Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More than just lights on a house

It's been a while since we've done something considered blogworthy. But just a few nights ago, we ventured out to see the Denning family Christmas lights. (They're more than just lights. Going there is an event. You can expect to see a light show synced to Christmas music.)

We piled the kids into the car on a school night and told them we were going to look at Christmas lights. About half way there, the boy perks up and says, "We going to Lowes, Mom?" I chuckled. We do go to Lowe's to look at Christmas lights and displays just for fun. We've done it about three or four times since Halloween.
"No. We're going to a house, to see the lights on a house."
"But I wanna go to Lowe's, Mom." It's so cute the way he says Lowe's.
"I know. But this will be cool too."
"But I wanna go to Lowes." (Repeated 12 times.)

Finally we round the corner and we can see it. It looks like something out of a movie--either Deck the Halls or that Griswald one. We turn our car stereo on and tune it to 107.5 and enjoy the show. It doesn't disappoint. When we've heard all the songs and the show starts over I get the box of canned food I brought for the Food Bank and place it in the barrel on the front porch. Free entertainment. Love it. Thank you Denning Family. The boy had a good time and the girl and the baby did too. We cross our fingers that they'll do it again next year. Or we might end up at Lowe's.

I had the opportunity to sit down with the famous guy behind the Denning Family Christmas lights and ask him a few questions. (I didn't really. We did this over FB.)

What is your address? 4468 W. Blue Creek St in Meridian.
How long have you been doing this? 4 years.
Do you have show hours? 6pm to 10 pm on weeknights, 'til 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
How many songs? 10
How many minutes? Somewhere around 28 minutes for the full playlist. I haven't timed it exactly.
What station does a person tune to to hear the playlist? 107.5 FM
How many lights do you have? As of last tally, I show 26,662 lights.
How do your circuits handle all that power? I have to have it all laid out in a spreadsheet to keep things organized and spilt between the circuits evenly. It currently runs on 7 separate circuit breakers in my panel to keep things from tripping.
How much does this cost you? Last year cost me about $55 more on my electrical bill. I do have a few more lights this year though so the bill will likely be $5-10 higher. It draws 99.14 amps or 11,896 watts with everything in "on" mode which equates to $0.71/hour. The actual electrical usage is much lower though since the lights mostly blink and aren't always turned on. I'd guess actual show time cost is 1/3 of that.
How tall is the star on your roof? It's about 6.5 ft tall. It holds 190 C9 clear bulbs and draws 11 amps when turned on.
How does this all work? It's all accomplished with hardware/software from Light-O-Rama (ww.lightorama.com) which runs off my computer. I currently have 96 separate channels of computer control that can be turned on/off.
How many people come see your show? There's no way to know for sure. In 2006, the Statesman actually wrote up a big article on me and put my photo in the paper, etc. Boy, the traffic was crazy that year. I counted 24 parked cars one night.
With all the time and money you put into purchasing your lights, putting them up, taking them down, storing them, and paying for power, is there any way you will accept donations? I mean, I'd give you a few bucks for entertaining me and my family. No. But this year because so many people have asked that question, we are accepting donations to the Idaho Food Bank. There's a barrel on the front porch where you can place canned goods and a lock box for cash donations all for the Food Bank.
Does your neighborhood HOA hold a holiday lights contest, and if so, are you even allowed to enter? Yeah, I've won first place every year since 2005. I've got my fingers crossed for 2008.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Upcoming Events

There are many wonderful performing arts events coming up.  Here's what I've found.

The Nutcracker  Dec 12-14
Lord of the Dance  Dec 18  **Sold out**

A Christmas Carol  Dec. 10-13
Gospel Jubilee  Dec 14, 21, 28
A Centre Stage Christmas Dec 19
The Christmas Show   Dec 20

Michael W. Smith   Dec 14

Walking with Dinosaurs Jan 7, 9-11 2009

No, You Shut Up  Dec. 10-13, 17-20

Best Christmas Pageant Ever Dec. 19 & 20

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Get in the Christmas Spirit

Winter Garden a Glow at the Idaho Botanical Garden.  See the lights and get in the Christmas Spirit.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bored Much?

I am looking for some new ideas of things to do around here in the winter time.  Besides snow skiing.  Brrr.  Does anyone have any ideas?  Typically when there is a day off of school or it's a weekend and we don't want to get bored, we usually head to the Y to go swimming.  It's something all my kids enjoy.  And we mix it up and go to different Ys.  The Caldwell Y is really fun.  But other than that I haven't been able to think of what else to do.....My kids love Planet Kid, but I'm such a germ phobe that I am completely avoiding places like that until after flu season.  So other than the Y and Planet Kid, does anyone have any suggestions for me? (Nothing too germy, please.)

Watch for my next post about my favorite house with holiday lights.  Here's a hint.  It's in Meridian and the lights are synched and timed with music that you listen to on your car radio. There's a sign in their yard that tells you which station to tune to.  I am happy to say that I am actually long time high school buds with these creative people. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


So has anyone been to Rafiki yet?  I have not.  
If you have been to this new place in town, please fill us in.  
How was your experience?  What was it like? 
Click here to see their website.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We all need a little love once in a while 
so if you could be so kind, 
I would love if you would follow my blog.  

Friday, October 24, 2008

District III Marching Band Festival

There is an event coming up that I miss every year and I am not going to miss it this year. The reason I miss it every year is because I never know about it until it's over.  Does that ever happen to you?  This event is a competition between the local high school marching bands and drill teams.  It's called the District III Marching Band Festival and it's been going on for 45 years.  On Sunday morning, the Idaho Statesman does a big layout in the their local section about the competition and the results.  It is then that I realize, dang it, I missed it again.  

Fortunately, this year I was determined not to let that happen.  I am so glad I found this on idahostatesman.com and I thought I would share it with you.  The competition starts tomorrow at the Bronco Stadium.  Gates open at 1 pm where you can purchase your ticket.  Adults are $7 and students and seniors are $5.  

The first school performs at 2pm.  The schools I am interested in watching start at 5:45. I hope that didn't sound snobbish.  You can certainly go at 1:00 but it makes for a long day.  The competition ends around 8:30, then the BSU Blue Thunder Marching Band performs, and then at 8:45ish the trophies are awarded.  And they are big trophies.   Click here to see a list of the participating high schools and what time they are performing, I guess competing.

If you go dress warm and bring lots of blankets.  

Oh you are going to love this dumb factoid about myself.  In 1992, I had the privilege of being part of the Centennial High School Marching Band and Drill team.  When we competed in District III that year, we beat Capital High School!!  Now that may not sound like it is a big deal, but I think they had, like, an 18 year winning streak that we had just broken.  And that of course was our only goal.  Beat Capital.  And we did.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Linder Farms

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I had the pleasure of going to Linder Farms with the boy and his two different preschools.  To be honest, I didn't have a great time on Wednesday because it was super crowded and it felt like we were being herded like cattle.  It was also freezing cold and the wind was blowing.  On Thursday, however, we had a really fun time.  It was more organized and less crowded.  It was also a lot warmer.  My favorite experience at Linder Farms was the hay ride.  

I also liked the straw maze.

After the straw maze we walked out to the pumpkin patch (more like a gigantic field) and got a pumpkin.  The boy picked an all green pumpkin because that's what he wanted.  It actually made a cute addition to our decor.

****Highly Recommended.  A good place for preschool field trips.  (Not nearly as cool as Wagner Farms, but I guess if you've never been to Wagner Farms you wouldn't know what you're missing.)  Also, if you wondering which one to go to between the Mazie or Linder Farms, I personally think the Maize is more fun and has more to do, although it is more expensive.  If anyone has anything to add about Linder Farms or anything else, please make a comment.  They are always greatly appreciated.  Also, add yourself as a follower and make my day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spyglass Gardens

If you're looking for a pumpkin patch with a small town feel, look no further than Spyglass Gardens.  Spyglass Gardens started as one couple's dream.   Steven and Wendy have a home and some land--not a lot, but enough.  On their land they grow fruits and vegetables without pesticides.  They harvest their crops and sell them right from the gardens next to their home. They stay busy all summer long, but things don't slow down in the fall.  People return to buy straw bales, corn stalks, and cinderella pumpkins.  Children return to run through the straw maze and pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.  (No hay rides unfortunately.)

We've been to Spyglass twice already this year and both times have been really fun and uncrowded.  The boy and I played in the straw maze by ourselves for fifteen minutes.  We played I'm Gonna Get Cha and Can't Catch Me and I'm Going To Beat You (as in beat you to the other side).  

Then I pulled him and the baby in the wagon (provided by Spyglass, they have plenty on site) and we went over and found some more pumpkins.  I say more because we already have 10 from our last trip.  

Then we bought some straw bales and some corn stalks and wished we could afford the ghost pumpkins and the cinderella pumpkins but we couldn't.  So Wendy helped me load up the van and this is what we did when we got home.

****We highly recommend Spyglass Gardens.  They are located on 3445 S. Linder Rd between Victory and Amity.  Their October hours are Monday - Saturday 10:00am to 6:30 pm and Sundays between 12:30 to 5:30 pm.  See their website for more info.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scarecrow Stroll

Introducing the bride of crow. Also known as Mrs. Scarecrow.
That's the name we gave her when we met her for the first time at the Scarecrow Stroll in the Idaho Botanical Garden.
I always want to say gardens with an s.

If you're like me and you don't like crowds-- go to places you want to go on game day. Unless you're going to the game. Then by all means have a great time and go broncos. If you're not going to the football game, go somewhere you've been wanting to go. Trust me, you'll have the whole place to yourself.
This is what happened to us on Friday evening when we ventured out to the Idaho Botanical Garden and the rest of Boise ventured to the BSU/Hawaii game. It was 70 degrees that day and the weather was perfect. The fall colors were beautiful and there were still many flowers in bloom. The kids had a great time running around. The boy liked to throw rocks into various streams, ponds, waterfalls, and fountains.

And run and run and run and run.

The girl liked taking pictures of the decorated scarecrows.

And the baby liked sticking her hands into the streams.

I quite enjoyed the peace and quiet and the beautiful fall foliage.

We were the only, only, only, people there. Except for the family that was there for like 10 minutes. So that doesn't really count. We saw lots of birds and quail and squirrels. There we many flowers still in bloom. And even though we have been there before, we still spent almost two hours there. What did you do for two hours?
We just walked around and explored nature. Snapped a few pictures.
And it was fun. And quiet.
And not crowded. And not hot. And really fun.

We went between the hours of 5 and 7 pm and toward the end of the evening the sun was setting and I was able to get a cool picture of the girl.
I am by no means a photographer, but I thought it turned out cool.

The cost to get in was so cheap I had to ask the lady, "Did you charge for me?" Yes. Four dollars for an adult, two dollars for kids four and older. So it cost us six dollars to get in. Six dollars for two hours of family entertainment. Think Mastercard commercial. Priceless.

****Four out of four stars. Click here for the The Idaho Botanical Garden website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A child's vote counts on this blog

I just figured out why my daughter has been asking me for so long to put a poll on the blog that asks you who you want to vote for.  Why is an eight year old concerned with these matters?  Apparently, at school, there are several children talking politics.  In fact, they each have some pretty strong opinions about the candidates they like and don't like.   A few days ago, the girl came home and said, "Mom,  so and so said that if Obama gets to be president, he'll take away Disneyland."  Really.  I guess scare tactics run in children's circles as well as adults. 
This afternoon we put the poll up together.  As soon as it posted the girl says, can I vote?  Of course you can vote.  So she clicked on her favorite guy and then gave me a big smile.  I guess all she wanted was to vote.  Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Last Thursday we went to the Maize. It was amazing. Before we left, I printed off some $1 off coupons. It's one dollar off per person so I thought it was worth the 30 seconds of my time. We drove the four minutes it took us to get to the Maize and met some friends there. We
purchased the Bargain pass which includes the maze and all the fun in the courtyard. It is $12.00 for ages 12 and up and $9.00 for kids 4-11. Three and under is free. We were really glad we purchased the bargain pass because the maze is fun, but the courtyard is a blast.

I was glad we agreed on which maze to walk through since there were two very different choices. Obama and McCain. The kids had fun taking turns on deciding whether to go right,
left, or straight. It took us about 20-30 minutes to find our way out.
After the maze, we played in the courtyard which has many fun activities for the young ones. They jumped on the giant jumping pillow,

peddled the peddle carts,

slid down the slides,

played in the corn box,

rode the bucking cow train,

pet the pony and the goat,
and took advantage of a free hayride (minus the hay). We spent over an hour doing these activities.

****Four out of four stars. We will be back. Probably with the boy's preschool friends. Speaking of preschool, check out the Maize's special prices and hours for preschool groups on their website. It's easy to find. Located off Meridian road just south of Columbia Rd. Take exit 44 and head south on Meridian for five miles. You will see it on your right.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Teacher inservice means Amanda has to make plans again.

Sunday night is the night that I plan out our week.  And seeing that there is no school on Thursday and Friday due to teacher in-service, I am planning things to do on those days.  I've checked the weather and, yeah, it's finally cool enough to take the kids to the Bruneau sand dunes.  

On Friday, we plan to go to the Maize.  They have designed the maze around the presidential candidates.  As you enter, you are faced with the choice of going right or left.  Very clever.  They are open on Thursday and Friday beginning at noon since there is no school.  Otherwise, they open at 4:00 on weekdays.  I remember the first time I took the girl to Wagner Farms.  I didn't know they weren't open until 4:00 pm.  (They let us in anyway and we had the whole place to ourselves.  It was great.)  Now I'm always sure to check the hours of operations before I go anywhere.

Our family always looks forward to Meridian's Scarecrow Festival.  We've been for the last three or four or five years.  I can't remember.  It's always the first weekend of October and we go on Friday right after school.  There's pumpkin bowling, a really cool trampoline, rock climbing, vendors, pumpkin painting, kids crafts, and more.  Sadly enough, they're not having the Scarecrow Festival this year, rather a Harvest Festival.  It's one day only and it looks really lame.  

Speaking of scarecrows, check out the scarecrows at the Idaho Botanical Garden.  We are planning on doing this soon.  It looks really fun.

What are your plans for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Tater Tots at the Idaho International Film Festival

So I have to admit that I have seen Napoleon Dynamite, not once, but twice, and really liked it. I don't think I'd like to see it again, however.  Seeing "non-traditional" films is fun to do sometimes.  I remember going to the Flicks once and seeing an Italian movie with English subtitles.  It was called Il Postino.  It was such a blast.  Wayne I., if you're reading this, thank you for taking me even if it was only because you didn't have anyone else to go with.  

This weekend, The Idaho International Film Festival is having it's 6th annual film festival.  It looks really fun.  You can watch movies, meet actors, eat popcorn,  go to free workshops, and participate in after-film discussions and debates.  The event actually kicked off Thursday night with a Gala at Bardenay's  (love that place).  But there are things going on all weekend.  Check out the program guide.  Movies are showing at the Flicks, the Egyptian,  and Edwards Boise Downtown.  If any of you readers have been to this before, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.  Click here to read what the Statesman has to say about it.

Another Dumb Factoid About Myself.  This one pertains to being in Idaho and having a famous person say hi to you.  Are you ready for this factoid?  Ok...keep reading....it's coming............Matt Damon has said "hi" to me.  In person.  Outside the Egyptian Theatre.  Not kidding you.  Me.  Amanda.  Not the whole crowd.  Just me.  Here's a picture to kind-of prove it.  I have one witness and his name is John.  If you'd like to interview him about this, we can make arrangements.  

Kidding about the free tater tots (in case that wasn't obvious.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Heart Boise

Wow.  Where do I start?  I just found some really cool links that I didn't even know existed. Ya know how you start at one place on the internet and end up somewhere totally different? That's what happened to me.  

1.  Boise.org.  Click here.
2.  DowntownBoise.org.  Click here.
3.  FallforBoise.com.  Click here.
4.  ExperienceBoise.org.  Click here.
5.  SearchBoise.com.  Click here.

Happy searching.  Plan something fun and then do it.  (Unless life happens and you can't.)

If you're wondering about the poll--we got 16 votes total.  Nine for football and seven for performing arts.  Thank you to every one who voted.

Watch for tomorrows' post about the Idaho International Film Festival going on this weekend.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

According to my calendar, today "Autumn Begins."

In honor of the first day of autumn, (which is never capitalized, I checked) this post will be about one of my favorite things to do in the fall--going to the pumpkin patch with my kids.  We go at least twice.  It seems like we never get enough pumpkins the first time.  I also like to buy cornstalks and straw bales and decorate the front of the house.  We have a favorite place that we like to go.  Spyglass Gardens.  It's close to our house, small, and kid friendly.  The people who own it are so nice. We've been going there for the last 5 years and it's become a tradition. They have pumpkins you can pick, a little maze made from straw bales, and lots of other vegetables, corn stalks, and straw bales for sale.  Admission is free.  You are only charged for the things you buy and the pumpkins are priced according to size, not weight.  They are closed on Mondays and picking begins on September 28th.  So get in the spirit of fall and plan a trip to the pumpkin patch.   Don't forget your camera.

There are other pumpkin patches around town that are great too.  I found a great website that lists the local ones.  Go to www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org.  
Another great site is www.pickyourown.org.  

One more thing--I think Wagner Farms is closed.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.  Happy Autumn everyone!  (Whoops).  

Friday, September 19, 2008

How the heck do you spell theatre, I mean theater, I mean.....anyway.

So my friend Eric made a comment to my recent post (which I really appreciate by the way) and noted that I left out the theaters in town.  He probably has theaters on his brain since he runs some really cool ones.  But he's right, what was I thinking? I love going to the theater and not just the movie kind.   

The husband and I have seen a few live stage productions at the Stage Coach Theatre and really enjoyed it.  We've never been to any other stage theaters in town only because our Stage Coach tickets were freebies given to us by a friend of ours.  But this season maybe we'll break open the pocket book and try the Knock 'em Dead dinner theatre like Eric suggested.   Sounds way fun. 

The experience of a live stage production is so fun and intimate.  And the price is not more than you'd pay at a movie theater.  Especially after you add the soda and popcorn.  And depending on where you sit of course.  Check out these upcoming shows and put a little spice up your theater-going-self.

1.  Boise Little Theater
     The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Several dates in October.  Click here.
2.  Idaho Shakespeare Company (last show til next season)
     Greater Tuna.  Thru September 27th.  Click here.
3.  Knock 'Em Dead Productions (also have dinner theatre)
     Ragtime  Oct. 3 - Nov. 8.  Click here.
4.  Praire Dog Playhouse
     Indiana Stones and the Quest for the Holy Oil.  Sept. 26 - Nov 1st.  Click here.
5.  Stage Coach Theatre
     Dark Rituals.   Several dates in October.  Click here.
Okay.  If I've left anyone out, let me know.  But don't tell me that I left out the Boise Contemporary Theatre.  Their website is a little weird so I left them off.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Be Cool. Attend a Performing Arts Event

I love the Performing Arts and it seems like there are always great performances to be had this time of year.   I'll spare you a few minutes of your own searching and let you know what I found that is coming up for the end of September and the month of October.  All of these events were found using links from this website.  So handy, if I may say so myself.  

This list does not pretend to include everything that is going on around town, like Bronco Football games. Although there is a link for that, if you like that sort of thing.  I know the husband does and a lot of you do too.  With that said, here's what interested me.

1.  Trey McIntyre Project Premiere-- Saturday, Sept 20th at the Morrison Center 
2.  Forever Tango-- Oct 2-4 at the Morrison Center
5.  Beethoven by the Boise Philharmonic--Oct 18 at the Morrison Center
6.  BSU Orchestra Concert--Oct 19 at the Morrison Center

If there is anything that I missed that you would like to see here, please make a comment or send me an email and I'll get it on the list.  

Another Dumb Factoid About Myself--I love the Humanities so much that I wanted to major in it at Boise State.  Impossible since BSU does not offer a Humanities major.  So I dropped out and quit.  Not really.  But I was disappointed.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Art in the Park

Just a reminder that Art in the Park is beginning today and ending on Sunday at 5 p.m. I've been to this in years past and I've always really enjoyed it.  Except for the two times I have taken my kids by myself and really hated it.  I probably won't make it this year but if you go please leave a comment and tell us about your experience.

This is event is sponsored by the Boise Art Museum and is located in Julia Davis Park. Lots of vendors from all over the west bring their arts and crafts to sell.  But they aren't cheap so bring lots of money if you want to buy something.  Also, parking is a pain so I would recommend taking the free shuttle.  More details and hours of operation are on BAM's website. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Silver City

For some time now I thought it would be cool to visit the historic Silver City. Labor Day seemed like the perfect day. The husband had the day off work and the weather wasn't too hot-- so off we went.

Now this trip isn't for the faint of heart. It's a long drive and the last 10 miles or so to Silver City are horrible if you are in a vehicle. If you're riding an ATV it'd be a blast. But I can tell you it's miserable when you're sitting in the back of a van and you're sitting back there because you're nice and you let your daughter who got car sick sit up front. The dirt road was narrow and steep and bumpy and windy. We had a GPS and I was counting down the 0.1 miles until we "reached our destination." "Don't worry Mom," the girl would say, "we just have 8.3 miles to go. Don't worry Mom, we just have 8.2 miles to go." And so on and so forth.

When we got there we realized we weren't the only people with this brilliant idea to check out Silver City. There were lots of cars and lots of ATVs parked along the dirt roads. That's okay, it's not every day you get to go to a crowded ghost town. You're loving the irony aren't you?

We had a little mishap during our first five minutes. We had just gotten out of our car that's now caked with dirt and didn't know what to do or where to go. It's not like Disneyland where your every step is directed, analyzed, and marketed . So we walked up to the first building we see and this guy comes up to us and says really loud and really mean, "Can I help you?" Ahhh.

I think the scared looks on all five of our faces made him realize we weren't trespassing on purpose. He softened his voice a little and informed us that the buildings are private property and that there were two open buildings, the Idaho Hotel, and Pat's What Not Shop. He then informed us if we wanted to come back in two weeks they would have 10 buildings open for visitors. Thanks but no thanks was my thought. I'm not coming up that mountain again for a few years.

So we checked out Pat's What Not Shop and the Idaho Hotel. Not too impressive if you want my honest opinion. But we did have a great time looking at the abandoned buildings and taking pictures. I guess my favorite part of that was just feeling like I had gone back in time. Not that I'd want to do that for real or anything.

Then we spent a considerable amount of time looking for a non-existent bathroom. Finally we found an outhouse near a campsite. Then we found a trail that led to Silver City's cemetery. It was about a 5 minute hike. (Well, 5 minutes for most people, 10 minutes for us.) The cemetery is awesome. It's hard to find something this old in Idaho.

The cemetery is situated on the slope of a mountain and there's beautiful wild flowers and grasses growing every where. It was nice to see something other than cheat grass. A lot of these people buried young children and babies and it was a reminder to me of how lucky we are to live with so many modern conveniences and technologies that help keep our children safe.

Things to keep in mind if you go. Leave early enough in the morning so you're not driving home in the dark. It's about a two hour drive from Meridian. Do not attempt this trip after November 1st or before June 1st. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and your car doesn't need new brake pads. Definitely hike to the cemetery. Do not trespass on the properties marked "Private Property Keep Out." And remember that the bathrooms are outhouses and that there is no running water. Don't forget your children and your cameras. Check out their website for more info and directions. Have fun.

****Four out of four stars. It's not every day you get to go back in time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Table Rock

If you're not familiar with the view from Table Rock you are missing out. This is why I decided that my kids needed the experience. As we drove up there I had a flood of memories. My friends and I made a lot of trips up to Table Rock as high schoolers looking for somewhere to go. It felt quite different to be driving a van a full of kids, listening to Baby Einstein, and munching on fish crackers. I was kind of wishing I could be in Holly's car dancing to Life is a Highway with my best friends. Holly, what was the name of your car again?

But anyway, we made it to the top and the kids were in awe of the view. The boy had his hiking shoes on and was ready to hike. I had to explain that he could not climb down the rocks. Maybe another time we could hike up to Table Rock, but we definitely weren't climbing down it. Then there was the issue of something I had completely forgotten about. Graffiti. The girl was intrigued by it and I was embarrassed by it, especially the not-so-clean stuff. She didn't understand why people would do it if it was against the law. Because they usually don't get caught. Oh. Have you ever done that Mom? I was glad I could honestly say no.

Things I liked best about the trip--we were the only people up there, my kids had fun, and we got to drool over a lot of cool houses on the way up.

Now what you've been waiting for--how to get there. If coming from Meridian, take the freeway to downtown and go on north on Broadway past St. Luke's. Take a right on Reserve. Go about 1/2 mile and turn right on Shaw (pretty sure) headed up a ridge through a neighborhood, then turn right on Table Rock Road, then go through the gate where the paved road changes to a rough, dirt road, and be careful as you drive up the mountain. (I was kind of scared but it was a good scared). If anyone has better directions, please comment and let us know. Also, if you are nervous about the directions, just type in St. Luke's hospital into Yahoo maps and you can see the streets better. This drive took us about 45 minutes from our house in Meridian.

****Four out of four stars. This was a fun thing to do and easy place to visit. We will come back again next year sometime.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Planet Kid

Oh Planet Kid. I love it and I hate it at the same time. I love it when we go and it's not crowded and it's clean and the kids have fun and they don't get sick a few days later. I hate it when it's crowded and dirty and the girl is trying to get away from the boy and the boy is crying and the baby gets sick a few days later.

This last trip, however, was very fun. After frequenting Planet Kid for the past 6 years with the girl, I definitely have some advice about going there. If you don't know what Planet Kid is let me explain. Picture the Carl's Jr playground on Eagle Rd and multiply that by two minus the fries and the shake. Does that help?

My kids love this place. I love it because there's an area designated for kids under age 2 where I take the baby and give anybody above the age of 2 a dirty look until they leave. There's a ball pit, lots of things to climb, slides, and tunnels.

Price of admission is kind of steep. Ages 1-3 is $4.50 and ages 4-12 is $7.75. They have daily specials and hours of operation on their website. Planet Kid.

The trick about going when it's not busy is to get there after 5:00 on a weekday. Planet Kid is located in the Wings Center which is a day care facility among other things. They bring their classes into Planet Kid and let about 30 kids run wild while you're trying to figure out what just happened. If you go after 5 pm, you can avoid that. Also, PK is popular for birthday parties so avoid PK on Friday nights and weekends. During the school year you can go any time of the day without lots of older kids running around. However, make sure you check the school calendar (links for schools on the right) because sometimes it will be Teacher Inservice that day and you will be sorry. I'm speaking from personal experience.

The other thing you want to do is to make sure you're children have socks on their feet or they won't be allowed in. I also dress my kids in pants to avoid any scraped knees.

As your child's parent, you might just want to be cool and climb around with them. If you do, bring knee pads and you'll be a lot more comfortable. Don't be embarrassed. I've seen parents who do this. If you're not going to be playing, bring a magazine, book, or your laptop. They have free (I think it's free) wireless internet there.

Last of all, we always wash our hands right before we leave this place. Love that smell of soap on my hands. Makes me feel clean. Now if I could just get the boy not to touch anything right after he's washes his hands I'd be happy.

***Three out of Four. If they lowered the price of admission and vacuumed obsessively, it'd be a four.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What to do with the little ones?

Now that the girl is back to school, I needed to find something to do with the boy and the baby.  So I set out to find some fun places to visit.  No one wants to be at home with the laundry and dishes staring them in the face.  Get out and do something fun.  At least that's my thinking anyway.  Maybe that's why my laundry's piled up and there's never anything to eat on.

Anyway, here's what I've found.  Chucky Cheese's.  Planet Kid. Pojos.  Boondocks.  The YMCA.  Cabela's.  Story times at bookstores and libraries.  Yes, I know they are all indoors.  Haven't you noticed that it's been cooling down?

Links to most of these places are on the right.  I've also added a list of libraries for your convenience.  Check out their sites for story times.  If you know of any fun places to visit with a toddler, please share with me.  I would love some fresh ideas. 

Also, as soon as I locate my charger to my digi cam, I'll be able to upload the pictures from our last four adventures.  That's why there's been a snag to the updating of the bloggy.  Stay tune as I ask the husband to find the charger tonight.  (He's always been in charge of dishes and cords.  Oh, and Broncos and lawn care.  Me...I'm everything else.)  Now you know the real story behind the dishes. No one to blame but myself for the laundry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

School Begins

Much to my daughter's chagrin, school is starting. For many of you, school has already begun. Our first day is Monday. Oh, I hate to see summer come to a close. We really enjoy staying up late and sleeping in. With not a care in the world we suddenly change to schedules, homework, stomachaches, and stress, stress, stress.

To combat the back to school blues, I've gone to work planning some fun things to do on those days when the kids have no school due to Teacher Inservice, Parent-Teacher Conferences, holidays, Spring Break, etc. This way, the girl has something to look forward to. All the activities and day trips we didn't have time for can now be scheduled into those days off.

So check your school district's calendar to find out when your children have days off of school. I have links to the Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Kuna, and Caldwell districts.

Here's another factoid about myself. The current Superintendent for the Meridian District was my principal at Joplin Elementary my entire grade school career. Students of the month got to have lunch with her. I didn't say I got to have lunch with her--just those lucky enough to get student of the month. Also, my mom has been friends with her ever since they went to Borah High School together. She was a great principal then and I think she is a great superintendent now.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Idaho Botanical Garden

Small streams. Large boulders. Butterflies. Bridges. Flowers. Bugs. Winding trails. Fountains. Quail. Waterfalls. Dirt paths. Rocks. Wooden swing. Old bell. Skippers, frogs, and lilly pads. What kid doesn't love all those things? Those are all the things we saw today at the Idaho Botanical Garden. I've never been there before. I guess the word "botanical" has always scared me off. Reminds me of my botany class in college. But I am so glad we went there today. We had so much fun.

I was surprised by how few people there were. (You know I love that.) We were the only family. The other people were adults trying to enjoy the peace and quiet. My explorers and tired baby probably messed that up.

The relaxed atmosphere and the large area to explore made this a place a winner for my kids. They enjoyed climbing to the top of the Promontory and dipping their toes in every pond, stream, waterfall, and fountain. I loved the stark contrast between the lush, green gardens and the native, desert plants in one space. And the flowers and foliage were beautiful.

What a wonderful place for the kids to be kids (while still minding their manners of course.)

Advice--bring a stroller for when the kids get tired and can't make it back to the car. Admission is very reasonable--$ 4 for an adult and $2 for kids age 6-12.

****4 out of 4 stars. Can't wait to come back again.

Have you been here before? Tell me about it. Make a comment. I dare you.