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[everything for Topeka families]

gage park mini-train, the wildlife + the much-anticipated Kansas Children’s Discovery Center

earth day

school composting + dining green

wildlifer challenge asks kids to take a little risk

spring 2011 $3.95 |



ExpEcting a BundlE of Joy, or thinking aBout it?

We’d like to invite you to an Open House showcasing the Stormont-Vail Birthplace/ Neonatal IntensiveCare so you can see for yourself why Stormont-Vail is the best place to welcome your baby to the world. Refreshments, tours, door prizes and helpful information on Birthplace services and classes will be provided. Pregnant and

soon-to-be pregnant couples are welcome to drop by anytime during the Open House. Enter for a chance to win a $250 Babies R Us gift card or Medela Breast Pump. Visit for details. To attend the Open House, please click “I’m Attending” on the events tab of the Stormont-Vail HealthCare Facebook page or e-mail us at

Join us at the Stormont-Vail Birthplace/Neonatal IntensiveCare Open House 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 3, 2011 Stormont-Vail Breastfeeding and Follow-Up Clinic Fourth floor North Tower of the hospital *Use elevators in the North Tower entrance, across from the parking garage

1500 S.W. 10th Ave. • (785) 354-6000

XYZ Magazine | Vol. I • Issue IV | Spring 2011

[ what’s inside ] 16 - 22 Gage Park

A special section on the mini-train, the wildlife ever-present but not always visible and the muchanticipated opening of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center

23 making waves

When high school kids pledge allegiance to swim practice, they really mean it. The grueling, yet rewarding life of a competitive swimmer.

24 school compost

How Topeka Collegiate is teaching environmental awareness with a handful of red worms.

40 upheaval When kids are disconnected from their schools and social circles, what’s really going on in their heads? How to help your child adjust to the big changes inherent in big moves.

10 similarities

Kidlink Childcare & Preschool integrates disabled and non-disabled children in a preschool program that teaches inclusion.

12 locally penned

Two Topeka friends who work professionally with children decided to create a book to emphasize commonality among children, even those with diagnosed behavioral disorders.

27 ritchie house

How this historically significant structure represents the whole gamut of Kansas’ early history with unearthed artifacts and walls that talk.

34 kansas wildlifer challenge The get-’em-up-off-the-couch program that isn’t afraid to be a little pushy when getting kids out the door and exploring the nature in Kansas.

32 child utopia

The Toy Store, the largest independently owned specialty toy store in the nation, is a veritable paradise for the younger set and a popular spot for weekend activities and shopping.

36 avoiding the awkwardness

What to do when your kid points at the person in the wheelchair at the grocery store and other ideas for teaching acceptance of those with disabilities.

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 letter from editor 8 community events 10 resource feature 13 yum, yum - local dining options 14 the picky eater goes out to eat 28 cd reviews 26 cool bday parties 30 cool kid’s room 38 recipes 42 - 46 imagination section

[ letter from the editor ]

emergence by Leah Sewell


s soon as the bulbs began fingering their green extensions through the thawing earth, my kids and I were off and running. We tossed the basket of scar ves, mittens and hats haphazardly in a basement corner, we unearthed the stroller, the bikes and bike trailer, unlidded the sandbox, threw every sun-beaten plastic toy out once again into the sun, re-learned the art of dawdling, re-discovered sidewalk c halk, mud, bugs and all wriggly things dwelling under rocks. We’re c hittering back at the birds. We’re skinning our knees. We’re making ripples in ponds. We’re out! We’ve escaped! We’ve made it through winter! Spring in Topeka holds no end of promise for kids and their parents this year. Let me count the ways: The Kansas Children’s Discovery

Center is slated to open, with all the regular accoutrements of Gage Park surrounding to create a haven for Topeka families. The Topeka Farmers’ Market reopens, giving us all an extra boost of muc h-needed nutrition and energy, not to mention a blossoming of community eac h Saturday. And, as you’ll find in the XYZ calendar, and throughout the Spring issue of XYZ, there are no end of exciting family outings to be had in this glorious time of year. Hope to see you out there - just don’t pay mind to my skinned knees or muddied shoes. I’ve been busy. - Leah

Spring 2011 design and illustration by Catherine Ellsworth (right) photo of KCDC by Sarah Hamlin

Besides being wife to uber-guy, Phil, and mother to teenagers Hunter and Benton, Catherine is a freelance graphic designer, copywriter and proofreader. Her siblings still call her Bratrine. She still takes things way too seriously. Especially cooked carrots. 4 XYZ

Kerrice Mapes Publisher Leah Sewell Editor-in-Chief Writers Rio Cervantes-Reed Chelle Decker Alice C. Hunt Melissa Sewell Cale Herreman Bailey Marable Janice Watkins Erin Wynkoop

on the cover [everything for Topeka families]

[ everything for Topeka families ]

Photographers Lydia Barnhart EJ Drake Sarah Hamlin Adam Koger Colin MacMillan Brie Martin Matt Porubsky Art + Production Kerrice Mapes Justin Marable Leah Sewell Advertising 785.249.3126 Kerrice Mapes Melissa Sewell Jennifer Falley Rio Cervantes-Reed calendar Heather McKee Marketing / Website Social Media / Distribution Rio Cervantes-Reed Alice Hunt Leah Sewell Kerrice Mapes Erin Wynkoop Administration Elizabeth Bell Reprints + Permission No part of XYZ may be reproduced in any form without prior consent from seveneightfive designs. For permission requests, call 785.249.3126 or email Opinions or advice of columnists are not necessarily those of the publication. XYZ MAGAZINE P.O. Box 750491 Topeka, KS 66675

XYZ Contributors

[ our gang ] kerrice mapes was born with a thick-head of dark brown hair and vocal cords that wouldn’t quit. In school, checkmarks quickly became her favorite glyph. She has always pushed the rules and socialized too much - things that don’t get her into as much trouble now. She is also an honorary, self-proclaimed “cool” aunt to all her friends’ children. leah Sewell Leah used to make magazines out of construction paper, glue and cut-up family photos. She was grounded a lot as a kid. Today she’s a poet, freelance graphic designer, features editor of seveneightfive magazine, editor of XYZ magazine and mother to Sylvia, 4, and Oliver, 2. brie martin Brie is a born and raised Kansan who is a corporate office monkey by day and a hobbyist photographer by night (and any other times she can fit it in). She is mother to newborn Ace and a pseudo-aunt to many of her Topeka friends’ awesome kids. matt porubsky Matt is a born and bred Topekan, co-director of “Porubsky’s Transcendent Deli” and sometimes drives a choo-choo train. He is daddy to Sylvia, 4, and Oliver, 2. colin macmillan Colin is a professional photographer right here in Topeka, where he currently heads the Wedding Division for Nathan Ham Photography. You’re sure to bump into Colin, his wife Grace, and 3-year-old son Liam at any of the numerous events going on in Topeka. heather mckee Heather’s favorite season is Spring because of getting outdoors after months of hibernation, getting dirty and all the new growth. When she’s not busy being the stay at home mom to three youngsters, she is the tireless worker behind cale herreman ► Cale Herreman is a Topeka-based father and writer. He is left-handed and enjoys cookies. Alice hunt Alice Hunt’s favorite subjects in school were (and are) English and journalism, and she’s still in touch with her favorite teacher Miss Glozier, who taught her that life is about showing up, being honest and doing your best. The rest takes care of itself. melissa sewell Melissa is a coffee-slinging, potty-mouthed poetess as well as a mother to a fairy-winged four-year-old girl. Melissa likes raspberries so much! And should not be allowed to drive cars for all her daydreaming. adam koger Adam was born and raised in Topeka. After a long college journey, he is finally finishing up his B.F.A from Washburn University with emphasis in Photography, which is his true passion. Adam is also a proud single father to an amazing little girl, who is his motivation for all he does. You can read his journey as a father at and see his captured moments at

Janice watkins Janice is a Topeka-native and mother of two. By day she is a non-profit guru and by night she is the bearer of many hats, including aspiring writer. justin marable Justin currently resides in the Kenwood neighborhood of Topeka with his wife and three daughters. He works full time at his home as an artist, husband and father. Visit www. to see more of his artwork. bailey marable Bailey is mother of newborn baby Olive, Willow and Kassy, and an Art Teacher at Royal Valley High School. She teaches metalsmithing classes for adults, makes jewelry and is very involved with the ReThink Topeka Movement. ande davis Ande enjoys playing with Legos and GI Joes, eating pizza, reading essays on comparative literature, and recently completed potty training. When he grows up, he wants to edit magazines and teach English. karli davis Karli has long since kicked her apple juice addiction, and today is a productive member of society, contributing her design skills to XYZ and seveneightfive magazines. She’s married to a much hairier version of Ande Davis these days, chasing their cat and dog around the house. Chelle Decker Chelle is happily Mom to Teddy Mac. She works for jhP and Country Legends 106.9. During playtime, she enjoys volunteering at TCTA. EJ Drake Born and raised in Topeka, EJ loves the art of photography. Sarah Hamlin “Specializing in visual poetry,” Sarah is passionate about photography and telling a story. Her works can be seen in various locations around Northeast Kan. Her best friend and amazing husband Zac and her are proud parents to Maebelle and Orion. Rio Cervantes-Reed A born and bred Kansan, Rio’s sense of wonderment as a child matured into typical adult confusion. She’s active in too many local groups, watches too much tv, and spends too much time on social media pursuits, but she’ll be okay. She serves as a “Tia” to three nieces and a nephew. Erin Wynkoop Erin is a born and raised Topekan who paints the town red as make-up artist by day, writer, photographer, party-girl supreme by night. Erin’s favorite song lyrics describe her best: “I shall never grow up, make believe is much too fun.”

[ xyz kids! ] Congrats to bailey + justin on the birth of their little girl, olive, and brie and zach on the birth of little boy, Ace.

lydia barnhart Lydia is a cosmetologist at All About U Salon, a passionate photographer and dog-lover.

our staff would love to hear from you! have something to say? email


5 It’s like a slumber party where the juice is flowing and it’s raining M&M’s. 24-7.

[ everything for Topeka families ] check out our blog action!

Food blogger Chelle Decker lives the life organic, but still eats pretty dang good. Read up on how to raise a healthconscious kid and how to do so in the tastiest of ways.

Janice Watkins gets herself into a lot of literally sticky situations in mommyhood. But she’s ready to confess to her shortcomings, just go easy on her in the comments.


The Editor’s dilemma with a perplexed Leah Sewell and a slew of surprise stories that will leave you awfully smug that you’re raising your kids in Topeka. Go, you!

web-only features + family news and what to do

Go there! You won’t regret it.

XYZ DIRECT SUBSCRIBERS received a special suMMEr aCtivitiEs guidE chock-full of fun and unique things to do this summer. Receive a copy of our special guide by signing up for a subscription today. If you subscribe by May 1, we will send you a summer guide and a copy of the current issue.

xYz [everything for Topeka families]

cool kid’s room Nola, 10, gets a space that screams “Mine!”

winter magic activities for snow days + ice the zoo

RATIONAL LIVING: a family’s tale of living for a year within the guidelines of WWII rationing WINTER 2010 - 2011 $3.95

separate states

how grandma + papa stay connected

$20 a Year Business partnerships available. For just $80 a year, your business will receive up to 30 copies of XYZ each issue.

[ how to get XYZ ]



XYZ IS A MUST FOR EVERY HIP TOPEKA FAMILY! Our quarterly magazine is dedicated to covering the best arts, entertainment, local flavor and community events for Topeka’s pintsized residents and their parents. From farms to finger painting, XYZ’s goal is to give local families a big high five and to provide a resource for families to discuss their favorite spots for Topeka children. XyZ: EvErything For toPEka FaMiliEs Send a check to PO Box 750491 for $20 and get a full year of XYZ delivered to your home. *** Also makes a great gift! We’ll let the recipient know who is thinking of them every issue by printing “from XYZ” on the envelope. ***

Use your Smartphone and a QR reader like “Scanlife” and sign up for a year subscription to XYZ today!

Community Events compiled by Heather McKee • designed by Karli Davis

Have an event you want to see featured here?

We want to get your family-friendly events listed in our calendar. It’s free! Just contact our calendar editor at Your event could be featured online and/or in print. Please keep in mind that we publish on a quarterly schedule, so we try to fit a season’s worth of events into each issue.

Tulip Time Festival April 1 - 26

photo courtesy City of Topeka

Old Prairie Town, Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee, Downtown Topeka, Doran Rock Garden & Reinisch Rose Garden in Gage Park and Matrot Castle and Vineyard are all decked out in the prettiest of tulips for the month of April. Search, or, for more info. Admission and hours vary by location.

ReThink Topeka Artwalk April 9, 1 - 6 pm April 9th Downtown 1-6 pm FREE Bring the whole family and head downtown for art, music, food and loads of fun! The 2nd year of this local arts event will feature a special kids art exhibit and at least 6 locations with performance art, film, visual arts, poetry and prose and music. Special kids’ activities will be available, too. Earth Day is April 22nd your sources for family events

Amazing Animals April 4 + May 2 Topeka Shawnee County Public Library, Lingo Room 121, 4:30 - 5:30 pm | FREE 4/4 Endangered Animals - Learn how easily animals can become endangered, while visiting with some photo courtesy TSCPL amazing Kansas critters, and make a Toad Abode for the froggy friends in your backyard. 5/2 Coats, Claws and Camouflage - Look at the amazing adaptations animals make to survive and thrive in different environments. Help make pet toys for our furry friends at home and for the Helping Hands Humane Society. Geared for kids Grades 1-5. ReThink Topeka Art Walk

Earth Day April 22 - check out these events to celebrate the day, and help teach your kids the importance of keeping our earth GREEN! (contact locations for more info.) 4/16 Gary Clarke Run for the Wild, 9am, Topeka Zoo 4/16 Party for the Planet, 9am, Topeka Zoo 4/16 Green Fair:Get Your Green on 150 Ways, 2 - 5 pm, Topeka Library - 4/17 Shunga Bio Blitz Shunga Park, 6 am - 11 pm, Shunga/ Felker Park - activities/bioblitz 4/23 Earth Day Family Day, 1-4 pm, Mulvane Art Museum and Art Lab -

Real Big Trucks! May 5, 7 + 13

Kansas Children’s Discovery Center Grand Opening June 1

(contact locations for more info) May 5 Touch-a-Truck, Blaisdell (Gage) Pool Parking lot, 10-11:30 am, FREE Preschoolers will be able to get up close, climb on, play in and honk horns of various large vehicles. May 7 Emergency Services Showcase, Garfield Park, 1-4 pm, FREE Emergency first responders are featured along with an expanded list of invitees, which included agencies dedicated to public safety but not necessarily in a first response capacity. May 13 Tractors, Trucks, and More Shawnee North Community Center 11:30 a.m. - 1 pm, FREE Come see big trucks, tractors and trailers.

Godzilla + Friends May 7, 7 - 10 pm May 8 10 am - 10 pm Henderson Learning Resources Center / Room #112 19th & Jewell Avenue on the Washburn University Campus FREE This annual movie festival, celebrates everyone’s love for GIANT movie monsters. Special guest speakers, the annual Godzilla roar contest, prize giveaways, coloring contest and surprise film showings.

Kansas Children’s Discovery Center at southwest corner of Gage Park at 10th + Westchester Join Topeka in welcoming its newest, and most anticipated, learning location for children. Check for the full story on the opening.

Art of the Brick opening reception June 17, 5-8 pm Mulvane Art Museum Expand your imagination, and see what you can do with millions of Lego bricks. 28 sculptures created out of the iconic LEGO® bricks by New York based artist Nathan Sawaya. http://www. mulvane/exhibitions/ exhibitions-folder/the_ art_of_the_brick.html

Aviation Classes June 20-23, 12 pm Combat Air Museum $40 / person Does your 7-12 yr old LOVE airplanes, or anything to do with flying? Sign them up for this class where they will learn the fundamentals of flight theory, weather, aircraft structures, including control systems & engines, and each student will be able to have some hands-on time in a 1960’s vintage instrument trainer. XYZ


[ resource ]

similarities Kidlink Childcare & Preschool

by Karli Davis • photos by EJ Drake


orking parents can find themselves in a tough place when choosing where they’ll send their kids for up to 10 hours a day. Given the fact that they’ll spend around a third of their week in childcare, it’s a pretty important choice for parents to figure out who they’ll spend all that time around.

There’s such a wide range of options, too—programs that teach kids a second language, arts-centered programs, school prep programs—that childcare providers aren’t making it any easier on parents to choose. Enter the Easter Seals Capper Foundation’s Kidlink Childcare & Preschool Program, designed to let kids with and without disabilities interact in a fully-inclusive environment, allowing those enrolled in the program the opportunity to build compassion for people with differences and focus on the similarities.

“We have a whole range of children. There are several with speech language concerns, plus other children with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, and vision and hearing disabilities,” said Linda Burgen, director of Kidlink. “We need more typically developing children. We try to keep a balance similar to the population, both from a disability and gender standpoint.” The program takes children between two-and-a-half and six years old, and has been around since the 1970s. In March, they start integrating a preschool component. They make sure that they utilize developmentally-appropriate materials, toys, equipment and facilities. The curriculum includes math readiness, creative experiences, sensory and drama play, reading readiness and musical experiences that are offered to all children in the same manner despite level of ability or disability. Burgen said they have many former students come back to volunteer with the program or work at the foundation. “We have a lot of parents that give back, too, from volunteering to providing support,” said Burgen.

Many parents of children with disabilities might be familiar with the Capper Foundation, while others likely aren’t, leading to a larger number of children with disabilities being signed up for the program. “We’re at the top of the mind for special needs, but not for typically-developing children,” said Julie Smrha, the Capper Foundation’s marketing coordinator. “We have open spots for typicallydeveloping kids, but we have a waiting list for special needs kids.” Recently, the Kidlink program received a fourstar rating by the Kansas Quality Improvement Rating System, making it one of only a few programs in the Topeka with such a designation. The reasons included the family partnerships, adult-to-child ratios and the education of staff members in the program. “I encourage families to check out different programs, and they’re welcome to take a tour here,” said Burgen. “Parents should always go visit, and they can come join us for lunch or reading.” The cost of the program is $148 a week, and it’s open year-round. Information on the program can be found by visiting or calling 785.272.4060. XYZ TOPEKA

each issue, XYZ features an accredited local organization that serves children and/or parents. We do not necessarily endorse the organization’s policies. Have an idea for an organization to spotlight? Email us: 785.272.4060 XYZ


locally penned D

r. Camille Lafleur, a child psychologist at Family Service and Guidance Center and Vanessa Ferguson, a local kindergarten teacher, have teamed up to author a children’s book about making friends. Simple, right? But schoolaged children with behavioral disorders often struggle to be accepted by their peers. That’s why Lafleur and Ferguson wrote “Let’s Be Friends” - their mission is to teach children to accept each other, even when differences are apparent.

A children’s book by local authors teaches acceptance.

The main character of the book, Marcus, is excited to meet a new classmate, but finds out that the new kid, Vincent, has some behavioral issues that the parents reading along might recognize as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “But it doesn’t focus on the ADHD child,” says Lafleur. “And it never says that the child has it. It identifies behaviors that can be observed by anyone and then it addresses, what do you do?” Along with color illustrations by Jason Jackson, the book tells the tale of a friendship that blossoms despite differences. Lafleur hopes that the story will help kids become more accepting so that scenarios like the one presented in “Let’s Be Friends” will happen in reality a bit more often. “If you learn to be accepting, you begin to see the similarities more than the differences,” says Lafleur. XYZ TOPEKA “Let’s Be Friends” is available at Above All Books and at

a fun place to visit this summer discover your redesigned D I G I T A L


stories g colorin games ff lots of fun stu meet stor ybook cha racters clubs parental info

...there’s also don’t tell the kids

1515 SW 10th Avenue | Topeka, KS 66604-1374 | 785 580-4400 | M–F 9 am–9 pm | Sat 9 am–6 pm | Sun 12 pm–9 pm

XYZTOPEA Magazine add Summer 2011.indd 1

3/10/11 1:57 PM


Foodie discounts and kid approved items for dining out in topeka, family style. Submit your favorite discount and menu items to by Kerrice Mapes, E r i n Wy n k o o p + Rio Cervantes-Reed

Info. correct at time of printing - 3.11.2011. Please check with restaurant as specials change. Check out websites for menus and other specials.

Hanover Pancake House 1034 S Kansas Ave. | 232.1111 breaKfast Bobcat breakfast is $6.69 for one egg, 1/2 order of sausage and pancake. XYZ liKes They’ve been serving hungry Topekans for over 40 years.

jade garden Chinese 2038 SW Gage Blvd | 271.2038 everYdaY Kid-friendly choices on the appetizer menu, including fried chicken strips and shrimp. Prices begin at $3.99 XYZ liKes: They are open everyday, except Thanksgiving. boss hawg’s 2833 SW 29th Street | 273.7300 sundaY $2 kids’ meal w/ purchase of adult meal and beverage every Sunday. XYZ liKes: The kids’ menu includes items titled “Baby-Boss” and asks kids to name as many famous pigs as they can. (We came up with six). sweet pea’s 1306 S Kansas Ave. | 354.9115 everYdaY Kids 3 & under eat for free. Kids up to age 11 are $3.99 XYZ liKes: Sides are served family-style.

[ local flavor ]

o’dooley’s 1930 SW Westport Dr # 100 | 273.0131 MondaY $1.99 kids meal from 4 - 6:30 Monday nights. Every night kids’ menu includes meals $4.99 or under. XYZ liKes: Sing-along with Kyler Carpenter every Monday night. Kansan grill 705 S. Kansas Ave. | 233.0086 everYdaY $3.99 - $4.99 kids’ meals that feature kid-friendly choices and atmosphere. Friday buffet - Culinary Kid Day XYZ liKes Photographs of famous Kansans line the walls and provide a history lesson in downtown Topeka.

Topeka Steakhouse 526 SE Dupont Road (East on 6th St.) 279.9994 everYdaY Children’s plates $4.49 XYZ liKes: Long tables in the big room allow for large family gatherings. via’s pizzeria 738 SW Gage | 215-8421 everYdaY Personal 6’’ pizza with one topping $4.99 XYZ liKes: The kids’ corner is filled with kid-friendly items and Via’s is “XYZ picky eater” approved.

blind tiger brewery 417 SW 37th Street | 267.2739 sundaY 1/2 price kids meals all day XYZ liKes: Fried pickles. Lupita’s 732 S. Kansas Ave. | 234-6340 everYdaY Mini-Me menu - most items are less than $2.50 XYZ liKes: It’s family-owned and located downtown. Hazel Hill is just a few doors down and perfect for dessert.

jason’s deli 6121 SW 12st Ste 400 | 478.4144 (menu online) WeeKends Kids eat for $.99 Sat. + Sun. During the week JD Pickle menu items are under $4. XYZ liKes: A organic salad bar option for kids + a lot of other fresh choices on their menu.

Perkin’s Restaurant + Bakery 1720 SW Wanamaker Rd. | 273.0300 everYdaY Kids’ Perks breakfast $3.79, Meals which includes a drink and crazy cookie $4.79. XYZ liKes: Healthy choices for meal sides, including fruit cup and steamed broccoli. Sign up for the Birthday Club and get a free meal.

HuHot 5900 SW Huntoon | 271.8190 MondaY Kids 12 + under eat free after 4 p.m. (Regularly $4.99). XYZ liKes: You can make your own dish. You’re the chef...and it’s fun to watch the cooks.

Buffalo Wild Wings 1227 SW Wanamaker | 783.2999 WednesdaY Kids’ meals $1.99 every Wednesday. XYZ liKes: They have cool trivia machines for entertainment at your table while you wait for dinner (or lunch).

[ local flavor ]



Sakura Japanese Steakhouse


picky eater by Ande Davis photos by EJ Drake

goes out to eat

“I don’t know what she’ll do if she catches it,” Mom, Christina, says. Eventually she lands one, and we find out what she does. No sooner does it land on her tongue than she spits it right back out.

Picky Eater Mallory age: 10 certified picky: likes pizza only if it's cheese, which she promplty removes.

Sakura Japanese Steakhouse 5632 Southwest 29th Street Topeka, KS 66614 785.271.7878

14 XYZ


allory’s about as picky as they come. Meeting her, you wouldn’t guess she’d be as choosy as she is. She plays soccer, basketball and wrestles (yeah, really), and she likes to swim, plays violin and is active in girl scouts. But her mom, Christina, can attest to her 10-year-old’s persnickety nature. “Most of her friends’ moms hate having her over for meals. Girl scout campouts—forget about it,” she says. “It goes way back. She never ate baby food. She went from rice cereal to popcorn.”

Sweet Pea’s

It’s easier just asking Mallory for the list of1306 thingsS.she will eat: chocolate Kansas Ave. (but only Hershey’s), tacos (but only her mom’s), macaroni and (785) 354-9115 cheese (but only Kraft), pasta, fried rice, grilled cheese, pizza (but only if it’s Dine-in/Carryout/ cheese, which she promptly removes). Made-to-Order “Basically, if it’s something I haven’t tried, I just say I don’t like it,” says Mallory. “She’s picky about dishes, too. She checks everything over before she uses it,” says Christina.

A Topeka Favorite. - Offering a unique lunch, dinner and catering menu - LIVE entertainment - Historic atmosphere - Home of the greatest steaks in Topeka by way of Kansas Premium Black Angus Beef -

<< what Aunt had. Yum. - Kid friendly menuRio and atmosphere - Full bar and wine list -

So how’s she going to handle Sakura, the Japanese steakhouse? Well, she’s been here before, so she knows what she likes. When the waitress comes, she’s ready with her order. “I’d like fried rice and a Madame Butterfly. Oh yeah, and soup,” she says. “Isn’t there anything else you like? Anything on the kids menu?” I ask. “Kids menu?” She glances through the menu, which includes a steak meal, chicken meal and shrimp meal. “No, I don’t like any of that stuff.” When her mom orders—steak, but very well done and cut into very small pieces—Mallory leans over to me. “See, I’m not the only one who’s picky.” Touché. The waitress returns with her Madame Butterfly, a pink concoction that looks like it has enough sugar to help her wrestle a grizzly bear. It’s probably delicious.

ORDER ONLINE Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 705 S. KanSaS ave. | 785.233.0086

Sarah Hamlin Photography

Sakura’s one of the places with the hibachi grill in the table, the chef flipping food and knives all over, and Mallory digs the show. Between that and the pink sugar water, I can guess why a 10-year-old girl would be perfectly cool with going out and just ordering fried rice. The chef keeps checking to make sure that she doesn’t want some veggies or anything else, but Mallory confidently assures him that no, fried rice is fine. Then comes the shrimp-catching bit. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you know the bit. He asks if she wants to try to catch and, to everyone’s shock, she says yes. “I don’t know what she’ll do if she catches it,” Christina says. It takes quite a few tries, but eventually she lands one, and we find out what she does. No sooner does it land on her tongue than she spits it right back out on the floor. “Well, at least you can say you tried it,” I say. Mallory nods, scrubs her tongue with her napkin, and gets back to her fried rice. Despite the show, with its jutting flames and glinting knives, and despite the Madame Butterfly, this round goes to the picky eater. XYZ TOPEKA



[ Gage Park ]

spring: the final melt of the snow, the defeat of bitter cold, in favor of brisk chill, an improvement. Death recedes, revealing the life that had been hidden underneath it.

wild in the park by C a le Her reman • photos by Lydi a B ar n har t • i l lust rat ions by C at her ine E l lswor t h


n a jacket-weather day in March, Gage Park feels alive. People are powerwalking. Dogs are being walked. Teenagers gather in parking lots and laugh noisily.

I walk with my children through the grass, and many muddy patches. The brown-black chunks of soil accumulating on their shoes bothers them. We make our way to the quiet Mini-Train tracks, and scrape it off on the rails and ties. These human concerns aside, the park is also alive with bird songs and chirps and tweets. And it is positively vibrant with squirrels: running over the ground, contemplating the bounty beneath the old fallen leaves, carefully keeping their distance from my dog. So many squirrels, in every direction you look. It’s easy to imagine that every creature would agree that the coming of Spring is a great relief. But what are these other creatures we share the park with? Squirrels and robins are quite visible, but who else calls this park home? To get some answers on this, I called Dr. Lee Boyd, a member of the Biology faculty at Washburn University, for her expert opinion. I asked her what would be happening in the park in early Spring. “Everybody who’s been hibernating is coming out and getting active,” she said. “All the reptiles would have been hibernating. Some of the insects would be in larval stages, and would start to hatch. Birds are migrating back.” The birds are coming to mate. Love is in the air for many species this time of year. “They’re wanting their offspring to be born in good weather,” Boyd explains. This makes sense: a vulnerable baby bird might not make it through a harsh winter; the late spring is much more nurturing. One migratory bird that lives in the ponds of Gage Park is the red-winged blackbird. The males, recognized by patches of red at their shoulders, perch on cattails and sing. Though it may sound nice, the singing is how they mark their territory, so other males know not to come too close. The females migrate back a couple weeks later, find males, and make nests for the eggs that will result. 16 XYZ

[ poetry ] < Gage Park is teeming with wildlife in the heart of the city. Migratory birds like the red-winged blackbird come to the area to mate. Insects are in larval stages in early spring. Bats have been rumored to roost near the greenhouse, and squirrels are the kings of the park.

There are a few animals that have a more hospitable environment in the park than in the countryside, such as red foxes. “The reason that they are in town is because outside of the city, coyotes are more common, and they’ll compete with, and possibly kill, the red foxes,” said Boyd. In the city, though, humans tend not to tolerate coyotes, leaving a niche for the foxes, who are willing to scavenge and eat humans’ cast-off food. Also benefitting from an urban environment are the nighthawks. They like to eat moths, so they’ve devised a clever feeding strategy: spend time near streetlights in the summer. “You’ll see them buzzing the light. And they make a noise, it’s actually their wings, their nickname is the ‘fart birds.’” The sound is produced by rapid wing movements, and apparently doesn’t scare the moth off! Dr. Boyd was not able to say that bats definitely lived in the park, but brown bats are “in town, I’m sure they’re residents of Gage Park.” I have heard stories about bats living in the incinerator smokestack, next to the greenhouse on the west side of the park. At dusk, they swarm out of the tower. “That seems perfectly reasonable,” she allowed. These are only a few examples of the wildlife in Gage Park. It makes a comfortable habitat for so many animals; certainly my kids and I will be paying more attention the next time we’re there. Looking around, in the birds, on the ground, on the rocks, there could be a living surprise anywhere. XYZ TOPEKA

sacred spaces poetry + art by Stella Robbins

When I walk, I look for foxes--I have seen them by the creek: a vixen and her several kits; in town on the grounds of the old mansion: arrayed in the sun like Celtic princes; under the juniper cover of the vacant house around the corner: an elder teaching a youngster how not to chase a squirrel. They look me in the eye, as equals. When I sleep, I keep the door to my dreams open--just a crack, and the night-light in my heart left on. One of these days they will come. I will never try to tame them. Nor they me.

Stella Robbins is an artist and poet living in Topeka whose also the mother of “the most creative, dogged kids on Planet Earth.” She found out recently, after a day with “a grandpup” that she can still skateboard. How cool is that?



[ Gage Park ]

choo! c

hoo! photo contributed by Topeka Parks and Recreation

When the whistles begin to blow again on April 7 and the engine resumes its soothing chug-a-chug, Duane Brunkow, 82, is once again considering returning to the helm of the Gage Park Mini-Train. b y J a n i c e Wa t k i n s • p h o t o b y A d a m K o g e r

A conductor for 21 consecutive years, Brunkow estimates that he has been around the track close to 21,650 times. “I retired from the post office at age 60 and had met so many people on my route and saw so many people daily, I was afraid I would go nuts,” chuckles Brunkow. “The day following my retirement [March 31, 1989], I started driving the mini-train.” Since he has lived in close proximity to Gage Park for so long, becoming acquainted with the history of the park and announcing over the intercom of the train, was pretty easy. “I had seen it all along. I walked over to the park, went through the zoo and rode the train,” he says. The only uncertain thing about the track, Brunkow jokes, is the tunnel. “We get close to the tunnel and I call out over the speaker ‘Here comes the tunnel – the tunnel of SCREAMS!’ and the kids just blow it up!” 18 XYZ

Over his 21 years of service, Brunkow notes that not everything has been laughter and tunnel screams. He recalls over eight years ago when the train kept jumping the track and he and the other drivers became increasingly worried about rider safety. They threatened a walk-out and were encouraged to go to city management, allowing a new track to be bought and the train returned to safety. “It’s the one thing Topeka has that a lot of other places don’t,” Brunkow states, noting that the uniqueness of the train is what keeps him in a job and over 100,000 riders returning each spring and summer. Although he is debating cutting back his driving hours this coming season, and possibly sinking into actual retirement, Brunkow has a continued love for the train and the joy it brings. “I wouldn’t do the job if it wasn’t for the kids, seeing them so satisfied and screaming through the tunnel. It’s a hi-ho job for me and the rest of the drivers.”

carousel + train


s the two familiar staples of Gage Park and a lure for children (and adults) of all ages, the Mini-Train and Carousel are key at creating new memories and stirring up the etched memories of the past. The one-mile train ride is ticketed to all riders for $1.25 and accompanied by not only the sights, sounds and budding greenery of the park, but a history lesson from your conductor on the 45 years of the train’s operation and the monuments of the park. As you exit the screaming tunnel and pass over the bridge, you’ll be enticed by the Wurlitzer-style band organ and want to take a dizzying ride on the horse, rabbit, or even dog, of your choice. At $1 for all riders, the Carousel gleams with the shine of the refurbished, polished brass, as well as the smiles of giggling kids.

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Full Service Salon for the whole family 785.233.5577 * 17th & medford XYZ


[ Gage Park ]

color + wonder

The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center was buzzing with construction workers, electricians, plumbers, painters and more. The director, Joanne Morrell was on her way to meet with me, but was delayed as she was making arrangements off-site with a local vendor. I walked around, getting a feel for the space among the bare bones, exposed wires and painters tape. The rainbow-colored windows that make up the west wall transformed the gloomy daylight into a wondrous site trailing onto the cement flooring and across empty cardboard boxes that once held the acoustic tiles now installed on the ceiling. Workers were high up on scaffolding as others went about their business on the floor. It wasn’t long before I could imagine the young strapping workers as the children they used to be, smiling and chatting amongst themselves, maybe happy to be working on an amazing project that they can say they had a part in building.

by Rio Cervantes- Reed photos by Sarah Hamlin

The energy in the building doubled as Joanne swept in. Apologetic and only a little frenzied, she had another person in tow, who I later learned was Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Arts Education Program Manager from the Kansas Arts Commission. It was clear to see how big a stake the Discovery Center would have in our community, and clarified why this isn’t the “Topeka” or “Shawnee County Children’s Discovery Center,” but the “Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.” >> continued on the next page



>> continued from the previous page

Joanne quickly walked us through the open space, describing each area and drawing us a picture of what to expect.

“Over there,” pointing to the southeast corner, “will be the toddler area. The Audubon Society will have bird feeders outside that window. There will be tactile, manipulative, educational toys for the kids.” She lead our eyes to a nearby exit. “There will be a water feature outside that door.” And perhaps reading my mind as a concerned aunt, she added, “We’ll have systems in place for safety.” We walked to the center of the building and Joanne continued talking about what would be. I pictured in my mind the science area which would include live demonstrations and an “experiment” table where young visitors can create their science projects. Joanne pointed to a wall that would include a medical-themed area with a large skeleton. “Dr. Lambert Wu from the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center and Dr. Craig Yorke have worked closely with us in this area, providing us with information.” A wall near the center of the room revealed sinks and cabinets facing the south wall. “This is the ‘messy art’ pavillion,” Joanne said. Immediately I was taken back to kindergarten with my classmates and me covered in fingerpaints, with dad’s old shirt buttoned on backwards as a makeshift coverall. “Yes, this will be perfect,” I thought. The Discovery Center also promises to be unique not only to our community, but to the country. In the southwest corner of the building a “Kansas Grain Gallery,” will recall our state’s legacy as an agricultural center. With a silo, pulleys, levers, conveyor belts, and augers it will provide young children with a unique educational experience about the origins of an important food staple. It will also be the only exhibit of its kind in a children’s museum in the United States. A nearby door to the outdoors will lead visitors to a patio and a Yellow Brick Road (after all, we are still in Kansas), which will wind a path to the Garbo Lei Family Treasure Garden, an Asian-style garden utilizing rocks and boulders that were excavated from the site. Additional interactive exhibits will populate the indoor and outdoor spaces of the Discovery Center, and Topeka will have a new space for private birthday parties, gathering places for young families, and creative meeting spaces for professional and social networking groups. The Discovery Center will also be a space for Kansas artists as it seeks to give children the courage to create and discover their own individual talents. XYZ TOPEKA

Info Website: Anticipated Grand Opening: June 1, 2011 Location: 10th & Westchester, Gage Park Contact: Joanne Morrell, 785.221.7002 Donate on-line at, click on “Donate,” at the top of the page, or send your tax-deductible gift by mail to: Kansas Children’s Discovery Center PO Box 4014 Topeka, KS 66604 The Price of Admission? The good things in life aren’t free, and that will include admission to the Kansas Children Discovery Center. At this writing entry fees hadn’t been determined as many factors are being taken into consideration. Information about the Discovery Center, including upcoming events and entry fees will be updated at our website at www.xyztopeka. com, and at as it becomes available.

making waves b y J a n i c e Wa t k i n s • p h o t o s b y A d a m K o g e r


he dimming sunlight reflects off the sheen of the slick suits, bobbing in and out of the ebb and flow of the pool water. With one quick breath up, the capped heads dive back down, effortlessly through the next lap. One swift turn of the neck reflects the blinking digital red numbers off the mirrored, goggle-adorned eyes, and legs and arms increase momentum in time with the clock. The intensity, speed and energy are nearly lost on the spectators standing, mouths-open, mesmerized by the effortless movements of the young swimmers. But for the “Nationals” of the Topeka Swim Association, the three and a half hours a day, six days a week that they spend in the cool, pool water is anything but effortless. These competitive swimmers, ranging in age from fourteen to nineteen are performing at the highest level of their sport, with not only an eye on the blinking digital red clock, but on swimming at the national level, becoming a future member of a high-ranked collegiate team, and qualifying for the event of a lifetime – a chance to sport their stroke on the USA Olympic team. “These are the most elite group of swimmers Topeka has to offer,” says Paul Monroe, head coach with TSA since 2006. “These kids have to be in extreme physical condition to be successful.” Monroe takes the popular adage “practice makes perfect” to task, pacing barefooted along the side of the Capital Federal Natatorium for the daily afternoon practice, scanning the field of up and coming swimmers, and then carefully noting after each task small changes in technique that can be made to make them that much better. “It’s about taking the least amount of strokes, working on technique, speed and the all-out effort,” notes Monroe. “It pays off later in life, this level of dedication, accountability and responsibility,” he continues. “It’s a lesson they can learn that takes them all the way through life.” Emily Dicus, 18, has certainly taken the lesson to heart and it’s paying off – big time. With a Division I commitment to the University of Virginia’s swim team following high school graduation this Spring, a placing in the Top 8 at Junior Nationals and a qualification for the Olympic trials in Omaha in 2012, Dicus’s commitment has propelled her to new levels of competition, but she gleams that it’s her passion that keeps her coming back to the water each day. 14-year-old, John Schmidt, one of the youngest members of the TSA National team, has a commencement of his own to look forward to – 8th grade graduation. But for Schmidt, who has been swimming competitively with TSA since he was 9 or 10, high school is the least of his worries. “I’d like to get a scholarship to a Division I college and swim,” Schmidt says meekly, noting his 17 minute mile, but for now he is occupied with the middle school basketball championship on the horizon and working in some naps. “[Napping] is pretty much my hobby.”


a day in the life of a competitive swimmer 5:00 a.m. Alarm clock blares. No time for the snooze button. Grab gear and head to swim practice 5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. – Swim practice. 7:00 a.m. Shower, dress and get ready for school. Attempt to eat 1/3 of daily caloric intake (ranging from 6,500 to 10,000) for breakfast. 8:30 a.m. – Homeroom and school 12:00 p.m. – Lunch. Eat. Eat some more. 3:00 p.m. – School bell rings, grab swim gear and head to practice. 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.– Swim practice. 6:00 p.m. – Teach swim lessons. 7:00 p.m. – Shower. Eat. Homework. Eat. 7:30 p.m. – Head to high school basketball game to cheer on the team 9:00 p.m. – Homework. Eat. 11:00 p.m. – Sleep. Oh, sweet, sleep.

[ Earth Day • April 22 ]

school composting

by Chelle Decker

Do you remember how exciting it was to grow a seed in a Styrofoam cup when you were a kid? Students at Topeka Collegiate School (TCS) have taken that idea and have developed it into a well-rounded program for their school.


CS has embraced the idea of composting and gardening and have dove head first into a program that teaches kids to garden and gives them the skills to take their knowledge home to their families. All third graders at TCS create a compost can at the beginning of the school year. By adding just a few ingredients including red worms Educator Dallas Bauer buys over the internet, a class compost can is started to begin the year. Farther into the school year, the can is then divided up among the students so that each kid has a can to work with and to eventually take home at the end of the year for their family to continue to use for their benefit. And, the fun isn’t just for the third grade students. TCS science teacher Mary Kate Baldwin, keeps a large compost container in the science classroom too. Children in the cafeteria are encouraged to save banana peels and more to add to the large compost container. Baldwin then gives out “Worm Tea” at Earth Night at the school. Families can take the worm tea, 24 XYZ

which is liquid created from the compost container, and put it in their own gardens to help grow produce and flowers. TCS has also started their own school garden.

Students can take gardening as an elective to learn how to grow and care for plants. Home Depot donated materials this past year to create a house for seedlings and the students will plant the seeds in the school garden at the proper time this Spring. The fresh grown produce is used as fresh snacks for kids attending summer camp and for other students to take home to enjoy with their families. So many lessons are being taught to these students from this project. Kids learn environmentalism from composting, health & nutrition from growing fresh produce, and lots of patience as they are waiting to see the fruits of their labor. XYZ TOPEKA

dining green XYZ • photos by Colin MacMillan Nathan Ham Photography


side from offering an away-from-home haven for vegan tummies - arguably the most environmentally friendly diet - the Blue Planet Cafe strives for greenness in every endeavor. Take for example, their disposal system, which encourages customers (and employees) to sort their waste into recycling, compost, and waste containers. Because the cafe recycles and composts, those trash bins are used sparingly.

“We could have a dumpster for a month and we’d never fill it up,” owner Linda Carson says. “We barely make any waste.” Odell Giner, who oversees the compost heap, says that the cafe’s corn-based cups take only a week or two to break down completely. “And if the heap is cookin’ at 100 or 140 degrees, those cups can be gone in five days,” he says with eyebrows raised. Sorting the trash is only part of it - the cafe also doesn’t create much food waste, due to careful planning. “We make what we need and make more when necessary,” explains Sarah Carson, who is the brains behind many of the Blue Planet’s creative vegan fares, like their array of delectable faux lunchmeats.

Want to start a compost pile? Topeka Collegiate educator Dallas Bauer says these are the few things you’ll need to make your own at-home kit. • One coffee can (or other dark container) with air holes punched in the lid • Shredded paper • Dirt • Five red worms • Banana Peel

Linda Carson is also famous for salvaging use-able food, turning near-expiration cream into gluten-free bread, or swiftly ripening tomatoes into creamy tomato and basil soup. “People will ask me, ‘Linda, is this any good?’ And I’ll say ‘Yes!’ or ‘Linda, I made a mistake!’ and I’ll yell, ‘I can fix it!’” The business model is created by a woman whose favorite catchphrase is, “Give me some flour and a couple eggs and I’ll make you fettuccine alfredo.” It helps that they brew up the java beans provided by the local roaster PT’s Coffee - a company that establishes direct trade systems with the countries that grow their coffee. And that the ingredients used are local and organic whenever possible - like the local, free-range buffalo meat that makes a weekly appearance in bierocks. There is talk of a rooftop garden, solar panels, wind generators, and even a bicycle-powered mixer. It’s not surprising that environmental thinking comes naturally to the Blue Planet staff - one whose transportation is made up of a cluster of bicycles chained to the building’s front railings. “It’s something we do without thinking about,” Sarah Carson explains. “I think we all basically live our lives this way.” XYZ TOPEKA

one for the history books by Cale Herreman • photos by Sarah Hamlin

cool bday parties

Your child’s next birthday could be a fun trip into the past at the Kansas Museum of History. Discovery Place, an area created for history-based play, can be rented for special occasions. Just a quick right turn from the museum’s main entrance, Discovery Place includes a toy farmstead play table, a puppet theater, a produceand chicken-stocked general store, a large tipi, and old-fashioned ring-tossing carnival games. Right outside the Discovery Place, there is also a large train that kids love playing on, and a cowboy dress-up area. There are a lot of possibilities there, something for each kid in a group. For a birthday party, a group can enjoy the Discovery Place for an hour, then retire to a private room to enjoy cake and open gifts. Everyone gets museum party favors and the birthday girl or boy receives a copy of the newspaper from the day they were born. After that, the whole group gets into the museum free of charge. A party that has lots of fun and some learning, too? What more could a parent want? XYZ TOPEKA

Jace’s 5th Birthday party was as rollicking as a cowboy gang gathered around a campfire with the Discovery Place’s Kansas history themed play area.

Share your unique or favorite kid’s party with us at

party plans Place: Discovery Place at the Kansas Museum of History Address: 6425 S.W. 6th Ave. Phone: 785-272-8681 Ext. 438 E-mail: Darrin Wade: Website: Cost: Packages start at $75 Food: Parents can bring in food and a cake, or United Martial Sciences can arrange the cake for you. Decorations: Parents must provide their own.

Historic homes renovated and open for unique history tours.

ritchie house by Larissa Amundson • photos by EJ Drake


he American attitudes of progress and change for the better, of equality for all and doing the right thing come to life in two houses near 11th and Madison, in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Topeka. The Ritchie Houses hold over 100 years of history, and the preservation work will provide Kansans with an opportunity to experience two milestones that shaped our nation. The oldest of the two Ritchie Houses was built by John Ritchie, who moved to Topeka with his family in 1855 when the city was only three months old. As one of Topeka’s founding fathers, Ritchie helped write the Wyandotte Constitution, which stated that Kansas would enter the union as a free state. “The Ritchies were very inclusive, they were very supportive, they were very welcoming of African Americans to come live in Topeka. He hired African Americans, he sold town lots to African Americans, he traded military warrants for lots so black folks could build houses,” Bill Wagnon, chairman of the Landmark Hundreds of items have been recovered during Preservation Committee, various digs on the property of the two homes. explains. Then, 100 years later, the neighborhood John Ritchie built became the center of another milestone in American history. In 1951, one black girl’s parents wanted their daughter to attend the all-white school, which provided a better education that the AfricanAmerican Monroe School. This led to the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate schools. The Monroe School is located just three blocks from the Ritchie Houses. In reference to the proximity of the Monroe School and the Ritchie Houses, Bill Wagnon says “It’s our own Lexington and Concord. It’s so monumental that we thought that the story is critical to tell. We need to help kids understand it, we need to help the public understand it, we need to memorialize it and so we call this Freedom’s Pathway, from Brown to Ritchie to the Capitol.” The end of slavery and the desegregation of blacks and whites led to the free country we live in today. But no matter how great these stories are, most of us see them as words in a history book. Bill Wagnon is changing that for Kansas schoolchildren. The two Ritchie houses have been restored so that Kansas students can experience the people and places that made our city, state, and nation great. The house John Ritchie built has been stripped of all modern additions, down to the limestone John Ritchie used as the foundation of the house. The house just south of John Ritchie’s home was built by John’s son Hale in 1885. Thanks to the work of Daryl Nickel, a restoration artist, Hale Ritchie’s home has been completely renovated to replicate the home

Fun Notes • • •

Stucco was removed from the outside of John Ritchie’s house but not all could be taken off though, since the original rock was starting to come off as well. Hale Ritchie’s house was removed from the foundation, and the basement was redone. The house was then moved back to its original place. Original pieces from Hale Ritchie’s house were recovered and used by Daryl Nickel to create an accurate replica of the house Hale Ritchie and his family lived in. The pieces from the original house were preserved so well that even the outside of the house is painted the same color it was when Hale built it. There are two, two-story doors on the outside of John Ritchie’s house. There would have been outside staircases going up to these doors in John Ritchie’s time.

that Hale and his family lived in. Robin Shrimplin, the education consultant, has created an environment where both children and adults can experience Kansas history through the eyes of people who lived it. The creative work done by Nickel and Shrimplin, the leadership of Bill Wagnon, and the time and money given by countless others have made the Hale Ritchie House Education Center a success. Each year, fourth-graders from Topeka schools will tour the Hale Ritchie house, learning a history lesson they will remember for the rest of their lives. The Hale Ritchie house will be open for tours this spring. Tours can be scheduled by calling the Hale Ritchie House at 785.234.6097, or by emailing Robin Shrimplin at XYZ TOPEKA The house is compliant with ADA standards with ramps and accessible bathrooms.

[ entertainment ]

fun stuff by Cale Herreman

O V E A LL B A Books & Gifts, LLP

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Your family’s source for Bibles, books, music, church supplies and inspirational gifts. Locally owned and operated.

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o Fun Stuff ” is a compilation that lives up to its name. It’s a bunch of songs that bound along with youthful joy, along with the more quiet moments even the young can have. And, with the exception of one song, it should be enjoyable to parents, too. This CD was put together by a couple whose son was diagnosed with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS), a chromosomal defect similar to Down Syndrome. Their doctors knew so little about the condition, they couldn’t give the parents much useful information. So that family now works to spread the word about SMS and support families dealing with it. They made this fundraising CD of music that their son would enjoy. The songs are a celebration of optimism and childhood joys: adventure and imagination. The song, “Hooray It’s My Birthday” has convinced me that there need to be more New Wave-style children’s songs. “Morton The Caterpillar” is a languid song about a caterpillar who wants to fly. Then, one day, he makes himself a ‘sleeping bag’ and… Hey, you know what happens to caterpillars, don’t you? The one song I’d recommend parents leave the room for is “Potty Time.” It has all the information a kid could possibly need about what to do in the bathroom. It also gets on my nerves, so be warned. “Do Fun Stuff ” is available on iTunes, and you can listen to it at XYZ TOPEKA image courtesy

Music the whole family can dig.

Raffi songs

(minus the Raffi) by Cale Herreman


IMAGINATION! ENROLL IN A SUMMER YOUTH THEATER WORKSHOP! We’ll teach basic acting, dance, singing, performance and production skills, and then combine these into a dazzling theatrical performance that will give your child an exhilarating experience with theater and performing arts. Each session ends with a performance for parents and fans and features a new and different production theme, so enroll in more than one! (Scholarships are available)

Session I: June 6 - 24 Session II: June 27 - July 15 Session III: July 18 - August 5

So, why not just get a Raffi album? Why have a bunch of country music artists record his most well-known songs? Well, because it sounds pretty good. Tribute albums from various artists can sometimes be disjointed, with jarring transitions from song to song. Here, though, Raffi’s songs are so bright and winning, the variety of vocalists is a treat.

Broadway Bound (5 & 6) Session I & III: 8 am - 11 am Session II: noon - 3 pm $145 / $181.25 fee First Steps to Broadway (7 & 8) Session I & III: noon - 3 pm Session II: 8 am - 11 am $145 / $181.25 fee Production Workshop (9 - 11) 8 am-3 pm (drop off starts @ 7:15 am) $180 / $225 fee Break-A-Leg Players (12 & 13) 8 am-3 pm (drop off starts @ 7:15 am) $180 / $225 fee

And for the most part, parents who don’t care for country music won’t find much to bother them here. Cowboy singing and steel guitars are not especially heavy on most of the songs, and honkytonks and pickup trucks are absent altogether. If someone put this album on without knowing its title, it might take them a while to figure out it’s country at all. The artists give the songs their due, from the sillier songs about bowling and bananas (TWO songs about bananas?), to the more transcendent, like “One Light One Sun.” Raffi is a master at taking kids from seemingly frivolous silly-shaking to a more cosmic view, as in, “Blue White Planet,” and everywhere in between. This album is a feast for them. Thanks to Karen Allen for the suggestion. image courtesy

To enroll call 368-3838.

For more information, consult the Parks and Recreation of Topeka 2011 Summer Catalog, or call the theater office at 368-0191.



cool kid’s room

mural mania b y J a n i c e Wa t k i n s • p h o t o s b y A d a m K o g e r

Boys with a love of everything Pixar + a dad who paints


aughn, 10 1/2, and Ian, 6 1/2 are living every kid’s dream - living, or at least sleeping in their own Pixar havens. With a separate love for the popular Pixar films and a handy-with-a-paintbrush-dad, the boys have managed to turn their abodes into anything but humble. Vaughn enters his bed every night with the images of WALL-E surrounding him. From WALL-E bedding to lamps robots and bean bag chairs, he has surrounded himself with reminders of his all-time favorite movie. “I’ve seen it like five million times,” he gushes. Ten steps down the hallway, Ian bursts into a veritable Pixar advertisement. Each wall contains a different color and different Pixar characters, with Lightening McQueen 30 XYZ

from the engine-revving, Cars, taking the lead above the bed. The jokesters from Monster’s Inc. proudly guard the center wall, with Buzz Lightyear and Woody wrestling adjacent from the bookshelf, followed by Nemo’s journey to find his way home above the closet. In the corner, you’ll find one demure Yoda, which is a hint of what is to come. With a few cans of paint and a few free days the Pixar quartet will be replaced with the firstgrader’s growing love for all things Star Wars. Regardless of the popular Pixar images or a future Darth Vader, the boys both agree that they have created something special. “Of course our rooms are cool,” Ian admits, followed by Vaughn adding, “more like awesome!” XYZ TOPEKA

Vaughn 10 1/2 Ian 6 1/2



[ lifestyle ]

child utopia

by Chelle Decker

• photo by Lydi a B ar n har t


t’s hard to miss the Toy Store. Kids’ eyes are drawn to the bright colors and fun toys always on display in the window. You’ve probably stopped in to marvel at the fun games, adorable stuffed animals and challenging science toys. But did you realize you were standing the middle of the largest independently owned specialty toy store in the United States?

Toy Store 5300 SW 21st St # A Topeka, KS 66604 785.273.0561

The Toy Store, which has been in business for 34 years, has grown from a booth as part of the Palace Plaza shops in downtown Topeka, to a large toy store with an amazing selection, hands-on play areas for kids, and regularly scheduled Saturday “kidtivities.” Manager Dennis Elder knows his toys. In fact, he’s sure to have employees play with the toys they have in stock so they not only know everything about them, but also so they can offer customized customer service to kids and adults who visit the store. “We even get paid for it,” Elder said with a gleam in his eye. Elder excitedly showed off some of his favorite toys in the large selection. According to Elder, “We try to carry toys you don’t find anywhere else like educational and play oriented toys.” The arts and craft section features sticky mosaics for kids to put together. Not only do they have the fun of doing the project, but they also end up with an art piece that they can proudly display. Science toys feature alternative energy sources like wind turbines. Elder added, “We try to carry as many green, eco-

friendly products as we can. One of the number one selling products for ages eight and up are Snap Circuits. Elder explained they are a perfect introduction into electronics with circuits that snap together. The Toy Store offers games for all ages including Diggity Dog which is popular for kids ages three and up. Puppies are color coded and teach kids memory, counting, and more as they try to match magnetic bones with their puppy. Spring is a great time at the toy store with a large outdoor play section including a wide variety of kites and the popular Stomp Rocket with a demonstration model in the store letting kids of all ages send “rockets’ up into the air. After a fun time shopping, you can use the self-serve gift wrap area. A large variety of gift wraps and supplies are supplied free of charge to allow customers to wrap up a perfect day of shopping. XYZ TOPEKA

April is National Poetry Month for kids, too.

EvEn thE bEst parEnts nEEd a littlE hElp somEtimEs

by Ande Davis


pril is National Poetry Month, which makes for a perfectly handy excuse to get your kid interested in poetry. And it might be easier than you’d think.

There’s always those widely-available and child-friendly poems—Silverstein and Seuss—but if your child hasn’t seen their share of those already, they might need to be introduced to the concept of books first. Those books are great and immensely worthwhile, but XYZ is here to offer you a little more than what you already know. One of the most common reading times for parents and their little ones is right before bed. Enter “Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems,” edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Not only are there beautiful pictures (by G. Brian Karas), but there’s also an incredible range of poems, from contemporary poets to Sylvia Plath and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and from the giggle-worthy to the quietly comforting. In addition to the healthy doses of cats in hats and ending sidewalks that you’ll undoubtedly be treating your kids to this April, “Switching on the Moon” makes a nice introduction to the wonder of verse for children, all nestled up in their beds and spending quality time with their parents. XYZ TOPEKA

Raising children isn’t easy. Plenty of good, loving parents do all the right things, and their children can still benefit from our help. Family Service & Guidance Center has been improving children’s lives since 1904. Today, we offer a wide range of mental health services designed for children and families who want to be happier and healthier just like yours.

Family Service & Guidance Center Improving children’s lives since 1904 785.232.5005 • @fsgctopeka

photo courtesy Randomhouse



[ lifestyle ]

“Prove that you’re not the kind of kid who wastes all of their valuable free time lying around inside the house all day.” - from


he Kansas Wildlifer Challenge doesn’t mince words when it comes to getting kids up off the couch, away from the video game console and out into the wide open world. The statewide program, which launched last Fall as a side-project of the Kansas Wildscapes Foundation, can be a little pushy. But that, says Charlie Black, executive director of the Foundation, is exactly what is needed to motivate youths to experience nature and what it has to offer. “I don’t think kids of any age want to willingly admit that they do nothing all day,” he says. “This pushes them out of their element, their comfort zone. Right now they may not be trying.” The Wildlifer Challenge dares kids to complete 15 challenges – things like planting a tree, catching a frog, swimming in a lake, pitching a tent, catching fireflies – and take a picture of themselves in the midst of completing the challenge. Then they upload their pictures to the website: to prove that they’ve got the stuff it takes to be a true Wildlifer. Once they’ve completed 15 out of the 20 challenges offered, they get a certificate of completion, a T-shirt, a poster, car decal and a Coleman gear pack for the first 500 kids who finish. There are a few people in the older generation who will probably chuckle to themselves when they read what I’m about to write, but I’ll say it anyway: These challenges are hard. Hard to swim in a lake or catch a firefly? Well, yes. And the reason for that is pretty obvious. Kids these days have a lot of screen time and very little time to explore the natural world. TIME Magazine recently reported that the average kid between ages eight and 18 spend an average of seven hours, 38 minutes using entertainment media each day. Yikes. 34 XYZ

Dan and Maddie Rose Schmidtlein pitch a tent.



by Leah Sewell photos by Colin MacMillan /Nathan Ham Photography

“The Wildlifer Challenge asks kids to take a little risk.”

“I have three sons who I fight with on cell phone usage and TV on a daily basis. Technology is a wonderful thing, but anything in excess is not a good thing. I think it’s a losing battle, but one that you have to keep fighting,” says Black. “If you’ve been staring at a screen all day, what is that doing to your health? If you look at all the problems kids have these days, I have to believe that an inactive lifestyle is at core of it.” Enter the Wildlifer Program, and enter, too, the parent or caregiver. It takes just a few moments to register the child on the Challenge’s secure site, but it will take a little more oomph to get out the door and really get their feet wet, or muddy, if you will. Parental involvement and modeling is key to getting kids to connect with nature, use their bodies and develop a lasting love of the outdoors.

>The Wildlifer site and below (left) Charlie Black’s kids completing the challenge, “wet a line,” and (right) Black himself, the man behind the Wildlifer Challenge and a firm believer in the power of the outdoors.

“The child is going to look to parent for help and security. The parent is going to have to suck it up and say, ‘We are going to do this together,’” says Black. If that means skewering a wriggling worm on a hook, so be it. If it means catching a slimy, green pond-frog, then bring it on. But, on the flipside of that, it also means the development of a profound and – importantly – an uninterruptable bonding experience with a child. Black remembers outdoor experiences with his own father as some of the best times of his childhood. “We had some of our most intense, deep conversations when we were outdoors,” he says. “It’s something different than the normal daily grind of family life.” With his own sons, Black has instilled in them a love of the outdoors, and his family lives in the country where the kids are allowed to explore in the woods beyond the backyard. But many contemporary kids don’t have that luxury and many parents, while definitely wellmeaning, tend to offer structured or restricted play (activities like soccer and playground play) far more often than free play, which promotes independence and creative thinking. But structured activities can be perceived as less dangerous. “The Wildlifer Challenge asks kids to take a little risk, and parents need to let their kids fail

sometimes,” says Black. “The perception of danger is more now than it used to be. Sometimes it’s justified and sometimes it’s not. I think when it comes to the outdoors, it’s not justified.” What are the long-term benefits to a generation of Kansas Wildlifer kids? Beyond the obvious health benefits and an organically learned respect for the environment, Black says that these kids will grow to become the primary financial supporters of the “wildscapes” of Kansas. “It will mean more revenue for the state, with more fishing, hunting and park usage. A lot of those dollars fund habitat restoration.” Kathleen Dultmeier, the public information officer for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, says that habitat conservation, preservation and education are directly funded by the purchases of various licenses. “When you buy a fishing license, the money goes directly back into conserving Kansas,” she says. “The portion of federal dollars that Kansas receives is calculated using license sales, meaning the more people who buy Kansas fishing licenses, the more federal dollars Kansas will receive thus making additional improvements to our environment.” But for the kids, it’s just fun. And it’s a challenge. But one that, once conquered, could possibly change their lives. Upon completing the Kansas Wildlifer Challenge, boasts the website, kids will have a changed self-image. “You’ll quickly realize that you are not like everyone else! You’re busting the norm wide open and living life to the fullest!” Here’s to living life to the fullest. Anyone want to go catch some fireflies? XYZ TOPEKA

[ lifestyle ]

Teaching your children about people with disabilities

avoiding the



by Karli Davis • illustration by Ande Davis

et’s face it—all kids do things that embarrass their parents. Sometimes they are well aware they are doing this (like the time a certain XYZ Magazine writer dropped his pants and mooned his kindergarten class), but for the most part, kids don’t realize some of their behavior borders on (or

is) inappropriate. And when it comes to interacting with people with disabilities, parents often don’t know what’s appropriate. “It’s about educating kids,” said Adam Burnett, director of quality assurance for Independent Living Programs at the Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL), an organization focused on promoting independent living and individual choice to persons with disabilities. “Don’t be embarrassed by your kids—they’re naturally curious.” Burnett, who experienced a spinal cord injury almost 17 years ago that left him with quadriplegia that requires him to use a wheelchair, often sees parents grabbing their kids and moving them out of the way when they see him coming toward them in a store. “There’s this misconception that people with disabilities

are angry, lazy or don’t want to bothered,” said Burnett. “I’m not angry about my disability. It’s inconvenient, but I don’t blame anyone.”

It’s about educating kids

In addition to this misconception, many people are worried that they or their children may say something politically incorrect, but Burnett offers some advice for those that don’t want to offend anyone. “We worry way too much about terminology. I’d rather have someone say something politically incorrect than just ignore me. I believe people who have disabilities are approachable, and a lot would prefer people ask questions rather than assume something. If your kid has a question, encourage them to seek an answer,” said Burnett. Linda Burgen, director of the Easter Seals Capper Foundation Kidlink Childcare and Preschool Program, agrees with this method.

“I don’t think he notices disabilities. One of his best friends is a 90-year-old woman who uses a walker.” - Mandy Smith 36 XYZ

“If your child is curious and wants to approach someone with a disability, you can introduce yourselves and approach the person as a friend. For example, you might say, ‘My child is admiring your chair,’” said Burgen. “It is very much okay to approach others.” Burgen, who works every day with both typically developing children and children with disabilities, also suggests educating your children with books about disabilities and focusing on teaching your children about similarities rather than differences. “We are more alike than we are different. We should tolerate and support rather than judge,” said Burgen. She has also noticed that children often look to the adults around them for cues on how to act and that parents should be aware of this. “My attitude spreads,” said Burgen. “If I’m on edge, then it spreads.” Mandy Smith, mother to two-year-old Keegan, has first-hand experience helping her son learn to be comfortable around people with disabilities. Smith works with Burnett at RCIL and has been bringing Keegan to the organization’s events since she started in 2009. She’s noticed that because he’s


around all different types of people on a regular basis, he doesn’t seem affected when he sees someone that may be different.

“We are more alike than we are different. We should tolerate and support rather than judge.” - Linda Burgen

“I don’t think he notices disabilities. One of his best friends is a 90-yearold woman who uses a walker,” said Smith. “It’s nice to know that when we’re at the store, I don’t have to worry about him staring or being rude.” Even though Keegan isn’t asking questions now, Smith is prepared to continue educating him as he gets older. She plans to continue to bring Keegan with her to RCIL events so he can interact with different types of people and she is already looking into the resources available both online and through books to help her facilitate talking about the variety of disabilities, including those that aren’t necessarily physical, with her son. “I want to focus on teaching him to see the whole person and not just their disability,” said Smith. “I want to show him that every person is different. I may be good at one thing and you at another, but we’ve all got something to contribute.”


• for interacting with People with Disabilities

Take the time to talk about disabilities at home with your children. A little bit of preventative education can definitely lessen embarrassing moments.

Speak directly to a person with a disability rather than through his or her interpreter or a companion that may be along.

Teach your children that the assistive devices (canes, wheelchairs, service dogs) are an extension of the person with a disability, and that even though they may ask questions about them, they should not be touched.

Include all types of disabilities (cognitive, visual, physical, etc.) when you talk with your children. Just because you can’t physically tell a person has a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have one.

Don’t pretend that you can understand someone who has a speech impairment if you can’t. It is okay to

ask them to repeat themselves, slow down or speak louder. •

Lead by example. Even if you may be uncomfortable, try to be confident and treat the situation as a learning experience. Your attitude will rub off on your children.

Encourage your children’s school to include Disability History & Awareness Week activities in their yearly curriculum.

Look into the different resources available for teaching your children about disabilities. A quick internet search yields many resources, and additional information can be found by calling The Resource Center for Independent living at 800.580.7245, The Capper Foundation Easter Seals at 785.272.7912 or visiting your local library.



[ local flavor ]


A quick and healthy fix for a weekday meal + fun recipes for kids to make for their 4-legged friends

chicken fried rice recipe + photo by Chelle Decker

I made this for the boys this week and they loved it. It’s a pretty dish (thanks to the bright carrots and snow peas) and it’s fun for kids to pick their favorite parts out of the dish. Teddy Mac particularly liked the snow peas once I split one open and showed him the peas hidden inside!

2 cups chopped chicken breast (I like to make mine with an Asian marinade on the George Forman grill)

all hands on deck

2 cups cooked brown rice 1 can water chestnuts (drained) 2 cups fresh snow peas 1 cup finely chopped carrots It’s a proven fact that kids who cook alongside their parents are maybe just slightly a tad less picky. Or, at least they become more fascinated with food and nutrition, which is a good foundation to a healthy relationship with food. Start from the ground up by selecting a recipe together (one that is relatively easy), purchasing food at the Farmers’ Market, doing the prep work - cleaning veggies + fruit are great play, er, work for little hands. Put some good music on in the kitchen, pull up a chair for little ones to stand on (keep it at a safe distance from hot surfaces) and make it a party. Cooking is fun. Kids love it. 38 XYZ

½ cup finely chopped white onion ½ cup chopped green onion 2 eggs Olive oil

Lite soy sauce

Heat pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of pan. I prefer cooking in a cast iron skillet for browning. Brown snow peas, carrots, white onion, and green onion in olive oil. Cook until desired consistency. Add water chestnuts. Scramble eggs in separate pan, or if your pan is large enough, slide vegetables to one side and make eggs in the same pan.) Once eggs are cooked add rice and chicken. Flavor with soy sauce to preferred taste. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Serves 4. Total prep time: 20 minutes. Note: This recipe warms up well for a lunch thermos the next day.

roll over r e c i p e s p r o v i d e d b y t h e T o p e k a Yo u t h and Bath House Players at Helen Hocker Theatre

Dog Treats 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon molasses 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder cookie cutters

Mix milk, peanut butter and molasses In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder Stir dry ingredients into wet Knead until blended, and form into a ball (your hands work best for this!) Roll on lightly floured surface, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters Bake on greased cookie sheets, at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes Cool before feeding to doggies

Cat Treats  3 tablespoons egg whites, scrambled 6 ounce of tuna (in water) ¼ cup cornmeal ½ cup whole wheat flour

Mix all ingredients Form into a ball, and flatten on a greased cookie sheet Cut dough into cat bite sized pieces Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes Cool slightly - kitties will enjoy them when still warm!

recipe acquired by + photos by Heather McKee

The Topeka Youth Players and Bath House Players at Helen Hocker Theatre delivered these treats to the dogs + cats at Helping Hands Humane Society. Thanks for sharing your recipes, kids!

[ lifestyle ]

upheaval inside the mind of the kid on the move.

by Ande Davis • photo by EJ Drake


verybody has hard questions to answer—“What religion are you?” or “What’s your stance on soand-so?” or “Why does your nose look like that?” For me, it’s a question I get asked all the time, and I never quite know how to answer it: “Where are you from?” We moved around a lot when I was growing up—my mom always referred to us as “gypsies” and “nomads”—and for a variety of reasons, so the answer isn’t always a short one. I’ve continued the habit even after getting out on my own, only compounding the problem of answering one simple little question. In truth, moving’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get to see new places, meet new people, try new things, start over completely. In second grade, when we moved to a new school, I told everyone I was from Germany—I have no idea why. That didn’t last long, but I still had that new-kid 40 XYZ

sheen to help me make friends. On the other hand, you have to start over completely every time. I know many, many people—like my wife—who’ve known some of the same people and had some of the same friends practically since infancy. I don’t think I still know anyone I went to high school with. If you move once in your life, it’s not as big a deal, and if you move when you’re young, it’s not so hard. In fact, I even got a hold of a professional to back me up on this. “Younger kids seem to make new friends easier and moving isn’t as tough on them,” says Gerry Ableidinger, school counselor at Randolph Elementary. “The older kids are harder because they’re involved with sports and music and activities and there are cliques in place—it’s actually harder for them to understand why they had to move.” I can vouch for both ends of that. The first time we moved, it was from California to Kansas when I was just about seven.

It was kind of hard leaving behind the friends I’d made and my school, and there was a little bit of a cultural adjustment, but it was still exciting and aside from that whole Germany thing, I think I did pretty well. We moved again the next year, and a few more times around Topeka after that. Right before high school, I moved up to Davenport, Iowa, with my mom and brother. It was a little more difficult, but I still think I did all right. We moved back to Topeka before my senior year and—as my mom can likely attest—we’ll say I didn’t handle it so well. I was pretty unbearable.

unpacking checklist So you’re moving. Or you just moved. Here are some tips from Gerry Ableidinger to help your kids handle it well.

Moving’s stressful for adults, and for kids who tend to have even less say in the matter, it can be a little more of an ordeal. “There’s some stress with losing their ties, their friends and family. In some cases, they probably don’t grasp why they had to move, and sometimes it seems like their world is collapsing,” says Ableidinger. “A lot of times, kids will be real quiet, especially if it’s in the middle of the year because everyone else has already gotten their groups together.”

Usually, we moved during the summer, so I didn’t have to change schools mid-year. I can remember throwing a fit once or twice when we had to move after school started, because the idea of having to get readjusted frightened the heck out of me.

· If you can help it, move during the summer, when school’s out. Adjusting is a lot easier when their classmates are doing a little bit of it, too. · If you’re moving mid-year, see if your kid’s teacher will send some pictures of the class along to the new school. Let your kid write back-and-forth with the teacher for a little bit until they adjust.

Changing schools the middle of my senior year of high school was probably the worst mistake I made—that “being quiet” thing tends to make it so you don’t recognize any of the names at your own high school graduation.

· Talk to your kid about why you’re moving. Letting them know the circumstances behind it might him or her them cope with the change of scenery.

The majority of the time, parents don’t have a say in moving, either—especially given the current economy. You go where the work is, and that was generally the case with us growing up, too. Often, you can’t help uprooting your family, even if it’s just across town. And in all honesty, moving across town and across the country tend to be the same for kids, anyway.

· If you’re moving into a new town, take the family on self-guided tours of all the things to see and do. Many times, it’ll help your child get to know the new place and make them feel connected.

“In-town and out-of-town moves are pretty similar from their perspective, because they usually don’t get back together with friends from their old school anyway,” Ableidinger says. “In fact, sometimes a whole new city isn’t so bad for them.” In retrospect, no matter how much I fussed or didn’t fuss whenever we moved, I don’t think I’d undo any of them (except that mid-senior year one—Worst. Idea. Ever.) because of the experiences I made. So I don’t have a big, long history with any of my friends, but it means I have friends all over the country, all of whom have couches the next time I get that gypsy bug. XYZ TOPEKA

· Ableidinger often gives new kids a bingo card they need to fill out by seeking out students who like the Royals, play soccer, etc. “It lets the new kids get to know the other students, and it helps the other students get to know them. They find out they have a lot in common.” When they fill it out, you can ask them questions about their new friends.




! t h flig [ art ]

Supplies: Clothespins Coffee Filters Pipe Cleaners An Eye Dropper An Ice cube tray Food Coloring

project by Bailey Marable • photos by Justin & Bailey Marable B a i l e y i s a n a r t t e a c h e r a t R o y a l Va l l e y H i g h S c h o o l a n d m o m t o K a s s y , 8 , Wi l l o w, 2 , a n d n e w b o r n O l i v e .

I provided a cookie sheet with a lip and paper towels to help out! OK really I used a cloth napkin (which is now multi colored), but YOU could use papertowels.


ur parent educator stopped by a few days before our three-yearolds birthday party. The project, to my little lady’s delight, was butterflies! We filled a few ice cube sections with water and some food coloring. My artist was able to test out her dexterity with the eye dropper, while I used phrases like “Squeeze! OK now un-squeeze!” (Because if you say let go, she let go. Kids take things so literally!) She filled the coffee filter with beautiful colors, while the tray and napkin soaked up the piles of extra water. As an art teacher, I made the mistake of showing her how to mix purple and green. She took that a step furthur and made BROWN… in every ice cube space. She laid her beautiful wings in the sun to dry and later we added bodies and antenea (clothespins and pipe cleaners).

This was such a hit we decided to try it again on our own a few days later. Let me tell you, tracking down clothespins without a spring is no small feat. I’ll save you some time and trips to the hardware store, these are a CRAFT STORE item. We had our neighborhood artists come over and busted out dozens of butterflies, just in time to decorate our home for a heck of a birthday party. This project was enjoyed by artists ages 3-10 and party guests of all ages…. and that is your spring XYZ art project! XYZ TOPEKA

42 XYZ


illustration special to XYZ by Catherine Ellsworth. Use it to start a discussion with your kids about language.

ArtLab Family & Community Days April 23 & May 7

Saturday, April 23, 2011, 1-4pm Earth Day Family Day in the ArtLab FREE!

Honor Earth Day! Visit the ArtLab and make artistic bird feeders and bird houses to feed and shelter your fine feathered friends.

Saturday, May 7, 2011, 1-4pm Home on the Range FREE! Family Day in the ArtLab

Visit the exhibition, David Hicks Overmyer: A Kansas Original, and celebrate our Great Prairie Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 150th birthday year! Create works of art that feature Kansas State Symbols such as Buffalo, Sunflowers, Western Meadowlarks, Honeybees, Ornate Box Turtles and More! Sponsored in part by a Kansas American Masterpieces Grant from the Kansas Arts Commission.

Look, Create, Understand!

Mulvane Art Museum and ArtLab

Lower Level Mulvane Art Museum 17th & Jewell


Tues. 10-7, Wed.-Fri. 10-5, Sat. & Sun. 1-4 Admission to the Museum and ArtLab is FREE! 785-670-1124 Check out our web site for more information.




springtime reads b y T o p e k a a n d S h a w n e e C o u n t y P u b l i c L i b r a r y Yo u t h S e r v i c e s s u p e r v i s o r L e A n n P e t r i e photos contributed by TSCPL

Check out this edition’s best bets from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. You know your children best, but these great stories appeal to a range of kids, from birth through 10 years of age) “The Big Storm: A Very Soggy

“Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh – Use of color makes this book engaging and simple to flip through with baby in your lap. If your little one loves this author’s style, you’ll be happy to know “Mouse Paint” is just one in a whole series of cute critter stories.

“Ogres Don’t Hunt Easter Eggs” by Debbie Dadey (Bailey School Kids series) – Has an ogre taken over the city park? The Bailey School Kids investigate. If you and your child are looking for a great series, try this one – perfect for readers who are getting the hang of following a story through several chapters.

“Knuffle Bunny” by Mo Willems – Sepia-toned photos with bright cartoon drawings superimposed on them serve as a springboard for this not-so-typical lost-and-found tale. Moms and dads could see a bit of their own children in Trixie, the main character, and toddler distress symptoms.

“The Rain Came Down” by David Shannon – The cover alone will make you want to pick this book up. Children learn that in life there are setbacks, arguments and attitude in this story that ends all smiles.

Counting Book” by Nancy Tafuri – Cute forest critters take cover one-by-one as thunder rumbles and a storm approaches. Pick up anything by this author, and you and your toddler will be delighted with the storytelling through words and pictures. “Dawdle Duckling” by Toni Buzzeo – A coming-of-age story about an easy-to-love duckling, his siblings and the protective mama duck. Beautiful, lively graphics help tell the story that your baby to preschooler will want to hear over and over again. “Gossie” by Olivier Dunrea – Part of the beloved Gossie and Friends series intended for preschool/kindergarten kids. This one introduces you to the character Gossie and starts you along his journey reminiscent of a typical preschooler’s experience. “Flower Garden” by Eve Bunting – Rhyming and illustrations help pre-readers along through this story of a thoughtful little girl with a garden. Beginning readers will likely develop an understanding of planting and growing and may appreciate the detail in the enchanting artwork depicted

“RRRALPH” by Lois Ehlert – A tale of a talking dog perfect for 4 to 8 year olds but appealing to all in the family. Clever graphics bring this dog to life. Ralph proves to be quite the jokester and will likely get the kiddos (and maybe even dad) giggling. on the pages. “Sheila Rae, the Brave” by Kevin Henkes – This is a great story for sisters! Sheila Rae and her sister Louise face their fears headon, producing an engaging and oftentimes amusing storytime experience for families. “Roly Poly Pangolin” by Anna Dewdney – Meet a scaly critter who becomes more and more human as the story goes on. Expressive faces and a surprise ending will make you want to pick up this book a second time. Great for those practicing newly acquired reading skills. “The Bee Tree” by Patricia Polacco – This is the story of a sweet pursuit featuring a Mary Ellen and her grandpa. This book, one of many by Polacco, is aimed to spark a child’s curiosity and desire for adventure while reaffirming the message of working toward a reward. A great read for lower elementary students.


what’s the story? Imagine the story that goes with this illustration and write it out. Email your story to xyztopeka@ and you may see it in our next issue or on our website: xyztopeka. com by Justin Marable

heard + noted My nephew Willie (2) in a quiet portion of a Catholic wedding mass to my sister, Katie, who is discreetly trying to breastfeed: "BOOBIES!!!!" All heads turn... -submitted by Janice Bea (2), watching me make a burrito: “You have a taco?! You’re wrapping it up like a baby!” -submitted by Cale Liam (3): I’ll have a cimnanim roll and an egg. Waitress: aren’t you sweet. How do you want your eggs? Liam: right next to the cimnanim roll. -submitted by Grace

what Topeka kids are saying

My 3 yo, Ruby, was watching Annie and as the dog catcher takes Sandy away she turns to me and says, “ Oh, no! He’s going to take him to the orphandontist!” (We had taken her older brother to the orthodontist earlier that day.) -submitted by Megan My son Chayce (about 3 1/2 yo): His Nana said, “I left the dog inside the house all alone. He is probably grabbing everything he can.” Chayce responded, “Nana, he can’t do that.” Nana asked, “What? Why not?” Chayce answered, “Because Nana, he doesn’t have opposable thumbs.” -submitted by Kellye

Jake (age 7): I know what spin the bottle is Me: Say what? Jake: It’s a game grown ups play Me: How? Jake: It’s where a boy spins it and then whatever girl it lands on they are now boyfriend/girlfriend. Me: Oh ... do you plan on playing it? Jake: No ... I’m only a kid -submitted by Gene Did your kid say something truly astonishing, revolting, profound or witty? Don’t save that! Share it with us on Facebook XYZ Topeka Heard+Noted or email


kids programs


t entertainmen

Sign up begins April 25 at Excursions for the whole family begin May 31

crafts adults


1515 SW 10th Avenue | Topeka, KS 66604-1374 | 785 580-4400 | M–F 9 am–9 pm | Sat 9 am–6 pm | Sun 12 pm–9 pm |


by Colin MacMillan / Nathan Ham Photography

keen eye

There are 8 little differences between these two photos. Can you tell what they are?

Answer key at

$2 gets you a cool button and admission to all venues.

sing-along with Kyler carpenter every monday

Kid’s Meal


e v e r y M o n d a y 4 pm - 6:30 pm

$5.50 Lunch specials Monday - Friday 11 am - 2 pm

steak Night Wednesday


8 oz KC Strip with side 5 pm - Close

Date Night


1930 Westport Drive, Suite 100. Open 11 am Monday - Saturday

Come to Lucky Dog’s, adjacent to O’Dooley’s. Same great food plus over a dozen screens for your game day entertainment, live music and more! Open daily until 2 am.

1/2 price appetizers 4 - 6 pm | Tuesday - Friday

XYZ Spring 2011  

XYZ Spring issue

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