TOWNIE GUIDE TO: Being a Cool Parent (or babysitter)

Monday, April 23, 2007

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Photo by Sarah Smarsh

Megan Helm, 39

Time in Lawrence: 20 years

Other credentials: Organizer of the Friday Night Family Music Jam at the train depot, freestatefamily.com blogger, and vocalist for kid-friendly interactive jazz group Miss Meg and the Moochers. Mother to Henry, practically 7; Ryan, barely 4 (and Patrick, 14, not pictured).

Morning:

Take the kiddos to the Lawrence Farmers Market. Say hello to the Pendletons, then head out to their farm to pick asparagus and spinach and pet some kitties.

Mid-morning:

Swing through the Z's Divine Espresso drive-through on 23rd Street for caffeine and giant cookie. Cruise through Lawrence in search of a great garage sale. Relax until lunch in a park. Sometimes we like South Park with its fun slides and kid-friendly perennial garden. Other times we like Centennial Park behind Bucky's.

Lunch: Have a picnic lunch in the gazebo at the sensory garden in front of the Audio Reader building on campus.

Mid-afternoon: Potter's Lake on the KU campus. I've found the most amazing little fairy houses there. A fairy house is just a tiny structure intentionally made with sticks twigs and rocks. We love looking for turtles, frogs and the golden carp in the pond. Fishing with a practice caster is another fun thing to do. God forbid we should catch something.

Dinner: Set the table and sit down, sans TV-old school style.

Late evening: Catch a sunset at the Clinton Lake dam. You can park and hunt for fossils in the giant limestone boulders-they are crammed with crinoids.

Townie wisdom: Other great places to take youngins

For pre-schoolers, the toddler gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the community building downtown. And the Lawrence Gymnastics Academy's toddler open gym on Friday mornings in West Lawrence. Prairie Park Nature Center rocks, too, and you can get there on the T. For older kids, the Aquatic Center at Lawrence High-another good T stop. The Jaybowl at KU in the basement of the student union. And KU baseball in spring-Hoglund Stadium is so cool and festive on game days, and it's more intimate and up-close than Kauffman. Every game in May is a home game.