Healthy Eating - Overnight Oats

Monday, August 29, 2016

The first time I had ever heard of overnight oats was on an episode of The Pioneer Woman. Apparently, she had them during a trip to Colorado and started making them at home. At first I was little skeptical, but intrigued at the same time. Oatmeal in a jar, that you make the day before, store in the fridge, and then eat cold. I'm not a huge fan of cold oatmeal. 

I love oatmeal, but get bored with the same instant packet flavors. My favorite is Cinnamon Spice, but it's hard to find, and I can't stand the Apple Cinnamon. Those dried apples have a hard texture at times. I started thinking again about the overnight oats. 

I've been eating like crap lately. And it's starting to show. Jeans are a little snug, double chin is starting to form, and I just feel sluggish. I went to the doctor the other day, only to find out I have allergies, and had to be weighed beforehand. Why is that? I'm going in for congestion and a low grade fever. I'm pretty sure my weight has nothing to do with it. However, I was weighed and that number sucked!! It caused me to really start thinking about healthier eating habits.

I started scouring Pinterest for overnight oat recipes, and while grocery shopping yesterday, I started stocking up on different ingredients from the recipes I found. There are so many options! For my first attempt, I went with a vanilla almond with blueberries that I found on Tastes Lovely Pinterest page. However, I'm not a fan of nuts, so I skipped the actual almonds and went with the almond milk. And it's good. I don't miss the sugar, brown or regular, and it's super filling. I feel good about what I'm having for breakfast, something I skip because I don't have time to make it yet I make it for McKinley every morning, and I'm hoping it sticks with me for the entire morning.

It was super easy to make, and the best part, I have no excuse for not eating something healthy in the morning. It's right there in the fridge!



 I must admit, I didn't eat it directly out of the fridge. I heated mine up. I just can't imagine eating cold oatmeal. And, what I'm most shocked about, is that I didn't miss the sugar. It seems almost unnecessary now that I've had it like this. There are several different recipes I'm going to try. I'm thinking the pumpkin version and apple cinnamon (made with applesauce) sound great for fall. And loading it up with various berries couldn't be horrible, right? 

Have you tried overnight oats? Is it something that sounds appealing? If you are currently eating it, what are some of your favorite recipes? I'm always up for a recipe swap.


Dressing McKinley - School Styling Series

Friday, August 26, 2016

Several weeks ago I blogged about going back to school shopping for McKinley. I love dressing my baby boy in the cutest outfits possible and school is going to be the best way to get in all those pieces I may not dress him in for a weekend of play! It's been a little over a week since school started and I've been having fun picking out his looks the night before. And, he's had fun taking pictures after school. So much so, he now starts posing before I can get my camera ready. So here is a look back over the past week of looks McKinley has been sporting. 

I'm calling this series Dressing McKinley. I'm going to try and give styling updates often. It's so easy to go with super casual, but I like the challenge of creating cute looks that are a little on the dressy side. They don't hinder play, he's able to move during PE, and he looks super dapper! This is no different than dressing little girls in dresses every day. Why should little girls be held to a different standard of dress than boys? I don't think they should!

How do you dress your kiddos for school? Are you a super casual dresser or do you like to put your child in stylish pieces? What are your go-to brands?

Happy Friday!


Mama Style File - Fall Flat Booties

Thursday, August 25, 2016

As many of you may know, I used to write a personal style blog. And I loved it. I wrote almost daily about my own personal style, what was currently taking place in fashion, the pieces I most wanted for each upcoming season, and what trends I thought were worth the money. And after almost six years, I decided to close that chapter of my life and start this more relevant blog. 

However, if I'm being true to Andrea, This Kansas City Mama, then I have to write about fashion from time to time. I'm not going to show you personal style photos like I used to, although "near and now and then" as McKinley says, I may highlight a look that I think is a perfect mama look. And, I might just talk about pieces I personally want to add to my ever growing, stay at home mama closet. I call this Mama Style File. 

With fall right around the corner, I can't help start looking ahead to things I may or may not already have in my closet. And one thing I know I'm in need of, are flat black booties! I got these booties last year, when returning a pair of boots I got for Christmas, and I lived in them all early spring. And, I recently wore them with boyfriend jeans and a cute top for dinner out. (I just noticed they have my size in black!) And the reason I love them so much, aside from the fact that they're darling and go with everything, they are comfortable. The perfect heel height for running around the city with McKinley. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love my five inchers like any other high heel wearing Mama, but they aren't the best shoe for dates to the farmstead and zoo. However, the flat bootie is! I have put together a little collage of the ones I love and wanted to share them all with you, in case you too were looking for the perfect fall bootie. (And true to me, I threw in a really frivolous pair, because who doesn't need a crazy leopard print bootie for fall!)

 Are you a bootie kind of mama or do you prefer something a little more comfortable, and practical, like a tennis shoe? Share with us your go-to shoe for busy days with the kiddos!


A Kid Friendly Work Space

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I love our house. I've loved it since the minute we drove into the driveway! And, it was the perfect starter home. We were going to live here for roughly five years and then upgrade to the next level home. Fourteen years later, we are still here! For a family of three, it works, but at times it's a little tight. We have a two story home, with three bedrooms, but one of the things we like most is that it's multi-level. We have the main level with a kitchen and living/dining room. We have the upstairs with three bedrooms and two baths. We have a room downstairs from the living room, our den, but then we have another level down to the basement which is partially finished. It's McKinley's playroom on one side and the laundry/storage room on the other. It's perfect for what we use it for currently, but I'm now looking around and wondering where we can build a work space for McKinley. 

For those of you new to the blog, I created a home office earlier in the year in our den. It's a long narrow room, so I took the opposite end of our living space and made it a little office. I don't have much there. A desk, nice upholstered chair, and a little antique cabinet I "stole" from my parents for my storage cabinet. I love it! And now, I want the same thing for McKinley.

Now that he's in Kindergarten, he needs an area to work on afternoon activities that are required for him to earn SOAR tickets each day. These tickets are super valuable as he's able to turn them in for something from the treasure box as a reward for completing his work. I've loved working with him in the afternoons on math, sorting, writing his name, alphabet scavenger hunts, and other fun things I've come up with with the help of Pinterest! And, he was able to earn a little firetruck he's had his eye on since she introduced the treasure box on the first day of school.

Right now, we use the kitchen table, which is the age old space where kids have done their homework for years. But, he has this darling table and chairs in his playroom that is currently being used to collect toys that he doesn't feel like putting in their proper place on shelves! It's a pit and you can't even see the work trucks that are painted on the table top. I want to find a place in our house for this cute table to be utilized. I'm thinking of a little corner in his room that houses a chair where we gave him nightly feedings when he was a baby. That chair is the catch-all chair for clothes, blankets, and other things. I see a pattern here. If we moved out the chair, the table would fit nicely and we could use this space to do school work and other fun arts and crafts throughout the year. 

 But then there's the issue of just having the table and nothing else. Yes, he has his playroom, so I guess technically he has a place to play, so this new area would be specific for work. So if we carved out a little nook in his room, we could add shelving to the walls around the table to give him cubbies and other places to put things like crayons, construction paper, and such. And I've found some spaces, again on Pinterest, that I love and that have brought about some inspiration.

Okay, okay, so the ones on the bottom are a little far fetched, but how cute are they? And I love how bright and cheery they are. I could really get to work in a happy space like this! However, the top two are much more realistic. I love the loft idea with the bunk beds and the work station below. It would grow with him as he grows older. I would definitely jazz it up with color. I love pure white, but he needs a little color and pizzazz! 

So this is where I am in the newest "finding space to use" in our house. I'm constantly trying to help our home evolve, but eventually we are going to run out of room. I'm in constant denial regarding a potential move that really isn't necessary. But, it would be nice to have a little more square footage to give everyone the personal space they need.

What have you done to prep your home for a space that your child can call their own? Are you thinking that a playroom is enough and to use that space wisely? My fear is that he won't really concentrate in that room just due to the fact his toys are all around. It's so easy to loose focus when your play thing are so close at hand. Does a child need a work space? Should I simply rely on that age old kitchen table where I too did my homework year after year? 

Let's chat!


Mama Beauty: A Re-Newed Face

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Yesterday I posted a picture of myself on Instagram and Facebook to promote my Stella & Dot jewels. But, instead of receiving comments on the jewels, I got a ton of responses on my hair. I was taken aback. I even had a friend tell me that she thought the haircut made me look years younger. I loved the compliments.

I then took a look at the photo again this morning, reread my comment regarding the photo I took, and now I realize why I received all the comments about the hair. Here's what I wrote. "This is my new mantra. Nobody's perfect, especially not me. However, this layered look is pretty perfect." And now I feel like such a heel. So much so that I removed the photo, even though it's my new profile picture, because I don't want anyone to think I'm that conceded. I would never think that I'm that worthy of such compliments or be looking to receive them. I'm so embarrassed!

But then I started thinking about it. Why should I be embarrassed that I posted a nice photo of myself and that people think I have an awesome haircut, which I do! Why are we so afraid to say that we think a certain way of ourselves and then hope no one thinks we're thinking too highly of ourselves? What's wrong with thinking we're pretty? 

I had intended to write this beauty post before this, but now I'm even more ready to talk! I read a recent blog post from Emily over at Cupcakes and Cashmere regarding her new beauty regimen and I decided to embrace it as well. I'm a girl who loves her makeup. I love to play with colors on my eyes and lips. Changing up my look is fun. But, I'm not really a daily makeup girl anymore. Let's be honest, this mama hasn't probably worn makeup daily in over six months. I may apply some mascara to add some dimension to my eyes. Or I may add a little pop of color to my lips when taking a photo. But other than that, I don't have the time or want to wear makeup these days. And as a result, some days I feel like I look older than my 42 years. Like a hag. Not at all pretty. 

I've decided to mix up my makeup routine and follow in the footsteps of Emily. I call it my Re-Newed Face. I'm going foundation free. I may have an uneven skin tone here and there, but for the most part, I think it's pretty refreshing. I don't feel like my face is tight from the foundation. And let me clarify, I've never really been a foundation girl. I use Clinique's Moisture Surge tinted moisturizer and I love it. And will continue to use for a night out, just not daily. Instead, I'm going with concealer under the eyes to lighten them up and help brighten the whole eye area. To my lids, I'm applying MAC eye paint and a shimmery cream shadow. Curling my lashes and then adding mascara. And lastly, a rose pink blush. That's it! When I need a lip color, I'm going with muted colors for every day. For night, it's full on bright!

And here is the result! Haircut aside, I like the look. I don't feel like I look like a hag, older than 42, and I feel like a re-newed mama! I'm still a little embarrassed over the whole comment and possibly thinking that people think I think I'm pretty.

Are you willing to change up your beauty routine? Are you willing to let certain aspects of your makeup take a break and let your natural beauty shine? Give it a try! You might surprised!


KC Date Night - Town Topic and Up - Down

Monday, August 22, 2016

Do you remember what it was like to troll the mall as a teen in the 80s? Well I do and it was the best time of my life. I lived within walking distance of our local mall, and every Saturday, you would find me and my friends hanging out at Metcalf South Mall. And just what would we do there? Shop for cheap cosmetics at Osco Drug, browse the latest cassette tapes at Disc Jockey, spend babysitting money at Claire's, and when I got older, spent babysitting money on lay-way at Ups and Downs and the Closet. When after Dirty Dancing made it's way to the dollar movie, my friend Michelle and I would see it every Saturday afternoon. Every Saturday afternoon!!!!

Oh, and then there was the arcade. You know, the seedy little joint that was just down the hall from the Orange Julius? Ours was dimly lit, the only true lighting came from the neon glow of the game screens and some canned lights over head. You had all the classics; Pac-Mac, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede (my personal favorite), Donkey Kong (a game I played in the waiting room of my orthodontist), Galaga, and pinball machines. Top 40 hits played overhead, and for any kid of the 80s, the arcade was so awesome. I loved it there.

And when you couldn't get to the arcade, you played games on your Atari. Now, I didn't own an Atari, my first gaming unit came years later in the form of a Nintendo 64, but my uncle and husband had one and you should hear them talk about their amazing triumphs on that one tiny joy stick. Atari in the 80s is the equivalent to XBox and Playstation for anyone reading this that was born well into the 90s! Head to this link to get a taste of gaming in the 80s!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I found ourselves free on a Friday night. So when he asked me if I would be interested in heading to a new arcade/bar in town called Up-Down, I immediately said yes! Again, I loved the arcade. And this place is a through back to our gaming era. Old 80s games, 80s classic movies playing on screens throughout the space, and 80s jams blaring overhead make you feel like you've just hitched a ride on a DeLorean and headed back to 1985! (Watch Back to the Future if you have no idea what I'm referencing.) It was awesome!! We started with a cocktail, a Cider Block Wit for me, Jack and water for him. We got our tokens, $5 for 20 (games are 25 cents a play), and we were off for a night of nostalgia. 

We played Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Indian Jones Pinball, Centipede where I got control stick claw, Duck Hunt, Toobin', several rounds of Skee Ball, and then back for more fun on the true classics we grew up with. 

Then we hit the roof top deck to take in a gorgeous August evening. We found two stools on the edge of the deck and just relaxed. We talked, laughed, people watched, and viewed a very animated video of my uncle explaining to Joel how to play an old Atari game called Track and Field. Remember how I mentioned that they like to talk about their Atari triumphs? Well, Track and Field was one of those said games. Joel remembered it from his Atari and explained to me that when you played it in the arcade, some people balanced a pencil on two horizontal buttons as a toggle. It made the game easier to play because trying to constantly press the buttons simultaneously was difficult. I immediately thought of my Uncle Brent, a highly skilled gamer in his day. I quickly texted my Aunt Mandy, asking her to ask Brent if he recalled the game, and this video appeared several minutes later. Please feast your eyes below on the explanation we were unable to hear in the bar, but loved watching without sound.

This was video one of two....

  I would be remissed if I didn't talk about dinner beforehand. We knew we were headed downtown, but we weren't quite sure what we wanted to for dinner. We knew from the website that Up-Down offered a pizza bar, but we weren't really feeling pizza. As we got off the Southwest Boulevard exit, my husband mentioned that Town Topic was just down the street. Yes!! We've only been once, it was on my 40 Before 40 list several years ago, and a place I've wanted to dine at again. Perfect for a no frills date night! If you haven't been, go!! Immediately! We both had cheeseburgers, me with onion rings, him with fries. And we split a slice of lemon meringue pie for dessert. Honestly, the best little eatery! Head over to my Snapchat page, akrasnowkc, to check out a little video! 

Hands down, this has to be one of the best date nights we've had in a while and we've been going on some pretty steady dates this summer! I'm loving how we're exploring the city, after a date hiatus that consisted of some movie nights here and there. But let's chat. What are some things you love to do on date nights around the city? Throw out some suggestions! I would love to add new venues to our growing list.

Happy Monday!


Back to School - What to Wear

Monday, August 15, 2016

My favorite thing about going back to school was definitely all the back to school shopping! I loved getting my school supply list and picking out the Trapper Keeper that would last me all year. It usually involved one with a kitten or something super girly. And then there was the clothes shopping. Probably my favorite thing ever! I remember for middle school my aunt splurged and got me a personal shopper who I used for three years. Talk about being best dressed!

I really haven't lost my knack for shopping. I love to shop and now I love to shop for my son more than I love shopping for myself. Even at the park or zoo, he's the best dressed five year old I know! So why should school be any different. And, with starting Kindergarten, he has to have the perfect wardrobe to last all school year long. 

My go-to brands are Mini Boden, Carters, Janie and Jack, Polo, and Crazy 8. They offer the best selections of laid back cool and prepster kid. And with these pieces I've chosen, I think I've created a great blend of both. Check out some of my picks below!

I am big into layers. For summer through winter, I think it's essential to have something for every weather scenario. Button downs can be paired under t-shirts and sweater or they can be worn over short sleeves as a form of jacket. Shorts with sweatshirts and button downs are the perfect early fall look and both look great with jeans and colored chinos for cooler days. I also love a down vest, not pictured, when it's not quite coat weather. 

And yes, this is what I dress my child in daily. He is always in a chino type short with a cute printed tee. Yes, he wears Ralph Lauren sweaters, button downs, and colored pants. How is it any different than little girls in their ruffles, lace, and bows? It's not. And instead of bows, he wears hats. The cutest caps in plaid and other boyish designs. In a word, stylish!

What do you have your kids wearing for back to school? Any specific place you love to shop? When do you stop guiding your child on their clothing choices? I'm hoping that it never comes to that in this house. I think I might cry! Speaking of cry, I'm still in tears daily just thinking about his first day of Kindergarten. The only thing that's helping is thinking about that first day look!


KC Fun - Science City

Friday, August 12, 2016

We are big fans of Union Station. We make a monthly trip to visit the train exhibit, and during the holidays, we make a point to head down to the Grand Hall to ride the Holiday Train. And this summer, we introduced McKinley to Theater for Young America, a theater specifically for children. His first show was one based on the Junie B. Jones series, books that he discovered earlier in the spring. He loved it so much that we attended the two remaining shows before the season concluded. I have big plans for him to attend more shows in the fall.

But what we hadn't experienced before now was Science City. My husband and I went years ago, probably around 2001, and had a wonderful time as adults. And I've been wanting to take McKinley but wasn't sure if he was ready. Turns out, based on the feedback my husband received from several of his friends, he was more the ready. I reached out to Union Station to see if we could collaborate and was thrilled when they accepted. We loaded up last Sunday, with my parents in tow, and headed down for a thrilling journey through Science City.

I was overwhelmed and amazed. And McKinley, well he was in heaven. So many things to explore, touch, feel, move, and play. He loved playing in the black sand which was really composed of magnets. It was so cool to watch him gather the sand and then throw it against metal and watch the shapes it would make. So cool! The motion wall was awesome! McKinley loved walking, running, skipping, and twirling across the big screen and seeing all the "little McKinley's" that shadowed him. I would say we spent a good 10 minutes there. Joel and my mom got in on the action as well. Fun for everyone!

Ever watched a ball float on air? This air table was awesome! Simply placing a ball over the airway, and watching how high or low it hovered based on it's shape, was so cool. And, if you angled two small balls just right, they bounced together over the air. Obviously, larger balls don't float as high, but what I love is that McKinley has no idea that he's learning how density and size creates cause and effect. 

Check out this cool tunnel! It's made of wood and is the coolest design I've ever seen. McKinley loved trying to slide through. A really neat structure for play.

Ever pumped air into a bottle that's housed in a wooden car to see what happens when you hit release? Well, if you fill the bottle full of air, the car shoots off the valve and races down the track! McKinley loved this experiment. He turned and turned the wheel to fill that bottle with as much air as he possibly could and loved watching it shoot off it's mark. Same with the bottle air rocket experiment. Anything that was super hands-on was his kind of thing!

 I would have to say that the musical space was on of my favorites, especially the piano pit. Okay, it's not really a piano, but it has little censors that pick up movement and play certain notes from piano keys. You simply wave your hands over the little rectangles and create music based on your own movement. How cool is that?? There was metal fencing that clanged loudly with every tap and a xylophone inspired rope piece that played subtle music when you drummed. And don't miss the floor piano that looks like a slip resistant rug. If you step on the black keys, you play piano with your feet!

 Greetings, Earthlings. Oh wait, those aren't aliens. That's just me and McKinley aboard the rocket ship slide. A metal sculpture, with a lookout point, this slippery slide takes you for a ride.

So there was this other cool air experiment with paper. There was a diagram on the wall of how to make this paper cup object using a paper cup, scraps of paper, and tape. And, once you made said object, you placed it inside a wind tunnel. Guess what? My paper cup creation looked nothing like the one on the wall and failed the air tunnel experiment. But as Joel and McKinley discovered, you can just ball up scraps of paper, place them in the tunnel, watch them bounce around until they make their exit at the top. I don't think I'm cut out for science..... 

Speaking of wind, you can create your own wind in the Science of Energy exhibit. Turning small wheels, and other devices, you can generate wind which activates small turbines. This made such an impact on McKinley that he has started creating his own turbines when he plays farm at home. Again, I love when he's learning but hasn't a clue he is! Learning is fun, kiddo. Remember that!!

We had a pretty turbulent landing in this helicopter, but we made it safely on land. Thank goodness McKinley had the controls in the back because I was unable to do anything from my vantage point in the front. I swear he's going to be a pilot when he grows up. Or a farmer. Either one works. This massive helicopter was a major hit with McKinley. He's still talking about it and said it was by far his most favorite thing we saw all day.

For this dinosaur loving five year old, this animitron dinosaur was the coolest. He was mesmerized by how big it was and watched it move with awe. We didn't get to spend any time in the dino dig, just due to the fact of it's popularity, so we will definitely head there first on our next trip. From what I could tell, kids were digging up bones from several different species and I know McKinley would be in heaven with that kind of archeological dig!

 Lastly, we visited the maze park. This large floor maze was a little tricky, and for a kid that's never worked a maze, it didn't even phase him. He stepped onto the maze and made his way into the center without a single assist from us. This child amazes....see what I did there....but seriously, he amazes me on a daily basis.

We spent roughly two and a half hours at Science City and barely scratched the surface. Things I want to do on our next visit, and there will be multiple visits in our future, are the nature center, Spark! Lab, the Kinderlab, and I personally want to spend some time in the Mr. E. Hotel. The best thing about this space is that there is truly something for everyone of any age. The learning process of being able to do things on your own is invaluable. I appreciate it as a mother who's constantly trying to teach her child through hands on experiences without making it feel like learning. If you make learning fun, then a child is actually going to want to do the work. Why? Because it doesn't feel like work. And that's what Science City did in those two amazing plus hours. 

I highly recommend Science City to everyone! So much to do and see. So many exhibits to experience and learn from. And there is truly something for all ages. My 43 year old husband was like a kid at play, but he said he would love to go back just so he could read what each exhibit had to offer. I just loved watching McKinley. He jumped up and down, ran to each attraction with wonder, worked his little muscles in all of the interactive exhibits, and slept like a log that night. Science City is a work out for the mind and body!


Photos courtesy of Richard Lawson Photography.

Raising a Well Rounded Kid

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I just told my husband last night that this parenting thing is hard! I don't know if I'm doing it right half of the time and he said, "I'm know I'm not doing it right." So how do you know? I guess you have to wait until their adults, or teens, to know if it's really working. In between all the discipline, the playing, and the adventures, there's also the raising them to be well rounded. 

I'm an old school parent when it comes to activities. Find one or two that work and stick to them. You don't need five activities outside of school. If that were the case, I'm not sure a child would be any good at any of them. There would be no time to give each one the attention and discipline they need. But, how to you find the one or two they're actually good at? I'm also very picky about the activities he can participate in. I like the classic sports like baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis. Football is out of the question and neither my husband or I like soccer. So, the four listed above will be our test sports for now.

When McKinley turned one, he started swimming lessons. Swimming, in my opinion, is a life skill and a sport. There is always going to be some form of water around you and you HAVE to know how to swim. He's not always in love with swimming, but I keep telling him it's non-negotiable. He's not afraid of water, he just doesn't love putting that sweet face in the water. After witnessing Great Britain swimmer Adam Peaty break his own world record during the Rio Olympics, a gold medalist who was once afraid of the water, I'm even more convinced that McKinley will be a swimming master! I would personally love to raise a swim team athlete. Being a swimmer myself, a lifeguard who loves the water but never competed, I always feel at peace near water. I'm hoping the same will eventually ring true for my own child. Summer Olympics 2028, here we come!

Last summer McKinley was part of a Blast Ball team, one step below T-Ball, and played on his first T-Ball team this summer. He likes it, but I think he enjoys fielding (running after every ball in play) more than anything else. But, he's focused. He's always in his "ready position", as Joel calls it, when playing outfield and really thinks through the motions of stepping and throwing the ball to first base. Batting is a struggle from time to time, but we are working with a heavier aluminum bat and those little muscles are working as hard as they can. It frustrates him, but he doesn't give up. I've always said he have a hard worker on our hands and it shows in instances like this. Hard work pays off, right? Keep up the good work, bud! 

And then there's dancing. Our child loves to dance. He calls it "wild dancing" when have a dance party in the living room and he goes full out to the music. He requests "Cake by the Ocean", "Can't Stop the Feeling", "Satisfaction", and we provide 80s hits here and there. He tests out new moves, spins, falls to the floor, and simply enjoys moving. And because of that, I signed him up for Creative Movement at school last year. The teacher is a instructor at a local dance school, Miller Marley, and came to Brookridge Day School once a week to teach ballet, tap, and creative movement. And he liked it. So much so that he asked if he could continue to take dance. So this summer, in addition to T-Ball, he took Kindergarten Combo. It's a 45 minute class that consists of tap and ballet. He is one of two boys in a class of five and he likes it. And he's good at it. His teacher, Miss Missy, encouraged him all summer when he struggled with steps. Constantly re-iterated to him he was a good dancer and to not give up. And as a result, McKinley has decided he would like to continue taking class, so we've signed him for the fall. Am I worried? A little. At five, it's not much of an issue with friends. But when he's 12, and if he's still taking, it could be a teasing issue. A bridge I'm willing to help him cross if he's following his heart and passion. Like any "sporting" athlete, dance is a sport. And again, as a dancer myself, I've defended this unsupported theory for years. And if you don't believe me, google male dancers and look at their physique. Not a sport.....

Between swimming and dance, it sounds like I'm asking my child to follow in my own footsteps. And that's simply not the case. Again, swimming is life skill, and he doesn't have to become a lifeguard to fulfill his swimming grade card. He just has to learn to swim. As for dancing, it can only help with his athletics later on. Think about the NFL players who have taken a ballet class to help with coordination and flexibility. It only strengthens his abilities. Again, I've asked him if he wants to dance. I didn't sign him up without his consent. And when he's had enough, I'll be okay with that. But, he will have to have something team oriented in his life. I truly feel every child should be a part of a team environment. It teaches accountability, something I think a lot of kids these days don't have enough of, but that's a different post for a different time.

Come winter, I'm thinking of signing McKinley up for basketball, another sport he's expressed interest in. He plays "hoops" with Joel in my parents basement, on a plastic goal he got for Christmas several years ago, and makes baskets most of the time. Joel is going to chat with our neighbor, who has an adjustable goal in her driveway, to see if we can use hers for early practice. Based on that, we will determine if we pursue the basketball camp. After that, the skies the limit for this dude. Tennis camp, golf lessons, and swimming are on the docket for summer. And of course T-Ball. A well rounded kid can do it all, right?

What activities do you have planned for your kiddos? Do you have aspirations of glory or just to have some follow through? How much is too much in your opinion? Is there ever too much? I realize that McKinley is only five and there's so many other things he could be interested in or able to excel at, and I'm ready to help him pursue those dreams and goals. But he has to learn to swim. Life skill, my friend, life skill!


KC Fun - Overland Park Arboretum

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My son loves trains. There was a time when he played constantly at his Thomas the Train table at my parents house for hours. And just like anything else, it feel by the wayside for things like garbage trucks and excavators. But lately, he plays with that table every time we go over there. 

He had a sleep over with them Sunday night, and when I went over to pick him up yesterday morning, he was playing trains. We talked about what we wanted to do that day, and McKinley mentioned driving around and looking for railroad crossings and possible old train cars that would be abandoned on the tracks. I recommended the Arboretum. They have a wonderful Train Garden with working model trains and a really old caboose in the background. The suggestion was positively received, so I packed up lunch and we left for the garden.

If you haven't been to the OP Arboretum, you really need to plan a trip. It's beautiful. And so incredibly peaceful. A little sanctuary in the middle of a chaotic city. The gardens are gorgeous and the walking trails are challenging for those who would like to take scenic strolls while getting in a little extra exercise. This mama was huffing at times, and with a cooler start to the morning, I found I wishing I had worn shorts! 

You are greeted with a large pond surrounded by gorgeous landscape. As we crossed a little bridge into the Arboretum, with mounds of lily pads in bloom, we spent several minutes looking for frogs in their midst. We didn't find one.

We continued our walk and found my favorite spot, a babbling waterfall that feeds into a small pool at the bottom. McKinley explained how the waterfall worked and how the tiny river ran along the rocks. He stuck his hand into the cool water, asking me to do the same. And then we were off again. This time to a tiny path where we played follow the leader, McKinley always leading, and then raced to the finish line when taking alternate routes. It was like the Olympics, Arboretum style.



Then it was time to find the train. We spent at least 45 minutes in that section alone, taking time to play in the little gravel play area before heading back to watch the trains. He was memorized. The trains travel over bridges, under the sidewalk, under the caboose platform, and around small model towns in the center for the exhibit. He jumped up and down with excitement, rolled from one end of the sidewalk to the other to watch the trains enter and exit the tunnels, and sat perfectly still at times just taking it all in. As my mom said, it was almost a Zen like state. And the caboose was open yesterday so we were able to watch the model trains from the platform and tour inside the tiny car. That was a first time experience and pretty cool. 


We spent a small amount of time wandering the wooded area of the Arboretum, but McKinley got a little nervous inside the "forest" so we made our way back to the pond. I would love to take time to find the Enchanted Forest and to walk among all the cute fairy like doors carved into the trees. It looks, well, enchanting! 

At the Koi pond, McKinley decided he was ready to go home. I guess the trains were enough for this guy. So instead of a fun picnic around the pond, we ate our lunch in the car on the way home. He talked about the trains all the way so I'm pretty sure he had a great time. He even showed all the photos to Dada and told him all about the trip. We're planning another outing with Dada soon.

If you're looking for a fun afternoon outing, check out the Arboretum. So many things to see for when you need a little nature lesson. Beautiful places to take rest or eat lunch. And they have a sweet little cafe and small gift shop. A treasure in the south portion of Overland Park.

electric toothbrush