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The little book with BIG resources!

A Night Of Terror: Midland Railway’s Asylum Haunted Train

Happy Halloween, KC!

October 31st is such a fun day, isn’t it?! Halloween provides us with the rare opportunity to dress up and do something different. As the parent of a four year old, Halloween in our household is generally a relatively tame adventure but thrill seekers with older children have plenty of opportunity to experience something completely different here in the metro area. One of our Mom Squad team members, Leah, had the opportunity to enjoy such a thrill and travel  down Midland Railway’s Asylum Haunted Train last night and we’re excited to share her review with you today. Take a look…
train ride 06

Located in the cute, little, quaint town of Baldwin City, KS resides the Midland Railway train station.  The cobble stone streets pave the way to this historical site where you are invited to step back into time.  Greeted by a conductor, our ticket was taken and we boarded onto a train of terror.  As we were seated, anticipation began to creep over for what soon awaited us.  A group of mentally disturbed patients accompanied by a doctor boarded the train & informed the passengers of what was in store for us that evening.

train ride 01       train ride 02

The doctor advised us that several of the more tamed patients would be keeping us company throughout the duration of our trip.  We later discovered they were anything but tame.

train ride 03       train ride 04

The hair on my neck began to stand up as whispers from an unfamiliar voice greeted my ear.  A strange request to sing a lullaby to the patient led to gaining another guest in our passenger booth.  The longer the ride, the stranger her demands became.  While we waited in fear, we secretly hoped someone would come save us.  However, our silent cries were answered by a doctor, who detoured the patient away and cordially invited us on a guided tour to an additional train car where screams of fear, terror, and pain became the soundtrack for the evening.  As we waited for the doctor’s assistant to give us our grand tour, a patient whose wardrobe consisted of a straight jacket accessorized with blood began to beg & plead for us to leave with fear for our safety.  Our wait came to an end as the highly agitated assistant instructed us to follow her lead.  We were guided into room after room with patients screaming in fear for help.  After our tour ended, we were guided back to our seats and waited with relief for our return back to the station.  From start to finish, our ride supplied us with a memorable adventure.  This writer would highly recommend the Asylum Haunted Train ride for guests over the age of 13.  This ride would not be recommended for small children.  For more information, please contact the staff over at Midland Railway for tickets and pricing.

train ride 05


Follow all of Leah’s adventures through life and parenting on LivingLifeWithLeah.com

In addition to their regularly scheduled rides, Midland Railway offers seasonal trains that are fun for the whole family.

Follow them on Facebook for more details about the upcoming Santa Train and many other fun adventures in store for you in the future.



Cold Weather Creations: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Hello, Kansas City!

Who’s ready for another BIG ROYAL WIN tonight?! I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of simple, delicious meals I can put on the table for my family this Autumn and I’m thrilled to share a recipe that I’m planning to try in my own house with you today. One of our Mom Squad team members, Erin B., sent over her recipe for slow cooker (or stove top) taco soup and it looks INCREDIBLE. If you try it at your house, we want you to share YOUR thoughts (and pictures) with us! Take a look…

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Taco soup recipe


One of the things I love about Fall is making warm dishes for those chilly nights!  The colder weather always brings me into the kitchen.  This taco soup recipe has been a favorite in my family for years. It is super easy to make either in the crock pot or on the stove!  


  • 1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1(1 ounce) package hidden valley ranch dressing mix
  • 1(1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1(16 ounce) can navy beans
  • 1(16 ounce) can black beans
  • 1(16 ounce) can red beans(hot or regular)
  • 1(16 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 1(8 ounce) can diced Mexican-style tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1(8 ounce) can diced tomatoes (any flavor)
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream

Brown the onion and ground beef together and drain.  In a big pot, add cans of chopped tomatoes, can of red beans, black beans, and navy beans.  Stir in a can of corn, tomato paste, a package of Hidden Valley ranch and a package of taco seasoning.  Simmer an hour on the stove or put it in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. Dish up in bowls and top with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips. Serves 12.

You can easily double the recipe if you have a larger crowd.  Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Trading In The Technical World For Togetherness

Good Afternoon, KC!
Happy TUESDAY! I took a drive this afternoon to a remote area near my home that has the most beautiful scenery around. From the waterfalls to the beautiful lake, it was nice taking some time away from my computer and phone to enjoy Autumn in Missouri (if only for a few minutes). So when Leah’s post came across my desk, I was excited to share it with each of you. Today, iFamilyKC Mom Squadder Leah is sharing details about a FUN organization that she and her son are a part of that inspires young people to get OUT and enjoy nature. Take a look…
A couple years ago my son and I went to a “Gem and Mineral ” show with some dear friends of ours. We had the pleasure of meeting Carrie and her son Bentley. They invited us on a weekend “rock hunting trip ” and created a memory we’ll never forget. I asked Carrie to write an article about how her and her family discovered their passion about rocks. Below you will find her story.
Carrie and her son Bentley
Carrie and her son Bentley

Fed up with my sons addiction to Mine Craft, the computer was turned off and a decision made to find the things on the screen in reality.  Bentley was interested in rocks, and frequently picked them up- as most kids tend to do.  My child’s lack of interest in sports, art, or music left me challenged with finding a group of peers with similar interests.  It didn’t exist, so I decided to create one.

I joined the Independence Gem and Mineral Society (I.G.A.M.S.) to learn more about my sons interest.  They had a children’s program, but it was small with inconsistent attendance.  In the right place at the right time, I became the director of the children’s program.

I had visions of a program where kids could learn through experience, be exposed to things they likely won’t learn in school, and simultaneously meet the needs of a wide age range.  With support and funding from I.G.A.M.S., that’s exactly what’s been created.

Rocks and minerals are literally the foundation for everything around us.  Any topic can connect back to them.  At the meetings kids explore a variety of scientific areas including nanotechnology, triboluminescence, and diamagnetic levitation to name a few.  It’s fun watching the kids realize when they understand a word that their parents don’t.  Just because some of the words are technical, doesn’t mean that younger children can’t grasp the concept – and if they don’t, that’s ok.  If something sparks their curiosity, they’ll pursue learning more on their own.  The end of each meeting concludes with how the activity connects to rocks, and a mineral or fossil specimen for each child to take home.

Occasionally we’ll collect fossils and minerals locally.  If kids enjoy collecting, they can join I.G.A.M.S. for more field collecting opportunities.  Field trips are generally an overnight excursion to somewhere within driving distance of Kansas City.  Bonnie Terre on the Eastern side of Missouri is filled with lots of amazing finds that will create memories to last a lifetime.  Referred to as “rockhounding”, it’s a modern day treasure hunt.  Guidance, knowledge, and elbow grease come together in hopes of finding what you’re looking for.  But with collecting, nothing’s guaranteed. Some trips can be a bust, while others plentiful.  Each collecting area is unique, leaving each new locality a completely different experience.

The majority of the time, localities are in very remote areas.  This enriches the experience further by exposing kids to a culture that’s different from what they’re accustomed to.  Reading about Amish in a book is nothing in comparison to seeing and experiencing the Amish community first hand.  Or staying a weekend in a town without a McDonalds around for 30 miles (yes, it does exist!), where businesses close by 9 P.M.  Reality of the conveniences we’re surrounded by is eye opening when a child experiences it.  Never knowing what to expect on a rock trip has proven beneficial for our family.  It’s helped our son to see new experiences as something to look forward to, as opposed to apprehend.  Adapt to changing plans. And improvising in situations that warrant it.

I never envisioned a life where I would travel to dig in the dirt, meet people for the first time in the worst clothes I own, and return from a trip physically spent.  But I’ve  had a wider range of experiences and gained fantastic memories I know I never would have had otherwise.

If anything mentioned peaks your curiosity, and you’d like to learn more, contact

Carrie Siems at 816-935-2111 or csiems@bluespringsmarine.com.

Or visit www.igams.co

The Kids Rock Club meets the fourth Thursday’s of the month (September -April), from 6:30 P.M.-7:30 PM. in the Hall of Fame Room in Blue Springs South High School.  Membership is free!

Christmas Is Coming: Let’s Talk Holiday Family Traditions

Hello, Friends!

After the unusually warm weather we had here in the metro, it seems like Autumn has finally settled in around Kansas City. As the weather changes, I am reminded that Christmas is COMING. SOON. We have just about two months before the big man in the red suit becomes the talk of the town and today we wanted to take a few moments to reflect on family traditions with iFamilyKC Mom Squad team member Jayne. We invite you to join in on the conversation and let us know what YOUR family traditions are.

Christmas Traditions

As a child, I envisioned something very specific for my holiday routines as an adult.  Coming from a very large family (my mother is one of six children), I saw myself bringing our babies back to my grandmother’s house each year for Christmas Eve, then my parent’s home for Christmas morning – enjoying family traditions for my own little family as I’d enjoyed them in my big family for years.  For the first few years of my life with a husband and children, I was able to follow through on those visions quite easily.  However, after having several children and then moving out of state – the holidays have changed a bit for our family.

Watching my own children grow bigger and older, it’s interesting how the idealized holiday gatherings now compare to my own wishes for their memories.  Sure, I want them to remember and cherish all of the time we are blessed to have with our extended family – but at the same time, I’d really love to have our own traditions as well.  Things like Thanksgiving dinner in our dining room giving thanks around our table, coming down the stairs of our home to greet the tree on Christmas morning, staying up late enough to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve from our backyard – they’re all memories I’d like my children to have in our own home.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as we prepare to welcome our third child into the family.  This past year, we were in an apartment, waiting for our home to be completed during the holidays – so traveling seemed almost the obvious choice as we didn’t have most of our things out of storage anyway.  The prior years, my children were only barely just born or young toddlers – and didn’t fully grasp the concept of where we were anyway.  This year, however, not only will we have a brand new baby (who will be a couple months old at the end of the year), but we’ll also have a four year old and almost three year old who actually are starting make memories and ask for traditions we’ve done in the past.
And, we will keep doing the yearly traditions that we’ve done so far – like going to the Polar Express train or driving around looking at Christmas lights with cups of hot chocolate – but I’d like to implement some of our own traditions on the actual holidays themselves this year as well.
I’m not sure what that’s going to mean as far as where we will end up for the holidays this year, but it’s definitely a lot to think about and consider going into this fall and winter season.
Has anyone else changed their yearly holiday plans when you had children?  Has that changed at all as your children have grown older?

Multiple Train Robberies Impact Midland Railway Over The Weekend

Good Evening, Friends!

I relocated to the Midwest 8 years ago after attending college in a very small, picturesque mountain town on the East Coast. My alma mater’s community, much like those that surround the metro area, are what this nation was founded on and it’s truly special having the opportunity to spend time in small town America whenever I can. I had such an opportunity this past weekend when I went to Baldwin City, KS for their annual Maple Leaf Festival. Baldwin City reminds me a lot of my college town (which should come as no surprise since they are host to Baker University) and it was so much fun spending the day on the brick paved roads in Baldwin City.

The Maple Leaf Festival is a fun, family friendly event that takes place every year on the third full weekend in October. There are street vendors with homemade crafts, food, music, and activities including a parade on Saturday morning. The crowd that comes in from all across the region is as impressive as the beautiful tree lined streets that play host to the festival.

Baldwin City isn’t just host to the 4,500+ residents that live there but they’re also home to our friends over at Midland Railway, an organization dedicated to fostering the public’s awareness and appreciation of railroading, both past and present.


Each year, during the Maple Leaf Festival, Midland Railway offers rides on the Maple Leaf Train. These rides, which run every hour on the hour during the day, take guests on a round trip ride to the Nowhere, KS and back to the station. Along the way, riders encounter the friendliest train robbers in all the land in a fun mini Wild (Mid)West showdown between the Marshall’s team and local outlaws.


Our experience on this year’s Maple Leaf Train happened to be my four year old’s very first train ride ever making it even more special for our little family. Charlotte absolutely enjoyed interacting with the costumed actors on the train and the beautiful scenery that we enjoyed along the way – so much so, in fact, that she immediately started asking to go again when we left. The attention to detail in the costumes, the colloquial language, and the interaction between guests and actors made this ride a special event for every passenger aboard the train.


Midland Railway offers special rides, like the Maple Leaf train, throughout the year in addition to their regularly scheduled rides that depart from Baldwin City and travel to either Norwood or Ottawa. I am already planning subsequent trips on Midland Railway for the romantic Kansas Belle dinner train and the annual Santa Claus Express train.

Baldwin City Train

Thrill seekers looking for a fun ride will be elated to discover that Midland Railway is offering Asylum Haunted Train rides THIS weekend (Friday October 23rd and Saturday October 24th) and NEXT weekend (Friday October 30th and Saturday October 31st). Tickets for the night train of terror start at just $14.00/each. We are excited to be sending one of our Mom Squad team members, Leah (who is far, far braver than I) on the train and I can’t wait to share her experience with you when she gets back!

Keeping Track Of The Bump: Documenting Your Pregnancy

Good Morning, Friends!

If you’ve been following along here on the iFamilyKC blog, you know that one of our Mom Squad team members, Jayne, has been sharing her journey through pregnancy with us. Today, she’s sharing her thoughts on documenting your pregnancy. We want you to join in on the conversation, tell us: How have you tracked YOUR pregnancies?

Keeping Track Of The Bump

Pregnancy weekly photos, detailed journal entries, calendar pages filled with details, a lengthy written up birth story – with my first child, I did it all.  You name it and I most likely kept track of it and documented it during my first pregnancy.

With my second child’s pregnancy, I was very consistently blogging details regarding my daughter’s journey to being.  I had photos, monthly updates, doctor’s appointment information, and again a lengthy and detailed birth story written up.
With our (current) third pregnancy, I have been – um – maybe not so dedicated.  Since becoming pregnant, we completed building a new home and moved into that home, as well as have continued to adjust to a new area/state, potty trained a toddler, and began homeschooling a preschooler.  While I should have been a bit more focused on keeping track of our third pregnancy details – this has been overall the most low-risk, by the book, no issues pregnancy I’ve had, and that makes it even easier to recognize it as a bench sitter while chasing after the big kids.
Fortunately, seeing as I have a few more weeks of pregnancy (hopefully!) to go, I’ve been able to do a few things in the past several weeks to document and remember this beautiful child’s pregnancy and where our lives were at when she was growing in my belly.  Yesterday, my husband and I went on a nature hike with our older children with the intent of taking some maternity photos.  I’ve also begun to write up a letter to our third child, our second beautiful baby girl, regarding all the details of our lives and her pregnancy.  After she is born, I hope to put the maternity photos and letter (as well as her birth story and a few items from the hospital such as ID bands and hat, etc.) into a memory box for when she grows older.
I may be oversensitive to this because my husband is a third child and I’ve heard a lot of comments from him and others how “by the time you have your third, you’re done keeping track of anything!”, but I really hope that little gestures like this will show our newest daughter just how wanted, needed, and loved she was (and is!) around her pregnancy and birthing.
How did you keep track of your pregnancies and births?  Did it differ between your children?

iFamilyKC Kids Club Event Recap: Premier Bowl in Raytown


Hello, Friends!

Isn’t this weather absolutely S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G today?! I hope you’ve all had the opportunity to get out and enjoy some family time! We sure enjoyed seeing SO many of you at Premier Bowl in Raytown this past weekend enjoying time with your own families! One of my absolute favorite parts of what we do here at iFamilyKC is the fact that we are able to offer you the chance to try new activities, events, and places through our exclusive iFamilyKC Kids Club. Thank you to everyone who has come out for these events – If you aren’t already on our email list, be sure to sign up so YOU can stay up to date on all of the FUN headed your way. One of our lovely Mom Squad team members, Emily, was there with you at Premier Bowl and she’s sharing her thoughts with you today on the blog. Take a look…

premier pic resized

Rockin’, Rollin’, and Bowlin’

We had such a great time at Premier Bowling last Saturday! I got to enjoy some much needed mommy-daughter time early that morning. Premier Bowling was an amazing venue that we enjoyed very much. When you first walk in, you see a wall with flyers and what looks like a bowling shop for all you pros out there. The gentlemen at the desk were very friendly,  as was the rest of the staff. I didn’t encounter a single frown the entire time I was there. The person taking care of us got our shoes quickly and had us at a lane immediately. Premier Bowling has several lanes available for families.          


When we got to our lane, we input our names and off we went! My daughter is four and definitely had a good time. She wore herself out by the 10th frame and me bowl for her. The entire time we were bowling the atmosphere in the facility was so positive and encouraging. Children and families were laughing and enjoying themselves. Premier Bowling played family friendly music and everyone had a great time dancing. Often times, you see a lot of people stick to themselves and their groups. At Premier Bowling,  it really felt like a family environment and everyone was interacting with each other. We had such a blast even with just two of us. Time flew by and many memories were made,  even though I barely beat my four year old 😉



I would definitely recommend this bowling alley to anyone, especially families. There  are lockers available for storage, yummy food, and an arcade room  for the young and the young at heart. Premier Bowling offers several specials such as Ladies Night,  two dollar bowling nights, and birthday packages. Pack up the family and head over for a fantastic time!

Premier Bowl Raytown

Creative Fun: Glitter Goop (A Tutorial!)


Hello everyone!  

Let’s start this week off with some fun!  One of our Mom Squad team members, Emily, was so generous to send us an amazing recipe for fun!  If you are a parent home during the day with kids, then this activity is sure to be a winner in your home this week. Or perhaps you have children coming home from school later today who would love to be greeted with a fun after-school activity!  Emily tells us all about her fun idea below, along with the recipe.  We hope you give it a try and ENJOY!

Some of the best times I had as a child involved being completely and utterly MESSY. I have vivid memories of making mud pies and playing with shaving cream. As a mom,  I can appreciate my mom’s willingness to let me be a free spirit and explore the world through being messy. I had no idea what went behind the messiness – the frequent loads of laundry, the muddy footprints in the hallway, and the sticky hands that touch every clean object in site. She had years of experience and patience in her back pocket, and my hopes as a mother is to live up to the childhood that mine gave to me. To merge the best of both worlds,  I have a cleaner version of a messy activity that children of all ages will love: glitter goop.

Glitter Goop


You will need the following:

Liquid starch


Ziplock bag

Glitter and food coloring (optional)



To get started – you will want to make sure you have newspaper or some type of barrier to protect against any spills that might happen during the activity. Have your child open up a sandwich size ziplock bag and add one cup of white glue. If you want to make colored goop, add the food coloring and glitter at this time. Seal the bag and have your little one mash it all together. Open the bag and add half a cup of liquid starch. Reseal the bag and let your little one get to work. It  takes a few minutes, but the ingredients will combine into a stretchy, rubbery goop. There should be extra liquid in the bag to help prevent the goop from drying out over time. You can take it out and play with it or leave it in the bag and mush it up when you want to play. So far the goop has stayed fresh when sealed in the bag for a week. I keep one in the car as a stress ball when I’m stuck in traffic. An experiment good for all ages!

*Bonus: You can be a super mom and introduce your children to science. Talk to your children about mixtures and chemical changes in science 🙂

Celebrating Local Businesses: The History Of US Toy

Good Sunday evening to you, Kansas City!

We are so fortunate to live in this big little city, aren’t we?! Kansas City is called home by a variety of incredible businesses both big and small. Corporations like Cerner, Hallmark, and Sprint are all headquartered right here in the greater KC metro area. These businesses add to both the culture and the economy in our town and it’s worth celebrating companies who choose to make KC home. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Seth Freiden for an interview. Seth is the CEO of US Toy, a business that was both founded and hosts its flagship store right here in Kansas City.



Founded in 1953 by Frances Gershon, US Toy has been a local favorite for several generations. At the beginning, Frances created and sold small toys out of her living room and sold them on revolving racks in drugstores and grocery stores across town. The family business, with humble beginnings, has since evolved into a multi-million dollar corporation. US Toy is now a global organization that distributes more than twelve million catalogs per year worldwide.US Toy


In addition to catalog sales, US Toy also has seven retail stores throughout the United States and an 800,000 square foot warehouse and headquarters right here in Kansas City. Frances’ grandson, Seth Freiden, is currently the CEO of US Toy and says that he is honored to have the opportunity to carry on the family legacy. But US Toy is far more than just your typical store. They serve as a resource hub for teachers, parents, and caregivers interested in enriching the lives of the children around them. They also serve as a go-to resource for party and event planning. The staff at US Toy includes former teachers who help develop products that encourage sensory and educational development which cannot be found in other stores – They are truly an asset to the community both with their presence and history as well as the resources they provide to families.

us toy


You might be familiar with their large store located just off of I-435 and State Line Road. If you haven’t been there for a while, you’ll likely notice a few changes next time you go in. The newly renovated stores has been modified to optimize your customer experience. With a layout that is more conducive to every day shopping – you’ll find that your essential supplies can now be found quickly and easily.

US Toy


US Toy recently hosted a grand re-opening event on Saturday October 10th to unveil the renovations. These updates are consistent with recent work made to their KC based warehouse which has enabled US Toy to drastically reduce their energy footprint and impact on the environment. Seth tells me that US Toy has a goal to be good stewards of the environment and it seems that the updates they make all coincide that with that goal.

At the end of the day, US Toy hopes to be a brand that people recognize and are proud of both here in Kansas City as well as across the globe. Seth shared with me that there are so many incredible stories from their life-long customers who have childhood memories from US Toy. How wonderful to be able to share those memories with future generations who can, in turn, create some of their own.

A big thank you to Seth and the US Toy team for giving us the chance to peek into their business and share it with all of you. We are proud of the companies who call KC home and encourage you to check out US Toy for all of your educational and party needs. Visit them in person or online at www.ustoyco.com. Don’t forget to check out this month’s copy of iFamilyKC for an EXCLUSIVE US Toy coupon!

Debunking Head Lice Myths: A Guest Post From Combers KC

Hello, Kansas City!
One of the best parts about my job here at iFamilyKC is the opportunity to connect you (our amazing readers) with the events, opportunities, and resources that are available to you here in the metro area. My position has given be such a deep respect for our community and the family friendly businesses that are here to help YOUR family. I wanted to take a moment to share a guest post that was submitted to us by our friends over at Combers KC. When it comes to head lice, there are lots of misconceptions about how it’s transferred from one person to another as well as what you’re supposed to do when you get it. Today, Combers KC debunks some of the most common head lice myths. Take a look…
Here’s the truth about head lice… 
Myth: Head lice can fly and jump
Truth:  Head lice cannot jump or fly. They crawl with their claw-like hands, positioned in the upper part of their body. They do not move very quickly off the head.
Myth: You need to put all of your clothing and bedding in bags for weeks to suffocate the lice.
Truth: You do not need to bag items for 2 weeks or longer. Head lice can not survive off the scalp for longer than 48 hours, therefore, you only need to bag items that can not be dried for 48 hours.
Myth: Putting mayonnaise on your child’s hair suffocates head lice.
Truth: Mayo, oils, and other “home remedies” are not effective at getting rid of head lice. These products may suffocate the adult bugs, if used properly, but does nothing to the nits (eggs). They are in their protected shell and must be manually removed or they can hatch, and the head lice cycle will start all over again.
Myth: Chlorine kills head lice. If you have it, you should just go swimming.
Truth:. Swimming pools and chlorine do not kill lice. A Louse can hold their breath for up to 3 hours.
Myth: Lice don’t like hair products. If you use a lot of them, you won’t get head lice.
Truth: Coloring your hair, wearing a lot of products, etc.. will not keep you from getting head lice. Head lice do not discriminate, everyone is at risk. The best prevention is weekly comb outs with a good nit comb and using preventative products such as tea tree oil, rosemary, or lavender to help keep the lice away.
Myth: Over-the-counter products are just as effective as treatment centers.
Truth: Over the counter products are not safe or effective at getting rid of head lice. Lice have built a resistance to the chemicals contained in these products, making them less effective. When you use these products, the chemicals are getting into your blood stream, which can be dangerous, especially for children.
Professional Head Lice Treatment Salons are the most effective way to get rid of head lice (99.9%). Most are affordable, and should come with a guarantee. As the only licensed salon in Kansas that treats head lice, we charge an affordable, flat rate and guarantee our treatments for 30 days. You will be head lice free if you come to Combers KC. If you need help, please contact us. 913-451-2662.