MadisonMamas.com

There’s a new resource for Madison area parents! MadisonMamas.com is a website that lists hundreds of links for pregnancy, groups, classes, activities, fitness, services, dining and shopping. Features showcase local events, specials, books, project ideas, recipes, decor, new products and much more. You can also post questions and comments to other local parents on their Facebook page: Madison Mamas

I’ve already found the website extremely useful for finding new kid-friendly places to shop and eat in the area. The site is so well organized, it’s simple to find exactly what you’re looking for. And I love the “Features” section – it’s given me some great ideas! (and MadisonMamas.com was kind enough to feature RM blogger – and local Barefoot Books Ambassador – Kat yesterday! Thanks, ladies!)

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Wonder Bugs – Aldo Leopold Nature Center

This summer we signed Milena up for the Wonder Bugs preschool program at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. This week was her second-to-last class (we learned all about ants!). We have had so much fun learning and exploring!

“Introduce your toddler or pre-school aged child to a safe and wonderful natural world. This program is specifically designed for children ages 2-5 (before entering kindergarten). Each week, we’ll explore a different seasonal topic through hikes, outdoor exploration, music, puppetry, songs, stories and more.”

Going into this summer camp, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Very few places have classes for 2 and 3 year olds, so I was really excited about the opportunity, but nervous about what the classes would be like. I was pleasantly surprised at just how wonderful they are!

Every week focuses on a different topic (parents are able to sign their children up for one class or multiple classes). Each begins with a discussion about the topic: for example, in our “Antsy Pantsy” class about ants today, we first looked at large toy ants to see the different parts, legs, etc. We talked about what ants eat and where they live. Our teacher, Miss Nicky, always does a great job keeping the kids’ attention and encouraging them to participate and shout out answers (right or wrong). Milena LOVES Miss Nicky!

All sessions involve some time outside where the kids can attempt to see the insect/plant/etc outside in its natural habitat. Each session also involves a snack and sometimes a craft, which often tie into that week’s topic.

Wonder Bugs Objectives:
1. to provide an opportunity for parents to interact with their child in a natural setting
2. to foster a sense of wonder for the natural world
3. to foster admiration and respect for the land

We LOVE Wonder Bugs, and we’re excited about the fall program sessions coming up. Aldo Leopold Nature Center also offers Wonder Bugs Family Days September 24, October 22 & November 19 from 9:30 -10:45 am, which take place on Saturdays (perfect for working parents!) – though they often repeat the topic covered during the week, so be sure to check before signing your child up for both!

Go here for information about the fall Wonder Bugs program sessions.

For more information about the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and its other events and programs, go here.

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center is located at 300 Femrite Drive in Monona. (608) 221-0404

Dream Bikes

It’s biking weather! I love biking with my kids, and I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences getting out and biking safely from the folks at Dream Bikes.

Dream Bikes is an amazing organization and their mission statement is as follows:
“To make our community better, we provide our youth with work experience to open up more job opportunities and to create a difference in people’s lives.  We provide access to affordable, quality bikes to those in need.”

And they really follow through. Bikes are donated  from individuals and Dream Bikes teaches young people how to repair and maintain bikes and get the donated bikes ready to be sold. They also learn to help customers in the retail portion of the shop. Bikes that have been repaired and ready to be sold are available at a variety of price points so everyone has access to a bike for transportation. My bike and my daughter’s bike are from Dream Bikes and we had some maintenance done on another bike there. The staff is friendly, helpful and attentive. When I didn’t find just the right bike on one visit, they took detailed information about what I was looking for and called me the following week when my “Dream Bike” came through the door.

They offer a wide range of new, used and adorable vintage adult bikes, a large variety of childrens bikes and some times specialties like adult tricycles and recumbent bikes.  They also carry helmets, baskets, reflectors and other gear.

Dream Bikes is located at  4611 Verona Road Madison, WI 53711 608-467-6315  www.dream-bikes.org
(Dream Bikes is moving this month to a new location at 4245 West Beltline Highway Madison, WI  53711)

 

{Part 4} Winner

Congratulations, Beth*! You’ve won our Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery and Nicki’s Diapers giveaway.

Please send us an e-mail to claim your prize: raisingmadison@hotmail.com

*Beth’s comment: For local places, We love Daisy Cafe (we were just there yesterday). Staff are very accomdating with kids and they have all of those toys in the front. Also, a great changing table area in the bathroom. We also enjoy the ZuZu Cafe and Ella’s Deli.
For chain restaurants, Cracker Barrel has clean high chairs, good kids meals and the store keeps the kiddos busy.

Birthday Giveaway {Part 5} will be announced tomorrow morning!

Birthday Giveaway {Part 4}

Giveaway #4 is great for parents and kids alike!

This week’s winner will receive: a $25 gift certificate to Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery along with these goodies from Nicki’s Diapers: Best Bottom Diaper Trial Kit (1 shell, 3 inserts) and a Planet Wise Bag Your Snack Stuff Gift Set (1 Sandwich Wrap, 1 Window Bag, and 1 Snack Bag).

Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery is a popular cafe, cupcake shop, and coffeehouse located on Atwood Avenue. It’s one of Kat’s favorite local places to eat!

Nicki’s Diapers is located on the westside of Madison at 739 N. High Point Rd in Sauk Point Square. Along with supplying everything a cloth-diapering family may need, Nicki’s also carries baby carriers and breastfeeding supplies. The store also offers many classes (most FREE!) along with a breastfeeding clinic. You can find more info about Nicki’s Diapers on its Facebook page (along with Best Bottom Diapers and PlanetWise). All three are also on Twitter: nickisdiapers, bestbottomdiapers, and planetwiseinc.

To enter this giveaway, answer the following question in the comments (one entry per person. Please include your first & last name when commenting):

What is your favorite local family-friendly restaurant?

Comments must be received by midnight on Friday, May 27. Winner will be chosen using random.org and announced Sunday, May 29.

{Part 3} Winner

Congratulations, Jenn Hackel! You’ve won our Atlas Improv, Liliana’s Restaurant, and Overture Center giveaway.

Please send us an e-mail with your mailing address, and we’ll send you a prize (along with info regarding the Overture tickets: raisingmadison@hotmail.com

Birthday Giveaway {Part 4} will be announced tomorrow morning!

Legacy Academy

Since my family will be moving to Fitchburg soon, I thought I’d start checking out some of the fun things to do down south.  A couple weeks ago, Dahlia and I met up with a friend at Legacy Academy, which I’d been hearing good things about.

Legacy Academy is basically a huge gym stuffed to the gills with toys, climbing equipment, and various other amusements.  It is aimed at kids from 18 months up to about 12 years.  There is a room that is obviously meant for older kids, with video games and arcade games, as well as tables full of board games and coloring books.  There are also indoor swing sets, a basketball hoop, climbing ropes, and some bikes and trikes.

In all honesty, Dahlia was a little overwhelmed by all the options available to her!  I would say Legacy Academy is really more suited to kids age three and up.  There were plenty of things around that were NOT babyproof.  Dahlia ran directly in front of an older kid in a swing a couple of times, and she also was looking eagerly at the marbles included with Hungry Hungry Hippos before I took that as a cue to head out.  There is little to no authority figure watching over the place — one guy who comes out of his office to take your payment, then heads right back in — so parents are really on their own.  I personally don’t have a problem with this at all, but a couple of the parents there that day were not watching their kids at all.  (Actually, two of them were monopolizing the basketball court, which made me roll my eyes.)

Legacy Academy offers a couple of different options for people who want to throw birthday parties there.  You can either rent the whole place to yourself, or you can have your party during one of their general open gym times and save quite a bit of cash.  It seems like it would be a great place to have a party for older kids — like I said, the under-threes are probably going to be a little overwhelmed.  I feel duty-bound to report, though, that a friend of mine had scheduled her daughter’s birthday party at Legacy Academy and found out at the very last minute that they had accidentally double booked, so she had to scramble to find another venue.  The manager apparently claimed that it had never happened before, but it seems worth mentioning.

All in all, we will definitely be going back to Legacy Academy once we move to Fitchburg.  I’m interested to see how Dahlia enjoys it as she gets a little bit older.

Legacy Academy is located at 2881 Commerce Park Drive, Suite G, in Fitchburg — near Star Cinema.  They currently have Open Gym from 10 to 12 and 12:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday, for a cost of $5 for each child over the age of 1.  Beginning June 13th, open gym hours will be 1 to 3 Monday through Thursday and 10 to 12 on Friday, so as to accommodate their summer camp program.  Birthday party rates start at $150 for a two hour party with up to 80 attendees, or your party can be held during an Open Gym time for the standard rate of $5 per child.  You can contact Legacy Academy at (608) 270-9977 or email Manager@LegacyAcademy.info for more information about parties, summer camp programs, after school programs, and Parents Night Out programs, or see their website at legacyacademy.info.