Today we celebrated our 4 year anniversary of being Tyler’s parents. Today was his “Gotcha Day,” which means four years ago on this day we stood before a judge and committed our hearts, home, and life to Tyler. That was the day he became Tyler McCleery. It was one of the happiest days of my life. My heart grew 10 sizes that day.
Every year on the anniversary of our boys’ adoption days we celebrate the blessing of joining our lives with an activity of their choosing. The activities vary from year to year and from boy to boy. There have been “Gotcha Days” that involved going out for ice cream, playing at the park, seeing a movie and even playing tennis as a family. The only constants are:
1. The “Gotcha Day” boy does the choosing.
2. The activity is a whole family, bonding experience.
This year we were on the road for Tyler’s “Gotcha Day.” We are on our way to Texas for my brother’s wedding and this was our first long driving stretch as we made our way from western Pennsylvania to St. Louis, Missouri.
We got on the road early.
The kids each received their travel treat bag filled with snacks, games, activity books and bottled water. Everyone settled in and off we went.
As we drove we had fun playing travel games like “Bingo,” “The Alphabet Game,” and Mad Libs.
Tyler elected himself navigator thanks to the free maps that are handed out at rest stops along the way.
As we traveled west we drove through many rain showers.
Although we had a nine hour drive ahead of us we wanted to do something special to celebrate Tyler’s “Gotcha Day,” so we planned an impromptu stop in Terre Haute, Indiana after reading some reviews online of the awesome children’s museum found in this smaller Indiana city.
The impressive reviews were the first draw. The second draw for this children’s museum was the price, which was a third of the cost of the large children’s museum found in Indianapolis. At a cost of only $8.00 a person this place was a steal!
My only concern was that perhaps it would be geared too young for the teenagers to enjoy it, but I knew they were such good sports that they would happily tag along so their little brother could enjoy this neat experience on his special day.
I didn’t need to worry. This children’s museum had something for everyone, from 9 month olds to 90 year olds…this place was incredible!
What an awesome hidden gem is tucked away in Terre Haute!
We walked in and the fun began at the door with a cloud maker.
We paid and began exploring.
There was a little of everything, from interactive science exhibits to creative play areas.
If we lived in Terre Haute when my kids were little this would have been our playground.
The first big exhibit we encountered was a vacuum powered tube maze that hung on the wall. The kids placed bath loofahs in the ends of the tubes, press the air button, and watched the loofah balls fly through the maze of tubes then shoot out the various ends. We all had a blast playing with this interactive toy. It set the tone for the rest of the day and gave us a preview of the fun we would have.
One of the displays the Terre Haute Children’s Museum is best known for is their giant tree house…and rightfully so. It is epic! Tyler ran for it right away, quickly followed by his older siblings. The tree house can be accessed by a walkway on the second floor or could be entered from the base of the tree through a vertical climbing maze. At the top of the tree house there were ball shooters that could be used to launch foam balls across the room into the hanging flowers on the opposite wall. As the balls fell back to the ground they could be gathered and sent back up to the kids at the top of the tree house via a hanging basket that could be loaded with balls and be pulled up pulley style. A lot of our day was spent here.
Tyler’s second favorite exhibit was the animal race track. Here the kids could pick an animal to race. They would pick a continent, and then pick an animal from that continent that they wanted to try racing. Then they would stand at the end of the race track and begin running down the track. As they raced red squares appeared below their feet, representing the footsteps of the animal they were racing. They had to outrun the red squares to win the race. Then at the end of the track both speeds were posted so they could see how close the race was and who the winner was.
It was fun to see how fast or slow various animals were. We were shocked by many of them. For instance we had no idea a porcupine was such a slow poke. It only runs 2 miles an hour. Who knew?
On the first floor they also had a cool Dino Dig site,
a pump piano that Rusty enjoyed,
and a “Build and Race your own Bottle Car” experience:
On the second floor there was an agricultural area, which is fitting, I suppose, since we were in Indiana. Here the kids learned more about farming and got to milk a cow, drive a combine, and play with a mommy pig and her piglets. It was so cute!
On this floor they also had a race car the kids could climb in:
AND a bubble wand so big that they could climb inside the bubble. It was awesome!
One of the neatest parts of this children’s museum was the many areas set up for creative play. Here the kids could use their imagination and play pretend.
There was a kitchen:
A construction site:
And a Vet’s office:
All were set up with such wonderful attention to detail, making kids feel as though they had stepped into a mini version of real world places. Even my big kids had fun playing pretend.
We stayed until it closed at 5:00 and then continued on to St. Louis for our first night’s stay.
It was an amazing day,
one that will go down in the books…
a “Gotcha Day” that won’t soon be forgotten!
Thanks for Terre Haute for a fun day.
And thank you, God, for bringing Tyler into our lives four years ago.
We love you, Tyler!