FAMILY, FUN, AND EMBRACING THE SMALL MOMENTS IN INDIANA
Nearly a year has passed since we put down our jacks in the Midwest where I grew up. Here in Indiana, the smell of fresh cut grass reminded me that winter was soon to be a distant memory and summer was just around the corner.
The day after pulling into my sister’s driveway, we celebrated Thing 3’s first birthday!
Since we had been traveling, my sister helped plan the adorable Dr. Seuss themed birthday party for our little “Thing.”
For party favors, she found nets (remember the nets in Cat in the Hat!) and filled them with bug catchers and Seuss-themed trinkets.
Thing 3 had his very own smash cake.
The night before, I made him a little wig. He wasn’t crazy about it, but we did manage to get a few pictures before it got covered in icing!
He wasn’t too interested in eating cake but he loved turning it into a mushy mess.
A few days later, we had another birthday to celebrate. Thing 1 turned 15 and we celebrated with family at my parents’ house.
It seems like yesterday we were celebrating his first birthday.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Indiana. The freezing cold of winter has passed and the humidity of summer has not yet filled the air… and there are baby animals!
We visited a nearby, family-owned small, dairy farm. We got to learn what it takes to run a small (about 180 cows) dairy operation. The farmers are a family of 6 and work from sun up to sun down. After school, all of the kids come home and work on the farm too! It was a fascinating experience to learn about a life so different from ours.
The best part of the experience was feeding one of the calves! It was harder than it looks. Those calves are pushy little things and I nearly fell over!
Every time we come to Indiana, we make a point to see something new because I’m a big believer that new experiences can be found in your backyard. This trip, we visited the Exotic Cat Rescue located about an hour west of Indianapolis.
The Exotic Cat Rescue takes in large cats from unfortunate situations. Some are from breeders who weren’t following their states’ laws or caring for them properly. Others were pets where the owner could no longer care for them.
The rescue has more than 200 cats, all of whom were born in captivity and wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild. We weren’t allowed to get close to the cats, but it was amazing to watch them interact with our tour guide through the fence. They clearly knew and liked her, like giant house cats.
The mountain lions would even purr when she walked up to the fence. Such a treat to get to hear them express themselves. If you are in the area, I would recommend a visit for sure!
When our boys were younger, we used to go to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis every time we visited, but as they grew older we stopped going as much. It had been a few years since our last visit and with Thing 3 just starting to enjoy attractions, we thought it would be the perfect time to resume a favorite Indiana childhood activity of theirs – and mine!
The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is the largest children’s museum in the world. At nearly 473,000 square feet, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone. Exhibits range from dinosaurs to Hollywood film sets to a “visit” to contemporary China. It really is an amazing place for kids and adults!
One of the exhibits for 2015 is the Transformers exhibit. Kids can learn about what it takes to design a toy, design their own Autobot or Decepticon, and see vintage Transformers.
While Thing 3 seemed to enjoy riding around the museum in his stroller, he really loved being let loose in the Playscape area! Playscape is a hands-on activity area designed for kids 5 and under. There is even a section called Babyscape for the littlest visitors. He had so much fun that we even visited twice since my sister is a member! If you have kids and you’re in the Indianapolis area the Children’s Museum is a must-see!
Not too far from the Children’s Museum is another favorite attraction, the Indianapolis Zoo. This time we decided to visit the White River Gardens to see the Butterfly Kaleidoscope show in the Hilbert Conservatory.
Butterfly Kaleidoscope features thousands of butterflies of nearly 40 different varieties flying through the lush indoor garden. It was amazing to watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis!
Thing 3 enjoyed spending time with his great aunt.
I moved away from the Indianapolis area when I was 18. Since then, the downtown area has gone through some major changes. We headed downtown to the Mass Ave area to explore and grab some lunch.
On Mass Ave you’ll find small boutiques, food, and art.
The Indiana War Memorial plaza is nearby.
It was a beautiful afternoon to stroll around.
Just southeast of downtown lies Fountain Square, where the motto is “Funky. Artsy. Retro. Anything but…square.”
With restaurants, art galleries, duck pin bowling, historical architecture, vintage barber shops, music, swing dancing, and more, this little corner of Indianapolis has a lot to offer.
While we were exploring downtown, we noticed the name of one of our favorite musicians on the marquee on the Murat Theater. He just happened to be playing that night, and since we had babysitters available, Brent and I decided to be spontaneous and go!
While we enjoyed getting out and seeing things, nothing was as fun as getting to spend time with our family.
Being parked at my sister’s house gave us the opportunity to spend lots of quality time with her and her family without intruding too much in their space! Our nieces loved playing with Thing 3 and told my mom that “we can leave but he has to stay!” My sister also lives near my parents and grandparents so there was plenty of family time. Thing 1 and 2 got the opportunity to spend time working for my dad. Thing 2 even learned how to drive a tractor!
Most dear to my heart is the time we got to spend with my maternal grandparents as they walk through the difficult journey of saying goodbye. My grandpa has been battling cancer for many years. Just recently he took a turn for the worse. We were all hoping he would bounce back but, unfortunately, while we were there, he received word from his doctor that there is nothing more they could do and they made the very difficult decision to switch to hospice. We decided to extend our stay so we could have more time with him and family. I lack the ability to describe just how meaningful it has been that we could be here to spend time with him and my grandma and I know he has really enjoyed seeing us.
Celebrating birthdays with family, playing with nieces and nephews, and saying goodbye to my grandpa, the last few weeks have been special reminders to embrace the small moments. As we begin to pack up, my heart is full of gratitude for our time here.
Have you ever been to the Indianapolis area? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Have you “discovered” any new places in your hometown recently?