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.
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Summer List 2019!

It’s finally here! Summer vacation! And as usual, we have a bucket list of things to accomplish throughout the summer.

Follow along as we try to have the best summer ever!

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.

Now….some of these things we will definitely do several times throughout the summer. And some of them are on the list specifically because we already know that we are doing them (Disney World).

What’s on your list?

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!

48 Hours in Minnesota – What we did….

We recently were in the Minneapolis area for a wedding. We arrived late in the afternoon on a  Friday, the wedding was going to be late Saturday afternoon/early evening, and we were driving back home on Sunday. We needed a plan to fill in that open time. Here’s what we did….

The first thing that I like to do when we arrive at a hotel is just get situated. Figure out where the suitcases will go on the room. Get the sleeping arrangements figured out. Find out where the pool is. (Yea….we realized too late that this hotel did not have an indoor pool – just an outdoor one. So, even though we brought out swimming stuff, there was not going to be any swimming done, in Minneapolis, in March.)

Find a local spot to get dinner.

A quick yelp search gave us several options and the hotel had some recommendations, too. A quick search can usually give you several options of places to catch a quick dinner. And if not, always ask the hotel staff. Where do they recommend? Where are their favorite spots?

We were staying in the downtown area and much of it is very walkable. I definitely recommend hitting up somewhere local for dinner!

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Find a way to work off some excess energy!

Our original plan had been to let the girls spend several hours in the pool Saturday morning. Well, that didn’t happen. Once again, yelp gave us some great ideas of things to do with kids. (Remember, it was March in Minnesota – so spending several hours outside wasn’t really going to happen.)

Our solution? A quick drive to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you know that we are big fans of hanging out in children’s museums and this one is a lot of fun! There’s currently a Wild Kratts exhibit so that made it even more fun. (And a great way to get rid of some of the excess energy!)

The wedding was Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we went to a brunch with several guests from the wedding. Before we got back in the car to begin the drive back home, I thought that it would be a good idea to do something to get some fresh air. (Keep in mind, the temperatures were still chilly but definitely above freezing.)

Get some fresh air!

We went on a walk through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. I can definitely imagine that this spot would be absolutely beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall. It’s beautiful in the winter, too…but it’s a different kind of beautiful. A cold beautiful. lol.

 

We definitely need to get back to Minneapolis for a longer trip….and a longer trip when there isn’t snow on the ground! And in a hotel that has an indoor pool.

Where are your favorite spots for a Minnesota weekend?

Get Those Kids out of the House

Winter can be tough. It’s cold. It’s icy. There’s snow, or my least favorite, freezing rain! (Gross. I hate freezing rain.) And it can be tough when the kids need to burn off some energy but you can’t really get outside. (Ugh! Freezing rain!).

Through several winters, we have developed our own list of things to do when the weather is not cooperating. All of these are great whenever you need something to do but the weather isn’t great and that happens during every season in Illinois. However, I think that these are especially great in the winter when you can’t get outside as often as you might like.

Free museum days!

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I’ve posted about managing the free museum days before. You can read that here. Many of the Chicago-area museums have free admission days during the winter months, especially after the holidays have passed. Adler, MSI, Field, and Shedd offer lots of opportunities to explore and get outside and if you can do it without having to pay admission, well, that’s even better. The Chicago Children’s Museum has free admission for kids the first Sunday of every month. The Art Institute has free admission for kids every day.

Go to the mall

Several malls have great indoor play areas. Yes, these can get pretty busy during peak hours so if possible, aim for lunch time or early afternoon to run around in the play areas to avoid some of the crowds. Also, be aware of cleaning times. Some play areas actually shut down for a half hour or hour every day so they can be cleaned. But, really, wouldn’t you rather the play areas are clean?

Bouncy houses, bouncy houses, and more bouncy houses

There are many businesses that make their money by being an indoor bouncy house extravaganza. We have gone to Funflatables several times for birthday parties or just to let the girls burn off some energy. It’s a fairly decent price, especially considering that location is an all-day fee. Go before lunch. Jump around. Leave and get some food. Come back and jump around some more.

Read a book….somewhere else

True, your kiddos aren’t going to burn off a lot of energy reading a book. And, yes, reading is something that you can (and should) do at home, too. But, there is something fun about reading a book that you don’t have at home. Or, reading a book in a different space from where you normally read. Head to your library. Go to a bookstore. Libraries and many bookstores often have storytime programs or crafting projects that will get your kids’ creativity going.

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Find an indoor tropical oasis!

Is there a botanic garden near you? Or a greenhouse that stays open year round? These are great places to visit during the winter. They stay nice and warm year round and it’s nice to see plants that are actually growing, not dormant and covered in inches of snow. One of our favorites is the Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s like a topical getaway!

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Where do you like to go to get the kids out of the house during the winter months?

 

 

It’s Time to Give Back

It’s #GivingTuesday, a day set aside to give to organizations that can use your help. If you don’t regularly give to organizations or haven’t participated in Giving Tuesday before, it can be difficult to narrow down all of the choices.

In the past, I would feel overwhelmed by just how much need there is in the world. I’m only one person, right? But, it’s important to remember that even a small donation can mean a lot and can do a lot of good.

Need some ideas of places to donate to? In the last few years, I’ve tried to give back to organizations that I believe in.

ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union does so much every single day. I believe in this organization so much that we walked with them in this past summer’s Pride Parade. (Which was a whole lot of fun!). Their website is also full of information about what they are currently working on, what your rights are, and you can purchase gifts for others (or for yourself.)

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Amnesty International – Amnesty International works tirelessly around the world to protect human rights. On their site, you can learn more about their important work, you can make donations, and you can learn about opportunities to help by volunteering your time in your own area.

Center for Responsive Politics – On their site – OpenSecrets.org – they work to “follow the money.” There is a lot of talk about campaign donations, dark money, and how money affects our political landscape. Center for Responsive Politics follows the money so that we can be informed about what is truly going on.

Committee to Protect Journalists – Journalism is vital. Facts are important. And CPJ works to protect those journalists as they do their jobs.

International Rescue Committee – Around the world, families have been torn apart by violence, war, and natural disasters. The IRC works to protect these families in need.

Sierra Club – Sierra Club works to protect the great outdoors and preserve it for generations to come. Their website lists lots of different ways to donate or help in other ways. There are several topics that Sierra Club is taking action on, that you can easily help out with by writing your congressperson. Also, if you become a member, you can get a super useful bag. 🙂

Southern Poverty Law Center – SPLC works to fight hate across America. On their site, you can find more specific information about the causes that they are fighting for. And, of course, make a donation.

And…..

Even though the Walk to End Alzheimer’s already happened this year, you can still donate to my fundraising efforts by clicking here! The Walk is over for the year, but the fundraising continues. Together, we can End Alzheimer’s.

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Fall Bucket List

Although summer is my favorite time of year, there are so many fun activities to do during the fall. Most of these things we have already done. One will hopefully be done in the next couple weeks……before all of the leaves fall off of the trees.

Our Fall Bucket List:

Scarecrow Fest  – We love this fest! I previously wrote about Scarecrow Fest and how we celebrate it in a blog post that you can find here. Scarecrows. Pumpkins. Food. Carnival rides. And a yearly staycation at a resort? Yes, please!

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Apple picking – There are so many great orchards in the Chicago suburbs. We’ve been to several different ones. But, our favorite place for apple picking is Jonamac Orchard. This orchard has lots of activities in the farm, great apple picking, and a cider house – with tastings of their ciders and wines!

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Pumpkin picking – Just like apple picking, there are several fun pumpkin patches to check out in the Chicago suburbs. However, just like with the apple orchards, we have a favorite pumpkin farm. We love________.

Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo – This is a yearly must-do for us. Our family membership at Brookfield Zoo was one of the first things that we purchased after we moved to the suburbs. And for a family of four, a membership is a great deal. It basically pays for itself after just a few trips. Boo at the Zoo has trick-or-treating, pumpkin smashing, lots of fun decor, and many fall-themed animal encounters.

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Go on a walk/hike in the woods – This one we haven’t done yet. We’ve had something every single weekend and most evenings. And, our bathroom renovation (which I’ll be blogging about soon) is altering our regular schedule in a huge way. But, we all love hitting the trails in the Forest Preserves.  There are so many great trails and the forest preserves are free. Stay tuned for some upcoming hiking.

 

 

So now I want to know, what’s on your fall bucket list? What do you try to do every fall?