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.

Many museum days

When the girls added “go to the museums” to our summer list, I know that they had planned on hitting up the Chicago museums on the free days. We do those days every summer. However, many of the free days happened while we were on our epic road trip (more on that in a later post). So, although we did go to many museums, we didn’t hit up all of the Chicago museums. And, honestly, that’s ok with me.

Where did we go?

Adler Planetarium

This was the only free day that we went to. It just so happened to be the week before we started our road trip to Florida. The free days are always busy and it can be stressful if you don’t plan out your day. You can read my tips about visiting on free days by clicking here.

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Elmhurst Art Museum

This is a small local museum that we love. It’s small enough that you don’t leave the museum feeling exhausted but there is enough to see that it can be a great afternoon activity. Keep an eye on their website to see what new exhibits are coming in and when they’re coming.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

Yes, this one was it’s own item on the list. And I already crossed it off. But, I’m listing it again because we just love this museum. 🙂

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  • 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.

A Day Full of Art

One of our favorite destinations in Chicago is the Art Institute. Seriously. It’s amazing. And the family programs are fantastic – age-appropriate exploration for the kids and interesting/engaging for the parents, too.

There is a lot to see at the Art Institute. A. Lot. You could spend an entire day wandering around, visiting galleries, reading signs, taking pictures…..and if you are doing it with young kids, you’re probably going to end up crabby. My recommendation? Everyone picks one thing that they want to see or do. Or, complete a passport in the Ryan Learning Center and let that guide your visit.

There are always activities going on in the Learning Center. On our last visit, young artists were encouraged to draw their own still life.

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Now that summer is winding down, be on the lookout for most posts as I sum up what we’ve done during the summer months…and how we’re getting ready for fall…..

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.

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.