November 30, 2012

Kempf House German Family Christmas

For two weekends in December, the Kempf House Museum (312 S. Division St., Ann Arbor) will offer a special glimpse of how a German-American family would have celebrated Christmas in the early 1900's. On December 1-2 and 8-9, special tours will be given from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Families will enjoy carols sung around the Kempfs’ 1877 Steinway piano at 4:00 p.m. and Christmas cookies.

The Kempf House is a restored 19th century Greek Revival Kempf House in Ann Arbor, during the holidays, the house is beautifully decorated to reflect the holiday season as a typical German-American would experience it.

Tours are free, however donations are appreciated!

November 26, 2012

Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

This past week has been rough around our house. My youngest had the respiratory flu and my oldest ended the week with a stomach bug. I teased that with "plague" and "petulance" over the holiday break we MUST be reaching an end of the world scenario. After all of that happened though, and we were a good 2 days clear of the bugs, I decided that the entire family needed to be treated to a movie, so we went to see Rise of the Guardians.

The basic plot of the movie is that 4 "Guardians" protect the special wonder and awe children have, as they grow up "believing". Each guardian has their own special way they help protect the children.

The guardians - Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman - find out that the Man in The Moon has chosen a new protector of the children, when Jack Frost is made the 5th guardian. Jack however is not as accepting of this new role and must learn about who he is, what his center is, and why he is special enough to become a guardian of the world's children. Only after embracing all of this is he allowed to truly become a Guardian.

When the Bogeyman invades the children's dreams, the team sets out to defeat the world-wide threat that would destroy all hopes and dreams, and ultimately would destroy each Guardian.

I especially enjoyed the storytellers interpretation of each character and their origins. Santa, or Saint Nicholas is Russian in every sense of the word, while the Easter Bunny looks to live in the Pacific Ocean somewhere, perhaps on Easter Island and has a wonderful Australian-ish accent. (It helps that his voice-over was done by Hugh Jackman!)

The characters are beautiful animated, have a full, well-written back stories that allows parents and children alike to be able to identify with each character. You might even find yourself swept into the story enough to empathize with each character and their plight to defend evil. I'm not going to say that I did, but there MIGHT have been a misty-eyed moment or two as I became rapped into the story.

There were plenty of laughs and hidden jokes along the way too, which allows parents and children to enjoy the movie. You will also enjoy figuring out who performs the voices of each character and enjoy catching the fun visual jokes along the way.

My daughter does not like 3D animation, so we saw this film the old fashioned way - sans 3-d glasses! The beautiful, scenic backdrop of vivid colors, patterns and styles though would have been well-suited for seeing the movie in 3D though. The eye-candy was a wonderful sight to see and added much value to the film.

The film is very appropriate for children of all ages and would make a perfect holiday movie. Although there are moments that might be considered scary, overall it is not too scary for kids. I believe that this movie will easily become a holiday classic, watched each year. The values and lessons are all too clear and help augment this fun and satisfying movie.

Bottom line - Go see it!

Rise of the Guardians is in theaters now and is rated PG with a run time of 97 minutes. 

November 25, 2012

Kindlefest in Kerrytown

On Friday, November 30, 6:00-10:00 p.m. families can experience Kerrytown and the season during the fourth annual Kindlefest celebration. Hear the music and carolers, warm up by one of many firepits, roast s'mores and chestnuts, find holiday greens and many artisans buying local this season. Shhh, Santa might even show up during this holiday event!

November 24, 2012

Winter Fest Arrives in Belleville

Looking for something fun and festive this holiday season? What about some holiday fireworks? Or ice skating in a downtown area? Then Belleville's Winterfest is right for you!

Produced by the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce, the event features a Jingle Bell 5K and 1K Fun  Run that starts and finishes in Horizon Park, ice skating at 4th Street Square, (some skates will be available for loan too!), ice sculptures along Main Street, musical entertainment on the stage on 4th Street next to the Museum. And at 6:00 p.m., the parade steps off!

The Christmas Parade of Lights travels east on Colombia to Main St., continuing up Main to the Museum where City Of´Čücials welcome Santa and hold Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Following the parade at the museum, children are welcomed to visit Santa at the First United Methodist Church and to watch Fireworks at Horizon Park at 8:00 p.m.!

Chelsea Hometown Holiday Festival This Weekend

From November 30 through December 2, downtown Chelsea will be decked out in holiday splendor to warm the hearts and  spirits of families throughout the community. Make sure to stop by for some hometown charm, browsing the shops or attending special events happening that capture the spirit of the holiday season.

Families are sure to enjoy the tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa, the holiday of lights parade, plus the many other holiday activities and entertainment  throughout Chelsea. Throughout the weekend, gingerbread house displays are sure to tempt and treat, there are many entertainment options including the Nutcracker ballet, head on over to enjoy Christmas on the Farm, or sing holiday songs.  It's sure to be a holiday to remember for the whole family!

Here are some highlighted events that families might especially enjoy, although you can find more on the Chelsea Hometown Holiday event and activity schedule.

Friday

  • Kids Make-and-Take Pinecone Birdfeeder at  Gigi’s Flowers 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Holiday music performances at the Garden Mill noon - 5:00 p.m. 
  • Gazebo Rededication and “Tree Lighting Ceremony” at Pierce park 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Santa arrives in the American Legion Voiture 957 Train at Pierce Park 6:30 p.m.
  • Carolers throughout downtown Chelsea 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Live Nativity Scene and “Toys for Tots” drop site at the Palmer Ford Lot 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Children's crafts, stroytelling, cookie decorating and visits with Santa at the Chelsea Depot 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Saturday

  • Breakfast with Santa at the Chelsea Comfort Inn 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Holiday music performances at the Garden Mill 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Kids Make-and-Take Pinecone Birdfeeder at  Gigi’s Flowers 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Free Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory Tours 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Children’s Christmas Bazaar at the First United Methodist Church. Event for kids in Preschool – 5th Grade By appointment 433-2344 or vanderspoolcm@comcast.net - No gifts over $5. Children can shop and wrap with "elfs" available to help. 1:00-4:30 p.m.
  • Free event for teens. Make personalized pillowcases, homemade body lotion, painted rocks, and more at the Chelsea District Library 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • “Gingerbread House Workshop” (call for reservation 475-1145) at the First United Methodist Church 1:00-2:00 p.m. and 2:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Chelsea Hometown Holiday Light Parade 6:00 p.m.
  • “After-Parade Party & Community Sing” at the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory 7:00-9:00 p.m.


Sunday

Events scheduled throughout the day with shopping discounts, entertainment and free refreshments.

November 23, 2012

Christmas on the Farm at Waterloo Farm Museum

Enjoy a re-creation of holiday traditions of a past era - specifically the 1840's - this weekend at the Waterloo Farm Museum (9998 Waterloo Munith Rd., Grass Lake) Saturday, December 1, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 2, noon - 4:00 p.m. The day will include tours of the ten-room farmhouse, the authentic log house, eight outbuildings, and a traditional Christmas program at the one-room Dewey School.

Photo by Flikr user Biker John
Some of the sights and sounds you will see during the day include natural decorations of dried herbs, spices, flowers, nuts, cedar and pine, costumed guides in holiday finery, musical entertainment, savory scents of a traditional 1840's Christmas diner, and a working blacksmith. Free refreshments and musical entertainment will be among the offerings for this homespun weekend. Don't forget to bring you wallet either, as hand-crafted greens, home-made baked goods, and gift items for your family holiday traditions will also be available for purchase!

Admission to the Waterloo Farm Museum grounds for this event is $5/adults and $2/children 5-12. Children under 5 receive free admission to the event.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's amazing what a new perspective to your life does for the overall quality of it. This year has been another roller coaster for us, but I'm beginning to wonder if that's not just life. There's just so much to be thankful for and I'm smiling - REALLY smiling - And genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. I can't help but wonder if each of you are a big part of that too.

My blogging, here and elsewhere, has brought so much more to my life than I ever expected. Thank YOU to each and every one of you. I hope this year and for a long time to come that you are blessed with a healthy family, wonderful, caring friends and all the things in your life that make you happy!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 21, 2012

Weekend Events Round-Up: Thanksgiving Weekend November 25-27

I am so very Thankful for so much this year and trying hard to spread that message to my children. What do you do to promote gratitude this time of the year when the TV commercials speak to gift giving and all catalogs promote buying toys? We ring the bells for the Salvation Army and give to several charities like Toys for Tots, Warm the Children and more, but is that enough?

This weekend, after you've stuffed yourselves with good food, spent time with friends and possibly gotten up REALLY early for Black Friday deals you still have to find something for the kids to do. So what will you do this weekend to keep the kids out of your hair? (Mine are having a sleepover with Nana as I put up our main tree!) Do you have weekend plans for the family? Do you have out-of-town guests to entertain? 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.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you and your family a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!



Friday, November 23:

The Mack Indoor Pool is hosting special "Thanksgiving" open swim hours throughout the weekend for some good, healthy (and clean) fun. Open swim times will be held Friday (10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.), Saturday (11:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.)

With the days being a bit warmer, why not consider taking the kids to open skate times at Veteran's Memorial (2150 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor) Ice Rink? Open skate times are available throughout the weekend. Friday (11:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.), and Saturday or Sunday (noon-2:30 p.m.).
 
Are you headed out for Black Friday in Ann Arbor? Then be sure to drop your children at the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor) for kid-friendly Warner Brother's cartoons 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Want your kids to learn about movie making? Why not take them to Lego Weekend at  the Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) for open Lego time and movie-making magic. Older kids and teens (grades 3+) will get a kick out of making a stop-motion movie at the library from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 24:
  • The Mack Indoor Pool open swim hours 11:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
  • Open skate at Veteran's Memorial Ice Arena noon-2:30 p.m.

Lego Weekend continues at the Ann Arbor District Library with Robot Wrestling for kids and teens in grades 6+.  This build n' battle teen event happens from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Build your demolition demon, program a plan of attack and unleash your masterpiece - there are even prizes for the champions!

Dinosaur tours at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor) are a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Take a docent guided tour then stay to explore the wonders of nature for a bit longer. This museum is the perfect for pint-size guests - it's not too big and not too small. Your out-of-town guests may really enjoy the experience as well!

Burn some excess calories with a Hip Hop Dance Class at the Ypsilanti District Library (229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti). This free event will really get you hopping - learn a new dance or show off your skilz!

Want to enjoy a cross-cultural culinary Plant tour? From now through December 6, take the family to enjoy this seasonal display at the Nichol's Arboretum. Learn about cinnamon, figs, and other popular cooking plants. You can even visit Father Christmas (December 8) and find fun kids activities and shopping! 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 25:
  • The Mack Indoor Pool open swim hours 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
  • Open skate at Veteran's Memorial Ice Arena noon-2:30 p.m. 
  • Dinosaur Tours at the UM Natural History Museum 2:00 p.m. 

Take the family to enjoy a Irving Berlin classic and sing-a-long to White Christmas at  Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor). This event is perfect for the whole family even the grandparents! 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Keep Your Hands and Arms in The Ride At All Times

Yesterday was one of those days. Well quite possibly it's been "one of those weeks". My daughter has the flu. Why that in and of itself may not be the end of the world, she is susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis, so the flu is not a good thing for her. It's also caused us to alter our Thanksgiving plans.

I should be blessed to have a healthy child. A friend of mine had her teenage daughter get a liver transplant, I know other folks losing their home and still other families without employment this year. We are blessed. Truly.

It's sometimes a challenge to see the light though, especially when a day doesn't go right. I really felt like I had just stepped onto an amusement park ride. Hold on folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

"Ladies and Gentleman, please keep your hands and arms in the ride at all times!"
Monday I took my daughter to the doctor. They told me she had a virus. At that point she had a low-grade temp and an instant rattling cough. Yesterday morning though, she woke with a 103-degree fever and a much worse cough, so I called the doctor.

They asked me to get her in for a chest x-ray and to meet with the doctor again. We needed to make sure it hadn't developed into pneumonia overnight. The chest x-ray was negative, however the doctor told us it was influenza. She gave us a prescription and sent us on our way. That's when the comedy of errors began.

You know the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show? If you asked me someone somewhere was taking a video of the events just to see how I'd react.



I had to rush out of the doctor's office to get my son from school. We then ran to Kroger to get a couple of items to help my daughter feel better then to get the prescription. Guess what? They didn't have the prescriptions and said they were nowhere nearby. *ugh* I called the doctor's office and had them change pharmacies.


In the second pharmacy I found that they had Tamiflu, but not the correct dosage. That meant we were headed to pharmacy #3. That pharmacy was back at the building where the doctor's office is, 30-minutes away. I got there and they instantly started telling me they didn't have the meds.

"But I stayed on hold when the office called down to ask you!"

15-minutes later they found the meds. I spent the next 30 minutes waiting, while the kids stayed in the car. They gave me the unexpected news that the meds had a high co-pay. "Do you still want the prescription?" "Why yes I do, it's better than pneumonia for my child!"

When they came over to give me my prescription they only had one. "Ah what happened to the second prescription?" "We only had one called down." "What?!"

So I stepped out to call the doctors office. Again. They told me they had in fact called in the second medication 15-minutes earlier, so I stepped BACK into the pharmacy after checking on the children.

"Oh yes, here it is." As I was now in line behind 5 more people.




I finally had the meds in hand and was headed back home with one sick child and a second (hopefully not) sick child. I just felt terribly frustrated.

I know that little things like this shouldn't bother us, however I am a terribly over-scheduled individual. I typically THRIVE being so busy, however when little things like this happen, I have a hard time changing course. It happens. I know.

I called my mom to whine and was reminded though of what happened before this all started.

On the way to the doctor's I wanted to entice my daughter to eat or drink anything, so when she asked for McDonald's I couldn't turn her down. No it isn't the healthiest, but the amount of sodium the meal would contain was likely to make her thirsty, and thus she'd take in fluids!

I ordered her meal and a bottle of water for myself, except when I pulled up to the drive-through to pay, I was told it was "Taken care of" by the driver ahead of me.

I must have had a shocked expression, because when I looked up, the driver ahead of me reached out of his window to wave at me. I waved in thanks back.

That simple act of kindness is one that made my day. Apparently the driver had given the cashier a $20 gift card with instructions to use it until it was exhausted.

So to the driver in the White Jeep Compass. Thank you. Your simple act of kindness made my day despite the crazy rid that was to come.

November 9, 2012

Weekend Event Round-up: Nov 9-11


There is always so much going on around Ann Arbor and the surrounding communities. When the kids were younger we took full advantage of storytime programs that were often followed by a short craft and sometimes a snack, we also took full advantage of the MANY parks and loved participating with the many free programs offered by the naturalists at Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation. We also searched for weekly programs and activities - Which is part of why I started blogging to begin with!

For this weekend? Well tomorrow we'll be attending the EMU vs. CMU football game with my Cub Scouts and Daisy's (Fire Up Chips!) and continuing to pick up the house after having a small repair in our home. (By small I mean a pinprick in the water line to the fridge that caused some damage! Nothing like a little pin "prick" to ruin your day eh?)

There are a few things happening all weekend, like the Ann Arbor Civic Junior Theatre production of Stuart Little, Fri-Sun at 7:30 p.m. and Sat-Sun at 11:00 a.m. Your entire family can get an inexpensive night out for only $8/adult, and $5/child. Tickets are available at the door or by calling  (734) 971-2228.

So what will you be doing this weekend around Ann Arbor with kids in tow?

Friday, November 9:

Did you miss out on going on a hayride or corn maze? Well Three Cedars Farm (7897 Six Mile Rd.,   Northville) is still open all weekend for those latecomers...  Their hours this weekend are Fri-Sun 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Enjoy donuts and cider, take a hayride, wander through the cornmaze, or watch the kids enjoy the play area. Their store however will be closed to decorate for Santa's visit!


Saturday, November 10:


Buhr Park Outdoor Ice Arena opens today for the 2012-13 season. The lobby is heated, vending machines are available and there are skate rentals for those who do not own their own skates. New this year, families might also consider buying a discount ice skating pass for Buhr (also valid at Veterans Memorial Indoor Ice Arena) for 10 or 30 visits! visit www.a2gov.org/buhr for open skate times. Skating is a great way to stay active in the winter too.


Take your little nature lover, age 1-5, to the Leslie Science and Nature Center (1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor) for Turtle Tales at 10:00 a.m. The fee for this program is only $2.00 and pre-registration is not required. Enjoy a story followed by a few hands-on, nature-themed activities and live animal visits. Turtle Tales runs throughout the month or November.

Your little scientist will enjoy the many great programs available at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor) today. The kids could even spend all day exploring science without getting bored! First have your child "see" what the hype is about during a hands-on eye dissection at 11:00 a.m. where your child can dissect a cow's eyeball. Then head to the planetarium show at 12:30 p.m. for a $5 view of planets and galaxies. Have a quick bite to eat then take the 2:00 p.m. free dinosaur tour. Sounds like a good way to spend the day with the family in Ann Arbor right?

You can get a second chance at dissection at 3:00 p.m. or take the 2:30 dinosaur tour too!

If your teen is bored, make sure to get them up off the couch with Hip op with Tiffany at the Ypsilanti District Library (229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti) at 2:30 p.m. This free program helps teens learn to dance.

Feeling crafty? The Saline Craft Show is this weekend if you need some inspiration (or shopping therapy, but I encourage you to leave the kids home when shopping!) or take the kids to the Ypsilanti District Library (8795 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti 48198) at 2:00 p.m. so they can create Thanksgiving or winter holiday cards. Knitting has turned into a "cool" event so your teen might enjoy learning to knit. Michael's Crafts has a free event at 10:00 a.m. - Noon where teens 14+ can learn to make a Yarn Scarf (with purchase of Craft Smart Yarn).

Sunday, November 11:

Your kids have three opportunities this weekend
to dissect a cow's eyeball at the University of
Michigan Museum of Natural History
Your little ones aren't left in the dust of the older kids crafting. In fact Michael's Crafts has a free event just for them too. From 1:00-3:00 p.m. kids ages 3 and up can make a Holiday Ornament while supplies last.

Take 2! Your kids have one more chance this weekend to participate in the eye dissection at  the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History at 3:00 p.m.

Incidentally if your children have Veteran's Day (Monday) off of school, the Metroparks are all offering free entry! Happy weekend everyone - May your weekend events be plenty and your planning be merry!


November 8, 2012

Ann Arbor Holiday Event Planner Guide

Find lots of things to do with the kids this holiday season with the Ann Arbor Mom
Holiday Event Planner and Guide. Find activities, events, festivals, and
performances for kids ages 0-99!
It's inevitable, the holidays are rapidly approaching. As much as I love a good Michigan Autumn, I do love the holidays and all that they bring. Cheerful music, good food and friends are the top of my list, however the Ann Arbor area has so many things to do with kids it's amazing!

On this holiday event planner, you will find holiday parades, festivals, activities for kids, teens and toddlers, events, and everything you will need to plan your weekend or lay out your plan of attack for the next two months! Come back often too, as the holiday event planner master list will be updated frequently with content. I also have a listing of holiday craft events for the kids listed in another post.

Noteworthy Holiday Events Nearby:

We have been to Greenfield Village at the holidays and to the Wayne County Lightfest, but I have to say that I am really excited to hear about the opportunity to BIKE through the Lightfest on November 14. Just think about riding your bike through the lights before it opens to the public - Here are a few nearby holiday events happening.

11/15-12/31: Wayne County Lightfest
12/16-31: The Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
12/1-27: Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village
12/1-15: The Santa Express on the Old Road Excursion Train, Blissfield

Holiday Parades

There are many great holiday parades around the area. Many offer Santa coming to town - I especially enjoy the nighttime parades with all of the lights, and have enjoyed taking my scouts to participate in them for the past 2 years. This year I am considering taking the kids to see the Holiday Fireworks in Belleveille on December 1 at the start of their Winterfest.

11/17 - Manchester Holiday Parade | 10:00 a.m.
11/22 - America's Thanksgiving Parade | 9:00 a.m.
12/1 - Belleville's Winterfest Parade of Lights | 6:00 p.m.
12/1 - 36th Annual Holiday Parade Saline | 5:30 p.m.
12/1 - Milan Holiday Parade | 6:00-8:00 p.m.
12/1 - Grass Lake Festival of Lights Parade | 5:00 p.m.

Arrival & Visits With Santa:

Santa is a popular guy this time of the year. Mom and Dad warn children that he's watching, kids want to tell him what they would like for Christmas and he can be found on almost every corner. Want to visit with him? No problem, there are lots of places you can do that. Just be sure to pre-register if you need to!

11/19 - Santa Arrives at Briarwood Mall | 6:30 p.m.
12/2 - Santa visits Kerrytown every Saturday in December | 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
12/8 - Santa at the Belleville Historical Museum | 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
12/8 - Santa visits the Northfield Township Library | 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
12/9 - Autistic Child Friendly Visit With Caring Santa at Brairwood Mall | 9:00 a.m.
12/9 - Santa Central at Hudson Mills Metropark | 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.
12/15 - Sing-a-long With Santa and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra | 4:00 p.m.
12/15 - Santa at the Belleville Historical Museum | noon - 4:00 p.m.

Letters To Santa

Get a direct line to the North Pole by visiting one of these great mailboxes for your child's letters to Santa!

11/1-12/2 - Letters to Santa at Canton's Summit on the Park Lobby
11/23-12/19 - Santa's Mailbox Ann Arbor

Breakfast With Santa:

Eating with Santa is another favorite past-time this time of year. Check out the many local listing s for breakfast or lunch with Santa - You might even be able to eat with him while traveling on a train!

12/8 - Briarwood Mall Breakfast With Santa | 9:00 a.m.
12/8 - Free Event | Breakfast With Santa at Sidetrack and the Enchanted Florist Ypsilanti | 9:00 a.m.
12/9 - Breakfast with Santa at Canton's Summit on the Park | 11:00 a.m.
12/1, 12/8, 12/15 - Breakfast With Santa at the Detroit Zoo
12/16 - Lunch With Santa on the Old Road Excursion Train, Blissfield

Pet Photos With Santa:

Don't forget your four-legged friend at the holidays. We always enjoyed having our dog get a picture with Santa when he came back from the groomer.

11/11, 11/18, 12/2 - Pet Photos With Santa at Briarwood Mall | 6:30 p.m.

Holiday Shows/Theatre

There is something about the season that makes going to the theatre or a concert even more special. People dress up, families feel close and happy. It's a joyous time of the year. So take the opportunity and go see a play or concert in Ann Arbor this holiday season!

Plaid Tidings at The Encore Musical Theatre Company | 11/23-12/23
The UMS Choral Union and The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra presents Handel’s Messiah | 12/1
Holiday Classic Film Series at the Michigan Theater | 12/1-23
Wild Swan Theater presents A Christmas Carol | 12/6-9 
Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert | 12/7
Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker | 12/14-16

Holiday Concert with the Washtenaw Community Concert Band & Choir | 12/18
Ypsilanti Community Choir Christmas Concert | 12/18

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremonies

11/24 - Depot Town Tree-Lighting Celebration | 5:30 p.m.
11/25 - Kerrytown Tree Lighting | 5:00-6:00 p.m.
11/30 - Downtown Ypsilanti Starlight Spree Tree Lighting at the Library Park Plaza | 6:00-7:00 p.m.
11/30 - Downtown Saline Tree Lighting | 7:00 p.m.
12/1 - Tree Lighting at Belleville's Winterfest | after parade
12/5 - Tree Lighting just outside the Canton Summit | 6:00 p.m.


If you can't find something to do among all of THOSE holiday events and activities, here is a weekly listing of many more great things for your family to do in and around Ann Arbor this holiday season. Check back often as events will be updated as I find them.

I also have created an entirely separate holiday craft program blog post for kids and teens. It will help keep this post a little less lengthy!

Week of November 12-18

If you live near Manchester, then checking out Christmas in the Village on November 17 is a must. Families will find activities throughout the city including visiting Santa, shopping, crafts, music and good food a plenty! For Dexter families, why not visit with a live turkey during their "Turkey in the Straw!" live turkey program at the Dexter District Library. on November 17 at 11:00 a.m.


Week of November 19-25
After stuffing yourself at Thanksgiving and possibly shopping into the wee hours of Black Friday in Ann Arbor, your family might enjoy get out and about ice skating, swimming or even seeing a movie. Make sure to check out the Thanksgiving weekend events roundup for more ideas.

11/21 - Free movie & popcorn: See Brave at the Dexter District Library | 1:00 p.m.
11/23 - Warner Brothers Cartoons Day After Thanksgiving | 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
11/25 - Sing-a-long White Christmas | 4:00 p.m.

Week of November 26-December 2

11/30 - Lantern Parade at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market | 7:0 p.m. - Lantern pick-up at 6:30
11/30 - Ann Arbor Midnight Madness Sale downtown | 7:00 p.m.
11/30-12/2 - Chelsea Hometown Holiday 
12/1-2 - German Family Christmas - weekend
12/1 - Downtown Home & Garden Holiday Party | 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
12/2 - Paul Keller Ensemble’s Holiday Concert at the Ypsilanti District Library | 2:00 p.m.
12/12 - Holiday Celebration at the Dexter District Library | 4:30 p.m.

Week of December 3-9

12/7 - Kerrytown Caroling Sing-Along Party | 6:00-9:00 p.m.
12/7 - Polar Express Storytime and Pajama Party at Barnes & Noble | 7:00 p.m.
12/8-9 - German Family Christmas - weekend
12/8 - Winter Wonders Solstice at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens | 10:00a.m. - noon
12/8 - Christmas Tea at Gordon Hall | 1:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m.

Week of December 10-16

12/15 - Kids can visit with a LIVE reindeer at the Dexter Farmers Market | 11:30-12:30

Week of December 17-23


Happy Holidays to you all. May you have a wonderful week with your family and friends. Be safe my friends!

I will have a post specifically for Christmas Break activities too.




November 5, 2012

Crafty Holiday Events for the Kids!

There are so many great craft events happening from now throughout the holiday season. That's why I thought to bring them together into a single crazy-for-crafts post for families! Below you will find craft events for every age - toddler, youth and even for your teen.

Events may be added as they are found though, so be sure to check back often!

Find free Thanksgiving craft events in Ann Arbor for the kids this year! 
November 4-11

Elections aren't the only thing keeping folks busy this week. Families can also find several craft events at Michael's as well as one that starts the season of Thanksgiving. I love that the kids can create two decorations at the one event - One to take home and one to leave for a Meals on Wheels recipient!

11/4 - Noon-1:00 p.m. | Michael's Crafts Passport to Imagination™ Stocking craft is a free event for children ages 3 and up. At 1:00-2:00 p.m.
11/4 - 1:00-2:00 p.m. | Michael's Crafts Passport to Imagination™ Advent Calendar craft is a free event for children ages 3 and up.
11/8 - 4:00-6:00 p.m. | Thanksgiving Crafts to help Meals On Wheels at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd.,, Ypsilanti) and sponsored by the Fly Children's Art Center.
11/10 - 2:00-3:30 p.m. | Kids create Thanksgiving or winter holiday cards at the Ypsilanti District Library (8795 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti 48198).
11/10 - 10:00 a.m. - Noon | Teen event | Teens can learn to make a Yarn Scarf Event with purchase of Craft Smart Yarn at Michael's Crafts. Ages 14 and up.
11/11 - 1:00-3:00 p.m. | Michael's Crafts Passport to Imagination. Kids ages 3 and up can make a Holiday Ornament at this free event. While supplies last.

November 12-18

This week kids can find a few more opportunities to create something for Thanksgiving as well as prepare for the coming year with a beautiful spiral bound calendar! If you have a teen, there is even a fun teen craft event.

11/13 - 4:15-5:15 p.m. | Youth in grades 1-5 can make a turkey pinata for Thanksgiving Day. This free event at the Saline District Library (555 N. Maple Road, Saline) does require registration!
11/14 - 4:15-5:15 p.m. | Youth in grades 1-5 can make a turkey pinata for Thanksgiving Day. This free event at the Saline District Library (555 N. Maple Road, Saline) does require registration!
11/17 - 2:00-3:30 p.m. | Free kids craft for the first 12 participants. Create a spiral-bound 2013 calendar with seasonal decorations. Would make a nice gift for the grandparents so bring your photos too! This free event is at the Ypsilanti District Library (8795 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti 48198).
11/17 - 1:00-3:00 p.m. | Michael's Crafts Passport to Imagination. Kids ages 3 and older can create a cut mitten frame with the purchase of a frame.
11/18 - 1:00-3:00 p.m. | Kids can enjoy a free Thanksgiving Event with crafts to celebrate being thankful at Michael's Crafts.
11/18 - 2:00-3:30 p.m. | Teen event | This knitting event is for teens in grade 4 and higher. Knitters of all levels can share patterns and knit a winter scarf. Yarn will be supplied, just bring needles if you have them. Ann Arbor District Library (Traverwood).

There are plenty of freee craft events in Ann Arbor
to keep the kids occupied this season.
November 19-25

Many Ann Arbor families will be traveling around Thanksgiving, however if you are in town, there are still several afternoons that can be spent as "crafternoons". I love to spend time helping the kids create their own gifts for the season too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

11/21 - 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Create a Thanksgiving craft that can be used to decorate your table for Thanksgiving dinner at the Ann Arbor District Library (Pittsfield). This free event is for kids in grades K-5.

November 26 - December 2

You might be stuffed after Thanksgiving, but there is plenty to do going into the end of the year. Your teen might really enjoy making their own gifts, so make sure to get them out for the fun, free events!

12/2 - 12:30-2:30 and 3:00-5:00 p.m. | Teen event | Teens in grades 6+ can learn to make beautiful mosiac jewelry suitable for gift-giving. All materials are provided. Ann Arbor District Library (Mallets Creek).

December 3-9:

Take the kids to a children's Christmas ornament workshop at the Belleville Area Museum on Saturday,  December 8, 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. followed by a visit from Santa at 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

December 10-16

This week is a popular one for holiday events. Many of the events fill-up early, so be sure to pre-register your child if you can. A favorite this week is decorating "gingerbread" houses made of graham crackers at the Ypsilanti District Library!

12/11 - 6:30-8:00 p.m. | Teen event |  Take your teen to make some Gifts in a Jar at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti). 
12/127:00-8:00 p.m. | Grade 3+ | Kids can learn to make bows, ribbons and wrapping paper from green materials at the Ann Arbor District Library (Mallets Creek).
12/13 - 7:00-8:00 p.m. | Holiday Stained “Glass” Window Craft at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti). Kids will learn to make a holiday stained glass window using tagboard and markers. This free event is limited to the first 18 participants.
12/15 - 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. | Kids can decorate a graham cracker house with candy and frosting. Registration is required (482-4110 ext. 1340) for this free event at the at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti). Limited to first 20 participants.
12/15 - Children's Christmas ornament workshop 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. at the Belleville Area Museum

What to do when the kids are out of school? There
are many great crafternoons planned - even ones for teens!
December 17-23

There is still time to make a gingerbread house and your older children and teens will enjoy getting messy making their own no-bake cookies. These cookies might make great gifts for neighbors, teachers or even best friends!

12/22 - 10:30 a.m. and noon | Kids can decorate a graham cracker house with candy and frosting. Registration is required (482-4110 ext. 1340) for this free event at the at the Ypsilanti District Library (229 West Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti). Limited to first 20 participants.
12/22 - 2:00 p.m. | Your older child and teen can learn to make No-Bake Cookies at the Ypsilanti District Library (8795 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti), they'll even get a box to decorate and gift their treats in! Free event for ages 8-18. Registration required 482-4110 x1391.

Finally, end the year with a bang on December 31 when your kids (PK-Grade 5) can have fun making New Years decorations including hats and noisemakers at the Ann Arbor District Library (Pittsfield). This free event takes place from 2:00-3:30, so make sure you leave enough time to get creative!

Be sure to check back often as new crafty-events are added to the blog. I sure hope you enjoy getting the kids into crafts as much as I do!

November 4, 2012

To Everything There is a Season

I haven't written many person blogs the last few years. maybe I haven't had time. Maybe I haven't felt inspired. Maybe I've been too tired. Today though I had to write this one. It may go through a few edits, but it is from the heart. I hope you enjoy...

The Church 

Several years back, as my husband and I found our family "church shopping", we found Trinity Episcopal in Belleville. Oddly enough, our former church in Westland had often prayed for Trinity, so that had prompted us to step inside upon Trinity when we moved to this side of town. It's always uncomfortable making changes, however the early service at the other church, with two kids in tow, wasn't going to happen. We had found a few churches locally, but none of them "spoke to us" nor really filled the void where our children were concerned. We didn't want a baby-sitting service, we wanted a church our family could grow in, and Trinity felt like it might fit the bill.

Me 

We pretty much knew we had the right church as we stepped into Trinity to find many families with children of different ages. I also knew we'd found a home because there were folks comfortable enough to be themselves, they even wore jeans. Now before you say "Jeans? So what." Know that if my mom ever caught me wearing jeans to church, I'd be accused of a mortal sin. But denim, or khaki's are "me".

I certainly like to dress up, but I am conservative and comfortable in business casual. In my faith, I have always felt "not good enough". I haven't been strong enough to not swear. I have felt envy when a neighbor gets this or that. I have gossiped or spoken ill. I have not always been an exemplary mother. Basically I have not felt worthy nor deserving. I carry my guilt very heavily, and sometimes don't feel comfortable being myself because of it. At Trinity though, I felt like I was slipping into my sweats on a warm, sunny autumn weekend, sitting by the fireplace, sipping hot tea. I felt warm and invited. I felt comfortable. I felt a connection, and it was the right fit.

My Beliefs

I'll never forget one of Father John's first sermon's I heard. It was a message that might as well have been just for me. It was a message about how none of us are worthy, and that's what makes us Christian. To make mistakes, to ask for forgiveness and to serve the Lord, that's what makes us worth.

I find peace and inner strength in giving to others, and have tried to instill gratitude and a giving heart to my children. I hope that I have done these things so that children can learn, develop and grow into be the best individuals they can be. But still there is guilt that I am not good enough. Father John's sermon's are often life stories and often take a humorous angle. Sometimes they include pop-culture references, and sometimes stories about parishioners. But always they are good, solid messages that we have listened to, thought about and enjoyed.


The Dance 

A year or so after we joined Trinity, my son started Cub Scouts. As a Tiger Cub, the boys begin to work on achievements and electives in their handbook, with one of them beginning to work on "Duty to God". For the elective, the boy can "invite a religious leader from his place of worship to his home", so we asked Father John to join us one evening.

As comfortable as I was with Trinity though, my children were still having a tough time warming up to anyone, in fact neither child would get near Father John or Deacon Dick, so bringing Father John to the house was going to get interesting no matter how you looked at it.

When he arrived that evening though, my children were all over him like a wet blanket. The sat on his lap. They crawled all over the couch where he was sitting. They sang for him. They played with him. They chatted with him and they danced for him. The dancing part became the problem though...

Somewhere my son had seen people dancing and slapping their behinds. In fact when we had visited my brother a few months earlier, my son had started dancing like this, and somehow he got the idea that doing so, while dropping is pants, was a good thing to do. In fact when he did it, it provoked gales of laughter from my brother, his wife, my mother and Michael and I. He had entertained us to a new level despite being discouraged to do so. Really?! Where would this child have gotten the idea of that kind of dancing. I now blame my brother.

So when the children started dancing for Father John that night, it was cute. At first. Then the dancing got a little louder. And it got a little crazier. And That's when my 5-year-old son started doing "the dance". Yes, THAT dance. The full-bodied, pole-stripper type dancing. Only without the pole. Of course Father John laughed, while I'm sure I began turning beet red. Then my son ran off to his bedroom, and to my complete horror tried to do the dance Uncle Andy though was exceptionally funny. Thankfully I stopped him before he showed off his - ah - other assets...

To this day I cringe when Father John tells stories, and I wonder when that particular story may pop into a sermon.

The Next Season 

About 6 weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from Trinity. This one was different though. This one made me cry. It was Father John's letter about how he and his wife Debbie were moving to a church in West Virginia.

Change is always challenging. People come in and out of our lives all the time, but change is never easy. And for me, this change was not going to be easy.

I haven't been a lifetime member at Trinity like so many others. In fact I still feel like the "newbie" 4+ years later. (This is my fourth season in the choir, so I know we've been at Trinity at least that long, but I'm not sure entirely when we first started attending.) Some of the folks have known Father John for their entire lives. Yet his leaving still hit me hard. What will happen when they leave? Will it affect my children? Will it affect me? Will we like the changes?

Today, we are saying goodbye. For now. As always the sermon delivered was very personal. Likely speaking to everyone in church in a very personal way. During the service we heard Ecclesiastes 3. It seemed very fitting for the changes we are about to go through. And it seemed fitting for our experience with Father John. I wanted to say something to him before he and Debbie left, but didn't know what that was. I wanted to buy a card for him today too, but had a hard time finding the right words. I did though, I found them in a beautiful hallmark Card. Thank you for sharing!


"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; 
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

November 2, 2012

Weekend Event Round-up: Nov 2-4


I can not believe it is November already! Don't forget to turn your clock back an hour this weekend too. I am personally looking very much forward to the extra hour!

So what's happening with us this weekend? My son is off to see the new movie Wreck-It Ralph for a birthday party, and I'm taking my kids to Mathnasium of Ann Arbor. Aside from that I am watching the flooring guys (hopefully) finish our repair after the waterline to the fridge broke, and we're attending an open house at our church. Our minister is leaving us after many years...  Aside from that, and depending on the weather, I will do some yard clean-up and general household stuff. In other words it's an exceedingly busy family weekend. Again.

So what's on your weekend planner?

Saturday, November 3:

Start November off in a great way by taking a brisk bird hike at Hudson Mills (8801 N. Territorial Road Dexter) Metropark. The program starts at 8:00 a.m. at the Activity Center. Bring your binoculars and a field guide to observe bird species seen in the park and record dates, locations, and trends from year to year. The program costs $3 plus vehicle entry fee.

Want your wee-one to have some say on the Thanksgiving table setting? Then the Home Depot Kids Building Clinic would be a perfect way to start. This weekend they are building a turkey napkin holder from 9:00 a.m. - noon.

If you aren't going to see Wreck-it Ralph, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days of Summer is Ann Arbor's free movie this weekend! Showtimes are at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.

Your little scientist will love to see what it's all about at the hands-on eye dissection at University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor). This free event is at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Kids will get to dissect a cow’s eye to take a closer look at the organ that helps us see the world. The interactive program lasts 20-30 minutes.

For parents who are looking at the loads of loot the kids brought home on Halloween, you might want to consider donating to a worthy cause and participating in one of the many candy-back programs happening around town.


Saturday, November 4:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days of Summer is Ann Arbor's free movie at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m.

Your little scientist will love to see what it's all about at the hands-on eye dissection at University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor). This free event is 3:00 p.m. Kids will get to dissect a cow’s eye to take a closer look at the organ that helps us see the world. The interactive program lasts 20-30 minutes.

Whatever you do throughout the weekend, plan to end the weekend with the warmth and comfort of a bonfire at the Leslie Science and Nature Center - Your family will love you for it.

November 1, 2012

Halloween Candy Buy Back

Apparently Candy Buy-Back events have become quite popular among area dentists! After looking at the haul my kids brought in this week it's something I would highly consider too. There are a couple happening in the are too, check them out.

ANN ARBOR

Arbor Dental (2301 Platt Rd., Suite 200) is also hosting a Halloween candy exchange in cooperation with Operation gratitude. Their buy-back program will be held November 1-3 t the office. Kids can get $1 per pound of returned candy.


DEXTER

Dexter children can also support Operation Gratitude by bringing in up to 5-pounds of unopened Halloween candy to Beacon Dental (9477 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter)  and get paid $1 per pound on November 5 from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

SALINE

In Saline, find a candy buy back fundraiser at Woodland Family Dentistry where all kids under 18 who bring in their Halloween candy during the month of November will receive a day pass to the Saline Family Recreation Center or Jungle Java in Ann Arbor. Dr. McFinton will then make a $10 donation per pound of candy to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with a goal is to raise $1000!


YPSILANTI

Dr. Schmidt's (1900 Packard Rd. Ypsilanti) Halloween Candy Buy Back will be today from 3:00-7:00 p.m. Kids can bring in their excess (and wrapped) Halloween Candy in exchange for cash and prizes! All of the candy collected will be shipped (along with toothbrushes) to the troops serving overseas.

Dr. Sasaki and his team at The Dental Spa are also collecting Halloween candy for Operation Gratitude on November 5-8! Kids can get $1 per pound up to a $10 exchange!

Know of any other local Candy exchange buy back programs in the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Dexter or surrounding areas? Let em know, I'd be happy to spread the word!