Jul 222014

thomas 2014The Illinois Railway Museum is pleased to announce their Day Out With Thomas 2014 event!

  • Saturday, August 16th, 2014
  • Sunday, August 17th, 2014
  • Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
  • Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Activities during the Day Out With Thomas event:

  • 20-minute ride with Thomas the Tank Engine™
  • Meet Sir Topham Hatt™
  • Clowns
  • Puppet Shows
  • Magic Shows
  • Live Music
  • Thomas & Friends™ Storytelling and Video Viewing
  • Thomas & Friends Playtable
  • Balloon Animals
  • Thomas & Friends Coloring
  • Temporary Tattoos of Island of Sodor Friends

The Ticket price is $21.00 each. All riders of the train with Thomas the Tank Engine™ who have passed their second birthday must have a ticket. Day Out With Thomas tickets include one train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine™ for the trip specified on the Day Out With Thomas ticket, unlimited rides on all other trains and streetcars; all entertainment (puppet shows, live music, magic shows, etc.); and access to all Museum exhibits on the date specified on the ticket. Food, snacks and beverages will be available at several locations around the Museum grounds.

Parking is free and plentiful. The parking lot will open at 7:30am every day and the gate will open at 9:00am.

Purchase your Thomas tickets online now!

This is a huge event for train lovers, especially fans of Thomas of course. We took our son and he was so excited to be there- I actually got tears in my eyes witnessing his joy! The awesome news is that I have 16 tickets to give away!! So 4 families of 4 can win tickets to the event.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Join the Kidlist email list by entering your email address in the form below.

You have to verify that you want to be added to the list, so watch out for the confirmation email. Please stay on the list until the contest is over because I need to verify active subscriptions of winners… if you would like to unsubscribe afterwards I don’t hold grudges. :) But I hope you stay to receive kid-friendly updates straight to your inbox! Let me know that you are on the email list by commenting below.

2. Comment below with your family’s favorite summer time activity. Do you have a favorite splash pad? A park you love? I would love to hear anything you want to share about fun things to do over the summer.

Contest ends on Friday (July 25, 2014) at 8pm. Four winners will be chosen at random from the comments below. Good luck!

Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Rd
Union, IL 60180

This post brought to you by The Illinois Railway Museum.

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
Jul 212014

If you haven’t had a Brookfield Zoo membership I would recommend one. Ours is pretty much a family staple and we go sporadically all year round. There is so much to see, with indoor and outdoor exhibits and it seems that every time we go we notice something new and have a great experience, not to mention it’s great exercise.

I was there recently and learned that Brookfield Zoo is having their annual photography contest… and they shared with me that hardly any kids have entered the Child Category for children 11 years old and younger, so your kids have a pretty good chance! There is also an Adult Category for ages 12 and over. Here are the guidelines and info:

  • Photo must feature animal(s). Photos with people will not be accepted.
  • Photo must be an 8″x10″ print in color or black and white.
  • A Photo Contest entry form must be completed and taped to back of photo.
  • One entry per person.
  • Photo must not be framed or matted.
  • All entries must be received by Monday, October 20, 2014.
  • All entries become the property of the Chicago Zoological Society and will not be returned.
  • Contest winners will be notified by phone on or around October 23, 2014.
  • A panel of photography professional will judge the entries on originality, nature of the subject matter, and clarity.

Grand Prize
A behind-the-scenes adventure with Brookfield Zoo’s giraffes will give you and up to five family members and/or friends the opportunity to get to know the giraffe herd and even feed them some of their favorite food items.

Adult Category Prizes
1st Place – Backstage Adventures: Flippered Fins
2nd Place – Backstage Adventures: Poolside with Penguins
3rd Place – Brookfield Zoo Family Plus Membership

Child Category Prizes
1st Place – $100 Brookfield Zoo gift certificate
2nd Place – $75 Brookfield Zoo gift certificate
3rd Place – $50 Brookfield Zoo gift certificate

I also wanted to share with you some of the photographs they sent me because they are just so great!


Koola and her daughter Nora can be seen at Brookfield Zoo’s Tropic World, one of the world’s largest indoor mixed species exhibits.


Guests can see dolphins in action year-round at Brookfield Zoo’s Seven Seas.

Youngsters visiting Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast exhibit get to meet one of the Humboldt penguins during a Zoo Chat with one of the zookeepers.

Youngsters visiting Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast exhibit get to meet one of the
Humboldt penguins during a Zoo Chat with one of the zookeepers.

A kangaroo mom bonds with her joey at Brookfield Zoo. The kangaroo mob can be viewed in their outdoor habitat at the Australia House.

A kangaroo mom bonds with her joey at Brookfield Zoo. The kangaroo mob can be viewed in
their outdoor habitat at the Australia House.


A family has an unforgettable experience feeding a giraffe at Brookfield Zoo.

This post brought to you by Brookfield Zoo.

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Jul 182014

pinstripes outside

We recently had the pleasure of going to Pinstripes to make pizzas and go bowling. I had walked into Pinstripes before and thought the atmosphere was great, but had never eaten or played bocce or bowled there… it was even more fun that I anticipated!

pinstripes making pizzasPinstripes offers Make Your Own Pizza parties and they make it really nice! We sat down at a table decked out with indiviual round, wood cutting boards with handles, rounds of dough and all the ingredients laid out for us. The chef came out and gave direction on how to begin and was so patient with the kids. After we were done with our creations the staff put our names on our individual pizzas and we headed to the bowling lanes. While we were bowling they baked them and brought out all of the pizzas. You know the best part? The pizzas tasted awesome! Pinstripes makes everything in house, including the dough and the sauce and everything else on their menu. It definitely showed and we really enjoyed the food.

The bowling was also great. It was my daughter’s first time bowling and I can’t believe how excited she was about it! When you enter everyone’s names you can select if each person wants bumpers, so they go up and down depending on whose turn it is. Very cool. They also had a ramp for younger kids so sometimes my kids threw the ball and sometimes they chose to roll it down the ramp for added speed, which made it more fun for them. The bowling lanes are very comfortable and upscale with couches and screens that keep score.

pinstripes bowling lanes

Here’s the information for kids parties, great for birthdays or any other occassion you are celebrating.

Kids Party Packages
Children 12 years and under, groups from 10-25

  • Games and Food
    • $21 per child (tax and service fee additional)
    • Includeds 2 hours of bowling or bocce before 5pm, shoe rental and Pinstripes socks.
    • The birthday guest of honor is complimentary and receives a Pinstripes logo cap.
  • Menu (you can choose from the following entrees)
    • 8″ cheese pizzas
    • Chicken strips with fries
    • Mini hamburgers with fries
    • Peanut butter and jelly with fries
    • Cheese panini with fries
    • Also includes one cookie and brownie platter, soda, juice or milk.

Make Your Own Pizza
Ages 5-17, groups from 10-30

  • Games and Food
    • $25 per person (tax and service fee additional)
    • The party lasts 2 1/2 hours and includes 2 hours of bowling or bocce before 5pm, shoe rental and Pinstripes socks.
    • $75 chef attendant fee per 20 children
    • Menu includes an 8″ individual pizza homemade by you (cheese or pepperoni), a combination cookie and brownie platter and choice of soft drink, juice or milk.

This post brought to you by Pinstripes.

 Posted by at 9:10 pm
Jul 172014

blueberry picking

It’s blueberry picking time! Blueberries are so good for little hands and freeze really well to use all year. With the extremely cold, long winter the blueberry season is very short this year for most farms. It was hard to pin point when to tell you all to go! You know I always say to call first, but this year that advice is in full effect. It’s best if you find out how plentiful the berries are and if you talk to someone at the farm let them know that you are coming with kids. When the berries are plentiful they are easy to pick and much more fun than if there is searching involved!

The first section of the list are farms within 1 1/2 hours of Western Springs and the second section is under 2 hours.

Knutson’s Country Harvest
13550 Townhouse Road
Newark, IL 60541
(815) 695-5905 or (815) 557-4629
(50 miles)
$4.00 per lb

Merrillville Farms
6716 South Colorado Street
Hobart, IN 46342
(219) 947-0223
(50 miles)
Their Facebook page is not updated and they do not have a website, but I called and they appear to be in business.

Tammen Treeberry Farm
37131 Essex Road
Wilmington, IL 60481
(815) 458-6264
(52 miles)
U Pick beginning Thursday, July 17. They will be open 8 – 4:30 daily, closed on Sundays. The season usually lasts about 3 or 4 weeks. The price is $1.98 per pound for pick-your-own blueberries.

Valley Orchard
911 East State Street
Cherry Valley, IL 61016
(815) 332-9696
(72 miles)
No more blueberries this season.

There are quite a few farms between 1 1/2 and 2 hours away in case you don’t mind traveling a little further to pick your own blueberries.

Evers’ Farm
13340 N. 700 West
DeMotte, IN 46310
(219) 987-2120 (main)
(219) 863-6082 (info about berries)
(73 miles)
Picking started July 12. They might have to close this weekend and wait for more berries to ripen, so please call ahead. Daily hours are 7am-5pm and they are closed on Sundays. U-Pick blueberries are $1.90 per lb.

Eenigenburg’s Blueberries
1 1/2 miles East of DeMotte, IN
On the South side of Highways 10 and 231
between DeMotte and Wheatfield city limits
(219) 987-2957
(74 miles)
They have a few more days worth of picking left, but will most likely be closing soon.

Fritts Blueberry Farm
10301 N State Road 10
De Motte, IN 46310
(219) 987-2228
(75 miles)
Picking started on July 14. $1.90 per lb.

Zylstra’s Blueberries
11881 W. 1200 North
DeMotte, IN 46310
(219) 987-2061
(76 miles)
Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 7am-4pm, closed on Sundays

Billy Boys Blueberry Farm
650 Freyer Road
Michigan City, IN 46360
(219) 872-7477
(76 miles)
Currently picking available. Open 6 Days a Week (8:30 am to 6 pm, closed Tuesday)

Blue Sky Berry Farm
15552 S. 1050 W.
Wanatah, IN 46390
(219) 733-2416
(78 miles)
Their website has not been updated in two years, but the voice message says they are currently open for U-Pick 7am-7pm 7 days a week.

VanKley’s Blueberries
2666 W. St. Road 10
Wheatfield, IN 46392
(219) 956-3687
(79 miles)

Grandma’s Berry Patch
9895 W. 1700 S.
Lacrosse, IN 46348
(219) 733-9080 or (219) 671-1889
(80 miles)
Open Monday-Friday 7am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 7am-7pm. They have a 10% off coupon on their website.

Blueberries of Indiana
2388 W. 1000 North
LaPorte, IN 46350
(219) 326-8686
(82 miles)
Listed picking conditions as excellent, open daily 8-6 (closed on Tuesdays )

Stateline Blueberries
9957 North Frontage Road
Michigan City, IN 46360
(219) 874-7721
(83 miles)
Currently open for picking and it looks like the supply is plentiful, Mon.-Tues.-Thurs.-Fri. 8am-6pm, Wednesday 8am- 7pm, Sat.-Sun. 7am-6pm

Bonnell’s Blueberry Patch
4840 S. 600 West
North Judson, IN 46366
(574) 896-5365
(90 miles)
Currently picking.


Planning Your Trip:

  • Always call before you go picking to verify hours. Ask if the fields are picked over or still have a decent amount of blueberries to pick. The length of the season is greatly affected by the weather, especially with berries.
  • Some farms do not supply containers, or charge you for them- so you can plan for that too. When we have gone blueberry picking in the past we have used small buckets or metal coffee cans with soft rope through each side.
  • I also recommend asking when the fields were sprayed. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to pick right after they sprayed that morning or even if they sprayed the day before and it hasn’t rained. It’s way more fun to pick if you can sample along the way!

Things to Bring:

  • I would recommend wearing a hat while picking. Sometimes you can stand in the shade of the blueberry bushes, but shade isn’t always available in the field. When bringing a baby I would set up a blanket with an umbrella in the middle of the row and make sure your little one is in the shade. Dress lightly and bring sunscreen. We have gone picking and didn’t need to wear bug spray, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring that along too.
  • Water! Drink it often!
  • Bring a picnic lunch or at least a snack and a blanket to eat on.
  • Don’t wear nice clothes or shoes. Especially with kids you almost always get blueberry juice on your clothes… which is really hard to get out!

Picking Tips:

  • Blueberries are ripe when they are all dark blue. The portion around the stem turns color last, so don’t pick berries that are just blue on the bottom. If the berries are slightly red around the stem they are good, just a little tart.
  • If you have a bucket or coffee can with a rope tied to it, you can hang it around your neck to allow the berries to fall into the container as you pick (much faster).
  • Often there are great berries in the center of the bush, or down low which is perfect for your little ones!

When you get home:

  • Don’t wash your blueberries until you are ready to eat them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.
  • Freeze your blueberries: It is better to freeze blueberries without washing them so they do not get icy. Just pour them into a ziplock bag and place in the freezer. Blueberries can keep for months in the freezer!
 Posted by at 9:21 pm