Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 9:00 am to 6:00pm. Sunday: Noon to 6:00pm

Cost: $8.00 for adults. $3.00 For children under 12. Free for children under 5.

Appropriate Ages: Stroller kids. Kids probably aged 7 and up and enjoy baseball. Not the best place for toddlers.

Location: 1616 East 18th, Street. KC MO

Parking: Parking is free and on the street in front of the museum. This area can get a little busy so you might have to drive around a bit. We parked on a Thursday morning and really had no problems.

Review: The museum is in the 18th and Vine area which does give off a very cool vibe. It's a place that has some history and the museum fits in well here. The museum itself is in the center of the street and shares the same space as the Jazz Museum. We didn't get a chance to do that one but it's worth a second visit to do so.

Like many museums in the KC area, this one is well done. It tells the story of the players and the people behind the Negro leagues. There are historical exhibits here to see but this is a more of a read as you go thing. That's not to say that there are not artifacts there as well, there are. But the true greatness of this museum is the story that is told that is behind all the artifacts.

The museum does a great job telling you this story. Pretty soon, you feel like you are taken back to that era. The owners, executives and the players guide you through that time. As one of the dad's said, it does a great job or recreating the era that we were there to learn about.

There are a few interactive type exhibits there but not many. You can type in a players name and it will search for it and give you the background or known information on them. There is also a movie but we were unable to see it as the kids tend to have problems staying still for very long.

We did the self guided tour and it ended in one of the highlights of the museum. They have recreated a miniture baseball field at the end and have statues of at each of the positions of famous players. This is actually pretty cool with the low lighting.

A quick note about taking the kids though. There is way to much reading for kids unable to read to really enjoy this. You'll spend most of your time chasing them around. The kids did like looking at the bats, uniforms and balls as much as the dads did. However, they had little patience for the abundance of reading. My advice is to leave toddlers at home and only take stroller kids or older kids that can truly get this a little bit better than ours did.

All in all, this is something that I would want to visit again without the kids with me. Take a chance on it and you won't be sorry.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Activity: Grocery Store Tour

Who tours a grocery store? Who would come up with this idea? The KCDADS apparently. When I first heard that we were doing this, I was a bit surprised. Don't get me wrong, we like doing new things. It has become the hallmark of our group to do things with the kids just for the sake of doing them. Psych museum? We did that. Mormon historical site? We were all over that. But this, this might be pushing it. How awesome cold it really be?

Apparently really freaking awesome. I know, who would have thought. And yet, it was. It was an original idea and executed perfectly by our fearless leader. The kids had an absolute blast and the dads were pretty much laughing the entire time we were there just from watching the kids.

As for the set-up, I can tell you a little bit on how we did this. We contacted the manager of the store and told them that we would like to a tour of their store if at all possible. We told them a little about our group, that on a scale of 1 to 10, we were an 11. They thought it would be a great idea to. So we set up a Friday adventure day and met the store manager at the front of the store. I suppose any store would work so to do this, just call the one that you go to most.

But what is there to tour at a grocery store. After all, don't the kids go there every week for our shopping. Surprisingly, there is a lot. We started in the cafeteria section that most stores seem to carry now. The kids got free fortune cookies and then everyone had fun poking pizza dough. The kids seem to feed off each other's enthusiasm when we do this and this is I think what got the dad's laughing so much.

Next was the bakery which is surely one of the highlights of tour. We got to go behind the scenes and watch them do their thing. This particular grocery store, Hy-Vee, makes their own bread. They showed us how they made the bread by putting dough in some sort of flattening machine thing. They also showed us the actual dough making mixer. This got the kids more excited than just about anything else. They kids loved seeing the big dough hook rip through the dough.

I do want to mention at this time how great the staff of the store was. They seemed to be enjoying themselves as well and all of them were willing to talk to us for a little bit and show us how things work. And they gave us free cheese, who doesn't like free cheese. The staff was great and I think that this outing was great because of them.

We also got to see the staff decorate a few cakes. The Dad's took special notice of this I think in hopes of recreating this. Good luck with that boys.

Next was the seafood section for our big surprise. They had live lobsters and the staff actually took on meaty looking bastard out for the kids to get a closer look at. At first the kids were a bit standoffish but excited. The staff here encouraged the kids and waited patiently. Eventually they kids each came up for a quick pet of a the lobster. Personally, I think those things look like the devils spawn but the kids liked it. When the lobster jumped a little bit so did the kids. The funniest part of the whole tour.

We got a chance to also meet the in house chief and the Dad's made a point of getting the recipe for his awesome fish that he had cooked up for us. The tour then went into the back but just at the beginning of the back doors. The kids enjoyed yelling here.

We ended up at their classroom/meeting room where the manager had taken the time to make us some homemade chips. Very nice touch, stay classy San Diego.

And of course we had to tour the pharmacy where no free samples were given.

This tour was an unexpected fun thing to do. I would highly recommend it to any group looking for something to do thats free and fun with the kids.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Man Vs. Weeds

It's going to be tough today. I know it, my wife knows it, and the kids sense it. They notice that good old dad isn't talking. They see a worried look on my face, my brows are creased in thought. They hit me in the balls a couple of times and are shocked that I don't react. They look at each other and then run off.

I've got other things on my mind today, I've got a job to do and I'm not feeling good about it. I've got to go out to the yard. I have to face something that so far has gotten the best of me. This is my last chance or I'll lose it. I'll lose it bad. I'll go to a very dark place and I may not come back from it.

It's the weeds. It's always the weeds. They're back. And they're out front. Waiting for me to come back, waiting for the final battle.

When we bought this house, no one had lived in it for 2 years. That means that no one put any weed prevent down either. The first year we lived here I didn't do much. I didn't have time, I was trying to settle the family in a new city. The second year I launched my first offensive. I laid down prevent, weeded, aerated and laid down new grass seed. Some of it came up to. And the weeds came back up.

About a week ago the dandelions came back followed quickly by the clover. The clover came back in strips so it looks like it was intentionally planted. It's either aliens or my neighbors, I'm not sure. But I am sure that they have allies. But that's ok, because I do to now.

I bought a special chemical. Something deadly. Something that I'm pretty sure I'm not qualified to handle. If it was any stronger I think I would need military clearance and an FBI background check. It is the agent orange of suburbanite weed killers. My sperm count goes down just when I hold the bottle.

I do not have good experiences with chemicals but I feel that drastic measures are necessary at this point. I'm losing this battle, this war is not going my way. Those who follow the blog know that I've had a bad experiences with weeds and weed killers. Last year the big war was against the vine killing my evergreen bush. So I took drastic measures then to.

Oh, I won. There is no doubt that I won. But at what cost? At what cost! I killed the vine. I killed it good. And I killed the bush.

It's time, I head outside. I read the bottle. Mix with water, be careful not to get into eyes, blah blah blah. The bottle says that I should add 1 table spoon per gallon of water. I took this to mean to add 1 tablespoon if you had sand in your vagina and liked to sing show tunes. 2 to 3 will work better. Trust me, I've got a good feeling about this. Maybe I can turn the tide right now??

I pour the chemical into the sprayer. I add water. The vapors sting my eyes and I get a little light headed. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, I'm feeling down right giddy about this. I'm positive that this will work. In fact, I'm feeling damn fine about everything in my life. I'm also a little hungry.

I step out into the lawn and I eyeball the weeds. They eyeball me right back. The clover gives me the finger. I start to cry a little bit. There is no turning back now, I've reached the point of no return.

I grip the sprayer. I walk into the yard with the Ipod blasting. One of us isn't coming back, the only question is which one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Activity: Cars at Crown Center

Location: 2450 Grand Blvd, KC MO:

Website: Crown Center. This link takes you to the Crown Center Event Calendar.

Ages: Appropriate for All usually, depending on what activity is being offered at Crown Center.

Cost: Usually Free, however an UNVALIDATED parking ticket will cost a min of $7.00.

Hours of Operation: Visit Crown Center Event Calendar for more details.

Although we will be talking about seeing the replica vehicles from the movie "Cars", this review is really for all of Crown Center.

Crown Center, one of our area shopping centers, can offer some pretty great stuff from time to time as far as free little programs come through it. We have seen the Lego Exhibit, a replica of The Wizard of Oz, Santa and now the "Cars" cars.

So let's get right to it. Parking kinda sucks. It just does. There are some free lots around the mall but expect a pretty long walk. There are parking garages that offer pretty good spaces though and that's what I went with. However, if you do not have a validated ticket from someone in the mall, it's going to cost you a min of 7 bucks. If it's validated, you get 3 hours free. I forgot to get my ticket validated so I had to pay. In general, I hate paying for parking and I hate it even more for something like this. 7 bucks is just way to much to pay for parking unless there is beer involved. So that part was a bit of a rip off.

Onto the event itself. The cars were in front of the mall in the fountain area. Other Crown Center Programs are usually on the second floor. For this one though, there were 3 cars to look at. Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the new car from the new movie. They were full size and I will say, were very well done. They looked exactly like they did in the animated movie. If your kid is a fan of Cars, this was a cool thing to do. They also had 2 bounce houses that the kids could play in. The set up was pretty nice and really well done visually.

Now this is where I start panning Crown Center stuff.

The organization for this event, and for several Crown Center events usually just isn't that good. In this case, it was a one day showing so everyone and their dog was there. The crowd was huge. I don't like crowds so maybe this sours me a little. However, I don't think so. In order to see the front of the cars, you had to wait in a very long line for about an hour. Then a professional photographer would take your picture in front of the cars, which were roped off and no touching rule was in force. I thought this was kind of crap.

Have you ever waited an hour in line with a kid for a 3 second payoff? Not good man. And since other people were behind you waiting their turn, you couldn't really just sit and look. To do this, you had to go around the side and see the cars that way. Mater, a child favorite, was just to far away for the kids to really get into it. I chose not to wait in line that long and we just looked from the side and took a few quick pictures. It was a lot of hype and waiting for very little payoff. The kids quickly lost interest and it was time to move on.

For us, this is the story with events at Crown Center. They can host some really cool and original ideas. But if you go, you have to be prepared to fight the crowds as they are always, always busy. And that means that you won't be able to spend much time at any individual thing as other people are waiting to get in. It's a tough call on whether to go to these things or not. Good and original ideas with bad organization. So it's a crap shoot.

I believe this is our fourth venture into Crown Center for a display and it's been true each time. To many people in to small of a space with to little time to actually enjoy it. We've even gone on "off times" but there usually a crowd waiting. There is to little space to accommodate the large crowds. Use your own judgement on whether or not to go to the next event held there. It will probably be well done, but chances are you and 5000 other parents will be knocking elbows while your child tries to see what there is to see. Just don't forget to buy $1 dollar worth of some crap to get your ticket validated.