Saturday, July 12, 2008

June Fun

The month of June finally brought us some warm weather. We took a short break from "school" and ventured out to explore more about what we have recently learned.
Our first family field-trip was to the Mortem Arboretum. I am not sure how we got so lucky, but it happened to be on the absolute hottest day of the year. When you are used to 70 degrees and below, above 90 can be a little toasty. Of course, it hasn't been that hot since that day.
Fortunately, the children's garden has plenty of water features for the kids to enjoy to the fullest. There are not too many places where the kids are allowed and even encouraged to play in the fountains. These pictures were taken at our first stop and I think the kids would have been happy to stay here all day.
It has been about two years since we have visited the Arboretum and I think Rhea slept through most of it. So much had changed that Stephen didn't remember anything which is unusual. They added a lot for the smaller kiddos while still keeping the climbing area for older kids (and younger kids that had moms crazy enough to take their two year olds).

Small kiddo climbing and sliding

Active garden and hands on activities

Medium size kiddo climbing area

This was taken in the 5yr old and up area. You can't see too much of it since I was holding on to Rhea at the same time, but instead of a wood bridge, this one is rope. This is the one an only picture since Rhea's little feet would fit through the holes. I unfortunately just couldn't turn back once we started since it was a one way route. We made it with a little help from Dad at the end since you have to climb down. Oh well, I will know next time....

Daddy came to get me.

Tadpole Hunting

Building a beaver dam

Or just throwing rocks; notice the very large rock at the upper right of Stephen's head.

We changed into dry cloths and walked around to see all of the bug sculpture that is featured this year followed by a hike through the woods.

I couldn't resist the photo op

Our next trip was to the St. Charles Red Oak Forest Preserve. We have been coming here a couple times a year and the best part is that it is free. There is a nature center, cave, and our favorite a place to throw rocks.

Friendly girl helps our dad with his bee hat.

Stephen tries it on but the matching gloves were too weird.

Rhea checks out the bees

The table behind Rhea is filled with animal treasures from animal teeth, snake skin, rocks, pine cones, and a huge piece of beaver chewed wood.

Stephen was more interested in the hand crank on the windows.

This is the incredibly decorated shrinking room. I wish I had more pictures of these murals, but the kids were moving too fast. Each mirror made you appear smaller in order to go inside and leaf, a tree trunk, and eventually underground.

Inside a leaf
The kids moved too quickly through the tree trunk, so this is the underground area. Each section of this exhibit is labeled and wonderfully educational. Well, for a little older kids than ours, but otherwise visually and texturely stimulating.
They had a wonderful room of aquarium animals as well as this room that contained more focused educational items like puzzles, books, and mommy's puppet show. I love this place since they just lay everything out for you to play with and teach your kids. Did I mention that all of this was free?!?

Last, but not least, we finally did our long overdue Bear Hunt. I promised Tom that I wouldn't take the kids to the cave when it was below 30 degrees, so we never made it during our book We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Both kids recalled the book so well and they didn't want to go into the cave by the time we arrived. Oh well, we threw rock instead until some other children came along to spark Stephen's curiosity. Yes, Mom and Dad had another rock throwing contest. I won the first round and Tom won the second only because again, he worked a little harder (and stood closer to the shore line, but I let that one go).

Flashlight in hand, maybe I will check it out.

OK, I'm done

Back to throwing rocks

I didn't care for the bear hunt, but step away from my hat and Diego bag!

One last rock