May 25, 2012

FREE Family Adventure Passes

In 2009...

As it was a rainy, dreary day in Ypsilanti Township yesterday, I decided to take my kids to the 1:30 PM story time. Typically we like to linger in the library for a while after the stories. We'll check things out, look at new books and movies, and we always look at opportunities for the family - I'll say it, I like inexpensive or (ah-hem) preferably FREE activities, and our public library often offers up great resources!

On our way out, I noticed a small, colorful booklet laying on the counter. I was intrigued so I picked it up. It said "CHECK OUT A MUSEUM" - OK I'll bite, what was did it mean...
Reading further I found that my family could get FREE passes to many local museums around Metro Detroit allowing for two to four admissions! That's right, take a deep breath, it read FREE - And the way to get your passes, is to check them out at your local library!

Now back for it's final year starting May 25, 2012..

We have used the Museum Adventure Pass several times since 2009. It's an amazing free resource for families. You can check passes out May 25-September 1, 2012 for admission to many amazing museum's throughout the Metro-Detroi area and even some in Ann Arbor.

The program is run a little different this year. Instead of walking into the  local libraries to check out the passes, you need to choose your library online, then choose the pass. There are many area libraries participating though the library network though: Ypsilanti District LibrarySaline District Library, Chelsea District Library and the Dexter District Library so passes are easily accessible. This year too, several theaters are offering passes where families can buy deeply discounted theater tickets.

Some of the great museums and theaters included in the 2012 program are:

Anton Art Center - Mt. Clemens

Arts & Scraps - Detroit
Edsel & Eleanor Ford House - Grosse Point Shores
Full Impact Theatre (formerly known as Michigan Youth Theater) - Rochester 
Holocaust Memorial Center - Farmington Hills
Pewabic Pottery - Detroit
Shalom Street Museum - West Bloomfield
The Scarab Club - Detroit
Tipping Point Theatre - Northville

May 24, 2012

Weekend Events Round-Up: Memorial Day Weekend

There are so many great events and activities happening this weekend. Pools are opening, BBQ's are rocking, plus there are event many Memorial Day parades, processions and ceremonies. What's on your planner? Have you got the calendar filled with things to do with kids? Family events? Fun activities?

This weekend surely has lots happening, as the Ann Arbor Mom Blog presents the "Weekend Events Planner for Memorial Day Weekend"... Hold tight, it's surely going to be a whirlwind weekend!

Head to the Sumpter County Fest this weekend for some
fun at the carnival!
Friday, May 25:

It's time for one of the season's very first carnival! Stop by the Belleville Square (NW corner of Belleville Rd. and the North I-94 Service Drive) for all day ride fun for only $20!  The Sumpter Country Fest (Sumpter Fairgrounds south of Belleville on Sumpter and Dunn Rd.) happenis this weekend (May 24-28). The festival is host to free children's entertainment, pony rides, a petting zoo, crafts, and a car show.

Spend a few minutes understanding Summer on the Farm with 'The Farm Lady' at Dexter District Library (3255 Alpine St., Dexter) at 1:00 p.m. Hear stories about life on a farm, especially in the summer, sing farm songs and meet some live ducks and chickens!

Take the family out for an early morning bird walk
with the Washtenaw Audubon Society.
Saturday, May 26:

Get out early with a bird walk with the Washtenaw Audubon Society at 8:00 a.m. Meet at the Nichols Arboretum (1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor) for this free event.

Get the kids making something unique during the Grange Jr. Makers program at 10:00 a.m. at the Pittsfield Grange.

Teens do get a kick out of the Amigurumi Club at the Ypsilanti District Library, so be sure to stop in at 11:00 a.m. so they can learn something new!

If you haven't registered your child (age 5-12) for Camp Skills Rock, you might want to check the program out. The one-day, high-energy program will surely be enjoyable while building your child's self-confidence!

Ewe and the kids will be happy to see the baby
sheep grow at the Rentshler Farm!  
Take the family to explore the many historic buildings in the area including the Rentshler Farm Museum when they are open Saturday's throughout the summer. The kids will enjoy the young farm animals on display too!

Enjoy classic, sporty, unusual and rare collectible cars on display at the third annual City Car Show at Ann Arbor City Club (1830 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) also from noon- 4:00 p.m. The free show, refreshments for sale, free admission, enter your own favorite vehicle.

Start your Memorial Day family weekend off with a bang with a FREE outdoor pops concert at Riverside Park (100 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti). At 2:00 p.m. the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra will perform popular music from Broadway and Hollywood as well known music and from family favorites.  Park in Depot Town and bring your blankets, chairs and coolers across the street to spend the day, under shaded trees, on a blanket, watching children of all ages dance and enjoy orchestral music.  In the event of rain clouds, the concert will be on Sunday May 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what makes our eyes work or how we see? Then the Eye Dissection at University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor) may be right up your child's alley! Children and adult ages 5 and up can get a closer look at a dissection of a cow’s eye to see how the organ that helps us see the world. There is something for everyone during this interactive and fascinating demonstration! Hands-on demos are 20-30 minute interactive programs combining brief presentations highlighting university research with engaging activities. Check it out at 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 27:

Hands-On Demo: Eye Dissection at University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor) at 3:00 p.m.

Monday, May 28:

Be sure to check out the many great ceremonies and parades happening throughout the area.

May 17, 2012

Hiking, Mills and Wildflowers: Grand Opening at Rolling Hills

Are you looking for something fun to do this weekend? Consider taking the family to the grand opening of the newest trails in Rolling Hills on Sunday, May 20. Get outdoors and enjoy a picnic, or even just spend some time fishing or enjoying the playground. Everyone gets in free on Sunday too, while the vehicle entry fee is waived!

Earlier this year, the kids and I enjoy the trails - I let them ride their scooters ahead while the dog and I languished behind. We've even hiked the trails with the Cub Scouts! Basically there is a trail for every ability throughout the park, so you will not be disappointed.

When you come to the park, expect fun throughout the day. From 1:00-4:00 p.m., check out the trails and the ribbon cutting on the new expansion too. Looking for a good hike? Then a nature hike through Sassafras Woods at 2:00 p.m. may be what the doctor ordered - Participants should plan to meet near playground by the sledding hill.

No matter what you choose, just be sure to get out there and get active. You'll be glad you did!

May 13, 2012

Kissing Toads: My Daughter's Obsession

You'd have to know my daughter to really get this story, but it makes for fun re-telling and certainly will be food for fodder as she grows and I tease her about it.

Yesterday afternoon as I was spending some quality garden therapy – i.e. weeding – I found a toad. Not just any toad, but a toad large enough to handle what I knew was bound to happen. I called to the kids to come over and see it. They immediately did and began squealing with delight at my find, my daughter grabbing it and clutching it in her little hands and running happily away.

The next thing I knew, my children and two friends were running around the back yard with it, playing with it in the playhouse. Playing with it in the sandbox. Playing with it down the slide. The next thing I knew they had a small box, “Toady’s house" and swimming pool made from a bowl from the kitchen. Or should I saw using a bowl that is now formerly from my kitchen.

I certainly worried that the toad might expire from exhaustion, too much “playing” or possibly just from being “loved” too much from my daughter, but the kids seemed to be dong OK with the poor thing.

An hour later I called everyone in for dinner. My daughter of course excitedly ran in, toad in hand.

“Mom can I keep Toady?”

“No honey.”

“Can I keep him for just a little while?”

“No honey. Toady has had enough fun for the day.”

“But I can set him free after dinner.”

“No honey, Toady needs to be put outdoors with his other toad friends.”

“But mom. I can set him free at the soccer field. I have seen lots of toads there.”

“No honey, Toady needs to go back where we found him.”

“Moooom, I would take good care of him though.”

“I know honey, but Toady needs to eat the bugs from our garden. He helps keep spiders and mosquitoes from getting to us.”

I thought that last bit might be an incentive as my daughter hates mosquitoes and spiders. Turns out I was right. My daughter then gave in, carrying the toad outside, to be set free. Or so I thought.

My daughter ran in ahead of my son, quickly washing up and coming to the kitchen, making a quick retreat to close her bedroom door when she saw her brother. It was the shrieking, screaming and yelling that tipped me off that something else might be happening altogether.

It must have been my daughter’s actions that tipped my son off. After he washed his hands he went to enter my daughter’s bedroom. She however was hovering nearby, standing guard and fighting to keep him out. This was when my husband intervened.

He pulled the kids apart and methodically went through my daughter’s bedroom. Toady wasn’t in the Hexbug Hive. He wasn’t in the LPS Treehouse either. He wasn’t even tucked into the Zhu Zhu Pet bed. He was however hidden carefully in my daughter’s pink, frilly “treasure box” covered with a blanket to keep him warm.

My poor pitiful daughter cried hysterically as my husband left her room, taking Toady back into the garden to live. We are now the “worst parents ever” or at least we will be until my daughter finds some new creature to love, play with and give a home!

May 12, 2012

Butterfly Festival

Next Saturday, May 19, the entire family can enjoy the Butterfly Festival at The University of Michigan Natural History Museum (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor). From 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. visit with live Monarch butterflies in each stage of their life cycle.

The kids will get a chance to use microscopes to see what butterfly and moth wings are really made of, and metamorphose into a butterfly when making their very own butterfly wings to take home! After you explore, families can get a chance to get dirty by helping the museum plant new perennials in the butterfly garden.

May 3, 2012

Free Bird & Wildflower Programs

Sunday, May 6 would be a fabulous day to get into nature with the family, and Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation is offering two free programs that day to help you out.

Want to explore birds? Then head to West Lake Preserve (Dexter) for a Sunday Morning Bird Walk at 8:00 a.m. Get some early morning fresh air and commune with your feathered friends as they come out to play. This would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the kids to birding too, as beginning birders are welcome. Bring binoculars if you can and be ready to go for a walk.

If looking for wildflowers is your thing, then grab a guide book and head to Park Lyndon (Lydon Township) for a 2:00 p.m. hike into Embury Woods. Hunt for a variety of spring wild flowers and ferns that are growing throughout the area. Meet in the north parking lot at 2:00 carpool to the woods.

Both free events would be a great opportunity to get your tots, kids or teens into nature!

Free Events: May Mother's Day Crafts

I really do love many of the free craft programs available to my children at Michael's (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) and during May there are several available. The kids will have a great time making mom a special Mother's Day craft for grandma, mom or any other special woman in their life. The events are typically for kids over the age of three and while they are free, many of them require a small purchase. The rest of the materials for the project, and the guidelines are free however. So keep the mess out of the home and make sure to head to your local Michael's for a craftastic day!
Take the "mess" and the kids elsewhere as they get crafty for Mother's Day.
Free events at Michael's is the way to go!
  • May 4 Mother's Day Frame 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Free Make-It-Take-It with the purchase of a frame. 
  • May 5 Mother's Day Card 1:00-3:00 p.m. - Make your own Butterfly Card for Mom for free. 
  • May 9 Mother's Day Mug 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Make Mom her own special mug when purchasing your own mug. 
  • May 11 Mother Day Card 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Purchase a flower clip and turn it into a unique Mother's Day Card.
  • May 12 Mother's Day Apron 10:00 a.m. - noon - Purchase a t-shirt or apron and decorate it special for that someone special. Then from noon-2:00 p.m. stay to create a free Mother's Day button. 

May 2, 2012

Free Building Clinics in May

The free kids building clinics are a great way for your child
to get a sense of accomplishment!
Ahhhh, spring is springing and the April showers bring May flowers...  Theoretically that is. With teh unpredictable weather though, May is still a great time to take the kids to one of the free kid's building clinics available at Home Depot or Lowes.

This May there are three opportunities to get the kids in on the action too. The events are mostly geared for kids 5-12.

  • On Saturday May 5, 9:00 a.m. - noon, your child can make their own planter box for mom during the Home Depot Kids Building Workshop (3300 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti). Your child will get their own apron, and a certificate for attending.
  • On Saturday May 12, at 10:00 a.m. sign your kids up to attend the Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic (5900 Jackson Rd. and 3900 Carpenter Rd., Ann Arbor) to make a Picture Frame Planter Box. Then later in the month, on May 26, sing them up to make their own ice cream truck! In addition to the item your child builds, they can also get their own mini-Lowe's apron and a patch for attending.

May 1, 2012

May Brings Birds & Flowers Through The Month

The Hudson Mills Metropark (4800 Dexter Pinckney Rd., Dexter) is offering several wonderful programs to families throughout May. Families can enjoy guided hikes, searching for wildflowers and even birdwatching and then stay to explore the great outdoors in over 1,549 user-friendly acres.

Guided nature programs are some of the best ways to
teach the kids about the outdoors!
Stay for a family picnic, bring the bikes, hike in the woods or simply sit and soak in all that life has to offer. All of the events do require pre-registration 734-426-8211, however they only cost $3 plus the vehicle entry fee for the park. Buy the yearly Metropark Pass though if you are considering several visits!

May Nature Programs at Hudson Mills:

May 12: Bird Hike. - 7:30 a.m.
Bring the family and bring your binoculars to observe bird species seen in the park. The group will record dates, locations, and trends from year to year to see what has changed. It might be a good idea to bring any field guides you have available as well. Wear appropriate clothing too, as you will explore a variety of habitats throughout the park.

May 13: Mother’s Day Wildflower Hike - 1:00 p.m.
Bring mom flowers in a different way by taking her on this beautiful hike. Join an interpreter for this  guided hike to discover what spring wildflowers are blooming. This is a free event for mom.

May 19:  Birding By Ear - 8:00 a.m.
Explore the way the many bird species sound  as an interpreter helps you and the family to explore bird songs for beginners. This program will be indoors and outdoors, so dress appropriately.

May 26: Birding for Beginners - 7:30 a.m.
Bring the kids to explore a bird’s physical aspects, and use the field marks as an easier way to identify your feathered friends. This program will be indoors and outdoors so dress appropriately.