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The little book with BIG resources!

Renaissance Festival

Meet King James, Queen Elizabeth, craftsmen, pheasants, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, rumpelstiltskin (shhh…you’ll have to guess who he is because he will not give away his name), Robin Hood and the list goes on!  No matter what your fancy is there is sure to be something of interest to even the pickiest of people when visiting the Renaissance Festival.  Live shows, music, rides, crafts, shopping, jousting and lets not forget the turkey drumsticks that are mouthwatering delicious, veggie wraps, hot beef sandwiches, fish and chips and lots, lots, more.

My absolute favorite stage show was the “Tricks of the Light” show.  These guys and gal were an incredible act and a must see. The sound that the spinning fire made was like a wind whistle, very cool!   Just make sure that if it’s hot that day not to sit in the front row because you will feel the heat!  The dancing shows are full of loud shouts out to the audience, drums and jingles.

Make sure to stop and talk to the pheasants as well, you never really know who they are until you take time out for a chat and oh how they love to tell stories about themselves, or maybe just warn you of whom not to talk to.  If you see someone in a long black cloak for example, chances are you don’t want to stop and chat, at least that’s what I was told by little red riding hood, oh and she also said that no one knew his name!  I bumped into Cinderella, she loved telling her story and she did not have anything nice at all to say about her stepsisters!

The Renaissance period was the transition time from the medieval period into the modern time.  A time for one to show off his or her talents through music, art, literature, craftsmanship, storytelling and much more.  Visit the Renaissance Festival website to find out about tickets, shows and general information so you to can revisit a little bit of history.  www.kcrenfest.com

Opens August 31st

– Mom Squad Member, Shari Jacobs

How to Beat the Back to School Blues

Now that school is back in session many sleeping and eating schedules have changed drastically.  These transitions along with other first day of school stresses can reap havoc on the immune system.  But with a little planning, a few simple modifications and simple kid approved recipes the school year can be a great success.

If the school hosts a meet and greet before the first day this is a perfect opportunity to drop off that giant load of school supplies. It’s also a great time to learn locker combinations or find out where a cubby is!  Just the simple knowledge of knowing whom their teacher is and how to get to their classroom is a big stress relief and helps reduce some of that first day anxiety for students.

The first couple weeks of school can be exhausting for kids of any age.  In the perfect world, two weeks before school begins is an ideal time for establishing good sleeping habits that simulate the school year. However, adjusting naturally with only small changes to a sleeping schedule is not so abrupt.  A well-adjusted body clock will not only help keep the immune system strong but will keep the students from falling asleep in class. Setting clothes, making lunches and planning breakfast the night before is big time saver if you’re looking to beat the morning rush.

Breakfast is important for keeping the kids focused throughout the day and bellyache free.  Whether it’s peanut butter with an apple or a glass of milk with a banana, make it healthy, yummy and satisfying for a great start to the day. Included is a favorite kid approved breakfast recipe “Bacon and Egg Cups”.   Very simple and can be frozen individually for a quick breakfast any day of the week.

Drinking water helps with hydration and keeps the brains sharp so let them pick out a water bottle, put an orange slice in it and take it to school.  A multivitamin packed with vitamin C should also be included for that healthy morning regimen.  Don’t forget flu shots in October!

When the kids come home from school this is the perfect time to talk about their day with them and find out if any further adjustments need to be made to their schedules.

Shari Jacobs, Mom Squad Member

Walk Weston

Now that school is in session the kids may not be getting the same outdoor freedom that they once had during the summer months.  The beginning of the school year can be stressful for many kids as they make new friends and catch up with last year’s comrades.  Why not have them bring a friend or two and walk, hike, or bike at Weston State Park.  Not only are there great paths and sidewalks for walking, but also playgrounds, picnic areas and scenic sites overlooking the Missouri River.

Missouri’s state park is located in Platte City and is just a biscuit toss from the quaint little town of Weston.  If a picnic was not part of the plan, the Weston Café’ is a fun family dining spot.  The Red Barn Farm is also just a few minutes from the park.  The Red Barn Farm is more of a fall outing when apple and pumpkin picking time arrives and is best mid September through October.

Make sure to take bug spray, sunscreen, a water bottle and wear comfortable shoes. There are different trails to choose from, some being more challenging than others.  The cement walking/biking path is three miles with lots of hills, so I would recommend walking and no wheels with this one, particularly if there are younger kids.  This trail is however, a wonderful walk with the little ones. Be sure to check out the posted information located around the park regarding the birds, plants, insects, animals and other trails that can be found in the area.    Maps are available with the distance and duration of each hike, so the day can be planned fittingly.

Missouri has been nationally recognized as the “Best Trails State” and Weston State Park has several to choose from so get out with the kids and explore!

Shari Jacobs, Mom Squad Member

Midwest Kids Festival

A couple weeks ago I got a chance to work the iFamilyKC booth for the Midwest Kids Festival in Overland Park at the International Trade Center. I had never worked this event before or even attended it. I took my 9 year old daughter and niece with me to help out and they loved it. At our booth, we gave away some awesome posters for movies like Planes, Despicable Me 2, Wreck It Ralph, etc. The kids club members that had a special “code” word got free kids club t-shirts and everyone got some amazing coupons for upcoming events and local businesses.

After our turn at the booth we walked around to see what all there was to offer families and it was amazing. There were blow ups and bounce houses. They had different characters walking around like Hello Kitty, Iron Man, CoCo Keys bird, etc. There were opportunities for the kids to do free crafts, pet animals, play games and for parents to get lots of information about local businesses that are there to provide services for their families. Some of the ones we saw were karate schools, sport leagues, daycares, lice removal companies, pet adoptions, oversea child sponsorship opportunities, misc. goods, etc. This is an annual festival that all Missouri and Kansas parents can benefit from just to see what Kansas City has to offer their family. I know we will be attending again next year!

Keri Nichol. www.newfrugalmomma@wordpress.com

Back to School Time

Well, it’s that time of year again. After a long summer of fun and madness with kids everywhere, it’s time to send them back into the classroom. This is a big adjustment for the teachers, the kids and the family. With these adjustments comes a routine, deadlines, homework, bedtimes, shopping lists, etc. With our family, I have always found it easiest to ease into the transition throughout the first few weeks of August rather than try to just throw the kids back on schedule the first day of school.

To do this, I start with bedtimes. The kid’s normal school day bedtime is at 9 pm. So starting Aug. 1 the kids begin going to bed at 10 pm. They do this all week long. Then the following Monday they begin going to bed at 9:30 p.m.; followed by 9:00 p.m. beginning the Monday before school starting. For us, this avoids the kids lying in bed awake for 2 hours because they can’t go to sleep or aren’t tired. It also transitions their waking time. My kids naturally wake up for the most part. If they go to bed at 10 p.m. then they don’t have much of a problem waking up by 8 a.m. on their own. My goal is to not fight them once school starts to get up by 7 a.m.

We also start getting back into a morning routine. Instead of sitting around all morning watching cartoons or playing in our pj’s the kids get up and get their beds made. Then they get themselves dressed, brush their hair, eat their breakfast and brush their teeth. After that, they are able to go about their day off mostly like normal. Well that is with one exception. I let them slack a lot in the summer with their reading. They just do it when they feel like it. But in getting ready for school routines, we sit aside a 30-45 min. time slot for some reading every single day.

The first weeks of Aug. are also filled with shopping. This is the one time of the year that I can’t benefit from shopping ahead. School supplies are expensive if they aren’t on sale like they are when it’s back to school time. Plus, if you do your shopping during the first weeks the supplies are out it is a madhouse. However, not quite as bad as the tax free holiday weekend is. I actually watched a study on the news the other day that said that the best time to save money is NOT on the tax free holiday…..it is after it. They said that people think they are saving a bunch on taxes so they all shop that weekend but because of that stores begin to dramatically cut the prices after that weekend in order to sale the supplies. So the best time to get great deals are the week or two before school starts but after the tax free holiday is over.

Another tip that I like to give parents is to put a few dollars back when you are budgeting for back to school. We seem to take a pretty big financial hit with school supplies and then clothing but we forget about all those fees that the schools hit us up with the first few weeks. There are pictures, dues, sport fees, PTA fees, etc. I try to budget in about another $50 per student just to help out with those last minute expenses.

Hang in their parents. As stressful is back to school time is for us, it stressful to our kiddos too. But before we know it another school year will have passed and our kids will be another year older so just enjoy the moment we are in.

– Keri Nichol


Six to Nine Months

By: Shari Jacobs

It never occurred to me that my dear friend’s husband would be diagnosed with cancer, or any other life threatening illness for that matter.  That only happens to other people.  He has a beautiful wife and three wonderful children that are by his side and in his thoughts every waking minute.  The dad, husband, son, brother, friend…so full of life a month ago, is now in a bed waiting for good news from the doctors.  Life is all about recovery isn’t it? “Hope”, isn’t that what victims of cancer do, “hope” for recovery and a chance for their life back?

The doctors came in with news that no one was anticipating and none of us was ready for.  The cancer spread throughout his body and he has been given six to nine months to live.  There is still so much to do.  So many things left undone, that “time” hasn’t allowed to happen yet.  There are so many life lessons and experiences that need to be shared.  So much wisdom to allocate, and now so little time to do it.

The feeding tubes go in tomorrow and everyone is optimistic that it will give him strength. Does he have a choice how he wants to use his remaining strength that he has fought so hard for? If he could he would finish his life long goals.  He would see his son graduate from college and live his dream.  He would be a loving mentor to his twin girls as they begin their life’s journey.  He would spend time at his new home with his wife as first year retirees and empty nesters.  He would golf, fish and hike with friends and family.  However, if he were strong enough, he could begin chemotherapy treatments.  Unfortunately, the doctors said the chemo treatments would not kill all the cancer.

Yet there is still hope for a recovery.  Lots of cancer patients are given a life expectancy and live well beyond it.  I’m not certain what the statistics are but he will surely be one of them.   It’s hard to remain positive when you’ve been given six to nine months to live, but there is always the prospect of life and the hope for a better day. When things get tough, stop for a moment and reflect on all of the blessings in your life. Appreciate your family, your achievements and your life and never take for granted the time you have to live it.

Raising Children Who Volunteer

I have always felt that volunteering with my children is important. With a new baby it has become more difficult. However, normally my husband and I take turns volunteering with the kids and the other staying home with the baby. This time it was my husband’s turn. He took my oldest with him to Nowlin Middle School in the Independence School District and they volunteered for Project Shine 2013 this past Sat.  It gave him quality time with her and it always taught her how to contribute to society, help the community, and how good hard working people can make a difference.

“Volunteering with children is a great way to help them learn about giving back. Children learn valuable skills while “on the job.” Homeschooled students, who may have more time available for volunteering, could also enjoy the additional socialization opportunities presented through volunteering. Another benefit of volunteering is children learn about the concerns of the organization and what need it fills in the community. Consequently, the children also have an opportunity to remember what they have to be thankful for.

Work Together

It’s important to work side-by-side with your child, since leading by example has been shown to be the most effective form of teaching. Children who see their parents volunteering are much more likely to believe in the value of working to help others.

Naturally, working side-by-side with your child will allow you to assist him/her when necessary, ensuring the child’s presence is a help, not a hindrance to the organization’s staff and other volunteers.

An additional benefit of working with your child as a volunteer is the bonding that occurs when people work together as a team. Also, when people are focused on a task, it sometimes fosters deep conversations that may not have occurred with more direct eye contact.” (Palmatier, Kelly. Retrieved on 7/16/2013 from http://www.compassionatekids.com/volunteering.shtml.)

Our next adventure together will be at the Harvesters. I want the kids to see how much Harvesters helps our community with their Backsnack Program. Therefore, we will be helping to pack the Backsnack bags and learning a lot doing it.

Below are some links to just a few of the volunteer opportunities in the Kansas City area:

American Red Cross, Greater Kansas City Chapter
211 W. Armour Blvd., Kansas City
(816) 931-8400 or http://www.kcredcross.org/
Help in a variety of programs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters program. You can make a difference for a kid.
Call Scott at 816-561-5269 if interested in more details or filling out a BIG application.

Christmas In October
P.O.box 32108
K.C.Mo 64171
One Saturday volunteering with a crew can drastically improve the quality of life for some inner city folks on a fixed income. Be a part of this 25 yr tradition by showing up & having fun helping our own citizens.
Community Services League
300 W. Maple, Independence
Opportunities include sorting clothes and inputting data. Time commitment varies.

Habitat for Humanity Kansas City
1423 E. Linwood Blvd., Kansas City
Kate Fields: (816) 924-1096 or http://www.habitatkc.org/
Serve as construction volunteers; type of work varies. Workday is 8pm-4:30pm

3801 Topping, Kansas City
(816) 929-3000 or http://www.harvesters.org/
Sort food and assist at special events. (Contact: Paula Pratt, volunteer services manager.)

HELP Humane
511 Main Street, Belton, MO 64012
Must love animals! Dog walking, litter box scooping, filling food/water bowls, cleaning, laundry, and playing with the shelter animals.
Must attend orientation before volunteering. These are held on Wednesday evenings at 6pm. Please call in advance to be put on the orientation calendar.
816-318-4357; diana@helphumane.org or shannon@helphumane.org