The Lion King

IMG_6395-1IMG_6398Having just returned from a week in Disney World (literally just returned less than 24 hours ago), with the “Disney Magic” still very fresh in our minds, I didn’t have huge expectations for The Lion King at the Civic Center tonight.  I had never seen this production of The Lion King and just wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had heard great reviews, but thought maybe it was because it was popular with the kids.  What do I know?!

Well, Des Moines Performing Arts did not disappoint with this one.  My seven-year old was mesmerized throughout this whole show, and so was I!  The costumes were just amazing.  At times I actually forgot that the cast was human and not in fact the animals they were portraying.

IMG_6393Because the storyline followed the movie so closely, it was fun to watch with my seven-year old because he was so into the story and knew how it was unfolding.  I felt like this was a great age of child to bring to this performance.  There were a few younger children around us and it was hit or miss whether it kept their full attention throughout the whole show, but it may have had to do with the fact that this particular showing didn’t start til 7:30pm and ended at 10:00pm.  Try for one of the afternoon performances with younger kids.

But whatever you do, don’t miss The Lion King while it’s here in Des Moines.  Opening night was tonight (April 30th) and it runs through May 17th with lots of show times available (but some are already sold out, so hurry and get your tickets!).  More info and tickets here.

IMG_6409Quick tip: the souvenir line in the main lobby (as well as concession stand) had huge lines.  It wasn’t IMG_6411until we headed to our seats that we realized there was a second souvenir stand (and concession stand)  in the east lobby with hardly anyone there.  So head to the east lobby to avoid the long lines to grab your snacks and souvenirs before the show!

Oh! And don’t think you need to bring kids to enjoy this show.  This would make a great date night as well!

KidsFest 2015 – Giveaway

2012KF_Color_Veridian_forwebWe have a family 4-pack of tickets to this year’s KidsFest to give away!  Just leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win and make sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment or follow us on Facebook or Twitter so we can contact you if you win.  We’ll announce winners on February 21st!  Here are the Details of the event:

March 6 – 8, 2015
Iowa State Fairgrounds
Varied Industries Building

IMG_3021Friday, March 6: 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, March 7: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, March 8: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: $7.50 per person (kids under age 2 are free)
Tickets are available at the door

Discount coupons available at local Fareway Stores and Veridian Credit Unions.

Fun for the Whole Family!
Children & Families of Iowa’s Kidsfest is about families, fun and lending a helping hand. Kidsfest is a kid-centered festival full of fun activities, games and entertainment for kids and their families. This exciting event promises to thrill families and children of all ages.

Kids Helping Kids
The greatest thing about Kidsfest is that it is truly an event where kids can help kids. While you and your family are having fun at all of the great attractions, you are helping at-risk families and children in Iowa.

IMG_9325Snow Queen and Ice Princess Private Party: the first 100 individuals in line at the SE entrance Friday at 6 p.m. will receive free tickets, with the purchase of general admission, to the private Snow Queen and Ice Princess Party at 6 p.m. Attendees will enjoy special treats, interact with the queen and princess and have a photo opportunity at the end. Tickets will only be handed out to individuals in line.

Superhero Private Party: the first 100 individuals in line at the SE entrance Sunday at 10 a.m will receive free tickets, with the purchase of general admission, to the private Superhero party at 10 a.m. Attendees will enjoy special treats, interact with the Iowa League of Heroes and have a photo opportunity at the end. Tickets will only be handed out to individuals in line.

Mother/Son Glow Jump -The Official Time Line

So here is how this went down…

IMG_2639.JPGIMG_2652.JPGLast week: See lots of Father/Daughter Dances scheduled for tonight. Get this really good idea to attend Mother/Son Glow Jump at Pump it Up.  Kids love this place and heck, why wouldn’t I?!  I’ll skip the gym and make this my exercise for the day, an hour and a half of bouncing, I’m totally losing 3 pounds.

6:50 – Arrive.

6:52 – Sign in, obtain glow stick

6:55 – Watch video. Feet first down slides, no pushing, got it. I’m totally dominating these bounce houses. If these 4 year olds can do it…I can too.

7:00 – Enter jumping zone. I feel like this is a great idea. A little exercise, some bonding time with the kid and fun. Best. Mom. Ever.

7:02 – Realize I’m too fat to fit through the little openings to enter the bounce houses.  Stare at them for a minute thinking about attempting, but the thought of having to get one of the teenaged  attendants to cut my butt our of the mesh, 1 foot opening didn’t seem too appealing.

7:05 – Succumb to the fact that the only bounce objects I’ll be able to navigate are the gigantic slide and ridiculously large inflatable obstacle course.

IMG_2664.JPG7:08 – Attempt slide. Man those things are slippery…pulled a muscle in my back. Shake it off…Don’t look weak.

7:10 – Son insists I follow him up the “easy way” in the obstacle course to take a selfie because another mom did it . After attempting the ladder, I try to tell him that I don’t think I can make it. He immediately points out that the other kid’s mother (who obviously goes to the gym 12 hours a day) made it up with no problem. Not to be outdone, I throw my weight as far as I can up the ladder, face plant into plastic are drag myself to the top. 7 year old taunts me and says “haha, this is really the hard way”. After following him through a series of crawl spaces and slides where crying kids were stuck in corners and others were diving head first throughout the maze, I made it out alive but may have dislocated my arm. I did check to make sure the rest of my limbs were attached before I kicked a 4 year old out of closest chair.

7IMG_2647.JPG:12 – I surrender. Defeated by the bounce houses…only 78 minutes left….save me now!

7:20 – spot the massage chairs! There is no alcohol, but this might make this bearable for the last 70 minutes…

IMG_2678.JPG7:21 – Crap. No quarters. And now they just announced a Mother/Son snowball fight. The other moms are now giving me dirty looks because I’m not participating in the snowball fight and my son just turned into the devil reincarnate bearing snowballs with his only mission being to kill me by icy snowball pummeling. I’m ok with that…

7:45 – I convince my kid it’s 8:30 and the party is over.  He didn’t buy it.

8:30 – After winning a round of Simon Says, the 7 year old is ready to go.  Thank you Lord.



Of course I’m just kidding.  Pump is Up is really awesome.  Nathan had a great time and hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun he had.  They do a great job with birthday parties and the prices are reasonable. Also, I’m sure that lady doesn’t’ work out 12 hours per day…I’m sure it’s only like 6.







National Balloon Classic – Indianola

One of my very favorite festivals of the summer is the National Balloon Classic in Indianola.  The 2014 festival runs July 25th to August 2nd.  Activities for the week include a 5k walk/run, morning balloon flights that are free, evening balloons flights that are $5 per person admission (children under 12 are free). Entrance includes the nightly entertainment, the ability to watch the night glows, which are really cool where you can go right onto the field, all of the balloons light up in the dark and it’s fun to watch. And there are food vendors and kids games there nightly as well.  You can even camp at the field for $5 per night.
On Saturday the 26th at 11:00am there will be the annual Balloon Classic Parade in Indianola City Aqaure.  You can schedule a Balloon ride in advance by contacting the official balloon ride operation for the event “On the Fly” at 1-800-690-1287.
The weekday evenings are usually less busy, plan some time to get there as there is often a line to get in to park.
Here is the 2014 Schedule on the National Balloon Classic Website.

FREE Kids Cooking Classes at The Machine Shed



get-attachment-18.aspxget-attachment-19.aspxWe attended the latest Kids Cooking Class at The Machine Shed in Urbandale this week and for a free program, they did a great job with the kids!

Above is the 2014 schedule. The classes are scheduled for 4 Tuesdays during the year and start at 6pm.  Each class differs in length based on what they make in the class.  This class lasted about an hour and a half.  This time we made biscuits and they started the class by bringing the kids out to the garden to pick fresh herbs to use.  Each kid got a bowl and was able do every step of the process from measuring to mixing and rolling and then they got a tour of the kitchen and got to watch the biscuits cook.  They even had lots of toppings for the kids to eat with their biscuits like cinnamon butter, peanut butter and cherries.

get-attachment.aspxget-attachment-11.aspxJust for an idea of other things they make, they told us they made meatballs last time, and the Chef holding the class for the evening decides what to make.

I would recommend this class for kids over 5.  My 6-year-old loved it.  They allowed the parents to stay and watch, or you were able to leave your child and run errands or take a walk.  There was a younger child there and it just did not hold his attention.  Think about how it is cooking at home with a three-year old, it’s fun for a minute and then they are over it.  Even though there is no age restriction to the class and you can help your child, I think it’s definitely geared for 5 and up.

get-attachment-16.aspxget-attachment-17.aspxAs soon as the class ended my son was asking if we could come back for the next one.  Oh, and each kid got to take home a certificate of completion and a coupon for a free kids meal.  Can’t beat it for a free class and I maybe would have even paid a fee for the quality of the class =)

I’m also excited to check out the adult cooking classes that are also listed on the flier!  A $20 fee includes a three course meal while you sit back and watch a Chef teach you how to prepare a meal. Fun!

Plan a Stay-cation in Des Moines!

Everyone looks forward to that next vacation. Who wouldn’t benefit from a few days away from the daily grind?  Unfortunately, trips that require pricey travel, meals and accommodations aren’t always in the budget or sometimes time just won’t permit leaving town.  Or maybe you just haven’t had a chance to explore everything our own city has to offer?  That’s when the “stay-cation” comes into play!


get-attachment-15-1.aspxFrom The Science Center of Iowa to The Botanical Gardens, Living History Farms and The Zoo, there is always something to do in Des Moines.  Des Moines is becoming more and more of a Vacation destination due to the great festivals and fairs such as the The Art Festival, The World Food and Music Festival, The 80/35 Music Fest, The Italian/American Festival, The State Fair of course, the top-notch weekly Farmer’s Markets and many others.  So it’s no surprise that Des Moines is a great place for a stay-cation.


You don’t have to go to Napa for a Wine Tour. Iowa boasts many local wineries to make your stay-cation enjoyable for the adults, and maybe even the kiddos too.  284106_10152126184460276_827190723_nSunday Tunes at Summerset winery in Indianola is only about 20 minutes from Des Moines, and they have music from 2-5 every Sunday along with wine, cheese fruit and other food vendors, so you can relax and sip in their beautiful vineyard.  Kids are welcomed and ours always has a great time dancing and picnicking on the lawn ($3 per person or $10 per car load).  Jasper Winery in the heart of Des Moines, right near Grays Lake offers wine and cheese or wine and chocolate pairing everyday ($15 for 4 pairings-advance reservation required)!  Sit by the fireplace with friends to savor and enjoy.  We even have our own Dinner Train!  Check out the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad‘s dinner trains in the summer every Saturday night at 5:30pm.


IMG_8309If beer is more your taste, check out one of the craft breweries popping up around town.  You can check out Confluence in Des Moines after a stroll around the lake or ride your bike the leisurely 6 miles to 515 Brewery on the bike trail in Clive.


Is nature and sports your thing?  Check out hundreds of miles of bike and running trails just in Iowa!  You can get pretty much anywhere in Des Moines using the bike system.  In the summer, take a leisurely ride from Orlando’s to The Cumming tap on your bike for Taco Tuesday.  IMG_0359About 16 miles round trip will take you back and forth from two fun bar/restaurants where The Cumming Tap has Tacopocalypse tacos every Tuesday night for riders.  Or rent a paddle boat or canoe for just a few bucks at Gray’s lake for the day  or take a moonlight float.  Catch an ICubs game in the summer or watch the Iowa Wild tear up the ice in the winter.


Is food the main attraction in your stay-cation?  Des Moines has lots of options and you can check out the local flavor at lots of locally owned farm-to-table restaurants like HoQ in the East Village where more than 90% of all the food is grown locally and you can shop the local stores like Raygun while you’re there.  Burgers more your style? How about one of the only Zombie-themed restaurants in the country, Zombie Burger!  Make sure to grab a gourmet cupcake at Scratch Cupcakery or Live, Love, Bake if you’re out by the Jordan Creek mall for some shopping.  Or have a cocktail and dessert at Des Moines dessert lounge, Creme Cupcake.


394509_10151154789170276_365490208_n-1Like to swim?  Even in the winter you can check out The Ramada Tropics Water Park Resort for a one-night getaway close to home.  The kids love the pirate-themed splash area and large water-slide.  In the summer, choose from many aquatic centers around town or hit one of the many free splash pads Des Moines offers!


What? You were thinking a Broadway Show would complete your stay-cation…Well, we don’t have Broadway, but we have the next best things!  You can catch a musical or play at the Des Moines Playhouse or The Civic Center or laugh your head of at The Last Laugh Comedy Theater or The Funny Bone.


Looking for some free and low-cost educational activities? Check out the State Historical Museum, The Des Moines Art Center and Rose Garden, The Iowa Hall of Pride or visit the Salisbury House and Garden for some great photo ops!  The Sculpture Garden downtown is lovely in the evenings and with lots of great restaurants nearby, you can grab a bite and have a picnic on the lawn.


IMG_2117Check out the Union Park Carousel to entertain the kids or head to Altoona for a roller coaster ride at Adventureland or try your luck at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino.  The kids love to watch the live thoroughbred horseracing in the summer and in July they even have ostrich, zebra and camel races!


We hope you consider a stay-cation in Des Moines for your next vacation and of course check out for over 300 restaurant reviews, a kids eat free list, free stuff to do and more!

DSM Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Weekend

Unknown-1Looking for an Easter Egg hunt to take the kids to? Lindsay from the Des Moines Beyond Four Walls Facebook page has you covered!

All events on Saturday, April 19th 2014 (unless otherwise specified)

2nd Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt
Drake University (Olmstead Center)
There will be two separate hunts for ages 2–6 and 7–12. Prizes awarded to those who find specially decorated eggs. In case of rain the fun will go on in Olmsted Center.

Easter Eggstravaganza
Capitol City Church (5990 NE 14th St DSM)
Hunt for thousands of Easter eggs, plus lots of candy and prizes. Celebrate with other fun activities too, like inflatables, games and contests, Easter manicures and tattoos, and prize drawings. Toddlers through 4th graders will be divided by age groups for Egg Hunts. If inclement weather, event will move inside.

UnknownEaster event at Bass Pro Shops
Free 4×6 photo with the bunny (11-4). Crafts for kids (1-4). Egg hunt for kids age 2-10 begins at 2pm.

Easter event at Blank Park Zoo
(free for members, reg admission for non)

A spring tradition for all of Des Moines, Eggstravaganza is an event for the entire family. Featuring photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, crafts, and a golden egg hunt- this fun event is perfect for families with small children!

Easter Party at Living History Farms
$5.50/person in advance; $6/person at Door; Discount for Members
Fun for the entire family including: toy hunts, preschool Bunnyland, live animals, horse and wagon rides, and traditional games. Townsfolk will open their doors for spring visitors in the town of Walnut Hill. Free coke products and popcorn for all and a free breakfast wrap for the first 1,000 visitors.

Family Friendly Easter Services & Events
Lutheran Church of Hope
1, 3, 5 & 7pm
Easter activities will take place on the lower level of the building and will run one hour prior to every service. Easter Bunny will be available for hugs and photos. Snacks and lemonade. Jelly bean bar. Egg hunt for kids 6 and under. Temporary tattoo station. Carnival games, inflatables and crafts!

Egg Hunt put on by Ankeny First United Methodist
10:30am, Ankeny Aquatics Center
Free for children of our church and community grade 4 and under.

10 a.m. shot gun start: Beaverdale families with children up to age 10 are invited to the Annual BNA Easter Egg Hunt to be held in Beaverdale Park (Adams & 34th Street). Children are grouped by age for a lively hunt for candy and prizes. Arrive before 10 a.m. to allow for parking and finding your starting line grouped by age. Be sure to bring your camera. We ask no pets please.

Are we missing any?  Leave a comment below and we’ll get it added! Ps. How creepy is that bunny?!

Summer Movie Clubhouse!


One of our favorite activities on a hot summer day is to visit The Jordan Creek/Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse.  Each week, two days a week they will show a kids movie for only $1 per person!

Here is the 2014 Calendar!  Tickets can be purchased online here for the Jordan Creek Movies:


Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse 2014! (Jordan Creek Century Theater @ the Mall)
Every week @10:00am Tue & Wed Starting June 10th – Aug 13th
$1 a ticket or $5 for all ten movies!

6/10 & 11: Ice Age 2
6/17 & 18: Epic
6/24 & 25: The Croods

7/1 & 2: Turbo
7/8 & 9: Smurfs 2
7/15 & 16: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
7/22 & 23: Walking with Dinosaurs
7/29 & 30: The Lego Movie

8/5 & 6: Rio 2
8/12 & 13: Mr Peabody & Sherman

They also offer $1 off the regular price of the “snack packs” during the movie, which includes a kids sized drink, popcorn and teddy grahams or candy.

You can also purchase a punch card that gives you admission to all 10 shows for only $5!  A really great deal and the kids love getting to go to the cinema and see their favorite movies on the big screen.

If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive way to cool off in the summer months, check out the Summer Movie Clubhouse at The Jordan Creek Cinemark theater.  And don’t worry if your little ones can’t sit through the whole movie.  For only $1 it’s no big deal if you have to scoot out early.



Carmike Wynnsong 16 Movie Theater- Summer Kids Series 2014 – 5233 Stoney Creek CT, Johnston – Every Thursday at 10:00AM. $4.00 includes Admission, a small popcorn and a small drink

6-5: Epic

6-12: The Croods

6-19: Turbo

6-26: Despicable Me

7-3: Despicable Me 2

7-10: The Nut Job

7-17: The Lego Movie

7-24: Rio

7-31: Mr Peabody

8-7: Rio 2


UPDATE: Fridley Theaters in Ankeny and Pleasant Hill just added a series too for $1!

Check out the Schedule here (playing at 11:00am and 1:30pm on the dates listed below):

7-9/10/12 – The Nut Job

7-16, 17, 19 – The Lego Movie

7-23, 24, 16 – Despicable Me 2

7-30, 31 & 8-2 – Mr. Peabody

8- 6, 7, 9 – Rio 2

Martial Arts in Des Moines

Today’s guest post is by my friend Maria.  Her whole family is staying healthy and having fun practicing Martial Arts in the Metro.  Read about her experiences and recommendations here:

get-attachment-24.aspxWith so many great after-school programs available, martial arts may not be the first to come to mind. So I thought I would write a bit to remind other parents that it is an option and may be worth consideration for a precious after-school time slot . Martial arts offer some of the same benefits as other athletic activities such as discipline, confidence and fitness and may even appeal to some children who have not found other sports to be their cup of tea. There are many class options in the area, and my family has enjoyed participating in two very different programs for several years.

get-attachment-25.aspxTaekwondo originated in ancient Korea and focuses primarily on blocking and striking techniques. Jacobs Martial Arts Academy in Urbandale offers instruction in this method of martial arts. Jacobs may be described as “old school” figuratively and quite literally, as it is the oldest Taekwondo club in the metro area.  Long time residents may remember Kim’s Academy. When Master Kim retired 40 years ago, the school was passed on to it’s current owners, Tim and Joan Jacobs. They have been teaching ever since. Jacobs offers preschool through adult classes and boasts a membership that ranges from 3 years old to 80 years young. Amazingly, Jacobs welcomes students as young a 3 years of age into their Tiny Tigers program. This program is particularly well suited to youngsters who have excess energy that needs to be positively channeled. Seemingly through some superpower, Mrs. Jacobs transforms these blurs of noise and movement into children who can stay in line, recite a pledge, follow directions, and who have begun to learn the basic movements of the art. One of the focuses of JMAA is family.


To that end, parents of enrolled students are invited to join the teen/adult class free of charge. There is very much a sense of community among the members. This is reinforced by numerous social events including Halloween sleepovers, Easter Egg Hunts, Chili cook offs, and a summer retreat. Being the parent of an only child, one of the things I appreciate most about Jacobs is that their multi-age class format offers a chance for children interact with positive role models, and eventually to become leaders themselves.  I have been truly impressed at how the older children and teens look out for the younger students.

3710 Dennis Drive

Urbandale, Iowa, 50322

Phone: (515) 270-1600


get-attachment-25.aspxIn comparison to Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is relatively new.  It is a grappling art and focuses on using leverage. Because it was designed to allow a smaller person to defend themselves against a larger attacker, it may be especially practical for women and youth. BJJ techniques are also employed by police officers and security professionals because they can allow the user to physically subdue another individual while causing little or no injury.

get-attachment-29.aspxIf you have ever been to a local MMA event it is quite likely that you have seen some of Des Moines Jiu Jitsu members in action. In addition to a lineup of adult classes and a grappling league, youth classes are offered there on Thursdays. If you do happen to be familiar with Jiu Jitsu from adult MMA competitions such as the UFC, it is important to note that safety is the primary concern in these youth classes and that children are only instructed in those aspects of the sport that are age appropriate and that can be taught effectively while minimizing potential for injury.  Emphasis is also placed on using the techniques only at appropriate times.

get-attachment-24.aspxThe team of instructors is passionate aboutself-defense for all people, and has facilitated workshops for a wide range of groups including Girl Scouts troops and visually impaired individuals. Wrestling is woven into the fabric of Iowa, but the culture of wrestling ,when taken as a whole, discourages female participation. In contrast DMJJ welcomes female students. Girls often make up half, or nearly so, of my son’s class. A few years ago, owner Chris David, moved DMJJ to its current location which does the almost impossible, combining a downtown location with its own parking lot. He is an IT specialist by day so it is not surprising that DMJJ has a comprehensive and frequently updated website and makes full use of social media.

841 11th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

phone: 515-267-0278


The Ice Ridge

A few weeks ago a few of my friends posted some photos of their family’s ice skating in Des Moines at The Ice Ridge.  It looked like they were having a blast and then I noticed they didn’t have coats or mittens on!  Whatever they were skating on, wasn’t ice, but they were wearing real ice skates and skating around this rink.  I had to find out what this was all about!



So, I took a trip over to the Southridge Mall today to check it out.  What a cool place!  I was greeted by Owner/Operator Burton who so nice and was excited to show me the “ice” which is really a synthetic material much like a cutting board that you skate on.  There are chairs all around the rink for spectators and lots of high chairs to hold on to for learners.


The Ice Ridge offers classes and well as public open skating times and even birthday parties and special events!  Check out of the offerings and times at their website here.


Admission for public skating will run you $5 and skate rental is $3.50.  You can also purchase punch cards for discounted admission.


Very exciting to have something like this in Des Moines where you can skate year-round!  Take your kiddos out (or your adult friends) and support this cool place!


To the right is the weekly schedule and prices, but you can see this info better on the website as well.  They also have a Facebook page you can follow for special events and announcements.