April 20, 2014

Family Friendly Film Series: Labyrinth

The Michigan Theater (603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor) is hosting a free movies for kids 12 & under on April 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Labyrinth centers upon teenage Sarah, who lives in a fantasy world of myth and magic, evil spells, and wondrous enchantment. She is baby-sitting her little brother when she cavalierly wishes that goblins would take him away. She gets her wish, and a coterie of goblins abduct him. She then encounters Jareth, the ruler of a mystical world one step removed from reality. He tells Sarah that the only way to get her brother back is to find her way through a M.C. Escher-like labyrinth and find the castle at the center. As she makes her way through the maze, she faces a number of horrific challenges (like the Bog of Eternal Stench) before she finds her way to the gravity-defying castle, where her brother is being held by the evil goblins.

Tickets are free for children 12 & under, $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, older children and teens. This movie is rated PG.

April Morning Bird Walk

Spring has sprung, or perhaps it is still springing, regardless though, families should take the opportunity to get out and about for the April Morning Bird Walk. On Sunday, April 27, 8:00-10:00  a.m. at the Leonard Preserve (N Union St, Manchester, MI 48158)  to explore habitats including open field, wetlands, deciduous and conifer forests in search of the birds. If possible bring binoculars and a field guide for your exploration. Families and beginning birders welcome to attend this free event led by Faye Stoner, a naturalist at Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation.

For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, or call 971- 6337.

April 10, 2014

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield

After weeks of anticipation, I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield (6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield) during their opening weekend. I had heard about the park when I ran across The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield Facebook Page and contacted them about bring the family along to experience time in the trees and was blessed that they gave me the invitation.

It was a great day to attend too. As one of the first nice spring days, it lent itself nicely to spending time climbing through the trees with the kids. When I first told the kids, their reaction was one of fear and anticipation, but I knew that they would change their minds once there. Ultimately as I am the leader of my intrepid crew, they really didn't have a choice in going or not going however I was pleasantly surprised that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We arrived at the Adventure Park around 3:20 p.m. and met with several staff members. Before stepping onto the course though, each family member is required to sign a waiver, which took a little time. There are several iPads on hand to register everyone however we walked in behind two groups of 8, so we had a little wait to sign in.

My daughter getting properly fitted for her harness
by the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield staff
Once you sign in and purchase your tickets, the next step is to proceeded up the hill to get into the climbing gear and to pick up a pair of gloves. Again we were behind 2 small groups, so getting into our equipment took time. There are two harness sizes, which then need to be properly fitted before moving onto the orientation.

Thumbs up to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield from my son.
His biggest complaint - "More zip-lining mom!!!"
 Orientation is where you will learn about how to clip and un-clip the Tweezles (I hope that is how to spell it!) from guide wires. As a parent I really liked that my kids would be securely tethered to the trees, platforms, guide wires and ziplines. One clip on the Tweezle will not unlock until the second Tweezle clip is attached and locked. At first this process seemed a bit intimidating and confusing, but we very quickly learned how to maneuver the clips.

After orientation families are encouraged to try the small zip-line practice course - I'll admit though, the real test is going through your first course. I was amazed at how quickly my kids learned to clip and un-clip to race through the course. Even my tiny 8-year old was zipping through courses after course once she went through her first course. Her biggest challenge was that she was a bit short and unable to clip and un-clip herself to zip-lines. She is 47" tall, so if your child is shorter than that, someone will always have to be on the course to help. After twice through though my 10-year-old son took off on his own for the rest of the afternoon.

Some of you may still be confused, asking, "Yes, but what exactly IS an adventure park? The website says that it is an “aerial forest park.” I believe though, that if you close your eyes and imagine an obstacle course, suspended in and around a tree-lined forest, you may get a better visual. It's pretty simple and straightforward once you see it up close.

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield has courses for kids older than Age 5. I would like to say though, that although parents might think the "kids courses" are just for kids, let me assure you that the Purple Courses are not to be sneered at. Parents WILL break out in a light sweat from the exertion. No, you may not be changing levels or hitting the most difficult obstacles, however considering the obstacles are designed for kids, parents will find the crawling, squatting, duck-walking or shimmying through the obstacles to be a workout in and of itself!
The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield courses were challenging enough
for kids of all ages! It was a great work-out and tons of fun for
the whole family.

Like skiing, the courses are color-coded. Each one is given a specific color to indicate how challenging the obstacles may be and how high in the trees you will get. Purple courses are the easiest, Yellow are next, then it's Green followed by Blue, and finally climbers will find Black and Double Black Diamonds.

After doing both of the yellow courses and both purple courses several times, I decided to increase the challenge and try a Green or Blue course. I was told by one of the staff members that the difference between the two was pretty significant, so I opted for Green. I am glad I did too because it was a pretty substantial challenge. Granted I was starting to feel a little muscle fatigue, but the difference in going from Yellow to Green was noticeable. The Green course took more time to complete. At one point, as I was climbing higher, I could hear my son yelling "Don't look down mom!" I wasn't frightened but will admit to taking more time to decide how to approach each obstacle as I approached it. I also didn't look as far ahead as I found I was doing on the easier courses. I took each obstacle as it came. I especially enjoyed that the Green course had 2 zip-lines that were longer than the smaller courses.

I can hear it now - Yes, but what was the cost of an outing at the Adventure Park? It is a bit more than going to a movie, but I feel that 3-hours climbing among the trees is very much like skiing or a day of golf. The cost to participate ranges from $39.00/age 7-9, $43/age 10-11 and $49 for adults and teens 15+. I was told though, that throughout the year families can find special savings, and the last 3 hours of any given day may find discounts. To take advantage of the biggest cost savings though, visitors to to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield are encouraged to get a group together to take advantage of group rates.

Getting there: If using the address of 6600 West Maple Road, the GPS will likely direct drivers  to enter the Jewish Community Center and drive around the campus. I suggest using the entrance off Drake Road instead.

Tips: Right now there is ample space to wander for photos beneath the courses. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear though as the grounds may be muddy. For families with younger children, there is a small playground directly south of the facility. The playground and adjacent space would be great for a family picnic before or after your climbing experience.

Although we were given gloves for the day, the next time we go I may take along a better fitting pair of leather work-gloves. This would improve my grip throughout the course. Three of us wore hiking boots too, which worked really well.

I saw many ladies wearing yoga pants while on the course. I was very comfortable wearing jeans but might consider wearing other tight-fitted clothing and an athletic bra for the best support. You need to be comfortable while wearing the harness and climbing through the trees!

In all our experience was wonderful. I definitely can see us going back for another visit and would love to see what the park looks like at night or when the canopy of leaves are on the majestic oak trees on the property. Whether you are a climber or just a curios sort, a day at the Adventure park at West Bloomfield will surely be enjoyed by your entire family - young and old alike. For more information or to contact The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield call (248) 419-1550 or email them at info@westbloomfieldtrees.org

One thing I would like to add though, if you go, it's a must to yell loudly and gleefully as you ascend on the zip lines. Not enough participants were doing that and I do think that should be a rule!

We'd like to thank the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield for an exceptional family outing.
The day was loads of fun and great exercise for all!

April 5, 2014

Kids Nature Program: Hidden Wonders of the Vernal Pool

Have you ever wondered which creatures are active in the early spring? Then exploring the Hidden Wonders of the Vernal Pool on Saturday, April 12, 2:00-3:30 p.m. may be for YOUR family.  This free program led by Washtenaw County naturalist Shawn Severance takes place at the Miller/Smith Preserve in Lima Twp.

Discover what happens as leafy woodland hollows fill with meltwater and the forest comes alive with songs of springtime. Explore who lives here? Where do they go in the summer when these pools fade away?

Find out what you can discover during this free event. Be sure to dress accordingly though and prepared to get muddy. This event is for children and for adults. For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, call 971- 6337 or send Shawn a message at severances@ewashtenaw.org.

April 4, 2014

Easter Bunny, Egg Hunts and Breakfast With The Bunny Events

Find Easter Egg Hunts, Marshmallow drops,
breakfast with the Easter Bunny and other
great spring Ann Arbor events at
the Ann arbor Mom blog!
Of course the Easter Bunny can be found at Briarwood Mall, however there are many great celebrations of spring happening throughout March and April including many great egg hunts, breakfast with the Easter Bunny, marshmallow drop events and many other free and low cost events celebrating Easter. Below are many great Easter events for families, listed by city - Ann Arbor, Belleville, Canton, Dexter, Manchester, Saline and other nearby communities!

Keep your eyes peeled and let me know of family friendly local Easter Egg hunts that should be highlighted,I'll be adding more as they come to my attention. 


The Ann Arbor Jaycees are hosting an Easter Egg Scramble on Saturday, April 19 at Buhr Park from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with three egg hunt times (11:30, noon and 12:30). There will also be photos with the Easter Bunny, games, face painting, balloon twisters and a petting zoo. You can also pre-register at www.a2jaycees.org.

The Leslie Science & Nature Center (1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor) is celebrating spring wit a fun-filled, educational event for every member of the family, including guided interpretive hikes, a golden egg hunt for a special prize, an egg grab, family games, and checking out the rabbits in the Critter House. The event happens April 19, from 10:00 a.m.-noon for only $30/family or $8/individual. Be sure to register for the Leslie Science Center Spring Eggstravaganza, it's sure to be popular!


The chaos of a spring Easter Egg Hunt
is great fun for the entire family!
The Willow Metropark “Easter Egg Scramble,” happens April 12 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Come for Easter fun with an egg hunt, crafts, games, and a petting farm. Advance ticket purchase is required for $5 per child plus vehicle entry permit. Please call 734-782-3956734-782-3956.

The Hoppin’ Hullabaloo is coming to Van Buren Township Recreation Center on April 12. Breakfast starts at 10:00 with egg hunts beginning after 11:15 a.m. based on age. Kids will have fun playing on inflatables, making crafts, facepainting, and playing games. Little ones can practice their scavenger skills by participating in a rubber duck hunt. The Easter Bunny will also be present for photos, so be sure to bring your camera. The event is geared for children age 10 and under. The cost is $5. Call 734-697-8921734-697-8921 for more information.

Summit on the Park is hosting an Easter Bunny Breakfast at the Summit on the Park, Grand Ballroom on Saturday, April 12 9:00-11:00 a.m. Families will find strolling entertainment, a beautiful buffet breakfast and a visit with your favorite furry friend. Registration ends April 6, and advance registration required. Cost: Children three and under, $4/Ages 4-12, $10 and Ages 13 and over are $15

Heritage Park is hosting an Easter Bunny Eggstravaganza on  April 12, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. No registration is necessary - but there is a $5/family fee to participate for kids ages 11 and under. Egg Hunts will run continuously in two age categories, which helps to keep the "hunting" fair for even our littlest participants. The grounds tend to be very wet in early spring so please dress accordingly. After the hunt, families should plan to hop over to the Summit on the Park Gymnasium for strolling entertainment.

This year's Hudson Mills Metropark Easter Egg Hunt will be held on April 13, noon-2:00 p.m. at the activity center. Kids ages 12 and under can join the fun with an egg hunt at the park and participating in a variety of activities such as the “Barnyard Express” show, free face painting and visiting with the Easter Bunny. The event cost is $4 per child in advance/$5 per child at the door plus the vehicle entry pass into the park. 

The Manchester Men’s Club is sponsoring an Easter Egg Hunt at Carr Park April 19 at 1:00 p.m.

Check out TWO egg hunts at the Kensington Metropark (2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford - At Maple Beach) this year. The Fun on the Farm Egg Hunt on April 17 at 10:00 a.m. and the The Great Egg Hunt on April 19 at 11:00 a.m. Details for the egg hunts have not yet been added to their website however in past years there has been a $3 fee. A Metropark vehicle entry permit or daily $5 admission is also required. For additional information, please call 1-800-477-31781-800-477-3178.

The Saline Recreation Center is hosting Bunnytails on April 15, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Children to age 6 can enjoy the Easter Bunny, a story, snack and craft for only $8.

On April 19, families can enjoy Saline Springfest with something for children of all ages!
  • 11:30 am: Egg Scavenger Hunt (Ages 2-7) - Bring a basket or bag to collect eggs that have been scattered throughout the woods behind the Rec Center. The children will be divided into the following age groups: 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7. A few lucky eggs will have a prize sticker. All participants will receive a goody bag. This event will take place outside rain, shine or snow. Cost is $7/child, for early registration and $10 the day of.
  • 12:00 - 1 pm: Lunch with the Bunny (All ages) - Mr. Bunny himself will be making the rounds as you enjoy a pizza lunch. Bring your camera to take pictures with the Bunny. Cost is $7/child, for early registration and $10 the day of.
  • 12:00 - 1:00 pm: Hippity Hop Trail (Ages 2-12) - Pick up treats and visit with local businesses along the Hippity Hop Trail inside the Rec Center. Those who sign up for the Egg Hunt or Dive will receive free admission for the Trail. Is your business interested in participating?  Those who sign up for the Egg Hunt, Lunch with the Bunny or Egg Dive will receive free admission for the Trail, otherwise the cost is $2 to participate.
  • 1:00 pm: Egg Dive (Age Groups 6-7 and 8-10 years old)  - Floating eggs will be scattered throughout the leisure pool for kids to collect. A few lucky eggs will have prize stickers inside. All participants will receive a goody bag. Participants are welcome to stay and swim after the event. Cost is $7/child, for early registration and $10 the day of.
The Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Eggstravaganza on March 30, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Kids start at Busch's (565 E. Michigan Ave., Saline) and hop to participating businesses to pick up your egg! After you visit the businesses drop your stamped list off at Mickey's Dairy Twist to enter a drawing to win one of 4 baskets filled with items donated from area businesses. Call 734.429.4494734.429.4494 for more info.

The Ypsilanti Jaycees' will be hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Drop on April 12,  11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at Frog Island Park in Ypsilanti. Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. with a $1 fee per child. Fun family games begin at 9:30 a.m. while children await their age group egg hunts - the Easter Bunny will even be standing by for a photo op! A marshmallow drop follows the egg hunt and begins at 11:00 a.m., allowing children to return their captured marshmallows for small prizes!