Do you know about Pinterest? It’s basically an online bulletin board with unlimited space and unlimited “pins” – a fantastic way to bookmark your favorite sites – and I LOVE it!! (and am ever so slightly addicted to it.) I think it’s something every parent should check out!

I only joined a few weeks ago, but have already found so many great activities and craft ideas for Milena. Cornstarch driveway paint has become a weekly “must” at our house:

I can’t wait for fall to arrive so I can make this labyrinth out of leaves:

I’m excited to have Milena make this hand print Christmas tree to hang in our home:

And these “kissing hands” are such a great way to remember your kiddos’ first day of school each year!

I’ve also found quite a few great ideas for myself and our home as well.

You need an invite to join Pinterest. I have a few, and will gladly e-mail them to the first few people who comment (please include your e-mail address). And I’m sure other RM mamas and readers will help out the rest of you!

And once you join, you can follow my boards here.


Elvehjem Boundless Playground

Those of you who have met Dahlia know that she’s pretty much a boundless fount of energy, in nonstop motion, and keeping an eye on her at many outdoor playgrounds can be quite an exhausting feat, especially given how pregnant I currently am.  So when my friend described the playground at Elvehjem Elementary to me, I immediately thought it would be right up Dahlia’s alley — and much more relaxing for me.

You see, the Elvehjem playground is a Boundless Playground.  Boundless Playgrounds are playgrounds designed to be inclusive of children and adults with mobility and developmental impairments.  This isn’t to say that the playground is perfectly 100 percent safe and boring — far from it!  I would have to say this is far and away the coolest playground in town.  It’s designed largely as a series of ramps, to provide access to kids and parents in wheelchairs.  But to kids who aren’t in wheelchairs, it basically amounts to a fun maze.  There were plenty of climbing surfaces and walls, but they all seemed perfectly set at angles where I didn’t worry that one misplaced sneaker would send Dahlia careening backwards through the air.  The ground surface is soft and pliable, not the gravel or shredded tires you find at most parks.  Dahlia was both well-contained and very stimulated.

The parents in Madison are luckier than most to have such a wide variety of great parks, but the Boundless Playground at Elvehjem Elementary is really a step above.  Building this playground was really a labor of love for neighborhood families, and it has paid off.  Dahlia didn’t want to leave, and I can’t wait to go back.

Elvehjem Elementary is located at 5106 Academy Drive in Madison.

Fall Half-Pint Resale – Sept. 9-10

The 8th Semi-Annual Half-Pint Resale is less than a month away! Half-Pint Resale takes place Friday Sept. 9 – Saturday Sept. 10 at the Goodman Community Center (149 Waubesa Street). Public sale runs Friday from 2 – 9 pm (volunteers and consigners get to shop in the morning) and again Saturday 9 am – 12 pm, followed by the Half-Price sale from 1 -5 pm.

What is Half-Pint Resale?
Half-Pint Resale is a local, mother-run two-day children’s consignment sale held semi-annually in early spring and fall. Area families consign their gently used items, giving area families a unique, affordable way to purchase quality clothes sizes 0-7, toys and baby gear. Each sale ends with a half-price sale, which gives amazing deals on everything a family needs. The sale started in the spring of 2008 and has grown each year. In it’s third venue due to amazing growth, the sale features over 200 consignors each season. Area families love shopping at Half-Pint because they find amazing deals on high-quality fun items and consignors love it because they get big checks for items they no longer need! As one shopper said, “Christmas came early for this label crazy momma!”

You can find more information about the sale here. If you’re interested in volunteering or consigning, look here and here.

If you haven’t shopped Half-Pint before, make sure to look here to learn how to make the most of your time shopping at Half-Pint.

Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Aquatic Center

Last summer, I reviewed the Goodman Pool on Olin Street.  Well, not everyone knows it, but there’s ANOTHER Goodman Pool in the greater Madison area.  It’s the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Aquatic Center, at the Jewish Community Campus in Verona.  Since my family just moved to Fitchburg, we thought we’d take a trip to our neighboring town to see what the Goodman Aquatic Center had to offer.

The pool at the Goodman Aquatic Center is a 5,500 square foot outdoor pool with a lap-swimming area and a zero-depth entry with fountains for younger kids.  The pool is solar heated and uses a salt-water generator to produce natural chlorination rather than liquid chlorine.  There are spacious locker rooms and a snack bar that offers drinks, frozen treats, and a small selection of bagged and hot snacks.

My daughter Dahlia seemed a little underwhelmed by the splash offerings compared to the variety of sprinklers at the Goodman Pool on Olin, but she did play in the fountains for a bit.  Mainly, though, she seemed to enjoy the slightly less crowded atmosphere and scampered around throughout the shallow end with delight.  It’s amazing how few bells and whistles you really need to keep a two year old entertained in a pool.

Her other favorite part of the Community Campus was the Noah’s Ark play area.  There are statues of animals cueing up two-by-two to file onto a large wooden boat.  The boat has lots of climbing areas and some slides.  It’s a great distraction for when the whistle blows and the lifeguards enforce a 15-minute adults-only swim.  (Being nine months pregnant, I took full advantage of said adults-only floating time while my husband chased Dahlia around Noah’s Ark.)  I found the Aquatic Center to be much less hectic than the Goodman Pool on Olin, and given that the hours on weekdays are much more suited to those of us whose kids still take an afternoon nap, I think we’ll be returning for another jaunt before the summer ends.

The Goodman Aquatic Center is located at 7762 County Highway PD in Verona.  It is open until September 5th from 11 am to 8 pm, with the exception of September 1st and 2nd, when it will be closed.  Admission for adults 16 and over is $5, children are $4, and infants under 1 are free.

Food Allergy Awareness Walk

The Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin‘s Food Allergy Awareness Walk is this Saturday, August 13, at Warner Park.

FREE Registration – 9:00 am
Pre-register here.

Walk begins at 10:30 am

A paved 1.5 mile walk to raise awareness and funds for Food Allergy Programs in WI. Allergen Friendly vendors will be there to showcase products. There will be kids’ activities and a silent auction.

Honorary Chair – John Stofflet, NBC-15 Anchor.

Can’t be at the walk? Be a virtual team walker – You can still create an online walk team.

This event is near and dear to Raising Madison‘s heart, as Milena had a severe milk allergy (that she thankfully outgrew last year!), and Liam has a severe dairy intolerance/allergy and is sensitive to eggs (and his mom Mallory is very allergic to both).

We believe it’s important for everyone to become more knowledgeable about food allergies; especially what you can do to keep your kids’ friends (and their parents) feel safe and included during playdates and also when you’re out in public with food.

I often shared this video with friends and family when Milena had her allergy: 10 Things Children With Food Allergies Want You To Know (

Kids to Kids Garage Sale – Aug. 6, 2011

The City of Madison Parks will host its second Kids to Kids Garage Sale this Saturday, Aug. 6 from 9 am – noon. Individuals may sell items such as toys, games, dress-up attire, books, bikes, DVDs, and other like items. There will be approximately 60 booths. This event is free and open to the public.

The Kids to Kids Garage Sale will be held in the 100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Event is adjacent to the Capitol Square and Saturday’s Farmers’ Market on MLK Jr Blvd between Main Street and Doty Street.

After shopping at the Kids to Kids Garage Sale, enjoy a hay ride around the Capitol Square. Rides are $2/person.

Day Trip – Appleton Children’s Museum

Just before Father’s Day, Milena and I visited The Building For Kids (Appleton’s children’s museum) with my sister and her three girls.

I’ll start by saying that I really wish museums had different rates for children! I’m okay paying $7 or $8 for myself, but I’m always surprised when I have to pay the same amount for a 2 year old who I knew might throw a tantrum two minutes into the visit and have to be removed. (Thankfully, this didn’t happen, and we had a nice time.)

But on to the museum!

The first floor really inspires pretend play, with a doll hospital, grocery store, and restaurant. However, most of these areas had very few items to play with (my sister mentioned that there used to be more), so we didn’t spend much time here. We did, however, spend a lot of time playing in the Gulfstream Jet with its realistic cockpit and control tower! The girls had a great time pretending to be both passengers and pilots.

The museum centerpiece is the huge Story Tree with 5 tree forts to climb in. Varying degrees of difficulty offer kids of all ages fun and challenging make-believe opportunities. (Most of the climbing areas were netting, and I didn’t really want to have to climb in it if Milena decided halfway up that she wanted out, so she didn’t get to try out this exhibit!)

The first thing Milena and I saw when we went up to the second floor was the Happy Baby Garden – for children 0-3 years of age. This over-sized garden drew Milena right in! The slide alone was a big hit, and I think if her cousins had been young enough to play in there with her, Milena would have spent the majority of our visit here.

The second floor has numerous other permanent exhibits including a digger, a heart slide, a golf simulator, and a water room.

The museum also has a nice art studio. We visited right before Father’s Day, so the girls each got a (large!) lump of clay to make presents for their dads (or grandpas). Milena enjoyed “making” a bowl and then painting it for her grandpa, but my sister and I didn’t enjoy having to carry the wet clay projects home with us! Plus, they weren’t ever fired, so none of them lasted very long.

My only real complaint was regarding the fire truck. Milena had a great time dressing up like a firefighter and pretending to drive the truck and play with the fire hose. I thought it was pretty neat that there was even a “control station” where you could press a local city’s button and hear real emergency broadcasts over the truck’s radio – until firefighter Milena was asked to respond to a woman who had overdosed and was currently unresponsive! I’m all for realism, but I’d much rather she respond to a cat stuck in a tree.

The Building for Kids is located at 100 W. College Ave., Appleton (Phone: 920.734.3226). Hours, directions, and parking info can be found here.