Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Win Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back To School Combo ($42 Value)

School is upon us and summer may be coming to an end, but Mabel's Labels are always in season.

Our sampler of Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo just arrived in the mail and it rocks!!    The kids were so excited with their new labels and happily set to work claiming everything.   They promptly tagged their new school backpacks with the adorable mini dog tags, then tracked down their lunch boxes, reusable water bottles, and school supplies, to protect from look alike confusion. 

Sagezilla had a spy themed play day, so she Mabel Labeled all her treasured spy gear, so there would be no ownership confusion later.   Du-Jay did the same to all our flying objects like Frisbees, balls and outdoor toys that often disappear at parks and at the beach.   

Du-Jay picked the lizard in brights and Sagezilla picked the skull and crossbones, also in brights.   We opted to add the kids' names and my cell number, to up the chances of recovering lost objects.   I've tried three different label brands and was quite impressed with Mabel's.    They're easy to peel, hold up to washing, have long enough lines for a name and number, and they have a great selection of styles and packages.

We've also tried the messy, cramp inducing Sharpie way of labeling everything.   We've tried iron on and sew in clothing labels.   Like I have time to sew little labels in stuff?!    We've also tried going label-less, with a disastrous rate of missing objects.

It may sound like a chunk of change, but it only takes a few key items recovered before a pack of quality labels more than pays for itself.    We were elated to get back a $100 labeled North Face fleece that was accidentally forgotten.

ChiIL Mama's celebrating back to school season with a sweet deal for you.   Enter here for your chance to win Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo ($42.00 value).    Enter here from now through September 13th at midnight.    Our winner will be announced Wednesday, the 14th.    Good luck!

One of ChiIL Mama's readers will win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo in your choice of colors and design.   Open to Canada and the US. 

The Ultimate Back-to-School Combo™ includes all the durable, waterproof labels needed to keep your kids' stuff out of the lost and found. Available only until September 30th, get this bestselling Combo before it's gone.

Special Offer:
Add an extra sheet of 40 Skinny-Minis™ (same name, same design) for just $11.95!
Choose from 6 limited edition Classic colour palettes or 27 Colourful Label Out Loud™ designs, plus 6 exclusive Ultimate Back-to-School Combo motifs available for both lines.
  • Skinny-Minis are dishwasher and microwave safe
  • Tag Mates™ are washer and dryer safe
  • Shoe Labels and Teeny Tags™ are waterproof and UV resistant
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • 50 Tag Mates™
  • 40 Skinny-Minis™
  • 16 Shoe Labels
  • 2 Teeny Tags™
  • Tag Mates™ : 21mm x 10mm (13/16" x 3/8")
  • Skinny-Minis™ : 38mm x 8mm (1-1/2" x 5/16")
  • Shoe Labels: 33mm x 33mm (1.3" x 1.3")
  • Teeny Tags™ : 30mm x 20mm (1-1/4" x 3/4")
Names on labels are printed exactly as typed, to a maximum of 20 characters.

Back To School With Marshalls & TJ Maxx

Have your kids been living the rock n roll lifestyle all summer...late nights, loads of music fests, and funky clothes?    Even future rockstars need a good education.   You can ease the transition and show your kids that school rocks, with fun fashions and accessories from Marshalls and TJ Maxx, without maxing out your credit cards.

Last week I scored big at TJ Maxx, where I picked up a backpack that says Girls Rock all over it, a safe (BPA free) lunch box, and a skull themed school supply kit Sagezilla loved.   

We also found several rockin' Dollie and Me outfits, so Sage Ani can match her mini me, Kanani, American Girl Doll of the Year.    Most clothes were less than half the suggested retail we bought 2!

If you're stuck with a uniform school, like we are, there is still a decent selection of high quality, designer, cotton, uniform approved apparel, too.   And when you're rockin' the white or navy on navy blue, accessories are even more critical, as they're the once place your children can let  their individuality shine.    We stocked up on bright, funky striped socks in a bunch of colors so Sagezilla can rock her intentional miss match style with flair.

As a freelance writer, I live in a seasonally strange land where I'm often hired to write about sled hills and skating rinks during an August heat wave.  When it comes to school season in the blogosphere, where deadlines are shorter and pieces more timely, I have the opposite situation.    We're in a "year round" city Montessori school and we've been back for close to 4 weeks, now.   So, back to school seems like ancient history.

Still, I was more than happy to drop my kids off for some higher learning and high tail it over to TJ Maxx in downtown Chi-Town for breakfast, a mini-fashion show, 

and some shopping fun with Chicago mom and blogger, Audrey.    

I've always liked treasure hunting at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but even I was surprised how often their inventory changes (More than 10,000 new items are delivered each week to every storeand how great their deals are on high end, designer accessories.  Marshalls and T.J.Maxx’s buyers are the ultimate treasure hunters – continuously searching the globe for amazing deals to bring back to their stores.  How do they offer these amazing finds at such great values?

1.   Size:  There is tremendous buying power behind two national chains. T.J. Maxx has more than 950 stores in the US. Marshalls has more than 870 stores in the US and Puerto Rico.

2.  Buying closer to need: Traveling 40+ weeks per year to negotiate with more than 14,000 vendors in over 60 countries (vs. department stores who buy seasonally) offers more opportunity to score great deals.

3.  Company owned distribution centers: Marshalls and T.J.Maxx’s nationwide distribution system allows their buyers to purchase merchandise up until the last minute of any given season – not only allowing them to respond to trends much more quickly than other retailers (who buy several seasons in advance), but also allows them to “swoop in” and negotiate a better deal by waiting until a vendor is highly motivated to sell.

4.  No sales ever: Off-price stores offer low prices every day, so the customer never has to wait for a sale.  About twice a year, at the end of a season, any unsold merchandise will go on clearance, providing even further customer savings.  

Fashion – It must be a fashion classic or an on-trend, current season style.
Quality – It must be first quality. We never compromise, ever
Brand – It must be a designer or brand name that customers know, trust and desire
Price – It must be negotiated to sell for up to 60 percent less than customers will find in a department or specialty store.
All must be present in order for an item to be sold at Marshalls and T.J.Maxx.
So, embrace fall fashion fun and back to school season treasure hunting here.


Like their older siblings, fashionable little boys and girls can dress to impress on the first day back to school by showcasing their personal style. At T.J.Maxx, students can mix and match must-have trends to create a look that’s all their own.  

“With more than 10,000 new pieces of merchandise arriving weekly, our stores are stocked with the back-to-school must haves for every child,” said T.J.Maxx style expert, Laura McDowell.  “Kids will love the styles and parents will appreciate the prices, making T.J.Maxx a great one-stop shopping destination!”

Here are some of the latest trends to have in their wardrobe as they head back to school this year:

From sweater tunics and legging sets to more sophisticated denim ensembles, little girls will flaunt their individual style with some of the following trends:
  • Tops:  Long and short sleeve tops in stripes and two-fer styles; some will even come with attached necklaces.
  • Sweaters:  Sweaters and sweater dresses with cowl necks, belts, hoods and dolman sleeves. 
  • Jeans:  Skinny and bootleg jeans in dark washes with belts, back pocket detail and embellished legs.
  • Outerwear:  Hooded fleece, pleather jackets, brightly colored trench coats and double breasted pea coats.

Whether boys prefer athletic attire or the more stylish looks of their favorite TV 
personalities,   this year is all about individual style.  Top trends include:

  • Athletic Wear: Performance fleece jackets, short and long sleeve tops, basketball shorts and pants.
    • Jeans:  Khakis are out and jeans are coming in darker washes with back pocket details, distressing and whiskering at the knees and pockets
    • Tops:  Tees in vintage styles with both short and long sleeve as well as polos in solids and stripes.  
    • Outerwear:  Zip-up hoodies in solids, stripes or with graphic prints 
All of the school supplies and accessories kids need to head back to the classroom:
  • Athletic style and movie character back packs and messenger bags. 
Popular character and tween-styled school supplies, locker décor and lunch totes.
Little girl and big girl bath and body and make-up sets.
Handbags for every age with sequins, quilted patterns for young and old and pet inspired over-the-shoulder bags for the littlest fashionistas.

Whether you start back after Labor Day or you've been crackin' the books since the first week of August, savings is always in season!

Disclaimer:    Bloggers were given a $50 gift card and merch goody bag for our time, but all opinions expressed are my own.

G is for...

Green hair, great handmade Mexican wrestler masks, and goofy art at Boulevard Bash last weekend.  


Chicago's fest season is still going strong.   The Boulevard, a smallish Logan fest, now in it's 2nd year, had an impressive line up on 2 stages.    We were especially interested to see Smoking Popes and Liquid Soul playing Friday and Sunday respectively.

Click below for more ABC Wednesday fun from around the world.

10 More North Coast Nuggets of Info YOU Need to Know

Break Science joins Saturday Late Night at Cobra Lounge, AraabMUZIK joins Thievery Corp & Lyrics Born at Congress on Sunday!
The live electronic trip hop duo Break Science has been added to the late night concert on Sunday atCobra Lounge, along with live sets from Hey Champ, The Kickback, Midwest Hype and Jon Drake and the Shakes.
MPC virtuoso, AraabMUZIK, brings his ferocious, electronic rap beats to the already packed bill at Congress Theater on Sunday night, as he joins Thievery Corporation and Lyrics Born.
Presales on sale now at!

10 More North Coast Nuggets of Info YOU Need to Know: Festival Map, Will Call & Check-In, What to Bring, What Not to Bring

Hey! North Coast Festival-goers! Pay attention, this stuff makes all of our lives easier and more enjoyable. Now follow the rules, enjoy the tunes, and have the time of your freakin' life.  It's time for Round 2.    See below and click here for a MAP of the festival.
  1. All children 12 years and under will be admitted to the festival free of charge. Because North Coast believes the kids are our future and they deserve good live music too.
  2. If you're on the Will-Call/Guest-ListClick here for IMPORTANT WILL CALL INFORMATION!
  3. After Parties for Everyone. To be fair, festival ticket buyers were offered the first crack at the limited spots at the After Parties. But with a few tickets left for each, these Afters are now open to the general public. Get Your Tickets Here!
  4. Never Ending Sensory Input. The Chicago Reader Living Gallery is back, featuring graf walls and epic murals. Plus, body paint, overhead art installations, merch and food options for everyone, photo booths, hoopers, old hippies, babies with shooting range headhpones, ridiculous outfits, ridiculous people.
  5. Don't bring things that are obviously not allowed. Also don't bring large lounge chairs, tents, knives or weapons, video or audio recording devices, professional cameras, pets, food, glass containers, beverages except for sealed water, and aerosol cans of ANY kind.
  6. By all means, bring your digital cameras, phone or disposable cameras, fanny packs, purses, European carry-alls, school backpacks (will be searched), lawn chairs, blankets, hipster sunglasses, floppy hats, lighters, cigarettes, sun block, lip gloss, empty plastic containers, umbrellas, binoculars, etc.
  7. Members of the Media, North Coast is happy to have you. Collect your credentials on Ashland Ave south of the main entrance closer to Washington St. and record why everyone should come back next year with all of their friends.
  8. If you still haven't gotten your tickets, you must like playing with fire. A couple thousand of the 58k available tickets remain. And do we have to tell you what a bargain they still are at $50-$60?
  9. Don't forget to thank our partners, because without them, none of this would be possible. Map out your month with a few Groupons, but if you can't find time to use them, head over to CouponTrade and swap them for another. Turn on some or Grooveshark and chug a Red Bull, Dos Equis, Magic Hat, and Miller right in a row, but not while driving your Chevy. So before you head to the fest, throw your copies of the Redeye, Timeout Chicago, Chicago Reader, and Relix into your High Sierra backpack, and don't forget to reserve a room at the Hard Rock or Inn at Lincoln Park. Because let's be honest, hotel rooms are the best place to end a special occasion.
  10. BTW, Have you heard about this lineup?


For all information and details visit

Kids 12 And Under Now FREE at North Coast Music Festival

Du-Jay, Sagezilla and our friend, Judah, hangin' at North Coast 2010 with Mat (AKA:   Shreddy Shirt Boy)

Woo hoo!    Our friends at North Coast listened to our pleas and have again raised their free kids policy to 12 and under, up from under 10!!   Now all your under 13 punk kin are free with a paid adult admission. 

Kids are expensive little monkeys as it is, so if you just blew your paycheck on back to school necessities, save that babysitter cash and bring 'em along for summer's last stand.   Now families can walk together and rock together for 3 days of world class music, and save that xtra cash for the excellent food and merch.  We can't wait to come out and play this weekend, and will be there to cover all 3 days this year.

Check in all week as we gear up for North Coast Music Festival #2--a music filled weekend, 2nd to none.    Last night we interviewed the band, Great Divide, and we'll be running that video this week, and a big photo recap from the pit at their House of Blues show earlier this summer.    They're movin' on up.   Last year they played North Coast's local stage, but they're stoked to be back with a main stage spot this time around, Sunday at 1:30pm.

We also have a photo filled feature on Rubblebucket and a huge recap from the first year of North Coast, brimming with pit photos from Friday's excellent line up, and a whole cast of crowd characters.   

Play along with Chi-Town's own rock fest where's Waldo game, Spot Shreddy Shirt Boy.   Click HERE for the details.   We've recently spotted Shreddy Shirt Boy at Lollapalooza, The Folk and Roots Fest and Summer Camp Music Festival.   How 'bout you?   Send us your phone videos or stills of your Shreddy Shirt Boy spotting and be entered to win your own copy of the following DVDs:   The Jesus Lizard Club, Live From Tokyo (a documentary about Underground Music), and Iggy and The Stooges "Raw Power Live".

You rock North Coast!    ChiIL Mama highly recommends you for your sweet line up and your family friendly policies. 

chiIL Mama  

Because Life Doesn't End With Birth!

Backstage Moonbounce, North Coast Music Fest 2010
Judah (sporting his sweet, Listen to Bob Marley tee) and Sagezilla (raging out in her mini Motorhead tee)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Free Ticket Tuesdays: Family 4 Pack to Disney on Ice Presents Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey

So hot it's cool-Tropical Hawaiian fun on ice
*Photo by Feld Entertainment

Big congrats to Laura L. from Chicago (#89/time stamp 10:22:08 on 8/29).    She and her family have won 4 free tickets to see Disney on Ice Presents Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey!    The show opens September 7th at United Center.   Contact us with your choice of the 7th or 8th and your tickets will be waiting at will call.

Special Savings For All Of Our Readers:
Go to this Ticketmaster page to purchase seats, and you can receive 4 tickets for just $44 to the 7:00 p.m. performance on Wednesday September 7th or the 7:00 p.m. performance on Thursday September 8th, or save $4 per ticket on all remaining performances by using code MOM1.

Click HERE for all show dates, times and ticket options.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Last Day To Enter Till Midnight-Free 4 Pack of Tickets to Disney on Ice Presents Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey

Remember, you have until midnight, to enter for your chance to win, then your coach turns back into a pumpkin.    Click HERE for entry form and details.
Disclosure: I will receive complimentary tickets to the show for my family and for the give away. 

ChiIL Mama Presents Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids

We're super psyched to announce that ChiIL Mama is now an official sponsor of Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids Series.    Summer was music filled and amazing, but we missed our kindie kin and our weekly concert fun over at Beat Kitchen.    All that's about to change!    Come on out to the big fall festival September 11th from 11am-4pm and help us kick off the fall and kick out the jams in style.

ChiIL Mama will be there with bins of costumes and rock t's to borrow, and we'll be running a funky, rock star "photo booth".   You can dress up, pose and snap shots that will appear in our rockin' kids gallery at    You can then print them out at home.

Are you ready??? Our Fall Festival is only 2 weeks away! We can't wait to have everyone to help us kick off the new season! As always, be sure to become a fan on Beat Kitchen's Facebook page to keep updated on shows:  And become a fan on ChiIL Mama's Facebook page for tickets to family friendly and adult concerts, theatre and more.   We'll once again have 4 free tickets to EVERY Beat Kitchen Concerts For Kids Show all season long!!

ChiIL Mama also gives away loads of great kindie CDs from your Beat Kitchen favs and beyond.   We have free CDs & music DVDs for adults/teen+ down to birth and ranging from alt-punk-metal to classical & folk.   We'll also keep on featuring band interviews, live concert footage, and heads up on cool shows and upcoming events.   We frequently add new give aways throughout the month, so check in with ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often!

So come ChiIL Out with ChiIL Mama and loads of great kindie music, fun activities and more.

Danse Skitz #11-BONEdanse

A Poetic Improv by Atalee Judy.
Music: "Binary Streaml" by Pigface
Improvised Performance, Editing & Costuming by Atalee Judy
Location: Mural Building, Chicago 2011

We' re trying to Hang On... We need your help now more than ever with a Matching Donation Grant challenge to raise $250 by August 31st! Please consider donating to BONEdanse at

Bristol Renaissance Faire Steampunk Weekend Recap

Dbl click for full screen and other options

Our second foray of the year into Renaissance Faire Land was fanciful fun.   We rocked the steampunk weekend theme 

and had a great time catching up with a couple dozen friends from Chicago Hip Families, including Jane who has been teaching in China for two years and is back for a short visit.    

We'll soon be featuring some amazing phone photos from Val, a talented friend of ours from the graphic design world.    

This time around we caught a LOT of ren faire regulars like our friends The Swordsmen, Barely Balanced Acrobats, Fairies, and Jousting.   

(We were amazed that the eyeball bandaids we put in the web on opening day weathered all the storms of the past few months and were still there!   Very cool.)

And we couldn't stay away from those mile high chocolate crepes and waffle cones.

Shout out to our friend, Tina, at Gemini Glass.   She's very involved in Chi-Town's theatre scene, but during the summer you can stop by the ren faire shop and find everything from blown glass tinys to massive stained glass masterpieces.    If you love mythical creatures and the beautiful prisms of refracted light, then this is the shop to see.

Congrats to Grichels creator, Melissa Smith-Smith, who is expecting a baby in October.   She'll be one hip mama.   Do we see a line of mini Grichels in the future?    Those would be some seriously cool diaper bags and nursery decor to offset the sickly sweet pastels out there!    I wanna see a baby sling with a Grichel on the tail.

I'm very excited for her and a little selfishly bummed.    I was hoping to score a black laptop case with blue or green eyes, but she's off to Maryland for more faire fun, then laying low for fall.    We love her work!    Maybe during that last frenzy of creative energy and nesting, she'll pop out a few more Grichels before her love and energy rightfully turns to her human newborn for a while.   Ah well....

There's just 1 week left to enjoy merry old England, just across the border in Bristol, Wisconsin.   Then this magical, mystical land will travel onward for another year.   We highly recommend getting a costume together and checking it out.   

Ren Faire is open next Saturday through Monday.   Check their site for specifics and special closing weekend deals.

Check out our prior photo filled Ren Fair 2011 coverage right HERE