Of Butterflies, Toddlers & Backyard Safaris

August 7, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS


On a recent rainy day, JJ and I took a field trip to one of our favorite spots in the whole Metro DC area — Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. Set inside Wheaton Regional Park, this hidden treasure was, well, hidden to us up until just a couple of years ago — even though we’ve lived in the next town over for almost a decade.

Fluttering atop the Gardens’ many charms is the Wings of Fancy Butterfly Exhibit, which has run from May to September every year since 1997. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded, so we and the butterflies were able to give each other plenty of room, while still getting some great close-up observation and photo ops.

A few highlights from our visit…
Left: JJ inspects a butterfly wing up close; Right: The disgustingly awesome rotting fruit café


Evil beware! It’s… Butterman? Batterfly?


I think he’d still be waiting for a butterfly to emerge from its cocoon if I hadn’t
lured him away with the promise of a trip to the gift shop.


To see more photos (particularly of the pretty, pretty bugs) check out the gallery on Designer Daddy’s Facebook page.


Through serendipity — or perhaps the butterfly effect – soon after our insect excursion I was contacted by Backyard Safari Outfitters, asking if I’d like some of their products to review. Now if you know me very well, aside from a short stint in the Boy Scouts, I am not much of an outdoorsman. I like to drive with the top down on my Beetle, but that’s about as much fresh air (and bugs) as I like. However, JJ’s second favorite make-believe scenario (after superheroes, natch) is “camping.” We go all out, complete with sleeping bags (quilts), tents (couch cushions), and trudging through the woods looking for bears (Daddy in his bear slippers). This was a review offer I readily accepted.

I was pretty stoked at the awesome haul they sent me, and decided right away I was going to let JJ test some out, and save a few to give away (FREE STUFF! SEE BELOW) I chose some of the younger-skewing items for my almost 4 year-old, as they all carried a Ages 5+ label on them.

Yet as you can see, JJ had a blast playing “Butterfly Hunter” in his playhouse and around the backyard. And while he’s still not quite mastered the use of the Scoop Net (which works for squiggly things both airborne and water-logged), he had a hoot with the nifty Field Binocs (AKA “banakayerz”). And the Mini Lantern has come in handy both outdoors and inside, particularly when searching for that elusive Daddy bear.





Okay, on to the free stuff! I’m giving away 3 items from Backyard Safari, which include The Essential Cargo Vest, the Critter Shack and the Magnifying Glass (all shown below). Wouldn’t this prize package make an awesome End of Summer/Back to School gift for the creature-loving, adventure-craving, knowledge-seeking kids in your life? There are several ways to enter in the widgit below, so hop, crawl & squirm to it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Contest ends Thursday, August 16 at midnight. Happy Hunting!

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[Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are mine and/or JJ’s.]

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12 responses to “Of Butterflies, Toddlers & Backyard Safaris”

  1. ustreetmike says:

    Brent, you should TOTALLY take JJ to this, if you havent alerady: http://www.butterflies.si.edu/tickets/
    and when you do, take me with you! 🙂

  2. AG says:

    We make the trek to Brookside for the butterflies every summer (we’re in Silver Spring, so it’s not like it takes that long) and we love it. My four year old particularly likes it, but then again he likes anything with wings or extra legs.

    • Brent Almond says:

      JJ is nearly 4 and the same — he loved the butterflies, but in the gift shop bought a rubber ant and a rubber dragonfly.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. DiaperDads says:

    We had a set similar (albeit much cheaper) to this one and my son LOVED it. The net broke pretty early on and he was crushed. And, like your son, he also wore it on his head a time or two. 😀

  4. DiaperDads says:

    And to elaborate, his favorite thing by far is butterflies, but he’s been trying to catch dragonflies as of late. And if I am quite fond of the herd (if that’s the term) of earthworms I’ve got living in my compost bin. 😀

  5. My 6 year-old is absolutely obsessed with bugs right now! I don’t know what it is about this age group and the creepy-crawlies, but he will check out spider books from the library and examine them up close without fear. I’m sure if butterflies were as easy to catch in our area, those would be on his list as well.

  6. Butterflies. Butterflies. Butterflies. TheBoy just loves ’em. (Who doesn’t? They’re bright and beautiful. When they’re not flappin’. They generally look like they’re broken when flying.)

  7. Brian Gawlak says:

    My girls dig up worms and keep them as “pets” in a bucket. It makes my skin crawl. I caught several fireflies and they had no interest. WORMS! Blech! 😉

  8. I’m a sucker for creepy crawly things and so is J Bean!

  9. Carter says:

    My sons love to collect worms. Usually dead ones, but sometimes living if there’s been a recent rain storm. They also love butterflies, but haven’t quite mastered the art of capturing them.

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