CoMo Family: Miniature World!

On Saturday, we happened upon Miniature World, created by Patti Doyle and set up for a very short time in the basement of the Stephens College Assembly Hall.  It is a perfect place to spend an hour with children, gazing into the miniature worlds of cavemen, knights, pilgrims, cowboys, miners, construction workers, farmers and more…and then traveling the world to see such sights as the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Rhine River and Stonehenge.

The Terracotta Army in China.

The scale varies: This free exhibit is more about fun than about accuracy.  One of the added bonuses is being able to take the roofs off several buildings to see what is going on inside.  The exhibit will be open for the last time this year on Wednesday, December 19th, from 1 to 5 PM.  Ms Doyle, a delightful and entertaining hostess, will be on hand to answer questions and explain her creations.


The circus!

There is a horse show going on in this building, complete with organ music.

Stephens College Assembly Hall (sometimes called the Dorsey Street Auditorium or gym) is on Dorsey Street, south of Broadway.  Walk down a short flight of steps in the center of the north side of the building and look for the Miniature World sign on the door.


CoMo Family Kids: Library Book Sale

What will you find?

If you missed the annual children’s book sale at the library today, have no fear, there’s still tomorrow!  The Daniel Boone Regional Library host an annual book sale that focuses on children’s literature and raises money for the library.  Inside the sale are fabulous and frugal finds.  With hardbacks selling for .50 cents a book and paperbacks for .25 cents a book, families can stock up and save!

If you have busy little readers – like I do – this sale is perfect for your family.  Each year my children are set free to explore the piles of books available for purchase, enabling me to teach them money saving techniques, money management – they each have a pre-set limit- and best of all, instills a love and excitement of reading.  If you have children and missed the opening day of the sale, you can still head out tomorrow and browse the many available titles left on the shelves.

The book sale will continue on Sunday, October 14, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.  If you don’t have children or you simply want to help children in Boone County, consider attending the sale and donating your purchase to one of the many elementary school libraries or organizations such as Granny’s House or Rainbow House.  It’s just one way you can make a difference in the life of a child or give back to our community.  Happy Shopping!

CoMo Family : Where the Wild Things Are… At Orr Street Studios

Calling All Kids!

Join the artists at Orr Street studios for the Second Saturday for Kids event.
This month’s theme is Where the Wild Things Are.

Celebrate your inner wild creature by making costumes, books, and bookmarks. There will also be music by Sutu Forté’s THE PIANO IMPROVISERS!


COST: $0

Catherine Parke at 573-289-0825 (cell) ,

CoMo Family: Family Fun Fests

On the third Wednesday of every summer month, Columbia, Missouri’s Flatbranch Park is the home of Family Fun Fest.
Much as the title implies, this event is an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy special time together from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Each month there is a central theme and staple activities such as a bounce house, face painting, musical entertainment and a variety of community booths selected due to their relevance to the theme.
In my experience, the lines can be daunting. For us, I need to prep my young kids that we might not get to do EVERYTHING, but we will get to do lots of great stuff. Then I need to engage them at the booths rather then just getting sucked into the bounce house line.
June’s theme is Explore Outdoors!

My friend Amy, a Fun Fest frequent flyer, reported, “June was our favorite last year.”
She also recommends getting to the park as close to 6 pm as possible to reduce the need to wait in long lines.
Upcoming themes:
July 18 – Around The World
August 15 – It’s A Circus
September 19 – Creative Kids

As you can see, she thought it was well worth it to wait in the face-painting line.

Flatbranch Park, 101, S. 4th St., Columbia, Missouri


Nature Detectives – Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

The annual free program, Nature Detectives, kicks off this week at Columbia, Missouri’s own Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
Hosted by Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, this program is designed to entice families with kids between the ages of 3 and 6 to get out and enjoy nature.

Each hour long session includes a hike and exploration, discussion and a craft.

June’s theme is “Who Lives Under That Log?”
Saturday, June 9th
9:30 or 11:30 (These sessions are already full but you can join the waiting list.)
Wednesday, June 13th
9:30 or 11:30

July’s theme is “Connor Cave and the Bats Who Live There.”
Wednesday, July 11th
9:30 or 11:30
Saturday, July 14th
9:30 or 11:30

August’s theme is “Who Lives In The Stream?”
Wednesday, August 1
9:30 or 11:30

These programs are free but registration is required as space is limited.
You can register by email or by calling 573-443-0104.

Last week we were scared out of the woods by ticks, so I am highly recommending using bug spray with deet and wearing light colored clothing (pants and long-sleeves if it is not too hot but at the very least white socks pulled up to the knees like a 1980’s NBA player.)


Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

5901 South Highway 163

Columbia, MO 65203-8195

The Katy Trail With Kids

Quick, before it gets too hot and too humid, spend some time on the Katy Trail with your family.  No matter how old your kids are, everyone can have a great time.

There are numerous access points in and around Columbia, Missouri so you can plan a short outing or a day long excursion.

For older kids, spend a little time working through the ground rules first. They need to stay on the right hand side of the trail and if they are riding bikes they need to wear their helmets. Teach them the mile-marker system, and the first stopping place you want them to wait for you.


Then send them on their way.  Unlike riding bikes in neighborhoods, there is no need to worry about car traffic which means they can ride with wild abandon.
For younger kids it is a great place to practice riding in a safe environment. And there are plenty of distractions to keep them entertained. There are even opportunities for education… just don’t tell them that is what you are going for.

For the youngest kids… well, there is time out in nature,

opportunities to use their outside voices,

and maybe even a chance for a nice nap.

You will want to take plenty of water, possibly some snacks, and don’t forget your camera.

Also, be smart and bring a well-charged cell-phone.

The beauty of the Katy trail is you feel like you are miles from the civilized world, but help is only a phone call away.

Katy Trail information is available at the Bike Katy Trail website.

CoMo Family: Hanging Out At The Mall

When I was in middle school I loved nothing more than to ride my bike to the mall and hang out there with my friends for hours. As I aged, malls because less and less attractive to me. Until, for most of my adulthood, I saw them only as a necessary evil.

That is until I moved to Columbia, Missouri, where October is beautiful and the weather of every other month sucks is not-so-beautiful. Super hot, super cold, thunderstorms, all conditions that drive a mother of two toddlers to drink search for indoor play options.

Like it or not, the Columbia Mall is one such place.  And recently they added a new attraction.  So, if you haven’t been there since the holidays, there is a surprise in store for you.

This train drives at a slow pace through the entire mall, ringing its bell, tooting its whistle and making its young passengers very, very happy.

The train is not inexpensive.  In fact, it is $3 for every rider older than one-year.  That means, unlike the carousel, parents pay too.  It also means you see plenty of moms and dads getting their daily exercise walking along next to the train as it moves slowly past every store.

Despite the cost, I know it will work its way into our parenting survival kit as an occasional treat.  After all, I can’t deny the happiness on his face.

In the meantime, there are still plenty of free activities at the mall to keep young minds and bodies busy.

In addition to their train table, Barns & Noble added a Lego table.  From a marketing standpoint this was genius.  Normally my kids just play at the train table and I don’t buy a thing.  But the Lego station is located near the discount tables – the key to this cheap Mama’s heart.  This week, while my kids were entertained, I managed to find 13 things I just couldn’t live without.

Of course, right outside Barnes & Noble is the carousel.  Children pay $2 a piece, but if they are young their parents are allowed to join them for free.

I like to stretch this experience out by taking our time choosing which animal to ride.  And the smart people who operate the carousel, stamp the children’s hands AFTER THE RIDE.  Instead of crying because the ride is over, my kids are scrambling to be the first to get their stamps – brilliant.

The carousel is unique, and the train and Lego tables teach my kids to share with others and engage their minds, but sometimes I just need my kids to blow off steam.

This play area serves that purpose well.  At times, bad parenting puts a damper on the fun in this space.  Despite well marked signs limiting the Kidz Court to young children, it is not unusual to find over-sized, high-energy, school-age kids dominating.  And really, I highly doubt all those noses just started dripping after you got to the Mall (Come-on parents, please be responsible.)  Regardless of the occasional problem, we still consider this a great option on an afternoon when it is just too hot or just too cold to play outside.

Finally, I am a little embarrassed to bring this up, and I promise not to show you pictures, but have you checked out the Family Restrooms in the food court?

Using a public bathroom with a young child is never pleasant. Challenges like trying to squeeze a stroller in the stall,  trying to stop exploring hands from touching every surface and trying to contain, maintain and refrain (from yelling) cause many parents to wish they stayed home.  But these bathrooms are different.  Lots of space and miniature fixtures make this unpleasant task much more tolerable.

I never thought I’d  go back to my days of hanging out at a mall.  And I really never expected to write about a public restroom.  On the other hand, the glamorous life of motherhood is actually more fun than I anticipated and I am not too proud to say, “Meet us at the Mall.”


CoMo Family : Inside Columbia’s Cookies with Santa

Inside Columbia Cookies with Santa

Enjoy a morning of cookies, Santa and fun. From 9 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at Inside Columbia’s offices, 47 E. Broadway, your kids can munch on cookies and chat with Santa at the magazine’s annual “Cookies With Santa.”

Presented by Inside Columbia and D&H Drugstore, enjoy a morning of holiday fun at this free event. Call Inside Columbia at 573-442-1430 with any questions.

CoMo Family : Gone fishin’ Mayberry-style

When was the last time you ditched your communication devices to simply sit in the sun and dangle a fishing line Huck Finn fashion? (Be honest, just you and mother nature – no must-see Youtube videos or Facebook OMG’s spoiling your reverie, and the only tweeting came from feathered creatures flitting about).

Personally, for me it’s been toooo long. Like most people today, I’m all hip and techno-trendy – I carry a smartphone (which I check compulsively), own a laptop and watch HD TV to wind down. But  sometimes, being plugged-in 24/7 makes my skin crawl. In fact, often I wonder if my Tron life needs a “Little House on the Prairie” transfusion. Maybe I need to cut the techno cord once and a while, no matter how painful, and do something that doesn’t require WI-FI. Like get outside? Hmmmm.

Well, fortunately for those of us experiencing communication-overload, from now until mid-February, the Missouri Department of Conservation offers a chance to wile away some tech-free hours with their release (you-can’t-take-any-home-but-the-ambiance-is-just-as-relaxing) trout season. Although available at several locations throughout Missouri, two, one at  Bethel Park behind Rock Bridge High School and the other at McKay Park Lake in Jefferson City are great for Columbians. And with a day pass only $7 a person (season passes $12) this day trip won’t break the bank for families. Oh, you can also purchase your permits online to save time.

Today’s fast-paced, I-need-to-be-connected-at-all-times world is pretty cool… most of the time. And when it isn’t, sometimes we still have to suck it up and go with the flow. But then again, taking a break from sound bites and resting your texting fingers is just as important to retain our sanity.

So grab a pole and some snacks, kids if you’ve got them, and spend a day Mayberry style (courtesy of the MO. Dept of Conservation), with a pole over your shoulder and a whistle on your lips. You’ll enjoy the peace and quiet for a change and besides, Andy Griffith would be proud.














COMO Families: Energy Expo provides education, free food, prizes and fun

Okay, I know. The house, the yard, the car are all screaming for attention. And frankly no one knows how long this exceptionally blissful weather is going to last. But this Saturday, don’t listen to any of them from 11am-3pm. Instead, I want you to punt your normal domestic responsibilities  (at least part of the day) and  bring the whole family to the Energy Expo at the Boone County Fairgrounds. And then I want you to relish the fact that this is a free event with free food and door prizes, kiddo activities and DIY seminars, as you mill around and learn a thing or two about energy efficiency.

Because this event, sponsored by Columbia Water and Light, Boone Electric and MyZouTV is energy-educational, a crowd-pleaser and so worth your time.

Here’s the skinny on some of the highlights:

  • Celebrity mascot, TJ, the adorable tiger from MU Children’s Hospital will make an appearance
  • The Safe Kids Columbia van will offer safety videos for all (and stickers for those young at heart)
  • Power-Town will show what to do when power lines are down and explain how energy travels (so you know when not to touch!)
  • Vendors galore of course will provide ideas, (freebies as mentioned), special deals. The list goes on and on…
  • Contractors (see vendors above)
  • Seminars on all sorts of cool things, like chalking 101

So go. Be irresponsible for a change and ditch the “honey-dos” this Saturday; then, have a little free fun. And bring the kiddies. It’s a one-day package of energy-fun wrapped up with  “green” bow.

  • 2nd Annual Energy Expo
  • Boone County Fairgrounds
  • Saturday, Oct. 29
  • 11am-3pm

(Did I mention it’s free?)