Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do-Division and Raise Super Heroic Readers

Check out Do Division Street Festival today 12-10pm.

Family Fun Fest
For the first time ever, Do-Division will have a dedicated family area! The Family Fun Fest activities include: Non-stop family stage entertainment presented by Adventure Stage Chicago with performances by artists such as Little Miss Ann Band, Hogwash IO, The Schnozberries, and others. There will be a bounce house and face painting, crafts and cookie decorating, petting zoo, pony rides and lots MORE! All proceeds from Family Fun Fest activities to support A.N. Pritzker School and LaSalle II Magnet School, neighborhood public elementary schools.

Today, we'll also be attending a free Super Heroics: Super Heros Needed writing workshop at 826Chi, culminating in a performance. 826CHI is located behind, and funded by, The Boring Store, a super secret spy shop, at the symmetrical address of 1331 N. Milwaukee. Workshops are for children in 1st grade through high school.

These fantastic, creative themed classes fill fast and are well worth signing up for. This summer we'll be doing writing workshops on themes like , Farmers Markets Harvest Hounds, Time Capsule Creations, Music and Lyrics, Student Book Club: The Twits,
Dig It! and An Archaeological Adventure. Raise good readers, starting today.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Smash Cake: Babycakes For All The Punk Kin

Bleeding Heart Bakery had a baby and it's name is SMASH CAKE. Our favorite punk purveyor of pasteries has spawned a kid friendly bakery on Lincoln, across the street and just south of Lincoln Park Tap. The grand opening is today till 6pm, if you wanna run by NOW. Otherwise, there will be ongoing craft projects every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-4pm where you can either stay with or drop off. I've listed the June and July schedules below (double click on any picture to enlarge).
JUNE Smash Cake Craft Events.

$10 per child, each additional child $8 (must be prepaid).
Includes juice/milk and cupcake.
3pm until approximately 4pm.

We will cancel and refund or reschedule if less than 5 children,
Wear clothes that can get dirty.

Featuring Hope Citron, a super awesome girl who is
patient, caring and super creative. Feel free to hang
out with your child or run some errands and come back!

June 2 - Make your own recycled paper.
June 4 - Tie dye - each child needs to bring t-shirt to be tie-dyed.
June 9 - Potato stamps.
June 11 - Bookmarks and book reading.
June 16 - Make your own play dough-no cook.
June 18 - Sock puppets.
June 23 - Masks.
June 25 - Paper plate maracas-march around room.
June 30 - Paint coffee cans or some type of cans for drums.

This colorful and awesome space is sure to be a big hit for birthday parties and crafty fun. There is a fun rack of adult and kid sized aprons for sale including pirate and Mexican sugar skull patterns. The mini art gallery is creative and eye catching.

Owner, Michelle Garcia, is a Mama herself, with a 4 year old son and a daughter about to turn 3, so she "gets" kids.   She managed to have her girl on 6-6-06--how punk is that?!   Smash Cake is a funky fun place where everything is brightly colored, scaled to kid size and touchable.

Smash Cake put on quite a party for the opening. Du-Jay enjoyed planting cilantro,

drawing monsters on the giant roll out butcher paper, and of course snacking on gourmet PB & Js and delectable mini cupcakes and brownies.

I was happy to see all the tattooed and pierced masses cavorting with their littles and working behind the counter

We even spotted a Windy City Rollers sticker among the others on the fridge declaring Eat Organic, Kiss Me I'm Organic, and I love herbs. Smash Cake employees are fans and rumor is,
a Roller girl may work at Bleeding Heart. Now we've had Roller girls sightings at Reggie's Rock Club, The Riviera, Big Hair and Kuma's Corner

Like it's parent, Smash Cake is committed to recycling. They're also organic and incredibly delicious.

Drop by and tell 'em ChiIL Mama sent you. I'm trying to convince them to carry spicy chocolate brownies at Smash Cake like they make at Bleeding Heart. They have some wicked HOT treats that are too intense for most kids, but I told them every kid will be accompanied by at least one parent. So far, everything at Smash Cake is sweet and palatable for all ages
. Back me up guys. Who likes it hot? There's nothing better than a brownie that can burn your tongue off.   Do I hear a Smash Cake ChiIL Mama Chili Brownie special?!   

They've been open a bit over a month, and are slowly getting discovered. It's so great to see new places opening when so many places are boarding up their windows these days. Swing by and show your support. The rockin' awesome desserts will make you glad you did.

Smash Cake
2961 N. Lincoln ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60657
(p) 773.281.2353
Open M-F 7am - 7pm
Michelle and Vinny Garcia

Smash Cake info :

M,W,F - 3pm - 4pm Childrens book readings w/ guest speakers.
M,W,F - Free cupcake w/ beverage purchase.
Served Daily - Coffee, sweets, soups, salads,and sandwiches.
Semi private or private parties available for your next child's birthday party!
Click here for party details :

We are updating our Twitter account with daily sandwich specials, new coffee flavors, and
many more things you need to check out!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mommy, I want a real, sharp, metal grown-up sword...

It began as a typical pre birthday query....

Me--"Sagie, is there something special you'd like for your 6th birthday?"

Sagezilla--"a sword."

Me--"But you have wooden swords and shields that you painted yourselves, from Ren Faire, and some plastic ones that make noise, up in the dress up bin with the knight costumes."

Zilla--"No, Mommy. I want a real, sharp, metal, grown-up sword."

Me-"I think the police would arrest me if we gave a real sword to a 6 year old!!"

Dug-"I don't think you'd find much use for it."

Zilla--"Oh, YES I WOULD."

After a week of earnestly explaining that a real sword was out of the question, she came up with an alternate plan. A barbie dream house? My little pony? Nope. The girl wanted a real bow and arrows.

We did a little research and found a child sized REAL compound bow that came with a wrist guard, quiver, 3 arrows and a paper target.
It's aptly named, Tiger, for all the crouching tiger-child archers out there, and is one of the few quality kids bows we found. It's generally recommended for kids a bit older, though, and the listings all emphasized that this is "Not A Toy".

There are a zillion toy bows, but most are cheaply made, poorly rated and really don't work. With this one, the kids can actually aim accurately and learn the sport of archery. The arrow even fits through a hole, to guard against it flopping off to the side.
It also has an adjustable draw that goes down to 10lbs.

Sagezilla has strong arms from 5 years of gymnastics, and is one super determined little girl, so I figured if any petite 6 year old could pull back 10lbs. it would be her. Until it arrived, though,
I was still concerned that it would be too much for her to handle and frustrating, but she LOVES it. She's had it out 3 days in a row and is getting decent at hitting the target already. Zilla's even being great about giving big bro and his friends a turn.

My fears about raising a girly girl are unfounded. I'm raising a pirate! The other day we were playing and Dad and I were King and Queen, big brother was the prince and Zilla was.... THE KNIGHT.

In case you are raising a little girl like mine, or want to be, here are a few of our favorite stories. The kids still love these two, but I began reading these to them during toddler hood: Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole and The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. Both are a fabulous antidote to all those other lame princesses sitting around waiting to be rescued or sleeping their lives away.

Recently, we've moved on to chapter books for family bed time reading. We've been thoroughly enjoying numerous Bruce Coville books. His Unicorn Chronicles have a mighty girl protagonist and are delightfully well written. We also highly recommend his Magic Shop series.

Then we were introduced to Cornelia Funke's fabulous fantasy books with great characters like Princess Igraine who runs away and dresses in knight drag and goes out to slay a dragon. Speaking of dragons, we're currently two books into the Dragon Slayer's Academy series by Kate McMullan.

So, here's to mighty girls who prefer archery to high heeled glass slippers. May all your quests and adventures be right on target.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I ♥ Faces--Silhouettes

I ♥ Faces-Silhouettes

I adore this photo of Supersonic Sagie at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. She learned how to do backward aerial somersaults on the pirate catapult here at the age of 5. Even in silhouette, you can tell she's laughing and super proud of herself. You can double click on the photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Super Rockin' Fun-- Summer Camp Style-- at 3 Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL

Summer Camp Unlike Any Other

**double click on any photos for a larger view**

We are all freshly back from 4 days of non stop music, art, camping and fun. It was a bit of a working vacation for us, since I scored a press pass to shoot footage for our documentary about families who take their young children to music festivals.
We got a bunch of great interviews, insightful commentary, and playful B-roll in the kids' area.

A highlight of the weekend was interviewing Jay Goldberg, mastermind behind Summer Camp, now in it's 8th year.

He was down to earth and happy to talk with us, when we caught up with him, power walking the festival grounds.

The guy really knows how to throw a party and keep things clean, well organized, safe and fun.

He makes a point to swing by the kids' area a hand full of times each day, to see how the next generation of music lovers is coming along.

We plan to shoot at Pitchfork, Phish and Lollapalooza later in the summer. If you live in the Chicago area, are a family that experiences music festivals together, and would like to be interviewed for our documentary, please post to the comments section of ChiIL Mama and we'll get in touch with you.

Adult tickets are $170, but Summer Fest was a lotta fest for the price. Children under 6 are still free with paying adults, and 6-12 year olds are half price, so families get a bit of a break. Every year the number of children grows at this family friendly fest. Inside, extra ice, beer and little necessities are available at two summer camp stores, and there are plenty of food vendors. No outside alcohol is allowed, but food is fine to bring.

With hundreds of bands, ranging from hip hop and alt rock to jam bands and country, Summer Camp, was a rockin' fun time this Memorial Day weekend.
One of the best things about multi band fests is that they often sit in with each other.

Friday, we loved seeing freaky guitar virtuoso, Buckethead,

rock out with
That 1 guy, a classically trained bass guitar player, strumming an odd metal, pipe-like instrument with mounted drums.
Saturday, Les Claypool played an amazing set with his masked band members then he sat in with jam band, Umphrey's Mcgee.

Sunday, Willie Nelson capped off a day, filled to the brim with great tunes and family fun.
We love introducing the kids to a variety of musical styles, and they thrive on the playful atmosphere. I told the kids that music fests are filled with grownups who wish they were still kids. All weekend, those childlike adults blew bubbles, wore silly costumes,

made magical mazes

and bungee swings in the woods,

hula hooped,
and played well with the actual children.

We heard music from 11am till 11pm, then let the young adults have the run of the woods without us for the bonfire and late night shows. Our kids managed to stay awake through a great fireworks show, during Umphrey's Mcgee's Saturday sets, but slept through all the late Moe performances. We pitched our tent near the Sunshine Stage, one of the two main stages. That way, we could hang at the campsite and still hear and see the stage when the kids fell asleep.

Despite the joy of staying up past bedtime, the kids still popped up at dawn, raring to go and asking how soon the kids' area would open.

When we first went to Summer Camp in 2004, "kids' camp" was one small table with some craft
supplies. Now there's an entire area dedicated to the littlest rockers.

Like last year, the water balloon launchers were back,

as were the inflatable ball,

hair wraps,
hemp bracelet making, balloon hats,

sand table, face painting and a tent full of craft supplies. This year they added a parachute and drum lessons with a pro.The kids' staff is phenomenal and so dedicated the same people come back year after year. Last year, Sagezilla was at an evening show and excitedly exclaimed, "I see my friend with the fat hair (dredlocks)!"The golf cart parade was a huge hit again. Kids camp ran Friday through Sunday, 11-5pm and everything was free and included with admission.

Summer Camp had a greener twist this year with bins marked for recycling, compostable, and garbage, to reduce the impact on the environment. Green team volunteers were stationed to assist. There was an area to recycle cell phones and non profit groups enlightening the masses on eco-issues like global warming and the plight of the bears and the bees.

The fest children did their part to conserve by composting between their toes and not showering for 4 days to save water!

Yoga classes in the Soulshine Tent and family yoga in the kids area
were even offered every morning.
And food vendors not only offered the usual fest fare, like funnel cakes, but an eclectic and international range of foods, including vegetarian and vegan options. Outside food was also welcome at camp sites, so we brought coolers and made affordable "home cooked" camping favs, and even scored some watermelon from generous neighbors.

The only difficult thing to negotiate with a family of little ones was the parking policy. All cars stay in the lot and you have to "hike in" to the campsites. There were a plethora of golf carts and an endlessly circling wagon to help schlep camping gear in and out of the grounds. And people got creative, loading up kid wagons, toboggans, wheelbarrows, and jogging strollers. Still, whatever doesn't kill ya makes you stronger. I've got a few blisters, a bunch of photos, great memories, new earrings and bigger biceps to show for the weekend.

Thank you Summer Camp. We had a blast. Till next year.....................