It is hard to believe it but Gretchen started preschool last week!  On Wednesday we had a meet the teacher event where she got to visit her classroom and check out all of the toys. She loved it.


Gretchen’s friend Grace is in her class so she has one friendly face among the sea of 3 year olds.  They did get in a disagreement already about how it’s possible for both of their names to start with the letter G.


What Gretchen packed for her first day of preschool.  Note the rolling pin and butter.  I sneakily re-packed it with her supplies and spare sets of clothes.


her official “first day of preschool” picture


and the many outtakes before I got the official picture!

Gretchen had SO MUCH FUN!  She was the second one in the door and didn’t even look back.  She refused to answer my questions about what they actually did at preschool but she did say she wants to go back.  Most memorable quote of the week was “I’m going to learn EVERYTHING at preschool!”

We went last night to play on their playground so she could explore all it has to offer without all the other little kids around.  The tire swing is BY FAR her favorite.


So fun (and bittersweet) to watch her hit this big milestone!

JoCo Park Tour Summary and Best Of

We were able to visit 13 parks on our tour of Johnson County parks from April-August.  It was a really rainy spring and summer so some of the parks we had to visit as a family as our Friday morning playdates got rained out.  We didn’t make it to Porter Park or Osage Park but I hope to visit them sometime in the future and add them to the list.  Also can’t wait to check out the new playground and splash pad going in where the old Roe Pool was in Overland Park.  It is supposed to open in the spring of 2016. Here is the full list of parks we visited as well as some “best of” list.





Prairie Village

Best parks for a hot day: Franklin Park, Blackhoof Park, Gezer Park.  All three have streams for the kids to play in and the first two are significantly shaded by trees.

Best parks for pretend play: Blackbob Park (castle theme), Frontier Park (pirate ship), and Antioch Park (dodge town)

Best parks for big kids: Little Mill Creek North, Blackhoof Park

Best parks for little kids: Antioch Park, Franklin Park, Blackhoof Park

Best parks for kids that love slides: Little Mill Creek North Park, Sar Ko Par Park, Ironwoods Park, Blackhoof Park, Gezer Park.

Best parks for kids that love to climb: Little Mill Creek North Park, Electric Park, Sar Ko Par Park

Best parks for a kids that like digging in the sand: Franklin Park, Gezer Park, Blackhoof Park

JoCo Park Tour: Electric Park

This was the last stop on our official tour of Johnson County parks, although I hope to add a few more from our own family outings in the future.  Full disclosure: my child was a hot mess this morning.  Cranky and uncooperative so we didn’t get to spend as much time at the park as I would have liked and my pictures are not fantastic, however you’ll get the gist!

Electric Park

9299 Loiret Blvd Lenexa KS 66219


What we love about Electric Park:  The shaded play structure is awesome!  It was HOT this morning but the shade made this part of the playground enjoyable.  We all eventually migrated over there to play in the shade.  Bonus: the playground equipment did not bake in the sun!  This is a newer playground and another one designed by Landscape Structures.  There is a large covered play area, a robe climbing structure, four swings, and a smaller play structure for younger children, also under a canopy.  My daughter loved the little monkey bars on the smaller structure, just her size!  There is a shelter with several picnic tables here as well as bathrooms nearby.


Other things to know about Electric Park:

– there is a huge community garden right next to it, we didn’t get a chance to go check it out but it would be fun to explore.

– this park is right off of 435 and 95th street.  Very accessible to eastern Johnson County.

– also available at this park are volleyball, basketball, and horseshoes and there is a large open field great for ultimate frisbee (do people still play that?) or soccer.

Gretchen’s Dollhouse

We decided a long time ago that Gretchen’s big birthday gift when she turned 3 would be a dollhouse.  My friend Ashley and her husband built one and we figured we would do the same.  Life got away though and pretty soon we were a few weeks out from her birthday with no time to DIY, so on a whim I searched craigslist thinking maybe I could find a dollhouse that we could personalize when BOOM, there it was. The perfect dollhouse, made more perfect by the fact that it was fully furnished.  I wasted no time and picked it up within a couple of hours.  Here it is set up in my basement.


I wanted a white dollhouse to fit in with the decor on our main floor and eventually Gretchen’s bedroom, so I got small sample cans of white paint at the hardware store.  I spent many many hours painting 2-3 coats on it and getting in all the nooks and crannies.  Painting the stairs took the most time (fortunately they detach!)  The balcony also had a lot of little notches that needed painting with a teenie tiny paintbrush.


Here it is in progress.  I put all the furniture in it to determine which room would house which furniture so that I could make very important decorating decisions.  Then I hit up Michaels for scrapbooking paper and enlisted Tyler’s help in measuring, cutting, and installing it.  I’m not good with math or precise measurements.


As you can see here the bottom level of the house is an add on to the top two floors.  This made painting and hanging paper so much easier.  I wish all 3 floors came apart, painting the inside of the roof was a PITA.

The surprise of the dollhouse was almost ruined, when 2 days before her birthday Gretchen and I had to take cover in the basement for a tornado warning.  The dollhouse was in plain sight, but maybe it was Daniel Tiger on the laptop or the thunder and sirens distracting her but she didn’t say a thing about the dollhouse.  Whew!


So excited about her dollhouse!  (and her Daniel Tiger party!)

Ready for the full tour?  Here we go…IMG_6239




Living room.


Dining/Piano Room




Master Bedroom


Girl bedroom/nursery (furniture is Calico Critters)


Roof Deck #1


Boy bedroom/nursery




Roof deck #2: playground!


Notice the windows on the second floor open and shut. Gretchen was so excited when she figured this out.  She loves to shove a bunch of furniture in the master bedroom and then close the windows to hide the mess.

I will probably paint some of the furniture and I’d like to hang some things on the walls and sew some rugs and bedding but we’ll see when I get around to all of that.

Gretchen LOVES playing with it.  Her grandparents and aunts and uncles sent her the Calico Critters figurines and furniture and her favorite thing to do is feed the tiny bottles to the tiny bunnies.  She is really getting into pretend play so this dollhouse provides hours of entertainment for her.

We paid $150 cash for the house and all the furniture and accessories that came with it.  I added up what we would have spent if we bought all of that new on Amazon and it was $420!!  So I’d say we got a pretty good deal on Craigslist!  The only thing “wrong” with it was that it is missing the garage door, but that’s really not a big loss and we used that room for the dining room anyway.  I may get the add on garage some day but for now the dollhouse is taking up enough real estate in my dining room!

If you are wondering what brand the dollhouse is, it is Ryan’s Room, as is much of the furniture.  It is great quality and I’m hoping will hold up for many years of play!

Three year photos

My friend Brooke took Gretchen’s photos a couple of weeks ago and we LOVE them.  She was able to capture Gretchen’s personality so well.  We took the pictures around the Olathe Community Center.  The dress is from Hanna Andersson and we called it her “Elsa dress” to convince her to wear it.  There was a lot of bribery involved in getting her dressed and ready for these photos but she definitely earned her ice cream!  If you are looking for a photographer in the Kansas City area I highly recommend Brooke German!









Gretchen turns 3!

Last week we celebrated Gretchen’s third birthday.  Timehop likes to remind me every day how tiny she was this time three years ago!  Also how hot it is, summer 2012 was brutal.  This summer is a different kind of brutal with all the rain.

As much as I love hosting parties we decided not to do a big party this year and took Gretchen to Omaha for a weekend of fun back in May.  We did have a Daniel Tiger birthday party with family, including 5 of her cousins that were in town at the time.  She was SO excited for her Daniel Tiger party and everywhere I took her on her birthday she asked if it was her party (sorry kid, party is not at Scheels).  My friend Renata designed the custom Daniel Tiger decor.  Check out her shop on etsy!


I ran out of time to make the Texas sheet cake I’d planned on so I picked up this chocolate cake from 3 Women and an Oven and it was delicious!


Discussing the big plans they have now that they are both 3 years old.


posing with the cousins

IMG_6310 IMG_6311

needed help blowing out her candles this year, although she did try!


the balloons we picked up at the store were a huge hit, as was the wrench we tied them to in order to keep them from floating away!

Week Full of Fun

June has been a very full month for us so far, and last week we crammed in tons of fun activities both during the day and in the evening.

Evening Visit to Deanna Rose Farmstead:  On Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer you can visit the farmstead in the evening between 5-8pm (for free just like during the day).  Activities like feeding the goats, fishing, and hayrides are not available during these hours, but you can still see all the animals, explore the gardens, and play on the playgrounds.  The general store and ice cream parlor were also open.  The night we were there the weather was absolutely perfect and I counted fewer than 20 people during the entire time we were there.  It was practically empty!  Much easier to appreciate the beauty at the farmstead without strollers and screaming children everywhere you turn!


Blueberry Picking at The Berry Patch: This was our second year picking blueberries at The Berry Patch and I was pleasantly surprised by how many more berries ended up in Gretchen’s bucket than her mouth! ;)  She was a great helper, picking the blueberries close to the ground that others had missed.  The patch is open until 9pm so we decided to go after dinner.  There were only a few other families there and the field we were picking in wasn’t as muddy as we feared it might be after all the rain.  Lots of bugs but I remembered our bug spray for once.  We came home with about 7lbs of blueberries and made a pie and blueberry muffins to celebrate Fathers Day, yum!


Craft and Draft at The K: Our 9th anniversary is next week and we decided to go to a Royals game to celebrate.  Hud had talked the new Craft and Draft area up so much we figured we should try it out.  We bought tickets with reserved seating and $20 credit towards food/drink for each of us.  The seats were comfortable, the view was great
(and covered so no rain on our heads!) and a waitress brought us all the food and drink we could stomach. The menu was gastro pub fare, nothing over $15 and the portions were generous.  I had street tacos and Tyler had the pork belly.  The Royals won, completing a 4 game sweet of the Brewers!


Oceans of Fun: I believe the last time I visited OOF was the summer after I graduated from high school, so 13 years ago!  A few things had changed but many of the same slides and attractions are still there.  The park looked bright and clean for such an old water park, which was nice to see.  My friend Brie had some free passes so all we had to pay for was parking (which is $15 now! times have changed!)  We took our kiddos down to the new Splash Island area, which is basically a huge splash pad with shade.  Gretchen was a bigger fan of Coconut Cove, my favorite as a kid.  I was surprised to see that there are 4 areas well suited for little kids now. The two I mentioned plus Captain Kidd’s and Crocodile Isle. If we lived closer I might consider a season pass.


Leawood Aquatic Center:  One of our summer fun list items was to try a new pool. We typically go to Blackbob Bay since we have a membership for the Olathe pools.  Several friends recommended we check out this pool so we decided to go as part of our Fathers Day festivities.  This pool has 3 separate areas for small kids, including a splash pad, zero depth pool with lots of floating animals and a whale slide, and another shallow pool with a little slide and fountains.  Gretchen said her favorite part was the “rock slide.”  We had a great time minus all the mosquito bites!  They were feisty today.