December 30, 2013

Lego Holiday Break Programs for Bored Children

Are you counting the hours until your child returns to school after the holiday break. I have seen a few comments to that from friends on Facebook so I know it's not uncommon. Earlier this week I posted ideas holiday break activities, so consider this idea from Bricks for Kids an extension of that!

If your little guy or gal has a love of all things Legos and is itching for something to do, consider the Mining & Crafting Lego Mini Camp in Chelsea (Thursday-Saturday) or Ninjago & Speedorz Lego Mini Camp in Dexter (Friday).

Your child will have action-packed activities building models, creating mosaic pictures or creating crafts which can be taken home. Opportunities for creative free building, LEGO® based games and challenges are also the main part of the program! The cost is only $35/day so sign up for 1 day or multiple days!

To register visit Bricks for Kids online and click  click "View Classes" or call  (734)-719-0303.

Mining & Crafting Lego Mini Camp
Thursday - Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
St Mary Catholic Church (14200 Old US Hwy 12 Chelsea)

Ninjago & Speedorz Lego Mini Camp
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
St James Episcopal Church (3279 Broad St, Dexter)

December 29, 2013

Family New Year's Eve Party

Looking for a family friendly New Year's Eve event? Lodge Lanes (46255 I-94 S Service Dr, Belleville) may have what you are looking for. On December 31, at 12:30-1:30 p.m. or 3:00-4:30 p.m. enjoy a game of bowling, pizza and party favors for only $39.95 per lane. That includes bowling, shoe rental, party favors a large pepperoni pizza and pitcher of pop for each lane of up to 5 bowlers!

To make a reservation for the New Year's Eve bowling extravaganza, stop in or call 734-697-9178. Spots are limited!

December 27, 2013

Hands-On Holidays at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

The weather outside might be frightful but the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104) is always delightful. As an added bonus to the 250 interactive exhibits, now through January 5, families should consider stopping in for additional activities from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and Noon-4:00 p.m. on December 29, January 1, and January 5. The special Hands-On Holidays activities explore the  world of crystals, learn how to predict snowstorms, and also make a snow gauge. There will also be daily performances and science demonstrations for the whole family.

Hands-On Holidays activities are included with Museum admission at no additional charge. Admission to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum $11 for ages two and up. For more information, please call the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum 734.995.5439 or visit their website.

My kids and I will be checking out the Hands-On Holidays and hope to see you there!

Holiday Break Events & Activities

What do you do with the kids after Christmas during the holiday break? Believe it or not, there is a lot to do over the holiday break when the kids are not in school.

First up, be sure to check out the Hands-On Holidays at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum (220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor). The special exhibit happens December 26 through January 5.  Attendees will enjoy special activities, including make and take projects and special experiments, the AAHOM schedule is packed with hands-on excitement. Each activity highlights a science concept, making the programming educational and entertaining for children and adults alike.

We'll do lots of crafts at home, visit with my best friend when she comes into town and hopefully get out for some outdoor fun, ice or roller skating, or taking a winter hike! So what will you do with the kids over the holiday break? Most days there are several free activities happening around town - From free movies, to crafts, science and even teen activities. Check out all of the cool activities and fun for the kids!

Will you see some free movies over holiday break?
Free Movies

Many of the local libraries are offering to show free movies during holiday break - Movies the whole family will enjoy! The Dexter District Library and several branches of the Ypsilanti Library are offering movies.

12/26 - Elf - Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) | 3:00 p.m.

12/27 - Wreck-it Ralph - Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) | 3:00 p.m.
12/30 - Despicable Me - Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) | 3:00 p.m. 1/2 - Escape from Planet Earth - Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) | 3:00 p.m.

1/3 - Oz the Great and Powerful - Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) | 3:00 p.m.
1/3 - Monsters University - Dexter District Library | 11:00 a.m.

Holiday Break Crafting

What about taking the kids out to do some School Break Drop-in Crafts? The Ypsilanti District Library (Michigan)  is hosting "Crafternoon" on several days during break at 3:00-4:00 p.m. Stop by the youth desk to create an easy winter craft on 12/23, 12/26-27, 12/30, or 1/2-3.  On New Years Eve day, bring in the New Year at the Ann Arbor District Library (Pittsfield Branch) at 2:00-3:00 p.m. Create your own celebration hats and noisemakers!

Did your child get the hot Rainbow Loom for a gift this year? It's likely they are already bored with the simple chain or perhaps even a bit intimidated. Fear not though as Learning Express Toys of Ann Arbor has you covered with several free how-to classes. On December 28 stop in for an 11:00 a.m. beginners class or a 2:00 p.m. Tulip Tower stitch. On December 30 there is a second opportunity for a beginners class at 11:00 a.m. and the Zippy Chain stitch at 2:00 p.m.

12/27 - Kids can create a cozy collage at the AADL Downtown Library at 2:00 p.m.
1/3 - Just Tape It duct tape crafts - Dexter District Library | 11:00 a.m.(Grades 5-12 | Teen Event)

Get Up, Get Out, Get Moving

It's a New Year so why not wake up with an energizing Shoe Year's Day Hike at Maybury State Park. Hike, enjoy a fire and healthy snacks at 10:00 a.m. at the Concession Building. Use the 8 Mile Road entrance west off of Beck.

On January 4, 10:30 a.m. - noon take the kids (Ages 3-6) to enjoy Winter Fun for Kids: Let it snow! at County Farm Park, Field Operations Building (Platt Road Entrance, come to the building right next to the playground). Your kids will learn about how snow forms and take magnifying glasses outdoors to examine the unique shapes of snowflakes. Then indoors we will make paper snowflakes and have a
snack. Please pre-register for this free event with Shawn Severance at 734-971-6337 x335.

There's another fun outdoor program happening January 5 at Independence Lake. Be sure to join in on the Annual Winter Hike, Potluck and Nature Sharing program that the Washtenaw County parks and Rec puts on. For this free event, consider bringing 10 to 15 of your favorite nature images to share! The program will start with a one hour hike to the prairie habitat of the park which is followed by a potluck. Hot drinks will be provided, but please bring your own table setting and a dish to pass. After eating, we’ll share some nature photos and nature tales. For questions, contact Faye Stoner at 734-971-6337, X334.

Does taking the family swimming in a tropical paradise sound appealing? Perhaps joining in Family Swim Time at the Goldfish Swim School (2107 W Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor) sounds appealing. Family swim hours are Monday-Thursday noon-1:30 p.m., Friday's 6:30-8:00 p.m. and Sunday's 5:00-6:30 p.m.

The kids and I enjoy roller skating and there is a great rink located within a few minutes drive in Canton. Skatin Station has many open skate times over the holidays too. Take the kids to the rink from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on 12/23, 12/26-27, 12/30 and 1/1-3 for just $6 admission.

Speaking of skating, the Buhr Park Outdoor Ice Rink also has special skating times over the holidays. School Break Skating sessions will be held Noon-2:00 p.m. Dec. 23-24, 26, 31; Jan. 2-3. Fees are less that $6 with a $3 skate rental cost if you don't have ice skates.

Winter Break for Teens

Teens need something to do when school is closed too and there are many great free teen events happening throughout the next two weeks. From movies to crafts to gaming and trivia. Be sure to check it out.
  • Teens can participate in the January Teen Trivia Contest at the Dexter District Library. The theme will be music and Grammy Awards. Stop by the Teen Zone to enter for a chance to win a $15.00 Target gift card! 
  • RU Game? Teens and youth in grades 4-12 will enjoy a huge assortment of board games and snacks at the Dexter District Library on January 2, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. This is a free drop-in program.
  • Have you heard of Amigurumi? The Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) has a teen club to learn this fun activity. Stop by on December 28 at 11:30 a.m. to learn more. This event is for youth and teens ages 10-19.

Science and Nature

Another fun family activity is to check out the birds and critters at the Leslie Science and Nature Center (1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor).  The Critter House is open every Sunday, noon-3:00 p.m. Don't forget to hike their fantastic trails too!!!

Another great free science program continues at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.  There are always free dinosaur tours each weekend as well as hands-on science. The kids will get a kick out of the Hands-0n demonstrations Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and Sunday's at 3:00 p.m.

Do you have a little engineer on your hands? Then be sure to take the kids (grades K-5) to the Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown) for the Marshmallow Engineering Challenge on December 29, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Test their engineering and building skills with toothpicks, marshmallows and lots of fun.

Have you heard "I'm bored" yet, well the Ypsilanti District Library can take care of that with Boredom Busters. Kids will enjoy marble magnet mania, balloons in a bottle, candy science, balloon skewers, and so much more at this fun program at the Michigan branch on 12/23, 12/26-27, 12/30, 1/2-3 at 2:00-3:00 p.m.
  • 12/28 - Explore how much fun batteries can be at the AADL (Pittsfield) at 2:00 p.m.

Drummunity is fun for the entire family!
Music and Stories

The younger set even gets into the act over holiday break with many story-time opportunities including two I'd like to highlight. Preschoolers will enjoy Joe Reilly as he performs Environmental Songs For Kids at Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown) on December 30, 2:00-2:45 p.m. Then on January 2, the kids will have another fun story-time day with a Wacky Winter Time With Storyteller Adam Mellema at Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown).
  • 1/3 -New Year Nonsense! Storytelling and tunes for preschoolers and kids through grade 3 at the AADL (Downtown Library) at 2:00 p.m.
  • 1/4 - Get into the groove with a tribute to the Big Band era with a family concert by the Pete Siers Trio at the AADL (Downtown Library) 2:00-3:00 p.m.

New Years Party

The entire family will enjoy the SRSLY annual New Year’s Eve party at Beach Middle School (445 Mayer Dr., Chelsea) from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve. This is a free event full of fun! Find a great line-up of performers, team games and competitions (eating contests, relay races, card games and more), face painting, video games on classroom Smart Boards, cookie-decorating, live music, swimming, basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, and a chili cook-off. Door prizes awarded every half hour will include gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, board games, and free passes to bowling. Pizza, pop, and other refreshments will be available for a suggested donation of $1 per item.

Skatin Station has a fun New Year's Eve Celebration for kids too - They even have a special prize-filled balloon drop at 3:00 p.m.!  Skating is just $7 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. For the older kids they have a special New Year's Eve (Late) Skate too from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the next morning. The $20.00 admission is an all inclusive package price too!

Earlier this week I posted about the festivities at the Noon Year's Eve festivities at the Toledo Zoo too!

I'm sure more events will come onto my radar over the next few days, so be sure to check back often for fun, free and often inexpensive holiday break activities for everyone in the family!!!

December 26, 2013

Skating Fun at Ann Arbor Area Ice Rinks

So many of my friends have mentioned that they really enjoy ice skating during the winter months - It's great exercise and fun for the entire family. Below is a list of area ice rinks, their locations and some basic information that parents may need to consider.

Ann Arbor Ice Skating:

Ann Arbor Ice Cube (2121 Oak Valley Dr., Ann Arbor 48103)
Hours: Public skate times vary, verify on the A2Ice3 website.
Cost: $4 Adult/$3 Youth
Skate Rentals Available: Yes - $3 fee.

Buhr Park outdoor ice rink (2751 Packard St., Ann Arbor 48108)
Hours: Listed below. Open October 29-April 1.
Cost: Resident and non-resident fees. Adult $5-6/Youth $4-5
Skate Rentals Available: Yes. $3 fee.
Misc. info.: Arena includes public ice skating and drop-in hockey times. The facility has a heated lobby, vending, restrooms and four separate locker rooms.
School break open skate sessions: noon - 2:00 p.m. Nov. 27, 29; Dec. 23, 24, 26, 31; Jan. 2, 3, 20, 27, 28; Feb. 17 to 21; March 10.

Veteran's Memorial Sports Complex (2150 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor 48103)
Hours: Public skate times listed below. Open mid September-mid May.
Cost: Resident and non-resident fees. Adult $5-6/Youth $4-5
Skate Rentals Available: Yes. $3 fee.
Misc. info.: Complete snack bar services and vending machines are available in the main lobby, along with coin-operated lockers and storage units.

Yost Ice Arena (1016 South State St., Ann Arbor 48104)
Hours: Noon skating (12-12:50 p.m.) weekdays, Thursday's 8:00-9:50 p.m., Friday's 8:00-9:20 p.m., weekend's 1:00-2:50 p.m.
Cost: Resident and non-resident fees. Adult $4-5/Youth $3/Noon skate $2
Skate Rentals Available: Yes. $2 fee.
Misc. info.: Discount frequent skater passbooks available. Check available sizes of skates before going.

Belleville Ice Skating:

Lower Huron Metropark (17845 Savage Rd., Belleville MI)
Hours: During park operation.
Cost: Free with Metropark admission.
Skate Rentals Available: No.
Misc. info.: Skate at own risk. Safety gear is recommended. Enjoy ice skating on two natural frozen ponds - Hockey enthusiasts can practice their shot on one rink, while families skate on the other two. Bring hot cocoa and warm up by a bonfire. There is no skate attendant on duty and children should be supervised by a responsible adult. To verify availability of the rink, call 734-697-9181 or 1-800-477-3182.

Canton Ice Skating:

Arctic Edge (46615 Michigan Ave., Canton)
Hours: Public open skate Fridays 12:00-12:50 p.m. & 7:00-8:50 p.m. / Saturdays 1:00-2:50 p.m. &; 8:00-9:50 p.m. / Sundays 4:00-5:50 p.m.
Skate Rentals Available: Yes. $3 fee.
Misc. info.: For more information call 734-487-777. Be sure to check the calendar for open skate availability before visiting.

Dexter Ice Skating:

Downtown Dexter in Monument Park.
Hours: Temperatures in the low 20s allow outdoor skating rink at Monument Park to open for public use during the winter months.
Cost: Free
Skate Rentals Available: No.
Misc. info.: Skate at own risk. Safety gear is recommended. There is no skate attendant on duty and children should be supervised by a responsible adult.

Milan Ice Skating:

Downtown Milan in Wilson Park
Hours: Verify that council passed the necessary approvals for 2013-14
Cost: Free
Skate Rentals Available: No.
Misc. info.: Skate at own risk. Safety gear is recommended. There is no skate attendant on duty and children should be supervised by a responsible adult.

Saline Ice Skating:

Henne Field, Saline
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m. / Friday and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
Skate Rentals Available: No.
Misc. info.: Skate at own risk. Safety gear is recommended. There is no skate attendant on duty and children should be supervised by a responsible adult. Hockey sticks and pucks are allowed 3:00-6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9:00-11:00 a.m./3:00-5:00 p.m. weekends.

If you have seen or heard of other area locations where families can skate indoors or out, please feel free to add it into the comments section or send me a message with the details!

December 19, 2013

Noon Years Eve at the Toledo Zoo

This sounds like a fun way to ring in the New Year even if it happens 12 hours early!

The Toledo Zoo is hosting Noon Year's Eve to ring in 2014. Your family can raise a toast to the New Year with some tasty juice, sing a round of “Auld Lang Syne” and watch the ball rise… all at the stroke of noon! There’s even a place where you can make a few ReZOOlutions to be a little greener in the new year.

The fun starts at 11:00 a.m until 1:00 p.m. on December 31. Activities that families will find include  ice carving demonstration, cool crafts in the African Lodge, a visit with the Zoo mascots, and a special snack. The zoo ice rink will also be open starting at 11:00 a.m.

Don’t miss the fun!

December 11, 2013

Family Friendly Film Series: Elf

The Michigan Theater (603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor) is hosting a free movies for kids 12 & under on December 15 at 1:30 p.m.

The story of Elf has Buddy, a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf searching for his biological family. Tickets are free for children 12 under, $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, older children and teens. This movie is rated PG.

December 6, 2013

Wanted: The 25th Hour

I have hinted some on the Facebook Page about my challenges of late, but I suppose it's time to come clean. It's not a big deal really, it's just I haven't been able to keep up as much as I would like to. Sadly I know that's evident from the lack of posts on the blog, the lack of traffic to the site and so many other indicators.

It all started when I returned from our family vacation in August. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. I suppose one can argue that I haven't done much for mom but she is alone, so as her only local child I have helped. I'm honest with myself and others though so I can say, that like I always do, I have simply avoided things. My home. My marriage. My work. My family. Friends. The blog. Whatever it was, it seemed it was a challenge to focus. You see, I find that when I am stressed, I withdraw.

Her illness has made me stop to consider why I am doing some things and not others. Perhaps in an odd way, it's even helped me to focus. Maybe not right away, but in a round about way.

It seems though that one of the biggest things I have been focusing on, is my children. In my effort to make their lives as normal as possible I have neglected myself and many other things.  Throwing myself into running the kids from activity to activity has given me some power over what I can accomplish. Her illness has helped me to decide which activities were more important than others. Which ones I feel a longing for. And ultimately her illness has helped me to say "no" a little more often.

I am a volunteer. I almost always say "yes" when someone asks for help. I thrive when someone needs me. All of this running though has tired me out. I feel exhausted all of the time. I fell like I have gotten very little done. It's like being in a rock and a hard place - I WANT my children to have as much as I can give, but I simply can't do all they want.

I have some great friends, family and a husband. They do help. Basically though I need to step back and reassess what's important. Why am I doing this or that? Does it help someone? Does it feed me in any way?

I rarely do for myself, but in some selfish ways I need to now even when my mom and the kids need me more. I need to keep myself physically and mentally strong for everyone, especially myself.

The blog was started as a way to learn more about social media, to help me gain experience for my clients, to gain some notoriety and to perhaps get hired by clients. It gave me all of those things and more. I have a great employer for part of the week and a little freedom the rest of the week to help others. That time gets sucked up very quickly though in helping at the kids school, being a scouter mom and leader for both Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, being a soccer mom, coaching at the Science Olympiad, helping with the school play, playing taxi or doing general mom things. Whatever it is, it doesn't leave a lot of time. And the blog is suffering some.

Again I am not complaining. I do love to give of myself and do so freely.

The blog was never meant to be a money maker. I don't have many paid ads, affiliate links or similar posts that detract from offering my readers good, clean family fun and free events. I simply like being helpful. It feeds me to be able to share. Doing so however does take a considerable amount of time. So if you see a few fewer posts, know that I am thinking about you, I just can't find a way to fit it all in. I likely am guilt ridden that I haven't posted, but I do have a few ideas for fun family activities in Ann Arbor. I'm still here, just feeling a bit thinned out right now.

Have patience though, I'm still here. And if you feel the need, visit some of the other helpful blogs in the area. We are all great resources. It seems to be a bit easier to share content to Facebook too, instead of uniquely written content, so make sure to like the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook page. When mom is going through her heavy chemo in the months ahead, I will likely have many hours sitting in the hospital doing not much of anything. I expect then that writing will take more of a priority.

Wishing you all a blessed and happy holiday season, no matter which holiday you celebrate.

December 1, 2013

"Frosty on Ice" ice skating at Vetrans Memorial Ice Arena

Meet Frosty at Frosty on Ice at the Veterans
Memorial Ice Arena on December 15.
Hey families, has the blast of cold air this week and sprinkling of snow made you consider ice skating? For my kids it sure brought it to mind. Check out this great opportunity for a fun open ice skating session called "Frosty on Ice" at Vetrans Memorial Ice Arena (2150 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor) on December 15, 1:00-2:30 p.m. General admission for skaters apply, however skaters will be given free candy canes and have a meet  and greet with Frosty.