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.


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



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.

Ernie Miller Nature Center

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

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.

Johnson County History Museum - Kidscape Exhibit

Link and Address:

Museum Information:
10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00-4:30 p.m.
6305 Lackman Road - Map
Shawnee, KS 66217
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


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
(816) 513-8960.

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.