Kick Off Chicago Preseason Football with Essex Inn

Essex Inn sponsored this post and provided game tickets and hotel stay, however, the opinions I share in this post are my own.

bears preseason football essex inn chicago sports staycation package celebrity appearance game tickets hotel transportation

Check out this amazing preseason football game package from Essex Inn.  In addition to watching the BEST¹ team in the NFL without the threat of frostbite this Essex Inn package includes everything you’ll need for a unforgettable game day experience.  This is the perfect package for any fan with a reception with former Bears wide receiver, Marcus Robinson and fan pack with game day goodies. Being only minutes away from the stadium means you’ll be back at the beautiful Essex Inn in no time where you’ll be able to enjoy all the fabulous amenities (including rooftop pool, fitness center and free wi-fi)  it has to offer.

Add a second night for more time to explore Chicago.  Visit for tons of fabulous area attractions!  While you’re there, be sure to check out the variety of other fabulous packages available from Essex Inn.

Join  special guest Marcus Robinson* (former Bears wide receiver) at Chicago’s Essex Inn for finger food and football talk at our exclusive Pre-Season Reception before each game.
Don’t miss out! Availability is very limited so sack this deal and secure your spot for these special events.

Starting from just $219** per person, the package includes:

  • Entrance to the special Pre-Season Reception prior to the game
  • Fan pack filled with game day goodies
  • Two tickets to a pre-season Chicago home game
  • One night’s accommodations for two people, including tax
  • Hotel valet parking for one car during your stay
  • Free pool, fitness center, sauna and Wi-Fi
  • Free shuttle to The Magnificent Mile and Museum Campus, please check at reception for schedule

To book, call 312-542-5119 and ask for the Pre-Season Pre-Game Event Package.

Hurry, book your package now before they are all sold out! Our reservations team is available Monday – Friday 8am to 4pm CST at 312-542-5119.

*Special guest appearance is not guaranteed and may be cancelled or substituted without notice.
**This package is designed for two people sharing a room. One night stay required, pre-paid at the time of booking and is non-refundable. Talk to our package specialists about taking your whole family.

The Pre-Season games are August 8 and August 14.

Don’t forget to ask about adding a second night!


¹Claims not endorsed by Essex Inn and are the sole responsibility and opinion of the writer!

Kenosha Kingfish, Ozzie Guillén and Family History


This past weekend we finally got the chance to get up to see a Kenosha Kingfish baseball game.  Because of our love of the sport, we’ve been known to take in a game of just about every level at a wide variety of locations and stadiums.  But there is some definite personal family history at the newly renovated/updated Simmons Field in Kenosha, WI.  You see, my father played baseball at Simmons Field for the Kenosha Pirates, a semi-pro team sharing the fields with legendary players like Satchel Paige.  Simmons Field started as a family tradition with my dad’s Grandpa taking him to games when he was young and comes full circle with him taking his grandson’s there….

And what a great time we had making a ton of fabulous memories.  The Kenosha Kingfish have done an amazing job with not only the stadium but the entire experience.



This particular night the Kingfish honored the Kenosha Comets.  If you’ve watched a League of Their Own you’ll recognize some of these uniforms (and if you haven’t, you should, right now!!!)…



AND Ozzie Guillén was at the field signing autographs.  This made my lil sports collector super happy. (Yes we’re Cubs fans FIRST and FOREMOST but have love for all of our Chicago teams).


Timmy just happened to be wearing Bryan’s Sox hat from T-Ball because he was tired of wearing it after a double header, and Ozzie insisted on signing it for him in addition to the photo!


It was a great, beautiful day for a ball game with my boys.  And the fact that the Kingfish won was just icing on the cake.



And the fireworks…were the cherry on top!


Family Fun at WWE Payback

Our family is being hosted by WWE in exchange for our coverage of this event.

I’ll be honest and say this totally isn’t my scene. But the boys are asked to have an open mind when attending events I’d like to go to so I’m doing the same. Plus, there’s always the shirtless good looking men to get me through the night too!

My boys haven’t watched much, if any,  WWE on TV but have watched a ton of best of videos on youtube and really enjoy wrestling so it should be fun.  I’m assure that WWE is in fact great family entertainment so I’m excited to surprise the boys with these tickets on Sunday!  If you want to check it out in person visit Ticketmaster for WWE Payback tickets at Allstate Arena.  Otherwise you can get full info on how else you can watch WWE Payback here.

Leapin’ Lipizzans! Tempel Lipizzan Performances to Begin June 21

It’s funny how often we miss out on the local attractions literally in our backyard. The Tempel Lipizzans are very close to us and every summer I swear I will find the time to take the boys, and every summer wraps up without making it there. Hopefully THIS summer will be the one!
Tempel Lipizzan chicago local family fun event attraction show horses performance 1 Best known for seemingly gravity-defying leaps that have prompted many to describe their breed as the equine equivalent to Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Tempel Lipizzans will begin performing their internationally-acclaimed “Ballet of the White Stallions” on Saturday, June 21, this summer. Performances are scheduled for 6 – 8 p.m. on select Saturday evenings, and 1 – 3 p.m. on select Sundays and Wednesdays, through Sep. 13. All shows take place at Tempel Farms in rural Old Mill Creek, Ill., where the rare Lipizzan horses are bred, trained and perform.

Set to classical music, Tempel Lipizzan performances follow the horses’ training from the basic movements of the youngest stallions, through “high school” dressage – rhythmic, choreographed dance steps on the ground – and the dramatic Pegasus-like “Airs Above the Ground” for which the breed is famed. Lipizzans are one of very few breeds that possess the combination of physical power, athleticism and suppleness to perform these airborne moves.

An early breed established in Europe many centuries ago, these powerful horses were originally trained for medieval battle maneuvers for royal armies. Their graceful moves were refined to a form of entertainment during the late Renaissance in the royal courts of Europe. Today, two places in the world are most closely associated with classical Lipizzan performance, the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, and Tempel Farms in Chicago’s far north suburbs. Here, the dancing stallions continue to entertain and delight audiences ranging from local horse lovers and history buffs, to urban families seeking a countryside getaway, and international tourists.

Following each performance, guests are invited to enjoy a self-guided tour through the stallion stable, visit the yearlings in the pasture, and ask questions of Tempel Lipizzan rider-trainers. Tempel Farms’ outdoor café opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on performanTempel Lipizzan chicago local family fun event attraction show horses performance 2ce Sundays and Wednesdays, and at 4:30 p.m. on performance Saturdays for dinner and drinks.

Tempel Farms is located in northern Lake County, Ill., a 50-minute drive from Chicago or Milwaukee, near Great America.  Saturday evening performances are scheduled for June 21, July 19, August 16 and September 13. Matinee shows will be held on June 25, June 29, July 6, July 9, July 13, July 23, July 27, Aug. 3, Aug. 6, Aug. 10, Aug. 20, Aug. 24, Sep. 3 and Sep. 7. Tickets purchased in advance are $25 for adults, $20 for active military and veterans, and $15 for children under the age of 15. Tickets purchased at the gate are $30 for adults and $20 for children and active military/veterans.

In case of inclement weather, performances are held indoors.  Parking is free. To purchase tickets online or for more information, visit or call (847) 623-7272.

The Tempel Lipizzans began in 1958 when the late Tempel and Esther Smith imported 20 Lipizzans from the Austrian stud farm in Piber and started what became the largest privately owned herd of Lipizzans in the world. Their prestigious appearances include several Presidential Inaugurals and special exhibitions at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Taste of Chicago, Ravinia Festival, Arlington Racecourse and Madison Square Garden.  In 1997, the President of Austria presented the Smith family with the Officer’s cross, Grand Declaration of Honour for Service to the Republic of Austria, in recognition of their “careful management of a cultural institution with such close ties to Austria.” Tempel Farms is the only place in the United States where these rare white horses are bred, trained and perform on the same property.

Lincolnshire Marriott Resort Makes a Great Family Destination



Our family was recently hosted by the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort for a quick staycation.  I had previously been to the resort for events and weddings but had never stayed overnight.  I was excited to see what there was for families.




We arrived late in the afternoon.  And found that the beauty of the location started before we even entered.  The grounds are gorgeous and the boys wanted a photo by this water feature before we headed in to check in.



The lobby was also beautiful.



The room was very comfortable.



And the view was very pretty.



But our favorite part….was having the pool and hot tub almost entirely to ourselves.

IMG_20140503_213754 The fact that it was not crowded really gave us a chance to relax, be silly and enjoy each other’s company!!

IMG_20140503_214049We spent several hours playing in the pool before heading to bed.


In the morning we got up and had a fabulous breakfast buffet at The Fairfield Inn Restaurant with made to order omelets, freshly prepared waffles and pancakes and lots of fresh fruit, pastries etc.


And I had coffee!  And the server made my morning by even bringing me a to go cup to fix a cup to take with me!!



After breakfast we wandered around the property until it was time for the show we were seeing at the theater (link to my post about that here).  I have to say I really was surprised by how great of a family destination Lincolnshire Marriott Resort was.  The staff was all fabulous and we all had a great time!


And it was totally a bonus that The Cheesecake Factory is less than a mile away so we HAD to stop there.


School House Rock at Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire

IMG_20140504_093253We were recently invited to check out the Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire.  Specifically were got to check out a Sunday morning show of School House Rock part of their Theater for Young Audiences series.  This happened to be the final show of the season for the series, but no worries, they’ll be back at it next school year.

I have been to a few shows at the theater over the years so I didn’t really have any doubts about the quality of the show.  And the boys enjoy live theater so I was confident they’d like it.  But I was very pleased with how much fun it was.  The show was super cute and included some great pop culture references.  The singing and choreography were fabulous.  And I LOVED that at the end the performers came out, introduced all the other individuals involved in the production and then took some time for an Q&A.  As a mom I thought this was extra special because my boys enjoy theater and often have questions about how things happen.

Boys are already asking when we can go back for another show!!


Special note, we arrived about a half hour before and there was almost no one there, the theater filled quickly in the very last few minutes before the show.


Jumping Fun at Jump America in Gurnee IL

Jump America trampoline park gurnee il family night (1)Recently the boys and I went to check out Jump America’s Saturday Family Night.  I have to say I was not at all prepared for the chaos that found us when we arrived.  With the “family night” deal being specifically from 6-8pm I would have anticipated them being ready to move everyone in quickly.  But it took almost a full hour before the last of the crowd was able to get in and jumping (including us).

I was, however, pleasantly surprised that with the all the people that were there (though management insists they are never that busy, even on a Saturday night) that the boys never really struggled to find a place to jump.  There were short wait times to play in the dodge-ball area or jump into the block pits but nothing I thought was unreasonable and there was always an open trampoline in the straight jump areas.

As a mom I was pleased with the amount of monitoring there was to keep the kids safe while jumping and that there were separate areas for different ages.  There was an area for kids 7 and under I believe, 8-13 and 14 and over.

jump america gurnee il trampoline park family fun


In addition to the foam block pit area and two dodge ball areas (which also seemed to be separated by age or size though I didn’t see them specifically labeled) there was also this fun basketball area where two kids are allowed to play against each other (with a hoop behind their opponent and a slightly lower than hoop level mesh ‘wall’ between then) for 3 minute games.jump america gurne trampoline basketball


The Family Night package also includes pizza, however we didn’t get pizza.  I’m not really sure about letting the kids eat and then continue jumping…it just didn’t seem like a wise idea.  But the pizza smelled and looked good BUT some people did wait in line for what looked like a decent amount of time so if you didn’t have a non-jumper to wait for you, you’d be losing precious jumping time.

We stayed for the full two hours and while the boys insisted they still had plenty of jump left, I think they were really slowing down.

The boys loved it and I’m sure will be begging me to go back shortly.  The regular rate of $12 per child for the first hour is a little steep for me but I might consider investing in a punch card or package for something fun to do to blow off some extra energy especially during the cold months!

Jumping into the foam pit:

Bryan jumping:

White Sox hoping for Konerko return

Guest post from Gemma Collier

white soxChicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has admitted he is hopeful Paul Konerko will make the decision to re-sign with the franchise despite last season’s dismal campaign. In what was the Sox worst season since 1970, there have been a lot of movements behind the scenes since the end of the year, including Konerko’s initial decision not to yet sign up for what would be his 16th season as a White Sox player.

Konerko’s below-par season was one of the key reasons behind the White Sox’ struggles throughout the year. The 37-year old said at the end of last season that he felt he would only be used in a part-time role if he played next season, which would be a tough step down for a player who has been an integral part of the White Sox for the past 15-years.

Last year’s losing record has clearly had an impact on the White Sox fans hopes for next year, not to mention with the 2014 Betfair MLB odds, but there has been some significant moves made to ensure 2013 isn’t another waste of a year for the franchise.

White Sox chairman Reinsdorf made it clear the decision regarding Konerko’s future was down to whether or not the six-time All Star felt he wanted to play another season.

 “He’s earned the right to come back if he wants to come back. He’s been the most popular player in the last 15 years that we’ve had. He’s a terrific teammate. He’s our captain. He just has to make a decision whether he wants to come back or not.”

On the back of a disappointing 63-99 finish in 2013, the White Sox have been busy getting ready for next season and wasting little time in ensuring next year isn’t a repeat of what happened last season. As well as agreeing to a six-year, $68-million deal with Cuban free-agent first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu, the franchise have kept Adam Dunn under contract for one more season and Jeff Keppinger for two more seasons.

While those signings will have boosted the White Sox ahead of next season, the management will know how beneficial it would be to the younger players in the squad to have Konerko there next season.




Wicked Returns to Chicago for 10th Anniversary

Will YOU be painting the town green this month?  Are you a WICKED super fan?  Unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this production yet but I have heard so many amazing things about it from everyone that I do hope to see it very soon!


black on white title only





 Broadway In Chicago is honored to announce that WICKED, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, will spend its 10th anniversary with Chicago audiences, celebrating ten phenomenal years on Broadway, Wednesday, Oct. 30.  WICKED will play the Oriental Theatre (24 West Randolph) for a limited eight-week engagement through December 21, 2013.  In the ten days leading up to the anniversary on October 30, Broadway In Chicago will host contests, giveaways and special events to honor WICKED throughout the city.

DAY 10 

Monday, Oct. 21: Rejocify and Festivate with 9 Friends at the 10th Anniversary Performance

Want a chance to be the most “Popular” among all your friends?  Everyone who purchases a full price ticket from Monday, Oct. 21 to Friday, Oct. 25 is entered to win 10 tickets to the anniversary performance of WICKED in Chicago on Oct. 30.  Winner and their guests will also get to meet cast members of WICKED after the show.  Winner will be notified and announced on Friday, Oct. 25.



Tuesday, Oct. 22: Calling All WICKED Super Fans!

How many times have you seen WICKED?  Send Broadway In Chicago a scan at  of 10 WICKED tickets from your 10 visits to WICKED, and you will be entered to win a free tickets and a post-show meet-and-greet with cast members for the Anniversary performance in Chicago on October 30.  Winner will be notified and announced Monday, Oct. 28.



Wednesday, Oct. 23: WICKED Trivia Contest

Think you are an all-knowing wizard?  Answer show trivia posted by Broadway In Chicago through their Twitter (@BroadwayChicago) and Broadway In Chicago’s Facebook page to win official WICKED prizes.



Thursday, Oct. 24: Magnolia Bakery Celebrates with Limited Edition WICKED Cupcake

Hungry for a tasty and theatrical treat?  Visit Magnolia Bakery on State Street for a special edition morsel of the WICKED cupcake.  Rumor has it that they’re filled with more goodness than Glinda’s heart.



Friday, Oct. 25: Witches loose in Chicago with Special Anniversary Savings

Get the Spell!  Find the witches throughout the city who have taken flight in celebration of 10 years of WICKED.  Follow Broadway In Chicago on Twitter to get the spell – including locat

ions and “Secret Words” to unlock the code for $10 off select performances for the first week.  But hurry – you only have “one short day” to find them!



 Saturday, Oct. 26: WICKED Fans Join City of Chicago Costume Contest

 Greenify yourself! In partnership with the City of Chicago, WICKED fans are invited to wear their best Emerald City gear and join the Costume Contest at Franken Plaza (Daley Plaza) with WICKED prizes. The costume contest on October 26 starts its line up at 11:30 a.m. and the contest begins at 12:15 p.m.



Sunday, Oct. 27: WICKED Sing-A-Long

It’s just life, so keep dancing though…or in this case, singing through!  Raise your voice in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of WICKED.  Come to Franken Plaza (Daley Plaza) for a WICKED sing-along and receive an offer for $10 off select first week performances.  The Sing-A-Long starts at 1:30 p.m. on October 27.



Monday, Oct. 28: WICKED For Good

Want to be changed FOR GOOD?  Donate 10 non-perishable food items at the Oriental Theatre Box Office and receive an offer for $10 off tickets for the 10th Anniversary performance on Oct. 30. All donations will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.


 Tuesday, Oct. 29: Oriental Marquee returns to GREEN

WICKED Green!  Randolph Street and the Oriental Marquee glows green again for the return engagement of WICKED.  Join Broadway In Chicago on Tuesday, October 29 to welcome WICKED back to its home at the Oriental Theatre and help flip the switch to turn the marquee green with WICKED fans.



 Wednesday, Oct. 30: WICKED 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

 What is this feeling?  Most definitely excitement!  On October 30, the Producers of WICKED, in celebration of 10 years of the Broadway blockbuster, will give away the 20 front-row seats traditionally held for the day-of-show-drawing.  For the Anniversary Performance only, names drawn will win a limit of two tickets per person, courtesy of WICKED.  In addition, there will be 2 tickets free, courtesy of Block Thirty Seven.  Plus all audience members at the 10th Anniversary Performance will receive bubbles to celebrate with the cast for the symbolic 10 year anniversary curtain call.

 Wicked - Emerald City



 The performance schedule for WICKED is as follows:

 Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.

 Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no matinee performance 10/30)

 Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (additional matinee performance on 10/31 at 2 p.m., no performances on 11/28)

 Fridays at 7:30 p.m. (additional matinee performances on 11/29 at 2 p.m.)

 Saturdays at 2 & 8 p.m.

 Sundays at 2 p.m. (additional matinee performances on 11/3 at 7:30 p.m.)

 Additional performance Monday 12/16 at 7:30 p.m.

 Please note: Ticket prices and performance schedule are subject to change.


 Visit for all the details about the 10th anniversary celebration in Chicago.

Tickets for WICKED at the Oriental Theatre start at $40.  A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 20 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at

Live Shark Encounter comes to Chicago for Aquatic Experience November 15-17, 2013


This looks like a great way to spend a fun and educational day as a family for a reasonable price.  I think my boys would love the live shark encounter.  My only worry is them sharing our deep dark family secrets of our experience with fish as pets!image001

The World Pet Association(WPA) announced today that the only traveling shark show in the country, Haai Inc’s Live Shark Encounter,  will be among the unique exhibits on view at its inaugural Aquatic Experience – Chicago show, Nov. 15-17, 2013. Attendees will get to see sharks up close as a diver provides entertaining and educational information before entering a specially designed 5,000-gallon tank to swim and interact with these awe-inspiring animals. Additionally, a Great White Shark Museum on site will provide more details and artifacts on display, including a replica of the Carcharodon Megalodon Jaws (an ancient meat-eating 60-foot shark).

Aquatic Experience – Chicago is the first show in industry history to combine everything aquatic under one roof—from saltwater and freshwater fish and pond. Consumers, retailers and families can hear from National Geographic’s Monster Fish host Zeb Hogan industry’s best and trend-setting manufacturers. In addition to Hogan, many experts in the field will be available on-site at to meet in person and share their enthusiasm for the underwater world. Tickets are on sale now for Aquatic Experience – Chicago at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center (1551 N. Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg, IL) with daily individual tickets starting at just $10 and daily family passes for $25. Tickets to the Saturday dinner with keynote speaker Zeb Hogan are $60. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

Live Shark Experience

The World Pet Association (WPA) is the oldest industry organization promoting responsible growth and development of the companion pet and related products and services. WPA works to inform and educate the general public in order to ensure safe and healthy lifestyles for our animal friends. WPA is the host of America’s Family Pet Expo, the world’s largest consumer pet and pet products expo, held annually in Costa Mesa, California. The organization also produces SuperZoo, an annual pet industry trade show that showcases a comprehensive collection of exhibits and offers a variety of informative educational seminars. For more information, please visit  Discus fish. Image courtesy of the World Pet Association.