Discovering Nature Indoors – Museum at Prairiefire

It is pretty darn cold here in Kansas City! I can’t handle staying inside our house for too long, so I’ve been pushing myself to come up with fun activities that incorporate outdoors/nature even when we can’t spend a lot of time outside.

Last week we headed up to the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, KS. The museum is stunning from the outside with colorful glass and a unique architectural design. I’ve never seen anything like it! The museum has a partnership with the Museum of Natural History, so we get to experience amazing exhibitions without leaving our neighborhood.

We started out in the Great Hall and admired the gigantic T-rex! IMG_3819

Next we made our own digital dinosaur (or dragon) in an interactive kiosk where we learned about where it lived and what it ate. We personalized our mythical creature with horns, scales, a white color and named it BB.  Then he came to life on a gigantic screen in the great hall flying over our heads.

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There are several other interesting exhibits in the Great Hall and it’s all free. We also checked out the Discovery Room (ticket pricing) which is designed for kids ages 3-12. Cecy loved it! Her favorite part was brushing off the dinosaur bones and opening up discovery drawers to find fossils, feathers and other fun ‘treasures’.

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Winter Day at the Kansas City Zoo

Who is out at the zoo on a freezing cold rainy weekday in Kansas City? Basically just us and a polar bear!

We parked our car in a nearly empty lot and headed inside. (Both parking and admission for children under 2 are free, so we spent less than $10 on our fun excursion.) First stop, we saw the polar bear passage. Earlier this month Nikita, our male polar bear, relocated to a zoo in North Carolina but you can still see Berlin, who is an older female bear. (local news story)

Next we went to Helzburg Penguin Plaza which is mostly indoors. My one-year-old, Cecilia loved watching the penguins swim and waddle around. I think they liked her too!IMG_3769IMG_3774

We headed to the Tropics which was nice and warm. Then we stopped by the Sea Lions to watch them practice their tricks. Finally we headed to the Discovery Barn for more indoor fun. IMG_3777

January Festive Family To-do List

How has more than a week gone by in January and I’m still struggling to come up with a fun list of things to do this month? Possibly because I find the month of January to be a less than inspiring this year. For some reason I’m not into dieting, organizing or any other traditional New Year’s resolution that I typically tell myself I need to make.

Before I start sounding really negative, I want to share my favorite December moments and how I checked off my festive to-do list last month:

  • Baking holiday cookies! We headed over to my parents house and we all made cookies. I made fun, tasty gingerbread cabins which I wrote about here.
  • Christmas lights. My favorite were the ones we saw on evening walks around our neighborhood. The lights made the walks we take Duncan (our crazy 2 year old golden retriever) on feel like an enjoyable and festive family event instead of a chore.
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Duncan ‘helping’ my husband with the dishes at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Oh, Duncan!
  • Snuggling by the fireplace. We have a Cape Cod style home that doesn’t have the ‘open floor plan’ basically every couple on HGTV is looking for. We fell in love with the cozy (yes, wood paneled) living room with a traditional brick fireplace and I love (repeat love) sitting by the fire. I nearly sit inside it to get warm in the winter. Thank you to my husband for building me several fires last month.

January to-do list:

  • Take Cecy to see penguins at the Kansas City Zoo
  • Cheer on the Chiefs in the playoffs, woohoo
  • Participate in KC Restaurant week
  • Brave the cold – play outside
  • Make something with blueberries in it

 

New Year, New Outdoor Adventures

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I decided to try something new and rented snowshoes from the Warming House in Estes Park, CO.  The $8/day rental included personal instructions on how to properly put them on and trekking poles.

We started out at the Bierstadt Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park and climbed uphill 1.3 miles to the frozen lake and back down.  The views were gorgeous the whole way!

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The snow was pretty packed in, so I don’t know if snowshoes were 100% necessary. We saw several people in them and several people with micro-spikes like these.

I’m a total novice and thought I would be very cold because the temperature was only 22 degrees.  I started with long sleeve Under Armour shirt (similar), a long sleeve t-shirt, a Northface fleece jacket (similar) , a waterproof winter jacket (similar), Under Armour cold weather leggings, athletic pants, two pairs of wool socks, a hat, gloves and waterproof hiking boots (similar).  Once we got moving, I took off several layers.

Speaking of heating up – sunglasses are essential because the snow makes the sun even brighter and for me it’s easy to forget drinking water when it’s cold, so I had to remind myself to drink up. We didn’t bring sunscreen, but I think it would be a good idea next time along with chapstick.

This past summer we went to the same beautiful lake via Bear Lake trailhead with our daughter Cecilia which I wrote about here. Since this was our first time snowshoeing, we decided to be extra cautious and get a babysitter (my amazing sister). We saw a couple on the trail with a baby, and learned snowshoeing isn’t much different than walking, so I would definitely consider taking her on future snowshoe adventures.

Even though I love hiking with our little one, I have to admit it was fun going on a snow day date with my husband!

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Gingerbread Cabin Cookies

Making Christmas cookies is a family tradition, but this was my first year attempting gingerbread and I think our little gingerbread cabins turned out great! Okay my cookie decorating skills can use some honing, but the cookies were soft, yummy and fun to make.

I bought a gingerbread house cookie cutter at Target, I also found this similar one at Crate and Barrel. We used a decorating set from Ikea for the icing.

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Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 375
Cream shortening and sugar. Beat one egg and molasses an add to mixture. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Roll out dough (not too thin) with rolling pin on flat surface sprinkled with flour. Use cookie cutter to create dough shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Let cool. Decorate!

15 Hikes in 2015

We are days away from our final trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in 2015. I was going through our ‘log book’ and realized we went on 15 hikes with our little girl this year in RMNP and surrounding areas. We hiked over 77 miles with her in Colorado and loved (almost) every moment of it.

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I learned a lot about being a Mom on the trail – like how to plan ahead and also how to go with the flow. We made a big commitment to spending a lot of time as a family out in the mountains. For our family it helps us stay healthy, have fun and connect to each other, God and nature.

I’m very thankful when I think back on our list. I hope it’s even longer in 2016. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and an adventurous New Year!

  1. Deer Mountain, 6 miles
  2. Twin Sisters, 7.3 miles
  3. Bear Lake to Bierstadt Lake, 4.4 miles
  4. Indian Peaks Wilderness Area – Brainard Lake/Lake Isabelle, 7 miles
  5. Bear Lake to Emerald Lake Lookout, 6.8 miles
  6. Lily Mountain, 3.6 miles
  7. Bear Lake to the Loch, 6 miles
  8. Cub Lake, 4.8 miles
  9. Bear Lake to Emerald Lake, 3.6 miles
  10. Wild Basin Trailhead to Ouzel Falls, 5.5 miles
  11. Fern Lake Trailhead to Fern Falls, 5.2 miles
  12. Bear Lake Trailhead to Mills Lake, 5.6 miles
  13. Longs Peak Trailhead to Estes Cone, 6.6 miles
  14. Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to Gem Lake, 3.6 miles
  15. Lily Lake/Lily Ridge 1.3 miles

*Miles are approximate

Magical Holiday Fun in Kansas City

We love outdoor adventures, but we’ve had a few windy, cold days and needed to get some energy out. Our first stop was Santa’s Gingerbread Station at Crown Center.  The interactive exhibit is free but there is a charge for a picture taken with Santa. Covered garage parking is also free if you get your ticket validated by one of the shops or restaurants at Crown Center.

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Next we took advantage of The Link which is a weather protected walkway connecting Crown Center to Union Station.

Union Station is my favorite building in Kansas City. I think my one-year -old shared my amazement at how magical the historic train station looks decorated for the holiday season. Entering the Sprint Festival Plaza I had a sudden urge to twirl around in circles like a Disney princess, which I resisted and instead walked around enchanted by the décor and holiday model train display. The display is free and quite impressive with over 800 feet of track and 18 trains.

There is so much more to do throughout the season at both Crown Center and Union Station! I can’t wait to take Cecy back next year.

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Largest Indoor Tree in Kansas City at Union Station

 

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