May 29, 2016

Free Sharon Mills Historic Tour

Did you know that Henry Ford had a strong influence on the area? Want to learn more about the areas rich heritage? How about exploring one of the many great parks throughout Washtenaw County available to families?


Then take the family to Sharon Mills (5701 Sharon Hollow Rd., Manchester) on June 5 & 19, July 10 & 24 and August 7 & 21 for a docent guided tour (1:00-4:00 p.m.). Learn about the varied uses of this 1850's mill, view a collection of relevant artifacts, and learn about Henry Ford’s influence at Sharon Mills Park and see a demonstration of the hydroelectric generator that was used during Village Industry days. It's a free tour, a beautiful site along the River Raisin and a great way to learn about local history for your children and teens.

May 26, 2016

Backyard Camping - The Great American Backyard Experience!!!

Aaaah, the smell of burnt (I mean toasted) marshmallows over a campfire, fireflies dancing across the clear-blue sky, children gazing towards the stars hoping to catch a glimpse of an elusive falling star, and the neighbor from the house next door yelling to her children, "come inside it's time for bed..." Can that be right? Why yes it is! This weekend is the National Wildlife Federations Great American Campout.

On June 25, 2016 communities throughout the US, including backyards and non-traditional "campgrounds" are "pitching" in on the fun - Vist the NWF website to register your backyard event of check out area happenings.

Locally in Ann Arbor, families can experience the Great American Backyard Campout at the Leslie Science & Nature Center where kids of all ages to enjoy nature-based programs, tent space, campfires, dinner and breakfast, and much more!  It's all happening, June 25 at 4:00 p.m. - June 26 at 10:00 a.m. at the center, and costs only $50 for the entire family! Advanced pre-registration is required in person, over the phone at the Leslie Science and Nature Center website.

Whether in your own backyard, or at a local event, inspire your children and get them outdoors with a family campout. You WON'T regret it!


National Trails Day Hike

Scouts from Troop 446 (Saline), myself, a dog
and one Brownie hiked 6.2 miles in 2015
as part of the first Iron Belle Trail Hike.
June 4, 2016 is National Trails Hike Day and the country’s largest celebration of trails! Events will take place in every state across the country and will include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more. If you are interested, you should see what events are available in your area.

Ann Arbor Area Hiking Events:

Stewardship Work Day - Bird Hills Nature Area
Volunteer Work Day - County Farm Park
National Trails Day - Waterloo Recreation Area
Hike It Baby - Nichols Arboretum
National Trails Day Hike - West Lake Preserve

Last year, my scout troop participated in the inaugural Iron Belle Challenge hike which we are doing again this year. In fact, my son will be in the Ann Arbor area hiking with Boy Scout Troop 446 (Saline) while I am in Mackinaw City hiking the same trail at the same time with Girl Scout Troop 76032 (Belleville). How is that possibly you ask?

The Iron Belle Trail continuously runs from Belle Aisle to Ironwood Michigan (hence the name) and covers some of the more scenic parts of the state. Some of the trails even connect with parts of the larger North Country Trail. In 2015 scouts from around Michigan hiked over 14,000 miles on the trail on the same day in an attempt to hike the entire trail in one day! Scouts who participated received a special patch.

This year the hike will be bigger and better too and will be held on National Trails Hike Day. To participate in this hiking event, interested Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts should contact Raymond Rustem at 517-284-6070 or rustemr@michigan.gov to participate.




May 25, 2016

Is Your Family Prepared for a Tornado?

Adapted for a post originally shared on annarbor.com in 2010. 

At 11 p.m. Saturday I heard what could only have been interpreted as an unusual sound, a sound I don’t remember hearing outside of the typical first Saturday of the month test. I and the rest of the Ann Arbor area heard a tornado siren. Since the phrase “Take shelter in the lowest area of your home, away from any windows” has been beaten into my brain like Pavlov’s conditioning theory, I did just that.

It’s quite possible that at one time in my life I may have waited a bit longer before deciding what to do; however, as a mother, my instincts took over. I grabbed shoes for the family, a cell phone, a weather radio and several flashlights, and took them to the basement. I then woke my son, and carried my daughter’s limp sleeping form to the basement.

Once we were safe, my husband searched for weather updates on the television and I hit Facebook to see who may have experienced the storm. To my children who returned to blissful slumber, nothing disastrous was happening. Meanwhile I found myself glued to the television and my laptop simultaneously, searching for an answer as to what we might expect.

The rain continued to pour in horizontal sheets while thunder and lightning rocked our neighborhood with an electrifying pulse. I swear, if I would have closed my eyes and held my breath, I might have been able to feel the pressure that the storm cell and strong winds exuded upon my home - almost as if it were a breathing, living thing.

When the threat diminished we returned to our respective beds; it was only then that I was able to close my eyes with some amount of peace that my family was safe.

The relative security of the passing storm was quickly erased when the second tornado siren shattered the night around 12:30 a.m. I may have over-reacted then, however I knew that I would not be able to sleep in my own bed successfully knowing that a) the storm had not dissipated and b) my children were not safe. So for the second time that night, I prepared my children as I grabbed sleeping bags, pillows and their favorite blankets. I then offered them a “night of camping” in the basement family room, which was quickly accepted.

Unfortunately by the time I got down there, our only couch was taken up by my son’s lanky 6-year-old form as he sleepily said he was not about to sleep on the floor! I therefore resigned myself to curling up on the chair-and-a-half and realized I’d have to share its matching ottoman with my daughter, who thought that made a cool bed.

For the next several hours, I spent the night in the security of our darkened basement. Nothing could have prepared me for the awesome power of that ONE boom of thunder that I swore was released directly over our house, nor did I expect the innocence of my daughter reaching over to clasp my hand in reassurance while saying “Mommy I love you,” softly.

Sometime around 6 a.m. I awoke to complete silence and the dawning of a new morning and with kink in my neck and a crook in my back from remaining tightly curled in several awkward positions. It was then that I decided to roll into my own bed and my daughter followed, crawling into her own bed. I’m not sure but I doubt my son could have been woken up even if I held a bullhorn to his ear, so I left him there. He slept through the entire event to later exclaim that it was great to turn on the TV without getting out of bed.

I feel good about what I did as a parent, and confident that we were safe. After thinking about how I could have made better plans for a tornado warning though, I found a great website Ready.gov for KIDS that may have better prepared the family. It's also been helpful that my son, who is working on several Eagle Scout Merit Badges, was preparing to earn his Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge so he has guided family discussion on what he has learned. We practice fire safety so why shouldn’t we also talk about other disaster preparedness? The tornado did touch down just a few miles away from us; what if the next time it touches down in our neighborhood?

What does your family do during tornado warnings? Do you seek refuge in a basement? Do you have a safe place to stay? Do you have an emergency plan in place? What will you do next time severe weather strikes?

May 24, 2016

Inexpensive Family Camping Weekends

As a child I loved to camp and did so often with the family. My kids now love to camp however it gets expensive and there is rarely anywhere nearby that we can camp reasonably. There is now a solution to that.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks camping is available to families and groups for as low as $30-40/night. Throughout the summer, May 1-mid October families can enjoy rustic camping at the The Lower Huron Metropark (off of I-94 and Haggerty Rd - exit 192) for only $20 a night (plus vehicle entry fee). Stony Creek is offering many family campout weekends too and many of the other Metroparks have dedicated camping areas and lodges available.

There is also an opportunity to participate at two Family Campout sessions at Rolling Hills through Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation on August 6-7 or August 13-14. We have participated in this program for several years and highly recommend it to friends. Set up your tent and enjoy the park or the water park, families can also enjoy the campfire, hikes, educational programs for the kids and breakfast the next morning! Find out more about the Rolling Hills Family campout here. Camping is only $7 per person too, which makes this a very affordable way to camp!

Another WCPR option is Family Camping at Independence Lake on September 10-11. Are you looking for a great opportunity to spend a night out under the stars with your family? Join us for the Independence Lake County Park Family Campout! You'll enjoy fun activities like zany crafts, relaxing fishing at the dock, intriguing nature programs, delicious s'mores, a sizzling campfire and a scrumptious pancake breakfast! You won't want to miss out on this spectacular event. Cost is $8/person.  Registration is open, please fax, mail or drop off the registration form to save your spot for this great event.  Email Hannah Cooley, cooleyh@ewashtenaw.org, or call (734)449-4437 ex 201, for more details.

Canton also gets into the family camping experience with Family Camp Out and Movie Night on July 15-16  at Heritage Park (1010 S. Canton Center Rd., Canton 48188). Families are invited to set up around the amphitheater and enjoy a move at dusk. Beginning at 6:00 p.m., there will be plenty to do before the movie including games, activities and entertainment for the entire family. The cost is only $20 overnight camping fee or $5 per person to participate in the evenings activities (if not camping overnight). Dinner & concession items will be sold Friday evening. Canoeing on Friday and a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning will be available for a nominal fee. Tent set up begins at noon on Friday July, 15. RV’s and tents are both welcome.

Don't let not owning a tent stop you, the last time we attended a Rolling Hills campout, two families brought their 10x10 easy up tents with bug netting and tarps to cover the sides at night! So whatever you do, pitch a tent in your back-yard or find a low cost camping option for your family. It will produce a lifetime of memories.

May 23, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend: Events, Parades and Ceremonies

This weekend is often thought of as the "official start to summer" kicking off with pool openings, BBQ's and family gatherings. It is important to remember though that it should also be a time of reflection and remembrance.

Luckily throughout Washtenaw County and the area, there are plenty of opportunities to experience events to help you do that. So save some gas money this holiday weekend and find something to do with the kids, right here at home. Honor the men and women of this great nation by attending one of the many Memorial Day ceremonies, processions and parades and then head out to experience the other free events happening. There will be plenty of fun for everyone!



Saturday, May 28:

Area Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will gather at Highland Cemetery (943 N River St., Ypsilanti) to place flags on the graves of our fallen heroes starting at 10:00 a.m. Lunch is served to volunteers after flags have been placed.

Be sure to check out the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra's FREE concert in the park at 2:00 p.m. Bring your blanket and the family to enjoy patriotic music in the park.

Sunday, May 29:

The annual Memorial Day observance at Arborcrest Memorial Park (2521 Glazier Way, Ann Arbor) will start at 2:00 p.m. and lasts about an hour (rain or shine). Local dignitaries, the Washtenaw County Honor Guard, local Boy Scout troops and Miss Washtenaw are often in attendance.

Monday, May 30:

The Annual Ann Arbor Memorial Day Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. The parade begins at the intersection of Middleton and Frederick and winds along Frederick, Middleton, Bardstown, Windemere, and Barrister roads winding up in Glacier Park at Larchmont and Barrister. There will be a memorial ceremony in Glacier Park at the end of the parade.

Belleville: Sumpter Township Country Fest in Belleville May 27-30, 2016. There is also a parade in downtown Belleville at 10:00 a.m. starting at Cathedral and 2nd that will process down Main Street and conclude at the cemetery.

Chelsea: Parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade route heads south on Main St., east on Park St., north on East St. and east on Middle St., ending at Oak Grove Cemetery for a traditional ceremony honoring area veterans.

Dexter: The Dexter parade begins at 10:00 a.m. with a ceremony in Monument Park after the procession.

Milan: The annual memorial will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Blue Star Memorial and Veteran's Wall of Honor in Wilson Memorial Park. The parade will commence following these ceremonies and process West on Main St. ending at the Marble Park Cemetery, where services will be held and dignitaries will speak, honoring our military veterans.  The public is encouraged to participate in this parade using a patriotic theme but please do not pass out candy.

Saline: The Memorial Day parade, hosted by the American Legion, begins at 10:00 a.m. on Bennett Street due to Construction!

Ypsilanti:

The Yankee Air Museum always has something. On Saturday, May 28 participate in “Celebrate and Connect: Send a Million Letters to our Troops”starting at 10:00 am until 4:00 pm to support USO’s goal of collecting 1 million messages to share with those serving in the U.S. military worldwide. Then on Monday, May 30 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. participate in the annual program dedicated to honoring the military men and women who were killed serving the United States.

The Ypsilanti Memorial Day Procession begins at 9:00 a.m. (North Huron Street/Michigan Avenue) and ending at the Highland Cemetery for a ceremony. Includes veterans, Scouts, marching bands, Gold Star Mothers, and a 21-gun salute.


It is important that I also point out that there are many historic and beautiful war memorials throughout Washtenaw County to visit and honor our veterans. For a full list or War Memorial locations in Washtenaw County visit the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County website.

If you have other Memorial Day observances to add to the post, please comment below. Watch for the weekend events round-up too for your other planning needs!

Life Lesson: In-tents Hornswaggling

It is not a secret that my family is a big scouting family. I was a scout, my brother was a scout and both parents were leaders. My dad's father was also a scout and long-time scoutmaster. That's one of the reasons why, when my son expressed an interest in scouting, I stepped up and said I would help, which meant I was the then den leader.  I have become very active with the kids, being a leader in the Girl Scout and Boy Scout program, and my leadership has extended beyond that as a facilitator to other adult scouters and so much more. I enjoy what I give and receive from being a leader, I know that my kids see value in my leadership (which means my own children as well as the many other youth that I mentor) and mostly I appreciate the skills that my kids have received as a result of their participation.

My sin attending a cross-over of a
Cub Scout joining the Troop. 
My kids are good scouts. Most recently my son and his best friend built a Gaga Ball pit at their school - They did the research, ran the fundraising, picked out the materials and built the structure. Yes they had guidance from teachers and parents, but the thing is, they had an idea and ran with it. Someone asked my son if that was his Eagle Project. While it is Eagle worthy, he and his friend wanted to build it because they saw and need and "just wanted to." My son is often the first volunteer, he helps a local Cub Scout den as their Den Chief, has been working hard to work through rank advancement, was selected to be part of a troop that participates as the Governor's Honor Guard on Mackinac Island and was recently elected as Patrol Leader and selected to join the Order of the Arrow.

My daughter too is starting to see the value of leadership too. Most recently when she found out a local nature area needed some signage she decided to take on the project for her Bronze Award. She is a helpful scout, and an active scout who has repeatedly been a top seller and as a result is working on her own business of making and selling dog and cat treats.

My son is 12 and my daughter is 10.

I don't want to sound like I am bragging, even if I am a bit, but I mostly wanted to share all of this to illustrate that we are a strong scouting family. Yes, my kids might have gotten much of this from me regardless, but the values that scouting brings is important to us.  So why is this important to my blog post today? Scouting directly relates to a recent Life Lesson my son experience.

As a Boy Scout, my son does a lot of camping. As one of his Assistant Scoutmasters, I camp as well and LOVE the tent that I purchased for myself when we began the adventure. I have stayed warm, and dry on every campout we have been on, including the Klondike (February 2015) where we had record cold temperatures! Alps Mountaineering has not let me down. (I highly recommend their products and love the fact that they offer scouts a substantial discount through their hikerdirect.com label. (If you are a scout or scouter that does not already know about this, be sure to check it out!)

My son however has stayed in the tents that the troop has provided. As he will be participating in more non-troop activities through OA, staffing local events, etc. he has decided to get his own tent and upgrade the youth size hiking backpack I purchased used from him two years ago. Since a scout is "Thrifty" though, I suggested he look at all options for tents before buying.

As I was on Craigslist Saturday, I was pleased to see a Eureka "Scout" tent for sale for a very reasonable price. I showed my son. I suggested that since he was buying a new backpack, perhaps he should save his tent money a little longer. We reached out to the guy and arranged a meeting for the next day.

Typically I don't mind used equipment, in fact it can be a great way to try new equipment for a reasonable price. Besides, I knew he would likely need a backpacking tent in the future and the Eureka TL-4 would give him a great, high-quality, tent that would work in most seasons. Seemed like a solid win and the photos shared indicated the tent was in GREAT shape. Plus the guy was selling it at a very reasonably price that we could not pass up.

When we arrived at the designated meeting spot, the guy shook my son's hand and they exchanged pleasantries. Before we went, I suggested to my son that he would likely want to take the tent out of the bag and possibly even set it up before making the purchase. The seller however kept talking about his scouting experiences and even went so far as to say, "After we spoke yesterday I got several calls from people who were interested in my (Eureka) tent. They even tried telling me they'd pay more and that they would get it (the same day). I told them I was selling to a scout and couldn't let the kid down." He then went on to say that the tent looked exactly as pictured so my son (and I) took him at face value and did not open the tent. We even bought an additional sleeping mat that he was selling.

We did not set the tent up last night since we got home late, so today while my son was in school I
Spending the night in their
Wilderness Survival shelter
opted to set it up. I knew that the directions were missing but was able to download those. I knew the directions were missing at least. We specifically asked about the poles and were told they were in perfect shape and there were no stains, holes or rips in the tent. When setting up the tent though, I quickly realized that the poles were not in perfect shape, several had a good bend, then to make matters worse, I noticed some yellow staining (cigarette smoke?) across the white part of the tent and found that the tent was completely sticky in the inside as well as under the rain-fly. This means it was likely not properly stored and is not weather ready.

I am looking into solutions now, and have reached out to the manufacturer to see what Eureka recommends, but I am most dis-pleased that my 12-year old was taken advantage of. In a big way. The tent was misrepresented and the guy discouraged us from opening it, hinting instead that he should be trustworthy as he was also a scout. Sadly that is not the case.

My son is not home yet. Certainly I could let this be a life lesson about "look before you buy" or even "you get what you pay for." I feel strongly though, that this is likely a lesson in disappointment and that not everyone is trustworthy. I feel as much to blame as the guy who sold the tent to him since I should have insisted my son open the tent. As of right now he will be disappointed to not have a tent that he can use though and I am now searching for a solution that he can have when he attends his OA Ordeal, NYLT and other scout camping programs he is attending.

So what would you tell your child? How would you handle the inevitable disappointment?

May 18, 2016

Michigan Free Fishing Weekend

The size of the fish is measured by a
kid's smile! Enjoy free fishing in
Michigan this weekend.
Every year the Michigan DNR sponsors free fishing weekends, with June 11-12, being one of them. Although kids can always fish for free, if you are a non-fishing adult, this is a great time to check out the sport and introduce your kids to fishing. Besides you can get out in nature together! All fishing license fees will be waived for the weekend, however all fishing regulations will still apply. That's right it's FREE fishing!

 There are some ideal Washtenaw County fishing spots for families available. My kids especially like the ease of fishing off the docks at Rolling Hills. While there are very few "keepers" caught there, you can be assured that the kids will catch something - This alleviates the long wait times often associated with fishing. Of course this also spoils your children a bit, but seeing their faces when catching fish, well that's priceless!

Events on Free Fishing Weekend

"Fishing Tournament & Picnic" is also on June 11 at Kensington Metropark. Don't miss the nationally acclaimed Tips-Up for the Troops Bass Tournament and Brain Injury Awareness Family and Friends event.  The event provides an opportunity to gather and thank some Michigan Veterans and first responders, and to learn more about traumatic brain injury.  Go to www.biami.org for more information or to register. A Metroparks vehicle entry permit is required to enter any Metropark and is only $30 annually for regular admission, $20 annually for seniors or $7 daily.''

Free Fishing programs are also happening through Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation at Rolling Hills park from 10:00 a.m. - noon on June 11 or at Independence Lake Park, on June 12 from 10:00 a.m. - noon.  Poles, bait and instruction are provided for this free event. available. Pre-registration is required at parksonline.ewashtenaw.org, #841001, (June 11: Section A:10-11/B:11-noon ; June 12 Section C: 10-11/ D: 11-noon). This event has a maximum of 15 people per session so be sure to register soon!

Hook Line & Sinker - Learn to fish with the DNR! Rods, bait and instructions will be provided at the Waterloo Recreation Area, Crooked Lake fishing pier in Chelsea at 10:00 a.m.

There were not many events listed at the time of publishing, but the State of Michigan has a partial list of Free Fishing Weekend events.

Want to learn to fish but can't get out this weekend? Then the Hook, Line and Sinker program with the DNR might be up your ally. Learn casting and fishing basics with a borrowed rod and reel if you don't have your own equipment. Hook, Line and Sinker programs begin in mid-June and continue throughout the summer. There is one Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m. At Crooked Lake Fishing Pier in Washtenaw County!

So make a date with the kids or start a new tradition while having some great fishing fun. It's time to enjoy that Michigan fishing!



Ypsilanti-Lincoln Soccer Club Try Outs


I wanted to highlight the club my kids have been playing with - The Ypsilanti-Lincoln Soccer Club. My daughter only played one year but my son has been there for the last several and has grown much as a player. It is a very reasonably priced local club with great parents and coaches. We have very much enjoyed being part of the club and found it to be that step up from rec leagues that my son needed.

If your child is ready for a step-up, please check out the Ypsi-Lincoln Soccer Club. Try out dates are June 20-21, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Ford Heritage Park.

Ann Arbor Art Center Camp

Looking for a summer day camp in Ann Arbor, perhaps something creative and fun?  Then camp at the Ann Arbor Art Center might be what you are looking for. With many choices and TWO options each week, you will be sure to find a fun-filled, creative Ann Arbor day camp option.


Each week, families can choose between Clay Camp or Creativity Camp, and the fun doesn't stop there. Weekly themes include games, Back to the Future, design, cartoons, monsters and so much more. 

Camps start the week of June 27, and run through September 2 too, so there is no gap before the kids head back to school. I know that's been especially important to me as many camps don't run the last few weeks! Campers can start attending Creativity Camp as young as age 5 and age 9 for Clay Camp. So that no one is in a group that is developmentally different, campers are grouped together by age too. This is another of our big concerns as my children have gotten older. 

So if you are looking for a spark of creativity this summer, consider day camp at the Ann Arbor Art Center. My daughter is very much looking forward to attending, and I will have another article with her review after camp! 

Ann Arbor Art Center 
June 27-September 2, 216
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; Pre and post care available
Ages 5-12
Cost: $360+






sponsored post

Teen Event: Try Rowing For Free

Teens can try rowing for free at Bandemer Park, May 21 at 10:30 a.m.

Have you wondered what it's like to be in one of those long narrow shells rowed by a crew? Teens (age 12+) and adults can try it for free at a National Learn to Row Day event hosted by the Ann Arbor Rowing Club and University of Michigan Men's Crew Team. Just show up at (N. Main St. to Lake Shore Dr.) any time between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. After signing a waiver, you'll receive brief instruction on land, and then shove off in a 50' long shell, stabilized by experienced rowers, and instructed further by a coach in an accompanying safety launch.For more information contact Info@a2crew.com,

May 16, 2016

Free Day Camp for Kids Age 8-12 at HVA

FREE ALERT for a summer day camp program for kids age 8-12!

Your child age 8-12 can learn about being safe, emergency preparedness
 
and even CPR during the free Camp 9-1-1 at HVA locations this summer!

The folks at Huron Valley Ambulance are offering a free 2-day camp at 13 locations around the area to kids interested in learning about emergency services and safety. The program, taught by local EMT's introduces information about careers in Emergency Services while teaching the kids about safety at home or at play. While at camp, kids will learn how to perform lifesaving skills on injured victims, including learning CPR! This would be a great program for any Boy Scout, Girl Scout or any kid simply interested in being safe. programming runs 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. for each of the two days.

My son attended last summer with his friend and learned so much. Of course my son is very focused too, which helped! He enjoyed the experience though and is hoping to do it again before he is too old! My daughter can't wait until next summer when she is old enough to attend.

Locations of the day-camp are held throughout Washtenaw County all summer long, so there are many opportunities to sign your kids up. To register your child for this free day-camp, visit the HVA Camp 9-1-1 registration page.

May 12, 2016

Geocaching 101

On Saturday, May 14, experience Geocaching 101 at the Eddy Discovery Center  (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea | (734)475-3170). Families will learn the basics of this popular past-time at one of three instructional sessions (11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m.) Learn to use a GPS unit (or bring your own) and have fun hunting for prizes. Instructions and clues for the hunt will be available inside the Discovery Center with GPS coordinates provided. Just show up for this fun and free event!

May 10, 2016

Free Educational Program for Ypsilanti Teens

Does your student need an educational challenge? Then The Wolverine Pathways program might be a great option. Teens (incoming 7th and 10th grade students) who live within the Ypsilanti public school district, qualify for this exceptional learning program, and it's FREE!

The University of Michigan’s Wolverine Pathways is a free, year-round program that partners with your family, school and community to provide learning experiences that will help you succeed in school, college and future careers. Selected students will receive academic support and enrichment as well as invitations to participate in cultural events and service opportunities. Students who successfully complete the program are also eligible for full tuition scholarships to the University of Michigan!

The application deadline to apply is May 31, 2016. For more information, please visit the Wolverine Pathways Program website.

Rockhounding Basics

Fun family event: Rockhounding 101 at the Eddy Discovery Center.
My children and I have really gotten into rock-hounding the past few years. So much so, that on any given beach you will find rocks in our pockets, in backpacks, wrapped in blankets and sometimes in our shoes! The goal is now to find the BEST rock of a specific kind. 

I have actually found a lot pleasure in collecting specimens and learning to identify them. Gliding my fingers across their rough surface or enjoying the cool smoothness. It is soothing and exhilarating.  I have gotten so good in fact that I now am a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts and have several presentations that I have delivered to the school my children attend (sometimes not even to their classes!). It's a hobby I have really enjoyed and my son's principal has actually asked me to submit to be a substitute teacher after seeing one of the presentations. 

Certainly I have had this love since I was a small child. My grandpa had a huge rock tumbler in his basement and I will forever remember him showing me rocks fresh from the tumbler. My love of rocks was rekindled though when my kids and I attended a free event at the Eddy Discovery Center.

The next Rockhound Basics course will be held on Sunday, May 22, at 2:00 p.m. Families will discover what you can learn about ancient Michigan from looking at a rock, walk along the rock walk at the Eddy Discovery Center ( 17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea, MI 48118) and get to pick the brain of area geologist Larry Bean. You will even learn how to “read” the story told by rocks and help you to identify specimens at a local quarry. 

Meet at the Discovery Center before driving to the quarry to do some collecting. Advance registration is requested at 734-475-3170. Cost: $2 per person/$5 per family. 

May 9, 2016

Butterfly Festival at UM Museum of Natural History

On Saturday, May 14, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. families should plan to attend the Butterfly Festival and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. This free event will have live butterflies and teach kids about the life cycle and lifestyles of butterflies. Stay for this enjoyable spring event and help plant in the Museum’s Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, or make your very own butterfly wings to take home.

May 7, 2016

Arrows Away Program: Free Event

Many of you know that I am an avid fan of "free events." That's really why the blog started! I am also an avid scouter and enjoy taking the kids outdoors. We do have our own archery equipment but don't use it often enough, and that's one reason to share this fantastic FREE event.

The Arrows Away program is a free program at the Waterloo State Recreation area (and other state lands) that teaches the traditional outdoor skill of Archery through fun, safe instruction. All equipment and instruction is provided for kids ages 8 and up. I have attended several sessions with my children and have even taken scouting groups out there! To make the date even longer, we hiked some as well as explored the Eddy Discovery Center!

Dates for the program vary throughout the summer and all programs are at the Eddy Discovery Center unless otherwise noted.  All you need to do is to show up to participate!

Saturday, May 7, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 21, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. (Portage Lake Campground)
Saturday, June 4, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 11, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 18, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Sketching Nature for the Family

On Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m., families who enjoy drawing will have the opportunity to develop their hidden artistic talent sketching nature at the Eddy Discovery Center (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea, MI 48118). Participants will meet with scientific illustrator Jen Koppin, who will teach drawing techniques and observational skills. The class will then head outdoors to practice sketching and color exercises.

The cost for this event includes entry into the State Park and is $2/person or $5/family plus an additional $2 materials fee for supplies (unless you bring your own). Advance registration for this program is required at 734-475-3170.

May 1, 2016

Kids Bowl Free All Summer Long

For several years now my kids have participated in the Kids Bowl Free program during the summer months when they are out of school. It is the perfect afternoon activity when the summer weather isn't cooperating, and the best part is that my children get to enjoy free bowling!

Let your kids can bowl FREE
all summer long!
Starting May 1, Ann Arbor families can take their children for free bowling at Bel-Mark Lanes. This is the only Ann Arbor bowling alley hosting the Kids Bowl Free program this year. I have been told too, that the bowling alley is under renovation, so be sure to stop in and check them out!

Bel-Mark Lanes, Ann Arbor
May 1-Sept 1
3530 Jackson Rd. | (734) 994-8433
Mon-Thurs until 6:00 p.m.
Fri-Sun until 5:00 p.m.

Looking for other convenient bowling alleys? Here are two more nearby:

Lodge Lanes, Belleville
May 1-Sept 30
46255 I-94 S Service Dr, Belleville | (734) 697-9178

Chelsea Lanes, Chelsea
April 15 1-Oct 31
1180 S. Main Street, Chelsea | (734) 475-8141

Super Bowl, Canton
May 2-Aug 31
45100 Ford Rd. | (734) 459-6070

There are many participating bowling alley's in Michigan to choose from, so check out their available times and choose wisely. Parents will only be able to register for one bowling alley per e-mail account.

In past years, if you register early, you will most likely also be offered the family pass for just $24.95 per family.  This pass is good for up to 4 adult family members (Mom, Dad, Older Siblings, Grandma, Grandpa or an Adult Babysitter) to bowl 2 games of free bowling every day during the summer along along with the children that have registered in the family.

So sign up today for this amazing summer deal.