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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gift Ideas for Traveling Families

I've been finding some great gift ideas for families that travel on Pinterest lately. I wanted to share a few in preparation for Christmas shopping. I love these because they're affordable, practical, creative, and just plain fun!

For Map Lovers:
I'm old school: we still kick it with a map when we travel. Even if you don't, here are a few ideas to help you use travel memories to decorate your home!

Commemorate a great trip from the past year, or build anticipation for a 2012 trip by embroidering a map with your route marked out. Don't be scared that it's from Martha Stewart's site, I think it looks very do-able!

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

I'm a huge fan of traveling around the Midwest, so I love this handmade pillow with a map of the upper Midwest I found on Etsy. It appears the shop (SaltLabs) has pillows with lots of other geographical locations, like Florida and Manhattan.

The Arrow has a blank wall in his new "big boy" room and I'm thinking of doing a small map of each trip we've taken with him to hang there... and we can just keep adding more!

Since you're shelling out all that dough on Christmas gifts for your kids, why not make a few of those presents travel-related?

I love the blog Gone With The Family, and they are prolific travelers. So I trust this family's review of Lonely Planet's "Not for Parents" travel guidebook series. As The Arrow gets older and learns to read, I'm really interested in cultivating his interest in travel destinations through books, so I'll certainly be keeping this fun series in mind.

We haven't yet ventured to any of the Disney theme parks, but I imagine someday we will. And from the many trip reports, reviews and other posts that fill my Google Reader about Disney-inspired travel, I know many families have or are planning trips to see Mickey. You can't beat a free souvenir, and this post shows you how to get a free character autograph.

This one may not earn you too many oohs and aahs immediately upon opening, but I love these "road trip clips" for encouraging good behavior on a family road trip. Perhaps you could even have the kids open these up a few days before Christmas and put them to use during the car ride to grandma's before the holidays begin!

I'm always on the hunt for fun things to fill The Arrow's stocking that's not just another junky toy or trinket. Here are a few travel-inspired stocking stuffers!

I love these small shadow boxes to build excitement for a trip or destination and to teach kids the value of a dollar. My husband and I don't go too crazy with Christmas gifts for The Arrow in part because we consider some of our trips to be gifts themselves. This will be a great tool to show him in a visual way what it means to save for something special, but still gives you something to open on Christmas morning.

I don't sew, but I have several friends and family members who could probably produce these cute luggage identifiers. I think these would be helpful not only at baggage claim, but even on a road trip if you personalized the tags with each family member's initials.

Jennifer at Two Kids and a Map always buys her family the same snack (Swedish Fish) for each trip they take. What a great idea! Since we became a couple, my husband and I always bring the Market Pantry Monster Trail Mix from Target on our road trips. I think I'll put these treats in his stocking this year in anticipation of our first trip in 2012 (whenever/wherever that may be!)

More Ideas
I've read a couple of great posts in the last few weeks with even more gift ideas for traveling families, like this Best Gift Ideas for Travelers by Jody Halsted from Family Rambling. And I really loved this 11 Toys for a Traveling Kid's Wishlist from the Traveling with Kids blog. I think a few of those might end up in The Arrow's pile this year!

For more of my own ideas, last year I wrote a post about locally-made gifts for traveling kids. All those products have remained a hit in our house when we're traveling. You can also review my products page for additional items that our family puts to good use on the road and at home.

This post is a part of Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries and Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Pin It

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.