Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week: Celebrating Nursing in Public

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  Twenty years ago, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was born!  As it states on their Facebook page it was "Launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to focus and facilitate actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, [WBW] is officially celebrated annually from Aug 1-7."

In honor of WBW, I will be doing some breastfeeding themed posts on the blog.

First up, is one that I dredged from my old Myspace account.  I had to reset my password, but yup, mine still exists.  It's like an online time capsule!  Back in 2007, when Slim was six months old, we took a trip (my first! and only) to Disney World.  Really, Slim and I just tagged along during one of R's work conferences, but I couldn't pass up the chance to finally get to go.  I was the recipient of a comment while nursing in the park and follows is my recap of what happened.

In making the commitment to breastfeed, I have also known that I would need to nurse in public. Nursing in public has made the news a lot lately - from the incident on a Delta flight to a mother being accosted by a security guard in the Berkshire Mall to several more cases that I'm sure moms have suffered in silence without going to the media.  Slim's nursed nearly everywhere - restaurants, stores, people's homes, even on a steamboat at Disney and although the fear has never stopped me from feeding him wherever I am, I have to admit, I've always been worried that someone would make a rude comment about it.
Thankfully, my first comment was a positive one. Early into our day at Disney Slim got hungry. I sat down, got comfortable and nursed him. A woman with dyed red hair came up to me and said, "Thank you so much for breastfeeding in public!" I was flustered by someone approaching me while nursing and responded, "Oh my God, of course!" And away she walked. She made me so happy that it brought a tear to my eye. I asked R to take a picture of me nursing Slim right then to capture the moment. It's one I truly cherish.
Over the course of approximately four years of breastfeeding, I never once was on the end of a disparaging comment while my baby/toddler/child was at my breast.  The closest I got was while flying solo with Curly and my seatmate asked if I needed a blanket and she'd press the flight attendant button since my hands were full.  I responded with a polite, "no, thank you - we're good here!" and got a simple, "oh, ok" in turn.  I truly think she was genuinely trying to be helpful, but also felt slightly uncomfortable. The Disney experience was my only encouraging comment from a stranger though. 

In last month's La Leche League meeting, I paraphrased a quote (don't know to whom to attribute, but Google says Eleanor Roosevelt), "Other people aren't thinking about you as much as you think, so don't worry!"  It sounds negative, but I meant it to be freeing and supportive of nursing in public.  It's so easy to think that everyone is staring at you when you're latching your child on, but chances are, they don't notice.  Plus, if someone is looking at you, it may be a woman like me, who is fondly remembering her nursing days!  I've been known to give thank you comments of my own, but occasionally I just smile.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Happy Birthday Hannah!  Today On July 27 (but I didn't post this then) you turn turned eleven!
Hannah, at 7 in 2008.  This is my favorite picture of her.

On July 27, 2001, R and I moved in together, several states away from our families.  So though we adopted you in October that year, we selected your birthday as one that we (who am I kidding? that I) would always remember for its significance. 

It was only a few short weeks post September 11th and R and I were discussing wanting a pet.  I think we wanted to fill the void in our hearts, we wanted something innocent to cherish and protect, we wanted a semblance of Rockwellian ordinary life, and we wanted to feel more like a family unit.  Maybe.  I don't know.  We were on the young side of twenty, practically still kids. 

The day we brought her home, in 2001.  Still nameless at this point.

When we walked into the PetSmart adoption event, we actually were looking for a cat.  After all, at the time we lived in a one bedroom apartment and both had full time jobs.  I had normal hours, in a bank, but R was a restaurant manager at the time, and there was no normal.  There were no cats that day, but several adorable puppies.  None were siblings.  All the dogs were different breeds.  I remember another couple chose an all black dog and were wandering around the aisles looking for leather accessories - including biker jacket - for their new addition, Harley.

The moment you were placed in my arms by the rescue shelter volunteer, there was no giving you back.  You owned my heart that quickly.

Choosing a name for you took a couple of hours.  See, we'd picked out a name for a cat (Philly, after the city) but it just seemed silly on you.  I don't recall all of the names we tossed around.  But I know it was me who said, "Hannah?" while we walked you outside, on the apartment's common grounds, and you perked right up.  It was settled.  Hannah Banana Lastname was officially ours.

Like a seed, watch me grow.  2002

I love you.  Even though I know you likely felt less in our eyes when we started having babies and adopted more pets into our menagerie.  Even though you never did stop barking at every Tom, Dick, and Hairy creature that walked past our house or dared saunter into your yard.  Even though you are a naughty, tricksy food thief.

A nanny dog for Slim, in 2006.

I'm not ready to say good-bye yet.  And though you are not at a point where I'd have to, you are showing your age more lately.  My puppy has more aches and pains and isn't quite so spry, my sweet girl can occasionally be like a crotchety old man.  Just promise me, that when the time comes, you let me know.  Shh, yes, I am crying, don't look at me like that Hannah.  I hope I am giving you a good life.  Because I know you help make mine richer.

Having a younger dog around helps keep her young, I think.  2011

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I have wanted a tattoo for a long time.  As in, over a decade.  I've debated over what, if, where.  One of my Pinterest boards is dedicated to inspiration and tattoos that please me aesthetically.

A pin that I kept coming back to was:

Source: via Meghan on Pinterest

Cottonwood trees mean nothing to me, but I admire the way the leaves follow the contours of the body.  I finally settled the debate; I want a leaf (or leaves) tattoo.  But it has to be more than just a pretty picture.  What leaf is tied to a memory?

That would be the ginkgo, The Living Dinosaur.

If you "like" my blog page on Facebook, you may have noticed my cover photo of ginkgo leaves.

Source: via Meghan on Pinterest

When I was a little girl, I often spent part of recess making bouquets from the ginkgo leaves that fell on my elementary school playground.

And on my last evening LLL meeting in Kansas, as I walked into the hospital, I stepped over fallen ginkgo leaves.  I picked one up.  Then, at the park where Slim's preschool graduation was held, a place we'd been several times, I noticed the ginkgo trees.  I grabbed some leaves.  They are all now pressed in a beloved book.  On my last morning LLL meeting in Kansas, a fellow Leader's son was wearing a shirt on which she'd embroidered a ginkgo leaf.  Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. It's meant to be.  The only question left to answer is when?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Product Review

Despite being part of a load of BzzCampaigns with BzzAgent, I've understandably been preoccupied with the move and haven't been bzzing quite as often as I should.

I want to share my thoughts on Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition.  But first,  let me tell you about my hair and then do a photo retrospective!

You know how schools do class superlatives, like Most Likely to Succeed and Best Dressed?  Well, in eighth grade I was selected for the Prettiest Hair award.  Friends, amongst other nicknames, called me Pantene Girl.

Sure, I haven't always liked how I look (and I have a post coming on that, after the move) but I've almost always liked my hair.

I'm blonde, naturally.  Up until I was in middle school, my hair turned platinum blonde in the Summer sun.  Now, my hair is an ashy blonde that borders on dishwater.  Since I first discovered Sun-In when I was twelve or so, I've been lightening or otherwise coloring my hair.  The only time I see the natural color is when I let it grow long enough for the roots to show.  For instance, now.  I haven't had my hair cut or highlighted in months.  I'm accidentally working the ombre hair look when all I've been trying to do is become more low maintenance.

Ultimately, I've always been of the opinion that it's only hair and it will grow back.  This is why I'm not afraid to experiment.  In the last ten years alone, I've had short hair three times, sported several styled of bangs, gone without, attempted to be platinum blonde, went dark on my own and at a salon, and decided that certain styles aren't worth repeating.  Which isn't to say I won't!

August 2011
May 2012

April 2010
September 2012
You can see how in less than one year's time, from August 2011 to May 2012, how quickly my hair grows.  Between those months, I have only had my hair cut and highlighted once.  The May picture was taken at Slim's school during the Mother's Day Tea event.  You'll notice my tongue sticking out and him making a silly pout.  I was in the midst of saying, "smile" when another mom snapped the picture.  I included it so that you can see how my hair looks when using Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition.
Here's some facts:

  • Works best on dry or damaged hair
  • Nourishes hair to the core so it shines from within
  • Formulated with Fortified Fruit Science – three weightless nutritive fruit oils (olive, avocado and shea)
  • Packed with ultra-rich and nourishing conditioners that rinse clean — we dare you to find something that treats your dry damaged hair better
  • Part of a larger Triple Nutrition line that includes Nutrient Spray and 3-Minute Undo Dryness Reversal Treatment
  • Have a suggested retail price of $3.99 (13 oz.) and $6.99 (25.4 oz.)
  • Available at grocery stores, drug stores and mass retailers like Target and Wal-Mart
Green living is important to me, but I am nowhere near the level I'd like to be.  It pleases me that the packaging is more eco-friendly: the bottles are made containing PET  and 30% recycled plastic. They're also 10% lighter, which saves over 125 tons of plastic annually. 
I have been using it in conjunction with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner and a charcoal scalp treatment. I don't wash my hair every day - I've, on average, used Garnier Fructis two times a week. But I feel that the regimen I put together helps my hair look fabulous.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Of things that will never be

Okay, let me get this out of the way first:  I love my sons and would not trade them for anything.  This post is merely a reflection of my thought that it would be nice to have a daughter as well.  Meaning, in addition to, not instead of.

If Slim had been a girl, we would have named him Nora Rachel.

Had Curly been a girl, his name would have been Sarah Gwyneth.

And because I make R play the name game with me, we know what we would name an accidental (which is the only way a future child is happening) son or daughter.  I'll keep those names close, just in case an accident happens, that way their name would be as private as Slim's and Curly's.

What's got me thinking of daughters?

I suppose it's the time of year.  Friend's daughters are having their dance recitals and I feel a tad envious.  When I was a girl, I took ballet, jazz and modern dance from instructors who, while I didn't entirely recognize it at the time, created a caring atmosphere that inspired love of movement, body confidence, and respect.  It makes me sad that I will likely never enroll a child of mine in dance or watch them perform in a dance recital. 

I've discussed my thoughts on this with R and with friends.  Despite being a parent who encourages her sons to break beyond typical gender roles, I do have my limits.  Unless Slim or Curly approach us about wanting to take dance lessons, I won't sign them up.  I recognize the societal view of a male dancer.

To which I argue:

Photo credit:

Mikhail Baryshnikov was considered a sex symbol, which he finds an "illusion from the stage." But damn if there isn't something powerful and inherently sexy about an athletic body.

Still.  Although there are resources like the blog, Boys and Ballet, that seek to highlight male success in dance and eliminate, or at least ease, the stereotypes boys taking ballet face.  Yet.  Even knowing enough football players have taken ballet, "it wasn't news anymore." 

All of those things do not compel me to subject my guys to potential mocking for what is nothing more than my desire to have a dancer.  To me, that would be no better than forcing them to only play with trucks when they also wanted to play with baby dolls, or making them wear dresses instead of shorts without their consent.  I cannot force my will on my children. 

Yes, it's hard for me, as someone who believes in blurring the lines between traditional male and female roles to acknowledge the hold sexism has on me and the limits I will set as a mother.  I do somewhat bemoan the possibilities lost with no Nora or Sarah. Ultimately, my wanting Slim and Curly to know how to sew, change a flat tire, make a meal, and build something is so that they have an abundance of tools to become awesome.  And become the person they want.  Not what I want.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teachers Live at School

Slim's teachers this year have been wonderful.  I love his school.  This is the first of his three school experiences so far, that he never once complained about not wanting to attend.  They rock and I'm sad Curly won't get to go, as he was welcomed heartily into the school family as evident in the way he was so kindly treated the times I brought him with me when I volunteered.

As thanks for all that, plus a little friendly payback for learning I'm as pretty as a bug, I decided to question Slim about his teachers' predilections. While pinning, I came across a perfect free printable courtesy of Busy Kids = Happy Mom, who somehow (must have been magic!) took my very thoughts out of my head and wrote them in her blog,

"Kids believe the funniest things! It's time to interview them and see what they think the facts are about their teachers. Did you love receiving those adorable interviews about you for Mother's Day? Your child's teacher took the time to make notes about YOU, now it's time to turn to share the love!"

We did this and it was as hysterical as I expected!

The bold part is what was pre-printed and I wrote out Slim's answers as dictated.  The addendum I made are clarified in italics.

My teacher's name is: Names redacted for protection of the innocent, but we'll call them Miss Short Hair and Miss Long Hair so that I can keep it straight.  Miss Short Hair/Miss Long Hair
She live in: the school/Kansas
She is _____ years old: 5/6
Her favorite food is: peanuts/salad
Her favorite drink is: lemonade/pink lemonade
She likes to wear: special pins/shorts and pants
Her favorite book is: a magazine/a magazine too
If she has free time, she likes to: sit and watch people/twirl her legs
Her favorite thing to do is: (after he said, yell at people - which I don't get because I've been in that classroom both at set times or just dropping in and they aren't yellers.  Nor has he ever mentioned them yelling) drinking soda/drinking water
She is REALLY good at: running really fast/having staring contests

I also put together an easy end of year present for them.  We had already contributed to the class gift, so I didn't go all out as some of my gift ideas that I had pinned.  First of all, I frankly had no inclination because of the move.  Secondly, I don't want to do something cute, but impractical.  And I've gathered over the course of the year that they appreciate caffeine.

Which meant, the thanks a "latte" idea from eighteen25 was the way to go.  I didn't take pictures of how mine turned out, but it was similar.  Instead of string to hold it together, I attached the gift card to the corrugated cardboard with a small clothespin.  Easy, peasy.

Tomorrow is Slim's graduation from preschool.  I've been holding in all the tears from saying good-bye to our Kansas friends.  Although I know I'll cry tomorrow (because I am the woman who bawled at the Home Depot commercial from the Super Bowl several years back), I just hope that once I release the tears, the dam doesn't break and make it turn into an ugly cry!

I think I need to watch the aforementioned commercial several times in succession to steel myself.  Or maybe that will make it worse?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our very, very, very fine house

Want to see pictures of how our rental house in PA is coming along?  Just under two weeks until we move in!

I'm stoked over the morning light in the dining room.  Open door on left leads outside.  Door on right opens to a closet.

Back splash and faucet not in yet.

Woo-hoo for built in pantry

Looking into the family room.  I think they did amazing at converting a small galley kitchen into something that maximises space.
Now I just need to take pictures of some furniture here that we're trying to sell.  Anyone want to buy an Ashley Furniture queen bedroom set?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Breathe in the flowers, blow out the birthday candles

Photo Credit:
What stress can do to the body

Last month, Funky Little EarthChild wrote on her Facebook page,
"My 5 year old son is a bright ball of energy, naturally. Sometimes, he gets himself so wound up that he has a hard time bringing his focus back to Earth. It can be frustrating for me when he is acting like a little tornado in the house, but it's upsetting for him, too. You can tell he wants to relax at some point but his little mind is on go-go-go. So, I started teaching him some basic yoga - specifically sun salutations. Just 5 minutes of breathing, moving and concentrating so that he can regain his focus and relax just a little. He really enjoys it. We'll see if it helps him."
Not all of what she says is identical to how my five year acts and reacts, yet the outline of him is evident. It's like looking at yourself in a funhouse mirror, all your features are there, but distorted slightly.  You still recognize the person when you see them. 

Slim is responding to my high stress over the move in a, well let's just call it a non-optimal way.  I feel challenged by his behavior and it doesn't seem like he wants to be so tightly sprung.  I'm anxious, he's anxious, we're a barrel of anxious monkeys over here!  It has always been my practice to allow my sons their emotions, yet guide them in a socially acceptable manner of expression.  So, I am or will be trying three things to help him.  And help me too.   My stress release methods could certainly stand tweaking an overhaul.  I may be the adult in this relationship, but with my increased yelling, I'm not a good role model when it comes to how I've handled the crappy last few months.

I know that when I am no longer a temporary single mom, when R and I are reunited, and when we are living together, in the same state, as a family, my usual calm down tactics will be functioning again.  In the meantime, I am living at my wit's end and counting down the days.  It's wise to keep a toolbox stocked though and it wouldn't hurt to rotate in some new tools.  What keeps you from pulling out your hair?

As for Slim, I want to work on:
  1. Breathing exercises 
  2. Yoga
  3. Making and using a mind jar
When the boys took Gymboree Play & Music classes, one of the sports teachers was fond of ending the class with stretches and a simple breathing exercise.  She encouraged the kids to hold their hands cupped up near their nose and, "breathe in the flowers" then lower their hands perpendicular to their mouths and, "blow out the birthday candles."  I want to lead him in this and some other breathing exercises for relaxation.  One I plan to implement was something a dance instructor of mine from childhood used to close out the class.  I welcomed the moments of calm and control over my body as we were told to tighten our toes, ankles, calves, and on and on up to the hair growing out of our heads and then to release in reverse order.  I hope Slim gains as much out of it as I did.

Creekside Learning, a homeschool blog, outlines four ways that kids benefit from yoga: body, breathing, mind, and peace.  It builds on the breathing exercise goal and is something I think will soothe Slim's soul and focus his frantic energy.

A book that I read to my guys sometimes and have used twice in different storytime & craft days I've hosted is My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids by Baron Baptiste.  It is an engaging introduction to yoga.  The story is based during a class circle time, in which children are sharing what their parents and guardians do for a living.  Every career relates back to a yoga pose that the narrator's father can do.  "Samantha's mommy is a baker, sometimes my daddy is a pretzel"   Easy to understand instructions are accompanied by a step by step illustration of the pose. 

Thanks to a Plum District deal and a friend's thoughtfulness in suggesting I check out Romparoo, I have Curly enrolled in a few weeks of Summer camp.  They also offer yoga for 5-7 year olds, as long as there is sufficient interest (so please, if you're in the area, sign up your child!) and I have expressed interest in getting Slim involved.

I first learned about mind jars from my time wasting on Pinterest.  Following are some of the best posts I've read on the subject:

Juggling with Kids - Although she made hers later, this was the first one I discovered on Pinterest and sent me down the rabbit hole searching for more.

Here We Are Together - Juggling with Kids links to this blog as the source and Here We Are Together links to still life with circles who indicates the idea derived from the book Moody Cow MeditatesThere is a printable available here to affix to your mind jar should you so choose.

still life with circles - Discusses guided meditation ideas and has a picture of what the mind jar looks like before it's all shook up.

Sun Hat & Wellie Boots - I find solidarity in this post because she was led to create a mind jar for her daughter because of being overwhelmed by a move too.

The premise of the mind jar is to serve as a time for reflection and meditation to ease a child's mind in those moments when they are a human twister.  It's not meant as a punitive time out.  If you practice time ins or are familiar with Montessori peace tables and education, it is akin to those philosophies - a chance for regrouping.

Although the mind jar can be made from a plastic container, I would prefer to make ours from glass, as in the examples.  Given that, the project will be completed post-move.  In the meantime, we have one of those glittery seek-and-find magic wands that I'll have Slim use for practice as I discuss the mind jar plans with him.

Above, I asked for me, but I also want to know what coping tools you've provided your children?  Have you used any of the three things on our list to try successfully?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Slim & Curly - A Snapshot in Words

My three year old is freshly minted.

Now that the weather is warmer, he's moving beyond the notion that a shirt is not worth his time unless it has a hoodie.

He has mispronunciations I find endearing.  When he finds something gross, he declares it uh-sgusting.  Fox sounds more like box out of his mouth.

I love discovering and rediscovering how outgoing he can be, even when not with his brother.

My five and a half year old is insistent on adding the half.

Now that the school year is drawing to a close and we are approaching our farewell Kansas date, he's concerned, for the first time in all our moves, about not just missing his old friends, but making new ones.

He has writing quirks I find delightful.  One of the letters of his name is always written backwards, just like Andy in Toy Story.

I love watching him read to his brother. 

This is where they are in the middle of Spring 2012.  A snapshot in words.

Also, an actual snapshot.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My First Marathon - an update!

I shared how I am particpating in the Joggermom Marathon and promised to keep you, dear readers, up to date on my progress.

Here we are, in the middle of the month, and I'm not as close to 26.2 miles as I'd like.  I'm preoccupied with the move and I hurt my ankle enough to rest it for a bit, so I'm only about 9 miles in. 

However, I am committed to completing this, despite the distractions.  One way I've figured out how to do this and get the family involved is to play tag for at least a half mile every day.  Do you know how easy that actually is?  The boys and I ran for .74 miles today.  It took less than ten minutes.  I used the MapMyRun app to keep track of our games of chase, tag, and races to the bridge, the tree, the statue that looks like a dog, and the bench. 

In an email to all the virtual racers, the founders wrote, "Last year we had only a 50% success rate. I am hoping this year the numbers will be much greater! Finish what you start! You will be happy you did."

I know I will. 

Will you join me?  Remember, there's lots of great prizes to be won!  Registration closes today.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares Product Review

Anticpate lots of BzzAgent product reviews coming up!  I have been fortunate to receive a wide variety of things to try and tell lately. 

One of those items was Quaker Oatmeal Squares.

I'm a big believer in easy, healthy breakfasts.  I love oatmeal, when it is cooked right.  Although I'm working on reducing packaged and processed foods from the family diet, I admit instant oatmeal does make mornings easier and they are mostly pretty healthy choices.  Quaker Instant Oatmeal in the Maple & Brown Sugar flavor or Quaker Quick Oats with fruit, honey, or peanut butter mixed in is a frequent breakfast of mine ... and my kids.

We received a full sized box and sample sized boxes to share of the Brown Sugar and I went on to buy boxes of Golden Maple.  It wasn't surprising that Slim and Curly enjoyed both the Brown Sugar and Golden Maple flavors of Quaker Oatmeal Squares.  They liked the taste.  I appreciated the whole grain, fiber and calcium as necessities and benefits to their diet.

My kids are like me - weird.  I don't like much, if any milk on my cereal.  Neither do they.  I think they preferred Quaker Oatmeal Squares as a snack more than a breakfast.  It worked as a chance to give them something sweet that was between fruit (my choice) and a cookie (theirs)!

Compromise is key when it comes to eating in my household.  I don't think it's feasible for me to expect a completely whole foods diet.  My lifestyle is busy and I will always require convenience foods in some capacity.  Foods from Quaker are a way to combine heart healthy, delicious and generally nutritious, and fast in a way with which I'm happy!

Remember, like I've mentioned in all my product reviews - my opinions are my own.  I received samples and coupons in exchange for sharing my real thoughts.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm as Pretty as a Bug

Thank you, Old Navy circa 2005 - I DO <3 Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the day we celebrate the women who birthed us, adopted us, fostered us, but above all, made room in their hearts for us, I bring to you, "Why my Mom is Special" as dictated by Slim.

The bold part was pre-printed on the sheet and the rest was filled out by his teachers verbatim.  My thoughts follow in italics. 

"My Mom is special because she gets me what I like." Hmm, so it appears his love language is gifts.

"I like it when my Mom buys things at night."  Again with the buying stuff. And what does this even mean? Why at night?  We seldom go out at night.  Is that why it's special in his mind?

"My Mom is as pretty as a bug" A bug, huh?  I asked what that meant to him. He clarified that I am lovely like a ladybug or monarch butterfly.  I actually like that compliment!

"My Mom has a pretty smile! I like to make her smile by making a funny face." Now this one is true!  I was starting to think I didn't know my kid anymore because I couldn't predict any of his answers.  But this?  This I recognize and live daily.

"My Mom is smart! She even knows how to twirl on two legs." I'm smart y'all - I bet you can't twirl on two legs!

I am the sole parent for two more weeks.  This means I didn't get my number one Mother's Day wish, not to have to deal with anyone else's bodily functions or fluids.  Next year, R.  Of course, Curly will be done having accidents by then.  But you can get the cat litter.

Without the book in front of me, this is only a paraphrase, but motherhood, to me, is perfectly encapsulated at the end of the first Olivia storybook, when Olivia's mom says, "you wear me out, but I love you anyway."  My boys are joyous and kind and fascinating and loving ... except when they're not.  Argus McFargus, they can be tough stuff.  I reflected, this morning on the phone with R, how I think I'm a pretty good mother, so why aren't my sons, well, good-er?  The answer I came to is that we get the kids who most need us as parents.  Maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't flourish under any one else's care.  I don't know.  But it's reassuring nonetheless.  At the end of the day, I still know I'm as pretty as a bug.  Not everyone can say that.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Playground Series: Black Hoof Park, Lenexa, KS

You know a park is doing it right when you say, "wow!" outloud and not just in your head. 

As we approached the park, Lake Lenxa came into view to the right and I definitely exclaimed, "wow!"  Since his seat is on the passenger side, Slim got the best vantage point and he was fascinated by the trees growing out of the water.  It reminded me of  where R proposed, both being less gloomy versions of Dagobah.

Photo credit:


Yeah, maybe it's a stretch. 

It's a lovely sight though, aside from the electrical towers and power lines.  Forgive these blurry, not so hot pictures because I took them as we were driving away out my window.  Don't worry - it was an empty road and I was going very, very slooooowly.  The picture above is the boat launch entrance.

Speaking of hot - our visit was at the end of April on a toasty afternoon.  Expect to see some sweaty, red-faced children!

Black Hoof Park is chock-full of experiences and things to do.  There are:
  • two separate playgrounds, one near the boat ramp (that we did not get to) and a second, larger play area away from the water
  • the larger play area has traditional playground structures, swings, a unique sandbox, and a nature play area and play stream similar to the one at Franklin Park.
  • a two mile trail around the lake, with offshoots that bring the system up to five miles.  Some of the trail is hard surface, some soft, and there is even a boardwalk.
  • fishing and non-motorized boating
  • wetlands, prairie, streamway, and forest preserve with outlooks to enjoy nature
  • a dam, that is described in the brochure as "uniting form and function, Lake Lenexa's dam and spillway merge engineering with art.  Using innovative and cutting-edge concrete and earthwork practices, the design is an artistic representation of water cycle that features fountains, sculptures, and cascading pools.  The pedestrian bridge above the spillway offers an exclusive view of the lake and its imaginative dam and spillway design."

Photo credit:
    Thanks again to Harrington Home Pro for their park ratings.  I don't think Black Hoof Park had completed the larger play area at the time of their review though, because it deserves so much more than a 7!

This play structure was a little lower than the second traditional structure, but I wouldn't call either of them super toddler oriented.  Curly has been an intrepid climber since long before two, so that is no longer a concern of mine.  But I wanted to point that out.

The only reason I would attribute this as the playground for the younger set is because of the two traditionals, it's the only equipped with baby swings.

Although you can't really see it here, but Curly's hair is growing in and you can start to see curls again!  Those are some Old Navy lady large sunglasses.  Actually, they're mine.  He's swift to remove socks and shoes so he can play in the sandbox.

Only, it's not a sandbox, so much as it it's a big sandfreeformshape.

Part of the path and a glimpse of the lake through the trees.

Friends joined us at the park and we even ran into other friends there unexpectedly.

Lots on which to climb, jump on and off, and swing.

This was the higher play structure, seemingly intended for older kids.

The swings declare it so.

Be still, my once upon a time lived in the Mushroom Capital of the World heart but these toadstools are adorable!

The nature play area had rock climbing.

And logs to balance on and climb over.

The play stream, which was not on, despite the temperature, was fun to trek.


There was what I think was a homeschool event going on at the shelter, otherwise I would have taken closer pictures.  I like how you can see the lake from on high. 

We have been warned by friends, who in turn were advised by the park ranger that rattlesnakes have been found nestled on the bottom of slides.  They move them when found, but as the brochure states, "if you encounter a Timber Rattlesnake or Copperhead, carefully move away" and contact animal control with any questions.

While we didn't make down to the water or to the see the dam, I want to share Virtual Tourist user basstbn's pictures:

You can also see his blog, Frank Thompson's Kansas Journeys for a post in which he agrees on the awesomeness of Black Hoof Park, as well as picture tours of many of the amazing things and places Kansas has to offer.