Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Eternal Gem

My Eternal Gem
written by Kristina Haines (my maiden name, I was 16 when I wrote this)

Someday I will leave this big world,
And all of its sin behind.
I'll walk upon the streets of gold,
with the Savior of Mankind.

So when I die, I want to know,
That I have fulfilled His plan.
I want to be completely sure,
That I've served the Son of Man.

I want to have peace in knowing,
That I've served Him faithfully,
That the seeds that I've been sowing,
Have prospered abundantly.

I want to leave no undone things,
Or possible could-have-beens,
I want to see the King of Kings,
And know I have lived for Him.

And when I walk through the gates of pearl,
And see the Lord of Hosts - -
Of the many things in this world...
Here is what I want the most:
To know my life was lived for Him,
That I served Him faithfully.
This simple peace will be my gem...
Throughout eternity.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Great Dates Around the World in KC!

Looking for something new this Valentine’s Day? An exotic vacation is not in the budget or on the schedule? Here are some ideas for a Valentine Vacation in Kansas City!
In each example, dinner and entertainment are within a ten-minute drive or less unless otherwise noted.

Step into Arabia with dinner at the Aladdin Café (3903 Wyoming, KCMO. 816-532-5982). Their menu features stuffed grape leaves, baba ganoush, hummus, falafel, lamb and other traditional Arabic dishes. Then, enjoy Arabian Nights showing at the Kansas City Repertory Theater (Spencer Theater 4949 Cherry St., KCMO, through Feb. 22nd.

Make a trip to Brazil at the Plaza’s newest restaurant, which is also one of the most fun! Fogo de Chao (222 W. 47th St, KCMO on the Plaza. 816-931-7700), features an authentic Brazilian churrascaria dining format, where patrons enjoy skewered fire-roasted meats served by Gaucho chefs throughout their meal. Enjoy a night on the Plaza with a movie at the Cinemark or cheese samples from around the world at Better Cheddar, window-shopping or a carriage ride.

This may be All-American, but it is also All Fun! ComedyCity (817 Westport Rd, KCMO, 816-842-2744, is home to Kansas City’s original improvisational comedy show; it is fast-paced and based entirely on suggestions from the audience. Every show is clean, funny, and one-of-a-kind. For dinner, go to Chili’s (554 Westport Rd., KCMO, 816-561-1220)… yes, it is a chain restaurant, but the food is good. It seemed fitting for a light and fun date!

Journey to Great Britain as you watch Murder By the Book, a light-hearted and inventive British thriller performed live at the American Heartland Theater (3rd floor of Crown Center,, 816-842-9999). Enjoy dinner at Pierpont’s (30 W. Pershing, KCMO at Union Station). This is not exactly British, but honestly, there isn’t much demand for British cuisine in KC. Pierpont’s features Steak and Seafood and as fish is a popular British meal, it’s our best choice near the Theater.

Embark on a trip to the Orient at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (4525 Oak St, KCMO, houses an extensive collection of Asian art and the best part is that it’s FREE and open until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays! For dinner, there are two excellent choices nearby. For fun, enjoy a Japanese meal where the food is prepared before your eyes at Gojo Japanese Steakhouse (4163 Broadway St, KCMO, 816-561-2501). Or, enjoy Chinese food at PF Chang’s China Bistro (102 W. 47th St, KCMO, 816-931-9988).

Fancy Ireland? O’Dowd’s Little Dublin Restaurant (4742 Pennsylvania on the Plaza, 816-561-2700, feels Irish because it is. Nearly all of the woodwork was handcrafted and imported directly from Ireland! Bring a hearty appetite - because O'Dowd's Little Dublin has the BEST American Pub eats and Irish treats IN THE CITY! Live music is featured every night, including Irish musicians.

Visit the Czech Republic with a night of fine music as The Czech Symphony Orchestra performs Czech composer Dvorak’s No. 9 From the New World at the Carlsen Center of the Johnson County Community College (12345 College Blvd, OPKS,, 469-4445). To enjoy an authentic Czech meal, visit the Kolache Factory (7112 W. 135th St, OPK, 913-851-2253, They are only open for breakfast and lunch, but you can purchase bakery kolaches to serve at home.

Go to Germany as the KC Symphony performs pieces from Beethoven’s only opera (Fidelio, first known as Leonore), followed by Mendelssohn's stirring Symphony-Cantata Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise) on Valentine weekend at the Lyric Theatre (1029 Central, KCMO, 816-471-0400, For dinner, visit the Power and Light District (, which features a wide variety of good restaurants. Or plan ahead, and go to Werners (5736 Johnson Dr., Mission, KS, 913-362-5955, and buy dinner in advance to eat at home before your date. Werners sells handmade European style sausages.

Explore Russia! Union Station (30 W. Pershing Rd, KCMO, 816-460-2020, is featuring the exhibit, “The Tsar and the President” through April 19th. This historically focused traveling exhibit examines the lives of Lincoln and Russia’s Tsar Alexander II, using personal memorabilia like Lincoln’s presidential speeches and the opulent artifacts of Russia’s royalty to tell each man’s story. For this one, you’ll have to plan ahead and eat at home, or leave early as dinner and entertainment aren’t “nearby.” The International Grocery: Taste of Russia (7228 W. 79th St in Shawnee Mission, KS 913-385-5609), is tiny, but it includes a meat shop, cake shop, and Russian groceries. They also have a lunch and dinner spot fit with small table and chairs.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Creative Ways to say, "I Love You"

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we're reminded to tell our loved ones how much we care. However, in our house we try to make it a habit to 'creatively' say, "I Love You" in unusual ways often.

Our favorites:

POST-ITS: We have some fun ways of doing that in our house. When we first married, I started randomly leaving post-it note "I love you's" where my husband would find them from time to time... on his lunch, on the mirror in the bathroom, his windshield, steering wheel, in his coat pocket, in his wallet, on his computer screen, in his sock drawer. He took up the same periodic habit and writes notes to me.

PANCAKES: Then, when we had kids it has become an "almost every weekend" ritual to make blueberry pancakes. I make the batter, clean up the kitchen, and get the girls ready for the day while he mans the stove. He loves to make heart pancakes, Mickey Mouse, and lately... letters. Last weekend he spelled out I (heart) each of our names!

OTHER FOOD: Use Bakery Safe markers (in the decorating section of the store) and use them to write on your children's sandwiches. Write on a banana with an ink pen. Leave notes on food containers. Write on napkins. It's fun to find notes where you least expect them.

WINDOW PAINT: Window Paint (of the washable variety) is great for leaving a note on screen doors, mirrors, windshields, etc. Be sure it is WASHABLE! :-)

"I love you this much": Many families love the book, "Guess How Much I love You"... we also stretch out arms and say, I love you this much as we come and go. Emily said that with outstretched arms IMMEDIATELY when she first met her baby sister! She then took the baby's arms and stretched them to say I love you!

Just Say It: The habit here is that an "I love you" is exchanged at the end of phone conversations, when someone leaves the house, before bed, first thing in the morning, and whenever we "just feel like it" - which is often. It is one thing you can't say enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What is my role in my daughters' Preschool Education?

I've been pondering this for years (before my children were born) and I'm finding that God keeps defining my role more clearly. Keeping my priorities straight, defining the task at hand so I stay on task, it seems to help me grow as a mom.

It seems that I have 3 major responsibilities in my role as the "Preschool Teacher" for my girls:

1) Encouraging Curiosity / Love of Learning (For example, I take my children on many field-trips, one of them being the local art gallery. I try to make I Spy or Scavenger Hunt games when we go. I don't spend a lot of time on naming artists or art styles. My oldest daughter is 3 and I don't expect her to be an expert on Monet. I DO want her to be comfortable and interested and curious about art so that when it is time to explore it in depth, she is not intimidated or turned off by it. That example applies to all learning, be it Scripture, Nature, Cooking, Reading, Math, Music, etc. I hope to provide Creative opportunities for my children to explore and learn so they LOVE to learn.).

2) Expand Their World: If we only exposed our children to things they request/express interest in, "their world" would be very small. My daughter has never seen a live walrus. She would never know to ask about a walrus unless we introduced them through books, dvds, and maybe someday a trip to a zoo that has them.

3) Facilitate "The Next Step": When she shows growth, understands a new concept, is ready for a new skill (God is so good in showing those signs clearly), it is my job to facilitate that. When she says, 'Mom I'd like to help cook supper.' I let her within her ability (she stirs, counts, helps measure, gathers ingredients from the fridge, rolls with the rolling pin, cuts with cookie cutters, shakes spices, etc w/supervision).

We use a chart for the areas we try to approach DAILY. These are:

  • Bible (stories, memory verse, prayer, praise songs, etc)
  • Reading (wide variety of books including stories, factual books, and poetry. This doesn't include Bible. It is its own category)
  • Food (learning about food groups, nutrition, etc, helping select foods at the grocery store, herb gardening in the spring and summer and cooking skills)
  • Concepts (Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Opposites, Animal Classification, Colors, etc). These are presented in many forms (flashcards, games, puzzles, workbooks, action poems, books, DVDs, etc).
  • Music (singing, action songs, playing instruments, dance)
  • Art (doing art and appreciating art, i.e. art gallery)
    Exercise (formally through jumping jacks, jogging, etc OR informally through outdoor play, trips to Tunnel Town or Pump It Up, etc)
  • Hygiene (on my chart it says "Clean Girl")... meaning diligence in hand washing, clean clothes/dressing, bath, brushing teeth, etc.

That list may appear to be a lot, but it really isn't. Some days, music means we sing one or two songs together. Art may mean 15 minutes with play dough on Monday, but over an hour painting on Tuesday. Exercise can be formal (we've used videos at the library, the park, our backyard, etc), or informal (free play on a playground). Food may mean putting the napkins out at the dinner table and identifying the fruits and vegetables on her plate, or it may mean helping cook an entire meal from the Biscuits to Mashing Potatoes and Tossing Salad. I do not place a time commitment on the checklist. It may mean 5 minutes per item, or 2 hours. The idea is just that we're 'well rounded.'

If one category (or more) are neglected in a day, that's fine. Those categories are given top priority tomorrow. The main reason for neglect is often an over-emphasis in another category that was GREAT fun!

Anyway, the checklist is my "system." It encourages me, as a mom, to look at the day and say, 'Hey, we did do something worthwhile for my kids today.' Very often at the end of the day, it doesn't "feel" like you've been productive, but looking at the "list"... you have.

Some days we do more, other days we do less. For me, it isn't about doing everything/ finishing the curriculum (currently Before Five in a Row), it is about Encouraging a LOVE for learning, OPENING my girls' world, and FACILITATING "the next step." If a project doesn't do that, I don't do it.

I'm far from perfect at all of the ideals/goals described above, I just do my best with Christ's strength.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

KC Valentine Events for the Family 2009

I am trying to create a "complete" list of KC Valentine Events for the family (meaning events that include children). If you know of anything I am missing, please leave a comment so I can add it to the list!

Kansas City Valentine’s Day
Events for the Family

Art Classes

♥Arte Children’s Studio: Handmade Cards
When: February 4th from 4:00-5:00pm
Where: Blue Valley Recreation Center 6545 W. 151st Street, Overland Park, KS
Admission: $64/residents, $80/non-residents
Ages: Children ages 4-9
Details: For children ages 4-9, the class meets four consecutive Wednesdays. Various mediums and techniques are explored while creating cards as pieces of art. Watercolor, acrylic, and collage result in projects which can be mailed or framed. Valentine cards will be included in the first two classes.
Contact Information: 913-685-6000

♥Be My Valentine
When: February 7th at 2pm
Where: Red Bridge Library, 11140 Locust, Kansas City, MO
Admission: Free, Registration required
Ages: Children ages 4 and up
Details: Create special Valentine cards and gifts for your family and friends. Supplies furnished.
Contact Information: 816-942-1780

♥Be My Valentine Art Class
When: February 3rd at 7pm
Where: Walls of Clay, 16625 Midland Dr., Shawnee, KS
Admission: $10/Johnson County Residents, $11/nonresidents. Must pre-register.
Ages: 6-12
Details: Your child can say “I love you” to mom and dad, teachers, and grandparents with a special hand painted ceramic heart box, heart bowl, or heart plate from Walls of Clay. The class offers techniques to make your child’s painting experience fun, educational, and a confidence builder. Pay instructor $4-20 for supplies; cost depends on the materials chosen.
Contact Information: 913-831-3355

♥The Color Red
When: February 5th OR February 6th at 10am
Where: Cedar Roe Library, 5120 Cedar, Roeland Park, KS
Admission: Free
Ages: Children ages 2 and up
Details: Drop in to explore the color Red in celebration of Valentine's Day.Your child will be creative by making Valentines and collages while learning about color.
Contact Information: 913-384-8590

♥Creative Kids’ Workshop: Valentine’s Day
When: February 11th from 10:00-11:30am
Where: Blue Valley Recreation Center 6545 W. 151st Street, Overland Park, KS
Admission: $22/residents, $27/non-residents
Ages: Children ages 3-6
Details: Children ages 3-6 develop a love for arts and crafts while enhancing their self-esteem. They will construct a creative and useful art project; enjoy a snack, theme stories and games. Another class is offered from 12:30-2:00pm.
Contact Information: 913-685-6000

When: Monday-Saturday. Visit their Website for specifics.
Where: Kaleidoscope, 2500 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO
Admission: Free
Ages: All ages may attend Family Art Sessions
Details: Children explore exciting environments creating one of a kind art masterpieces using unique materials and recycled supplies. Kaleidoscope is open year-round, but they offer special projects with Valentine’s Day in mind during the month of February.

♥Kamp Wilderness: Valentine’s Day Extravaganza
When: February 7th at 11am
Where: Bass Pro, 18001 Bass Pro Dr., Independence, MO
Admission: Free, pre-reg required by email, or call
Ages: 4-12
Details: Kids can make friendship bracelets for Valentine’s Day.

♥Make Valentines for Grandma, Grandpa, Mom & Dad
When/Where: Feb. 13th from 11am-11:45am at Market St. Neighborhood Center, 307 SW Market, Lee’s Summit
When/Where: Feb. 14th from 9-9:45am at the Gamber Center, 4SE Independence Ave. Lee’s Summit, MO
Admission: $5/ea. Must pre-register
Ages: Children ages 3-4
Details: Make homemade Valentines for your family.
Contact Information: 816-969-1500

♥Valentine Card Lab
When: February 13th at 10am OR 3pm
Where: Corinth Library, 8100 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS
Admission: Free
Ages: Children
Details: Drop in and make an original card to give to your favorite Valentine tomorrow. We'll provide all the supplies; you provide your creativity.
Contact Information: 913-967-8650

♥Valentine Drop In Crafts
When: February 14th at 1pm
Where: Shawnee Library, 13811 Johnson Dr., Shawnee, KS
Admission: Free
Ages: Children
Details: Drop in to Shawnee Neighborhood Library between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. to create some fun crafts for the Valentine holiday. There will be different activities to choose from. Take home a special something for a special someone!
Contact Information: 913-962-3800

Cooking Classes

♥Creative Cooks: Valentine Treats
When: February 3rd from 4:00-5:30pm OR February 10th from 4:00-5:30pm
Where: Blue Valley Recreation Center 6545 W. 151st Street, Overland Park, KS
Admission: $38/residents, $48/non-residents
Ages: Children ages 6-12.
Details: Kids ages 6-12 participate in a fun-filled cooking class, making and sampling delightful snacks, including valentine chocolate truffles, homemade pretzels, Stromboli and chocolate pizza. Class is held on Tuesday, 2/3 and 2/10.
Contact Information: 913-685-6000

♥Grandparent-Grandchild Cookie Decorating Party
When: February 7th from 10am-12pm
Where: Palmer Center, 218A N. Pleasant, Independence, MO
Admission: $3/grandparents and one child ($1/ea additional child)
Ages: Children ages 3 and older with grandparents
Details: Grandparents create lasting memories with that special child in their life. Decorate cookies and celebrate Valentine’s Day together. Each child will decorate six cookies. Supplies and refreshments provided.
Contact Information: 816-325-6200

♥Leawood Valentine’s Day at Corinth
When: February 12th at 4pm
Where: Corinth Library, 8100 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS
Admission: Free, Registration limited to 15
Ages: Children ages 6-12
Details: Sweets for the sweet on Valentine's Day. Decorate "heart shaped" cookies and write a poem. Celebrate the day with fun and sugar. Due to the Leawood Library being closed for expansion, the program will be at the Corinth Neighborhood Library.
Contact Information: 913-967-8650

♥Lil’ Kids Valentine Chocolate Candy-Making Party!
When: February 8th from 9:00-11:30 am or 1-2:30pm
Where: Kansas City Culinary Center, 7920 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS
Admission: $65/each
Ages: 5-8 with an adult
Details: Today, it’s Chocolate 101 with a “twist.” In addition to learning how to melt, store, mold, paint, dip, flavor, color and fill chocolate candies you and your budding “chocolatier” will help create a yummy Valentine’s Day chocolate gift to bring home for someone special! We’ll play with caramel, pretzels and marshmallows, too … and everyone gets to do some “dipping” and decorating at our Sprinkle Station. (Includes tastings, snacks, take-home treats that you create [unless you eat ‘em all as you make ‘em] plus a special Valentine’s Day chocolate gift for each team to take home!)
Contact Information: 913-341-4455

Music & Dance

♥Daddy Daughter Valentine’s Dance
When: February 7th from 7-9pm
Where: Irene B. French Community Center, 5701 Merriam Dr., Merriam, KS
Admission: $40/couple (additional daughter $10)
Ages: recommended age 3-12 for girls
Details: Fathers, uncles and grandfathers...escort your favorite daughter, niece or granddaughter to our annual Valentine's Dance. You and your special date will enjoy a very special and memorable evening together. A disc jockey will be spinning some sounds for your dancing enjoyment. Refreshments and fun activities will be available. A photographer will be on hand to capture the moment and provide a free keepsake to take home. Cap off the evening with a FREE limo ride around Merriam Drive! Evening is limited to 50 couples, so sign up early!
Contact Information: 913-322-5550

♥Family Concert with Mr. Stinky Feet
When: February 13th at 6:30pm
Where: Wonderscope Children’s Museum, 5700 King, Shawnee, KS
Admission: Call 913-268-8130 for admission information.
Ages: Entire Family
Details: Mr. Stinky Feet will perform fun, upbeat children’s music as we celebrate at Wonderscope. Children will enjoy singing along with KC’s Kiddie Rocker!
Contact Information: 913-268-4176
Web: or

♥Funky Mama at Wonderscope
When: February 11th at 10am
Where: Wonderscope Children’s Museum, 5700 King, Shawnee, KS
Admission: Call 913-268-8130 for admission information.
Ages: Entire Family
Details: Funky Mama performs a LIVE Children’s Concert to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Contact Information: 913-268-4176
Web: or

♥Mr. Stinky Feet’s Love Fest
When: February 14th at 10:30am
Where: Plaza Library, Truman Forum Auditorium, 4801 Main St., KCMO
Admission: FREE
Ages: Entire Family
Details: Mr. Stinky Feet will perform fun, upbeat children’s music as we celebrate at Valentine’s Day. Children will enjoy singing along with KC’s Kiddie Rocker!
Contact Information: 816-701-3481
Web: or

♥Valentine Ballerinas
When: February 7th at Noon (this is a 75 minute lesson)
Where: Kozetta’s Dance Studio, 14930 W. 119th St., Olathe, KS
Admission: $22 / Johnson County Residents, $24/nonresidents. Must pre-register.
Ages: 3 ½ - 6
Details: Come celebrate this special day and learn “Daddy’s Valentine Dance.” Students will engage in various fun activities and after they’ve learned their ballet routine, they will perform for parents during the last five minutes of the class. Students may wear leotards. Ballet shoes are required.
Contact Information: 913-831-3355

Valentine Exhibits

♥Love Letters: Harry and Bess
When: February 14th at 11am
Where: Truman Library, 500 W. US Hwy 24, Independence, MO
Admission: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $3/children 6-15, Free/children 5 and under
Details: After a long courtship, Harry Truman married his grade-school sweetheart, Bess Wallace, in 1919. On Valentine's Day, Archivist Tammy Kelly will draw on the Library's extensive collection of Truman letters and photographs to illustrate the couple's decades-long relationship and life together.
Contact Information: 816-268-8200

♥Valentine’s Day at Lanesfield
When: February 7-15
Where: Lanesfield School Historic Site, 18745 S. Dillie Road, Edgerton, KS
Admission: Free
Ages: All
Details: Visit the 1904 schoolhouse decorated for Valentine’s Day, learn about Valentine’s Day traditions, and make an old-fashioned valentine to give to your sweetheart! Event is free, donations accepted.
Contact Information: 913-893-6645

Valentine Storytelling & Parties

♥Happy Hearts Valentine Party
When: February 12th from 9:15-10:00am (2-3 yr) OR 10:30-11:30am (3-5 yr)
Where: Blue Valley Recreation Center 6545 W. 151st Street, Overland Park, KS
Admission: $15/residents, $19/non-residents
Ages: Ages 2-3 with adult: 9:15-10:00am Ages 3-5 without adult: 10:30-11:30am (Children without an adult must be potty trained.)
Details: Come make as many Valentines as you like! Listen to a story about loving one another, decorate cupcakes, and paint with valentine cookie cutters and stamps.
Contact Information: 913-685-6000

♥Nature’s Valentine
When: February 6th from 10-11am
Where: Prairie Oaks Nature Center, 14701 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS
Admission: $6/resident / $7 non-resident. Registration required
Ages: Children ages 3-6
Details: Delightful one-hour story times will be held in the natural resource library at the Prairie Oaks Nature Center. They will include reading a couple stories, discussion, and an age appropriate craft.
Contact Information: 913-681-0902
♥Oh, My Darlin’, Valentine!
When: February 14th at 11am
Where: Blue Springs North Library, 850 NW Hunter Dr, Blue Springs, MO
Admission: Free, Registration required
Ages: Children ages 5 and up
Details: Celebrate Valentine's Day with LOVE stories presented by storyteller Jo Ho. It's not all kissin' and huggin' in Jo's tales of love. There are some big laughs and surprises with tellings of the original love stories of "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White," "Hans Clodhopper" and "The Wrestling Princess". Girls in the audience will be invited to role-play as Beauty's sisters and the boys will try to outwit, out yell, and out-wrestle a most unusual princess!
Contact Information: 816-224-8772

♥Pint Size Valentines Party
When: Feb. 11th from 10am-noon
Where: Harris Park Community Center, 110 SW Blue Pkwy, Lee’s Summit, MO
Admission: $4/person including guardians. Must pre-register
Ages: 2-5 years
Details: Dress in red and join us for some Valentine fun. Snacks, crafts, activities and more! Pre-registration with payment required.
Contact Information: 816-969-1500

♥Storytime at Barnes and Noble
When: February 11th at 10am OR February 14th at 11am
Where: Barnes & Noble at Town Center Plaza on the northwest corner of 119th and Roe
Admission: Free
Ages: Children 6 and under
Details: Barnes & Noble offers storytime every Wednesday and Saturday. The theme this week will be Valentine’s Day.
Contact Information: 913-491-4535

♥Valentine’s Day Stories and Crafts
When: February 14th at 2pm
Where: Antioch Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS
Admission: Free
Ages: Children
Details: Everyone is invited to a Valentine’s Day Celebration. Drop in for cookies and punch. Make Valentine cards, play games and share this fun holiday with family and friends.
Contact Information: 913-261-2300

♥Valentine Party at the Reading Reptile
When: February 12th at 11am
Where: Reading Reptile Bookstore in Brookside, 328 W. 63rd St., KCMO
Admission: $2/child
Ages: 3-6
Details: Valentine themed story-telling with a hands-on craft project.
Contact Information: 816-513-5800

Other Special Events for the Whole Family

♥Animal Magnetism
When: February 14th at 11:30am-3pm
Where: Martha LaFite Thompson Nature Sanctuary, 407 N. Lafrenz Rd., Liberty, MO
Admission: Members $10/family, Non-members $15/family
Ages: Entire Family
Details: Love letters, candy-grams, and flowers… must be Valentine’s Day! But humans aren’t the only ones who get “twitterpated.” Join us as we explore the strange behaviors some animals exhibit when they become love struck.
Contact Information: 816-781-8598

♥Chocolate Crawl
When: Feb. 7th from 10am-5pm
Where: Downtown Lee’s Summit Missouri
Admission: FREE
Details: Calling all CHOCOLATE lovers… Follow the balloons throughout Downtown Lee’s Summit to shops that will be handing out chocolate treats to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day! Enjoy sweets while you shop for your special Valentine.

♥Chocolate Lovers Festival
When: Feb. 7th from 1-5pm
Where: Harry & David’s at Town Center, 5244 W. 119th St
Admission: FREE
Ages: Entire Family
Details: Enjoy samples of Harry & David’s finest chocolates just in time for Valentines!

♥Family Fun Fest at the Zoo
When: February 14th from 10am-3pm
Where: Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City, MO
Admission: Free with Zoo Admission, $5/each while Africa is under Construction, 2 and under are Free, Friends of the Zoo Members are Free
Ages: Fun for the Whole Family
Details: Special Family Activities at the Zoo all day. Vote for your favorite Zoo Animal.
Contact Information: 816-513-5800

♥Valentines for the Animals
When: February 10th at 11am
Where: Martha LaFite Thompson Nature Sanctuary, 407 N. Lafrenz Rd., Liberty, MO
Admission: Members $5/child, Non-members $8/child
Ages: 3-6 yrs
Details: It’s that time of year again! While you’re thinking about your loved ones at home, don’t forget the critters in your neighborhood that your help this time of year! The winter months are hard on Missouri wildlife and in this program we’ll make some tasty treats to show the animals you care!
Contact Information: 816-781-8598

♥Valentine’s Day Weekend – 2 for 1 Skating
When: February 13-15
Where: The Ice at Park Place, 11565 Ash St., Leawood, KS
Admission: $6/ea (Children under 5 free Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, excluding holidays), $3/skate rental
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-3pm and 6-10pm; Fri & Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 12pm-8pm
Details: Johnson County’s only outdoor ice rink.
Contact Information: 913-663-2070

♥Valentine Party at the Zoo
When: February 14th from 7-10pm
Where: Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City, MO
Admission: unknown at time of publication
Ages: Fun for the Whole Family
Details: Annual event, past performances have included dueling pianos, live acoustic music, special presentations on animal mating and more.
Contact Information: 816-513-5800

♥Valentine’s Week Special at Paradise Park
When: February 9-14
Where: Paradise Park, 1021 NE Colbern Rd., Lee’s Summit MO
Admission: varies see website for details
Ages: All
Details: FREE adult admission to the Children's Edutainment Center or Foam Factory with the purchase of a full-priced child admission.
Contact Information: 816-246-5224Web:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Family Valentine Traditions

I'm working on a Valentine Guide for our MOPS group and one section will feature traditions for Families. Most of these traditions are celebrated in our home, but some come from my friends. I'm looking for more great ideas to add to this list.

This is what I have so far:
Family Valentine Traditions

14 Children's Books: Wrap 14 Children’s Books before Feb. 1st. You will be surprised how many books you already own. Use books about Valentine’s Day or books about love. If you need a few more, you can buy them inexpensively at Half Priced Books or even The Dollar Tree. Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, unwrap and read one book together.

Banner Over Me Is Love: Cut out large construction paper hearts. Decorate the hearts with notes saying, “I Love Jesus…” (fill in the blank), “I Love Daddy…” (fill in the blank), etc., or verses about love. Then, string them up and hang them like a banner.

Children’s Valentine: Mail a Valentine to each of your children from Mommy & Daddy. Write a note to telling them how much you love them. Children LOVE getting mail! You may also give them a token gift (cookies, candy, stuffed animal, book or balloons).

Grandparent’s Valentine Brunch: Invite the Grandparents over for a special Valentine Brunch. Have the children help make muffins, breakfast casseroles, and other food for their grandparents. Kids can make placemats using giant sheets of construction paper or craft foam and stickers, glitter, and glue. Decorate in red, white, and pink. Have the children sing a song or present a special homemade gift to their grandparents. Use it as an opportunity to have the children shower grandma and grandpa with love.

Heart Cookie Cutters: Use heart cookie cutters for more than cookies! Ideas:
Shape pancakes.
Cut out sandwiches.
Make Jell-O Jigglers.
Open a carton of ice cream on the butcher block and slice it. Then cut out the slices in heart shapes.
Cut slices of cheese in heart shapes.
Slice fruit, like cantaloupe, and use a mini-heart cookie cutter. Make fruit kabobs with heart shapes, grapes, and berries.

Heart Hunt: Use hollow plastic hearts (like Easter Eggs, but hearts) or Valentine Envelopes, and create a “Heart Hunt” for your children. This is exactly like an Easter Egg Hunt, but it is a Valentine theme instead. The Oriental Trading Company sells plastic hearts you can use.

Hershey’s Kiss Scavenger Hunt: Create a Family Scavenger Hunt with the kids for Daddy or Grandparents. Write clues and tape a Hershey’s Kiss to each one. Hide the clues appropriately, then leave a gift at the end of the hunt. The gift may be Dad’s favorite Ice Cream, a Homemade Card, a Photo with the Kids, or a Note. As a Grande Finale, enjoy a special dessert or activity (bowling, ice skating, miniature golf).

My Secret Valentine: On February 1st, family members draw names from a hat. For two weeks, leading up to Valentine’s Day, everyone does something nice every day for their “Secret Valentine” without revealing who they are. Ideas: Make Valentine’s bed while they are showering, do their chores while they are away from the house, hide secret notes under their pillows, tuck surprise presents in pockets, lunchboxes, and shoes. Everyone reveals their identity at a special Valentine’s meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
Red Letter Day: Decorate your home with hearts, red and white streamers, and Valentine balloons. Wear red.

Tablecloth Tradition: Make a special "Valentine's Table Cloth"... buy a solid table cloth and fabric paint. Stencil hearts on the tablecloth. Then, using fabric markers, let each member of the family write their favorite scriptures about Love or things they love about one another. Write new messages year after year and date your messages as an ongoing keepsake.

Valentine Breakfast: Serve Heart Shaped Pancakes (use a heart cookie cutter as your mold) and add a bit of red food coloring to the syrup or make strawberry syrup and serve with whipped cream. To make strawberry syrup: In a saucepan, bring 1 c. sugar and 1 c. water to a boil. Gradually add 1 1/2 c. chopped strawberries; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over pancakes.

Valentine Breakfast Tray: Take an 11x14 frame w/o mat and use 11x14 paper to make a collage for your love. Glue ticket stubs, love notes, and photos to the paper, then frame it. Serve breakfast using the framed memories as the tray!

Valentine Puzzle: Buy a blank jigsaw puzzle (typically 9 or 12 pieces) at a local craft store or toy store. Decorate it with a Valentine message or handprints of the children. Mail one piece at a time (one a day) to grandparents along with a homemade card, note or treat each day. At the end of 9 or 12 days (or less if you make your own puzzle), they’ll have the entire puzzle and a great memory! We’ve been doing this for years in the Light household, and the grandparents LOVE it! See homemade Valentine ideas below for inspiration!

Valentine Tree: Decorate a small Christmas tree or other potted tree with red, pink, and white ornaments and hearts. Let the kids make construction paper hearts and decorate them with glitter as ornaments. Write Bible Verses about love on the homemade ornaments. Use this as a centerpiece all month long.

Valentine Scripture Countdown: Write 14 Scriptures about love on construction paper hearts. Put them in a bowl and draw one out of the bowl every night at the dinner table from Feb. 1 – 14. Read it aloud and hang it in a prominent spot. Fourteen Valentine Verses: Psalm 36:5, Psalm 52:8, Proverbs 8:17, Song of Solomon 2:4, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16,17, John 15:13, Romans 5:8, Romans 8: 38-39, Galatians 2:20, Eph. 2:4,5, Eph. 5:2, I John 3:1, I John 4:9,10

Window Paint Messages: Write notes or draw on windows, mirrors, glass doors, car windows with “I Love You” messages and hearts. Let the children get in the act (if they are old enough to know to obey and ONLY write on glass with Mom’s permission).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cabin Fever Busters from A to Z

I've been compiling this for the next MOPS newsletter and decided to share it here...

Cabin Fever Busters for Preschoolers from A to Z

A) Airplanes – Make paper airplanes from
B) Bubble Painting – Supplies: A tray or bowl big enough for your craft paper, Tempera or Washable Craft Paint, Liquid Soap, Drinking straw, Paper (typing paper works fine). Instructions: Mix together the paint and some liquid soap in the tray. Add some water until it is runny enough to blow bubbles. Use the drinking straw to blow into the paint to make bubbles. Gently place the paper on top of the bubbles. When the bubbles pop remove the paper and leave to dry. It will leave a “tie dye” effect on the paper.
C) Craft Time – Needing fresh ideas? Our three favorite sites for ideas:
D) Dance – Turn on the music and dance. Invent new dances. Have fun!
E) Explore KC – For KC fun, go to or
F) Face Paint – Ingredients: 1 tsp. Cornstarch, ½ tsp. Cold Cream, ½ tsp. Water, Food Coloring. How To: Mix together cold cream and cornstarch until well blended. Add water and stir. Add food coloring until you achieve the desired color. Use small paintbrushes, q-tips, or your fingers for face painting fun.
G) Goop– Make your own Goop. Step 1: Make the Borate solution: 2/3 cup warm water, 1 1/2 teaspoon powdered Borax, 3 drops food coloring. Mix together in a 1 cup measuring cup using a wooden spoon. Step 2: Then, make the Glue Solution: 3/4 cup warm water, 1 cup white school glue. Mix together in a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon. Step 3: Pour the borate solution into the bowl with glue solution. Use your hands to gently lift and turn the mixture until only one tablespoon of liquid is left. It will be sticky for a moment or two. After the excess liquid has dripped off, the Goop is ready. Step 4: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. When you are through, discard in a waste can. DO NOT try to wash it down the sink. If it dries on carpet or clothing, cover it with a cloth soaked in vinegar to de-gel it, then wash the area with detergent and water.
H) Hand Rhymes –
I) Ice Cream Made with Snow – Ingredients: 1 gallon snow, 1 c. sugar, 1 tbsp. Vanilla, 2 c. milk How To: When it starts snowing, place large clean bowl outside to catch snow. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, and then stir in enough milk for desired consistency. Eat immediately.
J) Jigsaw Puzzles: Put together puzzles from your collection, or create your own. Cut out pictures from magazines or junk mail and use them to make your own puzzles.
K) Knock Knock Jokes: For a giant collection, go to:
L) Light Games: Supplies: Flashlight, Paper Cup, Pointed Tool (pencil, nail, or pen). How to: Carefully poke holes in the bottom of the cup to form a design. In a dark room or tent, shine the flashlight into the cup to see the pattern that was created. Use additional cups for more designs. Add colored cellophane for interest. Turn the cups to create a Kaleidoscope effect.
M) Make a Map – Create a treasure map and send your children on a hunt through the house for “buried treasure.” The treasure may be a new book or movie, something from the Dollar Tree, or just an “I love you” note from Mom.
N) Necklaces- Give your child a piece of yarn and let them string cereal (like Cheerios or Fruit Loops) on the yarn to make an edible necklace. Tie in the back and let them eat the dry cereal.
O) Online Games for preschoolers. Five of Our favorites:
1) - Great Alphabet Themed Games
2) - Fun from VeggieTales
3) (click on Fun & Family Time) – Educational Games
4) - Educational Games with your favorite PBS Characters
5) - Fun games with Dr. Seuss Characters.
P) Puppets – Make puppets with paper sacks, old socks, or paper plates. Practice your show and perform for daddy when he returns from work.
Q) Quilt Forts – Use quilts, sheets, pillows, and cushions to create forts for playing, reading, hiding, and just new winter fun.
R) Read a Book – The Christian Children’s Book Review is a great source for information on the latest titles:
S) Sardines- This is “Hide and Seek” backwards. One person hides while everyone else seeks. As the seekers find the hidden person (one by one) they join them in their hiding spot until everyone is crammed (like sardines) into the same corner, behind the same chair, etc.
T) Tortilla Snowflakes - Ingredients: Flour Tortillas, Canola Oil or Spray Butter, Cinnamon and Sugar, Powdered Sugar, or Shredded Cheese (can do cheesy tortillas, or a sweet variety). How To: Set oven to 400 degrees. Warm tortillas for 15 seconds in the microwave. Fold the tortillas in half once and then in half again, so you create a pie wedge shape. Using clean scissors, cut triangles, circles, etc (as you would paper snowflakes). Unfold tortillas. Brush with oil or spray with butter. Sprinkle with Cinnamon and Sugar OR Shredded Cheese (Mozzarella is good to keep them white). OR, wait to sprinkle with Powdered sugar after baking. Bake until just warm and slightly crisp (about 4 minutes). Eat and enjoy.
U) Unbirthday Party – In Alice In Wonderland the Mad hatter sings of an “Unbirthday”… the 364 days a year that are NOT your birthday. Make an Unbirthday Banner, Cake, and decorations with Balloons and streamers. Unpin the tail on the donkey (make a donkey with MANY tails, the object is that the blindfolded person must find the correct tail – the one in the proper spot). Have backwards relay races. Eat dessert first. Wear PJs during the day and clothes to bed. Be creative!
V) Volcanoes – Create a playdough volcano around a paper cup. Put a bit of baking soda in the cup, then pour some vinegar into it. It makes a bit of a mess, but the children will love it.
W) Window Painting – Buy window paint by Crayola in the art supplies section at Target or Walmart. Use it to create your own window designs.
X) Xylophone – Play with toy xylophones and other musical instruments. To make a xylophone using glasses, go to
Y) Yeast Pizza Dough – Make Homemade Pizza. Ingredients for Dough: 1 pkg yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup warm water, 2 TBL oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt. How To: Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and add oil. Combine flour and salt. Pour yeast mixture over dry ingredients and mix. Let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough onto greased pizza pan. Add your favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
Z) Zoo Animals – Name Zoo Animals (elephant, giraffe, hippo, alligator, etc) and have your child impersonate their movements and sounds.