Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Indiana Sand Dunes National Park

Thanks to internships the past two summers, and ignorance the years before, we had never been to Indiana Sand Dunes National Park. I had been trying to get Alex to make it a priority because I've wanted to go there forever, but he wasn't sure it would actually be fun. Our friend's invitation was exactly the excuse I needed to make this happen! And guess what? It did NOT disappoint.

The park is on the southern side of Lake Michigan. It is such a beautiful beach! I want to go back and do the hikes and everything too, but I'm all for a beach day. We got there early enough to stake our claim on a good spot (it got SUPER crowded the rest of the day) and we got right to playing! In fact, Mia ran straight into the water without even having sunscreen or her floaties on - fully clothed. And then she was very confused once she was up to her chest and realized she had made a mistake. No worries though, she was fine. We sunscreen'd up and attached the flotation devices and gave it another shot! 

The water is crystal clear there. This is a big plus for me because I'm the type of person who gets kind of freaked out if I think too much about what might be in the water with me. It was so pretty! It was also the perfect temperature. Cool enough to be refreshing, warm enough that you can stay in it for hours.

Unfortunately, all four of us got sunburned. The kids just a little, me pretty bad - especially on my legs, and Alex got the worst sunburn of his life. We even applied and re-applied sunscreen! We'll have to do it even more frequently next time we go I guess. Because we will definitely be going back.

On the way home the kids immediately crashed in the car, but we made a quick stop at the Albanese Candy store and stocked up on their gummy bears and some chocolate. No regrets.
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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Our day at the Indianapolis Zoo

All of June, Alex was working extremely hard to finish his dissertation for his defense of his PhD in July. He had been working from morning till... well, basically morning again every single day. It was pretty crazy! So, after he turned in all the documents, we decided we needed some quality family time and we took the kids down to the Indianapolis Zoo! 

The zoo was taking precautions due to the pandemic, so we had a special reserved time. It was really nice to be in the zoo when it wasn't so crowded! Most places it was pretty easy to social distance. There were a few walkways where people made it pretty clear they didn't care about personal space, but for the most part things were good. Especially in the indoor areas, the employees were careful to make sure only a certain number of people were in the building at once.

It was tricky to keep the kids from touching every single thing, but they did a pretty good job, and there were hand sanitizing stations everywhere! They have a shallow shark and sting ray pool where you can reach in and pet the animals - apparently I didn't take pictures there - and Mia was brave enough to reach in and touch a shark! She bragged about it the rest of the day, and I don't blame her!

The tiger at this zoo has always come right up to the window when we are there and it's incredible every time. Tigers are HUGE. This one loves to put on a show. He walks from window to window and just stares into your face! 

My favorite animal of the day was this bear. It was really enjoying its pool, and I didn't blame it at all! It was a hot day, perfect for swimming. 

We happened upon the elephants right when it was feeding time, so we had the opportunity to see basically all of them at once. 

Mia loves flamingos, and she loves to do a little "flamingo pose". She'll stand on one foot, bringing the other foot up to her leg and say, "look mom! i'm a flamingo!" so naturally, we had to have her do the post by the flamingos. 

The last thing we did was walk over to the butterfly garden. We've never gone in there before and it was really cool! The kids were mostly interested in the koi pond, but isn't that how it always goes? It thought the butterflies were gorgeous. 

It was a great way to spend our first full family day in a while. Having Alex back in our lives was really refreshing! 
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Friday, July 17, 2020

Strawberry Picking (an update from June)

June! June was a wonderful whirlwind of a month. Midway through June, my sister Abi and her husband Jake (affectionately known as AbiJake) came to visit. Alex had a ton of work to do finishing up his dissertation for his PhD but he joined us every now and then when he needed a break. We went swimming, had many BBQs, and played night games! We partied hard for two weeks, and part of that party involved going to the strawberry u-pick farm! 

Abi and I took the kids and met up with our friends to pick as many strawberries as we could handle. Honestly, I thought that's what you were supposed to do, but near the end I realized I could just have picked a few and it would have been fine. We picked about 4 pounds. Now I have a good pound and a half of strawberries in my freezer waiting to be made into homemade frozen yogurt at some point... that's the plan anyway. I used the rest to make two pies! A strawberry cream pie (INCREDIBLE... from The Magnolia Table cookbook.) and a strawberry key lime pie. Also delicious.

Anyway... the boys started off the day in matching orange shirts, holding hands, and I just love how close these kids are so much!

I'm so glad we made time to do this and didn't wait until the season was over!
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