No, I didn’t make a spelling error in the title I promise. I’m referring to the Wndr Museum in Chicago. This weekend my family and I headed to the West Loop to check out the Wnder Museum and it did not disappoint.
Of course, as a blogger and an Instagram junkie, this place was a dream come true. Every turn provided a one of a kind photo op. But, besides that, the space offers an hour or two of browsing through rooms of experimental art installations that are sure to bring wonder to all.
When you first enter the museum you get the opportunity to wander around and check out a few interactive installations. There’s a station where a poet will customize a poem for you, too. The kids really loved this. There’s also a wall of candy dispensers – which I don’t know if that’s a good idea or a bad idea. The kids seemed to love it though.
Before you enter the main space, there are complimentary lockers you can put your coats and items in if you don’t want to carry them through the museum. Once in the museum, you’ll be guided through each room by an employee who will share all the information about the installation.
There are a few rules, you can’t climb on or touch a lot of the art installations – so I wouldn’t recommend it for very small children (crawlers or new walkers). Or, if you take them just be sure to watch them closely. We did see a few toddlers get in trouble for throwing some of the art bulbs lying around and grabbing sections of the art. There was also a baby crawling around in some of the dark rooms – which is not safe for anyone. Comes down to common sense parenting really. This is not a play space per se, it’s an interactive museum. Mentioning this so you can determine if it’s something you want to do with your young kids.
There are about 10 spaces to walk through, all very different and cool in their own right. The last space offers a room with balloons everywhere and kids are welcomed to play in there. There are fans on the floor which keep the balloons floating upward and the kids loved it.
My favorite installations came at the end. There is an area to take cans and hold them up to wires to hear sound from the wires. If you walk around the whole structure the sounds change. Pretty cool!
Once you reach the last part of the museum you walk through the installation featuring the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room. Yayoi Kusama is an 89-year-old Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. She’s spent the last four decades voluntarily living in a psychiatric hospital due to mental illness. Her work is adored by millions all over the world.
You only get one minute in the Infinity Mirror Room and have to wear booties over your shoes. They are very strict and have a person manning the exhibit to protect it, but 60 seconds was enough time to capture the awe and beauty of the room and snap a few pics.
Upon leaving you pass by an interactive wall that captures you as the art piece and then you’re asked to leave a note on the exit wall. There were little snippets of advice, comments about the museum experience, and funny quotes adorning the wall as you exit the museum.
Definitely a fun winter activity and one you don’t want to miss before it leaves Chicago. Tickets are $32 due to the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, but well worth it. You can read more and buy your tickets here.
New mommas! I know it’s hard, girl. The sleepless nights. The endless laundry. The human attached to your boob twenty-four-seven. The bottles that pile up to be cleaned. The adjusting to your new life with baby. The trying to do it all AT ONCE. It’s HARD. Like, REAL HARD.
But, I have good news for you. The dust WILL settle. The sleep will come – and in a short time you won’t be able to even remember your life before your little one. It’s like they were already in your heart forever and you just had to wait for them to get here. I’m not crying – you’re crying! Geez. Boy, do I love my babies and all the blessings they have brought me in life! Okay, so back to the recap as I wipe away my tears.
I have even more good news for you! This weekend I was lucky enough to attend The 2nd Annual Chicago Baby Show at Navy Pier on a media pass. This allowed me to get lots of one-on-one time with all the vendors and hear all about the latest and greatest in baby gear, gadgets, wraps, snacks and more.
I even left with some cool swag that I’ll be giving away to a few lucky readers! Check out all these goodies below!
One of the first booths I visited was a brand staple for my family when my babies were babies (not that long ago). Boppy Support for all Momkind. Boppy’s are a must for new moms. I had both the nursing pillow and newborn lounger, which I used every day for at least a year for both my babies. They have other great products, accessories, cozy carriers, and the cutest slip covers you’ve ever seen. Not going to lie, I had several covers because babies vomit and spit up a lot and I didn’t want to do laundry every day. Lazy, I know, but when you’re a zombie you do what you have to do. Boppy has a new product out, a teething scarf, which was an instant hit and already won a Mom’s Choice Award. It’s an infinity scarf that serves as an accessory, cover up for nursing, and easy grip teether made from food-grade silicon. The nice lady at the booth modeled it for my readers! Very cute, and cozy for baby!
Next up, I chatted with the ladies at the Motherlove® Nurturing Life booth. Motherlove products are recommended by healthcare professionals and trusted by mothers everywhere. The products are self-care for moms and contain herbs that are traditionally and effectively used worldwide to support breast milk supply. Their line carries Sitz Bath Spray, pregnant belly salve to help with stretch marks, and their most popular product: Motherlove Nipple Cream. Breastfeeding moms – can I get an amen! Side note: nipple cream is becoming a popular lip balm on dry lips during winter. I’ve tried it – it works. Just sayin’. You can check out their whole line at Motherlove.
After I divulged that I sometimes use nipple cream (no judging) on my lips, I went over to the Inspired Start booth and was really impressed with what they’ve created. They are the only baby food designed to introduce eight common allergens. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says allergenic foods can be introduced just like other solid foods, around 4-6 months of age. Early allergen introduction, or just early introduction, is a new term — one that has emerged over the last couple of years as a response to new research. Early introduction is the process of feeding a potentially allergenic food to infants early on in their immune system development and on a consistent basis as they continue to grow and develop.
They come in cute easy to carry pouches (BPA free) and are available on Amazon Prime. So smart!
One of my last stops was at the SNOO Sleeper booth. All I can say is, “WOW”! This sleeper is all the rage with celebs and baby sleep gurus alike. It was created by the author of Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp (a.k.a. The Baby Whisperer). If you’re a mom you’ve read or at least heard of his book. It was my baby bible when I had my first son and his advice was solid. SNOO Smart Sleeper is a bassinet that applies Dr. Karp’s popular 5 S’s soothing techniques, giving your baby a perfect 4th Trimester for safe and happy sleep.
SNOO is the only bed that boosts sleep 1-2+ hours by soothing babies with the constant rumbly sound and gentle rocking they loved in the womb. SNOO also “hears” your baby’s cries and automatically responds with 5 levels of gradually stronger white noise and motion to find the best level to soothe fussing. It comes with a special swaddle for safe sleeping, different attachments for incline, and even has an app to control the controls (of course it does!). It does come with a hefty price tag, but you have to ask yourself – is you and your baby’s sleep worth it? I’d say so.
Some other notable (I mean, they all were awesome) vendors were one of my other favorites, Mable’s Labels
If you don’t use these yet, trust me you will. If your baby goes to daycare or when they are older and start schooling – everything must be labeled. What better way to personalize or showcase your little one’s personality then with Mabel’s labels. AND, you can get 20% off site wide using the code:US182DOQ561C from now until December 31, 2018.
My new friends at Líllé Baby, on the Goldbug, Pura, Inspired Start (who I talked about above), and Itzy Ritzy were kind enough to donate some of their favorite products among moms for a giveaway! The Líllé Baby tie the knot wrap includes unique, innovative features that simplifies placing carrier on and improves comfort. The on the Goldbug 4 in 1 privacy scarf is a multi-use scarf, nursing cover, shopping cart cover & car seat canopy. The Pura stainless steel bottle is unbreakable, dishwasher safe, non toxic, no plastics! They have a line for the whole family, but I have a bottle for you! Inspired start gave a cute little snack bag and a pouch of their uniquily formulated organic baby food. Finally the Itzy Ritzy snack bag is perfect for moms on the go!
How to ENTER:
Follow on IG at hollydays_chicago.
Share this post on Facebook.
Tag your new mom friends or soon-to-be moms.
Each action is an entry!
First come first serve on the raffle items, there are 5 to give away! I have a few other samples I can throw in each as a surprise gift too!
You hear me talk all the time about choosing happiness and savoring the joy (and sorrow) in the journey. So, you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that Happy Place was coming to Chicago!
Happy Place was founded by Jared Paul and opened originally on November 20, 2017. It’s a traveling pop-up experience with beautiful installation art pieces that are sure to make you happy. Even reading about it brought out the kid in me. The rooms are filled with life size installations, multi-sensory immersive rooms, and dozens of moments curated to Capture Your Happy.
Highlights include: dancing in the middle of world’s largest indoor Confetti Dome, jumping off of a larger than life double rainbow into a pot of happiness, and posing inside HAPPY PLACE‘s signature rubber ducky bathtub of fun! And, let’s not forget 7-foot stilettos made of a million candies and 6-foot-tall X and O letters made out of thousands of tiny mirrors, surrounded by a wall of one thousand red lips!
Adults will love this experience, too. My kids asked to go back again – and, I think we will. Kids 4 and under get in for FREE, adults are $35. The best part about it is the staff will take pictures for you and they don’t rush you through the exhibits at all. There’s even a lemonade stand, a grill cheese stand and cotton candy at the end.
Check out some of our memories we made:
This summer – get out of the house, get the kids off the iPad, take advantage of the short amount of time we have with them and find a happy place of your own to make memories. And, if you’re in Chicago…. check out Happy Place Chicago before they leave town August 8th! You can read more and purchase tickets here.
To check out videos and more of our experience – check out my Insta stories on IG!
First, I’ll state that I am in NO way shape or form an expert on renovation or design. To be clear, my knowledge of home renovation stems from obsessively watching HGTV for the last 10 years and having a big brother who was a contractor for 20+ years. I have my Pinterest boards, love strolling through design showrooms on weekends and have two amazing friends, Keki and Ann, who inspire me daily. If you want to hear from real experts, they are your gals.
Aside from that – it’s the blind leading the blind. Wanted to throw that out there to check your expectations of me. However, since I just went through (well, still going through) a renovation, I thought I’d share some of my beginner tips!
I live in Chicago, which is an expensive city, so we just bought our very first home. YAY! When we signed on the dotted line, I couldn’t wait to move in and call it home. Finally! No more sharing a bathroom with three boys. I know, right! Torture. Go pee on your own toilet seat now! Just saying. No more sharing walls – even though my neighbors have always been pretty cool! And, no more tight living quarters for my boys. Thank you sweet Jesus.
But, before we could move in we had a LOT of work to do. The house had great bones, but was outdated and not our taste. The 90s were an interesting time. Lots of browns, dark greens, mustard yellows and in this house – a lot of teal. Since I just crawled my way out of the “baby stage” of my life and no longer have to change 1000s of diapers a day (okay, sometimes it just felt like 1000s) – those are colors I don’t care to see for a very long time. So, we changed everything!
What we’ve done so far and some (wanna be pro?) tips:
Paint the inside of the entire house.
HIRE someone to paint your ceilings unless you want to be at the chiropractor every day the rest of your life. WORTH the money. You can paint the easy stuff: bathrooms, inside of closets, small bedrooms, etc.
If you need help painting, ask for a recommendation on a neighborhood or mom Facebook group! You can find someone who does side jobs and get a deal. I paid a fraction of what it would normally cost to do my main floor because I gave the business to an independent guy who just wanted some extra cash.
Gutted and redid our kitchen.
Facebook Market Place – USE IT! It would have cost us $1000 in demo with our kitchen contractor to remove our old kitchen, so I posted it on FB Market Place! I prefaced with ONLY contractors or experienced handymen to remove, that way they didn’t destroy the walls and/or plumbing. Someone came with his team who renovates properties and removed our old kitchen – granite and all! I made money and saved the $1000 it would have cost to demo. There are also non-profits that will come and take it out for free and use it to build homes, etc.
Go small. We love supporting small businesses! We used Boca Cabinets (if you live in Chicago – they are amazing!). They were several thousand less in pricing than other big box stores and we got a great product.
Pay people in cash if you can! We had saved up for renovation so had cash for the larger items. If you pay in cash you avoid the credit card transaction fee and they will pass that savings on to you.
Refinished the fire place.
We hired someone to do this, but I think after a few YouTube videos we could have done it ourself. We ended up doing most of one of our bathrooms and several other jobs ourselves – after learning how to do it on Youtube! You can do a lot more than you think you can!
Remodeled Guest Bathroom.
Negotiate! Contractors (or anyone in sales) usually throws out the higher prices because they are ready for you to bring it down. A lot of people take the first price and consider it the final. I’ve been in sales my whole life – so I love to negotiate a deal! You want to be fair and pay people for their hard work, but you also don’t want to be ripped off. The worst they can say is no! I didn’t pay any of the original quotes on any work in this house. Just ask, “Is the best you can do?”, or get several quotes and see who will match the lowest one.
Use the same contractor, or his connections, for multiple jobs. This will allow for more negotiation – and you won’t have to worry about scheduling issues.
Ripped out all carpet and put in hardwoods.
We (my husband, my 7 year old son and myself) ripped out all the carpet. Easy peasy and saved on labor!
Paid in cash to get discounts for hard wood.
While you’re doing the floors, might as well replace all the base boards and shoe. It makes the house look instantly better – and updated!
My stairs are my favorite thing in the house. I just love them!
Replaced all doors.
We did all our shopping during black Friday sales – so paid almost half for all the interior doors, closet doors and appliances AND carpet for our basement. Wait for those sales around the holiday times.
We removed all the casings ourselves and painted all the doors, again, to save on labor.
SELL all your old stuff on FB MARKET PLACE! I’m telling you – we sold all our old appliances, closet bi-fold doors, trim, etc. on FB. We were making money as fast as we were spending it.
Repainted all our outdoor decks.
Must easier and cheaper than sanding and staining.
A good ole’ power washer can make a world of difference, too.
Remodeled our guest bathroom.
Did demo ourselves and hired a handyman to help install new vanity, toilet, and lay the tile.
We still have our two upstairs bathrooms to finish, which we will get to next year. We did all of the above in three weeks, you guys. Three weeks. It was mayhem, but we made it happen and I still can’t believe this is my home. Now, on to filling it and putting in the final touches. This is where my blogger and IG design friends come in!
My last bit of advice is to have fun and keep your eyes on the prize. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise! You can check out the process and more before and afters on my Insta Stories under “Home”.
Share your renovation secrets with us in the comments!