Category Archives: Things to Love

My Daily Find Chicago: My Favorite Chicago Tot Musicians

As a parenting and family contributor for My Daily Find Chicago, it’s my job to scope out area finds for Chicagoland parents.

Yesterday I wrote a post about one of my favorite tot rock musicians, Little Miss Ann. She really changed my feeling about kiddie music. I love listening to her CDs. She brings a fresh and funky sound to classics like “You Are My Sunshine” and other favorites. I’ve seen her several times in concert and she always gets the kids dancing and the parents clapping.

Another local fave kiddie rocker is Mindy Hester & The Time Outs. Mindy started a

Chicago Mom Blog Chicago Kid Music

Mindy Hester Chicago Tot Musician

music school for babies and tots, Rock and Roll Arts Academy. Both Mia and Lana absolutely adored her classes. Recently she shifted her programming and now takes her classes on the road. She’ll conduct in-home classes or musical playdates. Gather your favorite group of babies and ladies, pick a convenient time to meet and Mindy will come to you with her guitar and other musical props.

Mindy sings kid classics, but she also mixes in The Beatles, The Dead, Jimi Hendrix and other great musicians too. It’s really refreshing.

We love her CDs too. She takes classic songs like “Rockin in the Free World” and changes the lyrics to suit the preschool group – “Keep on rockin in the preschool.”

Mindy and her band will be performing at The Beat Kitchen Sunday, March 17 at Noon.

As Mia gets older, her musical taste is definitely maturing. She does love popular Top 40 songs, but sometimes the lyrics of those songs aren’t appropriate for her. That’s why we love the KidzBop series. The CDs feature kids singing popular songs and they change the lyrics when necessary to be kid-friendly.

What are some of your favorite musical acts for the under five?

Sunshine Sam: Whimsical Gifts, Decor & Party Supplies

Chicago Mom Blog Favorite StoreI have to tell you about my friend’s sister’s new business. It’s so fun!

Sunshine Sam is the brainchild of five-year old Sam and his mom, Marlene. They sell their favorite clothing, gifts, decor and party gear online.

It all started with Marlene’s penchant for giving unique gifts that have that special touch. If she saw the perfect present, even if that person’s birthday was far off on the calendar, she’d still snag it and store it in her “Gift Closet.”

Then Marlene started making party decor and supplies for Sam. Soon other friends wanted Marlene to make the same capes, party crowns and other novelties for their kids too. That’s when Sam decided they were going to open their own shop and Sunshine Sam was born.

If you’re on the hunt for cute, creative kid stuff, definitely check it out! Through the end of the month Second City Mommy readers receive 20% off! Use code FRIENDS20 at checkout!

This Post is Sponsored By Chobani Champions

A few weeks ago I was invited by the great folks at Chobani to an afternoon of cooking at the Chopping Block. When you put Chobani, Chopping Block and cooking together, I’m all about it. At the event, we were going to have the opportunity to taste all four flavors of the new Chobani Champions, the first Greek yogurt made just for kids.

Sidebar: I LOVE Chobani Greek yogurt. I have it almost every morning for breakfast. Peach is my favorite flavor and I love to throw a few slivered almonds in it to give it some crunch. I was so excited to see a variety made just for kids, because Mia loves yogurt.

But I was totally bummed, my family was going to be out of town the weekend of this fun event. Sadly, I had to decline.

Lo and behold, a few weeks later, a box appears on my front doorstep.

When I opened it up there were cases upon cases of Chobani Champions. I have to admit, I was dying to try the new Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, so my husband and I tore right into a box and sampled it. It was the perfect amount of chocolate bits to compliment the creamy vanilla yogurt. It makes a great dessert and we actually hide this flavor and save it for the adults.

Mia has been enjoying the other flavors – Orange Vanilla, Honey Vanilla (her favorite) and Verry Berry. She’ll eat a container for breakfast with a side of cut up fruit, or have a serving for her afternoon snack.

I love Chobani Champions because:

  • I know it fills her up (it’s packed with protein)
  • It doesn’t contain any processed ingredients along with artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, and sweeteners.
  • It’s made with milk that is not treated with rBST. This is a huge rule in our home – only diary products from cows that are rBST free. I’m raising two girls – we’ll have enough hormones in this house.

I was going to serve my product samples at Mia’s third birthday party, but on second thought we decided to keep it all to ourselves. It was just too good to let out of our fridge.

Disclosure: As mentioned, I received Chobani Champions courtesy of Chobani. All opinions expressed on this blog are my own.

Guest Post: Zealous Good Helps Your Goods Do Great

Now that I have two kids in the house, we have more toys, gear, clothes, etc. than ever. While I did save everything from Mia with every intention of using it with Baby #2, now that I pull it out of storage, there are definitely some items that I want to replace (hello crusty high chair), but would make great donations to local organizations.

When Zealous Good asked if they could do a guest blog post about their really cool organization that matches your old goods with the proper charity, I happily agreed…

Zealous Good 

Zealous Good is a local Chicago organization that is revolutionizing the way to donate your old stuff. Too often too many people have old toys, sports equipment, electronics, or even furniture that the kids outgrew and now sits unused around the house somewhere.

In fact, the average American household has about $7,000 in unused items. And donating is always an amazing thing, but sometimes giving your stuff to any charity doesn’t necessarily mean that they can use all that stuff. What if there’s a different charity that needs it more? How would you know?

Now, there’s a way. Zealous Good is an online resource that connects people with stuff to donate to the local charities in need. By matching specific donations to specific needs, Zealous Good helps reduce the cost and effort of getting goods to charities. They make the donation process easy and meaningful.

How exactly does this work? It’s easy. Go onto ZealousGood.com and type what you have to donate.Then, Zealous Good will let you know which charities need your stuff. After, you pick which charity you want your stuff going to. You set up a time to drop it off or pick it up and then feel good about the great your old stuff is doing.

Or, if you’re a charity it’s just as easy. Go on ZealousGood.com, make a charity profile, type in your various needs…. and voilà! You can receive endless amount of donations.

Zealous Good is a wonderful way for you to clean out all that old stuff that’s current purpose is taking up space–while at the same time, helping out the people of your community. Zealous Good makes it easy for you to help others.

Why not do start doing good today?

What You Should Want for Mother’s Day: jules. id tag

About a month or so ago I was introduced to Julie Schwanbeck and her absolutely stunning jewelry line – jules.

jules handcrafts their gorgeous pieces in their Wicker Park studio right here in Chicago.  Their look is inspired by organic imperfections in nature; deep color variations of gemstones, rich textures of raw minerals and blemishes on hand-hammered metals.

jules has a fabulous line of i.d. tags, perfect for a new mom, or one with an established brood, to display their little one’s moniker.

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, jules is offering some great deals and popping up on and off-line with opportunities to snag a tag for the one you call mom (or yourself).  Check out their facebook page for more details.

Little Beans Cafe

There is not a mommy in town who hasn’t heard about the opening of Little Beans Cafe (1809 W. Webster, Chicago, IL).

My moms group had an entire exchange over email about how excited we were that a new play space is available.  Chicago moms have run out of ideas and are completely bored with our winter play options. Little Beans is a lifesaver.

I was lucky enough to attend a private launch event to tour the space.  Of course I brought along the best little guinea pig, Mia, to help me check it out and give it a proper test.

This place is amazing!  Right off the bat I was impressed with how large the space is.  Other cafe and play venues I’ve been to have been on the smaller side, but Little Beans is massive in comparison.

The central play space is set up like a little town with a fire station (complete with house on fire), grocery store, playhouse, service station and a school.  There is also a gated area reserved just for crawlers and a few other nooks that feature a Thomas train set and dollhouse.  Mia loved going back and forth between all the different stations and I could actually crawl into the spaces with her and stand-up if necessary. Plenty of room for kids and adults.

The staff is incredibly friendly and walks around constantly cleaning up and spraying disinfectant.  I also got a kick out of how all of the staff is required to wear TOMS shoes.

The cafe area is very clean and welcoming.  You can sit separately from the playspace to eat, or you can bring your food and drinks into the play area and dine at designated tables.  The coffee is really good too, which is very important!

In addition to the large play area, there is a lounge with cozy chairs, flat screen TV and foosball table.  A perfect Daddy space.  There is also another room which I assume will be used for classes and events.

Pricing is pretty consistent with other similar venues, and they even have a supervised play rate for the working parent who wants to stay on site, but can’t keep a constant eye on their child.

This is going to be the most happening play space in Chicago!

Photography By Chelsea Reeg – Glass Lilac

I’m a complete sucker for amazing photos and Chicago based small businesses.  So when start-up photographer Chelsea Reeg wanted to schedule a photo session at my home to capture my family, I couldn’t refuse.

Chelsea is the photographer behind Glass Lilac and has a style all her own.  By using natural light and spontaneity, she creates warm and intimate photos.  Her specialties include children, pets and life events.  And when she comes into your home to capture you in your element, it’s as if you’ve known her for years.

Mia was being a wild child the day of our shoot and wanted to wander all over the house, barely stopping for a minute.  I thought it would be difficult for Chelsea to capture her, but she was able to pull off some beautiful photos of Mia being well…Mia.

I’m always the one behind the lens, so there are rarely pictures of me and Mia together.  I loved having someone to take photos of us for a change!

Check out Chelsea’s work below and then check out her website www.glasslilac.com.

Through February Glass Lilac is offering a 15% discount off session fees.

Disclosure: Chelsea offered a free photo session with no expectations from SecondCityMommy.com. I reviewed Glass Lilac because I thought the photos were beautiful and Chelsea’s service was great!