Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – Real Reviews For Real Families

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

909 Robert D. Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA  50309

ADMISSION

  • MembersFree
  • Adults$8.00
  • Senior Citizens (65+)$7.00
  • Military Personnel$7.00
  • Students (ages 4-17)$6.00
  • Children 3 and under Free

April 18, 2015

The Barkeep and I took the boys to the Botanical Garden on a rainy Saturday afternoon in April. The gift shop being right inside the door with no walls around it is a bit nerve-racking for me. My kids want to touch everything and it all looks so delicate and breakable. I try to hurry through the admissions process by having everything I need out and ready when I go in. We must have just missed a wedding as they were still there taking photographs, but it was not crowded at all. We went straight to the hallway where kids’ activities are usually kept and did some coloring and a rubbing activity. In the past we have done some cool art projects there and they often have sensory activities. For awhile there was dirt for digging in, with plastic bugs and other fun stuff hidden in it. After coloring we checked out the back room, a garden show house. This is usually my kids’ favorite area. It changes frequently and has small, interesting details to notice.

Before checking out the rest of the garden The Barkeep took Little S to the bathroom. They went to a family restroom so he did not check for a changing table in the men’s room. He said the bathrooms were clean. Little S was able to reach everything easily but there was no stool available. (This is an important detail to me, as LS likes to do everything himself.)

The gardens get very wet when it rains. Running is always prohibited in the gardens but be very careful to talk to the kids about using their walking feet when it is wet. The stones get slippery. We did not spend much time in the main indoor area but we did check out the waterfall and the stone stairs in the very back. My kids enjoy watching the fish swim under the bridges but I did not notice any on this trip.

There is a cafe, but other than popping in to buy a Fresca, I have never eaten there. The website says menu is locally sourced and plant inspired, so I think it would be cool to check out. We have always brought a snack lunch, which I discovered today on the website is not allowed. Oops. I’ve been bringing in food for over a decade and eating on the indoor balcony without ever being questioned. Sorry staff!

Outside is where the real fun begins. The entire outdoor area was dug up and remodeled last year. I went to the grand opening and was unimpressed at the time, but hopeful that spring would bring more changes. Wow, did it ever! I did not take many pictures to share because I want you to visit and see it for yourself. I’ll tell you this, it’s much bigger now and there is a waterfall you can go under without getting wet. There isn’t much shade out there right now so don’t forget a hat. The whole area is enclosed now, but it is huge, so it is possible to lose sight of a fast runner.

Brother Love

Brotherly Love

Other things to note: There were umbrellas available right outside the door to the outdoor gardens. Nice touch! The website says their on some strollers available on a first come, first serve basis. Other than the open floor plan of the gift shop there are no other “snack traps” or areas selling junk toys. We love the toys available in the gift shop but many are a bit out of my price range. You can get small books of stickers or stencils and a low price if you want a souvenir. Parking is free and plentiful and the staff is polite, happy to see the kids and helpful when needed.

We are members of Reiman Gardens in Ames so our trip to the Botanical Garden was free. As the boys ran around the paths outside I tried to assess how I would feel about the trip if we had paid the $22 to get in. I would not be disappointed, but I would probably not return again for quite awhile. As members we decided to return at least once a month to see the changes in the gardens as they grow. (This is our plan at Reiman Gardens, as well.) I highly recommend a membership if you like to take family outings. I bought the “supporter” membership for $55 and get myself, The Barkeep and all minor children in to both gardens FREE. There is also a list of other gardens across the country where you can get free or reduced admission. We have not taken advantage of this yet. If a membership is out of your price range be sure to drop hints to family members around Christmas and birthday time!

We had a great day and I hope you do, too!

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Know Better, Do Better

 

 

 

ad·vo·cate

 [v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt]  Show IPA

 

verb (used with object), ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing.

1.

to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: He advocated higher salaries for teachers.
noun

2.

a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of ): an advocate of peace.

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I spend too much time on the internet. I have three tabs open right now so I can check my email, watch my Facebook notifications rack up and shop for new band shirts for the boys… while I blog. I run into a lot of characters online, and before I get started you should know, I like them all. Minus the trolls. Trolls divide us further and waste our time. But I like the rest of them, even the well meaning advocates that completely miss their mark.

Have you met these people? They have a cause and they are passionate about it. And I mean passionate. Their Facebook timeline is filled with daily memes and quotes and articles about the miracle of their chosen cause, or causes. For example, I post a metric shitton of stuff about coconut oil, vinegar and avocados. (A metric shitton is an actual unit of measurement I just invented equal to “many”) I threw out all of my store bought cleaners and hide the new ones The Barkeep keeps buying. I have spray bottles of vinegar water everywhere instead. I put it in my laundry. I take a shot of apple cider vinegar to clear my sinuses and use it to make salad dressing. I have coconut oil in my bathroom cupboard, the medicine cabinet and, of course, the kitchen. And I just really like avocados. They keep me full. They replace cheese when I’m doing well about skipping dairy. I am an advocate for these things. I want to inform other people about their benefits. You may recall I also love my cloth diapers (currently sitting unused thanks to all the chlorine in our water right now) and Baby Legs and wearing my babies. I feel strongly about these things and when they come up in conversation I try to control myself as I explain why.

I discovered most of these things online from other advocates. Advocating is a good thing. Sharing your passion is the best thing. I am an advocate for advocating. Do something. Spread the word, teach someone, show someone, just come down off of your high horse first and remember that you most likely weren’t born with this knowledge. And if you were, remember that not everyone came from your background, your income bracket, your side of town, your way of life. We are all learning, even as we advocate, and we should all be accepting of others who are learning at a different pace.

There are some things I feel strongly about that I’m not completely comfortable writing about in such a public format… yet. Sometimes when I present people with the facts about these things and they seem unimpressed, impassive or completely reject the facts, I want to pull my hair out. Then I remind myself, there was a time I was the same way. It’s hard to accept bold new information. They may have to hear it many times from many trusted sources. They may need to see it with their own eyes. They may just need time. They may never agree. This doesn’t mean a person is ignorant or uneducated. I mean, it doesn’t always mean that, I’m not trying to suggest you haven’t met some truly ignorant people, because I have. But not everyone who disagrees with you, no matter how “right” you are, is stupid. Wasting your time trying to convince them that they are is stupid.

I saw a lovely picture online of a father folding laundry while wearing his baby in a carrier. I went to comment and was shocked by the hateful comments before mine, referring to his carrier as a “crotch dangler” and calling him an idiot and a terrible father. Not only was this attack alarming to me, but so was the news that my carrier was actually a crotch dangler and could be harming my children. A “crotch dangler” is basically any forward facing carrier that makes the baby hang in front of you with it’s hips spread apart. This can overstimulate the baby and possibly cause medical issues. Many of the women commenting were claiming to be advocates of baby wearing, but I have to admit they turned me off of the idea for quite awhile. Something I once enjoyed became yet another reason to judge each other and call names. It made baby wearing seem complicated and only for a certain type of person, specifically snarky, know it all bitches. Thankfully I was added to a local baby wearing group on Facebook and discovered that was not (always) the case. I met actual advocates of baby wearing that would happily teach other parents what carriers worked best and how to use them.

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An advocate is a person who speaks for a cause, not against others. An advocate should be inclusive and strive to make others feel welcome to their cause, not alienate those with less or wrong information. That’s not advocating, that’s judging. Which is fine, do your thing, just call it what it is. You feel superior because you were informed first. Own it, just don’t call it advocating. It turns people off. If you want other people to join your cause, don’t be a jerk.  Now you know better and when you know better, you do better.

Fakebook Confessions

Recently, this blog by Sarah Tuttle-Singer implored parents to stop telling lies on the internet and sparked  conversations all over the web. I love it. Not because I think we are lying to our friends, but because I love the reality of our lives. I want to see the reality of your day and I want to show you mine. We relate to each other and bond over our imperfections. I like to think I keep it pretty real online. I wrote a whole blog about feeding my kids macaroni for dinner. But, like everyone else, I also polish and sugarcoat quite a bit, too.

  • I was around in the days of MySpace and I have teenager daughters. I know about angles and I use them to create the perfect profile picture. I’m also proficient as using the crop feature to “clean the house” or chop off ten pounds. And my roots are so bad even Sharkboy knows they are tacky. He said, “Mommy, why is your hair all black up there and red and yellow down here? You can wear my hat outside.” That can be cropped off in pictures, too! If cropping doesn’t clean the house or hide my roots well enough I can use Instagram to hide the mess in the shadows.
  • Speaking of pictures, I take about one hundred pictures hoping to get one decent shot of my kids. I have begged them and bribed them to just please stand still for one minute. I used to hit myself over the head with things to make Sharkboy look at me. Little S will give me a model smile just long enough to get my hopes up and then dash away. For every picture I upload I have a dozen more of them running the other direction or clawing each other’s eyes out.

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

  • I love to brag about cute things the boys do to show each other love but I rarely mention that long before Sharkboy asked if he could sing Little S a lullaby he also asked if I would please put him to bed so he could do his puzzle alone.
  • I almost never discuss what it is like to live with two teenage girls, other than to say how lovely it is to have help with the boys since The Barkeep is gone so much. Do you know what it is like to live with two teenage girls when you are not a teenage girl? So. Much. Snark.
  • I blocked all of my friends’ friends that pissed me off during election season.
  • I hid a few of my own friends… they probably hid me, too.
  • I set all my app activity to private, hoping no one would notice I play SimCity Social.
  • I like bacon and Nutella… but not together and not as much as the internet wants me to. I really do love that maple bacon donut as much as I said I did, though.
  • For every one post you can see on my main newsfeed there are probably five others posted in private groups.
An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

How it really went down ;)

How it really went down 😉

What are YOUR Facebook confessions? Post them on my Facebook page or find me on Twitter. Use the hashtag #nomorefakebook and be sure to stop be Kveller.com where it all started.

Throwing Stones

I really wanted to spend this nap time either drinking, reading, or both, but I made the stupid mistake of reading Facebook first. So. Much. Judgement. And ya know what? That’s normal. That’s cool. We are all making judgments all of the time. Sometimes they pass idly through our heads as we witness or read about an event, other times they strike us passionately and we feel compelled to react. Many people reach a certain age or point in life when we realize that our judgments, while valid, may be based on limited information. We can only judge a situation based on our own experiences and that doesn’t make us right to anyone but ourselves. In other words, sometimes we don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.

For example: The Barkeep works late, often past 2am, leaving me at home with Sharkboy and Little S.  One night both boys were sick and not sleeping well. I gave LS some Tylenol and carried him over to the couch to give SB a dose, as well. LS leaned over and threw up all over my hand and the full medicine bottle. I dug through the medicine cabinet and found less than a dose of ibuprofen. My options were fairly limited. Sharkboy was miserable and needed something to help his fever immediately but it would be hours before The Barkeep was home and then we would have to wake him up to give him medicine. So, there we were, past 11pm on a week night at my least favorite store. We were in and out quickly. I gave SB his medicine in the car and they were both sound asleep when we got home. I smelled like puke so I took one of my famous middle of the night showers and then of course I couldn’t sleep so I jumped online. Facebook informed me that one of my friends had commented on a status and my jaw plopped on the computer desk when I read,

“What kind of idiot takes her kids to Wal Mart at ANY time, get a babysitter for that.”

Indeed. I could not agree more. I would actually rather set my hair on fire during a root canal than go to Walmart, let alone take my kids, but I live in the real world. Target closes early and I do not have an au paire. I do not know what sort of “free and always available babysitter fantasyland” she has been hanging out in but I don’t even get to visit that place.

The status she was responding to said,

“just saw some dumb bitch at wally world at midnight with a baby and a kid who could barely keep his eyes open. they were all in their pajamas and smelled bad. i swear you should need a lisence[sic] to have kids.”

Ah yes, the old “needing a ‘lisence’ to have a baby” insult. All I need to get pregnant is a dirty look from across the room, so I’d like to see them make that license thing work.  I could only assume since I had just been at Walmart in my pajamas, reeking of vomit, with a baby and a sleepy boy, that I was the dumb bitch.

If I had started this blog with that Facebook quote, I believe many of you would have been nodding your head in agreement, thinking yes, I too have seen that dumb bitch at my Walmart. You would have similar stories to share. But because I started the story with an explanation for why I was there, instead many of you were nodding your head thinking, yes, I have been in a similar bind.

This isn’t an isolated incident. For almost every rude thing you can say about another person I, or someone else, can offer a reasonable explanation. Think about every time someone has passed judgement on you. You probably had an explanation for why they were wrong. (Most of the time. Sometimes we legitimately fuck up. We’re human. I’m not going to judge you for that, at least not out loud. I won’t make you feel bad about it. I might call H-Bomb and tell her.)

Why, for the love of all things pink and sparkly, is it so hard to stop and think, “Hey, this looks really dumb to me, but I may not know the whole story. Kind of like that time I did a dumb thing and everyone was mean to me for it but I actually had an intelligent explanation if they would have listened.” In short, why not just mind your own business? You can actually judge your own business because you presumably know the full story, and if not, you sure as hell have no place sticking your nose in anyone else’s business.

I wasn’t bothered, by the way, by this description of my midnight outing. I never even told my friend that I was the negligent parent. The only standards I worry about living up to are my own. I don’t need to justify myself to some random woman who also happened to be shopping at Walmart at midnight. If I were to say anything to her it would just be that I judge her right back for being the kind of person who is absolute in her certainty in the wrongness of others even though she knows nothing more than a tiny sliver of one evening of their lives.

We do not learn from self righteous thinking. If you never open your mind to the possibilities you may always believe you are right but your mind will begin to stagnate and eventually you will be the only one who believes you are right.

Have fun with that.

I am reblogging this because the entire time I was reading it I was nodding my head saying, yes, yes, yes.

I’d like to add that the other night as I was buckling Sharkboy into his seat someone on a motorcycle drove by and yelled, “Hey New Bar Bitch!” And flipped me off. Instead of “new bar” though, he said the name of my new bar. I didn’t recognize what little I saw of him but he must have spent a lot of time looking at my ass because the rest of my body was in the van strapping a two year old down.

We live right down the street from a few bars, including the one The Barkeep used to own, but I’m a nice girl and hardly ever point out to people what scumbags they are, so I can’t imagine why they would target me. *shrug*

That is what it’s like to own a bar.

Ambrosia

I stopped by my friend’s house one day to pick him up so we could get a drink. We usually chat over drinks at least once a week but he recently bought a pub and it has been keeping him busy. I deserve an award for “greatest understatement” and “most patient friend” for that last sentence. My patience is running thin, though.

I stood in his doorway tapping my toe while he handled a situation at the bar over the phone. “It doesn’t matter who started the fight, everyone has to leave if there was a physical altercation. Alter… a fight.”

He had to listen to three different accounts of the fight in question and in the end he said, “I don’t care who started it, our policy is no fighting. They both leave.”

I wanted to call my mother and apologize for every summer vacation when my siblings and…

View original post 726 more words

On The Road Again

I wanted to write a couple of informative and useful pieces about surviving our road trip and camping with small children but I have been kind of busy preparing for and cleaning up after each trip so it probably isn’t going to happen. I never claimed to be responsible or informative. Look anywhere on any bio I have written, you’ll see.

We did survive both trips but possibly only because they were short. We stopped at the biggest truck stop in the world and posed for pictures in semi trucks, mostly for Sharkboy’s benefit.  Little S had his first of many outdoor, roadside diaper changes. We saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile as we crossed the state line and a quick Facebook poll confirmed that was, in fact, a fortunate sign. My cousin’s wedding was beautiful. It was outside on a perfect day at a ski resort. The boys displayed excellent behavior right up until dinner time when they started getting hungry and restless. Note to self: Bring more snacks. Little S heaved milk all over The Barkeep so we left shortly after the cutting of the cake. We went back to our hotel, changed into pajamas and comfortable, non-barfed on clothes, and went out for ice cream.

Seeing the Wienermobile as you cross the state line is either a sign of good fortune or that the Wienermobile is just leaving the state you are entering.

In the morning we visited local caves, which amused my mom since she clearly remembered my intense hatred of caves. I did not remember until we were about to start our journey into the earth and then it came rushing back that I was terrified of cramped, dark spaces and slippery stairs over hot lava. She swears she did not take me in a hot lava cave, ever, but I still see it in my mind and I was suddenly positive we would have to carry the boys over hot lava on slippery steps so I started getting a little sick. Then I realized getting the boys over hot lava would be nothing compared to trying to drag Beauty over it. We might have to sedate her. My children are amazingly strong willed. It will fare well for them in many situations, but not all.

the reality of co-sleeping in a hotel

There was no hot lava, though, just a lot of cave bacon and humidity. It was a good time right up until it wasn’t anymore, which was right about the time Sharkboy pooped. There is nowhere to change a diaper in a well preserved cave and this one was awful. It was obviously painful and he was getting more and more agitated as we walked. The last 5 minutes before being released into daylight he just cried. We changed him immediately and his mood changed just as quickly. Everyone had fun excavating rocks and fossils in the giant sandboxes outside of the cave, especially the girls, and Little S showed his first signs of being a collector. He found a crystal and held on to it almost the entire time we were there. When he did drop it he would dig until he found the right one again. I ended up buying it for him because I’m a sucker.

You know how you look back on a trip and remember one defining moment? I will always remember this trip as “the time Sharkboy started yelling in the restaurant that his butt hurt” and I will laugh every single time even though the poor kid was definitely in pain. My kids almost never get diaper rash and when they do I just use coconut oil and it clears right up, but this one was terrible. We went to Wal Mart and investigated every single kind of ointment and cream. They were pretty much all variations of the same thing. Zinc Oxide in varying percentages. I finally settled on Desitin Maximum Strength because it was 40%, the highest by far. I can’t stand the smell of Desitin but I also can’t stand my baby boy crying and being miserable, especially on vacation. The girls helped me change diapers and we were on the road again in no time.

I will probably always remember this camping trip as “the time Grandma drank vodka lemonade straight from the jug” but our camping trips tend to blend together because they are always in the exact same spot, usually on the exact same weekend, Father’s Day. I suppose it might also be recalled as Little S’ first camping trip, but no, Grandma drank vodka lemonade straight from a jug. You don’t forget that.

My whole family camps together one weekend every summer. We take over a big oval of land right by a small playground with our tents and kids and coolers. Friends are welcome to join us and they do. The lake has paddle boats, a beach and a skating rink. We have been camping there since I was a kid, before they had showers and toilets that flush. Maybe that is why I am so good at peeing outside. (Not to brag but my sister in law and I have shirts that say, “been there, done that, peed on it”.) There are still only 2 modern bathrooms in central areas so I still do a lot of peeing outdoors. I am not a fan of outhouses. We missed the rain and brought the sunshine this year. No one cried that their butt hurt, no one threw up watermelon and no one got a fish hook in their foot. I call that a successful trip. My brothers and their friends took the older kids skating after drinking all day, the grown ups, not the big kids, and there was a lot of good material there if you want to hear about straight, grown men holding hands or falling on their asses. No? Okay, just know that it was funny. Goldilocks got pretty far in the limbo considering she was skating under with her 6 year old cousin. Little S found another treasure he couldn’t let go of, this time it was a shell in the rocks at the playground. I saved it for him. A hoard has been born. Two, probably.

The Barkeep did not get a Get Out Of Jail Free Card for Father’s Day, unfortunately. We had a lot of teardown to do before we could go boating and play at the beach. He did get the Bear Grylls ultimate survivor knife that he hinted he wanted by saying, “I really want this,” and ladies, learn from that. men don’t use hints because they don’t get them. (That’s a generalization and I know it, so no angry messages, boys.) He also got a whole lot of ethically and locally grown pork. Noms.

Because we have enough steak.

I do have some advice. You know that wonderful campfire smell? It turns nasty the minute you get home. Be prepared to do laundry before you even sit down. That and a general  “be prepared” are my only nuggets of wisdom to pass on, though no matter how prepared you are something will happen you could never predict. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, raging diaper rash or heaved milk.

Aside

A Disclaimer For Morons

*giant sigh*

*even bigger eyeroll*

I shouldn’t have to write this, but here I am, writing it.

I work with other people’s children Monday through Friday. I don’t really drink while they are napping. They don’t even all nap. Monster Princess is 4 so she reads stories or watches a movie while the little ones sleep. Sometimes she sleeps, but I do not take that opportunity to get “shitfaced drunk while watching babies.”

I do sometimes drink while caring for my own children and I don’t really care what anyone else thinks about that. I will say, if you don’t know the difference between “drinking” and “getting shitfaced” then perhaps you are the one with a drinking problem.

*in case you didn't notice the carbonation or color, that's POP

Me. Eight months pregnant with Sharkbaby.*

I can, in fact, go a whole day without drinking. I went 9 months without drinking. FOUR TIMES. That is 3 years of not drinking, in case your math is as ridiculous as your grammar. I’m a social drinker, usually, but sometimes when The Barkeep and I are sitting in the sun or just watching a movie together I choose to call that a social activity and I have a drink or two. I can do that because I am the mother and I decide who drinks what around my kids.

My secret is out. I’m not throwing keg parties in the addition while the kids nap. I’m cleaning the kitchen or sitting on my ass writing a blog, wishing I had a drink, not because of the kids so much as all the morons.

Naptime IS for drinking, but who has time for that? If you have kids you drink when you can or not at all and either one is cool with me. Just keep your cup sniffing snout out of my business. Thankyouverymuch.

* In case you did not notice the color or carbonation, it’s Diet Pepsi, not wine.

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