Saturday, May 30, 2015

Des Moines Water Works' LAUNCH Event

Just a few miles south of our home are two great parks in Des Moines, Grey's Lake and Water Works Park. They're connected by trails, which connects almost all of the parks in Des Moines, and also connect to the river walk downtown.

I've only been to Water Works once, on a picnic with the kids. The road was winding, and it was hard to find out where we should park and where we should walk. I must not be the only one who wasn't really sure how to use the park, because they developed a new annual event this year called LAUNCH. Des Moines Water Works, which is our public water company, describes the event as "a new annual and FREE event aimed at drawing new and current users into Water Works Park to explore its many recreational opportunities." It ran from 11am to 6pm today, and we arrived around 2:30pm.

The event was very small, probably because it was the first year. There were maybe 50 people in attendance. We checked out some of the booths. The kids got a free frisbee. They also learned about keeping rivers healthy, and how wetlands can  prevent flooding downstream. They each won a piece of candy. I won a coffee traveler mug. We played a little corn hole (or "bags," as they call it here in Iowa) and lawn Jenga (well, the kids built with the over-sized Jenga blocks anyway). They had many other lawn games, too, including lawn Connect-Four, frisbee, ultimate frisbee, and more. Some people were also playing soccer. We checked out some horses.

We enjoyed ourselves at the event, as it was laid back and uncrowded. I learned that you can walk through any part of the park and don't have to walk on the street (there aren't any paved paths). There didn't seem to be ample parking, though, and we never did figure out how to get to the river. A temporary pedestrian bridge was supposed to open today, but it's underwater. It's delayed opening is next week, so maybe I'll try to figure out how to get to it next week to check it out.

Before we left, we stopped and listened to some music played by The Other Brothers. It was pretty good. I took a very quick video of the event from near the stage:


Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day Baskets

We moved to Des Moines last spring in March. A few weeks later, on May 1, the doorbell rang. I was by the door and opened it right away. Outside was a kid running away, and a paper basket on our deck filled with candy. The kids mom was there and said, "Happy May Day!" I was puzzled. "What's this?" She had to explain to me the tradition of May Day baskets, which I'd never heard of before. She said people leave little baskets of candy for friends and neighbors. They ring the bell, and they're supposed to run away so you don't catch them. I later read that the old tradition used to include flowers. Here, it seems to involve mostly popcorn, plus a little candy.

This year, I decided we'd take part in this new-for-us tradition. I was telling Oliver all about it this morning when our doorbell rang. He looked so excited. I tried to calm him down, "It might not be a basket!" But not to worry. It was! His friend left a cup of goodies on our doorstep.
Oliver really liked the idea of trying to run away so people don't catch you leaving goodies at their door. He told me it would be smarter to hide than run, though. We got to work on our baskets, and then we saw our neighbor walking up our driveway. "Uh oh," I told Oliver. "I think Eli is coming to give us a basket!" Oliver ran to the door and flung it open and teased his friend with glee, "I caught you!" Haha. More goodies! The kids were thrilled to find juice boxes inside.

We got to work on our baskets. Oliver wrote math problems on one and drew a monkey on another. Jo requested I draw a fox on hers. I made one into a basket weave, but that was too hard for the kids. Then we walked over to the convenience store to pick out treats. I saw some dog treats, too, and decided to get them for the neighborhood dogs. Here are our baskets!

The kids were thrilled to deliver the baskets. Oliver would ring the bell and run! Jo would laugh and squeal as she tried to run away, too. Our neighbor who we caught delivering baskets to our house caught us delivering to their house! Uh-oh ;-) When we got home, Jo realized we no longer had the baskets. Her little heart broke, and she cried and cried. I had to talk to her about how those were presents we gave out, but to remember her friends gave her some gift baskets, too.

Next year, maybe we'll plan a bit ahead and make some cookies or something for the neighbors, but our first year participating in May Day was easy & fun!