Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2014

Oh man…It’s just about AUGUST! How crazy is that? This summer has flown. Hope you all are getting out and having fun before school starts back up! Here’s some ideas for family friendly things to do around Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Lansing and the surrounding areas in the month ahead. Mark your calendar and be sure to comment with anything fab I have missed!

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2014

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2014:

August 1 – Big Rig Gig {Orion Township} – From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., children can see dozens of trucks, tractors, diggers, bulldozers, bucket and back loader trucks at the Big Rig Gig at the park at the corner of Baldwin and Clarkston roads. Concessions will be available and the movie, Despicable Me 2 will be shown at 8:30 p.m., so bring a lawn chair. The event costs $5 per vehicle. {Thanks to reader Dave for sharing this with me!}

August 1-2 – Bath Days Festival {Bath} – Visit downtown Bath outside of Lansing for a parade, bath tub races, live music, kids events and more. FREE.

August 1-10 – Tarzan at the Warren Civic Theatre {Warren} – Based on Disney’s epic animated musical adventure, Tarzan features music by rock legend Phil Collins and a book by Tony Award-winning playwright, David Henry Hwang. High-flying excitement and musical hits make Tarzan an unforgettable theatrical experience. Performances are Friday, August 1 & 8 at 7pm; Saturday, August 2 & 9 at 7pm; and Sunday, August 3 & 10 at 3pm. Reserved seating is $5-$12. {Find a community theatre near you with this list!}

August 1-2 – Family Camp Out {Brighton} – SELCRA is hosting a family camp out at Brighton State Recreation Area. Campers will be able to swim, canoe, kayak, paddle board, fish, enjoy nature hikes and more. Additionally, a movie will be shown at night by a campfire. Cost is $25/camping site.

August 1-2 – Milan Summer Fest {Milan} – This two-day family fun festival features events like a corn hole tournament, pancake breakfast, arts and crafts vendors, Backstreet Cruizers car show, bingo, live music, and much more. FREE.

August 1-3 – Buy Michigan Now Fest {Northville} – This festival is a weekend celebration of Michigan-made businesses and products. The family friendly event includes tasty treats, street vendors, live music, and children’ activities. Adults may also partake in local beers and wines in the Michigan Beer Garden. Admission and parking are FREE.

August 2 – Family Day at the Broad Art Museum {East Lansing} – Visit the museum for Family Day, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Scavenger hunts, hands-on projects, and live music by St. Martha Strings Ensemble — plus a special family tour at 1 p.m. FREE.

August 2 – Manchester Street Festival {Manchester} – Visit Manchester for a fun-filled day including a fun run, art fair, live music, fireman’s challenge, Kids Korner with bounce houses, bed races, and more. FREE.

August 2 – Home Depot Kid’s Workshop: Build A Mini-Crate Pencil Holder {Nationwide} – Build a pencil crate, perfect for back-to-school at this hands-on workshop, designed for children ages 5 – 12. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin while supplies last. Register online in advance. FREE.

August 2-3 – Railfans Weekend at Huckleberry Railroad {Flint} All aboard! This weekend is dedicated to trains and train lovers! Celebrate Huckleberry Railroad with shop tours, demonstrations, model trains and a special photo run. Train/Crossroads Village combo pricing is as follows: Adult {13+}: $13, Senior {60yrs +}: $12, Child {25mos.-12yrs}: $10, 24 mos. & under are free.

August 2-3 – Arab and Chaldean Festival {Detroit} – The festival, which takes place in Hart Plaza, is the largest Arab Chaldean American cultural event in North Amrica and features a variety of Arab and Chaldean food, ethnic cultural gallery and an impressive entertainment program which will include a fashion show and a “Meijer Kids Zone.” {Unsure of an admission fee, but plan to bring money to park.}

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Letter To My Daughter On Her Second Birthday: My Dear Karina

Karina, Age 2

My Dearest Karina,

It’s hard to even write Karina, because to me you are Kar, Kar-Boo, Karina-Bo-Bina, Kar Bars, sugar booger, and more. Seriously, your list of nicknames may be slightly out of control. But truly, they seem to sum you up well: You are a little spark plug, and I can’t believe you are already TWO years old!

This past year has been C-R-A-Z-Y. Crazy busy. Crazy wild. Crazy beautiful.

First, it’s hard to remember, but I nursed you until you were more than 18 months old…and even then, you weren’t ready to give up. I have major guilt for weaning you, but I think you *finally* have forgiven me. I’m so sorry. The fact is, you are a happy child now and that’s what matters, right? Right. {sensitive subject for mama!}

On that note, I know the whole “breastfeeding makes kids healthier” notion can be controversial and not always true, but I have to say — you’ve held up your end of the deal! You’ve only had one ear infection your entire life. Pretty incredible how healthy you are considering you are my child who has licked a window at a bar in town, licked a sign at Lowe’s, ate various food off the ground, and more I probably didn’t even see. When doctors say those kinds of things build up immunities, I believe it. Disgusting at times, but I am SO happy you’re so healthy ;)

Health aside, one of my favorite parts of our day is when you and I are alone for a few minutes while I put you down for a nap. You pick out a few books, I read them to you, and then we rock a bit. For awhile, you would scream when I sang to you…and honestly, that stung since I love to sing. But the past few months, you have requested I sing, and you often say “again,” the moment I stop. Your current favorite is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but also love a German lullaby I sing. You sing along in your little babble and it tugs at my heartstrings.

If we’re not confined to rocking, you LOVE dancing and start moving the second you hear music. I’ll never forget the time we went to a tractor show and you went nuts on the dance floor to a band playing 60′s music — completely alone. I adored your moves and your confidence. I hope it stays with you for the rest of your life.

You are such a lover, and so far, don’t have a shy bone in your body. You crack me up when you find the creepiest looking man at the store and wave and say “Hi!” to him. You are not afraid of much {with the exception of loud things like 4-wheelers and boats}, and can often be found getting into trouble, whether it’s wandering off somewhere or climbing to the top of a play structure that is way too big for you. Also, let’s not forget that time you fell into a river. Ugh. Everyone warns me that boys are crazy, but I think you have prepared us very well for the transition!
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Love the Pinkalicious Books? Check Out Pinkalicious The Musical In Detroit November 21-23, 2014

If you have a child in the 3-8 years old age range with an active imagination, this will be one show you do not want to miss! We absolutely love the Pinkalicious book series in our house and rent them from the library often. Even though Kinley LOVES the color blue and doesn’t like pink at all, she reminds me a ton of Pinkalicious herself. She’s always thinking up the craziest things!

Pinkalicious Artwork

Here’s the scoop from show press materials:

Based on the popular children’s book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, Pinkalicious The Musical will perform six shows at the City Theatre in Detroit {inside Hockeytown} on Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November 23.

In Pinkalicious The Musical, Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe – a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this predicament.

The one hour musical, with book and lyrics by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann and music, lyrics and orchestrations by John Gregor, is based on the popular children’s book Pinkalicious by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann. The musical adaptation is directed by Teresa K. Pond with musical direction by Jad Bernardo and original direction by Suzu McConnell-Wood.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:

Friday, November 21: 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 22: 11 a.m., 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Sunday, November 23: 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.

TICKETS:

Tickets {$22 general admission and $15 opening night} are on sale now and may be purchased HERE, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy {without service charge}, at all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com and at the City Theatre box office, located inside Hockeytown Cafe. To charge tickets by phone, call 1-800-745-3000. Groups of 10 or more receive a discount by calling 313-471-3099.

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I love that it’s just an hour-long, so if you’re looking for a great show to take a little one to before going to a longer production, this would be a great one! I also recommend checking out a local community theatre near you for kid-friendly shows.

What musicals/shows are you looking forward to taking your kids to?

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Looking For A Stroller? Consider The Urbini Omni 3-in-1 Travel System #MC #UrbiniBaby

Urbini Logo

I participated in a Blog Blast on behalf of Mom Central for Urbini. I received information from Urbini to facilitate my post as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Please note: I only applied for this opportunity because I genuinely love this stroller and shopping for baby at Walmart.com :D

As a mom, the number one question I receive from moms-to-be is what my recommendation is for strollers.

I am a researcher and try to stay on top of the latest news and trends. But, I am also a realist and rarely let myself get attached to things that are just objects.

What I always start by saying is ALL strollers have the SAME safety standards, so to not get brainwashed/emotionally attached to advertising claims from expensive brands on how superior they are. That, and shop with your mind set on what your priorities are.

My priorities for strollers: Lightweight, cup holders and a big basket for things — hands down. We have used an inexpensive travel system for almost 4 years now, and while I look completely unhip with it since it’s dated at this point, it’s functional and does what it’s supposed to, so I can’t complain!

As far as places to shop, personally I am not a baby-specific store shopper. They are overpriced, and are very overwhelming for first-time moms. Too many choices lead to confusion and expensive purchases you may regret later.

I’ve said it before — my absolute favorite place to shop for baby supplies is Walmart.com. I love the website because it’s so easy to compare products, they have much more online than in stores, and shipping is generally free, or much more inexpensive than competing sites. Makes shopping a breeze when you are home with kiddos!

Urbini Omni 3-in-1 Travel System

I was super excited to learn about Walmart.com’s Urbini Omni 3-in-1 Travel System. This is totally up my alley and quite frankly — the price is right.
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Enter to Win Family 4-Pack Passes for Oakland County Waterparks {4 Winners!} ENDS 8/5/14

Oakland County Waterparks

I received my own passes from Oakland County Parks and Recreation to the waterparks for the purpose of this post.

Mother Nature’s thermostat has been cranked these past few days, which means one thing: WATER FUN. We are lucky to have tons of lakes, splash pads and more in this area, but two mega fun Oakland County Waterparks — Red Oaks Waterpark, {Madison Heights}, and Waterford Oaks Waterpark {Waterford}, stand out in my mind.

Learn more about the parks below and then enter to win 1 of 4 family 4-packs of passes to the park of your choosing!

FEATURES OF RED OAKS WATERPARK:

  • Soak Station, children’s water playground with 68 features, including water jets, curtains and slides, plus bubbler jets and a six-foot tipping bucket; must be 56″ or shorter and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Spray & Play, a water play area for toddlers, with 15 water jets and bubblers at zero depth.
  • The River Ride, a 990-foot long moving river {tubes provided}.
  • Triple Turn, a triple-flume waterslide
  • Terrific Tides wave-action pool.  The pool is heated.

Red Oaks Waterpark

ADMISSION RATES:

Weekends & Holidays: Regular Rate: $18 | Oakland County Resident Discount Rate: $13

Active Military/Seniors 62 and older: $2 discount off regular or resident full day admission rate

Weekday {Monday – Friday}: Regular Rate: $15 | Oakland County Resident Discount Rate: $10

Active Military/Seniors 62 and older: $2 discount off regular or resident full day admission rate 

Twilight Discount (after 4 p.m. Monday – Friday ONLY, excluding holidays): Regular Rate: $12 | Oakland County Resident Discount Rate: $7

Twilight discount cannot be combined with other discounts.  

**Children under 2 years old are free with a paid adult admission.**

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Bucketfilling from A to Z Book + Bucket Fillers Inc. Giveaway with Two Prize Packs {ENDS 8/8/14}

Bucket Fillers Inc. I received a copy of the book Bucketfilling from A to Z from Bucket Fillers, Inc. in exchange for the post below. All opinions expressed are my own.

I recently had the opportunity to check out the children’s book, Bucketfilling from A to Z, and again I am impressed at the latest children’s book from authors Carol McCloud and Caryn Butzke of Bucket Fillers, Inc., a Michigan-based company making strides to make children kinder.

If you aren’t familiar with the bucket filling concept, essentially it’s the idea that every person in the world has an invisible bucket with them and they can choose to fill it with positive words and action or be a “bucket dipper” and take away what’s inside with mean-spirited words or action.

What I adore about this concept is that is SO teachable to kids of various ages. Kinley is a few months shy of 4 years old and LOVES this concept. It really seems to help to get her to think about her actions more {especially when it comes to tormenting her sister}! I often can be found saying, “Don’t be a bucket dipper to your sister. Please fill her bucket and be helpful instead,” to her. Gotta love sibling rivalry! When baby arrives, I will definitely be asking my girls for help and look forward to telling them to help and in turn, fill my bucket ;)

Bucket Filling from A to Z Book
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Disney Planes Fire & Rescue Review #FireAndRescue

#FireAndRescueImage from Disney press materials

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend a sneak peek of Disney’s latest movie — Planes: Fire & Rescue.

To be honest, I was excited for the excuse to go to the movies with my big kid {Kinley, age 3.5}, but not terribly excited about the movie. After all, I thought Planes was cute, but just OK for adults. {Read that review here.}

I may have even had some eye rolls at the beginning — it seemed to be strikingly similar to the first one and seemed to crash and burn right off the bat. Even Kinley was getting antsy in her seat, and she is usually a huge movie lover.

But, I am glad we stuck through it and Kinley relaxed thanks to a few suckers, because it got better. I enjoyed some of the adult humor sprinkled in, and absolutely LOVED the music!

SYNOPSIS FROM DISNEY

Planes: Fire & Rescue is a comedy-adventure about second chances, featuring a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire. When world famous air racer Dusty {voice of Dane Cook} learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his courageous team, including spirited super scooper Dipper {voice of Julie Bowen}, heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter, ex-military transport Cabbie and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero. Directed by Bobs Gannaway {“Secret of the Wings”}, “Planes: Fire & Rescue” hits theaters in 3D on July 18, 2014. This film is rated PG.

Planes- Fire & Rescue

Image from Disney press materials

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To My Son Before You Are Born

To My Son {Before You Are Born},

In a few weeks {perhaps even days}, we’re going to meet for the very first time. You’re likely going to cause me an incredible amount of pain and then you’re going to make your grand entrance into the world and fill a section in my heart where I didn’t even realize there was a void.

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to tell you what’s on my mind before you come. Of course I’m nervous about everything that’s inevitable {giving birth, keeping you alive during those first few months, how your sisters are going to adjust, etc.}, but truthfully, I’m more nervous about the bigger things, like the man you’re going to become.

I by no means have all the answers on how to make a mentally and emotionally strong man, so I hope you don’t expect that out of me. Shoot, I don’t even have things figured out for myself most of the time. But I promise to always give you my all, and listen to your thoughts and concerns with an open mind and heart. I hope in my heart for the type of relationship where you can talk to me and your daddy about anything and everything, even if it means seeing things differently.

In fact, here are more of my hopes for you:

  • I hope you find something in your life that gives you passion early on.
  • I hope you listen to and respect your big sisters. I already know they will be very protective of you, their baby brother.
  • I hope you always feel love from your daddy and I.
  • I hope you are never afraid to express your feelings — the good and bad.
  • I hope that you never give up. I want you to follow your dreams without fear, and never let worry hold you back from the man you will become.
  • I hope you turn out like your father. I want you to know there is no better man out there, and you are going to be very lucky to have him in your life. Nurture your relationship forever.
Whoever you are now as my youngest baby, and whatever man you become, I promise to always love you. I can’t promise to be perfect along the way, but I can promise to always do my best.
 
See you soon, sweetheart.

 
Kisses,
Mama

Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes Presale Code {In Auburn Hills Oct. 16-19}

Disney On Ice is one of our favorite shows to attend each year. I just received the special pre-sale code for the Disney On Ice presents Princesses & Heroes show, coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills October 16-19, 2014. {See image below}

Many of you will be thrilled to know that this show now features the beloved characters from FROZEN!

Get tickets here at Ticketmaster.

Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes - Palace of Auburn Hills

Enjoy! I hope to share more about the show in the months ahead, so stay tuned :)

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My Maternity Photo Shoot with Deanna Spivey Photography, A Metro Detroit Photographer

Deanna Spivey Logo

Awhile back, my friend Deanna of Deanna Spivey Photography, asked if she could take maternity photos for me. My initial response was “no thanks” — simply because I’d just rather have photos of my family, not me, around my house. And let’s face it — this is my third baby, so it’s not exactly like I haven’t seen my body in this crazy state before.

When she insisted and discussed her vision with me, I couldn’t say no. Pregnant women are beautiful no matter what, so why would I knock my own appearance? She told me how women always have to find the flaws with maternity sessions — from cankle complaints to “my face is puffy and I don’t feel glowing.” Those words got to me as someone who believes all women deserve to feel beautiful, even if there’s 40+/- extra pounds on their frame from nourishing baby.

The truth of the matter is, there isn’t a time in a woman’s life when she feels more alive, and to me, that’s what makes pregnant women fascinating. Each belly is different and each mama has a different glow to her.

I am so glad I listened and allowed her experiment a bit for my session. Seeing the maternity photos she took of me brought out the tears. I know in my heart this is my last pregnancy and I am going to miss this phase of my life. I am so glad I can reflect on these now forever.

Deanna Spivey Photography Maternity

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Sibling Preparation: Getting Kids Ready For a New Baby

Getting Kids Ready for A New Baby

Nothing has been consuming my mind more over these past few weeks than how my girls, Karina – age 2 {in 17 days} and Kinley – 3.5, are going to react to their new baby brother, who is due to arrive in 3 weeks+/-.

Kinley has been there, done that, and I know she will be helpful. At the same time, she’s stuck between that age of needing a bit of independence yet also still needy herself at times. Overall, I think it should be OK for her, but I’ve been doing everything I can to help her prepare for the changes ahead.

Karina is another story. She IS needy. She’s at that fun age that will throw a temper tantrum at the first notion of not getting her way. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit nervous to see what a baby will do to her temperament. I seem to often mis-judge what my kids can handle, so I am holding out hope it goes smoother than I think it will!

Here’s some tips for getting kids ready for a new baby that have seemed to help me so far:

  • Rent LOTS of kid-friendly books from the library about new babies and pregnancy. Books can be incredibly helpful — especially with older kids. Books have helped teach my kids that babies sleep a lot at first, and will need lots of my attention. One that is well-loved in our house is The New Baby from the Little Critter series.
  • Let them help clean and prepare baby items. With each item I’ve gotten out and put away, I’ve talked to them about how we will use it. For example, the baby will need the swing for short naps, and you can rock him in it gently if you’d like. I will use the Boppy while I nurse, which will be several times a day at first. I want them familiar with all the tools so they can help me when needed and begin to understand that those items are for him and mommy.
  • Make a visual of when baby is coming. I get constant questions from my big girl about when baby is arriving, so we made a paper chain to count down the approximate days until he comes. It has been a GREAT visual for her to see how much longer it will be. She tears off a piece of the chain every day.
  • Allow your children to pick out baby’s coming home outfit. Although our little outfit keeps disappearing from my hospital bag because my girls like to “show” him daily. Baby's Coming Home Outfit
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Our Experience at the Oakland County Fair

Oakland County Fair 2014

I received vouchers to the fair from Oakland County Parks and Rec in exchange for promoting. All opinions and experiences are my own.

As I count down my final days as a mother of two, I am squeezing in everything possible before I’m home with baby for a few weeks while we adjust to being a family of five.

Since I’m feeling pretty good, I was excited to take my girls to the Oakland County Fair. We had a blast! I brought my mom and between the two of us, we’ve been to many county fairs and agreed — this is definitely one of the tops in the area. The fair grounds were beautiful and historic {the Ellis Barn is a classic if you’re a sucker for barn charm like me}, and everything was SO clean.

We started off our trip in a mini petting farm area, where we purchased a container of carrots for $1 so we could feed the animals. My girls went NUTS. They looooove animals {what kid doesn’t?} and thought feeding them was so fun! There were goats, a ram, a camel, tortoise, emu, alpaca and more to interact with. My girls loved the goats best since they loved attention and getting fed!

Oakland County Fair1

Personally, I loved this camel that had blue eyes and what appeared to be cataracts. He was loving the attention we were giving him!

Oakland County Fair2

How can you not love that face?
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