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!

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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: Brougham Park

My interest in this park was piqued when a friend mentioned “the hippo park” in Olathe.  Gretchen loves hippos so I knew it was gonna be a hit.  This park is tucked away in a neighborhood in south Olathe.  It is well maintained and has a lot of unique playground features.  We stopped by here on a Sunday evening to check it out. It is not on the official summer park tour.

Brougham Park

15501 S. Brougham Dr. Olathe, KS 66062

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What we love about Brougham Park: Gretchen’s favorite feature at this park was probably the hippo tunnel.  This park is different than many other Olathe parks in that it has a lot more to offer for big kids.  The lower tier of the play structure is great for the preschool set, but then the upper tier is well suited for elementary aged kids or little ones that are adept at climbing.  Gretchen still needs a spotter for some of the taller climbing features but she loved going down the steep slides once she made it to the top.  There is a separate climbing structure (the trees) that she is definitely too small for at this point but she still enjoyed trying and she loved watching the bigger kids climb it.  There are 2 baby swings and 2 big kid swings and a huge open field next to the playground perfect for flying a kit or running around.  This park is connected to the nearby neighborhoods by a trail that is nice for walking or riding bikes/scooters.  There is a nice shelter next to the park that is first come first serve.

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Other things to know about Brougham Park:

-There is no parking lot for this park, but you can park along the road next to it or in the evenings/weekends in the school parking lot across the street.

-There are also no bathrooms at this park, not even a port a potty, kind of a bummer.

-This is one of Olathe’s 22 neighborhood parks.  I’m  jealous of the families that live close and can pop over here in the evenings!  This is a lesser known park (I learned about it from a friend) so I imagine it’s not as busy as some of the other parks in Olathe.

JoCo Park Tour: Blackbob Park

Our official playdate at this park got rained out but we’ve been going a couple of times a week with friends so I thought I’d go ahead and blog about it.  We are fortunate to have several friends that live right near the park, so it’s a great meeting spot for us to get together once or twice a week!  I love that it’s just down the street from Starbucks so I can get myself a beverage on the way!

Blackbob Park in Olathe, KS

14500 W 151st St. Olathe, KS 66062

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What we love about this park:  Gretchen loves the “castle park” as she calls it.  The unique castle structure is fun for kids that like to play pretend.  There are 4 slides, 2 bridges, and lots of climbing features for little and big kids to enjoy.  Instead of mulch or sand there are plastic tiles with some bounce to them (not sure what exactly they are called) beneath the play structure.  I like this as a parent as it means I don’t have to stop and empty my shoes (or my kid’s shoes!) in the middle of play time.  Gretchen’s is currently obsessed with swings and this park has 2 baby swings and 2 regular swings.  There is also a shelter that can be reserved for parties, a water fountain right next to it, and bathrooms are just a short walk away.  There are 3 benches and a picnic table near the playground where you can sit and enjoy a picnic.

Other things to know about Blackbob Park:

-It is home to Blackbob Bay, an awesome pool to enjoy during the summer.  I love the mini me swimming sessions in the mornings that allow you to enjoy the kid areas without the big kids.  You just pay for one adult to get in and 2 kids under 5 get in with you for free.  I also love to go on the evenings that they do water walking in the lazy river, it’s a low impact but effective work out.

-In the summer there are also batting cages and a mini golf course you can use.

Debbie Howard’s Gym

I thought I’d blog about one of our favorite places to go burn off energy and meet up with friends here in Olathe.  Debbie Howards Gym is a little north of Santa Fe off of Mur-Len, so really only 5 minutes from our house.  Deb offers classes, birthday parties, and Friday morning (sometimes Saturday) open gym.  Open gym is only $5 per kid over the age of one and there are two age ranges, 1-6 and 7-12, so you don’t have to worry about the big kids trampling the little ones.

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What we love about Debbie Howards Gym:  It is huge, so the kids have lots of room to run around and explore without being on top of each other.  There are so many things to do: bouncy castle, climbing structure, balance beams, trampolines, the foam pit, and lots and lots of ride on toys like cars, wagons, and one of Gretchen’s favorites: a big yellow fish.

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Other things to know about Deb Howards:

Debbie is really fun and energetic.  She clearly loves kids and is passionate about what she does.

She also offers open gym sessions for children with special needs.

If you have a birthday party here you get the entire gym and party room to yourself, and all of the equipment is open to you to use.  We’ve been to 2 birthday parties here this year and they were both fantastic.

Debbie REALLY likes frogs.   Gretchen calls this place “the frog gym.”

She only takes cash/check, so make sure you bring more than just your credit card!