Go, See, Explore: Fireman’s Park In Verona, WI

The weather is truly heating up in Wisconsin and we need a place to cool off. Fireman’s Park located in Verona has been one our favorite places to visit this summer. Grab your swimwear, lather up on sunscreen, and get ready for a splashing good time.

Fireman’s Park in Verona is currently open from 10:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night. The park offers a large splash pad and playground, a beach, and a basketball court. If you’re looking for a wheel chair accessible location, this is it! The park has a bike rack in case you’re biking in and there are restrooms and shaded picnic areas to enjoy food and snacks.

With many splash pads being closed in the Madison area, Fireman’s park is becoming a prime location to bring the kids. We want to note that the beach capacity is currently 125 guests and you will need to reserve a paid two hour time slot. Each family member will need to be signed up individually but they will still allow walk-ups if they aren’t at capacity.

You can sign up for one of the available time slots here: Verona Recreation Department

We arrived to the park around 10:15 in the morning and the people were definitely there. Our recommendation is getting to the park when it first opens or a few minutes prior. This way, you’ll be able to get a docking spot for your belongings and parking should be a breeze.

The first thing that will catch your attention is how amazing the splash park really is. There is a large cog like structure that gathers water to eventually dump it all out in one big splash. We thought it was hilarious watching the kids gather underneath as they were prepared to get soaked. The rest of the water spouts look like plants which is really unique. We are pretty lucky to have uncles (or in my case brothers) that will participate in all of the water activities with the kids without blinking an eye.

 To the left of the splash pad is the playground area that has a pretty massive rope climb and slide. The playground is just as popular as the splash pad in our opinion because the kids love how big the slide is.

The park has these large stones that you can sit on to easily keep watch over your kiddos which was nice. Our three year old jumped back and forth between the splash pad and the playground many times. We decided to stay in a central area so that we didn’t have to keep moving every time he did. The youngest of our two decided he only wanted to observe because teething is hard!

The beach is spacious and people were having a great time while still maintaining their distance from other guests. We love that there is a gate used to block off those at the splash pad and playground area. This gave us peace of mind that our little ones weren’t able to wander to the beach area. You can access the beach at 10:00 in the morning, but the lifeguard is only present from 12:00 to 7:00. This is truly a great spot to bring the kids with their floats and sand toys for hours of play.

Further down is a dock that you can fish out of that we will try the next time we visit. The first time we came to the park, we walked the path as far as we could go and stumbled upon a little creek. Our kids loved throwing rocks with their father and it was truly a beautiful little area.

Our next trip to Fireman’s Park will include packing a lunch, going fishing, and playing in the sand. If you’re looking for a great place to take the family on those hot days, definitely be sure to visit Fireman’s Park for a fun, water filled day!

Where to Get Ice Cream | In + Around Madison, WI

It’s always a good time for ice cream! Wisconsinites are lucky since we have so many options with high quality ingredients straight from our dairy farms. Our farmers need our support now more than ever so grab a fresh served cone today!

The listings below are locally sourced. In addition to these, there are also tried and true favorites in the area such as Cold Stone Creamery, Dairy Queen, Culver’s and Orange Leaf!

If we missed something, you can comment below – or add it here.

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1605 Linden Dr, Madison, WI 53706, USA
A Madison favorite with a wide variety of flavors and styles. Babcock’s ice cream recipe ha...
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345 Cannery Square, Sun Prairie, WI 53590, USA
Cozy cafe serving java from beans roasted in Madison plus locally sourced breakfasts & Ice cr...
3241 Garver Green, Madison, WI 53704, USA
Calliope Ice Cream develops, discovers, and explores all the awesome flavor combinations that exi...
2831 Parmenter St, Middleton, WI 53562, USA
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. is an ice cream company based in Madison, Wisconsin that manufactu...
800 Langdon St, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Easy going quick-serve counter offering ice cream, special sundaes, malts, shakes, smoothies &...
105 S Main St, Verona, WI 53593, USA
Icki Sticki serves everything you’re looking for including: Espresso drinks, Chai, house ma...
3918 Monona Dr, Madison, WI 53716, USA
Coffeehouse with a feline theme & WiFi serving java, homemade gelato, breakfast fare & ba...
208 State St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Old-fashioned confectionery chain selling chocolates, ice cream, handmade sweets & gift baske...
6712 Odana Rd, Madison, WI 53719, USA
Discover La Michoacana – home of the authentic paleteria experience. Explore our paletas, b...
5923 Exchange St, McFarland, WI 53558, USA
Neighborhood coffeehouse with cafe & deli fare plus ice cream in an 1856 house with garden di...
2531 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711, USA
Local chain serving frozen custard, burgers & hot dogs in a casual, old-school setting. 2531 ...
4516 Winnequah Rd, Monona, WI 53716, USA
Joint for frozen treats, Burgers and Bait! What more could you ask for?
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4544 Monona Dr, Madison, WI 53716, USA
Yummy ice cream yogurts and yogurts with fruit, including a variety of shakes as well as nutritio...
W4192 Bristol Rd, Columbus, WI 53925, USA
Ice cream and grilled cheese lovers will enjoy an expanded offering of ice cream flavors on a far...
2070 Helena St, Madison, WI 53704, USA
For more than 90 years, Schoeps has taken pride in making the best ice cream, novelties and sherb...
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2302 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704, USA
Serving Cedar Crest’s nationally-awarded ice cream, Island Oasis smoothie drinks, and Hawai...
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6 Things I Wish My Online Students Knew | From a Teacher


I’ve been teaching college students for well over a decade. In fact, part of my job has been to not only teach college students, but to advise instructors on good teaching methods, so I’ve done my fair share of research on best practices in college teaching.

With the many changes going on right now, there are a lot of college students who are going to have to take some or all of their courses online for the foreseeable future. So if you, or your college-aged child, are beginning online college courses soon, I’ve outlined my top six hints below. I’ve seen many success stories in online teaching, but also many failures, and here are a few things I wish my students knew before they started their online classes…

1. Make a calendar: Most traditional online classes have due dates. The strictness of those due dates may vary by the class, but more often than not, there will be some penalties for late work. Most platforms for online learning offer some sort of calendar tool. Students should make sure they know where it is and make sure they check it regularly.

I’d also strongly suggest that students make their own calendar that sets aside time that they can study and work on assignments (along with the due dates) for their online class each week. I know this always gets a big eye roll from students, but I can’t tell you how easy it is to procrastinate to the point of no return in online classes. Additionally, studies show that students are pretty poor estimators of how much time a new activity will take them.

2. We are people, too: Most instructors I know teach because they want to. They enjoy teaching and the interactions with students. The online environment can be difficult because it is more difficult to have our personalities show through in writing. Sometimes jokes are taken seriously and it can be difficult for us to interact in the same way that we would face to face. Still, it is great when students will interact and make connections in their discussion posts and emails. It is helpful when students introduce themselves and make those connections when the instructor is reaching out so that the instructor can get to know their students and the students can get to know their instructor.

3. Read the syllabus! Maybe print it out (if you have a printer). It is a running joke among professors that we all need “read the syllabus” shirts we can point to because we get so many questions from students that are clearly answered in the syllabus. I understand that we often times have a lot of information in the syllabus, and that we have a more detailed knowledge about what is in the syllabus than students, but that information is important.

I’d suggest that students read the syllabus at the start of the class. Look through the rest of the course and some of the assignments, then go back and read the syllabus a second time. Students are likely to catch some things that they didn’t catch the first time through once they have more knowledge about the course. Additionally, if a question comes up, students should read the syllabus again. If they can’t find the answer, they can message the instructor.

4. Don’t procrastinate: I have seen students glance over a course and assume that they could get the course done over one long weekend of intense work. I’ve yet to see a legitimate online course where this is the case.

When students look over the syllabus, take special note of projects or assignments that are due by the end of the semester. Students should break assignments apart and create due dates for specific parts on their own personal calendars (for example, have the research done by one date, an outlined done by a second date…). Students who rush to do it at the end of the semester often times score far lower because they miss important parts of the assignment or they do incomplete work.

On a side note: Students who procrastinate also tend to plagiarize at a higher rate. If students are even summarizing what others have said or written, they need to cite their sources (even the textbook). Nothing angers instructors more than having to deal with students who are plagiarizing.

5. Have fun and ask questions: Most instructors didn’t spend years and years studying one area out of obligation. They did it because they enjoyed the topic and found it interesting. Hopefully this comes through in the course, but even if it doesn’t, ask your instructor questions. They are likely to enjoy delving into a topic deeper, and they are likely to appreciate that students are interested in the discipline that they love.

6. Communicate: If something comes up, students need to communicate that to their instructor as soon as possible. As an instructor, sometimes students just disappear. I have no idea what happened to them, but then I hear later that something major happened in their personal life, and that was why they disappeared. I would much rather have students inform me of what is going on. Even if there is nothing I can do, at least it gives me the chance to tell the student what their academic options are.

While I can’t speak for all instructors, these are some general hints that I wish online students knew before starting class. If you or your older children are starting online courses this fall, these steps should help to start college courses on the right foot.

When Your Child Refuses to Eat | 8 Tips from a Nutritionist

I hear the complaint all the time: “My kid won’t touch anything we give him!”

Maybe for you it’s not that your kiddo won’t eat anything, but instead refuses to come to the table – wants chicken nuggets instead of the tacos you’re serving, or only touches the fruit on the plate and wouldn’t touch the veggies with a 10-foot pole. Any of these scenarios sound familiar?

You’re not alone. I’ve seen one too many families suffer through bargaining and tantrums to just stay idly on the sidelines. While it’s totally normal for kiddos to start to test their independence around the ages of 2–4 and begin to be more selective about the foods they’re willing to try, picky eating doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. Mealtimes don’t actually have to be miserable. 

Perhaps the thing we forget most often as parents is that their refusal to eat is rarely about the food itself. It could be that they’re testing out how far they can go by saying no. Or maybe they’re just not as hungry. Depending on how much they ate earlier in the day (or earlier in the week), their bodies are adjusting and they don’t have the appetite that we think they should have.

No matter what the reason, the worst thing we can do is to pressure them to eat. Think about it, if I kept nagging you to try something or to eat a little bit more, you probably would resist even more, right? Same with kids. Instead, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to approach the situation the next time your child is refusing to eat what’s on his plate and is requesting macaroni and cheese instead. (It may not be easy, but trust me, it’s effective.)

  1. Remain calm. This is probably the hardest part, to be honest. Who likes it when you’ve worked hard on a meal only to have noses get turned up to it? Definitely not me. But your child will feed (no pun intended) off of your emotion and reaction. If you start to get frustrated, your child will emulate this and become too frustrated to even eat at all. If this escalation happens often, your kiddos will start to dread coming to the table. Who can blame them? So, take a deep breath and move on to step.
  2. Acknowledge your child’s desire and restate what’s for dinner tonight. If your child is requesting macaroni and cheese, let him know that you heard him and understand his preference for something else. Simply say, “We’re not having macaroni and cheese tonight. I know it’s one of your favorite meals. Tonight we’re having tacos, though.”
  3. Reassure your child she doesn’t have to eat it. If kids feel pressured to eat something (even if it’s just two bites!), they’re likely to resist even more. They don’t feel like they have the autonomy to decide what and how much to eat. Plus, if they truly aren’t hungry, it’s forcing them to eat outside of their hunger and satiety cues. Kids are born intuitive eaters, but this type of pressure will prevent them being able to stop when satisfied in the future. You can always ask them, “What’s your tummy telling you?” to help them learn to listen to their body.
  4. Request he sits at the table with the family. Even though your child is refusing to eat, it’s polite and good manners to teach him that he can’t go off and play (this may have been his hope, because even though I can’t understand why playing with Legos could possibly be more fun than eating tacos, to kids it almost always is). Not to mention, as kids continue to sit at the table, they’re more likely to touch, play, and (gasp!) even start eating. If nothing else, the exposure to the tacos and the food at the table is still considered a win. Your response could look like this: “You don’t have to eat the tacos if you don’t want to, but you do need to sit at the table with us while the rest of us eat.”
  5. Remind her when the kitchen will be open again. As a parent, your job is to decide when and what food is offered. Stick to your guns on this one. If your child doesn’t eat at dinner, she’s probably going to come to you wanting a snack later (guaranteed!). If you hadn’t planned for a snack after dinner, though, the kitchen needs to remain closed. It’s hard, but your child won’t starve and this will help her realize she needs to eat when food is being offered. At the table, remind her, “The kitchen is going to be closed for the night after we finish dinner. It’ll open again tomorrow morning for breakfast when we have cereal and fruit.”
  6. Add his request to the menu together. It’s important that your child feels heard and, even though you decide what food you’re serving, you can still get input from your kids. This helps build ownership and lets him know that even though he can’t have the macaroni and cheese tonight, it’ll be coming later. You could say, “After dinner, let’s look at the menu and we can find a good time to have macaroni and cheese next week.”
  7. Redirect the conversation and avoid pressuring her to eat. Lastly, let it go. Once you’ve reminded your child what the family is having for dinner, told her that she needs to sit at the table but doesn’t have to eat, and she knows when the kitchen will be open again, redirect the conversation to something besides food. Taking the pressure off of eating and the food will help everyone else enjoy the meal and also may entice your picky eater to take a few bites when no one is looking.
  8. When/if he eats, give an internal happy dance only. While I know you want to jump up and down, point out that he ate the tacos and say, “See, that wasn’t that bad was it?” Don’t. Smile to yourself and keep enjoying that taco of yours, mama. But also know that even if the taco goes untouched, that’s okay, too. You just made it through a meal with no yelling and each meal from here on out will only get easier.

Kara Hoerr is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in family and childhood nutrition. She’s originally from Iowa, but has called Madison home for the past 7 years. When she’s not helping families and individuals end mealtime battles or quit diets for good, she’s usually baking or cooking in her kitchen (she started making sourdough before it was the cool thing to do pre-Covid!), running or biking on the Madison trails, or relaxing with a good book. She never expected to start her own business, but here she is with Kara Hoerr Nutrition. She offers nutrition coaching and online courses to help moms (and dads!) out at the dinner table. To learn more or to set up a free discovery call, email Kara at [email protected], or find her on Instagram.

15 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List | For the Beach and Beyond


open book on beach towel next to sunglasses

Whether you are looking for the perfect book to relax with, or one to keep you entertained on long car rides to summer vacation spots (please travel safely this year!), I hope you find some books that pique your interest below.

It’s important to note that I haven’t read every book on this list so please don’t be upset if I steer you in the wrong direction. These are the books I’ve personally added to my must-read list this summer.  Some of these picks I selected to try and better myself. Others are for when I need an escape. While a few books are just mindless fun because our lives are stressful enough right now.

Also, I always love receiving book suggestions. If you have any great book recommendations please leave them in the comment section below – thank you!

book cover "The Henna Artist"1) The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Genre: Historical Fiction

I just finished this one and quite enjoyed it.

A woman is able to leave her poor background and work her way up to be a sought-after henna artist for the wealthy women in Jaipur in the ‘50s. She is ambitious and reaping the benefits of her popularity. When a younger sister appears out of nowhere, the henna artist does not want her career to be veered off track because her reputation is everything.  Numerous events happen that might change her path.

book cover "A Good Neighborhood"2) A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Genre: Fiction 

Another book I had the pleasure of reading recently. It’s very timely as race and class are prominent themes in the book.

A white family has just finished building a mansion in one of the better neighborhoods in their community. Unfortunately, their construction has led to the slow death of a beloved tree in their backyard neighbor’s yard (a family who happens to be black). A lawsuit follows which could be problematic for the secret relationship between the two neighbors’ teens.  

Book cover "The Great Believers"3) The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Genre: LGBTQ Fiction

I’m a little ashamed of my lack of knowledge about the AIDS epidemic our country faced in the ‘80s. This book helped me understand more about the major impact it had on the homosexual community and the injustices they had to deal with when trying to receive medical care. 

The book’s main character is a gay man in a monogamous relationship with his boyfriend in Boystown, Chicago. Their close friends are just starting to get diagnosed and are dying at alarming rates. His career at an art gallery gets exciting when a woman contacts him about making a donation of extremely valuable artwork. Part of the book takes place in Door County when he travels there to talk with the woman.  

The other main character’s story takes place thirty years later as she travels to Paris in an attempt to find her daughter she lost to a cult for a number of years. There might even be a grandchild involved.  She thinks back to those years when AIDS was taking everyone she loved. 

book cover "I'm Still Here"4) I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Genre: Autobiography

I’m still listening and learning as a white woman and trying to do what I can for the Black Lives Matter movement. I can’t wait to dig into this book. 

This memoir focuses on the author’s experiences growing up being Black, Christian, and a female in a white world. I’m especially interested in the tools offered in the book for how to deal with racism. Many reviews say that this is a must-read book for everyone.

book cover "Big Friendship"5) Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Genre: Non-Fiction

A funny book about how two friends have been in each other’s lives for ten years through the ups and the downs. It reminds you to value your friendships and offers advice on how to preserve them over the years. Just like a marriage, you have to invest energy into making a true friendship last.

Now more than ever, we might need this advice since we haven’t been able to see our friends in-person. 

book cover "Pretty Guilty Women"6) Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

Genre: Mystery

This was a fun read for me, I liked how the book was written. A great, easy summer read for those looking for a little thrill.

Someone has been murdered on the night of the rehearsal dinner during a lavish wedding weekend. Numerous women confess to the murder.  

The story takes us back to the beginning of the weekend and showcases each of the women and offers a little bit of each of their backgrounds. The relationships between the women are complicated and a few twists will keep you interested.   

book cover "Afterland"7) Afterland by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Science Fiction

A departure from what I usually read, the description both terrifies (it might hit a little too close to home – ha!) and interests me. 

Women must figure out a way to keep the human species alive after a pandemic (see what I mean?) kills off most of the men. A woman wants to protect her son so she dresses him up like a girl to run from people who would use him for reproduction or other various purposes.

book cover "The Vanishing Half"8) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Genre: Fiction

Bookstagrammers who I follow have LOVED this book.

Identical black twin sisters run away at the age of sixteen and end up having completely opposite lives as adults. One sister is back in her hometown with her black daughter while the other twin passes for white alongside her white husband. Will secrets be revealed when the sisters’ daughters connect?

book cover "Fair Play"9) Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky 

Genre: Self-Help

I don’t normally read self-help books but this one intrigued me (plus it was one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks!). 

The author offers a new way of dividing up household tasks between spouses. It acknowledges that women often take on more of these tasks and provides a solution for balancing out the workload. This “game” takes into account that each partner’s time is equally valuable. Part of the solution involves each partner taking sole ownership of a task. You can reshuffle the tasks as needed. 

I thought it was a very interesting perspective and I definitely agreed with many points the book made. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the game itself would necessarily work for my family. It doesn’t seem extremely efficient. But reading this book did lead to interesting and thoughtful discussions with my spouse. Possibly a perfect book choice if you have a long family car ride in your future this summer.

book cover "The Guest List"10) The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Genre: Mystery

A celebrity couple is getting married in Ireland. But the wedding doesn’t go as planned. Groomsmen start drinking, bridesmaids are jealous, and toasts get awkward. To top it off someone ends up dead.


book cover "Beach Read"11) Beach Read by Emily Henry

Genre: Romance

Two authors who are both suffering from writer’s block end up spending the summer living in neighboring beach houses. They decide to try and write for each other’s genre to shake them out of their ruts. 

If you want a cute, sweet romantic story for your next beach read this probably should be your selection.

book cover "Happy and You Know It"12) Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

Genre: Fiction 

I just started this book and I can tell it would be a great summer book pick. 

A young woman was replaced in her band right before they got famous and now she sings for a mommy-and-me playgroup of wealthy NYC women. Maybe the Instagram-perfect mommies don’t have it all together as they seem to.

book cover "Rage Against the Minivan"13) Rage Against the Minivan: Learning to Parent Without Perfection by Kristen Howerton

Genre: Non-fiction Parenting Advice

A humorous book about letting go of trying to be perfect and why you should stop comparing yourself to other parents. 

The author has experienced infertility, adoption, and divorce. She is also a mother to both black and white children. The book includes advice on how to talk to your children about race.

book cover "The Knockout Queen"14) The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Genre: Fiction

Two neighbors form an unlikely friendship. The teens are a tall, beautiful, athletic, girl who desperately wants to fit in and a closeted homosexual who dates men he meets online. After an act of violence, their relationship will be changed forever. 


book cover "Florence Adler Swims Forever"15) Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Genre: Historical Fiction

Based on a true story, a family’s summer in the 1930s leads to many secrets and lies. One daughter is training to swim across the English Channel while another daughter is on bedrest with a high-risk pregnancy. To add to the stress, the father decides to take in an immigrant from Nazi Germany. How far will the family go to protect one another after a tragedy?

If you are looking for even more recommendations, here is my summer reading list from last year.

Also, please check out my personal blog for more book recommendations. I review four books a month.  

Art Cart Begins July 6th, 2020 in Madison, WI

Madison, WI: Art Cart provides free art activities for families July 6 – August 14.

Art Cart is a free traveling art program that visits parks and schools throughout Madison every summer. The program is a partnership between Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA), and offers fun, art activities exposing children to a variety of art mediums and opportunities. Art Cart begins its Madison season on Monday, July 6.

“Art Cart is a Madison icon, bringing free, accessible art education to Madison neighborhoods for 45years enriching the lives of thousands of children,” described Janet Dyer, MSCR Executive Director. “We are proud of its history stimulating children’s imagination, creativity and self-expression. We are also proud of the team for adapting the program to safely bring art to the parks this summer.”

In response to current health guidelines, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Madison School & Community Recreation are pleased to offer Art Cart ArtKits for families to take home to complete. To pick up an ArtKit, which includes supplies and instruction for creative activities, look for the colorful Art Cart van at parks listed on the schedule. ArtKits are limited and available first-come, first served. Staff will be wearing masks for distribution.

Art Cart begins Monday, July 6, 1–4 pm at Lucia Crest Park, 514 N Owen Dr. Additional stops that week are Wednesday, July 8, 5–7:30 pm at Rennebohm Park, 115 N Eau Claire Ave, and Friday, July 10, 9am–12pm at Warner Park Beach, 1101 Woodward Dr.  The complete schedule is available at mscr.org. For more information on the Art Cart schedule, please call 608-204-3000 or email [email protected]

10 Family Movies That Promote Diversity

It’s never too early to teach your little one about diversity and inclusivity. It’s so important to start promoting these ideas with your child while they are young and while they are still easily influenced by their family and their surroundings.

This list is not exhaustive, but celebrates the beauty of diversity. What movies would you add? Please comment below!

Abominable | After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who want to capture the beast for their own gain.

Akeelah and the Bee | Akeelah, an 11-year-old girl living in South Los Angeles, discovers she has a talent for spelling, which she hopes will take her to the National Spelling Bee. Despite her mother’s objections, Akeelah doesn’t give up on her goal. She finds help in the form of a mysterious teacher, and along with overwhelming support from her community, Akeelah might just have what it takes to make her dream come true.

Big Hero 6 | Robotics prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter) lives in the city of San Fransokyo. Next to his older brother, Tadashi, Hiro’s closest companion is Baymax, a robot whose sole purpose is to take care of people. When a devastating turn of events throws Hiro into the middle of a dangerous plot, he transforms Baymax and his other friends, Go Go Tamago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred into a band of high-tech heroes.

Coco | Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

Finding Nemo | Marlin, a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo, who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory — who has a really short memory — joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank.

Hair Love | Hair Love is a 2019 American animated short film written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry and co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver. It follows the story of a man who must do his daughter’s hair for the first time, and it features Issa Rae as a voice of the mother.

Moana | An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.

Mulan | To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.

Wonder | Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie Pullman becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Zootopia | From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde, a wily fox who makes her job even harder.

Reserve a Table at the Memorial Union Terrace this Summer | 2020

Madison, WI: One of Madison’s most iconic summer hotspots is now open! The Terrace is now open 3–10 pm daily (weather permitting) by reservation only. Reservations can be made via OpenTable. Reservations cannot be made via phone. The Memorial Union and Union South remain closed.

The Terrace will be more like a traditional restaurant, by reservation only, to ensure everyone is safe and socially-distanced. While you will need to plan ahead and follow some new procedures, the iconic sunburst chairs, beautiful lake views, gorgeous sunsets, and your food favs are still available!

Hours Of Operation:

Opening Day:  June 22
Hours:  3 pm – 10 pm daily
Weather permitting. We close in inclement weather.

Before You Go:

  • Make a reservation on OpenTable for a group of up to 6 (up to one day in advance). Please note: Seating is for members of the same household.
  • One person per reservation needs one of the following:
      • Wisconsin Union Membership
      • Wisconsin Alumni Association Membership
      • UW-Madison staff, faculty or student ID (Wiscard)
      • Active Military ID
  • Purchase a single-day $5 guest membership (open to everyone) if needed.
  • Download the Grubhub app to be ready to order food & beverages. (No carry-ins.)

When You Arrive:

  • Enter on the east side of Memorial Union (near Alumni Park).
  • Show your ID: Wisconsin Union membership, Wisconsin Alumni Association membership, UW-Madison faculty, staff, students ID, active Military ID or $5 single-day guest pass.
  • Show your Open Table Reservation (Smart phone required)

The Fine Print & More:

  • IDs will be checked at entry. Only one patron per reservation needs to have proof of Wisconsin Union or Wisconsin Alumni Association membership or a UW-Madison staff, faculty or student ID.  Anyone can be a member! $5 single-day memberships available here.
  • Each reservation has a maximum stay of 1½ hours.
  • Food and Beverage:  A food and/or beverage purchase is required at the Terrace restaurant. Carry-ins are not allowed.
  • Campus parking lots are open and FREE!
  • Restrooms available indoors.
  • The Memorial Union building will remain closed, except for restroom access for Terrace patrons.
  • Exit on the west side of the Terrace near Lake Street.
  • The Terrace is only open when weather allows and will close for inclement weather.

Dining Outside in Madison, WI | Summer of 2020

Madison, WI: There are a number of local restaurants offering outdoor dining in the Madison, WI area this summer. We did some research and put together a list – if we missed something, please comment below and we will add it. Some do have limited hours or require reservations, so it’s important to check their websites for hours and to book ahead (when able)!

*Inside restaurants – masks are often required when you are not seated at your table. 

Ale Asylum 2002 Pankratz Street – Madison

Brothers Three Bar & Grill | 614 N Fair Oaks Avenue – Madison

Cafe Hollander | 701 Hilldale Way – Madison

Capital Brewery 7734 Terrace Avenue – Middleton

Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery2827 Atwood Avenue – Madison

Fresco 227 State Street – Madison

Genna’s Lounge 105 W. Main Street – Madison

Graze 1 S. Pinckney Street – Madison

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. 123 E. Doty Street – Madison

Memorial Union Terrace 800 Langdon Street – Madison

The Heights Kitchen 11 N. Allen Street – Madison

High Noon Saloon 701 E. Washington Avenue – Madison

Mariner’s Waterfront Restaurant | 5339 Lighthouse Bay Drive – Madison

Nau-Ti-Gal 5360 Westport Road – Madison

Pallet Bar & Grill | 901 E Washington Avenue – Madison

Porta Bella |425 N. Frances Street – Madison

RED Sushi 316 W. Washington Avenue – Madison

Tipsy Cow |102 King Street – Madison; 2816 Prairie Lakes Drive – Sun Prairie  

Young Blood Beer Company | 112 King Street – Madison

These restaurants are part of the “streetery” dining area on South Pinckney Street:

The Streatery Program is a temporary service that will expire on October 25, 2020 or whatever date that Public Health Madison & Dane County decides.

Ancora Coffee | 107 King Street – Madison

Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse | 130 S Pinckney Street – Madison

Lucille | 101 King Street – Madison

Marigold Kitchen | 118 S Pinckney Street – Madison

Merchant | 121 S Pinckney Street – Madison

Settle Down Tavern | 117 S Pinckney Street – Madison

Guide to Visiting Wisconsin Dells, WI | Where to Stay, Play & Eat

Our team loves the Wisconsin Dells, and it’s the perfect destination for a day trip or a mini-vacation with your crew. It’s a fun place to visit year-round!

From amusement parks, boat tours, shopping to waterparks galore, there are things for all ages and interests in the Dells.

Here’s a breakdown of our favorite things to do when we visit – we hope you find this list helpful as you plan your Dells trip!

This Guide is sponsored by our featured programs. We so appreciate the support of the community and the opportunity to present our readers with valuable resources such as these!

Where to Stay | Our Top Pick

Wilderness Resort

The Wilderness Resort consists of over 600 wooded acres in Wisconsin Dells and is home to Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, which features 444 guest rooms, 40 Vacation Villas, 76 Frontier Condominiums and 35 cabins. It is also home to Wilderness on the Lake which features 108 luxurious two and three bedroom condominium units overlooking Lake Delton; and Glacier Canyon Lodge, which features 460 upscale condominium units.

Combined, these three properties offer four indoor and four outdoor waterparks that total nearly 500,000 square feet – that’s over 12 football fields of extreme water fun! The resort is also home to Glacier Canyon Conference Center; Sundara Spa; Wild Rock Golf Club; The Woods 9-Hole Golf Course; Dodge ‘Em City; Timberland Play Park; three Clip ‘N Climb Challenge Walls; the OK Corral Lazer Tag Arena; Marshall Training Lazer Maze; The Wild Abyss indoor 3-D black light mini golf; VRSpace Virtual Reality Arena; bumper boats; indoor and outdoor go-karts and kiddy-karts; zip line tour; Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course; three Room Escapes by DOA; and outdoor Jurassic mini golf. Dining options include Field’s at the Wilderness; Sarento’s; Survivors; Thirsty Buffalo and several other quick service options.

511 East Adams
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Attractions in the Dells | Our Top Picks

Riverside & Great Northern Railway | A Family-Friendly Living Museum

The Riverside & Great Northern Railway is a 15-inch gauge railway and living museum. Ride our live steam train along an old railroad right-of-way that goes through the scenic canyons, beautiful wooded areas, and majestic rock cuts of the Dells by the Wisconsin River. After the train trip, tour the shops to see where the trains were made.

N115 County Road N

Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Pirate's Cove

Located at the intersection
of Highways 12-13-16-23 in Wisconsin Dells

WI Duck Tours

1890 Wisconsin Dells Parkway (Hwy 12)
Across from the Trojan Horse

Big Cat Rescue

305 Pine Street
Rock Springs, WI

Tommy Bartlett Exploratory

560 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy N
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Palace Theater

564 Wisconsin Dells Parkway South
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Circus World

550 Water St
Baraboo, WI

Where to Eat | Our Top Picks

Grateful Shed Truckyard

The Grateful Shed Truckyard in Wisconsin Dells offers gourmet food, craft drink, live music, party games, and a unique atmosphere.

1470 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy
Wisconsin Dells, WI

MACs Mac n' Cheese

A fast-casual, family-friendly mac n’ cheese shop with options like BBQ Chicken Mac or Loaded Baked Potato Mac…they also offer sandwiches and salads! 

208 Broadway
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Buffalo Phil's

A fun, kid-friendly restaurant where your drinks are delivered by train!

150 Gasser Road
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Moosejaw Pizza

Fun for kids AND adults – Moosejaw is the Dells’ ONLY brewpub! They offer typical comfort food and FREE delivery if you want to stay snuggled in your hotel room!

110 Wisconsin Dells Parkway South
Wisconsin Dells, WI

**Free Delivery**

Helpful Tips!

Are you getting the mini-vacation itch yet??

If you’ve never done the hotel-with-kids thing, here are a few quick tips to make the experience go smoother:

  • Bring some kind of white noise. Bring a large fan and position it between the “kid” side of the room and the “adult” side and you won’t have to worry about waking them up with any little sound!
  • Invest in a room with a little separation. Wilderness offers suites, condos & villas, which are great if you have a big crew, or just need a little extra space!
  • Consider springing for a room with a balcony. This might seem like an unnecessary luxury, but again: when you have very young kids, separation is critical to hotel success. A balcony offers a great option for adult hang-out time after the kids are down for the night.
  • Ask for a room with a mini fridge and microwave. These are pretty common in hotels these days, but not every room has them, so it’s worth checking it out in advance. It is so much easier to be able to prepare meals/snacks (especially breakfast) in the comfort of your room, rather than having to scramble to get to a restaurant with a hangry toddler.
  • Pack paper cups/plates AND/OR dish soap/cloths to wash your plastic stuff. Easy to forget—tragic to forget.
  • Bring entertainment for the adults. This is usually the last thing on your mind when you’re planning for a kids’ vacay, but it’s kind of depressing to get the kids to bed and then realize you have nothing quiet enough to do. Bring a book (and a mini light!), a laptop (possibly with headphones), or some other activity that requires minimal sound/light.

Q: Seasoned Dells travelers, what would you add to this list?

Want to be a part of our Guide?

Interested in being featured in this guide? Partnering with us allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families. Get in touch to find out more!

P.S. Did we miss one of your favorite attractions in our round-up? Let us know and we’d be happy to add it!

Go, See, Explore: Ripley Beach in Cambridge, WI

We believe trying out new places inspires adventure in our children. We are always looking to discover new-to-us places that others’ have suggested or we’ve read about online. Any time we get someplace new, we get asked multiple questions from the kids about the area and surroundings. It is fun to see their curiosity and desire to explore in order to learn about this new location that they are at. It perks their imagination, most of the time anyway!

Recently, we tried out Ripley Beach at Lake Ripley Park in Cambridge, WI on a Tuesday in June. This beach does have a small admission fee required at the entrance. It is $2 for adults or $1 for children under 12 and it is FREE admission for kids under 12 every Tuesday.

Upon entering the park, there are several nice tennis courts and a large grassy area just off of the parking lot. Public restrooms are located near the parking lot and were open. An added perk is an air pump station for visitors to fill up inflatable water toys (like tubes, etc.) right there near the beach. There is a very nice and large playground right behind the beach that was closed due to COVID.

One of the great things about Lake Ripley was how wide the beach is. When we first walked up to the park, we were a little nervous at how busy it looked, as we are still trying to safely social distance as much as possible. However, we walked to the end of the beach and were able to find a spot to ourselves. The thing that we loved the most was the sandy beach leading up to very shallow water that appeared to stretch a long ways out. The kids could go out quite far and still have the water only come up to their hips. The water was clear and the sand was nice and soft – not rocky like some places. This beach was perfect for hanging out, sitting back, and letting the kids play between water and sand!

On this particular day, we only spent time at the beach, but we were impressed with how quaint the downtown felt. It was lined with storefronts and a cute coffee shop (Common House Coffee and Café).

Less than a mile from downtown is the CamRock County Park, which is along the Koshkonong Creek. It includes a trail system (here is a link for more information on the trails). Based on the activity we saw in the parking lot, it looks like it is mostly a mountain biking trail but could also be a nice walking trail. And in the winter, there is a sledding hill.

Make a Day of It

If you want to make a whole day out of this adventure, we’d suggest biking and/or hiking at CamRock County Park, getting takeout for lunch from a local restaurant, like CC sandwiches (or pack your own picnic!). After or during lunch, head to the beach for an afternoon of relaxing. There is also a winery on the outskirts of downtown with a large patio – perfect way to end the day!  Either way, if you are looking for a beach to check out this summer, we recommend Ripley Beach for kids of all ages!

Guest Post by: Gathering Twigs

We’re Sara (blonde) and Katie (brunette) of Gathering Twigs – a place where we share our families’ “adventures”, as we like to call it. We both grew up in the Madison area and share a love for simple, fun things in life: exploring new places, trying new things, eating good food, glass(es) of wine, and laughing – a lot.
Our kids often wake up on a weekend morning asking “what kind of adventure are we doing today?” and hope to continue that zest each day for them. Our account features several day trips in the Madison area, exploring many of the small towns nearby, along with documenting our bigger vacations that we take. We hope to inspire other families to take on some of these big adventures and little moments together, and share most of this on our blog too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Follow them on instagram at @GatheringTwigs
Photo: @kaylaephotography


Pandemic Parenting Life Hacks That Let YOU Be the Fun Mom

pandemic parenting

Hi. My name is Sarah. I have 4 kids, and I am two months away from having my fifth. My husband and I have been working at home since mid-March, and we have no plans to send any of our kids to school in the fall. We are, to put it mildly, in the thick of pandemic parenting.

My heart tells me that someday, when I am an empty nester, I will look back at these cozy months at home, all 6 (soon to be 7!) of us crammed in a small house together ALL DAY LONG and think they were the best times of our lives because memory does that, you know? Erases the fighting and worry and amplifies the family dinners that were never interrupted by sportsball and makes you picture all those movie nights through the perfect rosy mental preset. But right now, my brain tells me that if I break up one more Animal Crossing squabble or go too many more weeks cooking 3 meals a day, I might never recover.

So, believe me when I say I NEED THESE PANDEMIC PARENTING LIFE HACKS, and I hope that you can use them, too.

  1. Start a book club with your kids. I have three boys ages 8, 12, and 14, and we started a pandemic book club in April. First, just the two older boys read Z Is for Zachariah, a creepy YA dystopian novel that I read in middle school and retained haunting memories of. We met every 5 chapters or so to discuss the book, and it was really fun to have a common text to bond over. Our next selection was Armada, and my 8 year-old joined the club by listening to the book on Audible because it was slightly above his reading level. We saved our book club meeting for the end of the novel, and we had s’mores by the backyard fire while puzzling together over the publisher’s discussion questions. Our current read is Where the Red Fern Grows, a book I have read to my older boys and they are excited to read again (on their own this time). It’s a just right book for my rising third grader, who really loves being on the same page as his brothers. We go slow, just a chapter each day, and I reread the book, too, so I can ask little questions along the way checking for completion and comprehension.
  2. Pick a Special Person every week. My youngest child, a seven-year-old daughter, LOVES this one, but the boys get a charge out of it, too. The Special Person gets to choose all the music when we are in the car and for meals. She gets to choose the game on game night, the movie on rainy afternoons. If there is an argument, the Special Person is right. If we are having ice cream, the Special Person gets the first bowl. Going for a hike? Special Person picks the place or the path— you get the idea. I even get the Special Person to help me plan dinners by suggesting their pick a couple of meals. Everyone looks forward to their Special Person week, and things seem a bit more harmonious. I stole this idea from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, and it has certainly made us happier.
  3. Let Alexa decide. Need to choose an order for something or only need one kid to help you, but they all volunteer? Make them all pick a number between 1-10 and ask Alexa to choose one as well. Bam! The AI is the bad guy—not you!
  4. When in doubt, blow up a giant unicorn sprinkler. Trust me.
  5. Throw in a little summer school to break up all that screen time. We do writing prompts every day (Special Person gets to pick the topic), and because I teach public speaking, all the kids present their writing out loud and practice being good audience members. They are even working on writing (supremely terrible) jokes, which kills me. The boys do their book club reading while my daughter reads Junie B. Jones, her current book crush. Everyone does a little Kahn Academy, and I just ordered a slew of cursive writing books.
  6. Remember, quiet time is not just for nappers. I need some downtime in the afternoon, so, after lunch, everyone retreats to their own corner for a little while, and I usually end up taking a nap on my daughter’s bed while she plays Calico Critters (happy golden days, indeed).
  7. Too tired (of your kids) for movie night? Try movie afternoon. It’s the perfect way to fill the crabby 3-5pm time slot. Snacks, blankets, extra A/C— perfection!
  8. Pretend like you are at Disney World, and every time someone is crabby, eat ice cream. This probably works best when you’re pregnant.

Welp. There you have it—some pandemic parenting hacks so you can embrace chaos and survive these days at home with your whole fam damily under one roof. What about you? Any good tips for pandemic parenting?

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Go, See, Explore: Fireman’s Park In Verona, WI

The weather is truly heating up in Wisconsin and we need a place to cool off. Fireman's Park located in Verona has been one...