Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

9780393081572_custom-4780003c23212a8b2af4325854faf5b592919d95-s6-c300428-bks-RONSON-1366064243822-superJumboThe Kansas City Public Library invited Mary Roach  for a Q&A session to promote her book Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Mary Roach is an American author specializing in taboo scientific subjects. Her book focuses on the digestive tract, the pathway by which food enters the body and solid wastes are expelled.


Roach shared several memorable stories with her unique style of humor and wit. The topics ranged from how competitive eaters keep the food down to what it takes to be a food tester to a drug mule who refused to have a bowel movement for almost a month to whether or not constipation caused the death of Elvis Presley. I felt as though I had stepped back into the classroom.

March Challenge

During the month of March I challenged myself to find at least one free event everyday. I posted all of them on  KiaraLovesKC’s Facebook page. Any time I see the word “free” used in the description of something happening in Kansas City it grabs my attention. And those who are reading this may be surprised to know that I see that word a lot. Most of the entertainment I enjoy in the city is free or extremely cheap. (Remember, my favorite theater shows movies for under $5.)

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My main concern was finding events that would appeal to a wide range of people. I’m a bookworm so I’m at the library sometimes twice a week. But, of course, listening to an author peddling their latest book isn’t for everyone. Fortunately I have a list of go-to-sources  that made searching for things to do quite easy: IfamilyKC, The Kansas City Star, Visit KC, The Pitch magazine, KC Parent magazine, Ink Magazine, Kansas City on the Cheap, and The Kansas City Public Library.


  •  IfamilyKC can be picked up at different locations around town. I make sure to get a copy from the KCPL plaza branch, in the kids area. It’s filled with deals for fun places. Signing up for the newsletter emails gets you in on IfamilyKC Kids Events at places like Gymboree, Martial Arts Institute, and Summit Lanes.
  • Ink Magazine’s website has a full calendar that provides lots of details about what’s going on in the city.
  • The Pitch Magazine has a great music section that lists musicians and where they’ll be playing any day of the week. The website posts chances to win free stuff like concert tickets, movie passes, and Pitch hosted special events.


  • sends emails on free stuff, coupon deals, giveaways, and has great info on things in Kansas City that are always free.
  • KC Parent Magazine has an extensive calendar of daily events, monthly info highlighting special events, plus a Thursday-Sunday weekend guide.
  • Kansas City Public Library programs include themed movie series, family fun nights, education for personal finances, children’s story times, and guest speakers discussing topics like the economy, community development, and politics.


March 1 – 75 Years of Oz exhibit, visit with Glinda the Good Witch, watched fudge makers at Chips Chocolate Factory
March 5 – Visited City Hall
March 7 – Lyric Opera’s 1st Friday preview of La Boheme and dinner at Deco Street Eats food truck
March 8 – Niece Olivia’s 3rd birthday party at Fun Run Indoor Play Center
March 11 – Author Kevin Cook discussed his book  about Kitty Genovese at the KCPL central branch
March 13 – Miller Lite Fan Fest and Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Street Festival
March 15 – Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up Parade
March 17 – Kansas City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 18 – Kansas City Zoo free day
March 20 – Author Eric Mann presented progressive ideas on how to impact communities, cities, and society as a whole at the KCPL plaza branch


Over the past 31 days of this March challenge I found so many great events that represent just how eclectic Kansas City is. Tours of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, local artists performing in the 18th & Vine Jazz district, parades, cooking classes, cultural festivals, gallery exhibits, kids workshops at Home Depot, comedy showcases, and karaoke. ALL FOR FREE! Proof that Kansas City has steadily grown into a city that has a myriad of possibilities for accessible enjoyment for everyone who lives here.

The Wizard of Oz, 75th Anniversary

IMAG0247IMAG0246Travel on the yellow brick road through the land of Oz as Crown Center celebrates the beloved motion picture, The Wizard of Oz, 75th anniversary. Each vibrantly painted section has interactive prompts to delight adults and children alike. You can watch as Dorothy gets sucked up in the tornado that takes her to Oz. Meet the Munchkins, Glinda, the Good Witch, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion. Walk through the evil enchanted forest to The Wicked Witch’s castle. Fly in the Wizard’s hot air balloon. A section of the exhibit is dedicated to display Jane Albright’s collection of Wizard of Oz memorabilia.



IMAG0232Crown Center is usually crowded on the weekends. So the earlier a visit the better. A trip during the week would be even better. The room can seem small when you factor in kids running around. The exhibit is open February 1 to May 4. Meet characters from Oz in the Atrium on Saturdays in March from 12-4 pm.

  • March 1, 8 – Glinda the Good Witch
  • March 15, 22, and 29 – Dorothy, The Scarecrow, and The Cowardly Lion

Check Crown Center’s website for hours of operation.




Ride Along Review

ride along“It was good. It was funny.” -Terry Watts

Ice Cube…….James Payton
Kevin Hart…….Ben Barber
Laurence Fishburne…….Omar
Tika Sumpter…….Angela Payton
John Leguizamo…….Santiago
Bryan Callen…….Miggs
Bruce McGill…….Lt. Brooks
Gary Owen…….Crazy Cody
Jay Pharoah…….Runflat
David Banner…….Pawnshop Jay
Dragoș Bucur…….Marko
Gary Weeks…….Dr. Cowan
Jacob Latimore…….Ramone

Ben Barber, a security guard aspires to join the Atlanta Police Department alongside his girlfriend’s brother who he is desperately trying to impress. Unfortunately, the brother, James Payton, can’t stand him. In a last ditch effort to drive him away James takes Ben on a “ride along” responding to emergency calls dispatched over the police radio. It’s all fun and games for James until one of the calls leads them into the middle of an investigation of illegal arms dealers. With his boss pressuring him to drop the case James is determined to search for clues and informants. Luckily Ben is an avid video game player whose game expertise proves to be an asset.

Kevin Hart was trying way to hard to be funny in this movie. I must admit I did chuckle a few times but it was mostly full of bad cheap laughs. Hart, Ice Cube, and Tika Sumpter didn’t gel together at all. I’ve heard that instead of studying scripts Hart improvs most of his lines. That might have something to do with it. The attempts at plot twists were easily predictable. Worst of all was Laurence Fishburne in a terribly uncharacteristic acting performance. Two thumbs down and maybe 1 1/2 stars. Only because making me laugh does count for something.

Ride Along review

Kansas City Zoo Free Day

It was a freezing 16 degrees outside. The harsh biting air hit like a brick to my face. Lily was so bundled up she looked like the Michelin Man. “Is this really worth it?”, was the question that formed in my head as I buckled Lily in her stroller. I asked myself that question a dozen more times as I walked to the front ticket counter. The cashier handed me an entry pass and a map then informed me that most of the animals wouldn’t be seen due to the cold temperature. “Hmm, maybe I should turn around and go back home”, I thought, “No, we’re already here, let’s keep going.” Once inside I spotted some of my group and voiced what was on my mind. “Of course it’s worth it!”, said my friend, Kim, “It’s free!” True enough. We chatted in the sweet refuge of the Lobby as we waited for the rest of our group to arrive for this Kansas City Zoo free day. Soon we were all assembled. With snacks eaten and restroom breaks taken the outing began.

2013-12-30 12.12.21We headed towards Polar Bear Passage, home to Berlin and Nikita. As the kids pressed their faces to the glass window I expected to see a polar bear diving in and out of the pool like I normally do when I visit. However, Berlin was strolling to and fro from a distance. In the building attached to the bear’s habitat a sign was posted stating Nikita was in a temporary home away from home getting some alone time. Even the polar bears were out of sorts with this weather.

Facts about Polar Bears:

  • Fur is hollow not white. Reflects light and traps heat from the sun to keep warm.
  • Swim using their large front paws to propel themselves through the water and their back legs to steer.
  • Do not hibernate. May den for a short time to avoid bad weather.
  • Mate March through July. The fertilized egg does not start to develop until September.

2013-12-30 12.30.062013-12-30 12.40.06Next up was the Helzberg Penguin Plaza. The exhibit houses more than just the birds with tuxedo style feathers. Front and center is a huge cylinder shaped aquarium with Silver Stripe Herring. Moving into the room, at the far left is an Ocean Garden filled with lots of varieties of tropical fish and a beautiful coral sculpture. To the right of the Garden are Magical Moon Jellies. King, Rockhopper, and Gentoo penguins share a large pool in the middle of the room. Humboldt penguins, who prefer a more temperate climate, are to the far right. Be sure to look up and gaze at the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) displayed by lighting effects in the entrance. Walking down a ramp we stopped to observe the Gentoo penguins gracefully swimming in the water. (Read this article about how the penguins almost didn’t make it to Kansas City.)

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Through the exit doors of Penguin Plaza we followed the trail to the Discovery Barn. Full of opportunities for learning, there are plenty of exotic animals inside. Tree frogs, Meerkats, and Ring-tailed Lemurs to name a few. We happened to come at the right time to watch some of the Keepers interacting with the Scarlet and Green Winged Macaws. Use the slide to get to the lower level. The elevator and stairs work too. Step through the automatic doors to climb up the Peekaboo Tree.

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Afterwards we hiked back up to the Lobby for lunch. Our time spent exploring was approximately 2 1/2 hours. On a warmer day when all the animals are out you may stay longer. Check out the Kansas City Zoo website for more great information.