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.

My Favorite Christmas Gifts

My all-time favorite Christmas “gift” was the luxurious amount of vacation time that my husband and I enjoyed!! We spent our days off seeing family, friends, hanging out at home, and checking out a local indoor waterpark. It was lovely to say the least. Daddy O. is a bit bummed about heading back to a full week of work, while I’m happy to be continuing my part-time work week of two days. 🙂

If I had to choose two favorite Christmas gifts (besides the gift of vacation time), I would hands down choose the presents from my kids. They (and their teachers) made such unique and adorable gifts, and they were so excited to place them under the tree for me & Daddy O. How cute are these presents?!

handmade gifts from my kids

Hand decorated plate from my little deer, Christmas card and snowman from my daughter.

The plate that my son made is not currently glazed, so I think it may have to be a wall-hanging, unless I am able to “finish it” so it could be safe to wash.  I would hate to wash away his artwork and hand- and footprints! If you have any advice on how to glaze it (maybe Modge Podge?), please let me know in the comments.

My daughter made a snowman filled with rice and socks.  It is really cute! I also love the card that she made. Her fingerprints make up the Christmas lights border.

Serious kudos to my kids’ teachers for organizing and executing such lovely gifts!

What was your favorite Christmas gift? If you didn’t have one per se, what was your favorite highlight of the season?

Musings on Summer

As summer comes to a close, and the last few weeks are filled with several “last hurrah” outings and road-trips, I’ve been reflecting on summer, and wanted to share a quick list:

1. How do mosquitos automatically know exactly where to sting you, so it is terribly annoying?  For me, it’s my ankles. GRR!

2. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat ice cream every day.

3. Sunscreen can be a kind of perfume, right?!  It also doubles as a heavy duty moisturizer.

4. You can find tasty treats – anything deep fried, with bacon, or chocolate dipped at local fairs.  Today I had a bite-sized bacon wrapped brownie!  It was delish!

5. Kids find sand & dirt to dig and play in wherever we go.  Even if it’s not bath night, I just let them go.

6. Fireworks are loud & scary to young kids.  We watched some from inside our house, (shot off from a nearby park) and my daughter said she wants to watch fireworks from inside all the time.

7. A picnic doesn’t have to be a big ordeal.  We have just grabbed a blanket, throw some food together, and enjoyed eating al fresco in our own yard.  For winter time, we do this in our living room!

8. Bedtimes tend to get later as we enjoy every last minute of sunshine and beautiful weather.  Plus, kids don’t like to sleep when the sun is still out.

9. Kids will get bored, while us parents scratch our heads amazed at how quickly summer flies by.

10. Housework and yard work can wait because, it’s summer, and it only lasts so long.

Happy summer!  What things are quintessential summer to you?