Living History at Mahaffie

With the kid’s Kansas City Passport to Adventure, the adventure always started in the car with learning.  En route I handed them their own passport and gave them the name of the place we were going, making them sound out the words and finding the page in their book.  They competitively searched until they could find the page and look at the picture of where we were headed.  This also made it important for the kids to proudly reopen their book to the correct page to collect their stamp when we got there.

Looking at the books on the ride to an adventure always made the kids look ahead for where they wanted to travel to next.  One picture they always stopped on and couldn’t wait to check out was Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm.  This also became Parker’s favorite adventure of the summer and one my mom said she wants us to go again and bring her along.

On a near hundred degree day we decided it was finally the day to make the trip to Olathe and investigate what Mahaffie was all about.  Due to the heat, we were about the only guests on the property and received undivided and personal attention from the farm staff dressed in 18th century attire.  The farm itself was a landmark for stagecoach travelers headed west, where they could stop for a hot meal and restock supplies.  We toured the actual farmhouse and learned about the Mahaffie family.

04mahaffiefarmThe kids were intrigued by the kitchen set-up in the basement of the home.  I quizzed them on where traditional kitchen equipment was located to help them discover how they would wash dishes, keep food cold and cook.  The woman working in the kitchen was patient to show them the inside of the wood burning stove, how coffee was made, to answer their inquisitive minds and offer them cookies which were made in the kitchen.  I was alarmed at the thoughtfulness of the questions the kids were asking, considering how could they see with no electricity?  The hostess showed them lanterns and demonstrated how it took the place of lights.

We stepped out of the house and headed to the barn where another hostess met us outside to show the kids the horses.  She escorted us into the barn to talk about the stagecoaches and encouraged the kids to climb aboard the oldest one they had at the farm.  Once the06mahaffiefarm horses were harnessed up to another stagecoach we took a ride all to ourselves.  The kids bounced along looking out the windows with silent gleeful smiles until Parker interrupted with “This is the best day ever.”

We also checked out a smaller barn where the blacksmith allowed the kids to take turns helping him stoke the fire and then hammer an iron into a hook.  I felt humbled and grateful to have this man working the fire for our enjoyment on such a hot day.  He and the others on the farm all were gracious to give us the experience and attention to make this adventure amazing.

Before we could leave the farm, the kids also experienced how they would have been washing clothes if they were born centuries ago.  I don’t think they would have been so happy to be splashing rags into water if it were their job, they certainly enjoyed it at the Mahaffie Farm though.05mahaffiefarm

Before entering the farm, we were directed through a building to pay the entrance fee.  We ended our trip back in the building where there is a small museum with more to read about the farm and history of Olathe.  The kids tried on farm clothes and created mail to simulate how mail used to be delivered by stagecoach.

I was never a fan of learning about history in school, experiencing history is so much better.  We will definitely be back to another adventure at Mahaffie Stagecoach, next time on a cooler day and I will bring my mom along too.

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Color Comparison

I know, I know… Don’t compare your child to others. This is advise and knowledge given to parents all the time to calm irrational thinking about a child’s health, developmental progress, intelligence, creativity, athleticism etc. I understand my child is only two and has years to learn and grow. She will have areas where she excels above other children her own age and there will be other areas she may be average or below. Believe me, with my history of obtaining “below average” scores on standardized tests, from personal experience I greatly value not comparing. However, there has to come a point when you might potentially learn something important, something missing or a major discrepancy between what is normal and what you see happening… Right?

Here’s my confession, I have been stressing for 6 months pushing colors on my baby. It all started last spring, months before her second birthday when we hosted a play group at our home. One little brainiac friend of hers only a month older, was easily naming colors when prompted by her mom. I figured I’d boost up my tutoring of colors and within the next 30 days and she would be right up to speed with her smarty pants friends.

30 days came and went, the whole hot summer went by, her second birthday came and went… This whole time adding to the list of other 2-year-olds accurately responding “red, blue, yellow” to the command of “name that color.” I coached with blocks, in the bathtub with toys and with crayons. I tried naming, matching, providing choices and asking yes or no.

Her complete and utter refusal to get involved in the process had me worried maybe she really couldn’t see what I was talking about. Of course she wouldn’t know which color I was talking about if all along she was seeing shades of gray. Really all I was accomplishing was torturing a colorblind child?

In December I had an opportunity to get together with my cousin, his wife and their big eyed, squeaky voiced nearly two and a half-year old princess. He relayed the same stress I was feeling and admitted play-Doh was the incentive for his daughter to identifying colors. reinvigorated with hope, and coincidentally a freshly purchased barrel of play-doh from Christmas – I was ready to get back to color training.

Parker practicing color with play-doh

Parker practicing color with play-doh

The next week Parker was enthusiastic about her play-Doh, she appeared to be catching onto the idea of responding with the name of a color. I held up the yellow play-doh and asked “What color is this?”

“Lellow,” she said to receive applause and a congratulatory high-five. Testing again, I held up the blue container and again asked for the color. She paused before replying “Lellow.”

“No, try again PJ.” I said patiently.

“Lellow-ink?”

And so it turns out, she says yellow for everything. And as if yellow-pink were a color, this is always her second choice. Her other frequent responses to color related lessons are “I unno Mommy,” and when I tell her the color answer I was looking for “Oooooh, I see Mommy.”

Progress maybe, and yet nowhere near where many of her two-year old buddies are at with their art skills. Again, I know I shouldn’t compare, yet since we happened to be at the pediatrician earlier this week I went ahead and asked. Dr. Loeb reassured us not to worry about color blindness and typically kids don’t differentiate colors until around the age of 3. Whew, I guess I will give Parker another 8 months to study up!

Daddy & Daughter Demands

My daughter is becoming fiercely independent.  Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life.  Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others.  She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer…  years from now.

Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle.  My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.

I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.”  Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.

Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind.  “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.”  When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help.  One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them.  When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.

I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible.  I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes.  Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes.  I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right…  Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.

Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age?  This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long?  When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it?  (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.)  The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?”  See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.

There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums.  With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.

And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast.  I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow.  Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.