Morton Arboretum – One of our favorite must-do items on the checklist

We love going to the Morton Arboretum any time of year but it is even more fun during the summer because the Children’s Garden is full of water! Water table – check. Water full of tadpoles that you can try to see up close – check. Water in the stream that you can walk in – check. Yes, the Children’s Garden is a lot of fun in any season but it’s definitely our favorite in the summer.

And once you are done playing in the Children’s Garden, there are a lot of beautiful pathways through the gardens and trees for you to explore.


The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

How to Use Those Greeting Cards

This is a project that I’ve been meaning to get done…..for almost a year…..

I kept all of the cards that we were given after my baby shower when I was pregnant with big girl, and after she was born and her Baptism. I also kept the cards that we were given after baby girl was born and her Baptism. However, they had just been sitting in a box. I didn’t like that they were just sitting there gathering dust and wanted to find a way to integrate them into the girls’ bedroom. I found a couple different ideas on Pinterest but in the end opted for something simple.

Step 1: Use a decorative hole puncher to cut out shapes. I used a circle punch for big girl and a heart shaped punch for baby girl.

Step 2: Figure out the spacing on wood initials.

Deciding on spacing between each piece.

Deciding on spacing between each piece.

Step 3: Apply a coat of Mod Podge. I used matte but you could use whatever you happen to have on hand.

Step 4: Apply the first layer of hearts (or circles or whatever shape you are using).

Step 5: Apply a second coat of Mod Podge being careful to lightly press down on the edges of the shapes to ensure that they won’t pop up while they dry.

Step 6: If you are going to do a second layer of card shapes, apply now then apply a third coat of Mod Podge.

Two layers of circles done, one layer of hearts done.

Two layers of circles done, one layer of hearts done.

Step 7: Lightly brush over the final layer of Mod Podge to smooth out any drips or puddles and let the pieces dry completely.

Step 8: Enjoy your pieces! I love that the cards that we were given can now be enjoyed as a piece of art in the girls’ room.

Finished L

Finished L

Finished A

Finished A

Getting Stuff Done While Taking It Easy

Baby girl has arrived!  We are now a family of four!

I’ve been trying to find a balance between getting things done around the house and taking it easy so that I can fully recuperate.  Ryan is home with the girls and I but I have a hard time just sitting still especially if both kiddos are napping at the same time.  I do have a lot of things that I want to get done but I keep having to remind myself that I have all summer to get them done.

  • Work ahead on grad school stuff.  I’m only taking one class this summer and it will be over at the end of June.  My goal is to work ahead as much as possible so that I don’t have to stress about it.
  • Do some garden planning.  Ryan has been doing a ton of work in the garden so far.  We are going to (hopefully) have a lot of veggies this summer.  My goal is to do some planning in the flower garden(s) so we know what will move and what will stay.
  • Craft projects.  I have a couple projects planned for art pieces for each of the girls.  I’m also pondering doing something with the step stool that is currently serving as a magazine holder in the bathroom.  I’ll keep you updated when I get to those.
  • Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
  • And…….the most important thing that we’ll be doing this summer is soaking up as much family time as we possibly can.

That basically sums up my summer.  What is your summer going to look like?

Owl Collage

One of my summer projects was to complete this collage.  It looked like it would be pretty easy because there is a pattern to print out.  Once I started the project, I was very happy when it turned out to be just as easy and it had appeared to be.

The end result?  Well, Ryan thought that I had purchased it.  So, I guess it turned out pretty nicely.  🙂


Finished piece. Instead of the one owl in the original example, I made mine with two.

That’s one more thing from my summer to-do list that I can cross off.

Christmas Discovery Bottles

Discovery/sensory bottles are all over Pinterest.  I made some after seeing this post and this one.  They are pretty easy to make and Peanut seems to enjoy them.  I’ve made some with beads, some with glitter and some with pipe cleaners.

In case you happen to have some plastic bottles and are looking for a project to do, I’d like to share some things that I’ve learned when making these:

  • Use a small bottle.  I’ve made mine with single serving sized Coke Zero bottles.  A full size bottle would just be too heavy for Peanut to really play with.
  • Use different items in each bottle.  This adds some interest to the bottle since the items will fall/move at different rates.
  • Avoid pipe cleaners.  I found that they started to rust (or something) and turned the water a murky green color.  Gross.
  • Avoid glitter in bright colors.  I made one with purple glitter and all of the purple bled into the water.  You could barely see the glitter falling because the water was so dark.
  • Once the water is close to the top, add the rest of the water very, very, very slowly.  Several times, I had to search for beads in the kitchen sink because the water would spill out over the top taking along the beads.
  • Have fun with them!  Encourage your little one to play with the bottles however they want to.  Peanut likes to roll the bottles, shake them, and pretend that she’s drinking a Coke Zero.  (Monkey see.  Monkey do.)

I found a large bag of Christmas beads in the $1 section of a craft store and made these.  The different beads fall at different rates.  Peanut likes them a lot.


Paper Dot Garland – How-to

I made a garland for baby girl’s birthday party.  It was easy although a bit time-consuming.  It would’ve been great if I had been able to find circle paper punches instead of having to cut out all of the circles.  Oh well.

I found this site that helped me to get started.  They used paper with a sticky backing.  If you can find that, I’m sure that that makes this project amazingly easy to complete.

  1. Cut out circles.  Lots and lots of circles.  This is why it would be great to have a paper punch to help you out.
  2. Fold the circles in half.
  3. Glue two circles together along one side.

    Two circles glued together.

    Two circles glued together.

  4. Repeat and allow to dry completely.
  5. Apply glue to one of the dry pieces and sandwich ribbon between two of the dry pieces.  (You should now have four circles glued together.)

    Let dry completely.

    Let dry completely.

  6. Repeat until you get the finished design that you are hoping for.
  7. Hang your garland!
    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    The garland was draped across the window.

    The garland was draped across the window.