Summer Fun Wrap Up

You can see my entire summer fun list here.

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Make popcicles– we used our awesome Zoku popcicle maker for the first time during potty training weekend.

Go to a Royals game– we went for free thanks to tickets from Tyler’s work.  Gretchen’s favorite part was watching them warm up, she still talks about it!

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Weekly visits to Deanna Rose Farmstead– we often went as a family during the evening hours on Tues/Thurs but also each took her on our own at various points.  We had so much fun there this summer!  We haven’t missed a week since they opened in April!  Gretchen loves visiting her favorite goat, Benjamin.  Most memorable trip was when Tyler got attacked by a rooster.

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Berry picking– we picked Strawberries at Wohletz U-Pick in Lawrence and blueberries at The Berry Patch in Cleveland, MO.

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Visit a new park: we did this many times this summer, but our favorite new park is probably Little Mill Creek North.

Feed the ducks: another fun activity at Deanna Rose.  When Gretchen’s 5 cousins were in town we took them there one night and the kids enjoyed feeding the ducks together.

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Have a picnic in a park/go to an outdoor concert: two birds with one stone!  We had a fabulous picnic while listening to a blues band at one of the Overland Park Sunday evening concerts.  Joined by two of my favorite Oklahomans 🙂

Visit a new pool: we went to Splash Cove several times this summer, Gretchen loved the water slides and the little wave pool.

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Visit Beanstalk Children’s Garden: This was a HOT summer day and my kid was a crankypants.  Nonetheless, it was a fun outing with one of our mom’s groups.  Gretchen ate a ton of cherry tomatoes right off the plant. Want to visit again next year before it gets crazy hot!

Visit Storyland at Crown Center: We made it out twice this summer, once right after it opened and again right before it closed. This was a fun exhibit, can’t wait for the next free exhibit in the winter!

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Visit a farm: I organized a tour of Shatto Dairy Farm back in June.  It was a bit of a hot mess between collecting money from over 50 other families and then a torrential horrible downpour during the 90 minute drive to the farm.  Wish we could have a do-over!  Gretchen loved sampling all the different flavors of milk but her favorite part was probably the barn kittens.

3 year photos: My friend Brooke German took Gretchen’s 3 year photos and they turned out great!  Can’t wait to get family photos done with her this fall!

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Wash a car: this was a fun activity on a hot summer night. She loved soaping up the car and quickly moved on to helping us wash our real car!

Ride an outdoor carousel: she got to do this a few times this summer.  At the Omaha Zoo, the K, and the KC Zoo.

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Go to a zoo: Memorial Day weekend we took a trip to Omaha and visited their amazing zoo.

Visit a museum: Also stopped at the Omaha Children’s Museum on our trip.

Other things I don’t have pictures of:

make lemonade
plant flowers
visit the farmers market
do a fun summer craft
Frozen on Ice

Not accomplished:

ice cream truck-  Dude. I don’t know what it is about our cul de sac but the ice cream truck never came by 😦  We would hear him in the nearby neighborhoods but he passed us over.  Maybe next summer!

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.

Leawood

Lenexa:

Merriam

Olathe

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

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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.

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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.

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!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

JoCo Park Tour: Ironwoods Park

We explored this park as a family a couple of weeks ago on a nice evening when we were over in the area.  It is a nice park and Gretchen had a lot of fun.  Will have to go back with friends sometime soon.  Evening is a great time to go as this park is lacking in the shade department.

Ironwoods Park

14701 Mission Rd. Leawood KS

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What we love about Ironwoods Park: This is a really fun play structure and one of the things I like most is that there is a bridge from the little kid side to the big kid side so if your kid doesn’t like climbing ladders or rock walls they can still do the big slides.  Gretchen’s favorite feature was probably the long sloped tunnel.  This park has the standard swings- 2 baby and 2 big kid.  There are numerous slides and climbing opportunities, including ladders that go straight up from the ground under the structure to the top.  A nice sidewalk loops around the playground and is perfect for bikes and scooters.  There are several benches scattered around as well as a shelter right next to the park and indoor bathrooms.  This park is at the south end of Leawood and has lots of other fun features like a nature center to explore (see below for a list).

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Other things to know about Ironwoods Park:

–  Beyond the playground there is lots to do.  The Prairie Oak Nature Center is located here and has a 2 mile walking trail along with lots of reptiles, butterflies, and amphibians to check out.  It is closed on Mondays during the summer months and there is no admission fee.

– There are also cabins that can be rented and a challenge course with fun activities for older kids, like a giant swing.

– Inside this huge park is an amphitheater where events for kids take place throughout the summer as part of the Grinnin and Grooving series.  (see page 4 of this brochure for dates and more info). There will also be a Sunday evening free concert series in August and September and it’s at 6pm so early enough to take the kids.

– The Historic Oxford Schoolhouse also hosts events for kids including American Girl Doll themed events.

 

JoCo Park Tour: Blackhoof Park

This park is…wow.  It is ginormous and has so much to offer.  I think we may have found the best park in Johnson County, but our tour isn’t over yet so I will reserve judgement until the end of the summer!  Because this park is so huge I’m going to write this up a little differently than usual so I can cover it all!

Blackhoof Park at Lake Lenexa

9053 Monticello Road, Lenexa, KS

What we love about Blackhoof Park:

The Little Playground: This playground is perfect for the preschool set.   Lots of fun activities like slides, a narrow stationary bridge, and my daughter’s favorite: a steering wheel.  There are also monkey bars and their own set of rings to hang from that aren’t too high off the ground.  This structure also has these hybrid-slides/climbers that are great for kids that want a slide climbing like activity when mom doesn’t actually want them climbing the slides 😉  (recently learned slide climbing is a super hot topic among park moms, lol).  The bathrooms are right next to this little playground, perfect for the frequent potty breaks that 3 year olds need!

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The Medium Playground: This playground is not far from the little playground and features 4 baby swings, a sand pit, and another fun play structure.  Here you’ll find your average height slides and climbing structures as well as a cool climbing wall.  The sand area is devoid of any diggers or toys so make sure to bring a sand bucket and a shovel for your kids to play here.

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The Big Playground: This playground is at the top of the hill and nearest to the parking lot. There are 4 big kid swings here. The slides on this structure reach heights not often seen at parks these days!  Gretchen went down one and was wide eyed at how fast she went.  I asked if she wanted to go again and she politely said “no thank you!”  I really like when big structures have normal stairs for the little kids to climb since many enjoy the thrill of the tall slides but can’t manage rock walls or tall ladders.  This one had a great variety of ways kids could explore and climb to the top.  For bigger kids that may feel they’ve outgrown the typical playground, this one has a ton to offer that should still excite them.

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The Nature Playground: Like Franklin Park and Gezer Park there is a man-made “creek” here for the kids to play in.  Unfortunately we went right before Memorial Day so it was not yet turned on.  We’ll go back in July to check out that feature when it’s nice and hot out!  Even without that feature there is plenty to do over here.  Logs and stumps for the kids to walk on and large rock formations perfect for climbing.  This is a shady and cool area of the park to retreat to in the middle of the day.  Water fountains and the trail connecting to the rest of the walking paths at Lake Lenexa can be found down here.

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Other things to know about Blackhoof Park:

– Lake Lenexa is 35 acres and open to non-motorized boats as well as fishing.  They is a really cool damn that you can explore.

– There is another small playground right by the boat ramp that is on the lake.  The large playground that I featured above is just up the road at the north end of the park.

– There are lots of paved trails here perfect for walking, running, and bike riding.  Lots of wildlife to see as well!