January 29, 2015

Sea Life Michigan is Open!

I had the lovely opportunity last week previewing all of the creatures at Sea Life Michigan. I'll admit, three weeks ago when we visited, I wasn't sure what to expect as we were only looking down at the large aquarium. I knew that I was looking forward to visiting the touch tank though! Amazingly, my kids were looking forward to the same thing. Now everyone can have the experience as Michigan's largest aquarium, Sea Life Michigan opens at Great Lakes Crossing.

The Sea Life Michigan Aquarium (Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, 4316 Baldwin Rd.,  Auburn Hills MI 48326) opens today, January 29 for business. Hours for the aquarium are 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Weekdays and on Saturday. On Sunday's the aquarium is open 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $23.50/adults and $18.50 for youth ages 3-12, toddlers under age three receive free admission to Sea Life Michigan.

The Aquarium

My daughter and I spent nearly 2-hours inside to exhibit and would have stayed longer had the preview event not been ending. During that time we went through the entire exhibit once, then had time to go back through it a second time even. I can imagine that if there were more people in attendance, a family could easily spend 2-3 hours in the attraction. It takes time exploring, reading the information on the touch screens at each exhibit, viewing the diverse number of aquatic fish and creatures and spending quality time at the touch tank. Near the end of the exhibit there is even an area where the kids can play on a small playscape.


I really appreciated the message that Sea Life Michigan sends to those visiting too. They have many displays available to help visitors understand that they protect species around the world with their breeding and rescue programs.  For those interested, here is what Sea Life Michigan has to say about that:
Conservation is at the heart of Sea Life's business, which operates a strategy of breed, rescue and protect. In recent years, more than 85 species in our aquariums came from our own or other breeding programs – our aim is to increase this to 135 species by 2016. All others are provided by approved suppliers who are regularly monitored and reviewed by our own experts/independent advisors. 
We work hard with trusted suppliers and breeders to ensure we have animals that will amaze people. We want to educate and instill a passion in our visitors, and we choose species that will make you want to protect our oceans, not just “entertain” you.  
The impact of losing species that are endangered in our oceans is phenomenal, and we must work to educate people to protect these animals. Without seeing animals and being amazed by them, we have no hope of encouraging people to protect them.  
Trust us when we say the concern for the sea creatures' well being is our main priority! You can learn more about our conservation efforts here: http://www.visitsealife.com/michigan/breed_rescue_protect/

The Fish

As I mentioned above, a family could easily spend much time inside Sea Life Michigan. I really appreciated the many touch screen tablets alongside each exhibit. My daughter had a million questions about what she was seeing, certainly there was staff on hand to answer them, but there were others in attendance asking questions too, so we were able to read about what
we were seeing on the touch screens.

Want to know what kid of sea horse this is, where they live and how they care for their young? No problem. Sea Life Michigan is there with most answers your little ones will have!

There are many diverse areas throughout the aquarium too. Of course we spent a good amount of time at the touch tank seeing the horseshoe crabs,  red leg hermit crabs, turbo snails, sea stars, shrimp, slipper lobster and so much more. And that was just in the touch tank. My daughter had two favorites there, the chocolate chip sea stars and the decorator crabs!

I appreciate the Michigan aquatic area since I was able to take the time to talk about conservation as well as share some of the species of fish that we see and sometimes don't see, like the Lake Sturgeon. My daughter appreciated getting a close up view of the blue gills that she likes to catch when we go fishing!  Several of the exhibit areas had kid sized portholes, view through areas and pop up domes that allows them to get as close to the fish as possible. Viewing the world in that way helps a child develope a unique perspective on our waters and the creatures that live within. Certainly I could have crawled in with her, and perhaps I should have, but I allowed her to have her own special experience when we visited!

Moving deeper into the exhibit, families will see an are with several turtle species, coral and life living with the coral, jellyfish and they can walk through a tunnel surrounding themselves with the magic of the sea all around them. Most will appreciate Stingray Bay too as it is amazing to see them swim right up and "smile" at visitors. We were even blessed to have the moray eel pop out to say "hello" and smile for the camera.  


There are many opportunities that you can take while visiting, to impart on your children the majesty of the sea. The ability to talk about our waters and conservation efforts of our waters should be front and center. Our children are one of the future generations that will inherit this earth; seeing first hand, just a few of the many species that inhabits our earth will help them to understand the greater world that they live in. Take your time to explore, slow down, sit in the tunnel, crawl into the portholes with your kids, or sit and watch in wonder as many species of fish and creatures move around you. You will not be disappointed in the experience and I'm pretty sure, that in taking your time, you will see the unexpected during your visit.


The touch pool by far was my daughter's favorite, however she enjoyed the entire experience including taking a fun photo, and wandering the gift shop. She actually can't wait to spend some money in the shop as it wasn't open when we were there. 

Of course my daughter was thrilled to once again get on television as WXYZ Channel 7 was filming a segment at Sea Life too! She's the little girl talking about the Chocolate Chip Sea Star at the touch tank. I think she's a natural. ;)

For a special experience, Sea Life Michigan would be an amazing outing for Ann Arbor families. The attraction is only a little over an hour away - Spend the day, visit the mall, have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe - It will make for an entertaining and educational day that will go down as "amazing" for your entire family!

Getting Crazy With Yarn [Craft Programs]

It's all about yarn at the Ann Arbor District Library in two fun upcoming events. Both are teen events intended for kids in grades 3+, teens and adults too!

On Sunday February 1 (4:00-5:00 p.m.) at the Malletts Creek Branch, step in for DIY Wrapped Yarn Vases. This free event will teach you to create beautiful, wrapped yarn vases to keep or give as gifts.

The second yarn program, Yarn-Wrapped Wire Words, will be held on Saturday February 7 at 2:00 p.m. at the Malletts Creek Branch. Learn about brightening up your home with funky yarn-wrapped words. Perhaps even give it as a Valentine's Day gift for someone special.

January 21, 2015

Celebrate Elmo's Birthday Party!

Celebrate Elmo's Birthday at YDL!
Does your child like Elmo? Perhaps celebrating Elmo’s Birthday Party would be a good idea then! On Saturday, January 31 at 11:00 a.m., the Ypsilanti District Library (Michigan) is hosting a small birthday celebration with stories and activities. This free event let's your little one decorate a cupcake like Elmo and do several fun crafts NOT in your home! Sounds like a winner to me!

January 13, 2015

Snowy Owl Friends Craft

On Saturday January 17,  join other kids ages preschool through grade 5, to create a Snowy Owl friend. At 2:00 p.m. at the AADL Malletts Creek Branch learn how to turn a pinecone and assorted materials into a one of a kid owl friend! Sounds like a hoot.

January 8, 2015

Win Free Tickets to Sea Life Michigan

Today I was invited to preview the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium. at the Great Lakes Crossing mall. It was a big day too as it was the  arrival of several of the aquarium's sharks.

The event was a quiet one for local press, a few of my fellow bloggers, Sea Life's kid reporter and several of the Sea Life's young environmentalists. We did not get to visit the entire aquarium this wee, however my kids were thrilled to be able to attend, since they had an unexpected snow day!

The stingrays were quite happy to say "hello" at Sea Life Michigan!
I've been invited back for the media/blogger preview on January 22, so I'll have my full review at that time. However I wanted to take a moment to share some photos of today and give one lucky family a chance to win (4) free passes to Sea Life Michigan!

My kids loved seeing the many species of fish, the loved the blue tangs, the eel and the many sting rays swimming around. The sting rays even seemed happy to see us, as they swam to the edge of the aquarium waving! My daughter was especially impressed to see the puffer fish gliding past.

There were so many types of fish. We can't wait to walk through the tunnel below to see their world from another view! It was certainly beautiful, my iPhone just did not due their beauty justice!

Of course the main event of the day was the release of the sharks, specifically two varieties of sharks called a Bonnethead Shark and Blacknose Shark A third variety of shark, a Nurse Shark, was released into another enclosure elsewhere in the aquarium however we did not see that release. To see an exclusive sneak peek of the release of one of the Bonnet-head Sharks, be sure to visit the Ann Arbor Mom Facebook page.

It was a nice way to spend an unexpected day off school, that's for sure!

Now, I would like to know, what are you most looking forward to seeing when you visit Sea Life Michigan? Comment below before midnight on January 15 for a chance to win. One lucky winner, drawn at random, will win tickets to Sea Life Aquarium after they open January 29.

The family 4-pack includes: 4 tickets (for one visit), 4 behind the scenes tour tickets, 1 souvenir guidebook and 2 gifts from the retail store.

I'd also like to point out that tickets right now are discounted. The pre-opening price saves up to 25%! Tickets are just $17.50 with free entry for children under age 3. There are also options for a year long annual pass for individuals and families. Field trip and group pricing is also available. To buy tickets or to learn more about Sea Life Michigan be sure to visit their website. The grand opening is set for January 29!

Setting the fish free into the aquarium at Sea Life Michigan.
We are looking forward to exploring more of the aquarium and sharing the experience with another Ann Arbor Family, so be sure to enter soon. Good luck, I know you and your family will enjoy the experience! Don't forget, be sure I can reach you if you win so please provide your name in the comments.

The kids thought it was cool to be interviewed by
several television reporters - I think my daughter has
a new passion too. She now wants to add TV personality
to her list of future jobs. She looks a natural holding the mic.

Maker Workshop at YDL- Michigan

My kids have really enjoyed the many "maker" activities they have joined in on, and now it seems that the Ypsilanti District Library (Michigan branch) is jumping on the maker bandwagon, at least for one event. On Saturday, January 17, be sure to have your kids stop in for the YDL Makey Makey Workshop where they can create a banana piano. During the program at 1:00 p.m. they will explore several musical activities  while using electronic controls. Certainly sounds like fin to me!

January 7, 2015

Cool Happenings at the Plymouth Ice Festival

I love attending the Plymouth Ice Fest, and I do mean that I love it. There have been winters when the ice melts almost as fast as it's been carved, and there have been bitterly cold winters, but nothing beats bundling up and heading to Plymouth Michigan to see the many sparkly ice sculpture creations created before my eyes scattered throughout the downtown area! the past couple of years, we have even introduced the kids to the experience - My son thinks it is especially awesome to see the ice carvers cutting away "with chainsaws" at the giant ice blocks!!!

"I loved it!" says Zach Mayrend, "I like when they are carving the ice, and REALLY liked the COOL carved snowmobile!"

The 2015 Plymouth Ice Festival storms into Plymouth, Michigan January 9-11 - Friday 3:00-10:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Created specifically for the love of winter, the revamped Plymouth Ice Festival will feature over 100 ice sculptures, live music and entertainment, interactive family shows, winter-themed tasty treats and a variety of additional events to interest all ages. Several event highlights include the Dueling Chainsaws, ice carving competitions, interactive ice sculptures, a Detroit Redwings slapshot contest, and don't forget the lighting of the spectacular fire and ice towers on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. Many of the Downtown Plymouth merchants will also be holding individualized in-store events offering discounts and giveaways. An estimated 100,000 people are slated to attend the three-day event.

The Plymouth Ice Festival has ranked among the top ice festivals in the United States by promoting ice sculpture as an art form through competitions, demonstrations and seminars with standardized judging and exhibitions. To see the complete list of what's happening, be sure to check out the complete Plymouth Ice Festival schedule of events or the Plymouth Ice Fest Facebook Page.

So bundle up your troops and take a 20 minute drive to downtown Plymouth. The quaint downtown area will be alive with amateur and professional ice carvers and families who enjoy the experience. Don't forget to bring some extra cash though for fun midway food or a great cup of hot cocoa!

All photos are property of Tammy Mayrend.

Make a Felt Cozy for Your Tablet

Did you get a new tablet, Kindle or iPad for the holidays? The best thing you can do is protect that gift! The Ann Arbor District Library is set to help too with their latest free program - Making a Felt Cozy for Tablets.

On Thursday, January 15, at 6:00 p.m. be sure to stop into the AADL Traverwood Branch (program room) to create something amazing using felt and fabric glue. This free event is intended for youth in grades 3 and up, plus teens and adults.

January 4, 2015

Make a Scarf at the Library [Free Event]

The chill is back! Fear not, your kids can be nice and cozy though after making their own fleece scarf. Best thing about this program is that they make their scarf at the library so you don't have the mess at home AND it's a free event for the kids!

The event will be held on Saturday, January 10 at the Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker Branch) at 2:00 p.m. These easy scarves don't typically take long to create but are super cute. Your kids will get a kick out of making their OWN project!