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.
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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.

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.

Fireworks! And more fireworks!

There are many options for you if your goal is to see fireworks. During the summer, every Wednesday and Saturday, you can see fireworks at Navy Pier.

If you wanted to, you could see fireworks on the 3rd, the 4th, and later. There were even fireworks last night! (We could hear them from our living room.) However, this post is going to be about fireworks on the 4th. There are so many great places in the suburbs to see fireworks on the 4th of July!

Some tips for seeing fireworks on the 4th:

  • Do your research. Is it a super popular spot? Do people start picking spots early in the day? When are streets closed down? Where are the best viewing areas?
  • Bring food! Bring snacks and/or dinner because honestly, it’s hard to figure out when the start time will actually be for the fireworks. “Dusk” means a lot of different times depending on who is in charge. In addition, if weather is questionable, the fireworks might start earlier or later for safety.
  • Stock up on “things that glow.” I buy glow bracelets and necklaces from the Target Dollar Spot whenever they are available. This year, I was also able to snag glow headbands!
  • Be prepared for the weather. Check the forecast repeatedly and be ready to leave if there’s thunder/lightning.
  • Bring bug spray. Many places will actually spray for mosquitoes in the days leading up to the 4th but you want to be prepared.
  • Have fun! Fireworks are magical and watching them with kids? Even more magical!

 

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.