Saturday, October 30, 2010

ChiILoween II: Thurs/Fri Recap and The Best of Halloween Weekend

Thursday we were off to a great Halloween weekend start with a school Fall Festival.   For our readers around the world, here's what Halloween traditions look like in Chicago.

Friday was teacher training day, so we got a timely 3 day weekend.   We devoured free IHOP scary face pancakes and enjoyed The Chicago International Children's film festival.   The Moomins in 3D from Finland was a highlight.   Then we got to meet the star of El Tux who flew in from L.A. for the fest.

Rated 4.9 out of 5.0
- 7 min - Jul 12, 2009 - Uploaded by Serpaco1

2007 HBO/NYLIFF Short Film Winner - Written & Directed by Paco Farias A charming tale about a teen who is given a very special tuxedo 

We've blogged about the 27th annual Chicago International Childrens Film Festival quite a bit during the past month.   There's still time to give your little monsters THE WORLD.   With over 200 films from 40 countries, this is a fabulous resource and a fest well worth making time for amid all the Halloween hoopla.   Check out their web site for handy age suggestion guides that range from movies for toddlers to teens.   We'll review our favorites later in the week, but catch 'em while you can.

Friday night we got our costumes on and rocked out ChiILoween style with the 7th annual Logan Square kids parade.   Then we checked out the free haunted police station at the 14th precinct.   Man cops can be scary.   Not for the faint of heart.   Both of our kids freaked out and closed their eyes through the whole thing and even the tween girls behind us were screaming their heads off and clutching onto my fleece--and we'd never met them.    Sagezilla had to be carried through with her head buried in her Dad's neck!    It's fabulous free fun for bigger kids and those not easily wigged out, but keep the littles at home!   

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival takes place from Oct 22nd through Oct 31st this year and presents the finest in international film for children and their families.

Films are screening conveniently at locations throughout Chicago: Facets Cinema in Lincoln Park; Regal Cinemas City North Stadium 14; Bank of America Cinema; University of Chicago's DOC Films (Max Palevsky Cinema, Ida Noyes Hall); Illinois Institute of Technology (Hermann Hall, McCormick Auditorium); Center on Halsted (Hoover-Leppen Theatre); and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

The Festival provides Chicagoans with the opportunity to see the best in world cinema made for a younger audience.  This year, the Festival is featuring the largest number of films in its history, with 270 films from more than 40 countries, including 90 world premieres. "This year the Festival received a record number of entries, and the quality and diversity of the films exceeded all expectations," explained Ann Vikstrom, Programming Director of the Festival.  "We are thrilled to present works representing the best in international children's films as Chicago premieres.  The Festival is a wonderful way for children to learn about other cultures, experience diverse viewpoints, and discover the art of cinema from around the globe," said Nancy Goldenberg, Director of Children's Programs.

This year, more than 100 film directors, producers, and other industry professionals will attend the Festival. While here, they will teach workshops, attend screenings and host Q & A sessions after their films.

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival is the largest and oldest film festival for children in North America.  It is the only children's film festival in the world to be designated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Academy Award qualifying festival.

Admission to the Festival is $6 for children; $9 for adults. Festival schedule and ticket information is available by calling (773) 281-9075 or online at

Saturday:  We highly recommend going to The Nature Museum at 1:00pm to see Light of the River and meet the director.

Director Tetsuo Hirakawa

Meet animated film director Tetsuo Hirakawa!
This year we will be honored by the presence of noted animated film director Tetsuo Hirakawa, who will speak to audiences after the presentation of his animated film, Light of the River.

Light of the River
Light of the River
Saturday, October 30, 1:00pm
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 North Cannon Drive

Light of the River (Chicago premiere) is a lovely animated film about a unique family of rats which sets out on a long journey to find a safe place to call home. Forced out of their peaceful riverbank by construction, the country rat family encounters many challenges - and kindnesses from new city animal friends.  Told through gorgeous animation, Light of the River celebrates the splendor of untouched nature, the freedom of embracing new challenges, and the joy of discovering kindred spirits.

Light of the River was first broadcast in Japan in June of 2009, as part of the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) environmental campaign "Save the Future." It is the directorial debut of Tetsuo Hirakawa, a former member of the Tokyo animation studio Madhouse, who previously did key animation and in-between animation for productions including The Animatrix (2006), Atashin'chi (2006), The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2006),Crayon Shin-chan: Sanpun Pokkiri Daishingeki (2006), One Piece: Omatsuri Danshaku To Himitsu No Shima (2006), Crayon Shin-chan: Densetsu Wo Yobu Odore! Amigo! (2006), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Days with Coo (2007), Nodame Cantabile (2006), and Detroit Metal City (2008).  

NANOWRIMO  And so it begins again.....   This will by my 4th Nanowrimo in a row, Du-Jay's 3rd, and Sagezilla's 2nd.    The crazy, hard challenge is to write an entire 50,000 word novel between  November 1st and 30th!    The youth version just requires an age appropriate, but still challenging, word count and suggestions by age are on the site.

It's loads of fun, with participants around the world, an active on line site, and numerous local write ins and meet ups.    I'll still be running win a disc Wednesday and popping in with updates, but the blogging and freelance writing will take a back seat for the month.   As a busy writer and Mom to two young kids, it's the only way my novel writing ever moves forward.   The kids' needs always take precidence, then by the time food, dishes, laundry and everything else get done, my poor novels are starved for a few minutes of my time.    Once a year they get the lion's share of my divided attention.

I'm working on a mystery series and the 4th book will be particularly fun, as it's set in Sweden.    No more secrets or plot spoilers.   I'm hoping to edit, and shop around all 4 finished novels later this year.    I've always wanted to be JK Rowling or Corneila Funke "when I grow up".    So nanowrimo here we come.   Saturday's kick off party is at Dave and Busters on Clark Street in Chicago from 12-2.    Non Nano friends and family are welcome, too, but RSVPs are required.   Check in on the Nanowrimo Site for more info.    If you are participating in the Chicago area, be sure to visit the forums, and choose Chicago as your region and local group.


1.  Frankenplaza downtown

Crowd watching flame juggler performing

Franken Plaza (Daley Plaza)

This Halloween, Daley Plaza becomes Franken Plaza for three days, October 29-31, with special performances, a Monster Bash - complete with prize give-aways, hayrides and trick-or-treating!

Lucky number 13 strikes again! Thirteen performers from Chicago's very own Midnight Circus perform at the 13th annual Chicagoween celebration. Watch as Midnight Circus defies gravity and amazes audiences of all ages with heart-stopping feats of acrobatics & spooktacular theatrics!

On Saturday, October 30th, don’t miss the Monster Bash complete with a costume contest and treats. Visitors to Daley Plaza are witness to its transformation into Franken Plaza where both kids and adults can take part in arts & crafts and see performances that will thrill.

Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman of WCIU will be our costume showcase and contest emcees for the Franken Plaza Monster Bash.  The showcase and contest will take place from 11am to 1pm. It's all FREE.

Hallowed Halls

Photo of 2 children in Halloween costumesThe Chicago Cultural Center is transformed into a spooky, magical destination for Halloween fun.

Come in costume and join Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop for family-friendly hands-on activities, drama workshops and games.  Enjoy a special performance of Child’s Play Touring Theatre’s One Monster after Another, plus giveaways and more.

Activities recommended for children ages 6-12. Pre-registration is not required. All young participants must be accompanied by an adult.

Mask and Costume-making
10 am – 12:30 pm

Add the finishing touch to your Halloween costume with help from Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop.

Drama Workshops and Theater Games
10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Create your own scary story, bring a favorite Halloween tale to life, and participate in fun and spooky theater games with teachers from Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop.

Performance: One Monster after Another
12:30 – 1:15 pm

Join Child's Play Touring Theatre in this rockin' rendezvous with witches, monsters, ghosts and ghouls. All the thrills and chills of Halloween night are combined with music, mystery, dance and song-- a truly rollicking ride to sweep you along!

4.  Merchants Trick or Treat in Andersonville, Lincoln Square, (Saturday the 30th) Damen Ave. (Halloween, the 31st)

5.   SATURDAY Busy Beaver Button Company all ages party--bands and buttons--what could be better?   $5 for everyone.   Kids welcome.   Make your own glow in the dark buttons with this Logan Square favorite.   These guys rock!!

Put on your glow-in-the-dark buttons and make your way to the all ages, Halloween rock show on Saturday in Chicago!
The party moved to Pancho’s located at 2200 N. California in Logan Square.  Come at 7PM for bands Pink Torpedo, Loose Dudes, andWhite Mystery as well as your favorite button-making cast.
Of course you’ll have your choice of glow-in-the-dark buttons brought to you by yours truly.  Click here for the Facebook Event!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ABC Wednesday: O is for Orange--Colorful Fun At CircEsteem Circus Skills Class

ABC Wednesday is up to already!   Circus classes at CircEsteem are so much fun we wanted to write this Orange Ode.   

Sign ups for the next session of circus fun are going on now, so click HERE if you're in the Chicago area and want more info.

Click on the link below for more O fun from around the world.

Win A Disc Wednesday: (The Presidents of the United States of America, Chris Ballew) Caspar Babypants

Brand new release --available Nov. 2nd!

Here's another awesome new release we'll be giving away to THREE luck winners.   Your first chance to win happens this week.   Enter at the bottom of this very post.  Then, don't be too disappointed if we pass you by.   There will be two more chances to win, when you least expect it.   Sometimes once just isn't enough, and this CD is a great one.   

Don't let the name fool you.   This is not another Barney or Wiggles knock off.  Caspar Babypants has all the irreverant genius of Chris Ballew, front man and Grammy nominated songwriter for four times platinum rock band, The Presidents of the United States of America.

We've rocked out to The Presidents of the United States since BC--before children--way back in 1995.   And those songs still live in infamy on the ipod.   We actually have a little blue dune buggy (69 VW dune buggy) and an abiding love of peaches, 80's punk covers, witty word play, and quirky innuendos.

We've always introduced our kids to a wide range of musical styles and artists, and not censored much.   Music is music and there's so much great stuff out there that we don't limit the kids to stamped and approved "kids' music".  But sometimes that method comes back to bite you in the butt!   If the sound of your littles belting out "I can't get your body out of my mind" leaves you a little green around the gills, but you don't want to sacrifice clever lyrics that make you chuckle when you're stressed out and running late, here's a kid disc you've gotta have.

Sagezilla and Du-Jay both enjoyed this 20 tune disc, despite being well beyond babyhood.   A number of songs that include the word baby like "All You Pretty Babies", Baby's Getting Up", "Bounce Your Baby", and "Baby And The Animals" may be off putting to slightly older kids who consider themselves more grown up than that.   Chris Ballew does seem to have the preschool "swing set" in mind here.   That said, this disc is not babyish or condescending and these are some good, fun tunes that all ages can sing and dance to.

My kids grew up on Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, so they were excited to recognize "Sliver" on This is Fun!   Chris Ballew doesn't just cover it--he's actually got Krist Novoselic from Nirvana on bass!

Stone Gossard, rhythm guitarist of Pearl Jam says, "Caspar Babypants isn't music just for kids.  It's fantastically hooky, cool, authentic pop."   

Ballew's goal is to reduce stress in everyday family life.   He says, "I'm very serious about making something to help the world relax and help parents take time to sing with their kids and enjoy music together.   I work with a number of non-profit groups that focus on early childhood education and parent education and provide assistance to homeless and low-income families.   If I can make songs that lighten the load for someone under stress or get a family singing, then I am doing what I was put here to do!"  

Ballew has succeeded in making some seriously silly songs that will have families relaxing, dancing and laughing together.   

Caspar Babypants is  Chris Ballew, lead singer and Grammy®-nominated songwriter for the four-times platinum rock and roll band The Presidents of the United States of America.  As Caspar Babypants, however, Ballew’s focus is on music for kids and families.  The 2009 debut Caspar Babypants album HERE I AM! was named the #1 Album of the Year by Warren Truitt on Kids’ Music That Rocks and was also included on the Zooglobble list of “My Favorite Kids’ and Family Albums of 2009.”  Later in 2009 the second Caspar Babypants CD MORE PLEASE!  was chosen among the Best of the Year by Cool Mom Picks,

Chris Ballew as Caspar Babypants is a master storyteller, and the very intelligent, compelling music he creates never gets in the way of the “story line” of the song. The third Caspar Babypants album – set for release on November 2 – is THIS IS FUN! It’s filled with great stories dressed up as songs, providing families with a  wonderful listening experience that’s at once classic and contemporary, drawing as much from traditional American folk and bluegrass tunes and African American spirituals as it does from The Presidents of the United States of America and Nirvana. The album’s twenty songs are straightforward, yet quirky; edgy yet friendly, set in musical styles ranging from the hard-driving shuffle of “Speedy Centipede” to the country stylings of “All You Pretty Babies” and “The Cuckoo” to the sweet goofiness of “Googly Eyes.”  Special guests on THIS IS FUN! include Krist Novoselic from Nirvana playing bass on the Nirvana song “Sliver,” as well as contributions by preeminent children’s musicians Elizabeth Mitchell on the duet “Dark of Night” and Charlie Hope on the timeless folk song “Mister Rabbit.”

Chris Ballew made a conscious decision to limit his time rocking out with The Presidents and devote most of his energy to working with kids and families.  He’s on a mission to use his music to help lessen the stress of everyday family life.

“#1 ALBUM OF 2009:  HERE I AM! This is modern folk music at its best, and some of these tunes are destined to become classics. Chris Ballew, of the indie rock band The Presidents of the United States of America, delivers a debut children's album that's full of witty, wordy, silly, gentle, quietly acoustic new traditional tunes.”
– Warren Truitt, Kids’ Music That Rocks
  HERE I AM! It’s just simple, organic kid-folk and pop.  With his Caspar Babypants project, Chris Ballew might make a whole bunch of great CDs for the family. HERE I AM! is the first of them. Highly recommended.” – Stefan Shepherd, Zooglobble
“BEST OF 2009:  MORE PLEASE!  I'm betting Caspar Babypants will be a household name soon enough, especially with his second CD following on the heels of his much-loved debut, HERE I AM! ...  But what I really love are his slightly twisted lyrics, which he's honed for years as the front man of the Presidents of the United States of America (remember ‘Lump’?).  MORE PLEASE! is made of the same oddball stuff sprinkled with kid-friendly sweetness.”
– Christina Refford, Cool Mom Picks

You can get more info at the Caspar Babypants website.   Enter here for your chance to win!   One entry per family per week.   Enter now through Tues. midnight.   Winner will be announced next Wednesday.

Win A Disc Wednesday: The Flannery Brothers--The New Explorers Club--And The Winner Is...

Gloria, who likes to listen to hip hop with her daughter, Alanis, is our winner of The New Explorers Club.   Big Congrats!   We'll send that right out to you. Please e-mail your contact info to   Information remains private and won't be shared, sold,  stored or used for any other purpose than to bring you some great, new tunes.   Winners have one week to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.   Enjoy!

We'll have 2 more chances to win The New Explorers Club in coming weeks.    Click HERE if you missed ChiIL Mama's review and link to a fun, FREE 12 song Flannery Brothers download.  If you wanna learn more, check out their web site HERE for ordering info and videos.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broadway in Chicago: The Lion King

We're off to cover Disney's The Lion King tonight at the gorgeous Cadillac Palace Theatre.   We'll have a photo filled recap including a meet n greet with the cast.

Also, we'll soon have a best of fall/winter theater feature, including discount ticket specials to Redmoon's Winter Pageant and Chicago Childrens Theatre's remounting of the impressive show, The Hundred Dresses, opening November 6th.   We also can't wait to check out Lookingglass Theatre's Peter Pan.

Check back in early and often!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's All About Bars, Beam, Floor and Vault

Not a high tech bank robbery..........gymnastics!   

Sagezilla rocked the meet again yesterday, raising her scores in everything but vault, where she slipped under half a point difference.   The competition was tougher in Romeoville than Berwyn, with twice as many kids in her level.   Also, they were all 7 year olds, not mixed 6-7 like last time.

All the long hours of practicing paid off.   She took 1st in bars, floor and vault with a 4th in beam and 2nd place all around!   The next meet is in the city November 14th, and we'll find out who qualifies for state.

i ♥ Faces--Pink Week (Breast Cancer Awareness)

It's breast cancer awareness week over at i ♥ Faces.   This is our lovely friend, Marla, the Vegan Cupcake Fairy, to remind us that healthy eating, exercise, and clean living can go a long way toward healing our bodies and our world.   If only there were a cancer fairy, who could wave her healing wand and painlessly zap those mutating cells, and leave you with a tasty cupcake for good measure.   The reality of detecting, treating and living with cancer is much more difficult.

If the stats hold true (and why should they--many other illnesses, especially environmentally linked maladies, are on the rise!) 1 out of every 8 women alive today will develop breast cancer during their life times.   And it's not just a girl can get breast cancer, too.

Please see your doctor for early detection and do the research to eliminate as many carcinogenic toxins from your home and your neighborhood as you can.   This affects us all.   The fate of the planet is your fate.   Please be part of the solution as we work toward finding a cure and toward access to quality treatment for all, regardless of income level.

Mellow Yellow Monday--ChiILin' At Soccer With The Tigers

It's that childhood right of passage--fall park district soccer.   We're the orange Tigers team, but yellow was in abundance from our coach, Tiger's, yellow shoes, to the opposing team's neon shirts.   We tied the game, so everyone wins!

Click the link below for more mellow yellow fun from across the globe.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Look For ChiIL Mama Sunday: At The Punkin' Prom With Chic-A-Go-Go!

Miss Mia and The Hamburglars

Chic-A-Go-Go Punkin’ Prom today at noon

Lincoln Hall-oween presents Chic-A-Go-Go Punkin' Prom: A pumpkin carving, costume dance party for kids of all ages.  

All of the pumpkins are now spoken for- due to space constraints, there's no more room for additional pumpkin carvers. You're still welcome (and encouraged!) to stop by for all the non-carving fun, though- hope to see you!

ChiIL Mama, Du-Jay and Sagezilla had a blast at the taping of Chic-A-Go-Go's big Halloween Show featuring ROCKTOPUS AND THE SCALLYWAGS & THE HAMBURGLARS!  We even got to rock out with Chicago's own kiddie Ramones, The Boogers, and many other wacky bands!  

          The Boogers-Crusty, Sticky and Greeny

Check out the "making of" slide show below.

Bring the kids by for pumpkin carving, dancing, contests, a raffle drawing, and more with Miss Mia & Ratso from Chic-A-Go-Go!

They'll also be showing the Bears game in the front bar for the 1st half and the 2nd half on their 220" HD projector screen in the back room- bring Dad along and have a blast with the whole family!

Since its 1996 debut, CHIC-A-GO-GO has been one of the most original and
entertaining shows on Chicago television. People of all ages, colors and backgrounds, linked by their love of music, dance together in harmony on the Chic-A-Go-Go set. The dancers, who range in age from newborns to youthful seniors, move to the latest hip hop music, as well as classic R&B, rock n’
roll, punk, funk and all points in between.

Lincoln Hall is thrilled to present a CHIC-A-GO-GO Halloween event, hosted by Ratso, the rat puppetwith his human sidekick, Miss Mia. Miss Mia and Ratso will lead kids of all ages through group dances like the "Limb-Oh", the Zombie and the Monster Mash. There will also be a costume parade along with a costume contest and a pumpkin carving contest. This all ages event is a great way to wear your costumes as much as you can this Halloween season, although coming as yourself is just as fun.

       special delivery-box boy

Don’t miss the Chic-A-Go-Go Punkin’ Prom at Lincoln Hall TODAY, Sunday, October 24th at 
12:00PM. This event is FREE and all ages.    All pumpkins have been reserved at this time.   Click HERE for more details.

Ghosties and ghoulies and Bears, oh my!   The Bears game will be on today, for interested parents.   So you can watch and have a brew, and entertain the kidlets, too.   Here's the schedule:

- 12:30-1:15 dancing & punkin carving in music room. Bears in front room/main bar.

- 1:15-half time end: contests in music room.

- 2nd half of game watching & punkin carving in music room. Chic-a-go-go help kids with punkin carving.

Lincoln Hall

2424 N Lincoln Ave

ChicagoIL 60614 USA

TEL:Work 773-525-2501 

We even saw John Herndon (brown shirt), drummer for Tortoise, rockin' out with his kids on the dance floor.

Watch Channel 19 every Tuesday at 8:30pm and Wednesday at 3:30pm for these upcoming Chic-A-Go-Go Cablecasts:


Show #696:

Show #697:

Show #698:

Click HERE for more upcoming Chic-A-Go-Go Episodes