Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How Playgroup Works

Playgroup is our time each week to get together and let the kids socialize as well as ourselves.

Here's what you need to know:

Playgroup Times: Playgroup is held every Wednesday from 10:00am to 2:00Pm. We have a second "playgroup" on Friday but we term this "Adventure Fridays".

Playgroup locations: Playgroup will rotate between North and South locations around the KC metro area so that, in general, at least twice per month a playgroup should be within 20 minutes from you. The North/South boundary is 47th St. in KCMO.

Hosting: Everyone is eligible to host a playgroup but it is not necessary in order to join the group. The hosting list is set 6 months in advance and posted in the secure section of the website. The Host decides where the playgroup will be but typically we ask that the Wednesday Playgroup is at someone's home to accommodate all the members with infants.

Playgroup notification: When you are assigned to host PLEASE remember to send out an email to the group at least 2 days (3 is better) before playgroup. Also, not everyone in the group knows who you are or where you live so ALWAYS give your address and phone number so everybody can find you. If there hasn’t been an email, or you want to know sooner than 2 days before, CALL OR EMAIL the host - the host’s full contact info. is right on the playgroup schedule.

Lunch: Lunch is typically handled by the host but is not required. The host will serve what best fits his budget and time table. Bringing extra food to playgroup to help out the host and is always encouraged.

Host trading: If for some reason you are unable to host on the day(s) designated, please find someone to switch that day with you from your “area” (North or South). As a last resort you may email the group and someone will pick it up for you.

Check your email: ALWAYS check your email for ancy changes made that week by the host.

Adventure Fridays: We use the Friday playgroups to adventure out into our community and get everyone out of the house. The Host is responsible for determining where the Friday activity will be. Times are also subject to change, due to start times of community events, but do try and keep it from 10:00am to 2:00pm as well. For example, a museum may not open until 10:30am. For lunch, everyone is on their own and the host provides nothing. Past activities for Friday adventures have been open gyms, civil war battlefields, or field trips to a museum. Weather plays a big part in Adventure Fridays and you should check to see if the activity has been canceled due to weather such as rain or snow depending on where we are going.

What Is Dad's Night Out

Let's face it, we need a break. We need a break from getting spit up on us. We need a break from reading the same book over and over and over again. We need a break from getting kicked in the balls.

This is our solution: Dad's Night Out and this is how it works.

Dad's Night is exactly what it sounds like, Dad's going out. All Dad's are welcome. New dads, dad's that have aged out and dad's that have had to go back to work. Everyone is welcome. Except Mom and the kids. They are not welcome. Sorry guys, we love you but we need just a short break.

Dad's Night Out is usually the second Thursday of the month. We schedule these events 6 months in advance typically but it is subject to change by group vote.

Also note that during special seasons we change the night of Dad's Night Out from time to time. For example, during March Madness we try to match up the night with the opening Thursday of the tournament. We also choose at least one Monday Night Football game a year as well. If there are other events, like the Hockey Playoffs, we also try to accommodate those as well. Typically, these decisions are left open to a majority vote and discussed on email and facebook.

As far as what we do, believe it or not we have a plan. One month we try and schedule an activity. The next month we schedule a bar. We alternate between these two things for the year. We also try and mix up locations so that everyone has a chance to make it. One month we may have the DNO (Dad's Night Out) in the North part of KC. The next month, we might head East, West or South.

As for the activities, we try and diversify and are always open to ideas. We have gone bowling, pool halls and our favorite: Dinner and a Movie. If you have an idea for DNO, bring it up and let's see if we can get together.

But no matter what we choose to do the idea is always the same. A time and a place once a month to get out of the house without the kids and family to spend some time with our own members. It's a good chance to really get to know each other and blow off some steam without worrying about the little ones are.

Activity: Mine Creek Battlefield

Location: 20485 Kansas Highway 52, Pleasanton KS

Ages: Appropriate for All

Cost: $2

Hours of Operation: Battlefield is open from sunup to sundown. Visitor Center times vary, so check the website.

We should really have a special section on civil war battlefields.

From the website:
"One of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War (and the largest west of the Mississippi River) was fought at theMine Creek Battlefield in Kansas on October 25, 1864 near present day Pleasanton when 2,500 Union soldiers defeated nearly 3 times that number of Confederate soldiers."

When one thinks of "Civil War Battlefield" the image of this place should come up. It's just a huge field in the rolling hills of Kansas. Seriously, it's gigantic. And it's a huge field.

Kids love huge fields though. They love space to run. They love space to tackle each other. And they love space to hide in the tall grass and hide from Dad.

The field is set up for a walking tour and walk you will. To walk the entire dirt track of the field is at least 2 to 3 miles. But you can get a stroller down there if you so choose. We made it about halfway before screaming kids asked us to turn around. But the parts that we did get to was well worth it.

Standing out in the middle of that big field made you really realize something about the Civil War. Mostly that if you were a lowly infantryman on either side, you were basically screwed. There was no hope for you pal. None what so ever. Where are you going to hide in the plains of Kansas? It's flat. There is no where to go. Now imagine that you were facing down charging Calvary on this plain. Yup, now you are double screwed.

That's the feel you get from this. The insanity that was that war and the bravery it took just to stay still. In the end, this is the battle that ran the Confederate army out of Missouri and Kansas once and for all.

The visitor center is a pretty nice setup. It's nicely built and well maintained. The local curator proved that he was very knowledgeable about the site and was very friendly with the kids. He seemed to enjoy their reckless abandon more than we did. There are several exhibits inside the visitors center that are well worth the stop off to read. There is also a display of all the bullets that have thus far been found on the battlefield and that is pretty interesting.

Take a trip to a big battlefield when you have a day to kill.

As for where to eat, your guess is as good as mine. There's not much in Pleasanton. My companion for the trip described it this way as we made our way through downtown:

"This is the kind of place that you always see the zombie Apocalypse come through."

All we were missing was a breeze and a tumbleweed.

Activity: CW Parker Carousel Museum

Location: 320 South Esplanade, Leavenworth KS

Ages: 1 and up.

Cost: The carosel ride is $1.50 a ride. There is a museum tour at $6 for adults, children 12 and younger are $3

Hours of Operation: Thrusday, Friday, Sat--11-5, Sunday 1-5.

You've got to do this. Get off your caboose, load the kids, and take an adventure in Kansas.

Of all the unusual things that we may have done, this might rank right up there. It was certaintly one of the most fun. It's a little hard to find but luckily Leavenworth isn't that big of a town. If you get lost, just ask a local.

The carosel museum offers two things: 1. A musuem tour. You are not allowed to look around by yourself and it must be guided. As our kids are notorious for not listening and wrecking things, we opted out of this. However, it is the second thing here that you really can't miss.

You get to ride a 100 year old carosel. Sound boring? Sound mundane? Dude, try it and then come back to us.

There is a working carosel from 1913 that is open for rides during normal business days. It's like no other carosel ride that you have ever seen or been on. First, there isn't really music like you would expect. The music for the ride is supplied by some sort of machine and I'm not really sure how to describe it but I'll do my best. You remember Dick Van Dyke in Marry Poppins? Ok, that's it. It has a drum that beats as you go around and the music is contained on a metal cylinder. And it's loud. Keep that in mind.

The carousel itself is from 1913 and has been restored by the museum. All the horses are hand painted and the look is truly unique. The ride even more so.

Having children I think that it fair to say that I've been on my fair share of carousels. However, I have never actually gotten dizzy on one until I rode this monster. We were told that the carousel moves along at "8 Knots" Now, I'm not a seafaring man, I have no idea how fast a "knot" is. So allow me to translate. It's really freaking fast. Fast enough that you must hold on or you will go flying off. My son only wanted one ride on this contraption but my daughter wanted 6. It was very, very fun.

Also in this room they have another very old carousel. It dates from 1850 and is an oddity that is worth seeing. It's a hand cranked carousel, I didn't even know those things existed. It's fun to look at and wonder though who was doing the cranking on this thing.

All in all, a fun trip and worth the time to get out there. Highly recommend and the staff was gracious and accommodating.

And while you are out in Leavenworth, on a side note here, feel free to drive by the federal prison. After you do, you will be sure that THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL ANYONE IS EVERY ESCAPING THAT PLACE. It's an interesting little side trip to scare your children straight.

320 South Esplanade, in Leavenworth, KS

Natural History Musuem, Lawrence KS

Location: 1345 Jayhawk Blvd. Lawrence KS

Ages: Appropriate for all ages.

Cost: Free--but parking is $1 an hour

The museum is located on the actual campus of KU so get your rock chalk jayhawk thing ready and come on down. Although I wouldn't even think about hitting on the coeds my brothers because you are now an old, old man with baggage. The baggage being the kiddos that you drag along to this thing. Coeds don't like that kind of baggage. However, you can buy beer so maybe you have that going for you.

The Museum is a little difficult to find so make sure you visit the website first to get directions. Parking is also a bit of a pain and it costs a buck an hour so bring some quarters and some dollar bills.

But once you find it, it's a great place to go. The museum itself is actually free and we always love free. Free is greatness to all of us single income people. And as is the nature in these parts, free doesn't mean crap. This place is great.

There are 4 levels to the museum. The bottom floor is dedicated to the creepy and the crawly. Giant roaches? They have them. Things that fly and land on your neck ready to suck you like a vampire? They got those two. The whole space down there though is really well thought out and kid friendly. It's a touch and learn type of place. It's a smallish room but it's set up well and seems to encourage the kids learning on their own. And although the giant Godzilla like cockroaches freaked us all out, the bottom floor is really well done.

The rest of the floors are dedicated to other things, the highlight being the dinosaur bones. I didn't think we would find that much when we first arrived and I am happy to say that we were surprised. They the head of a triceratops and without a doubt the biggest damn turtle shell I have ever seen. Seriously, it's like a dinner table. Most things are also set behind glass so your kids won't destroy them. The exhibits are set up on either side of the hallways so there is plenty to look at. It was fun seeing the kids reactions to everything that we had seen.

The top to floors I found a little spooky but still well done. They were filled with stuffed animals of every size and shape. The highlight here is the giant stuffed bear. The signs say "do not touch" but I don't think the kids could help themselves although I'm proud to say that no permanent damage was done.

If you see one thing though in this museum though, see the beehive. It is freaking cool. On the top floor is a hollowed out tree trunk covered in plexiglass. This is where the bee's live. They get to the outside through a glass tube. You and the kids get to see everything, inside and out. It is one of the most original exhibits I have ever seen.

The museum is worth the drive out there and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a cheap adventure.

As for lunch, you have a couple of options. You can go into the town of Lawrence and find you something as there is plenty there. It's a nice town with helpful people so I would expect no problems.

Or you can head to the student union and try to relive your own glory days of eating Roman Noodles and sipping on very cheap beer. We did the student union and I was pleased with the space, the prices and the coeds.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I learned At the Convention

So you didn’t get a chance to make it to the 15th annual SAHD convention? No problem. I got you covered.

This is what I leared at the 15th Annual SAHD Convention:

That to parent effectively, I have to keep the situaiton from escalating above my “emotional” line.

That if you open a bar tab, your friends will find out about it and put their drinks on it, too. Then they will call your wife and tell her about the great prank that they just pulled. I now have to sell my Xbox. Thanks guys.

That drunk dialing your buddy’s wives in vengence for the above prank at midnight doesn’t work out as well as you would think it would.

That having a “yuk” list is a good idea to empower your children during dinner time.

That 8 Crown Royal and Cokes vs. Fancy Beer is not a fair contest.

That using “product” is essential in combing a little girls hair if you want to keep her from running away from you in the future and calling child services on you.

That two grown men can go down a slide at the same time if one sits in the other’s lap.

That children want attention, sometimes even if it’s negative.

That you should never open a package that came from the front desk in front of a group of people you don’t know because it may contain a book called “Miss Vera’s Guide To Becoming A Transvestite” that your buddy’s thought would be funny as hell to send to you. Again, thank you fellas.

That there is somewhere between 158,000 and 3 million stay at home dads in the country. I’m glad we could go ahead and nail that one down.

That Omaha, Nebraska serves the best milkshakes. Ever.

That we shold be partners with our children’s teachers and not their adversairies.

That I can pluck a CD case out of the air after it’s been thrown at Mach 3 at my head and still have the presence of mind to come up with a witty one-liner. I am an action hero.

That everyone deserves a door prize.

That you should never argue with the driver of a minivan who has access to the window locks when there are 6 guys driving cross country after a night of heavy drinking. Trust me, the driver always wins the arguements.

That chicks dig the SAHD.

That talking about potty training with other Dads can still morph into a discussion about sports.

That my wife may get tired of the phrase “That’s not how Daddy does it.” after I’ve been gone for 2 days.

That the one guy that roots for Iowa State. will find you and brag about hanging 52 points on your beloved Red Raiders even if he has to mow over a bunch of orphans to do it.

That the loud knocking at 2 am does not signify an emergency but is an indication that your new-found friends closed down the bar.

That everyone wants to hang out with Liam so that they can go home and tell thier wife “Oh man, there was this one guy……..”

That drunk texting the one guy in your group that coluldn’t go is still very childish but still very awesome.

That I want to be an All Pro Dad.

That drink coupons is the dude way of saying “I love you.”

That the next SAHD convention is on October 8, 2011 in Washington D.C.

That I miss my wife and kids and I’m a better father for going.

Kansas City Speedway

Kansas City Speed Way

Location: Intersection of I70 and 435, Kansas City, KS

Appropriate For: Dad's Call.

Cost: For the practice run, free.

What makes you a cool dad? Maybe you let the kids have donut's in bed. Perhaps you let the kids play with shotguns while riding the lawnmower. Maybe you even give the kids your credit car and drop them off at the toy store.

You still would not be as cool as us because we took the kids to the racetrack. To a three year old boy, this is a candy factory wrapped in a awesomeness and delivered by a racecar.

What we actualy did was attend the practice sessions the day before the big race. There was no actual race but we were able to see cars go around 5 to 10 at a time testing out the racetrack. We were even able to see a mock start.

Now I'm not a fan of Nascar, I don't really care for it. But I will admit, I am hooked now. I didn't realize that you could feel the engines. I didn't realize that you could smell the burnt rubber. I didn't realize that the thunder coming down the track made you think of Greek Gods. And I forgot that we were there for the kids.

And now back to them and what you need to know should you choose to. Headphones are essential to anyone wanting to do this. You can rent them at the track or bring your own. Without them though, and you won't be there for 5 minutes. So be careful and make the investment.

My boy was three when we took him and he couldn't get enough of it. He totally forgot that he was with me. He totally forgot about everything. All he could do was look at the race cars going up and down the track. The kid was mesmerized.

Another great thing about going for the practice runs was that there was nobody there. We had a 100,000 seat stadium as our own private playground. We could go anywhere. We went to the nose bleed seats and we went to the front seats right at the fence to see the racecars up front. It was one of the most amazing things we have ever done.

After we got tired of seeing the racecars, which took a while, we toured the rest of the stadium and saw all the big trailers that the drivers bring. It was a good way to end our day.

One more word of caution though, you will be walking quite a bit. So if you have a kid that doesn't like to wal, bring a stroller. This ranks as a top 5 outing boys, do it if you can. Check the Speedway website listed above for special promotions.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Activity: Apple Orchard

The KCDADS decided to go back to Allredge Apple Farm. For those new to the group, this is something we did last year and we look like we are going to go every year because awesome doesn't dominish with time.

But for those wishing to plan a visit, check out our last blog by clicking here. That one has all the information that you will need to plan your visit.

However, a word of advice. If you go late in the season the apples may be all but picked out. That was the case for the most part on this trip to the orchard. But that doesn't mean we didn't find any, we found some. We found some by getting Larry Geographic actually climbing up in the tree itself like some apple hillbilly and pulling down apples in hard to reach places. It worked though and I've got word some applesauce may be coming our way. That's the way that I like to roll, let someone do the hardwork and take the end product. I'm the grasshopper, let the ants prepare for the winter.

Although there weren't many apples this time around, it still remains a great place to visit. The track is still there along with the chickens and I ask you, who doesn't love some freaking chickens??

Finally, there are picnic tables for a good sack lunch if you want to bring it. But if you don't, there is a little country store that sells all kinds of stuff. It's a little pricey but the food is soooooo goooooooooooodd. Another great visit to the apple orchard.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden

8909 W. 179th St.
Overland Park, KS 66085

Open seven days a week
April 10-Sept. 30: 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Oct. 1-April 9: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Free


Appropriate for all ages

Got nothing to do today? Want to get outside? This is your place.

The 300 acre Overland Park Arboretum is a great place to go. This place is all about getting outside and enjoying some nature. There is a small welcome center that is a good stop if you want to find out what's in bloom and what's good the time of year that you go. But you won't spend much time in there, the Arboretum is all about getting outside.

There are basically two routes to go when you do this. You can go the paved paths through the gardens or you can go the hiking paths for a more woodsy experience. We have written about the hiking paths before so click here for that review. This time we'll focus on the actual garden.

Make sure you pick up a map at the visitors center, it's a little easy to wander around here. But once you get going the place is a great relaxing trip. Tons of flowers, tons of trees and an easy walk. You don't need to do the massive hike here to see everything. It's just a great stroll.

As for the highlight for us, check out the kids garden. As my kids are 2 and 4, this is the place that really excelled. In the kids area there is actually more to do than just look at flowers. Which is great because I get the feeling that after 15 minutes the kids don't appreciate it as much as they should. We're working on that.

The kids area has "fossils" that embedded in the ground. This is actually pretty interesting to do and a good start to the kids area. Once they get tired of that, there is a mini "corn" maze that the kids loved. It's really just high grass that comes up about three feet. For the more adventurous there is a flower tunnel that leads to it but there is also a back way out. While your kids play at the sand pit, there are plenty of benches for you to sit and talk to your dads. Finally, there is a path that passes right next to the stream that looks like a great place to find frogs.

All in all, this is a great days experience and given that it's free, what more do you want?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blue Springs Lake Beach

470 N from Lee's Summit. Exit Bowling Rd.

Cost: $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for kids, children 2 and under are free.


June 1 - June 11

3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m

June 14 - August 13 1:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m.
August 16 - September 3

3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.


May 29 - September 6 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Longview Beach will be closed Sunday, August 22nd.

Appropriate for all ages.

Website: This site will give you PDF files for both Blue Springs Lake and the campground to help you find where you are going.

I'm not going to review the whole lake, that would be impossible. But I will let you know that the beach is there and a good find.

Kids 2 and under are free to get in, which is always cool because I love free stuff. As for the beach, it is about the size of a football field and it is sand. It's a coarse sand and not the fine stuff you will find near the ocean. But for a lake, it's dang fine.

The beach has 3 lifeguard stands and at least one is manned. It runs about 100 yards next to the lake itself and is about 30 yards deep. This gives plenty of space to house 2 volleyball courts and have plenty of space left over to lay your towel down. The beach eases it way into the lake and the sand actually goes into the lake through the entire swimming area. This is a nice touch. Your kids will have plenty of space to swim or dig in the sand and build sandcastles.

Beware though, there is no shade or umbrellas on the beach. You have to pack everything in such as a lawn chairs. But if you don't mind doing that, it's a really fun day. Just use plenty of sunscreen.

We didn't use the bathrooms but they were there. I was told that there is no locker room or showers so don't expect them.

The White Church

2200 North 85th Street, KCK

9:00am to 6:00pm

Cost: Free


Appropriate for all ages

Let’s answer the first question right off the bat: What is White Church?

White Church is the oldest continuous congregation in Kansas. It’s been an active church since 1830. It was started by missionaries to preach to a Delaware Tribe and ended up converting the chief of the tribe as well as others. Behind the church is the cemetery where many of these people are buried. So that’s it in a nutshell. It’s a piece of Kansas history that’s worth seeing.

I was a little apprehensive when we first arrived as the church itself is quite small. At least the historic part of it. But don’t let first impressions impede you from going on this adventure. It’s worth it and it’s a fun little adventure.

The original church, built in 1830, burned down and was soon replaced. That church was blown down by a tornado. Undeterred and still together the congregation built the third church in 1904 and it still stands today. It’s built out of stone and over the years has been added on and is still in use. Ring the doorbell at the side and you will be let in by the members.

This is where I thought it got really cool. Our guides knew every bit of history of the place. When it was built, who the preachers where, how it was transformed, all of it. As a history buff, this was totally worth it. But the highlight of the tour was that they allowed the kids to ring the church bell. How awesome is that. They were swinging from that thing like monkeys in a zoo.

Before you leave the church, take note of the stained glass windows which are the originals from 1904.

Head on back to the graveyard to see where many of the Delaware tribe are buried. Don’t expect a large graveyard here though. It’s pretty small but fits with the whole theme of the place. But you wont’ be disappointed as you will see graves from the 1830s and onward. What I was really impressed by is that the church replaced corroded headstones so that you could identify who was buried there but also kept the originals as well. A great activity here would be grave rubbings.

In the end, this small piece of history offered a great little adventure. The whole thing takes about 35 to 45 minutes but is time well spent.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

At Home Dads Guide To Garage Sales

Garage sale season is upon us so here are some helpful hints and guidelines for your bargain hunting. Everyone needs a bargain in today’s economy and since most of us are on one income we need to be thrifty with our dwindling after tax dollars.

First off you need to be organized and have a plan so you aren’t driving all over the place. Once we get more domestic oil production we can afford to drive our SUVs all over town. Until that happens use the newspaper and craigslist to plan your day. That being said there is no better rush than pulling a “UHY” when you see that handwritten sign stuck in the ground. Look for sales that are advertised as “multi-family” since they usually have a larger selection. My favorites are the neighborhood sales. These are when entire subdivisions have sales at the same time. These allow you to park centrally and have a much larger selection of sales within walking distance.

Most sales are on Saturday. However, there are a larger number of people that are opening their garage doors on Friday or even Thursday. I recommend you try and hit as many Thursday and Friday sales as possible. This allows you to get the best selection while all the other poor saps are stuck in their cube auditioning for Dilbert. This also allows you to have Saturday all to yourself since it is the wife’s day to watch the kids for a change.

Take your kids with you. This serves two purposes. First people like to give kids free stuff and whenever kids get a present they think it is the best thing on earth and they won’t whine and throw a fit for a toy (at least on that day). But when they don’t get free stuff, it is a good lesson for your kids to learn the word “No”. It is good for them to learn that they won’t get a toy on every garage sale trip.

Have your friends with you, make it a playgroup activity. It helps to have another dad with you to keep the kids from running into the street after the ball they picked up, dropped and is now rolling down the driveway. It also helps to have your buddy distract the owners by negotiating on the price of the picnic basket while you take your potty training three year old around the corner to pee on the house.

You need to have an idea of what you are looking for when you peruse the classifieds. Personally I won’t go to a sale that doesn’t list the items they plan on having unless I will be in the neighborhood already. A plan is important but don’t let it limit you. Do not be afraid to “buy ahead”: If your child is wearing 3T, you will always need the 5T sweatpants that are in excellent condition. Also, as much as I believe in having a plan I am a firm believer in the old adage “I didn’t know I needed it until I saw it” or my wife’s favorite “you didn’t need it, it was just cheap”.

Now down to the important part, Price Guidelines.

Since most of us are looking for clothes because the kids are growing like weeds and destroy their clothes even faster than they outgrow them, garage sales are the perfect place to shop for kids clothes. Let’s be honest, the kids don’t care what they wear until 5th grade and t-shirts with Cinderella and Thomas are expensive off the rack even if they are produced with exploited labor from Indonesia. The best part about buying your kids garage sale clothes is that as At Home Dads we aren’t expected to know how to dress our kids anyway so now we have the perfect excuse when you go to the grocery store in plaid skirts and polka dot shirts.

My pricing guidelines are based upon 3 years of undocumented non-scientific research in my geographical area. Storage unit sales in lower Manhattan may have different price points so just use this as a guide.

My price limit for kid’s clothes is $1. There are exceptions to this and I will probably leave some out so feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Boy’s blue jeans – If I find these in good shape which means no holes I will go up to $2. Boys are hard on their blue jeans and they are hard to find.

Girl’s dresses – I specifically mean Easter and Christmas type dresses. Off the rack these start at $20 at the big box retailer. $5 for something probably only previously worn once is reasonable.

Snow boots and dress shoes – Same rational as girl’s dresses

Winter coats and jackets: You have to do your inspections with care here. A lot of fleece type jackets pill easily. If a winter coat has a snap on hood make sure it is with the jacket. You can get a great winter coat and snow pant set for around $7. Don’t forget to always search the pockets for hidden twenty dollar bills.

Toys are a common item that we like to pick up at garage sales. I am a firm believer in boosting my kids’ immunity systems by exposing them to other people’s germs. Again I don’t like to pay much more than $1 for toys. The main reason for this is that most everyone is looking to get rid of them; therefore it is a buyer’s market. Be patient and don’t always buy the first thing you see. I can’t tell you the number of times I bought a GI Joe only to find a GI Joe with a kung fu grip the next week. Again with toys there are some exceptions.

Wooden train track – This is like gold due to that cheeky little English train.

This stuff brings a hefty price new so people try and get their money back. You have to check it closely, though. A lot of people try and slip in some knockoff track and still charge Thomas prices. Don’t let them fool you. Just because they paid too much doesn’t mean that you have to.

Lincoln Logs – These are hard to find as well so I will pay a little more for good quality sets. Probably because I loved these so much as a kid.

Construction vehicles and fire trucks – I specifically mean the big heavy duty types. A couple of years ago I paid $5 for a big Tonka crane and then went out of town for the weekend. My wife still says this is one of the best $5 ever spent.

Kitchens, art easels, workbenches, princess vanities and thrones and all the bigger hands on toys – If you try to buy this stuff via craigslist you will pay through the nose. You can find good quality big toys for $10 and under.

Everything else is up to you. What are you willing to pay? Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. The garage sale market is a buyer’s market. Remember you don’t have to buy anything but they have to either load it up and take it to Goodwill or lug it back to the basement. Most don’t want to do that so they are usually ready to deal. If not, walk away from the craps table and go to the slot machines on the next block. Everything in garage sale world is a gamble. Caveat Emptor. If you buy something electric, test it. Make sure puzzles have all their pieces, there is nothing worse than an alphabet puzzle missing the “S”. Last but not least check zippers. I bought a Lightning McQueen backpack for my boy last spring. Kept it hidden from him in the car and smuggled it into the house. I pulled it out for the first day of pre-school, ready to give him his big surprise to calm his fears and make his first day of school a success. Whammo, the zippers didn’t work. It is a good thing his favorite color is pink and I had been saving a Hello Kitty backpack for his sister.

Activity: World War I Museum

100 West 26th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 784-1918

Tuesday-Sunday: 10am to 5pm
Adults $12
Seniors (65+) $10
Students (18+ with ID) $10
Youth (6–17) $6
**Parking is free**
Website: http://www.theworldwar.org/s/110/new/index_community.aspx

Appropriate for all ages.
If you haven't been to the WWI museum yet, you should drop what you are doing. Go find a priest. Confess your sin and ask for absolution. There is no excuse for not seeing this. This is one of Kansas City's most spectacular museums (I've seen a lot, trust me) and lives up to whatever expectations you have. Besides, we are stay at home dads, how could we not love teaching our kids about giant guns?

Start your visit by going up top of the museum, where all the granite is. This is one of the best views of downtown and a great picture spot. Check out the huge giant griffons and the really great buildings on top. And if you are feeling particularly adventurous, take the kids to the top of the Liberty tower. It's a long way up man, but take a try and work that heart. This is also a great space for the kids to run around in and not break anything.

Then go to the museum itself. Before you enter, there are several interactive displays showing photos of soldiers from that time period. That sums up this museum, interactive. Once you have your tickets you crossover a glass walkway. Underneath is the poppy field and it's pretty amazing but also somewhat freaky. Some of your kids may be a little scared about doing this but that's ok because they also have black mats that you can walk over. You can choose which entrance you would like to do first: The American side or the European side. Both are very much worth it and you can do both in one visit without to much worry.

Inside the museum it's safe to let the kids off the leash a little bit. There is nothing that they can break. Thick glass displays protect most of the exhibits. The things that aren't protected are huge steel guns and I would pay money to see a kid actually destroy one of those monstrosities. Throughout both sides there are plenty of well done "movies" playing that inform you of the time period and of the war. In fact, there is so much of this that you won't be able to watch them all with kids present as you are constantly being pulled to the next exhibit. You will defiantly want to come back again to get the full experience.

Also on each side of the museum (American/European) they also have some really cool exhibits that give you an idea of what it was like. From a life size, walk through trench to a bomb crater, you will get a feel for what soldiers went through. You kids will really dig this. But what they will dig the most is the middle of the museum. Here is what I call the "situation" room. It's a very large table that has many stations on it. At each station is an interactive exhibit to keep everyone busy. It contains information on just about anything you could want to know about the war. From the weapons that were used to the movements in the actual war. You shine a miniflash light on what you want to know and the display starts. Totally worth it. To the side of the situation room is also something very unique. Sounds of the era. These are little rooms where you can hear original recordings of songs, speeches, diaries, you name it. Worth the stop.

Which brings to the one thing I have to warn you about concerning this museum. The Theater. We usually skip theaters because our kids don't sit still. However, this one is a little bit different and hard to describe. It's a movie describing the war but one of the best done complete immersion experiences I have ever had. You sit in a balcony. Below you is a recreation of a battlefield. A good recreation. Behind that is canvas that serves as the screen. It is realistic enough and scary enough that your kids may freak out during this. Movies start every 30 minutes and very worth it but just be warned that the kids might not do so well.

When you are done with the museum, the front is a great place to have a picnic on a nice day. There is really to much to describe here so just look at the pictures. Then decide to go, you'll be happy you did.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kansas Cosmoshpere and Space Center

1100 North Plum Street
Hutchinson, KS 67501
(800) 397-0330

All-Day Mission Pass (The Best Value) - Allows entry to one IMAX film, one planetarium show, one Dr. Goddard's Lab and one admission to the Hall of Space Museum.

Under 3 - Free
Children 3-12 - $15
Adults - $17

Single Venue Ticket - Allow entry to one of the venues listed.

Under 3 - Free
Children 3-12 - $9
Adults - $9.50

Website: http://www.cosmo.org

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! Load up the kids and take a trip into the heart of the Kansas landscape. Hutchinson is located about 50 miles northwest of Wichita and many are surprised to find such an excellent exhibit of any kind in this part of Kansas.

This is not the typical IMAX. This IMAX is a domed theater. We enjoyed the story of the Hubble in full realistic views. The film contains two parts. 1)Traveling with astronauts in space while working to repair the Hubble. The challenges they encountered and the immense amount of work and time that went into repairing the Hubble. 2)Enjoying the views from Hubble. The Hubble makes you really take in how immense our universe really is. There are wonderful 3-D views of Hubble itself, anchored to the shuttle Atlantis' payload bay, stunning views of Earth, and the many galaxies surrounding us. A must see!!

Dr. Goddard's Lab:
A bit over the head of the younger kids but very interesting for all adults. This show covers the beginnings of rocketeering in a very eventful fashion. I think the best way to describe this to refer it to an interactive science lab where things do get blown up. Very interesting to learn how, primarily, one man, with no government funding discovered, invented, and patented rocket building. All these pattens were eventually sold to the US government and many are still used in the building of our space shuttles today.

While the planetarium was very interesting, if you watch the IMAX Hubble (which I highly recommend), it would be a good one to skip and spend a little more time in the museum. Most of the information was also shown during the IMAX movie.

Space Museum:
Unfortunately we ran out of time and did not get to spend a lot of time in the museum. With all that they have to offer I think you could easily spend 3 hours in here without checking out any of the other venues. In light of that I have grabbed a very well written review on the museum.
There are several galleries open to ticket holders. The Cold War Gallery follows the U.S. and Soviet space programs as they began as well as history of the standoff between the two nations. There's the German gallery featuring V-1 and V-2 rockets fro World War II, developed in Hitler's Germany. The Early Spaceflight Gallery follows the development of space exploration by America and other nations. The gallery has a Titan rocket, Gemini X spacecraft and the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury Capsule.
The Apollo flights are some of the most famous. The Apollo Gallery charts each Apollo flights from the technology used to the human dramatic side of the flights. On display is the Apollo 13 command module - Odyssey, a moon rock, replica lunar rover, and a model of the Saturn V rocket.

Food Court:
Very reasonable price and good food. You can ever purchase some astronaut food. We chose the ice cream and the kids thought that it was really cool to eat like an astronaut. The ice cream was OK, some better than others.

Gift Shop:
The gift shop has a very wide selection of souvenirs and memorabilia. Anything from a couple dollars to a couple hundred.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Nelson Musuem of Art

Location: 4525 Oak Street, KC MO

Website: http://www.nelson-atkins.org/

Hours: Wed, 10 a.m.—4 p.m.
Thurs, Fri, 10 a.m.—9 p.m.
Sat, 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Sun, Noon—5 p.m.

Cost: Free. However, it does cost 5 bucks to park. Keep that in mind.

Age Appropriate: How brave are you, that is really the question you should be asking yourself.

The Nitty Gritty:
I'm not going to come on here and actually review any art. The reason being is that I have about as much knowledge of art as I do of jet engines, which is none. But I do like working comparisons of jet engines into my blogs so mission accomplished. But I will talk about the space and the experience for us. You can make a decision yourself about the art. But if someone reads this and actually understands contemporary art, please post a comment because I really don't get that shit.

As for the museum, we loved it. It's a good space and was a good time for the dads group and kids. You would think that a bunch of toddlers would get bored here but I don't think that was the case at all. They seemed a lot more engaged than I thought they would be. Visit the website to see the different collections that the museum has and also anything about the audio tours also offered. Although I would have loved to take the audio tour, I found it in our best interest to be on defcon Delta with 3 year olds running around 1000 year old priceless antiquities. But on the whole, they were really well behaved and again I think it is actually because they had some interest in what we were seeing.

We only had 2 instances of a "Oh My God" moment. The first was when one of little ones started banging his head against the glass enclosure. No biggie but it made a large sound. The next moment was when another of our 2 year olds attempted to climb up on a table that could honestly be described as priceless. Each time we were able to get things under control but you do have to be diligent. There are a lot of antique chairs on display and every kid loves chairs so we had to watch out for these.

The kids seemed to have the best time in the European and Greek art sections, which I can't really blame them. Who doesn't like suits of armor and giant horses. There is a carved lion and numerous other things of this nature that held our interest. However, our general rule was to never stop moving. To stop moving would invite little fingers to touch a Monet and that is not going to be good. If someone asks what color is on that Picasso, just say Grape Jelly and keep on walking. We kept prying fingers off the paintings (which I really did think were amazing) by telling the kids that they were "hot". This seemed to work and I'm proud to say that none of the art work was destroyed by our children, ages 2 to 4. KCDADS rock.

So in conclusion, this was a nice time that took about 2 hours as we never stopped in any one place longer than five minutes. The downside here is that we, and I mean the adults, didn't get to really appreciate alot of the art. This is normal when we go to museums but this is one that I would like to go back to without the kids to fully understand it all.

I also want to put a note in about the bathrooms. Although very clean and well kept, contained no changing table stations for dad. I know that I shouldn't expect it, but it does make our lives easier.

I do want to talk about the outside in this blog as well although we were not able to go there today. I have been to the front lawn in the past and have found that this is truly wonderful for the kids. There are sculpture gardens all along the gigantic lawn and plenty of area for the kids to run off some steam. And who can forget the giant shuttlecocks? In the spring and summer, this is a must see in Kansas City.

The final recommendation is to get off your kiester and go get some art, it's worth it.

Money Museum of Kansas City

Money Museum of KC Location: 1 Memorial Drive, KC MO

Cost: Free

Website: http://www.kc.frb.org/moneymuseum/?AdLink=Home

Age Appropriate: All ages. From infant to adult. Bring em if you got em.


Grab the kids, it's time to go see some money.

The Money Museum inside the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is worth a trip. And it's free. I love free stuff, it makes the world better.

But there are some things you need to know: 1. You are going to need to have a picture I.D. to even get into the place. Why? Because it's real money friends. Millions and Millions. 2. You can't get out of the museum unless you are let out by a guard. They are serious about this. 3. No pics where they sort the money.

Other than that, it's good to go. Once you get into the museum they have special wooden lockers that you can put your backpacks and coats in. And they lock, you get the key, no money required to rent them. It's small things like this that make this a great place to go to.

The building itself is more of the granite over the top architecture which is really pretty cool to look at. The museum itself is set on the first floor of the building and if your kids get bored they can run around the massive entry hall.

The exhibits themselves are also well done. They spared no expense as if evident by the exhibit on what 10 million dollars looks like. It's right next to the bigger stacks of millions, you can't miss it. The Truman coin collection is also here which contains from every president, from Washington to Bush. The kids didn't like this part so much but it was great for the dads.

The museum layout is very free flowing. The majority of exhibits are in the center floor and you wander from one to the next in no particular order. There is a lot to see and read but having kids, we didn't get to read all of it. However, there are two things that I want to point out. The first is that they give you a chance to spot a counterfeit 20 dollar bill. I couldn't do it and if I wasn't told which one it was, I wouldn't have been able to find it.

Next, you and your kids get a chance to pick up an actual gold bar. Yup, that's real gold. It's behind glass so you actually don't get to grab it but there is a lever that you pull to get the idea of the weight of it. We spent a good 10 minutes cheering on all the kids to see if they could. They could by the way, mainly because they are being raised by their fathers and are tough and strong, just like their dads. It weighs 27 pounds and when we were there, it was worth right around 500,000 bucks. There is a digital ticker underneath the gold bar that lets you know how much it's worth according to current gold pricing. It was really pretty cool.

The next part of the museum, and probably the highlight, is the glass room where they count and destroy money. A lot of money. Literally, a ton of money. Behind very thick glass are about 5 people that are feeding money into a machine that either shreds it, or sends it back into circulation. Any counterfeits get sent to a person for closer inspection. They fill up these large boxes of money and then the robots come get them.

Yes, I said robots. This is why your kids will love this. Millions of dollars: Cool. A real gold bar you can try and lift: pretty cool. Robots carting stacks of millions back to a warehouse: Totally awesome. You look through a big glass window while these forklift robot things go get the money and motor on back to the warehouse. My son didn't want to leave them.

If anyone is wandering what to do on a cold day, this one is a good bet. You'll be there for about 45 minutes and it's worth the time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Or at least that’s what I would call the blog, if I were gearing it specifically for us. I would also include useful, guy stuff like Cheetos, beer, and multipurpose all-in-one tools you can carry I your pocket. But I don’t have time the time or drive to do it myself, so I have to settle for the work of others. Heather at freebies4mom, (freebies4mom.blogspot.com) does. Don’t be turned off by the name. Heather searches the internet for coupons, freebie offers, and great deals on products for everyone in the family. Some of the deals require signing up for e-newsletters or mailing lists, others require becoming a fan of a product on Facebook, and some are just links to coupons on Redplum and Smartsource.
On our last trip to grocery store, Jen and I saved 10 bucks using coupons found through this website. I’ve also received a free 8x10 photo print, free photo cards, a reusable shopping bag, and various samples of products. And more is on the way. As for coupons, I have used a number of coupons for a dollar off of various products, and some buy one get one free coupons as well. I set up a new alias with my e-mail that I use solely for signing up for deals like these. My e-mail program filters out all the e-mail going to this address, so it doesn’t clog up by inbox. So far, though, I’ve received very few e-mails. And the unwanted emails have been easy to unsubscribe from.
The website is update throughout the day, as deals are found. You can also signup for a daily e-mail, summarizing days coupons and deals, or become a fan on Facebook. Freebies4mom.blogspot.com
Yeah. It’s a mom blog. And no, I’m not eating like a woman just because they gave me coupons. I happen to like Special K. Free cereal tastes better. And yes, apparently Secret IS strong enough for a man.

-The Teacher

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Home Defense!

By Mr. Rogers

Ahhh, Snow bound. Outside the snow is piled up in drifts up to 18 inches, but inside it is cosy and warm. The pantry is stocked, Christmas cookies are plentiful, and the children have plenty of new amusements to keep them busy and happy. Everything was perfect until...
"You need to shovel the driveway", she says. "Do we really need to?" I ask (Surely it will melt eventually). "We need to be able to get out", says my perfect and practical wife. Okay, I suppose she is right. But as I head to get my coat and hat, it occurs to me that if we are able to get out then "THEY" will be able to get in.

I am talking about the hungry hoards. The hundreds of people who unwisely chose to ignore the forecasts and did nothing to prepare for current house bound conditions. Our well stocked home will be an irresistible target. A clear driveway would simply announce that this is a well prepared, well stocked home ripe for the picking.

Visions of the cold and hungry mobs roaming the streets to prey upon those of us who had the wisdom to prepare for the worst filled my mind. My wife was right we should have a way out but adequate defenses must be raised to prepare for the inevitable attacking hoards.

I knew that on my own I could easily defend two, if not three, sides of my home from attack, but that would not be enough. Mrs. Rogers had no stomach for combat and as such could only be relied on to provide material support and to assist the wounded from within the home. To whom could I turn for assistance in the coming conflict. I needed individuals who in battle would be vicious, relentless, and possess that touch of cruelty that is sadly necessary in war. My little minions were the obvious choice.

Being only children they could not openly take on the enemy and hope to over come them. But they didn't need to destroy our foes, only harrass them for I had yet another ally in this battle. The bane of armys far greater than any I would face.... winter itself. It would be my most valuable ally. If we could but survive the siege then the winter would do the rest (starving and freezing them into submission). But my little minions would need a fortress from which to engage the enemy. It should have thick walls, and a underground bunker in which seek refugee. It should be tall, as the higher ground always has the advantage. And it would be made out of the most available resource I had handy.... Snow!

So what did you all make with your kids in the snow this Christmas?

2009 Christmas Party

Do you know what the best thing about the Christmas party is? The wives. They subsidize our life style of museum going and oddly abstract art created by brilliant children. Namely ours. They provide us with the means to go to the battlefields and train yards. All that is awesome and they make it all possible. And it's great to have them come to the Christmas Party every year to finally meet the people that thier husbands hang out with. Sometimes we play with the kids, sometimes we play video games. But more than anything, it's good for them to meet the people responsible for destroying their house every Wednesday.

At the Christmas party I like to play a little game and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's called "Who goes with who." C'mon, be honest, you all do it. We dads spend a lot of time together. And although truefully we don't discuss wives that much, we can't help but get a mental picture of everyone's significant other. and a the Christmas party, this is where whats in our head meets reality.

As we have had a ton of new members this past year, this was a very awesome game to play. We had a great turn out. A wife would walk around and I would try to guess who her husband was based on what I know from playgroups. Some are easy, some are tough. For example, Mrs. Rogers is an obvious match to Mr. Rogers. It's a no brainier. However, a tougher match is Papa Scrum and his wife. I got the impression that she is way to good for him. On the flip side, he married up so kudos to him. Well done. (Everyone calm down, it's a joke and I know them both well. And Papa Scrum would agree with me.)

It was a fun evening and not only because of the game. One of the things that I find truly special about this group is that we make an effort to get all the families together. To see these dynamics I think brings us all closer together. And you learn a few surprises. Like the wife that not only encouraged us to keep track of the college football scores but to report back to her later. Awesome. We have a Librarian wife in the group, who knew? so the next time I have a hard to find book, I know who to ask if it's been runt or merely suppressed. We have teachers executives, docs and people who are good at math. All very impressive and just a sampling of what we learn about each other when we get everyone together.

I can speak for my own wife (yes, I married up myself. Good job me.) She loves meeting those others that are in the same boat as us. She looks forward to it and enjoys seeing the faces of the people I talk about.

I do want to give a very special thanks to Papa Scrum and his wife for opening up their house and to all the people who supplied the food. Soup, deserts, and numerous things in between. All great and all good. Incidentally, the sausage roll was fan-freaking-tasitic and I haven't' had that great of a corn bread since I left Texas. It was a great year everyone, let's keep it going next year!