Monday, March 15, 2010

child's play

The snow has finally melted and the sun is starting to make a more regular appearance. It actually warmed up enough recently that we were able to take a short walk and Olivia was able to hop on her bicycle. She has been asking to ride her bike for weeks now so when I told her it was time she was out the door before the words could leave my mouth. Since it is not quite time to bust out the shorts and tank tops we thought we would squeeze in a few more indoor activities while it is still chilly.

A few weeks ago we decided to take a quick over night trip to Indy. We were desperately wanting to get out of town for a bit and thought it would be fun to take Olivia to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. We went down on Saturday to play, and planned to spend as much time as necessary on Sunday at the museum before heading home. We stayed at the very nice hotel on the campus of IUPUI. Olivia was fascinated with the view and spent lots of time looking out the window.

We wanted to take her somewhere fun for dinner on Saturday night and after some serious deliberation we settled on Jillians, downtown. It is one crazy restaurant that teams up dinner with arcade games. It was probably a little too much for Olivia but at least it was family friendly. She had fun running around attempting to play some of the games. She was not very successful but did manage to collect a few tickets to turn in at the end of the night. Problem was she did not have enough to be able to earn a prize. When turning in our tickets the nice lady behind the counter felt badly for her so she handed her a sponge bob stuffed animal out of pity. At least she did not walk out empty handed.

The next morning we actually all slept in a bit before heading out to tackle the Indy Children's Museum. Olivia was bursting with excitement as we pulled into the parking lot and she practically dragged us to the entrance. We spent the next four hours running from exhibit to exhibit. There was so much to look at and take in. We started with the dinosaur exhibit. It was very fascinating, but a little intimidating for Olivia. Her highlight was playing with the little plastic dinosaurs. It was a very impressive exhibit.

Next was a trip to Egypt for their amazing exhibit on the country. Olivia was fascinated with the simulated plane ride that takes you to Egypt before you head off to explore everything the country has to offer. I am not sure how much she actually learned about the country but I enjoyed seeing what it would be like to visit Egypt.

Then it was on to the Barbie exhibit. Now I am not a huge fan of Barbie and I never owned one of the dolls as a kid. In fact, I cried on one of my birthdays when one of my friends gave me one as a present. Strange, I know, but I just was not a fan. Olivia has not really expressed much of an interest in Barbie up to this point either, but then again we do not have any around the house. I must admit that the Barbie exhibit at the museum was pretty cool. I have never seen so much pink in one room in my life.

The highlight was being able to dress up in fancy clothes and walk the fashion runway, while music played and cameras flashed. Olivia really got into this. She strutted her stuff and put on quite a show for us. The exhibit did a great job of giving the history of Barbie and how she has changed over the years. It was a pretty fascinating, regardless of my feelings towards her.

Bob the Builder was our next stop. It was a neat exhibit but super crowded and crammed full of little kids. I could only spend about 10 minutes in that room before coming close to losing my mind! Olivia loved climbing into all of the trucks and bulldozers from the show. I know they have names but I am not sure of them. She watched the show briefly when she was younger, but has since moved on to more grown up programming.

After a break for lunch we made our way to the historic carousel on the third floor of the museum. Olivia practically dragged me there. The ride was almost full but the tiger (her favorite) was open so that made her day. She spent the entire ride grinning from ear to ear. Carousels are by far her favorite carnival ride and she never gets tired of them.

The museum had so many other wonderful interactive things for Olivia to explore. She really used her hands and worked hard that day. She was interested in everything and was always willing to give things a try. It is so neat watching her little mind work. And of course nothing makes me happier than seeing her have a good time.

After spending close to 4 hours at the museum we were all tuckered out. We hit up the gift shop on our way out and Olivia picked out her very own pair of binoculars. She has been into exploring lately and she thought these would help her on her adventures. Once we got in the car she passed out within minutes and slept almost the entire trip home. It was a fun little weekend getaway. The museum was a blast and I know we will be going back again soon.

The following weekend we continued the museum trend and went to Science Central, our local hands-on science museum here in Fort Wayne, with Olivia's BFF Laurel and her parents. We kicked off the afternoon with lunch at our favorite downtown pizza joint. Gotta have some fuel to tackle the museum. Olivia and Laurel really love spending time together. They just squeal at the site of one another and the giggles are non-stop. I love that their friendship has grown and stayed strong over the past year. We try to get the girls together every month or so and each time they have a blast!

When we arrived at Science Central we noticed that the crowds were enormous. After asking around we were told that it was "doctor day" at the museum and admission was free, so as you can imagine half of the city was there. It was so crowded but we tackled it anyway. They had the local hospital helicopter there as well as a fire truck and ambulance and the kids were allowed to peek inside.

Inside the girls ran around, checking everything out. It is a very hands-on museum and there are lots of little experiments for the kids to try. I just wish it was not so crowded so they could have really explored it all. They still had fun, as I knew they would. This was the perfect activity for them to do together so I know we will be going back. Next time we will check the schedule ahead of time to avoid the massive crowds.

We are starting to witness signs of Spring around here. The ice has melted on our ponds and the fish are hungry. With the warmer temps Olivia has been feeding the fish, playing catch and most importantly getting some great exercise outdoors for a change. Now once the zoo opens for the season we will be in business. Can't wait!