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How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night

There are few things better than October, in my opinion! It’s a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, and our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, has some great tips to throwing an outdoor movie night! Grab some blankets, a projector, and movie of you choice and enjoy your family and neighbors this weekend!


How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night

How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night 


The days are shorter. The nights are cooler. The bugs are gone. There is no better time of year to host a backyard movie night in Kansas City than October. It’s one of the easiest parties to host and it’s fun for all ages so it’s perfect for a neighborhood hang. Bonus: You don’t have to clean your house. 


How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


Here’s what you need (and some things you don’t, but why not?):


A projector

If you don’t own a projector, hopefully there is someone on your invite list who you can borrow one from. If not, check CraigsList. You can find one that’s plenty good for this once-a-year event for about $100. If you’re ready to make the investment, The Wire Cutter has a good review on the best cheap projectors.


Laptop or DVD player

If you’re streaming your movie (test your Wi-Fi signal out in the yard ahead of time) or downloaded the movie, you’ll want to hook the projector to a laptop. If you’ve got a DVD, you can bypass the laptop with a DVD player.



We actually put old speakers in our Goodwill pile and pulled them out when we realized they would be perfect to keep around for our outdoor movie nights. You can be as high-tech as you want to be, but we had great sound with just speakers on either side of the screen and a center one below the projector.



This can be as simple as the side of a house or garage, or an ironed bed sheet that you hang off the deck. Since outdoor movie night is a tradition we want to keep up, we bought our own 144” screen that folds up flat and can be stored easily the rest of the year.

How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night



To appeal to both kids and adults I suggest going with a classic family movie from the 80s. To be fair, my answer to everything is the 80s, but if it’s new for the kids and a great throwback for adults, how can you go wrong? Our pick was E.T.


Tables, plates and napkins

Save your recipes for another party. Have everyone bring an app, side dish or dessert to share. Done!

How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


Chairs, blankets and pillows

Have everyone bring their own. There’s no such thing as too many covers and pillows so bring out as many as you have.

Movie Candy

You can get movie-sized candy at the dollar store. Prepackage an assortment of candy for each family to hand out before the movie starts. If you can, do a theme with the snacks. Reece’s Pieces would have been really fun to hand out, but we avoided anything with peanuts due to allergies.


How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


Glow Necklaces

These are a big hit with the kids but the reason why I like them is because they make it easy to keep tabs on any little ones who may get up and wander slightly in the backyard before they settle back into their seats.


Hot Chocolate

Our neighbor brought this and it was a great addition for the chilly night. She even had coffee lids which worked out perfectly for the kids to drink without spilling while bundled in their blankets.


Hotdog roller

This is a really easy way to turn a movie into dinner and a movie. No need for someone to man a grill all night. This baby can feed a crowd quickly, cooking 30 hotdogs at a time in a matter of minutes and keeping them warm until you need them.


How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


Popcorn cart

Popcorn is essential to any movie night. You can pop it all ahead and bag it. We did that last year and it took forever. This year, we have our popcorn cart that not only pops a ton for each batch, but the sight, sounds and smell of having the cart in the backyard add to the ambiance of movie night.


How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


Cotton candy cart 

Why not? I’m pretty strict about sugar with my kids but at this point it’s like Christmas in October, so pile it on.


E.T. Movie Review


I last saw E.T. when it was released in theaters in 1982 so I was fuzzy on just how scary or sad it really was to today’s standards. I prepped my kids (6, 4 and 3) for it by talking about the premise ahead of time: A friendly but scared alien was accidentally left on earth. The kids became friends with him and wanted to help him, while the adults were afraid of him and not very nice to him because he was different (there’s a life lesson in there).

How to Throw an Awesome Outdoor Movie Night


We also watched the trailer on YouTube together a few times, so their first exposer to the alien was way less intimating on a much smaller screen and during the day. Outside of a little language (which flew over my kids’ heads) I think E.T. is a great choice for younger and older kids and the PERFECT choice for an October outdoor movie night because the movie takes place in October so the weather in the movie matched the weather in the backyard perfectly.


Backyard Movie Night Pro Tips:


  • Start the event about an hour before sunset. Plenty of time to eat, run around and socialize before the movie begins.


  • Put a kitchen mat over the extension cords running from the speakers to the projector so no one trips on them after dark.


  • Dress your kids in their PJs and slip on shoes. The movie will end after bedtime so if they’re already dressed for bed, it makes life just a little bit easier. Slip on shoes help because they are easy to get on and off as they play ahead of time and then bundle in the blankets.


  • Include a poll with a few movie choices with your invite and have people vote with their RSVP, revealing the winner the night of the event.


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Throwing a Halloween Party in 5 Easy Steps!

Halloween is right around the corner, can you believe it?! Our newest Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, gives us some great ideas on throwing a Halloween party. So, give her a shout, an air hug, or a just a good ol’ fashioned Kansas City welcome, and take a look!

Throwing a Halloween Party in 5 Easy Steps!


Throwing a Halloween party in 5 (somewhat) Easy Steps!

So you want to throw a Halloween party? But it can’t just be a bowl of candy sitting on the table and a couple plastic spiders lying around. Oh no! I won’t have that my friends! Forget Martha and The Food Network, I will give you the perfect recipe for a fun, impressive (and inexpensive!) Halloween party in 5 easy steps!


First, pick a theme.

This is your cornerstone of the whole thing, what will bring everyone and everything together. Think scary, think kid-friendly, think what are my kids dressing up as this year—all idea starters. Just make sure that you pull this theme throughout the whole party. And how big you go is all up to you, I have thrown some parties that are simple—a kid friendly witch and warlock party and I know some of my neighbors have gone all out to build a crashed UFO in their front yard! (Yeah! Try and compete with that!) So for our interaction here, let’s use the example of a “drive-in” Halloween movie party; mainly because I did this one last year so I know some personal tips and tricks, but also because it was simple. A Halloween “Drive-in” movie party in 5 easy steps!

Next, it’s all about the invites.

This sets the theme in the obvious ways! Let’s do impressive but keep it simple. Pinterest is our friend, repeat, Pinterest is my friend! Search for “drive-in” movie party invites and a ton will pop up. Pick a design you like and then recreate it; but do it on PowerPoint– much cheaper and easier! Make sure you answer the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why). I like to take a screen shot of the slide and then copy it into email, again much cheaper and easier! If you are so inclined, or if you don’t have everyone’s email, feel free to post on Facebook as well.

Okay now the fun part—Decorations!

Pinterest is still our friend! It will give you plenty of ideas to take things from around the house to make into decorations. Taking into account the movie theme, you are probably going to show a Halloween themed movie, take ideas from that movie and work them into decorations. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has some great décor. Lots of pumpkins, a big moon, a polka dot sheet or yellow with black chevron stripes for the table cloth will really tie in the Charlie Brown theme. The best part—decorations for Charlie Brown theme parties are everywhere since the movie is celebrating a big anniversary this year. You have to make a pumpkin patch as well; this will tie into the games step later. Place pumpkins on a green plastic table cloth and cover with fake (or real if you want a use for all those in the yard!) leaves to make your patch. If you are feeling really creative, cut a piece of cardboard or poster board to make a fence for the backdrop and a moon to hang above the patch.

As I mentioned before, tie in your decorations with the games or entertainment of the evening. You will be showing a movie as this is a “drive-in” movie night. If you want to go really big, borrow a projector and set up a “drive-in” movie on the garage door using a plain white sheet for the screen. You will find neighbors you have never met pulling up lawn chairs in your front lawn just to watch! Or bring it inside, this is easy and if there is bad weather a no-brainer! I would suggest having that on continuous loop, or show several kid-friendly Halloween movies to mix it up. Your guests will sit down and watch for a little while and then get up and do other things.

I mentioned the pumpkin patch above—great decoration but also the source of some great crafts and games. Use the pumpkins as blank canvases and have the kids or adults glue on decorations to make a spooky pumpkin smile! This will triple as a favor to take home as well! Need a little more convincing to make the pumpkin patch? You can also use it as a photo op! Great memories and a favor to go home with your guests!

At this point, I will go against my cardinal rule and say that we can stray from the theme for a minute because this game is one of the funniest I have ever seen. Tie one end of a string around the hole in a doughnut and the other to a tree or use a shower curtain rod if you are inside. See how fast your guests can eat the doughnut without using their hands—an updated version of bobbing for apples!

Finally, the best part of any party—the food and drink.

Go back to the theme, but use caution about making everything pumpkin! Anyone who walks through the grocery store knows that every food now comes in a pumpkin spice flavor. Stay simple and make a big crock pot of chili with all the toppings and inclusions you can imagine. This can be cooking all day while you are doing everything else and usually is a favorite among most guests. Those that aren’t fans can have a chili dog hold the chili—have those hot dogs warming in another crock pot, too—DO NOT ask your husband to start the grill! (Personal experience, this turns out just as bad as straying from the theme!)

Of course Halloween is nothing without candy and sweet. Play up the pumpkin themed cookies or cupcakes and don’t worry if they are store bought, take them out of the box or container and put them on a plate and no one will ever know! If you find that all the pumpkin cupcakes are gone from the bakery at your local store, no worries just get some plain cupcakes (iced but no décor) and decorate them with candy corn in the shape of pumpkins and a half an Oreo cookie to represent the moon in your Great Pumpkin theme! For drinks, apple cider is a must, have that simmering in another crock pot or on the stove at very low temp—it will double as that great fall scent that will greet your guests as they come in.

There you have it! Planning a Halloween party in 5 (somewhat) easy steps! The most important thing is that you and your guests have a great time; share some laughs and enjoy the season! Happy Halloween!

From iFamily to Yours,



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13 Mouthwatering Brunch Ideas Your Family Will Love

Autumn has officially settled into the metro area and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s in store for your family this season. One of my favorite ways to bring in the weekend is with a relaxing morning at home and our family loves to brunch – and we are not alone! Check out these 13 mouthwatering brunch ideas your family will love from fellow foodie and iFamilyKC Mom Squad contributor Leah. Take a look…

brunch ideas for busy families

13 Brunch Ideas: Falling Into Food

Raise your hand if you don’t love food. I dream about food and find myself thinking about it all day. I have a crush on food – I’ve even seen tacos wink at me (right before I ate them). All jokes aside, food is seriously magical. It makes life better. I’ve compiled several recipes that will add to your (food) happiness because who can go wrong with brunch? Imagine a sleep-in kind of Sunday followed by getting up to create some of these yummy recipes below. Grab the family, grab some coffee, and get cooking! If you have any left, feel free to drop them off to me. Enjoy!

#1 Cheesy Egg White Breakfast Muffins

Easy cheesy egg white muffins for your morning. Low carb, gluten free, and delicious!


  • 2 1/2 cups egg whites
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese of choice (I love cheddar, Colby jack, or pepper jack)
  • 2 tablespoons of skim milk or plain Greek yogurt (not necessary, but gives them a bit of fluff)
  • salt and pepper

Find full instructions for this mouthwatering recipe over at The Ambitious Kitchen.

#2 Quick Breakfast Egg Wraps

Use leftovers from your Saturday night dinner to create a simple brunch in just under ten minutes! Combine a healthy fat (like ghee or coconut oil), eggs, and leftovers (like meat and veggies) for a delicious morning pick me up.

#3 Overnight Cinnamon French Toast Cupcakes

“Mini-cakes conquer breakfast! These individually sized cups feature cinnamon swirl raisin bread and a crumbly streusel topping. Prep the day before to make this dish a brunch-time breeze. “

Find the full instructions online at Betty Crocker’s website.

#4 Apple-Bacon Cheddar Mini Breakfast Pies

“Don’t be fooled by their small size. These individual pies combine a harvest of hearty flavors—cheddar, apple and bacon—for a flavor-packed breakfast treat.”

Grab the recipe online now and save it for your next brunch!

#5 Brie, Bacon, and Spaghetti Frittata


  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 pound spaghetti
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 ounces Brie cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Find the full recipe online at SaraMoulton.com

#6 Pumpkin Spice Sticky Buns


  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 Thomas English pumpkin spice muffins, cut into 1 ½ inch

Find this recipe over at The Girl Who Ate Everything

#7 Breakfast Bread Bowls Recipe


  • 1/2 cup chopped pancetta
  • 4 crusty hard rolls (4 inches wide)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere or fontina cheese

Grab the full recipe at TasteofHome.com

#8 Potato Bacon Cheddar Frittata


  • 3 cups diced roasted potatoes
  • ½ pound crisp cooked bacon, chopped
  • ½ pound diced aged cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped chives
  • 10 large eggs (preferably at room temperature)
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp chili flakes (optional)

Visit Rocket Recipes online for the full details.

#9 Perfect Popovers


  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk or half-and-half, warmed
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Grab the recipe online now at What’s Cooking America?

#10 Bacon-and-Cheddar Grits Quiche


  • 6 thick bacon slices
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup uncooked stone-ground grits
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cupes half-and half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions

Grab the whole recipe online at MyRecipes.com

#11 Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes


  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • onion (optional)
  • chives (optional)
  • cheese (optional)
  • oil or Crisco for frying
  • sour cream or applesauce (optional) for garnish

Food.com has the full recipe for this brunch idea.

#12 Chili Cheese Omelet


  • 1 15-ounce can of chili
  • 12 eggs (3 per omelet)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup onions – diced
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers – finely chopped
  • salt and pepper – to taste

Grab the recipe over at MrBreakfast.com

#13 Repurpose Last Night’s Dinner

Hungry for more? Check out this Huffington Post article that gives you great tips for re-purposing your leftover stew, rice, vegetables, meat, and other foods into a fantastic brunch for your family.

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This Weekend at the Movies: Girl On The Train

If you’re anything like me (a psychological suspense movie lover who is in dire need of a mom’s night out), you’ve probably been waiting for the box office release of “The Girl On The Train”. I’m dying to see the film and wonder if it’s as good as the previews make it out to be. iFamilyKC Mom Squad blogger Becky had the chance to catch an early release of the film this week and shares her thoughts with us tonight on the blog. Take a look…

Girl on the train

If you’ve read the book “The Girl on the Train” (is there anyone left who hasn’t read the book?), then you’re familiar with the premise:

Alcoholic Rachel Watson obsesses with the lives of her ex-husband, his new family and his “picture-perfect” neighbors who live a few houses down mostly from the train window during her daily commute. When Rachel witnesses the neighbor having an affair just before disappearing, she not only gets involved in solving the crime, she’s suspected of being involved in the crime.

The book is a deep, deep dive into the characters’ messed up lives and twisted psyche. Readers are privy to the characters’ darkest thoughts and detailed backstories which I found really interesting and gives the story a lot of depth.

For those who were fans of the book and looking forward to the movie release, I’ve got bad news. That kind of storytelling is just not something Hollywood can come anywhere near cracking in under two hours. I missed the intimate details about the characters that provided context to the twists and turns to the story. I also thought the movie rushed through the best part of the story. Before the suspense had time to build, the mystery unpacked itself very quickly at the end. A little too quickly. The movie went from dark, depressing and a bit haunting to almost campy at the very end.

The acting was solid (yay for strong female lead roles) and it was beautifully shot, but the cast and director weren’t enough to save the script. Just like “Gone Girl” this screenplay doesn’t do the book justice. Skip this movie and spend your time with another book instead.

The Girl on the Train opens today, Friday, Oct. 7, and runs 1 hour and 52 minutes.

Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.

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Fall Fun: Pumpkin Patches YOU Need To Visit This Autumn!

It’s really October, friends! And with October comes one of my favorite activities — going to pumpkin patches. Kansas City has it’s fair share of fantastic patches with tons of activities, food, and more. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, gives us her top pumpkin patches to check out this autumn. Take a look!

Fall Fun: Pumpkin Patches YOU Need To Visit This Autumn!

Fall Fun: Pumpkin Patches YOU Need To Visit This Autumn!

Fall has finally arrived and you know what that means? Pumpkin Patches!! There are so many awesome pumpkin patches in our great city of KC! My family tries to go to a different one every year. I’ve learned something about these “pumpkin patches.” They aren’t just for hunting down that perfect pumpkin! There are TONS and TONS of family fun activities that will keep you and your littles busy all day long! Here are some highlights from some of our favorite pumpkin patches!

Carolyn’s Country Cousins – Liberty, MO

This pumpkin patch is so much fun! We took my daughter when she will nearly a year old and had a blast! There is so much to do here and it is always expanding. Check out some of the things they offer:

Little Bud’s Railroad

Wagon rides to Pumpkins

Pig races

Petting Farm

Mining Camp

Run Jump Fun

Pumpkin Jumpin Pad Fun

Corny Corral

Cost: Single Tickets are $15 on the weekends, 2 and under are FREE.

Johnson’s Pumpkin Farm – Belton, MO

Johnson’s is celebrating it’s 15th year!

40 acres of pumpkins

20 acre corn maze

Numerous play areas including a giant tunnel crawl, corn crib maze and silo play yard

They also offer a jumping pillow and barrel train for a small extra charge

Enjoy a break with yummy food from Barnyard Grill

Also check out the Big Kid fort barn, tire jungle and the all new ping pong qounsets

Cost: Children 3-12 are $13 on the weekends, Adult tickets $11, Senior tickets $9. 2 and under are FREE. Military personnel and their families receive $2 off each admission

KC Pumpkin Patch – Olathe, KS

Another great option is KC Pumpkin Patch! So many things for families to do including:

Slide Mountain

Goat Walk

Zip Lines

Jumping Pillow

Paintball Gallery

Gourd Gun

Child corn maze

Barrel train

Mining Sluice and Geode Cracker

On the weekends they offer LIVE music from Trilogy Cultural Arts

Cost: Tickets are $9.95 plus tax for ages 3 and up. $5 for Military personnel with id. Ages 2 and under are FREE. Open 7 days a week during the fall season!

Faulkner’s Ranch – Kansas City, MO

My family and I also had the pleasure of visiting Faulkner’s Ranch last year and I LOVE this place! First of all the country views are spectacular! And the people are extremely friendly!

Family fun activities include:

Theme weekends

Scenic hayride

Petting Farm

Field Maze

Pony Rides


Pedal Carts

Duck Races

Zip line

Corn Canon

Face painting

NEW! 2500 sq ft inflatable pumpkin bounce

Cost: $9, 2 and under are FREE. Some attractions cost extra.

Pumpkin Valley – Lees Summit, MO

Pumpkin Valley is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October. Hours Friday- 3pm to 6pm and Sat and Sun 10-6pm.

They offer many fun activities such as: face painting, Indian teepees, pumpkin painting, potato sack races, cowboy teeter totter, bounce house, petting zoo, hay maze. Extra attractions are pony rides, hay rides, and big game hunting

They have a concession stand with food items at very reasonable prices!

Cost: $6, 2 and under are FREE. Tickets costs $2 for the extra attractions.

Gieringer’s Orchard – Edgerton, KS 

Gieringer’s Orchard is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10am-6pm now thru October 31st.

Admission includes a kids mini maze, a wagon ride to an interactive corn maze, u-pick pumpkins (for an additional, per pound fee), pumpkin jump pad, combine slide, play area, corn pit, hay mountain, and a sunflower field, too!

Cost: $10, 2 and under are FREE! Save $1/ticket with our iFamilyKC email offer linked here.

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Find the Fright at Legoland and SeaLife KC this October!

The spooky has begun in Kansas City, friends!  Legoland and SeaLife KC have some “frightfully” great events coming up. Brick or Treat will be a fun time on Oct 22-23rd and 29-30th. SeaLife has two events planned. First, Sharks in the Dark on Oct 22nd and Underwater Pumpkin Carving on Oct 22-23rd and 29-30th. Make a night of it, and enjoy a hauntingly good time!

Find the Fright at Legoland and SeaLife KC this October!


The waters are getting spookier and the pumpkins are turning into LEGO® bricks!
SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquariumand LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Kansas City will be the ghostess with the mostess as Halloween festivities get ready to take over!
Mark your calendars for some spook-tastic events!
Brick or Treat
October 22nd-23rd
& October 29th-30th


  • Learn how to build a LEGO pumpkin by a model builder.
  • Visit our Brick or Treat stations for fang-tastic prizes.
  • Wear your Halloween costume to receive $3 off full-price admission (walk-up only)* 
  • Click HERE to learn more about Brick or Treat festivities

*Offer valid only on 10/22, 10/23, 10/29, 10/30 for each guest wearing a costume. Not valid with any other discount or offer. Only applicable to single site, full price walk-up admission. Cannot be used on combination tickets.

Sharks in the Dark
October 22nd
6:00 – 9:00pm
  • Join us for SEA LIFE’s all-new, after-hours Halloween event!
  • “Sea” the aquarium when the lights go off.
  • Get spooky creature facts as you explore.
  • Stay tuned for ticket details by visiting HERE under the  News and Events tab!
Underwater Pumpking Carving and Trick or Treat
October 22nd-23rd
& October 29th-30th
  • Watch as our Aquarists battle for title of
  • The Great Pumpkin carver.
  • Visit our Trick or Treat stations to receive ghoulishly awesome prizes.
  • Wear your Halloween costume to receive $3 off full-price admission (walk-up only)*
  • Get even more into the spirit of Halloween with face-painting at select times!
  • Click HERE to find out more about SEA LIFE’s Halloween festivities!

*Offer valid only on 10/22, 10/23, 10/29, 10/30 for each guest wearing a costume. Not valid with any other discount or offer. Only applicable to single site, full price walk-up admission. Cannot be used on combination tickets.


From iFamily to Yours,
Your iFamilyKC Team


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15 Must Visit Trails and Parks in Kansas City this Autumn

Hey, Kansas City! We here at iFamilyKC would love to welcome our newest Mom Squad Ambassador, Brigette! She has a great first post to share with us today on 15 trails and parks to check out around the Kansas City area this fall. It’s a great time to get out and active, so definitely check it out, and give Brigette a big ol’ iFamily welcome!

15 Must Visit Trails and Parks in Kansas City this Autumn


15 Must Visit Trails and Parks in Kansas City this Autumn


For those that know me, know I love, love, LOVE autumn! The cool air, the clothes, pumpkin everything! But seriously, autumn is, in my opinion, the best time to go out about, take walks, walk/bike trails and visit parks. Outside of a few rainy days, most of the time it’s just perfect.

So before you plan your next outing with the family, check out my picks for the 15 best parks and trails to visit this season!

Antioch Park

This just may be our favorite park in Kansas. I grew up going to this park and outside a few major updates, every time we visit, I feel like a kid again! They have plenty of things to climb on, swing on or just room to run around. This is definitely a family favorite.

Penguin Park

This is possibly our favorite Park on the Missouri side lol. I love the fact that it is divided into age appropriate play areas but they also have a picnic area that allows you see both play areas at once!

Roe Park

This park is perfect for really active families! Not only does it have age appropriate play areas, but it also has huge fields for running, pets and picnics. It even has a few soccer fields as well.

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Okay, so it’s not a park – but it has awesome trails and a small kids “play area”. One thing that is really cool about the trails at the arboretum is the “Enchanted Forrest”! My kids loved seeing all the fairy houses and tall trees. It really was a great adventure! Once you leave the forest, there are gardens, grassy areas to play, a pond with huge Koi and even a train park with a train car they can explore.

Shawnee Mission Park

This park is great for those autumn family phots! Tons of space to run, 3 playgrounds, an off leash area and observation tower. This park is definitely a crowd pleaser!

Shawnee Mission Park TRAILS

Even though it is the same place, I gave the trails at SMP their own spot on this list! Its miles and miles of open space and beautiful views! With trails for walking, hiking, biking, horse riding and more, It definitely is a must visit.

Wyandotte County Lake

The trails at Wyandotte County are perfect for those that love to bike! Miles of trail circle the park in its entirety with a smaller nature trail offers plenty of stops along the way. With a library, boat house marina and war memorial, you are sure to enjoy your visit!

Jarboe Park

This park is great for play or practice! One side is a playground sure to challenge your kids and the other side is a baseball diamond great for practicing or even a friendly game! Either way, you’re sure to have a good time here!

Meadowmere Park

Brumble’s Forest is a playground inside of Meadowmere park, and this playground is really unlike anything you have ever seen! With a theme of the wonderful outdoors, huge animal statues, swings and plenty of things to climb on, this playground is worth the drive (if you don’t live close).

Black Hoof Park

First off, can you say playing with a view?! Black Hoof park definitely has an amazing set up! You and your family can play overlooking Lake Lenexa, a nature play area, second playground and an amazing view of the lake by the picnic area. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful parks in the KC metro area!

Loose Park

This is another family favorite for many reasons! Large space, trails, playgrounds and my favorite, the ROSE GARDEN! There are so many different things to enjoy at Loose Park so make sure you make it a day trip!

Valley Park

This park is sure to become one of the metros most popular parks! Valley Park is by far the most unique park I have ever seen. Not only is Valley Park perfect for your most adventurous child, but it will definitely challenge those little muscles. They can climb on EVERYTHING, play on a rip-swing and enjoy a 55ft slide!

Blackbob Park

At Blackbob park, you definitely need to plan an all-day adventure! From the castle themed playground to batting cages and trails to basketball courts, everyone will enjoy their time at the park! Make sure you plan ahead for a game of miniature golf!

Listowel Park

Listowel Park is another themed park that really goes above and beyond when it comes to expanding your kids imagination. Not only does it have picnic tables that face the equipment but it is Pirate themed! What is more fun than playing pirates?!

Swope Park

As one of the oldest and biggest parks in Kansas City, Swope Park has it all. Trails, playgrounds historic buildings, amazing sites and even a ZipLine! This park is family, pet and adventure friendly!

There are so many parks throughout the KC metro area and these are just a few of our favorites! If you have the time, make sure you visit as many as you can this autumn!

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Tap into Your Creativity this Fall at Paint, Glaze, & Fire

Hello, Kansas City! Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, has a great rundown of a local favorite for all things creative — Paint, Glaze, & Fire. It’s a ceramics and coffee shop in Overland Park offering parties and events including the opportunity to paint your own pottery. Becky and her kiddo were able to attend one of Kids Club Events at Paint, Glaze, & Fire a couple of weeks back, and it looks like they had a blast. Check it out!.



Tap into Your Creativity this Fall at Paint, Glaze, & Fire


Tap into Your Creativity at Paint, Glaze, & Fire


I was really excited when Paint Glaze & Fire, a paint-your-own-pottery store, invited me out for their Halloween painting event. Just one little problem. Due to space, there was only room for me to bring one of my kids. Gulp. What to do, what to do.

Should I take our first grader who would definitely show off the most skill?

Should I pick our 4-year-old who does so much art every day at preschool it barely fits in his take-home cubbie?

Or should I take our little guy, age 3, who is so excited about Halloween already that he just might burst?


I knew they would all love it so the decision wasn’t easy but I chose … drumroll …our 4-year-old, Captain. I wanted to feed his new art obsession and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with our middle man. (Hear that, future Captain? Despite being the middle kid, you did get some extra attention growing up at least once. Be sure to tell your therapist that.)

Tap into Your Creativity at Paint, Glaze, & Fire

Captain was so excited. He only “accidentally” told his siblings where he was going three times right before we left AND went back into the house twice to tell everyone goodbye.


Captain and I had a great time, the atmosphere was fun (art on the ceiling) and the staff at Paint Glaze & Fire were very friendly and helpful. They had a whole table of full of different Halloween ceramics to paint, the perfect size (and price!) for younger kids. Witches, spiders, ghosts and more. After much thoughtful consideration, Captain chose a Frankenstein to paint. I thought for sure he’d go for the pumpkin, but like I said, we were overdue for some get-to-know-you time.

Tap into Your Creativity at Paint, Glaze, & Fire

Next, it was an artist’s dream to see paint from nearly floor to ceiling in any color you can imagine. Thankfully, there was a rule of only using three at a time so that made it easier to manage my little Picasso’s masterpiece. We took lots and lots and lots and lots of trips to and from the paint wall and back to our table. You’d think he used every single color but there was such a big selection, he didn’t even come close.


Another favorite thing for Captain to do was picking out paint brushes. Big, little, narrow, fat, medium …. he was able to experiment with all of them. If he had decided to paint a plate or something with a larger surface area, well, we’d still be there, but he could have also dug through the many baskets of stencils and stamps they had to give it some extra flair.


So at this point our Frankenstein was 6 different colors of green, 4 blues, back, white, red and yellow BUT, as Captain pointed out, our pal Frank needed some polka dots on his shirt. So we got special paint that you squeeze out of a glue-like bottle for that part.


Tap into Your Creativity at Paint, Glaze, & Fire


While we waiting for Frank to dry, we walked around and checked out pieces other kids were working on. It was fun to see how creative and different everyone’s were. And the really strange thing? For a place that was full of kids, it was actually pretty quiet. There were plenty of kids, but they were all really concentrating on their masterpieces. Note to self: Might be a great calming activity for our extra-energetic Daisy troop.


Captain and I both had a great time, trying something new, flexing our creative muscle and spending some quality time together. Now I not only know why Frankenstein is Captain’s favorite Halloween creature, I also know what he and his friend played at recess that day, that he really likes the thought of his siblings in bed when he’s still up, and that he’s got an eye for blending greens together.


Tap into Your Creativity at Paint, Glaze, & Fire


It was a good reminder to me that special time with my kids doesn’t need to be over-the-top, overthought, or so expensive that I’m not doing it as much as I should. Sometimes it can be as easy as sneaking out of the house and spending an hour or so painting together. It’s just a bonus that this activity comes with memento so you’ll both remember the fun times. (Or, to be used as proof during the therapy sessions later on in their lives.)

Paint Glaze & Fire Ceramics and Coffee House is located at 12683 Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas. For hours or information, call 913-661-CLAY.


Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.


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33 Family Outdoor Activities to do Together This Fall

Happy Monday, Kansas City! Fall is a great time to get out and active with your family. From pumpkin patches to bonfires to the amazing weather, it’s hard to beat fall in Kansas City. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Leah, gives us some fantastic outdoor activities to enjoy altogether this fall.

33 Family Outdoor Activities to do Together This Fall

33 Family Outdoor Activities to Do Together This Fall

My favorite time of the year is quickly approaching. There is something magical in seeing nature change all around you. I could spend hours outside during September – October. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing all the beautiful fall colors, going on hay rides, decorating pumpkins, and just embracing how beautiful the outdoors really are? My hope is that you take some time as a family and go outdoors. Whatever you do… just be in the moment. Put your phones down, check out of the virtual world for a few hours, and check back into your physical world. Taking time to recharge and to invest into you/ your family is worth it. Your Facebook world will still be there. However, this time with your kids will not. Get out there and laugh, throw some leaves around, get your hands dirty, and remind your kids what life was like before computers.

1) Have a Frisbee throwing contest. See who can throw it the furthest.

2) Grab a rope and have a good old fashion game of Tug Of War

3) Play a friendly game of Family Tag

4) Go to an apple orchard and pick apples together. Then come home and have an apple tasting. See which flavor of apples you each prefer.

5) Put up a net in the back yard and play volleyball. Invite the neighborhood kids over to join in.

33 Family Outdoor Activities to do Together This Fall

6) Dust off your bikes and go for a family bike ride

7) Play Hide and Seek out doors

8) Bob for apples

9) Get out there and play football, kick ball, or soccer. Show the kids you still got it.

10) Fill up some water balloons, get out there, and get messy.

11) Have a potato sack race.

12) Rake up some leaves, make a pile, and then dive in.

13) Host a back yard picnic.

14) Get some sidewalk chalk and decorate your drive way. Or, leave your neighbors cute notes in side walk chalk on their drive way — telling them why you’re glad they’re your neighbors.

15) Plan a scavenger hunt.

33 Family Outdoor Activities to do Together This Fall

16) Host a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and tell ghost stories.

17) Grab some leaves, glue, paint, and paper…. Then go at it.

18) Decorate rocks. You could paint them orange and make “pumpkins,” or white and make “ghosts” on them.

19) Make bird feeders, then sit back and watch the birds enjoy their dinner.

20) Go on a nature walk and play “ I spy.”

21) Host an outdoor dance party.

22) Jump rope with the kids.

23) Play Badminton.

33 Family Outdoor Activities to do Together This Fall

24) Throw some bean bags / play “ Corn Hole.”

25) Design your own outdoor Tic Tac Toe game.

26) Grab some plastic bats and play water balloon base ball.

27) Have a “Leaf Blow Race” with the kids. Have the kids blow a leaf across a table with a straw. The first one across is the winner.

28) Find the Pumpkin. Purchase or paint a pumpkin white, then take turns as a family hiding it in different places outdoors. The first to find it wins.

29) Pass the Pumpkin Relay

Form two teams.

  • The first person passes the pumpkin over his/her head to the next person in line.
  • The next person passes the pumpkin under his/her legs to the next person, and so on.
  • When you get to the end of the line the last person runs up to the front and starts it all over again.
  • Whoever has the first person that was in line at the beginning of the game— in the back of the line wins.

30) Gourd Race

  • Set up start and turn around lines (about 10 feet apart) and divide children into equal teams.
  • At the signal, first players walk from starting line to turn-around line and back to the starting line while holding a spoon with a gourd on it. Child then hands it off to the next in line.
  • If the gourd falls off the spoon, players must stop and pick up the gourd with the spoon to continue.
  • Continue until each child has had a turn. With many children—have many lines.

31) Flashlight Tag

Playing flashlight tag in the fall is beneficial because you can get outside and play soon after dinner because of shorter days. The cool weather adds an element of fun. Designate a home base, and choose one person to be “it.” Give “it” a flashlight, and ask her to count to 50 while everyone hides. The “it” turns on the flashlight and searches for the other players as those players try to sneak back to home base. The first player tagged by the beam of “its” flashlight is the next “it.”


32) Ring the Pumpkin

A variation on ring toss, ring the pumpkin is a game of throwing skill and a bit of luck. Put three or four large pumpkins with stems in a line on the ground. Depending on the age of your group, designate a throwing line four to eight feet away from the pumpkins. Using embroidery hoops or small rings, players take turns throwing the ring at the pumpkin’s stem. The player who rings the most wins. Use hula hoops as a variation, but ring the entire pumpkin.


33) Capture the Flag

Capture the flag involves a lot of running. When you play this game in the fall, you are often able to play it for longer because of cooler weather. Divide the group into two teams, and designate an area of your yard for each team, with a neutral space in between. Give each team a flag, and tell the teams to hide the flag in their area. Once hidden, both teams begin searching for the opponent’s flag. If a player is caught in another team’s territory, he is put in “jail” until one of his teammates frees him by touching him. The team that finds the flag first wins.



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This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

Hello, Kansas City! Fall is a great time to get out to the movies, especially for the lesser-known, independent films. Operation Avalanche entered theaters September 16th and is playing in select locations. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, got a chance to check out the film and gives us a run down of what to expect. Check it out!

This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

Release Date: 16 September 2016

Run Time: 94 minutes

MPAA Rating: R (for language including a brief sexual reference)

Director: Matt Johnson

Cast: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles


Operation Avalanche star Matt Johnson and Owen Williams, who play CIA agents that go undercover at NASA to try to find a Russian mole within the organization. In this found-footage documentary style movie, which by the way is not based on a true story, the agents discover that NASA cannot make it to the moon by the 1969 deadline. They decide to create “Operation Avalanche” and to film a fake moon landing and release it as the real thing.


I thought this film was just ok. I didn’t feel a real connection to any of the characters so when certain events played out (which I won’t give away) I didn’t care too much. Several people watching it actually walked out of the theater about 30-45 minutes in to the film. I’m not sure why, as this film was definitely known as a” conspiracy thriller.” It kept my interest enough in it’s 94 minutes, which I thought was the perfect length. Any longer and I may have checked out early. I love a good conspiracy theory movie and to me this could have been way better than it was.


I give this movie a 6 out of 10, with 10 being the best. I don’t recommend this movie for anyone under age 16 because I simply don’t think kids will be interested in the subject matter. Operation Avalanche had it’s moments of excitement and thrill and if you are interested in conspiracies and historical events I would definitely check it out. Otherwise, you probably aren’t missing much.


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