How I Really Feel about Being a Single Mother on Mother’s Day and Every Other Day of the Year
This post about my Mother’s Day in 2017 is clearly long overdue. But you know how the saying goes … Better late than never. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother’s Day.
*Sidenote: This post features the opinions of a woman who, at this point in life, only has five years of experience with raising one girl. Just in case you feel that makes a difference in what I’m going to write.
This past Mother’s Day was my first one as an official single mother. I didn’t wake up to breakfast in bed or a bouquet of flowers. That’s because my daughter isn’t old enough to cook by herself and I no longer have a husband to make those things happen. Yet it was fabulous, none the less. I had a wonderful opportunity to simply relax and enjoy quality one on one time with my daughter. It was awesome! We did absolutely nothing except lounge around the house all day.
But what about your Mother’s Day brunch!? Well since you asked… “Brunch” consisted of a delicious mix of “Let’s see what we can come up with from the fridge”. The truth is this was my favorite Mother’s Day so far. There were no expectations, no agenda for the day, no pressure. I loved it!
Society has placed a grossly false stereotype on single motherhood. (More specifically, single black motherhood). We aren’t all surviving on welfare with six kids in the projects while our baby daddy is locked up. That is just a plain wrong viewpoint to put on all single black mothers. I know that is true for a small percentage but it’s not my story.
God has truly blessed me to have a mindset of gratitude. Although it isn’t easy to maintain especially when I see so much of what could be considered greener grass. When I first became single I was envious of the friends whose marriages and families were still holding together. At times I felt that there was something wrong with me for not sticking it out. And of course I worried about the effects of Lily growing up with divorced parents. I mean, come on, Christians don’t get divorced!!!
Fast forward to now when I’m in a place where I have come to terms with my marriage ending. Yes, there was something wrong with me; with Terry; with our friends; with the world. That something is sin. I could have stayed but I didn’t. We were two sinful people who wouldn’t step out of the comfort of our selfishness to allow God to orchestrate the structure of our marriage.
So here I am, a single mother.
Let’s go back to God blessing me with a mindset of gratitude. I love my life! I love that God moves through and all around me everyday to constantly show me all that I have to be grateful for. The most important being my daughter. I know it sounds unbelievable but being a mother (and a single mother) is fun. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy. I love my child.
Not that raising Lily is a slice of cherry pie a la mode. Motherhood requires much of me on a daily basis. Loving my child means I actively stay present in her life. It means that I allow her the space to grow as an individual with a strong personality, feelings, and opinions. It means that I guide and discipline her with compassion and understanding.
Discipline usually isn’t associated with compassion but that’s what it is. To let a child live in an environment where they don’t receive proper structure and direction is reckless. Children need to be taught how to function as upstanding citizens in the world. At times these lessons are not easy to teach. Occasionally I find myself irritated or upset because Lily behaved in such a way that warranted correction when I really just wanted her to “be good” so she wouldn’t get in trouble. In reality what I’m saying is Lily’s undesirable behavior is an inconvenience to my wishes for her to always be pleasant and obedient.
Unrealistic standards for anyone! Much more so for a five year old. She’s an imperfect person. Inevitably she will not follow my directions. She will break something when I told her not to touch it. She will throw a fit because I said she couldn’t watch tv. She will have to be told repeatedly to pick up her toys. And I will have to deal with each situation accordingly. That is my job as a parent. I would be doing Lily a grave disservice to overlook or ignore times when she needed correction because I just didn’t want to deal with doling out consequences. Being a good parent isn’t about I want it’s about what Lily needs.
Also, speaking of “discipline” that leads me to another stereotype for Black America.
Black people do love their children. We hug and kiss them, play with them, read to them, help them with their homework, take care of them. We don’t spend all day giving them spankings, whoopings, beatings or whatever you call it.
Ok… Back on topic… For me being a single mother means accepting, with joy, the responsibility of stewardship over my daughter’s life as she, God willing, grows into adulthood. How dare I not cherish every moment that God blesses me to have with her! Now pause to realize that it doesn’t matter if you’re single or married, black or white, male or female, to make that lifestyle choice.
Choices. Isn’t that what it breaks down to? You as a person have the choice to live however you want. Just keep in mind there are rewards or consequences for everything. I choose to love my life. My single mother life.
Thank you so much for reading! If you liked this, there’s a whole lot more where it came from! Subscribe to the blog and stay connected to My City Adventures.
The Ultimate 2017 Guide to Having a Fabulous and Completely Free Summer in Kansas City
Whether you’re traveling to Kansas City on a budget or are simply looking for activities that won’t break the bank, you will love my Guide to Summer in KC! Some of the event listings are sponsored which means I received compensation for sharing them with you.
I love that I live in a city where I don’t have to spend a fortune on fun things to do. No matter the time of year, Kansas City has wallet friendly activities and events. But there’s just something magical about the summer! Warmer days, gorgeous nights, and for my family it is birthday season. Yep, we were all born in July or August. Except for my oddball sister who has a January birthday…
Summer is when most people start reaching deep into their piggy banks to splurge on vacations. Not me! Actually that’s a lie. God willing, I’ll be going on a few road trips this summer. More on that later. Even so, I take on this season with an extra challenge. How many free things to do can I find over the next three months? This year I’m sharing that list with you! You’ll be surprised at some of my finds.
The Ultimate Guide to Free Summer Events & Activities in Kansas City
Plaza Live! Courtyard Concerts – May through September
Live music from the best local and regional acts kicks off at the Country Club Plaza on May 4th. Plaza Live! features concerts in beautiful Plaza courtyards every Thursday 5 to 8 pm, Friday 4 to 7 pm, Saturday 2 to 5 pm, and Sunday noon to 3 pm. Concerts are held in Mermaid Courtyard near Michael Kors, Penguin Courtyard near J. Crew, and Valencia Courtyard near Banana Republic from May through the end of September.
Off the Wall Film Series – May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8
This year the Kansas City Public Library’s annual rooftop summer film series highlights quirky characters fighting the status quo. Bring blankets and folding chairs to the Rooftop Terrace of the Central Library for an evening of downtown KC skyline cinema. Enjoy popcorn courtesy of Friends of the Library and locally brewed ales and lagers from Kansas City Bier Company. Doors open at 8 pm, screenings start at 8:45 pm.
Hot Country Nights – June through mid August
Hot Country Nights presented by Q104 is a country concert series happening at the Kansas City Live Block every Thursday evening, all summer long! The party starts every week at 7 pm. Shows are open to all ages but anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Must be over 21 to enter after 9 pm.
Dragon Boat Festival – June 10
The 13th annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival brings the traditions of ancient China to Brush Creek on the Country Club Plaza on June 10th. Enjoy this event featuring 14 college and community boat racing teams, authentic musical and martial arts performances, children’s activities and the Bochi and Kona Ice food trucks. The eyes of the dragon are opened at 9:45 am when the races begin.
Juneteenth KC – June 10, June 17
Juneteenth is the annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. The celebration kicks off in Kansas City with a parade down the historic 18th and Vine District on June 10th from 11 am to 1:30 pm. For the first year ever the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art joins JuneteenthKC in commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States. Activities at the museum include visual and literary arts, music, entertainment, and education on June 10th from 10 am to 4 pm. The Juneteenth Festival takes place at 18th and Vine on June 17th from noon to 8 pm. The festival features cultural activities, a kids zones, crafts, local music, and dance.
Sprint Family Fun Days – May 13, June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9, October 14
Bring your kids downtown for the Sprint Family Fun Series the second Saturday of each month, May – October. Enjoy a new theme filled with family fun and entertainment every time. Be a part of all the fun on social media by using #FamilyFunKC. Event is held on 14th Street and Walnut Street in the Kansas City Power & Light District from 10 am to 3 pm.
City Market Busker Festival – June 11
The City Market is known for its buskers (street performers who entertain for tips). They are an important part of the unique atmosphere at the City Market. On June 11th, 9 am to 1 pm, the City Market presents Busker Festival, a celebration of the street-style entertainment that’s fun for all ages. The Busker Festival will showcase uni-cycling, juggling, fire twirling, aerial arts, stilt walkers, dancers, comedy, hula hooping, circus acts, magicians and more. The City Market’s motto is “where the locals go,” and in keeping with that tradition, all performers are local to the area.
Urbana KC – June 11, June 25
This downtown street scene happens on select Sundays in June. A familiar city block is re-imagined without the traffic flow from cars. You can eat and drink under the stars, hear live music, see public art displays and share a uniquely Kansas City summer experience. It all takes place in the heart of the Power & Light District neighborhood from 4 to 8 pm.
Heart of America Shakespeare Festival – June 13 through July 2 (excluding Mondays)
Moral corruption, revenge, madness, murder – Hamlet runs the gamut of dysfunction. This year’s festival focuses on the villainy and abundant human frailty in perhaps the greatest of the Bard’s 38 plays. Activities for each night include an educational prologue to the play and performances from the KC Shakes teen apprentice troupe. The play begins at 7:30 pm. Enjoy your dinner, picnic style, with blankets and lawn chairs or buy food from nearby vendors.
Future Stages Festival – June 25
As an extension of the Kauffman Center’s Spotlight on Youth initiative, Future Stages Festival is a free, community event designed to celebrate the arts in Kansas City. This one-day festival showcases Kansas City’s diversity. It brings together visitors from all over the metro area to enjoy interactive arts activities and performances featuring more than 700 young artists.
Crown Center Weekenders – July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28, August 4
Cap off your work week with top local bands and favorite food trucks. Finish the evening with a famous flick under the stars at Crown Center Square. Festivities begin at 6 pm with the movie starting at approximately 9 pm.
Celebrate National Park and Recreation Month and KC Parks 125th anniversary with Kansas City’s Big Picnic. Kansas City Parks and Recreation join with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to host the biggest picnic the region has ever seen! The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park and Theis Park will be linked to become a giant space for Kansas City to come together for an evening of fun activities from 4 to 8 pm. Pack your own picnic or grab dinner from an on-site food truck.
First Fridays – Monthly recurring event
On the first Friday of every month, the Crossroads and 18th & Vine districts come alive with hundreds of people there to enjoy works from local artists, buskers, street concerts, and more. Arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a variety of local businesses feature regional and national artists as well as live entertainment starting in the early evening.
Third Thursdays – Monthly recurring event
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hosts third Thursday programs every month from 6 to 9 pm It’s your not-so-quiet night at the museum where art and local talents meet for a lively night of free entertainment. The night spotlights the wonderful musicians, community organizations and local businesses from the Kansas City area while drawing attention to the artwork, galleries and exhibitions at the museum.
Third Fridays – late Spring through mid Fall
The West 39th Street District takes summer up a notch on 3rd Fridays. Live acoustic musicians stretch all the way down West 39th, boutiques have extended hours, restaurants have special happy hours. It’s a great time to get out and explore the local atmosphere at a leisurely pace. Activities take place from 5:30 to 9:30 pm.
Phew, that’s a long list! I hope my guide gives you some fun ideas for summer. Also I mentioned earlier that I plan on hitting the road soon. And I’m taking my free loving spirit along when I do! Subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss any of my city adventures. Thank you for reading!
Charities that Represent the Things I Am Most Passionate About
I am passionate about three things. Food. Children. Adventures. Here is a list of my favorite charities that represent those three things. This post also has sponsored links. I hope you enjoy reading and will take the time to explore these charities further.
When I say I’m passionate about food, I don’t just mean eating it. Although, that’s where it started! I constantly advocate for people to learn just how easy and inexpensive it is to eat healthy foods. Whenever someone tells me how hard it is to afford quality foods I always recommend two places. The first is their local farmers market. The second is Thrive Market.
Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to members at wholesale prices. At 25-50% off retail, most Thrive members make back their $60 membership fee in savings within their first two orders. Their mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. That’s why, in addition to already affordable health foods and products, Thrive Market’s Spread the Health program donates a membership to low-income families, teachers, veterans, and students for every purchased membership. More than 23 million Americans today still live in “food deserts”—low-income neighborhoods without healthy food. This leads to low-income families resorting to buying food they know isn’t healthy just to make ends meet. The lack of access contributes to a number of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. By donating, you help food-insecure families stock up on wholesome pantry essentials and kick-start their journey to good health. Use my Thrive Market link to enjoy a 30 day free membership trial.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized just how awesome and amazing a privilege it is to raise a child. Children are capable of being the most intelligent, compassionate human beings. If we as their parents, teachers, and role models don’t hinder them from fulfilling their potential. Unbound and Show Me Shoes Foundation, both based in Kansas City, MO, are two charities that are on a mission to help children and the families that raise them.
Unbound is an international nonprofit bringing people together to challenge poverty in new and innovative ways. They deliver financial assistance to people in 19 countries. Each sponsorship directly benefits an individual and helps pay for education, skills training and livelihood programs. They believe families and communities can overcome the challenges that face them when we all work together. Unbound also creates opportunities right in my hometown of Kansas City, MO. Every week, Operation Breakthrough cares for more than 400 children. More than 20 percent of the children are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless — living in battered women’s or homeless shelters or transitional living programs in Kansas City. Unbound provides funding for mental health care for those kids and family services to help their parents give a better life. Unbound staff members also volunteer weekly by tutoring children at Chalet Manor public housing in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, KS. The Learning Club of KCK serves more than 100 children, focusing on homework help and enrichment activities. Unbound and the Learning Club of KCK share the goal of helping children who live in poverty meet their highest potential through one-on-one relationships.
Show Me Shoes Foundation launched when friends Anneka Maquay and Shiv’on Bullock shared a vision to inspire young girls to follow their dreams and to help build confidence from the “Sole”. Show Me Shoes Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a goal to create a movement of confidence through self-love, mentors and sisterhood. Show Me Shoes has served young girls and women in chapters in Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO. With the support of volunteers and donations, they are able to make a difference by restoring strength and self-love through the “sole”.
When it comes to adventures the more unique they are the more I like them! I don’t just mean bungee jumping of a cliff or flying off top a getaway on the beach in Bali. Sometimes the most treasured explorations are to be had right where you call home. Social Heart provides a myriad of my kind of adventures all year-long.
Social Heart is a non-profit organization that is 100% volunteer managed. Their purpose is to create a better community by supporting all local charities in the Greater Kansas City area in uniquely impactful ways. Social Heart is helping to improve the city through creatively fun events, promotions, marketing, donations, and volunteer support. A few of their biggest events are the annual Mardi Gras celebration, Laugh Your Ass Off comedy show, and National Volunteer Appreciation Month. They also host monthly happy hours at a variety of local places. The best thing about Social Heart is that all funds raised go directly to the charities.
Thank you so much for reading! What are you most passionate about? What are some of your favorite charities? Leave a comment below.
10 Amazing Companies that Created Unique Sightseeing Tours in Kansas City
Maybe it’s that I love history. Learning about where things got started has always interested me. Lucky for me, where I live, there is plenty to learn and explore. Here are 10 amazing companies that created unique sightseeing tours in Kansas City.
1. American Jazz Museum Tour
Located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District, the American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through visual arts, interactive exhibitions, films, and performing arts. Public programming for all ages enliven the history and music at the center of the American Jazz Museum. The engaging Museum tours bring Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington to life. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for 65+, $6 for children 5-12. Discounts are available for groups of 25 or more. Tours are perfect for family reunions, corporate outings, networking events, and more. Call 816-474-8463 for scheduling.
2. Boulevard Brewing Company Tour
Founded in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company has grown to become the largest specialty craft beer brewer in the Midwest. The brewery offers two options for tours of its factory. Enjoy free public one hour walking tours of the brewery, which close with samples in their Tasting Room. The entire day’s tickets become available at 10 am each day, and are on a first-come, first-served basis from the Tours & Rec Center Welcome Desk. Public tours are open to ages 6 and older and offered at regular intervals from 10 am to 4 pm. Thirsty for more? Then the Smokestack Tour & Tasting is for you. Join Boulevard for a two-hour experience including the tour plus guided food and beer pairings. Smokestack tours are available Sunday through Friday for guests 21 and older. Tickets are $25 per person and released online the first Monday of each month for the following month’s tours.
3. Chocology Tour
Chips Chocolate Factory, in Crown Center, makes more than 200 chocolate confections by hand including over 40 flavors of Kansas City fudge. Their Chocology tours are a unique experience where you learn the history of chocolate, where is it grown, how is it harvested, and how is it made. You’ll also watch the resident candy makers transform fresh ingredients into a loaf of smooth, creamy fudge. Scheduled group visits are between 10:30 am and 5 pm, excluding Tuesday and Sunday. The cost for the visit is $5.00 per person and includes a bag filled with yummy Chips Chocolate Factory goodies. Tours need a minimum of 10 people. Each visit lasts about 45 minutes. To schedule your group visit, call 816-421-0012.
4. The Gangster Tour
Kansas City was a favorite spot of the “old timers.” The Gangster Tour puts you hot on the trail of this city’s most notorious Goodfellas. But don’t make the guides twist your arm. Grab your chopper, hop on the bus, and you’ll spend 90 minutes immersed in a melodramatic look at mob homes and hangouts, turf wars and infamous crimes like the Union Station massacre. Tours are held every Saturday year round for $29 per person. Sorry kiddos, adults only. Dinner and a tour is also available for groups of 15 + at $69 per person. For reservations or ticket information call 816-471-1234.
5. Harley-Davidson Assembly Tour
Harley-Davidson has built a legacy of fulfilling dreams of personal freedom. Step into the process of that legacy with tours of the Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Factory. Two tour options feature a series of displays that guide you through the various manufacturing and assembly processes. Classic Factory Tour are free and offer people and small groups an intimate view of Harley-Davidson’s assembly line and fabrication areas. The Steel Toe Tour goes behind-the-scenes through areas previously unseen by the public. Tickets are $38 per person. This is the only Harley-Davidson factory tour where you will see a Harley-Davidson powertrain and vehicle assembled and brought to life. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed on the tours. Visit website for more information, including tour times.
6. Historic Kansas City Tour
Historic Kansas City is the only greater Kansas City nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of the area’s heritage, neighborhoods and historic built environment. The Historic Kansas City Foundation offers a variety of walking tours featuring the diverse architecture and history of neighborhoods across Kansas City. Trained volunteers lead tours that last between 1 and 1.5 hours. Tour pricing is $10 per person. Members of Historic Kansas receive a 50% discount. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816-931-8448, at least one week in advance, to schedule a tour date.
7. Kansas City Ballet Tour
The Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity is home to the Kansas City Ballet. Located at 500 W. Pershing in downtown Kansas City, the facility houses the professional company, Kansas City Ballet School, Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater, and Kansas City Ballet’s artistic and administrative staff. Kansas City Ballet invites you and your group to come see the company at work. Call to arrange a tour of the studios for groups of 10 or more people. The presentation includes information about productions in progress and you can take a peek at their professional dancers in rehearsal. You’ll also be able to see costumes in the making in their costume shop. For more information about tours, please contact 816.216.5583
8. Kansas City Fun Tours
A Kansas City Fun Tour is the best first thing to do in Kansas City. Get acquainted with popular sites, local favorites and hidden treasures that the city has to offer during their fully narrated 75 minute, 15 mile guided tour. Take the tour in style aboard an authentic trolley. Some of the things you’ll experience are art museums, fountains and statues, where to go for the best nightlife and live music, and great restaurants to enjoy cuisine from around the world. Scheduled tours are daily at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm. Tickets are $10 for children 12 and younger, $18 for 60+ and military, and $20 for adults. For scheduling book tickets online or call 816-500-5417.
9. The Roasterie Factory Café Tour
The Roasterie Factory Café goes to great lengths to bring you the best coffee in the world. Enjoy tours of the factory that gives you an up close look at their cupping, roasting and blending processes. You’ll learn about the history of the company, get a behind the scenes look at the factory, and experience a manual coffee brewing demonstration along with a Q&A. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for the 45 minutes long tours. The best day for a Roasterie Factory tour is Thursday. Public Cuppings (coffee tastings) are held on the first and third Thursday of the month. On these days, from 5 pm to 6 pm, you can sample a myriad of coffees from all over the world. One hour private tours are best for groups of 15 or more. Here’s a link to my last visit to the Roasterie Factory.
10. Taste of Kansas City Food Tours
Taste of Kansas City Food Tours started in 2012, becoming Kansas City’s first food and culinary tour company dedicated to helping visitors and Kansas City residents enjoy the best Kansas City food and cultural experience off-the-beaten-path. In addition to tasting deliciously crafted foods, participants will learn about the history, culture, and neighborhood entertainment offerings of the Crossroads Arts District. Whether through the Crossroads, Prohibition, Sunday Brunch, or on the KC Streetcar Line, any of the four Taste of Kansas City Tours are sure to tantalize your taste buds. Ticket pricing starts at $54 per person. Visit website for more tour information and schedule.
Which tour your favorite? Leave a comment. Thank you so much for reading!
The KC Foodie Club Takes on Kansas City Restaurants, One Forkful at a Time
What happens when you put some of Kansas City’s most passionate foodies together? The KC Foodie Club. That’s what! We are a group of locals who come together at restaurant tables across the city in pursuit of all things delicious.
Most appropriately, the foundation for the KC Foodie Club was set during the mother of all Kansas City culinary events. Kansas City Restaurant Week 2017. This year we did much more than good while dining out. The kick-off party for KCRW 2017 gave us KC Foodies a chance to actually meet face to face. Most of whom I personally had only been familiar with on Instagram. After the event, we were all pretty much thinking the same thing. “These people are kind of cool. They love food just as much as I do. Why don’t we hang out more often?” Okay, maybe not those exact thoughts. But it didn’t take long for the ball to get rolling on a small group to make plans for the first KC Foodie Club meet-up. You know the saying? Birds of a feather flock together. Well, we eat together. Mmmmm, speaking of birds…
Succotash, at 26th & Holmes, was the setting of our first club meeting. This quirky eatery, known for its brunch, proved a cool backdrop to our crowd. Once the rosemary-caramel lattes and sunrise smoothies were flowing, we made formal introductions, chilled, and talked shop. Oh, and of course we took plenty of Instagram-worthy photos. The best thing about dining with other foodies is that they appreciate what goes into a good a meal. Not just the ingredients and preparation but also the presentation. Plus I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt to eat with people who honor Foodie Rule No. 1. Do not touch or eat anything until a photo has been taken!
Who are the members of the KC Foodie Club?
We all agree on our excitement about delicious food, It’s what brought us together. However, our backgrounds couldn’t be more diverse. Nursing, Advertising, Preschool Education, Marketing, etc. But it works. Food has a funny way of being a common denominator. Below is a list including each member and their Instagram page. (Instagram being where most of the magic happens!)
What does this mean for restaurants in Kansas City? It means we are 20 hungry foodies with a reservation at your place! So be ready!!! Just joking! A little.
Okay, here’s what it really means. The KC Foodie Club is made up of unique individuals who share the common desire of exploring the best of Kansas City cuisine. And we want to share our discoveries with EVERYONE we know! From social media photos and posts to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. We love exposing people to all the delicious restaurants in Kansas City. If you own a restaurant or sell food products in Kansas City, there all lots of ways you can connect with the KC Foodie Club. Publicity for restaurant openings. New menu tastings. Honest and unbiased restaurant and product reviews. Press for special events. If you have something different in mind for a collaboration, just let us know. Contact us at email@example.com. The creative possibilities are endless!
Look for us everywhere with the hashtag #kcfoodieclub. In the meantime we’ll be happily feasting on Kansas City’s most yummy dishes! Thank you for reading.
Five Surprisingly Free Ways to Become a Connoisseur of the Arts in Kansas City
Kansas City has developed a huge culture for three things. Sports. Food. Art. We are faithfully passionate about our Royals, Chiefs, Sportings, Tigers, and Jayhawks. This city has an insatiable appetite for deliciously authentic culinary masterpieces. We support the visionaries who creatively bring the depth of their imaginations to life in architecture, installations, music, literature, dance, and theater. Which leads me to the subject of this story. Five surprisingly free ways to become a connoisseur of the arts in Kansas City.
Kansas City is widely recognized for its arts. It also works tirelessly to maintain accessibility of the arts in Kansas City for all who live and visit here. From opera and ballet to poetry slams and street festivals. And of course, a myriad of classes and arts based curriculums. What I love best is that you don’t need to be rich to enjoy them. Here is a list of just a few ways I enjoy arts in Kansas City for free.
Five Surprisingly Free Ways to Become a Connoisseur of the Arts in Kansas City
1. Quixotic Fusion
Quixotic Fusion is an innovative performing arts group which integrates technology with live music, contemporary dance, and cirque nouveau arts. They perform across the United States and at two annual events which I try to never miss.
The first is WaterFire. This annual event in October combines a spectacular multi sensory experience of live vocals, dance and acrobatics with the installation of braziers in Brush Creek. Last year included performances by Quixotic, StoneLion Puppet Theatre, and Kansas City Drum Tribe. The second is Union Station’s annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony in November. This event marks the beginning of Kansas City’s holiday season. A full day of festivities include family friendly activities, a Holiday Maker Village, and stage performances from local musicians and performers including Quixotic.
2. Lyric Opera
Located in the heart of Kansas City’s Crossroads community, Lyric Opera creates transformational opera experiences through performances, outreach, and education initiatives. They also aim to develop talent, repertoire, programs and productions that bring the best of Lyric Opera of Kansas City to the world. The Lyric Opera also hosts occasional free First Friday previews of their upcoming operas. Preview nights feature select music and songs from their operas, themed food and drinks, and opportunities to meet and greet with Lyric Opera singers.
3. First Fridays
Speaking of First Fridays, the Crossroads Art District is at the center of arts in Kansas City. It’s home to hundreds of eclectic restaurants, shops, and galleries. On the First Friday of every month, the Crossroads comes alive with hundreds of people there to view works from local artists, buskers, street concerts, and more. Arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a variety of local businesses feature regional and national artists as well as live entertainment starting in the early evening.
4. Kansas City Public Library
The Kansas City Public Library (KCPL) system champions itself as a doorway to knowledge for all people in the community. That standard of excellence is met through more than just books. Each month the Library is host to a plethora of diverse events and programs designed to educate, entertain, and enrich the lives of Kansas City residents. Events such as local jazz legend Brother John performing a one man show about the history of Native Americans in Missouri. Programs like the Kansas City Symphony children’s outreach which exposes and teaches kids about musical instruments. The Central Library, located in downtown Kansas City, also features an art gallery of ever-changing installations. There are 10 branches in the KCPL system throughout Kansas City and an outreach services program serving a constituency of over 250,000. The Library also serves as a resource for the 1.7 million residents of greater metropolitan area.
5. Intentionally Exploring the City
You may wonder what do I mean by intentionally exploring? I mean that deliberately getting out of the car or in my case off the bus and forcing myself to just wander the streets takes me to a place where the worries of life fade away and time becomes abstract. I can devour each singular moment of whatever I’m experiencing. My senses of what I see, hear, taste, smell, and touch all become sharply branded imprintings in my heart and mind. Day by day I can get away with merely going through the motions of city life. But walking explorations are a fierce reminder of why I am so emotionally tied to where I live.
The arts in Kansas City are highlighted remarkably well when exploring local neighborhoods and districts. Each neighborhood in Kansas City is a distinct area full of harmonious mixtures of nature, urban life, and architecture. Buildings. Trees. Animals. Fountains. Gardens. Sculptures. Graffiti walls. No matter where you go, these are represented in Kansas City’s most walkable neighborhoods. City Market/Riverfront; Downtown Kansas City; the Westside; KC Crossroads Art District; the West Bottoms; 18th and Vine Jazz District; the Crown Center District; Midtown; Westport; West 39th Street; the Country Club Plaza.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to use this as a guide to enjoying arts in Kansas City for yourself. Also if you absolutely loved it subscribe to more of our city adventures.
Why the City Market is the Ultimate Kansas City Hotspot
To celebrate the summer, I’m writing about the City Market, my favorite summertime spot in Kansas City. Psst, there’s a bonus giveaway at the end!
It’s August in Kansas City. For me and other moms and dads that means getting ready for the kids to go back to school. However, most of the city seems to also think that means the end of summer. It was barely the end of July before I started seeing stories about the last days of summer. Well, the rest of Kansas City may act like we’ll be stuck in three feet blizzards in the next couple of weeks, but not me. For me, summer is still in full swing!
The Definition of Summer
How do I define summer in Kansas City? The days are long and scorching hot. Nights are for sitting on the front porch eating picnic dinners with Lily. There are festivals, concerts, movie nights under the stars. And my favorite, weekends at the City Market.
The City Market is open seven days a week, all year long, but it becomes almost magical during the summer. There’s just something about the thousands of people who visit each weekend that seem to make it come alive. I can spend hours just watching the crowds go by on leisurely Saturday afternoons. It has been said that once you taste your first bite of a ripe peach you won’t forget it. Well, that is the truth. Mine was at the City Market in July of 2014.
History of the City Market
The City Market has a rich history dating back to 1857 when it began as a site for market commerce, horse trading, political rallies, revival, medicine shows and circuses. It has been approximately in the same location since its inception when the City of Kansas City granted a lease to Jacob and Fred Scheibel for $50 per year. From this beginning, the City Market and its surrounding area became the focal point for people making their way westward. By 1878, activity in the area began attracting legends including Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Jesse James.
During the 1920s life around the City Market was thriving. At this time it stood near City Hall, the Gillis Opera House, the Jackson County Courthouse, two newspapers and a number of other businesses. After City Hall and the Jackson County Courthouse moved to their present locations, the City Market benefitted from extensive renovation with a massive public works project in the 1930s. New buildings were constructed through the job creation initiatives of the Roosevelt Administration. The Market’s west building built during this reconstruction currently stands today.
The Dawn of a New Era
In the 1960s the City Market was predominantly a produce-only destination. As the City Market and the surrounding River Quay area (as it was once known) entered the 1970s, it became a popular district with bars, restaurants, and other businesses. The late ’80s and ’90s marked a $14.5 million publicly and privately funded period of investment to re-energize the area. Structures were modernized in 1986 and rehabbed in 1990, resulting in over 100,000 square feet of restaurants, food-related shops, retail and museum exhibit space. With the addition of the Arabia Steamboat Museum, the City Market took a major step forward leading the way toward downtown redevelopment.
Since 2000 the City Market has received national acclaim and numerous awards. In 2002, the Market received a Great Markets/Great Cities Award of Distinction from the Project for Public Spaces, an internationally known advocate for farmers’ markets. In 2007, the City Market celebrated its landmark 150th anniversary season. With a record attendance of more than 700,000 visitors, it was listed as Kansas City’s 6th Top Area Attraction in the Kansas City Business Journal. In 2008, a Farmers’ Market of the Year award was given by the Missouri Farmers’ Market Association and AgriMissouri. The City Market continues to be a hub of activity and an enduring community landmark. The farmer’s market is open on Wednesdays 4-7 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 7 am – 3 pm.
A City Market Education
Did you enjoy the history lesson? Do you feel smarter? Good! The City Market is so much more than a place to buy locally grown produce. Although, that is amazing! As a mother, I’m always looking for opportunities for Lily to learn outside of the classroom. The City Market has an abundance of them. She learns about botany and horticulture at Dutch Flowers. The Arabia Steamboat Museum is a great way to explore historical artifacts from the pre-Civil War era of the 1800s. Buskers in the City Market provide plenty of exposure to musical education.
Good Times all Year Long
The City Market celebrates Valentine’s Day with the annual free Tie the Knot private wedding ceremonies in February. 12 couples are invited to take part in this unique and romantic way to unite in marriage or renew their vows. Live acoustic music, twinkle lights, sparkling hearts, a red carpet, and an elevated ceremony platform set a lovely scene in the square heated glass pavilion as each couple says “I do’ or “I still do”.
The Busker Festival dazzles with freaky fun and free entertainment in June. The event showcases uni-cycling, juggling, fire twirling, aerial arts, stilt walkers, dancers, comedy, hula hooping, circus acts, magicians and more. The City Market’s motto is “where the locals go,” and in keeping with that tradition, all performers are local to the area.
The City Market presents the annual Grub Crawl in September. It’s like a pub crawl only tastier. Grub Crawl Passport holders will experience a culinary adventure in the historic market. Each stop on the Grub Crawl walking tour offers samples or small plate from participating restaurants. Between bites, Grub Crawlers can enjoy live music from local performers stationed along the route.
The City Market is all about creating a fun, fresh healthy community through good-for-you foods and positive lifestyle choices. Through a partnership with Sundown Naturals, the City Market focuses on balanced wellness with proper supplements, nutrition, and exercise. Every Saturday at 10 am, certified instructors from The YMCA of Greater Kansas City provide a rotation of classes including Cardio Kickboxing, Zumba, Bootcamp, and Body Combat. KC Yoga Center brings Yoga in the Park starting at 10 am on Sundays. Come with your own mat or blanket for this mind and body boosting workout. These 60 minute classes are free and for all ages and levels of fitness through the first week of October. Get your body moving then keep up the momentum and head to the farmer’s market to find what you need for healthy and delicious meals.
With the sights, sounds, and flavors of fall comes the October Harvest Celebration. You’ll find plenty of autumn produce including apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, and more. Children will receive vouchers to redeem for free produce from Farmers’ Market vendors. There are also fun giveaways. Festivities for the Harvest Celebration include a pumpkin patch, hay rides, arts and crafts, pumpkin themed games, and music.
Enjoy the joyous Christmas season with Whoville Holidays on Saturdays in December. Bring your camera to get a picture with the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who in the warmth of their Whoville home. Little Whos will enjoy the Whoville activity area where they can make Whoville themed tree ornaments, a Grinch mask and more! Whoville Holidays is free with your “Help a Who” donation of three canned goods for Harvesters or a new unpackaged toy for the Salvation Army.
Back to the Food
What I like most about buying from local farmers at the City Market is knowing that I’m getting the freshest produce possible. Plus, I save so much money compared to shopping at a grocery store. The range of what’s available may surprise you. City Market farmers provide a huge variety of produce every week. Eggs, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, meats, and breads. Not to mention the culturally diverse mix of shops and restaurants as well. Dining at the City Market is like a mini instant passport to whichever country I want to visit on any given day. If I’m in the mood for Indian food than Tikka House is there to satisfy my taste buds. When I want a taste of Brazil, I can literally have one at Taste of Brazil. If I crave something Italian, I just head to Carollo’s Grocery & Deli. In addition, several of the restaurants carry imported goods from their countries.
The City Market is also home to many small pop up shop businesses selling everything from hand crafted jewelry to homemade soaps. From caricature portraits to fashions for men, women, and kids. From home and garden decor to trendy hairstylists. Now, here is your chance to get to know them better. As a celebration of the ultimate Kansas City hotspot, I’m hosting a giveaway featuring products from City Market shop owners and farmers. Valued at over $250, this giveaway will introduce you to goods sold in City Market and the people behind them. Stay tuned for stories about each participating business. To enter, subscribe to Kiara Loves KC then follow the link below.
Thank you for reading and I hope you’re having a fabulous summer!
The Roasterie Cafe Factory Tour
This post will kill two birds with one stone…as the saying goes. As you may know I’m on a challenge to dine at all 44 Kansas City Original Restaurants before the end of the year. My afternoon at The Roasterie makes number two. Secondly, this is the first in a new series called Take a Tour of Kansas City. In the series, I’ll share our experiences of tours you can take in Kansas City. Now on to The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour.
The Roasterie goes to great lengths to bring its customers the best coffee. Complimentary tours give coffee lovers a chance to learn about their cupping, roasting and blending processes.
Our tour date fell on a Sunday at 12:30 pm. The Roasterie accepts walk ins for tours or you can reserve a tour spot at the website. The tour usually takes about one hour. However, ours with tour guide Gage lasted 15 or so minutes longer. Which was actually great. We got a huge amount of information and Gage talked fast. I appreciated the extra time.
The Roasterie Cafe Factory Tour Facts
Don’t worry. I won’t spoil the tour experience for you. These facts are just a small (very small) amount of what I learned during the tour. Think of this as a sneak preview or movie trailer.
On November 22, 1978, The Roasterie’s Bean Baron, Danny O’Neill picked his first coffee beans while living as a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. Almost four decades later, his love for coffee, the people who grow it, and the countries where it grows remains at the heart of The Roasterie’s success. One of their key goals is to support the world’s small, specialty farmers and their communities. That passion is the driving force behind their mission: find the best beans on the planet and roast them the best way known to man.
The Roasterie is a specialty coffee-roasting company that delivers premium coffees to espresso bars, coffeehouses, fine restaurants, high-end grocers, offices, retail accounts, and coffee lovers in Kansas City and around the world.
All of their coffees are air-roasted, which helps highlight the origin flavor while unlocking the best of the bean.
The Roasterie has five categories of coffee: Organic, Decaffeinated, Italian, French, and Vienna. The beans are processed in separate machines to make sure none are contaminated by another.
The Roasterie imports only 100 percent Arabica Specialty Grade coffees from thirty-one different coffee-producing countries.
Nine of The Roasterie’s coffees have received a ranking of 90 or higher on CoffeeReview.com, the premier international coffee-buying guide.
It’s best to arrive 15 minutes before The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour is supposed to start. We didn’t though, due to an impromptu walk through the Crossroads District. By the time I quit stopping every three seconds to take a photo we arrived with five minutes to spare. Unfortunately, Lily and I were both hungry and could have used the time go sit down and eat. Speaking of eating…
Lunch at The Roasterie Cafe
The Roasterie serves an assortment of baked goods and pastries from local eateries. When we got there (almost late) I hurriedly got two cranberry scones. As the tour’s introductory video played we gobbled them down. The scones were moist and slightly dense, almost cake-like. With each crumbly bite I got a sweetly tart juice cranberry. The taste of them was so fresh as though they had came right out of the oven.
After The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour was over I ordered a breakfast sandwich with bacon, eggs, and gruyère cheese, a lemon and thyme fruit bar, and a cup of hibiscus-ginger-orange tea.
I have had a few pleasant experiences with coffee but I’m still a tea lover first. So, yes I did go to The Roasterie and order tea. The Roasterie offers teas from Harney & Sons, a company known for producing top quality teas with heavenly aromas and exquisite flavors. Lily fell asleep before the tea was ready which meant more for me [insert smiley face emoticon]!
The sandwich from Baked in Kansas City, came on an English muffin with fluffy scrambled eggs. The bacon wasn’t crisp like I prefer but I ate it without complaint. I only tasted a small amount of seasoning. I expected the overpowering flavors of salty bacon and buttery eggs. Instead the naturally heartiness came through nicely. Baked in Kansas City is a patisserie that offers French pasteries and handmade breads, and a restaurant with a fresh and creative brunch. They also feature a full bar with cocktails, wine, and beer.
Lily loves lemons so I got the lemon bar for her. *Such a shame that she was too sleepy to eat it. (Sarcasm.) It almost tasted like I had bitten into a lemon with the first bite. That first burst of tartness exploded in my mouth. Little flecks of thyme added a savoriness to the intensely bright citrus flavor. The lemon and thyme bar came from The French Bee Bakery, a charming locally owned bakery and café. They specialize in sweets, treats, and cakes, as well as boxed lunches for corporate catering in the Kansas City metro area.
The Roasterie Cafe Factory tour is available seven days a week. Tour times are Sunday at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm; Monday – Friday at 10 am and 12:30 pm; Saturday at 8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm.
Thanks for reading and share this with the coffee lovers in your life!
I’m sure several types of people will relate to my story of being in Kansas City. Those who live here and love it. (You’re an awesome and special kind of person.) That’s where I fit in and I’m proud. Those, if you’re still reading, who just thought, “What kind of crazy person loves Kansas City? I’m trying to get out of this dump!”. Also, those who are here but don’t know much about it. Maybe you’re visiting, just moved, or don’t get out much. I’ve been in each category at different points of my life.
I grew up in Kansas City and have lived here all of my 30 years. But I didn’t always love it. I was that person who wanted to live someplace I thought would be better and had more to offer. I used to complain about there being nothing to do. Which is, unfortunately, something I still hear much too often. What changed my mind was, well, me. After graduating from high school I spent a few years trying to find my niche in the world. I went to college for accounting then photography. Once I realized that college wasn’t for me I started working full time at several different places. Shortly before I met my husband I worked as a traveling photographer. It was a life changing experience. I went to so many cool places and met so many great people. Then almost like a scene from Blues Brothers where the sky opened and the light shined upon me I began to think, “Surely Kansas City has things for me that are just as good or better than in the cities I’ve been visiting”. On my days off I did my research by exploring. I was right. So now when I hear someone say something like ‘It sucks here’, I think it’s because they don’t know the city. That is why I’m doing this. I hope to inspire others to learn to be content and enjoy life where they are. Not just in Kansas City but anywhere.
I am now best described as a woman with roots growing stronger and stronger in love and faith of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a work at home wife to Terry and mother to Lilyanna. In this blog I’ll share accounts of a year of my life. You’ll read about places I go, things I do, restaurants, concerts, landmarks, community events, people, and more. All of which are what makes Kansas City a great place for me. Blogging will definitely be a spring board to opening myself up and venturing out more but still, there are so many aspects to this city which I may never experience. Simply put, I can’t see or do it all. However if you know of anything that is a KC absolute must see/do, please let me know in the comment section. I’ll post updates of what I’ve been up to at least twice a month. As you read about my adventures I hope you, as I did, will learn to love your city.