April 27, 2014

2 for 1 Ticket Disount to See Henry and Mudge at the Michigan Theater

For Mom Blog readers here is an exciting opportunity for you and the family. For a limited time only, Buy One/Get One on tickets to see Henry and Mudgeat the Michigan Theater (603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor) for the May 4, 1:30 p.m. show.

To take advantage of this great 2 for 1 discount offer, use code TMN241 at ticketmaster.com. This offer is only available on Monday April 28 and Tuesday, April 29 so hurry!  Ticket prices are normally $19.95 each.

The production is based on the best-selling book series and centers around best buddies Henry and his dog Mudge. Your family is sure to enjoy discovering what happens when Henry can’t teach Mudge to roll over in this musical.

Henry and Mudge is best for kids in grades pre-K to 4th grade. The length of the performance is about an hour long and is the perfect way to introduce your child to live theater and music at a bargain price.

April 25, 2014

Ann Arbor Fairies: Classes for Kids

Ann Arbor Fairies is a big thing. We have fairy doors, fairy walks, fairy tea parties, and fairy gardens. I'm happy to know the kids can even get in on the action during several fairy inspired events and programs.

Although I have not been over there, I have heard that Natures Garden Center Fairy Garden class is an exceptional program for kids (and adults too). On May 11, kids ages 4+ can participate in the class for just $18. To register and ask questions, email NaturesGC@gmail.com. 

A friend also directed me to a program in Fenton. Although it is a 40 minute drive for families, the May Day Faerie Festival at Heavenly Scent Herb Farm (13730 White Lake Road, Fenton, MI 48430)  is a great bargain. Families can experience 2 days of Faerie fun, lore, treats, workshops and plants for just $1.00 admission. The event takes place Saturday May 3rd, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. or Sunday May 4th, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.For more information be sure to visit their website or call 810-629-9208.

I've also been told that there are fairy doors and homes scattered throughout the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and a fairy village in Nichols Arboretum! Spend the afternoon or an hour wandering in search of the enchantment. Whatever your fairy wishes, it looks like they are closer to coming to fruition by making your own fairy door or fairy home. Hurry though to sign up for a class before they all disappear!

April 20, 2014

Family Friendly Film Series: Labyrinth

The Michigan Theater (603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor) is hosting a free movies for kids 12 & under on April 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Labyrinth centers upon teenage Sarah, who lives in a fantasy world of myth and magic, evil spells, and wondrous enchantment. She is baby-sitting her little brother when she cavalierly wishes that goblins would take him away. She gets her wish, and a coterie of goblins abduct him. She then encounters Jareth, the ruler of a mystical world one step removed from reality. He tells Sarah that the only way to get her brother back is to find her way through a M.C. Escher-like labyrinth and find the castle at the center. As she makes her way through the maze, she faces a number of horrific challenges (like the Bog of Eternal Stench) before she finds her way to the gravity-defying castle, where her brother is being held by the evil goblins.

Tickets are free for children 12 & under, $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, older children and teens. This movie is rated PG.

April Morning Bird Walk

Spring has sprung, or perhaps it is still springing, regardless though, families should take the opportunity to get out and about for the April Morning Bird Walk. On Sunday, April 27, 8:00-10:00  a.m. at the Leonard Preserve (N Union St, Manchester, MI 48158)  to explore habitats including open field, wetlands, deciduous and conifer forests in search of the birds. If possible bring binoculars and a field guide for your exploration. Families and beginning birders welcome to attend this free event led by Faye Stoner, a naturalist at Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation.

For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, or call 971- 6337.

April 10, 2014

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield

After weeks of anticipation, I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield (6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield) during their opening weekend. I had heard about the park when I ran across The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield Facebook Page and contacted them about bring the family along to experience time in the trees and was blessed that they gave me the invitation.

It was a great day to attend too. As one of the first nice spring days, it lent itself nicely to spending time climbing through the trees with the kids. When I first told the kids, their reaction was one of fear and anticipation, but I knew that they would change their minds once there. Ultimately as I am the leader of my intrepid crew, they really didn't have a choice in going or not going however I was pleasantly surprised that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We arrived at the Adventure Park around 3:20 p.m. and met with several staff members. Before stepping onto the course though, each family member is required to sign a waiver, which took a little time. There are several iPads on hand to register everyone however we walked in behind two groups of 8, so we had a little wait to sign in.

My daughter getting properly fitted for her harness
by the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield staff
Once you sign in and purchase your tickets, the next step is to proceeded up the hill to get into the climbing gear and to pick up a pair of gloves. Again we were behind 2 small groups, so getting into our equipment took time. There are two harness sizes, which then need to be properly fitted before moving onto the orientation.

Thumbs up to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield from my son.
His biggest complaint - "More zip-lining mom!!!"
 Orientation is where you will learn about how to clip and un-clip the Tweezles (I hope that is how to spell it!) from guide wires. As a parent I really liked that my kids would be securely tethered to the trees, platforms, guide wires and ziplines. One clip on the Tweezle will not unlock until the second Tweezle clip is attached and locked. At first this process seemed a bit intimidating and confusing, but we very quickly learned how to maneuver the clips.

After orientation families are encouraged to try the small zip-line practice course - I'll admit though, the real test is going through your first course. I was amazed at how quickly my kids learned to clip and un-clip to race through the course. Even my tiny 8-year old was zipping through courses after course once she went through her first course. Her biggest challenge was that she was a bit short and unable to clip and un-clip herself to zip-lines. She is 47" tall, so if your child is shorter than that, someone will always have to be on the course to help. After twice through though my 10-year-old son took off on his own for the rest of the afternoon.

Some of you may still be confused, asking, "Yes, but what exactly IS an adventure park? The website says that it is an “aerial forest park.” I believe though, that if you close your eyes and imagine an obstacle course, suspended in and around a tree-lined forest, you may get a better visual. It's pretty simple and straightforward once you see it up close.

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield has courses for kids older than Age 5. I would like to say though, that although parents might think the "kids courses" are just for kids, let me assure you that the Purple Courses are not to be sneered at. Parents WILL break out in a light sweat from the exertion. No, you may not be changing levels or hitting the most difficult obstacles, however considering the obstacles are designed for kids, parents will find the crawling, squatting, duck-walking or shimmying through the obstacles to be a workout in and of itself!
The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield courses were challenging enough
for kids of all ages! It was a great work-out and tons of fun for
the whole family.

Like skiing, the courses are color-coded. Each one is given a specific color to indicate how challenging the obstacles may be and how high in the trees you will get. Purple courses are the easiest, Yellow are next, then it's Green followed by Blue, and finally climbers will find Black and Double Black Diamonds.

After doing both of the yellow courses and both purple courses several times, I decided to increase the challenge and try a Green or Blue course. I was told by one of the staff members that the difference between the two was pretty significant, so I opted for Green. I am glad I did too because it was a pretty substantial challenge. Granted I was starting to feel a little muscle fatigue, but the difference in going from Yellow to Green was noticeable. The Green course took more time to complete. At one point, as I was climbing higher, I could hear my son yelling "Don't look down mom!" I wasn't frightened but will admit to taking more time to decide how to approach each obstacle as I approached it. I also didn't look as far ahead as I found I was doing on the easier courses. I took each obstacle as it came. I especially enjoyed that the Green course had 2 zip-lines that were longer than the smaller courses.

I can hear it now - Yes, but what was the cost of an outing at the Adventure Park? It is a bit more than going to a movie, but I feel that 3-hours climbing among the trees is very much like skiing or a day of golf. The cost to participate ranges from $39.00/age 7-9, $43/age 10-11 and $49 for adults and teens 15+. I was told though, that throughout the year families can find special savings, and the last 3 hours of any given day may find discounts. To take advantage of the biggest cost savings though, visitors to to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield are encouraged to get a group together to take advantage of group rates.

Getting there: If using the address of 6600 West Maple Road, the GPS will likely direct drivers  to enter the Jewish Community Center and drive around the campus. I suggest using the entrance off Drake Road instead.

Tips: Right now there is ample space to wander for photos beneath the courses. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear though as the grounds may be muddy. For families with younger children, there is a small playground directly south of the facility. The playground and adjacent space would be great for a family picnic before or after your climbing experience.

Although we were given gloves for the day, the next time we go I may take along a better fitting pair of leather work-gloves. This would improve my grip throughout the course. Three of us wore hiking boots too, which worked really well.

I saw many ladies wearing yoga pants while on the course. I was very comfortable wearing jeans but might consider wearing other tight-fitted clothing and an athletic bra for the best support. You need to be comfortable while wearing the harness and climbing through the trees!

In all our experience was wonderful. I definitely can see us going back for another visit and would love to see what the park looks like at night or when the canopy of leaves are on the majestic oak trees on the property. Whether you are a climber or just a curios sort, a day at the Adventure park at West Bloomfield will surely be enjoyed by your entire family - young and old alike. For more information or to contact The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield call (248) 419-1550 or email them at info@westbloomfieldtrees.org

One thing I would like to add though, if you go, it's a must to yell loudly and gleefully as you ascend on the zip lines. Not enough participants were doing that and I do think that should be a rule!

We'd like to thank the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield for an exceptional family outing.
The day was loads of fun and great exercise for all!

April 5, 2014

Kids Nature Program: Hidden Wonders of the Vernal Pool

Have you ever wondered which creatures are active in the early spring? Then exploring the Hidden Wonders of the Vernal Pool on Saturday, April 12, 2:00-3:30 p.m. may be for YOUR family.  This free program led by Washtenaw County naturalist Shawn Severance takes place at the Miller/Smith Preserve in Lima Twp.

Discover what happens as leafy woodland hollows fill with meltwater and the forest comes alive with songs of springtime. Explore who lives here? Where do they go in the summer when these pools fade away?

Find out what you can discover during this free event. Be sure to dress accordingly though and prepared to get muddy. This event is for children and for adults. For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, call 971- 6337 or send Shawn a message at severances@ewashtenaw.org.

April 4, 2014

How I Became A Pirate Ticket Giveaway

Climb aboard as How I Became A Pirate comes to the City Theatre (2301 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201) April 25-27. The show, a musical based on the children's book How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long is produced by Etico Productions. Etico Productions has been providing high quality professional family friendly theatrical entertainment for over a decade.

Follow along on the adventure as Jacob Jeremy sets sail with Captain Braid Beard where he'll quickly learn that pirating is not all that it is cracked up to be!

Performances of How I Became A Pirate are April 25 (10:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.), April 26 (10:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.) and April 27 (10:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.). Tickets are $19 each  or a Family four pack/$60. To order visit OlympiaEntertainment.com, The Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box office and all Ticketmaster locations or Ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000.
Win tickets to see How I Became a Pirate!

Shiver me timbers, that all sounds great, but now YOU and your pirating family can get in the action! Courtesy of Olympia Entertainment, one lucky family will win FREE tickets to see How I Became A Pirate - Win a family (4) pack to see How I Became A Pirate at City Theatre. All you and your mates need to do is to draw a picture of their favorite pirate and email it to tmayrend at gmail dot com or share it on the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Wall - Who knows, the drawing your miniature marauding pirate created may even be shared at the venue during the entire run of the show. So be sure to include your child's name and age on the drawing!

One lucky family will be *randomly chosen by all submissions received by April 18 at 11:59 p.m. for this promotional give-away.

*Winner will be selected by random.org on April 19. After the winner is contacted they will have 48 hours to claim tickets or they will be forfeited.

April 3, 2014

April Hikes for the Family

Now that the weather is beginning to break, it is important for me to get my kids outdoors? What about you? Would you like to get outside and learn something too? Then perhaps a naturalist led hike is the way to go. Luckily in April there are several opportunities to make that happen!

On Sunday, April 6, Hike to the Highest Hill at Sharon Short Hills Preserve (Hashley Rd, Manchester, MI 48158) from - 2:00-4:00 p.m. Come for a tromp in early spring fields and woods with a guided hike with Faye Stoner. The ultimate destination for this hike is the top of the highest hill on the property, one of the highest hills in the area! Know that during this hike, some bushwhacking , so the hike will not be appropriate for younger children.

Then on Sunday, April 13, 2:00-4:00 p.m. enjoy an “Along the River” Botany Hike at the Ervin-Stucki Preserve (Burmeister Rd, Bridgewater Twp., MI 48158) On this hike families will look at the trees, shrubs, ferns, and early wildflowers found in this floodplain forest along the River Raisin. Wear appropriate clothing and boots though in case of muddy terrain!

Finally on April 27, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the West Lake Preserve, Dexter Twp. families can look at many plant species, look for spring butterflies, and listen for frog songs during the Spring Things in the Oak/Hickory Wood.

All of these hikes are led by Faye Stoner. For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, call 971-6337 or email Faye at stonerf@ewashtenaw.org.

 photo credit: shonk via photopin cc

April 2, 2014

Nature Fun for Kids: Make a Journey Stick

Nature Fun For Kids is back for an exciting new program. The free event for kids ages 4-7 is Saturday, April 19, 2:00-3:30 p.m. at the Scio Woods Preserve (Scio Church Rd, Lakewood, MI 48103). Kids will create a Journey Stick of their own while learning about the colors of spring. Specifically, what color is the sound of a Robin singing?

In many countries, native people have developed the idea of creating a journey stick to help tell the story of their travels to others. In this kids hiking program, participants will tie objects and colors to a stick to represent different experiences, feelings or parts of the journey.

Pre-registration for this free event is required and programs tend to fill quickly. To register, email Shawn at severances@ewashtenaw.org or call 971-6337 x335.