FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

12 Dec 2017 Permalink

I’m always looking for fun, family-centered activities to do with the kids. So, when we were invited to check out the unveiling of the new show at Medieval Times Chicago featuring a queen, I was all about it!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament launched in North America in 1983. They have nine castles across the U.S., and for the first time in their 34-year tradition of casting a king as the show’s lead, they now have a queen who will be the star. (It’s about time!)

Besides for all the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement, it’s so important these days to show how a woman can be a strong leader who’s fully in charge. (Thank goodness Disney started working on their female characters, too. How many more helpless princesses do we really need waiting for their knights in shining armor?!)  And don’t get me started on the lack of strong female roles in children’s books.

I digress…

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

One of the very cool things about Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is that their actual physical building for the tournament is a castle. Yes, a castle. Julia and Ivan spotted it while we were driving on our way there. That sight got them so pumped for the show! And, when we walked in through those giant castle doors, we spotted our friends from All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink. It made the night that much more special.

Medieval Times Chicago

Medieval Times Chicago

When you enter the castle, you are assigned a section to sit in and a knight to cheer for. We were proud supporters of the Red and Yellow Knight! We sat front row and cheered him on his jousting and sword fighting. (The kids were yelling so much that they woke up with sore throats the next day!)

While all this was going on, dinner got served…medieval style. If you love eating with your fingers like children do, then you’ll love Medieval Times! No silverware or cutlery is provided. It’s part of what makes the night that much more memorable. Not to mention, the four-course meal was really delicious!

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

We must have done a great job cheering for the Red and Yellow Knight. He ended up winning the tournament! The queen came down from her viewing post to congratulate him, and then the knight picked a “princess” from the audience. To Julia’s dismay, she was not picked. Maybe next time, Sweetheart.

Dinner and a show is such a great idea for any family! Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament does an excellent job creating a fun, entertaining experience.

My top seven reasons for taking the kids to see a show there?

  1. You get to see professionals and trained horses put on a great live performance.
  2. A female character now leads the show.
  3. There is a special unique medieval “atmosphere” that no other place provides.
  4. The kids get to scream as loudly as they want to without me yelling back at them.
  5. The kids actually enjoy a live performance during their dinner as opposed to watching a show on their iPads.
  6. The meal was so good that Ivan, the boy who only eats Hebrew National Hotdogs, actually ATE it!
  7. I didn’t have to make dinner or wash dishes.

FAMILY NIGHT OUT: Medieval Times Chicago

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament provided us with tickets to the show. All opinions are my own.

MUST SEE: Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago

07 Dec 2017 Permalink

The kids and I had the pleasure of checking out the Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago for the second year in a row, and boy, they didn’t disappoint!!

Swissotel Chicago is known for it’s sleek accommodations and luxurious rooms and suites. The Santa Suite itself is located in Swissotel Chicago’s 5-room Presidential Suite.

[The] Presidential Suite is transformed into a stunningly whimsical display, only suitable for a visit from Mr. Claus. This over-the-top space is decorated in the spirit and magic of the season, complete with twelve Christmas trees, a table set for Santa and his special guests along with snacks and giveaways to spread good cheer.

Can I just say, the inside of the suite was definitely breath taking, but that view of Chicago outside those Presidential Suite windows…what a gorgeous sight!!

Each year, the Santa Suite is decorated with a theme. This year’s theme is The Island of Misfit Toys. Santa’s dining room table is designed to accommodate his themed guests. We saw donuts decorated for each of the Misfit Toy characters (from the movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of the Misfit Toys)…and they each had a hot chocolate and other goodies at their place setting.

Besides for the tablescape, Christmas trees were displayed around the 5-room Presidential Suite also representing the Misfit Toys. Our favorite trees were the ones for the Train With Square Wheels and a Spotted Elephant. The Spotted Elephant tree had pink, elephant-shaped hand-blown ornaments on in! It was so cute!!

Of course there were TONS of sugary treats for the kids to indulge in. The suite had cookie decorating stations and big bowls of candy. There was even a hot chocolate station! Ivan decided to fix himself some hot chocolate. He actually put in only a little hot chocolate and then started loading his cup up with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Except, they weren’t chocolate chips…they were espresso beans!! Don’t worry. We stopped that catastrophe real quick.

There was also a station set up for kids to write Santa a letter. I was pretty impressed with these two! They actually kept their requests fairly short. (Phew!) Ivan asked for Legos and Minecraft, and Julia asked for American Girl Doll accessories and Shopkins. I think Santa will be able to handle those wishes this year!

Of course the highlight of Swissotel Chicago was seeing the main man himself! The kids, although a little shy, were excited to see Santa! After all, it’s been a year since they saw him last! Mrs. Claus wasn’t in Chicago this time, but we told Santa to send her our best.

Swissotel Chicago’s Santa Suite is now open for visitors!! And in the spirit of the holidays, visiting the Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago is FREE for both guests and the public!

You can visit the Santa Suite from now until December 25th on weekdays from 4 to 8 pm and weekends from 11 am to 8 pm. Check with Swissotel Chicago here for more info!

We were invited to the Santa Suite for a media preview event. All opinions are my own. First and third images provided by Swissotel Chicago.

MAKING EVERYONE HAPPY

04 Dec 2017 Permalink

dark purple coat, black skinny jeans, black boots

dark purple coat, black skinny jeans, black boots

dark purple coat, black skinny jeans, black boots

Over the weekend the kids and I took a trip to a furniture store opening. While we were there, Julia and Ivan got their faces painted, had balloon animals made, and sat with Santa for the third time this season. (They better not get used to all that lap time!)

We stopped for lunch and hit up a couple stores on our way home. Shopping on a Saturday afternoon 20 something days before Christmas with two kids is not my idea of a good time, but I made up for it.

After the stores, I started looking for a open field or park to take pictures. I wanted to take some pictures of the kids to create Christmas cards, and I also wanted Julia to take my outfit pictures.

Lo and behold, we came across a great spot with a cute little creek and bridges and hills. I had Julia take my pictures first. She was totally getting into photag mode! She was moving around and trying different angles. She loved helping me and I loved seeing her enjoy being on the other side of the camera.

Ivan, on the other hand, could care less. He was running up and down the hills like a madman.

As this was all happening, I noticed that the grass was cut differently in different sections. Like, in a very organized way. Then, I noticed that there were little boxes spread out on this hilly field where the three of us were. And just as I put it all together, I spotted a group of golfers coming our way.

We were on a freaking golf course! Don’t even ask me how that happened…

Julia and I finished up the pictures, but the kids weren’t ready to leave. They wanted to roll down the hills of the golf course.

You know, we already embarrassed ourselves enough, so I let them. I let my kids roll down the hills at a golf course while a group of golfers were a hole away. And as my kids rolled down the hills again and again with their laughter and giggles, I snapped some of the cutest pictures.

Sometimes I have such a hard time letting go and enjoying the moment. But on Saturday afternoon on the hills of a golf course, in front of a group of golfers, the only thing I cared about were those smiles on my kids’ faces.

ChiTAG 2017: Our Top 3 Favorite Picks

29 Nov 2017 Permalink

ChiTAG 2017

For the last three years the kids and I have been going to The Chicago Toy & Game Fair at Navy Pier and every single year, we LOVE it!

ChiTAG is all about playing and having fun! Their mission is to…

Build community through play by providing opportunities for people of all ages (friends, kids, families, inventors, designers, industry) to connect with one another and experience the joy and value of play. We envision a friendly, more creative and more tolerant world with people discovering they have more in common than not through the power of play.

ChiTAG 2017

TOP PICK #1

Each year there’s some BIG spotlight events to check out. Last year we couldn’t wait to see the giant Pom Pom Wow structure from Maya Toys. This year we super excited to see the massive Soggy Doggy game from Spin Master!

ChiTAG 2017

As soon as we entered the Chicago Toy & Game Fair this year, we made a beeline for Spin Master’s giant, and I mean GIANT, Soggy Doggy game. The Soggy Doggy game itself is one of the hot games of the holiday season, but this life-sized board game was in a category of it’s own. Julia and Ivan loved being on the board game as if they were the pieces themselves. And thankfully, they didn’t get too wet!

ChiTAG 2017

TOP PICK #2

During the day on Saturday, the Illinois State Yoyo Contest was held during ChiTAG. First of all, I didn’t even know that yoyos were still a thing. And, I didn’t know that there were so many tricks that you could do with them! The kids and I sat and watched the contest for a good 30 minutes. Each contestant, who were all kids by the way, had about 60 seconds to perform. They came from all over the states and they were all beyond amazing! The youngest boy that I saw up on the stage was 9 years old!

ChiTAG 2017

TOP PICK #3

Even though there are so many new toys and games to see at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, sometimes you just gotta adore the classics! Ivan has been obsessed with all things Lego. I can’t blame him. I remember spending hours upon hours using my brothers’ Legos to build towers and castles…it’s a special feeling watching your own child enjoy the things that you did as a kid, too.

Ivan has a blast with Lego’s so much that during ChiTAG, he had to stop and build the ghost sample that they were handing out at the Lego booth.

ChiTAG 2017

When we got home, he surprised me even more by building a Lego car set all by himself!! I I definitely know what I’m getting him for Christmas. Now I just have to see where I can pick up Julia a giant Soggy Doggy game…