Archive for April, 2017

  • Chapter 142- Point Beach State Park & John Michael Kohler Arts Center

    On one of the Fridays off my kids had in March (there were a ton, though I’m not complaining because it means we get to go adventure!), I convinced my friend Margo to caravan up to Point Beach State Park with me.  Remember that I’m a “wing it” kind of woman?  Well I grossly underestimated the distance and sort of just got in the car and headed north, and it took us almost two hours to reach our destination.  Granted, a trip to Culver’s for ice cream may have added a few minutes to our travel time.

    But it was worth the drive.  Once Margo, our combined 7 children, and I arrived, we briefly looked at the trail map.  It was a little confusing because not everything was open and snow was covering most of the ground.  So we migrated towards the beach and the kids immediately waded in the icy cold water.  Luckily, our boots were waterproof enough to keep toes mostly dry.

    We then decided to just head to the woods and play in the snow.  A campground was across from the beach, so we made our way there.

    The kids got right to eating and throwing snow, dragging sticks, and searching for frozen puddles and ponds.  We hadn’t had much snow in Milwaukee, so it was a great surprise to play in lots of wet but fluffy white stuff!  Margo and I watched our kids make up imaginary games, discover new “nature treasures” as my kids say, and trek over small hills and through trees.

    After more than an hour of playing and walking not very far but having a blast, kids started to get a little chilly.

    We decided it was a good time to head back south and try to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan on our way back home.  So after one last stop at the beach to get our boots thoroughly wet, we piled in the car and shoved some snacks in our faces.

    We were dry and somewhat rested by the time we arrived in Sheboygan, but my lack of planning gave us less than an hour to visit the museum.  The Arts Center has an amazing kids studio, called the ARTery which is open these hours.  The arts center is always free which is incredible.

    We made small booklets from magazines and folded paper, and worked on those fine motor skills to balance out the day.

    There was also a table with clay.  The kids were encouraged to check out the museum and a particular exhibit which had small figurines.  They came back to the ARTery and created their own little creatures.  Little T has a real strong affinity to cats, so she of course made a teeny tiny little kitty.

    Our time at the Arts Center was way too short, so we’ll definitely be back.  Sheboygan is only an hour north of Milwaukee, and we hope to combine it with the Children’s Museum and a trip back to Bookwork Gardens in the summer.

    On the way home, the sunset was incredible.  My oldest took the camera to capture the beautiful lines the clouds were making, so I’ll leave you with her shot.  A little blurry, but I think it does the sky and our day justice.

    Hope you all had a good weekend, and got outside to celebrate Earth Day!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 141- Discovery World

     

    On a sunny Saturday morning in February, the kids and I headed to Discovery World to check out one of their weekend events, Love Your Great Lakes.  It was a day filled with projects, games and learning opportunities led by local organizations and non-profits.

    We first took a stroll through the promenade, where we chatted with volunteers and staff who care about the Great Lakes.  We saw the Mequon Nature Preserve, River Revitalization Foundation, and even James Steeno with his local artwork.  When I was Outreach Specialist at REI back in the day, I got to work with many of these non-profits and learned all about some serious conservation and community efforts.  I was really happy to see their involvement at the event!

    All of the kids touched turtles and asked questions about salamanders, and Little A even got to hold a snake!  MPM and MAM also had stations set up for families to create and learn.  It was lovely to see all these museums coming together in the name of community and water preservation!

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    Our first stop in the museum was the Kohl’s Design It! Lab.  I’d never been before, because it seemed complicated or like it was geared towards older kids.  Now, there’s no real reason I thought that other than the fact that we typically head to museums during the week, when hours are more limited.  But let me tell you….I WAS WRONG.

    We were greeted by friendly staff who sat us down at a table, gave us menus, and asked which projects we’d like to try.  We ended up on planetary headbands and cardboard helmets.

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    Look at my 3 year old jumping right in!  We traced templates on foam paper, and decorated it with lots of fun embellishments.  I manned the hot glue gun, but besides that they were all pretty self-sufficient.

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    This lab space really is incredible.  Discovery World has so many different classes and workshops, and even makes a concerted effort to reuse materials.  Check out that wall on the right…there are 5 gallon buckets mounted on a wall, filled with materials for kids to use for projects.  So awesome.

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    As my people finished up, they headed to the Kids Corner, a space with building blocks, markers, crayons, and kid-sized furniture.  A great space for open play.

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    After the Design It! Lab, we went to see the Challenger ship, and walk around while trying not to run.  Exploring that and the water exhibit next door is always a highlight of our time at Discovery World.  And on this day, we spent over THREE HOURS at the museum and didn’t even see all of the exhibits.  Another reason that asking for memberships to local museums takes precedent over toys in our house.

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    Afterwards, we hit up the Sportsology special exhibit, where we threw, jumped, cycled and tested our physical capabilities.  J spent most of the time at the pitching station, while Little T worked on her pull ups for quite a while.  It was a really good hands-on experience for my brood!

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    On the way out, we stopped by the photo op in the promenade, and tried out our best silly faces.

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    Special thanks to Discovery World for hosting us…there were SO many things for my young kids to do and explore, and there wasn’t a dull moment from the time we stepped in to the time we stepped out.  We’re also very excited for the efforts to have new experiences every week, so there’s no chance we’ll get bored 🙂

    We’ll be back!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 140- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

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    Contrary to what my kids’ faces say in this photo, we had a really nice hike at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center over winter break.  We met up with some friends and took to the trails to adventure and get really wet and a little chilly.  This post is a little short on words, so browse through the “General Outdoor Adventures” category on the right for many more adventures to SANC.

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    We headed out on the Norman C. Huth trail, and made our way to Teal pond, which was frozen through.  So of course, we went “boot skating”!  After slipping and sliding around, the group decided to keep going towards the North Prairie trail.

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    About halfway through, we had requests to take a break at the tall evergreens.  We stopped on some benches in the tall evergreens and ate some granola bars.

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    The kids were pretty beat after the hike, so after stopping on the rocking chairs on the porch, we went inside for snacks and hot chocolate.  In the main hall, you can grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and leave a donation in thanks.  We also looked at the resident rodents and turtles while warming up.  Schlitz Audubon has SO many opportunities to learn and explore, you just have to make the trip there to see all the options.

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    I’ll leave you with this picture of Little A and S reading trail maps in kid-sized rocking chairs.  Because there’s nothing cuter than when kids cross their legs as if they’re reading the Sunday paper.

    Hope you’re all doing well this spring, and getting outside!

    A. Storm