Thursday, May 28, 2015

Project 52 - Graduation - Week 21


Riley graduated from preschool today. It seems sort of silly to graduate from preschool, and before this morning I sort of rolled my eyes at the whole preschool graduation ceremony thing, but wouldn't you know it... I totally got teary eyed when they called her name, when they shared that her favorite thing about preschool was reading, when she got her 'diploma', and when they sang songs. Guess, I'm that mom after all.

There are about 18 kids in Riley's class and I think most of them will still be in preschool through the summer so this wasn't really a 'last day' for them, but it certainly signaled an end to this phase of her life. In a few short months she'll be hopping on a bus in the morning to go to kindergarten. Man, time really does fly. 2028, the year she'll graduate, seems so far away, but I bet it will be here in no time flat.

Guess Riley didn't get the 'silly faces' memo

I'm really proud of this girl. She can be quiet and timid, but she really loves school. She flourishes there and I am excited for what the upcoming years will bring. Will reading still be her thing in a few years? Who will her friends be? Will she still be singing and drawing nonstop? I already love so much the little person she's grown into. I can't wait for all that is to come and yet I so want it to slow down.

The other day she told me that she wished we still had the rocking chair in her room so she could rock to sleep in it. And, at times, I too wish we could do that. I want to bring that snuggly little baby back. I loved those special little moments, but each day she provides me with more of those special moments... and that's exciting.

Silly as they may seem I am now excited for all those graduation ceremonies to come. I'm all about celebrating this girl.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Arboretum 2015

Since Saturday of Memorial Day weekend looked like it was going to be the driest day of the weekend we decided to check out the Minnesota Arboretum. I've only been there once before and it was before Riley was born so it seemed like it was time to go back. We were concerned that our 5 year old might get a little bored with just walking around looking at flowers, but she did ok (she still whined to go home from time to time, but we are fairly skilled at the art of distraction. We just needed to have enough of them to get us through). Also, when your kid insists on wearing the brightest outfit in her closet you can be sure you won't lose your child in a place this size.

What can you find at the Arboretum?

Lots of plants, flowers, sculptures and trails. There is a visitor center with a gift shop, art gallery, library and restaurant. There are also ongoing events for kids and adults worth checking out.

Momma goose hissed at me. I don't blame her. PS. Watch the goose poop if you go.

Besides the gardens near the visitor center there is a three mile drive you can take that leads to other gardens and exhibits (sculpture garden, the maze...). Once we walked around the main grounds near the visitor center we hopped in our truck and drove the 'three mile drive' and made stops at a few spots along the way. There is a free circulator that will take you around this area as well, but I think they are only offered Thursday - Sunday so keep that in mind if you go during the week. The benefit of the circulator is that you won't feel compelled to strap your kids into their car seat each time you return to the car (although we gave that up quickly since the speed limit was only 10 mph). The downside to the circulator is that you are stuck at a spot until it comes around again. Not really a big deal unless your kid is READY TO GO. You know what I mean - we've all been there.

There is also a narrated tram tour you can take, but it's going to cost you $5 (for children 2 and up) and is offered limited times each day.

You might think the Arboretum is just a bunch of plants, but they have activities and exhibits too. The current exhibit of LEGO sculptures runs from May 15 - August 30th. There are 26 sculptures in 13 locations at the Arboretum and you can make it into a fun game to find them all. We probably saw about half of them and they were a highlight for Riley to find.

The arboretum also has specialty events like tea time and classes on birds or mushrooms. They even have winter activities for skiing and snowshoeing. And course, they host weddings as well.

Is this a good place to take your kid?

Depends. Riley is 5 and was able to walk quite a bit. Some of the trails are paved, but some are just covered in wood chips so it might make it a challenge to take a stroller in those areas. The good thing is that there are enough paved trails that even if you skip the ones that aren't you will have plenty to see.

Riley did get bored a few times and asked to go home with an urgency that suggested teleportation needs to be a real thing now, but the first time she started to show some antsiness we handed her the map and her imagination totally took over. Suddenly she was in charge and leading the way which was great (until that got a little old, of course).

Next up, I handed her my point and shoot camera and she loved that. We all got some laughs out of the photo shoot she did with Jesse and were impressed with her captures. Luckily, there were other things along the way she also enjoyed such as finding the LEGO sculptures and, her favorite, the maze.

Photo by Riley

Photo by Riley

Photo by Riley

Selfie by Riley

Photo by Riley and Jesse saying something like "you've turned her into this".
What can I say, she's just as good behind the camera as in front of it.

Photo by Riley

Photo by Riley

Other details:

The Arboretum is located in Chaska and is open year round (check website for specific hours). There are memberships that start at $49, but since we don't make it out that way very often we just paid for the day which was $12 for each person 13 and up. There is a restaurant, or I'd recommend bringing a blanket and a picnic and then find yourself a spot under one of the many shade trees along three mile drive.

We spent almost three hours just walking and driving around so you could easily make this into an all day event if you were so inclined.


"Mom, take a picture of me here"

Obviously, this place is a photographer's haven. If you are a professional, you'll need a permit... and even if you aren't, but plan to use a tripod, you'll want to read up on the policy on that. Every other person seemed to have a DSLR hanging around their neck and I was no different. Probably no surprise, but I ended up taking about 525 pictures. Once home, I whittled them down to about 200 and edited even less, but still ended up with an obnoxious amount of photos.

Oh yea, I also took a few pictures of plants and flowers while there...

See you next time Arboretum...