Grain Valley residents who are middle aged likely remember being taken to the mall or some community gathering for the chance to visit with Santa Claus. One of Grain Valley’s unique and great traditions is that Santa Claus will come to your neighborhood.
Thus was the case for Jack and Daley Philbrick. The Santa Bus came to their neighborhood over this past weekend. They were able to meet jolly old Saint Nick and share with him their Christmas wishes. It’s a lot to take in for a kid of any age.
There’s the police escort by VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) making sure that everyone knows to be safe as Santa is seeing important guests traveling to the bus by foot. Not to mention the bright red and green paint job of the bus, complete with a reindeer on the hood and wreath on the grill. And if all of that is not enough, there’s the festively decorated inside of the bus with Kris Kringle ready to greet and meet visitors with a warm smile and belly chuckle.
Jack and Daley’s Dad, Scott Philbrick, enjoyed watching his kids go through the Santa Bus experience.
“This is a great thing that’s done for the kids. We wake up on Saturday morning and they are as excited as they are on Christmas Day in getting to meet Santa. We don’t have to leave our neighborhood to see Santa now because of this. Getting to avoid braving the crowds and traffic is a blessing due to the Santa Bus,” Philbrick said.
“To have Volunteers In Police Service donate their time to make sure that this experience is safe is amazing in the peace of mind it provides to parents. It makes all the difference in the world to know I can stand and wait with an extra set of eyes looking out for us. I don’t know if you saw, but my kids ran across the street. They didn’t even look because they were so excited due to something else on their mind. This is just fun.”
The Santa Bus originated with a few citizens and local businesses that wanted to make Christmas a little brighter for the children of Grain Valley. This Grain Valley holiday tradition has grown to nine dates on the Santa Bus calendar from November 30th to December 22nd. The duration of dates will include four 12 hour Saturdays and two 10 hour Sundays.
The Santa Bus currently sees about 4,000 kids a year and gives out about 2,000 donated stuffed toys, candy, and small toys (for the kids too old for stuffed toys). Making this endeavor even more special is that it’s manned entirely by volunteers and supported by donations from local businesses and friends of the project.
You may find a complete Santa Bus schedule at www.gvsanta.com and follow Santa’s travels on Facebook.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Daley (left) and Jack (right) Philbrick with dad Scott Philbrick wait patiently outside the Santa Bus for their opportunity to visit with Santa.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
On most Wednesdays you will find me at the Historical Society from 10:00am until 3:00pm. On a good Wednesday, I have a visitor. One Wednesday last spring, seven people came in to look around. That’s a record! About half of the time no one visits.
We have tons of “stuff” we have been collecting at the Historical Society since the early 1990s. Shortly after we moved into this building we received the entire collection of artifacts from the Pink Hill Historical Society, so on the days when no one visits I do lots of sorting which means I do lots of reading. For the next few weeks, I will be sharing some stories about Pink Hill.
With the exception of the old Pink Hill Methodist Church, only farmland and newer homes cover all signs of what was once the thriving town of Pink Hill whose residents awaited the coming of the railroad. The railroad never came but the Civil War did and those two events destroyed the small town.
In the early 1850’s, the Chicago and Alton Railroad surveyed land in Sni-a-Bar township. Blue Springs was the only town until November 21, 1854, when George Love and David Neer filed an Abstract in the office of John A. Sea for an area of ten acres off the west side of the northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 49, Range 30. There they established a town of 40 lots with a Main Street and a Locust Street each 33 feet wide plus two alleys 16 ½ feet wide. The area was one mile south of the old Spring Branch Road, now Truman Road.
The town was built on property belonging to R. G. Pinkard, but did not honor him with the name Pink Hill. The suggestion for the name came from Robert St. Clair, who settled in Jackson County about 1848. Meeting with a group of men, he is credited with saying, “The land is covered with pink roses and pink verbena, it should be called Pink Hill.”
According to Abstract notes, the first of the 40 lots was sold to Rosamah Sanders. Asa Booker purchased some of the lots the following year. The town was placed on the map by the United States Post office department in the same year, 1854. One history stated the Pink Hill Post Office was the second in Jackson county preceded only by Independence. (Other towns have made similar claims.)
The first mail carrier, Charles St. Clair, brought honor to the town when he brought the first load of mail. He met the boat at the Sibley Landing and rode horseback overland to carry home the mail in a red bandanna handkerchief.
Next Week: The citizens, their businesses and their homes.
The Grain Valley Historical Society Museum is located at 506 South Main Street and online at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.
If you're like me, nothing makes you happier than being able to find that perfect holiday gift for friends and family members. Obviously I'm going to say technology is the best gift to give because it's the gift that keeps on giving ... because tech is so cool and useful.
The challenge is there are so many technology devices out there, it's hard to find the right tech to get. Fear not, I've taken the time to pick out some of my favorite tech items for anyone on your list.
Great Stocking Stuffers
As a kid, I would sometimes get more excited about what was hiding in the stocking than what was wrapped up under the tree. Get your loved ones excited about reaching into their stockings by purchasing these cool tech items.
Mophie 3 in 1
For years, I've always recommended people to get Mophie's Juice Pack as a backup charger for their Android and Apple smartphones. Now Mophie has stepped up their game and created the Mophie 3 in 1 which is a wireless charger pad that will allow you to charge up to 3 devices such as a smartwatch, wireless headphones, and a smartphone.
Amazon Echo Buds
These earbuds work with your Alexa to stream music, make calls, and they are wireless. As an added bonus, they also feature Bose noise reduction which means you can enjoy music without outside interference.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple's second-generation AirPods are a vast improvement over the first-generation headphones. Better fit and better battery life. The wireless charging case makes this a great gift.
For The Kids In Your Life
There's nothing more exciting to see your kids scream in delight at the awesome gifts they are about to get. These tech gifts are bound to be a hit with your kids.
Kindle Fire Kids Edition
The 10.1-inch version of this smart tablet is the perfect gift for your young kids. A 2-year warranty and protective case mean you don't have to worry about your clumsy kids in your life.
One of the best things about the Switch is the fact your kids can play this device as a handheld or hook it up to a television. This means you can enjoy your TV and your kids and still enjoy gameplay. Robust parental controls mean you can limit how many rounds of Fortnite they play.
Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition
This device does everything the Echo does, but it's kid-friendly and has parental controls to block inappropriate content. You can also take advantage of the FreeTime Unlimited which offers educational activities, audible books, music, and games.
For Your Smart Home
If you haven't experienced the features of having a smart home, you're missing out. With the right devices, you can control your home with an app or your voice.
Amazon Echo Show
Yes, there is the Google Home View, but the Echo show offers the best features for your smartphone. The skills you can add to your Echo Show are endless which makes a great hub for your smartphone, allows you to easily monitor your house and can offer your family hours of entertainment.
Known as the company that makes smart doorbells, Ring now offers cameras, smart lights and alarm systems which quickly integrate into your smart home
Google Nest Wi-Fi
Google Nest is a mesh system that extends your Wi-Fi network throughout your house. I'm not a big fan of mesh networks, but Google's Next will help you get wireless in those hard to reach areas of your house.
Smartphones, Tablets, and Computers
Everyone is on these devices all of the time, so why not choose the holidays to pick out a new gadget to help your loved ones stay productive and entertained.
iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S10
These Apple and Android phones offer the best speed, screen size, battery life, and camera.
Galaxy Tab S4 and iPad Air
I hate to say it, Apple and Samsung make the best tablets on the planet. Give one as a gift and watch their eyes light up.
Dell XPS and MacBook Pro
Want to pick a computer for a gift this year, Dell and Apple won't disappoint you. They are both a little pricey, but would you rather have a laptop that only lasts a year and a half or get one that will last 10 years or longer?
For Those Who are Tech Challenged
We all know someone in our lives who would use some cool technology, but they aren't too tech-savvy. Here are some items that will get them engaged in tech.
Roku Box or Stick
With streaming services becoming more popular, turn that dumb TV of your loved ones into a smart tv with a Roku. Roku devices are easy to set up and easy to use which will bring enjoyment to anyone regardless of their level of tech expertise.
Roomba Smart vacuums
These devices can make household chores much easier. They charge themselves and can avoid most obstacles.
Have a loved one in your life who could use a smartphone? Consider getting them a Jitterbug. This easy to use phone offers all of the features of an Android phone, but with an easy to use interface.
Cool and Unusual Tech Gifts
You might have people on your gift list all of the tech out on this list, but there are some cool and unusual tech items out there that will make them jump for joy.
Do you have someone who is looking for a new way to game? Consider getting them this wireless headset doesn’t require a computer or a gaming system. It will allow games to interact with an immersive virtual reality gaming experience.
Ember Smart Mug
This smart mug will keep your hot drink at the temperature you want. A charge lasts for up to an hour and a half on a single charge. Never worrying about drinking cold coffee or winter drinks again.
Reclaim your weekends with this automower. This self-guiding mower will make sure that you don't have to spend long hours taking care of your lawn. It clips the grass short which will also fertilize your lawn as well.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you. Reach out to us a www.callintegralnow.com or phone at 888.256.0829.
by Reina Gray, Center High School, The Cappies
Chaotic brilliance awaits at Grain Valley High School. THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE tells the story of six extremely unique children as they embark on their own enlightening journeys in pursuit to be the spelling champ.
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE premiered on Broadway in 2008. This production was not originally a musical, but actually was based upon an improvisational play, "C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E", performed by the New York Improv Troupe, "The Farm".
Aidan Kroenke plays the unlucky, lugubrious William Barfee with utmost ease and confidence. Kroenke's portrayal is well done; he convinces you of Barfee's oddness and repellant personality while also showing vulnerability and loneliness. A perfect compliment to Kroenke's Barfee is Olivia Ash as Olive Ostrovsky. Ash's Olive is also strange and lonely in some ways but proves to be exceedingly kind and resilient in light of her unfortunate situation. Ash transforms the meek contestant at the beginning of the production into a more confident yet humble individual at the finish. In contrast to sweet Olive, Hayley Elkins' Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre is slightly abrasive, but well-meaning . Elkins fully commits to the awkward, bold Logainne. Elkins steadfastly maintains the lisp of her character throughout the production even while singing, purposefully holding her face in an appropriately slanted, slack-jawed manor. Jarrett Dietz is marvelously scatterbrained as Leaf Con
eybear. Dietz quickly transitions between the honest, sweetly simple Leaf to the entranced personality of his sock puppet who seems to know how to spell just about anything.
The other spelling bee contestants, Marcy Park (Mariah Gattenby-Snyder) and Chip Tolentino (Nathan Steinmuller), both perform impressive and specific characters. Gattenby-Snyder's Marcy Park is stern, but not all business. During her song "I Speak Six Languages", Gattenby-Snyder performs acrobatics about the stage while singing, further emphasizing the many talents of Marcy Park. Steinmuller's physicality in portraying Chip is essential and impeccably illustrates the physical woe of the raging pubescence that is his downfall. Steinmuller falls to his knees and crouches such that his discomfort is unmistakable. Ashlyn Frost is the pleasant former Spelling Bee Champ turned host, Rona Lisa Peretti. Frost boasts a beautiful, melodious voice as she recounts "Rona's Favorite Moments".
The set by Kierstin Schwirtz fully realizes a gymnasium customized to the school with impactful details like a clearly painted pig mascot, anti-bullying posters, and spelling bee sponsors fully entrenching the audience into Putnam County. The costuming by Savannah Murphy and Brianna Whitehead fully reflects the personalities of the six competitors as well as effectively incorporating the chorus in the production.
Many characters deliver their dialogue with fun voices or other unique quirks but sometimes these modifications hinder the diction. The sound of the characters were sometimes muffled or difficult to hear but the actors made up for it in projection and confidence.
Musical Theater may be pandemonium but Grain Valley High School tames it in time for Thanksgiving.
With the year coming to a close, the Missouri General Assembly is gearing up for the 2020 legislative session. There is much work to be done before the start of session, which is set to begin on Jan. 8, 2020. I’ve already started working on my priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and pre-filed several of them. Easing the tax burden, specifically property taxes, on hardworking Missourians and improving government accountability are my main goals for the 2020 legislative session.
One of the biggest problems facing our community is the recent spike in property tax. I’ve heard from many of you that your property tax assessments and resulting tax bills were inaccurate and far too high. Some have seen their tax bills double, while others are expected to pay hundreds of dollars more than last year. Naturally, these sudden increases have left some Missourians scrambling to pay their bills with the holidays right around the corner. I believe taxpayers should not experience sticker shock when they receive their property tax bills.
That is why I’m proposing legislation to limit how much property taxes can increase each year. By capping tax rate increases, I believe we can allow for property taxes to gradually adjust with changes to inflation, market value and other factors, without surprising Missourians with an unexpected and costly tax bill.
Another legislative proposal I will be working on is a proposed amendment to Missouri’s Constitution to allow voters to elect the Jackson County Assessor. Jackson County is one of only two governments in our state that appoints an assessor, rather than elects one (the other is St. Louis City). I trust the people of Jackson County to select the person best able to serve them in public office, and the assessor’s office should be no different. While empowering voters, I believe this change will have the added benefit of increasing the office’s accountability and responsiveness to the people of Jackson County. If this proposal is approved by the Missouri General Assembly, it will have to be approved by Missouri voters statewide before going into effect.
In addition, I am proposing another constitutional amendment that relates to voter turnout and taxes. I am proposing that the state require local taxing jurisdictions to receive at least a 22 percent voter turnout rate in order to enact a tax increase. Too often, taxing jurisdictions propose tax increases, hold a quiet election for the measure and get it approved by a small segment of voters. Meanwhile, the vast majority of voters are now on the hook for the bill. By implementing reasonable, attainable turnout thresholds for enacting tax increases, I believe we can ensure adequate representation regarding taxation. This amendment will also need to be approved by a statewide vote in order to go into effect.
I am also proposing a constitutional amendment to help end double taxation. Across the state, there are taxing jurisdictions that overlap, but generate revenue for similar services. There have been, and currently are, Missourians who are caught in the middle with double the taxes for the same services. My legislation would allow taxpayers to decide which district they pay into. This legislation empowers citizens by giving them an active role in deciding how their hard-earned money is spent, as well as helping reduce their overall tax burden.
Lastly, I’ve pre-filed a bill to help Missourians cover certain medical costs. The Long-Term Dignity Act would allow Missourians to create long-term savings accounts to cover costs associated with Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases. By saving money early on, and with the power of compounding interest, Missourians with a family history of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases can be prepared for whatever life may throw at them.
As you can see, I’m already hard at work preparing my priorities for the 2020 legislative session. I’m eager for the start of session and working with my colleagues to pass commonsense and fiscally-responsible legislation.
Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2019 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Cierpiot.
by Wayne Geiger
My first memory of Santa is having to wait in line to see the big guy at a makeshift workshop in my neighborhood in Miami, Florida. I don’t remember if I was frightened, but I do remember having to wait in line for what seemed like an eternity. I also remember not knowing what to ask for. Somehow, I always received stuff I wanted on Christmas morn. He always seemed to know.
On Christmas Eve, my parents, attempting to get me and my sister to go to bed, would say that they could hear the rumblings of Santa’s sleigh several blocks over. So, with a sense of excitement and an element of fear, we would rush off to bed listening ever so closely for Santa’s arrival on our rooftop, before helplessly drifting off to sleep. The fact that we did not have a chimney was irrelevant. I was told that, somehow, he was always able to get in. The statement made me curious and left me a little unsettled.
I was never being able to catch Santa in the act. But, on Christmas morn, I did see evidence of his handiwork. He always sampled my mother’s cookies and drank some of the milk. Why he just sampled several cookies and never ate the whole thing was puzzling. Did he not know there were starving people in China? No matter, Santa left glistening presents under the tree and I had a fear that questioning Santa’s ethics would have repercussions that would perpetually place me on the naughty list.
I fully understood the naughty and nice list and, every December, I did my best to rectify my fearful dilemma. To me, it appeared that the list was not binary, but more of a spectrum. Santa had favorites. One Christmas morn, I looked outside at the neighbors’ house and saw the family across the street playing with their new toys. Investigating further, I found that Santa had brought one of them a Power Wheel’s car. They were on the nice list. I thought about the inequity and wondered why I did not get one. Perhaps, Santa’s list had been compromised or maybe I had been exceptionally naughty that year (the latter would be closer to the truth).
I’ll never forget the Christmas season when my sister and I were jumping on our parent’s bed and I rolled off. I was not hurt but was now at eye level to look under the bed. I noticed boxes of toys tucked away. One of them was a really cool jet that I really wanted to play with. I knew that I had found gold, but I was on someone else’s land so had to simply cover it back up and let it play out.
My sister and I were hush hush and went about our daily lives until Christmas morning when, to my joy, I got the jet! Interestingly, it did not come from my parents. It came from a higher authority. It was my passageway into adulthood. From that point on, Christmas lost some of its sparkle. Santa got run over by a Power Wheel’s car. The mystery and magic faded into materialism and empiricism.
I did not become a Christian until the age of 19. That first Christmas was nothing short of spectacular. It was the first time I truly understood what Christmas was all about. A lightbulb went on and the sparkle returned.
After getting married, and having children, my wife and I struggled with the whole Santa thing. Like every family, it was a personal decision we had to make. But, for us, it didn’t feel right to tell our children that Santa and God were real—only to have them discover later that we had told them a partial truth. In addition, we wanted them to know that dad and mom worked really hard to try to provide something special for them at Christmas. We knew that one day they would realize that, in life, sometimes the neighbors get a Power Wheel and you get a skateboard.
In our family, we wanted all the attention of Christmas to be upon Christ. We reached a workable compromise by focusing on Christ, being honest with our kids, and also creating an element of mystery and fun. The kids got presents from dad and mom, the dog, cat, and the parakeet. It was always fun and electric. The presents were always put out Christmas Eve and were not hidden under the bed. Been there.
We warned our kids not to “spoil” the fun for any of their friends or classmates whose family chose to celebrate differently. I’ll never forget one of the kids coming home from school and saying defiantly, “My teacher says that Santa is real, and he brings the presents.” This child’s face was serious, and their hands were firmly on their hips demanding a response. I think I commented back by saying, “We love you and want to be honest with you. Dad and Mom make Christmas a special time by getting the presents.”
Our little one was not convinced. They folded their arms and blurted back, “Well my teacher says he’s real.” I concluded by offering to do an experiment. I said, “Okay, let’s do this. Dad and Mom will buy all the other kids presents except for you and we’ll see if Santa brings you anything.” After a few thoughtful moments, she changed her tune.
As a pastor, I’ve done a great deal of research on the history of Christmas and could write extensively. In short, no one knows the exact day of Christ’s birth. We do know that in the fourth century AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth should be celebrated on December 25. The date merged Christmas with the pagan celebration of Saturnalia. It was an unholy compromise that began a slippery slope that led to Frosty the Snowman.
If you look around at most Christmas celebrations nowadays, Christ is reduced to a small figure in a nativity set under the tree, hidden by the wise men, shepherds, and the little drummer boy, while Santa, reindeer, elves, snowmen, elf on a shelf, and a host of other holiday fixtures take prominence in the front yard and in the home. The true, historical celebration of the Messiah’s birth is easily lost, or worse veiled, through an endless array of holiday décor.
But we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s possible to have a Christ-centered, fun celebration. My wife and I love the lights, colors, and the celebration of Christmas, but we also try to keep Christ as the central focus of our celebration. We also like to make it fun. All of our four children are grown now and each of them say that they appreciated our honesty and plan on taking the same approach with their own families. None of them needed counseling.
So, here I am, shivering, fingers and toes frozen, nose running, attaching Christmas lights to the gutter of the house. My wife is inside trying to figure out where to put our six trees and the Christmas village. It’s best for me to stay out of the way. In the end, although under protest, my outdoor mission will be to try to rival the illumination of the Griswolds.
I love Christmas time. If, for only a brief season, the world pauses to consider the whisper of the birth of Christ, I’m all for it. For me personally, Christmas is another day to celebrate what I know to be true all year long. Christ came into the world to seek and save the lost. Christmas is more than an event.
The problem with viewing Christmas as an “event” is that in early January, the lights, tree, and Christmas village will all be put back in the garage on the shelf. The unfortunate thing is many people lose the Christmas joy because happiness that is found in a box is only temporary.
The beautiful thing about seeing Christmas as a “season” which last all year is that even after the bling comes down, the joy remains. The difference is keeping Christ central. Because of Christmas, I have no fear of being on the naughty list. I know that my Redeemer lives, and life makes sense. I still have the sparkle of Christmas.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.
by Cathy Allie
My baby hasn’t asked for any toys for Christmas again this year, not even any techy thing I could consider a toy, and I am heartbroken. Granted, she is almost 14 and hardly who anyone would consider a baby anymore, but some of the magic of Christmas morning leaves when there is nothing to steal the batteries from the remote for, argue with my husband about assembly directions, and then watch my daughter rush to it on Christmas morning.
I was glad last year when llamas were all the rage because it gave me the opportunity to buy a stuffed one, which she snuggled on Christmas day then placed in a closet bin to bond with the other 6,304 animals residing there.
Oddly, when we try to purge those, she can tell me where or who each one came from, pleading with me to spare the poly-filled friends, and yet cannot remember to grab her lunch from the refrigerator for school about three of five days.
The year before, when she determined she was no longer interested in toys, I was determined to interest her in games again. I put together a basket with all my childhood favorites, like Uno, Candy Land (with funky looking bright colors and not the beautiful pastel candy I remember), Clue, Racko, and some newer game gang members like Left Right Center, Five Crowns, and Apples to Apples. I had visions of laughing teens at my kitchen table, merrily competing with one another, just like are pictured on the Mattel commercials.
My daughter’s response to a basket of fun was--well--best described as underwhelming. She was thankfully polite, and later in the day when I suggested some games, she suggested a movie. Her suggestion won.
When she was 11, I tried craft kits as a sub for toys. She made several string bracelets, a couple of very odd smelling candles, and a beaded keyring, always a popular accessory for a middle school backpack. Later, I found the candle wax tangled up in some of the string when I vacuumed her room, successful clogging the vacuum hose. I guess we are done with crafts.
Art supplies seem to be the one whimsical thing she loves. She feels about them the way I feel about office supplies, so I get it. But the marker pens I bought for her last birthday, with which you can blur lines and create shading the easy way, were the same cost as a root canal. I am currently busy squashing every artistic notion she has, to avoid bankruptcy.
I have done the next best thing in my fervor to purchase toys, moving on to children of friends who are young enough to appreciate them. I have to be careful with my four present rule friends (something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read), so as not to interrupt their careful parenting.
And maybe I won’t find anything for the kids anyway, because I long for toys of old. Where did the plastic vanity dresser complete with fake lipsticks and a styrofoam stool go? We converted the top of the vanity seat into an amusement ride, starting at the top of the stairs and sliding all the way down. We could fly on that old olive green sculpted carpet.
Where are the Baby Secrets of the world? She had a string on her side to pull, and her lips moved as she spoke to you. Granted, some of the phrases now seem a little weird in today’s world. “I want to sleep with you” and “ I know a secret!” may be the two most egregious. Never mind on Baby Secret. Don’t even Google her if you don’t want nightmares.
I also had a Baby Tubsy, with two little teeth on her gum line and a big smile, who came complete with her own terry cloth hooded towel, washcloth, and plastic pink tub. And her arms moved up and down and splashed water everywhere. Great fun!
The one flaw? The batteries to make her arms move were in a compartment on her bottom, which was submerged in water. After about two baths, Baby Tubsy began to leak battery corrosion, which appeared to be very baby-like diarrhea.
What about a Rings and Things plastic toy and ring maker? The concept was very hot metal plates with molds, into which you poured colored plastic from bottles that looked like Elmer’s glue, then you cooked them at a high temperature to firm up the plastic. What could go wrong with that?
The outdoor type? How about Jarts lawn darts? The really sharp, metal tipped missiles were fun to throw underhanded. That’s how we ALWAYS THREW them, I swear… Not into Jarts? What about a set of Clackers, acrylic orbs on a string that you banged together and whipped around your head in patterns, like an Olympic ribbon dancer with much less safe equipment?
Or maybe a Chinese jump rope, one continuous loop of incredibly strong elastic that hurt so bad when it snapped you cried. Made of the same thing as bungie cords, those jump ropes were wicked. I was pretty good at jump rope, and I suppose personal dexterity was not the reason.
Pretty much everybody I knew either had a Go Go the Burro, which was a precursor to the western comeback of bull riding in the bars, where your ride was dictated by your ability to hang on and to bounce (and later in life how many Tequila Sunrises you had consumed), or a Radio Flyer horse, usually named Blaze, attached to crazy bouncing springs.
I saw a version of Blaze at a big box store the other day, and they had carefully covered the huge springs which trapped many a sibling’s finger and either injured it badly or snapped it completely off when one rider wanted on and the other didn’t believe his or her time was up.
One day I will be a grandmother, God willing. I can tell you right now my daughter will be mad at me all the time for the toys I am going to drag into her house to make really cool memories. Four present rule be damned!
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.
by Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
Holiday traditions and delicious food go together like mashed potatoes and gravy! So what’s a person with diabetes to do? As a registered dietitian, I have solutions.
Simple ingredient substitutions and simple cooking techniques are all you need to save calories and carbohydrates throughout the season. These little changes add up to success managing your diabetes while you enjoy the best of food, family and friends at the holidays.
Try these tips and side dish recipe to keep your favorites on the table as you enjoy the holiday season with diabetes.
Your Hy-Vee dietitian’s tips & tricks –
Use measuring cups as serving utensils. Think of them as a tool that gives you control and information about how much is on your plate.
Assess the buffet before you start filling your plate. Then select only those foods you truly enjoy and keep MyPlate in mind as a guide for balance and variety. This saves calories and carbohydrates from foods that don’t give you enjoyment, and saves room for those that do.
Simply choose a smaller plate. You’ll automatically reduce your portion sizes and trick your brain into thinking you’re eating abundantly when you see a beautiful, full – yet smaller – plate of your favorites.
Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian at the Blue Springs Hy-Vee. She can be reached at email@example.com. The information is not intended as medical advice.
Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Rich and creamy, mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes saves you 16 grams of carbohydrate, the same amount as a standard slice of bread, and 65 calories, per generous ¾-cup serving.
Serves: 4 (3/4 cup = 1 serving)
All you need:
8 cups cauliflower florets (approximately 1 large head of cauliflower)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup non-fat buttermilk
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp butter
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Snipped fresh chives, for garnish
All you do:
Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12-15 minutes. (Alternately, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with ¼ cup water, cover and microwave on HIGH power for 3-5 minutes or until soft.)
Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 tsp olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. Process until smooth and creamy.
Transfer to serving bowl. Drizzle remaining olive oil over top and garnish with chives. Serve hot.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 107 calories; 7 gm fat (1 gm saturated, 4 gm monounsaturated), 3 mg cholesterol, 10 gm carbohydrate, 4 gm fiber, 5 gm protein, 339 mg sodium. 150% daily value vitamin C.
While many students are just rolling out of bed to get ready for school, Grain Valley High School’s Girls Swim and Dive team were hard at work at 6:00am on December 3rd, practicing for their first swim meet in St. Joseph on December 4th.
Head Coach Kara Liddle is excited to start the season and is pleased with how the team looks going into their second season.
“We have a lot of returners, a couple of freshman, and a couple of new sophomores out as well,” Liddle said.
There are seventeen swimmers and six divers out for this year’s team.
“We have a really good group of girls. They’re just really awesome people. You get this many girls together and you can worry about drama. But, there’s none of that,” Liddle said.
The closing of the Blue Springs YMCA has not impacted the team and their ability to practice. “Blue Springs has been really supportive in honoring our current contract, and for the foreseeable future until we have our own pool,” Liddle said.
After a successful inaugural season, the team is even more prepared to face opponents this season.
“We’re starting ahead of the game compared to where we were last year. Last year, 80% of our team was brand new to the sport of swimming and diving, whereas this year, most of our team is returning. I’m excited to see where we start. I think this season’s going to be really good,” Liddle said.
Sophomore Diver Hayden Meyer is returning after a successful first year on the team. Meyer placed 5th at State last year.
“My goal is to make it back to state again this year. Learning new dives is always a goal, and I also have the goal of placing higher at State than I did last year,” Meyer said.
Meyer was new to the sport last year, which makes her State visit even more impressive.
“I did gymnastics for 10 years before this, and had about 9 months of previous diving experience before my freshman year, “ Meyer said.
The challenge of early practices aren't’ an issue for Meyer. She emphasizes the mental toughness it takes to dive as the biggest challenge she faces.
“Having to get over smacking really hard on the water and having to go again is probably the hardest part. It’s hard to tell yourself you can do it again. Once you know how to get off the board, you can really do any dive as long as you are mentally prepared to do so,” Meyer said.
Senior swimmer Rachel Turpin is also coming back after a visit to State and has her eyes on a return trip.
“My biggest challenge is trying to keep all my motivation for my last season. My goal is to return to State this year,” Turpin said.
Turpin plans to head to Metropolitan Community College after graduation and then transfer to a four-year school.
Turpin competes in the 200 IM, 100 Fly, and 400 Free Relay in St. Joseph on December 5th.
As Turpin heads into her final year of swimming, she encourages younger students to enter the sport.
“Swimming is not like any other sport. If you’re looking to try something new, you’ll never experience anything like swimming. And, we have a really good environment on the team,” Turpin said.
by Sally Whitaker
Although we can get sick any time of year, the winter months can be especially hard, leaving most of us looking for ways to avoid illness. Exercise can be beneficial to building your immune system and there are many forms of exercise to choose from.
During cold and flu season taking a walk is more than just exercise. It can also help protect you from getting sick. A Harvard Medical School study found that “of over 1,000 men and women [found that] those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.” All the more reason to add a walk around the neighborhood to your daily routine!
Consistency and moderation is key when it comes to strength training and the immune system. While a sporadic and/or an overly strenuous weight training program can be taxing to the immune system, a program of lifting several times a week and building at a gradual pace may have positive effects on your immunity. Moderate weight training reduces overall stress, allowing your body to produce more of the infection fighting white blood cells our bodies need to fight germs and stay healthy.
Practicing yoga, even just once a week, can have positive effects on your immune system. As mentioned above, the stress relief builds germ-fighting white blood cells. Additionally, the breath work in yoga—emptying and filling the lungs—helps to keep stale air from lingering in the lungs, which promotes respiratory health. Deep breathing can decrease stress and increase energy levels, which in turn boosts the immune system helping you to get and stay well.
A medical study published in “The Aging Cell” found that exercise, specifically cycling, can protect the immune system. The study compared the T-cell counts of 125 adult cyclists between the ages 55-79 to people the same age, and younger, who did not exercise regularly. T-cells are known to help the immune system fight infection and tend to diminish as we age. The cyclists not only had higher T-cell activity than people their age but were producing the same level of the infection-fighting cells as young adults.
Making time to add physical activity to your daily life is beneficial to more than just your waistline. Adding even 20 minutes of your favorite activity each day can help you fight infection and stay healthy.
You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.
Sally Whitaker is a Pilates and Yoga instructor with 15 years of experience teaching group classes and private clientele, primarily in Independence. During the summer months, you can find her teaching Sunset Yoga at Armstrong Park in Grain Valley.