Monday, March 14, 2016

Amanda Topinka: 2016 City-Wide Garage Sales in South-Central Kansas

We all love ‘em.  We all want to know when and where they are.  And now I have it.  Your 2016 list of City-Wide Garage Sales for the South Central Kansas area.
Feel free to share this list! 

And if I left one off the list, PLEASE let me know by sending me a quick email to:

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Amanda Topinka shares Why she thinks you Should Visit the Tallgrass National Preserve in Kansas

Photo Credit:  Flickr (Miguel Vieira}
"A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with
full hands;

How could I answer the child? I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of
hopeful green-stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord. - Walt Whitman 

How DOES one describe something that is nothing?  Because that’s exactly what the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve is just outside the town of Strong City, Kansas.  It's open skies, open fields, never-ending horizons, and hills of nothing.  But that nothing is something that only God could’ve created.  It’s not anything a writer or author can paint and portray.  It’s wide-open space of beautiful wildflowers, vista and wildlife.  The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the only unit in the National Park Service dedicated to preserving a rare relic of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.  So those fields of ‘nothing’ – are definitely something.

When you’re standing in the middle of nearly 11,000 acres of prairie tallgrass in Kansas, all you can hear are the birds and the wind.  It brings a sense of calmness and peacefulness that is indescribable.  Your mind can’t help but think back to when travelers and settlers once crossed the very prairie land you’re standing on by ox and wagons so many many years ago.

Prairies began appearing in the mid-continent from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago and have developed into one of the most complicated and diverse ecosystems in the world, surpassed only by the rainforest of Brazil.  Tallgrass prairie once covered approximately 170 million acres of North America.  It was the continent's largest continuous ecosystem supporting an enormous quantity of plants and animals.  Some of the grasses include Big Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switch Grass and they can grow to heights of eight feet in the fall, depending on moisture and other factors.

Sadly, over time, the vast majority of the prairie was developed and plowed under.  Today, less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  This makes it one of the rarest and most endangered ecosystems in the world.

On November 12, 1996, legislation created the 10,894 acre Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve to protect a sample of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

With help from the NPS, the natural prairie cycle of weather, wildfires and animal grazing has sustained the tallgrass prairie and its diverse plant and animal species ever since.

Now you can find over 500 species of plants, nearly 150 species of birds, 39 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 31 species of mammals. Much of the prairie vegetation and wildlife is far too tiny to be seen from a passing car. For those who take the time to stop and look closer, a delicate world of magnificence and natural wonder is waiting.

Visitors can enjoy historic house tours of an 1880s limestone mansion, a massive three story limestone barn, Lower Fox Creek {one-room} schoolhouse, and nature trails that appeal to any age – some of which pass you up close and personal with bison. Cell phone tours of the historic buildings and prairie are available as well.  Starting late April, guided bus tours into the prairie are available daily. Bus tours are wheelchair accessible.

New exhibits in the visitor center and Junior Ranger activities are available on site or may also be downloaded via the website. Completion of five activities are required to earn a Junior Ranger badge. Children may complete a Leave No Trace Scavenger Hunt to obtain a patch. Both activities are available in Spanish.  Visit the website for hours and location.

Just how the prairie speaks to you depends on you.  Some may find it literally, fields of nothing.  But most will find the beauty and the hopefulness of what was, and what is.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

LEGO KidsFest is coming to Kansas City!

LEGO KidsFest® is coming to Kansas City, MO, May 13–15!

LEGO KidsFest is an official LEGO Event and is supported and authorized by The LEGO Company.

For the very first time since the tour began in 2009, LEGO will be making at stop in Kansas City, MO bringing all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in this three acre activity - and entertainment - packed family event.
LEGO KidsFest is for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests.

Among the many LEGO attractions, families will find: