Being Big for Kids, Everything

Being Big for Kids: #GivingTuesday

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Me, Ryan, and Daniel at his 5th grade graduation. Look at those toothy grins!

It’s been a while since I’ve made a post about spending time with Ryan, our Little. Sorry about that.

We definitely have been meeting with Ryan, and we’ve still been having an awesome time. Just Sunday, we went to see Minions, which is a fantastic movie!

It’s nearly been once year since we were matched with Ryan as his Big Couple. In that time, we’ve really gotten to know him and his family. After we drop him off, we all usually hang out on his front step chatting with him and his mom while his sisters run around the yard.

His mom tells us about the impact that we’ve had on Ryan, and her words reassure me when I feel we do stuff that’s too boring. She says we could do pretty much anything and Ryan would love it.

It doesn’t matter what we do; it matters that we spend time with him.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is about spending time with your Little and becoming part of their family, even if you only see them a few times a month.

Most recently, we dropped Ryan off, and since he was still feeling under the weather, he went inside and laid down. We still wanted to catch up with his mom, so we caught up with her while his littlest sisters crawled around on the staircase giving all three of us mini heart attacks.

As we got ready to leave, his little sisters gave each of us hugs out of the blue after Ryan had come back to say good night before heading to bed. Earlier this year, one of his sisters gave me a coloring page of a My Little Pony. It’s still hanging on our fridge.

I’m happy we aren’t strangers to them. I’m happy we are a small part of their lives.

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Daniel, Ryan, and I at the Meal and a Masterpiece event provided by BBBSCI!

On this Giving Tuesday, keep Big Brothers Big Sisters in mind. Give to their campaign (Holdfolio has committed to donate $5,000 if they reach 300 donors today), check out the Q&A sessions happening all day with some pretty high-profile people (transcripts are available), and read up on being a Big at bebigforkids.org.

Don’t feel pressured to donate. On this day, we have thousands of worthy causes pulling at our heartstrings to donate, and each one of them is important.

If you can donate (donate at https://www.givebig.bebigforkids.org/), your gift will make Central Indiana a smarter, safer, more compassionate,  better place to live—now and in the future. If you do donate, thank you. Your donation helps Daniel and I be better Bigs.

Also, don’t feel pressured to become a Big. It’s a “big” responsibility (see what I did there…), and not everyone is at a place in their lives where they can do it.

But…

If you think you can take 4-6 hours a month and are willing to hang out with an awesome kid for at least one year, do it. You can definitely do it.

I know you can do it.

It’s actually fun. I promise. 🙂

Being a Big is so worth it for you and for your Little. Consider joining the Big family today.

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Being Big for Kids, Everything

Being Big for Kids: Great Times

Being Big for Kids: Great Times. Stefany Boleyn. Lifelong Learner. StefanyBoleyn.wordpress.comThis is the sixteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

What kid doesn’t love an arcade?

Personally, I was never a big fan of the crowds and noise, but I always had a few games I enjoyed.

Our Little, Ryan, seems to LOVE arcades.

Earlier this year, we went to an arcade attached to the downtown mall. This time around, we decided to go to Great Times, since they have go-karts, bumper cars, and mini golf.

Unfortunately, we realized too late that the go-karts weren’t open on weekdays, but at least the mini golf was open.

On Tuesday, August 11th, we headed to Great Times.

Ryan was super excited to get the chance to play more games, so he rushed inside. We picked up our tokens and he took off. First, he played a game by the register as Daniel and I were collecting our tokens.Ryan plays a whack-a-mole type game.

Once we had our tokens, we headed upstairs to play more games.

Ryan found some sort of zombie game he and Daniel could play together. Zombies not being my thing, I chose to play ski ball.

Ryan used up his 30 tokens fairly quickly, so Daniel gave him some of his so he could play a game of air hockey against me.

He beat me 7-6.

Daniel played me next, while Ryan tried his luck at an alien version of ski ball. Daniel wasn’t on his game tonight, and I beat him 7-1.

Once we were all out of tokens and had our tickets converted to points (which we chose to save), we went to grab a bite to eat before heading out to play mini golf.Stefany prepares to hit the ball at the 18th hole.

Mini golf was fun, and Ryan was pretty good at it. We accidentally switched from the Red Course to the Blue Course, but we realized our mistake and were able to get back on track. Oops! 😛

None of our scores were fantastic, but Ryan had Daniel beat by four points and me by five.

After that, Great Times was closing up, so we headed back to Ryan’s place.


Ryan stares off into the distance while playing mini golf.Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Tokens are a good way to inadvertently teach kids about managing money. You have to budget for the games you want to play.

-Keeping score in mini golf is silly, but it was good to know none of us are very good at it! We still had a lot of fun.

-Arcades seem a lot smaller when you’re an adult.

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Did you ever go to an arcade together? What was it like?

Being Big for Kids, Everything

Being Big for Kids: Kayaking on the Canal

Being Big for Kids 2.0: Kayaking on the CanalThis is the sixteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters has many organizations it partners with that allow us to receive discounts and sometimes free offers around town.

One of those partnerships is with Wheel Fun Rentals. They rent out bicycles, kayaks, and pedal boats to be used around the downtown canal in Indianapolis.

Bigs have the ability to bring their Little and bike or ride on the canal for free, and that’s exactly what Daniel and I decided to do in July.

Most people waiting in line wanted to use a pedal boat, but since we wanted to kayak, we only had to wait a few minutes.

Since it would have been their first time kayaking on their own, I let Daniel and Ryan use a double kayak, and I took the single.

The canal was about a mile one-way, so it took us a little bit of time to make our way to the end and back. Ryan seemed to be enjoying himself as he and Daniel steered their way around the ducks and pedal boats who shared the canal with us.11741131_10207092736979486_481342062061502465_o

By the end of it, all of our hands were red from gripping our paddles, and we were tired, but Ryan seemed to have enough energy to want to take a single kayak out for a ride.

Unfortunately, we figured it would be better not to hog the kayaks, even if we weren’t given a time limit with them.

That said, all three of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so I’m sure we’ll be back to kayak once more!


Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Bring something to hold your electronics, water, and snacks in. We didn’t forget any of these items, but it’s always good to have a reminder.

-Bring sunscreen. Luckily for us, the sun stayed hidden, but we did forget sunscreen.

-Kayaking is fun and tiring at the same time!

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Did you ever go kayaking or canoeing with your Big/Little? Did your local BBBS office have any neat partnerships?

Being Big for Kids, Everything, Libraries

Being Big for Kids: Family Craft Night

Being Big for Kids 2.0This is the fifteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

As you may know, I work for a public library.

Each library in our system has a mix of system-wide programs and branch-specific programs. One consistent branch-specific program we have is our monthly Family Craft Night.

I wish our schedules had worked out to where we could take our Little to Family Craft Night each month, but so far, we’ve only been able to make it to one.

On Tuesday, June 23rd, Daniel and I headed to pick our Little up from his home and make the drive to my workplace. He was fairly quiet on the way there, but I think it was mainly because we were driving on a side of town he hadn’t yet visited.

Once we got to the library, we made our way to the Community Room. My supervisor was just starting to pack up since the big wave of patrons had already gone through by the time we got there, but she and the volunteers were kind enough to hang around and help us make musical crafts (our theme for the Summer Reading Program this year is Beatz & Bookz).photo 3photo 4

Ryan enjoyed making the different musical instruments, and he formed a one-man band.

As much as he enjoyed crafting, he was really excited to sign up for the Summer Reading Program.

We got him signed up and we took turns reading books out loud to each other so he could earn his 40 in-house points for the day. With his points, he purchased an animaze stamp, which kept him entertained the entire drive home.

After we got back to his house, he recruited one of his younger sisters to jphoto 1oin his band, and they paraded up and down their street. Hopefully they didn’t annoy Mom too much… 😛


Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Crafting is a good way to chat with your Little.

-Allow your Little to read to you (or read to your Little!); you both can enjoy and talk about the story.

-Libraries have lots of free programs Bigs and Littles can attend!

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Did you ever visit the library with your Big/Little?

Being Big for Kids, Everything

Being Big for Kids: 5th Grade Graduation

This is the fourteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. Being Big for Kids: 5th Grade Graduation

As someone who is goal-oriented, celebrating progress comes naturally… especially when that progress is something as major as passing the 5th grade and moving on past elementary school.

Our Little has gone through a lot in his personal life, and I’m really proud of him and his family for not letting anything affect his education.

He may not have top grades, but he really liked his classes, teachers, and extracurricular activities.

His teachers spoke highly of him, and I know he will miss the familiar environment of his elementary school.

However, I would like to think that his next school will be supportive of his education and personal growth and allow him to continue growing into an awesome person.

Daniel and I are looking forward to supporting Ryan as he transitions into his middle school years. For me, middle school wasn’t great, and from what I can tell, nobody enjoyed middle school. Hopefully, Daniel and I can boost Ryan’s enjoyment of those years… even if it’s only a couple of times a month. 🙂

But that, of course, will come after we celebrate his graduation from 5th grade!Left to Right: Stefany, Ryan, Daniel


Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Take time to celebrate accomplishments.

-Reflect on your life at that time and see if there’s anything you can do to make it better for your Little.

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? What have you done to celebrate any major accomplishments?

Being Big for Kids, Current Events, Everything

Being Big for Kids: Conner Prairie

Being Big for Kids 2.0 (2)This is the thirteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

Conner Prairie is an interactive history park that utilizes volunteers, actors, technology, actual historical buildings, animals, acres of land, and children’s imaginations to teach children about life in the 1800s, animals, and Native Americans.

Recently, they held their second early-open-and-free-admission day for families with children who are on the autism spectrum, have sensory, or have developmental issues.

Our Little is on the autism spectrum, and we figured this might be a good day to take him to see Conner Prairie.

We spoke to a representative from the park about whether we would qualify to take him, and they said that as Bigs, we would be fine.

So we contacted our Little’s mother to see if she would be okay with us taking our Little, photo 1 (1)Ryan, and whether or not Ryan wanted to go. We also offered that, since this was a family event, she was more than welcome to take the family and we could stay behind or go our separate ways once in the park.

It turned out that she couldn’t go, but we had the green light to take Ryan.

So, on Saturday, April 11th, we got up really early and went to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

The first thing you notice is the gigantic balloon. It’s bright yellow and orange and provides views of downtown Indianapolis. It’s connected by a cable (so it’s not a hot-air balloon), goes up 350 feet in the air, and is what nearly every kid wants to do.

It also costs $15 a person.

We couldn’t afford to go up in the balloon, and we felt heartbroken. Here we were, right out of the gate, and we had to deny our Little the first thing he wanted to do.

That sucks.photo 2 (1)

Luckily, the tram (a fancy golf cart) arrived and distracted Ryan from the balloon. We took it all the way to the 1863 Civil War Journey, where we were greeted by a store clerk whose store had been ransacked by Confederate troops.

He led us inside to see what had happened. Inside the store, we watched (on cleverly hidden screens) a glimpse into the raid that happened.

There were some flashing lights, bangs, and even a shelf fell down (there was a warning for these things out front).

One of the kids in our group got scared and started crying, but Ryan seemed to enjoy playing along with the store clerk.

Once we were led out of the store, we saw a building that had been burned by the troops in the video we had just watched.

We wandered down the pathway towards another building. This time, we were greeted by a soldier who was recruiting troops to the Union’s forces.

photo 4Ryan decided he wanted to join the Union, and we were led inside the building to watch another video. This video followed the stories of two preteens/teenagers as they struggled with trying to grow up during the Civil War.

We watched as Confederate troops made their way across the Ohio River into Indiana to attack the town, and we watched their eventual retreat and defeat.

It ended with a celebratory cannon shot that (oops, wink wink) went through the wall of the building we were in.

Then, Daniel and Ryan got to go through training exercises of a soldier and learned how to load a gun. Truth be told, neither of them were very good at it, but it was their first time, so I’ll cut them some slack. 😉

photo 5After that, we went on a nature walk that eventually led us over a bridge and into 1836 Prairietown. We went from building to building to learn about being a blacksmith, doctor, schoolteacher, child, store owner, innkeeper, pottery maker, and just a plain ole person back in 1836 Indiana.

After walking around Prairietown for about an hour or so, we made our way to the Animal Encounters barn where we met some awfully cute sheep, goats, and chickens (and baby versions of each).

There were two baby goats that kept running off on the young (maybe close to nine years old) volunteer. They would run out of the barn, have her chase them down, and as she got them back into the barn, they would run off again.

photo 1 (2)It was almost too cute to watch, and the volunteer was having just as much fun as the goats were.

Ryan seemed to enjoy petting the baby chicks, and we all had a hard time leaving, but hunger called.

We went back to the balloon area to grab some pizza for lunch (Daniel and I were worn out) and to take a bathroom break.

After we refueled, we headed into the Lenape Indian Camp. We learned about the fur trade, forced migration of the Native Americans, and about how Native Americans lived in the past and in the present-day. We also got to talk to a worker who was building a canoe out of a tree (we also told him about Big Brothers Big Sisters because he was interested in becoming a Big Brother, yay!).

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Our Little can canoe in midair. He’s awesome.

Once we left the camp, we headed over to a playground for some extra exercise fun on that sunny day.

We headed back inside the main building after we had thoroughly worn ourselves out to explore Create.Connect.

Daniel stayed behind to keep watch as I headed into the gift store. We wanted to pick out something small for Ryan since we couldn’t afford the balloon ride.

When I couldn’t decide what to get, we let him pick something out, and we left.

We didn’t get to do everything, so I hope we can go back sometime soon.

After we got back to Ryan’s home, we stayed and chatted with his mom for almost an hour while he rode bikes with his sisters. I’m super happy we aren’t just forming a relationship with our Little, but we’re forming one with his family, too.

All together, we spent about seven hours with our Little that day. We were tired but happy!


Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Money sucks, and you can’t do everything because of it. It sucks having to deny your Little an experience because you can’t afford it.

-Conner Prairie is awesome. Go there if you can. It’s even awesome if you go as an adult without a kid (Daniel and I have gone on our own before).

-Children have such wide imaginations; let them use it and don’t be embarrassed of how they express it.

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? What is your favorite memory of it?

Being Big for Kids, Current Events, Everything, Theatre

Being Big for Kids: Seeing JOSEPH

Being Big for Kids 2.0This is the twelfth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

My husband works for a local theatre in Indianapolis, and we are both interested in all things arts and theatre. I’ve been acting since I was veeeeery young, and Daniel found his passion for theatre in high school.

Occasionally, we are given the opportunity to see plays and musicals at a discount or without cost (Being young and without a lot of extra spending money, we are SO thankful for these opportunities).

Recently, we were given the chance for tickets to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.IMG_0822

I hadn’t seen the musical since middle school or high school, and Daniel had never seen it, so we looked up some reviews and family-friendly ratings. Most reviews were positive, and the show was consistently touted as being very family-friendly.

We ran the idea by our Little’s mother and asked if our Little would be interested in seeing a musical. She said that she wouldn’t mind him going and the he loved the idea.

So, on Wednesday, April 8th, we drove through a thunderstorm, picked up our Little, Ryan, and drove to Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University to see Joseph.

We got there with plenty of time to spare, found our seats, and looked through the program.

Once the show started, I could tell Ryan was fascinated by the technology and how they were all singing and dancing live. 

11102949_10206285823647157_7559283894618020050_nPart of the way through the show, however, there were some technical difficulties (a piece of the set wasn’t lowering). That provided us with the opportunity to tell him a little more about how live theatre works and that sometimes, things go wrong.

We talked about how well the actors covered for the mistake and that you couldn’t even notice something was wrong until they made the announcement and lowered the curtain.

Unfortunately, there were some, ahem, not so family-friendly parts to the show in the first act. From our advance research, we knew there would be at least one bad part, and the review was right. The review did say, however, that kids would most likely not be able to tell that it was a bad part, but Ryan called them out on it.

He said, “I thought this was supposed to be a kid-friendly show.”

Daniel and I thought so, too, especially since there were crowds of children of many ages.

Other than that scene, the only problem with the kid-friendliness I had were that the costumes and dance choreography were a bit more sexier than what I believe qualifies as kid-friendly.

Thankfully, the rest of the show went well, and Ryan seemed to enjoy himself.

After we’d dropped him off at home, Daniel and I had a good conversation with Ryan’s mother. I’m happy we’re starting to get to know Ryan’s family a lot better.


Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-You can’t always control the family-friendliness of an event you attend, even if you plan ahead.

-Relationships with your Little’s family develop over time. Don’t rush it.

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Have you watched a musical or play together? Which one, and how did it go?