InstaOctoNovember

If that title doesn’t have you thoroughly confused, then I haven’t done my job well. What it translates to is the fact that I forgot to post InstaOctober last month, but I’m too OCD to actually skip a month. As if hordes of you will show up at my front door and say, “HEY, lady. What gives with the missing Instagram highlight reel?” But just in case any one of you are en route, here it is. And I certainly couldn’t handle missing November, or moving every post back two months, because that just doesn’t make any sense. (But this line of thinking clearly does.) I should probably stop talking.

OctNovIG

1. We took a little road trip up to Chicago in November for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. When I realized Eataly was just a few blocks from our hotel, I knew a visit was in order. If it wasn’t totally disgusting and against every health code, I’d want my ashes scattered here. I’ve never had any inclination to climb cheese, until I saw this intriguing sign in the cheese department.

2. Obligatory Bean photo every tourist takes in Chicago.

3. As part of the Toy & Game Fair, Mayfair Games held a very serious, very competitive Settlers of Catan tournament. The winner earned him or herself a trip to Gen Con to compete in the Catan World Championship. I promise I’m not making that up. Mike is the King of Catan in this house, as evidenced by his very official Catan crown the kids made him last year. He wore it to the tournament, right up until he lost in the semifinal round.

4. You know how you have the strictest rules and best advice about parenting … until you actually become a parent? The same holds true about being a pet owner. I swore up and down I would never let a dog sleep in bed with me. And then Gus gave me that look, and I said, “Okay. Just this once.” And then I realized happiness really is a warm puppy. The couch is still off limits. I swear (for now).

5. Elena and I have dreams of one day entering a gingerbread creation into Conner Prairie’s annual Gingerbread Village. We inched one step closer by taking a Gingerbread 101 class together at Conner Prairie. This is one of those traditions that I realize now I started waaaaaaay too early with my kids. Twelve is good. Twelve and in someone else’s space, where they clean up after you is even better.

6. Have I mentioned Eli is in Cub Scouts this year? He begged us to let him do it, mostly because he’d heard a rumor there would be BB guns. At this point it’s more like herding cats, but he did manage to earn his Bobcat badge.

7. I took my sister and my mom on a day trip to Cincinnati for some IKEA and Jungle Jim retail therapy. On the way home I introduced them to the best fried chicken in Indiana. If you find yourself near Oldenburg, Indiana, make sure you stop at Wagner’s and have some pan-fried deliciousness.

8.  Elena played volleyball this fall. It was 2% her wanting to try it, and 98% me wanting her to find a sport (any sport!) she might like. She ended up being the only one on her team who hadn’t played volleyball for multiple seasons. You’d think that would be a recipe for disaster, but she did great. She didn’t complain (much) and she improved drastically through the season. This particular photo is her serving to get her team into the championship game.

9. I had the opportunity to work alongside Future Farmers of America from around Indiana at the Colts annual Million Meals Marathon. The Colts partner with Thrive360 (formerly Kids Against Hunger of Central Indiana) to pack a million meals that will find their way to families facing hunger in Indiana. I packed for 2 hours, along with a couple of Colts cheerleaders, blogging pals, and the Colts Defensive End Cory Redding. It was such a cool experience, and I can’t wait to do it again with Mike and the kids.

10. What every parent’s floor looks like if they have a LEGO fan in the house … just kidding. It’s actually a sea of LEGO bricks for kids to play in at LEGO KidsFest. Super fun and a cool photo op, if you don’t think about how many germy little hands have been all over those bricks.

11. Mike and I have been able to go to two Colts games this year. This picture is from a home game against the Bengals. Incredible seats and lots of fun for us. Not so much for the Bengals fans we took with us. The weekend before last we went to the Colts game in Cleveland. The horse head did not make that trip with us. We’re not stupid.

12. My friend Sacha clued us into a KaBOOM! playground build that was happening in our community. I’m a big fan of KaBOOM! and their passion for making play accessible to kids in every kind of community, so it was a very special thing to be able to help. I hauled mulch for a bit and Elena helped paint signs for the new playground.

If you’re not already following me on Instagram already, please do! You can find me there as (the one and only) AngieSix.

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Celebration Crossing: Where Hoosier Holiday Traditions Past & Present Meet

Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

Growing up in central Indiana, the holidays weren’t complete without a visit to downtown Indianapolis. We’d drive around the circle to see the Soldiers and Sailors monument lit up like a giant Christmas tree. Some years we’d have tickets to the Symphony’s Yuletide Celebration. Other years we’d catch a performance of the Nutcracker at Butler.

From 1922 until 1992, the true highlight of the Indianapolis Christmas scene centered around the department store L.S. Ayres. I graduated high school and moved away from home in 1993, so I was part of the last generation of Hoosier kids who knew the wonder of the holidays that existed within L.S. Ayres. My mom was (and still is!) a recycler of holiday gift boxes, and so for years after Ayres was gone, we still received gifts in their iconic holiday boxes – bright red boxes with a Christmas tree in the corner.

Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

Like my mom’s Christmas boxes reappearing every year long after Ayres had shut its doors, the Indiana State Museum has managed to bring back the nostalgia of Christmas in Indianapolis long ago. Each year the Museum hosts a very special exhibit, Celebration Crossing. While elements of the exhibit change every year, one thing remains the same: recreating the best parts of that beloved Hoosier holiday tradition.

We had a very special chance to preview the exhibit last week before it opened to the general public. We gazed at the beautifully recreated L.S. Ayres store windows.

Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

The kids rode the Santa Claus Express through a winter wonderland, and marveled at the original. It now sits on display at the Museum, after dutifully transporting nearly 30,000 children a year to Santa’s house. I marveled at the fact that this is likely Elena’s last year to ride the little train, as she sat with her knees nearly touching her chin!

Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

And finally, we paid a very special visit to Santa in his charming little house. I’ve taken the kids to countless Santas all around town throughout the years, and I’m telling you this: the Indiana State Museum Santa is THE BEST. You won’t find a more patient Santa in a lovelier setting anywhere else in central Indiana (and a sleigh full of reindeer better than the Santa that once dropped Eli twice in a row)!

The holidays are a busy time for all, with special events and obligations tugging us every which way. If you only make time for one activity this holiday season, consider making it a visit to Celebration Crossing. Whether you’re passing on a treasured tradition from your childhood onto your children, or simply starting a new one, you won’t be disappointed.

Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

Celebration Crossing is open now through December 31, with Santa and Mrs. Claus entertaining guests through December 24. Find more details, including hours and the location of the Museum, on the Indiana State Museum’s website. Happy Holidays!

Whether you’re a fellow Midwesterner looking for fun places to visit in your own backyard or you’re traveling to our great region for the first time, you’ll find lots of ideas on my Pinterest board dedicated to Midwest Travel!

Follow Angie Six {just like the number}’s board Midwest Travel on Pinterest.

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Leaves of Blessings: the Thanksgiving Tree

Eli's Leaf

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! Hope you enjoy!

Mashed potatoes and gravy. Turkey and stuffing. Pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Tryptophan and comfy couches. The Lions and the Cowboys. What do these Thanksgiving delights all have in common? They’re dynamic duos and I’m thankful for all of them. Of course, I’m thankful for a lot more than food and football. I do my best to give thanks for the blessings in my life every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day. Still, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the goodness that surrounds us.

We Are Thankful

A few years ago I started a Thanksgiving tradition for our little family. I brought in a small branch, tucked it in a vase, and the Thanksgiving Tree was born. I trace and cut out a few different types of leaves from card stock, punch a hole in them, and tie on a small string. The tree sits on our dining room table, with a basket of the leaves and a few crayons and pens nearby. As Thanksgiving nears, we write what we’re thankful for on a leaf and hang it on the tree. As family and friends drop in for visits, we encourage them to do the same.

Elena is Thankful for Cats

I never planned for it to be more than a one-time decoration, but as I dismantled the little tree to make room for Christmas, I realized what a treasure I had on my hands. And so I saved the leaves, and brought them out again the following year. Each year they go back on the tree, and we watch as the leaves, like our blessings, multiply over the years. It’s so fun to stroll down memory lane and see what we were grateful for in years past. I was never so thankful for this tradition as I was last year, when we looked over the leaves and found the one my father-in-law made. We may never be able to spend Thanksgiving with him again, but we continue to be blessed by the wonderful memories we have of him … and by his very special leaf.

Before or after the big feast, snuggle up with the ones you love and watch a movie or show that celebrates dynamic duos and fabulous friends. Here are a few of our favorite duos that kids will love:

Phineas and Ferb
Finn and Jake – Adventure Time
Charlotte and Wilbur – Charlotte’s Web
Rocky and Ginger – Chicken Run
Tod and Copper – The Fox and the Hound

Pop some popcorn, make some cocoa, and stream these friendship flicks that are perfect for tweens and teens:

Rory and Lorelai – Gilmore Girls
Vada and Thomas – My Girl
Ferris and Cameron – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Chris and Gordie – Stand By Me
Cher and Dionne – Clueless

All of these titles are available to stream on Netflix. Have I ever told you about my absolute favorite, never-fails-me way to figure out if a movie or show is okay for the kids to watch? Common Sense Media is an invaluable resource for all things media. Its easy-to-use ratings guide will let you know what to expect, and help you decide what’s appropriate for your family. I absolutely love it.

You know what else goes great together? Readers and comments! What are some of your favorite movies or shows that show what friendship is all about?

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