Emma was on Summer break last week, so we filled the week with local explorations and little day trips.   Peony season is one of my most favorite times of the year - the blooms are just so unbelievably majestic and heavenly scented, I just can't get enough.  So our first trip was to the local (as in 45 minutes south...) Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens (Overland Park, KS) on a hunt for peonies - I wanted Emma to be able to experience them in a huge bounty.  

We packed a picnic lunch, put on Emma's most peony appropriate dress, drove alllll they way out there to discover... I had forgotten my wallet.  It was in the swim bag from the day before.  Admission was only $3 (for me, free for Emma) and all I could scrounge up was $1.25 in quarters from my car. 

I asked the admissions lady if they would allow me to mail a check for the remaining fee (I even offered to include an extra donation...) if they would allow us to come in.  A woman near by that seemed to be in charge (she was on a golf cart and sporting gardening gear) come over and said not to worry - she would pay the rest of my fee.  I realize that a $2 handout is tiny by most comparison, but it seemed huge at the moment... the difference between putting my 1-year-old back in the car for 45 minutes after talking about all of the pretty flowers we'd be seeing on the way there!

I never mentioned "who I am" (not that it would've meant anything!) or that I would be sharing our day in the gardens on my blog, but I promised her that I would pay it forward.

We spent a fabulous morning there - I let Emma lead the way, which she loves, of course.  She ran and roamed all over the gardens smelling flowers, looking at fish and testing the boundaries. 

These are my favorite peony -  the palest pink with bright yellow centers.  Very chic.

My favorite area, was of course the peonies...

But the "fishies" were her favorite part.

The gardens are all maintained by volunteers.

The "Monet Garden" was unbelievable.

We wondered on the mulched paths in the woods to find our picnic spot.  While I enjoy the manicured flowerbeds, I felt most at peace in the rustic areas like this one by a stream.

Emma wondering around with her brownie.

Many artists enjoying the blooms.

Starting to wind down...

Here knees look just like mine always do!  We're tough girls.

More gardeners.

Irises in bloom.  

Love how she closes here eyes when she smells the flowers.

Can't wait to go back and visit mid-summer when everything is in its full glory!


Here are some Emma Outtakes from the day...

Dancing on the deck.

The funniest joke.

More groovin'!