Wednesday, September 25, 2013

PHOTO RECAP: The Morton Arboretum Blogger Brunch & “People’s Choice” Scarecrow Voting Begins #FallFun #EcoFriendly

Here at ChiIL Mama we're all about nature, camping and green living and I've made a point to raise kids who adore the outdoors.  We need to go where the trees are taller than the buildings to recharge.  Yet, that said, I'm afraid I'm guilty of urban dweller syndrome.   That's the problem where we forget to frequent awesome suburban resources, because they seem sooooo far away... but really they're not more drive time than getting across town.   

We'd been to Morton Arboretum several times during the past decade, as my kids have grown.   Yet somehow I forgot how much fun we had there.   And it's not so far from Chicago.  Thank YOU Morton Arboretum, for reminding me just how awesome you are.

It was our pleasure to spend yesterday with a small group of bloggers at the internationally renowned Morton Arboretum for brunch and a tram tour, on a gorgeous fall day.   We'll be covering a LOT more of their fam friendly fare and holiday fun going forward.   True, heading out there for 9am brunch in the heart of rush hour sucked, and took over an hour from the NW side of the city (Logan Square/Avondale), but coming back at 1pm was a 35 minute breeze.   It can seriously take me that long to go 5 miles in cross town traffic!   And the payoffs for the trek out to Lisle are beyond worth it!   I felt so relaxed and recharged after spending a morning in the woods.

Get away from the city crowds.   Mom and More's daughter was digging the space to run and galumph, with just a shadow for company!

It was a joy to catch up with lots of our blogger friends including Christine of Green Parent Chicago, where I also write guest posts.   Check out my Green Lollapalooza post here.   I also enjoyed some sweet photo ops, shooting the little lovelies from Houseful of Nicholes, Mom and More and French Foodie Mom.   

Ladybug from Houseful of Nicholes was enjoying her beeswax crayon set & butterfly coloring book at brunch.   It was her actual 5th birthday and she was pure joy in action all morning!

This little cutie from Mom and More devoured her fruit plate so she'd have energy for exploring the woods.

Chef Druck (French Foodie Mom) and her daughter, getting out of the kitchen and into the arboretum!

Ladybug styling with Black Walnut in hand and shape/color bracelet on the wrist.   Morton Arboretum tram rides give little kids the bracelets so they can play at finding things to match the colors and/or shapes along the ride!

Midwestern Fall 

I'm completely enthralled with the STRENGTH BENCH and hope I can find it again!   I want to do a photo shoot here with my 10 year old daughter, Supersonic Sage, the gymnast.   She's all about being mighty and strong.   Yet it's sometimes the quiet strength of yoga versus the intensity of conditioning that gives her the inner strength to be an excellent athlete and to be better than her temper and tween moodiness.  

She knows what it feels like to come home with trophies and a wall full of blue ribbons, and win first in state.   And she knows what it feels like to break an ankle and to fall off the beam at state last year, the one time it counted, after doing it flawlessly a zillion times.   She knows how it feels to try a hundred frustrating times and not nail a new skill.    It takes more true strength to fail gracefully!   Being among trees can teach patience and calm stillness, and there's something incredibly strong about this amazing space.

Spruce Plot:

This was one one of my favorite places for sure!

The Children's Garden is a delightfully magical place:

The Morton Arboretum is a hands on... shoes off kind of space to explore with all your senses.

Fall is one of the most gorgeous times at Morton Arboretum.   They have a multicultural woodland of trees literally from around the world, so they have a one of a kind explosion of color that can't be seen anywhere else in the region! The grounds were still lush, green and still blooming with a riot of fall flowers as of yesterday, but with the crisp, cool weather and shorter sunlit hours it's only a matter of time till the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges are everywhere.

We learned so much on the tour that I didn't know, and we'll be doing more arboretum features soon and ticket giveaways for our readers, too. 

Morton Arboretum is ideal for all ages and fitness levels.   The tram is a great way for the very young, old or differently ables to cover a lot of ground.   For fitness buffs and the active, there are loads of hiking and biking trails.   There's even an on site bike rental with traditional, tandem, and tow behind options!   Once there's at least 3" of snow, you can rent cross country skiis or snow shoes and explore.

For now, come check out the scout-crows, done by local boy and girl scout troops.

We are seeing the first signs of fall here at The Morton Arboretum as the leaves being to change - and as the scarecrows go up around Meadow Lake! We have a whopping 45 scarecrow entries this year, submitted by our area Boy and Girl Scouts - plus one scarecrow by the Arboretum's own Nature Artists Guild. 


Local Girl and Boy Scout Troops to showcase 45 unique scarecrows at The Morton Arboretum

The Scarecrow Trail returns to the Morton Arboretum this year, featuring 45 hay-men and-women decorated by local Girl and Boy Scouts.

For one month only, the Scarecrow Trail features a variety of scarecrows made by scouts from troops in Addison, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Batavia, Bolingbrook, Darien, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Lemont, Lisle, Lockport/Homer Glen, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Park, Orland Park, Oswego, Plainfield, Prospect Heights, Roselle, Schaumburg, Westmont, Wheaton and Woodridge.

This year’s scarecrows come with some imaginative names, including Earth’s Minions Unite!, Nature Fairy, Nature Bob Solar Pants, Flower Queen, Minecraft Cub Scout, Corn-e with a Mustache, Lady Ga-Garbage, Caught in a Web of Brownies and Nature Fairy.

Visitors are invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” Scarecrow. Ballots are available at the start of the trail and can be returned to the Visitor Center. The winning scarecrow will be announced in early November.

The Scarecrow Trail is part of the Arboretum’s Fall Color Festival. Throughout the month of October, visitors can enjoy juicy brats, build-your-own taffy apples and other mouth-watering bites available for purchase in Arbor Court. Plus, sample complimentary wine tastings. The festival will be open weekends in October and Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Fall Color Festival kicks off with the 10th annual Fall Color 5K Run & Walk and Kid’s Dash on Sunday, October 6. The Scarecrow Trail is free with admission to the Arboretum.

For fall color updates, visit or call the Bloom 'n Color Hotline at 630-719-7955.

About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world. Designed with natural landscapes, the grounds include the award-winning, four-acre interactive Children’s Garden, the one-acre Maze Garden, plus specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails and nine miles of roads. Visitor experiences include the open-air tram ride, guided walks, Arbor Day celebrations, concerts, art shows, Fall Color Festival, and special exhibits. The Arboretum welcomes more than 800,000 visitors annually and serves more than 35,600 members. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at

ChiIL Tips:
Rent a backpack for family friendly fun!

Admission Rate 

Nonmember admission rates to The Morton Arboretum are $12 for adults ages 18-64 ($8 on Wednesday), $11 for seniors ages 65 and over ($7 on Wednesday), $9 for children ages 2-17 ($6 on Wednesday) and free for children under age 2. Parking is free with admission.

From the Children's Garden, maze and trails to the spacious gift shop, your visit to Morton Arboretum is sure to be a memorable one!

ChiIL Out With ChiIL Mama at The Morton Arboretum.   Highly Recommended!


The Oak Brook Location will be the Second Combined Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen Store in the Greater Chicago Area

PBteen, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM) portfolio of brands, today announced the opening of its second store in the Chicagoland area in Oak Brook, IL. The PBteen store joins its sister brand Pottery Barn Kids, opening Thursday, September 26th at 10:00 AM. at Oakbrook Center. This will be the fifteenth PBteen location in the United States.  To celebrate the opening, the first 250 customers to visit the store on opening day will receive a free gift and chance to win one of four PBteen gift cards valued at $250.

The store will open with the new fall 2013 PBteen collection, which features limited edition items from the brand’s collaborations with Burton Snowboards, the world’s leading snowboard company, as well as celebrity stylists and fashion designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott (Emily & Meritt). PBteen is designed to fully furnish bedrooms, study and lounge spaces, and provides fresh, fashionable options to appeal to varying teenage design tastes. Categories include: bedding, window treatments, rugs, lighting, gear, decorative accessories, storage and organizational solutions. 

Just launched, customers can create their ultimate room with the latest Burton Snowboards-inspired collection, which includes bedding, lighting, lounge seating, wall décor and accessories for tweens and teens.  The collection brings authentic rider style to any room and features patterns and prints inspired from Burton’s popular apparel line, including quilts made from vintage tee prints. The collection also includes wall murals with action shots of Burton team riders, Hannah Teter, Jeremy Jones and Mikey Rencz.

The Emily & Meritt for PBteen collaboration will be prominently displayed and perfectly merges fashion and interiors, youthfulness and sophistication. It brings the celebrity stylists’ West Coast sensibilities to the home arena through the lens of a classic Americana wonderland.  The collection blends Emily & Meritt’s love for denim with touches of silver, gold and vintage-inspired glamour.  The collaboration’s dreamy feel also builds on fantastical elements such as butterflies, bunnies and unicorns—as well as a wonderful sense of whimsy. The collection consists of over 37 products across seven key categories and includes bedding, furniture, lighting, wall décor, decorative accessories, jewelry storage and more. 

The new PBteen store will be anchored around a complimentary PBteen Design Lab, where teens and their parents can engage with the brand and its products by digitally creating a personalized room. Using drag and drop technology, teens can experiment with different room configurations and color combinations to quickly see their designs come to life on a television screen overhead. When teens and their parents visit the new PBteen store, they can expect a customizable shopping experience with on-site design specialists available to help teens choose their favorite patterns and styles to create their own distinct bedrooms and lounge spaces.  Products available at can be ordered through the store and shipped directly to the customer for ease of shopping.

“We’re excited to introduce PBteen at Oakbrook Center and complete our family of Pottery Barn brands in this community,” said Sandra Stangl, President, Pottery Barn Brands. “This is our second combined Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen location in the greater Chicago area, and we are thrilled to bring PBteen’s unique, personal store experience to our loyal customers just in time for holiday shopping.”

As part of the new PBteen and Pottery Barn Kids combined location with convenient pass-through access to both stores, Pottery Barn Kids is introducing Design Studio, a resource for parents and parents-to-be looking for advice and inspiration to create their dream nursery, kid’s bedroom, play and study spaces. Offering complimentary, expert advice on everything from room design to party planning tips, customers can consult with Design Specialists in-store or make an in-home appointment. The new location will also feature in-store monogramming services. Pottery Barn Kids relocated from its previous location at Oakbrook Center to the new combined location as part of the introduction of PBteen. Pottery Barn Kids first opened at Oakbrook Center in 2002.

Store Location:
PBteen and Pottery Barn Kids store
Oakbrook Center Mall
2A Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Store Hours: Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM

Grand Opening Details:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
·       PBteen: The first 250 customers to visit the PBteen store on opening day will receive a free PBteen back sack, plus four lucky winners will find a surprise PBteen gift card for $250 inside their bag.
·       Pottery Barn Kids: Appearance from Clancy the bear and mini-plush Clancy giveaway, while supplies last.
Friday, September 27, 2013
·       Pottery Barn Kids: Complimentary face painting from 2:00 PM -4:00 PM
Saturday, September 28, 2013
·       PBteen: Live  spinning by DJ Claud10 from 10:00 AM -8:00 PM

PBteen, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands, launched in 2003 and is the first home retailer to focus exclusively on the teenage market. Designed to fully furnish bedrooms, study and lounge spaces for tweens and teens, PBteen provides fresh, fashionable options to appeal to varying teenage tastes. Categories include: bedding, window treatments, rugs, lighting, gear, decorative accessories, storage and organization solutions, and furniture including beanbag chairs. PBdorm, launched in 2010, is an exclusive collection that offers dorm furniture and essentials. This collection includes XL twin sheets, lighting, seating, storage bins and organization solutions, and other accessories designed to help teens turn their dorm room into their ultimate home away from home. PBteen products are available through direct mail catalogs, e-commerce site and at fifteen U.S. retail stores.  PBteen currently offers international shipping to customers worldwide.  The PBteen e-commerce site features Wishlist and StyleHouse, a special section with design tools, a room planner, free downloads, a music player, and a design library with decorating tips. PBteen has an active following on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and its blog PBteen ♥. Additionally, PBdorm has a dedicated Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram presence, as well as a blog Style Major. PBteen is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Pottery Barn Kids, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands, launched in January 1999 and quickly became a premier retailer for children’s home furnishings and decorative accessories.  Pottery Barn Kids offers exclusive designs that create kid-friendly, stylish and innovative spaces including the nursery, bedroom and playroom.  Pottery Barn Kids operates 86 retail stores in the United States, Canada and Australia. Pottery Barn Kids is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is a specialty retailer of high-quality products for the home.  These products, representing eight distinct merchandise strategies – Williams-Sonoma (cookware and wedding registry), Pottery Barn (furniture and wedding registry), Pottery Barn Kids (kids’ furniture and baby registry), PBteen (girls’ bedding and boys’ bedding), West Elm (modern furniture and room decor), Williams-Sonoma Home (luxury furniture and decorative accessories), Rejuvenation (lighting and hardware) and Mark and Graham (personalized gifts and gifts for the home) – are marketed through e‑commerce websites, direct mail catalogs and 590 stores.  Williams-Sonoma, Inc. currently operates in the United States, Canada and Australia, offers international shipping to customers worldwide, and has an unaffiliated franchisee that operates 25 stores in the Middle East.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

REVIEW: Photo Recap Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic #ChiDisneyOnIce #OriginalPhotos

It was a joy to catch opening night of Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic.   Even though my kids have aged up at 10 & 12, they still haven't aged out of Disney's timeless magic.   The costumes, choreography, and pageantry take Disney's ice shows beyond just childhood entertainment and make them a treat for all ages.   

I think our all time fav full length ice show is Finding Nemo, for the stellar, visual under water numbers.   However, this show is one of our top picks.   Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic is such a fun montage of old classics and new favorites.   The multicultural spectacle of It's a Small World was a particular favorite of ours, as were the clips from Nemo.

Join the celebration as 65 of Disney's unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You'll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments fromThe Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you'll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

It's a true pleasure to be back as one of the Feld Bloggers again this season.    We've partnered with them for years now, to bring ChiIL Mama's readers great ticket giveaways, cool opportunities & photo filled recaps.   Thanks to Feld for the fun blogger goodie bags for all the kids.   We appreciate the private meet n greet/photo ops with Mickey & Minnie, programs, swords, popcorn & giant Mickey lollipops!  They were a huge hit with our tweens and their twin friend they brought along.

Check back with ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often.   We'll be partnering up with Feld for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Monster Jam Truck Rally, and more Disney live shows.   As always, we'll have free ticket giveaways, discount codes and photo filled recaps.   Book now for the best seat choices!    And chiIL out with ChiIL Mama.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PLAY LOCALLY: Unicoi Art Studio's Paint the Town Bar Tour! #discount #ad

Disclosure:   Thanks to Unicoi and US Family Guide for providing us with this coupon code for our readers.  All opinions are our own.  We may have been compensated for our time sharing this with you with payment or goods.

ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama and our friends over at Unicoi Art Studio.   Why should the kids have all the fun.   You're never too old or too busy to get creative!   We've partnered up with Unicoi for kids' art projects at our weekly kindie family music series at The Beat Kitchen and summer festivals, but did you know Unicoi offers classes and special events for big kids (AKA:  grownups) too?!

Come check out Unicoi Art Studio's Paint the Town Bar Tour! Enjoy a two hour painting class, drinks and food specials at your favorite local watering holes. It's time to paint this town red!   Click here for dates and more info. 

ChiIL Mama's readers get a ChiIL 15% off coupon
Like Unicoi Art Studio on Facebook for great offers and updates

About Unicoi:
Unicoi Art Studio has been providing exceptional art activities for kids since 1999. We were voted the best art classes in the city for 2008 and 2009, by the parents of Chicago (Nickelodeon's Parents Picks Award).

Unicoi’s mission is to “draw” out the imagination in every child, with projects designed to be informative, engaging and fun for children ages 3-15. We use premium quality artist materials, so at a young age the students experience rich colors, unusual textures and a variety of unique materials.

Our teaching philosophy is for children to be able to use their creativity to explore the subjects that interest them and for our teachers to provide the safe and structured environment to support their exploration. We deeply value our roles as art educators and these values are expressed by our passion towards both children and art.

Unicoi is also excited to be able to bring to you adult classes. Whether you are a beginning artist or have been painting for years and just want a fun atmosphere for inspiration, we have several class options to choose from. Learn the basics in drawing, painting or come to an open studio day to create on your own masterpiece.

You can find more information on Unicoi Art Studio and class schedule on their website or follow on Facebook or Twitter. Also make sure to take advantage of this exclusive coupon for 15% off your first class!

Disclosure:   Thanks to Unicoi and US Family Guide for providing us with this coupon code for our readers.  All opinions are our own.  We may have been compensated for our time sharing this with you with payment or goods.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Growing Up Online Free eBook & The Lorax Blu-Ray Giveaway #Ad #giveaway

ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama and learn how to keep your kids safe on line with a series of free, fun, comic style videos you can watch together.  Use the #GrowingUpOnline Blog App and download the free eBook for a chance to win a copy of THE LORAX on DVD & Blu-ray!   

Disclosure:   We've been given a copy of The Lorax Blu-Ray for our readers in exchange for spreading the word about Growing Up Online.

Our kids have never known a world without the Internet. They’re spending more and more time on the web, so teaching them about using technology responsibly and safely is critical. 

DOWNLOAD THE FREE eBOOK  on internet safety for a chance to win!
Enter through midnight October 2nd, 2013.
Giveaway open to the U.S. & Canada
Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

**a Rafflecopter giveaway**

About Growing Up Online
We live in an exciting new world of sharing information, more so than ever before, but this is not without its challenges!

Many of us have heard about or experienced “cyber-bullying.” We know the pain it can create. Far too often have we heard the stories of children being cyber-bullied who don’t know what to do or where to turn.

The More You Know Learning Series, in collaboration with NBC News, addresses this new and dangerous trend, in addition to other online issues, with the launch of Growing Up Online, the FREE eBook for parents to keep their kids safe on the Internet! You and your family can now be prepared, clued-up and openly communicative about online issues big or small!

Download the FREE Growing Up Online eBook and be sure to watch all four entertaining comic book stories as a family. These stories show real situations that may occur when your kids go online.

• DOWNLOAD the FREE eBook - Our kids have never known a world without the Internet. But that doesn’t mean they know how to behave online. Download the free eBook and start a conversation with your kids. 
• Is Your Child Internet-Ready? QUIZ - Have you talked with your kids about online safety? Take the quiz to find out if your child is Internet-ready! 
• Comic Book Videos - Watch all four comic book stories as a family to discuss real situations that may occur when your kids go online.

This free eBook provides easy-to-use information that addresses the growing concern about kids’ online privacy and cyber-bullying in a unique and engaging way. Growing Up Online is packed with important tips that every parent should know!

For Extra Chances to Win:
• Download the FREE eBook for a chance to win!
• Share your most important tip or piece of advice from the free eBook.
• Share how you personally talked to your kids about the Internet and being safe online.

Get Social With It!
• Tweet using the #GrowingUpOnline hashtag to let your audience know that your children are surfing the web safely!
• Share on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Tumblr to drive traffic to your site!

Disclosure:   We've been given a copy of The Lorax Blu-Ray for our readers in exchange for spreading the word about Growing Up Online.