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The little book with BIG resources!

Real Pirates

By: Holli Ann

My husband and I recently had the opportunity to attend “Buccaneer Bash”, the grand opening to the Real Pirates at Union Station.  The exhibit tells the story of the Whydah a successful pirate ship from the early 1700’s which shipwrecked only to be found almost 300 years later. I am fascinated by pirates (this kind not necessarily this kind) and I relish any opportunity to support Union Station so this event was a perfect for us.


The evening started with drinks, food and music. Fruits, cheeses, and desserts were on tables and wait staff brought around various horderves for guests to sample. The horderves were appropriately seafood themed and provided by Pierpont’s. We tried the conch balls, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail and they were all delicious. While we ate we were entertained by pirate themed bands which added a great ambiance to the area.


After about an hour, George Guastello, President and CEO of Union Station took the stage and spoke briefly the exhibit and about Union Station. I was surprised to learn that Union Station receives no tax dollars from Kansas City, and is therefore reliant solely on the income it draws in from events and exhibits to continue to operate.


Robert Regnier, the chairman of the Union Station Board of directors and his wife Ann then introduced Mark Lach the exhibit creator who talked about the exhibit and how the artifacts it contains made their way from the bottom of the ocean to Kansas City. The doors then opened for the exhibit itself.  Groups of about one hundred each were lead into a theatre to watch a short video that tells the the tale of the Whydah before then moving onto the rest of the exhibit.  The video was very well done and accentuated with lighting effects that added to the drama as we watched the  Whydah battle a storm and ultimately meet its untimely demise.


We then continued onto a mock Pirate ship which had replica pirate quarters as well as further information about piracy during the 1700s and about the Whydah’s crew.  The Whydah, we learned, was named after a port it frequented along Africa’s western shore. It was a slave ship until it was overtaken by pirates. It was interesting to learn about this often overlooked portion of western European history through the perspective of a single ship and its crew.


The highlight of the exhibit were the artifacts discovered on ocean floor. The ship’s bell, the first artifact that we discovered, was remarkably nearly intact and on display. There was weaponry and pirate treasure.  Just as interesting were the belt buckles, silverware, and other trinkets which gave glimpses into the life of a pirate during that time.


Last was the gift shop where if you liked you could get your own pirate treasure or any number of items to help you remember your experience. Overall, the event and the exhibit were both wonderful. The “Real Pirates” exhibit is both engaging and educational. Older children (I would say from about age seven on) will get a lot out of this exhibit, and there is enough going on to hold their attention.  I strongly encourage landlubbers both young and old to come experience this true pirate tale and support Union Station as it continues to bring new and exciting experiences to Kansas City.

Blogger Holli Ann documents her journey through life and parenting online at It’s An Ordinary Blog.

Lee’s Summit Downtown Days

By: Holli Ann

One of the great things about the Kansas City metropolitan area is that all of the surrounding smaller cities each have their own unique traditions and sense of community. Lee’s Summit is no exception. I was able to attend one of their town traditions, Downtown Days, earlier this month. This event, as well as many others like it, are a great way to get to know some of the local businesses (like iFamilyKC) and try some great “fair food” and drink (BBQ, brats, fried everything, and my favorite Root Beer).


Lee’s Summit Downtown Days featured music at different stages, a beer garden, a car show, as well as inflatables, games and rides for kids. It truly is fun for all ages and offers something for just about anyone. I enjoyed the Lee’s Summit Downtown Days so much that I wanted to share some other great events just like it coming up in the area. Take a look:


28th Annual Waterfest, Excelsior Springs, MO – June 28 – 30

KC Riverfest – Berkley Riverfront Park, KCMO – July 4

Johnson County (MO) Fair – Warrensburg, MO – July 10 thru July 13

Cass County Fair, Pleasant Hill, MO – July 16 thru July 21

Amelia Earhart Festival – Atchison, KS – July 19 and July 20

Miami County Fair, Paola, KS – July 20 thru July 27

Platte County Fair, Platte City, MO – July 23 thru July 27

5th Annual Midwest Kids Fest, Overland Park, KS – July 27 and 28, Overland Park Trade Center

Wyandotte County Fair, Kansas City, KS – July 23 thru July 27

Douglas County Fair, Lawrence, KS – July 31 thru August 3

Johnson County Fair, Gardner, KS – August 6 thru August 10

Missouri State Fair, Sedalia, MO – August 8 thru August 18

Leavenworth County Fair, Tonganoxie, KS – July 30 thru August 3

Trails West!, St. Joseph, MO – August 16 thru August 18

Parkville Days Riverfest, Parkville, MO – August 23 thru August 25

Santa-Cali-Gon Days, Independence, MO – August 29 thru September 2

Kansas City Irish Fest, Kansas August 30 thru September 1

iFamilyKC blogger Holli Ann also writes It’s An Ordinary Blog, which documents her journey through life and parenting. To stay up to date on all of her posts, “like” the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook fan page.

Just For Her Expo

By: Holli Ann

June always seems to be a busy month here in the Kansas City area. From the annual Color Run to events like the Just For Her Expo, Downtown Days, and the Highland Games, there’s always something going on in the metro. If you had the chance to stop by the Just For Her Expo a couple of weeks ago, iFamilyKC was there giving away movie posters, screening passes, and Schlitterbahn tickets. In case you missed the show, mark your calendars for May 30-June 1, 2014. If this is your first time hearing about this annual event for women, The Just For Her Expo is a great way to spend an afternoon with your gal pals connecting with local businesses that help make your life better.

I had the opportunity to walk through the event and my absolute favorite part of the entire thing wasn’t the fabulous vendors who were offering great products or the cooking demo that Saturday afternoon, but the Midwest Women’s Care Health & Wellness Expo that was going on during the entire event. All too often, as mothers, we have the tendency to put the needs of everyone else above our own. Not only was Just For Her aimed at encouraging you to pamper yourself a little bit but there was also a strong focus on keeping you at your best. What more could we ask for than a long, healthy, happy life?!

Midwest Women’s Care invited attendees to play a little game…called Life. Each station was set up to encourage women’s health by performing breast self-exams (not in public, of course), check your sleep habits, keep your heart healthy, and so much more. Most importantly, they encouraged visitors to keep those lines of communication with your doctor open. Without good health, it isn’t possible to enjoy all of the other wonderful things that the Just For Her Expo showcased.

During the event, I was handed a booklet with some great pork recipes and wanted to conclude this little write up by sharing one of those with you. Visit the Just For Her website for more information about next year’s event.

Pulled Pork Tostadas

30 Minute Prep Time | Makes 6 Servings

You’ll Need:

  1. 1 lb Chili Rub Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
  2. 3-4 Limes
  3. 2 tbsp. canola oil
  4. 8 c. finely shredded cabbage
  5. ¾ c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  6. ¼ thinly sliced red onion
  7. Salt
  8. 1 c. sour cream
  9. ½ chipotle pepper
  10. 6 8-inch or 12 4-inch tostadas
  11. 2 diced tomatoes
  12. 3 wedged radishes

Halve and squeeze 1 or 2 of the limes to yield 2 tbsp. of juice. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice and oil. Add cabbage, onion and cilantro. Toss to mix. Add salt to taste. Cut the remaining limes into wedges and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the sour cream and chipotle pepper.

Arrange tortillas on plates. Top with pork, slaw, sour cream mixture and tomatoes. Serve and enjoy!

*For more information on the Pulled Pork Tostada recipe, search online at PorkBeInspired.com

iFamilyKC blogger Holli Ann also writes It’s An Ordinary Blog, which documents her journey through life and parenting. To stay up to date on all of her posts, “like” the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook fan page.

Door to Door Organics


by Keri Nichol


As moms we want to feed our children healthy. I see information on television all the time about the importance of organic produce and I think how nice it would be to purchase that if it was reasonable. When I go into the grocery store with my three children I don’t have time to browse the produce isles or look for the healthy alternative. Every minute I spend in those stores equates to another $10 of junk food groceries that my children have bribed out of me for their good behavior.

My strategy was always making a list before I go and then sticking to it. Because we are on a tight budget with me being a stay at home mom now we have to make every penny count. However, every time I leave the store I am shocked at the total price and there are always last min. items that have snuck their way into my cart.

Because of all this, I have found that the best option for us is for me to shop at home. Now I do shop the weekly ads. I only buy groceries that we will eat, mostly meats that are on sale. I know that $2.38/lb. if hamburger isn’t that great of a deal. So I wait until it gets down to 1.99/ lb. and then I stock up. They have these kinds of sales at least once every 3 months or so. This is also how I purchases cheeses and frozen veggies.

Because I am trying to feed my children healthily, I don’t go into the center isles. The only things I buy from them are canned veggies. In addition, I have found my best bet is to make a DETAILED list and then have my husband stop on his way home from work. This is because he will stick to the list religiously since he don’t cook the meals and so he don’t have other meal ideas in the store and he won’t have the kids tagging along. The only draw back to this is sending him into the produce isle. During a $50 little grocery trip he will call at least 3 times with no idea what a product is, where to find it or to ask about an incredibly minor change up. However, send him into the produce isle and he will use our entire month of allowed cell phone minutes in that one grocery visit.

What I have begun doing is shopping online for produce and other local healthy foods through Door to Door Organics. What is great about them is that they deliver directly to your door and you are able to purchase organic produce that is local. In addition to local produce you can get local meats, cheeses, milk, etc. Because I save lots of money shopping ads in the stores, I am able to splurge a little bit and get the healthy, local products that Door to Door Organics offers. There website also offers recipes for great ideas on how to prepare their produce. Now their meat is very expensive in my opinion but it is local and much healthier. I normally only get my seafood from them. Especially things like their salmon and halibut. I have purchased these things at Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, Sun Fresh, Wal Mart, etc. and none of these stores can sell seafood that compares to Door to Door Organics quality. It is delicious and really not much more expensive. Plus you don’t have to go anywhere.

Obviously you could save lots of money if you can head out to the local farmers market and get these items. However, we don’t have time to hit those markets. Most of the times we spend the weekends out of town and besides that, it can be hard taking three kids out in the heat and having them pack groceries. Plus, some of them are crowded and it’s hard to keep track of your kids. I still do go down to the river market every once in a while but when I can’t get there and I need another option, Door to Door Organics is a great one for us.

Door to Door Organic Website https://kc.doortodoororganics.com/organic-produce-delivery

A quick internet search will give you a promo code that will save you $10 off your first order. If you can’t find one then email them and ask.

Lake Safety

By: Keri Nichol


It’s almost summer time and the kids are getting really anxious about getting out in the water. Now I am no expert but I do have lots of experience with my own children near the water. We have a lake house at the Lake of the Ozarks and we spend most of our weekends on our dock either swimming, on the boat, or taking turns getting rides on the Seadoo. Some people don’t realize that going swimming in the lakes are much different than the swimming pools. Here are some lake safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. 1.     Not all floating devices are created equal. When swimming off a dock or boat, you have no idea how deep that water is. Remember that the same lifejackets you use at the pool may not be ones that are permitted for boating. Also remember that arm floats and other fun floats should only be used in addition to a life jacket when in a lake.
  2. 2.     Don’t forget your sunscreen. It doesn’t have to be too hot to get that sunburn. The sun rays reflect off the water just like at the pool. In addition, time flies when you’re having fun so be sure to reapply after getting out of the water or after being in the sun for more than about 80 min. All sunscreens are a little different so be sure to read their recommendations.
  3. 3.     Boats cause waves. If you are swimming off a shore line or a dock, it is different than a beach. Boats may be driving faster and they do not have “no wake” zones to abide by. Because of this you have to be extra careful that waves don’t come that either goes over your children’s head or pushes them into deeper waters. Also make sure you do not allow your children to explore too far out into the lake where the boats and Seadoo’s may not see them.
  4. 4.     Water snakes and other water dangers. I am just as big of a chicken as the next person about what is in the water. Although most things will not hurt us, we do need to keep an eye out for things around shore lines and docks that can, like water snakes, fishing hooks, broken glass, etc.
  5. 5.     Parents are the only lifeguards.  We get to the lake and sometimes we want to kick back and have a couple drinks and relax but we must not compromise our judgment when we have our little ones around the water. Out in the middle of a lake or off a dock parents are the only lifeguards. We are the ones looking out for the safety of our children and it is important not to get so wrapped up in the fun and activities that we take our eyes off of them because we all know it doesn’t take any time at all for water accidents to happen.

Summer time is full of exciting activities like those at the lakes. I just wanted to give people a heads up for dangers that we notice when we are out having fun. Just remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I have included some great websites with even more safety tips.

Boating and Children Safety– http://www.discoverboating.com/kids.aspx or http://www.americanboating.org/safety-vid-tips-for-kids.asp

Infant and Toddler Water Safety- –http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/child-safety/CC00045 or http://www.safekids.org/tip/water-safety-home-tips


Parents as Teachers Program

By: Keri Nichol

In the past 9 years I have participated in the Parents as Teachers Programs with all of three of my children. These programs have been dramatically different in all the districts we have lived in but every one of them was super beneficial to me and my child. We have been enrolled in Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Center, and now in Independence School districts. The one that offered the most comprehensive program was Hickman Mills in 2006-2008. They offered free classes in baby sign language, Gymboree, Music and Me, etc. People from these different companies would come to the Early Education center and all the participants of P.A.T were invited to come to the center and join in the free classes. My daughter learned a lot. They would also have story days where they would read books and then make little crafts and easy snacks. Not only did she learn a lot from the activities but she was able to socialize with other children in her age group. At that time they had a connection with US Toy where every month my daughter would get a $50 gift certificate from the P.A.T. program to go spend on educational toys at U.S. Toy.

I have had people ask me why I participate in this program since I was a lead early education teacher myself. There is a conception that P.A.T is for parents that don’t know what they are doing and need help and advice in raising the child. It is true that I have an Associates in a related Early Education Field and I have a Bachelor’s in Family and Child Welfare so I have studied child development and am very aware of the stages that my children are going through. However, I think that having an unbiased opinion on your child’s development milestones is critical. As parents, there are lots of things we tend to overlook with our own children or things that we are used to and therefore don’t really click as an issue. P.A.T instructor come to your home and they assess your child in eye sight, speech, vocabulary, gross motor, fine motor, etc. You are given the opportunity to challenge your child with activities that you hadn’t considered. But most importantly for me, is it gives the opportunity to discuss the child and issues or concerns you are having with someone else that is educated in that field. Sure, you can ask your doctor but I know I get overwhelmed and feel rushed when I see the doctor. I always have a lot of questions and forget to ask half.

A few years ago, when the economy had gotten bad, Missouri cut funding for Parents as Teachers programs and they suffered dramatically. Independence is now beginning to rebuild theirs after these cuts were made. I encourage all parents and soon to be parents to enroll in the program. It is absolutely free of charge and only benefits you and your child. Call your local early childhood center and ask for the Parents as Teachers department to get signed up.

Here are some websites for more information:

General Info: www.parentsasteachers.org/‎

Olathe: http://www.olatheschools.com/students-families/parent-resources/parents-as-teachers

Lee’s Summit: http://pat.leesummit.k12.mo.us/

Hickman Mills: http://www.hickmanmills.org/domain/229

Independence: http://www.isdschools.org/programs-services/early-education/

Liberty: http://pat.liberty.k12.mo.us/

Center: http://www.center.k12.mo.us/gen/center_generated_pages/PAT_m55.html

Pampers Splashers Review

By: Keri Nichol

So Memorial weekend was just here and we headed to the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks with the family. Although the water was a little on the chilly side we couldn’t kick off the summer right without swimming. I dug out the Splashers that I had left over from my daughters when they were little and figured they would work for my 10 month old baby boy since no one at the lake would care (or see) that he had Dora the Explorer on his diaper.  After getting him all dressed in his swim suit he sat with his Papa while we got the girls ready for the day and after about 10 min. Papa said that his shirt was wet. He swore that Jacksyn, my little boy, had peed on him. But how could that be, I had just put him in a brand new Splashers so I thought maybe it was a spilling Sippy. So we get into the car and get to the dock where we swim and carrying Jacksyn on my hip I became soaking wet. He had peed through that Splashers all over my side as if he was in nothing but underwear.


To be fair, I chalked this up to the idea that I had used my daughters old Splashers which are girls. I assumed the idea of boy/girl Splashers were related to the design of either Dora or Diego but just maybe they were made different to. Maybe the absorbency in the girls is more in the bottom and the boys is more absorbent up in front. This is the reasoning I gave for these not working.


When I got home from the lake I looked it up online to see if I was right about my theory with the absorbency location thinking maybe I could get by with turning the Splashers backward to still work for my  son since I still had a large package left and didn’t want to waste them. I was super surprised by what statements I found online from the company.

If you go their website and read the customer reviews you see that there were several issues with sizing and also people complaining about the absorbency (and yes they were using the correct sex diaper). The part that shocked me was that they say the diapers were designed to help children in the pool and not to swell like ordinary diapers when wet. They are not to be worn like ordinary disposable diapers. However, what is the point in putting a diaper on a child if they are going to have urine running down their leg the first time they potty. Doesn’t that mean that that urine is getting into our swimming pools? I could save myself $10 and just let my baby go in the nude.  And, just for the record, nothing I found distinguished anything different between the girl/boy Splashers other than the printed design. It doesn’t appear to be made different at all. I also found that many people recommended the use of Huggies swim diapers over Pampers even when they normally prefer Pampers disposable diapers on a regular basis. Maybe that will be an upcoming review as well.