March 31, 2010

Watch the Animals Find Easter Eggs at the Toledo Zoo

For those Ann Arbor families with a zoo membership and with a day off this Friday, I have a wonderful, inexpensive and fun idea - Head to the Toledo Zoo's annual "Animal Egg Hunt".

This Friday, April 2, animals throughout the Zoo take part in their own Animal Egg Hunt as they track down eggs hidden in their habitats as part of the zoo's enrichment program. Through enrichment, the animals’ senses are stimulated which encourages natural behaviors. It’s a key component of their over all well-being!

In addition to animal enrichment, a fun craft in the Great Ape Interpretive Center from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. and story times will be available throughout the day to stimulate young two-legged mammals!

Toledo Zoo Animal Egg Hunt Schedule:

10:15 a.m. Gorillas in the Kingdom of the Apes
10:30 a.m. Harvey the Chimp and Orangutans also in the Kingdom of the Apes
10:45 a.m. Primate Forest
11:00 a.m. Story Time in the Aviary
11:15 a.m. Tortoise feed in the Reptile House
11:45 a.m. Octopus feed in the Aquarium
12:15 p.m. Story Time in the Great Ape Interpretive Center
1:15 p.m. Otters in the African Savanna
1:45 p.m. Meerkats in the African Savanna
2:00 p.m. African Wild Dogs in Africa!
2:30 p.m. Story Time in the Arctic Encounter®
Throughout the Day visit the Aviary

March 30, 2010

Family Volunteer Opportunity at Food Gatherers During Spring Break

Some very odd coincidences have been happening to me of late that have led to a great opportunity for my family. 

...  I have been considering what to do with my children during spring break next week
... I have been thinking about the next volunteering opportunity for my children and I,
... And I have been reading a great book "You'll Thank Me Later" that gives parents an understanding of how to help their children become more grateful, so that they will grow up to be respectful, responsible and happier adults.

So where have these odd coincidences led me? To an e-mail I received about two Family Volunteer Days at Food Gatherers!

Volunteering is something that I have done throughout my life - my parents always encouraged it. It has been one way for me to give back when it might have otherwise been a cost-challenge. Giving back is also something that I am teaching my children, even at their young ages. In general volunteering seems to be a rising trend, whether it is because Disney offered up the opportunity to receive a free amusement park ticket in exchange for a day of volunteering or simply because one parent wanted to provide a means to give their child food for thought through volunteering.
"Involving children in volunteering and community service is an excellent way to help them gain perspective about the benefits of their lives. And learn gratitude." says Annie Zirkel, Licensed Professional Counselor, Relationship Counsultant and author of You'll Thank Me Later "Of course this needs to be done just right, taking into account the child's age and sensitivity to situations that they will be exposed to. That's the trick - not overdoing it and not under doing it."
Volunteering is a wonderful thing really, and has many benefits to children, teens and adults alike.  Benefits of teaching a child the value of volunteering include:
  • An increased sense of connectedness in your children,
  • Passing on of family values,
  • Seeing immediate results of their actions for positive impact, 
  • Increases in self-esteem and self-image,
  • Greater confidence in learning new skills and being exposed to new experiences,
  • Volunteering can help dissolve the materialistic and self-centered attitudes,
  • and a great sense of satisfaction
In the instance of the volunteering opportunity at Food Gatherers next week, my son and I will be there on Wednesday.  By the time this article posts however I would bet that many of the spaces on either Monday, April 5th - 2-3:30 p.m. or Wednesday, April 7th - 10-11:30 a.m. will be filled.  That should NOT however discourage you from calling (734-761-2796) to see what is available for families with children ages 5-12 or when future opportunities will be present.  It is also possible to sign up at the Food Gatherers site to receive e-mail alerts for volunterring opportunities (Once at the site, sign up for the “FG Volunteers” group).

What a GREAT way to strengthen the family bond, contribute to a worthy organization AND have a meaningful conversation with your child in a positive environment. If happen to be at Food Gatherers next Wednesday be sure to say "hello" ~ Zach and I will be there helping to either help sort recently donated food and pack up 'family' boxes, or they may help sort and repackage incoming produce that will be distributed to partner agencies for families in need of food assistance.

March 29, 2010

Where Kids Eat Free in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Saline and Ypsilanti

Another mom and I were having a discussion about where kids can "eat for free" - It's always a benefit when parents can dine somewhere and get a little something for their efforts of hauling the entire family along! So I thought to put together an area list, but you know what? Instead I found an awesome website that includes many Washtenaw County restaurants where kids can eat for free.  The site includes the restaurants where kids eat free, information about what ages are included, the day(s) of the week when free kids meals are available, and the times of day the free kids meals are available. 

Below I've included the restaurants in Ann Arbor and the surrounding cities of Dexter, Saline and Ypsilanti where "kids eat free" - If you have information on additional restaurants that should be included, please drop me a line or add the restaurant info in a comment below:

Ann Arbor Restaurants Kids Eat Free 

Arena - Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
203 E Washington St, Ann Arbor 48107 | Ph: 734-222-9999

Banditos - Every Day of the Week
216 Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-996-0234

Bella Italia - Wednesday
895 W Eisenhower Pkwy, Ann Arbor 48103 | Ph: 734-222-9993

Blue Nile - Every Day of the Week
221 E Washington St, Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-998-4746

Classic Cup Cafe - Tuesday

4389 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor 48103 | Ph: 734-662-4411

Cottage Inn Pizza - Monday
512 E William St, Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-663-3379

Dennys - Tuesday Saturday
3310 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-971-0090

Moes Southwest Grill - Tuesday
857 W Eisenhower Pkwy, Ann Arbor 48103 | Ph: 734-998-0900

Qdoba - Sunday
2252 S Main St, Ann Arbor 48103 | Ph: 734-332-1489
3279 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-973-6393

Roly Poly Sandwiches - Saturday
2412 E Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor 48104 | Ph: 734-677-0686

Dexter Restaurants Kids Eat Free

Dexters Pub - Sunday
8114 Main St, Dexter 48130 | Ph: 734-426-1234

Saline Restaurants Kids Eat Free

Macs Seafood Shack - Sunday
104 E Michigan Ave, Saline 48176 | Ph: 734-944-6227

Wings Pizza n Things - Sunday
6877 State Rd., Suite D, Saline 48176 | Ph: 734-429-7700

Ypsilanti Restaurants Kids Eat Free

Harvest Moon - Monday
5484 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti 48197 | Ph: 734-434-8100

IHOP - Every day
4221 Ellsworth Road, Ypsilanti 48197 | Ph: 734-528 4467

Pizza Hut - Tuesday
3045 Carpenter, Ypsilanti 48197 | Ph: 734-971-6500

Rio Wraps - Monday
1334 Anna J. Stepp, Ypsilanti 48197 | Ph: 734-547-9727

March 26, 2010

Free Kids Craft Projects Tomorrow at Michael's Crafts

Be sure to take your family to a local Michael's craft store tomorrow, March 27 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for a FREE family "Make It, take It" event. While supplies last, kids can create a fun spring craft project with new Crayola® Model Magic® Presto Dots™!
I'll admit, I've seen the Crayola® Model Magic® Presto Dots™ in the store while wandering aimlessly and have been intrigued - they sure look interesting, and fun, plus the opportunity to create a "messy project" in someone else's space tops my reasons for wanting to attend! Supplies may become quickly limited, so be sure to arrive early.

The nearest area Michael’s location is at 3655 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor with a second store nearby in Canton, a short 15-minute drive from the Ann Arbor area.

March 24, 2010

Wondering What Things There Are to do With Kids in Ann Arbor?

The folks at have compiled the "The Mother List: Resources for families around Ann Arbor" that includes all sorts of things to do with your kids around Ann Arbor.  Check it out is you are stumped, it might bring to light new ideas!

March 22, 2010

Upcoming Kids Building Clinics at Home Depot and Lowes - Free Kids Projects!

A couple of really great kids building clinics are coming up that I thought to highlight -And they're FREE! Whether you're feeling cooped up and need to get the kids out of the house, the weather doesn't cooperate or simply you want to complete a fun kids project, stop by and check these out:

On March 27, 2010 from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. build your own classic Kaleidoscope toy at the Lowes Build And Grow clinic. Give your child the opportunity to say, "I built it!", and help promote childhood confidence! Each participant ring will build a FREE wooden project while also receiving a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project. Be sure to sign up for Lowes Build And Grow clinics in advance though!

If you are planning on participating in any Ann Arbor area Easter Egg Hunts on Saturday April 3, 2010, then plan on dropping by your local Ann Arbor Home depot location to build a beautiful butterfly house. Children ages 5-12 are encouraged to join in the building fun the first Saturday or every month from 9:00 a.m until noon for these free monthly kids projects!

Celebrate an annual rite of spring with the soon-to-arrive "Detroit Tiger's Opening Day" by building your own tabletop mini baseball game at Lowes!  This fun tabletop game will be enjoyed by the entire family after your children build it on April 10, 2010 from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Earth Day is right around the corner, enjoy a little bit of spring indoors and an early celebration of Earth Day with your own "See It Grow Planter".  Children will create their own mini planter from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. on Saturday April 17, 2010 - Make sure to add this to your calendar, as sign-up for it should be available on the Lowe's Build and grow website very soon.  Sign up early too since space is limited!

Build your own back-yard birdfeeder on Saturday April 24, 2010 at a local Ann Arbor Lowes - I was lucky to glance an advanced notice of this project, and like with the See It Grow Planter, you'll soon be able to register for the free kids clinic, so keep your peepers peeled!

And finally on build mom her own cute Picket fence Planter on May 1, 2010 at a local Home Depot then add a tiny pot of miniature roses or cute sunny pansies - It'll be a gift she'll surely treasure!!!  Be sure to stop by early, this is sure to be a popular evet.  Children can build their project from 9:00 a.m. until noon!

March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day - A Fun Kids Project in Celebration!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, if you are looking for a fabulous and fun project to celebrate the day (and surprise the kidd-o's) check out Family Fun magazine. I made these cute rainbow cupcakes for my daughter's pre-school class and they all loved them!  They are a little time-consuming but so CUTE and sooo worth the time.

March 15, 2010

Family Fun at the 2nd Annual Boxcar Derby This Saturday!

I grew up in Huntington Woods near the Detroit Zoo. It was a great childhood - We were able to play kick the can well into darkness on warm summer nights, my parents allowed us to ride bikes to local drug stores and we were even allowed to get quite dangerous on a rather large hill that was two blocks East of my house. And when I say we "played" on that hill, I mean we rode bikes, skateboards, roller-skates or even in home-made "soapbox cars" or other vehicles to drive down the hill in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET! While I do not condone playing in the street, I have amazing memories of the fun summer days we had, and really enjoyed riding down the hill. That's why I was excited to hear about the 2nd Annual Boxcar Derby on March 20th!

This Saturday, any Ann Arbor area child - elementary school kids to University of Michigan college "kids", or anyone in beteen can build cars and race them downhill near the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house. Food and finish line antics make it a perfect day for kids and families whether they are a racer, a sideline supervisor or a member of the cheering audience. Check out Youtube to see a video of last years boxcar derby event!

So be sure to stop by and check it out, Saturday 10am-1pm at S. University between Oxford and Walnut in Ann Arbor - I'm sure it'll be a fun day for all.

March 12, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt Round-up: Ann Arbor, Dexter, Manchester, Saline & Ypsilanti

I have taken my children to several area Easter Egg hunts and marshmallow drops throughout the past few years - Some taking place in the snow, some in the bitterly cold and rain of early spring and others on gloriously beautiful sunny days. We haven’t found one we attend exclusively though - I suppose that's mostly due to my despising these events because my children being pushed, smashed or stepped on by ADULTS who behave terribly - so we'll continue to search for the "right event" again this year!

For interested families, below are several area Easter Egg hunts happening throughout the Ann Arbor area in the coming weeks.


The Ann Arbor Jaycees hold an annual Easter Egg hunt with games, face painting and other fun family activities in addition to the egg-scramble. It is free however they will accept donations for the Ann Arbor Ronald McDonald House. This year the event will be held Saturday, March 27 (Rain Date: Sunday, March 28) from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Park (2150 Jackson Ave.) in Ann Arbor.


Hudson Mills Metropark is hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 28th, 12 pm - 2 pm. Kids twelve and under may participate and enjoy a variety of activities such as the petting farm animals, face painting, and visiting with the Easter Bunny while waiting for their age group egg hunt. Tickets are $3 per child in advance, and $5 per child at the door. Call (734) 426-8211 to purchase tickets. A vehicle entry permit is also required to enter Hudson Mills Metropark and is only $25 annually for regular admission or $5 daily.


The Manchester Men’s Club is sponsoring an Easter Egg Hunt at Carr Park Saturday, April 3 at 1:00 PM.


The Saline Recreation Center is hosting an Egg SCavENgER HuNT on Saturday April 3 at 11:30 a.m. for children ages 2-7 years. Bring a basket to collect eggs that have been scattered throughout the wooded area behind the Recreation Center and Miller Field. Children will be broken down into age appropriate groups with every child receiving a goody bag - A few lucky eggs will have prize tickets inside though! Register each family member in advance at the Recreation Center for $6 by April 2, or for $10 on the day of the event.


The Ypsilanti Jaycees' 10th Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Drop will be help on Saturday, 27 March 2010, 9:00am - 12:00pm at Frog Island Park in Ypsilanti. Registration begins at 9:00 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!

There are many other opportunities for families to participate in area Easter Egg hunts at local churches throughout the area, also Domino Farms is also continuing their Easter Egg hunt, however this year it is for members only. So keep your eyes “peeled” and let me know of other local Easter Egg hunts that should be highlighted or feel free to list them in the comments section below. Please specify when the hunt will take place, the ages allowed at the hunt and any costs to families - Thanks!!!

March 10, 2010

Get $5 off Shrine Circus Tickets, March 18-21 at the Hazel Park Raceway

My grandfather is a Shriner, so growing up my brother and I attended the Shrine Circus with some regularity, that's why I am excited to be able to offer area families the opportunity to attend the Shrine Circus when it comes to the area for $5 off ticket prices!  Yes, that's $5 off courtesy of Hungry Howie’s Pizza

So stop and pick up your voucher for $5 off of a ticket at any Metro-Detroit area Hungry Howie locations, or around Ann Arbor at: 2145 West Stadium and 4079 Stone School Road or in Ypsilanti at: 215 S Ford Blvd. or 2614 Washtenaw Road.

The Shrine Circus
March 18 - 21, 2010
Hazel Park Raceway
Thursday-Saturday at 10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. 
Sunday at 1:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $15 - $30 depending on seating

For more information call 866-922-Circus and don't forget to look for Howie (of Hungry Howie's) as the Circus Grand Marshal on March 18!

March 6, 2010

Visit Local Museums for FREE

Last year at this time, my family and I were in a much different place with both my husband and I being out of work. I was making ends meet with clients here and there, and our family was helping much of the time; however that didn't diminish my kids wanting to "do things". I was challenged to find fun and interesting things for us to do for very cheap or free. I suppose I still enjoy finding inexpensive things to do for the family, and the kids still want to "do things" so I was happy to see that the Detroit Adventure Pass was back at the Ypsilanti District Library (the passes are available at almost every local library including the Ann Arbor District Library!).

If you don't know what the Detroit Adventure Pass is presumably because you've been living under a rock for the past three years, didn't notice the opportunity or possibly because you didn't have a need for the passes then I'll tell you about them...

Now through October 24, 2010 you can adventure through a variety of Detroit area cultural institutions - For FREE. Art that inspires and engages, hands-on science that excites and educates, history and culture that brings past and present Michigan to life - all of these and more are waiting for you at your local public library. Just use your library card to receive a Museum Adventure Pass, presented by Macy’s, and get free admission to the following organizations.


Anton Art Center
Arts & Scraps
Automotive Hall of Fame
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
Birmingham Historical Museum & Park
Detroit Artists Market
Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Grosse Pointe Historical Society
Howell Nature Center
Lorenzo Cultural Center
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
Pewabic Pottery
Paint Creek Center for the Arts
Shalom Street
The Scarab Club
Troy Museum and Historic Village
University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Wyandotte Historical Museum
Ypsilanti Historical Museum


Arab American National Museum
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Cranbrook House and Gardens
Cranbrook Institute of Science
Detroit Historical Museum
Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
Ford Rouge Factory Tour
Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane

Last year the kids especially enjoyed visiting Cranbrook and are looking forward to going again this year! Be sure to check it out and enjoy a day with the family

March 3, 2010

Something Fun For the Kids - Tapping Maple Trees to Make Maple Syrup!

It's that time of the year - Maple Syrup season...  My kids and I have made maple syrup from the sap for the past two years. We tapped 10 trees today and immediately had flow from 8 of them - Zach even drank the sap directly from the tree...

For more information on how to tap maple trees (it's VERY easy to do) check out my gardening blog and search for "Maple Syrup".

March 2, 2010

Contest: Win Free Tickets To See Justin Roberts at The Ark

On Saturday March 13, Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will be playing at The Ark and Ann Arbor families have the opportunity to win 4 tickets to see the show for free! All you need to do is comment here about your kids funniest sports stories - although you may want to listen to Justin's hit song "Pop Fly" first as inspiration! A winning family will be choosen by Wednesday March 10.

The concert begins at 11:00 a.m. at The Ark (316 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor 48104). Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased online or at the door, for more information call 734-761-1818.

Justin Roberts is truly one of the "all-stars" of the indie family music scene. Logging thousands of miles on the road each year in the name of children's show business, Justin has won numberous national awards and recognition and a gained a devoted fan base. Justin and The Not Ready for Naptime Players dish out unexpectedly intelligent and whimsically rocking music for kids and their parents alike.

As one of the best-selling kids' independent artists, Justin Roberts should not be missed - be sure to enter to win your family passes for the show courtesy of The Ark! As readers of the Ann Arbor Mom, YOU have a foot up on entering the contest before it is published Friday at, so be sure to enter the contest early!

March 1, 2010

Cheap Eats This Weekend at Ikea

I thought this might be of interest to families on a budget but wanting to "get out". This weekend, March 5 - 7, Ikea (41640 Ford Road, Canton) is offering $1 Swedish Meatball Plates. These plates are normally $4.29 and include 10 meatballs, mashed potatoes and cream sauce. It is also good to remember parents, that Ikea also has a FREE supervised play area for the children while parents are in the store - Kids can be dropped for 1 hour at a time!

So I say take the fam for a quick bite, then take the kids downstairs to play while you wander Ikea or just grab 60-minutes of peace for yourself!