at this park amongst lots of kids is the railroad crossing sign.  When kids push the red button, the bells start to ring just like the real railroad crossing signs (loudly, I might add).

Deicke Park Railroad Crossing

The schoolhouse area is perfect for little climbers.  The bus actually rocks, there are tunnels to climb through, small rock walls to conquer, and lots of slides.

Deicke Park Schoolhouse

My son’s favorite?  The one he calls the “cylinder” slide!

Deicke Park Cylinder Slide

The basketball area in the Discovery Zone is really cool.  The park has a full-sized court too, but the one here has baskets in varying heights, and cool backboards to “help” the kids score a basket.  Bring your own balls to make sure your kids can play in this area – my toddler loved it!

Deicke Park Basketball

The last time we visited Deicke Park, my son and I decided to take a little walk to see what else this great park had to offer.  One of our favorite finds was the long metal slide.  Kids climb up the steps and take a long, fast ride down the slide.  Some kids were even using their jackets as a sack to get down even faster!

Deicke Park Long Slide

The Discovery Zone isn’t the only playground here either.  There’s another area for slightly older kids with lots of taller slides.

Deicke Park Playground Slides

The climbing wall at the other playground area was pretty cool too – and longer than any at any other park we’ve been to.

Deicke Park Climbing Wall

The other playground also has a smaller are if you have younger kids in tow.

Deicke Park Smaller Playground

Some of the other amenities at Deicke Park include jogging paths, a baseball diamond, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, four picnic shelters, and an over-sized pond.  Deicke Park is part of the Huntley Park District, and is located at 11419 South Route 47 in Huntley, IL.

So tell me?  Wouldn’t your kids love to play at Deicke Park?

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Enjoying Lunchtime and Toddler Chats

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Lifeway Kefir, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

It’s always so interesting to see how my 3-year-old views the world.  We like to sit and chat during lunch to talk about…well, whatever.  Lunchtime is basically the only time where it would be just him and I alone.  I take full advantage of the alone time together and make sure all electronics are shut off (he would leave the tablet on 24/7 if he could!) and we can enjoy some quiet time.

Duck Face Selfie

Lots of times he asks for Daddy.  You’d be surprised by how many times it’s as if he’s surprised that Daddy isn’t home.

“Is Daddy going to eat with us?”  “Mommy, don’t forget about Daddy – he likes cheese tacos (quesadillas) too!”

But other times it’s just him and I, and I get to chat with him about all kinds of things.  Everything from what was his favorite part of the day, to which dinosaur is his favorite at the time and – my personal favorite – how much he loves everyone in the family.

“You are all my family and I love you every one!” (Sounding very It’s a Wonderful Life –cheery.)

He even gets all gushy about our dog.

“No Mommy, don’t put Ty in a time out (in the crate).  Cuz I love him.  He’ll be a good boy now.”

Toddler with Dogs

Gosh I love that kid – and my heart swells every time I think of him and his sensitive little heart*.

*Note to the girl that breaks it:  You do not want to meet Mama Bear.  Just sayin’.

As a full-time working mom, I know that every time I get to eat lunch with my boy is a privilege.  And I’m so grateful to learn more about him and the way he sees things during our little chats.  I’m just hoping he’ll continue to want to share with mom in the years to come.

Almost as important as the time spent with our kids, are the foods we put in their bodies.  I used to be more lax about the things I’d feed him for lunch ( a chicken nugget Happy Meal, anyone?), but not anymore.  Feeding him healthy, nutritious foods are so important to me now, and I get super-picky about what he can and can not eat.

Lifeway Kefir with Toddler

One of the items definitely on the approved list: Lifeway Lowfat Kefir Probiotic Cultured Milk Smoothie.  With seven to ten billion CFU’s of 10 strains of bacteria,  Lifeway Lowfat Kefir balances the body’s ecosystem and supports digestive health and immunity – that’s 12 live and active cultures per cup!  Plus, it’s an excellent source of calcium, protein and it’s 99% lactose free.  Lifeway Kefir is a creamy and delicious yogurt-like smoothie my whole family enjoys.  Whether we drink it on it’s own, or add it to a smoothie mix, one thing’s for certain – I don’t have to worry that my son isn’t eating right. Lifeway Lowfat Kefir is so good – and so good for you too!

Lifeway Lowfat Kefir with Probiotics

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Kids will Love the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum! #ExperienceGR

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, and just a short walk from other attractions in the area. I knew my toddler would love the activities there, but had no idea that my teen would have a good time there too! (I was just as shocked as you probably are by reading that.)

GR Childrens Museum_Exterior

My family visited the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and the museum opened at noon. Admission is $8.00 for ages 1-64 and $7.00 for ages 65 and up. Children under 1 are free. There was a bit of construction going on at the intersection where the museum was located when we visited, but I noticed a few open parking spots right out front. Upon entering, there is a fairly large closet area where we were able to park our stroller. They do not sell food items here and I didn’t see an eating/snack area either. You could, however, rent a room for a birthday party.

Our first impression of the museum was that it was MUCH larger inside than we thought it would be. The two-story museum features some permanent exhibits, along with some rotating ones to change it up a bit. Some of my toddler’s favorites were the Construction Zone area where he built a foam “brick wall”, the bubbles exhibit (because, what kid doesn’t love playing with bubbles?!?!), the train table (always a favorite), the alphabet carpet squares, and hanging apples on the apple tree.

GR Childrens Museum_Adventures in Balance

GR Childrens Museum Trees

GR Childrens Museum_Apple Tree

GR Childrens Museum_Alphabet Tiles

GR Childrens Museum_Bubbles

Surprisingly, some favorites for my teenage daughter were the Mom & Pop Store (she relived the times when I used to take her to children’s museums), the Wee Bank (where I determined that she should NEVER work for a bank because I asked to withdraw $1,000 and she proceeded to give me the money WITHOUT asking for identification… LOL), and the Play Day Café where she was the waitress and I was her customer. I thought she would be bored to tears here while her brother played, but she surprised me by making the most of it.

GR Childrens Museum_Car

GR Childrens Museum_Store

One aspect of the museum that I couldn’t take my eyes off of was the bee exhibit with REAL, LIVE BEES! I was fascinated because I have never seen so many live bees before. My whole family tried to locate the queen, with no luck. The elusive queen was nowhere to be found. We all thought that it was really cool to see a bee colony in action – though we were thankful that they were all behind the glass!

GR Childrens Museum_Bees

Overall, we enjoyed our time at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum immensely. If you’re visiting the Grand Rapids area with kids, I’d put this attraction at the top of your list. Kids of all ages will find something to do and, chances are, will learn something new too.

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

The inside scoop on everyday travel with kids.

This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

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