Six-Tastic Summer List 2.0

Cotton Candy Kids

Summer vacation means cotton candy and baseball and crossing off #4 on the Six-Tastic Summer List 2.0

Summer vacation is officially upon us.  This time last year I had a beach trip on the horizon, followed by a flurry of camps and one very impressive, Six-tastic list prepared to ensure we had an excellent summer.  

This year I'm taking a more low-key approach.  No week-long beach trip planned, instead we'll take a shorter vacation on Lake Michigan, just the four of us.  I cut back on the summer camps, just a couple for each kid, and not until late July.  

I couldn't resist making a list, though.  It's what I do.  A few of our favorites from last summer made the list, along with a handful of things that we didn't get around to last summer, with some new ideas thrown in.  I'm hoping with our laid-back attitude this summer, we'll be able to hit more of the things on our list.  And if we don't?  Not a big deal.  The key word this summer is "Enjoy."  Enjoy our days with looser schedules and fewer places that require our attendance.  Other than the pool, that is.  Our attendance is most certainly required there.

And so without further ado, I present the Six-Tastic Summer List 2.0:

  1. Play a round at Rustic Driving Range & Mini-Golf
  2. Check out the herons at the Rookery Preserve
  3. Road trip over to West Lafayette.  Visit the zoo and have a meal at the Triple XXX
  4. Take me out the the Indianapolis Indians ball game
  5. The dreaded Chuck E. Cheese
  6. Have a picnic at the IMA's 100 Acres
  7. Make popsicles
  8. Join our library's Summer Reading Program
  9. Take Elena horseback riding at Fort Ben
  10. Try our hand at letterboxing
  11. Have some good, clean fun while soap grating/making bubbles
  12. Have Mike rig up a DIY bike wash
  13. Set up a backyard obstacle course
  14. Visit the ARTSPARK
  15. Hang out at the world's best Children's Museum
  16. Use our Groupon for the Indiana Historical Society
  17. Check out the Rhythm Discovery Center downtown
  18. Beat the heat with some bowling
  19. Go for a bike ride on the Monon or discover some new bike trails
  20. Storytime at Mudsocks
  21. Walk to the gas station for slushies (or "plushies" if you're Eli)
  22. Fly kites
  23. Visit Panda(ology) and try not to buy one of everything.

Hoo-boy, that's a long list.  But it's a very long summer, and I've found that children who are busy tend to have less time to annoy each other (and their mother) to the point of retaliation.  Not that I would ever retaliate.  Much.  

What fun plans do you have up your sleeve for this summer?



End of Summer 23 x 23 Recap

I know it's not officially the end of summer, but something about Labor Day weekend says "Let's not fool ourselves, people.  Summer is pretty much over."  The end of summer, official or implied, seems like as good of a time as any to look back on our 23 x 23 List for a Six-Tastic Summer.

Was it Six-Tastic?  Well, it was probably our best summer as a party of four yet.  Did we do everything on the list?  Um, no.  I think I was a tad overambitious, especially with the things that required road trips.  A car trip here and there with a  2 year old  is fine.  A car trip every other week?  Not so much.  Here's the list, updated with things we did and notes on those we didn't complete.  You can find a complete list of posts on our 23 x 23 activities here.

The Official 23 x 23 List for a Six-tastic Summer


  1. Ride the 1859 Balloon Voyage at Conner Prairie
  2. Have a picnic at the new 100 Acres Art & Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and check out the Jeppe Hein exhibit (The Jeppe Hein exhibit is gone, but we still plan to visit 100 Acres.  The days we wanted to go were just too darn hot, and I was warned that 100 Acres + hot, tired kids = no fun.)
  3. Make our own popsicles (It helps if you actually own popsicle molds. Note to self: buy some before next summer.)
  4. Sign up for the summer reading program at our local library
  5. Spend a rainy day in our pj's (It helps if it actually rains in the summer.)
  6. Go to an Indianapolis Indians game and stay for fireworks ( I give myself an E for effort here.  We went to a Fort Wayne Tincaps game instead.  Tried to stay for fireworks, but game was called for lightning.)
  7. Start a weekly board game night (Well now, this sounds like a great fall tradition!)
  8. Go crabbing while we're at the Outer Banks of North Carolina
  9. See a free summer movie (I'm taking this off the list.  We watch enough TV at home.)
  10. Go horseback riding at Fort Harrison State Park  (Moving this to Fall Break list, when leaves are changing.)
  11. "Sugar" our trees to catch moths at night
  12. Go fishing (I'm sorry. This just never sounded that appealing.)
  13. Slide down the giant toilet in Columbus, Indiana
  14. Make tin can telephones
  15. Pick blackberries
  16. Catch a free outdoor concert
  17. Spend a day in Fort Wayne
  18. Play mini-golf (Must do this soon.  Eli killed the mini-golf course in the FFA tent at the State Fair.)
  19. Summer treasure hunt at Ritchey Woods (Definitely adding this to our Fall list.)
  20. Order pizza for dinner at the pool
  21. Visit the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette (See above note about road trips.)
  22. Treat the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese (God help me)
  23. Spend an evening catching fireflies

So all in all, we did 13 out of 23.  That sounds so pitiful now, but I promise you – our summer was busy.  Almost too busy for my liking, so here's what I would do differently next summer.

  • Less scheduled camps for Elena.  She had fun, but not crazy fun.  She has 2 camps that she absolutely loves, the rest are just okay.  Next year I'll only sign her up for those two, leaving more weeks open for outings or just lounging by the pool.
  • Shorter list.  To knock off everything on the list in 12 weeks, we would have had to do two things every week.  Add to that a week at the beach and various camps, and we really only had a few weeks left.  
  • More unscheduled time.  I thought the key to a good summer would be to keep us on a schedule.  To a point, that is true.  Looking back, though, I feel like we didn't spend enough time just being.  Too much running around, not enough swimming, riding bikes, or running around like hooligans in the back yard.  

I'll totally do this again next year, though.  It really did help me complete my goals for the summer: Have Fun.  Don't Kill Each Other.  We had fun.  We are still alive.  Mission Accomplished.

What was the most fun thing you did this summer?  What summer activity will you miss the most?  I'd love to hear your thoughts – maybe it will make next year's list!


#13 On The Six-Tastic Summer 23 x 23 List: Slide Down a Giant Toilet

This is part of a series that all began with The Official 23 x 23 List for a Six-Tastic Summer, in which we try to stay sane and make the most of our days together this summer.  You can read about the rest of our escapades so far here.

I guess I should clarify here.  It's not "slide down a giant toilet," it's "slide down the giant toilet."  Specifically the giant toilet at KidsCommons in Columbus, Indiana.

I'll be the first to admit I was ready to let this one slide (bah-bah-BUM!).  By this point we'd already  been in the car 28 hours round-trip to the beach, had a few day trips here and there, and were just finishing up a day of museums in Fort Wayne.  We'd get there some other time.  But from day one of the 23 x 23 list my good friend Lisa A. swore we were hitting up the giant toilet together.  She lives in Nashville and was working her way up to Michigan with her boys.  If she was willing to drive 4 hours to see the giant toilet, surely I could haul my sorry ass an hour south of Indy.

Oh, I'm so glad I did.  First of all, Columbus is a gem of a city.  I can't believe in all my years as a Hoosier, in all my trips up and down I-65 between here and Nashville, that I never ventured further into Columbus than the Starbucks off the interstate.  It's a small community in the middle of the heartland, yet it's brimming with modern architecture, art and stunning landscape architecture, including works by I.M. Pei and Dale Chihuly.  I'm dying to go back simply for a photo walk.  


Of all the children's museums I've been to, KidsCommons is one of the best.  It's small (3 floors of exhibits/activities), but that's part of its charm.  It's the only museum I can think of where my children, who are 5 years apart, can both find things fun and interesting to do at the same time.  My kids were enchanted with the place.  All four kids (ages 8, 7, 3 and 2) loved the nooks and hidden passageways of the ExploraHouse.  Surrounding yourself in a giant bubble was also a big hit.


The Kids-at-Art space was beautiful, filled with light and art made by the kids with recycled materials and paints.  I couldn't resist creating a little myself, using crayons on a hot plate to make wax paintings.


The giant toilet is the grand poo-bah, though.  No kid can resist, especially with the flushing sound that accompanies you down the drain.  Lisa, always up for an adventure, climbed right in.  I flushed her down and met her at the bottom.  Now here's your important information: Lisa is a tiny, fit thing.  When she told me it was a little cramped in the commode?  I took her word for it and stayed out.  Nothing's more embarrassing than clogging up someone else's toilet.  Trust me, though, the kids will love it.


Just a few doors down from KidsCommons is Zaharakos, an ice cream parlor that dates back to 1900.  It underwent a complete renovation in 2009 and it's simply fabulous inside.  We  listened to the restored Welte Orchestrion while we ate dinner and ice cream sundaes.  It's one of the 50 Things Every Hoosier Must Do (according to Indianapolis Monthly), so what are you waiting for?


Of all the things we've accomplished on our 23 x 23 list, this little day trip was my very favorite.  It was the true essence of what the list was all about: explore something new and have fun together.  And if it involves a giant toilet?  Even better.

You can see the rest of the photos from our trip here.

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