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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

Adventuring Close to Home - Weekend Mini Adventures with a Kid (from the Mind of a Kid)

This weekend, we figured it was about time to have a sleepover with Peyton. She has been asking ever since Christmas when she would get to come over and see us. Zac went to pick her up after work on Saturday, and as soon as she came over, the adventures began.

We started our Saturday afternoon visiting the Animal Lifeline Thrift Shop. I had some clothes to donate, and we also had an important mission – to find either the “nicest” or the “weirdest” outfit we could at a Goodwill or thrift shop for a birthday party we will be attending next weekend. Peyton had a blast helping me pick out clothes for the party – as I, of course, decided to go with the “weirdest.” We explained to Peyton that we were helping animals at the shelter both by our donation and our purchases, so she was super excited to pick out something for herself and something for Ripley.

We didn't have the heart to tell Peyton that the shirt we got Ripley was clearly too small and very uncomfortable for her, as the zipper kept coming undone. Ripley wore that thing with pride until Peyton left – because she is clearly a great sport.

After the thrift shop, we headed back home because Zac had to leave for a quick appointment. As soon as he left, Peyton turned on her favorite Barbie show on Netflix. She asked if we could play board or card games while we waited for Zac. I suggested, since it was so nice, we go on a walk instead. She chose to take Buzz and Rascal, and we played a bit of roulette by allowing her to choose right, left, or forward at each intersection.

When she tired out from the walk, we ventured back home and loaded Buzz up for yet another adventure. We went to the local PetSmart to look at doggie outfits, toys, and all of the animals they had available to purchase. I nearly left the store with a new hermit crab, but they only had one available (and, quite frankly, the incredibly nice staff that assisted us shared that she was uncertain if he was even alive). Somehow, with all that, I miraculously left PetSmart with zero purchases – which is quite an accomplishment for me.

After our trip there, we quickly shopped through Walmart to pick up a few necessities. Since we had found a new notebook for Peyton at the thrift shop, I told her we could look at getting her some markers as well. When she spotted a sparkly unicorn stuffed animal holding a blanket, she absolutely had to have it. I let her decide if she wanted the markers or the unicorn, and being an 8.5 year old girl, she chose the unicorn.

We got back home just in time for Zac to also get home from his appointment. It was then that we all decided that we were starved and ready for dinner. Peyton thought she wanted hotdogs, but the minute we brought up a place that had food and laser tag, she changed her mind (naturally). We made our way to Great Escape, where we had the options for laser tag, arcade games, or bowling after eating our dinner. We did everything except bowl, and it was a total blast.

Zac, Peyton, and I played with another kid and (I'm assuming) his dad. The boy was absolutely ecstatic after the game, hooting and hollering at Peyton about how many times they "caught" each other. I have to admit, I'm pretty excited with my laser tag scores too, and about how many times I "caught" other players in the game.

Even better yet, not only did I do relatively well, but I actually won the second game. You know that I'll certainly take any opportunity I get to share if I beat Zac in a shooter style game, so here is actual photographic proof that I won game two:

Peyton took about 100 years to decide which prizes she wanted to cash her arcade tickets in for at the end of the evening, but finally decided to get something small for herself so she could get a Lego set for her brother. She also may or may not have been nice enough to spend a few tokens on getting Zac and I some Frooties, which I was certainly not complaining about! When we got home, we started watching Sea Level before it was time for us to turn in for the night.

This morning, I woke up earlier than anyone else on the planet – as per usual – and the dogs were quick to follow. I let them all outside, then fed them breakfast. After eating, Buzz decided to run down to the basement, wake Peyton up, then run all the way upstairs to go back to sleep with Zac. Before I knew it, Peyton was awake and ready to watch more Barbie.

Shortly after, I made breakfast for everyone (smothered hashbrowns for us, and bacon with a tiny bite of hashbrowns for Peyton – since they “don’t look like the hashbrowns they have at school,” she wasn’t interested in eating them). Then, Peyton and I headed downstairs to tackle a 9 Week Control Freak workout. She completed the warm up with me before sitting down on the couch.

I asked her if she was going to finish the workout with me. Her response was, “That was exhausting. I’m taking a break.” She played on her phone for a while, then when Zac asked her if she was going to keep working out with me, she got back up to do some more. She finished up about eight burpees before resting on the couch again. I mean, I had a personal cheerleader for nearly the entire workout that way, so I really can't complain.

Next, we all got ready and headed to the dog park with Buzz. He met a bunch of new big dogs he hadn’t seen before, then we high-tailed it out of there – all in about ten minutes. It was fun, but definitely way too cold. I’m just thankful I had made myself a second cup of coffee to help warm me up.

Finally, we decided to grab some groceries so we wouldn’t have to wait until this evening to do so. Then, since there wasn’t a lot we could do outside due to the temperatures, we headed back home to watch some more TV and make lunch.

When we were on our walk yesterday, I was doing what I could to prepare Peyton for today – since I knew we would end up having to spend most of the day indoors with the lower temperatures. I asked her if she knew that I had a blog. Our conversation went something like this:

Peyton: I had no idea you have a blog. That’s pretty cool. I knew Barbie had a blog, but not you. What’s yours about?

Me: I write about traveling and adventures, mostly.

Peyton: Barbie’s is just about her life and what’s going on with her and her sisters.

Me: Would you like to help me write a blog post about our weekend adventures tomorrow?

Peyton: Uh, yeah! We can write about everything we are going to do! Like this walk right now! And going to the dog park!

Thus, the mini adventure blog by Peyton was born:


"We went to the thrift store to help the shelter. I got a notebook that said “Sparkle Love.” Then we walked Buzz and Rascal. Came home and went to PetSmart with Buzz and looked at new pets but we didn’t get him anything because he already has lots of stuff. Went to Walmart. I got a stuffed unicorn and she was holding a blanket in her hands, and now she can hug anything that you want her to. Thought of something for dinner.

Had burgers and chicken for dinner. Then, played in the arcade. We played laser tag and it was really fun. I got lots of tickets and then I got my brother a little Lego set. Then we left. Went to Fareway, came home, then we watched Sea Level before bed.

And then woke up, had breakfast, then we did a workout. And then Auntie surprised me with stickers and colored pens for my notebook. Then we got ready for the day. Then we went to the dog park and Buzz made lots of new friends – one was a black dog, one was a small brown one with white on it, one was just brown, one was black and white, and one was tan. And then we went to go get groceries. I rode on the bottom of the cart. Zac kept accidentally kicking my feet.

We came home and watched a movie – The Karate Kid – we started it from where we left off earlier in the morning (while Auntie was getting ready). That’s all I can think about [that we did] really."

– Peyton, age 8.5


She was really excited to share about the adventures, obviously. I still can’t pinpoint if she was more excited about my blog, about the opportunity to help write her own post, or about the pictures that she knew we would be able to add. I decided to also ask her what her favorite things to do in Des Moines are, since we were limited this weekend due to the weather.

Peyton’s Favorite Des Moines Things

(in no particular order)

  1. Laser Tag at Great Escape

  2. Riding Bikes on the Bike Trails

  3. Over the Top Ice Cream

  4. Chick-fil-A (I'm not confident she has ever even been to a Chick-fil-A, to be honest).

  5. Dog Parks (She shared that “This is probably more something the dogs like, not me” – but is constantly asking to go to the dog parks, even in 20° temperatures).


There it is – Des Moines from a kid's perspective. There are so many other fun things to do past just what we did this weekend and what she listed as her "top ten" though. We have the Botanical Garden, the Art Center, the Science Center, and more! Catch Des Moines is an amazing resource to dig into all of the fun that Des Moines has to offer, if you're looking for more ideas.

Now, we've taken Peyton home for the evening, I've gotten my blog post written (thanks to her help, of course!), and am ready to settle in for the rest of the evening with some good movies and good books. Right now, I'm starting in on Into the Wild – so I can experience some adventure right from my couch.

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