Thursday’s Plans for #DisneyKids

Today’s plans start with a VERY early morning wake up and the boys first ever airplane flight!  We’ll have a few hours to explore on our own before heading to a welcome dinner. Be sure to follow along on Twitter or Instagram to see all our fun!

We are staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It looks AMAZING!!



Step into the heart of Africa at this magnificent Resort hotel. Inspired by the traditional African kraal, the horseshoe-curved design provides spectacular views of 4 lush savannas that over 200 hoofed animals and birds call home. Delight in dazzling pool areas, exciting animal programs and one of the largest collections of African art in the United States as you experience your own African safari adventure with a touch of Disney magic. animal-kingdom-lodge-std-pv-2-q-g00


Prepping for Our Trip to @WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyKids

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you MAY have heard….we are leaving for Walt Disney World….TOMORROW

I have successfully managed to keep this trip a secret by doing most of the prep while they spent the weekend with their dad. Including getting my much needed pedicure for Florida ready toes.

This trip will be the first for Bryan to ever get to a Disney park and a third time there for the older boys but the previous trips were when they were super tiny and involved only a literal handful of short hours. I have to be honest and say that I was unprepared for the previous trips and they resulted in less than magical experiences despite my love for all things Disney. But I am super excited after checking out the My Disney Experience app. I am not big on waiting in line (yes we’ll also being taking advantage of some FastPasses) and AM big on character sightings, both of these will be greatly helped with this app. I can’t wait to use it in the parks!!

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:

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.

Labor Day Parade

Our town has hosted the states largest Labor Day Parade for as long as I can remember.  This parade was a huge deal when I was little whether I was in it or watching it, so I’ve made it part of our family traditions since the boys were tiny.  For the last couple years the boys have been in the parade.  First for Cub Scouts, then last year  all of us (except Johnny, he was in it for Scouts) were in it for baseball, though Timmy could have also been in it for Scouts AND football.  This year Johnny decided to skip being IN it so he could watch it and collect candy!  But Timmy was in the parade for the first time as part of marching band!  Again he could have also been in it for Student Council, Scouts OR football.  (Type A kid much? Maybe a little.)

So without further a due rambling….

labor day parade 2013 cheering

After dropping off Timmy at his stop for band we had a LITTLE bit of a wait for the parade.  So Bryan was a tad happy to finally see it coming!!

labor day parade 2013 johnny


With almost 100 entries there was lots to see. And much candy to be caught.  Here are just a few of my favorite things:


labor day parade 2013 shrine car labor day parade 2013 shriner plane labor day parade 2013 shriner car


Old cars…


labor day parade 2013 old cars


And the fire trucks, new and old…

labor day parade 2013 fire truck labor day parade 2013 old fire truck


labor day parade 2013 old fire engine


But the best part of all was, of course, this guy…

labor day parade 2013 timmy marching band 3labor day parade 2013 timmy marching band 2

Kalahari Resorts Summer Splash Giveaway

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Seadog Chicago Fireworks Cruise

During my trip downtown Chicago last month I had the pleasure of taking an amazing fireworks cruise courtesy of Seadog Chicago and Madame Deals.

seadog cruise chicago skyline madame deals

The view from Seadog’s dock on Navy Pier was beautiful as we boarded.  I don’t think I will ever get tired of the Chicago skyline at night. It is truly breath taking.

Seadog cruises in a speedboat so you will be warned that you could get wet.  Thankfully we were out on a calm night and I think they went easy on us so we stayed completely dry.

seadog cruise blogging friends madame deals

I loved spending the evening with good friends. We chose to stay put in our seats but you are able to get up and move around.  And to my surprise there IS a bathroom on board.

seadog cruise chicago fireworks madame deals

And I have never seen fireworks from ON the lake but I LOVED seeing the colors reflecting off the water in addition to lighting up the sky.

seadog cruise blogging friends jake madame deals

Paula of, me, Jake from Seadog, Sara of and Samantha of

I had such a great time on Seadog Chicago fireworks cruise, thank you Jake and Seadog!!!

My Beautiful Chicago in Photos

Last month I had the chance to take in the sites of my beautiful Chicago as a ‘tourist’ and I simply can’t get over how incredible it really is.  chicago lake michigan beach shore view from signature room john hancock center

The amazing view of the Chicago lake shore looking north from the Signature Room of the John Hancock Center.
chicago lake michigan view from skydeck willis tower
The gorgeous view of the lake looking east from Skydeck Chicago inside Willis Tower.
gorgeous chicago river view

The Chicago River couldn’t be more beautiful at night!
beautiful Chicago
Looking down the Chicago River towards Trump Tower from the Sheraton Chicago.
Chicago Skyline at night 2
Chicago skyline is breathtaking at night. (View from Navy Pier looking west toward downtown.)

Chicago Skyline 1
View of the Chicago skyline from the museum campus.

Donley’s Wild West Town Was A Rootin’ Tootin’ Good Time


Wild West Town

Donley’s Wild West Town hosted our family for a day of frontier fun earlier this summer and we had a great time.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect since we’ve never been there before but it sounded like some thing the boys would enjoy so we headed off to check it out.  Now first of all, Union, IL is a bit of a trek from us and would be for a lot of the Chicago suburbs.  If it’s too far for a day trip there IS camping at a KOA grounds right next to Donley’s!  But with a drive just a little over an hour and fifteen minutes we simply headed out early and made a full day of it.

When we got there we each received a punch card to be used for the special rides such as the small roller coaster and pony rides as well as the games/activities such as sling shot and pop gun shooting gallery.  On the punch card is two punches per ride/game but you can use the punches in basically any combination you want.  For instance if you don’t enjoy the archery game, you can use your archery punches for some extra runs on the roller coaster.  The only exception to this is the pony rides which you may only use two punches for per card.

Each of the boys seemed to have a different favorite activity, all though they all tried them all.  Timmy spent a ton of time in the sling shot shooting gallery, Johnny was addicted to panning for gold and Bryan may have gone on an extra pony ride or two courtesy of my punch card.

I was honestly surprised by how long it took us to finish up all their cards.  But we did also stop for lunch and we enjoyed many of the unlimited activities that are also included in your ticket price including the museum, the merry go round, the hand cars, the carousel, the tomahawk throw and the Wild West show!

We spent an entire day enjoying Donley’s Wild West Town and I think we will definitely go back.  I would recommend Donley’s to families of elementary school aged kids.  I think my boys 5, 9 and 10 years old were the perfect ages.  Some of the things would be probably not be appreciated (ie would be uncool) by older kids and there isn’t much to do for little little ones.

Donley’s Wild West Town is located in McHenry County at the intersection of Route 20 & S. Union Road, 3 miles south of the Village of Union at 8512 S. Union Rd. The park is daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 18 through August 23 (except May 20) and on Saturdays and Sundays from August 24 through October 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information call 815.923.9000 or go to

donley's wild west town union il horseback riding


donley's wild west town union il panning mining digging gold 2

donley's wild west town union il panning mining digging gold

donley's wild west town union il tomahawl throw


You’ll be happy to hear that the bathroom facilities are fabulous…..

donley's wild west town union il johnny outhousedonley's wild west town union il bryan outhouse

donley's wild west town union il timmy outhousedonley's wild west town union il lisa outhouse



donley's wild west town union il shooting gallery sling shots boys fun

donley's wild west town union il horse drawn carriage boys and i

donley's wild west town union il shooting gallery guns boys fun


As an added bonus (for me at least) I got to spend some time with a good friend of mine while the boys ran around!

donley's wild west town mom and more cher and i union il

Cher from and I

Save Up to $12 off Admission at Volo Auto Museum

In exchange for sharing this promotion, my family will receive complimentary admission.

Have you been to the Volo Auto Museum? We pass by it regularly and I’ve been thinking about stopping as it sounds like something the boys might like. But the more I read about it, the more excited I am to go check it out!

logo Volo Auto Museum is not just for car lovers or men, its fun for the whole family!  36 acres, mostly all indoors and includes fifty thousand square feet of antiques and gifts, a life like military combat zone, Betty’s Diner featuring decor which includes Elvis Presley’s autographed guitar, PeeWee Hermans Bicycle and more.  Plus over 300 restored collector automobiles from the early teens through today. 


The largest collection of famous Hollywood TV and movie cars like the Batmobile, Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters and numerous others.  New for 2013 is the Cars in Wonderland Exhibit; it has all your favorite childhood cars from the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine to Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from CARS all surrounded by movie-like setting from your favorite Disney and Looney Tunes Cartoons, such as Beauty and the Beast, Litter Mermaid, Coyote and Road Runner and others. 


Volo Auto Museum is more than a car museum, its memories and education for all ages!




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