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!

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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.

Keep the Kids Hydrated this Summer with a NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser

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As the summer temps continue to climb higher and higher, it’s more important then ever to stay hydrated.  And if you have kids, especially, you know that all the running around and playing they do make them more susceptible to dehydration in the extreme heat.  Here in Chicago, temperatures can soar to over 100 degrees on a really hot day!

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One thing I stress with my kids is to drink lots of water in the summer – and all year long, actually.  Problem is, we have hard water in my home.  For those that don’t know, hard water is water that has a high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water”). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of calcium and magnesium-containing minerals such as limestone, chalk and dolomite.  This is how it looks (so gross!) after a few years under the water dispenser on the fridge – and it is impossible to clean:

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Recently, we received a NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser and I couldn’t be happier.  I never thought a water dispenser was supposed to be in someone’s house.  Every office I’ve ever worked in has had one, but I’ve never associated a home and a water dispenser.  But now, after having one at my house for a few weeks now, I wish I would have thought of getting one sooner – I love it.

Setting Up the WCD-100W Water Dispenser

The NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser is delivered to your home in a really, really big box.  It’s super-easy to open and get it set-up.  It does take a while before you can start using the water dispenser, though.  It is recommended that you let the unit stand upright for 2 hours before connecting it to a power source.  Then, you’ll have to perform an initial cleaning.  Once you’ve installed the water bottle, let the unit stand, ON, for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove the water bottle (some will likely spill) and flush out the standing water.  Once flushed, you can replace the bottle and use as normal.

Using the WCD-100W Water Dispenser

Using the NewAir WCD-100W is a breeze.  Seriously, my 3-year-old knows how to get himself a cup of water.  There are 3 valves on this machine – one for cold water, one for room temperature, and one for hot water.  The hot valve itself can get pretty hot when the unit is on, so we usually leave the heat valve off.  We love drinking out cold water from this dispenser though – we never, ever use the refrigerator for drinking water anymore.

This unit also comes with a storage unit on the bottom.  It’s not refrigerated or anything, but you can use it to hold extra cups, napkins, or whatever you want to store there.

NewAir-Storage

I also thought that the unit would look unsightly or take up too much space in my home.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  The unit is tucked away in the corner of my kitchen eating area and you can’t even see it initially when you walk into the kitchen.  Then, it’s really convenient to grab a glass of water when you’re sitting down for a meal.

NewAir-Kitchen

My only concerns with the NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser are the hot water spout and the bottle capacity.  While the hot water dispenser does have an extra lever as an added safety feature, I have no doubt that some kids can probably figure out how to get the valve to work, even if unintentionally.  This concerns me with a 3-year-old in the house because that water is really hot and a little kid can get burned easily.  I get around this by leaving the hot water power button in the off position.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes to get the unit heated up, so I would just turn that on right before I had to use it.

NewAir-Heat-Valve

My other issue has to do with the size of the water bottle the NewAir is supposed to be compatible with.  The user manual states that the NewAir Water Dispenser is designed to work with 2-, 3-, or 5-gallon bottles of drinking water.  Problem is, all the stores by me that carry large water bottles only carry 4-gallon bottles.  I figure that if it can handle a 3-gallon and a 5-gallon, it should be able to hold a 4-gallon too.  So that’s what we’ve been using and we haven’t had a problem with it.

4-Gallon-Water-Bottle

Want to see the NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser in action?  This video will show you exactly how we use it.

Bottom line?  I would absolutely recommend a NewAir WCD-100W Water Dispenser.  We have really enjoyed ours and only wish I would have thought to purchase one years earlier!

Purchase yours on Amazon!

Not a Runner? Do a Fun Run! The Color Run Chicago #TCRChicago #ShoutItOut #Happiest5K

There’s nothing like the start of warm weather to realize that you’re not feeling quite your best.  It seems like every belly roll is amplified by the tank tops we wear and every bit of cellulite can be seen when wearing shorts (at least for me anyway).  Knowing this, I knew I needed some motivation to kick-start my goal of moving more to get healthy.  I know I’m not a runner (as much as I want to think that I can be), but participating in a 5K sounded like a great way to start.

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I knew I didn’t want to do a timed race – I wasn’t ready for that – so I looked for a fun race to do and I got my daughter to commit to the race with me.  It was ON for The Color Run in Chicago!

Getting there I wasn’t sure what to expect.  First off – there was the parking situation.  Driving in to downtown Chicago is a trek in and of itself for me, but if I believed the parking apps and online parking websites I should have been expecting to pay upwards of $30 for parking.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case.  Sure, I parked farther than I would have liked, but it only cost me $12 so I’ll gladly walk the few extra blocks.  When we finally made it to the event, it was a quick trip to the registration tents (the lines seemed long but they went by really quickly) to pick up our race gear – tote bags, tattoos, race, bibs, t-shirts, headbands, and bracelets.  Great swag!

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Then it was off to line up for the race! This is when you really got a picture of just how many people were at the event.  The race started in waves, about every 3-4 minutes, and there were at least 5 waves that started before we did.  The music was jammin’ though and the emcees were really keeping the energy levels high.

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There were color stations set up throughout the course where you’d be doused with powdered color.  Those 3 miles fly by, and you end up looking something like this by the end of it:

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After the race, the party at the main stage was so fun to watch.  Participants receive a color pouch at the end of the race and every 15 minutes or so, the packets were unleashed and people threw them in the air.  The crowd danced and was completely covered in color by the end of it.  By far, the best time at the race.

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Shout, a sponsor of the race, had a booth at the race where they had a 360 camera to take a really fun video – and you could pick up more race swag in their tent.  I know I’m glad I had Shout® at home because it’s the only product that could remove all that cornstarch color from my clothes.  Believe me – I tried.  I put my clothes in the wash with just laundry detergent once just to see if the colors would come out on their own – they didn’t.  Then I sprayed the heck out of those clothes with Shout®, and every little spec was washed clean. I love Shout®!

The Color Run Post-Race Shirt

The Color Run 2014 Kaleidescope Tour was so much fun and I’m already excited to participate again next year.  There are still lots of cities left on the tour this year, so consider signing up if you see one near you.  From now until September 30, 2014, you can also have the opportunity to win a fun-filled, dream vacation to experience a The Color Run in New Zealand simply by posting a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ShoutItOut #enter.

Have you participated in a fun run before?

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Connect with the Family Over the New Menu Options at Olive Garden #OGTastes

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that I love a good family outing – especially one that my whole family can enjoy!  And if you know anything about me, you definitely know that I like to EAT.  A lot.  So, for me especially, a good family outing will almost always involve food.

OliveGarden DRI stock 300x146 Olive Garden Adds 20 New Menu Items Including a Lighter Fare

Olive Garden has been my family’s go-to when looking for a good place for Italian food.  Their food is consistently good, and everyone in my large family leaves there satisfied.  Well, after the endless salad and breadsticks, I should probably say we all leave there stuffed.  Yeah, stuffed is more like it.

Recently I was invited – sans family, whoop – to a tasting at Olive Garden to try some of their new menu items.   Don’t hate, but I got to try each and every one of these items:

Olive Garden New Menu

The new appetizers were amazing – my personal favorite was the Crispy Risotto Bites.  They were the perfect blend of crispy and chewy, and I could have eaten several of plates all by myself.  They were seriously that good!

Olive Garden Appetizers

Then there was a new salad topper, Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper – added right on top of Olive Garden’s already-yummy signature salad, and plenty of new main entrees.  Here are a some of my favorites:

Olive Garden Main Entrees

It was definitely a treat to get to try all of these menu items – the Chicken Abruzzi was one of my favorite entrees.  So much flavor in one bowl, and it’s less than 575 calories!  That’s what I’ll be getting on my next trip to Olive Garden.

And hat’s off to the kitchen and wait staff at the Olive Garden in Melrose Park.  They were all amazing and made the event memorable for all who attended.

Olive Garden Melrose Park Staff

The Olive Garden in Melrose Park has been open for less than six months, and seated at my table was a couple that had their very first date at a restaurant that formerly occupied the space.  Sweet doesn’t even begin to describe them! I was so glad that we got to chat at the event.

So – drooling yet?  Which new menu item are you most excited to try?

Connect with Olive Garden:

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

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So Fresh and So Clean with Waterpik

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Waterpik.

When I hear the word “Waterpik”, I’m immediately transported to my childhood.  We used to have a Waterpik machine in our bathroom with 4 different head attachments so that everyone in my household (at the time) had their own Waterpik head.  At the time, I had no idea what a Waterpik was used for.  All my mom told us was that it would help us clean out teeth.  I didn’t mind using it, though, because I liked the water pulsing sensation in my mouth.  To me, it was a toy.  Something I got to play with before bed.

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Recently, I was reintroduced to the Waterpik brand.  Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that Waterpiks were still being manufactured.  I totally thought they were a thing of the past.  Luckily for us – they’re not!  They are better than ever and their new Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser is the best!

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We plan to use our new Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser everyday because it’s so much easier to use than traditional string flossing because you don’t have to mess with that nasty string (and have it stop the blood flow to your fingertips!).  And not only that, the Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser comes with a bunch of attachments that help take the guesswork out of dental care.

Waterpik-Aquarius-Professional-Water-Flosser-Tips

There’s the Classic Jet Tip for general use (this model comes with 3 classic tips), a Toothbrush Tip for general cleaning, a Plaque Seeker Tip that’s good for cleaning around crowns and other dental implants, an Orthodontic Tip that’s perfect for my teenager still in braces, and a Pik Pocket Tip for periodontal pockets.  Whew…that’s a lot of attachment tips!  My only gripe with this Waterpik flosser is that it does not come with a space to hold all these attachments.  I’m currently keeping mine in a plastic baggie next to the flosser (makes my countertop look a little messy…well, messier since I currently keep all my beauty products on my countertop too).

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But – storage issue aside – I love the way my mouth feels after using the Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser.  My mouth feels fresh and my teeth are gleaming clean after using it – just the way it should be!

Curious enough yet?  You have got to try a Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser.  Use the discount code FREESHIPWP660 to get free shipping on any Waterpik product purchased through the Waterpik site.  The coupon is valid until March 31, 2014.

So how ‘bout it?  Think you’ll give the Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser a try?

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Waterpik.

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New Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash {Review}

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I love trying out new products…especially health and beauty products!  When it comes to my morning shower, I can’t even remember when’s the last time I used bar soap.  I’ve been using body washes for years and am always looking for new scents that I love.  I was so excited when I was sent a bottle of Dial’s new Vitamin Boost Body Wash to try.

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New Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash gives your skin a daily boost of vitamins.  The advanced formula, with a moisturizing Vitamin Complex, helps draw vitamins and moisture directly to your skin.

The first thing you’ll notice is the bright green bottle.  I was intrigued when I saw the kiwi on the bottle and, sure enough, this stuff smells FANTASTIC.  Like, really, really good.  The scent lasts a long time too and it’s so fresh that I love smelling it all day!

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The body wash itself isn’t too thick either.  It’s just the right amount of perfect if you ask me!  Oh yeah, and bright green too!

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If you like scented body washes, I’d definitely say you should try out the new Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash!  Try it, and let me know what you think!

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Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate! {Review}

There’s just something about watching Disney characters dancing and spinning on the ice that fascinates my son.  Never in a million years would I think that he was capable of sitting still (well, other than the frequent clapping) for so long without uttering a word of complaint.  He loves Disney characters, of course, and gets really excited when he gets to see Mickey and the gang up close.

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review via thoughtsfromher.com

This year, Disney on Ice returned to the Chicago area with it’s newest production, Let’s Celebrate!.  In this show, your favorite cast of Disney characters take it to the ice for an evening of a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the world.

The show kicks off with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Pluto.  The audience loves to see their favorite characters on the ice!  They are soon joined by Alice in Wonderland for a festive birthday celebration.

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review via thoughtsfromher.com

A Halloween was next and, truth be told, it is a little dark.  Jack Skellington from Disney’s The Nightmare before Christmas throws a Halloween party and some of our favorite Disney villains are in attendance: Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Jafar from Aladdin, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and a few others participate in a few numbers.Some younger kids might be frightened from the loud ominous music, the giant spider webs hanging from the ceiling, and the scary villain costumes.  In fact, a little girl (dressed in her adorable princess best) sitting a few rows up from us cried and wailed through that entire performance.  I almost wish it was either scheduled for the last show before intermission, or the first number after intermission.  At least that way the kids that are a little scared can hang out in the hallways until it’s over without much interruption.  Just my two cents.

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review via thoughtsfromher.com

It was smooth sailing after that with performances celebrating summer (with a Hawaiian luau), Carnivale, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, and our all-time favorite holiday – Christmas!

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review via thoughtsfromher.com

Disney on Ice has yet to disappoint us, and the Let’s Celebrate! show was no exception.  We absolutely loved the show and can’t wait for the next one!

If you’re in the Chicago area, Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate! runs at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont Jan 22 – Jan 26, 2014 and at the United Center in Chicago Jan 29 – Feb 9, 2014.  Don’t miss the show!

My readers can still save 40% on all weekday* shows and Save 20% on all weekend shows using code MOM. Get your discount Tickets Now!

*Weekday is defined as any show Monday through Thursday or Friday matinee, not including holidays. Discount does not apply to Front Row or VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.

Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to the show to facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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Here Come the Octonauts DVD Review and #Giveaway

Does your child have a favorite TV show?

If they are anything like my kid, I’m sure they have several.  And they change frequently, too!  One week he only wants to watch one show, and then it’s a totally different show the next week.  It’s hard to keep up with these toddlers, I tell ya!

Here Come the Octonauts DVD

Lately my son has really been into the Octonauts.  He’s been watching the Here Come the Octonauts DVD that we received a few weeks ago and requesting it daily.  I don’t really mind watching the Octonauts with him because I thing the characters are so cute!

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My favorite is Peso Penguin, the medic of the group…he’s adorable!

My son’s favorite part of the whole DVD is the Creature Report bonus feature.  Six catchy songs that tell you about the different creatures from the episodes.  (And, of course, not that I’m thinking about it, “Creature Report…CREATURE REPORT” is stuck in my head.)  Personally, I like the dance break during the song!  I only wish the Creature Reports would all play at the same time.  As it is now, you have to click on each song, and they are only about a minute long.

You can also color and collect all of the Octonauts Octo-Crew Cards at DisneyJunior.com.

You can find more information on the NCircle Entertainment Facebook page and find more activities at NCircle Entertainment.

WIN IT!

Only lucky reader will win a copy of the Here Come the Octonauts DVD – perfect for the little Octonauts fan in your life.  Entering is easy – just follow the Giveaway Tools form below.

And don’t forget, if you don’t win the giveaway, Here Come the Octonauts will be available for the FIRST time on DVD on January 7, 2014, from NCircle Entertainment—available at Walmart and many other retailers and grocery stores nationwide.

Chicago with Kids: Cosley Zoo

Venue: Cosley Zoo

Website: http://www.cosleyzoo.org/

Location: 1356 North Gary Avenue, Wheaton, IL  60187.

Hours: Summer Season Hours: Daily, 9am – 5pm

Admission: Adults: $5.00 (non-Wheaton residents); Children 1-17 are FREE.

Parking: Cosley Zoo is a facility of the Wheaton Park District.  Parking in the park district lots is free.

Cosley Zoo

Our Experience: My mom and I took my little guy to the Cosley Zoo last Saturday.  I have never been to Cosley Zoo before, (I’d never even driven by!) so this was a brand-new experience for all of us.  If you’re like me and are venturing to the Cosley Zoo for the first time, you should know that it’s a very small zoo.  Being from the Chicago area, I’m used to visiting the two very large zoos we have here (Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo), so I guess I just assumed that Cosley Zoo would be similar.  It isn’t…but for me that was a really good thing.  Cosley Zoo is perfect for younger kids (mine is 2 and a half) and it only takes about an hour to walk through and see it all.

Walking in, you’ll pass some picnic tables, the Wild Side Gift Shop and concession stand, and my son immediately noticed the sand pit (and asked why I didn’t bring his sand pail…oy!).

Cosley Zoo - Sand Box

After that, we saw their chickens and guinea hogs before exploring the big red caboose.

Cosley Zoo Caboose

My son loved the activities inside the caboose like a “Whose Feet Are These?” lift-the door game and some real horseshoes too!

Cosley Zoo Caboose Collage

We had a ball watching the many ducks hanging out at the duck pond.  There are also certain times that you can feed the ducks for only $1/cup!

Cosley Zoo Duck Pond

The Vern Kiebler Learning Center was also really fun.  Outside were some cows, horses, and llamas; and inside were sheep, goats and hissing cockroaches!

Cosley Zoo Barn

I only wish Cosley Zoo offered more animal interactions.  We were able to touch a turtle, but that was the only close encounter we had with any of the animals.

Cosley Zoo Turtle

I did read, however, that if you book a birthday party at Cosley Zoo (which I am seriously considering), part of the package includes an animal visit.

Cosley Zoo Duck Pond Pavilion

Overall, we had a great time while visiting Cosley Zoo.  Next time we’ll be sure to bring a picnic lunch!  The best part of the day though?  Just spending some time with my little man.  Experiencing things through his eyes has been such a joy to watch.  Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Cosley Zoo Fun

Chicagoland Spots: Illinois Holocaust Museum {Review}

Venue: Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Website: http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/

Location: 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, Illinois 60077.

Hours: Mon–Wed, Fri: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am – 8pm; Weekends: 11am – 4pm

Admission:

Adult Admission*: $12.00
Seniors (65+): $8.00
Students (12-22): $8.00
Children (5-11): $6.00

Parking: Free – plentiful

Illinois Holocaust Museum

Our Experience: I visited the Illinois Holocaust Museum with my 14-year-old daughter. I’ll start by saying that it has been a bit difficult to get my teenager to spend a little time with me.  Of course, at her age she would much rather hang out with her friends.  Miraculously, she agreed to accompany me to the museum – and we are both glad that she did.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum was an experience neither one of us will forget.  When she was younger (probably 9-years-old) we visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.  At the time, I believe she was too young to fully appreciate what the museum had to offer and wasn’t really interested in the stories or exhibits.  Fast-forward 5 years later and she was completely engrossed in the survivor’s recounts of their experiences.  She read every plaque, studied every picture, and viewed every film.  She was moved, and I was extremely proud of her.  It helped that she had recently studied WWII in school and had the educational foundation of the atrocities of the Holocaust.  However, this level of interest, coming from a fashion and beauty-obsessed teenager, was truly remarkable.

Illinois Holocaust Museum_Top View

The museum itself was beautifully done.  The permanent exhibit is setup chronologically beginning with Jewish life prior to the war and ending with local (Chicago area) survivor’s stories and a poignant film prompting viewers to take a stand against genocide. While I was genuinely interested in each and every story, artifact and photo shown throughout the exhibit, one image in particular affected me in a way I won’t soon forget.  As we rounded one corner I looked up and saw an image of a mother standing in a field tightly holding a young child.  Standing a few feet behind her was a German soldier yielding an rifle aimed directly at her head.  The woman, and her child, were seconds away from being executed in front of a mass grave.  I can hardly describe the emotions I felt in that moment.  The thought of being in that position with my own son was almost too much to bear.  The poignancy of that image, and many others like it, make a visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum a necessity if you are in the Chicago area.

Overall: My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our day at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.  If you are planning a visit, be sure to set aside at least 4 hours to be able to see all the museum has to offer.  This museum’s exhibits aren’t as graphic as some of the images shown at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC so the content is likely suitable for children over the age of 12.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review.  This was simply a mother/daughter outing that I wanted to share.

Chicagoland Spots: Kohl Children’s Museum {Review}

Venue: Kohl Children’s Museum

Website: http://www.kohlchildrensmuseum.org/

Location: 2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview, IL.  Approx. 45 minutes from Chicago.

Hours: Mon–Sat 9:30am – 5:00pm; Sun 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Admission: $9.50 per person, kids under the age of 1 are free

Parking: Free – plentiful

Kohl Children's Museum

Our Experience: Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8.  We tried to visit them all, but you would really need to plan to spend the entire day to do that – there’s just SO MUCH to do!  Here’s what we thought about the exhibits we did get to see:

Kohl Eggs to ChicksAdventures in Art: I was surprised to see that the art studio at the museum was fairly large. We were lucky when we visited the museum. because the Adventures in Art exhibit also housed the Eggs to Chicks exhibit (temporarily on display through May 13, 2013). My son was mesmerized watching the baby chicks take their first steps under the heat lamps, and all the Adventures in Art activities centered around the baby chicks.  There were coloring sheets as well as educational activities for some of the older children.

All About Me: Unfortunately, we didn’t spend too much time at this exhibit as my son was immediately attracted to the large trains (part of the City on the Move exhibit) on the other side of the room.  There was, however, a pretty cool scale you could hop on to tell you how many gallons of milk you weighed, but with both my husband’s an my recent weight gain, we were a little scared to see how much we would amount to. Smile

Baby Nursery: Again, we didn’t spend too much time here, but this exhibit allowed the kids to play “doctor” to some baby dolls.  There were even some x-rays you could view on a light box that I thought was pretty neat.

Kohl Car CareCar Care: This was our first stop at the museum. My toddler loved testing out the tracks with the numerous trucks the museum provided. He must’ve thought that was all we were there to do because he resisted when we tried to redirect him to some of the other activities this exhibit offered.

As a family, we enjoyed walking through the car wash together, although the look on my son’s face prompted my husband to say, “I think he would freak out if he was in the car and we were at a real car wash.” On this I most definitely agree with my husband – the noise would likely scare him! Overall, the trucks and race track in this exhibit delighted my son and we loved watching him have a blast!

Kohl Race Track

City on the Move: We probably spent most of our time at this exhibit.  How could we not, with the train-loving toddler we have?!?!  I loved how this exhibit was centered around the city of Chicago with trains, skyscrapers, and the ability to create city scenes using shapes! (Although my toddler’s obsession with “order” only caused him to organize the shapes by both type and color – but he sure had fun doing it!)

Kohl El Train

The main draw of this exhibit for us was the giant train table – complete with holes in the center so kids could play from multiple angles. My son loved it (possibly a little too much since he cried when it was time to go).

Cooperation Station:  This was a fun one!  On one activity, kids worked together – either by peddling, pushing buttons, or pulling handles – to inflate a balloon-like structure.

Kohl Grocery CartDominick’s: This grocery store exhibit was a big hit for my son.  He enjoyed pulling all his groceries off the shelf (just like mommy!) and pushing his grocery cart around the store.  It was nice seeing my son act a little bit like a grown-up. And he got a kick out of all the different fruits and vegetables on display.

The best part of the exhibit for me, was watching my son interact with his “cashier”. I enjoyed watching my little one interact with a complete stranger – and the boy was a fantastic cashier!Kohl Museum Checkout

Habitat Park: We visited the museum in the winter and, unfortunately, this exhibit is weather-dependent and was closed.

Hands On House: This was another exhibit that we saw, but just didn’t spend a lot of time on.  Next time, for sure!  Kids could participate in constructing a house and decorating it on the inside!

Nature Explorers: This exhibit allows kids to explore different plants and animals. My son had fun “digging” for different insects and worms (much to my dismay – I hate bugs!)  He kept holding them up close to his eye to get a better view.  Boys will be boys, I guess! Smile

Kohl Museum Insect Dig

Pet Vet: This was another fun one!  We have a dog at home so it was interesting to watch him care for the animals, brush them, and put them back in their crates. Just wish he’d show a little more interest at home. Winking smile

Kohl Museum Pet Care

Play Library: There were plenty of books for us to browse through, but she best part of the Play Library for us was the computer pre-loaded with my son’s favorite book, Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom. I swear he can recite the entire book!

Potbelly Sandwich Works: We didn’t visit this exhibit on our visit because we were a bit pressed for time, but it looked like a fun one where kids could build their own sandwiches – just like at the restaurant!

Powered by Nature: Honestly, I don’t think we even noticed this one. From the pictures on the website, it looks like this was near the trains so, again, it’s really no surprise that we didn’t get to explore this one – we were too busy playing choo choo!

Ravinia Festival Music Makers: What kid doesn’t enjoy making noise?!?! There were so many instruments here and I think my son experimented with each and every one!  But why his mouth was open in every single photo I took of him playing the drums is a mystery to me. Guess he was letting out his inner rock star! LOL

Kohl Museum Ravinia Drums

Kohl Museum Water WorksWater Works: Of course the water exhibit would be a favorite for most kids.  It was a bit too “wet” for me because I was concerned that his clothes would be too wet to step back out in the cold weather, but my fears were unfounded as he was totally fine.  Just mesmerized by the droplets of water falling from the many tubes in this exhibit.

Overall: We did have a great time at the Kohl Children’s Museum, BUT it was a little too crowded for my taste.  Granted, we did visit on a Saturday morning, but I would probably prefer to visit during the week.  We still have tons more to see at this museum so I’m sure we’ll be back real soon.  For those of you that may be planning a visit, it might be helpful to know that there is a restaurant on-site, Cosi Café, that sells items like pizza and sandwiches.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary admission to the Kohl Children’s Museum to facilitate this review.  However, all stories and experiences are 100% my own.

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