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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heritage Park



Today we went to Heritage Park in Eagle. The kids call this place Eagle Pop Ups. We've been here before. There's lots of pop ups and we always bring red plastic cups to play with.

When we're done we like to get a snow cone from the snow shack on site. Just so you know who you're dealing with I have tried every snow cone flavor. What's my favorite? I don't have one, I have many. Lover's delight. Tiger's Blood, (which is actually strawberry colada, which is actually strawberry and coconut). I've made up some good combinations too. Peach and passion fruit. Strawberry and guava. What flavors are gross? Apple, cherry, cantaloupe. I could even make you one. Yes, I know how to operate the snow-making machine. If you haven't guessed it by now I worked at a snow shack in my teenage years. So now you know.

If you're looking for directions and more info, click on my link to parks in Eagle. Have fun at Heritage Park. And don't forget to treat yourself to a Tiger's Blood. Summer's going to be over before we know it. Get all that fun in now while you can.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boiling Springs


The name says it all. Boiling Springs is right.

Last summer, we decided to go camping for the first time ever. The girl was 7 yrs and the boy was 2 yrs and we thought it might be fun. So I started checking around and I found this cool website www.recreation.gov. From there I found a really cool campsite with a cabin. What a great idea. You don't have to worry about a tent and air mattresses, and most cabins have kitchens with refrigerators, bathrooms, some with showers, power, and running water. Now that's our kind of camping. Had we known this was an option, maybe I could have talked the husband into this camping thing a while ago.

I searched the website for a campsite near a hot springs. I don't know about you, but one thing I really enjoy is a good soak in a hot springs. And I thought my kids would like that too. So we made a two-nights reservation for a cabin near Boiling Springs Hot Springs.

The cabin was located near the Middle Fork and the drive was about two hours. It was a fun experience overall. The cabin didn't say it came with bats. But it did. Lots and lots and lots of them. Good thing we packed the Batman pajamas for the boy. But I'm not here to talk about our camping experience--that's a whole other story. Back to the hot springs.

The hot springs were very cool looking. Unfortunately, they were too hot to get into. I guess that's the wrong choice of words 'cool looking' but you know what I mean.

If you like hot springs, check out this awesome link I just added. It will guide you to over 200 hot springs all over Idaho--public or private. The guy who created this website reviews and grades each hot springs. He reports on the water temperature, the condition, the amount of trash, the bugs, and the overall experience with pictures--very useful if you're wondering where to find a good hot springs.

If you like the idea of camping in a cabin or you're wanting to search for a campground near a hot springs or anything else for that matter, check out my camping guide. It's a government site for the U.S. so you'll first need to select with what you're looking for, ie. cabin, RV sites, tent, day use, trailer, group sites, horse sites, boat sites and then select your state, a nearby city, and then a date. After you select these things, you can narrow your search by selecting a camping amenity whether you're looking for a site with biking, boating, fishing, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, scenic trails or water activities.
You'll be amazed at what's out there. You can make a reservation and pay with a credit card all from home. They'll give you a confirmation email and a code to a combination lock (if needed) and you're on your way.

One more thing, if you know of a great website that you think would be helpful on this site, please make a comment and let me and others know about it. We don't want to get bored in Idaho. Amanda

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sandy Point Beach


If you're looking for an inexpensive way to cool down this summer, look no further than Sandy Point Beach. Located at the bottom of Lucky Peak Reservoir, this place is sure to keep you cool.

We got off to a late start today due to a morning appointment. Oh no. That's when things fall apart. My son was tired and had almost fallen asleep in the car. "I don't wanna go to Sandy Point," he kept saying. "I wanna go home." After the anticipation and the drive, we certainly weren't going home. I handed the baby over to the big girl, grabbed the boy out of the car kicking and screaming and headed for the beach. After five minutes, he stopped. From there we had an awesome time.



I sat in the water with the baby and the kids waded in the water collecting all kinds of neat rocks. They also enjoyed the buckets and shovels I brought and someone else's toy they found in the sand. The sun was really hot today and the cold water felt really good. We would have stayed longer, but I don't want to look like a lobster tomorrow.

I was surprised by how "uncrowded" it was. Have you figured out that I love things that aren't crowded? This is a really fun place. I saw older boys with rafts and kids floating on tubes and parents sitting on lawn chairs in the water reading books. There's a cool fountain that kids like to swim out to and there's lots of shade trees, picnic tables, sand volleyball courts--even concessions. And it only costs four dollars.
The only

down side to this adventure is the occasional geese dropping and a weird smell in the air.

Advice--wear swim suit and bring towels, sand toys, floats, life jackets, hats, sunscreen, water, lawn chairs or blanket, and $4 cash to get in.

Go to the Lucky Peak Reservoir link for more info and directions.

****Four out of four stars. Definitely coming here again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Guerber Park

Thanks to Gina for asking where Guerber Park is located because I forgot to mention that minor detail. I certainly don't want anyone else getting lost. It's on 2200 Hill Rd just west of Highway 55. So if you're coming from Meridian, go north on Eagle Rd, turn right on State St, then left on Hwy 55. Go for about 1 mile and turn left on Hill Rd. The park is half mile down on the right hand side. Hope that helps. I've also just added a link to parks in Eagle. That should help too.

FYI, if a link has a * next to it, it means that I have been there or done that. So if there's a place you're thinking of going, but you have questions about it, let me know and maybe I can help you out. You can email me at amanda@makemybook.net.

(Yeah, take a look, I've never been to Eagle Island. I can't believe it either. ) Amanda

Dedication Point, Swan Falls Dam, and the Snake River Canyon

Even with a few hiccups, today was very fun. I probably had the most fun on this trip. We journeyed to the Snake River Canyon and Swan Falls Dam. I hadn't been there since I was a junior in high school. I can still remember the night my friends and I tried to find the Kuna Caves and ended up at the Swan Falls Dam. What an adventure that was!

We started by driving to Dedication Point which overlooks the Snake River. It's a short walk to the overlook. The view is breathtaking. It kind of sneaks up on you. One minute you're in the middle of the desert, the next you're looking at a gigantic display of volcanic rock juxtaposing a green, winding river.

We saw hiking trails that led to the bottom of the canyon as well as trails next to the river. We also saw a vehicle on a dirt road at the bottom. Humm. I wonder how to get down there? That would be a fun drive.

As much as I enjoyed the view, had I been there without my children, I would have liked it a lot more. The steep canyon wall made me so nervous. I don't know about you, but I get very nervous when my kids try to lean over something that could lead to their death. Ok kids, time to go.

We drove along Swan Falls Rd and stopped at another overlook that had a map. I was excited to see on the map that the dirt road at the bottom of the canyon actually led to Celebration Park. Oh cool. Let's take that road to Celebration Park. I had planned that for a different day, but what the heck, we were this close and it would be a very scenic drive. Or so I thought.
We checked out Swan Falls Dam, very cool, and then got on the dirt road. I was loving it. I had two kids asleep at this point, and my oldest was being quiet--content that we were headed to a park. The drive was beautiful with two steep cliffs on either side of us, wildlife all around, and a lovely river rolling along with us. I drove at about 5 mph just to soak it all in. It was better than hiking it because I could enjoy it sitting down with the air conditioning blowing in my face.

After 4 miles on this wonderful dirt road, it suddenly changed from a "motorized vehicles okay" road to a "no motorized vehicles allowed" narrow hiking trail. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time. I guess I misinterpreted what I saw on the map. I had to look at it again to see what I did. Yep, that red line does not mean road, it just means trail. My bad.

Are you learning by now that life isn't easy for me? (Or maybe I'm just an idiot.) I'm hoping your life isn't easy for you either and maybe you can relate to my blog a little bit. If you can't, I don't want to hear about it.

We turn around and go home--this time faster than 5 mph--but we've still had an amazing journey. It takes us 35 minutes to get from Swan Falls Dam to the Meridian and Overland intersection. That's how close this magnificent Snake River Canyon is to us. We will definitely be back.

Advice--make sure you have a full tank of gas. Go in the morning when it's cool. And more of the same old stuff. Shoes and socks, sunscreen, hats, plenty of water, camera, maybe binoculars if you're into bird watching. (We're not. I don't like to answer the question, "Mom, what's that?" I don't know. Ask your dad.

****Four out of four stars.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rose Gardens, Human Rights Memorial, & the Greenbelt


So today was a disaster. Not all of it, just the last part. At the worst of it, both kids were bawling their heads off as a trolley full of strangers watched me walk away all upset.

The day started out great. The plan was to go to Julia Davis Park, enjoy the rose gardens and the greenbelt and then take a ride on the Boise Tour Train. Sounds fun and simple enough right? Well sometimes things don't go well, no matter how great the plan is.

We drove to Julia Davis park and pulled up to the place where, in the past, you bought your ticket for the Train. It was no longer open. Ok, now what? We drove around the park and saw a trolley bus. I asked the driver what happened to the Train and he said it was out of service. That's okay. I went ahead and bought tickets for the 1:00pm tour. It was 11:00 am and we had two hours to explore the park before our train, I mean, our trolley tour. Great.

We parked the car by the rose gardens and started there. We saw many different rose varieties and enjoyed smelling them, collecting petals that had fallen to the ground, and taking pictures.

Then we walked the short distance to the infamous greenbelt and headed west. It's always fun to ride your bikes on the greenbelt if you have a way to get them there. My best memories as a kids are of all the times we loaded up our bikes and rode all over the greenbelt--over bridges, through tunnels and puddles. I can still hear the tires go 'bumpity bump' over the wooden lookouts.

After a short distance, we found the Human
Rights Memorial. I enjoyed reading the quotes and my kids had fun turning the handle of the speaking thing and looking at the water.

Then we walked on a bridge over the Boise river and through another tunnel. We walked east toward the BSU campus. When I told my daughter that we were going to be walking past buildings from "Mommy's college" she said, "Oh, the bowling one?" Yes, the bowling one. Didn't ya all know that I went to bowling college and majored in bowling.

(There's a bowling alley in the SUB that we like to go to because it's always been smoke free. And when we've gone bowling there, I've told them that this was mommy's college. Funny huh.)

As we walked along the greenbelt we saw a spot for the kids to wade in the river. Soon we had our shoes off and my son was pulling off his diaper. After we had splashed around the
water for a few minutes, I suddenly had to go to the bathroom. Actually, I'd been holding it since morning and I just couldn't hold it anymore. The cold, river water didn't help things either. I just wished that I could leave the kids, run and find a bathroom and be right back. But no, that's what you get when you're the only adult. So I said," Okay kids, I know that we just got here, but I need you to get out of the water that is so refreshing and you're having so much fun playing in, put your clothes and shoes back on and come on because I'm about to pee my pants."
After we make it to the bathroom, we hurry over to the trolley where everyone that was waiting in line has just boarded. It's 12:50 and we made it. I ask the driver who is standing outside the trolley if there's enough room for us and he says yes. So we get on the trolley and try to sit down and my son starts throwing a big tantrum. I can't get him to sit down. He keeps yelling, "I don't want to. I don't want to." I am already aware that we are the only family on the trolley and everyone else aboard are touristy adults. I'm sure they are staring at us but I don't look up. I try to reassure the kid that it's going to be really fun. "No, I can't. I don't want to." There's no reasoning with that. And once he gets something in his head you can't talk him out of him. I want to stop embarrassing myself so we get off the bus, I mean trolley.

I explain to the driver that my son was expecting a train ride and he's tired and I don't think he's going to sit down. Could I please have my money back? What do you think he said? I was completely expecting a yes, please try it again some other time. But no, he said no. I couldn't believe it. "Why?" I asked.
Because he had turned people away.
"What people?" I said. " I don't see any people."
"All the people that called for a reservation."
"A what?"
I wasn't buying it.
I walked away and said to my daughter, loud enough for him to hear, "He must not have children, otherwise he would understand that they are totally unpredictable. Come on, lets go."

Everyone watched us walk away and I was pretty embarrassed. The boy was still crying, now he was crying because he wanted to go back. He always does this. Always.

So I guess if I have any advice it would be to go to the bathroom before you go to the greenbelt and skip the Boise Tour "Train."