What I’m Into Lately: July 2014

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I went MIA for almost month and though I posted a lot of scheduled stuff while I was gone so as not to make this space feel all naked and abandoned, I’m still feeling a little out of the loop. My RSS feed is nearly caught up, my email is checked and I’m slowly working my way through writing about our travels (not to mention the piles of laundry) but today I just want to pretend it’s a normal day and nothing changed and babble about the stuff I’ve been into while I was gone.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share the things I’ve been into this month: books, tv, music, and great online reads.

Books I Read:

  1. 18209454**** Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob ThomasFinished July 10, 2014 – I’m a pretty big Marsmallow so I was really excited when I found out that there are books written that take place after the movie that was recently released – maybe the fun really doesn’t have to end? I think my favorite thing about this book was that it really did read just like an extended episode of Veronica Mars, but it didn’t necessarily feel like you had to have seen the show to enjoy the book. It was a natural transition from the screen to the page and the story really pulled me in. I definitely plan to continue reading the series.
  2. 13538873**** Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin SloanFinished July 22, 2014 – This book was a lot of fun to read. It felt kinda like a Rainbow Rowell book from a male perspective with lots of computer programming / social media stuff. I thought the contrast of old technology and new was really interesting and the story itself was compelling. Parts of the story felt formulaic but not in a bad way.

8131227Right now I’m reading One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde, which is number 6 in a series that if you haven’t read yet, you must do so immediately. Especially if you like books with both literary / bookish elements and science fiction / fantastical elements all rolled into one awesome element. This book might be my favorite one so far. The descriptions of BookWorld and the map at the front of the book have me completely enthralled AND there’s a major plot thickening going on to boot. Fforde never ceases to amaze me with how he can keep this story feeling fresh with each book.

TV Shows I’m Marathoning:

We’ve been catching up with a few shows since getting back to town. Dan and I are finally catching up on Bones and only have about 4 more episodes to go, then we’ll need to decide if we’re planning to watch last season’s Grimm or not – oh and we’re still behind on Grey’s Anatomy, too. Last season was weird and not terribly enjoyable for me – anyone else?

We’ve also been watching some of our favorite late night guys – we’re big fans of Craig Ferguson, Seth Meyers and Colbert – and also enjoying Whose Line is It Anyway and Top Gear. I’m REALLY impatiently looking forward to Doctor Who coming back in a few weeks!! Can’t wait to see how Peter Capaldi does as the Doctor.

BB and I have been snuggling on the couch and watching Project Runway and Food Network Star together – or as she calls it, “The clothes show and the food show, mommy.” I’m still not sure who I’m rooting for on either show though I think I’m Team Lenny on Food Network Star. Anyone else watching either?

I’m also finally caught up on Emma Approved and The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy which I never really had a chance to watch while we were  gone. Both shows made me cry recently! Looking forward to seeing the coming episodes of Emma Approved and really curious to see what Season 2 will entail for Peter & Wendy.

Music I’m Jamming To:

We listened to a playlist on my phone called Only The Best during our trip which is 409 songs currently and over 150 of those songs are John Mayer. We listened to a LOT of John Mayer, followed by a lot of Macklemore and Matchbox 20 which I haven’t listened to in a while but threw onto the list recently and have REALLY been enjoying it.

Newish songs I’ve been enjoying:

  • Scare Away the Dark by Passenger is beautiful and powerful and if you haven’t LISTENED to the song yet, like really listened, you absolutely must.
  • Ain’t it Fun by Paramore has absolutely been my jam lately. It’s one of those songs that instantly cheers me up.

Things Worth Cooking:

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I made this strawberry, blueberry and raspberry cake for BB’s birthday party last weekend and it was amazingly delicious. I promise to share the recipe soon!

Links I’m Loving:

  • The Gray Hair, It’s Growing On Me from The Art of Simple also a Must Read. I only have a few barely visible grays so far, but I’m planning to keep all of mine. Remind me of this when there are enough to be noticeable.
  • The official full length trailer for Doctor Who is finally here!

What are you into these days?

tbt: Niagara Falls Then and Now

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niagarahotel-thenandnowWhat a difference 5 years makes! Niagara Falls in the early summer of 2009 / and again in July 2014! The last time we were here, MM was three years old and I was still seven months pregnant with little BB!

Hard to believe how much MM has grown in just 5 years and how surreal it seems to imagine having ever been a mother of just one. I don’t know if MM really remembers his first visit to Niagara Falls but I’m hoping he’ll remember this one someday (and now we have photographic evidence of both trips!).

I guess we’ll need to go again in another 5 years so that we can get another picture. He’ll be a surely teenager by then!

Previous: Ohio & New York

 Next: Massachusetts

Road Trip Diary: Ohio and New York

Maumee Bay State Park, Closed Bridges, Camping in the Rain, Niagara Falls, Love Songs for Coffee, New Backpacks and Changing Plans.

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20140620_161636When we embarked on this trip, I was still fairly certain we were crazy. Despite months of planning and a binder full of maps, itineraries, meal plans and more – I was pretty concerned that we were in over our head and attempting too much in too short a time. It couldn’t possibly all go according to plan.

And while it definitely didn’t all go to plan, we totally pulled it off. I tried to focus on the trip in small chunks. So rather than think about how we had to get to Florida by such and such day, I just thought “Today we are going to Ohio.” And so forth. I think this plan alone was the main thing keeping me sane each day. With  that in mind, here is a small recap of our first two days on the road.

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DAY ONE

Day One’s mission was pretty simple: Drive to Ohio and camp.

We were headed for Maumee Bay State Park, which is in the western tip of Lake Erie in Ohio. Day one looked a lot like this:

DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE BATHROOM DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE LUNCH DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE REST STOP DRIVE DRIVE BRIDGE IS CLOSED DRIVE DRIVE HOW DO WE GET THERE OMG DRIVE DRIVE YAY WE FOUND ANOTHER BRIDGE DRIVE WAIT FOR TRAIN DRIVE WAIT FOR ANOTHER TRAIN DRIVE CAMP IN THE RAIN.

Basically we didn’t really enjoy our time in Ohio but mostly because it involved tons of boring roads, followed by searching in vain forever for an alternate route to get to our campground and then camping in the rain. It’s not really Ohio’s fault but it also kind of is…

20140620_162225We kept the kids busy for all those driving bits with my Amazing Epic Road Trip Boredom Box filled with wrapped packages of new books to dole out over the course of the trip, most relating to the destination of that day’s driving like a book about Niagara Falls on our drive to New York on Day Two. I had something to hand the kids every day that we’d be on the road. This plan was both awesome and overkill. The kids loved the gifts and it kept them busy but we were gone for 3 1/2 weeks and on the road for like 10 days which meant 20+ books eventually cluttered the back seat and drove us crazy every time we got in or out of the truck. I think the idea would be stellar for a smaller trip though.

Another boredom buster idea: We loaded a few movies onto my tablet which we attached to the back of our center console with a bungee cord (my tablet has one of those covers with a folded front cover thing so if you fold that back behind the tablet and loop a bungee cord through… ta da! Homemade entertainment system on the go. Normal people might already have travel DVD players or something but for the rest of us – this worked out really well!

After we eventually found a bridge to get to the campground (the main bridge was closed for like 2 years and our GPS seemed completely unsure how to handle this problem) we set up camp, hubby grilled dinner and we slept somewhat soundly in spite of the major storm that felt the need to follow us from Wisconsin all the way to Massachusetts.

DAY TWO

The kids watched Despicable Me on Day Two and while we were at a rest stop in Ohio my daughter found and fell madly in love with a stuffed unicorn just like the one in the movie. She basically refused to leave without it and gave her daddy That Look so he totally melted and convinced me that it would be a good early birthday present. Basically she has us wrapped around her finger and it was a really cute unicorn. While driving to New York that morning I sang sleepy love songs to my coffee, i.e. I was over tired and thought the dumbest things were funny and amused myself for serious HOURS by pretending all the songs on the radio were about my coffee.

Oh, won’t you stay with me?
‘Cause you’re all I need
This ain’t love, it’s clear to see
But darling, stay with me

Stay with Me by Sam Smith

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning

All of Me by John Legend

Well, I don’t know how you do it to me
You make my brain just stop
Sink my heart to my feet
It’s like a roller coaster
But I’m only going up
I’m in crazy stupid love

Crazy Stupid Love by Cheryl Cole

Just… pretend all those songs are about your coffee and it’s hysterical. Probably. Right?

HALFTIME GAME:

Before reading about the rest of our adventure in New York, let’s come up with more love songs that should be about coffee. If you play along, leave your best ones in the comments section below!

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Anyway, eventually we woke up and eventually after that we got to New York. We took the kids to Niagara Falls which was kind of a big deal because the last time we were there was when we moved to Wisconsin five years ago: MM was about 3 years old and I was 7 months pregnant with BB and we were doing this trip in reverse, driving from Massachusetts to Wisconsin about to move to a state where we knew NOBODY. CRAZINESS. Probably the best thing we’ve ever done but we didn’t know it then. Being over here on the other side now is absolutely unreal.

The weather was still pretty hectic. It wasn’t raining but it was so windy that the Falls were blowing enough mist onto us that it felt like rain. We oohed and ahhed over the falls and took some pictures. Another mom there offered to take a family photo of us in return for me doing the same for them. Of  course only three of us decided to participate for said photo but I was still thrilled to get the picture. I’m also really amused by all the pictures I took where there are girls behind us just staring at their phones right in front of such a beautiful historical landmark. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are maybe checking out their own pictures that they just took but they’re probably just playing Angry Birds.

Due to traffic and luck, we were running super behind that night and with the storm still following us doggedly, the idea of setting up camp late in the rain was sounding so not fun. We stopped for dinner about an hour outside of Niagara and then got a room at the hotel next door.

For some reason I was really concerned that we’d never find a hotel with a room available and it would be like Mary and Jesus looking for a room at the inn minus anyone giving birth and hopefully minus sleeping in a barn. But lo and behold, there was a room available at the very first place we looked and the woman behind the desk was super friendly and accommodating and the kids thought the whole thing was basically the best idea ever.

Other things we did in New York:

  • Bought the kids new backpacks from L.L. Bean for the coming school year that doubled as a place to put all those books I brought for the trip.
  • Lost our checkbook at a rest area in Ohio on the way to New York. Seriously. Luckily for us, a nice honest person found it and the Ohio Rest Stop Guys mailed it back to us with no harm done. And I found a safer place to keep my check book for the future.
  • Got super excited about going to Massachusetts the next day to see our family!!

Stay tuned for more stories of our month on the road. Next up will be a recap on our week in Massachusetts visiting family!

Previous: There’s no place like home

Next: Niagara Falls

There’s No Place Like Home: Trust me, I checked.

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You may not have noticed, but I’ve been gone for 3 1/2 weeks. We spent most of July embarking on an Epic Road Trip up and down the East Coast, visiting Massachusetts, Pennsyvlania, Washington DC, Florida, Kentucky and back to Wisconsin and everything in between. We spread it all out so that we’d drive for two or three days and then spend time with family for 5 so that we didn’t become completely exhausted and grumpy though we had our moments. This trip was a massive undertaking that I was skeptical we’d be able to pull off but WE DID IT. WE SURVIVED. And we all still like each other!

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I’ll be telling you lots of stories over the next couple weeks about the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen, the inane things my husband and I talked about on the road, but for now a couple snapshots and for fun – here are my notes that I wrote to myself on the road about all the things I wanted to tell you guys about. Some of it still luckily makes perfect sense to me but some of it… no idea, so that should be fun.

Guessing Game Time: Can you decipher Jen’s Random Road Trip Notes?

  • Love songs for coffee
  • Ohio is a no go
  • Changing plans
  • The unicorn
  • Tablet mount hack
  • Camping in the rain
  • Taking 91 north to go east, seeing signs to go west to get to Easthampton.
  • Difference between Massachusetts and Wisconsin
  • Trees and mountains
  • Hawks vs grackles
  • Emily 2×8 (what? I don’t even know what this means)
  • 4th of July wasn’t so special but it might have been better.
  • The Teagan Song
  • Ball joints and cracked windshields
  • New backpacks
  • Niagara then and now

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  • Hootie / counting crows (I can’t tell them apart)
  • No big deal, just a little hangover.
  • Keeping cool on hard days.
  • RAIN!!!!!!!
  • Drinking with in laws
  • The 3 tin soldiers
  • Hershey park – roller coasters and ski ball
  • Story idea: Ladysmith – a blacksmith’s widow?
  • 10,000 steps in DC: National mall
  • Capitol koa
  • North Carolina – wet wood and small tables; anything you can do, Maryland did better. BBQ. Cool old couple.
  • Lawtey Florida (it’s just fun to say)
  • Drove straight through Georgia: why Georgia, why?
  • FIREWORKS – HURT? NEED HELP?
  • Apps koa and road ninja

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  • South Florida museum
  • Legoland
  • Koa cabins are awesome!!
  • Macklemore is the male Joan Jett of our generation.
  • Nutter butter polar swirls and truck stop snack nostalgia
  • Lost river cave and the butterfly house
  • Canyon story – cold damp dark rocky
  • Blue holes more dangerous than they look.
  • 1850s America before civil war. Wealthy plantation family? Or royalty somewhere else?
  • Finding my music style
  • St. Louis is apparently an ACTUAL city with cars and traffic and stuff.
  • Birthday on the Road.

So…. clearly I have my work cut out for me. I’ll be back soon with more coherent stories, but this gives you a taste of what our month has been like and how random my thought process is. You’re welcome.

So tell me bloggy pals, what have I missed this month? What’s going on? How have you BEEN?

Next: Ohio & New York

She’s five!

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My little girl is barely a little girl today. Today she is five. The next time a cashier at the store asks her how old she is, she’ll be able to hold up ALL FIVE FINGERS. This blows my mind, completely. She has grown up so much over the past year, learning so many things, pushing so many buttons, reaching for the sky and dancing just constantly. She surprises and delights us and frustrates and tests us and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

5 Things about Five

  • She starts kindergarten in the fall, meaning both my kiddos will be going to school full day this year. What am I going to do with all that extra time? Will this be the year I write the great American novel get a job?
  • She is potty trained guys. I was starting to think it would never happen but like every child on this planet before her, it was bound to happen eventually. This means that for the first time in eight years, I’m not potty training or changing diapers for anyone. WHAT?
  • She can write her name and count to 100. She has better handwriting than her brother and I think there is even a chance she might be the Smart One. I think she’s known this since she was born and we’re all just catching up.
  • She is growing FAST. She has gone up two or three shoe sizes in the past year and is pretty much ready to leave the toddler clothing behind. Compared to MM who could wear a 5T until he was 6 and a half, this is momentous.
  • When she grows up, BB tells me that she wants to be a Pirate Queen and a Doctor. Not one of the three, ALL of them. And if you know BB, you know that she probably can do all of these things and more and anyone who suggests otherwise had better watch out.

Happy birthday (not a) baby girl! We love you so much!

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Music vs. Poetry.

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We’d spent the afternoon explaining The Beatles and Yoko Ono to the kids. The casual lecture lingered on throughout dinner to cover peace activism and the Civil Rights Movement because we’re huge nerds who have a hard time staying on topic. We watched Imagine by John Lennon on Youtube, followed by BNL’s You Can Be My Yoko Ono and talked about communism and the Cold War. Once we’d thoroughly bored our four and eight year old, we headed into the kitchen to clean up the dishes from dinner.

The BNL lyrics continued to linger in my mind and I sang softly as I rinsed dishes, my husband joining in. Hopefully I sounded better than Yoko Ono, but this is not confirmed. After I’d sung one of the lines, he laughed and commented, “You don’t hear the music in your head when you sing, do you?

It wasn’t a jab or a criticism really, just a comment on how differently our brains work. One clear distinction between my husband and I (apart from the height difference and the facial hair) is that when it comes to music – the actual instrumental stuff is what’s most important to him at the end of the day and for me it’s about the lyrics.

I commented that night that without the lyrics, Imagine by John Lennon wouldn’t be remembered and appreciated by the general public, thus lyrics win. Dan argued that without the music it wouldn’t be remembered either, that poetry is not as widely followed as music, thus music wins. I heartily disagreed so he asked for examples of poetry that one would assume EVERYONE knows. At which point I turned into a sarcastic 4th grader.

Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore! I stammered out awkwardly, to which he argued that this was a linguistic something or other big words here and not a real poem.

Roses are red, violets are blue, I countered. A nursery rhyme he insisted, it doesn’t count.

How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Hah! I thought, good luck ignoring Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He ignored it. I continued.

There once was a man from Nantucket!

I was making his point for him and I knew it so started quoting e.e. cummings, a favorite of mine, even though I know that his poetry is nowhere near as widely followed as John Lennon or The Beatles (though no less extraordinary) but who cares?? Poetry is music, it’s just more subtle – you have to find the rhythm on your own.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

What do you think? Poetry or music?

What’s your favorite poem?

What’s your favorite song?

Travel Ideas: Things to Do Outside in Madison, Wisconsin

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Are you traveling to Wisconsin this summer and looking for ideas for things to do with the kids? Or perhaps you live here and are all about the staycation this year? I’m implementing a new feature on my blog: I decided to start a travel category for anyone looking for ideas for family vacations, staycations and anything in between. Check out the Travel Page for photographs, reviews and travel diaries of past vacations and stay tuned for many more!

To kick things off today, I thought I’d take you for a tour of our neck of the woods, focusing on the things you can do outside for free or relatively cheap. These are just a few of the reasons we love living here and the kinds of places we like to show family when they are visiting.

1. Henry Vilas Zoo: 702 S Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53715
Open 9:30 am – 5:00 pm | Cost: Free

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The first thing you need to know when you get to Madison is that we have a fantastic zoo that is FREE. Henry Vilas Zoo is a 28-acre public zoo in Madison, Wisconsin that is owned by the city of Madison. On June 30, 1904, Col. William F. and Anna M. Vilas gave a large tract of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association “for the uses and purposes of a public park and pleasure ground.

The park was named in memory of the Vilas’ son, Henry, who died at a young age due to complications from diabetes. In 1911, the first animal exhibits were created, representing the start of the Henry Vilas Zoo. In what has proved to be a defining and truly visionary move, the Vilas Family stipulated that the park always be admission free. As the zoo developed within the park, it too remained free. [source]

We love this zoo so much that we go several times a year. It’s surrounded by a large park with multiple playgrounds and even a beach (also free!). There is another large playground inside the zoo along with lots of animal exhibits, a outdoor dining area and a gift shop. The residents of Madison are all quite fond of their little zoo and a lot of people know many of the zoo animals by name. In the fall, Madison kids often go trick or treating at the zoo and there are many other annual events like the Zoo Run Run, Yoga at the Zoo and more.

Pro tip: Get there early, parking fills up fast. We tend to arrive shortly before the zoo opens to get a good spot.

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2. Olbrich Gardens: 3330 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704
Hours: 8am-8pm | Cost: Outdoor gardens – free; conservatory $2 per person

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The Olbrich Gardens are one of my favorite places to take a long nature walk, photographing flowers and leaves and ponds as I stroll along with the kids. They have 16 acres of gardens for your kids to run around in, including a tropical conservatory, a rose garden & a Thai pavilion (everyone’s favorite). One of my favorite things about Olbrich is that there is something new to see every time you go as the seasons change throughout the year.

The outdoor gardens are always free and the indoor conservatory is just $2 a person and free for kids 5 and under – and free on  Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., except during Olbrich’s Blooming Butterflies. If you are a resident, consider getting a membership which offers valuable discounts, exclusive invitations, free admission, members-only library borrowing privileges, informative quarterly member newsletter, as well as free or reduced admission to nearly 300 gardens, arboreta, and conservatories across the U.S. and Canada. Members also ensure that the Gardens remain free and accessible to more than 250,000 people each year.

Year Round Fun: Olbrich is open even when the weather is less than gorgeous. Take a walk in the indoor conservatory when the weather is dreary or to perk you up in the blah winter months. Going to be here for Christmas? Be sure to check out their Holiday Express train exhibit!

3. Picnic Point: 2002 University bay drive, Madison, WI 53726.
Parking: Park in the University Parking Lot #130. Parking starts at $1 for the first hour. You can pay with credit card, quarters and US Dollar Coints.

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If you want to take a nice walk, enjoy a small shady beach and see some amazing views of the Capitol Building and Lake Mendota – consider packing a picnic and heading to Picnic Point, a nearly mile-long peninsula along Lake Mendota’s south shore (check out this great history of Picnic Point). It’s a relatively easy walk but getting to the end of the peninsula feels like an amazing achievement, especially to kids. Once you get to the end, you have a truly amazing view of the lake to enjoy.

For many years the beach, at The Narrows midway down the Point, was a popular place for swimming. Please note: The university does not provide lifeguards at Preserve beach areas and water quality is not monitored. Swim at your own risk.  We skip the swimming here, but it’s a gorgeous and relaxing place to stop halfway and let the kids play in the sand and admire the water.

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Feeling Romantic? Picnic Point has a long reputation as a romantic getaway. Many visitors talk about marriage proposals inspired by a stroll out to the end of the Point. As further proof of the Point’s romantic magic, on February 9, 1992 the San Francisco Examiner (in a scientific study, no doubt!) did a survey of the ten best places to kiss in the world, and announced that Picnic Point “may just be the kissing-est spot in North America.” It said that for more than a century, “thousands of couples have found themselves in each other’s arms…at the tip of the peninsula, where the kissing tradition was born.” Visitors may wish to plan accordingly. [source]

4. The Ice Age Trails: Location: 1,00 miles throughout Wisconsin. Check out the Dane County Trails for locations in the Madison area.

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Whether you are looking for a quick hike or an epic backpacking trip or camping spot, The Ice Age Trail has got you covered. I like to go to one of the local trails near our home for a small hike with the kids and a little nature photography but that’s just the top of the iceberg really (pun intended).

History Lesson: More than 12,000 years ago, an immense flow of glacial ice sculpted a landscape of remarkable beauty across Wisconsin. As the colossal glacier retreated, it left behind a variety of unique landscape features. These Ice Age remnants are now considered among the world’s finest examples of how continental glaciation sculpts our planet.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a thousand-mile footpath — entirely within Wisconsin — that highlights these Ice Age landscape features while providing access to some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas. [source]

5. Eplegaarden Apple Orchard : 2227 Fitchburg Road, Fitchburg WI
Hours: Varies by season July-Oct | Cost: Depends on how many apples you want.

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There are many apple orchards and other pick-your-own farms in Madison and the surrounding towns but one of our favorites is Eplegaarden. They describe themselves as “da apple orchard vit da Norvegian Exposure”, an old fashion farm ver things move slower den any other place in Dane County or maybe even in all of Wisconsin.

When you aren’t picking apples, raspberries or pumpkins, you can also see how tall the kids have grown by photographing them next to the giant Apple with a yardstick, check out their Farm Store, go for a horse drawn hayride or take the kids to their playground. During the Halloween Season you’ll want to take the kids to see the Harold Potterson’s Hallowed  Haunts and Harried Hunts for little Wizards and Trolls. They also do folk music under the apple trees on Sundays in September and October.

6. Mallards Baseball Stadium : 2920 N Sherman Ave, Madison, WI 53704
When: May-August | Cost: $8-33 a ticket, depending on where you sit

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Take them out to the ballgame without breaking the bank. Check out the game schedule for the Madison Mallards, a collegiate summer baseball team in Madison that plays in the Northwoods League at Warner Park on Madison’s North side.

I love going to a Mallards Game – they have a very family friendly atmosphere, fun merchandise, lots of delicious food, a kid friendly grassy field where you can lay a picnic blanket and skip dealing with stadium seating and there are always fun events going on from the Meriter & Physicians Plus Kids Days to fireworks after many of the games.

A note on parking: There is free parking at Warner Stadium and tailgating is allowed but it fills up fast. There is additional limited additional parking at the Northside Town Center directly across Sherman Ave from the ballpark. NO TAILGATING is allowed in this lot & violators may be towed. Only portions of the lot are available for fan parking during games so make sure you are parked in an approved area for the game. Last tip: Consider arriving early and leaving early if possible to avoid crowds and traffic.

Madisonians – where are your favorite places to take the kids? Share your favorite spots, indoor and out, in the comments section!