Monday, January 30, 2012

Windy City Circus blows into Chicago Feb. 17 - 26

* Scroll to end of post for a discount code for Windy City Circus tickets for the readers of my blog.*

Did you know the City of Chicago celebrates its 175th birthday this year? Windy City Circus is proud to announce its new partnership with the City of Chicago to celebrate the same. This will include a special salute during every performance of the circus throughout its 10 day run.  

Windy City Circus, an all-new locally produced professional circus featuring jaw-dropping circus acts and hilarious characters from around the world, will make its debut inside Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Feb. 17-26, 2012. This exciting “circus with a purpose” will have a strong hometown feel, featuring cameo appearances by an assortment of famous and infamous Chicago area historic figures. 80% of net ticket sale proceeds will go to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana and the Special Olympics Chicago and co-sponsor Special Children’s Charities.

David Maas is the Big Top producer and founder of Windy City Circus, and also will serve as master of ceremonies.  A renowned magician and the star of many American and international circuses, Maas is best known as the co-star of the “World Renowned David & Dania Quick Change,” in which he and Moscow Circus veteran Dania Kaseeva Maas perform an astonishing series of split-second costume changes, an act that has been featured on such programs as “America’s Got Talent” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and also has wowed stage and arena audiences world-wide. 

At Navy Pier, a colorful circus scene will be designed inside Festival Hall, and Windy City Circus audiences will sit within 50 feet of the performance ring.  In addition to David and Dania’s “Quick Change,” Windy City Circus will feature an internationally acclaimed roster of circus stars, including aerial and trapeze artists, clowns, jugglers and animal acts.

Ticket Information and Performance Schedule

Individual tickets range from $17.50-$45 for weekday performances and $20.50-$60 for weekend performances. Four-ticket family packages are available for prices starting at $63. Special group rates are available for school and charitable organizations.

Performances will run Feb. 17 – 26, with performances every day.  Performances are:
Tuesday – Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
There will also be performances on Monday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Individual tickets are available online at or by calling 312-803-0096.  Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling Grouptix at 773-327-3778 or visiting

Edited to add:  As a reader of my blog, you get a coupon code for $7.50 off per ticket for the General Grandstand for any show that you would like to go to. So the price for a General Grandstand ticket which is $20.50 would be $13 if you enter the promotional code CHICAGO. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sonic Sensations and more at the Kohl Children's Museum

Chilly days, at times rainy too, one has to be a constant lookout for places to visit, especially to keep the high energy rolling balls, read the kids, entertained and to keep them for asking for TV or such every waking hour. Needless to say a Children's Museum is always a hit. That's where we headed the past Sunday. Niño had his reservations, as he usually does, when in his mind he already has a favorite, which in this case happened to be the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier.  And he insisted on visiting that very favorite. Anyways after much cajoling and the fact that he still has a few years to go before he can sit on the driver's seat and actually steer the car to where he wants to go (Thank God for that!), we headed for the KCM.

Among the several fantastic activities and exhibits that had the kids have an absolutely great time, what I liked personally about the museum was the optimum use of space. I have mentioned this before that as a parent of two young children, my mind is at much peace if I know that I won't have a big area to search in crowded places, in case one of my children is not in immediate sight. The good thing is that its all at one level and even though at first sight, it doesn't look very big but it offers lots to explore from pretty young children to older ones. Also the staff was ample and pretty vigilant which meant the getting back things in their proper place in exhibits like the Grocery Store and the Food Joint was prompt and also they kept an eye on children who seemed to be away from their adult guardians and were prompt to re-unite them. Another great thing was the well planned seats for adults close to almost every activity. So as the kids spent their time in exploring the properties of magnets or being a vet to some animal friends or filling the shopping carts to their heart's content, the parents always had a place to sit and relax in sight. 

Apart from their permanent exhibits, the museum also has an ongoing temporary exhibit by the name of Sonic Sensations which helps children learn through play about the human ear and listening. The exhibit which started on Jan 17th runs through May 10, 2012. Chica especially loved playing for a long time on the Invisible Orchestra where she moved her hands and feet on a motion sensing carpet and a tune played on the monitor in front. The kids also loved to play the guessing game to identify low pitches from high as they hit colored bells mounted on a rotating turntable. Several other interesting activities like hiding a cat/cricket in one of the many closets and then listening to the sound to find out which one it is in or Creating your own Soundtrack as a scene plays out in front of you - a farm setting or a train passing by keeps the children entertained as older kids learn about the anatomy of the human ear and how we actually hear. Well worth a visit. 

I leave you with some of our most interesting pictures.

Weighing their worth in milk jugs

The Balancing act

One of the biggest hits - making patterns with their body parts
on a giant pegboard and watching them from the other side


 Low pitch or high?
 The crazy family photo op
With a tune on her fingers!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some recent favorite books

It has been a while since I reviewed some books that the kids have enjoyed a lot. It so happened that recently Chica and I spotted Trashy Town which used to be Niño's favorite book for a very long time. I had reviewed it and had been pleasantly surprised when the authors of the book had e-mailed me saying that they were happy to hear their book was enjoyed so much. I thought I'll just pen down for memory's sake and of course as a reference to those who happen to stumble upon the list.

truly beautiful book to warm your heart, bring a smile to your lips and teach some very relevant  values to young children. The main premise of this book is that everyone carries an invisible bucket which fills when someone is nice or kind of them and when they are really happy and empties when someone is rude or disrespectful. And your own bucket fills or empties depending on whether you fill or empty someone else's bucket. It has been asked to read aloud many many times in our home and has also been referred to by Chica when she is trying to figure out what is making her person sad. It sensitizes the children amazingly to others feelings and encourages them to be fill more and more buckets! A must must must read!!

Oh my! Hats off to the author Herve Tullet! How can someone be so original and creative! You have to open this one to believe the magic it can create in a two dimensional book format. Press the yellow dot on the cover and open the next page to see what you did! You will see your kids' eyes open up wide and their smile widen in surprise and disbelief as they turn the pages in this one! 

A slight digression - Notice the number of exclamation marks I used in the above paragraph, consider each a sign of excellence and go get the book !!! :)

We love silly books because the kids, especially Niño, like to laugh out loud; crack silly jokes of their own by the dozen; love it when they see someone acting cheeky and this very recent gem of a find does all that and more. The cover itself speaks a lot and invites you to first open this one book even it is lying among many others. Chester, the cat who's the main character of the book, strikes off the author Melanie Watt's name and puts down his own with his signature red marker which he uses throughout the book to hijack the story totally! A very grumpy (for some reason) Niño at the beginning of the book was soon holding his tummy and rolling with laughter a few pages into it!
For me personally, a book is truly excellent, if a reluctant fiction reader like Niño picks it up himself without prompt, looks at the pictures very very carefully, reads it and keeps laughing! This is one of those rare books.

We have also immensely enjoyed the Scaredy Squirrel series by the same author.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sonic Sensations at Kohl Children's Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago is proud to present Sonic Sensation, an exhibit designed by the Sciencenter in Sonic Sensation will teach adults and children about the anatomy and physics of how we hear, find out about decibels, amplitude, frequency, pitch, sound waves and what you can do to protect your hearing. Sonic Sensation creates an environment for kids with eleven interactive stations surrounding them with new ways to learn about sounds.

The 1,200 square foot exhibition includes activities such as:

Seeing Sound: Visitors adjust frequency and amplitude knobs connected to big speakers at each end of a clear tube and watch the contents of the tube “dance” in all kinds of interesting patterns.

Invisible Orchestra: Visitors can wave in the air and dance on a carpet to play notes, while a camera mounted overhead shows them on a monitor. Moving hands and feet into the motion-sensing zones on the monitor plays different sounds.

Critters in a Cupboard: Hide a cat or a cricket in a kitchen cupboard and ask a friend to find it by listening.

Hearing Test: Listen to different pitches and test your hearing. Visitors can record their results on a chart.

Measuring Sounds: Explore playing different notes to discover each sounds’ frequency.

How Do We Hear? See all the parts inside the human ear with this large-scale model. Launch a billiard ball to show how sound hitting the eardrum sends signals to the brain.

Ear This! Stand behind the panel and put your best face forward and try on a different pair of ears. This is a great family photo opportunity.

Match the Sound: Shake a variety of containers, listen to their sounds and then predict what is inside.

Create a Soundtrack: Add sounds as a movie plays. Choose from a train whistle, ducks quacking and cows mooing.

High Pitch, Low Pitch: Hit the colored bells mounted on a rotating turntable and sort them into high and low pitches.

Hearing Safety: See examples of different kinds of hearing protection and learn what can happen if you don’t protect your hearing.

About Kohl Children’s Museum

* In recognition for its outstanding exhibits and impact on Chicagoland families, Kohl Children’s Museum was recently named one of the country’s Ten Best Children’s Museums by Parents Magazine.

* The Museum was ranked sixth out of more than 300 children’s museums nationwide and was the only Chicago area museum recognized.

* Offering 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8, the Museum’s mission is to encourage young children to become effective learners through self-directed complex play.