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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Week in My Life: Friday

The acronym TGIF has never rung truer for me than this week, this day. The Arrow slept for 13 1/2 straight hours Thursday night/Friday morning and was fever free when he finally woke up at 9:30 this morning. So we were able to cancel his chest x-ray. He gobbled down an enormous breakfast and couldn't wait to take out a bunch of toys. Back to his usual playful self.

By late morning, we were both itching to finally get out of the house for fun. I stole this picture idea from Jen at Two Kids and a Map. Such a typical scene in my car.
Hitting the road.

We headed to downtown Columbus, Indiana to visit Viewpoint Books, our local independent bookstore.
Checking out his reflection.

This is a great spot to take kids, because the entire back of the store is essentially a children's playroom. They sell a lot of Melissa & Doug toys here and they have a lot of stuff out of the box for kids to try out. I try to time our visits to this shop for when I need to buy a gift for someone so that I have a reason to financially support them. I picked up a Christmas gift for my niece and a baby shower gift while we were there today. It's fun to browse in peace while The Arrow is so entertained.
Little boys and trains.

We kicked off Friday night with a fun romp around the yard. It occurred to me tonight that I've never captured one of The Arrow's favorite activities on film. It's his dad's flying leaps over him. Mission accomplished tonight.
The benefits of being 6'4" when you're the dad of a 2-year-old.

Then we headed to the park. We're so lucky to live just a few blocks away from Freedom Field, a multi-million dollar playground facility. (I wrote about Freedom Field for Visit Indiana last fall).
He's always holding the sides of the stroller like that. So cute.

Tonight The Arrow spent lots of time on the swings. I loved this shot.

We're so relieved to have him feeling better just in time for a fun weekend. Happy Friday everyone!

Be sure to visit Adventuroo for more Week in My Life posts.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Week in My Life: Thursday


Wow, has this Week in My Life idea spiraled in a different direction than I originally intended. I was really hoping to show what fun it can be to get out and do things with your kids all week. And here I sit, at the end of another day at home with a sick kid. This was my view for 90% of the day:

Then we turned the camera back on us:

Our only outing was to the pediatrician, where we scheduled a chest x-ray for tomorrow morning for The Arrow, unless he feels miraculously better and fever-free by then. It's hard to watch him so miserable, so lacking energy. (Although perhaps I should remind myself of this in the moments when I think, "can't you just SIT STILL!?")

On days like today, I'm reminded that this motherhood gig isn't for the faint of heart. I ran across this post today from The Gypsy Mama and it was exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. (Thanks, Internet.) I put myself in a Mommy Timeout this afternoon, as the author suggested, and took a nap while The Arrow napped. I woke up refreshed and ready to dig back into the role of nurse. Seriously, if you're a mom and find yourself tired and stressed out, read that post. It's full of words and wisdom you need to hear.

The Arrow did find enough energy to drag himself off the couch and color with Dad this evening.

I wish I was telling you about The Arrow's day at preschool, the nature walk I had planned for the evening, and other fun tidbits from today. But I'm counting my many blessings tonight: a typically healthy kid, good medical care at my disposal, a caring and involved husband, and so much more.

Every night before we put The Arrow to bed, after his story but before his goodnight kiss, we take turns saying what we're thankful for today (I actually keep a list of what The Arrow says he's thankful for--perfect baby book filler). While I'm hoping for more fun days ahead than those we've had this week, my heart is still very full.

What do you read or do when you need a boost on a long day? How do you recharge your batteries?

**So many great and fun bloggers are participating in Adventuroo's Week in My Life. Be sure to head to her linkup and check some out:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Week in My Life: Wednesday


Today was an improvement over our sick day hibernation yesterday. I had a commitment in the morning, so my mom came down to watch The Arrow for a couple of hours. Even though he was feeling better, there's nothing more comforting to a worried mom than leaving him in such great hands when I have to be away. We're so lucky to have both sets of grandparents only an hour away.
Don't you love how The Arrow is holding her arm? He always does that when someone reads to him! 

Ordinarily on Wednesdays, we go to storytime at our library. The Arrow absolutely loves it. He hangs on Miss Jody's every word, sings the songs, and lives for the little stamp he gets on his hand after it's over. We often spend at least another 30-45 minutes there checking out new books and playing with toys. I recently read this post: Ten Reasons I Hate the Library over at The Stir blog. I guess I can relate to some of her concerns, like bringing home germs. But the library is still one of our favorite things to do. I'm able to indulge The Arrow on all his latest interests (like his current obsession with Blue's Clues) without spending a dime on new books. Someday I'll write a post all about our love for this great place.

When I got home, we headed out to lunch at Chipotle. We sat outside on their patio and it was nice to catch up with my mom. I typically eat lunch out about once a week, just as a little treat to myself. I always enjoyed that aspect of my working life, and so I enjoy continuing it, even if it's on a greatly reduced scale. I like the idea of The Arrow learning to behave in restaurants, and practice makes perfect.

Late afternoon, I got cracking on a special dinner project. We visited a pumpkin patch over the weekend, and I kept telling The Arrow we were going to eat one of the pumpkins we bought. He was totally fascinated by this. This is my Pinterest recipe for the week and it's an Alton Brown pumpkin soup recipe where the soup cooks in the pumpkin itself. It was delicious (of course, I doubled the amount of goat cheese the recipe called for, which always helps). I may have to make it again to freeze before pumpkin season is over.

The Arrow showing off his big boy underwear while watching Curious George on the iPad
The rest of our evening was fairly uneventful. The Arrow was tired and cranky from a short nap this afternoon, and so bedtime came earlier than usual. I'm hoping he'll feel well enough for preschool tomorrow so that I might actually be able to write a blog post about a "typical" Thursday around here. A highlight for me today was the arrival of some great stuff I'll be reviewing on this blog in the next few weeks. I'm excited to try these products out and report back! Here's a sneak peak:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Week in My Life: Tuesday


Didn't I end yesterday's post saying that I'd be writing about mom's groups and pumpkins today? Check that. If it's one thing I've learned as a mom, it's that things don't always go to plan. Today has been another reminder of that.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, The Arrow didn't really seem quite right. Sure enough around 11 last night, he woke up crying and when I went in his room, he was ON FIRE. 103.5 fever. I ended up sleeping all night curled up on one side of his little bed (not so easy at 8 months pregnant). Needless to say, we spent all day today snuggled on the couch together reading books, watching PBS and trying to rest.

So much for providing inspiration to get out of the house more, huh? We did run out briefly since we were out of children's ibuprofen. And for about 20 minutes, The Arrow actually had some energy and we played outside.

The only other exciting news to report is that I fired my pediatrician. I called this morning just to see if there was any concern over the 103.5 temp or things I should be doing to help him get better. The nurse who answered said to call back in three days if he still had a fever that high, or to wait until it got to 107! 107?! I thought for sure I misunderstood her, but I hadn't. This was my breaking point with this practice, and so I got some recommendations from friends and made the change while The Arrow napped this afternoon.

So what would we have done today? Tuesdays we go to my mom's group meeting in the morning. I get to hang with other moms while The Arrow spends the morning in a class of fellow toddlers where they do fun things like play on the playground, sing songs, color, and have snacks. Pretty sweet gig for both of us. In the evening, we were going to be fans at my husband's recreation basketball league game. It's one of The Arrow's favorite activities, so he was sad to see Dad depart in his bball gear without us. A good incentive to rest and get well, I told him!

I was also going to make a great pumpkin soup recipe. I'm hoping to make it tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Looking on the bright side, at least Baby Arrow is perfectly fine and healthy! Now it's time to put a heating pad on my aching back, prop up my feet, and hope for a quiet night in my own bed!
7 Weeks To Go!

Any tips for surviving sick days around the house? Confession: I turned to peanut butter M&Ms and McDonalds Diet Coke for comfort and energy today!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

A Week in My Life: Monday

I'm excited to share my first post as a part of Adventuroo's A Week in My Life link-up. You can read more about why I'm doing this here. I won't go into this much detail every day, but as a starting point I wanted to give you a sense of a typical day around here, from beginning to end.


Mondays are typically one of our flexible days during the week (no commitments or set schedule). Today we desperately needed groceries, so we headed to the store mid-morning. I know a lot of parents try to avoid shopping with their toddlers. I can relate... there's nothing worse than a 2-year-old meltdown in aisle 11. I've experienced a few of them, that's for sure. But for the most part, our hour or two at the store is a relatively enjoyable experience.

Making Grocery Shopping with a Toddler Fun:
  • Pretend it's a museum. Even Wal-Mart is interesting to a young kid. The Arrow loves fish, so the first thing we do when we walk in the store is to go and see "Dorothy." (The name of Elmo's pet fish, naturally.) Lately we've been swinging by the obnoxious holiday displays so he can see a gigantic inflatable Santa pop out of a Christmas tree (who buys this stuff?!)
  • Let them help. I explain to The Arrow what we're looking for and ask for his help. He also gets to drop fruits and veggies in the plastic produce bags. And sometimes if I'm feeling brave, I let him hold my coupons or my list.
  • Snacks. Duh. You might need one of these.
  • Let them choose. For the last couple of months, I've let The Arrow pick something to get while we're in the produce aisle. He's much more interested in actually eating the food he picks when we get home. Three cheers for broccoli consumption!

Putting Pinterest to Work

I recently got sucked into the big, deep hole that is Pinterest. And while it's been an enormous time-waster (but also so fun and addicting!), I'm determined to make it a more productive use of my time. So my new goal is to do at least one of the kid-friendly activities and cook at least one of the recipes I've "pinned" each week.

(Interested in learning more about Pinterest? You can follow my boards over here.)

If it's one thing that I've taken away from The Arrow's start of preschool this year, it's that he loves little crafty projects (a boy after his mama's heart, that's for sure!) Aside from coloring, we haven't done any type of artwork or crafts at home. I'm hoping some of the ideas I'm finding on Pinterest will help change that. So today after lunch, I decided to make Leaf Finger Puppets with The Arrow. We made turkeys, and our version turned out like this:

I originally found them at a great kiddie craft blog called Make and Takes. We made them a little more low-maintenance and cheap, but same general idea.

Then came naptime and a snack, followed by those two hours when we try to amuse ourselves while waiting for Dad to get home. All the while, we were smelling this Spinach Lasagna cooking in the crockpot. The Arrow woke up from his nap not feeling all that great, so he was particularly cranky and difficult to please today. Ugh.

Then the heavens opened up, choirs of angels sang, and the sound of the garage door opening filled the room. DAD'S HOME!!!!! We usually eat dinner right away, and then my husband plays with The Arrow upstairs while I clean up and relax amid peace and quiet for 20 minutes or so. Tonight, they capped off their dad and son time with a bike ride. I retired my bike a few weeks ago when it was getting a little too painful (and my thighs were hitting my belly!)

When they got home, we ate popsicles on the front porch. Then, blissful bedtime. Here are a few more photos that captured our day:

Carefully selecting his leaves for his turkey puppets.
Coloring his turkey.

Snuggling with Mom, eating a popsicle

How do you make trips to the grocery store more fun? Any crafts you enjoy doing with young kids? Feel free to leave a comment.

Tomorrow I'll be writing about mom's groups and pumpkins!

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