Saturday, April 16, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Second Park - Trolley Park (2 Down; 30 to Go!)

Today was a busy day for us. Oliver had his first pee-wee game of the season, and Andrew got the lawn mower blades sharpened & oil changed. I puttered around with a little bit of gardening and homework, and then decided to take Jo for a drive to return library books and check out another park for our parks challenge. We selected a quiet park called Trolley Park that is small and easy to miss. I parked at Ye Olde Guitar Shoppe, which is next to Trolley Park, and then we went and explored.

It didn't immediately occur to me that I was looking at a sculpture of a trolley! I noticed the sculpture people and checked a couple of the articles on display. I looked to see if there was anything there for kids to climb on (there wasn't). After snapping a few pictures for the challenge, I told Jo we ought to head back. We started wandering back over to the car when I noticed the pavers were laid to look like train tracks. I had a "duh" moment and looked back at the sculpture. It was very clearly a trolley!

This park wasn't that great of a destination for kids to play. It's not very big and is next to a road. I'm still glad we stopped by to check it out. It's worth seeing, even if it's not a destination for play. It could be a unique backdrop for pictures, though!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: First Park - Brookview (1 Down, 31 to Go!)

We're participating in Urbandale's 32 Parks in 90 Days challenge! Today was the first day of the challenge, and so I took the kids to Brookview Park after Oliver got home from school. It was a little hard to find. We found a path that ran from the sidewalk next to a house on 65th Street, and the path led to the park. The kids were really excited to see the castle feature on the playground!

The park isn't shaded at all, and so the kids complained about feeling hot. I told them to run around and play! But, honestly, I couldn't imagine going here in the heat of the summer.

There's the trail from the park. It splits and leads to a few different parks in Urbandale. Almost every park in the Des Moines area is connected by a trail system!

As part of the challenge, we're supposed to take our picture by the park sign. Unfortunately, we couldn't find one, so I took a picture of the park map with the kids playing in the background. Close enough! One park down, 31 to go!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Visit 32 Parks in 90 Days!

Urbandale, a town just northwest of Des Moines, is challenging you to visit 32 parks in 90 days! To participate, you need to download their parks passport (details below) and take a picture of yourself or group in front of each park sign. Post and tag Urbandale Parks & Rec in each photo! There are specific guidelines for each social media type they accept (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) on their contest page. Everyone who completes the challenge wins a prize!

From their Facebook page:

Did you know that there are 48 public parks in Urbandale? Now that winter is over, it’s time to get outside and explore what Urbandale’s parks have to offer! Can you visit 32 Parks in 90 Days? We think you can! 

Complete your “Urbandale Parks Tour” and visit as many Urbandale Parks as possible. Stamp our Tour Passport by taking a photo at each park you visit. Those visiting the 32 Urbandale parks with playgrounds and completing their Tour Passport will receive prizes! Tour Passport can be downloaded here:

Contest Dates:
April 15 through July 15, 2016.


A Parks and Recreation Water Bottle & T-Shirt (for each person visiting at minimum 32 parks and submitting their Tour Passport photos.)

For more details on how to participate and download their parks passport (for official entry), visit the Urbandale Parks & Rec Facebook events page.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

DMPL's Harry Potter World Extravaganza!

For Christmas, Andrew gave Oliver a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I have to admit that I never could get into the books, but I think the movies and characters are kind of cute. Andrew's a big fan, though, and now Oliver is, too!

So, when I saw that the Des Moines Public Library was hosting a Harry Potter World Extravaganza, I knew we had to go! I sent Andrew the library announcement:

Attention Muggles! Celebrate the opening of the exhibit, "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine," at the library! Families can make wands, learn about owls and snakes from the Blank Park Zoo, learn about science and medicine from the Drake Chemistry Club and Drake University’s medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, participate in a scavenger hunt and more!

Andrew responded, "Uh, I am not a muggle, thanks." Thankfully, he's a trooper and came anyway.

The first thing we did after picking up Oliver's scavenger hunt checklist was meet some of the animals from the Blank Park Zoo. We saw an owl and a tarantula, and Jo was brave enough to touch a snake! The kids painted their new wands, and I, apparently, was holding them upside-down. I guess I'm the muggle in the family.

The kids enjoyed the Harry Potter photo booth:

The played an anatomy game using the skeleton of a cat with Drake pre-med students. Joanna correctly located the cat's skull, and Oliver correctly located the cat's spine! Then they played pin the scar on Harry Potter (Oliver rocked that game).

Oliver played the trivia game. He let them know that he's read the first book so far, and they asked him who was the villain in that book. Oliver said Voldemort and got a bookmark! Then we wandered over to a meeting room where Drake chemistry students did a few demonstrations, including burning fire in different colors.

The kids then ate cookies, and they each got a glass of "butterbeer" that they refused to try. We had a great time at the free event! And Oliver made sure to turn in his scavenger hunt sheet for a chance to win an illustrated copy of Harry Potter!