growing up good

mothering, homeschooling, and me

Exploring the Grove


Last Saturday, my photography class met at the Grove in Glenview, IL for an outdoor field trip. Though it’s only 20 or so miles from where I live, I had never heard of the place, much less been there before. When my instructor told us it was a park, in my mind I had pictured manicured lawns, a pond, a playground, and maybe some sidewalks. In reality, I was taken out of busy suburbia and transported to a magical place where nature is allowed to be…real. Where paths lead you through soaring trees and prairie grasses, chipmunks scampering out of your way and birds calling out your intrusion, and you stumble upon a scenes from another time: a teepee and long house, a cottage and garden, a log cabin, which happens to be bursting with live turtles, fish, snakes, and even an unstinky skunk, and 2 beautiful estate houses.  After about 5 minutes, I knew I had to come back…with the kids. They would LOVE it.

The weather is about to change here in my neck of the woods. We only have a handful of days left where the temps will hit 70. Fall, and all it’s glory, is upon us.  I happen to love winter, but that’s a post for another day. Right now though, I know we’ve got to get outside and enjoy it while it lasts.

After a couple of cooler days, the forecast showed that Tuesday would be beautiful. THAT would be our day to visit the Grove. However, Tuesdays are usually days where we do the bulk of our lessons for the day. Hmm….I KNOW…let’s do our lessons AT the Grove!

So Tuesday morning I packed us a nice mediocre lunch: over-ripe bananas, the last peach of the season, cheese sandwiches, granola bars, string cheese, and trail mix. Yum, right? Hey, I’m working on cleaning out our pantry, fridge, and freezer. We don’t need to be gourmet all the time. I threw the kids’ journals (ie collections of scribbles, stickers, and ticket stubs and brochures from places we’ve been the last 1.5 years), crayons, and a few nature-themed stories, a memory game (just in case), and some toys for Edison in a backpack, grabbed my camera, and a blanket, and the stroller, and some water bottles, and a washcloth in a ziploc, and their sweatshirts, and some bug spray, and board books for Edison, and finally MY sweatshirt…and we were off. No…wait…Mary had to go to the bathroom again. And then insisted that I NOT help her get her pants up. Then insisted that I did. But first Elliot, who wasn’t watching tv during breakfast, decided that he needed to watch Scooby Doo on the playroom tv instead of getting his shoes on. Then Mary couldn’t find her shoes. Then Elliot found them, but she didn’t want to wear those shoes, but decided they would do, but she had to put them on herself. I about cancelled the trip.  It can’t be worth all this, can it?

But I resisted the urge to just stay home. Figuring the worst case scenario, I could either listen to them bicker at home, or somewhere outside on a beautiful day.  I’m glad I resisted. Experience has taught me that 99.96% of the time, if we can just get out of the house, as chaotic as it is, our outing will be worth it.

It was.

Mary said, “It stinks in here!”

Elliot, always running ahead, eager to see what’s next.

Look, Mom! Look what I found! (it’s a button)

An attempt at a “nature talk” about decomposition. They’re thrilled, can you tell? He did perk up when I reminded him of the “Decomposers” bugs we saw and read about at the Field Museum last month.

Mary usually sticks close to me, but sometimes she’ll venture ahead, too.

This is Mary, being whiney. When she doesn’t want to walk anymore, she suddenly has a whole list of ailments, from, “My hip hurts.” to “My whole body hurts!” to “My elbow hurts.” And then, she’ll spot something she wants to check out, and suddenly she’s fine.

There were some really cool, really old gnarley trees. I thought Elliot added a nice perspective on their size.

A prairie schooner? A conestoga? a buggy? I won’t pretend to know the difference. Whatever it is, they checked it out, but noticed it was, indeed, missing the horses.

Can you see the “A”? Elliot pointed this out. 🙂

Then we headed inside to the “Interpretive Center”. Elliot was in bug heaven.

See that little head by the wood frame of the case? Yeah, that’s a snake. Mary was mesmerized.

Blowing it kisses? ugh. Of all the things! This mama, she don’t like snakes!

More snakes. Uh, Elliot, can you please not put your hand up there!


They won’t smile, but they’ll be goofy!

The Kennicott Estate. From what I’ve read. Mr. Kennicott was a doctor and naturalist, and these ground have been preserved in his name.


We found a quiet place (a pavilion of some sort), and read some stories and drew some pictures. Mary is tracing a walnut she carried with her for 1/2 the day.

Edison wanted to color, too.

But when Mama lets him out of his stroller (or the ergo), he won’t sit still for long!







Elliot, concentrating hard on his drawing.

We were there for almost 3 hours before I knew my happy excursion would turn sour: it was approaching naptime. We didn’t even really explore the Kennicott estate grounds much due to a school group being there, and we had taken the trails around the teepee site and little cabin, so we’ve still got more to explore next time we go. It was a great day out with my munchkins, and even though it disrupted naps and was a whirlwind to get out the door, it was totally worth it.










Author: Growing Up Good

Mom of 3 under 6. Expert coffee drinker. Homeschooler. Wanna-be-sewer. From-scratch cooker. And pizza orderer.

2 thoughts on “Exploring the Grove

  1. Anna this was a wonderful day,so glad you are able and willing to do these thing with the kids!!! High five! !

  2. Love, love the pictures! Sounds like a great adventure. And I LOVE the picture of Mary and Elliot being “goofy”….El’s freckles are the sweetest. Loving the blog, keep it up!

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