Things To Do: A Weekend in Chicago

So, have you heard? I’m going to Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago this weekend! Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago is actually in the suburb of Northbrook. Even though the hotel is not downtown, there are a lot of great places to go in the suburbs! Here is your guide for what to do when you are not attending the blogging conference this weekend, both in the suburbs and in downtown Chicago.

Practically down the street from the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel is the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It’s easy to get lost in the Gardens, wandering around just gazing at all the different types of gardens. And that’s a good thing! Various sculptures, bridges, waterfalls and fountains grace the landscape. And just when you think the kids are bored (if you are bringing the whole family to Chicago) there is an electric train display that is worth the extra cost! My daughters love the trains…look for the ladybug train while you’re there! If you get hungry, the Garden Cafe and Grille is open all day long. There are even ice cream stands in the gardens themselves (Shhh…my daughters don’t realize this tidbit of information yet!)

(Please note: all my photos are from Millennium Park; I don’t have easily locatable pictures of these other locations!)

Lily, Emmy and I are in front of the Cloud Gate, otherwise know as the Bean.

If you need a bite to eat in Northbrook, there’s no need to go far! Charlie Beinlich’s is not much to look at and their website is basically useless, but they have awesome hamburgers! It is on Skokie Blvd., just down the street from the hotel. If you are looking for something a little fancier, Ron of Japan is also on Skokie Blvd. by the hotel. This Japanese Steakhouse will easily accommodate big groups of women bloggers! The chefs are amazing to watch as they prepare your meal right at your table.

Lily reflected in the Bean.

 In nearby Highland Park, you can listen to music AND see a movie under the stars! The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is playing at Ravinia on Friday, August 19. Lawn tickets are very reasonable. Just bring a picnic blanket and bottle of wine, and you are set! The CSO will be playing the soundtrack LIVE as you watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings on screens scattered around the lawn. Now that will be an awesome experience! They also have other concerts this weekend. Visit their website for more details.

One of the fountains in Millennium Park “spitting” on a group of kids.

If you are really excited about being in Chicago, the Loop is just a short drive south on the Edens Expressway, otherwise know as Interstate 94. If you prefer to skip the traffic, Northbrook also has a Metra line that will take you directly downtown. Taking the train might be the best choice since the Chicago Air & Water Show is happening this weekend, and this big event always snarls traffic. If the weather cooperates, Millennium Park is a great place to spend the day. Are you bringing the kids? Don’t forget to bring their swimming suits and they can get as wet as they want to in the fountains! The park is close to shopping on Michigan Avenue and also the Art Institute.

Lily and Emmy, three summers ago, playing at Millennium Park.

 Have an awesome weekend here in Chicago, and if you are attending the conference, I’ll see you there!

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Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago!

It’s not as though I’m a stranger to conferences. I’ve attended plenty of teacher conferences over the years. I’ve attended conferences with groups of teachers from my school and I’ve attended them by myself. I’ve attended awesome conferences, where I’ve come home brimming with ideas and energized to teach again. I’ve also attended some conferences that did not live up to my expectations. With all my conference-going experience, I shouldn’t be nervous. Yet my stomach is doing flip-flops just at the thought of attending Bloggy Boot Camp on Saturday!

1. Lingo

Education lingo is not foreign to me. Throw out words like inclusion, differentiation, and Bloom’s Taxonomy at me, and I know exactly what you are talking about. Not only that, but I know how to incorporate these educational practices into my classroom. I left the educational field for a few years when Lily was born, but I know I will be able to pick up the new educational lingo when I go back to teaching.

Now, blogging lingo. Or perhaps more accurately, social media lingo. I just can’t keep up! There is so much out there that I could utilize in my blogging. I’m hoping to learn a lot at Bloggy Boot Camp, but then what if I can’t incorporate what I learn into my blogging? Flop-flips!

2. Networking/Socialization

During teacher conferences, most teachers focus on taking notes, talking to their colleagues and getting those all important CPDU’s (more teacher lingo). Networking is rare unless you want to start up pen pals, or the more technological Skyping between kids in your classrooms. Sometimes you break into focus groups to share ideas, but names and contact information are generally not shared.

Blogging conferences, however, are all about getting yourself out there and socializing with your fellow bloggers. Walking into a room full of strangers and having to TALK TO THEM intimidates me! What if other bloggers have no idea who I am? Or what if they have read my blog and *ahem* don’t like it? Flip-flops!

The other night, as I was talking to Ed about my blogging conference fears, I felt like Al Franken’s character Stuart Smiley. I told Ed I shouldn’t be nervous; after all, I can talk to people. People do like talking to me.

3. Attire

My friends and I were not in the group of teachers we call “apple baggers.” These teachers carry their notebooks around in a bag covered with apples and teacher sayings and little chalkboards. I own several of these bags, but I preferred carrying around my sturdy green canvas briefcase. Apple baggers also wore teacher themed tee shirts or sweaters with denim skirts and chunky, wooden apple necklaces. My preferred attire was jeans and a comfy sweatshirt.

Are jeans even an option at a blogging conference? FLOP-FLIPS!

So there you go. All Most of my blogging conference neuroses wrapped up for you in one blog post. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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P.S. Are you going to Bloggy Boot Camp? Did you write a pre-BBC post? I’d love to read it–please leave a link in the comments!