Chicago Bloggers Brunch and Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Things have been a little hectic so I haven’t had the chance to share here about the Bloggers Brunch I attended at Navy Pier a couple weekends ago.  The brunch was hosted by Child’s Play Communication, a great network I belong to.  And was sponsored by some great companies like Playtex, Mega, Coldstone Creamery, Backyard Safari, Restaurant.com, Belly Washers and Road Rippers by Toy State.
This was a great group of sponsors to talk with and learn from.  Most were brands I was familiar with already but Belly Washers (as well as Tummy Ticklers) was a new brand to me.  These mess proof bottles are filled with 100% juice and can be reused.  Since we are literally always on the go we regularly use sports bottles so I thought these were great.  They have big selection of characters so you’re sure to find one your kids will like.  My super hero fans have Ironman, Superman and Batman.  They loved the juice and we have been using the bottles every day since we got them.  They securely close without being impossible for the kids to open.  This is a problem we’ve had with other bottles which led to the boys using their teeth to open them and quickly made the tops garbage.You could use the tops on other bottles but I like the shape of these bottles over standard sports/water bottles because they don’t slip out of their hands as easily.  Belly Washers and Tummy Ticklers can be found at Walmart and other leading retailers nationwide, including many gas stations, which I love the idea of for those days when I forget to grab bottles for them (not that I even forget anything).
With three kids, all whom were bottle fed, Playtex and I go way back.  But of course they are always coming up with new things and improving old ones.  They showed us a new straw cup that is designed to let mom (or dad) squeeze the cup helping get the liquid up the straw.  I thought this was genius, as I’ve had both great straw users and one that was totally clueless as to what to do with a straw.  It usually only takes that first successful attempt with one but sometimes it just doesn’t click for them, or they are patient enough to get anything.  This cup allows you to clue them in.  

In a house full of boys, we aren’t really in short supply of cars.  But my boys have fallen in love of one of the cars I received as it has a dial on the back that allows them to “scratch” the music the car plays.  I’m just hoping maybe they can actually make me some money with their “mad mixin’ skills” someday in return for enduring, I mean enjoying their music.
Backyard Safari in another company whom we already loved.  But I was giving one of their small lanterns and knew immediately that this would be the item I’d gift to Johnny when I got home that evening.  He was THRILLED with his new light.  I was nervous about how long ti would last to I encouraged him to put it up so he’d have it at bedtime as he wanted.  He has used it every night to read by, played with it through out the day etc and its still going strong.  So it’s a hit with me and Johnny!! 
Coldstone Creamery treated us to this delicious creation.  OMG cookie dough, fudge, chocolate shavings…what more could a girl want?  And they gave me a little something to share with you all too, so keep your eyes peeled for a Coldstone giveaway…soon!!
Restaurant.com is a personal favorite of mine.  We don’t have a ton of places locally on there but one of my faves is so we can go and have an amazing meal for half the price.  If you haven’t checked Restaurant.com out yet, you should.  They offer gift cards for your holiday giving!
And Mega, it’s hard to say which line we love more, Mega Blocks or Rose Art!  But we are definitely fans.  And I have to say I didn’t realize how many licensed characters were available in Mega blocks, including Marvel, Dora, Thomas and many more.  Mega, generously gave an amazing Thomas set that I have yet to decide whether I’m going to give to the boys just because or save it for under the tree from Santa.  If I don’t decide soon they’ll probably find it (its not hidden at all just in the trunk of my car) and decide for me!
In addition to the great sponsors, was a great panel discussion.  I learned a little about some things I need to work on here but mostly I felt confirmed in a lot of the things I’m doing and how I feel. 
But by far the best part of it all was meeting other bloggers, many whom I’ve talked to a ton on line but had never met face to face.  Some whom I had never talked to until the night before but connected with to share a cab from the train station to Navy Pier (thanks again to Cher from Mama’s Money Savers).  She was a terrific first person to meet for the day!  And some who’s blogs I read everyday and had no clue lived locally.  And I ended the day with a very gracious ride tot he train station from Rita from Look It’s Meg Ryan’s Mom.  I have to say for my first real bloggers event I was blown away by the kindness and openness of all the ladies.  There has been a lot of talk of cattiness with some events and I didn’t feel that at all.  It was a great time and I thank every one of the wonderful ladies I met for making my first experience in real life interaction with bloggers a great one.
Of course, I didn’t get any photos of the ladies and I, I don’t know why!!  But I DID get a photo with these guys?
As part of the Chicago Toy and Game fair, there is a Star Wars breakfast (I didn’t attend the breakfast these guys were wondering around afterward).  And since I didn’t have my boys with me to get their photo with them, I decided I HAD to get a photo taken with them!

The Chicago Toy and Game Fair was not as crowded as I thought it would be.  But I am glad I decided to skip bringing the kids.  The older boys might have had fun as there were lots of opportunities to play games but I don’t think there would have been enough for Bryan to do to make it worth it.  However, if you are a game enthusiast like my new buddy BlueViolet from A Nut in a Nutshell, you will be in heaven.  The people there are more than willing to take the time to teach you the games AND they had some fabulous specials for the show!

Disclosure: Outside of the food and gifts given by the sponsors I was not paid to attend or write about this event.  All opinions expressed are my own honest, personal feedback about the products and companies.

KeyLime Cove Waterpark

As the snow continues to come down here in IL, we were getting a little cabin fever in our house.
It’s been three LONG years since we’ve gotten to take a vacation and it SEEMS like its been that long since we’ve been able to play outside and run off some energy. So we took advantage of some deals at KeyLime Cove and packed up for a night.
We arrived around 5pm on Friday. It was pretty busy (my husband said an employee told him they were totally booked) but there were still tables in the water-park and plenty of room in all the pool areas. We spent about 3 hours Friday night in the water-park )before retreating to our rooms for some snacks I’d brought along.) The water park wasn’t quite as big as I’d imagined. But it had an activity pool, with 6 or 7 basketball hopes in it. A large water playground (shown in the background of the first photo below) with several slides of variety sizes for kids. Plus tons of water guns and buckets to be dump on an unexpecting passerby. And of course the huge pineapple that dropped 250 gallons of water every so often!
They had 4 large water slides which none of us tried out, including ‘the toilet bowl’ which my brother in-law had tried on a previous trip and assures me was a ton of fun.
And a small lazy river that runs through a wave pool. The older boys LOVED the lazy river!! (Bryan wasn’t comfortable in an inner-tube so he couldn’t go.) And they ALL loved the wave pool. I spent MANY hours hanging with Bryan in the wave pool. (And I can still feel it my shoulder!)
They also had a small area, secured in a gated fence, with smaller wading pools and small slides.
And last but not least a large hot tub. I didn’t make it in but my husband testes it out and assures me it was awesome! Maybe next time!
Saturday we were in the pool just after it opened at 10am and stayed until almost 6pm. The boys were all exhausted. Mission accomplished. Had fun, burned LOTS of energy and I think we may just be able to make it until the weather gets better now!!!
Edited to Add: Someone asked if my boys are good swimmers and if I thought KLC was a good place if they weren’t. My boys can NOT swim. I guess I didn’t get any photos of them in their life jackets but they were in life jackets the entire time, as it gave all of us some added security. But at 6 and 7 years old, the older boys could touch the bottom of any of the areas were in. I would say that I am a very nervous mom when it comes to my kids and water but once the boys thoroughly understood my boundaries (so I can see them, I have this issue water or not) I was really able to relax and just watch them have a good time. Because Bryan was happiest in the wave pool and that took some hanging on to him, I was a little sore from that but I was pretty confident that the older 2 were fine.
Here are a few photos of our fun. I didn’t take many as I focused on just spending the time enjoying each other….