Todd Family Blog

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Click Your Heels...(Unless you get bumped. Then click the next day too.....)

Our First Trip Home
What. A. Month.  After almost exactly 6 months away it was truly everything and more that we could have hoped for in our first trip back home.  Walking into our house was an amazing feeling.  Brad and I were both struck by how hard it hit us at midnight as we walked through that door: This is home.  It just is.  The idea of having "roots" seems to mean very little these days, and so many people are always somewhat in transition to the next stop.  It is nice to know that we have definitely found where our home is.  Adventure, travel, and new experiences are fantastic and we will alway seek them out.  But I always want to have that home

Below is an bit of a photo album of all our wonderful moments that month.  We could have used another month (well, Brad another 2 weeks as he was only able to visit for 2!) to see even more people and enjoy more summer attractions.  But we certainly made the most of our time.  (There was so much to include, I've decided to save the regular "Levi and Mommy School" pictures and Levi info. for a separate post.)

The Long-Awaited Trip Begins….
Ah, flying with a 3 year-old.  The only way to make it even "easier" is to get bumped - at the gate - after counting down the trip for the last month - and then counting down the hours until we left for the airport - after getting the house and dogs ready for the dog sitters - and having all the plans set for our first day home in six months - with the grandparents…..

I was about to have the flight attendants come over and break it to a sleeping Levi themselves.
This was his face after he woke up and we broke the news.  Sweet boy.  He just emphatically said, "No THANK you!" when we said we would have to come back tomorrow instead.
Take 2: the next day!  Thankfully, they threw some cash at us and gave us business class.  Here are my boys hanging out in the lounge.  Levi asked to watched videos of him in Ethiopia while we were waiting, one of his very sweet obsessions this month.  
Great activity while waiting to take off: pipe cleaners in straws.  Cheap, light, and who cares if they (inevitably) get lost in the seats.
Thankfully, after inevitably fighting it a bit, Levi always sleeps the entire flight.
First Stops
There were SO many things on our To Do list for when we got home. I think we managed to squeeze just about all of them in during the month.  Some of the firsts included:
Bright and early getting some of the BEST DONUTS ON EARTH from Titus Bakery.
Going straight to Nana and Pa's house before they had to head off to a wedding that day.
Trying out Pa's new truck.
A few nights later, hanging around in Nana and Pa's beautiful backyard....
Our first night back attending a cookout hosted by the Smith's in their famous backyard.  What a fantastic way to see everyone right away.  
And later in our trip I was able to sneak away for a night and have a great dinner with my dear friends Elizabeth and Keith up in Crown Point.  I swear, looking at this picture it could be 1996 at Butler University.  (Right?  Right?)
Straight away, lunch with Miriam in the amazingly different Fountain Square neighborhood in downtown Indy.  I couldn't believe how much it continues to change there.  And I was also beyond thrilled for a massive iced tea with free refills!!!  Oh, and the need to read the menu since, well, who knows what that particular chef may have come up with!  (No schnitzel or sausages in sight, God bless 'em.)
Beautiful new bike paths all over...
Levi tuckered out and happy back in his bed.  He told Nana one night, "This is my very own bed.  I missed you Indiana house."
Something we miss the most - our cozy, quiet moments on the front porch....
Early morning ride

Straight to one of our favorite parks, West Park.  We never even made it to half of the park with the wildflower paths, the duck feeding, the climbing hill…I love a good ol' giant community park!
And another favorite park, the hidden gem Asa Bales in Westfield.  Two big jungle gyms connected by a long, winding path through trees and over bridges.  Even goes by the cemetery of the founders of Westfield and site of a an underground railroad stop!  Oh, and starts right by the library.  It's a fantastic morning in every way just waiting to happen.  We even met two policemen who stopped and chatted to an awed Levi during our walk.  What more could a little boy want?
Can you spot the Levi?
And he loves the kids' area at Westfield Library….
Triple date night
Fantastic company and wonderful food at the new Latin American spot, Delicia.
Children's Museum!  (Or, The "Chilns" as Levi has always liked to call it.  Ha!)
 Requisite picture with Bumblebee.
Team work with new friends in the contraction zone
Making his own Chihuly-style art under the base of the real Chihuly sculpture.
Boarding the train for a "ride"
Working with Daddy and new friends to move the balls through their crazy path…Levi must have worked on this for at least 20 minutes each time we went.  Fun to see how his interests and attention span change at the Children's Museum as he grows.
More building….
 The huge water feature was even more interesting to him than before.
 The new opening of the 5 and Under area, Playscape.  Amazing!!!!

 Children's art studio, anyone?  (Not that Levi likes to color, but still, pretty amazing.  I would NEVER have left this room as a child.)

 We needed multiple carousel rides to make up for lost time with the animals.
 Driving a Taxi in Egypt. 
Neenie's Visit!
What a blessing to have Neenie be able to come for a long weekend.  I wasn't sure Levi was going to let her go!

Another one of our very favorite parks anywhere - Coxhall Gardens.  

Sometimes I forget how things grow in Indiana.  Wow, did we come home to a forest in our backyard!
Pa's First Visit to the Zoo
So, though Pa is a "Pa" and also a Dad he has never been to the world class Indianapolis Zoo!!  We took the butterfly exhibit as our excuse for a family outing.
This was really neat, especially as Levi and I had done a butterfly life cycle week this past spring: tons of butterflies in various stages of the cycle.  
Levi was NOT too sure about a butterfly landing on him however.  Ha!  See the blue blur up and to the left? Oh, the horror!!
One of Levi's favorite spots - the bouncy bridge by the rhinos.  
He finally sat through the dolphin show!

More Nana and Pa fun...
A dream come true: A ride in Pa's new truck.
The simple moments are the ones we miss the most.  Snuggling with Nana, trying watermelon with Pa....
First baseball lesson.  He actually hit a couple!  But then liked the idea of chasing it and playing "golf" a bit more.
Hard goodbye at the airport.  Only 3 months until Christmas!
The Friend Zone
Levi has grown up with the kiddos below and I have been amazed at how much he has missed them since our move.  Never underestimate the friendships of a 3 year-old, I have learned.  Seeing them all made coming home, well, coming home.  And we felt so loved that they made so much time for us amidst schools starting, family vacations, and all the end of summer craziness.  They are amazing.  No wonder Levi loves them so much!
Fun With the Mott Family
Our Indiana kids....Backyard fun, shuckin' corn, grilling out, s'mores...classic little kid summer fun.
"Miss Elizabeth" said Levi's favorite words: "Would you like to hear the plan?"  Love how close he is. Doesn't want to miss a step.
And later, another play date with all the kiddos tuckered out on the couch.  I can't believe how much they have all grown!!
Ice cream on the porch.
And yet another fun gathering!  Blanket fort fun and a bike ride.  

Fun With the James
Oh these two.  Jacobi and Levi.  Peas in a pod, total silliness, best buddies.  Fun at parks, messy fun at each of our homes....We were so blessed by our time together.
Our Zionsville Friends
We have a dear group of friends who live down the street in our hometown of Zionsville.  (Now we're next door in Westfield.)  Getting together as a group was always a favorite thing to do and Levi had missed our party-like play dates very much.....
This particular evening we were honored to have a truly special meal at the Shims.  Karin and Sungbo made us tradition Korean food and we had a beautiful adult meal while the kids played.  The kiddos also enjoyed it and used their chop sticks with gusto!
Levi even had seconds at 9:00 p.m.
And another park meet up with dinner in Zionsville after....
Uh-Oh.  Spontaneous creek stomping!  An Indiana tradition, for sure.
Proudly riding his trike (bike had to stay in Germany, sadly) to dinner, Levi got some smiles....
The last of the after dinner wiggles getting out...Pure little kid joy.
Fun With the Hoskins
Levi thinks Lincoln is pretty cool.  Lincoln has Cars boots, Levi needs Cars boots.  That kind of thing.  And boy did they have fun together on our visits.  I like to call them "Curls."  And sweet Elsie May has no problem keeping up with those big boys.
Epic day at a favorite splash park.  Those boys ran, and ran, and ran some more.  Then a giant celebratory hug.  Sweet boys.
Indiana Horizon
Gotta say, I think it is about as pretty as anything.  I just love driving through the countryside.  And no, not all of Indiana is flat!  But the flat parts give you that beautiful, huge sky and feeling of space that goes on and on.  I just love that feeling.  Like we were finally able to stretch out and take a really deep breath…..
Space to run, and run, and run….