Sesame Street Live’s “Make A New Friend” Now LIVE in Detroit Through 2/16/15 {Review + Tips!}

Sesame Street Live Sign

I received complimentary tickets to Sesame Street Live in exchange for promoting the show. All opinions expressed are my own.

The team behind Sesame Street Live has done it again — they have created a show that not only brings out the beautiful joy of childhood wonder, but they’ve added some stuff for us adults, too.

Each year I patiently await the arrival of Sesame Street Live at The Fox Theatre in Detroit. It has been a tradition of ours since my oldest was born and it has yet to disappoint. I was extra excited to take my 2-year-old this year since I figured she may get into it quite a bit. I was right — she went nuts when Elmo made an appearance and danced and clapped like crazy during many of the scenes.

Sesame Street Live - ABCs

The show incorporates letters and numbers, in true Sesame Street fashion

SHOW DESCRIPTION

No matter where you’re from or where you’ve been, everyone is special – so join in! Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and their Sesame Street friends welcome Chamki, Grover’s friend from India, to Sesame Street. Together, they explore the universal fun of friendship and celebrate cultural similarities, from singing and dancing, to sharing cookies. Join the fun and make a memory with your friends and family!

Sesame Street Live - Cookie

Chamki sharing Biskuts from India with Cookie Monster

Each performance is 90 minutes of singing, dancing and audience participation, including a 15-minute intermission. The perfect length for very young children! [Read more…]

Tips for Visiting SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium #SEALIFEMI

Tips for visiting SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

RE-PIN for later here!

I am a SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium Parent Ambassador and have received an exclusive first look at events and complimentary tickets. All opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re wondering about what SEA LIFE Michigan is like, I have the scoop for you.

We were lucky to attend a media sneak preview yesterday, and I have to say, I was blown away. This is such an amazing destination for Michigan families! Because we were among one of the first families to go through the interactive aquarium, I wanted to share some tips for those of you eager to make plans to visit. {The aquarium opens to the public on January 29, 2015 at noon.}

First, a general overview:

SEA LIFE Michigan is in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. Once you arrive in the plaza, just follow the Rainforest Cafe signs since that is where you will need to walk in to enter the aquarium. Just look for the bright blue building!

SEA LIFE MICHIGAN

From there, you will check in at a front desk and get a time assigned to you. This is so it won’t be crowded. Each area is narrow at spots {yet stroller friendly}, so this is crucial for crowd control, so each child can have the best views of the fish.

There are nine different zones in the 35,000 sq. ft. aquarium, full of just about all the popular species you can imagine — stingrays, fish, octopi, sharks, seahorses, turtles and more. My kids {2 and 4 years old} ran off the second we got inside — they were so eager to see what was next and find the Nemo and Dory look-a-likes inside.

I immediately noticed the touch screens on the wall and had to test them out. Such a cool, interactive feature for older kids and adults to learn about the many species of fish we were seeing.

SEA LIFE Michigan Touchscreens

After going through a few areas, we came to a touch pool where we could handle some Decorator Crabs and touch a starfish. The guide assured me that none of the creatures inside would bite ;)

SEA LIFE Michigan Decorator Crab

From there, we explored tanks filled with sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and more.

One of my favorite spots was a room strictly dedicated to turtles. Additionally, a shoal of fish and a walk-through tunnel were visually stunning.

SEA LIFE Michigan Tunnel

[Read more…]

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Winter can be dreadful as a parent. My kids love playing outside, and it’s just not always possible with three kiddos, especially when it’s close to mealtime and layers of clothing are needed to go out.

Like most parents, our worst time of day is the hours between 4-6 p.m. when I am preparing dinner and the kids want to “help.” So, this winter I’ve made it my goal to do more meal-time theme nights to keep everyone happy. I have found when I give each of my kids a job, meal time runs MUCH smoother, even if it is messier.

After renting TONS of food-related books from our library, here’s what has been on our menu of books and coordinating meals and activities:

Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

This book is fabulous for starting the discussion of where food comes from.

Meal: Pancakes, of course. My kids also love when I add a few drops of food coloring to make their ‘cakes blue or green.

Activity: Have your child help you stir in the ingredients, or add special additions such a blueberries {perfect for counting} or they can mush bananas to toss in the batter. My kids love using chocolate chips to make faces, too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott

This book is based on the play rhyme and has illustrations kids love.

Meal: PB&J of course!

Activity: Spread a blanket out on the floor and have a picnic! My kids absolutely love doing this. We usually just coordinate with easy-to-pick-up foods.

Living room picnic

Enjoying a picnic for dinner a few years ago. Yes, that’s MY beer. Sometimes that is needed after a long day!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

This book is perfect for stirring imagination.

Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs

Activity: Use Play-Doh to make pasta! Kids love rolling out the dough and making snake-like pastas. Make a few balls for meatballs too. For older kids, discuss what foods you would like to see fall from the sky. [Read more…]

Castaway Play: Indoor Fun in Southeast Michigan {+ Giveaway ENDS 1/30}

Castaway PlayI received free admission to Castaway Play in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

I’m hearing it in all the mom circles: Those of us with little ones are starting to get stir crazy. So what to do when temps are dipping, and your kid has endless energy?

Enter Castaway Play, dubbed a Family Entertainment Destination. And, entertaining it is!

Castaway Play is a short distance off the M-59 exit {from I-96}, right up the road from the Tanger Outlets in Howell, Mich. {Also, across from the Livingston Antique Outlet — one of my favorite places to visit when I can shop solo!}

We visited last Sunday after stewing over where we wanted to go for some time. We needed out of the house – period – and the kids needed to burn some energy. Castaway Play was exactly what we needed.

The location has been in Howell for quite some time, but there were awesome improvements we saw versus the last time we visited. We arrived right when they opened {which is 11 a.m. on Sundays} and were greeted by the friendly staff. We signed a waiver, and off we went to explore and play.

Castaway Play Entry

There were lots of tables where we could place our things, so we claimed a space of our own with no troubles. My kids immediately got the biggest grins on their faces and started climbing into all the structures.

Castaway Play StructureThe thing I noticed first? Big, comfy leather couches surrounding the perimeter — perfect for parents to relax while the kiddos play. These were amazing as a nursing mama! So nice to be super comfortable while feeding my baby.

Michigan's Largest Play Structure - Castaway Play

Michigan’s largest indoor structure, complete with 5 levels of soft play!

[Read more…]

Share Why #MichiganIsAuto on Social Media and Earn A Chance To Win $500

I was selected for this sponsored post by HayThereSocialMedia.com.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Michigan Is Auto

Do you have a great reason why #MichiganIsAuto? Time to share it!

Every year, one of my favorite things to do on social media is to watch the buzz surrounding the North American International Auto Show {#NAIAS} in Detroit. When I worked downtown, it was so exciting to see the crowds gather at Cobo to check out the cool cars and have a wintertime reason to visit the D. Personally, I enjoy looking at the concept cars — it’s like a glimpse into the future! Walking through the show is truly like walking through an art display, and you can see the passion for the automotive industry in each area.

Amazingly, last year’s NAIAS drew more than 85,000 people, impacting the SE Michigan region with $365 million. To say NAIAS isn’t important to Michigan is crazy. Michigan is synonymous with the auto industry, just like Idaho is to potatoes or Texas is to oil rigs. All Michiganders know *someone* who works in automotive. {Personally, my husband works for a supplier, so I am thankful for the industry!}

As the global automotive industry heads to Detroit this week, MICHauto {the state’s automotive accelerator} is gearing up to reinforce why Michigan is the epicenter of the auto industry.Print

Today through Jan. 23, MICHauto will award two $500 VISA gift cards to the entry that posts the best, most creative reason why #MichiganIsAuto. To enter, post your submission on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #MichiganIsAuto. Be sure to tag MICHauto using the social media handles below:

Please note this contest is not just for people who work in the industry or those who attend preview week — this is inclusive of ANY proud Michigander of any age and particularly all the people who will attend the show during public week! [Read more…]

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium Grand Opening January 29 + Family Fun Giveaway {ENDS 1/24} #SEALIFEMI

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

I am a SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium Parent Ambassador and will be receiving an exclusive first look at events leading up to the attraction’s grand opening and complimentary tickets. All opinions expressed are my own.

Really exciting news, ya’ll: the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium grand opening is opening January 29, 2015 at noon, and I have the scoop on the latest activity.

On Thursday, the 35,000-square-foot aquarium in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Mich., welcomed one Nurse shark, three Blacknose sharks and two Bonnethead sharks to their new home, along with the enthusiastic winners of the Young Environmentalist contest—aged 8 to 12—standing by to cheer them on.

SEA LIFE Michigan Sharks3

The creatures arrived in a transport truck, and after some testing and preparation, were rushed inside via stretchers by trained aquarists. The sharks were then placed into a small, connected acclimation tank before swimming off into the main ocean tank. A crew continuously checked water parameters at regular intervals, looking at ammonia levels, oxygen, temperature and pH, and curator Lucy Handel was there to help as well.

Many of the other creatures, including Moray eels, seahorses and stingray, have already been delivered to the aquarium, with the remaining inhabitants arriving within the next week, allowing them time to settle in before the attraction opens.

SEA LIFE MIchigan Sharks2

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium will feature 22 tanks in highly themed, engaging exhibits, including a 180-degree ocean tunnel and interactive touchpools. SEA LIFE’s conservation messaging will be included throughout, inspiring guests to take an active role in protecting the world’s oceans and sea creatures. [Read more…]

20 Things I’ve Realized As A Third Time Mom

Things I've Realized as a Third Time Mom

I could shout it from the rooftops: Being a third time mom rocks. It’s amazing how adding a baby to the mix can make you feel much more fulfilled despite absolute chaos happening daily. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this, and believe I know why: 1. Having three means one kid always has a playmate when you can’t tend to their needs. 2. You are much.more.relaxed. I felt somewhat relaxed the second time around, but the third time? It truly has been a charm.*

Just for fun I decided to write out all the things I’ve realized as a third time mom:

1. You finally realize buying Christmas presents for a child under the age of one is ridiculous. College money? Thank you. Another noisy toy? Please return it. 

Things I've Realized as a Third Time Mom - Baby with wrapping paper

For the record, the wrapping paper was the only thing that interested this little fella on Christmas.

2. You don’t run to replace the batteries on a swing or jumperoo. In fact, maybe you just never replace them. #guilty

3. You know that a diaper bag full of stuff isn’t needed for a short outing. Throw a few things in the car like an extra outfit and one small chew toy, and stick a few diapers and wipes in your purse and go. If a blowout diaper happens, there’s always a baby wipe bath.

4. You could care less about brand new things. You take all the hand-me-downs you can get knowing that they grow out of everything within minutes of wearing it.

5. You’re not as adamant about a schedule. Sure, they need to nap at some point and go to bed at a decent time, but they will have to learn to sleep while you’re on-the-go with the other two.

6. You aren’t even remotely brand loyal. Diapers on sale? Yes, please. And believe me — I have my favorites, but I’ve tried every.single.brand. and they all have their pros and cons. At the end of the day, it’s a place to poop. No need to spend extra moula. [Read more…]

Get Whiter Teeth in 2015 with a SmileBrilliant Teeth Whitening System {+Giveaway!}

The post below is sponsored by SmileBrilliant. I received a kit for review. All opinions expressed are my own {and my husbands}!

Win A SmileBrilliant Teeth Whitening System

We all have our goals for 2015, right? One of mine is to eat less processed foods and shake this post-baby jiggle once and for all. Also, I’d like to incorporate more self-care such as relaxing baths on occasion. It’s the little things that can make a big difference in our lives.

Additionally, my husband and I are trying to get healthier with better food choices and more exercise. I begged him to start running with me a few years ago, and not only did he complete a half marathon within a year’s timeframe, but he’s on track to do another one this spring. Nothing sexier than a man who takes care of himself!

So when I received the opportunity from SmileBrilliant to review their teeth whitening system, I let him have a shot at it. I’ve whitened my teeth in the past, so was curious to see about his experience.

SmileBrilliant Kit

SmileBrilliant makes it SO simple, and best of all — affordable! It’s the exact process I went through at the dentist, but a fraction of the cost {$119.95 versus the $500 I spent}.

The process begins by creating a custom fitted tray — all from the comfort of your own home. My husband followed the exact directions and thought it was a very simple process.

He took an impression of his teeth and then sent it back to the company in an envelope they provided. A week later, his whitening trays arrived. Easy peasy! I was amazed at how quick it was. Sure beats carving out time to go to the dentist!

SmileBrilliant Impressions

From there, he was able to whiten his teeth and follow it up with the desensitizing paste. He wore the trays for about 30 minutes at a time, several times, until he achieved the shade he wanted. Since his teeth were coffee-stained, it took a few times, but he still has whitening gel leftover, so maintenance moving forward should be relatively easy. He wore them about 8-10 times {unfortunately not right in a row as suggested since things kept popping up}, until he received the perfect shade. [Read more…]

Things To Do In Southeast Michigan In January 2015 {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing Areas}

Looking for something fun to do this month? There are LOTS of great icy fun and snow-centric events happening across Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing…and also LOTS of shows inside where it’s warm! I can’t wait to check out a few of these events out with my family :)

Things To Do In Southeast Michigan In January 2015

RE-PIN HERE.

Things To Do in Southeast Michigan in January 2015:

January 2 — FREE admission to Cranbrook Institute of Science After 5 p.m. {Bloomfield Hills} — Free admission courtesy of the MASCO Corporation Foundation, The Café and Observatory are open, and planetarium and bat shows are offered at an additional charge.

January 3 — Kid’s Workshop at Home Depot {Nationwide} — Make a mini sleigh for FREE at Home Depot.  Hands-on workshops are designed for children ages 5 – 12 and take place between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Advance registration encouraged.

January 10 — Cold Rush {Warren} — A family fun event in Warren’s City Square featuring ice sculptures, a petting zoo, an ice skating show, live music and more. FREE.

January 9-11 — Plymouth Ice Festival {Plymouth} — The Plymouth Ice Festival features ice sculptures, live entertainment, activities and food. FREE entry.

Things To Do In Southeast Michigan In January 2015 - Monster JamJanuary 10 — Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam at Ford Field {Detroit} — Monster Jam stars the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam Trucks! The twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and repping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through. 7 p.m. show. Tickets range from $10-$55.

January 11 — Family-Friendly Film at the Michigan Theater – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles {Ann Arbor} — Part of the Toyota Family-Friendly Film Series. 1:30 p.m. Adults – $10, seniors/children 13+ – $8. Free for kids 12 and under.

January 11 — Rubber Ducky Day at the Howell Aquatic Center {Howell} — Celebrate National Rubber Ducky Day a day early with this fun-filled event to celebrate the date Rubber Ducks were invented! Prizes for those finding specially marked ducks. $4/person {$15/family maximum}. 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Advance registration required.

[Read more…]

5 Questions With SEA LIFE Michigan’s Curator {+ Auburn Hills Grand Opening Date!}

SEA LIFE Michigan

I know many of you are just as excited as I am for the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium to open to the public. We’re in the final countdown with less than a month to go! The attraction will open to the public on January 29, 2015 in Great Lakes Crossings in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

My kids love learning about the ocean and its many creatures through books, so I know it’s going to be a huge hit and amazing learning opportunity for families across southeast Michigan.

In fact, now you can nab tickets at special pre-opening rates. Visit the website for more information and to purchase tickets or passes in advance –> http://bit.ly/SEALIFEMItickets

I recently had the opportunity to e-chat with SEA LIFE’s displays curator, Lucy Handel. I loved learning about her role and passion for marine life. Makes me excited to see what’s in store for the newest location! Check out her thoughtful responses below.

1. Please explain in detail your role at SEA LIFE Michigan.

My role is displays curator, and this encompasses all aspects of animal health and welfare. At the current stage we’re in {setting up the aquarium}, my role is to manage the set up of the animal displays, ensuring they meet each animal’s requirements in relation to space and environment. Experience guides me into what species work well together and the environment they need to be in. We replicate natural habitats for our animals, and this can require some additional research on occasion.

Animal acquisition is a large part of this phase. We focus on captive bred animals and 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.

Long term health care is something I love about my job – diet plans, target training animals, research projects and breeding species are also amazing parts of the job. The hours can be long and occasionally unsociable, but when you get to do the stuff we do, it never matters!

lucy handel

Lucy Handel, Displays Curator at SEA LIFE Michigan

[Read more…]

My Daughter’s Room Makeover With Repurposed Items

There’s quite a few areas of my life where my taste doesn’t always line up with my budget. One area is the home. I love unique furniture and decor, but not having a gazillion tools, time, and money to shop at Pottery Barn Kids seem to hold me back from getting what I want. So I am always improvising!

I have been working on Kinley’s “big girl” room since last spring. It has taken a LONG time because, well, I had a baby, and then 3 kids kind of consumed me. Now that the baby doesn’t need to nurse every five minutes, I’m starting to get back to working on house projects.

For us, 2015 is going to be the year of home. I’m already starting to dream budget our plans for the year, and shop around for the best deals. I’m so excited to finally start to chip away and make this house mine.

Kinley’s room has been a lot of fun to pull together. Best of all? It has been crazy inexpensive thanks to repurposing items and using paint and spray paint!

Little Girl Room Make-Over With Re-Purposed Items

The biggest item I painted was her furniture. I was able to nab two headboards for $10 — one was Freecycled and the other was from a garage sale. I painted them the same colors to make them feel like they go together {the lighting is odd, but they are both just off-white}.

I was lucky to score an amazing vintage bedroom set complete with a toy chest, full headboard, armoire and dresser for $300. The only catch was it was in pretty terrible condition. With a little paint, it started to look like the set I had dreamed about, but could only find for $1,000+. We are using the dresser now in Kinley’s room, and I have plans to finish the other items for other spots in our home next summer.

My advice? If you can find something you like the look of at a thrift shop or on Craigslist, just paint it! I promise it’s simple. {You can see how I do it here. No fancy chalk paint needed!}

Repurposed Dresser

I really wanted some kind of cool mirror to go over the dresser, but the only ones I could find that I liked were around $100 and heavy as heck. I got giddy with excitement when I spotted a plastic one at a garage sale. Only issue was it was black. A few layers of spray paint later, voila!

Repurposed Mirror

For artwork, every single cute girl thing I could find in stores said “Princess” on it. {I am not a fan of that word.} I finally gave up on the stores and just shopped local. [Read more…]

Christmas Tree Cork Painting

Christmas Tree Cork Painting

I’ll admit – I love doing crafts with my kids. It allows me to get creative, but more importantly, they LOVE it. Seriously, my girls could create for hours if given enough supplies! In fact, most of their Christmas gifts are craft supplies. Bonus since our little projects tend to keep them messy busy while I do things for work ;)

We do a lot of crafts with wine corks because, well, mama loves wine. Also, they are super easy for them to hold. We recently decorated some Christmas trees using festive paints. I love simple projects like this to help them with colors, cutting {well, the 4-year-old} and getting creative.

All you need is some construction paper, corks and washable paint. {We love these Crayola washable paints!} Easy as pie.

Cork Painting

Paper plates help make clean-up a cinch! I also cover our table with a plastic table cloth we use just for crafting.

[Read more…]

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