Sunday, July 29, 2018

Post Indy thoughts 1

I have been hearing more and more that places where we get immediate feed back seem to be taking away from inner reflective time. That we can easily post and hem and haw if we are liked but then never really go any deeper with a surface thought.  We need to reflect and so currently this is making me think about my social media usage. Perhaps I will limit days or hours that I use it. To be more regulated. I definitely can fall into a trap about over use and I think that perhaps that's something I just need to know about myself. To set limits and stick with them.

But blogging. I think is good. I don't really do it for the fame, for the clicks, for the likes. I do it because it is how I get things out of my head. How I sometimes keep track of things for memories.  So I wanted to reflect a little about our month away now that we are back.

I'll start with something I liked about Indy, which is how easy it was to bike with a family there.  How it was super accessible and just fun to do. It led us to ditch the car many days for a family biking experience.

Perhaps because I am normally big on connection, and have plugged in deep around me at home. I think for some reason I was okay with the anonymity for a month. I guess in some ways, I still had some connections with people back home throughout the month and we did have some good friends visit once, but I didn't feel the drive to connect anymore than a smile or a kind word here or there.

I think because it wasn't the first time doing a month away, it wasn't nearly as scary doing it. There is something about that initial exposure to something that is just shocking. While there was a disorienting feeling, we were able to get a routine down and just worked with it.

Indy needs a play space of some sort for children and families downtown. While this city is gorgeous, there isn't anything where a family can just relax and play a while in the downtown so much.  Either a downtown play space or splash pad that is classy would work well here. There are a lot of beautiful spaces and I wish there were things there to draw the people to them. It wasn't say there was nothing. If you looked hard you could find things, but it wasn't obvious. But maybe that is a different thing entirely. Maybe they don't want to do the obvious because they want you to think outside the box.  But at the same time a beautifully done water play area can be quite appealing to a young family and bring in more people to an area that maybe only sees business folks or a single person.

I think where my heart stretched a bit was with the homeless situation there.  I think now in Cleveland, there are more present people too, so I wonder what is bringing about this visible rise to the population without a home. I want to at the very least learn more about the forgotten population.  I think I am going to try and read more books about the topic and also figure out how I can help locally with this and perhaps involve the kids too. I know I am usually scared to go outside my comfort zone, but I think this is something I am called to take a step forward into.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Indy Adventures Continued....

It's been a while since I posted about our month adventure. But I wanted to share some highlights of our last week.  So, I bring to you one sentence descriptions of each photo.  Hopefully I can stick to it.

1. S and H are in the "sand dunes" on the golf course at the Riley Children's Sports experience of the Indy Children's Museum. 
2. We played two of the four golf courses they had laid out which were miniaturized versions of actual course holes for kids, not quite the same as mini golf, but kind of in its own way.

3. We found the climbing structure of the children's museum and all of the kids enjoyed it even though it was in the up to age five area called Playscape.

4. I was delighted to find the 0-5 age area of the museum, as it had all the things I was used to seeing in a children's museum and it was so incredibly peaceful in comparison to other places. 

5. We found the People Mover, which is a monorail that connects three major hospitals in the city and is a delight to ride. 

6. We checked out the Rhythm Discovery Center and it was my husband drummer's favorite thing, and while loud at times, I enjoyed it too.

7. This I loved because my tiny baby is hitting a giant bass drum and its just a smile worthy moment.

8. We finally made it to the canal walking/biking path and it was one of the most beautiful things ever   including gondola boats with singing operators.

9. I was told that there were a few ndy signs around the city where you are to be the I and we finally found one on Mass Ave. 

More adventures await...

You can find an older Indy adventures here.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

11 years, so long, so short.

I can think of 11 years as long time but also it feels short. Perhaps the short comes from that its been with a person that I don't feel like I am pulling my teeth out with, or perhaps its just that we are in the throws of young family life and there is never a dull moment. The long because we made it over a decade and because my husband would be one to quickly compare it to how much technology has changed since 2007. Whatever it is, its a good place to be, an 11th anniversary of marriage. 

I am thankful for the guy that grows his hair longer than I'd like because its him and will make chocolate cake on the spot if I am in a chocolate cake mode. He knows my love language is food, though mostly chocolate, and it makes me smile. He has become someone who will get up and run 3 miles and then bike with the family somewhere mid work day because he can and its an adventure for all of us. He loves his RPGs, his craft brews, his baseball stats and his tech loving podcasts. 

There has been adventure and heartache and death and new life and job changes and family drama and we are still here, still learning to love each other more and more. Some days are harder than others, but those hard days help us to grow and growing is good and I wouldn't choose to make this vocation step with anyone else.  

Happy Anniversary, Love. 

Anniversary Family Bike Ride 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

10 hours in and we still haven't gotten to everything

It might seem ridiculous, but we got a year pass for the 1 month that we are here in Indy for their children's museum. We definitely have had it already pay for itself.  It is at least ten times the size of our children's museum in Cleveland. It's one of those places where if you are going to go twice, it makes sense to get the membership and so we did. In less than 2 weeks we have been 4 times and we still haven't seen all of it.

It's an interesting museum as it doesn't have your typical climbing structure that you see in other children's museums but instead is more specialized exhibit oriented.  I saw that there are a few larger evangelical churches that have these type of climbing structures, so perhaps they make up for the lack of one here. However, it doesn't mean that the kids get bored one bit.  In some ways, I would say the theme of the museum is more mimicking a grown ups life, minus the dinosaurs, though even there you find a paleontology department that the kids can observe.

So, I definitely had to redefine my idea of a children's museum here, but I am quickly learning to enjoy it with the kids.  There are a lot of reading prompt trivia fact blurbs throughout and I think that will especially keep older children interested, and so perhaps that is also what it is about, putting things at a child's level of a larger expanse of topics. A sort of introduction as one may say.

Here are a few pics of the kids enjoying the museum.
Soccer in the Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

Baseball in the Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

GoCart Racing in Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

Super Hero Laser Escape Exhibit 

The Carousel (H's Favorite!)

Rube Goldberg Like Machine

Find out about past adventures here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It's not all puppies and butterflies...on the homeless population

There is a very visible homeless population in Indy. On every third street corner of the center city it feels like you see a panhandler or someone sleeping on a cardboard box. I am not sure why its so visible here, but it is. Perhaps its because there are no laws against panhandling here. Perhaps its because its that there is a larger unemployment rate than other cities. I'm honestly just making slightly educated guesses here. Whatever the reason its present and if you travel through the city and observe you can't but notice it, or really notice them, the people.

I struggle with panhandlers in general. Perhaps its because I've been told all kinds of things about them, that they just want drug money, or to buy alcohol or that they are scam artists.  And well maybe they are, but there are a lot of homed individuals with the same issues, and they are still people. So because it was constantly in my face here, I did a little bit of research. I looked up how I could help, if I could help and what was really happening.  I read posts and tried to figure it out, to wrap my head around the issue.  And while I'm still a novice at the issue, I do now understand a few things through my searching.

First, of all the things from the pieces I read, the one thing they said to do was to always acknowledge the person. The homeless person is a person, and while its not always possible to do so if you are going by at high speed on car or bike, if you are stopped or walking by greet the person like you would any other on the street.  And sometimes I am wrapped up in my family chaos that I can't see outside my own clan that is on the street trying to get somewhere, but just thinking about this has made me want to acknowledge anyone that passes by on the street.  Especially for my boys who seem to like to run into another person passing by, it probably is a good idea to say hello to other street travelers in general. I mean I sometimes do, but I think I'm going to try to make a point of doing this, and to a homeless person that is ignored most of the day, perhaps this could be a good start for me to grow in my heart towards humanity and perhaps they won't think all of humanity thinks them less than human.

Because I'm seeing this with all the children in tow, we have been discussing homelessness together. It's interesting to hear their thoughts.  My oldest has a big heart but also has so many questions about everything.  He's already been unafraid to speak to the street population, but he has pointed out things I did not see while driving at times.  Today he witnessed a man fall off a bench getting into his wheelchair and it just broke his heart. My middle guy had a homeless woman who was panhandling at the time reach out to help him when he dropped our load of water bottles on the street. I asked him what he thought of that and he said he was thankful she helped. My 4yo thinks we should be giving them money as she sees others doing, and while that is an option, we opted to do something different for the homeless with our money.

We decided to give to an organization in the city that directly works with the homeless.  This way we could know that resources would be given to more than one person that is homeless and help the initiative in the city to help this population. We also decided that we could carry some extra store bought water bottles with us and give out a few to those we stop by along our journeys in the city.

And last we are going to continue to keep these folks in our prayers and conversations. One of our goals as parents is to raise children that see dignity and worth in each person and this I hope is part of the conversation in doing so.  God Bless.

Check out the other indy posts here.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Five, Six & Seven...

I have to admit, I'm tired. I am not used to biking every day so I am more tired in the evenings than I was thinking I'd be. So three days of our visit are going to be combined here. Let's start with July 4th.

On the fourth, most things are closed, because national holiday and all. One thing that was open was the movie theatre, and in the mornings, some of the area theaters have free showings of older movies that would have been new just a few months ago.  We ended up at the Brownsburg 8 Goodrich Quality Theatre. Brownsburg is a northwestern suburb of Indianapolis.  One of the interesting things I feel like is different about Cleveland to Indy is how it seems to get rural much quicker here than at home.  The suburbs they have are more of our exurbs. The novice city planner in me wonders how this all is, but nonetheless it is so.

We were able to see Ferdinand the movie. I am a big fan of the book, so I have to say the movie was much different than the book. But I don't think that it takes away from the book, its just a different story, they took the character of Ferdinand and made their own story about him, loosely related to what happened in the book.  It was cute, but somehow I feel like the whole Running of the Bulls and matadors get a very bad rap in it all. I'm not sure where to draw the line in what is art and what is cruelty, but somehow it doesn't feel right to completely disregard what is longstanding in their culture. I also don't know that much about the ins and outs of bullfighting, so I may be romanticizing something that could be not as glorious as it seems.  But even the bee in the new movie couldn't die when it stung Ferdinand, and that was a little over the top for me. It was full of laughs and the kids enjoyed the movie experience greatly.

That evening, the Eiteljorg Museum was free so we checked it out.  It is a museum about Native Americans and Western Art and Life.  I liked it more than the State Museum, only because you could interact with the displays and I think my kids enjoyed the specific children's area.  But I think it also maybe was more interesting to us because it was a broader topic and we had a little bit interest after coming off of reading the Indian in the Cupboard series during the school year.
A wigwam made of birch bark

A machine to represent manifest destiny: Told if you put in a quarter you will get a dollar. 

On the sixth day, the only new thing we did was check out the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  We had learned that on the first Thursday of the month, you could get $5 tickets for a 4 hour visit.  We got our tickets, and we knew it would be a big crowd, what we had forgotten about was with large crowds came a lot of traffic.  So getting there took an extra half hour.  But once inside we were good to go, having already purchased our tickets.  We checked out the exhibits and had some dinner.  My favorite part of what we saw was the Dinosaur exhibit, but there are still a lot more things to see and because of that we we got a year pass even though we will only be here 3 more weeks.  Many visits to come, I think.


Turtle Hop Lava

On the seventh day, we biked to the Indianapolis Zoo.  I was thrown off by the price of the zoo.  Its about 3 times as much for a ticket to the zoo in Cleveland.  It is listed as a participating reciprocal zoo  program member, so I was thinking at it would be half price.  But it wasn't.  Instead it is a non-tax funded zoo and so it has some gimmicking pricing bits to it. They change the price of the zoo depending on the day and they want you to buy tickets online so they can guarantee a number of tickets sold. And though listed as a participating member in the reciprocal program, it only amounts to a $2 discount per ticket.  So for a family of 5 paying attendees, it was $94 to go.  Now the zoo is nice and well done, but I am definitely not going to be returning with my family anytime again during this month, simply because of the price.  A few exhibits were stunning including the underwater viewing tank of the dolphins and the walrus viewing.  The cheetahs were especially exciting to my boys.

Underwater Viewing Tunnel for the Dolphins

Earlier in the morning, I talked to a local resident and she recommended a shop called Amelia's.  It has giant cookies, other treats, a bit of other small assortments of things and bread. Lots of glorious artisan bread.  We bought a loaf of the city bread. It's delicious!  A bit sourdough like, but a good bread is so much better than what you get in a grocery store. And we got a cookie to share, which was large enough to split between the 6 of us.  And so ended our first week.

Previous adventure post here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

On a day that was our fourth day but was the 3rd of July

We started out the day with another bike ride, this time to the Indiana State Museum. We chose it because with our pass from a museum in Cleveland through the ASTC program you can get into it for free. And free with a 6 person family is a very good thing.  The museum was large, and I don't think we covered it all and will definitely have to return to do so.  It basically covers anything historical that happened in Indiana, whether that be people, animals, plants or technology, or geological. My favorite parts where probably the natural history parts where you walked through caves and saw fossils. Can you tell I'm a bit of a science nerd at heart?
A giant sloth!
The kids got a bit restless because they wanted more hands on things, so it was good when we found an LED throwing activity that they could take part in, and then there was the giant foam blocks to play with that were fun as well.
Throw an LED magnet!

Building with Blocks!
We ate lunch outside, even though it was hot, we found some shade and some more interactive bits, some climbing boulders on the side of the museum, which are part of the Watanabe Garden. The rocks made good places to sit and the bigger kids enjoyed climbing over them. Stella would have climbed too, but it wasn't the most friendly 1year old place, so she enjoyed wandering up and down the serpentine path. 

After a hot ride home, we rested. My favorite time of day. :) I then had the crew walk to the local library because they were having an Animal Show, from a local Safari animal place.  The kids loved it, so even though they were whiney about getting out again, it was well worth it in the end. Ben even volunteered, sometimes its fun not having a shy kid. 

I ended the day with a walk with my Lena-girl to the local yarn shop.  Any knitters out there?  It said it was 450ft from my house, so I kind of had to go.  And it was huge and the employees were friendly. I picked out some yarn to make a shrug and a pattern to boot because it was just what I was looking for. I do believe I will be back. 

Previous adventure post here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On the third day...

On our third day in Indianapolis, we got an earlier start than I usually get with my kids.  I wanted to minimize being out in the heat but still wanted to explore the city on bikes. We set out about 8:45am on the Cultural Trail to downtown.  We are conveniently staying about a block from the bike path and so we are determined to use this amazing resource while here.  We headed towards downtown, about 1.5 miles from our house. Wow, is it a nice trail! I was thankful that Ben had gone on the trail the night before with his dad because we didn't all have new eyes to the area.  And Ben is amazing at remembering directions, I think at three he was able to direct my entire family to all the local sites within a few miles of our house. The trail had a few important turns along the way, so Ben for sure was useful.  It's a good note that this trail isn't for speed biking, but more of a way to explore and enjoy the city which made it perfect for my pace with 2 solo biking kiddos and 2 in the bike trailer behind me.

The city of Indianapolis via biking is beautiful! It seems to be kept clean and there are so many bike posts along the way. One interesting things is that this city has motorized scooters that you can rent throughout the city. Because they are GPS trackable, you are likely to see them littered throughout the city, but overall they are more good than bad and honestly, they eliminate car pollution, which I appreciate. I haven't figured out where they come from, but when I do, I'll let you know.

There are many sites accessible by bike including museums, the university IUPUI (the symmtery of the abbreviation astounds me) and the zoo! It was very enjoyable with the kids and I didn't feel overwhelmed taking them all out in this manner, a great feat in itself. We also stumbled upon the Canal Walk, but it feels like its more for walkers than bikers, at least not my bikers who are likely to end up in the very accessible water in the canals. My only thing I'd add is an outdoor play area for kids in the downtown, but I know this is not usual, just a bonus that some cities (cough cough, Cincy) have.

We checked out our local branch of the library after a rest break post lunch. Its very walkable from our location, and though small, seems to pack in resources for kids, a big plus for our family. 

Hope you stick around to see what is in store next. :)

Previous adventure post here.

Growing Pains

In the last month, three friends and their families  have stated that they are moving far away. I learned that the school I enjoyed teaching at will cease to exist next year and I can't afford the co-ops that are offered as steady weekly co-ops for the kids.  I then saw that a high school friend has published multiple books already, I just want to be able to write a measly one in my lifetime.  And I was just having a moment feeling like I am not anyone and nothing is going right. This is all on the heels of finding my blue flame discussion with my ladies group and I just felt deflated.

If I look at my life properly, I can see that I am doing things.  We are currently living away for a month, not so much on a vacation, but as a mini-relocation.  A chance to get out and explore something new and I am loving it.  It's been a good adventure so far, and in that I am doing something. I've always been captivated by cities. I love them, and they seem to like me back, as much as an human constructed idea and concrete can love you. :)

I do think this bout of growing pains has redirected my thoughts on what I feel like I want to do. Having things taken away, means I can take out things that were on the back-burner and do them.  Perhaps I can make time to do them. Especially if I they build me up.

One thing I am building at the moment, to keep my teaching flame going, is to start a Free Forest School chapter. It's an outside nature play experience learning school. It's geared towards the preschool to kinder crowd, but can incorporate the older kids as being helpers to the younger ones and to be mini instructors. I mean how cool is that?  I'm excited.

The other is I want to blog more about my trip, or at least write down the good things. I know that I look toward webpages telling me the ins and outs of places I visit, so it high time I give back with reviews of my own.  And so I hope to keep it up, even if I am a few days behind already.  I have done a few days on paper that are transferrable. :)  And photos, I can always do a day with photo posts.

So, perspective is probably key and even as I am writing this, I'm getting excited about these new things.  Doors are closing and I am sad to say good-bye, but also to say hello to new opportunities. Here we go!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Day 2- Indy

I struggled a bit with how I was feeling physically today, and so I tried to rest more than not, it also helped that it was Sunday, a built in day of rest. The day started off with Keith making us pancakes with blueberry syrup. I am spoiled by him being the morning person that he is and that he enjoys making breakfast for our crew on the weekends. The pancakes were delicious.

We then walked our two blocks to mass. It was an almost empty church at 8:45am, but there were a few other families. One grandmother stopped by to ask how old Stella was, her grandson was only a month older. After mass we met the priest and oddly he was from Parma, OH, which is literally our neighboring town to our part of Cleveland. We then headed home to rest and have an early lunch.

We played the game, Wet Head, with the family, and it was fun to get wet in the 90 degree plus weather. Ben figured out the logistics of it all, so he knew how to get wet if he wanted to or not. Usually, he wanted to be wet.

A trip to a local splash pad and park was made next.  We set out to LaSalle and Clayton Park. It was a smaller splash pad, but it was definitely enough to entertain the kids.  I sat and read a book while Stella napped under the shade of a tree. The bigger kids played with other kids at the park, and I think they really enjoyed that. My kids remind me constantly that we are not meant to be isolated in our daily lives.  Ben especially is good at conversing with others that he's just met and making instant friends. And since it was hot we stopped at an ice cream parlor on our way home. It was called Wyliepalooza Ice Cream Emporium.  The shops name is definitely a mouth full, but the ice cream was delicious and if you are like me, you need some dairy free options, and there were plenty there to be had. I think we will be back again in the month.

We returned home again for rest and dinner, we ended the day at the park behind our house.  I scootered around the block while Ben ran in front of me. Then Keith and Ben tried out the Cultural Trail, which is a bike trail around Indianapolis. Ben got a bit beat up, but it got rave reviews. I think there will be more on this trail later.