Monday, March 31, 2014

Meeting Bobby Hull & Stan Bowman/ Blackhawks Shutout Blues Photo Feature #OriginalPhotos #ParkPoints #ChicagoParks

Earlier this month we had an EPIC win from Chicago Park District and their new Park Points Program.  We won 4 tickets to see the Chicago Blackhawks Vs. The St. Louis Blues, and a meet and greet with Blackhawks Vice President/General Manager, Stan Bowman! 

Our game seats were phenomenal--14th row behind the goal ($180 seats) and even better--The Blackhawks WON 4-0 in a rare SHUTOUT!  It was also a momentous occasion marking the 1,000th game for Center, Michal Handzus, and the 700th NHL win for Coach Quenneville! 


We even got an xtra bonus meet up with uber famous Blackhawks alum, Bobby Hull!!!!  I have rarely seen my huge hockey fan husband soooo excited. He was like a little kid at Christmas.  

Check out our slideshow here for our full set of behind the scenes & game shots.  We've included our favorites at the bottom of this feature as well. You may have already seen our live Tweets/FB updates/Instagram shots during the game. If not, click the links & check it out.

We were sooooooo stoked to win the tickets. My husband is a huge, lifelong Blackhawks fan and I've dug them since I moved to Chicago in 1990. Our 10 & 13 year olds have grown up loving The Blackhawks too. "Back in the day" before we were double Stanley Cup Champs and everyone and their mothers wanted Hawks tickets, we'd get $10 day of game seat all the time

Don't get me wrong... We're thrilled to have an excellent hockey team now and never thought they'd bring home the cup TWICE in our lifetimes after such a loooooong dry spell. But the downside is, now we're pretty muchly priced out of the games and tickets are impossible to get, so we were extra happy to win 4.  

Even when the Blackhawks lost all the time, we were diehard fans and loved to come to live games. Now we watch as many as possible on TV and are still huge fans, but we're mostly relegated to loudly cheering them on from the comforts of our couch. After the first goal the kids were so funny. They cheered wildly then commented that being at the LIVE game was like hearing Dad amplified 21,000+ times... every cheer, groan, and player directive they usually just hear yelled at the TV by 1, was echoed by an excited United Center FULL of fans. Powerful stuff! 

Our Park Points ticket win was an even sweeter victory, since we thought we'd lost.  I bid all 900 of my Park Points on the game and was watching it till nearly 1am, when I was still winning with 15 minutes to go.  With nothing left to bid, I went to bed with my fingers crossed & awoke to find we'd been outbid by 75 points and lost it.  We were bummed out, but accepting. Then we got an awesome e-mail: 

Congratulations! Due to an ineligible bid for the Park Points™ Meet the VP/GM of the Blackhawks Experience we have disqualified the highest bid. As the second highest bidder for this experience, you have been declared the winner. 

The first place bidders had cheated... and got caught and disqualified, making us the winners. Woo hoo!!

Everyone at The United Center was incredibly friendly and great to us! We all got goodie bags with bobble heads, programs, and hats. And Stan Bowman signed photos for us and gave us a grand tour of the box where he watches the games.  

As a location sound engineer, my husband works loads of the Bulls & Bears games interviews for all the major sports networks, which is cool, but he hasn't gotten called yet for what he'd really love to work... The Blackhawks.

Sage (10) told Stan Bowman that one of her favorite players is Swede, Johnny Oduya, but she got shy and wussed out on doing her announcer voice for Stan. She has this hilarious way of belting out "JOHNNY ODUUUUUUU YAH." that just kills us.  Stan said Oduyah is one of his 8 year old son's favorites too! Sage also wishes he didn't trade "Buff Dude" (Dustin Bufuglein), another of her favs. 

It was sweet to see behind the scenes and get to shoot some photos in the VP/GM lair. We felt pretty VIP. When we first meet Stan Bowman, Bobby Hull just happened to be passing by and my husband did a 180 spin and said "Excuse me sir, can I just shake your hand." He grinned, in his charismatic way, and not only shook Dug's hand, but offered to stop and pose for a few family photos with us and Stan, too!!  Ah the memories.

We also got to hold and try on one of the championship rings and check out the diamonds up close. I never realized the main staff got them too, and could personalize them. Our escort, Annie, Director of Youth Hockey, got her young daughter's name on hers. Super cool!

LIVE TWEET: Tradition! Ice cream during 2nd intermission. #ChicagoBlackhawks#atthawks #ImAtTheGame Thanks a zillion for the ticket win Chicago Park District. We're huge, lifelong fans of the park district & The Blackhawks!

We're more than happy to spread the word about the Park Points Program and encourage everyone to check it out and sign up here. So many times, special experiences like this are only available to the rich, connected or media. But The Park Points Program makes it possible for ANYONE to WIN. This program is incredible and it's easy to join up. Like we need more incentive to get out and enjoy the Chicago Park District!

We're already huge fans of the parks, with a daughter on the Chicago Comets competitive gymnastics team via Avondale Park Gymnastics Center. Our son went to pre-school at CPD Brands Park and our kids have grown up taking numerous classes like pottery, soccer, hockey, ice skating, nature camp, swimming and more. They've also grown up enjoying special events through the parks since birth. 

LIVE Tweet/Instagram/FB:

Epic WIN. Woo hoo! Rock star seats for Chicago Blackhawks Thanks a zillion Chicago Park District

WIN BLACKHAWKS TICKETS & EXPERIENCES: Thanks again Chicago Park District! We WON 4 tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks game tonight and a meet n greet with their GM. Woo hoo! Can't wait. Sooooo stoked! 

Meet n greet with Stan Bowman-- Chicago Blackhawks VP/GM. Thanks ChicagoBlackhawks 1MFans & Chicago Park District!!! The Park Points program rocks!

We're happy humans indeed! Thanks for the rockstar seats and the ticket win Chicago Park District. We're waaaaay beyond stoked to be here! #atthawks #ChicagoBlackhawks #ImAtTheShow

 #Blackhawks #atthawks #ImAtTheGame "Keep your head on a swivel & get the puck to the net." Can you tell we listen to a lotta Eddie O?!

Anyone else call 'em shovel girls or is it just me?  #ChicagoBlackhawks#atthawks #ImAtTheGame

My husband and I have had a running bit for the last 18 years, where he vocally ogles the Ice Crew, just to mess with me, and I say "Get the girls some pants before they freeze." Then I counter with feminist rants about why the girls should make more than $50 a game and comp tickets to be drooled over by a gazillion drunk hockey fans. I also tell him we should get Magic Mike lookin' Ice Boys in G-strings to go with the "Shovel Girls", instead of the full jumpsuit wearin' shovel guys.  Who's with me, women?!  Am I right or what? DH tells me the players are all the hot guys on ice action we girls get, and he's got a point. They are pretty hot... but all that padding... Doesn't seem like a fair deal to me on the eye candy front! 

When my daughter Sage was 5, some of The Shovel Girl Barbies signed a photo for her and excitedly chirped about her being a future Ice Crew Girl. She told them she'd rather be a goalie. That's my girl!!  Check it out here.

Best Game of the Season!

Thanks a zillion for the tickets & meet n greet, Chicago Park District. We had a blast and are truly grateful, honored, and excited that we were there, up close, for such a stellar game. You rock!

We back you #Blackhawks #atthawks #ImAtTheGame. You made our day ChicagoPark District! Thanks for the ticket win for one of the best games of the season!!

4 to nothin' #Blackhawks shutout??!! #ImAtTheGame#ChicagoBlackhawks #atthawks

Our Favorite Shots From The Night:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fund Your School Painlessly With All For Schools #AllForChi, #AllForSchools #ad

Disclosure:  I was selected for this opportunity as a member of SoChic Blogger Society and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Even my 10 year old knows there's a budget deficit in The Chicago Public Schools. In practical terms this translates into parents being begged for basics like printer paper and ink, paper towels and tissues. Teachers are buying room supplies out of their already meager paychecks. And my daughter's elementary even rations toilet paper! Suburban and private schools everywhere need a boost too. 

All for Schools is an online fundraising portal that allows caring people to give back to schools through everyday online activities.  Every time you take an action through the site, like buying a Groupon, shopping at Nordstrom, Macy’s and Leap Frog, making a purchase or downloading a coupon, you earn money for a school you care about.

All For Schools to the rescue!  They'll fund your school painlessly, with every on line purchase you make from their affiliates and even Groupon, a fav of ours for hot, local deals.  All For Schools is still in the beta stages, but they are welcoming families to sign up and encourage your school administration to register your school as well.  

If you're like our family you already volunteer time and money to your kids' schools, shop at businesses that donate a percentage to schools, clip box tops, and support school fundraisers.  All For Schools is the simplest way of all to give your school an economic boost just by doing what you already do... shop on line. It's also a painless way to have other relatives and kid free friends chip in as well, without having to buy copious amounts of chocolate bars or fundraiser tchotchkes.

ChiIL Mama was invited to test the site out and it couldn't be easier.  We signed up as a School Supporter when prompted. Then we browsed the On Line Shopping options and bought another SanDisk SD card for my camera from Best Buy.  We got a smokin' daily deal and were even able to select local pick up and get it right away. Shopping is secure because even though you log in initially through the All For Schools site, you're going through the secured sites of major, known retailers for your actual purchases.

Our school wasn't signed up yet, so we were asked to support Lydia Urban Academy, for the beta run.  It was super simple to sign up, and the directions were clear and easy. They're still tweaking the site, so it'll be better than ever soon.

Once your school is in the system, it will pop up a full page so you can track your donations and make sure the correct school is getting credit.

Here's the Deal:
WHAT: All for Schools is an online fundraising portal that allows caring
people to give back to schools through everyday online activities.
Every time you take an action through the site, like buying a
Groupon, shopping at Nordstrom, Macy’s and Leap Frog, making a
purchase or downloading a coupon, you earn money for a school you
care about.

WHO: Led by Laurel Rundle, Chief Executive Officer, and Jesse Reif, Chief
Operating Officer, who collectively have over 40 years of experience
working with educational institutions and leading brands.

WHERE:  Chicago; rolling out nationally soon!

With All for Schools, school fundraising becomes accessible to all
parents and supporters, no matter how much time or money they
have to contribute, so it’s easy to get more parents involved.
Schools use the money they earn through All for Schools to improve
their students’ educational experiences and make a difference in
their communities. The amount a school earns will depend on how
much its supporters use the website, but school coordinators
estimate they could earn $800 to $5,000 annually with All for

Here at ChiIL Mama we're all about supporting schools and funding education for the next generation.  We highly recommend All For Schools as a safe and easy way to do that.   

Disclosure:  Once again, I was selected for this opportunity as a member of SoChic Blogger Society and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

LoganSquare Youth lead Day of Peace in Action, Saturday 3/29 @Logan Square

LSNA's youth initiative the Logan Square Youth Leadership Institute have organized a day of intriguing youth-led workshops and cultural celebration as resistance this Saturday, March 29th. 

11am-1:15pm at the Hairpin Lofts (above Payless) youth will lead workshops on Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline, current state legislation that will limit youth arrests in schools, and understanding systemic oppression

1:15-1:30pm Silent March to the EAGLE (optional butterfly wings and flower shares)

1:30pm - 330pm CULTURE BOMBING
Presentations and mini-lessons by: 
Logan Square's very own MC Controversial
Break-dancing by Logan Youth Project
International Capoeira Angola Foundation of Chicago
Mexikayotl from Ames Middle School

Warmer weather is upon us and for many youth this means more violence. Let's start the season by occupying public space with messages of strength, cultural pride and peace!

*PS. If you got butterfly wings, bring them!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Madness Multitasking With Best Buy #Catch It All #Ad

Disclaimer:  ChiIL Mama is elated to be a Best Buy WOLF (Women's Leadership Forum) Blogger. I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received a product/service at a reduced price or for free in exchange for sharing this information with our readers.  All opinions are my own.

We got out of town for a quick family vacation last weekend. Of course we still managed to bring 2 laptops, a DSLR camera, a DS, a 3DS, an ipod, an Android pad, and 3 Samsung smartphones. But it was GREAT to be away from my Macbook Pro more than usual. It's like a permanent extension of my hands most days, and my favorite way to stay connected. Sure, I use my smartphone a LOT, but my laptop is ideal for blogging, freelance writing, photo & video editing, managing e-mails and social media posting.  So, it's by far my tool of choice for multitasking madness in March and beyond.

It was amusing to me to see the NCAA March Madness in full swing everywhere we went.  Even at The Eagle Ridge Spa & Resort pool... basketball addicts were absorbed in the games, while the kids (& hockey dad) shot baskets from the water. 

How do YOU stay connected... HDTV, Laptop, Tablet, Cellphone... all of the above?!

Check out Best Buy here, for sweet tips on using “multiple screens” to stay current on the tournament and brackets and sweet March Madness promotions and offers focused on the devices to enjoy “multi-screen” madness on.

One screen is not enough.

Speaking of one screen... last Friday this Blackhawks lovin' family was 3 hours away from home road trippin' to our weekend away, when the game was just about to start. We spotted a likely sports bar/barn/fish fry joint and stopped for dinner.  There was Blackhawks neon in the windows and jerseys on the walls, but all 10 large screens in the place were playing... you guessed it.  COLLEGE BASKETBALL.  We asked if they could switch one little ol' large screen to the Blackhawks game and our waitress tried to oblige, but it was not to be.  All the TVs were chained in sync and the channel could not be changed.  Bah!  

At the risk of basketball fanatics playing bombardment with my head.. I must confess, we used all our multiple screens trying to AVOID March Madness and track the hockey game! Ah well. To each his own. Follow your passion. And whether you're tracking tournaments and brackets or hiding in another room watching movies on your laptop... When it comes to screens, more is better. And Best Buy's got your back.

Best Buy helps keep you connected to the excitement with the devices and connectivity that make it possible.  Brought to life by the brand promise of the latest devices and services, all in one place. 

Disclaimer:  Once again, ChiIL Mama is elated to be a Best Buy WOLF (Women's Leadership Forum) Blogger. I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received a product/service at a reduced price or for free in exchange for sharing this information with our readers.  All opinions are my own.

Dino Themed Dinner at Colonial Cafe & Discount Code for Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO Live at ECC Arts Center

If folks can’t catch Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO Live at Watertower, you have two more chances to catch the show at the ECC Arts Center April 1 at 7 p.m. and April 2 at 9:45 a.m. The ECC Arts Center located in Building H on the Elgin Community College Campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Tickets are $24 for adults and $15 for children age 12 and under. Parking is free.  Click here for ChiIL Mama's prior Dinosaur Zoo coverage including show video & photos.

ChiIL out with a special family discount for Dinosaur Zoo Live

Get four tickets to this interactive dinosaur experience for $60 ($15 per ticket)! To redeem, visit and use the code FAMILY4 or call the ECC Arts Center at 847-622-0300.

ERTH’s Dinosaur Zoo Live
Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 2 at 9:45 a.m.

ERTH's DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE takes your family on a tour through prehistoric Australia by bringing an eye-popping array of ancient creatures to life on stage. Observe and interact with extraordinarily life-like creatures that are just like those that inhabited the Southern Hemisphere millions of years ago. From the sweetly curious baby Dryosaur, to the peaceful hulk Titanosaur, and even the teeth-gnashing T-Rex, this unique interactive theatrical performance stimulates children's imaginations and connects them to the world of dinosaurs.

Tickets may be purchased by phone by calling 847-622-0300 (All major credit cards are accepted) or online at or at the ECC box office located in the Arts Center. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 5 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. NOTE: to accommodate the early performance on April 2, the box office will open at 8:15 a.m.

Colonial Café will be offering a dinosaur-themed menu 
on April 1 & 2. 

Menu will include Prehistoric Punch, Pterodactyl Tenders, Brontosaurus Burgers, and a Swamp Sundae. All of these items will be on a special menu with coloring sheet. They'll be offering the menu from 4-10p.m. on Tuesday, April 1 and at request for lunch on Wednesday, April 2. It will be offered at both the McLean restaurant which is located at the corner of McLean Blvd. and Spartan Drive (600 S McLean Blvd, Elgin, IL 60123 ) right next to the main entrance of the college and at the St. Charles-West restaurant located on Randall Rd. (552 S Randall Rd., Saint Charles, IL 60174. For more info, visit the Colonial Café's website: 

ACT OUT KIDS: Lyle Finds His Mother at Lifeline Highly Recommended (ages 5+)

Lifeline Theatre has long been one of our favorites here at ChiIL Mama.  Their Kids Series is superb!  Bring the kids and watch their eyes light up as book based favorites come to life on stage.

Do Note:  This production is recommended for children ages five and up (children under two not permitted), and runs one hour with no intermission. The book will be on sale in the lobby.

Don't miss Lifeline Theatre's new hit family musical: Lyle Finds His Mother!

"RECOMMENDED. A sensitive lens with which to explore adopted family dynamics... [and] a singing, dancing, juggling, hula-hooping, jump-roping, gymnastic showcase for five dynamic performers." -New City

"RECOMMENDED. [A] delightful musical adaptation of Bernard Waber's beloved 1974 book... Lifeline knows how to please kids and grown-ups with multileveled humor" -Chicago Reader

Make your reservations today!

Lyle loves his life with the Primms in the house on East 88th Street. But everything changes when Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, returns with an offer to take Lyle to meet his mother in the land of the crocodile. Should Lyle trust the devious showman? And will his adopted family understand his desire to meet his birth mother? Travel the world on a journey of hilarity and heart in this world premiere musical.

Lyle Finds His Mother runs Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 1pm, through April 27th (no performances Easter Sunday, April 20). Call the Box Office at 773-761-4477 or order tickets ONLINE.

Lifeline Theatre KidSeries Presents Lyle Finds His Mother,
World Premiere Musical Based on the Popular Children’s Book Opens March 23
Plus Stories Come Alive! Hour Workshops Every Saturday and Sunday During the Run

Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries presents Lyle Finds His Mother, a world premiere musical based on the beloved children’s book by Bernard Waber, adapted by Jessica Wright Buha, with music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks, and directed by Lifeline Theatre Artistic Director Dorothy Milne. Lyle loves his life with the Primms in the house on East 88th Street. But everything changes when Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, returns with an offer to take Lyle to meet his mother in the land of the crocodile. Should Lyle trust the devious showman? And will his adopted family understand his desire to meet his birth mother? Travel the world on a journey of hilarity and heart in this world premiere musical for the entire family. 

PLUS: Join Lifeline Theatre every Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m. (except Easter Sunday, April 20) during the run of Lyle Finds His Mother (following the 11 a.m. show, or before the 1 p.m. show) for our Stories Come Alive! Hour. Children will get up-close and personal with the book behind the play with an interactive storytelling session and on-your-feet theatre games. The cost is only $5 per child. Reservations are recommended, though not required. Contact Lifeline Theatre at 773-761-4477 for more information.

The complete cast and production team for Lyle Finds His Mother includes:

CAST:  Guest artists Linsey Falls (Hector P. Valenti, Mr. Primm), Anthony Kayer (Lyle), Deanna Myers (Lyle’s Mother), Erin O’Shea (Mrs. Primm), and Brian Tochterman Jr. (Joshua). With understudies Chris Ballou and Marissa Lessman.
CREW:  Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Alan Donahue (Scenic & Properties Designer) and Dorothy Milne (Director); with guest artists Michael James Brooks (Composer, Lyricist & Sound Designer), Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor), Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager), Erin Gallagher (Costume Designer), Katie Messmore (Stage Manager), Danny Osburn (Lighting Designer), and Joe Schermoly (Technical Director).

Lifeline Theatre KidSeries presents Lyle Finds His Mother, running Saturday, March 22–Sunday, April 27 (no performances Easter Sunday, April 20) at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Regular performance times are Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting

Lifeline Theatre also offers “Name Your Price” tickets a half-hour before the show (subject to availability), group rates and other discounts available upon request. A party room is available for full-service birthday and special event parties. Free parking is available at the designated lot west of the theatre (NE corner of Morse and Ravenswood) with free shuttle service before and after the show. Street parking is also available and Lifeline Theatre is handicapped and CTA accessible (Red Line Morse stop/busses).

Now in its 31st season, Lifeline Theatre specializes in original literary adaptations. Its ensemble of artists uses imaginative, unconventional staging to portray sprawling stories in an intimate space. Lifeline is committed to promoting the arts in its Rogers Park neighborhood and is an anchor of the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. We aspire to create art that is relevant to our culturally diverse, increasingly youthful neighborhood. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.

Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; The Allstate Foundation; The Arts Work Fund; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; The Common Cup; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; Flex Print, Inc.; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Grover Hermann Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; Netrix LLC; The Pauls Foundation; The Polk Bros. Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

There's still time to sign up for Lifeline's Spring Break Camp (April 14-18). Click here for details and to register.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Proud of My #NetflixKids

Disclosure:  ChiIL Mama is a proud member of the Netflix Stream Team. We've been compensated for sharing monthly posts with our readers.  All opinions are our own.

Most of us grew up hearing the old adage. Too much TV turns your brain into a vegetable. Kids watching TV today are more likely learning how to grow, cook or experiment on vegetables than turning into them! We recently turned to Netflix for help with history fair and art project inspiration.

I'm stoked to report my 13 year old son WON at his school and is advancing to The Metro Junior History Fair next weekend at DePaul University.  He has written a script with another classmate, and is performing a theatrical piece as Levi Day Boone, Mayor of Chicago, during the Lager Beer Riot of 1855, complete with recreated newspapers of the time, old timey wimey wire rimmed glasses, and an impressive beard!

Quiz time. Know what a Cryptid is?
Yeah, that was a new one to me too! I thought I was pretty smart till my 7th grader stumped me with that project. I know cryptic and encrypted, but cryptid was a mystery. The kids were given an art project to make cryptid masks and my son took great pleasure in knowing a word that stumped me. 

Still clueless? Before you go groping for Google--cryptids are animals whose existence has never been proven by science.. ie: big foot, the Loch Ness monster and a host of lesser known but equally fascinating beasties.  We turned to Netflixs and found some hot leads on cool cryptids, mask making, theatrical makeup and more!

This month with the Stream Team and Netflixs Kids we're also highlighting science fair fodder. 

It's fair season, ya know. Netflix gives kids an easily searchable resource for many types of research.  Some of these might jump start your kids' imaginations and lead to a blue ribbon idea. For little scientists, we have titles that will encourage curiosity and problem-solving, because it's never too early to start STEAM love. An interest in science, technology, engineering, art and/or math will serve your kids well at any age!

Here at ChiIL Mama, we dig lots of the Discovery Channel and Science shows.  My husband's even done location sound for quite a few!

Check out some of Netflix's top picks 
for inspiring science fair ideas 
for older kids:
(Or just geek out and watch them for fun. I'll admit it, we do. You'll be so engrossed you'll hardly realize how much you're learning.)

 And sparking a love of science 
for the littles:

(my tween & teen still dig Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius)


Still need project inspiration? Common Sense Media has 13 more ways to help motivate, inform, and engage your kids this science fair season - check out the list here.

Disclosure:  Once again, ChiIL Mama is a proud member of the Netflix Stream Team. We've been compensated for sharing monthly posts with our readers.  All opinions are our own.