September 22, 2016

Free Youth Day Activities Sponsored by Ford Motor Company

On Saturday, September 24, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. kids ages 5-16 can spend an afternoon of design education and exploration sponsored by Henry Ford Learning Institute. The free event will have kids making human scale weaving, making sun prints, and creating inflatable sculptures.  The event is part of the 2016 Detroit Design Festival program, taking place Sept. 21-25. For more information and to register visit:

September 20, 2016

Preventing Illness: Have Fun Learning to Scrub

Republished from my 2009 post

It's two weeks into the school year and already my son has to stay home from school because of illness. I kept hearing about neighbors and friends whose children have became ill this past week, and let's face it, as parents that is the worst part of the school-year. Bringing germs home to spread among the family is no fun. This year it seems to be an even greater fear for families, with the threat of H1N1 lurking everywhere. So what do we do?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that proper handwashing is the most simple thing a family can do in the prevention of infection and illness. That's great, perfect really. My son has received countless fliers on doing this, and even the health insurance company is spending their money printing helpful hand-washing fliers. As parents though, this really doesn't help me. Yes I can teach my children to sneeze into their sleeve, use a tissue, and wash their hands - But how can I make it FUN for them? Being "fun" is sometimes the greatest motivator for children. So where can I go for help?
This is really a trick question for me, because I have already found an excellent resource in the NSF Scrub Club!
Each year, more than 164 million school days are lost due to illness, which could be greatly reduced with proper handwashing. That’s why Ann Arbor based NSF International created the Scrub Club® - to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing and ultimately improve the health of children and reduce school sick days.
The program is the first of its kind designed for children 3 to 8 years of age - This fun, interactive and educational website teaches children the proper way to wash their hands. The site consists of Webisodes, interactive games, music, many educational downloadable activities for kids, educational materials for teachers and program information for parents. My son loves the Scrub Club theme song and has even begun singing along!
So be sure to visit the Scrub Club® website with your preschool aged and young children - Everyone will benefit from the fun and informative learning experience through the website interaction. Don't forget to pass along the word to your children's elementary school teachers, as there are some great classroom resources as well including the 6 Steps To Proper handwashing Poster.

September 15, 2016

Does The Cupcake Ban Help?

First published on in 2010

To fight childhood obsesity should
cupcakes and other treats be banned
from birthday celebrations at school?
As a parent who makes homemade cakes and cupcakes from scratch for every birthday celebration at school and at home, I was disappointed to hear that some Michigan schools are banning cupcakes to fight childhood obesity. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that a generation of children is going to have problems due to their weight, and that ultimately society has to pay for it. However I don't think that the occasional cupcake is causing this problem. Ultimately it is kids having bad eating habits, overall, and not enough exercise.
As a child I played outside from dawn until dusk, only coming in when my parents insisted. The current generations are not getting outside to play, have less gym time in school and sit in front of the television, computer monitor or with a handheld gaming system for hours on end. So why are schools banning cupcakes instead of other solutions? Are there better solutions to help children eat better? Does your child attend a school where birthday treats have been banned?
My opinion is that children only get to be kids for a short window of time. Since the focus on birthdays lessens as the years pass, why not let them have their cake and eat it while they are young and solve the issue with more time outdoors, exercising and parents teaching their children to make be

September 5, 2016

Pittsfield Township Annual Harvest Fest

On Sunday September 18, 2:00-5:00 p.m., Ann Arbor area families can enjoy the Pittsfield Township Annual Harvest Festival at the  Sutherland-Wilson Farm Museum (797 Textile Rd., Ann Arbor). Hear the sounds of the Saline Fiddlers, enjoy hay rides, games, a petting farm, and hands on demonstrations. Hand-made items will also be for sale.

Tour historic building and see photo displays as well. A bake sale and pumpkin picking can also be enjoyed. There will be everything we love about the fall!

Adult Wristbands (ages 16+) $5.00
Child Wristbands (ages 3 – 15) $3.00
Free admission Children 2 and under

Schedule of Events:
2:00 p.m. Welcome Message & Event Kick off
2:15 p.m. Saline Fiddlers
2:15 - 5:00 p.m. House Tours
3:30 p.m. Prizes in the Straw (under 4)
3:40 p.m. Prizes in the Straw (ages 5+)

Free Parking & Shuttle available at Harvest Elementary (1155 Campus Pkwy). For more information visit the Harvest Festival website or the Harvest Festival Event on Facebook!

September 1, 2016

Cider Mills, Apple Orchards and Pumpkin Patches in Washtenaw County

The unseasonably cool weather this week has got me thinking...

Next week school is back in session, football season is just around the corner, the days are getting shorter and the nights have begun to cool ever so slightly. These subtle changes indicate that it's time for cider, donuts, and visiting area apple orchards! Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and visiting the many great apple orchards and cider mills is the highlight of the season. In the interest of shopping locally however, I have compiled a list of cider mills, pumpkin patches and apple orchards in Washtenaw County that I have visited and like to visit. Be sure to add additional locations in the comments below!


DeBuck's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch (50240 Martz Rd., Belleville, MI 48111): Enjoy the kids are as well as go carts, hay slide, a pumpkin patch, and corn maze highlighting Frozen.
(734) 260-0334

2 The Pumpkin Factory (48651 Harris Rd., Belleville MI 48111)  
Haunted hayride, a country store, pumpkins a playground for the kids, farm animals, children's maze, straw jump, the free little haunted house, pony rides on weekends and a corn maze. (734)461-2763    


3 Berry Hill Farm (12835 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter MI 48130): Buy pumpkins or patch-pick in the field. Also find honey from hives on the farm. Typically open August through October. Parking and fall scenery are free. From the owner of Berry Hill Farm (Dexter).

The Blast Corn Maze (6175 Daly Rd., Dexter MI 48130): Kids pumpkin patch field, corn maze, hay bale maze, wagon rides, snacks and refreshment stand. Restrooms, a picnic area, and farm animals are also available. Open September through October. Cost: $5+ Kids under 4 free. Hayrides are $3/ride.

5 Dexter Cider Mill (3685 Central St., Dexter MI 48130): The Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest operating cider mill in Michigan. Families can find natural cider, fresh apples, doughnuts, caramel apples and bakery goods in addition to seasonally available locally grown vegetables and apple products. Families can also enjoy slushies, and popcorn. Open mid-August. Cost: Admission and parking are free.

6 Lesser Farms and Orchard (12651 Island Lake Rd., Dexter MI 48130): Offering families plums, apples, cider, homemade jams and jellies, beeswax candles, honey, soaps and pumpkins. Open year round, cider and apples are available in the fall. Free parking.
734 426-0606


7 Alber Orchard & Cider Mill plus corn maze (13011 Bethel Church Rd., Manchester MI 48158): Families enjoy a family owned orchard that has been in business since 1890. View an old fashioned cider press, pick pumpkins, enjoy the fresh cider, wander the corn maze or take a hay ride. Open Labor day through November 7. School tours are $5.00 per child or parent, corn maze admission $5+. Many free events at the orchard throughout the season.


Wasem Fruit Farm (6580 Judd Rd., Milan MI 48160): Families will find apple cider, donuts, pumpkins, squash, plums and seasonal fruits and veggies with u-pick raspberries. Open September through early November. Call for specifics. Parking is free. No u-pick apples for 2012.

9 Talladay Farms (6270 Judd Rd., Milan MI 48160): Find several corn mazes, a straw bale maze for kids and bonfire firepits. Located 1/4 mile from Wasem's Apple Orchard. Open September 16. Cost $1+.


10 Obstbaum Orchards and Cider Mill (9252 Currie Rd., Northville MI 48167): Take the family for u-Pick apples and pumpkins. Open September through late October. Free parking.

11 Three Cedars Farm (7897 6 Mile Rd., Northville MI 48167): Find a u-pick pumpkin patch, a variety of gathered pumpkins, a corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, produce, a gift shop, snacks and a refreshment stand with nearby picnic area and farm animals. Free parking.


12 Donahee Farms (6055 Tower Rd., Plymouth MI 48170): Three generations of farmers offering families u-pick pumpkins and a straw maze. Open seasonally. Free parking.

13 Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill (10685 Warren Rd., Plymouth MI 48170): Pick a pumpkin or purchase and already picked one or take a leisurely wagon ride through the orchard - Lots to taste, see and do. Enjoy fresh donuts and apple cider while visiting the farm animals. Open August 27 to November 6. Free parking, wagon rides are $2+, children 3 and under are free.


14 Lutz Orchard (11030 Macon Rd., Saline MI 48176): Families will enjoy fresh picked apples, produce, and pumpkins. Children will enjoy seeing the animals on a real working farm. Closed on Thursdays. Open seasonally September through October. Free parking.

15 Coleman's Corn Maze (12758 Jordan Rd., Saline, MI 48176): Fun for the entire family including a petting zoo, kids maze, pumpkin patch, a hay pile and barrel train.


16 Wiard's Orchards and County Fair (5565 Merritt Rd., Ypsilanti MI 48197)
Enjoy a fall festival with apples, pumpkins, hay rides, inflatable bounce houses, putt putt, a petting farm and the perfect backdrop for fall family photos.

As the weather turns, like the leaves gently blowing outside the window, be sure to step out and visit one of these great local cider mills for their fall attractions and events, family fun and perfect apples, cider and donuts! Many will have weekend events and entertainment suitable for the whole family or for a visit from your child's classroom.

Sources:, individual company websites and,