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Lawrence Kids Spring, 2018



8th & Mass • Downtown Lawrence

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2/28/18 9:21 AM

Lawrence Kids Spring, 2018

Season’s Readings Seasonal Essentials - The Creamers Mama Spreer’s Tales A Parent’s View - Matthew Herbert The Little Farm on the Prairie

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Small Space and Full Hearts


Cover & Table of Contents photo by Amber Yoshida a project of Four Birds Media info@lawrencekidsmagazine.com (785) 766-5669 Thank you for reading.

We did it! C E N T E R F O R G R E AT F U T U R E S C O M I N G AU G U S T 2 0 1 8

When the people of Lawrence come together, we can do amazing things. Thanks to your commitment and compassion, the Don & Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures will soon become a reality. Five times as many teens will soon have an afterschool place of their own. They will have access to‌

CAREER EXPLORATION continuous exposure to skill development and career opportunities

INDOOR GYM healthy lifestyles through physical fitness and teamwork

CULINARY KITCHEN programs centered around healthy eating and the culinary arts

PERFORMING ARTS dance, perform, record, edit and create selfexpression through music

We achieved this dream together! Let us grab you a hard hat and give you a tour of the construction progress. To schedule a tour contact cwilson@bgclk.org. Don & Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures • Lawrence College & Career Center (2910 Haskell Ave.)



Kindness & Tolerance Suggestions from the Lawrence Public Library Picture Books

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Beautiful illustrations lead to a garden of kindness.

Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss

This legedary story really needs no introduction... “A person’s a person no matter how small”.

We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

An adventure for younger and lap readers about Auggie and Daisy, from the author of Wonder, introducing the importance of choosing kindness.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily

Pearson Mary was just picking blueberries for a neighbor, but her kindness started something!

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

A wordless story about kindness and determination. Hank finds the egg, locates the nest, and goes to all sorts of trouble to get that baby home!

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

Bold illustrations show figures of varying colors and ages, emphasizing simply how we can hold each other up.

Middle Grades

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This was the Read Across Lawrence choice for this year for all ages. Auggie has a severe facial abnormality that has kept him home schooling until now: he will be entering 5th grade. We witness his first year trying to fit in from Auggie’s perspective, then his sister and others. A moving story about friendship and the power of kindness.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Wonderfully from the point of view of a silverback gorilla, who is an artist, living in a cage in a mall back when that could happen. Sad, thoughtful, and finally happy!

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Eleven-year-old Melody can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t write, because she has cerebral palsy. But she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it.

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes A slim volume written in 1944, from the point of view of two Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. Imagine a kindness bucket, and fill it up! Explanations for kids of how to express kindness, appreciation and love.

girls who bully a Polish girl at their small school. Simple but powerful, a story of forgiveness.

El Deafo by Cece Bell A graphic memoir about Cece, who lost her hearing at the ning, illustrated by Leo Landry. The two principles of etiquette from the Emily Post Institute, age of 4, and now is entering first grade wearing a large Phonic Ear. Humorous and touching. for toddlers! Emily’s Sharing and Caring Book by Cindy Post Sen-

Seasonal Essentials



Lucas, Jade, Zoe (9), Zeppelin (6), Zeke (3) & Clyde (1) Creamer Share Their List of Seasonal Must Dos... photos by Amber Yoshida

From the Creamer Crew... 1. Plant a salsa garden. Nothing tastes better than homegrown cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. 2. Bonfires on the patio, we have a lifetime supply of wood from the forrest behind us and love to have our friends come over and thouroughly enjoy the easy breezy evenings with our favorite eats & refreshments by the fire.

3. Helping Mom & Pop out at our family’s motorcycle shop. Spring is our busiest time of year with lots of learning and earning opportunities for them! 4. Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, at least one or twice a week. When it’s been four hours under the grueling sun and mom and dad feel heat stroke creeping in, the only thing that will lure them out of the water and towards the car is the promise of an immediate visit to Tad’s Tropical Snow. 5. Fancy downtown brunches and people watching all the while. 6. Lots and lots of landscaping at our historic home, which sits on 3 acres in the beautiful Pinckney neighboorhood. 7. Craigslist adventuring. Our family spends a lot of time treasure hunting for antique and vintage goodies and are unafraid to hit the road, travel to pick up a score and stop at all the thrift and antique stores along the way. The kids use money they earn at the motorcycle shop to make purchases when something special catches their fancy. They have even learned from mom and dad how to be skilled negotiators! 8. We take an annual road trip to the family cabin in Tabnernash Colorado for a week of awesome outdoor adventuring and catching up with the whole Creamer Crew. About 30 of us all camp out in one cozy mountaintop retreat, which makes for some great bonding and incredible onreyness.

MamaSpreer’s TALES

One mom. Two daughters. Many, many stories. by Megan Spreer

My mother still tells people the story of when I asked her to dye my hair. I was nine and very sick of being the token red head in every situation in which I found myself. I wanted brown hair just like everyone else I knew. I was the only red head in my family, my fourth grade class, my gymnastics class, my softball team, and in my friends’ circle. It was the first, and often, only thing people noticed about me and they almost always commented on it. I was over it. We had just moved to a new town and I was entering the awkward years. The last thing I wanted to do was stand out.

things like tan in the sun. Not only did I have red hair, but I had pale skin with freckles that could only change between two shades: White-Out and lobster red with sunburn.

I stood for a long time in the aisle at our local WalMart and begging my mom to let me purchase a box of the “soft walnut” hair dye. I’d even picked the semi-permanent and promised not to make a mess.

So, of course, the woman with issues regarding her hair would have a daughter who at age six asks to dye her own. HJ came to me a few weeks ago with this request. She didn’t want to dye her blonde hair brown though. She wanted hot pink tips. This child is not subtle. I had a lot of inner turmoil to work through. I asked her why she wanted the ends of her hair dyed pink.

“Megan, do you know how much money other women pay to have their hair look even close to yours?! No. You are not messing up your hair!” my mother said to me incredulously. My mother was a brunette and she couldn’t fathom why anyone would choose to change their unique hair color to something so ordinary, especially when people fawned over it all the time. She was sure I’d lost my mind. I channeled my disappointment into pre-teen angst that continued into my teens. That’s when I discovered that not only did my brunette friends have “normal” hair, but their skin did normal

Adolescence was rough. It took many years, an awesome husband, two pregnancies, and four dress sizes before I started to like all the parts that make me, me. The Twilight series also helped me out by making pale skin trendier these days. (Thank you, Stephenie Meyer.)

“Because I think it would be so beautiful.” Well, that was pretty hard to argue. It was a very different reason than my reason for wanting brown hair all those years ago. I wanted to use it as a shield to hide. My child wanted to stand out and express herself in a way she felt was beautiful. It felt wrong to say no, but was I encouraging her to not be happy with herself as she is? I try really hard to portray body positive behavior and use body positive language around my kids. The last thing I wanted to do was encourage her to change something about herself for the wrong reasons. However, this didn’t feel like that. Her favorite color is pink and in her world, the pinker, the better. She truly viewed this as something that would make her even more—her. My thinking then shifted from worry to excitement. We made an appointment for the next day school was out. It turned out pretty cute….and I didn’t even freak out when she talked her stylist into putting more pink on. LK

A Parent’sViewpoint Teacher, City Commissioner, Property Manager... and Dad. Matt Herbert writes about finally finding balance.


Jafiya — Sixth-grader Drivers: Please don’t kid around.


There are few responsibilities in life greater than that of raising a child. Regardless of what daycare they attend, or what social groups they run with as teens, we know that what happens inside the home will play out as the child develops and ages into adulthood. And yet, in spite of this being our ‘greatest responsibility’, many of us find that spending time with our children is an after-thought; something you fit into your busy life where, when or if time allows. In our fast-paced lives, the demands of work are too often prioritized over the needs of the family.

parenting; an approach that grew not out of my own wisdom but rather out of the necessity of wanting to be a more active participant in the life of my only child. The solution? I stopped treating my life as two separate lives. We work so hard to separate our work life from our family time and yet, both your work and your family are integral parts of your same singular life. Why then can’t the two have some overlap? For those of you with younger children, ask yourself this question: Does your child actually know what you do for a living? If not, why is that?

I am no different; no less guilty.

For Wren, my time spent with her and my occupation(s) are now connected. I do not seek to isolate her from my work but rather I embrace those connections whenever possible. If I’m going to replace a kitchen faucet at a rental property, I take her. She loves playing with my tools and feels a great sense of importance in helping her dad by handing me the parts as I need them. When I am doing a showing to a prospective tenant, I bring her and design a scavenger hunt for her at the house. (You’d be amazed how many items that start with “W” you can find in a house!) Even my commission work now involves her whenever possible. I would dare say there is no kid in Lawrence that has been to more ribbon-cuttings than my little girl. Ribbon-cuttings often involve snack tables and as such are an easy sell to a 6-year old.

In the early years of my daughter’s life my parenting style could best be described as “absent”. My absence wasn’t for lack of love of my daughter. She is the most important person in my life. Rather, my absence was as the result of an unusually complicated schedule. My mornings are spent teaching senior government at Lawrence High School. In this capacity, it is not uncommon for me to be pulling into work before the sun wakes up. Afternoons are spent running my own business, Renaissance Property Management, where I serve as not only CEO but more humbly as head maintenance man. Giving myself the title “CEO” sounds way more sexy than the reality presented by such a title. What does it mean to be CEO of a small property management business? It means I’m really good at unclogging toilets and fishing hairballs out of drains. REALLY GOOD. Finally, in the evenings, I serve as a member of the Lawrence City Commission. In this capacity, I am called upon to attend meetings, both formal and informal, at all hours of the day. So, let’s recap. To a Lawrence teenager I’m “Mr. Herbert”. To many households in the community I’m “Mr.Fix-it” and to your average Lawrence resident I’m “that jerk that raised your taxes”. The problem with my daily schedule as written is that it doesn’t leave much time for my most important job- being “Dad” to my 6-year old daughter, Wren. Three years ago, I stumbled upon a new approach to

At one neighborhood meeting where the placement of a transit hub was being hotly debated Wren, busy coloring in all the area maps that were distributed to neighbors, turned to me and remarked loudly, “Dad – why is everyone mad at you?” For most of us, working long hours is a reality we cannot easily change but time at work and time with your children do not have to be mutually exclusive. Find ways to incorporate your children into your daily work life where possible. The lessons learned by your children working with you may be some of the most valuable lessons they learn. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a highly competitive game of Go-Fish to attend to. LK

Little Farm on thePrairie Aaron and Shannon Meyer, with their two boys, are slowly turning a 20-acre plot south of Lawrence into a sustainable farm. photos by Amber Yoshida

Aaron and Shannon Meyer believe that big things can come from small seeds. The young couple wanted to build a homestead and raise a family in the country. So, in 2012 they purchased 20 acres south of Lawrence and planted a dream. By 2015 they had built a hand-designed home and broke ground on their first garden. Two years ago they ordered their first day-old chicks. Now, as their budding operation grows (www.1450farm.com), it’s about keeping up. “We started slowly and are really trying to do this the right way,” Shannon says with a smile as son Ansel wiggles on her lap. “Our plan is to be as sustainable as possible, so we know we can’t rush into it.” Shannon and Aaron are both Kansas natives. Aaron grew up on a plot of land outside of Lawrence while Shannon was a “city kid.” After getting married, the couple were living in Lawrence. That’s when Aaron started to get a bit of wanderlust. “I’ve never wanted to live in town,” Aaron says in an understated tone while son Arlo bounces on his knee. “I spent many nights searching land listings online, looking for the perfect place. Of course, I didn’t find it. It was Shannon driving around one day when she called and said ‘Aaron! I found it!” Their home is a beautiful, rustic place. White wood and dark floors are bathed in natural light. The walls of the open home are adorned with much of Shannon’s original artwork and photography. Both Shannon and Aaron work full-time jobs. Shannon works for a contractor and Aaron owns a lawn service business. Working full time and raising two rambunctious boys keeps the couple busy, which is why they’ve started slowly increasing the

work on the farm. The garden has grown and the family now cans much of what they grow. That first order of dayold chicks has become a tradition. Two Great Pyrenees ‘puppies’ are learning how to guard the coop from coyote and fox attacks (Shannon explains how they learned that the hard way). Soon they hope to expand with turkeys and ducks - all sustainable. Aaron is making plans to slowly grow a cattle herd and add goats to the operation. “We have big plans but are trying to be as responsible as we can,” Aaron explains. “This whole adventure is pretty incredible and our boys love it.” Arlo and Ansel beam when asked about the farm and the growing number of animals. Ansel took the chicks to his school so the class could see them hatch. They both have the ornery grins and messy hair of farm boys. “The boys are learning how much work it takes to keep everything running,” Shannon says. “I guess, to them it’s not work. They love being outside with the dogs and the animals. We love that they have the freedom to roam and explore. I think this is instilling a since of wonder in them. That’s really important to us.” The dream, according to Aaron, is to make the farm a practical income source. He has enough experience and research to know how hard that might be. “We certainly don’t want this to be the type of operation where a ‘good year’ is not loosing money,” he says with a laugh. “We’re both working and enjoying the farm as much as possible. Being completely sustainable is the goal, and we’re getting a little bit closer each season.” Dreams begin with small seeds, and 1450 Farm is growing quickly. LK

Small Space


Full Hearts

Lisa Pickel and her son Oliver were looking for a new place to live. Tired of renting and finding more room for “stuff,� they bought a camper. photos by Leilani Photographs

Lisa Pickel and her son Oliver didn’t want to move. They loved the house they rented in central Lawrence and had no intentions of packing up. Then, as the saying goes, life happened. “Ugh,” Lisa recalls with a smile and a head shake. “I really, really didn’t want to move and go through the process of packing up everything and I knew I didn’t want to rent anymore. I had been slowly going through our stuff and getting rid of a few things, but when we had to move, it just fast-tracked the idea.”

paint and vibrant patterns. More than just painting and resurfacing a space, Lisa and Oliver had to reduce what they put in that space. Years of “stuff” had to be donated, sold or tossed. The idea was intimidating, but the more with which they parted, the easier it was. Now, almost everything they own (Lisa keeps a few antique pieces of furniture in a storage unit) fits in their camper. “Shoes were the hardest,” Lisa says with a smile and a sigh. “I had some great shoes.”

Instead of searching for a new rental home or getting a mortgage and buying, Lisa decided to act on an idea she had been considering: to purge and go little. She bought a 220 square-foot camper.

Oliver, a 2nd grader at Hillcrest Elementary, misses some of his toys and video games, but seems to enjoy life in the camper.

“Before actually doing it, I don’t think I ever would have thought I could go through with such a big change,” Lisa says. “I was scared and apprehensive, for sure.”

“It’s really fun in the summer,” he says. “When we lived at the lake, it was like the whole place was ours. We had a bunch of adventures.”

Making a dramatic life change can be daunting, but Pickel had a pretty solid reference for living in a non-traditional, small space.

Lisa, an accomplished photographer, and Oliver spent the summer and most of the fall at Clinton Lake. When Lisa talks about the time, she uses words like “magical” and “beautiful.” She describes evenings riding bikes, chasing deer and sitting outside talking to Oliver. Time with Oliver, after all, is what this adventure is about.

“My grandpa lived on a boat for 30 years,” she says with a laugh. “So I’m not the first person in my family to go down this path.” After scouring the internet for options, Lisa fell for a 2011, 28 ft, Jayco Jay Flight travel trailer. To say it was love at first sight is misleading, but Lisa fell in love with what she thought it could be. Last summer her and Oliver drove to Illinois, hitched the trailer to her truck and started back toward Lawrence. The mother and son were elated, temporarily. “On our first tank we ran out of gas five blocks from the gas station,” Lisa explains. “That was a quick lesson to learn.” Back in Lawrence the daunting process of completely renovating their new home began. Lisa transformed the typical camper interior into a bright, playful home. Gone are the dark woods and fabrics and in is white

“What we go without in terms of things, is more than made up for by the quality of our life now,” Lisa says with a wide smile. “We spend so much more time engaging with each other and appreciating what’s around us. We read and talk more. I think I’ve gotten to know Oliver so much better now.” This winter Lisa and Oliver parked their “Lolly Wagon” in a friend’s driveway, but they are anxious to get back out “in the wild.” “We can’t wait to get back to the lake,” Lisa says. “We will have almost all the renovations done soon and, after a year, we know just what we’re doing. We aren’t weighed done with all our stuff so we can get out on the road and find some great adventures. The future is so exciting.” LK

Profile for Four Birds Media

Lawrence Kids / Spring '18  

Highlighting the best of family life in Lawrence, Kansas.

Lawrence Kids / Spring '18  

Highlighting the best of family life in Lawrence, Kansas.