We just got back yesterday from our spring break trip to Indianapolis and Chicago. My husband’s mother and sister live right outside Indy, so we flew there Saturday and came back yesterday. A few trip notes, memories, and highlights:
Flying with five kids is…not that bad. I say this even though we were delayed close to two hours on the way there, and in a really annoying way (they didn’t tell us it was that long delayed, they posted a 30 minute delay right at the departure time, and then never gave an update, even though the departure time came and went, so we couldn’t go get lunch or anything, and there was no inbound flight to track for clues…). It wasn’t fun, but the kids mostly entertained themselves and the 11-year-old was a huge help with the 3-year-old. Given that the flight was less than 2 hours, this was definitely the right call vs. driving. (Future flight learning: We should print up boarding passes. My husband had to go back from security with a kid to get a printed pass each time as the seventh electronic one from Apple wallet would get flagged — who knew? If you are flying with seven people, perhaps this will be helpful for you…)
Maybe we’ll get a Chevy Suburban? Longtime podcast listeners know that I have lamented our inability to buy a new Toyota Sienna w/AWD to replace our current one with its various decade-old car issues (the supply chain issues from the pandemic still have not worked themselves out on this particular vehicle. We have looked in multiple states, talked to professional car buyers and nothing). We rented a Suburban and the kids liked it, so we shall see. Though part of what they liked was that it was new and clean. Which, if we bought one, it would soon not be! The gas mileage is worse, though, so that would be a drawback.
Big kids like their own space. Hosting seven people is kind of a big ask, but since my mother-in-law and sister-in-law live less than 2 miles from each other, we split the family. My three big kids stayed with my sister-in-law, whose 16-year-old daughter was there (older son off at college) and this turned out to be a great idea. They got to do big kid things (play cards, watch movies) at night, enjoy a little independence from us, go on random Starbucks runs, and now my daughter wants an older sister, which is really not in my power to give her!
Running on flat terrain is easier than hilly terrain. No surprise, right? But there are some really well done running/bike trails right by where we stayed. I ran two mornings with my sister-in-law. We did 4 miles each time and it felt very doable. I have to run on two rather large hills to get anywhere headed out from my house in PA, so I enjoyed the contrast (and the company).
Zoos are a good family outing. The Indianapolis Zoo is really quite impressive. They have an aquarium equivalent there (with dolphins and a touch tank), plus a giant savannah section where we saw rhinos, elephants, lions, etc. We needed to get pretzels in the middle to fortify ourselves, but we were able to spend several hours there. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is also great. We went there one day, though I think several of my kids’ favorite part was playing Minecraft in the exhibit they had, which is kind of funny, since they can do that at home (and were limited to 10 minutes in the exhibit). I guess it’s more fun in a different context!
I want to create some (more) miniature rooms….I have a little dollhouse furniture room set up on my office book shelf, and this has always been an interest of mine. So I was happy that I got to see several miniature scenes on this trip! The Indianapolis Children’s Museum has several, and then we also went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which has Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. This has elaborate rooms, like a kitchen with dishes modeled after the dishes in Queen Mary’s Doll House in Windsor.
When in doubt…submarines and coal mines. We got tickets for the submarine tour and the coal mine tour at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. These were definite highlights. We could imagine the cramped conditions of that German submarine, and learned about its 1944 capture. And then the coal mine featured dark tunnels, a train, and loud equipment…something for everyone!
Lunch makes hiking better. My husband and I often want to take our kids hiking, and they often don’t want to go, but they really liked a loop we walked in Turkey Run State Park (about an hour from Indy). We got to skip rocks, scramble on rocks, cross a covered bridge, see a coal mine entrance, and then walk over a suspension bridge. Then we went over to the Turkey Run Inn for lunch and so I think people felt rewarded for their exertions.
Anyway, there was some sibling bickering, and probably the little kids were on screens too much (one way to entertain them during downtime) but everyone seemed to have a good time. Now I’m back to sing in the various Holy Week services. I did the Maundy Thursday one last night and tonight we do Anthony Masokowski’s Passion (according to John). This is a 28-minute a cappella work that is really challenging but the rehearsal after the services last night went pretty well. So here’s hoping that we do the piece justice tonight…
Photo: Turkey Run, the covered bridge