Discovering Nature at the Zoo

Looking back over what we’ve done as a family since last summer, I was surprised to find that we’ve made it to three different zoos within the past nine months. Zoos come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to zoos in large urban areas, you might expect them all to be pretty…

A Review of Camping Books

Last weekend we took our two kids (4 and 1) out camping. Just one night at a state park, no more than 20 miles away. I can say with certainty: Camping with kids can be a lot of work. Here are a couple of books I’ve been reading to help make the activity a bit…

“It’s Pronounced BONE-sigh”

Other kids beg their parents for a puppy or a kitten. Not Gracie (well, usually not). My adorable daughter sees saplings on our walks and asks if she can take them home because “little trees are sooooo cute!” This passion of hers corresponds nicely with my newest hobby and brings the whole family together to…

Gimme Shelter: Nest-Building for Fun and Education

In his book, Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown says that kids have a special instinct for survival and often do better when lost in the woods than adults. Grown-ups have heard all the stories, and this gives them even more reason to panic or give in to despair. They also have years of…

A Quick Look Around

I will admit, the relentless rain has turned our plans for outdoor fun into so much mud. That’s not to say we haven’t gotten outside on the chance dryish afternoon. A couple of days ago we had a dry hour. While the kids played in the yard, I did some work in the garage. Then…

Taking Kids to the Chicago Botanic Garden

Much of our kids’ time spent playing outside is spent in the backyard. We don’t have a landscaping “budget,” so to speak. I’ve tidied up the flower beds around the deck, moved some bushes since we moved into the house, and several years back I bought some perennials (so I wouldn’t have to keep buying…

Rainy Days Are For the Birds… and Flowers and Trees

It’s been raining here off an on for over a week now. That and the 50-degree weather, it’s a real hypothermia-fest out there. So what’s a family to do? Instead of spending a lot of time outside, I’ve been talking to Grace and Tater about the spring rain and all the green we’re seeing everywhere….

In Defense of Libraries

From time to time I feel the need to add my two cents about stuff that is only peripherally related to the core mission of this site. Today is one of those times. Last week our county held an election. On the ballot were candidates for the school board, a recall of our village leadership…

Flowers for Mom

A dad’s job for Mother’s Day is to find a gift his kids can make and give to their mother in appreciation for all the junk she has to put up with all year. Thankfully for many of us dads, grandmothers need projects too, which moms often oversee. So if you’re lucky, you can watch…

Astronomy Is Looking Up!

Earlier this year, I made an executive decision. The kids would not go to bed at their appointed bedtimes. Rather, we would pile everyone in the car in their pajamas and drive two miles west, away from the city lights toward the receding edge of Colorado’s prairie. We would park the car, douse the lights,…

Our Heads in the Clouds

My daughter’s pre-K class has a fun morning routine. Every day one of the kids in class is chosen to be the meteorologist. The meteorologist goes to the window, takes a good look around, and comes back to report the weather. This is followed with a relevant song. For example, when it’s cloudy they sing…