Road Trip to Madison with Kids

Ah, Madison!  When isn’t it a fun road trip to visit Madison with kids?!

Whenever I return to Madison, it feels a bit like coming home.

Daddy O. and I called Madison home because we both went to college at UW-Madison. We first met on campus and actually lived in apartment buildings next to one another.  That’s the beginning of our love story in a nutshell.

Anyway, it is lovely to return to Madison as a couple and with our kids.

Most recently, we went as a family. I spent time with the kids at the Madison Children’s Museum.  It’s definitely one of our all time favorite museums that we’ve been to countless times through the years.

Now that our kids are getting older, they tend to gravitate to different exhibits, but still enjoy checking it out (yay)!

Madison Childrens Museum 2019

A few pictures from our visit to the Madison Children’s Museum

We love the rooftop garden with views of the state capitol (see top left image for a picture of my kids on the play structure on the roof).

I love the art space, where kids can create from a variety of up cycled materials. They made a raft and a sling shot with popsicle sticks and LOTS of glue.  At another station, daughter painted on the windows.  There are so many cool things to check out in the art area and throughout the entire museum.

It was our first time discovering this giant fish and a pretend play lake area.

We also checked out the Urb Garden this time, located right off of the lowest level.

Every time we go there, my kids pose with the animals near the front door.  This time they chose to hug and make a goofy face by the penguin.

Madison Childrens Museum penguins

Colorful penguin near the entrance of the Madison Children’s Museum

After playing and eating our packed lunch at the museum, we decided it was time for Babcock ice cream at Memorial Union.

We all picked a different flavor: chocolate, cookies and cream, chocolate peanut butter (my favorite), and mocha chocolate chip (pretty good).

And it wouldn’t be a visit to the terrace without a picture in the giant chair.

UW Memorial Union

Big Sister and Little Brother – so hard to get a nice picture. Mama and Daddy O. at the Terrace.

As you can see, even at ages seven and nine, we don’t always manage to have both kids smiling at the same time.

Daddy O. and I are pros though, even making a W with our feet!

Madison is such a lovely city, and we sure had a great visit as a family.  We may be grooming our kids to be future Badgers….just maybe.

#onWisconsin

 

Seeing the Light: China Lights Season Two

I had to share these gorgeous pictures of China Lights, something my family has really enjoyed the past two years.  Here is my post from last year (if you want more pictures)!

Similar to last year, we arrived before sunset with our tickets in hand.  We managed to catch the lights display on the very last day. My first pictures are at twilight, when the sky is a lighter blue.

China Lights Dino, Flower collage Go Mama O.

Dinosaurs, flowers, and hummingbird in the tree

The displays had changed from 2016, and it was still a great variety, though the dinosaurs replacing the beautiful pagoda was a little under-whelming. This was my shote of the pagoda from last year:

china-lights-header

2016 Pagoda – one of the highlights of the exhibit

One of our favorites this year was the panda scene.

China Lights Panda Scene

Huge bamboo forest – so adorable

We also liked walking through the tunnels of the Chinese Zodiac signs.

Chinese zodiac tunnel Go Mama O.

View from the path – walking under Chinese zodiac signs

More beautiful lights: flowers, the regal entry gate, dragon and tunnels.

China Lights Gate collage Go Mama O.

The lights really come alive when it’s really dark! Love the variety.

We liked these little owls too. The colors and detail are so pretty!

Moon, Mama O, Daddy O, Little Bro

Is it a moon or a banana? Big sister took this picture of Daddy & Mama O. and Little Brother.

Though it’s difficult to choose, my favorite animal was the dragon.  It’s one of the largest displays in the entire exhibit, and I love the moon in the picture.

China Lights collage dragon, elephant

Massive dragon, and patterned pachyderm

China Lights is becoming a wonderful family tradition! We hope to enjoy more light displays together through the years. Cheers!

 

 

Mini Fly on the Wall

Hey there! My Fly on the Wall friends just posted yesterday, but I wasn’t organized to sign-up in advance to participate.  After reading the group’s posts, I thought I would join in with my own post.  Better late than never, right?

For more Fly on the Wall, hop on over to this writing challenge founder’s blog: Baking in a Tornado.

South Dakota Vacation

We ventured to South Dakota during summer, and had an awesome time! It was a great family destination for our 5 and 7 year old kids. Before we went, my 5 year old son asked, “Do they speak English in South Dakota?”

On our drive from Sioux Falls to Desmet, our kids decided to make a honking sound whenever they saw an animal. This continued throughout the entire week. Sigh. Fortunately, there are open fields for long stretches where you don’t see much at all, like this:

Desmet Ingalls Homestead

View of the prairie from the Ingalls Homestead in Desmet, SD.

The drive up to Desmet from Sioux Falls though beautiful, went through a quite rural part of the state.  The population density is quite low in much of South Dakota, so I told Daddy O., “If we ever want to live off the grid, we can move out here!”

When driving past the many farms and lush green fields, my son observed, “I bet that farmer has 5 green thumbs.”

We could almost picture what it must have been like for the first settlers in the 1800’s who arrived here.  The Ingalls Visitor Center consists of the Ingalls homestead, a sod house, shanty, church, barn and one-room classroom. We even rode on a covered wagon and learned about what life was like for the Ingalls family. We were struck by the extreme quiet of the land: no sounds of planes or cars zooming by on nearby roads, simply the sounds of the wind rushing through the prairie grasses. Beautiful.

Wildlife Watching

We were excited to see bison, but just saw a lot of cattle, especially on the eastern part of the state. My daughter explained, “The cows are all black, and the bison are chocolate colored.” Can you tell we like desserts?

bison Custer State Park.jpg

See, they are chocolate colored! Bison at Custer State Park

We drove the wildlife loop road at Custer State Park, and having been in the car for at least an hour, our kids asked, “Can we watch a show (on our portable DVD player)?”

“No!” I said, “Nature is your show. Look out your window!” So many amazing views:

Custer State Park collage.jpg

Top left: a baby burro paid us a visit on the Wildlife Loop, top right: view of the Cathedral Spires, Bottom left: Stockade Lake, bottom right: bison along the road out of Custer State Park

The Black Hills

When we arrived in Rapid City, I said, “Look, kids, the Black Hills. Aren’t they pretty?”

My son’s response, “They look gray.”

black hills view from Mt. Rushmore

View of the Black (gray) Hills from Mt. Rushmore

In Rapid City, we enjoyed an awesome meal and beverages at Firehouse Brewery. We sat in a covered outdoor area (fortunately) and watched a major rain and hail storm come down. The food and beer were delicious – a welcome change from the fast food we had on the trip out to Rapid City.  The company was nice too with everyone getting along, and I remarked to Daddy O., “This feels like a date night, except we have our kids along.”  He replied, “It’s like our marriage is one long date-night.” Awh….

Hitting the Road

I have memories of my own family vacations as a kid, and we would wake up EARLY, maybe around 5am to get a jump on a day of long driving. I have not been able to replicate this timing for my family much to my dismay.

One morning after sleeping in, my daughter said, “Waking up early for me was unsuccessful.”

This happened on most days, and I just had to go with it. Oh well…

Best for Last

I was talking about the errands I ran during the week, talking about the things I picked up at a grocery store in a quick stop.

My son chimed in and said, “Wow, Mom, you work hard.”

“Yes, dear, why yes I do! Thank you!” He got a big hug for saying that!

Hope you all are hearing sweet things like that in your home too!

Have a great day all! Thanks for stopping by.

Now check out more Fly on the Wall posts, starting with Baking in a Tornado.

 

Family Vacation Pictures: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly Silly

Hi ya! I was scrolling through some pictures from our road trip out to Washington D.C., and I couldn’t help but make some collages of our many attempts to get a nice family picture. It was a beautiful spring day on the Mall. While we missed the main cherry blossoms, it was still a lovely temperature, which was much, much nicer than the spring we’ve been having in Wisconsin. My kids were having more fun being silly for pictures I was trying to take to mark the occasion: their first trip to D.C.

Here’s what I could capture:

Go Mama O. family vacation silly pics 2017

Top: Goofy faces in from of the Washington Memorial, and cuddling her water bottle at the Lincoln Memorial. Bottom: On the road! Daddy O. isn’t so sure about this trip in this picture (ha ha). 

Go Mama O family vacation 2017.png

More family picture attempts that day. That’s my annoyed face in the lower right.

The one on the top left is one of the last pictures of the day. We quick grabbed some ice cream and shakes from an ice cream truck because it was hot and we were all tired from a day of walking.  If my son had worn sunglasses, it might be almost passable.  At least we are all in the picture, unlike the one at the Lincoln Memorial, where my son is hiding behind Daddy O. (riding on his back). I also like the one on the top right, where my daughter looks confused and my son is sort of winking.

At any rate, these collages are fun.  Much like any family vacation in its entirety, they are not perfect by any means. There are good times, bad times, and down right ugly times as kids (and adults) get tired, impatient, and sick of being in the car for so long. We were silly. We did laugh and have fun, and we did it all together, making memories along the way.  These pictures are reminders of all that!

Cheers to family pictures of all kinds!

More stories about our trip will be coming.