Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011 was such a wonderful year around here.

But I'm already looking forward to making many new memories as a family of four in 2012.

Thanks for being a part of our lives for another year. From our family to yours, we wish you lots of happy travels and adventures in the new year! We hope you'll continue to come along on our's.

Photos courtesy of Photography by Leslie Ann.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chihuly in St. Petersburg

The skies have been pretty gray and dreary around Indiana this week. Which is just fine since I'm mostly snuggled up at home with my two little boys (still getting used to saying two...) But as I stare out the window, I can't help but daydream of our trip to St. Petersburg, Florida last February when we woke up to beautiful sunny skies everyday.

I especially loved the way that sunlight reflected on the beautiful sculpture by Dale Chihuly during our walk around downtown St. Petersburg.

I'm a big fan of Dale Chihuly and would love to go on a world tour of his works of art. Unfortunately Big Arrow wasn't too cooperative when we walked by the exhibit in St. Petersburg so we didn't duck inside to see it all, but at least they had this work outside on display for all to see.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

I know it's been quiet around here lately... I hope to post more in 2012, so be sure to check back! I have several fun adventures to share, like our trip to the Indiana State Museum and our return to Robert's Tree Farm. And I'm happy to report that Little Arrow is a pro at daytrips already! Can't wait to take him on his first vacation. Which just might be a return to sunny Florida this winter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Native American Baby Wearing

I spent a lot of time researching baby carriers before Little Arrow was born. It was the one thing I wanted to splurge on (turns out some sneaky family members knew all about this and surprised me with my favorite choice, the Ergo Baby Carrier*). Expect to see lots of pictures of Little Arrow tucked inside in the months to come. I already put it to great use on our trip to the Christmas tree farm last week.

While I was in the midst of my research, I happened upon this carrier during my trip to the Eiteljorg Museum. Apparently even Native American parents consider a good carrier essential baby travel equipment!

You can read about my trip to the Eiteljorg Museum here, or see my guest post about the Eiteljorg at Midwest Guest here.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Disclosure: I was invited to tour the Eiteljorg Museum as part of a White River State Park press trip, which included my admission. I was under no obligation to write about my time at the museum, and all opinions expressed are my own.

*Links to my Amazon Affiliate account. A small portion of any sales made through this link will come back to support this blog, but this does not in any way increase the cost of purchase for you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Support Passports with Purpose

A while back, when I was a full-time working gal at a startup nonprofit, my boss encouraged me to read a book that he loved: Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood.* It is the true story of a former Microsoft executive who left the corporate world behind to change the world, one library and donated book at a time. Inspired by his travels to third world countries and burnt out from the 9 to 5 grind, he started a nonprofit called Room to Read that does just that: builds libraries from the ground up in some of the world's poorest communities. The experience, cooperation, and resulting educational resource changes these villages forever.

So what does this have to do with Arrows Sent Forth? I'm one of the many travel blogs supporting a program called Passports with Purpose, where we encourage donations with the ultimate goal of building two Room to Read libraries in Zambia. I participated in Passports with Purpose in 2010 also, and well over $50,000 was raised to build a village in India.

What's really fun about this fundraiser is that with each $10 donation, you can choose a particular prize to be entered to win. There are more than 88 prizes to choose from, ranging in worth from $100 to $4,200. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • A $1,000 voucher to HomeAway: I'm a lover of rental properties when traveling, and I've used HomeAway many times. I also won a trip to Boston through a blogging contest they sponsored. It's a very reputable company with properties in just about every vacation spot you can imagine.
  • Buckeye Lodging Package for Two: a 2-night stay at any Ohio State Park Lodge, including breakfast, dinner and gift shop credit. I've stayed at several Indiana State Park Inns and have always enjoyed that experience. I'd love to explore my neighbor to the east just a bit more with this prize.
  • 2-Night Stay at the Affinia Hotel Manhattan: I really want to take my kids to New York, it's my favorite American city. But the cost of overnight lodging has kept us from booking a trip. Problem solved if we were to win this!
  • 3-Night Stay for a Family of 4 at Beaches in Jamaica: I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon and would love to return with the whole family.
Click here to see the full list of Passports with Purpose prizes.

A much younger Big Arrow plays at our local library.

I'm a lover of libraries. Big Arrow and I visit our local library just about every week. He loves story hour and devours the books we bring home with us. I can't wait to introduce Little Arrow to such an amazing place. I can't imagine a world without libraries and books, but for so many people around the world, something as simple as a shelf of books is an inaccessible luxury. By supporting Passports with Purpose, you can do your part to change that for two communities in Zambia.

You must donate by December 16 in order to be entered into the prize drawings!


*Links to my Amazon Affiliate account. A small portion of any sales made through this link will come back to support this blog, but this does not in any way increase the cost of purchase for you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hood Milk Bottle at the Boston Children's Museum

Can you imagine leaving this enormous bottle of milk out for Santa in a few weeks?

Since it could hold more than 60,000 gallons of milk, you'd have to make quite a few batches of cookies to go with it!

The Hood Milk Bottle serves lunch and ice cream outside of the Boston Children's Museum during warm months only. Read more about our visit to the Boston Children's Museum and our five days in Boston.

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Introducing Little Arrow

Little Arrow joined the world on December 1. Weighing in at 8 pounds 3 ounces, he's been a quiet force of nature in our family ever since. He's very content, has a healthy appetite, and is a great sleeper (so far!) Plus, we think he's pretty cute.

Take a look.

Big Arrow is pretty fond of him, too.

He's even been on a few road trips. Like home from the hospital. And to the pediatrician.

We're happy to be home and healthy as a family of four. I have a few more posts to share later this month, and I hope to be back to regular blogging in January (or whatever amount of posts our new schedule will allow!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bubble Room at Kidscommons

While I thought it would be fun to take The Arrow back to Kidscommons, the children's museum we are lucky to have here in Columbus, Indiana, I mostly went for selfish purposes. I got a new camera a couple of weeks ago (my first DSLR--a Canon Rebel T3* if you're interested in this sort of thing), and I wanted to try it out in a fun environment.

While I've written about this museum before, I've never shared photos from the Bubble-ology exhibit. It's my favorite spot in the museum, but it's always been packed with kids when we've visited in the past. Which makes it hard to take pictures in there.

But on this mid-week morning, The Arrow had it all to himself.

I have a lot more to learn about the camera (I'm barely out of the automatic setting), but I already love capturing a few of these special expressions and moments.

You can read about our first trip to Kidscommons here, and see more photos from our most recent visit here. I've also written about Kidscommons for Visit Indiana here.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

*Links to my Amazon Affiliate account. A small portion of any sales made through this link will come back to support this blog, but this does not in any way increase the cost of purchase for you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do Bloggers Take Maternity Leave?

Other than a quick, kid-free trip to Wisconsin this past weekend for a wedding (shhh! don't tell my OB!), we've mostly been sticking close to home these last few weeks. But The Arrow and I have still been having lots of fun. A couple of weeks ago, we made a return trip to Kidscommons, the children's museum here in Columbus, Indiana.

It was a great spot to let The Arrow run around and play, while I could just venture from seat to seat and rest. I know he'll feel cooped up once we bring the baby home and can't get out as much, so I've made an effort to take him on some fun "field trips."

Apparently I've really worn him out!

Speaking of rest, I'll be taking a bit of a breather from regular blogging for the next couple of months. I hope to get a post up once a week or so, but don't expect much more than a photo or two. I really want to focus on my last two weeks as a family of three, and then obviously on the needs of a newborn and a toddler through the remainder of 2011. I hope to write a bit more frequently in January and beyond.

I do have two more posts scheduled for this week, including a Pinterest-inspired list of gift ideas for family travelers and more cute photos of The Arrow from our visit to Kidscommons. I'll also still be writing posts for Visit Indiana on a regular basis.

We have absolutely no set travel plans for 2012, other than that we WILL travel. We want to feel out our lifestyle and the baby's temperament before we commit to anything specific. But I'm sure I'll be sharing lots of Monday Dreams once we do start thinking about our fun adventures as a family of four. And I'll certainly still be trekking around Indiana and sharing those outings with you, I'm far too antsy to sit around at home for too long!

You can also "like" Arrows Sent Forth on Facebook for more regular updates from our family.

This post is a part of Mondays are for Dreaming at The Mother of All Trips.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pitstop at the Peoria RiverFront

We've made the drive from Indiana to Iowa a few times now so that we can visit The Arrow's aunt and uncle. In fact, our most recent trip was for their wedding! It's a little over 6 hours and our son is 2 1/2, so we definitely have to plan at least one stop for him to burn off some energy. Since it is mostly rural from start to finish, there aren't exactly endless attractions and options for fun on the road in this part of the country.

The Peoria RiverFront caught my eye when I was planning our trip. It's directly off I-74, and pretty close to a halfway point for us. We found it to be a great stop for our restless little guy.

The Arrow wasted no time getting a good run in.

I wished I had brought along a little soccer ball or something to play with in this wide open plaza. Next time! But it was a great place to watch the big boats go up and down the river.

It didn't take The Arrow long to spot a playground at the Joe's Crab Shack right on the water. We weren't hungry for a meal, so we just ordered up some drinks and let The Arrow loose. (More on why I love playgrounds while traveling here.)

In The Arrow's eyes, the lemonade was almost as good as the playground.

And then it was time to run back to the car to finish our trip!

If You Visit:
Peoria RiverFront
Runs along several blocks of Water Street in Peoria
Features restaurants, shops, a marina, lots of special events, concerts, etc. We didn't even scratch the surface of what this area offers during our 45-minute stop.
Insider Tip: Free 2-hour parking is available at the RiverFront Village and the lot across from the Illinois Antique Center.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hamburg Inn in Iowa City

Yesterday was Election Day around here, which reminded me of a fun diner I visited last spring in Iowa City, Iowa. Considering Iowa's prominent role in national politics because of its very early primary, there is an abundance of spots around the state that have been frequented by some big name politicians. Hamburg Inn is among the most famous.

If you visit, prepare to sit elbow to elbow with your fellow patrons. This place is tiny, but has a lively, bustling atmosphere. The walls are covered with photos and autographs from politicians of both parties. Name a presidential contender, and they've likely dined here.

We went for breakfast, and I can't remember which of their omelets I ordered (how's that for an informative restaurant review!?). But I know it was delicious. Hamburg Inn is also known for (not surprisingly) their hamburgers. We dined without The Arrow on this particular visit, but he ate there this fall with his dad and highly recommends the milkshakes.

Given its location in the heart of downtown Iowa City, it makes for a great place to fuel up for a day of strolling around town or the University of Iowa's campus.

Speaking of Iowa, check back on Friday. I'll be sharing some photos of a great pitstop we made on a drive from Indiana to Iowa with The Arrow.

If You Visit:
Hamburg Inn
214 N. Linn Street, Iowa City, IA
Open everyday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Like any good diner, breakfast is served all day.

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Running around Harvard

I love visiting a beautiful college campus. We've taken The Arrow to Notre Dame, my husband's alma mater, and Butler, my alma mater. So while in Boston, we couldn't resist taking him to Harvard. We didn't have anything particular planned for a visit here, and it started to rain a little.

But The Arrow didn't let that slow him down one bit.

Luckily Dad caught up with him.

And gave him a bird's eye view of campus.
Maybe The Arrow will be accepted to Harvard on his own merits somday. If not, he looked for ways to sneak his way in.

Before running wild through campus, we started our Harvard visit with dinner at The Border Cafe and ended with ice cream in Harvard Square. If you'd like to read more about visiting Boston with a 2-year-old, you can read my full trip report.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Memories from Boston: Riding the T

Last week a big military plane flew overhead as The Arrow and I were stopped at a stoplight. I asked him where he thought the plane was going, and he immediately yelled "Boston!" from the backseat. I love that he's finally reaching the age where he remembers big events like our trip to Boston this summer.

If you ask him what he remembers about Boston, the first thing The Arrow will give you a full report on is the "orange train." Our rental house in Jamaica Plain was a few blocks from the orange line of the MBTA, Boston's main public transportation system. For a suburban kid, riding a subway was a pretty grand experience.

I've already written about why I think train travel is so great for getting from one city to another with a toddler. But getting around one city is pretty awesome, too. We actually had time to talk to each other, spend time as a family, tell The Arrow about the things he'd be seeing when we reached our stop, etc. Plus, we didn't worry about traffic, navigation or parking in a particularly un-car-friendly city, nor did we have to drag a car seat on the plane or rent one.

I was glad he got to add another train to his list of transportation memories, much like the TECO streetcars in Tampa. There are many other modes of transportation that I hope we get to take The Arrow on in the coming years: Chicago's "L," New York City's subway, Paris' Metro, London's Tube and double decker buses, San Francisco's trolleys...

(Perhaps my sister will leave a comment sharing with all of you the time she and I got separated on the Paris Metro during a high school trip to France... fortunately I've become a little more savvy about these things in the last 15 years!)

Insider Tip:
If you're taking public transportation directly from Logan Airport in Boston, I recommend buying your T tickets at one of the kiosks near baggage claim at the airport (pictured below). There were long lines to get tickets at the T station itself and we got to walk right by since I had already bought tickets while we were waiting around for our bags.

My husband describes this picture as "that time you abandoned our kid in a busy airport just to get a photo for your blog."

This post is a part of Mondays are for Dreaming at The Mother of All Trips.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Discoveries at the Pumpkin Patch

The Arrow learned an important lesson about nature during our trip to the pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago.

Not all pumpkins are orange.

Learning something new is my favorite part of traveling, and I simply love watching The Arrow discover and explore. Do you have a favorite memory of something your children learned during a trip or outing? Please share in the comments or on the Arrows Sent Forth Facebook page.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Product Review: Life is Good from Appalachian Outdoors

I've always been a big believer in dressing The Arrow comfortably. You're much more likely to find him in sweats and a matching t-shirt than in fancy dress pants or a button-down shirt. While I want him to look presentable and cute, the last thing a kid who's traveling needs is to be uncomfortable because of some fussy clothes.

This is why I was excited to review products from the Life is Good line, available via I've been a longtime fan of this product line because I find their clothes particularly soft and comfortable. Here, The Arrow models a couple of our favorite Life is Good products that we've purchased or received as gifts in the past.

On his first birthday in a Life is Good long sleeve T. Couldn't you just squeeze those chubby thighs?

Camping at Brookville Lake this summer in a Life is Good sun hat.

For purposes of this review, I mixed up some Life is Good products I've never seen or tried (a winter hat and little boy socks) with a couple of my favorite long sleeve T-shirts for toddler boys. I can't wait for winter to dress The Arrow up in these shirts:

Sizing Confusion
My only complaint about the Life is Good line is that sizes can be tricky to figure out. They don't come in your usual baby/toddler sizing options. In fact, I was most excited about the winter hat to keep The Arrow's noggin nice and warm during all kinds of adventures this winter. Sadly, it was far too big for him. (Not a total loss, as it fit me perfectly, so I decided not to return it.)

Other benefits of the Life is Good line:
  • I love their emphasis on the great outdoors. Many of their shirts and products have clever and catchy tag lines that encourage people (young and old!) to play outside.
  • Soft and comfortable. I've already mentioned that, but when you're dressing young kids, it is worth repeating.
  • Good variety. You'll find bags, clothes, socks, hats and so much more at this site. A good site to bookmark for Christmas gifts. If you're looking for more shopping suggestions, I enjoyed this review of a Life is Good journey tote at the Pitstops for Kids blog.
  • Easy online purchase experience. Other than a little trouble figuring out The Arrow's size, my online shopping experience at was quick and easy.
  • Because I hate when an unexpected high shipping amount forces me to exceed my intended budget, my favorite aspect was that the shipping amount was clearly stated up front before I even began the checkout process.
  • Both Life is Good and have a focus on environmental sustainability.

Disclosure: I received a $50 gift certificate to purchase Life is Good products from I was asked to write this review, but all opinions are my own and I was not asked to express a particular point of view.

This post is a part of Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nienaber's Farm Market: Pumpkins for my Little Pumpkin(s)!

Last year, we went to a pretty simple farm stand to pick out pumpkins, called Nienaber's Farm Market. At Nienaber's, you won't find some of the typical trappings that many of the larger pumpkin patches in town offer, like hay rides, train rides, petting zoos, etc. But The Arrow was so excited to pick out pumpkins again this year that we thought we'd make that simple farm stand a family tradition. I kind of like how the focus stays on the pumpkins themselves. We can always do some of those other things a different day somewhere else and spread the fun throughout fall.

As a mom, the best part of any trip to the pumpkin patch is the great pictures you can get. Here are a few of my favorites.
Which one should I get?
Indulging mom in a picture next to the giant mums
Taking a rest and sharing a laugh with Mom
My favorite part of our pumpkin picking tradition is getting a pumpkin for each family member. This year, we got to add a new, itty bitty pumpkin to the mix.
Choosing the perfect pumpkin for Baby Arrow.
In five weeks, we'll be a family of four. You can tell just by looking at our front porch!

It's fun to dream about next year, when we'll get to take Baby Arrow to pick out his or her own pumpkin (I have no doubt Big Brother Arrow will help with the selection process!)

For more information on Nienaber's Farm Market, you can read my post from last fall at Visit Indiana.

What's your favorite pumpkin patch memory? The Arrow made an important discovery this year at the pumpkin patch. I'll be sharing that photo on Friday!

This post is a part of Mondays are for Dreaming at The Mother of All Trips.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Camping at Brookville Lake

You know those travel memories that get better with time? This is not one of those. In fact, the more I reflect on our camping trip over Labor Day weekend at Brookville Lake, the more I realize what a total disaster it was. From horrendous weather, to parking tickets (yes, while camping!), to a bout with a stomach bug, it was not our finest hour as a traveling family. And yet it just hardens my resolve to get back out in the great outdoors and camp with my family all over again.

The location we chose was in no way a part of the problem. In fact, its natural beauty was one thing we really did enjoy to its fullest. I wrote about Brookville Lake State Park for Visit Indiana here.

On our one morning of good weather, we suited up for what we hoped would be several hours of fun in the sun at Brookville Lake's gorgeous beach.

Getting a feel for the sand.

And then The Arrow decided this was as close as he wanted to get to the water. He wouldn't take one more step, nor would he let us hold him.

Fortunately, there was a playground right off the beach, so my husband I just took turns watching him play while the other swam and relaxed. Not exactly the family experience we had imagined, but we made the best of it!

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby and Friday Daydreaming at R We There Yet Mom.

Speaking of R We There Yet Mom's blog, Rebecca was kind enough to allow me to guest post there this week. I wrote about some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path fun activities with kids in Indianapolis. Did you know Indy is hosting the 2012 Super Bowl this winter? These spots would be a great way to beat the crowds and have tons of fun with or without the kids in the Circle City!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ethnic Expo 2011

Last year, when we attended Ethnic Expo in our town of Columbus, Indiana as first-timers, I was shocked at what a large, diverse event it was. This year, being pros, I was much more focused on what food I would devour.

Ethnic Expo is a chance to travel the globe, sampling the finest of each country's cuisine as you wander from booth to booth. Many of the booths are staffed by the various international groups around town, so the food is typically quite authentic. While the crowds can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if you're schlepping a stroller with you, it's an experience that's worth a little inconvenience.

This year, I focused mostly on just one country. Korea drew me in, as a sweet Korean woman motioned me over and said, "Pregnant lady, I give you samples." Sold! After sampling, I purchased a bulgogi slider and vegetable rolls, both of which were delicious. They were long gone before I thought to take a picture.

My brother and sister-in-law got their taste buds fried with some spicy Indian samosas. My brother-in-law cooled things off with a trip to Taiwan.

My husband set his sights on the Cajun booth. By the time I took a picture of his plate, the gator nuggets were long gone (they were quite good, he graciously let me try one). And the red beans and rice were a great compliment.

We also took in some live music and relaxed on the big lawn in front of City Hall. Food like this is best enjoyed in bare feet with your toes in the grass, right?

Just another beautiful evening celebrating the world's diverse cuisine. I have no doubt we'll be back next year. Afterall, The Arrow grew tired and cranky before we could visit the dessert tent, which is just criminal.

Interested in learning more about this event? I previewed Ethnic Expo and described why I love it a few weeks ago for Visit Indiana.

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Week in My Life: Saturday and Sunday

You just can't beat a beautiful fall weekend in the Midwest. The beauty of this season is a big reason why we love living in this part of the country. We did our best to savor autumn's bounty this weekend. Here are a few highlights:

Saturday Morning Nature Walk
Our church just developed a memory walk on its property (which is a beautiful piece of land at the foothills of Brown County, which is probably the most popular place to delight in fall in Indiana). We've been meaning to check it out before or after church for the past couple of months, but it just hasn't worked out. So we drove out that way and hiked the short trail on Saturday morning.

I got some fun pictures of our "walk in the woods" as The Arrow called it.

The Arrow made a new friend that morning when we stumbled upon a frog. Perfect timing, as I'm hoping to take him to the new frog exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis this week.

Dining Al Fresco
On Saturday night, we thought about taking The Arrow to his first movie, as the local theatre was showing Smurfs in the early evening. But the weather was just too perfectly crisp to spend indoors, so we chose to grill burgers and eat dinner outside instead.

This was followed by about an hour or so of outdoor playtime.

A Sunday Spent in the Leaves

Sunday morning after church and lunch, we tackled raking leaves.

The Arrow was a big help, as you can see (ahem...)

IndyCar Tragedy

We were supposed to babysit one of The Arrow's little arrow buddies in the evening, but she was sick. Instead, my husband fatefully flipped on the television to see who was winning some of the football games and to check in on the IndyCar race in Las Vegas. The minute he turned it to ABC, we just knew something had gone terribly wrong at the race. About an hour later, it was announced that Dan Wheldon, the winner of this year's Indy 500, had died in a horrific crash.

My husband and I enjoy following the IndyCar series, mostly because we are huge fans of the Indy 500, our community's premiere annual event. I've written about our enjoyment of the race often here. Needless to say, the unexpected and tragic death of such a popular and successful driver cast quite a shadow on the night.

But you can always count on the innocence of kids to lift your spirits. The Arrow was oblivious to what was unfolding on television, and he kept demanding a trip to the park. So off we went to the same park I wrote about on Friday, and it was a nice way to cap off the weekend on a positive note.

End of Week in My Life Series

It's been fun to blog nearly everyday (although I admittedly lost a little steam by the time the weekend rolled around). It certainly wasn't a typical week for us, but I guess no week ever is. I heard from lots of friends who enjoyed a little glimpse into our day-to-day life. I know I'll be glad I captured this moment in time. Afterall, we now have orange juice that expires by the time the baby will join our family!

Anyway, thanks for joining us this week. Kudos to Melissa at Adventuroo for putting all of this together. If you found this blog via her link-up and have enjoyed learning about our week, feel free to "like us" on Facebook and keep up with our family's adventures.