Silent Snowy Sunday

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Visiting the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

On a trip to Chicago, the kids and I ventured to the Lincoln Park area and visited the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on a very hot and muggy afternoon. The museum was perfect for escaping the heat and learning about nature during our two hours there.

1st Floor Highlights:

We sort of few through the Riverworks and then paused a bit more to see the live reptiles and amphibians. The exhibits are very much hands-on, reminding me more of a children’s museum. Both my four and six year old enjoyed the Hands On Habitat area, designed for kids age seven and under. They played in various animal habitats, went down a “tree” slide and even played dress-up in animal costumes.

2nd Floor Highlights: the Butterflies!

The butterfly haven really stole the show at this museum, though on our way there, we did walk through the taxidermy areas that showcased Illinois ecosystems. Most of my pictures are from the butterfly area. I just love this oasis – it’s so peaceful and relaxing to watch the butterflies flutter around the greenhouse.

So many butterflies

I loved the Blue Morpho Butterfly, upper left. My smartphone camera took some decent shots!

Butterfly collage

Upper left – feeding time, a butterfly by the fruit plate. Upper right – turtle hanging by the pond / waterfall. Lower left – a Blue Morpho butterfly landed right by my kids!

The circle of life is represented in this habitat. In the picture above, lower right corner, there is a quail and below a bird that both eat dead butterflies.

Bird in the butterfly exhibit

Pretty bird. Must eat a lot of butterflies too…

After hanging out in the butterfly haven for some time, we made sure that none were coming with us (not one butterfly landed on us), and left the greenhouse. Outside we could see the chrysalis with the next crop of butterflies for the garden. I think the lifespan of these butterflies is about one month in the garden, so I can imagine how many have to hatch to re-populate this beautiful exhibit.

hatching butterflies

Hatching new beauties

We spent some time in the weather exhibit, having the most fun with the green screen! My daughter did pretty well reading and keeping up with the lines.

Fun with the green screen and reporting

This line was perfect for the HOT weather we were experiencing that day. 

You could choose between fast or slow reading (we chose slow for my soon to be 1st grader), which was nice. I think all kids (adults too) enjoy seeing themselves on camera! \

After one more visit to play in the under age seven habitat area, we briefly hit the gift shop and cafe. While there are many tempting and exciting items (my kids wanted a lot of the stuffed animals), we managed to each buy a drink and then leave the building to hike the nature trail outside.

My kids found some ducks and scared them into the pond.

Enjoying a hike outside the nature museum

Ahh – noisy kids, better swim away!

It was a really nice, shady nature trail that hooked up with a larger park, so we could have kept on walking if we wanted. Instead we cut our time short and headed back to the car. This was our view as we left:

View of the Chicago Skyline from Lincoln Park

All in all we enjoyed our visit to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum! It is a nice, manageable museum in Chicagoland that is not in the main museum campus near the lakefront, so it was relatively easy to find. I think it was perfect for my kids, though it seemed people of all ages were visiting. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

Only in Wisconsin? Family Trip to a Beer Garden

As I mentioned in my post “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” we dig Oktoberfest beer, so when my sister-in-law suggested we check out one local beer garden, we couldn’t refuse. Since the beer garden – or Bier Garten auf Deutsch – is in a park and next to a kid’s playground, we decided to make it a family picnic.

We broke out the big beer glass I bought from Oktoberfest more than ten years ago.  Here’s Daddy O. showing his excitement!

Holding beer stein

At the bier garten, I split a half-liter with my sister-in-law, and Daddy O. opted for a full liter of dark beer.  Apparently it is shipped from Hofbrauhaus Munich, and it was quite good.  We also shared a big pretzel (complete with three cheese blend spread), bratwurst, quark (type of cheese), fruit, and sandwiches for the kids. It was so fun to dine and drink on a beautiful, autumn day!

Bier Garten sign

Isn’t this the best sign?

After lunch, the kids played on the playground, leaving Daddy O. to finish his liter while sitting on a park bench.  A polka band with an amazing tuba player and authentic German beer hall songs made our afternoon outing even more perfect.  I think it’s impossible NOT to be happy when you hear a polka (but maybe that’s just me?)!

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Initially, we felt a little crazy for bringing our kids to a beer garden, but it really was a lovely day!  Living in Wisconsin, adults can bring their underage children to bars, so why not a beer garden too?! Cheers / Prost!

A Guide: How to Walk like you’re Pregnant

Disclaimer – no, I am NOT pregnant.

I did, however, learn over the weekend that you can teach anyone (in my case my husband) how to walk like a pregnant woman.  Without further ado, here’s the quick go-to guide:

How to Walk like you’re Pregnant

  1. Procure a pair of snowshoes.
  2. Find a snow covered area for hiking.
  3. Awkwardly bend over and strap on snowshoes.
  4. Point toes slightly out to the side and begin walking.
  5. For added effect, place a 40 – 60 lb. backpack on frontwards.
  6. Keep walking for at least an hour for the full “pregnant lady” simulation.

This effective how to guide will soon replace the common “put on the weighted boobs and baby bump” that my husband and I experienced in our birthing class.  He wore it for a full two minutes – just like the other dads, and just like the other moms, I laughed and shook my head, thinking, “You have NO clue what this is like.”  Snowshoeing was spot-on for the pregnant waddle.

Though we’re standing still in the pictures below, trust me, we were both waddling.  The pictures were taken in Door County, Wisconsin at Peninsula State Park.  This is otherwise known as the “thumb” in the mitten shape of the state of Wisconsin. Daddy O. and I enjoyed a little kid-free weekend getaway (yes, this IS late March in Wisconsin). Since we live here (and plan to for years to come), we are deciding to embrace winter and get into more outdoor activities, making snowshoeing a great choice! The park was so peaceful and quiet – a stark contrast from the warmer summer months.

Plus, Door County is a cherry lover’s paradise. We indulged in cherry stuffed french toast, cherry juice, cherry pastries, cherry soda / wine…it seems the cherry options are endless! My husband LOVED it!

All in all it was a beautiful, relaxing, and delicious way to recharge – something all parents / couples need from time to time. What do you like to do on your getaways?

How else do you simulate pregnancy to help others understand how it feels?  Do you have any suggestions other than snowshoeing?