Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Recent Posts

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Give Your Newborn the Most Important Gift of All With Advanced Biobanking

Having a baby changes your life and your priorities. You plan and prepare during the entire pregnancy, you want everything to be perfect when that little one arrives. When that little person is finally in your arms it's love at first sight, and from that point on your goals is to keep them healthy and safe. Beautiful nurseries and state of the art strollers are nice, but they are not the only thing that parents should be considering when it comes to a new baby. There are other important things that should be considered when thinking of your child's, as well as your family's, future and well being. An invaluable step you can take when your child is born is to preserve his/her stem-cell rich cord and placenta blood. The ability of stem cells to save lives via cord blood banking has proven successful for replacing abnormal or diseased cells, and treating life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. In fact, since 1988 stem cell transplants have been used to treat some 80 diseases.

LifebankUSA, owned by Celgene Corporation, is the only cord blood bank processing material for FDA-approved clinical trials using stem cells from placental tissue. They preserve your baby’s placental tissue using the same steps taken for processing stem cells for our FDA-approved clinical trials. No other cord blood company can claim that. Tissue banking is simply one additional layer of protection and peace of mind foryou and your family offered by LifebankUSA. Stem cells in cord blood have transformative potential and have been used to treat over 30,000 patients worldwide. It’s been shown that using a higher number of stem cells in a transplant leads to better engraftment and survival. Did you know that you can preserve significantly MORE of your baby’s stem cells by adding placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection?

Banking the most stem cells can be critical and only through banking both cord and placenta blood do you have this opportunity. Numerous studies published in top medical journals have shown that transplanting more stem cells significantly increases success and transplant survival rates. In fact, customers who bank placenta blood in addition to cord blood with LifebankUSA preserve 60%-70% more CD34+ stem cells – the cells that are the most important for rebuilding diseased blood with healthy blood. Only LifebankUSA has the technology to offer placenta blood banking with cord blood banking to expectant parents. They are also the only company in the world to release placenta stem cell units for transplant.

The first cord blood stem cell transplant was performed in Paris in 1988. The patient was a 5-year-old boy named Matthew, with Fanconi’s Syndrome—a rare, serious type of anemia.10 The transplant was a success, and Matthew is now a loving husband and father who is doing well today thanks to the wonderful work of the medical pioneers who performed his transplant using his sister’s umbilical cord blood. He has since become a vocal advocate for cord blood banking. Since that first transplant, cord blood stem cell transplants have been used to treat at least 80 different diseases,1 including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, in more than 30,00011 patients worldwide.

If the idea of taking stem cells from your newborn sounds scary, know that it is quite the opposite. The process of collecting the cells from your baby's cord blood is easy and safe. The whole procedure takes about five minutes and is done right after your baby's birth. The cord blood is collected and packaged for shipment to a facility in New Jersey. LifebankUSA now offers you the ability to bank your baby's placenta blood as well. Banking placenta blood in addition to cord blood gives you the ability to preserve significantly more of your baby’s stem cells. These amazing little cells can be used to save the life of a close family member in the future. When it comes to stem cells, more is better because studies show that that transplanting more cells significantly improves success and survival rates.

Your child is being born into a world of extraordinary possibilities that include the enormous potential of stem cell banking. You can make the most of this once-in-a- lifetime opportunity by choosing LifebankUSA and add placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection, for a very real, proven layer of protection for you and your family.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Family Dinner {Away From Your Dinner Table}

Nothing beats talking over a home cooked meal with the family. However, it’s always a treat to take a break from the kitchen and give the kiddos a change of scenery. For your next family outing, consider one of these 5 splendid, family-friendly restaurants in Chicago. Each include links back to their Groupon Page: A source that provides all the details you need, reviews, menus, and of course, fantastic Groupon discount codes!

Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
When it comes to feeding the family, you simply can’t go wrong with pizza. Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta has been serving their traditional recipes for over 60 years in a variation of pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and more. With a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey herself, you can trust that you’re in for an exceptional meal. They offer a casual atmosphere, authentic Chicago thin crust, gluten free options, and hefty portion sizes to fill the whole family.

Lumes Pancake House and Restaurant
If your family is a fan of breakfast platters any hour of the day, then check out Lumes Pancake House. In addition to their morning menu packed with pancakes (oven baked or traditional), omelets, and more, they also offer a selection of sandwiches, salads, and burgers to satisfy everyone’s appetite.
Lumes’ kid’s menu is plentiful and includes the beloved Mickey Mouse Pancakes as well as cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and more.

New Star Restaurant
Do your cravings point to platters heaped with steaming, tangy, mouth-watering Chinese cuisine? Take a seat at New Star Restaurant: a family-owned restaurant that opened over 60 years ago.
New Star provides options that suit everyone from the classic beef & broccoli fans to the sushi connoisseurs. What makes this such a great option for group dining is their massive party trays. Pick a couple favorites and share among the family!

Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream
Dishing out favorites since 1901, Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream is a Chicago classic. Not only do they scoop out “Chicago’s Famous Chili”, but you’ll also find burgers, salads, and more scrumptious bites to chow down on just save room for dessert! Gertie’s sweet menu includes every cold and creamy dish you could dream of. To name a few, there are sundaes, shakes, and sodas topped with ice cream in the original Root Beer Float style or a handful of unique flavors.

Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant
For those whose taste remains faithful to Mexican cuisine, Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant is an incredible Chicago original – since 1967 – that provides big, decadent portions in a family-friendly environment. Pepe’s list of authentic dishes run the gamut, but for those who may not fancy the spices of enchiladas, tamales, and flautas, American Fare is available on both the adult and kid’s menu.
Next time you’re ready to step away from the stove, load up the family and try one of these phenomenal restaurants. Before you step out though, make sure to take a quick look through Groupon for some discount codes, details, and reviews, you’ll be happy you did!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Protect Your Home with the Canary Indoor Wireless Security System

Home security is something that is important to everyone, but knowing how to make your home more secure is sometimes a little confusing.  Choosing a system and/or service seems daunting and many times we have just set it aside to discuss at a later time. We wanted something easy, with no strings attached, and we finally found it, the Canary Indoor Wireless High-Definition All-In-One Home Security.  This device helps keep your home safe and sound with motion detection notifications, a 90+ dB siren and HomeHealth Technology. It learns the cadence of your home so it can send you accurate notifications with fewer false alarms triggered by pets or other regular activity in your house.

It is super easy to set up, just place the Canary in a central location of your home, plug it in and connect to your Wi-Fi.  You can stream live video from your home anytime through Canary's free mobile app.  You can check on the kids, pets, caregivers, or just see what's happening in your home from anywhere with your iPhone® or Android smartphone. Use the “Watch Live” feature to check on everything from homework being done to house rules are being followed.  Not only that, it has a classy, contemporary design that fits nicely with any decor.
The Canary lets you capture everything in vivid HD 1080p resolution which allows you to see every small detail on your screen.  The 147° field of view lets you see more with minimal blind spots, and infrared night vision even lets you see in the dark, this means you can keep an eye up to 20' away when there's little to no light.
The Canary is the only solution with a 90+ decibel siren and a localized emergency call feature, which lets you contact authorities close to home from anywhere in the world. The notifications keep you informed because you receive movement-detection notifications that contain recorded footage and give you the options to watch live or sound the siren.
Since the March 2015 launch, nearly 75 known burglaries, home invasions, caretaker abuse and other emergency situations have been captured by Canary, resulting in multiple arrests.
Pair your Canary Security System with a Netgear® Nighthawk™ DST Router and DST Adapter for the most effective wireless connection. This is a brand new router that was exclusively developed between Netgear, an industry leader in the networking world, and Best Buy, to help provide consumers with an easy, all-in-one solution to support their home’s connected devices. 
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free
@BestBuy, @Canary, @ Sling, @ Netgear

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market in Chicagoland is Now Open!

Say goodbye to your old super market and say hello to Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market, Chicago.  Just today, three brand new stores opened their doors, with locations in Midtown/Lincoln Park, Naperville and Crystal Lake.  This is going to change the way you shop, because this is a new full-service specialty grocery store featuring fresh, healthy and organic value-priced offerings. Not only that, but Fresh Thyme is scheduled to open a total of 60 stores by 2019.

Gone are the days of waiting for summer weather just to be able to get fresh produce at a local farmer's market.  Fresh Thyme's mission is to improve the way our communities eat by combining the spirit of a weekend farmers market, and the convenience of a neighborhood store, with the nutritious offerings of a natural food marketplace.   Local is the focus for each store, not only the products but the employees as well.

Check out their meat department for natural meat products including over 12 varieties of natural, handmade sausage – made in-store daily.  They also have healthy deli foods to go, bakery goods, bulk food, a produce department with around 170 organic offerings, natural and organic groceries, dairy and frozen, over 7000 varieties of vitamins, supplements and natural body care products.

Each one of their stores includes a Fresh Thyme Kitchen which features prepared salads and meals as well as a full salad bar, made-to-order sandwiches and a bakery featuring artisan breads.

There are over 300 bins of natural and organic self-serve bulk items from grains, granola, beans, to snack items and more.  There are also over 1,600 Gluten Free products in every store.

You can check out their website at Freshthyme.com

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is coming to Chicagoland

I have a great special offer for my readers for the ultimate holiday tradition.  Right now you can receive the Deepest discount of the Season (up to $30 OFF!) with this exclusive PROMO CODE for US Family Guide Readers: CODE: JOY  CLICK HERE for ShowTimes and Ticket InformationHurry order your family's tickets today and fell free to share this exclusive savings with your friends.

Families love Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! It's the ultimate holiday tradition and creates memories for a lifetime. The production includes over 200 romantic costumes and 10' tall playful animal puppets; shimmering colorful, backdrops splashed with 3-D effects; life-sized Matrushka (Nesting) Dolls and a puppet show for shadowing the Nutcracker Story at the opening Christmas Party. 

During the battle with Nutcracker Prince and the 3-headed Rat King, a golden cannon shoots roses! In the Magical Snow Forest an authentic Russian style Troika Sleigh, known as the fastest sleigh in the world is escorted by Father Christmas (Ded Moroz) and Snow Maiden (Snegurochka) on their way to Act II. The Great Russian Nutcracker is known for its dedication to world peace with Act II named the "Land of Peace and Harmony." The first scene of Act II features a stunning "Dove of Peace" with a 20' wingspan and danced by 2 dancers each with one feathered wing. All ages feel the spirit of the season at Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chicago's Museum Week {Giveaway}

Chicago is a wonderful, cultural experience, and this week it celebrates Museum Week.  As the third largest city in the U.S., Chicago designates week-long celebrations to recognize its world-renowned architecture, restaurants, theater productions and even its budding technology scene. It is a week to celebrate the beloved cultural institutions that connect Chicagoans and tourists with art, history, science, space, animals and nature.

Our trip to the Adler Planetarium

The 12 museums that are part of Museums In the Park collaborated to create Chicago’s inaugural Museum Week. We collectively planned events and programming to connect guests with all that our world-class museums have to offer. It’s a prime opportunity to discover a new museum in Chicago or rediscover an old favorite.

Spend a different day at every museum! Free admission for Illinoisans:

o   Oct. 1 – The Art Institute (5-8 p.m.), The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
o   Oct. 4 – DuSable Museum, The Field Museum
o   Oct. 5, 6 and 7 – Adler Planetarium
o   Oct. 5 and 6 – Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium
o   Oct. 6 – Museum of Contemporary Art
o   Always free – Lincoln Park Zoo, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

And there are discounts!

o   Adler Planetarium – $10 off new memberships
o   The Art Institute of Chicago - $10 off new memberships
o   Chicago History Museum – $4 off admission, 20% off membership, 20% off cafĂ© and store
o   The DuSable Museum of African American History – 2-for-1 admission, 10% off store, half-off individual membership
o   Lincoln Park Zoo – 10% off memberships
o   Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago – $10 off new memberships
o   Museum of Science and Industry – $20 off any membership
o   National Museum of Mexican Art – 15% discount at the shop, chance to win family membership
o   The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – chance to win lifetime membership, 10% off gift shop, $15 off 1-year membership, $25 off 2-year membership (for new members)
o   Bring a receipt from a Museum Week visit of another museum and get half-off admission at the Museum of Contemporary Art or $5 off adult admission at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 


One of my readers will win a year long membership to the Museum of Contempary Art Chicago! Here is how to get entered:

Leave me a comment below telling me which of the many cultural institutions in Chicago is your favorite.  That's it!  Winner will be announced Friday after noon.  Giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over.

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Time to Get Wild in the West at this Year's Fall Fest! {Giveaway}

The Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch is one of the more unique experiences that you and your family will encounter at Donley’s Wild West Town . For no more than the price of admission, families are treated to the Wild West Town Pumpkin Patch” with the Indian Chief Great Eagle. It’s an unforgettable experience! 

Kids are given beads to ride the not-so-spooky train to the Indian Tipi where they are greeted by Chief Great Eagle; they exchange their beads for a pumpkin after an “official ceremony” by the Chief. Kids can then decorate their pumpkin or take it home to display.  
For more than 25 years, Donley’s Wild West Town has been a family tradition throughout Illinois. The Fall Festival is great for a day of family fun in the fall, and it’s affordable! Your pictures and videos will be priceless!
  • Pan for gold pyrite and keep what you find.
  • Ride a real pony or the vintage carousel,
  • Throw a tomahawk,
  • Rope a steer.
  • Watch one of the best Fall Themed Wild West shootouts you’ll ever see.
  • Ride the run-a-way mine coaster and the venture canoes.
  • Meet Chief Great Eagle and the kids get a free pumpkin.
  • Kids Karaoke.
There’s hot chocolate and special treats in Clayton’s Sarsaparilla Saloon where your child can be the star on stage with Kids Karaoke!
COST: $17 per Person  – includes all rides and attractions 
Children 2 and Under FREE  –  when accompanied by a paying adult  
Each Grandparent is free with each full price paid child

All this and more at Donley’s Fall Festival at the intersection of route 20 and S. Union Road in Union IL. http://www.wildwesttown.com
One of my readers will win a family 4 pack of tickets to this years Fall Fest! All you have to do is follow the rafflecopter instructions below, but hurry giveaway ends soon!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Corn Maze Coupons and Fall Festival Savings Nationwide

Fall is here and it's time to have some family fun.  Check out these Fall Festival Deals! Here is a great list of Corn Maze Coupons and Fall Festival savings nationwide.  Download valuable coupons for Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches and Fall Family Activities.

Tolmachoff Farms - Glendale
Mortimer Farms - Dewey
Rocker 7 Farm Patch - Buckeye
Pirates Dinner Adventure - Vampirates - Buena vista
Gilroy Gardens - Gilroy
California's Great America - Santa Clara
Big Horse Corn Maze Festival - Temecula
Anderson Farms - Erie
Fritzler Maze - La Salle
Mile High Farms - Bennett
Wishing Star Farm - Calhan
Harvest Farm - Wellington
Cottonwood Farms - Boulder
Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch - Longmont
Elitch Gardens Theme Park - Fright Fest - Denver
Denver Zoo - Boo at The Zoo - Denver
Children's Museum of Denver - Trick or Treat Street - Denver
Scott's Yankee Farmer - East Lyme
The Little Farm - Goulds
Lowry Park Zoo - ZOOBOO Kids! - Tampa
Siegel's Cottonwood Farm - Lockport
Amazing Fall Fun - Waterloo
Shipshewana Corn Maze - Shipshewana
Great Country Farms - Bluemont

Ripley's Believe It or Not! - Batimore
Bavarian Inn Lodge - Frankenmuth
Beggs Family Farm - Sikeston
Carolyn's Country Cousins - Liberty Corn Maze
Legoland Discovery Center - Brick or Treat - Kansas City
Applestem, Inc. - Vaughn
New Jersey
iPlay America - Freehold
New Mexico
La Union Maze - La Union
OhioBlooms and Berries - Loveland
Beriswill Farms - Valley City
Rhode Island
Confreda Greenhouses & Farms - Hope (Western Cranston)
South Carolina
Hollywild Animal Park - Wellford
Oakes Farm - Corryton
Shuckle's Corn Maze - Hendersonville
Devine Acres Farm - Devine 
Fiesta Farm - San Antonio
Barton Hill Farms - Bastrop
Lone Star Family Farm - Stephenville
LEGOLAND Discovery Center - Brick or Treat - Grapevine
Hee Haw Farms - Pleasant Grove
This Is The Place Heritage Park - Salt Lake City
Gaines Farm - Guilford
Great Country Farms - Bluemont
For daily updates on these coupons and coupons for other family attractions please visit and bookmark: http://www.usfamilycoupons.com
#CornMaze #Fall #Autumn #Coupons #FallFamily

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brookfield Zoo’s Annual Boo! at the Zoo Offers Halloween Fun for Families

Brookfield Zoo’s annual Boo! at the Zoo Halloween celebration returns with not-so-scary and fun-filled activities for the entire family to enjoy on October 17-18 and October 24-25 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day.

During Boo! at the Zoo, presented by Bright Start College Savings, zoogoers can get into the Halloween spirit by learning about creepy crawlers like scorpions, giant spiders, and snakes. Each day during Boo! at the Zoo, special chats led by animal care staff will highlight interesting facts about these animals and more. Guests can head over to Australia House at 11:30 a.m. for a chat about bats, then wander over to Regenstein Wolf Woods to learn about the Mexican gray wolves at noon. At Hamill Family Play Zoo, there will be a chat about spiders at 12:30 p.m., followed by a chat about owls at 1:00 p.m. Across the way at The Swamp, there will be a chat about scorpions at 2:00 p.m. Families can slither over to Feathers and Scales for a snake chat at 2:30 p.m. Finally, back at Hamill Family Play Zoo, guests can meet the zoo’s ravens at 3:00 p.m.

Some animals will join in the fun when they receive Halloween treats at 11:00 a.m. Animals receiving pumpkins are rhinos on October 17; orangutans on October 18; sloth, grizzly, and polar bears on October 24; and lions on October 25.

On the zoo’s West Mall, guests can watch the Pumpkin Smasher demolish pumpkins into tiny pieces every hour. Professional pumpkin carver Steve Dahlke will be on hand and will use a variety of tools to create masterpieces out of gigantic 1,000-pound pumpkins. Zoogoers can pick up carving tips and tricks during his demonstrations and can even carve their own pumpkins to take home.

Ghosts and goblins of all ages can join in the popular costume parade, which kicks off at 1:00 p.m. by the North Mall and goes around Roosevelt Fountain before concluding on the West Mall. Following the parade, guests can show off their Halloween attire in a costume contest beginning at 1:30 p.m. Judges will choose prize winners in four categories: scariest, best animal theme, most original, and best group theme.

Don’t want the fun to stop? Keep the good times rollin’ with a ride on the Haunted Hayride and a trek through the Craized Maize corn maze. The whole family can enjoy a spin on the Creepy Carousel, build a scarecrow at Hamill Family Play Zoo, and snap photos together at pumpkin patches throughout the park. In addition, guests can purchase and enjoy some fall treats: pumpkin soup and freshly baked cupcakes with Halloween-themed decorations.

General zoo admission is $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children ages 3-11 and seniors age 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10. For further information, visit www.CZS.org/events or call (708) 688-8000.

#Chicago #Halloween #FamilyFun #Zoo 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cirque du Soleil's Kurios Takes Chicago by Storm

I remember the first time I caught a glimpse of a Cirque du Soleil show on TV.  I believe it was one of those specials on PBS and Cirque's Allegria was on.  I was just mesmerized by everything from the costumes and makeup to the performances and even the music.  I watched several other Cirque shows on DVD before attending one live....and nothing compares to seeing a cirque show live.  That time I was lucky enough to get a back stage tour and a glimpse into what goes into one of these productions.

Just a few weeks ago I was invited to see Cirque's new show, Kurios.  I did not check out any trailers or previews, I wanted to just go and be surprised.  Nothing could have prepared me for the breath-taking performance I saw that night.  I loved everything about it, everything.  The feel of the stage and the costumes reminded me of one of those old-time side shows.  The music was beautiful and some songs even reminded me a little of Allegria.  The performances were absolutely amazing.  I went with a friend and we just kept looking at each other with that open mouthed "can you believe that" stare.  I could not get enough and the show just kept bringing more, there was never a dull moment.  One of the great things about Cirque du Soleil shows is that there is so much to look at.  The main act of course gets most of your attention but there are things happening on the stage that just add more to the whole experience.  That is exactly what Cirque shows are, experiences.


To make the Accordion Man’s attire, the costume-maker spent an entire week sewing inside the costume.

• Antanina Satsura, the artist who plays Mini Lili in Kurios, is 3.2 feet tall and weighs 39 pounds. She is one of the 10 smallest people in the world.

• The mechanical hand in Kurios weighs 750 pounds and measures 15 feet by 6.8 feet.

• In 2012, writer/director Michel Laprise collaborated with pop star Madonna, providing artistic direction for her performance at the super bowl XlVi halftime show; he later went on to direct her MDNA tour.

• There are 426 props used in Kurios, the most of any show in Cirque du Soleil’s history.

• Close to 65 trucks transport close to 2,000 tons of equipment for KUriOs™.

• The 109 Tour Members range from brand new to over 20 years on tour with Cirque and are from 21 countries.

• It is also the first time that Cirque du Soleil has a welcoming act on top of the big top before the show starts. When the weather is allowing they have 3 artists climbing the big top and welcoming guests on site. As they are playing music and acting the audience is arriving on site and watching this introduction to a KURIOS experience.

• I t took the team of prop makers ap-proximately 250 hours to build the Mi-cro-Cosmos ball.

• All performers are responsible for doing their own make-up every show. It can take them between 40 – 120 minutes.

The Final Show is Sunday, September 20.  A limited number of tickets are still available for the final shows in Chicago and can be purchased online at cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or by calling 
1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).