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Zoolights @ Lincoln Park Zoo

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Every year, the Lincoln Park Zoo decks the halls for their holiday Zoolights festival by stringing (seemingly) billions of colorful lights through their trees and walkways.  Though I’ve lived in Chicago for ten years, I’d never gone to this much-loved event.  We took the kiddo (and another Mom-friend with her son) and it blew the kids’ minds — and mine.  It was awesome. I’m not going to write much more about it, because really – LOOK.image

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If you look between the trees, the building with the rectangle light on top is the Hancock Building.

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imageZoolights is awesome – and free.  Kiddo is still talking about it. (“I loved to go to that place.”) I recommend dinner pre-Zoolights at RJ Grunts, located right nearby.  Delicious food, great beer, and it’s a very family friendly place as well!

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To celebrate my husband’s birthday today, we headed down to the Museum of Contemporary Art to check out the “David Bowie Is” exhibit in it’s final weeks.  My husband is a mega-Bowie-fan, and decided a few months ago that he wanted to view the exhibit – in it’s only U.S. stop here in Chicago – for his birthday, so we’d bought tickets (with a scheduled admission time) early and had been gearing up for a long time. This morning, we headed down to the Magnificent Mile area of Chicago to the MCA to get our Bowie on.  The exhibit is, simply, stunning. An intense retrospective of the art and career of David Bowie from his beginnings to now, it’s packed with costumes from music videos, handwritten lyrics, art prints, video screens, and you’re given a headset when you walk in that syncs to wherever you are in the exhibit, surrounding you with the prolific music of Mr. Bowie through the years.   (Photography isn’t allowed inside the exhibit, FYI.)

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My husband spent nearly three hours in the exhibit, checking out every little detail and loving it. It was his birthday, so I took on full parenting duties while inside the exhibit.  Our son is three, so his admission was free with ours, and he did a game little job of viewing the exhibit, even if we only spent about 45 minutes inside.  His favorite part was sitting on the floor watching the music videos. (We watched “DJ” almost four full times.)

Once we stepped out of the Bowie exhibit, the MCA was overrun with families and kids as it was one of their Family Days.  There were art tables and booths spread throughout the bottom two floors of the museum, and snacks and videos and all sorts of things to keep kids amused and introduce them to art.  While my husband enjoyed the Bowie, kiddo and I went all over the place doing activities – like coloring a giant map of MCA, making a creature catcher, and getting his face painted just like Mr. Bowie.

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I hadn’t been to the MCA since 2009, when I went with my then-fiancee and some friends around Halloween to see a production of “Frankenstein” The Hypocrites were doing.  (Frankly, we all hated the show.  The baby doll heads hanging from the ceiling when we entered the performance space should have probably tipped me off.  We still talk about it once in a while.)

Today’s visit to MCA was way more fun, and it’s definitely a place I would visit again – on a “Family Day.” I don’t think Contemporary Art is really my thing, but hey – different strokes for different folks, right?  It’s a beautiful facility with an energetic and friendly staff, and I encourage folks to head there and spend a few hours. Also, they’re always free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents, so really. ;)

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A mini-lesson on David Bowie.

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Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday.  He’s a massive David Bowie fan, so we’re heading to the Museum of Contemporary Art to view the acclaimed and popular “David Bowie Is” exhibit to celebrate.  We’ll be taking our little dude with us.  He’s visited the Art Institute, and we’ve worked on how to be a polite and responsible museum visitor, so I have no doubt he’ll be a dream (and at least better behaved than some of the adults in attendance.),  Still, he doesn’t really know who David Bowie is, so the whole thing could be a little boring for him.  With this in mind, I decided to prepare him for tomorrow using my husband’s large Bowie DVD/CD/Book collection.

It’s all David Bowie all day around here today.  We’re watching the video compilation, “Best of Bowie” and we’ll peruse a great book my husband has of this artist’s long and varied career.  We’ll also likely watch the VH1 Storytellers. Maybe we’ll even squeeze in “Labyrinth” :)

Things like this are part of the reason I get excited about homeschooling.  There’s so much in this wonderful world to learn about, and music and culture are definitely a part of that. I’ll report back from our MCA visit, though photos of the exhibit aren’t allowed.

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Hey Chicago!~

LivingSocial has a deal re: admission to the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown.  $6 for a regular admission, as opposed to the regular admission of $10 for adults.  Kids under 3 are free, and ages 3-12 are $7.  This deal expires on December 31, but if you’re going in the next few weeks check it out. (We’re heading there in late December to see the “Greek Monsters” exhibit to kick off our January Greek Mythology unit.)

More info: National Hellenic Museum website

*If you’re going, be sure to check out the amazing surrounding restaurants in Greektown.*

We celebrate Winter Solstice in this household, which is a holiday that doesn’t get a whole lot of play.  Thank goodness for PBS Kids’ “Dinosaur Train” and their amazing Winter Wish episode, which (in 2 parts) features a blizzard, talk of what solstice is, the Aurora Borealis, and a big musical number – all things I love.  My 3 year old loves this episode, and tells me he wants to go see the Aurora Borealis someday. ;)

One of our favorite Chicago holiday traditions is a visit (or two) to Chriskindlmarket, a German Christmas village constructed in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Among the skyscrapers, little wooden cottages offering all sorts of ornaments, gifts, and food pop up and people flock to get some holiday cheer – and a traditional ceramic mug of gluhwein. (There’s hot chocolate for the kids, too!)  Last Friday, kiddo and I went downtown to spend my husband’s lunch break at this celebration of the holiday season.

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Of course, Santa is also in residence at Chriskindlmarket, and a visit to the jolly man is a requirement.  This year, in lieu of his usual wooden house, he has a swanky eco-dome!image

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My Mom got me a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago for my Christmas present this year, and I’m over the moon about it.  Since we were downtown, kiddo and I took a walk over to AIC to check out the Thorne Miniature Rooms and look at some paintings.  I’m working on making sure he understands that, while museums are awesome, some of them are places where he has to be on his very best behavior – and I’m thrilled to tell you he was a total dream while at AIC. He held my hand and walked nicely and talked quietly and pointed out things in the art that he liked.

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Thorne Minature Rooms, decked out for the holidays.

 

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All in all, we had a wonderful downtown day – and can’t wait to do it again!

 

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