Making a Splash

There are some summer activities that the girls may never outgrow. One of those, is playing in splash pads. We did this one a little differently this year. In years past, we have gone to splash pads at playgrounds, specifically at Maggie Daley Playground. The girls love that playground (although, it stresses me out – there are so many entrances and exits to that playground and kids are running everywhere!) but when we went last summer, several of the splash pad areas were under construction. So, this year, we made the decision to just do two locations that we love….even if they aren’t specifically splash pads.

We hit up Crown Fountain in Millennium Park and the Polk Brothers Fountain at Navy Pier.

 

 

The list:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

An Ode To the Front Yard

One of my favorite things about our house is our yard. It’s not massive. But that means that it’s easier to take care of (or rather, it’s easier for Ryan to take care of…he’s the king of the yard…)

This summer, our girls spent way more time in the yard than they ever have. I am always impressed with how creative they can get with their imaginative play while outdoors. Sticks become swords, sure. But sticks also become magic wands, tools for making food, bows, tracks, and landing areas for dragons.

The girls wanted to be sure that they had time to pick dandelions. However, partly because Ryan is the king of the yard, and probably partly because these girls are frequently running back and forth and back and forth and back and forth around the whole yard – we just didn’t have  many dandelions this summer. But, the girls definitely had a lot of fun in the yard.

There were several days in which all that they wanted to do was have a “mud party.” You can see the aftermath of one of those parties in the pic below lol.

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The list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Just a Spot of Tea

One of our girls’ favorite activities is…well…anything related to American Girl. They have dolls, clothes, furniture, accessories, books, etc., etc., etc. And one of their favorite things to do with their dolls is to go downtown Chicago to the American Girl Store and Cafe.

If your girls are in to American Girl (or just in to dolls in general), this is a great way to spend an afternoon!

Some tips:

  • Buy your parking ahead of time. I’ve been able to get great spots using the SpotHero app! That allows me to save money, get a great parking spot, and not waste a lot of time trying to find a spot.
  • Make reservations! Make reservations for your meal (brunch, tea, lunch, or dinner) but also keep in mind that you can make salon reservations for your girl’s doll and you can now make reservations for your own girls to have a spa day (this is new! We haven’t tried it out yet but now I’m guessing my girls will want to have matching girl/doll spa days.)
  • Celebrating a birthday? Consider switching your regular meal reservation to a birthday celebration. It’s a set price (and not actually much of a difference from the regular meals) and you can pick from a selection of food choice for your meal. And the girls get a party surprise. It would definitely be pricey for a large party but if it’s just you and your own girls, it’s definitely a great choice.
  • Because the meals are offered at set times, they can easily fit into your day. However, I have found that the afternoon tea is not a swap for a lunch. It’s just too late in the day. But, if you and your girls enjoy a lunch before your tea (we usually end up eating a sandwich for an early lunch so we’re not too hungry for tea) you’ll be fine and can enjoy all of the yumminess.

Enjoy your trip! It’s definitely a fun way to spend the afternoon. 🙂

 

 

Our list:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Bowling and Lunch

I am definitely far behind on my posts so I’m going to try over the next several days to get caught up. Summer is almost over….and we’ve actually gotten most of our summer list done.

Bowling!

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The girls love bowlling! I enjoy it as well and it’s even better if you can eat food during the game that perhaps isn’t traditional bowling alley food.

We enjoy going to Pinstripes for bowling and it’s a great deal during the week. From 11:00am-1:00pm kids can bowl for $3 and a $3 shoe rental. And parents can bowl for free! Plus, you can order from their menu which is definitely a step above regular bowling alley food.

Do your kids love to bowl? Where is your favorite spot to bowl?

Our list thus far –

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

So. Many. Blueberries.

I am way (!!!!) behind on updating our summer list….so be on the lookout for several posts coming your way in the next several days!

Now. Blueberries.

Blueberry picking was on our summer list and, honestly, I wasn’t sure how we were going to accomplish that one. I had hoped that there would be a blueberry u-pick farm near Milwaukee so that we would be able to combine that with our yearly trip to visit Granny and Pa (post about that trip coming up soon)….but I learned something…..there are no u-pick farms anywhere near Milwaukee. (At least for blueberries.) And, there are no u-pick farms anywhere near Chicago (again…for blueberries.)

When I write that I was looking for something near those locations, I was looking for something within an hour. There are many spots that are 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours away.

So, we did something kind of crazy. The day after we returned from Wisconsin, we set off for a day trip to the Indiana/Michigan border!

Now, if you are in Harbor Country, you will be able to find many different u-pick options! Blueberry farms are everywhere! You will need to plan your trip accordingly, though.

Be sure to check up on the following items before you head out:

  • Some farms accept only cash. Some are cash and credit.
  • Bring sunscreen! You will be in the direct sun for at least an hour depending on how many blueberries you want to take home.
  • Bring snacks. Some of the farms might also have a stand with other fruits, veggies, baked goods. Some may even have more options like sandwiches or other snacks. However, chances are good, you’ll only have blueberries surrounding you for awhile so be ready.

We went to Stateline Blueberries and had great success. We went home with over six pounds of blueberries!

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Once you get your blueberries home, get ready to prepare them. I wash them lightly, then spread out over a towel so that they can dry. Carefully roll the blueberries around to catch any leaves or stems that are stuck to the blueberries.

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Blueberries freeze incredibly well. I actually just poured the blueberries into gallon size freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. You can take them out anytime and add to muffins, pancakes, or just to snack on! However, let them thaw before you add them to batters.

Our list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Movies Under the Stars

We love seeing movies outdoors! Luckily for us, we are very close to a weekly option for outdoor movies during the summer!

For several Wednesdays during the summer, Oakbrook Center hosts movie screenings on their Lawn.

The movies take place rain or shine. Although, there are people who will just prop up an umbrella and hang out in their rain jacket or poncho, I am not those people. Lol. So, we’ve planned on going to two of the movies this summer and have only been able to go to one. We’re hoping that the rain cooperates so that we can see Incredibles 2 tomorrow night!

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We usually stop upstairs to pick up food from the food court before claiming our spots on the Lawn. (Pie Five for the girls. Cilantro Taco Grill for me.)

Our list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

 

Go Take a Hike

Even when it’s super hot (it was really hot today), you can usually find us outside at some point each day during the summer. It’s very important to me that we get outside as much as possible when the weather is good (not storming). And even though this week has been quite warm, the girls and I have gone on several walks in the woods.

The Forest Preserves of Dupage County are an excellent resource for us. There are frequently activities at the many education centers/farms/forests. And there are many opportunities to just get outside.

This week, we went to two of our favorites: Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center and Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking out these locations. At Fullersburg, you can borrow a backpack of exploration tools to help in your nature exploration. We borrowed magnifying glasses, binoculars, and plant identification cards.

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At Willowbrook, you can witness their work first hand. They take in sick and injured wild animals, they treat those animals, and then release them back into a forest preserve. If an injury or illness can not be fixed, that animal may become a permanent resident of Willowbrook. You can see many of their residents indoors and outdoors.

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Our summer list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

So Many Legos!

Last week, we went to Morton Arboretum with the goal of seeing the new exhibit Nature Connects. This exhibit is full of fun sculptures made from Legos. So many Legos! Each sculpture has a sign that lets you know how many Lego bricks were used and how many hours it took to build each one. The numbers are pretty astonishing. So many Legos. So many hours!

It’s a very cool exhibit and is perfect for a lovely (and pretty short) walk outdoors. Plus, after you see the Legos, you can go on a hike or explore the children’s garden!

Our summer list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling. Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Make Your Own Spring

Spring has arrived! But, we live in the Midwest which means that spring won’t really feel like it’s here for several more weeks. It’s not uncommon for Illinois to get snow in April. This week we may have 70 degree temperatures….and then the forecast has mentioned a chance of snow for the weekend. It’s hard to keep waiting when you are really really ready for sunshine, warmer temperatures, and gardens. I have some suggestions of things that you can do to make your own spring when spring seems so very far away…..

Check out an Indoor Garden!

The spring show at Garfield Park Conservatory is always a great way to gear up for spring sights and smells. This year’s theme “Understory”, has the visitor viewing the plants and flowers that grow beneath the forest canopy. The entire Conservatory has long been a favorite place for our family to escape the cold, rain and/or snow (all of which we might have on the same day in Illinois spring). You can check out the spring show until it closes May 12th.

Start Planning Your Garden!

So many different home improvement stores are full of flowers and plants right now. Lily and I went to Home Depot over the weekend and checked out the many annuals that they have in stock right now. They also had a few perennials. I already have some ideas for my container gardens.

Get outside as often as you can!

When those really nice days arrive, take full advantage of them! Get outside. Go to a playground. The weather can change very quickly so it’s important to take advantage of the sunshine while it’s here. I feel the same way during the summer months. If it’s nice out, we should get outside (for at least some of the day). Save the movie marathons for the rainy days!

Eat Warm Weather Foods!

Sure, I’ll eat ice cream year round. But once the snow has melted, it just seems to taste better. Do you agree? Being able to eat an ice cream cone without my fingers freezing…yea…the ice cream just tastes better. And once the temperatures start to inch above freezing and stay there, that’s when I want one of my favorite warmer weather meals – a Superdawg with everything, onion chips, and a strawberry soda. Yummmmm! Just thinking about it makes me feel a little bit warmer. 🙂

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Check out a professional garden!

The Chicago Botanic Garden has a useful chart here that lets you know what will be in bloom and when. Yes, this one is really more for days when it’s a little warmer….and hopefully not snowing. But, this lets you plan for what dates you want  to try to check out their gardens. (Especially if you know you really want to see the tulips in bloom!)

If you were lucky enough to check out the orchid show (which sadly has closed already) you were treated to some absolutely beautiful flowers and arrangements. I loved it! It was like a mini tropical vacation! I mean, just look at these flowers! Beautiful!

What to do at Home on this Cold, Cold Day

Looking for some ideas of ways to keep your kiddos entertained during the polar vortex?

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We’re going to be doing a few of these today……and tomorrow……

  • Do a scavenger hunt indoors.
  • Make hot cocoa. Add marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles to make it extra fancy.
  • Bake something!
  • Color in a coloring book.
  • Have a picnic inside.
  • Make a blanket fort.
  • Make a painting – water color or finger paints are both fun!
  • Read, read, and read some more.
  • Write a story.
  • Play board games.
  • Watch movies.
  • Listen to music.
  • Have a dance party!
  • Write a letter to a relative or friend.
  • Play hide-n-seek.
  • Read some more.
  • Have a “camp out” in the living room.
  • Make a big pot of soup.

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This pile of boxes has already become a house, a fort, a boat, another kind of boat, and a store. Who knows what it’ll become later today….and tomorrow.

Right now, the girls are resting and reading books in bed. As soon as they get up, I think we’ll do some baking.

Have you done any of these activities today?