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The little book with BIG resources!

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

KD’s Books

If you know me, you know one of my favorite things in life is books.  I love to read, and I love to share my love of reading with my kids.  During my younger years, I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator—in fact when I headed off to college I declared my major as English and Art to do just that.  I, however, changed my career course a few years later, but I still love the thought of living in the world of children’s books just as much as I did then.  That is why when I heard about local author Ann Ingalls coming to KD’s Books to share her new book Ice Cream Soup, I jumped at the chance to go.  I loved the idea of my kids meeting a real-life author and hearing her read her own story.


The event came at the perfect time.  Lately, to interest my son in letters and writing his own name, I had been checking out books from the library about writing and stories.  My hope was that he would see how much fun the characters in the book had with learning to write and want to try it himself.  We read Arthur Writes a Story, a classic Marc Brown tale.  Here you can see my son’s Arthur-inspired story.

So that Saturday, we headed out to meet Ms. Ingalls and listen to her read her story.  KD’s Books had arranged that those who bought an Ann Ingalls book would receive a free ice cream treat from Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House as well!  Poppy’s has my favorite ice cream: Gianduja.  (Gianduja is a chocolate-hazelnut flavor that you must put on your Summer Bucket List to try.  And you can thank me later.)

Quite a few gathered for the reading, kids ages 1 (my son) to 2nd grade.  Being a former teacher, Ms. Ingalls did a great job engaging everyone in the crowd.  She had prepared some fun songs and finger plays about ice cream that the kids enjoyed before she read her book.  Ice Cream Soup really is a cute rhyming story about a young boy that takes so long to prepare his ice cream just right that it becomes ice cream soup instead.  After the story, Ms. Ingalls got out some bowls, ice cream scoops and “ice cream” (colored Ping-Pong balls) for a fun ice-cream-scooping game.

Here we are posing with Ms. Ingalls who was so gracious to sign our books, answer everyone’s questions, and encourage all the kiddos gathered to write their own stories.

And of course we walked on over to Poppy’s for our free ice cream to complete our ice cream filled day!  A perfect way to pass a summer Saturday.

Be sure to like KD’s Books Facebook page to stay updated on all events like these—it is a great place to support local business and local authors.  Or the next time you are in the store, sign up for their email newsletter—that is how I heard about this particular event.  And do not miss out on their Fall Open House coming August 23-25.  My favorite place to buy birthday gifts for kiddos is there—the employees can help you find the perfect book, and puppets or toys and gadgets to go along with it!  I have enjoyed shopping at KD’s Books since I was a child, and now my two sons love it too.  Of course, more than shopping for books, they love to play with the Thomas the Train table set up for little shoppers.  What is your favorite local bookstore?  Where did you find the best books when you were a kid?

KD’s Books  (816) 525-1366

Locally owned and operated, serving the Lee’s Summit area for over 20 years!

Hours:   Monday-Friday 10:00am-6:00pm

Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

A Day at the Moon Marble Company!

The Moon Marble Company is located in Bonner Springs Kansas.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Not only are there marbles galore and a menagerie of glass art but also loads of nostalgic toys and games!   While there, check out a marble making demonstration to see just how these marbles become unique works of art.  Make sure to call the day that you go to find out when and if there will be a demo that day.  Moon Marble Company has something for everyone young and old.

The highlight of the Moon Marble visit will surely be the marble making demonstration.  This family owned business really knows marbles!  Learn just how to create beautiful and unique marbles. The demonstrations are very instructional and fun to watch.  No demonstration is alike because of the uniqueness of each marble. For example the marbles center can be made hundreds of different ways using glitter, swirls or even flowers just to name a few.  The artistic ideas for marbles are limitless. A few new marbles created for this year are the adorable raccoon and tree frog marbles!  Be sure to check out all the marble creations in the display case!

While some of the marbles are very expensive, there is always the option to buy an inexpensive jar of factory made marbles. The wall of marbles is like candy for the eyes.  With names like Jellyfish and Cow Tail these marbles are a blast to pick and choose from.  Learn how to shoot a marble from a catapult or how to play a traditional game of marbles!  My crew brought home some of the magic from the Marble Moon Company.   They played with their prize marbles for weeks and proudly display them in a tiny jar for all to see!

This would be a great place for a field trip!

Submitted by Shari Jacobs, iFamilyKC mom squad

Fourth of July Tips

By: Keri Nichol


I am pretty sure it’s not just my kids (husband included) that love to blow things up. Many experts tell us to leave the display to the pros but we all know that just takes away some of the fun. As we celebrate our independence we need to also look out for our safety. This isn’t a new topic but it is definitely one that is worth reminding people about with the 4th of July holiday upon us.

Here are a few Fourth of July tips to keep in mind:

1. Check the laws in your area. Just because a certain city is allowing fireworks does not mean your neighborhood association is. Don’t risk a ticket or eviction because of your celebration.

2. Keep a hose close by just in case.

3. Don’t leave children unattended with lighters, punks or firecrackers

4. Have someone sober at every party to supervise the children’s firework fun.

5. Keep the show organized. Too many children running into the “lighting zone” can cause an accident. Children should take turns lighting their fireworks.

6. Many people light fireworks in the road. Please remind the children to look for cars.

7. Put a glow stick or other glow in the dark device on your child while they are lighting fireworks so that they are easily visible.

8. Do not allow children to experiment with firecrackers.  Don’t combine them, put them in other items or try to alter them to make them do things they were not already intended to do.

9. Be sure to look through all the firecrackers before allowing children to light them. You should know what EXACTLY each thing will do when lit.

10. Please remember shooting firecrackers and fireworks is not for every age. Children have to mature enough to understand the dangers and the consequences of their actions before being allowed to do anything other than watch a display.


Real Pirates

By: Holli Ann

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Lee’s Summit Downtown Days

By: Holli Ann

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


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


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

KC Riverfest – Berkley Riverfront Park, KCMO – July 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas City Irish Fest, Kansas August 30 thru September 1

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

Just For Her Expo

By: Holli Ann

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

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

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

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

Pulled Pork Tostadas

30 Minute Prep Time | Makes 6 Servings

You’ll Need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Door to Door Organics


by Keri Nichol


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lake Safety

By: Keri Nichol


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

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

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

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

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


Parents as Teachers Program

By: Keri Nichol

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

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

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

Here are some websites for more information:

General Info: www.parentsasteachers.org/‎

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

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

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

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

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

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