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Friday, December 20, 2013

Mooseheart: Holiday Lights

Mooseheart, Illinois (Dec. 20, 2013) -- Don't let this weekend's winter weather keep you away from one of the most delightful Christmas experiences in the far western suburbs: the Mooseheart Holiday Lights. Visitors drive past more than 90 light displays along an almost two-mile route within the Mooseheart campus. Since Christmas and railroads go together like milk and cookies, there are trains to be seen amid the snowmen, reindeer and snowflakes, but there are also trucks, tractors, penguins, enormous football helmets (Bears and Packers!), a huge light tunnel and a musical light show. To add to the fun, the route ends with the opportunity to meet Santa -- but only through Monday evening. He has places to be after that! The Santa visits happen at the Mooseheart fieldhouse, where kids can also enjoy games, crafts and cocoa and cookies. There's even a small light-up train to see while you're enjoying your treats! 

It's tough to take a good nighttime picture
 with a car full of kids saying, "Hey, Mom,
look at that! Look at that!" but here's one of
the trains in the Mooseheart Holiday Lights display.
Of course everyone will be oohing and ahhing over the lights along the route, but little engineers will also want to keep an eye open for the red Mooseheart Caboose located early in the route. (Drivers, it's after the turn from Legion Lane onto International Drive.)  

The light display runs through December 31. Entry costs $10, all of which supports the work of Mooseheart to provide for the care and education of children in need. There is no additional charge to visit Santa. 

Mooseheart is located on Illinois Route 31 two miles north of Interstate 88. Specific directions can be found here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Helping kids see those model trains

At the Lego train show our family attended last weekend, I noticed a bit of brilliant parenting that needs sharing. That's my daughter in the picture, peering over the edge of the Plexiglas barrier between the visitors and the display. (Not complaining about the barrier here. Without those things, all those Lego bricks, trains and buildings would be like a salad bar for toddlers -- grab it and go, or just poke it out of place for a bit.) My five-year old is just at the age where she can sort of see things without constantly begging to be lifted up, which is good because her little brother spends the whole time either being held up or repeating "Up? See?" with arms outstretched. Enter the wise parenting. I noticed not one, but two families who brought along portable, fold-able step stools. The very kind we have at home for reaching the sink and then tucking in a corner when they aren't needed. Brilliant! Why haven't I thought of this before? The thing folds up, it has a carrying handle, and hauling a small step stool into a family event is no more aggravating lifting 20 to 30 or more pounds of small person up every time something catches their eye. This stool deserves to live in the van. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

St. Charles: Christmas Villiage model train display

St. Charles, Illinois -- Take a look at this video from St. Charles Free Methodist Church, which is inviting the public to its "Christmas Villiage" train display. To see the display in person, stop by Friday, Dec. 20 between 6 and 8 pm., Saturday, Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. until noon, and Sunday, Dec. 22 from 11:30 a.m. until noon. The church is at 214 Walnut St., St. Charles.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wheaton: Lego Train Club Christmas Show

Wheaton, Illinois (Dec. 14, 2013) -- Any show put on by the Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club is a guaranteed good time, so making time for a trip to Cantigny this weekend to see their annual Christmas Train Show was a must do for our family. For this weekend, Cantigny's visitor center is entirely filled with Lego displays by club members, as well as vendors offering unique brick collections and accessories. As always, seeing the huge collection of Lego trains is just part of the fun. Make time to really look at the scenes and find the goofy humor and cultural references crammed into every inch of the layouts. (I'm not quite ready to let the kids watch Dr. Who, but seeing Daleks and Weeping Angels in Lego made me laugh. They thought the "Brick-Fil-A" restaurant was a sillier thing.) The only disappointment we had was not making time to step outside for the for the trackless train rides before they ended for the day. Oh, well, plenty to see inside. 

The show goes on for one more day: Sunday, Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. The trackless train rides are $1 and run until 3 p.m. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots and parking your vehicle will be free! Otherwise parking is $5. The main event is is free.