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The little book with BIG resources!

Tumble, Jump, & Run: Fun at Gage Center

Raise your hand if you attended the iFamilyKC event at Gage Center in Blue Springs.

Located on NW Jefferson (between 7 Highway and the Adams Dairy Parkway exit) in Blue Springs, Gage Center offers gymnastics, cheerleading, martial arts, and swimming lessons for children and adults in a spacious environment at affordable rates. In addition, they offer birthday parties and other fun events like the one held last Saturday. Best of all? The kids will have a blast.

I was thrilled to see that they had a dedicated space for children five and under with quite a few activities. Most of our time was spent in the room which offered balance beams, tumbling equipment, rings, and gymnastics bars for early learning and a small play set, trampoline, and zip line for fun. At first, my two year old was most interested in walking back and forth (and back and forth) on the balance beams. I’ll admit that watching her navigate across the beam for the first time (with help) was a proud mommy moment for me. It took her a little while before she was comfortable enough to try the rings, and the trampoline, but before long she was at ease and really enjoying herself. I used that time to sneak away and take a peek at the rest of the event (my husband was there, don’t worry!).

The room is really spacious and they had a lot going on. One of the first things that caught my eye was the massive purple climbing wall they have in the back. I have some great memories of going to indoor rock walls when I was growing up and I imagine there are a lot of fun parties to be had for any climbing enthusiast. Set up on their top level they have what’s called “Dodge Bow”. When they first explained to me what that was, I just assumed they were saying “dodge ball” incorrectly. They weren’t. Although they had it set up in a stationary space (like target practice), it was my understanding that the sport is a mix between archery and paintball. I definitely want to go back for a group activity and channel my inner Katniss Everdeen.

 There’s so much more fun to be had at Gage including their rope swing, foam pit, trampolines, a large inflatable slide, and even an indoor pool. It seems that Gage Center has something for everyone. Hungry for more?! Head on over to the Gage Center website or visit them on Facebook.


You can find more pictures from this event on It’s An Ordinary Blog, where Mom Squad member Holli Ann writes about life, parenting, food, and everything in between. You can follow her blog onFacebook.

Guitars and Drums and Karaoke Oh My!

Shari Jacobs

Do you wanna rock?  If so, head to Science City at the Union Station and go see the Science of Rock n Roll exhibit, you will not be disappointed. What does Rock n Roll make you think of?  Explore the science and technology of rock in this well equipped; very hands on exhibit! If you want to be a rock star for a day, then this is for you! It really doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a musician or whether or not you’ve ever played guitar hero or rock band. You’ll have no problem playing the drums and guitar here!

Upon entering the rock exhibit we were given really cool VIP back stage passes to wear and use (they made great souvenirs too). There is an option to record the music that you play and then send it to your email with your pass! We sent our recordings and watched them when we returned home. We looked like rock stars, the music sounded professional and it was super fun to watch!  A great extension to the day!

The karaoke booths were lots of fun…they made you feel like you were in a real recording studio! Yes, you can even record and send a video of your karaoke experience to your email as well! The only downside here was that there were only a few songs to choose from in each booth and the younger kids will only be heard and not seen because of their height.

The rock n roll nostalgia is fun for the little kids to look at as well as adults.  The girls were looking at records and eight track tapes (in amazement) for the first time ever while grandma was taking a stroll down memory lane. Lastly, on the journey, if you’ve never been to a concert, this room will let you experience what a concert is like first hand by using flashing lights, loud music and a super sized video!

The coolest things at the museum aside from all the awesome nostalgia were the drums, guitars, the keyboard and the karaoke booths! But there is much more to explore here: whether you’re with the kids, or having a date night with the hubby, this is a great exhibit to check out!


A Fearful Generation

by Keri Nichol


I know that every generation faces its own challenges in regard to raising their children but our generation is the one that we are affected by at this moment. It us that are afraid to send our children to school, to a movie, a mall, and now a parade or marathon.  It wasn’t that long ago that we had to just watch our children who may be playing in the yard or riding their bike in the street. It’s as if we can no longer give our children a care free place to live, learn and enjoy being a child. As parents we are always worried and afraid for what could happen to our children. However, more and more these fears become reality and the tragedy gets closer and closer to home. The experts say to only tell your children what is age appropriate to handle. How do you tell a six or eight year old that people were watching a movie at a theatre and were murdered? How do you explain a bomb going off at a marathon killing people who were just there to watch? And, how do we promise them that we will be able to keep them safe?

How do you continue living your life and not let the terrorists win by making us live in fear if we have a family plan for tragedy everywhere we go? So, when I send my third grade and kindergarten students to school, is it age appropriate to say that if you see a man with a gun or hear gun shots to hide under your desk and wait for help? Obviously not! A couple weeks ago I took my girls to see the sneak peak of the new Disney movie The Croods. Should I have told them to hide under the seats if there are shots fired? I mean, seriously, you can’t prepare your family with a plan before everything you do and still not live in fear.

Further, I see people talking about hiding the newspapers and turning the channel to shield their children from the current news. We can’t shield them from that child on the bus or in class that asks them if they seen all the kids that were shot at school. This is because we cannot control what other people are telling their own children.  I am not saying that I have all the answers but I surely question whether some of these experts even have children since their advice seems so generic and unhelpful for real families.

I don’t want to feed my children with fear. I don’t want to make them afraid to go to family movie night. Yet, before we entered the theater that Saturday to see The Croods, my eight year old did ask how we know noone will hurt us while watching the movie. I don’t believe in lying to my children. I told her that we don’t know that but that those were isolated events. I told her the man that committed that crime was behind bars and that even if there were other crazy people out there that they would have to go through their mommy first.

So, even though I won’t be the one to give my child gruesome details that they may hear about from friends or through other forms of media after the fact; I will be certain that I have given them enough details that they know I informed them and I didn’t lie to them.  I will tell them what, when and where the tragedy happened. Then we will discuss how this affects our family and at that moment I will have their attention to make plans to protect them and have a plan ready in case we are ever involved. However, after that discussion we are done with it. I will not bring it up before ever family outing.

I also think that it is important that instead of focusing on the tragic details with my children, I focus on the good. When we are watching TV and something comes on about the tragedy, I will make it a point to show them all the brave first responders that are their helping these people. I will tell them to look at all those good people out there who are helping in all different ways. I will tell them stories of locals who took people into their homes to shower and rest. For my family, we will focus on the heroes of the story and not of the monsters. I believe in doing that, we take the power away from these evildoers. I will educate my children and help them to understand but I refuse to allow these predators to win by making my family live their lives in fear. After all, there was nothing that that little eight year old Boston Marathon boy could have done differently to save his own life. And there was nothing his parents could have done different to prepare him for that event.

I will also use this teachable moment to educate my children on empathy for others. We will pray for the victims and their families. We will discuss what we may be able to do to help. Maybe we will make cards or whatever other ideas my children may have for expressing their own sympathy for these people. I imagine I will have questions to answer about God and living and dying. I will allow them to lead the conversation and I will hope to ease their little minds and fill their hearts with hope for a peaceful future.

If nothing else gets through to my children, it will be that they have the ultimate body guards. That their safety is number ONE on these protectors lists. That if anyone tries to harm them they have a force given by the Creator himself to go through or to be accountable to (although we will probably leave that out)…..And this ultimate force, these protectors and body guards are called their Mommy and Daddy!!!!

Science City: Fun For All Ages

Imagine a place where you can visit an Astronaut’s living quarters, solve crimes using forensic science, ride a bicycle in the sky, see Earth from space, fly a police helicopter, and power on the lights by walking on a treadmill. What if I told you there was a place that offered all of that, and much more, all in the same building? Science City at Union Station offers fun and educational resources for children and adults of all ages. Conveniently located inside Union Station, Science City is a fun way to enjoy a day right here in the metro.

Travelers who just happen upon Union Station wouldn’t really know what Science City was unless they were looking for it. I think that’s part of the charm in what makes it so fun- it’s like stepping into a secret room full of imaginative activities like Melody Park, the first interactive space you’ll see when you arrive. The three story space has a lot going on and is a place that you could easily spent an entire day enjoying. My husband, two year old daughter, and I went with our friends and their 20 month old daughter and we had a blast.

What I enjoy most about Science City is that there really is something there for everyone. My daughter was able to spend some time playing in Kinderlab, an area specifically for toddlers. They have building blocks, books, and a classroom for groups all within a safe, confined space that you can feel comfortable letting your little one explore. Also on the same floor is their playground and a small animal exhibit which were big hits with our little group. As an adult, I really enjoyed the wind and solar station on the second floor, an interactive area that helps you understand how making sustainable choices (like the wind turbines you can find in rural Kansas) helps to build a brighter future. I was also fascinated by the Science On A Sphere, an incredible way to look at our planet in a whole new way.If you’re looking for a rainy day (or any day) activity to enjoy with your family this spring, I definitely recommend spending some time down at Union City. There is so much to explore and enjoy and you might even learn something along the way.

 In addition to contributing on the iFamilyKC blog, Mom Squad member Holli Ann authors It’s An Ordinary Blog. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Union Station: Planetarium- The New Solar System Tour


I have lived in the KC area my entire life and yet I had never been to Union Station. When my eight year old came home and told me they were learning about the planets at school, I thought it would be a wonderful time to take the kids to the Union Station Planetarium. I figured it would be fun and a great learning experience. That my daughter could take a lot of new info back to her class and contribute something new to their discussion. Union Station was very large and seemed to have many more things then I even knew of. I know the kids went to Science City on a field trip and loved it. They were advertising a tornado film that looked like it would be very fascinating.

My eight month old loved the planetarium. The dome ceiling caught his attention through the entire 40 min. show. I will admit that when it started my husband and six and eight year old daughters seemed thrilled at the display.  The dome screen was a totally new experience and when “flying” through space looking at the solar system, it felt like you were up in space yourself. All the info wore down my kiddos pretty quickly. They got bored with the Greek God names and all the moons of each planet. I think they were expecting something more entertaining than informative. I think this is a great learning experience for people interested in learning about our solar system but you need to prepare your children. If they are under the impression that they are going to something that is entertaining or more of a show then they will be disappointed. The visual effects get old on the younger audiences attention span pretty quickly so know your children and what they can handle. For the right audience this is a great experience but for the wrong one it could be a disappointment and a waste of money.

How to Keep Up

Confident Parent?

As a mom I am endlessly confused at all the advice and recommendation that come with my kids. No, children do not come with a manual but they do come with a load of guilt and frustration trying to get it right. I have three kids whose ages range between 8 years. Within those eight years many things changed. It was hard enough to be a new mom and learn the ropes of everything there is to know. But now you have to update your knowledge, adjust things that you firmly believed in and follow new recommendations that, as far as you know, will change again in another 5 years. Isn’t it all just incredibly exhausting and guilt packed?

So what are all these issues that seem to be bringing me down? Well let’s see…. There are immunizations, car seats, breast or bottle, solid food introduction, cough and cold medications, teething remedies, etc. All of these things have changed in the last 8 years. Having my son 8 months ago was like learning the ropes all over again. Everything I knew was changed.

Now I am supposed to keep him in his rear facing seat until he is two when my one year olds of the past had scrunched up legs by one year. I have to argue with the grandmas that used to tell me to feed them rice cereal in their bottles at a month old and told you how you turned out fine when you argue that it is supposed to wait until 3 months. Now they think you are being ridiculous when you tell them you cannot feed them anything until 6 months old. When I asked the pharmacist the recommended dosage of Tylenol Cold and Cough for my 5 year old she almost had a panic attack. I am not trying to drug my child to sleep. I am just a mom who does notice a difference of symptoms and want to make her feel better. The best one, though, by far was when I was in Walgreen’s buying the teething tabletss for my cranky baby. A lady in the baby isle with her young child kept watching me look at things and put them back. Then when I reached for the teething tablets and was reading them to see if they were the same thing that I had used on my 6 and 8 year old children with miraculous results she actually commented on it. She told me that she hoped I didn’t plan on buying it because it is linked to child deaths. If that is the case why is it still on the shelves? And why are my two children, and my nieces and nephews all still very much alive? I think the lady meant well and I didn’t want to be rude so I thanked her for the info. The issue wasn’t with the lady or with the facts of whether the tablets were dangerous or not. The problem was that I couldn’t even go buy the right teething meds without feeling like I was making poor choices for my children or that I was harming them.

The crazy thing is that as far as the world has come with their recommendations and telling everyone what to do with their children, it’s the kids on the larger scale that are suffering. It doesn’t seem to matter so much whether they were fed by breast or bottle, given foods at 3 months or 6 months, etc. Yet, much of the newer ways of thinking are harming our kids. Instead of playing outside they are playing video games and so we have an obesity issue. Instead of practicing handwriting, they are practicing texting. Instead of spelling and grammar we are becoming efficient in current slang and abbreviations.

There is a need for the recommendations and guidelines but they shouldn’t be the rule. They shouldn’t be lined with guilt and persecution. When did it become normal for everyone to judge each other’s actions and intentions?  No mom is perfect but most of them want and do what they feel is best for their children. This is just like their great grandma’s done in the past. I think that more attention should be paid to making moms feel confident in their abilities to raise their children to happy, healthy adults.  What the child needs is love and a mother or father who will make all decisions with their child’s best interest in mind. Our ancestors were on to something when they created a world of people without the issues we now have. I am not saying not to listen to new recommendations, but I am saying that every parent should have the right to hear, judge the relevance to their child and then make a decision without any thing or any one guilt them into parenting one way or another.

Advantages of Leavenworth Virtual School

If you have ever considered homeschooling, but didn’t know how to do it on your own, joining the Leavenworth Virtual School may offer the support you need within a flexible learning structure. In our 7th year, LVS is a state-accredited virtual school within USD 453 working to bring quality curriculum, flexible learning opportunities, and parent-directed education to homeschooled students in grades K-8. Parents value the ability to individualize instruction for each learner, and a flexible learning calendar can be customized to accommodate each family’s needs.


The Leavenworth Virtual School offers high-quality Calvert Homeschool curriculum, guidance from licensed teachers, and on-site learning opportunities. Local families may attend weekly Fun Friday activities and monthly field trip opportunities in the Kansas City area as a means to enrich the curriculum and socialize with fellow homeschooling friends.

Visit our website at www.leavenworthvs.org or call our offices at (913) 684-1540 for more information.


Advantages of Leavenworth Virtual School:

*Open to all Kansas residents, K-8 grade         * Laptop computers available

* Monthly Field Trips                                             * Tutoring services available

* Weekly Fun Fridays Days                                   * Parent Resources

* Certified Teachers to support you                   * Calvert Homeschool Curriculum

*Flexible schedule                                                  * Only $45 enrollment fee


Funville at Crown Center

By: Shari Jacobs

    Remember the Parker Brothers board game “Careers” or the all girls career board game, “What Shall I Be?”  If not that’s okay, they don’t even sale them anymore!  The main idea behind the games was to help boys and girls develop career goals by exposing them to different professions.  With so many career choices it can be hard to make up ones mind.  A large percentage of college students switch majors because of indecision.  Jerry Seinfeld is the voice of the Honeybee Barry B. Benson in “The Bee Movie”, and his big dilemma is committing to one career for life!  Making career decisions can be difficult with so many choices!  “Funville” at Crown Center gives the kids fun hands on opportunities so that they can start to discover their interests beginning at a young age!  Whether it’s a tightrope walker in the circus or a professional surfer on the beach; funville has many “fun” choices!

Funville is a great place to let the kids experience grown up opportunities using hands on props in a stimulating environment.  Kids can ride bulls, tractors, surfboards, become football players, racecar drivers, magicians, artists, weather forecasters, restaurant owners, zookeepers and veterinarians to name a few.  The artwork is inviting and the interesting props makes for a great place to take colorful, fun pictures that you’re sure to love!

My eight-year-old daughter made the cutest weather forecaster while using and improving her questionable geography skills and my five year old did a good job filming her! The kiddos had lots of fun pretending to be artists; they drew portraits of each other on the chalkboard easel.  They took turns riding the waves on the surfboard while another kiddo was the lifeguard!

It would be nice if my son could have this much fun while choosing a college major.  However, with so many fun choices, the kids had a hard time choosing just one grown up job!!

Budget Friendly Eating

Healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank

 One of the most important parts of being a parent is the lessons we share with our children. Learning how to eat healthy on a budget is an incredibly valuable tool that our little ones will carry with them for the rest of their lives. So much of our health, energy, and overall lives are directly connected to the foods that we put in our body and sometimes it can feel overwhelming trying to find the best foods without breaking the bank.

When my husband and I were newlyweds we were fresh out of college, new to the area, and just starting out. Neither of us really put much thought into what kinds of foods we were eating and so we ate what was cheap and easy. It wasn’t until we decided to have a family of our own that we really started putting a lot of thought into our meals. After my daughter was born in 2011, something clicked. I couldn’t tell you what it was or exactly when it happened but I realized that everything I do impacts myself, my family, and my community. I started looking into the foods we were eating, where they came from, and what kind of impact my choice in where to shop was having on my corner of the world.

I once heard that the average grocery store produce travels more than a thousand miles  before it ever makes it to your plate. With that knowledge in hand, I began comparing the foods available for purchase at the local big name grocery stores to that found at the local Farmer’s Market and I made a shocking discovery. Buying local translates to major savings and your dollar really does go further when you take out the need for costly overhead and travel expenses. Fresh peppers that would cost $1 a piece from a grocer would cost half that or less buying directly from the farmer who grows it. Shopping at the farmer’s market just made a lot more sense to me.

With warmer weather rapidly approaching the local farmers will be heading out to City Market to share some of their incredible produce with you. This is one of my favorite times of year not because I just love the heat (I don’t) but because the upcoming weather is more conducive for fresh, healthy produce and the opportunity to take my daughter to meet the farmers who grow our food. The City Market has great guidelines for their farmers (the local ones are always in the center, under the green awnings). You can find more information about that on their website.

Mom Squad member Holli Ann is the author or It’s An Ordinary Blog. You can stay up to date on all of her posts by following her blog on Facebook.

The Fresh Beat Band Live in Concert




The Fresh Beat Band Live in Concert

The Midland by AMC

Saturday November 16 at 5:00pm

Tickets go on-sale this SATURDAY April 20 at 10am


The Fresh Beat Band, Nickelodeon’s popular preschool music group and stars of the hit TV series of the same name, have added 50 cities by popular demand to their enormously successful 2012 tour.  Kiki (Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer), Shout (Thomas Hobson), Marina (Tara Perry), and Twist (Jon Beavers) will perform The Fresh Beat Band hits from seasons one, two and three of the live-action music series that teaches preschoolers about music appreciation and how to express their feelings through movement, song and instrumental music. Fresh Beat Band Party packages, which include a meet and greet with The Fresh Beat Band will be available.