Thursday, November 12, 2009

Steak Marinade / Fajitas

This is a marinade I use when making Fajitas but have used it on occasion for other grilled steak as well.

1/4 Cup honey
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 steaks of your choice

Mix all ingredients and pour over steaks. Marinate for 2+ hours

For Fajita veggies/sauce:
2Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper (color of choice)
1/2 Cup Fat Free Italian dressing
1/2 Cup Teriyaki Marinade (I use Allegro)
1 Tbsp Lime juice

Saute onion and bell pepper in olive over medium heat until desired tenderness. Add Italian dressing, Teriyaki marinade, and lime juice. Reduce over medium until desired thickness.

Increase the dressing and marinade amounts to increase the amount of sauce.

Posted by: Larry

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the Gates
The Battle for Stalingrad
by William Craig
Non-fiction

You are going to like this book if you have any interest in history, military, horror, or heroics. It has it all and this stuff actually happened. There are even a couple of love stories (but I don't suggest that your wife read it)

This is the book on which the movie "Enemy at the Gates" was based. As with many movies it pales in comparison to the book. Still, I expected to find it's pages filled with sniper exploits but found instead a fascinating tale of war at it's worst. It was possibly the greatest military bloodbath in recorded history (well over a million men and women died).

Craig wrote this book roughly 30 years after the end of the war, pulling together eyewitness accounts, diaries, memoirs, and official documents. The result is a book that flutters between many many characters from Stalin and Hitler to mere privates and civilians. Because of that there are a lot of stories going on at once. But Criag has arranged the information pretty well and it wasn't as hard to follow as I might have imagined.

The story of Stalingrad takes place in Nov of 1942. Hitlers 6th army under the command of Field Marshal Friederich von Paulus has been ordered to take Stalingrad, as he plunges ever deeper into Russian in his effort to take the country. As any of us who have played Risk or have any knowledge of Napoleonic history knows, conquering Russia is a job that is impossible, especially if you don't get it done by winter. The Blitzkrieg strength of the German military soon grinds to a halt in the street fighting of Stalingrad where soldiers fight for individual houses and cellars.

There were heroics on both sides and some amazing "can't believe it happened" moments of luck and courage, like when two Russian soldiers crawl out of a sewer to find a chow line. Both famished they jump in line to get some food. After a while in the line they realize that everyone is speaking German. Undaunted they go through the line and get some food and sit down to eat. They are almost found out before a kindly cook lets them slip away. The book is full of battle moments you could never imagine. It is sad, sick, unbelievable and heroic, these guys went through Hell. If you have ever wondered about the horrors of war then definitely give it a read. And after the city is saved (spoiler: the Russians Win) it still ain't over for the Germans. A Russian POW camp is not a place you want to be for 12years!!! You will just have to read it.

Reviewed by Mr. Rogers

Monday, October 26, 2009

National At-Home Dad Network

In March of 2006, Daddyshome, Inc. - The National At-Home Dad Network, was founded as a 501c3 non-profit corporation by 3 at-home dads in the DC area. Its mission was to support at-home dads nationwide and encourage all fathers to take an active role in childcare. It has taken three years, but at the recent 14th Annual At-Home Dad's Convention in Omaha, that mission has begun to take shape.

At the convention, a larger, more geographically representative 8-member board of veteran at-home dads were appointed and took several bold steps toward creating a true National At-Home Dad Network:

Merged with the At-Home Dad's Convention
For the first 10 years, the convention had been hosted by Oakdale Community College in Chicago. When the college decided to discontinue hosting the convention, a group of veteran at-home dads agreed to keep it going and moved the convention to Kansas City for 2006 and 2007, Sacramento for 2008 and then Omaha for 2009 and 2010. Daddyshome began partnering with this convention committee in 2007 to help the convention raise money. With the success of this fund raising and the non-profit corporate structure that Daddyshome offered, the At-Home Dad Convention Committee and the Board of Daddyshome agreed to make the Convention a part of Daddyshome. This now assures long-term sustainability for the convention so that at-home dads can continue to connect in person with other at-home dads from all over the nation one weekend a year.

Appointed Regional Coordinators
These Regional Coordinators will help at-home dad groups become chapters of Daddyshome and will assist new local groups get started. Soon, Daddyshome will have the most complete listing of at-home dad groups from around the country on one, easy-to-search, website. By easily finding local at-home dads to go to playgroups and Dad's Night Outs, more at-home dads will be able to increase their support network which will, in turn, improve their families.

Defined voting members of Daddyshome
The board determined that voting members would be those who attended the convention or paid an annual dues of $10. These voting members would be responsible for electing members to the board of directors and serving on various committees such as the convention, regional coordinators, website, etc.

Amended terms to the Brian Dickson Memorial At-Home Dad Convention Scholarship
Among several changes it was decided that $5 from every convention registration fee would go into the scholarship fund that would help one or more at-home dads attend the convention. Also, the board awarded the first scholarship to first-time attendee Chad from St. Peters, MO to help him make it to the convention next year in Omaha! For more details on the scholarship, see www.athomedadconvention.com.

For the first time, at-home dads can now unite behind one national organization. Many websites and dad's groups have attempted to bring about this movement and now it is being realized. The work is far from complete, but with a dedicated, 8-member board of directors and a vibrant voting membership of 53 and growing, Daddyshome is on it's way to being the National At-Home Dad Network that at-home dads across the country have needed.

I invite you to check our website regularly at www.daddyshome.org as we work to construct a dynamic site for at-home dads as well as www.athomedadconvention.com for details on the next convention in Omaha on October 2, 2010 and www.athomedad.org for great forum discussions.

With your help, at-home dads will change the world, one diaper at a time!

Al Watts
Vice-President, Daddyshome, Inc. - The National At-Home Dad Network
(former KCDAD)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Activity: Holdiay Trains At Union Station

Location: 30 W Pershing Rd Kansas City, MO 64108

Cost: Free

Ages: all
Hours of Operation: 9:30 to 5:30. Check the website for days open.

Website: http://www.unionstation.org/
Review:
I know that we've all talked about the Holiday Trains at Union Station so let's put it on the blog. This set up is just plain awesome and you should go check it out.

Basically, it's a huge display of toy trains running around a carefully created world. The kids aren't allowed to touch any of the trains but that's ok, they are mesmerized by them. Models of all types go into all the different environments and they have a little something for everyone. They even had Thomas the Train running around the tracks. My 2 year old son ran up to it and did not move, and I mean this, for 30 minutes. He pressed his face against the Plexiglas and just watched. When I tried to pull him away to show him other parts of the trains, he got mad. It's that cool to a 2 year old. Make sure you check the Union Station website to see how long it runs. This is certainly worth a trip to just do this.


Activity: Chocolate Exhibit At Union Station

Location: 30 W Pershing Rd Kansas City, MO 64108

Cost: $9.50 ages 13 and up, 3 to 13 is $7.

Ages: all

Hours of Operation: 9:30 to 5:30 Tuesday through Sat. Closed Monday.

Website: http://www.unionstation.org/

Review:
Rarely do I rip an activity that we go to as a group. Time to make an exception. But why write about an exhibit? Because it might come back next year.

So let me save you 15 bucks: skip this one. The price just cannot be justified for what the Chocolate exhibit is. It is billed as discovering the history of Chocolate, from seed to sweet. In this, I found that the exhibit did a halfway decent job. Mostly what the exhibit is is a bunch of plaques and a few artifacts from ancient Maya and Aztec explaining the importance of the cocoa bean. Then it goes through the evolution of it.

And that's about it. It took us about 20 minutes to go through the whole thing and for 9 bucks for an adult and 7 bucks for my daughter, I was expecting more. They talk a little about the making of chocolate but not enough and certraintly no hands on experiences here. There were a few videos of chocolate being made but no discussion of it. Plus, the video's looked like they were from the 80s and were only missing a guy with a bad haircut and a porn stach. If you are going to talk about chocolate, then show a hands on approach to how it's made or cooked. Get a Foundu pot at least, that's all I'm saying.

The biggest disappointment was no samples though. Which is surprising considering when you enter the exhibit you are over whelmed with the sweet smell of fresh chocolate only to be disappointed to find that there is actually no real chocolate there. I was told that they would have some free samples on the weekend but that really just shows how half assed this exhibit was.

But let's give this one good thing to it's credit. The docent's were awesome and took family photo for us.

Activity: Alldredge Orchards Apple Picking

Location: They are located at six miles south of Platte City, Missouri:
> 10455 Highway N
> Platte City, MO 64079

> 816.330.3448

Cost: Flucuates depending on how many apples you wish to take home with you. Word of caution: A bushel of apples is a LOT.

Ages: Appropriate for all ages

Website: http://www.alldredgeorchards.com/

Hours of Operation: Open Spring through Fall. Hours vary according to the season so refer to the website.

Review:
If you have a hankering for some apples, come here. They also had pumpkins and various flowers available for purchase as well.

Let's start with the apple picking. Having never been to an apple orchard before I didn't know what to expect. Now I do. There a ton of trees to choose your apples from and numerous sizes of baskets to take. But let me warn you again, a bushel of apples is a lot of apples. So have some recipes ready becuase you are going to need them. Alot of the apples hang close to the ground level so the kids can have fun picking thier own right off the tree. For those more hard to reach areas for that perfect apple, they give you a tool. I'm sure it has a name but I have no idea what it is. It's a long pole that you use to grab the apples down. My kids had a great time and I think everyone else that went did as well. We had a great turn out which is one of the reasons I love bringing all the families into it.

But it's not just You-Pick apples that are offered here. It's an entire farm so that means animals, namely free roaming chickens. I don't know why but kids love chickens. They love to chase them, they love to try and catch them and they love to run away from them when they squawk. Very funny stuff. Goats and a pony were also on site. The kids discovered that goats love to eat apples who knew. There is also a track for pedal cars that every father felt the need to get on and race. I don't know why we are still competitive but we are. For the record, I'm slow.
There is also a small playground that the kids enjoyed.

But we couldn't really give a great review without mentioning the store and the food. The store has fresh farm produce that you would expect. It's good stuff. But not as good as the made from scratch food that they offer. If you go, I highly recomend getting the chicken soup. I know, raving about soup, that's wierd. But you have never tasted soup like this before. Hands down the best soup of any type that I ever had. And the apple dumplings, well, as this is a family site I won't use the word orgasmic. But it was.

Go prepared to spend a good amount of time here. It's well worth it.





Hiking: Overland Park Arboretum

Location: 8909 W. 179th St. (just west of Antioch) Overland Park, KS 66085

Cost: Free
Website: http://www.opkansas.org/_Vis/Arboretum/index.cfm

Ages Appropriate for: All. Older kids can do these trails without much difficulty and the younger ones will be fine in a backpack. Some of the trails are paved around the Arboretum so they would be stroller appropriate.

Review:
The trails at the Overland park Arboretum are great for beginners. The trails we did were about 2 miles long and a very easy hike. The trails themselves were well kept and trimmed back. On average they were about 6 to 8 feet across and mostly level.

Here's the reason this is a great easy hike, especially for beginners with the backpacks. It's a flat hike. There are a few hills but no major climbs. Your kids should also have an easy time with this one as well because of this. And with the trails being so wide there's not a whole lot of stepping over anything. The best thing about these trails were that they were mostly covered in cedar chips, or at least it appeared so. This had the benefit of soaking up any water and cutting down on any mud. The day we went it had rained before and we found the hike extremely enjoyable.

The scenery is nice but doesn't have any really breath taking views or formations. However, it does have a neat little cabin where you can do some bird watching. It was really well done and if you have some time to kill I would head out there. It's basically a nice little walk through the woods that your kids will dig.





Friday, October 23, 2009

Activity: Ghost Tours John Wornall House

Location:
6115 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO 64113
Phone: (816)444-1858

Website: www.wornallhouse.org/
They admit that the site stinks (alot of info is wrong) and said they are working on changing it. Best bet is to call them.

Hours and rates:
Ghost tours happen one weekend every October (This year it was Oct 23-24th) they also might do it in March. So chances are you missed it. I am basicly reviewing this so you know about it for next year. Tours ran at 7, 8, 9, and 10pm, and cost $15 per person. Be sure to call since space is limited, I am not sure if reservations are required.

The Missouri Irish Brigade fireside ghost stories and the Paranormal group demonstration were free. The Irish Brigade was camping out on both nights, the Paranormal group was there on the 23 but I don't know about the 24th.

Ages: Any age for the Irish Brigade and Marshmallows, not sure about the tour, I imagine it depends on the kid, same goes for the paranormal group.

Review:
Okay I wasn't there to see the house or hear it's haunted history, which apparently it has plenty of. So I know nothing of the actual Ghost Tours. I will say the house looked kind of creepy with all of the lights off inside which is enough to weird me out. The house was used during the civil war by both sides I believe and at one point was a battle field hospital with an amputation room, so I am sure it has plenty of dead people available to haunt it. I went to see the Missouri Irish Brigade and the Paranormal Group.

So the fireside Ghost stories were told by a group of Civil War Reenactors who portray the Unions Missouri Irish Brigade. www.moirishbrigade.org/index.html Two of the members are Stay-At-Home Dads which is half the reason I went. They were all dressed up in their civil war garb and it was a shame it was so dark because I couldn't get a great view of their outfits or equipment, but what I did see was pretty cool. They are happy to tell you all about their group, how to join and what they do. Like a bunch of drunks they are always looking for fellow drinkers to join the party. They had some chairs arranged around the campfire and were quick to get you a stick and a marshmallow to put on it. The stories were cool but I must admit the one story I really paid attention to got stopped because everyone was heading into the house for their tour but up until that point I was riveted.

The Paranormal group was housed in the carriage house (I unfortunately don't remember their name). It was two women and a table decked out all of their Paranormal gear. They were very knowledgeable regarding what they do and why, and it was truly interesting talking to them. Checking out their gear was fairly cool. I was expecting to see a bunch of exotic ghostbuster type stuff, but most of it was things I had seen before: digital voice recorders, flashlights, digital cameras, infrared cameras,and walkie talkies. The more impressive stuff was the funky thermometer and electromagnetism detector. The really cool part was the laptop computer that they used to play the recordings of their encounters (some of which were at the Wornall house). They seemed to have an endless supply of recording to show.

I can't say I was convinced that ghosts existed from talking to them. Most of if not all of their recorded "voices" were not clear enough to positively know what made the noise or what they were actually saying (you could easily hear what you wanted to hear). But hey, I wasn't there when the sounds were recorded, so what do I know. On one file they had what sounded like a thunderclap and a scream that the recorder pick up loud and clear but no one in the house actually heard. And they also showed a video where the camera was knocked off a dresser it was sitting on. It all comes down to wheather you trust them or not. I do know that if you talk to two true believers long enough they will get you to wondering if it's true, and they will have you looking over your shoulder as you walk back to your car.

I would do the fireside ghost stories again especially as my kids get older. A life isn't lived if you haven't sat around a campfire and heard ghost stories, it should be required. The Paranormal group was also worth seeing although I don't know if they will be back every year. As for the Ghost Tour someone will have to go on it and tell us how it is.

Reviewed by Mr. Rogers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Omaha

10 Stay At Home Dads (SAHDs) from the KC area recently attended the National SAHDs conference in Omaha. For this first time attendee, it was an amazing experience. It was three days filled with fun, bonding, and the sharing on knowledge and experiences that will enrich our roles as SAHDs. So I offer to you, fellow SAHDs and SAHD groupies, two takes on the whole experience.

At Home Dads' Convention in 40 words:

Dads, steak, beer, football, planes, bombs, big planes, mexican food, beer, gambling (lost only 23 cents!), bacon!, research, hairstyling, spread the word, 3 year-olds are a pain, feminism, praise-consequences-consistency, tie-dyed apples, networking, beer, football, beer, missing the family, and unity.

Reflections from a newbie:

Never have I felt so instantly connected to a group of people before. Sure, we've all made a choice that is outside the norm. But what unites us is more than our societal role and genetic make up. It's the struggles we face on a day to day basis: feeding our kids nutritious meals, dressing them and styling their hair in a socially acceptable way, making an acceptable dent on the honey-do list, taking care of the health and well being of our kids and ultimately ourselves. They are concerns that most parents have. It's just that we've volunteered to be the primary parent responsible for these tasks in our family. And we're men. And so when we meet, there is a comfort and an understanding in knowing that we are not alone in the challenges that we face. We may do things differently, and that's OK. Oh, and even though we're the primary care giver in the family, we can still like beer, and football, and not have to check our testosterone at the door.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Battle For Fatherhood Dominance, Part 2

It was dire my friends, dire. Looking at the board was like looking into your own demise. The Politician had control of 80% of the world, with only Africa and my little Australia untouched. No one had heeded my warnings and it happened the only way that it could have happened.

But I was still alive and spoiling for a fight. I talked to the Gamer. Let us put our differences aside my old adversary. Separately we are doomed but together perhaps we can change the course of this war. Turn and fight my friend, fight for everything you hold dear.

He would not. He was not convinced. It is often this way with the power hungry and delusional. The truth was there but he refused to see it. At that moment I could have wiped him off the face of the board and I considered it. But again, Risk is more than just tactics. It’s about people. And in that moment, I decided that the course of action that I would take was the only one that I could take. If you would not hear my words of peace, dear Gamer, if you slap away my hand of friendship, so be it. I will show you through my actions my commitment.

At that moment, I started the greatest march ever seen in the board game of Risk. 1000 feet with 1000 dreams marched. Victory or death, there were no other options. The ground shook, the heavens rumbled and the women quivered. If others lacked the courage, then so bit it. From Australia we marched. Through the steppes of the Mongol empire we marched, conquering as we went. Into India we slaughtered, up to the communist block we freed the people. We bypassed the Gamer. If he wanted to see what kind of men we were, then we would show him.

We made the leap to Greenland and pushed on. We swept over the land like the bubonic plague, crushing each hotspot of resistance offered by the Politician. We steamrolled through the East Coast and then exploded through the Midwest. We turned north and retook Alaska. We erected a monument to those fallen and then we turned our attention once again south. In the west coast we threw the invaders into the sea. My army was unstoppable. When the Politician rolled 5’s, we rolled 6. When he put up a barricade, we burst through it like a bloody spear. We could not be stopped.

We faced off with his South American Army, the main force of his empire. They could not avoid the onslaught brought to there doorstep. When it was all done, the Politicians army lay in tatters, strewn about on board like a strippers nurse’s outfit on buffet night. We had marched from one end of the map to the other. It was a march that would have made General Sherman proud. It made the blitzkrieg look like a Sunday stroll. The Politician was not defeated, but he was severely weakened I had effectively taken away every major army that surrounded the Gamer, giving him the only chance he would ever get, if only he would believe. If only he would have faith.

He did not. The politician is wily and has skills. To underestimate him is to sign your own death warrant. He rallied his troops and organized his reinforcements. He then took out his vengeance on the Gamer. Very calmly and methodically the Politician wiped the Gamer’s forces off the board like crumbs from a plate. The politician had erased the memory of every single player from the game, with one lonely exception. And now he turned his attention to that exception.

Like a scourge he came and like a badger I defended. I lost hope, I lost faith. In my moment of darkness I questioned if I should go on now or just open my torso to his bloody conquest. But I said before that the game of Risk is more than just about tactics. It’s about more than just strategy. I wanted to concede but the ghosts of the vanquished allies would not let me. Yes, the game is also about people and their memories.

“Fight on!” whispered Mr. Rogers. “Yes, to the end!” The Teacher said. “Anyone have anymore chips left?” The Hippie asked. I did not have any more chips. But I did have some fight left in me.

Wave after wave I defended. Again and again I gave ground but inflicted heavy casualties on the aggressors. Like the Spartans at the hot gates I drove back the Persian horde. And then the politician made a mistake. He split his forces. Sun Tzu, I know thee well. His split forces could not erase me from the map, although they tried. Now it was my turn. Opportunity, that fickle mistress, had arrived at my pad without any panties on. How could I refuse her?

I began my counter offensive. No mercy, no prisoners. We traded blows, punch for punch. Every move made, every move countered. Back and forth, each inflicting damage, each taking it and then asking for more. The Politician and I, locked in a bloody struggle for more than just the Risk game, this was the struggle of Fatherhood dominance.

But my army, fueled by the righteousness of our cause, rallied and would not be pushed back any further. Coordinated, we attacked everywhere at once impaling the dreams of the vanquished upon my pikes. The Politicians world grew smaller and smaller while mine grew larger and larger. The urging of my fellow players at the beginning, seeing them wiped out without mercy, my trying to convince the Gamer to join my cause, my heroic march across the board: all of it went through my mind. In the end there was blood and carnage. In the end there were screams and cries. In the end there was destruction and chaos. In the end, there was victory.

The Politician had been vanquished and my army stood alone upon the Risk board. Tired and hurt but united on the board of victory. 6 of us started and only 1 remained. It had been a long road. A road where friendships were tested and chips were eaten. Beers were consumed and wives went to bed. There will be other challenges and other challengers. The Teacher, The Hippie, Mr. Rogers, The Gamer, The Politician and myself all fought for ultimate control of a child’s board game. Just a board game and yet, something much much more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Battle For Fatherhood Dominance, Part 1

They all should have listened to me, that much is clear. But they didn’t and most of their carcasses litter the battlefield with the buzzard’s getting the more juicy parts. Yes, they should have listened to me.

My strategy was as sound as as old as the game of Risk itself. Fortify Australia. One way in, one way out. My armies would die for me to the last man. Some called them fanatics, barbarians. Little plastic men with little plastic minds. I called them Legion. They would unleash hell and horror on the battlefield, driving my opponents ashes into the board game itself.

Mr. Rogers and the Hippie both tried to control N. America from the beginning, ignoring the rest of the board, forgetting about the power of Europe or the rich mines of Africa. Had the cold war taught them nothing over the last 50 years? Mutually assured destruction, making it easier for 3rd world terrorists to come in and take over our beloved country. The cry of “Wolverine” would be heard no more.

In Western and Easter Europe dwelt the Teacher, a newer member to be sure but did he hold some ancient wisdom? Perhaps. Perhaps not. If he did he would need all of his cunning if he was to fight off the attack coming from his south. The Gamer had set camp in all of Africa and his intentions were clear from the start: Go North to the rich bounty of armies that holding Europe commands.

I was not worried about any of these players. You could easily see the chaos that was about to erupt and the only thing that comes from chaos is the annihilation of all those who try to control it. They would blindly kill each other without seeing who the real enemy was even though it was close enough to peep in their windows as they got undressed. In South America the Politician roamed freely, unchallenged. His boarders heavily defended, it’s inner secrets heavily guarded. He was poised to launch multiple attacks in multiple directions. Burn and pillage his way through the game, becoming stronger with each captured territory. In my mind’s eye I could see the outcome, I could see each maneuver, each roll of the die. Eventually he would end up at my doorstep and I only had hope that my group of patriots could drive him back.

“Brothers!” I screamed. “Can you not see the threat poised directly to your south and west? The Great Satan has arisen and means to consume you all in fire and ash! Unite my brothers! Forget your petty squabbles! Unite and defend our freedom!” I say again, they did not listen to me.

With a lust for power and an all consuming greed for control, Mr. Rogers and the Hippie began their struggle for North America. Again and again they attacked, neither gaining an advantage but only proving that little plastic soldiers can die a hero’s death. 40 armies became 30. 30 became 20. 20 became a handful. They had decimated themselves, leaving only a token force in all of North America. The Hippie retreated to Alaska choosing that place to make his last stand while Mr. Rogers went to Japan and I offered him my protection. And the Politician? He waited. Silently.

In Europe, the teacher attempted in vain to hold off the advances of the Gamer coming up from the dark reaches of the Congo. Like a 16 year old zeroing in on a drunk cheerleader, he was relentless and a bit handsy.. The Gamer had a good home base and a nice little fatwa going in the subcontinent. But he had no objectives, no direction to point his force. Into Europe he would venture, then stop short of victory and pull his men back. Into Asia he went where my fantastic fanatics pushed him back. But he ignored the Politician, right next door and growing more powerful. And the Politician? He waited. Silently.

The Teacher was desperate and his forces were quickly diminishing. I offered him sanctuary in East Asia as well. I set a circle around The Teacher and Mr. Rogers giving them the protection at the level that they haven’t seen since their mother’s held them in her bosom. I did this not only because I am merciful and kind, but because I know that the board game of Risk is more than just strategy and tactics. It’s also about people and this was perhaps my secret knowledge that would, if used correctly, allow me to defeat the scourge in South America. With my blessing the Teacher and Mr. Rogers unleashed their minions back into Europe, trying to persuade by force where diplomacy had failed, that the Gamer should renounce his ways and attack the Politician immediately. In the meantime, I used the extra time bought to slowly grow my empire. And the Politician? He waited. Silently.

In the cold of the night, hidden in Alaska, the Hippie tried to replant his soldiers but it appeared futile, the ground could not be sown. Supplies were running low, moral was on the brink of mass suicide and desertions were common. The Kool-Aid was being prepared but they never even had the chance to drink it. A rumble in the south, a scream by the gate. The Politician was on the move. He was silent no more. Like an uncaring tidal wave crashing on the shores he consumed all before his path. Up through the Rio Grand Valley, into the heartland of America he swept virtually unopposed. Taking a detour to Greenland and then back into North America The Politician came, unstoppable until he reached the hot gates of Alaska and the Hippie. I wish I could say it was a valiant defense. I wish I could write of the bravery and sacrifice. I wish I could tell you of the Alamo like stand the Hippie made. But I cannot. It was over before the first breath screamed a warning. The Hippie was no more.

The Politician was not finished and would not be finished until all bowed to him on bended knee. Using the Bearing Straights he swept into Northern Asia and then south to confront Mr. Rogers. That lovable Mr. Rogers who just wants to make arts and crafts was being besieged and I could not help him. But his stand was valiant and he took many a men to the grave with him. But in the end, the force opposing him was just to strong. Mr. Rogers joined the Hippie in destruction and the prophecy was complete.

The Teacher was now being pushed on all sides. His Asian force went with a whimper but his Eastern Block army held there own for a little while until cold and hunger took them. He was eaten alive by the Gamer and by the Politician. Let his name be sung and put into ballads of old. He was in a better place now and the mortal world could no longer hold him.


To Be Continued.................

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Activity: Ariline History Museum

Location: 201 NW Lou Holland Dr
Kansas City, MO 64116-4223

(816) 421-3401

Website: http://www.airlinehistorymuseum.com

Hours and Rates: Monday through Sat, 10 to 4. Sunday 12 to 4.
8 for adult, 4 for 6-12, kids under 4 are free.

Ages: Any and all. It's plane's man, everyone loves planes.

Caution!: These planes still fly and do airshows. So before you go, give them a call to make sure you can see them.

Review:
I'll start the review this way: My 2 year old son was so excited that he cried.

Located in the downtown KC airport, the hanger that houses the planes and the museum sets the tone just right. The hanger is huge. I mean really huge. It's the type of huge that they use football field lengths to describe. And it has to be huge because that is where they house the planes.

The museum portion of the attraction is not bad either. Located on the inside of the hanger, it offers a glimpse into air travel over the last 60 years and provides a good chuckle. For example, in the 1940's, flight attendants could not be married and it was suggested that they have a degree in home economics. There are a lot of model aircraft as well as some actual 1970 style airplane seats. The kids loved these although I have no idea why. Wait until they are 30 then they will come to loathe them.

On display on the inside are numerous items that include flight books that you can flip through, china from airlines (they actually used glassware at one point) and other neat little oddities.

This sets you up for the big dog of the show: the planes.

They have three planes that you can see. A Super G Constellation, a Martin 404 and a Douglas DC-3. Now you may have no idea what these are so let me clarify. They are huge commercial planes from the last 50 years. Did I mention huge? Yes, huge. It just seems so different when you are right up next to them.

This is a little bit of a guided tour but most of the kids were in awe of the planes. When they weren't, remember that this is in a hanger so there is PLENTY of space to run. And what are they going to break, it's a plane man.

Not only do you get a chance to get up close and personal with the outside of the aircraft, you actually get to walk through 2 of them, all the way up to the cockpit. Now I know, who hasn't walked on a plane before? Well, this is a little different. First off, they are old. Nothing says old like nicotine stains from years and years of smokers on planes. When was the last time they even allowed this? Second, you'll be surprised what you will find in them. Some of the compartments had fold down beds that looked nicer than what I had in the dorm. Arranged in a bunkbed style and featuring great 1970 curtains, travel in style as you sleep away the miles. You also get to go to the "galley" where all the food was prepared. It's interesting to actually see this. FYI: the drink cart hasn't changed in 50 years. It's the same then as it is now.

But wait, we're not done. Also in the hanger they have an engine ripped apart that the tour guide shows you. How cool is that? You'll learn all the interesting facts from this tour. For example, one of these beasts guzzles 500 gallons of fuel an hour. Makes your Hummer look down right respectable doesn't it?

A couple of oddities that are also worth seeing here. They have the rocket ship from the old TWA building downtown. It's larger than I thought it would be. Also, when you get in the hanger, look up. They have a ceiling fan that is by far the biggest thing I have ever seen. Apparently if you crank that bad boy up to full speed you get a 4mph breeze going through the place.

So if you have an afternoon to kill and what to do something cool, this one is for you. Our kids loved it and the dads found enough interesting to ignore the kids at our leisure

.


Activity: Steam Boat Arabia Musuem

Location: 400 Grand Blvd, KC MO.

Website: http://www.1856.com/

Hours and Rates: Open 7 days a week. M-S 10am until 5:30. Sunday: 12 pm to 5.
Adults: 12.50. Ages 4-12: 4.75. 3 and Under are Free

Ages: I would keep this for the older kids, atleast 5 years of age. However, if you have a kid in a stroller, that works just as well.

Review:
For those who are not familiar with this museum and what it is, let me explain. The Steam Boat Arbia was a steamship that sank in the Missouri River in the later half of the 1800's. The river then changed course and the ship was covered by dirt. Eventually some people dug it and that's how you got the museum. What makes this interesting though is that everything that was in the ship was intact and was basically a big time capsule.

I have seen a lot of well done musuems and exhibits in and around KC. This one though, has got to rank up there with one of the best. It's a huge building that appeared to be really well kept. The top floor is reserved for eating and shopping and this is where the tours begin. This is one of the reasons I wouldn't take toddlers to this. You have to be part of a tour, at least at the start. They do give you plenty of time to roam free but 20 minutes is spent listening to a tour guide. This is great if your kid can stay still and not distract you. Those aren't my kids though so I missed most of what our tour guide said.

However, shortly after the speeches you are allowed to roam through the exhibits and I think this is really the thing that sets this musuem apart. The exhibits are exceptionally well done. They have a recreated paddlewheel that is actually working on the old drive train of the boat. My son couldn't get enough of this. Other pieces of the boat are spread throughout the museum and are in really good condition. They put back together a back portion of the boat so you can actually see what it was like and it's really well done.

Most of the other exhibits are behind glass which was a great thing in our case. 3 year olds can tend to be a bit grabby and this prevented them from destroying anything and us getting banned. As you can see, the museum is not built for the younger crowd so I'm not sure how much they got out of it. Toddlers are big in to touching and learning and there wasn't much of that here. The dad's however thought it was great and loved to see everything that was pulled out of the boat.

Woodworking tools, nails, horse gear, sacks--you name it. It almost felt that if it existed in the 1800's then we had a chance to look at it. Guns, ammo, and tons of other stuff made this one of the more interesting exhibits that we have seen.

I do want to add this: the museum is superbly laid out with large spaces so even the kids that weren't able to really grasp any of this had plenty of room to move around without worrying about hitting anyone. As a parent, I always appreciate this.

Final call on this one: 12 bucks is a little high but in the end I thought it was worth the price. The exhibits are first rate and so is the building. The large spaces makes it manageable for younger children and the paddle wheel will distract just about anyone long enough for you to read a couple of plaques.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cell Phone Eulogy

I did not know Father Hitman's wonderful and glorious Touch Pro cell phone and as such I may not be qualified to speak on it's recent demise. I did not know of it's many applicatoins. I did not know it's smooth and silky touch screen. It may have been like stroking the hair of God, a warm lover's touch with the deepest intimacy. I did not know any of these things, but I do know cell phone loss.

I know of the pain and confusion when a cell phone moves on to that big Sprint store in the sky. I know of the hurt and the feeling of abandonment, that same hurt that resides in your heart forever. Every button after that feels different, like an accidental caress of the stranger on the street rather than the knowing fell of what you are used to. Yes, I know these things brothers and maybe that's why I can see the pain behind Father Hitman's eyes more than the rest of you.

Given my daughter's destructive nature I have known many a cell phone and I have lost them all. Even my current one has a cracked screen thanks to the awesome destructive power that is my mongo. I know the hurt! Yes! I KNOW THE PAIN!

And I know bravery when I see it.

We told Father Hitman not to climb that cliff. We told him dammit, but the man wouldn't listen. We told him that flip flops were not appropriate attire for cliff climbing. But he didn't listen, because he is Father Hitman. It's in his nature, he's a free spirit.

It's that same free spirit that came tumbling down Tryst Falls, landing with a mighty "UMPH!" When the rest of us turned and saw nothing but feet and ass, we knew that this was going to be bad. He was up 8 feet if it was a foot.

We ran over to see if he had brained himself, broke a leg or possibly even shattered his thousand dollar camera.

"I had to get the picture, I had to get the picture, I had to get the picture" is what he was mumbling as we came to him and pulled him off the ground.

He seemed ok, bleeding in a couple of places but that was about it. Can I get an amen. We did a status check. Blood minimal. No broken bones. Camera working.

Then he pulled the cell phone out of his pocket.

The back of the phone was popped off, a big dent in it. The battery lay on the side like guts hanging out of a tour guide that was mauled by a lion. The screen was black.

He had it in his back pocket and when many an electronic device would have fled, texting in terror, the HTC Touch Pro stood it's ground and took the majority of the impact from the fall.

And now it had paid the price.

With trembling hands and a tear in his soul, Father Hitman attempted to put the phone back together. Caressing each piece like one would caress fine cashmere, desperately forcing pieces back together that didn't want to get back together.

He pushed the power button. The screen remained black. He screamed "Why God, why!" and continued to push the button as if he was giving it CPR. "It's not your time! It's not your time!"

And then the faintest flicker. Was that the power or our imigaination? He pushed it again. This time it wasn't a flicker, but a striaght white line on one half of the screen. New life had been breathed back into the mighty HTC Touch Pro. A cheer went up but died quickly in our throats when we saw the rest of the screen.

Only one half of the screen was working. The other half remained in darkness and shall forever more remain in that same cold void of nothingness.

Yes, the phone came back but to what kind of life? What kind of quality usage can it expect with only one half of the screen working? But he can't let it go. Deaf, dumb and blind, the phone remains in his possession to this very day.

So you see, I may have never known this amount of loss. The kind of loss that stairs you straight in the face every time you try to check the weather on your cell phone and only get Monday and Tuesday when you need the 7 day extended forecast. The kind of loss where you get directions only to the halfway point or where your wife sends you a text message saying "I love............" Who does she love? Father Hitman may never know as he keeps vigil over his shattered cell phone. A phone more fit for a texting donkey than a SAHD who was just trying to get a great picture of Tryst Falls for his kids memories.

So gather around tonight my brothers, my fellow dads in the parenting jungle. Raise your glass to that brave cell phone that sacrificed itself so the thousand dollar camera could live. Sing it's praises and send it on it's way to that great big voicemail box in the sky. And remember what it was in the prime of it's life, when it gladly told you who was calling and gladly let you ignore it. Just hope that one day it's in a better place, surrounded by 72 virgins and 1000 night and weekend minutes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pico De Gallo

There are still some great tomatoes, onions and green peppers at the local farmers markets. Here is a great way to put them to use.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes - 4-6 Depending on tast. Roma or plum tomatoes work best
Green Pepper - 1
White Onion - 1
Jalapeno - 1
Cilantro - 1/4 cup Again a matter of taste
Garlic Salt - 1 teaspoon

Dice all of the vegetables. Do the tomatoes first and put in a collander to drain. Roma tomatoes work best because they don't have as much water as other ones do when diced. Chop the cilantro. Add garlic salt to taste. Mix and enjoy.

To make it into a Mexican Salad add one can of black beans and one can of corn.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Activity: Tryst Falls

Location: There is no actual address for the Falls. However, it is located 6 miles East of I 35 on Route 92. Head toward Kearney, exit route 92 and go 6.1 miles. It will be on your right. It is a dirt road entrance and can be easy to miss.

Cost: Free, it's a park.


Appropriate Age: All

Review: I realize as I write this that I haven't tanked many of the activities we have done this summer, which I now dub as Year of Discovering Missouri (next year we do Kansas). We've been lucky in the activities we have done through a combination of good planning and good hosts. Even when things are not appropriate or kinda crap, they are usually made more enjoyable by the docent or locals that help us out. However, this is not that type of place.

I'm not going to totally bash on this though. I love nature and any nature is a good start. With that said, let's get to ripping.

Tryst Falls is "Kansas City area's only scenic waterfall", not my words. And to it's credit, it is a waterfall and it's not bad. It's not Niagara Falls, but not bad for a day trip.

However, there are some problems with this site. First, when you roll up to the park there is a sign asking you not to swim in the water, touch the water, bath in the water or inhale the water because "test show Fecal Coliform Contamination" In other words, poop water. This is not a good start.

The falls are just a short walk down a small field and a path. They are about 15 fee high and you can walk to the top and look down or walk to the bottom and look at them from the side. But don't touch the water. It's a nice view but one that could be better.

First off the road is built right up next to the falls with a highway bridge going over the stream feeding the falls. This kind of messes up the scenery a bit. The field around the falls is also not very well kept up and I noticed plastic bags, styrofoam and other assorted trash here and there. I didn't notice any trash cans around which would explain the random trash It wouldn't kill them as well to mow a little closer to the water at least for appearance sake.

There is a single picnic table at this park but we didn't want to eat next to poo water.

I don't mean to imply that the falls are not cool to see, they are. But it's not a place that you would want to spend your entire day at or eat lunch at. There are plenty of really cool attractions in Kearney such as Jessie James' grave and farm house (both worth it) and Watkins Mill State Park, where we did have lunch and visit. I won't write a review of them just yet as we did not experience the whole of the park and I don't think I could do it justice. But I will say that the parts we saw were very nice and well kept and the Mill Museum is pretty cool for the older kids.

Back to Tryst Falls. They do have a playground at the park but we didn't much play on it and instead opted to go to the Watkins State Park instead.

My final vote: If you are in Kearny, it's worth a drive by for a quick look but not an activity to go see on it's own. As for trash--someone pick that up. It really does bother me when people treat natural resources like shit. I'm not a hippie, we have one of those already. But as one of our members say "make it so like we weren't even here." This is a good motto and one that I think KCDADS does really well when we do all of our nature hikes.





Activity: Art Class

Location:

Website:
www.littlemastersbigart.com

Cost: $5.00 per family, suggested donation.

Appropriate Age:
3 and up but we did have several 2 year olds participate and it worked out well.

Review: This is an Art Class that was held by a very nice lady named Kristen. It's an actually art class and not just paint by numbers kit. We went through the color wheel and identified the primary colors.

Although this was a kid and dad activity, the teacher controls the class while Dad hangs back and only intervenes as needed or if someone is getting punched. She seemed to have really good rapport with the kids and they responded to her. Before the actual painting took place there was music and some physical activity to stimulate the creative process.

After the running around it was time to get our paint on. We used 3 primary colors and the idea was to copy a picture posted at the front of the class and demonstrate our knowledge or the color wheel. OR paint like Jackson Pollack to the rocking theme song from Apocalypse Now. That was cool. Either way, the kids are painting and that is fun. There is defiantly structure to what they were trying to teach but the teacher seemed very patient when the kids decided to go off the reservation and paint like mad.

A couple words about the set up for everyone. Very nicely done. The tables were covered with butcher paper so any mess was easily cleaned up. For the younger kids that couldn't participate there was a playroom with plenty of toys and some cartoons going on. This was one of the most impressive things. So if you have two kids and one is to young to paint with the class, don't let this scare you off. They can hang in the kiddie jail with you while the teacher takes your other kid and teaches them to be an impressionist.

A couple of dads split off to watch the kids and the rest of us helped their kids with the painting. It was well done. As this class is more about the kids interacting with each other and the teacher, dad does get to kick back a little bit here and there was a couch for our comfort. Finally, the teacher brought paint shirts for everyone so paint wouldn't get on their clothes.

All in all this was a great activity and one that I would recommend to anyone with older kids. Check out there website as they offer scheduled classes or if you have a group I'm sure she would be willing to again set something up for you.





Hiking: Lakeside Nature Center Trail

Location: 4701 E Gregory Blvd Kansas City, MO 64132-1693
The trail is located behind Lakeside Nature Center

Review: This is not a stroller friendly hike, so leave them at home. Even if you think you got a jogging stroller, don't do it. The trail can be narrow at points and there are several falling trees that you have to climb over. Which the kids loved doing by the way.

This trail is about 3 miles long. However, if you have the little ones with you there is a cut through at the beginning which makes the trail about a mile. We had a group of kids under 4 and they seemed to do really well with only the under 2 crowd needing to be carried.

The trail itself though is one of the better ones that I have been on around KC and I thought it was very kid friendly. A couple of the members thought that some of the brush could be trimmed back a bit but it's not really noticeable.

It's a flat trail for the most part but does offer some hills that can give a little bit of a challenge to the kids. There's plenty of greenery but it's broken at parts by a stream that runs through the middle of the area. The stream was one of the awesome parts of this hike and the kids loved it. It's very picturesque. The riverbed is rock and it's easy to cross without getting anyone wet and offers some great opportunities to throw some rocks. Which kids don't like to throw rocks?

The scenery of this hike is the real joy of it. The sunlight would come through the trees in spurts, creating little highlights of the kids. I believe we found an aqua duct running through the forest and that was really cool because honestly, how often do you see something like this. There is also a weird tree stump that is worth seeing as I have never seen anything like it before. There is a group of trees growing around a big whole where another tree used to be. It's very strange but very worth it to spend some time there and check it out.

All in all, I would recommend this hike to everyone. We did it without backpacks and just carried the younger kids on our shoulders. With the cut through option it makes the trail short enough that this wasn't a problem especially when your stopping at the different things to see. Great nature hike and one that I bet we go back to again soon.






Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Boob Suit. Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit.

Ray Parks plays Snake Eyes, not Ralph Fiennes

Boob Suit. Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit Boob suit boob suit boob suit.

Molded Nipples.

That's about what you need to know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jim Cosgrove

Jim Cosgrove
Jim Cosgrove (Mr. Stinky Feet) puts on a lot of free concerts throughout the KC area. He does a good job of entertaining the kids. I have never been disappointed. He throws a few things in for the parents amusement. For example teaching the kids to raise the roof. Or telling the kids the next song is a rock ballad. I think the Wondertwins have become certified groupies. Each week they ask if there is a Stinky Feet concert they can go to.
I have always wondered what it is like to be a children’s musician. Is it weird that your biggest fans are four or five years old? Back in DC, Mr. Knick Knack would play to fans screaming in awe…only the fans were all tots. It’s a weird gig. Maybe Cosgrove would be willing to hang with the KCDads sometime. I get the sense he is with his kids more often than he is not.
http://www.mrstinkyfeet.com/calendar/index.php

Ernie Miller Nature Center

Cost- Nature Center and Trails are free
Storytime is $2 per person

http://www.erniemiller.com/

location k-7 and 135th Street (Santa Fe) in Olathe

Ernie Miller Nature Center – Olathe
I took the wondertwins to their storytime. The stories themselves seemed lame. My kids said they were bored. The wondertwins are not adverse to storytimes and have enjoyed many at Barnes and Noble and Borders.
They did enjoy seeing an owl up close. The Nature Center sounds somewhat similar to Lakeside. Maybe a few less animals. There are a few aquariums and a few cages with owls. They have a number of easy trails, some paved, most not. We enjoyed crossing a creek on rocks, picking up fallen walnuts, listening to birds, seeing a large frog in a pond.
In a nutshell…storytime-not so great, nature center- small but fine, trails- a lot of fun (not too hard nor too long).

Jazz Storytelling

Jazz Storytelling
Jazz Storytelling is a free event at the American Jazz Museum. It runs once a month on a Friday morning and once a month on a Saturday morning. We have gone twice this summer (and another time at JiggleJam).
First of all this is free. It should really be called music time with a little storytelling tied in. The group consists of a drummer, bassist, male and female vocalist. They teach the basics of jazz music. Kids are encouraged to dance, stomp, sing and sometimes play an improvised instrument. Miss Lisa interacts really well with all of the kids. The wondertwins like this a lot and I do too. Some of the songs can stay in my head for a long time.
Next storytelling is this Friday Aug 14th. We have another commitment or we would be there.
http://www.americanjazzmuseum.com/index.php?page=getcalendar

Johnson County History Museum - Kidscape Exhibit

Link and Address: http://www.jocomuseum.org/history.htm


________________________________________
Museum Information:
HOURS:
Tuesday-Saturday:
10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00-4:30 p.m.
ADMISSION:
FREE
LOCATION:
6305 Lackman Road - Map
Shawnee, KS 66217
CONTACT US:
ph: 913.715.2550


Cost: Free
Our Experience:
I had the kidscape exhibit on my summer activity list for a while now. I took the wondertwins (almost five years old) along with me for our adventure. We arrived around 10:30. The parking lot was pretty small. The first thing I noticed was three KinderCare buses. Day cares, camps and other large groups of children have every right to go to places like this but I wish they would go on days when I was not there.
The kidscape area reminds me of an exhibit at Crown Center a couple of years ago. This “community” of colorful plywood tot size buildings includes a hospital, theater, library, putting green, magnetic fishing etc. Nothing is totally amazing but collectively it is pretty neat. The theater has a backstage where kids can try on costumes and also play with the lights. The small stage has red velvet curtains. There are four or five theater type seats for the audience to watch the kids put on their “shows”.
Dads heed this warning. The door ways are low but are of inconsistent heights. I saw a couple of SAHMs take some blunt trauma to the head. I thought the one was going to pass out.
The kinder camps kids were actually well behaved but their sheer numbers made my kids have a little less fun while they were there. Once they moved out, the wondertwins activated their happy adventurous little selfs. We stayed for two hours and I got protests when we needed to depart for lunch.
Also in the building is the history museum. This has some exhibits for kids. Including a kid size old time house with kitchen and chicken coop. For some reason the wondertwins really loved this thing. I quickly read a little history of JoCo while they busied themselves and learned that in the post WWII era Prarie Village was finishing a new house a day. And that much of JoCo was developed to help support the railroad. There was much fuss about the Hannibal bridge in KC. Hannibal is actually on the other side of the state from KC. So I don’t know where they got the name. I traveled through Hannibal and over a bridge many times to get to my grandparents houses. One memorable summer evening, snow plows were out to plow off the junebugs that covered the bridge. I digress.
Free Kidscape exhibit is open until early next year. I would recommend this and I would go again. I think the 1950s electric house is also at this property but I am not sure and did not check it out.
There is a park within sight of the museum. The playground looked fine. Nothing huge but this could be a picnic lunch option. I failed to notice if they had picnic tables.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Activity: Lakeside Nature Center

Location: 4701 East Gregory Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri

Website: http://www.lakesidenaturecenter.org/

Cost:
Free Ages: Good for all ages.

Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM.
Closed Sunday & Monday

Contact for setting up programs or groups:
Sharon Goff
Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, Inc
FOLNC President
Sharon4890@sbcglobal.net
(816) 513-8960.

Review:
This is the reason I like Kansas City, little nuggets like this place. In all the things we have done over the last 2 years, I did not know about Lakeside Nature Center. It's located by the zoo. I've been hiking all over this place but have never been here.

Although when I say "little nugget" I don't mean to imply that this place is small, it's not. It is a huge building that contains the nature center, picnic area and hiking trail near Swope Park.

Let's start with the Nature Center as it is probably the first thing you want to do when you get there. The nature center is really well done and it may be hard to describe. First off, everything seems very hands on for the kids, which I always love. There are bones and fossils that the kids can play with. There are things that they can climb. There is a play area with books and games. There are little doors that they can open to see the animals. There is a kid friendly microscope that they can look at feathers through and other things. Really impressive and really well presented.

Next of course are the animals and there's plenty to see here. Like snakes? You'll get your fill from rattlers to copperheads, all safely tucked behind glass. Like fish and turtles? Got those galore and their aquariums are pretty well done. They have the best, and I mean best, snapping turtle I have ever seen. This thing is huge, atleast 3 feet long. We saw it when it was napping and I swear I thought it was fake, just laying in the water. Then it moved. Very cool and the best one I have seen at any nature center. And if you like the creepy crawlers--they have them too. Scorpions, spiders and cockroaches--man those freak me out. They also have a collection of birs--vultures, hawks, etc, that they have rescued. And Jeff the squirrel. Who doesn't like Jeff the squirrel. Note: my kids call all squirrels Jeff.

Finally, we were lucky enough to attend a presentation held by Ms. Sharon Goff. The kids absolutely loved this. Ms. Goff brought out a rabbit and let the kids pet it. She also brought out a snake and told the kids about that as well and let them pet it. Ms. Goff was patient with all of them and put on a first class presentation. I would highly recommend calling her or emailing her (info at top) if you are bringing a group down.

The next stop is the picnic area and I like putting stuff like this in here to help you plan your day. It is a large picnic area with heavy duty picnic tables. It is well covered and is neat the woods so the kids can play when you are done eating.

There is a hiking trial that is connected to the Center but I won't write about that here, it will be it's own blog as we were so impressed with it.

All in all, this is one of the places in Kansas City I would take out of town visitors to if they have kids. It will blow their socks off and it's free, what's better than that? I highly recommend to anyone who wants to get into nature and do some hiking. Tell Jeff the Squirrel we said hi.





Friday, July 31, 2009

At Home Dad Convention

Website: http://www.athomedadconvention.com/

We here at KCDADS just want to give a little love to the Stay At Home DAD Convention coming up on OCTOBER 1OTH.

Above is the link to the website so you can go check it out if you wish, which I highly encourage you to do. For our group, I think we are going to have a pretty strong showing. There are 7 of us that are going and I hope to get more.

Unsure if you are going? Think of this:

1. We are carpooling, and there is a strong possibility that we will have the Xbox hooked up to the in car DVD player. Take that Dora, we hate you. But we love Pablo. 3 hours of smack talk, alien destruction, and talking about dad stuff-like potty training. There's still room in the carpool, so sign up and come along.

2. 2 days of no one head butting you in the crotch. That's worth it right there.

3. We may or may not be producing a song. Come and find out.

4. A little game I like to play call "Hey Cow". Don't know what that is? It's a Texas game, so saddle up and bring your spurs.

5. A meal you can eat from start to finish, without any interruptions. And get this, you only have to cut up your own food!

6. Don't want to sleep solo? We are all rooming together and there is still those that don't have that domestic partner lined up yet, could it be you?

7. Support the movement, go meet other guys doing the same shit as you. Sure, you're weird like 90% of the time. But here, with other SAHDs, we're all weird so no pedophile looks from the moms!

8. If we are challenged to a beer drinking contest, how are we going to win without you? KCDADS must represent! NYC thinks they are better than you.

9. Honestly, you can go to bed at bedtime with no distractions. That's worth the registration right there.

10. Private bathroom time. That's all I'm saying.

So come to a playgroup or post an email and we'll get you set up with us. We have one member leaving on Thursday night and the rest leaving Friday. We will be coming back Sunday. Hope to see you there.

Activity: Shatto Milk Company Tour

Location: 9406 N. HWY. 33 Osborn, MO 64474. Phone: 816-930-3862 It's on your right hand side as you are coming up. It's smaller than you think but it's there.

Website: http://www.shattomilk.com/contact.html

Cost: 5 bucks per person for the tour. There is also a Country Store there as well that sells all thier products and give out free cheese. We like free stuff.

Review:
For those that weren't there, this was our family day outing that we have been planning for the last couple of months. We decided to pack everyone, wives included, into the cars and took the trip an hour north of KC to visit the Shatto Dairy Farms. A special thank you to Mr. Rogers who set all this up. He did a great job.

My first impression was that it is smaller than I thought. Given that you see their milk everywhere, I expected it to be huge. It's not. It's family owned with about 250 cows. But that doesn't mean it's not worth to go up there, this was totally worth it.

Your tour begins in basically the bottling room. Our tour was given by Mr. Shatto himself and it seems like he does all of them. He's a charismatic bastard, that one. Anyway, the bottling room is pretty small. We had to crowd in to get everyone in there. They show you where the milk comes from, the machines it gets pasteurized in, and then how they bottle it. They then show you the actually process using water. It was really cool and the kids seemed to enjoy this.

Then they start giving you free samples of milk. Big deal, right? Turns out, this is a big deal. Have you ever had banana flavored milk? What about root beer flavored milk? Not bad, not bad at all. Didn't think it would be, turns out it's pretty cool. They explain the process to you and they seemed to take special pride in their chocolate milk, which was thick and awesome, I'll give the credit where the credit is due. So for the next 20 minutes were spent taking shots of all the different kinds of milk.

The next stop on our tour was to actually milk a cow. We had different successes with different age children. Some were scared which is to be expected but some other's were pulling on that teet like there was no tomorrow. They also had a bunch of calfs that were born within days that the children could touch and pet.

Finally, they took us to the "milking line". At least that is what I assume it was as 12 cows were lined up to be milked. They showed us how they do it and seemed to be really ok with us touching the equipment and cows.

I want to add that the staff was attentive and exceptional. They gladly answered all our questions, we never felt hurried, and they were generally pleasant all day.

After the tour we commenced our Picnic. Papa Scrum had brought his grill and I made some truly awful potato salad. Seriously, it was like toxic starch and I apologize to everyone for that. But the meat was good.

There are only 3 picnic tables available in a field next to the farm but we planned ahead and brought more tables. If you are planning to make a trip out there though and picnic, bring a fly swatter. It was the one thing we needed that we didn't have. The field provided a lot of room for the kids to run around and play in. Different families brought wagons, or balls or numerous other toys for the kids to play with. The parents bought milk from the country store.

They have some really good strawberry milk though, good god that's some good stuff.

We made a whole day of this and I think that everyone had a great time. It was one of those perfect sunny Midwestern days that look like a picture in a brochure.

It's tough to say what the best part of the day was as it was all pretty good. I like it when the wives get together but it unnerves me sometimes to see them talking without us. Are they judging us? Are they asking private questions about my back hair? But it's good to see all of them getting along together.

The kids playing at the picnic might have been the highlight of my day. We had enough space that basically everyone could go crazy without anyone getting hurt or running into eachother.

End recommendation is that his is a good day trip to plan, bring the family and a sack lunch, and go play with some cows. And for god's sake, buy some of that milk, it's that good.

Also a note on our Pictures: Most all the pictures on these blogs are supplied by either Larry Geographic or Father Hitman. Just a thanks for them and their fancy cameras.








Saturday, July 25, 2009

Playgroup conversations

As a stay at home dad I often get asked, especially by wives, what the hell do you guys talk about. I get it all the time. My sister, my wife, just about every mother I know asks that question. It seems that many can't imagine what 15 guys talk about when we get together when we are surrounded by future presidents and award winning cancer curing scientists. Well, they aren't that yet but we all have high expectations. My kid in particular. I've her slotted for Ruler Over All. I am hoping that she will let me live in a sweet villa beside the ocean. And I get free steak. That would be awesome.

Do you guys talk about breast feeding? About potty training? About snot and poop? It's like they have a hard time imagining that a bunch of guys, as manly as we are, talk about these things. And I can't blame them. Their experience with men has routinly been guys trying to get into their pants. Including their experiences with us. Except we succeeded. Go us. And now we are stay at home dads with the children to prove our smoothness.


But c'mon, we aren't always ruled by whats south of the border. We have bigger interests than just that. I know a lot of our wives read this sight to see what's going on with thier kids and check up on their husbands. So let me put it all to rest, let's answer that question once and for all. What do we talk about at playgroup when it's just us and the kids? So here's what we talk about.

That chick at the grocery store.
That chick at the gas station.
That chick at the mailbox.
That chick that had to be at least 21.
That chick with that thing at that place.

Potty training.

That chick at Blockbuster getting that romantic comedy.
That chick that looked at me all sexy like when I pulled up to her at the stoplight.
That chick who I bet is wearing a thong.
That chick who found my kid lost at the grocery store.
That chick who was in the swing waiting for her boyfriend.

Finding the right preschool.

That chick at the gym.
That chick that looked like she went to the gym.
That chick in that commercial.
That chick on that TV show.
That chick who was in the commercial and the TV show.

Diaper rash.

That chick who was walking her dog as we came to playgroup.
That chick that was crossing the street as we came to playgroup.
That chick that was doing yard work as we came to playgroup.
That chick that was doing jumping jacks by her car as we came to playgroup.
That chick with the jogging stroller that we passed as we came to playgroup.

The difficulties of breast feeding.

That chick that was all greasy underneath the hood of her car in the short cutoffs.
Those chicks that were in a full out pillow fight at the slumber party.
That chick that was eating that Popsicle.
That chick in the nurses outfit.
The fact that none of those things were scene but it would have been cool if they were.

How to make a quilt for ever lasting memories.

Princes Leah.
Princes Leah and her hair buns.
Princes Leah and her gold bikini.
Princes Leah and her hair buns and her gold bikini and how she seems to like fat guys.
Princes Leah and fat guys and what might be her home phone number.

Recipes for losing weight or becoming an interstellar smuggler.

That chick who reads this blog.
That chick who will no longer talk to us.
That chick who thinks we are a bunch of disgusting jagoffs but yet bad boy sexy.
That chick who thinks that she can fix us.
That chick who wishes we drove a motorcycle with a carseat on the back because that would be cool.

Aprons.

That chick at the zoo.
That chick at Shatto Milk Company.
That chick at the civil war battlefield.
That chick at the Library.
That chick on the hiking trail.

The best way to put in a carseat.

There you go. That's just about all that we talk about. I hope that I have shown our wives that yes, we can be a little neanderthal at times, but underneath all of that is a caring husband who has a nurturing side. Someone that doesn't just think unpure thoughts all day like it is rumored that men do. Someone that can cook you a kick ass dinner and make sure that the kids aren't jumping off the roof.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go sleep on the couch for a couple of days until that chick at the flower shop hooks me up and gets me those roses.