Business Review: Soar Trampoline Park

This was the last day of school for three of my grandkids, with an early out day to kick off the summer break. I picked Joey, Oliver and Aubrey up from school and heard about their last day as sixth, fourth and third graders.

After dropping off backpacks at home, we launched into fun mode with a trip to Soar Trampoline Park, located at 1502 S Madison in Webb City Missouri. The kids have been to this unique park several times, however it was a first visit for me. I was excited to check this place out.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

We arrived at Soar just after they opened for the afternoon. A steady stream of enthusiastic kids filed into the lobby area. Happy to be out of school, happy for an hour or two of unbridled free jumping, the throng of kids brought a lively, contagious energy into the building.

As we waited in line for wrist bands, I looked around. The large warehouse style interior was brilliantly lit and decorated in purple, lime green and dark blue. The area was divided into sections. There was a large foam pit and a scaled down version for small children, a dodge ball arena, basketball hoops, a room with a swinging air filled plank to jump over and a huge free form area with platforms, all equipped with trampolines in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

My grandkids bounded away as soon as they had their wrist bands on. I declined to jump, but I strolled through the facility, snapping pics, watching the kids, and laughing as they flipped and somersaulted and bounced high into the air.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Joey spent most of his time in the dodge ball arena. Two staff members watched over the games, helping to divide the players into teams and calling out when a player was hit by a ball and eliminated. Joey was an excellent team member. Watch him for a few seconds HERE.

Oliver divided his time among several areas. He enjoyed playing dodge ball with Joey, spent time jumping with Aubrey and struck out on his own, leaping into the foam block pit. Catch him HERE. He’s the second child who shows up in the video, and Aubrey is in the background at the end.

And Aubrey stayed in the free form area. She instantly made friends, as she often does. The girls practiced backflips, cartwheels and somersaults. Aubrey was in cheerleader mode, prepping for football season this fall. Watch her moves HERE.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline ParkIt gets intense in the dodgeball court but it’s all good fun.

We had a fun afternoon. I enjoyed watching the kids as they celebrated the beginning of summer. I was extremely impressed with Soar Trampoline Park. The staff members were all friendly and helpful and very safety minded. The facility was bright, clean and in great condition. And it looks like they will be expanding soon, adding a ninja obstacle course.

Soar will begin their summer hours, opening earlier in the day, on June 5. They have weekly specials and host birthday parties. Visit their Facebook page for more details, or their website HERE.

I would have loved a trampoline park such as this one, as a child. I was always climbing and jumping and trying flips and stunts. Soar provides a fun and safe environment for kids, or an adult’s inner child, to move energy and jump, jump, JUMP! We will be back.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Exeter Corn Maze

I’m getting in very late tonight, after an extremely fun evening with my son, Nate, daughter-in-law Megan, and grandkids Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. Greg and I joined this merry group in visiting Exeter Corn Maze, in Exeter, Missouri.

I have never been to this entertaining farm turned fall playground. I’ve been excited all week to experience it and to watch my grandkids enjoy the various activities Exeter Corn Maze offers.

Established 13 years ago, on an actual farm, this country place offers many activities for the entire family. There is a corn maze, a huge one full of creepy clowns and chainsaw wielding maniacs. The saws have the chains removed, so it is all good fun. We got lost in the dark cornfield, which seems to be my fate in corn mazes. And that’s part of the intended experience.

The kids bounced on giant inflated pillows, petted farm animals in the petting zoo and flew overhead on zip lines. These kids are fearless! They “swam” in the corn pit, filled with dried kernels. Joey and Oliver faced off with mock opponents in the archery maze, while Aubrey tried out the indoor swings and mini zip lines located inside a made over barn.

The adults joined in on the Spook House, which was scary fun, and the Zombie Shoot. We did the Zombie shoot late in the evening, and as a result, we were the only participants. A tractor pulled us on a trailer through more cornfields and another barn, where scenes were set up. Zombies inhabited those scenes. We shot them with paint ball guns. This was a first for me, both dealing with zombies and firing a paint ball gun. It was a blast, literally!

It was an incredible evening, with the highlight being watching Joey, Oliver and Aubrey exploring and playing and having new adventures. Exeter Corn Maze offers marvelous opportunities for all of those things and creates a fun environment for families to experience together.

I’m glad I got to experience it with part of my family tonight!

Summer Scavenger Hunt

I spent this hot and muggy day with three of my grandchildren. I had a creative plan. I brought along paints and brushes and colored markers and a pile of river rocks. Our intention was to join the latest artistic craze by painting the rocks, and hiding them in the Joplin and Carthage areas. 

It was a fun idea. However, the high temps and humidity made being outdoors for any length of time unpleasant. If I have learned one thing these past three and a half years, it is to let go of expectations and outcomes and go with the flow. If a planned activity doesn’t work out, something else always comes along. 

That was the case today. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
Inspiration came unexpectedly as the kids and I watched a humorous YouTube program. Three young adult men went on a city wide scavenger hunt. They gave themselves three hours to locate nine items they selected. Included in the mix was a selfie with a baby, an expensive sports car and a specific brand of shoes. It was a fun, well done show. And suddenly, a scavenger hunt seemed liked the ideal creative adventure for the day. 

Joey, Oliver and Aubrey each came up with six items to include on our scavenger hunt list. I wrote down their suggestions on strips of paper, folded them up and dropped them into a bowl. The kids took turns selecting three items each, giving us a list of nine treasures to look for. 

We drove to Joplin for lunch and visits to the library and the mall, our scavenger hunt list in hand. The rules were to locate each item, take a photo, and cross it off the list. We had an eclectic mix of easily found objects, such as a watch, very specific items, like a 1980s Ford Mustang, and more challenging quests like taking a selfie with someone we didn’t know. 

Here’s how we did:

1. Lemur – This animal proved to be impossible to locate in Joplin! We could have looked up a photo of one in a book at the library. Instead, we visited a pet store and took a pic of a white ferret. We named him Lemur. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
2. 1980s Ford Mustang – We saw so many Mustangs as we drove to Joplin, all newer models. And then, at the intersection of 7th Street and Range Line, we spotted the older red Mustang. Perfect!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
3. Hover board – This fun looking mode of transportation was found at a remote control shop at the mall. $200 will get you one!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
4. Selfie with a Random Person – Oliver came up with this comfort zone busting item. We had an awesome waitress when we ate lunch at Chili’s. Heidi was attentive and friendly and the kids adored her. She was happy to snap a selfie with each child. The kids encouraged me to leave her a big tip, something I was happy to do. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
5. A person wearing flip flops – Oliver spotted this person at lunch. He took a discreet photo of her foot, shooting over Papa’s hairy arm and around the straw in his water. Good job Ollie!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
6. A watch – The kids were so attentive and aware during our hunt. They saw this watch on the arm of the woman driving next to us. I kept pace with her truck so Joey could get a pic. Great shot Joey. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

7. Pink hair on a person – I thought this one would be very difficult to find. Surprisingly, this gracious person showed up in my office…with pink hair. We stopped by the Keller Williams office so I could send out a contract and the kids were so excited to inform me that they had found a woman with pink hair. They asked permission to take her photo. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

8. A bald person – This item on our list was much more challenging than I expected it to be. Aubrey added this one to the hunt and envisioned a man with a shaved head. We finally settled for partially bald. I laughed when I looked at the pic. It appears as if I was hiding behind a plant when I took the photo. I didn’t even notice the plant at the time. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
9. Blue 4 door jeep – Aubrey was very specific about this item. And it was the first object spotted minutes after the hunt began. Good eye Aubrey! Unfortunately, we found this one so quickly that we didn’t have an iPhone camera ready. Thanks to teamwork and persistence, Joey saw another blue jeep in Joplin and caught it in a photo. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
This was an incredibly fun way to spend the afternoon. The kids worked well together and stayed very present in the moment as they looked for items on the list. More than having fun though, the kids learned powerful lessons about how what we think about and dwell upon shows up in our lives. These were not all easy items to find. And yet, except for the lemur, they showed up rather quickly. 

One of the most amazing finds was struck from the original list. Joey had added a painted rock to the list, when we thought we might go by one of Joplin’s parks. After deciding it was too hot, he scratched that idea, exchanging the rock for a different object. 

Guess what Joey found inside the Joplin Public Library? Yes…a painted rock. What a great conversation starter that was. I failed to get a photo of the rock. However Joey still has it. We will re-hide it later with our rocks that we paint. 

Summer heat and summer fun and an adventure that we won’t forget. I look forward to more scavenger hunts and manifesting what we are searching for. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

Saturday Night at Roller City

I’ve definitely had a roller skating theme going on this weekend. Last night’s high school musical, Xanadu, had roller skating as a key element of the story. And this evening I ended up at Joplin’s Roller City with three of my grandchildren while my son and his wife had a date night. 

Roller City was the place to be tonight. There was a happy crowd of kids and teens, parents with youngsters and a few grandparents watching from the safety of the sidelines. After a quick dinner at Chick-Fil-A we arrived ready to join the roller party. 

The kids had a blast. The boys soon switched to in-line skates, eager to give them a try. And Aubrey started off with a trainer to help her keep her balance, but she quickly abandoned that skating aid and was zooming around the floor without it. 

I watched from the comfy bench on the sidelines, content to cheer kids on, offer drinks of cold water and snap pics. In typical fashion, Aubrey made a new friend before she even stepped onto the shiny wooden floor. She and Bella were inseparable until Bella had to leave, and then amazingly, two of Aubrey’s classmates appeared to keep her company. 

The boys were adventurous as they mastered the in-line skates. They kept a watchful eye on their little sister and perfected their techniques. I timed them as they made loops around the floor and gave them frequent thumbs up signs as they beamed at me on their way by. 

All three kids fearlessly participated in every event and game. I was very proud of their efforts and determination. Oliver explained that even if he didn’t win a race, it was good practice. What a great attitude. 

Watching them, listening to the pop songs blaring overhead and the whirring sound of skate wheels on the wooden floor, I was transported back to my childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where my sisters and I spent Saturday afternoons or evenings at Skateland. I loved skating. 

I realized tonight that skating, like swimming, was a form of meditation to me. No matter how crowded the pool or the rink, I created my own solitary bubble around me, finding a way to be alone amid so many people. The almost hypnotic act of skating around and around the rink freed my mind to think and ponder while my body settled into a rhythm. 

I miss skating, having given it up after the car accident 21 years ago. I feel so good now, so healthy and fit, that I was tempted tonight to pull on a pair of skates. 

Soon. Soon I will. The kids and I agreed that we need to visit Roller City often, and bring their cousins Jonathan and London with us next time. I’ll let the whir and swoosh of the skates keep calling to me, until I am ready to answer. And then watch out kids, Yaya is going to take to the floor. 

Surrender 134: Nachos for Joey, Cheeseburger for Oliver

Today I finished up lunch time with the grandkids at their schools, with a double treat. Grandsons Joey and Oliver attend the same school. This year, their lunch times are back to back. I showed up with the boys’ orders: Nachos Bellegrande from Taco Bell for Joey and a cheeseburger meal from McDonalds for Oliver. Dr. Peppers and chocolate chip cookies completed their meals. 

Oliver, who is finishing up second grade, had lunch first. His class was entering the cafeteria as I was and he called out to me. As soon as his teacher gave him permission, he joined me and selected a place to sit. 

We had fun catching up. I asked him all about his recent activities and he asked me about mine. As school is ending, I asked him what he had most enjoyed about the past school year. He was quick to tell me about the fun classes he goes to that change with the days of the week: PE, art, music and computer lab. He’s especially enjoying computer classes, now that they are allowed to play games. As he ate, Oliver, who likes to try unusual food combinations, created the chocolate chip cheeseburger! He assured me it was delicious. I’d like to let him sample a donut hamburger, made with a beef patty between two glazed donuts. 

Our conversation turned to sports. Oliver will be playing football for the first time this summer, as a Tiger. We discussed sportsmanship, after Ollie told me about a classmate who displays anger when he loses, arguing about the rules or the call, and ultimately stomping away to seethe. Oliver’s eyes softened as he told me it’s not about winning or losing. The fun is in getting to play. Just play. I’m so proud of his attitude. I’m looking forward to watching this bright and wise boy play.

Oliver was the last child to leave the lunchroom, before the next group arrived. His amazing principle chatted with us, took a picture of us for me, and let Oliver stay a little longer. Inquisitive and charming, Oliver lingered to talk and hug on each other until the fourth graders filed in. After a final embrace and a non-embarrassing kiss on the side of his head, he tossed his trash and trotted away, just as Joey arrived at the table. 

Joey, completing fourth grade, is looking more and more like a young man. As he started on his plate of nachos he began our conversation with questions about how I was, how was my day going, what all had I been doing. He got the jump on me, this sweet, creative and thoughtful boy! 

We discussed a broad range of topics, from school to summer vacation to movies to sports. I love these one on one times of talking with each of my five grandkids, watching their earnest, expressive faces, listening to their thoughts expressed. I value what they have to say. I marvel at their keen intellects and perspectives. I asked Joey what his favorite thing about the past school year was, and he shared about the fun day his class had yesterday at the 40 Mile Party. 

Intrigued, I wanted to hear more. Apparently each child in the class set a goal of running 40 miles this semester. Every day they ran a mile or two at recess or during PE. For completing their goals, the whole class had a day long field trip yesterday, that included time at the park, a pizza lunch and time at the Y. I was impressed! What a great way to encourage kids to set healthy goals and accomplish them in small, manageable steps. And how fun, the celebration.

In fact, today seemed to carry over that party atmosphere. Everyone was in high spirits and casual dress, students and teachers and the principal all, as the last days of the school year are winding down. I’ve never seen a school principal who engages so well with his students. He interacts with them, in fun and educational ways, as they eat lunch. He let the kids play a game called Pick a Door, in which 6-8 kids at a time leave the cafeteria and one by one, they re-enter from the hallway through one of four doors. The kids in the cafeteria hold up fingers to indicate which door they believe the child will enter through. They love it, laughing as they count up how many guesses were correct. I only guessed when Joey entered in, and I guessed correctly. He came back into the lunchroom through door number four. 

As lunch with Joey concluded, I hugged him and kissed the back of his head. He cleared away his trash as I gathered my things to leave. Suddenly he was behind me, slipping his arms around me for a last tight hug. I love how affectionate each of my grandchildren are. They freely give and receive love. Delighted, I turned to embrace Joey again. His face lit up with a beautiful smile. 

As I drove away after those fun lunches, with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I thought about all five of my grandchildren. These kids. These fun, smart, talented, loving kids. I believe I am at my most authentic self when I am with any of my grandkids. They allow me to be me, fully. They allow me to be my quirky, creative, loving self. I hope they know that with me, they can do the same, be exactly, and fully, who they are at this moment…and in every moment throughout their lives. I love each one dearly. I am loved in return. 

I am a blessed, and grateful, Yaya. 

Surrender 57: Games, Minions & Silly String

Today I picked up grandson Oliver from school and hung out with him until his mom got home from work. There’s nothing unusual about picking him up, except that for the first time, I only picked up Oliver from school. Aubrey was with her mom today. Joey had an overnight event. It was just Ollie and me this afternoon. After he thought about that a moment, realization dawned. He, and he alone, got to decide what we would do. He liked that!


Oliver opted for stopping at Casey’s on the way home, for a snack and a slushie. As we ate, at the house, we played his favorite card game, which involved sharp eyes and quick reflexes. He won! 

After building a mini fort on the sofa, we sat together while Oliver played Clash of Clans, a video game. All my grandkids know I’m not talented at playing electronic games, but I enjoying observing them as they play. I watched Oliver’s sweet face become a study in concentration as he intently focused on his next move. 


When he tired of his fighting clansmen, we giggled our way through the Minions movie. I had not seen this animated film and I enjoyed watching these endearing yellow beings and hearing Ollie laugh during his favorite scenes. Although the minions have been in two other movies, this one focuses on their “history”, from the beginning of time, until they meet a certain despicable person. It was great fun.

This charming boy and I talked this afternoon. Being the middle child, he sometimes doesn’t see his own talents, focusing instead on his older or younger sibling. He is gifted, and in more ways than running fast, jumping high, and climbing any tall object. One of his talents that impresses me is his ability to create amazing photos. 

I spent a couple of hours last Monday with Aubrey and Oliver while Joey had a dental appointment. When my son got home, he joined us in the backyard, playing with the kids and giving them rides on his broad shoulders. I took a picture of Oliver and Nate, that captures a fun moment. 


When it was Aubrey’s turn to climb on Nate’s shoulders, I handed my phone to Oliver and let him take pictures. His photo far exceeds mine in composition. He has such a creative eye. I look forward to seeing what he does with his gift. 
 Oliver’s amazing photo.  

As Megan neared home, Oliver and I headed outdoors into the chilly late afternoon air for one last activity. Some might question my decision to buy an eight year old boy a can of silly string, however I included it in our purchases at Casey’s so he could try it. What fun he had, especially when he silly stringed his Yaya! My only regrets were that I didn’t get a picture of the pink string shooting toward me…and that I didn’t have my own can of silly string. I would have gotten that boy back! 


We had a great afternoon together, Oliver and I. I love having all my grandkids together. And I love having one on one time with them as well. When there’s no one to take turns with, when you don’t have to wait to tell a story, it allows for a time of deeper connection.  I can listen with my full, undivided attention. I can learn more about that child. I can be shot with pink silly string. These times are precious to me. 

Journey 48: Lunch with Jonathan


Today’s journey took me to Pittsburg, KS and the elementary school of my grandson, Jonathan. I have so enjoyed these school lunch breaks with my younger grandchildren, and today it was Jonathan’s turn.

He requested a chicken nugget meal from Wendy’s and a root beer. Standing near the cafeteria door, with lunch in hand, I watched for his third grade class to appear. Jonathan was all smiles when he spotted me and he escorted me to a booth in the lunch room. I thought that was cool, having booths in the cafeteria, along with the more traditional picnic table style seating.

Jonathan politely introduced me to his friends and the lunch helpers by saying, “This is my Yaya. She knows EVERYTHING about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings!” That made me smile! As Jonathan ate we chatted about his school, his favorite part of school (recess) and his favorite activities. This intelligent, handsome young man, with bright blue eyes, enjoys Boy Scouts and has a developing interest in theater and acting. He has the gift of speaking well in front of others and without a hint of shyness. I’m excited to see where he goes with that ability!

Jonathan, like all my grandchildren, is a gifted communicator too. When they were young, I taught my kids that carrying on a conversation is like playing ball. When someone speaks to you, it’s like being tossed a ball. You throw it back, figuratively, by speaking back or asking a question. If you give a short answer or no answer, it’s like dropping the ball. My kids and their spouses have taught their children well. They are all excellent communicators, whether with other children or with adults.

It wasn’t long before Jonathan introduced Tolkien’s stories into our conversation. We had a lively talk about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sharing who our favorite characters are (Jonathan likes Frodo and Gandalf) and tossing out quotes and favorite scenes. This thoughtful boy asked me why I like the Middle Earth stories and movies so much and listened attentively as I shared that I like stories about transformation. And the Middle Earth characters all grow and become who they are destined to be, as they journey. Jonathan gets that. He’s on a journey as well, and growing into the person he is born to be.

All too soon it was time for Jonathan to go back to class. We hugged and discussed getting together again soon. As I started up the stairs, I heard Jonathan calling out “Yaya…Yaya!” I turned to see him bringing his teacher to meet me. He introduced me with the line about knowing EVERYTHING about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which made his teacher laugh. We had a pleasant chat. She remarked that I was a new grandmother for Jonathan and that he was fortunate to have so many grandparents who care about him. That’s so true! One can’t have too many loving grandparents. And I am blessed by having five beautiful grandchildren and fortunate to have Jonathan as one of them. This boy will travel far. I’m happy to accompany him on this part of his journey.