December 27, 2010

Activities for the Kids During Holiday Break

After a busy week of holiday preparation, family visits, shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, eating and early morning wake ups, I am getting burned out. My kids however, that's an entirely differnt story. They are rearin' to go and already asking "What are we doing this week?" So if the endlessly large mounds of toys and art supplies are not enough to keep your children occupied during the holiday break, maybe some of these local activities will take care of that for you!

Take the family to the Kensington Metro Parks for a winter horse-drawn hayride this week! From December 26 through January 2, from noon – 4:00 p.m. families can enjoy a ride through the winter wonderland that is Kensington and the surrounding wooded areas. After entry into the metropark, the fees are only $3 per child/$5 per adult. For more information, call 248-685-9332 or 1-800-477-3178. Be sure to bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and a blanket to stay warm.

For the crafty, consider one of the many Ann Arbor events happening from holiday break classes at the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Duct Tape Workshop at the Dexter Library today from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. for grades 5 and up, or let the kids make their own New year’s silly hat or noisemakers on Tuesday December 28, 2:00 - 3:00 pm at the AADL Traverwood Branch.

If getting active is the best way for your kids to burn their excess energy consider taking them ice skating at one of the many great Ann Arbor Ice Rinks. Times and costs are listed below.

Ann Arbor Ice Cube (2121 Oak Valley Drive Ann Arbor): Monday - Thursday (6:00-7:50 a.m., 10:30-11:50 a.m., 1:30-2:50 p.m., 4:30-5:50 p.m.and 7:15-8:35 p.m.) and Friday (6:00-7:50 a.m., 9:00-10:20 a.m. and 12:00-1:20 p.m.). Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for youth with $3 skate rental fees. For the most up to date scedule, check the Ann Arbor Ice Cube public skate schedule at their website.

The Buhr Park outdoor ice arena (2751 Packard Street Ann Arbor) will have public skating sessions available on Monday (12:00-2:00 p.m.), Tuesday (12:00-2:00 p.m. and 7:45-8:45 p.m.), Wednesday 12:00-2:00 p.m., 3:30-4:30 p.m. and 7:15-8:45 p.m.), and on Thursday (12:00-2:00 p.m. and 7:15 - 8:45 p.m.). Skating fees range $5-6 for adults and $3.75-5 for youth and seniors with a $3 skate rental cost.

The Veterans Memorial Sports Complex (2150 Jackson Avenue Ann Arbor) has an indoor ice rink with open skate times on Tuesday and Wednesday (1:20-2:45 p.m.) and Thursday (11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.). Fees to skate are $5- $6 for adults, and $4-5 for youth/seniors. Ice skate rentals are $3.

And finally, there are plenty of public skate times at Yost Ice Arena (1016 South State Street Ann Arbor) this week as well. The public can skate from December 27-28 at 12:00-1:50 p.m. or December 29-30 12:00-12:50 p.m. - The cost for skate rentals is only $2 (check for available sizes though) with open skate costs of $5 for adults and $3 for youth/seniors.

Need something more educational for your little one? What about story time? This week you and your children can enjoy silly stories with Laura Pershin Raynor at the Ann Arbor District Library Pittsfield Branch on Wednesday from 10:00 -10:30 a.m. or storytime at Borders Books and Music (3527 Washtenaw the Arborland plaza) on Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 a.m.!
Other fun activities for the family include:

A free family movie (Toy Story 3) and popcorn at the Dexter Library at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 29.
Join in the fun with the Whole Kids Club at Whole Foods Market (3135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) on Wednesday December 29 anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to introduce kids ages 3-12 to the tasty world of food and cooking. Ask for a Whole Kids Club card at the customer service counter then pick up a special treat!

Do you have any other great family events happening in Ann Arbor that you might like highlighted or mentioned in a post, please feel free to contact me! 

December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Crafts for Families at the AADL

Need to get out today? I just read about the free winter solstice crafts happening today at the Ann Arbor District Library on Today from 2:00-3:00 p.m. families can Welcome the arrival of winter with winter solstice crafts at the Malletts Creek Branch (3090 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor).

December 16, 2010

Kids Playing In The Snow

There are some great photos of kids playing in Monday's snow in this slideshow. I especially like the little ones trying to kiss Frosty!

December 14, 2010

Half Off Batteries for All Your Kids Christmas Toys!

With Christmas two weeks away, I thought the Real Deal on today was appropriate - Half off batteries at Batteris Plus is Ann Arbor! I don't know about you, but we always stock up just before the holidays to avoid Christmas morning tears when we don't have the battiers needed for the new toys!

December 10, 2010

Ideas for Family Fun This Weekend


This weekend seems to be hopping with plenty of opportunities to see Santa, so I thought to focus on some other fun and unique activities for Ann Arbor families.

Begin your weekend on Saturday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. by wandering the University of Michigan Museum of Art (525 S. State St., Ann Arbor) as children ages 4-7 join in for a free story time. UMMA Student Docents will bring art to life as they read stories related to the art on display and invite responses from the youngest of art lovers.

Then after a brief bite to eat, wander over to Saline where this weekend at the Rentschler Farm Museum (1265 E. Michigan Ave., Saline) you can enjoy the Annual Christmas on The Farm program. Families can tour the depression era farmhouse and see how farm families coped at Christmastime.The 12-room farmhouse will be decorated with natural things that might have been found on the farm culminating with a live tree gracing the parlor decked out with genuine 1930s ornaments and lights. There will be plenty of simple decorations, good aromas and pleasing sights and sounds to enjoy, with sock machine knitting, spinning, and quilting demonstrations on-site adding to the event.

My family visited the farm a few years ago over the holidays and found it a pleasant way to spend the day and very much well worth the $1 per adult (children get free admission!) suggested donation. The volunteers were warm, friendly and full of great information! Families can tour the farm on December 11 and 12 from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

December 9, 2010

Bargain Books for Your Children Just in Time for the Holidays

Scholastic books is having a warehouse sale in Belleville (41873 Ecorse Rd., Ste 260) December 9-21 from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. weekdays, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturdays and 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday December 12. Find bargain books at rock bottom prices for gifts or to fill your child's library.

For parents who can't afford to buy books there is even an opportunity to volunteer in exchange for books!

For more information call (734) 957-9834 or to pre-purchase book vouchers sign-up online for a fast-cart pass at Parents interested in volunteering can call for shift availability and value of vouchers.

Note: The preferred method of payment at the sale are credit cards, checks, money orders or Scholastic Dollars.

Directions: Take I-275 to Ecorse Rd. exit and travel west past Haggerty. On the north side is a complex called Crossroads Distribution Center. 

Metro Detroit and other Michigan area families can find a convenient Scholastic Bookfair warehouse sale for deeply discounted books by visiting the website website and entering their zip code.

The Children's Health Fund: Fixing the Health Care Epidemic in Michigan One Child at a Time

On Monday invited me to attend a kick-off event for a new Detroit-based mobile health unit that is being funded by the Children's Health Fund (CHF) and Henry Ford Health System with the help of corporate sponsors like Clorox.

As a mother who has been effected by multiple job losses and the fear of being without health insurance, even for a short period of time, I can not image the distress that thousands of Detroit families face in not being able to get health care for their children. So it seemed like a good fit for me and what I believe, to attend the event.

I really never stopped to consider that the ability to get to and from medical facilities was a barrier to getting health care. Combine that with the shortage of Detroit doctors, and there is much cause for concern. While at the event I was shocked to learn Detroit child health indicators are among the worst in the nation! That crisis means that thousands of children have gone without access to comprehensive care, placing their long-term health and well-being at risk.

That is why the Children's Health Project of Detroit has launched a new mobile medical clinic. The unit will visit local Detroit area schools and community locations weekly to deliver health care services such as primary care, preventative care, immunizations and vision and dental exams to approximately 1,000 to 1,500 children a year. In a way, the project helps us to move back to the concept that "it takes a village to raise a child," involving the community as a whole - physicians, teachers, parents and students - to build on-going relationships for solid, healthy lifestyles for the children who need it most.

The (CHF), founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Dr. Irwin Redlener, who were both in attendance Monday, is a leading provider of mobile-based health care for homeless and low-income children and their families. Their Detroit mobile unit was impressive to say the least. With multiple exam rooms and facilities, it clearly will be a great way to reach children in need. Further that with the help of funding from American Idol Gives Back, and corporate sponsors like Clorox, who donated Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for doctors and staff to use on the unit, Children's Health Fund of Detroit will be successful in beginning to wipe out the poor health care conditions for disadvantaged children and their families in Detroit

The charity is a bit different than many simply because individuals can not volunteer to donate time. As Ann Arbor, and more specifically Washtenaw County has the lowest unemployment rate, individuals here are in the perfect position to help Detroit, our state, and low-income children who are in need though. Through the partnership between Clorox and the Children's Health Fund on Facebook we can Connect Kids to Care to help raise funds. Individuals can also make financial donations at the CHF website to help ensure the continued success of the program.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, who spoke at the event, said it best when she said, “Times are tough and so are we!”  We need to step up, to help one another whenever possible, and this is one way we can help make a difference, and make a happier, healthier state for the future of our state - Our children!

Disclosure:  I received a stipend to attend the press conference from Clorox and TheMotherhood. The opinions of the event and the event participants are that of my own.

December 6, 2010

Sing-a-long With Santa and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra This Saturday

This Saturday, December 11, kids of all ages will have the chance to sing-a-long with the fat man himself! Yup that's right, it's time for the annual Sing-a-long With Santa concert  presented by the Benard L. Maas Foundation. After the concert, Santa will meet with the children so he can update his holiday list. A photographer will be on hand to capture the magic with photos being sent to the families in time for Christmas.

The concert is a great start to family traditions and promises to be a fun-filled holiday experience for the entire family.

Where: Bethlehem United Church of Christ (423 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor)
When: 4:00 p.m. December 11, 2010

Admission to the concert is $6 for children and $15 for adults. Family tickets are also available for $35 for up to six family members - That's a great deal! Tickets are available by calling 734-994-4801, visiting the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra office (220 E Huron, Suite 470) or by purchasing online at

December 3, 2010

Weekend Happenings: Shop Local, Holiday Entertainment, Crafts and More...

I just wrote about some great holiday family activities this weekend at that include several Christmas parades, and traditional holiday celebrations happening around Ann Arbor this weekend, however there are so many other great (and free) happenings I'd like to add. Below are free craft events, cookie walks, and more - Check it out, I doubt your kids will be bored with all the entertainment in the area this weekend!

For the crafty there are several craft shows and free craft events for kids of all ages. From noon - 8:00 p.m. today, Barnes & Noble (3235 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor) will have a free craft event sponsored by the Oak Trails Montessori. Kids can make a beaded bracelet and necklace throughout the day.

For those families that want to shop locally, there are many great night-time shopping experiences to be had. The best part is, virtually all of them will feature free entertainment for the entire family. Ypsilanti (Historic downtown Ypsilanti) has the Starlight Spree on December 3-5 and 10-12 (Fri., 5:00-9:00 p.m., Sat., Noon-7:00 p.m., and Sun., 1:00-4:00 p.m.), Ann Arbor has Midnight Madness (throughout Ann Arbor downtown and the Kerrytown District) on December 4, from 5:00 - midnight with outstanding shop til you drop deals and roving performers and Saline has a a Midnight Madness Craft Show (Saline Middle School, 7190 N. Maple Road., Saline) from 5:00 - 11:00 p.m. on December 4, with a holiday concert held DURING the craftavaganza! Talk about some great local shopping and entertainment.

If the Polar Express is a family favorite, there are several opportunities to hear the story for free. On Friday, December 4, at there will be a storytyime event with readings at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 with free cookies and hot chocolate. Santa will even be there for free Santa Photos at!  Barnes & Noble (3235 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) will also be hosting a Polar Express Pajama Party on December 4, and 7:00 p.m. with hot chocolate, a holiday sing-along and a special guest visit!

Finally for teens, they can wrap up the weekend by creating their own customized wrapping paper and gift tags. On Sunday, December from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. teens from grade 4 and up can create fun gift tags and wrapping paper at the AnnArbor Library (3333 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor) with free materials. For more information on this project, parents can call the AADL call the Library’s Youth Department at 327-8301 or visit the AADL website.

Have you heard of other free events this weekend? Feel free to shoot me a message or comment on the where and when below!

December 2, 2010

This Weekend: Candy Making Class for Parents & Kids

I thought this was a great option for those parents who would like to try making candy with their children but don't want to mess up their own kitchens.

This Sunday, December 5 there is a Parent/Child candymaking class at Ann Arbor Cooks (5060 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor 48103)from 2:00-4:30 p.m.

Parents can team up with their kids to make some yummy holiday treats including chocolate peppermint bark, chocolate truffles, sea salt caramels, and homemade toasted coconut marshmallows. If you'd prefer not to eat all the treats at home, consider this a great way for your child to make their own holiday gifts!

The class is geared for a for a parent and child (ages 6-12 years) team and cost $60 for the pair.