Ashley Okland Star Playground – Real Reviews For Real Families

Ashley Okland Star Playground

5300 Indianola Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa

April 21, 2015

The Ashley Okland Star Playground is a park on the southeast side of Des Moines with equipment for all children. including those with physical and cognitive disabilities. Ashley Okland was a realtor that also did volunteer work with Variety before she was murdered in 2011. The park was created in her honor for the children she enjoyed working with and it is a park to be proud of. Goldy and I took four boys on this sunny but windy day and got four stellar reviews.

The playground is large and spread out with different and interesting equipment. It has a clean, rubberized surface, which I appreciate on muddy days like today. The kids can play with little concern of getting dirty. (You know this is not normally a concern of mine, but we have plans tonight!) There are also wide open grassy spaces and a lot of trees for us to check out another day. There is plenty of parking close to the playground and a bathroom up the hill. The women’s restroom smelled recently cleaned and looked tidy. This is a vast improvement over most area parks. There were even real toilets! I might be a little too excited about that, but have you ever tried to get a newly potty trained child to hover over an open hole? It’s frightening for everyone involved. There were two stalls but no changing station. (That’s what blankets on the grass are for, right?) If you want snacks or water bottles be sure to bring them with you. I packed a lunch and we stopped at a convenience store on the way. It’s not too far off of E. 14th, so there are plenty of places to stop, but I realize not everyone has a handy helper to wait in the car.

Here are some photos of Sharkboy, Little S and their play school friends enjoying Ashley Okland Star Playground. There is a lot more to see!

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We had a great time and I hope you do, too.


Sharkboy’s Potty Training Chronicles – I Drooled

Just a quick update.

Sharkboy: *frantic* Mama, I drooled. I drooled. I drooled. I drooled.

(This is the new thing repetition until I come up with the appropriate response. I have never heard him say drool before and I rarely say it, myself.)

Me: You drooled?

Sharkboy: I drooled.

Me: Are your teeth bothering you?

Sharkboy: No? I drooled?

Me: Like, out of your mouth?

Sharkboy: No.

(long pause)

Sharkboy: Out of my penis. On the floor. I drooled. Come see.

He walked over to a tiny spot on the floor and pointed. Sure enough.

Me: Did you pee?

Sharkboy: Yes. I peed. From my penis. On the floor.

You can’t laugh at kids when they are upset. Especially while potty training. So, I put a positive spin on it. He had been running around in his underwear playing and started to pee. But he realized he was peeing and stopped. He finished on the potty and got a sticker.

Sharkboy’s Potty Training Chronicles – Part 2 – Who Has A What

Today Sharkboy followed me to the bathroom so he could potty, too. We go this way a lot. I have to pee so he joins me and I nearly pee my pants while helping him get his down.

We have had a lot of talks about who is a girl and who is a boy because he had trouble with pronouns. Goldy is a she, Daddy is a he, etc.  We have never discussed the difference in our anatomy, though. It’s just never come up. Until today.

Me: Are you going to pee? You’ve been sitting there awhile.

Sharkboy: Yes. It’s in my peepee.

Me: You feel the urine in your penis? (I don’t care what he calls it but I like to use the correct terms sometimes so he knows what they are.)

SB: Yesss. There is pee in my peepee. Is there pee in your peepee?

Me: No, I’m done, see, I’m wiping.

SB: You don’t have any pee in your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis.

His face went through a series of expressions from skepticism to confusion to concern in a matter of a few seconds. Meanwhile, I am pulling up my pants before he decides to check and washing my hands.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: Girls don’t have penises. We have…

SB: Peepees?

Me: We have vaginas? Not really though. I mean we do, but we don’t pee with our vaginas. We have vulvas, I guess.

This is my best friend H-Bomb’s fault. I raised two perfectly healthy, self aware daughters using the term vagina to describe female genitals for potty training but all it took was one harmless, honest question to throw me off. She texted one night to ask me the correct term and I wasn’t quite sure. Obviously.

SB: Where is your penis.

Me: I don’t have a penis. I have a vulva.

SB: Noooo! Silly goose!

Me: No really. Boys have a penis and girls have a… I guess it’s a vulva. Or a vagina. It’s complicated.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis, I’m a girl. You have a penis. Daddy has a penis. Brudder has a penis. You are all boys. (It was at this point I realized that even though he joins us in the bathroom sometimes he has never seen the difference between boys and girls. A penis is slightly more obvious than… whatever girls have. He used to watch me change his brother’s diaper but he has never really seen a naked girl. I mean, he’s two.)

SB: Brudder is a boy. He has a penis.

Me: Yes!

SB: You have a complicate.

Me: I have a what?

SB: You don’t have a volvo, you have a complicate.

And that, Naptime friends, is how Sharkboy discovered the real difference between boys and girls at the young age of two. Boys have a penis and girls are complicated.

Click here for Part One