December 30, 2011

Waterloo Recreation Area New Year's Day Hike

Want to start the new year with a breath of fresh air? Literally! On Sunday, January 1 from 11:00 a.m. - noon at the Waterloo Recreation Area (16345 McClure Rd., Chelsea 48118), families can enjoy a casual hour long hike followed by a bonfire with snacks! You need only to bring warm gear and wear comfortable shoes. Kids might also want to bring a roasting stick, watter bottle, binoculars and a story to share around the fire. Families that have the Recreation Passport on their vehicles get in totally free too!
Get a jump-start on a healthy New Year with a family hike at the Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea!

December 28, 2011

Fun at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum

Zach making snow at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum.
I was given the opportunity to check out the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum the other day. Funny thing is, my kids have been there and I never have, so it was a fun experience for all of us! We were invited to check out the Winter Games activities (There was an ice carving demonstration, the kids had fun making snow and even got to create their own pocket hand warmers.) however we stayed to play too!



My children, as most children do, LOVE to get dirty and mostly love to be involved in things. At almost 6 and 8, they are also becoming very interested in "science" type projects and experiments so the day was not wasted. We got to learn more about water, light, motion, nature - Pretty much everything you can imagine being tucked neatly into one little downtown 4-story building. The kids LOVED running from exhibit to exhibit dragging mom along, and they loved experimenting!
I think my son mostly enjoyed the WA2HOM Ham Radio operator and my daughter favored stepping into a bubble, but with so many things to see and do, it's easy to forget what your favorite might be. I certainly would have liked to be able to play more myself, or maybe explain a bit more about the science behind each of the activities, but they were too busy checking everything out.
 
 If you take your family, I recommend having at least 4 hours to explore - and don't worry about your child becoming bored, as there is so much to see and do.

Future Survivor contender? Gabby was challenged to catch the 4
balls before they dropped into the basket! The balls beat her though.
As a parent I would recommend tag-team parenting when you visit the AAHOM though. Even with my own two, it was hard not to get pulled into two directions; As one child found something amazing in one corner of the room, the other was running across the room finding something else! I did like though, that much of the space allows mom and dad to have a clear line-of-sight connection to their child. Another tip would be to either skip the water area on the lower level saving it to your last stop, or consider bringing a dry shirt. Even my two were all too happy to get wet!

Getting wet at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum!

I found the museum to be bright and colorful, neat and well managed. The staff was all to happy to help too! And of course my kids LOVED the gift shop...  Thankfully it's not too difficult to say yes to educational toys.

A visit to the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum would be a great way to introduce out-of-town visitors to one of the many great Ann Arbor attractions while keeping your youngest visitors happy too. For those in and around town, families can always find fun, exciting and educational events and activities at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum (like this weeks Winter Games) that keep you coming back for more.

Ann Arbor Hands on Museum | 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor 48104


Museum Hours:
Mon. - Sat.: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Open Tuesdays 9:00 a.m.)
Sunday: noon - 5:00 p.m.

Museum Admission:
Members: free
Admission (ages 2 and up): $10
Under 2: free admission
ACM Travel Passport Museum Guests: free admission
ASTC Travel Passport Museum Guests: Museums within 90 miles- $5, +90 miles - free admission

December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Cat-zilla contemplating the destruction of the village.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Ann Arbor,
may your holidays be bright!

I'll admit it, I have a couple posts in my mind that I'd like to get to before the end of the year, however time is quickly escaping... So just-in-case, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish all of my readers a happy ending to your year. May your house be filled with warmth, love and family!

My journey is made ever-better by your comments, and presence on my website. May 2012 be an exceptional year for you and your family. I'll for sure be back at the start of the year if not before. Don't forget, you can find plenty of activities and events for the family during holiday break on my Holiday Break Events post.

December 17, 2011

New Zoo Play Cafe Open Today

Today in Ypsilanti Township, the New Zoo Play Cafe opened!
Excited area families were already enjoying the re-opened indoor play structure too.
Today in Ypsilanti Township, the New Zoo Play Cafe opened in the old Zoobilee space. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 a.m -the 7:30 p.m. and Sunday noon- 5:00 p.m. What I really liked was that when we met with Doug the owner, a family came in and he told them that all kids must use hand sanitizer before entering! That makes a mom happy.

New Zoo Play Cafe
1834 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti Township
(734) 547-0966

Admission:
Children 12-24 months - $3.25
Kids 2 years and up - $6.50
Family admission rates - $20.00
Adults and infants always receive free admission.

December 16, 2011

Looking for Prize Winners

Hello Ann Arbor Mom readers, I am trying to track down several prize winners from recent contests. If winners would please contact me at tmayrend at gmail (dot) com, I with get their prizes shipped out. (I need complete mailing addresses for each prize winner.). If I do not hear from winners by Monday December 19, I will re-draw for new prize winners. The winners I am looking for are:

Eventual Farmer Fabric Gift Bags: Jill Kynaston
Aquaphor Baby Products: Sara (the 4th entry in the comments)

Weekend Events Round-Up: December 16-18

It's been kind of crazy for me. I suppose it's been crazy for each of you too. It's amazing how much time gets sucked up during the holiday season. To me it feels like that dream where you are running down a hall and the hall keeps getting longer... Things just get away from us. That is why it is important for each of us, as parents, to take care of ourselves. Take a nap, enjoy a long bath, get a massage or simple find somewhere to sit for a few minutes in silence to listen to your own deep breaths and the rhythm of your own body.

After a brief moment to relax, you hear the kids say "Mom what can we do? Mom I'm bored." So, know that it's easy to find something to do in Ann Arbor right now - in fact this weekend there are many great events and activities to enjoy for your weekend planning needs! There are also more "holiday specific" events in the Ann Arbor Holiday Event Planner.

Friday, December 16
Saturday, December 17
Sunday, December 18

December 13, 2011

Three Cedars Farm: Back for Christmas!

Bring out the holly and mistletoe, Three Cedars Farm (7897 6 Mile Road Northville, MI) is back in business for this holiday season, at least in part...

The farm, is popular with Ann Arbor area families throughout the harvest season and into the fall and provides some amazing back-drops for photo-ops as well as becoming a popular place to see Santa and Mrs. Clause. After being canceled by the Township earlier this year, the family-owned business has decided to scale back their once-loved traditions and hold a scaled-down celebration.

This weekend, Thursday through Saturday at 4:00-8:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00-5:00 p.m. children can come to the family farm-house to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying free cider and donuts.

As a bonus for families hoping to encourage their childre to give this year instead of only receiving, Three Cedars Farm will accept donations to benefit Active Faith Community Services, a nonprofit that helps low-income families.

December 12, 2011

Get Hands-On During the Holidays for Winter Games!

Are you considering something fun-to-do in Ann Arbor with kids while they are on holiday break? I know I'm already loading up my calendar. In fact, thanks to the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum (220 E Ann Street, Ann Arbor, MI), my kids will be experiencing one wonder filled day.

Be hands-on with the kids this holiday season with fun at AAHOM!
From December 26 through January 6, over the holiday break, families everywhere can experience the  Hands-On Holidays Winter Games programs at the museum. The program, which is free with museum entry will feature things kids can do outdoors in the winter and the science behind them. Build igloos out of blocks, try ice fishing simulation and experience more hands-on activities and special events every day.

Visitors will find free admission to Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum members and children under 2, otherwise, admission is $10 for ages two and up. Museum hours are Monday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, noon - 5:00 p.m. Get an extra bonus on Tuesday's with a rise and shine time of 9:00 a.m.

Have out-of-town guests during the holidays? Fear not, the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum has something for everyone and they are even open on New Year’s Day from noon - 5:00 p.m. for the non football fans in your family! For more information call 734.995.5439.

December 3, 2011

$25 Applebees Gift Card Winner

Congratulations Maria Dugan who posted on the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Wall that she likes Asian Shrimp and Broccoli at Applebee's. Maria's name was randomly drawn from all entries to win a $25 Applbee's Gift Card.

There are several more chances to win prizes on the Ann Arbor Mom this season, so make sure to get all of your names in for some of the fun prizes.

December 2, 2011

Weekend Events Round-Up: December 2-4

For me this week has been a running week. It seems that I had to do something or be somewhere every moment of every day. That isn't always bad, except next week is already promising much of the same - And it's ONLY the first week into December! What's a mom to do. For me that would normally mean we do less over the weekend, but that's not going to happen this weekend either!

What are you doing this weekend in Ann Arbor with kids? Have any plans to attend one of the many outdoor festivals? Are you visiting with Santa? Taking the kids shopping? Or attending any entertainment venues? How about parades - There are parades in Milan, Chelsea, Grass Lake and Belleville happening Saturday. There are even FIREWORKS in Belleville!

Here's are events to fill out your calendar; the weekend event round-up for your planning needs! It'll be really easy to fill your calendar with all of the great events, but take time for yourself too. (I know I can dish out good advice that I find difficult to follow!) There are also more "holiday specific" events in the Ann Arbor Holiday Planner.

Friday, December 2

  • Chelsea Hometown Holiday Festival - A free event in Chelsea happening throughout the weekend
  • Kindlefest and Kindlemarket in Kerrytown. Families will find live music, fire pits, s’more roasting, good food, and a Lantern Parade with caroling at this free event. 6:00 p.m. - midnight
  • Lantern Parade at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. 6:00 p.m. lantern pick-up followed by a 7:00 p.m. parade.

Saturday, December 3


Sunday, December 4
  • Teens can participate in a hands-on comics workshop with cartoonists Ryan Estrada and Jerzy Drozd at Ann Arbor District Library ( 343 S. Fifth Ave. Ann Arbor). Come ready to draw, learn, share and get some fresh ideas for your next comics or graphic novel creation. All drawing supplies will be provided free. 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Michael's Craft's Passport to Imagination takes the kids to Germany. 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Festival of Lights in Grass Lake

The Grass Lake Festival of Lights is a free family event on Saturday, December 3 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Free Friday: Aquaphor Baby Products

Just in time for the cool weather, win
Aquaphor Baby products to soothe
your child's skin!
I told you all that I would have some great prizes for Ann Arbor Mom readers. Now, just in time for the cool weather is one to help soothe the skin on your baby, toddler or child.

Recently I was given several Aquaphor Baby products to try out and use on my children. I'll admit though, I already was a fan of Aquaphor products. They are great at preventing dry skin and worked wonderfully for diaper rash - I even used it on my son this summer when he had a brief chafing issue!

When we think of our skin and cold winter months – dry, itchy, inflamed and cracked are a few trademark characteristics that come to mind. Imagine how this must feel on a baby, whose skin is even more sensitive and susceptible to “eczema”. Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment and Aquaphor Baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo used together can help keep your baby (or even your young child) comfortable when the weather is less than comfortable!

The Baby Healing Ointment, a smooth, creamy ointment, is a pediatrician-recommended formula that will soothe and protect your baby’s uncomfortable dry skin and provide effective relief even for the most severely dry, cracked skin. And the Gentle Wash & Shampoo is a mild, tear-free and fragrance-free cleanser for daily use on baby’s sensitive skin. Aquaphor soothes and protects a baby’s skin to help keep your baby comfortable throughout the entire winter.

The package arrived at our household at the right time too. My son had been really complaining about an itchy back most nights before bedtime. After rubbing some onto his back for several nights, the itchiness became less of an issue and helped him sleep soundly. Secretly I think his "itchy back" might have been a bedtime stall routine, however mom's solution of using Aquaphor products left him with very little to say.

Now for the Free Friday prize: One lucky Ann Arbor Mom reader has an opportunity to win their own set of Aquaphor Baby products! Keep it for your family, save it for an upcoming shower gift or stash it away for yourself all you need to do is to comment below on why you like Aqauphor products. Entries must be posted  before midnight on December 9. A random winner will be chosen from all entries. One entry per person pleas.

For more information on Aquaphor products, visit the Aquaphor Facebook Page or the Aquaphor website!

December 1, 2011

Find Winter Wonders at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Nature provides beautiful and elaborate patterns everywhere you look including in the plants that suround us. Don't let the fallen leaves disappoint you, instead take the kids to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens (1800 North Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor)  to experience Winter Wonder and learn how to find the patterns in the night sky, in nature and celebrate the Winter Solstice. The program, December 17, 10:00 a.m. - noon, allows kids to create beautiful decorations from natural materials. Anticipate them making snowflakes, pine cone ornaments, winter gift bags, and evergreen decorations to bring home to you!

Cost of the program is $7 per child. To register call 734.647.7600.

November 30, 2011

Free Educational and Fun Event for Kids

Kids can learn about Tangram puzzles and eat
pizza at Mathnasium's free event this Saturday!
This Saturday, December 3, Mathnasium of Ann Arbor (2111 Packard Rd, Ste C, Ann Arbor) is hosting an open house with Tangram games and a pizza party in celebration of their success so far this year. This fun, free event begins at 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Tangram puzzles consist of 7 pieces that are manipulated into simple shapes and is a perfect way to teach geometry, shapes, patterns, area/length calculation and creativity! Plus they are a lot of fun. My kids actually LOVE Tangram puzzles!

The event is open to any area children in grades K -12.

Win Free Tickets to Sesame Street Live 1/26-2/12 at the Fox Theatre

Happy Holidays to all of my Ann Arbor readers. I have another amazing give-away for that special child in your life. Read on to find out how you can win tickets!

Did you know that Sesame Street Live is coming back to the area?  From January 26 through February 12, 2012 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, “Elmo’s Super Heroes” will be taking over in a larger-than-life, musical touring stage production that features Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie…and of course Elmo!  

Sesame Street Live is coming back to the Fox Theatre in 2012!
The fabulous five, featuring Elmo and all of his friends, are on a quest to put the “super” back in Super Grover.  Singing and dancing their way through fun lessons on healthy habits, they discover how exercise, rest, nutritious food and good hygiene can save Super Grover -- and turn your children into Super Heroes, too!  

Tickets are on-sale now at the box office, OlympiaEntertainment.com, and all Ticketmaster locations or to charge by phone, call            800-745-3000      . Admission tickets are: $12, $20, $25, $35 (Gold Circle) & $65 (Sunny Seats).  Special ticket pricing is available during Family Night where all seats (except Gold Circle seating) is $10, or during kid’s matinee shows where all seats are $8 for school/daycare groups and $10 for the general public.

Helping Super Grover during the performance helps teach kids
about healthy eating and taking care of themselves.

No onto the special surprise I mentioned above! As an added bonus, one lucky Ann Arbor Mom reader will win a family (4) pack for a performance to the Sesame Street Live Performance of “Elmo’s Super Heroes” by answering the following trivia question. 

Q. All of the Sesame Street Muppets have four fingers, except ____, who has five. Please leave the name of the five-fingered Muppet below in the comments. All correct answers will be placed into a drawing on of entries received by midnight December 13. One entry per person please.  

Bird Hike at Hudson Mills

Bring your binoculars and a field guide to observe bird species around Hudson Mills (8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter) this Saturday for a guided bird hike at 8:00 a.m. Verify the birds that are seen, record dates, locations, and trends from year to year. Participants will explore a variety of habitats throughout the park.

Preregistration is required for this event and the cost is only $3 per person with vehicle entry fee. Contact: 734-426-8211 or 800-477-3191 to register and for more information.

November 26, 2011

Ann Arbor Ice Skating Fun Holiday Traditions

I love ice skating during the cooler months. In fact when I was in college I took my skates to Central so I could skate on a tiny glassy pond in front of the library. It felt like freedom. I told my husband this recently and he looked at me odd as he remembered that specific pond to be about as big as our children's summer pool, but I guess I didn't care, or didn't see it that way!

Last year I created a post with ice skating information that included area ice rinks, admission costs and times for open skate sessions. Since there is already traffic to that post, I will edit it appropriately, adding a link to the trending posts area on the right-side of my homepage. I hope you can take your kids out to experience the many local ice rinks - both indoor and out - this season!

Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation even offers parents many open skate sessions when the kids are out of school or on winter vacation. During the Ann Arbor Public Schools winter/spring vacations and other days that school is not in session, public skating is offered Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

November 22, 2011

Win Fabric Gift Bags from The Eventual Farmer

Recently I was given items from The Eventual Farmer to review and blog about - I have to say, the products are wonderful, easy to clean and very useful. I had actually seen them being used by several of the children in my son's class during lunch noticing how popular they are.


Would you like to win something to gift or keep?

Keri Middaugh, a work-from-home mom and owner of The Eventual Farmer makes snack packs, sandwich wraps, fabric gift bags, and homemade laundry soap among other creative items. Wherever possible, she uses reclaimed, re-purposed, or recyclable materials to create these simple, yet unique items.


I had a chance to chat with Keri recently and found that her philosophy is very similar to mine. As a small-business, she considers what she does as an extension of her hobby by 'using what she has' instead of relying on running out to the store. She's trying to teach her family to turn away from consuming and back to a state of producing what they need.

"When my daughter started bringing a lunch to school last year, I noticed how much trash was being produced just by one child's one meal." Said Keri, "Trying to find a way to make lunches trash-free, I needed a reusable Ziploc bag option. This also coincided with trying to reduce my family's trash and recycling."

She came across an idea of a reusable baggie and decided to try lining it with cereal bag liners that she was throwing away, and that was the birth of the Sandwich Wrap. The Snack Pack came along a few months later, when she had trouble making the cut fruit and veggies stay nicely in the Sandwich Wrap.


You can find The Eventual Farmer items available locally year-round at the Ypsilanti Food Co-op (312 North River St., Ypsilanti) or seasonally at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market. Additionally, items will be offered for sale at the Lunasa Holiday Open House on Tuesday, December 6, as well as the Mix Marketplace on Wednesday, December 14, and by ordering through The Eventual Farmer Facebook Page. Items generally cost less than $10 and make excellent holiday gift ideas when considering buying local and sustainably!



In honor of the holidays, The Eventual Farmer is offering one Ann Arbor Mom reader to win a set of 3 Fabric Gift Bags. Wrap your gifts in style in re-purposed cloth, to give a little 'green' flair to gift-giving. In fact, the Fabric Gift Bags are so charming, they could be the gift!

To win, be sure to comment below or on the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Page on "Why you are on the nice list and deserve to win!" A random winner will be drawn from all entries received before midnight on December 6.




*Photos courtesy of The Eventual Farmer

November 20, 2011

Crafty Christmas: Fun Craft Events for the Family

Michael's Crafts (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) is helping families learn about traditions from around the world December 3-17 with the Passport to Imagination. Kids will have fun creating their own gifts or decorations for the family Christmas tree.

Let the kids get crafty during the Michael's Crafts Passport to
Imagination December 3-17!

December 3: Visit Australia 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and create a Christmas Countdown Calendar, a Christmas Stocking or a Gingerbread House.

December 4: Visit Germany 1:00-4:00 p.m. to get creative in Rudolph's Kitchen, create Santa & Rudolph's Treat Bag or make "Cookies" for Santa!

December 10: Visit Iceland 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. to make a Reindeer Frame, create Santa's Letter or make a cute Spatula Reindeer.

December 11: Visit Japan 1:00-5:00 p.m. to make a Snowman Ornament, a Snowflake Frame or a S'more Ornament.

December 17: Visit Mexico 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. to make a Duct Tape Luggage Tag, Cravable Craft Cookbook, or a Pointsetta Card for gift giving.

November 18, 2011

Contest: Kids Eat Free Tuesday's at Applebee's

Win a $25 Applebee's Gift Card from the Ann Arbor Mom - For the holidays or to treat
your family. Kids eat free Tuesday's so your card could go a long way too!


I laugh every time my daughter asks to eat at Applebee's. Not because of how she asks, but she LOVES the place more than almost anywhere else. I suspect it's all the decor that allows her to play a pretty awesome game of I Spy! Did you know though that kids eat FREE at Applebee's on Tuesday's?

And now for the great part - Ann Arbor Mom readers have a chance to win a $25 gift card to enjoy at their favorite Applebee's location! All you need to do is comment below, or on the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook page on your favorite menu item at Applebee's! A winner will be randomly chosen from all entries received by December 2 - Your family of four could go out on a Tuesday and get an Applebee’s 2 for $20 meal (appetizer and two entrĂ©es) and be all set with the $25 gift card, or you could give the prize away as a holiday gift!

A few thoughts to pass along - In all 32 metro Detroit Applebee’s locations, customers will find other deals like $5.99 All You Can Eat Lunch, $6.99 Pick ‘n Pair Lunch, and ½ off Appetizers from 8 p.m. – close. Each Applebee’s location has different specials and events on any given night of the week so ti's best to “Like” your local Applebee’s location on Facebook for more information.

Ann Arbor has 2 local Applebee's locations. For the convenience of Ann Arbor Mom readers I have added a link to each of their Facebook pages!

Applebee's - 2310 Green Rd., Ann Arbor | (734) 741-1870
Applebee's -1005 West Eisenhower Pky., Ann Arbor | (734) 741-4851

Don't forget to enter the contest to win a $25 Gift Card by December 2 by naming your favorite menu item in the comments below or on Facebook!

November 17, 2011

Weekend Events Round-Up: November 18-20

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving. Has the craziness began at your home? My kids are anxiously awaiting having several days off of school! I however am starting to fret about holiday preparations, specifically fixing Thanksgiving dinner. I have done it that past couple of years out of necessity since my children were ill with something or another, and we were avoiding elderly family members, this year however I am cooking for mom and my cousin Peggy and possibly a few more guests.

So what will you do this weekend to keep the kids out of your hair? Do you have weekend plans for the kids or even for the whole family? I've put together the weekend planner filled with some fun events. Don't forget to check out the holiday event planner on Ann Arbor Mom too though, it's filled with events and activities that are geared for the holidays.


Friday, November 18
  • Your toddler will enjoy dancing away during a free Music and Movement playgroup at Dancers Edge (3045 Broad St., Dexter). This free event is for kids age 5 and under. 11:00 a.m.
  • Kids can decoupage and paint their own memory box at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti). This is a free event for kids age 6-12. 3:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Take your teen (grades 6-12) over to the Ypsilanti District Library (229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti) at 6:00 p.m. for free Teen HQ.
  • Take a free tour of the EMU observatory at 6:00 p.m.
  • Several theatrical productions are available this weekend for the whole family. It's a Wonderful Life opens or take your family to see a theatrical production of four Hans Christian Anderson tales during Pixies, Kings and Magical Things at the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center (2935 Birch Hollow Dr., Ann Arbor). 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 19

Sunday, November 20

  • Make free "Thankful" tree at Michael's Crafts (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor). 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  •  Take the family to the Family Dance at Pittsfield Union Grange (3337 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., Ann Arbor). Cost $12.00 family. 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Enjoy music and crafts at the Baltics Family Cultural Celebration at Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) 2:00-3:30 p.m.
  • Traditional Japanese Drumming at Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti). 2:00-3:30 p.m.

November 15, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life in Dexter

Get into the holiday spirit by taking the family to see It's a Wonderful Life. The production by The Encore Musical Theatre Company (3126 Broad St., Dexter) opens this weekend with performances through December 23.
It's a Wonderful Life
November 17-December 23
Thursdays 7:00 p.m.
Fridays 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Sundays 3:00 p.m.
The Encore’s original musical version of It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the classic holiday film of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart. The tale takes place in Bedford Falls, New York, 1946, and George Bailey, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is doubting his own self worth. But, high above Bedford Falls an eternally bumbling Angel, Clarence Oddbody, is sent to help George out. After 200 years Clarence has yet to earn his wings. But before he can do that, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed.
Admission to It's a Wonderful Life is $28/Adults, $25/Seniors (55+) and Youths (17 & under). Tickets may be purchased online at theencoretheatre.org/Encore/Tickets or by calling 734-268-6200.

November 14, 2011

All About Owls - Free Nature Program for the Family

It's wise to attend All About Owls next
Saturday at Independence Lake. The kids
will surely give a hoot!
My son's teacher LOVES owls. Why wouldn't she, they symbolize wisdom after all! That's one reason I thought this program sounded interesting. On Saturday, November 19 7:00-9:00 p.m., The Washtenaw County Parks and recreation Program has another wonderful nature program for the family - All About Owls.
The indoor program with naturalist Faye Stoner will be followed by a hike to call for owls at Independence Lake. Families should plan to meet at the Beach Center.

The program is free, however vehicle entry fees into the park apply. pre-registration is also required for this program by contacting Faye Stoner at stonerf@ewashtenaw.org  or by calling (734) 971-6337 x334.

Faye puts on wonderful programs for the family that engage everyone from 0-99 so be sure to attend if you are at all interested!

Free Tour of EMU Planetarium and Observatory

Take the kids for a free tour of the Shertzer Observatory November 18.
On Friday, November 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m. the Eastern Michigan University, Sherzer Observatory (124 College Pl., Ypsilanti) will be hosting a free tour of the Astronomy Lab and Shertzer Observatory. The tour, geared for children in 3rd grade and up will explore all the possibilities of our universe - meteor showers, constellations, moons, and planets in the planetarium! Then take a short walk to the Sherzer Observatory to see what’s happening in the real sky.
Families interested in participating need to meet at the EMU Planetarium, parking is available at southwest corner of the EMU campus, Washtenaw at Oakwood St. for $1 per hour. Space is limited though, so please pre-register soon by calling 482-4110 ext. 1385. For more information and directions visit www.emich.edu/physics/emu_planetarium/index.php.

November 13, 2011

Childrens Theatre: Pixies, Kings and Magical Things

On November 18-19, families can enjoy Pixies, Kings and Magical Things at the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center (2935 Birch Hollow Dr., Ann Arbor). These charming and witty Hans Christian Anderson tales will delight audiences with brief adaptations of four of his tales. Your family will enjoy music and laughter at the Young Actors Guild production.

Pixies, Kings and Magical Things includes four stories; The Swineherd, The Pixie and the Grocer, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling on November 18 at 7:00 p.m., or November 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Admission for the shows is $5 for students, and $10 for adults. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.aayag.org or at the door.

November 11, 2011

Weekend Events Round-Up: November 11-13

It would have been nice to have this list published a bit earlier today, however I suppose it's being a bit later than intended is a direct reflection on my relaxed mood. That does not mean however that there are any fewer Ann Arbor events happening this weekend for the kids!

Today after school I'm taking my Cub Scouts to help collect the 100 flags from the Ypsilanti Township government offices after their Veteran's Day observance.  After that though, I am going to take the weekend to take a much needed breath, or sanity break, before everything shakes loose.

Whether you're visiting Santa as he arrives at Briarwood Mall
or taking the family to a free library event, there is always things-to-do
in Ann Arbor with kids!

I know that Santa is arriving at Briarwood Mall tonight, but frankly since the turkey hasn't even arrived yet, I'll wait it out a bit longer before my kids visit Santa. I've heard though that my neighbor is putting up his Christmas lights (Thanks Brian for making me feel like a slacker) so I may need to rectify that too. Oh who am I kidding I still have some end of the season yard and garden cleaning to do too, and of course we have to prep the snow-blower for the eventual snow! So here's your weekend event planning calendar filled with a round-up of the weekend events and things-to-do in Ann Arbor.


Friday, November 11

  • If mom, dad, grandma or grandpa are a Veteran, consider taking them out somewhere to receive their much deserved Veteran's Day freebie from free meals to discounts! It's a good time too, to introduce the kids to recognizing these wonderful people and what they have given us as citizens.
  • With bells ringing, Santa Arrives at Briarwood Mall tonight with his reindeer at 6:00 p.m., while you are at the mall swing by the Salvation Army's Beyond Bells area too for some musical enjoyment and early holiday cheer.
  • Children's book author Jan Brett visits the AADL (Downtown) with a book signing of her latest book Home for Christmas.
Saturday, November 12
  • Become a pioneer at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti) learning to make butter, soap and dip candles during this free event for kids (grade 1+). How did they ever do it without electricity or grocery stores!? 2:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Take the kids to see a free movie during the Family Film Series at the at Student Center Auditorium, EMU (900 Oakwood St., Ypsilanti) to see Gnomio and Juliet. Campus Life and the Children's Literature program team up once again to give students and families something different to do on a Saturday. 2:00 p.m.
  • Older kids and teens can learn to make their own paper at YDL Superior (8975 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti). Make lumpy pulp, glitter, strings and even flower petals into something you can gift or keep. Registration is required 482-4110 x1391.
  • Take the family to enjoy Family Day at Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and receive free admission for the whole family. Family Day programs at the Kelsey Museum are designed to teach kids aged 5-12 about the ancient world.

Sunday, November 13
 

November 10, 2011

Gingerbread House Contest at the Ypsilanti District Library

When stopping by the Ypsilanti District Library the other day I noticed that they are going to have a Gingerbread House Contest this year. I grabbed the flier and brought it home. It wasn't until my daughter brought the flier to my attention this morning that I remembered the contest, and was reminded that I wanted to share the details with my Ann Arbor Mom readers! Since it will take a little planning, I thought to get the details out sooner rather than later too.
Building it or tearing it down, creating a gingerbread house can be a lot of fun.
Let your kids enter the YDL Gingerbread House Contest this year!

On December 3 2011, the Ypsilanti District Library will be hosting a Gingerbread House Contest awarding winners from several age categories including children (Age 5-8), kids (Age 9-12), teens (Age 13-17) and adults 18 and up. Why not help your kids create and decorate a unique gingerbread structure, or encourage your older child or teen to create their own structure, then bring it to the YDL-Whittaker by 2 p.m. on December 3 for entry into the contest.

Then from December 3-13, visit the library to view all of the beautiful and creative entries, and votes on the best of the best designs.  

For a contest entry form and rules, visit the library or the YDL Gingerbread House Contest page. Let your kids use their imagination, get creative, and mostly just let them have fun. My kids have already decided they MUST enter the contest, and even I find it appealing. Will your kids or you enter the contest?

November 5, 2011

Free Movies: MJR's Canned Film Festival


On Thursday November 10th, MJR theartres will give FREE movie admission to anyone bringing in 5 canned goods for movies showing 4:00-10:00 p.m.

The nearest locations to Ann Arbor are:

Brighton Towne Square Digital Cinema 20 | 810-227-4700
8200 Murphy Dr.
Brighton, MI 48116

Westland Grand Digital Cinema 16 | 734-298-2657
6800 N. Wayne Rd.
Westland, MI 48185

You can find a full list of area theatres at the MJR Theatre website. All food donations will benefit the Gleaners Community Food Bank.

November 4, 2011

Weekend Events Round-up: November 4-6

I don't know about you but my family is trying to get a little breathing room before the hoopla of the holidays begins! That being said there are already holiday decorations up at several places and music playing on the radio, so soon expect a holiday events guide any time!

There are several great events happening this weekend. My husband and son are going to be at the hand drum workshop while my daughter and I are selling Girl Scout nuts at Hillers in Arborland. So what's in our plans for the family this weekend? Are you headed out for any activities or events? The weekend round up events list has something for everyone, so enjoy!

Friday, November 4:
  • Candy buy-back at Arbor Dental (2301 Platt Rd., Ann Arbor). Dr Jaffer’s office Arbor Dental is hosting another year for Candy Buy –Back in co-operation with Operation Gratitude. Unopened candy will be collected at our office. We will give $1 a pound for all the candy we receive, and then ship the candy along with dental goodies to our troops overseas.   
  • Take the kids to see the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's (4800 Huron River Drive in the Crane Liberal Arts Bldg., Ann Arbor) performance of Cinderella Nov. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 5-6 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available by calling or visiting the A2CT office (734) 971-2228, or at the door of WCC’s College Theater before each performance. 

Saturday, November 5:
  • Take a walk in the woods at Hudson Mills (8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter) during a bird hike. Bring binoculars and dress warm. 8:00 a.m. Cost for event is $3.00 plus applicable vehicle entry fees.
  • Free fall movies at the Quality 16 at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, this week is Zookeeper.
  • Sensory Sensitive Cinemas at Rave Ann Arbor (4100 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti) at 10:00 a.m. and a Lights Up, Sound Down showing of Puss In Boots at the Quality 16 at 10:00 a.m.
  • 11:00 a.m. - noon kids decorate a canvas tote bag with recycled materials at Michael's Crafts (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) or from noon-2:00 p.m. they can craete a free Vetran's Day flag craft.
  • Teens can make their own mosiac jewelry at the Ann Arbor District Library (2359 Oak Valley Dr., Ann Arbor) at 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. or 3:00-5:00 p.m. All supplies will be provided for this free event.
  • Free kids building clinic at Home Depot 9:00 a.m. - noon where the kids can paint a picture frame in honor of picture frame. 
  • Stop by Tree Town Toys (2611 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor) to try your hand at making sand art 1:30-5:00 p.m. Create works of art out of sand! Select one of our exciting patterns and peel off the pre-cut stencil. Sprinkle sand onto the adhesive-coated pattern to create an original design. Simple or sophisticated- it's up to you! This activity is for ages 5+ and costs $2.
  • Do you have a budding entertainer on your hands, kids and teens can participate in Kid's Open Stage at Oz Music (1920 Packard St., Ann Arbor) the first Saturday of every month a 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 23:
  • Free fall movies at the Quality 16 at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.
  • Tree Town Toys has another fun craft project creating sticky mosaics from 1:00-3:00p.m. Follow the numbers and place the colorful sticky foam squares onto fun patterns. We recommend ages 3+ because of small stickers. This activity costs $1.00.
  • At Michael's Crafts, kids can participate in a free yarn Make-It, Take-It craft event from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Explore Sharon Mills with a nice fall hike at 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Take your talented teen to the hands-on comics workshop at the Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) at  1:00-3:00 p.m. where guest artist Joe Foo will answer the question "What makes a good character?"  Drawing supplies will be provided for this free teen event.

November 3, 2011

Ann Arbor Mom Success Story: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow!

Hello readers. It's been an exciting few weeks at our home. Unexpected and crazy in many ways. I don't know how many of my readers know the story of why I began the blog, but it some ways it has everything to do with many changes in my life, so I thought I'd share.


Several years ago, I decided to leave where I was working and work for myself. Years earlier I had done that and found that in was happiest when I controlled my own destiny and I wanted to spend a little more time with the kids. I left and started consulting, doing online advertising and search engine optimization, mostly for small businesses. As fate would have it though, my husband lost his job not long after, so essentially we were two not-working-very-much persons with two young children.

Children don't stop wanting things or wanting to do things though, so I began looking for free events and very low cost activities near Ann Arbor. Surprisingly there were a LOT of family events and activities out there for us to experience! Pretty soon friends started asking me "Where did you learn about that?" and saying things like "You find all of the cool events for kids!" So I hatched the idea to start blogging.

It actually fit nicely into what I was doing with search media, and I had already begun diving into social media so I started the Ann Arbor Mom blog with the following goals in mind:

1) I wanted to walk-the-walk and -he talk-with clients,
2) I did not intend to get rich off of the blog (despite what many websites offer),
3) I got a better understanding of the power of blogging,'
4) I wanted a creative outlet,
5) and I wanted to put myself in a position to get more clients and maybe a full time position at some point later.

Surprisingly I was noticed right away and was hired as a contributor for AnnArbor.com when they went live. I also found several clients and made the next several years successful for myself and several of them. I have been contacted by PR firms for paid sponsorships, reviews and give-aways and even found a couple of paid advertisers for the blog!  I call that a success story!

The blog has changed several times too. I had a calendar of events at the start of the blog that I discontinued when I began working for AnnArbor.com and I used to write "Life Lessons" stories about my parenting experiences. I'd like to re-implement several of these ideas, and a few new ones, so you may see changes in the coming months. Since starting the blog I have also started providing information through Twitter and Facebook, which is often unique to each platform. I'm really trying to not bombard my fans and readers (can I call you fans) with full duplication of information across all platforms.

Now here comes the exciting part. The blog and all of my social media efforts were so successful that I have been hired as the Search & Social Media Director at PWB Marketing Communications!

I will not abandon the blog, in fact it strengthens my resolve to find the best content for Ann Arbor families. So in the coming weeks, look for some changes, new content and new ideas. Hopefully it's the best for everyone and it will help keep the Ann Arbor Mom blog on the top of lists for events and activities in Ann Arbor for kids!

If you ever have story ideas or thoughts, please don't hesitate to contact me at tmayrend at gmail dot com or leave comments on any of my posts. Thanks for your continued support. Without the notice of folks in the area, I wouldn't be where I am now!

November 1, 2011

Exploring the Sharon Short Hills Preserve

Fall back with your clocks, but don't forget to head out for a wonderful fall hike exploring the Sharon Short Hills natural area at Sharon Short Hills Preserve on Sunday November 6, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Explore the wetlands and forested hills with a naturalist from Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation seeing some late fall colors, woodland creatures and maybe even a bird or two. This is a free event for the whole family!

Class: Kids are Chefs, Too!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to enjoy the late fall harvest. On November 19, 10:00 a.m. - noon, let your kids participate in a fun program at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to turn on their inner chef. During the event, your children will learn how to turn fall apples, squash, and wheat into delicious sauces, cookies, and bread and the best part, is that everyone gets to take home goodies for the Thanksgiving feast!

The event is $5 per child. To register call 734.647.7600 or register online at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum website.

October 29, 2011

FREE Native American Hand Drum Making Workshop!

Want to learn a little about Native American culture and make a 14" hand drum to take home with you? Next Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Dr. Margaret Noori, Director of the Comprehensive Studies Program & Lecturer in the Native American Studies Program at the University of Michigan will be leading a free event that includes lunch! Families are encouraged to register quickly however since attendance is limited.

To register,contact Jaimee Marsh at jaimeem@umich.edu or or (734) 763-9044.

Native American Hand Drum Workshop
1443 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor
November 5

October 21, 2011

Weekend Events Round-up: October 21-23

Looking at the family calendar I KNOW that fall is in full-swing - Between weekend soccer games, Halloween Parties and many other events I am exhausted just thinking about plans for the weekend!  That won't stop us from getting out and about. it's nice to be blessed too with a bevvy of events and activities for the kids.

So what's happening in Ann Arbor for kids this weekend? There is certainly plenty listed on the Ann Arbor Halloween event list or simply take a look at the weekend event planner for details on some great (and often free) activities happening around town.

Friday, October 21:
  • Want to introduce your toddler to arts and crafts without making a mess around your own home? Town Town Toys (2611 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor) is having a My First Scissor Activity 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Kids as young as 4 years old can practice fine motor skills on simple paper patterns and use the glue stick and wiggly eyes to turn these clever cut-outs into abstract art or amazing animals. 
  • Children and families are welcome for tea and petits fours served by real-life fairies at the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore (114 S. Main St., Ann Arbor) at 1:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $11 although babies 18 months and under are free. Reservations are suggested for this event.
  • Halloween Hullabaloo with Saline Parks & Recreation 5:30-8:00 p.m.
  • Monster Mash Bash at Ypsilanti Township Parks & Recreation 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Love to make little cakes, specifically cupcakes? Then stop by the Ann Arbor District Library Malletts Creek (3090 E. Eisenhower Pky., Ann Arbor) from 7:00-8:30 p.m. to see if your decorating skills are good enough make the grade. Judges will pick favorites in different age categories and we all get to eat them when we're done! This free teen event is a must for your teens in 4th grade and older.

Saturday, October 22:
  • Take a trip down the tracks at the Southern Michigan Railroad annual Fall Color Tour.
  • Free fall movies at the Quality 16 at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, this week is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.
  • Sensory Sensitive Cinemas at Rave Ann Arbor (4100 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti) at 10:00 a.m.
  • Take in the beautiful fall color while enjoying a guided nature hike through Scio Woods Preserve 10:00 a.m. - Noon. This is a free event for the family.
  • Head over to the Matthei Botanical Gardens for a Halloween Spooktacular for some fun with pumpkins 10:00 a.m. -noon.
  • Get crafts by decorating a Halloween shirt at Michaels 10:00 a.m. - noon.
  • Moms, dads and even the kids will enjoy making a mess elsewhere during the Pumpkin Painting Party at Learning Express Ann Arbor (2465 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor) - Be sure to sign-up ahead of time for 11:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. the cost is only $3 for materials.
  • Celebrate National Teen Read Week’s Picture This by going on a photography scavenger hunt for historic architectural features in downtown Ypsilanti with the Ypsilanti District Library (229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti) Pair up with other teens for the hunt but bring your own digital camera, phone and USB cable, or reserve a camera by calling the Youth Desk at 482-4110 ext. 1390.
  • Dress warmly and head out for spooktacular fun during Belleville Denton Cemetary (3rd and Main St., Belleville) tour. Learn about the Belleville area's first families including Civil War heroes, revel in cemetery architecture and take home your very own gravestone rubbing. Tours will depart every 30 minutes. Tickets for adults are $8, and children from the ages of 5 through 12 years old are $5. Children under the age of 5 receive free admission.  
  • Transform yourself into a fierce Pirate by creating a one-of-a-kind eye patch at tree Town Town Toys (2611 Plymouth Rd.,  Ann Arbor) 2:00-5:00 p.m. for only $1.
  • Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Fans got a sneak peek at weekend events when learning about the Toys R Us (3725 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor) Beyblade Tournament from 2:00-4:00 p.m. earlier in the week.

Sunday, October 23: