Friday, February 12, 2010

Downers Grove Day

My mom had wanted to take my sister and I along with the kids to Downers Grove before Christmas, but with all the illness between our two families it didn't work out. So, we finally had our special Grammy outing the second week of January, although my sister still couldn't meet up with us.

First, we checked out the Downers Grove Library.  Some people play thousands and thousands of dollars for their children to go to private kindergartens, but if they simply frequented their public library and surrounding public libraries and took part in the rich resources they offer, their children would receive a far more authentic, individualized education. There are so many opportunities for self-directed play, storytelling, arts/crafts, theater performances, magic shows, dog shows, books, magazines, audio tapes, DVD's.....

We had never visited the Downers Grove Library before, but we were very, very pleased. Jared headed straight for the train table, and Alexa grabbed a book and read it to Grammy.

They also had a wonderful time pretend playing with the doll house, dinosaurs and airplanes. I'm always looking for different places to take the kids indoors during the winter, and it's often difficult because I still need places that are fairly contained. If I go to museums downtown or to larger children's museums, I still need someone with me because the kids, particularly Jared, still have moments where they like to dash away from me. This library was the perfect size. We definitely want to come back.

After the library, we met my mom's friend at the Choo-Choo Cafe.  I highly recommend it. It was a little pricier than I'd like to spend for lunch, but the train delivers your food right to the table, and there's a cute mechanical horse for the kids to ride on. Jared's favorite part of the lunch? The sprinkled cupcakes.

We then walked over to a place where kids can pick out their own stuffed animals, and fill them up in a machine. My mom really wanted to take them there, but I think the kids were disappointed. Jared thought there was going to be more to it, that they were going to decorate the animals or put the stuffing in themselves instead of having a machine do it. They did like picking out different costumes for the animals (Jared chose a giraffe, and Alexa  a bear), but when I had to pay the $55 when we left, I knew it definitely wouldn't be worth it. After two days, I don't think they picked up the animals again. Other kids might be different, but my kids' idea of a good time is to put bits of pulled up playdough, an egg, flour, and dish soap in a bowl, stir it up and then proceed to dump most it on the floor. Somehow stuffed animals can't compare to that.

Before we headed home, we stopped in a shop called Glazed Expressions.  This place was a bit pricey, too, but the kids really loved painting their ornaments. The ornaments were $5 each (very small, too), and then there was a $6 per child charge just to paint. Still, we'll have something they painted when they were 3 to keep forever. It was an exhausting, but wonderfully, memorable day. 


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