June 8, 2015

Win Free Strawberry Shortcake at the Belleville National Strawberry Festival

Win (4) free strawberry shortcakes ($16 value) during
Belleville's National Strawberry Festival June 19-21.
For YEARS before my children came along, I have enjoyed Strawberry Festival time. When the kids were born it became even more special. We enjoy the crafts, activities and events that happen during Belleville's National Strawberry Festival. We were happy to end up joining a church that promoted the event too and even happier to learn that our church makes the most amazing Strawberry pies and shortcakes! That's one reason why I love this opportunity to share with Ann Arbor Mom readers this great give-away.

Since 1977, Trinity Episcopal Church has been a part of the National Strawberry Festival in Belleville, which is held yearly over Father’s Day weekend. Visitors come from all over southeast Michigan for the famous homemade sloppy joes and glazed strawberry pies offered. Imagine a pie filled with four pounds of fresh berries! Don't have time to stop in to the church and eat out back? Don't worry as I have personally observed MANY visitors even stopping by just to pick up their pie.

It is best though to stop in and stay a while. Come for the craft show or enjoy many tasty treats in a comfortable, family friendly atmosphere. Nachos, sloppy nachos, 100% beef hot dogs, strawberry shortcake, sundaes, and smoothies are just a few of their delicious offerings. In addition to the fresh glazed strawberry pies, their bakery tent sells homemade strawberry bread and muffins, strawberry freezer jam, cheesecake, and tarts. They also offer no-sugar-added and gluten-free options. Food tent and bakery menus can be found on the Trinity Episcopal Church Strawberry Fest page of the website too!

I am proud too, that my children have had the opportunity to work alongside many volunteers during the festival, and that half of the proceeds from Trinity’s Strawberry Festival activities go back into the community. Your support helps support local services and projects while the other half supports special projects in the church.

In addition to their craft show, bakery and good food, this year Trinity will also have live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evening and a free Kid Zone on Saturday and Sunday with crafts and games and special guest appearances by Disney’s Princesses Anna and Elsa.

Let Trinity Episcopal Church is the first Strawberry Festival stop you see on Belleville Road when you exit I-94 heading into Belleville. They will be open on Friday, June 19 (4:00-9:00 p.m.), Saturday, June 20 (10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.), and Sunday, June 21 (11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.) Credit cards will be accepted at the bakery and food tent and parking is free. Find more information about the event at the Strawberry Festival Facebook Event Page for Trinity Episcopal Church.

Trinity is also one of the National Strawberry Festival Trolley stops.

Want another reason to stop at Trinity during Strawberry Festival? How about winning (4) FREE Strawberry shortcakes to eat there or take home? Now for Ann Arbor mom readers, comment below for your chance to win. Comment on Facebook for a second entry too. Just tell us which product your family likes best: A - Strawberry shortcake, B - - Strawberry pie, C - Strawberry smoothies, D - Strawberry cheesecake or E - ANYTHING strawberries!!!

All entries must be submitted by midnight Wednesday, June 17.

June 7, 2015

Nature Fun For Kids 2015

The naturalists at Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation have an awesome opportunity for Ann Arbor families looking for a great outdoor experience. "Nature Fun For Kids!" happens throughout the summer at various locations at 10:30 a.m. on a variety of topics. Are your kids interested in nature and science? The perhaps they would appreciate learning about clouds, what is swimming in the pond, or local wildflowers! Whatever their interest, the park naturalists can address your needs.

June 13: Cloudspotting
June 18: Dipping the pond
June 27: Hiking
July 2:P Living like a pioneer
July 11: Monarch butterflies
July 16: Wading the stream
July 25: Fishing fun
July 30: Wildflower bouquet
August 8: Skull hunt
Aug 13: Spiders

Just be sure to pre-register for their free program as it is limited to 15-participants. Register by calling 734-971-6337 x334.

June 6, 2015

Michigan Free Fishing Weekend

The size of the fish is measured by a
kid's smile! Enjoy free fishing in
Michigan this weekend.
Every year the Michigan DNR sponsors free fishing weekends, with June 13-14, being one of them. Although kids can always fish for free, if you are a non-fishing adult, this is a great time to check out the sport and introduce your kids to fishing. Besides you can get out in nature together! All fishing license fees will be waived for the weekend, however all fishing regulations will still apply. That's right it's FREE fishing!

 There are some ideal Washtenaw County fishing spots for families available. My kids especially like the ease of fishing off the docks at Rolling Hills. While there are very few "keepers" caught there, you can be assured that the kids will catch something - This alleviates the long wait times often associated with fishing. Of course this also spoils your children a bit, but seeing their faces when catching fish, well that's priceless!

Events on Free Fishing Weekend

“Free Fishing,” will be held 10:00 a.m.-noon at Rolling Hills on June 13 and at Independence Lake on June 14. Pre-registration is required for this free event. Call Faye Stoner at 734-971-6337 x334. Poles, bait and instruction is provided.

"Go Fish" is happening at the Lake Erie Metropark June 13 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Bring the kids out for an introduction to fishing; from equipment and techniques, to what types of fish you can expect to catch. Please preregister. $4 per child

"BIA Fishing Tournament & Picnic" is also on June 13 at Kensington Metropark. Don't miss the nationally acclaimed Tips-Up for the Troops Bass Tournament and Brain Injury Awareness Family and Friends event.  The event provides an opportunity to gather and thank some Michigan Veterans and first responders, and to learn more about traumatic brain injury.  Go to www.biami.org for more information or to register. A Metroparks vehicle entry permit is required to enter any Metropark and is only $30 annually for regular admission, $20 annually for seniors or $7 daily.

"Take Me FIshing" is happening June 14 at Wolcott Mill Metropark (Historic Center) noon-3:00 p.m. This is a wonderful event for fishing beginners. Each participant will go through learning stations to explore casting, knot tying, water quality, boat safety, lure making and basic equipment before they try their hand at catching the big one! Be sure to bring a white tee shirt to make a fish print shirt. Ages: 5 and older Please preregister. The event is just $6.00 per person, call 856-749-5997 to pre-register.

Want to learn to fish but can't get out this weekend? Then the Hook, Line and Sinker program with the DNR might be up your ally. Learn casting and fishing basics with a borrowed rod and reel if you don't have your own equipment. Hook, Line and Sinker programs begin in mid-June and continue throughout the summer. 

So make a date with the kids or start a new tradition while having some great fishing fun. It's time to enjoy that Michigan fishing!

June 5, 2015

Inexpensive Family Camping Weekends

As a child I loved to camp and did so often with the family. My kids now love to camp however it gets expensive and there is rarely anywhere nearby that we can camp reasonably. There is now a solution to that.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks camping is available to families and groups for as low as $30-40/night. Throughout the summer, May 1-mid October families can enjoy rustic camping at the The Lower Huron Metropark (off of I-94 and Haggerty Rd - exit 192) for only $20 a night (plus vehicle entry fee). Stony Creek is offering many family campout weekends too and many of the other Metroparks have dedicated camping areas and lodges available.

There is also an opportunity to participate at two Family Campout sessions at Rolling Hills through Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation on August 8-9 or August 15-16. We have participated in this program for several years and highly recommend it to friends. Set up your tent and enjoy the park or the water park, families can also enjoy the campfire, hikes, educational programs for the kids and breakfast the next morning! Find the Rolling Hills Family campout registration form here. Camping is only $7 per person too, which makes this a very affordable way to camp! Another WCPR option is Family Camping at Independence Lake on September 12-13 for just $8/person. The Independence Lake Family Campout registration form can be found here.

Canton also gets into the family camping experience with Family Camp Out and Movie Night on July 17-18  at Heritage Park (1010 S. Canton Center Rd., Canton 48188). Families are invited to set up around the amphitheater and enjoy a move at dusk. Beginning at 6:00 p.m., there will be plenty to do before the movie including games, activities and entertainment for the entire family. The cost is only $20 overnight camping fee or $5 per person to participate in the evenings activities (if not camping overnight). Dinner & concession items will be sold Friday evening. Canoeing on Friday and a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning will be available for a nominal fee. Tent set up begins at noon on Friday July, 18. RV’s and tents are both welcome.

Don't let not owning a tent stop you, the last time we attended a Rolling Hills campout, two families brought their 10x10 easy up tents with bug netting and tarps to cover the sides at night! So whatever you do, pitch a tent in your back-yard or find a low cost camping option for your family. It will produce a lifetime of memories.

National Trail Day

This is the perfect time of the year to get outdoors. Everyone can benefit from the fresh air - Mom, Dad AND the kids. So why not take advantage of National Trail Day?

On Saturday, June 6, 2015 there are plenty of opportunities to participate in organized hikes locally. I will be hiking as part of the Iron Belle Trail dedication hike where 130 Scout Troops throughout the state will hike from Belle Isle to Ironwood in a single day. Of course my group only has 5.5 miles of that! Don't let that scare you though. Your hike can be as short or long as you like!

There are two local organized hikes that Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation are leading. The first begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 1:00 p.m. at the Leonard Preserve  (N Union St, Manchester, MI 48158) and the second runs 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Squires Preserve (Sylvan Rd, Chelsea, MI 48118). All ages are welcome to participate. Bring a snack, water or lunch and dress appropriately.  

If you are not able to walk tomorrow, on Sunday there is another 1-mile family friendly walk too. The Family Adventure Walk is a free event from 10:00 a.m.-noon  at Lily Park (Ellsworth and Platt). Enjoy activities sponsored by the Leslie Science Center, and Ann Arbor Hands On Museum as well as find food, fun and t-shirts! It's all about getting outdoors this weekend.