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

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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.


JoCo Park Tour: Little Mill Creek Park North

Several friends had been raving about this park for a couple of months now and we were so excited to finally check it out.  It did not disappoint!  This is probably the newest playground in Johnson County, constructed in the last year.  It is a Landscape Structures playground, which seems to be the popular manufacturer of playground equipment in Johnson County.  You can also find their playground designs at Arrowhead Park, Antioch Park, Stagecoach Park (Olathe Community Center), Blackhoof Park, and the new playground at the KC Zoo.  A couple of elementary schools in JoCo have also installed these futuristic playground structures,including Mission Trail Elementary School in Leawood and Cottonwood Point Elementary in OP.  I’m going to add those to our list to check out as a family!

Excuse the dark pictures, we were at the park on a very cloudy day but fortunately only felt a couple of raindrops!  This spring has been so rainy!


Little Mill Creek Park North

79th and Cottonwood, Lenexa KS

What we love about Little Mill Creek Park North:  This park offers some really unique playground equipment, including a big disc swing, modern merry go round, and a zip line.  Gretchen was not brave enough to ride the zip line but she loved watching the big kids (and adults!) ride it.  The merry go round and disc swing were a hit with her and other kids her age though.  Gone are the days of hot metal merry go rounds where kids can go flying off.  This one is made of molded plastic with seats on it and it takes some strength to push it.  No where near the speed of a traditional merry go round.  There are four swings in addition to the disc swing, including 2 baby swings and 2 regular ones.  There is a small play structure for toddlers with a little table for playing with mulch, every toddler’s dream!  The large play structure is huge, and from the upper platform kids have to climb a vertical ladder to get to the top where there are two very long slides.  There are also lots of climbing structures made out of cables, typical of the Landscape Structures designs. This is a large park with so many different areas to play that it can keep kids entertained for a long time.  Always great when you are trying to tire them out for nap time!


Other things to know about Little Mill Creek Park North:

– There is a great jogging/walking trail here, perfect for getting some exercise before exploring the playground with your kids.

– As of June 2015 the restroom building is still under construction, but there are several port a potties available.

– This park is out in the open but does have a shaded pavilion in the middle with several picnic tables where you can get out of the sun.


2nd Birthday Party- Red, White, and Two!

OMG yes I know my daughter will be 3 in less than a month but better late than never, right?!

Since Gretchen’s birthday is right after the 4th of July I thought this theme would be perfect.  With so many toddler friends we wanted to invite we knew there was noooooooo way we could host the party at our house. We decided to do the party at Deanna Rose Farmstead, one of Gretchen’s favorite places.  We got there early to set up and when her friends arrived we encouraged them to go explore and play for about an hour and then come back for food and mini pies (Trader Joes FTW!)  Deanna Rose gives the birthday kid a cowboy hat, t-shirt, and then each of the guests gets a ticket good for a pony ride, hayride, or mining.  It does not have to be used the day of the party.  One of the great things about the party corrals at Deanna Rose is that it’s in an extremely shaded part of the park, so even though it was a hot July day, the shade and a breeze kept us mostly cool.  We had a great time and hopefully our guests did too!

invitation design by misspokadot on etsy 


For food we got sandwich trays from Mr. Goodcents and then had veggies, cheese and crackers, and watermelon to go with it.  I cut the watermelon and cheese into star shapes using a mini cookie cutter. For dessert I had star shaped brownies and sugar cookies made by Smart Cookies Bakery.  In lieu of cake or cupcakes we served mini pies from Trader Joes.  They are in the freezer section and come in cherry, blueberry, and peach.  Super yummy!

The red, white, and blue serving platters and decor were from Michaels.  Balloons from my friend Adriane’s shop in Shawnee, FUN Party and Wedding Shop.  

For favors I bought some blue and red striped bags at Michaels and filled them with stickers, custom cookies, fruit snacks, and red, white, and blue sunglasses from the Target $1 spot.

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Gretchen’s dress is from hazelbeebaby but sadly she has closed up shop :(

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Our corral was right next to this big goat’s pen and he got a bath during the party.  He wanted to come join the partyThe kids loved it!

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I think the sunglasses were a hit!

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JoCo Park Tour: Arrowhead Park

We love to take the 3 minute walk across the street to our neighborhood park.  It’s where Gretchen used the swings for the first time and it’s an excellent place to burn off some energy at the end of the day.  Last year the city bulldozed the old equipment and put in a new playground.  It’s colorful and fun but sadly they removed the swings that we used to love and did not replace them.  There is a “tire swing” but you can’t truly call it that as it is bolted to the ground and doesn’t move more than a few inches from side to side.  Much of the playground is better suited for older kids, but Gretchen still enjoys playing there and I think it will be a fun playground to visit as she gets older.

Arrowhead Park

1701 S. Lindenwood Dr. Olathe KS 66062


What we love about Arrowhead Park:  I really love how colorful the new playground equipment is.   Gretchen’s favorite thing about this park is the blue tube slide.  She also really likes the tree trunk balance beam and mushrooms to walk on, and with Tyler’s help she likes to go across the monkey bars.  Like I said above, she’s simply too young for much of the equipment, but the older kids I see playing there seem to like it.


Other things to know about Arrowhead Park:

– As with many of the Olathe neighborhood parks, there is no parking lot here.  You can however park in the elementary school lot or on the road leading up to the school.

– There are no bathrooms here but there is a port a potty about 100 yards from the playground.

– In the evenings we like to combine a trip to this park with a trip to the playground at Heritage Elementary School as it has swings and some other features that the city park no longer has.