Our Summer Essentials (mommy & son)

Summer is here and I couldn’t be more excited to explore the city on my days off with Noah. I want to try to soak in as much time enjoying it before the dreaded, tiring, third trimester hits.

There are a few essentials we both use that you could probably find in my diaper bag on a daily basis. I feel like everybody has those few things we all use during the warmer months right? Some of these things you could find at Target, Amazon or even Walgreens. If you have any questions about any of them, send them my way. And I would love to hear some of your go-to-products for the summer!

summer essentials for mom and toddler for parks, beach, and pool. Sunscreen, skin and hair products

summer essentials for mom and toddler for parks, beach, and pool. Sunscreen, skin and hair products

summer essentials for mom and toddler for parks, beach, and pool. Sunscreen, skin and hair products

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Picky Toddler: Tips for meal time

I am going to admit it, Noah is in a terrible, terrible food stage right now. He is very picky and will eat the same thing every day if he could. On days I make something new for him, he just won’t eat it. He might even go for 4 plus hours without eating, he just isn’t interested. We have tried so many things like smoothies, fruit, applesauce and no luck. I spoke with our pediatrician and apparently it’s very normal for his age, but it’s driving me crazy!

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Our Toddler Nighttime Routine

I always heard when Noah was an infant how important a bedtime routine was. Newborns don’t really have any sense of day or night, but was told to try to develop a habit early and they would eventually adapt to it. Our nighttime routine has changed a little bit since Noah is now in full throttle toddler years, but there have been some things that have stayed consistent. We have consistently read to him since he was 6 weeks old, there isn’t anything cuter than a book in his chubby little fingers!

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My Lil’ Kicker: Soccer Lessons with Lil’Kickers

Soccer lessons at Lil' Kickers

Staying indoors all winter long with a toddler can be really, really boring. To help bare with the cold months, we started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months and we LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop children’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise. They promote players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part). My favorite part? Noah get’s to get channel some of his energy all while having a positive learning experience. It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

Ages: 18 months – 9 years
Classes: Weekday & Weekend
Spring Session: Mar 19th – Jun 17th

You can book a free trial class using this link.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

(TheChicagoGoodLife is a partner of Lil’Kickers)

Winter Fun for Everyone: Indoor places for the Family

Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!

Chicago:

Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.

TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater

NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes Monthly – 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play! Offer expires January 31. 

TIP:  There is a parking lot on the side on the building.

NY Kids Club- Chicago

Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.

TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.

Bubbles Academy

Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.

TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.

Purple Playroom

Sod Room– Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago.  They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible.  They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.

TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.

Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

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Lesson 1- He definitely warmed up 🙂

Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

LIl' Kickers soccer practice

Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.

TIP: You can get a MINI “PASSPORT” (only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.

Tinkergarten–  All classes take place outside at a local park. Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.

TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season

Zumbini– Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.

TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).

Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers’ Mondays from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.

TIP: Free with admission.

Kids playroom at the Adler Planetarium

Kidsyard–  Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.

TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.

Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.

TIP: Free parking and Wifi

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Chicago-land Suburbs:

Kohls Children’s Museum– Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.

TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.

Adventure Playland– Located in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old.  Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child

TIP: They have punch cards available.

Adventure Playland

Fun Republic Play– Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.

TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.

Wonder Works  Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes six permanent experience zones and hosts parties, field trips, concerts and other fun, educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden. Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult

TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.

Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.

TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars

Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.

TIP: They have won for Best Playroom in 2017.

Gather for kids in downtown Evanston

Gather in Evanston

Free:

Story Time at Barnes and Noble

Dawn- Marie’s Toddler Jam Sessions

Garfield Park Conservatory

Harold Washington Library

Swedish American Museum

Free Thursdays at the Nature Museum

French Story Time (Various locations)

When all else fails:

Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences. 

HOOT for Kids- For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.

Bramble Box– Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.

Curiosity Pack– Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.

My Giant Box– My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! ThB001AQDA50ere’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.

Building Tiles Set for Kids

Magnetic building blocks are hands on learning tool. They can be combined in so many different ways! It includes a set of 102 pieces, including magnetic alphabet blocks & numbers. 

With a few more winter months left, I hope some of these ideas help out your little ones (and you!)

Until next time,

Christine

 

Our Little Goldfish

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Growing up, I was always around water and was taught how to swim at a very young age. In fact, I remember taking swimming lessons with my mom when I was 8 years old. Manny, on the other hand, learned how to swim in his adulthood. He has a slight fear of water and we did not want to pass that same feeling along to Noah. I view swimming as a life skill and it is extremely important to teach him at a very young age, plus it’s a fun experience for all of us!

Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our new favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age, we are in the water with him). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

At first, Noah cried and kept trying to get out of the pool. I never felt embarrassed or worried what the teacher would think. She worked with Noah and did not force him to do anything, just made modifications along the way. During lesson 2, he went completely under water. I was shocked! It actually took my breath away, but he loved it and does it in the bath now 🙂

By lesson 4, he was finally using the barbell, kicking his feet and using his arms to paddle. We couldn’t believe how much progress he was making. Not only is he learning how to swim, he is more confident in the water compared to the first lesson. This is priceless.

But one of the best features is there are showers, soap, lotion, diapers, wipes, hair dryers, and changing tables. Everything is there for you! Even when it’s super cold, Noah just plays with the various toys and activities until we are all dry and ready to go. He is learning such an important skill he will use his entire life and we are all having the best time while doing it.

They are also offering a great holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicago-land area, they offer swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12. This year, the holiday gift package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a gift basket of Goldfish retail items

All for $189 (*regular price $220). Such a great idea to gift an experience you can do as a family in the new year!

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Until next time…

Christine

Summer Isn’t Over Just Yet! Finish the Summer Strong with Children Events in the City

Summer is slowly coming to an end, but the children summer events in Chicago are still in full swing. I have rounded out a list of some of our favorite kids events in the city for $10 dollars or less.

  1. Sing Along at Lincoln Park Zoo–  Children can sing, dance, and clap along with Mr. Singer every Wednesday and Friday at 9:15 and 10 a.m. in the Main Barn of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo. Mr. Singer will play original songs and classic sing alongs. There is always a wide range of ages, children bring their own instruments and can request songs as well. The best part is after the concert, you can visit the petting zoo, feed the cows and goats and then have a picnic at Green City Market (Wednesdays only). All FREE!
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    Green City Market on Wednesdays (Our House Pizza)

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    Noah had so much fun at our picnic at Green City Market

    2. Monica & Andy-  Miss Alexis from Bubbles Academy performs every Tuesday from 10:30- 11a.m., at the Monica and Andy store at 2038 N. Halsted. If you haven’t seen a Miss Alexis concert, we love her! She has sing alongs with small musical instruments. props and is overall very engaging! She will explain how each song helps learning in different stages of development and even incorporates sign language into her performance.

    Noah is 18 months and he is one of the oldest that attends, so I think this might be more for babies and crawlers. Although, he loves it and we will continue to go. $10 dollars.

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3. Whole Foods- Lincoln Park At the Lincoln Park Whole Foods Market on 1550 North Kingsbury Street, there is FREE Bubbles Academy children’s concert every Wednesday and Thursday morning from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m with Miss Alexis. I always like this Whole Foods because it is large and has lots of parking available.

At the Whole Foods in Lakeview on 3201 N. Ashland Avenue, Sarah Jane performs every Thursday from 10-10:30am on the Porch. It does very crowded, so I recommend going early. TIP: They sometimes give out yummy snacks for the kids too.

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4. The StoryBook Mom-  The StoryBook mom is an interactive read aloud is for all ages. This is great way to introduce young children to theatre, storybooks, music and engage their senses in an immediate and interactive way. She performs at various locations across the city. Monday’s at Shop Little Threads in Roscoe Village on 2033 W. Roscoe at 10:30am. She is also at Monica & Andy and Purple Monkey Playroom on Wednesdays. All the weekly performances are FREE. 

5. Park at Wrigley –

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Photo Courtesy of Park at Wrigley

The Old Town School of Folk Music, Wiggleworms, performs every Tuesday at 10-10:45am, except on game days. It is an interactive performance with music, movement and dancing. They will even have shakers, bubbles, singing, dancing and more. It is geared toward children 6 and younger along with their caregivers.

There are so many more events across the city like FREE classes at Home Depot, or FREE bowling Kids Bowl .Jump on the Water Taxi for $6-9 dollars (depending on the distance) or all the FREE family and child friendly events at Maggie Daley Park. 

Let me know what you think!

~xoxo~

Christine

Picnic Essentials

There are many items we need for the park, but there are a few that we MUST have before we leave the house for long periods of time. Now that Noah is a toddler, some of the items are necessary to keep him entertained and make motherhood just a little easier on our summer adventures.

This waterproof picnic blanket is the best! It folds up really small, easy to clean up spills and has handles to make it easy to carry. Picnic Blanket ( 70x80 extra large fold & portable )for family travel , camping , outdoor concert tablecloth lawn or beach mat with color stripes , best kids water-resistant mat tote bag with handle Read more at Motherhood & Family

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Our Summer Must-Haves

The heat of summer is IMG_4804here and there are a few products that are must haves for us this season. Now that Noah is 17 months, we are enjoying the pool, being outside and staying up late. But I am not going to lie, one of my “mom triggers” is the sun and his sensitive skin. All moms have a few triggers like nap schedules, food, etc. The sun is mine, I will admit it. So the products below definitely work for us. Hopefully, for you too! Read more at Motherhood & Family

Toddler Meal Planning Made Easy- Little Harvest

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As soon as Noah started to eat solids around 6 months, my husband and I were so excited for him to try EVERYTHING. Our plan was to cook all his meals ourselves, meal prep for the week and have him it only the best, organic food. Well, fast forward to 16 months now, we haven’t been as good. Meal prep is hard for us sometimes, because like everyone, we are busy. So I did a little searching and found read more at CGL Baby.