Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Free for All - August 21, 2009

With the economic downturn...recession... generally stinky economy wreaking havoc on everyone's lives, moms have had to show even more ingenuity when it comes to saving money. For many, that means cutting back on entertainment costs and non-essential purchases and for good reason! The cost of a day's outing for a family of four can easily top $150 and that is BEFORE you cave in to the never ending cries to visit the gift shop.

Never fear! Along comes the Friday Free for All! Every week, I'll feature something fun and free (or very nearly so) for families. Sometimes it will be an event. Other times, a great deal. The possibilities are endless!

And, dear readers, if you come across a fantastic freebee happening in your area, I encourage you to share the details in the comments section. After all, the more the merrier!

When I was little, my family lived just outside of Manhattan. It seemed like once a week, my mom would pack up my brother and me and schlep us into the city to visit this museum or that. (This lead to a particularly interesting discussion that my parents had with my first grade teacher when I had to draw something that began with the letter "N" and I drew NUDES!)

Now that I have children of my own, I am hoping to provide them with the same kind of experiences (Not the drawing nudes part... the museum part!) and the Chicago Public Library has made it easier (and cheaper).

As part of the Kraft Great Kids Museum Passport program, every branch of the Chicago Public Library has family museum passes available for one week loans. While the rules vary by location, the pass entitles four family members general admission to that particular museum. Available passes include biggies (The Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Children's Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Notebaert Nature Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry) and some off the beaten path (Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History and the National Museum of Mexican Art).

You do need to show some flexibility in your plans as each branch has a limited number of passes and it is first come, first served. Also, these passes are only for general admission so any special exhibits will require a fee. More information can be found on the Chicago Public Library website.

Not from Chicago? Check with your local library to see if they have a similar program. Boston does! The Twin Cities do! Detroit as well!

Added 09/03/09- Want to visit Chicago museums but are from the suburbs! You aren't left out! Just this week, it was announced that through 2010, the Museum Adventure Pass is available.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday - August 18, 2009

Welcome to Travel Tip Tuesday. The first of what I hope are many fun changes in store for Mommy and Me (and Me!)

Vito and I love to travel. Love it. Sadly we are broke not independently wealthy so we don't get to do it as much as we would like. The most ambitious trip we've taken was to drive with both girls from our home in Chicago to visit Vito's parents in Arizona and we've done it TWICE. No, we're not gluttons for punishment. Prior to being married, Vito and I both toured as actors with children's theatres and developed a love for the road-trip.

When not traveling the length of Route 66, I enjoy taking the girls out and about on day trips. It is not always easy getting out of the house alone with two young kids but with a little practice and some tips garnered from other moms, I manage and enjoy it in the process.

That is where Travel Tip Tuesday fits in. Every Tuesday, I'll share with you some of the tips that I found (or have been shared with me) so that we can all get out and about and have a good time.


This past Friday, the girls and I went to Oak Street beach with Nana. It was the practice day for the Chicago Air and Water Show so we got to watch the Thunderbirds roar overhead while enjoying some sun and sand.

Yes, sand. So much fun to build castles with. Bury our feet in. Dump on our sister's heads... Which leads us to our first Tuesday Travel Tip... How to remove that pesky sand that sticks to your body and hair. Keep a bottle of talcum powder and an inexpensive soft-bristled paint brush in your beach bag. The powder helps to break the seal between the oils on your skin and the sand and the paint brush flicks the sand off of your body.

P.S. While we were at the beach, there was a fundraiser going on for Honor Flight Chicago. Their mission "is to honor and thank veterans - especially now our WWII veterans by bringing them to Washington DC, at no cost to them, for a day of honor." It is a great idea and a great cause. Be sure to check them out!