June 30, 2016

Independence Day Parades

While thinking of fireworks, a day off, grilled burgers and family fun, Independence Day is also host to several Ann Arbor area parades on July 4. Here are a few 4th of July parades to consider.


Annual Fourth of July Parade
Downtown Ann Arbor starting at 10:00 a.m.
Hosted by Ann Arbor Jaycees

Kid's decorate your bikes, trikes and wagons for a chance to participate in the parade featuring floats, walking groups, musical groups, and much more. For more information call 734.681.0577 email parade@a2jaycees.org.


Independence Day Parade
Downtown beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Sponsored by the Northville Community Foundation and St. Mary Mercy Hospital.

Find music, floats, marching bands, clowns, children’s characters, vintage and classic Cars, bike and pet parades and more. After head over to the Mill Race (215 Griswold St., Northville) to continue your 4th of July celebrating from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Find a Civil War encampment while enjoying your family picnic. Docent-guided tours of the historical buildings will be available for the day.


Independence Day Parade, Celebration and BBQ
Sponsored by VVA Chapter 528.
Check the website for more details.


Ypsilanti Independence Day Parade
Starting in Depot Town at E. Cross and N. River beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The parade is sponsored by American Legion Post 282 and the Ypsilanti Jaycees.

Kids can decorate a bike, wagon, or tricycle to lead the Ypsilanti District Library's bookmobile in the parade. Children must meet at 10:30 a.m. and need to be accompanied by an adult if they are younger than 10. To pre-register, call 734.482.4110 ext. 1316.


Parade of Lights
July 3, 2011 - 10:00 p.m.
View the a lighted boat parade like no other. Boats begin the parade in front of Mac’s Marina (9876 Main St., Whitmore Lake).

Annual 4th of July Parade
Downtown on Main Street starting at noon
Find patriotic displays featuring emergency vehicles, fire trucks, floats, and decorated bicycles, trikes and Big Wheels!

June 29, 2016

Creating a Crown of Flowers for my Daughter

Republished from an annarbor.com article in 2009

It was a perfect morning - I had just dropped my son at day-camp, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and I was down to one child for the day. What more can a gal ask for?
I decided to take my daughter on a nature adventure of sorts - Harvesting blackberries in my friends open field. It was a grand time, however as it often happens, mom did all the work in picking the berries. My daughter did all of the eating. We did however manage to come home with 2 very large buckets of the juicy black pearly gems. Enough to munch on the spot AND make luscious deserts and jams at home.
I noticed though that my daughter was very preoccupied by all of the wildflowers throughout the field - With the rain the past few days, they was flowers of every shade of white, yellow, purple, and even a few blues sprinkled throughout the field. She was having a grand time picking at each blossom. As luck would have it, I had also recently read an article about creating a Crown of Wildflowers.
"Would you like to work on a special project with mommy today?" I asked.
And so we sauntered home, berries in hand (and all over my daughter's shirt) with lovely bouquet of wildflowers laying on the seat next to me.
It was much easier than I anticipated - making the wildflower crown. And the results were stunning - If I do say so myself. My daughter felt like a little princess, and ran around for much of the day wearing her treasure.
I didn't get to prepping the berries yet, but that's OK. Taking a crack at the slower pace, and enjoying my time with my daughter made for the perfect Mother/Daughter memory!
And so I ask again, what more can a gal ask for...
There are fields, upon fields of flowers blooming throughout Ann Arbor right now. Why not try and create your own wildflower crown for your child. For an hour of your time, it's a memory that can not be forgotten... I created a short instructional video on "Making A Wildflower Crown" too, so that no one need wade into uncharted territory.

June 28, 2016

Kids in Hot Cars

This morning a friend of mine posted an article on social media that she had read. It was about a woman needing to place her left shoe on the seat next to her child in a car seat so she would not forget the child. A comment was made that the idea was "helpful" and that it meant the driver would not get far without a shoe, and therefore would never forget their baby. Forget their baby.

Apparently it's becoming an all to common mistake in the U.S. too. According to this Washington Post article, leaving a baby in a hot car happens 15-25 times each year in the U.S. My friend commented that "this (was) the most ridiculous thing (she had) ever heard." and I happen to agree. I simply do not understand the need to put something "important" in the backseat so a child (something important!) is not left behind. Are we THAT distracted as a society?

I have read about several inventions to help parents remember too: This one from an engineer mom, this piece of technology that texts an infant SOS, or this invention called Hot Seat developed by a teen. It still comes back to this one fact: People are leaving their infants and kids in hot cars. To die. To DIE. Why? Because they are too distracted?

What do you think of this all to common occurrence? Why is this happening?

I know that this will likely spark many comments, but please if you feel so inclined to comment, please be respectful of others commenting.

Long Road Trips and Personalized Road Trip Boxes

Keep the kids busy on your next road trip
with personalized boxes filled with
small trinkets and snacks.
Summer time and the livin' is easy. The sun is shining and everyone requests time off. It’s vacation! For us and countless others, it’s the end-of-summer push before school begins. It’s road trip time!

Most of you agree that the proper planning is a necessity for any vacation, but let’s focus on a very small and very specific task that needs more attention: planning the kids' "car travel kit." The point is to keep them occupied for endless hours so that we don't hear endless rounds of "When are we gonna get there?” I never guarantee myself endless hours of quiet. After all, my kids are still young, but I try.

So what's in my car kit? I usually include a DVD player and movies, special road trip music, fresh crayons and a doodle pad, coloring books, books and snacks. I also like to have items that are “fresh” and new for the kids — items that they haven't seen before sometimes will occupy lots of their attention.

I began my quest to occupy the kids a few years ago when driving five hours north for a long weekend. I started by grabbing two shoebox-sized plastic bins, and, with decorative pens in hand, I personalized them for my kiddos. After that I went about finding small trinkets and goodies that the kids could have. My only rule was that they could do whatever they wanted with the goodies, but once they were gone, there was no more.

At first I included toys from fast food kids meals, small treats and pocket-sized coloring books. Bins have also included small trinkets for each of the kids, a small Lego kit or a Polly Pocket, a kids map of the United States I got free with purchase from my local Marathon gas station, a Where's Waldo 3-D poster from Wendy's and a pack of gum. I'll admit, even now my kids enjoy doing "something" so a good book or magazines are often included. When I took my Girl Scouts on a trip to Mackinac Island recently, even THEY enjoyed doing the road trip games. We played an awesome road trip scavenger hunt that went on ALL weekend!

I look for items throughout the year, as I find that's the best way to prepare. I find inexpensive trinkets at Michael's and or in Target's $1 bins. A few months ago, I found that The Rocket in downtown Ypsilanti was a great place to find novelty items perfect for road trips; I bought individual re-positional sticker activity books there. By planning ahead, I am always prepared — I actually have items tucked away for future trips.

So what do you give your children to occupy them on long road trips? What are their favorite items? Is there anything special that is a must-have for your children in the car?

I’m heading off into the sunset with the car stuffed to the gills and the car's top carrier overflowing. The kids will be happily occupied for hours, allowing me to enjoy the ride. One can hope anyway, right?

This was originally published in annarbor.com.

June 20, 2016

Keep Cool With Discount Movies This Summer

Hot summer days are sometimes best spent indoors enjoying a movie blockbuster. There is simply something about a dark, cool movie theater that is appealing. Want to make going to the movies even more appealing? How about a discount movie tickets? 

Starting the week of June 13 through August 12, can enjoy $1 kids summer movies at local Quality Theaters with Kids Summer Movies!

Area Quality Theater Locations:
Quality 16 Theater (3686 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor)
Canton Cinema (43555 Ford Rd., Canton)

For 9 weeks throughout the summer, you can see 9 movies for just $1. The best part is, you can see these movies any day, Monday through Friday, at 10:00 a.m.  Families can expect a new movie each week and can even get discount kids combo treats - Kids a Classic Kids Combo that includes with popcorn, soda, and candy ($3.50) or a Healthy Kids Combo that includes popcorn, bottled water, and granola bar ($4.50). What a deal.

$1 Kids Summer Movies at Quality Theaters:

June 13-17:  RIO 2
June 27 - July 1:  HORTON HEARS A WHO
July 25-29: THE SANDLOT
August 8-12: DESPICABLE ME 2

I love attending discount movies with the kids. Even if they are often movies that are not currently in theaters, it's a great way to catch up on popular movies at a fraction of the cost. We've even seen some movies a second or third time!

So make sure you get to catch a few of these movies this summer. It's a nice break from the heat and a treat for the kids!

June 12, 2016

Celebrate Michigan’s Log Cabin Day at Parker Mill

On Sunday, June 26, families can celebrate Michigan’s Log Cabin Day by touring a pioneer grist mill and Parker Mill log cabin during Log Cabin Day in Michigan. Visit a 1880’s log cabin to imagine what it's like to live in this log home in pioneer days. There might even be some pioneer “chores” for your kids to do - Gather water, wash clothes, or try your hand on an antique weaving loom. Make it a day or stop by for an hour, the program runs from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and children are encouraged to dress in their best pioneer clothing!

June 7, 2016

Free Educational Programs for Students Entering Grades 6-8

Summer learning loss is a concern for parents and educators alike but that is where INNO comes in. Would you like the opportunity for your student (entering grades 6-8) to participate in a free summer educational program? Summer courses will be available starting July 2 through Labor Day at the Ann Arbor Downtown District Library on weekends. Classes are one hour in length and focus on language arts and mixed mathematics.

To register for this great opportunity, visit the INNO website.  Courses are taught by qualified high school students who have a passion for Math and English. The students will encourage your child to love learning and develop good study habits, rather than just memorizing facts.

Expel summer learning loss and register for this free program TODAY! For more information, email educationinno@gmail.com.

June 3, 2016

Family Campouts in Washtenaw County

I mentioned the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Family Campouts in a recent article on inexpensive family camping options, however I wanted to make sure all of my readers saw these amazing opportunities. We have participated several times and have LOVED the experience despite being a family of scouts who camps often. The closeness and convenience of the weekend has been lot of fun for us. Be sure to register early for the programs though, as they do fill up rather quickly. The events often offer crafts, fishing, nature programs, a night hike, and more for just $7/person. Pre-registration is required though by contacting contact Brian at polewayb@ewashtenaw.org or
(734) 484-9676 x.205.

August 6-7 and 13-14: Family Camp Out at Rolling Hills Park
September 10 - 11: Family Campout at Independence Lake Park

I also suggest that if you are a Girl Scout leader with Daisy's or full of inexperienced families, this makes a GREAT camping option and the programming is mostly already done for you.

June 1, 2016

Autism Swim Day at Rolling Hills

On Saturday, June 18 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. children with autism can experience the Rolling Hills Water Park in a safe setting. Simply show up at the gate to participate. The park will not be open to others, so this is truly a special time for autistic children.

Prices for the water park are $8.00/$6.00 for residents. After the swim, if your child is up for it, stay for the free Summer Block Party at Rolling Hills too!

Summer Block Party at Rolling Hills

On Saturday, June 18, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. families can enjoy a "Summer Block Party" at Rolling Hills Park. This free event (with paid entry into the park) will offer a hist of fun experiences including free food, yard games, sand volleyball, t-shirt dying and other summer vacation favorites. It sounds like a fantastic not-to-be missed event!