Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

On the last full day of our trip to Chicago, we paid a visit to the Morton Arboretum (the same guy as Morton salt). It is a beautiful place, with different themed areas for children each year. A lot of the grounds is hiking/biking/running trails, but you can drive through most of the area in your car, and just look, if you like. This year's theme was animal homes. They had different biomes, wetlands, woodlands, etc, and homes for various animals that might live there.

This is a beaver home. All the homes are 'enlarged' so that the kids can run in and around them, pretending to be the animal. Many have play structures or small furniture built in. All the homes have a sign explaining why the animal preferred this type of dwelling.

This is supposed to be a raccoon home. You can't really see the woven stick raccoon peeking out of the top. I didn't realize raccoons had handmade wooden rockers...

The arboretum also boasts an extremely large children's garden and conifer maze. Unfortunately, the children's garden closed at five, so we only had about 25 minutes to look around and then we had to get out. I'm sure we could have spent a couple hours in there.

We also spent more time in the Naperville area, attending a local farmer's market, and riding paddle boats near the riverwalk. I absolutely loved the farmers market. I got honey, lip balm, jam, onion relish, sauces, squashes, potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and more with about 40 dollars. Oh, and don't forget the natural peanut butter with two ingredients on the label: roasted peanuts, salt. I love that.

My son loved the paddle boats. He is finally big enough to ride one, in my opinion. I get a little freaked out about small children sitting unrestrained in tipsyturvey boats in the middle of a lake, but it worked out okay. I didn't have to dive in after him. I am a little uncomfortable with deep water, and I wasn't looking forward to that.

A beautiful bell tower near the Riverwalk. It was a really full day. We had bison burgers at a restaurant called Buffalo Ted's (like Ted Turner). They were fantastic (and free range, lol). Buffalo Ted's may have the world's most tasty french fries and lemonade. Towards the evening we stopped by Trader Joe's so I could check it out. It was cute, but after Whole Foods, it was kind of a let down. Don't get me wrong, they had fantastic stuff that was organic, and the theme is more like a kitchzy beach bum thing, but it was more like a normal grocery store. I didn't see much more local produce than whole foods, but they had a fantastic wine selection (helloooo three-buck chuck) and a large variety of Trader Joe's brand products. I got several bottles of wine, oil, and sparkling lemonade. I also picked up a very yummy trail mix (Sweet, Savory & Tart Trek Mix) plus a cool reusable bag.

I was really missing home by then. My son was ultra crabby the whole drive home. He griped at me everytime I stopped, telling me to get back on the road. I stopped once for lunch, and I asked him if he would like anything. He said, "NO....just keep driving!" Anyways, I had to attend a church meeting for vacation bible school when we got back to Des Moines, and then FINALLY I got to go home.

Vacation is wonderful, but I really am a homebody. I missed my house and my yard and my pets, and most of all my fiance. I practically jumped on him and hugged him when he came home from work. So, it is back to the peaceful grind of weeding and plant care, plus Iowa heat. Stay tuned to see if Gardenmom melts in the hot summer sun, or just sends up stalks and gets bitter (lettuce joke...ha ha).

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