Family Fun in September 2015 in Southeast Michigan {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing Areas}

Family Fun in September 2015 in Southeast Michigan

September is here, which means it’s time for another installment of family fun around Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing! I don’t know about you all, but I am really looking forward to this month…Back-to-school for us {a.k.a. back to a routine – yay!}, apple picking, cider, donuts and a few of the fabulous events outlined below. Enjoy the month, friends!

FAMILY FUN IN SEPTEMBER 2015 IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN 

Weekends, through October 4 – Michigan Renaissance Festival – Come to Holly Grove where music, sword-swallowing, comedy, fire-juggling and of course, the costumes of a bygone era all wonderfully on display. Open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., rain or shine! Dress in costume for added fun and be sure to check out how the Festival celebrates with themed weekends. Free parking. Adult general admission on day-of: $21.95; child general admission: $12.95.

September 2-6 – Saline Community Fair {Saline} – Join Saline for their annual community fair full of rides, activities, parades and family fun! Sept. 3 is kiddie day. All other days, admission is $7 for ages 11 and up.

September 4 — FREE Admission to Cranbrook Institute of Science After 5 p.m. {Bloomfield Hills} — Thanks to the MASCO Corporation Foundation.

September 4-7 – Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair {Novi} – This year’s State Fair will include an expanded Midway, live entertainment, racing pigs, livestock and home arts exhibits, the state of Michigan Butter Cow, special performances by the Detroit Shrine Circus, Made in Michigan Pavilion, tasty carnival treats, and more. There is customized pricing, depending on what you want to do — prices range from $4-$30. Children 2 and under are free.

September 4-7 – Arts, Beats and Eats {Royal Oak} – Oakland County’s premier entertainment festival which draws nearly 400,000 people to experience more than 200 juried art exhibitors, 50 restaurants and 200 performances on 10 stages downtown Royal Oak. The festival is $3 before 3 p.m., $5 after 3 p.m. and free on Friday before 5 p.m.

September 4 – October 23 – Celebration Cinema’s Flick’s Family Festival {Various Locations around Lansing} – Visit one of the Celebration Cinemas locations for FREE kid’s movies {12 and under}, or just $5 for adults. The movies/dates are as follows: Sept. 4: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Sept. 11: Paddington, Sept. 18: Hotel Translyvania, Sept. 25 Home, Oct.2: Max, Oct. 9: Shaun the Sheep, Oct. 16: SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Oct. 23: Minions.

September 5, 12, 19, 26 — FREE Day at the Flint Institute of Art {Flint} — This museum is free to visit every Saturday thanks to First Merit Bank.

Football Windsock Michael's Kid CraftSeptember 5 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a football windsock.

September 5 – Kids Workshop at The Home Depot {Nationwide} – Build a football toss game at this event. This hands-on workshop is 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.

September 5 – Families at The Broad {East Lansing} – Visit this East Lansing modern art museum from 12-4 p.m. for hands-on activities and a family guided tour at 1 p.m. FREE thanks to Farm Bureau.

September 6 – Labor Day Sale at all Metro Detroit Salvation Army Thrift Stores – Stop in for 50% off all clothing! This is the perfect sale to stock up!

September 7 – FREE Entry To The Henry Ford Museum {Dearborn} – Getting into Michigan’s best museum for FREE on Labor Day thanks to Target!

September 10-13 – Frontier Days {Charlotte} – Pioneer-spirited guests will enjoy this annual event featuring one of Mid-Michigan’s largest parades, a championship rodeo, flea market, more than 250 arts and crafts exhibits, an old-fashioned saloon, and more. FREE.

September 10-13 – Richmond Good Old Days Festival {Richmond} – The Annual Richmond Area Good Old Days Festival is one of Michigan’s best small town festivals and boasts the largest marching musical parade in Michigan, as well as a carnival, antique fire muster, a children’s candy scramble and much more. FREE.

The Addams FamilySeptember 10-13 – The Addams Family at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre {Ann Arbor} – This darkly comic musical, based on the classic New Yorker cartoon-turned-60’s TV series, is every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. Everything will change for the Addams family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. Tickets range from $13 {students} to $25 {adults}.

September 11 – The Great West Bloomfield Camp Out {West Bloomfield} – Pitch your tent down by the lakeshore and enjoy Marshbank Park as you have never been able to before. Enjoy a traditional camp out dinner of hot dogs and baked beans. After dinner, enjoy a variety of activities to keep you busy: hayrides, fishing, archery, volleyball and glow in the dark crafts and games. When night falls, star-gazing, live music and s’mores by the camp fire will round out your evening. Pre-registration is mandatory. $9 per resident and $11 per nonresident, ages 2+.

September 11-12 – Brighton’s Smokin’ Jazz and Barbecue Blues Festival {Brighton} – Visit downtown Brighton for talented musicians and food vendors from all over the country smokin’ up the streets. Experience the tastiest of barbecue, the smoothest of jazz and the bluest of blues, and be sure to wash it down with ice-cold beverages from the beer and wine garden. Admission is $5, but FREE before 6 p.m. Ages 18 and under are FREE with accompanying adult admission.

September 11-13 – Plymouth Fall Festival {Plymouth} – This fest features carnival rides, a car show, craft show, pancake breakfast, rotary BBQ, spaghetti dinner, and live entertainment, food and more. FREE.

September 11-13 – Arts and Apples Festival {Rochester} – For 50 years, the Art & Apples Festival has transformed the 30-acre Rochester Park into one of the nation’s top fine art fairs with over 290 artists from across the country. Other attractions include non-stop entertainment, food vendors, and a Meijer Kids Art Zone. FREE.

September 12-13 – Fisk Farm Festival {White Lake} – Visit the farm for a craft show, bake sale, entertainment in the barn and pavilion, storytellers, antique equipment, tractors, encampment, games/activities for the children, pony rides, pie eating contest, Howell Nature Center presentation, door prizes and more.

September 12 – Holly’s 150th Birthday Celebration {Holly} – Celebrate the 150th year of being established as a village with a parade {Saturday at 11 a.m.}, food, fun, kids games, entertainment, music, contests, family fun, fireworks at dusk and more. FREE.

September 12 – Big Wheels Keep on Rollin’ {Waterford} – Get the scoop at this event listing from Metro Detroit Mommy!

September 12 – Homegrown Festival {Ann Arbor} – The HomeGrown Festival is a grassroots community event showcasing the best of our region’s locally grown food, drink, music and fun. FREE.

September 12 – Green Oak Township Fire Department Open House {Green Oak} – Visit the station from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Visit Page’s Pages for the scoop!

September 12 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a bird feeder.

September 12 – Alpaca Day Expo {Howell} – From 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., visit Triple Diamonds Alpaca Ranch in Howell for Alpaca kisses, Alpaca products, crafters, vendor booths, food, music, face painting, drawings and much more! FREE.

September 13 – Kerrytown Bookfest {Ann Arbor} – The 13th Annual Kerrytown BookFest is chock full of authors, activities, and hundreds of the best books. Activities include breakfast with Michigan authors, comic Books, an edible book contest, used and rare books for sale, storytellers, and more. FREE.

September 13 – Grandparents Day at Longway Planetarium {Flint} – Ship the kids off and have them celebrate Grandparents Day at Longway Planetarium! Grandparents get in free with paid child ticket*. It’s the perfect chance to catch Longway Planetarium’s newest show Accidental Astronauts. {Valid 9/13/15 only. One Senior admission with one Youth admission to Longway Planetarium. Not valid on Combo tickets.}

September 14 – Macy’s 2nd Mondays at The Henry Ford Museum {Dearborn} – Introduce your preschool children to the wonders of The Henry Ford — all before nap time {10 a.m. – noon}. Storytelling, live entertainment and dozens of hands-on activities related to some of the museum’s most memorable artifacts. September’s theme is Back-to-School and will take place in Greenfield Village. FREE for kids, adults can get 25 percent off their tickets with this coupon!

September 15 – Stories for Sprouts and Seedlings at MSU Children’s Gardens {East Lansing} – This program is for young children, ages 2-4, to experience the wonders of gardening through stories and hands-on projects. Each month a different book is featured with an accompanying gardening activity. This month is The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. FREE. Parking is metered and runs $1.80/hour.

September 17-18 – Harvest Moon Celebration {Farmington} – A celebration of fall, the Harvest Moon Celebration includes music, craft beer and wine tasting, and food pairings. $6 in advance; $8 at the door.

September 18-20 – Victorian Festival {Northville} – Northville’s Victorian architecture provides a stunning backdrop for a festival that aims to transport you back to the 1800s. Costumed characters, a parade, vintage baseball, a Great Lakes Timber Show, music, carnival rides, crafts, food, and more are featured. FREE.

September 18-19 – Old Town BluesFest {Lansing} – The Old Town BluesFest is a two-day FREE music festival that brings national, regional, and local acts to the streets of Old Town Lansing. The Kidzbeats area offers plenty of activities and Lansing Metro Marinas will be giving half-hour tours of the Grand River on Friday from 5-8 p.m. {Tours are $4 per person and free to children 6 and under.}

September 18-19, 25-26 – Disney’s Aladdin Jr. with Southgate Community Players {Southgate} – Classic Disney movie brought to life on stage by children. Tickets are $10.

September 19 — Meridian Fall Heritage Festival {Meridian} — Visitors enjoy early American demonstrations and exhibits in the Village as well as children’s activities and games. Take a look back in history with demos, archery, fishing, long rifle events, pioneer and Native American children’s activities and games, pony rides, a native Powwow demonstration and more. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. FREE.

September 19 – Hamburg Fire Department Open House {Hamburg} – Visit the station from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Visit Page’s Pages for the scoop!

September 19 – Van Buren Township Fire Department Open House {Van Buren} – Visit Walgreens, located at 10276 Belleville Rd. from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to learn more about the fire station. Visit Page’s Pages for the scoop!

Fall Hand Print TreeSeptember 19 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a fall hand print tree.

September 19 — Top Secret: License to Spy opens at Sloan Museum {Flint} — This special exhibit focuses on the science and technology of spying and espionage. Investigate leads, gather intelligence, and uncover clues to solve a double-agent mystery, complete with hands-on activities like cracking the code on the lock of a transparent safe and using an oscilloscope to find a hidden bug. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, youth {2-11} is $6 and infants {1 and under} are free. Learn more about this gem of a museum at this recent post.

September 19-20 – Down Home Days {Mason} – Check out fall colors and visit Mason for an outdoor concert Thursday, family walk Friday, Saturday’s 150-vendor craft show on the historic Ingham County Courthouse Square and more. FREE.

September 19-20 – Romulus Pumpkin Festival {Romulus} – This 3-day event begins with a night parade where everything is lighted from bicycles to cement trucks. Join in on the fun, including music, food, crafts and games like a pumpkin rolling, pumpkin pie eating or a pumpkin seed-spitting contest. There’s a Classic Car Show, classic Tractor Show, live entertainment and more. FREE.

September 19-20 – Wine & Harvest Festival at Spicer Orchards {Fenton} – Waiting for details, stay tuned!

September 19-20 – Michigan Apple Festival {Charlotte} – Enjoy all things apple at The Country Mill — kids’ art contest,apple picking, apple wine and hard cider tasting, train rides, apple samples and more. FREE entry.

September 20 – World Rhino Day at Potter Park Zoo {Lansing} – To celebrate the 5th annual World Rhino Day, visit Potter Park for special tours and a behind-the-scenes look at their black rhino exhibit. There will also be rhino informational tables and activities for the kids from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets are available for 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. and will be $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under, in addition to regular zoo entry and parking. Tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

September 22-27 – Cinderella at Wharton Center {East Lansing} – With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA combines the story’s classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball along with some surprising twists. Tickets range from $35-$82.50.

Marvel Universe Live - Palace of Auburn HillsSeptember 25-27 – Marvel Universe LIVE! at The Palace {Auburn Hills} – Get the scoop on this amazing new show + enter to win tickets at this post.

September 25-27 – DIY Street Fair {Ferndale} – Visit downtown Ferndale for more than 100 artists, food tents, activities and musical entertainment. The event showcases a cottage industry of artists and craftsmen and offers something for everyone.

September 25-27 – South Lyon Area Pumpkinfest {South Lyon} – Enjoy a weekend-long celebration of crafts, music, community, and of course, everyone’s favorite fall product; the pumpkin. Parade, photo ops and live entertainment, too! FREE thanks to Vibe Credit Union.

September 26 – Webster Fall Festival {Dexter} – Old-fashioned country fun for all ages, including hay rides, a petting zoo, historic buildings and displays, vintage cars and farm machinery, artisans and crafters, police K9 demos, live music and more. FREE.

September 26 – Taylor Fire Department Open House {Taylor} – Visit the WCCCD Downriver Campus from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. to learn about fire safety. Visit Page’s Pages for the scoop!

Lowe's - Fire TruckSeptember 26 – Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinic {Nationwide} – Bring your child to Lowe’s to make a fire truck with safety cards. Register online in advance. FREE.

September 26 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a candy corn banner.

September 26 – Great Lakes Bat Festival {Ann Arbor} – This annual festival celebrates the unique role of bats in the Great Lakes ecosystem as insect eaters, while dispelling myths and misinformation that generate needless fears and threaten bats and their habitats around the world. The goal of the festival is to teach people about the fascinating world of bats and inspire people to protect the environment. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College. FREE.

September 26 – Metamora’s Harvest Horses and Hounds {Metamora} – A community festival featuring free horse drawn trolley rides, pony rides, unique gifts from diverse vendors, fresh food, live music a parade, a children’s activities area, horse and dog demonstrations and more. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FREE.

September 26 – Belle Isle Summer Saturdays {Detroit} – From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., visit Belle Isle for TONS of family fun! Visitors can learn the fundamentals of kayaking and water exploration, rent bicycles, participate in outdoor games, brave the giant slide and explore Belle Isle with self-paced island tours. The Detroit City Chess Club will also be at Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Belle Isle Aquarium and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory will be open and, as always, free to visit. FREE.

September 26-27 – Diehl’s Ciderfest and Craft Show {Holly} – Visit Diehl’s for hot donuts, cider, hayrides, pony rides, a craft show, pig roast, live entertainment, corn maze and more! FREE parking and entry.

September 27 – FREE Day at Flint Children’s Museum {Flint} – General admission to the museum is FREE thanks to Brown & Brown Insurance.

What plans do you have this month? Let me know what I’ve missed and I will add it!

Marvel Universe LIVE at The Palace of Auburn Hills Sept. 25-27 {+ Giveaway} #MarvelUniverseLive

Marvel Universe Live at The Palace of Auburn Hills

Spider-Man, The Hulk, Captain America, IronMan and more are all coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills September 25-27, 2015. Will you be there?

Marvel Universe LIVE! is taking the live entertainment experience to a whole new level, with a mind-blowing show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watch more than 25 of your favorite Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man and the Avengers {Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and more} and threatening villains come to life in an action-packed arena extravaganza. You’ll definitely feel the energy with cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and more. It’s being hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever. Join Marvel fans of all ages for this once-in-a-lifetime, monumental performance.

Captain America - Marvel Universe LIVE

Doesn’t this sound like a cool show?! My kids are SO excited. {My oldest daughter wants to be IronMan for Halloween — she adores super heroes!}

This show is recommended for ALL ages!

Watch more videos on the Marvel Universe LIVE! YouTube channel

SHOW TIMES & TICKET PRICES

There are a variety of performances to attend:

Friday, September 25: 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 26: 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 27: 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Prices range from $25-$150, with kids’ tickets for just $20.

Purchase tickets here –> http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/65562/1936934

Check out Marvel Universe LIVE! on Facebook, Twitter – @MarvelonTour and Instagram.

Marvel Universe Live - Palace of Auburn Hills

GIVEAWAY

I’m excited to offer the chance for one lucky reader to win a 4-pack of tickets to the Friday, September 25, 2015 show at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Giveaway will end on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 11:59pm EST, and winner will have 24 hours to respond. Best of luck!

Marvel Universe LIVE Tickets
I have an ongoing relationship with Feld Entertainment and periodically receive tickets in exchange for promoting shows.

Must Play: FootGolf in Southeast Michigan {Perfect for Group Dates and Families!}

FootGolf in Southeast Michigan

Have you heard of FootGolf? Yeah, I hadn’t either until a few weeks ago when my neighbor mentioned it. She’s a soccer player and thought it would be a fun group date for a few of us neighborhood couples.

My immediate thoughts: Sounds hard. Sounds crazy. Sounds like a hoot!

You see, our husbands golf together often. I actually was a beer cart girl during college {best job ever – BTW}, and so I can appreciate the game, however, I am horrible at it and don’t own a set of clubs.

FootGolf is a hybrid of soccer and golf in that you only can kick the ball, but it’s played like golf. There is a separate 21-inch hole to catch the ball, which is completely separate from the golf green. All of the typical golf etiquette is used, but it is much easier than golf.

FootGolf

Oh my, was it fun! This is coming from a gal with little athletic ability. I had a few holes where it took me 10 kicks to get it in the hole, but I still had a blast and loved every minute, and learned a lot as I went.

Why love FootGolf?

  • It’s a great group date or a family night out with older kids.
  • No equipment is needed, and places usually offer ball rental. If you have indoor soccer shoes, those are perfect to wear, but cleats are not allowed on the course. I wore my running shoes and they worked just fine, though you may have a sore toe the following day.
  • You get to spend time in nature. {What’s more beautiful than Pure Michigan?!}
  • The game goes relatively quickly {faster than golf, which to me, gets boring unless you are playing scramble style. It took us about 1.5 hours to play 9 holes}.
  • If you can find the right course, it’s BYOB. Bonus! If it’s not BYOB, make sure to tip the beer cart girl accordingly 😉
  • It’s great exercise if you walk the course. My legs were a tad bit sore the next day, so I clearly used some muscles I never knew I had.
  • Argyle socks make up the official uniform. Fun, right? {I ordered these from Amazon for our group.}

FootGolf in Michigan

For our trip, we visited The Falcon in Lansing because it was SO reasonable {$7 to play, $3 to rent a ball}, but there are a few courses around the state. It’s just starting to pick up, so if you want to try it, I recommend requesting it at your local course!

While we played, we spotted deer and watched the sunset. It was gorgeous and a great way to spend some time with friends and end a long week.

The Falcon FootGolf

FootGolf in Southeast Michigan

The following are open to the public:

Find a FootGolf course nearest you here.

Have you played FootGolf? What did you think? What are your favorite group dates?

12 Tips To Get Your Kid To Eat Better

12 Tips To Get Your Kid To Eat Better

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Absopure. All opinions expressed are my own.

It’s what makes all parents go crazy — meal times with children, or as I like to call it — feeding time at the zoo.

Sometimes I cringe thinking of my kid’s eating habits…Scoops of peanut butter, eating 4 clementines for lunch, skipping a meal {gasp!} and yeah, even a pile of chocolate chips with steel-cut oats. The truth is, I am far from perfect, and often cave to my kid’s requests.

My oldest is somewhat picky, my middle daughter is VERY picky and my youngest son eats anything. It’s tough meal planning when I don’t really know what my kids will actually eat. Also, It pains me to waste food.

This kid just loves food in general. Odd favorites include brussel sprouts and mahi mahi. Score one for the parents!

This kid just loves food in general, though he does throw it occasionally and make me crazy. Good thing he is cute.

Meals are absolutely chaotic at our house. With 3 kids under 5, it’s inevitable. I only sit down at dinner, and it’s usually with a kid on my lap. All other meals, I am a slave and eat standing up. To cope, I use every trick in the book to try to make meals go smoothly.

Here are 12 tips to get your kid to eat better that work in our home:

  1. Make healthy food FUN.

    Even doing something as easy as allowing my kids to help make meals goes a LONG way. They love tossing a salad, putting on pizza toppings and arranging fruit slices on a plate with a funny face. {Try pairing these children’s books with easy meals}.

  2. Don’t want kids eating garbage? Don’t buy it.

    It’s the simple, right? I feel ya…It’s not. But if you do buy treats, hide them well 😉 I steer clear of the chip aisle because the hubby and I love them, and so do our kids. If they aren’t in the house, they won’t cause problems. 

  3. Offer meals at consistent times.

    In our house, breakfast is sporadic due to wake-up times, but lunch and dinner are always at the same time; noon and 5 p.m. When the kids know what to expect, it makes it easy to tell them they cannot have a snack because we will be eating soon.

  4. Always have one food you know your kid will eat on his/her plate.

    I always toss some fruit or a piece of bread on my kid’s plates because I know it will get eaten. Many times I will introduce one new food. Sometimes it goes uneaten, and that’s OK. Usually after we eat a specific meal a few times, my kids are willing to give it a shot.

  5. Use bribery.

    I admit; I sometimes stoop low. I try to have a dessert item at dinner to entice them. Sometimes it’s a cookie, but mostly it’s something like yogurt or frozen banana “ice cream” that is actually healthy. If they eat their meal, they get a treat. We also use a spot on our chore chart for trying new foods. With my pickiest eater, I will allow her sit on my lap once I’m finished. Ridiculous with a 3-year-old, but it works like a charm for her and she will almost always try something new if I’m shoveling it in.

  6. If they don’t eat, fine. No snacks later.

    We have a rule in our house – if you don’t want to eat, that’s fine, you just don’t get snacks later. However, fruit and veggies are available around the clock. Occasionally the kids leave a full plate at meal time and ask for a snack 20 minutes later. When this happens, I offer them an apple or cucumber slices, and usually they eat it without complaints if they are really hungry.

    Healthy Eating Habits

    She wanted cheese crackers, but instead got a nectarine. Did you know slices of them make great funny {and delicious} faces?

  7. Eat good stuff. Drink water. Repeat.

    Our kids mimic what we do. I’ve had several people ask how I get my kids to drink enough water. Easy – they see me drink it all.the.time. My kids LOVE Absopure Packables for when we’re out and about. They make them feel like mini adults! {Check out this post for 4 fun ways to get your kids to drink water}

  8. Listen to Daniel Tiger.

    Goodness, I love that little tiger. When my kids are being difficult, I usually bust out the teacher’s song from this episodeWe gotta try new food ‘cuz it might taste good. That little jingle has saved me a lot of grief!

  9. Get away from typical kid foods.

    Chicken nuggets are great once in awhile, but try to stretch the idea a bit by putting the chicken nuggets in a wrap or in a salad. Baby steps to variety! My kids love these tofu wraps. They are packed with protein, but they just love them because they are fun to eat!

  10. Change your environment.

    Never fails — when I pack a picnic, my kids eat like crazy. Generally we’ll head to a park and I’ll let them play and work up an appetite. I always come home with an empty cooler.

  11. Stop stressing.

    While laying a foundation now is key for a healthy adult life, the way your child eats now is NO indicator of how they will eat as an adult. I am a prime example…I was a very picky eater as a kid. Now? Well, I honestly can’t think of anything I don’t like!

  12. They’ll eat when they’re hungry.

    My mom recently introduced this concept to me, and you know what? It makes a lot of sense. Some days my kids demolish everything in sight. Other days they graze. But aren’t us adults the same? You shouldn’t have to eat just because it’s mealtime. I think forcing a child to eat when they aren’t hungry just makes everyone miserable. Choose your battles wisely.

Overall, as long as you’re offering a variety of food on a schedule and with healthy options, your kids are going to be OK. Promise 😉

Packables-3

Absopure Packables are the only 6.5 oz water bottles available on the market. Something great to keep in mind for school lunches! Learn more by visiting the Absopure blog or following Absopure on Facebook.

What do you do to get your children to eat better?

What To Expect at Day Out With Thomas at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad #DOWTCrossroads

Day Out With Thomas Flint

I received tickets to Day Out With Thomas in exchange for promoting the event. All opinions expressed are my own.

Bust my bumpers! Day Out With Thomas has officially rolled into Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint for the next two weekends.

This annual event is a favorite for locals, and for a good reason. It’s fantastic!

First, if you’ve never been to Crossroads Village, you need to plan a trip. It’s definitely a top spot to visit in Flint, Michigan. It’s similar to Greenfield Village with its historic buildings and such, but it’s on a smaller scale, which makes it perfect for little walking feet. It’s clean, easy to navigate, and there are plenty of bathrooms {and even a baby changing/nursing area} at the park.

When you purchase Day Out With Thomas tickets, you not only get a 45-minute train ride experience, but you also get access to the village and the numerous fun spots set-up throughout. Here’s additional ideas on what to expect at Day Out With Thomas at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad:

Magic Show

Visit the Cowell Opera House for various magic shows throughout the day.

Live Entertainment

Go to the Salter Farm for performances. We happened to hear some Down on The Farm music and my kids LOVED it. They didn’t want to leave!

Farm Animals

Check out the cows, horses, chickens and more at the farm.

Cow Petting

Straw Maze

This little maze is perfect for little ones to explore and use their brain to navigate.

Imagination Station

Visit this area for fun with MEGA BLOKS, bubbles galore, coloring pages, hat making and more.

Bubbles Galore

Historic Rides

Ride a Venetian Swing, ferris wheel, carousel and more! Tickets are 4 for $4 or $1.25 each. My girls loved the mini train the most.

Mini Train Ride

Additional Tips:

  • Pack a picnic. There are spots throughout for food, but if you want to save some money, pack a picnic! So many great, shady spots throughout. You can always grab a treat after.
  • My oldest {just shy of 5} walked the entire time. If you have a child that wears out easily, bring a stroller. I was glad we had an umbrella stroller for my 3-year-old who got tired after awhile. They also have ones you can borrow on a first-come, first-served basis {for free!} if you happen to forget one.
  • The gates open at 9 a.m. with FREE parking, so plan to spend some time there. We arrived 30 minutes before our ride so we had time to park, use the restroom and explore a bit before our train departed. The line loads the train from the back to the front, so we waited so we could be toward the front {and among the first to get off}. We spent 4+ hours there exploring and we still didn’t see everything.

DOWTCrossroads

Day Out With Thomas continues this weekend through Sunday and will also run next weekend, August 28-30. Purchase tickets HERE.

Have a blast if you attend!

Sloan Museum: Must Visit Attraction in Flint

One of my favorite cities in Michigan to visit with the kids in tow is Flint. I know…FLINT. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that.

I think Flint has a lot of hidden gems, plus I love that it doesn’t have the crowds as much as my adventures in Detroit and Ann Arbor do.

The main thing I love to do is explore the Flint Cultural Center. I love that you can walk from building to building and see a lot of neat things, plus it’s a beautiful campus-like area perfect for a picnic. {The Sloan Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, The Whiting, Longway Planetarium, Flint Youth Theatre and more are all there within a short walking distance.} It’s so nice to just go to one area of town when you have small kids and have a bit of a drive.

One of my favorite spots is Sloan Museum. My kids love it, so we like to visit for new exhibits.

Sloan Museum

We recently went to the ‘Scoop on Poop’ exhibit and my kids thought it was the funniest thing ever, and rightfully so. It was very interesting learning about, well, poop!

Scoop on Poop Exhibit

Grandma is such a good sport with being my model 😉

After exploring the special exhibit area {which rotates a few times a year}, we visited the rest of the museum. While I could seriously move slowly and read every single plaque on the wall about the history of Flint {which is fascinating, BTW}, that isn’t always a favorite of my little kids.

For that reason, they are always dashing through to the Wisner’s Whizbang Emporium area just for kids. What a neat spot to spend some time!

Wisner's Whizbang Emporium at Sloan Museum

I wish our playroom looked like this! So awesome.

With a grocery store, kitchen, baby area, building area, books, puppet theater and more, there is PLENTY for little ones to explore. As a parent, I especially love the signage all around encouraging play and how to interact with your child at each station. With our crew of a new walker up through a 7-year-old, we stayed in this section for a good hour.

Fun at Sloan Museum

There is a restroom inside this area, complete with a couch inside if a nursing mother feels more comfortable in private. Additionally, the Halfway Cafe is located here and is a great spot to stop to eat lunch {bring your own, but there are vending machines}.

As a mom, what spoke to me the most though? It was SO clean! I didn’t feel like I had to douse my kids in sanitizer after. It’s very well maintained, which is very appreciated.

Throughout the rest of the museum you can see artifacts on display for the “Collecting Flint from A to Z,” which is on display through December 2016.

Rotary Phone at Sloan Museum

My nephew listening to some dialogue on an old phone

My kids LOVED the old fire engine, the neon signs, information about UAW strikes and the classic cars on display. It always is a great lesson in history, which happens to be one of my favorite subjects.

GM Factory at Sloan Museum

Practicing tightening nuts and bolts at the factory line simulator

I can’t recommend this place enough. There is plenty to explore for kids of ALL ages and new things to discover each time you are there. A fun gift shop and plenty of bathrooms are available as well. We usually spend about 2 hours there, but could easily spend more if my kids were older.

We already are getting excited about the next exhibit coming: Top Secret: License to Spy, which opens Sept. 19 and runs through January 10 and highlights the science and technology of spying and espionage.

Have fun if you visit!

We Love Sloan Museum

ADMISSION, HOURS & MORE:

Admission to Sloan Museum also includes admission to Buick Automotive Gallery which houses various locally built automobiles. Adults – $9, seniors – $8, youth {2-11} – $6, children {1 & under} are free, ASTC Reciprocal Members are just $3. You can also get a combo ticket, which includes a ticket to the Longway Planetarium. I highly recommend that as well – it was recently renovated and is super cool inside. My girls {ages 3 and 5} loved it!

Learn more by visiting the Sloan Museum website or following on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloan Museum is located at 1221 E. Kearsley St., Flint, MI 48503.

Hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

I received free admission for this visit. All opinions expressed are my own.

What’s your favorite spot to visit in Flint?

12 Date Night Ideas In Lansing #LoveLansing

Date Night Ideas in Lansing

Excited to share about another fun city to head to for a date night destination: Michigan’s capitol, LANSING.

The city’s cute hashtag, #LoveLansing, is definitely two-fold. First, there’s plenty to love in Lansing. Second, there is plenty to do with your love in Lansing. See what I did there? I love when things can be taken literally and figuratively. Read on.

Today I’m sharing several date night ideas in Lansing. If you’re looking for adventures, great food and a whole lotta history, this is the town for you.

For a full night away from the kids, check out the Radisson in the heart of Lansing, which is steps away from many attractions.

Enjoy!

Canoe, kayak or paddleboard Grand River.

Check out River Town Adventures for equipment rental including canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. They can drive you to a drop off point and make your adventure even more exciting. Be sure to keep an eye out for the trio of smokestacks, aptly named Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

Grand River in Lansing

Play FootGolf at The Falcon at Hawk Hollow.

FootGolf is a hybrid of soccer and golf. How fun does that sound? {Much easier to get a soccer ball in a hole versus a golf ball, right?!} And for $9 for 9 holes and just $3 for ball rental, it’s a pretty good deal for a fun date night out. See more here…and don’t forget to wear argyle socks if you really want to look the part!

Stroll around MSU’s campus.

This beautiful spot in East Lansing has amazing grounds to explore. Must stop attractions include Abrams Planetarium for a show {on weekends}, Beaumont Tour, Wharton Center for a performance, Broad Art Museum and the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden. And no trip to MSU is complete without a trip to the MSU Dairy Store for ice cream.

Michigan State University Beaumont Tower

Hike at Woldumar Nature Center.

The Woldumar Nature Center offers more than 5 miles of trails on 178 acres of woodland, prairie, river-side and pine forest. Hike, ski or snowshoe anytime between dawn and dusk. Situated along the Grand River with 1.25 miles of shoreline, it’s a gorgeous way to spend some time with your love in nature. FREE, but donations gladly accepted.

Nosh on Good Eats.

There are some fabulous foodie spots in Lansing. A few recommendations: Soup Spoon Cafe for breakfast, Red Haven for delicious farm-to-table food, MEAT in Old Town for pulled pork/mac n’ cheese, and Sansu for sushi complete with Japanese-style tatami seating.

Other drool-worthy stops include Weston’s Kewpee Burger {love this family owned shop’s olive burger!} The Peanut Shop and Cravings Popcorn {dill pickle popcorn = amazing}. If you’re like me and plan dates around food, Lansing is a great spot to indulge in noms.

Places to Eat in Lansing, Michigan

Top left: Brisket from Meat. Top right: A squash blossom with zucchini, ricotta, tomato and micros from Red Haven. Bottom left: Cravings Popcorn in Old Town. Bottom right: An olive burger from Kewpee’s.

Watch a Lansing Lugnuts Game.

Dollar Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, the LACU fireworks and more…Lugnuts games are a ton of fun for a great price! For a date night, I’d suggest checking out The Clubhouse where game attendees can enjoy cocktails and food {and private bathrooms!} in an upscale, suite-level club for just $22.50 each. Perfect for sneaking into air conditioning during a hot game, and having easy access to nab a cold draft.

Park hop with the River Trail.

This scenic 20+ mile Lansing River Trail along the Cedar and Grand Rivers is perfect for biking or rollerblading to each of the city’s parks. Public parking is available at regular intervals along the trail. Additionally, stop for a meal or to shop along the trail, or stop for farm fresh produce, artisan cheeses and more at the Lansing City Market.

Lansing City Market

Check out Lansing’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Trail.

The Greater Lansing area is home to several spots for libations. Check this interactive map and plan some fun at wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Cheer on Lansing’s Roller Derby Teams.

For a riot of a night out, check out Lansing’s roller derby teams – the Mitten Mavens {women} or the Manhandlers {mens}.

Visit Old Town for a Festival.

Old Town Lansing is full of charm with cute shops, restaurants and literally a festival happening just about every weekend. It’s the perfect place to grab the hand of your love and explore.

Old Town Lansing

Be a Kid Again at Spare Time Entertainment Center.

Check out Spare Time for bowling, an arcade, laser tag and more. This place is not just for kids, so have fun!

Tour the Michigan State Capitol.

This is a rite of passage for any true Michigander. This beautiful building has received national accolades for its extraordinary architecture and art. Scheduled tours are offered daily and encompass the public areas and visits to the House and Senate galleries. Best of all? It’s FREE. Pack a picnic and sit on the lawn after to admire the building in all its glory.

Michigan State Capitol

Lansing is definitely a cool city to check out next time you’re planning a date night!

Learn about MANY more awesome places to go by visiting Lansing.org or checking out the hashtag #LoveLansing. Plan some fun today!

I recently went on a press trip to visit many of these locations. During my travel, accommodations and meals were covered by the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions expressed are my own.

Where are your favorite cities to head for a date night?

See also: 13 Things To Do in Greater Lansing with Kids

Easy Way To Give Back: School Supplies {+ Meijer Ad & mPerks Match-Ups}

School Supplies from Meijer

I have an ongoing partnership with Meijer and am compensated for posts. All opinions and content belong to me.

I just finished reading an inspiring book: Three Cups of Tea. The book essentially highlights how one man has changed education {especially among girls} in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has me all fired up about the power of education, because without it, we’re truly a lost world.

Our country has its flaws when it comes to education, but the fact is no child is denied their right to attend school, and that is truly something we should all cherish. After all, the children are our future.

But what about the kids here who struggle to come to school with a pencil and paper? What if their parents can’t afford backpacks? What if school is the only place where a child has access to food and electronic resources needed to succeed these days? Thoughts like this break my heart.

Thankfully, many local non-profits are in place to help the kids who otherwise may fall through the cracks. But without simple donations from community members, these organizations fall flat.

I’m a deal shopper to the extreme, so I figured instead of a meal or two out this month, we’d put a little money toward the greatest cause possible: Helping kids in our local schools.

Meijer - School Supplies

My Karina was so excited to help me organize all the items we collected!

When you’re out back-to-school shopping in the days ahead, I urge you to do the same and throw a few extras in your cart. Even if it’s just a few notebooks and pencils — those items could make a world of difference to an aspiring writer, doctor or teacher.

This week is the perfect time to shop. Meijer has 10 for $10 on tons of school supplies, with the 11th free. In mPerks, there is a $2 off $10 supply coupon, a 20% off apparel purchase when you buy $20 in supplies and more. Plus, when you spend money, you’ll earn points toward your personalized rewards, which you definitely need to use if you’re a Meijer shopper!

School Supply mPerks

I decided to spend $50 and see how far I could stretch it. Here’s what I ended up getting shopping at Meijer:

  • 15 notebooks {$0.17}
  • 30 folders {$0.15}
  • 2 packs of loose paper {$1.49}
  • 2 pairs of scissors {$1.49}
  • 5 sets of Crayola markers {$1}
  • 5 sets of Crayola colored pencils {$1}
  • 5 pencil boxes {94 cents each}
  • 5 packs of pens {$1, $0.55 cent off one PaperMate mPerk}
  • 1 pack of Sharpie clear view highlighters {$1.99 with $1 off mPerk}
  • 2 packs of glue sticks {6-packs for $1.99}
  • 2 packs of pencils {44 cents each}
  • 5 boxes of tissues {$1 each}
  • 5 – 3-ring binders {$1}
  • 3 boxes of fruit snacks for a lunch packing program {3 for $5}
  • 2 lunch boxes {20% off this week, $5.75 each}

That’s a lot of supplies, right?! Many were part of the buy 10, get the 11th item free bargain, too. Meijer has the best pricing I could find on many of the items that are needed most. See this post from Bargains to Bounty with all the school supply match-ups this week!

Donate School Supplies

Where to Give Back

If you’re looking to donate, here are some local organizations helping students:

Philanthropy is at the heart of every Meijer store with the Simply Give program, which helps neighborhood food pantries keep their shelves stocked. This signature program has generated more than $15.5 million.

Be sure to follow Meijer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more great ways to save.

How do you save on school supplies?

10 Tips for Visiting the Toledo Zoo

10 Tips for Visiting The Toledo Zoo

My mom and I packed up the kids and my nephew and headed to the Toledo Zoo last week. It was wonderful! I hadn’t been there in years, and never with kids, so it was great to see what the updates were like…It was a whole different zoo than I remember. The grounds were immaculate and there were plenty of restrooms and spots to grab food.

However, with little kids, I always feel like I’m on a timer. They can only last so long in the heat and needing to rest, so a trip to a zoo that is more than an hour away from us, requires some planning. Thankfully, my kids were troopers and we spent around 5 hours there exploring.

After my visit, I was inspired to post so I remember what to do next time we visit. So here we go!

10 tips for visiting the Toledo Zoo


Pack a lunch {and don’t forget to bring it}.

I was so proud of my superwoman lunch packing skills…and then I left it at home. I spent $22 on three kids meals that were sub-par. There were plenty of stops for treats if you need it, but bring food if you want healthy options.

Bring strollers, even if your kids are older.

I took around 7,000 steps while there, so that’s a lot of walking for little legs. Make sure to bring strollers and wagons to accommodate little feet. The bridge to get to the ‘old’ side of the zoo is a huge ramp, so a bit of a workout 😉 {Strollers, double strollers and wagons are available for rent too for $7, $11 and $11 respectively.} My 6-year-old nephew even took his turn riding when he was tired.
Playing at the Toledo Zoo

Map out your must-stop spots.

I wish we would’ve sat down and looked at the map in detail before starting to walk. Pick the must stop spots and make those your priority. There’s so much to see and you may miss out without proper planning. In our case, we missed the hippos, so heard some crying on the way out! Here’s the map. Note: The splash area is next to the aquarium. My kid’s loved the orangutans and gorillas most.

Start at the aquarium and bring a baby carrier.

We did the ‘new’ side first, so by the time we got to the back where the aquarium is, my toddler was exhausted despite riding mostly in a wagon. You cannot bring strollers and wagons inside, and it’s a fair amount of walking, so my mom and I had to take turns lugging a protesting toddler and my heavy baby around. I so wish I had my carrier, which could have held one of them.

Also, for the record, the aquarium ROCKS. The touch pools were crowded, but so cool! This spot alone is worth the price of admission.

Aquarium at the Toledo Zoo

Bring money for the train/rides.

If your kids love carousels, there are two on the property and cost $1.50 and $2 to ride. There’s also a train to take you around to see the African Savannah wildlife for $2.50. Do it if your children love zebras, giraffes, etc. we missed out and I am bummed!

Bring a change of clothes for the Aquarium Adventure Trail.

There is a new splash area for little ones that is super cute. Please note there are no changing rooms nearby, so you will need to get into a suit in the bathroom. If the temperatures are high, my suggestion would just be to let kids get a bit wet in their clothes and bare feet and change when you get to the car so you don’t have to carry extra stuff. Great for cooling off on a hot summer day!

Aquarium Trail Splash Pad at the Toledo Zoo

Prepare for crowds, or go during an off time.

It was slammed when we went on a Wednesday morning. We had to park at the very back of the lot and had to wait to see many exhibits. That of course is a given during summer, so consider a visit when the temps are cooler if you hate crowds.

Break up the day with a FREE show.

We checked out one of the Soar N’ Explore shows, and it was super cute. My kids learned a ton and I liked breaking up the day sitting down in air conditioning.

Check out the unique play areas.

I loved that there were some really cool play areas for kids. Such a fun way to take a break from the animals or hang out while waiting for a show.

Play Areas at the Toledo Zoo

The area on the left is called Nature’s Neighborhood, and the areas on the right are new and located near the splash pad.

Prices.

It’s not cheap to visit, but when you consider the amount of animals you can see, plus the playgrounds, free shows, splash area and aquarium, the prices don’t seem quite as steep. You’ll definitely want to spend the entire day here to get your money’s worth if you aren’t a member. Children age 2 and under are free; kids ages 2-11 are $13, seniors {60+} are $13 and adults are $16. Parking is an additional $7.

Toledo Zoo Sign

Overall, this zoo is top-notch, especially for little ones. My oldest is already asking when we can go back, and I look forward to planning out our visit a bit better for next time. Enjoy if you go!

Do you have tips to add? Please chime in and help my readers!

To My Son On His First Birthday

Miles - One Year

Dear Miles,

Today you are ONE. Can you tell me — how did this year go by so fast? Seems like yesterday I was in labor and pacing the grounds at the hospital awaiting your arrival. It was such a wonderful experience being able to hold you in my arms for the first time!

Miles Urban

Fast forward to now and I see this happy, healthy and hilarious little man before me. I couldn’t possibly feel more blessed.

You have been the exact puzzle piece we were missing to complete our family. From the moment you arrived, you fit in like you were here all along. There’s no doubt in my mind your sisters have loved watching you hit every milestone, just like daddy and I. They are crazy for you and always telling me when you’re doing cute things {“He’s standing! He’s walking! He’s in the toilet again!”} – you are lucky to have two big sisters to watch over you.

Watching you grow this past year has been beautiful. I have thoroughly enjoyed each baby cuddle, the smell of your hair basking in the sunshine, watching your little wrist chunks grow and flying through food faster than I could’ve ever imagined. You are my final baby, so each passing moment has been bittersweet, but also full of more joy than I could’ve ever anticipated.

Your nickname has been “sMiles” since day one, and for good reason. You smiled extremely early on and haven’t stopped. You have been the easiest of my babies in many ways, but I guess that could be because you are my third and you just know you *have* to be easy. THANK YOU for holding up your end of the bargain.

Our house is a lot louder and more chaotic with you here, but also full of amazing love. I often get the “your hands are full” comment when I’m in public with you and your sisters, and I am happy to reply “you should see my heart!”

Mama and Miles

I’ve always heard that there is an incredible bond between a mother and son, and you have proven that true. I love all three of you kids the same amount, but for different reasons. I feel this overwhelming need to protect you and shape you into the kind of man I’d want my daughters to marry. Get ready for some hardcore manners and lectures in your future…and my apologies in advance 😉

You absolutely adore your daddy, too. When he comes home, you reach for him and kiss him. It seriously makes me weepy…So stinkin’ sweet. I hope you two continue to bond and have a great relationship in the future because I am sure you will need to get away from us crazy girls at times.

Daddy and Miles

You are very much like your sisters in many ways, but you do have a bit of a crazy streak. You’ve hit every milestone well before them and already are my little climber; climbing on chairs {and standing}, the couch, and picnic table, and giving me minor heart attacks in the process. You have no fear, which has been a reality check since I’m a hands-off type parent, but you also are the SWEETEST baby ever and call out “mama!” often when you need me.

During this year, your personality has formed, and we know of a few things so far:

  • You LOVE food. Seriously. Our grocery bill has gone up a ton since you already eat just as much as your sisters, if not more. You love it all too, but meat and cheeses are your favorites.
  • You are very independent. You feed yourself and get around really great…and that’s great because you hate sitting still.
  • With that said, you are a mama’s boy through and through and take some time to warm up to people who want to hold you. If we’re out, you don’t like it when I go out of your sight.
  • Your smile is contagious. You get so much attention grocery shopping because you flirt with everyone. The old ladies just eat you up! You wave and play peek-a-boo, making everyone’s day.
  • You *do* have a temper and throw yourself and scream an ear-piercing scream when things don’t go your way. Whew. Your scream is intense. Let’s not let this go beyond toddlerhood, mmmK?
  • You love reading. You only will sit through short books now, but touch-and-feel books and ones that make noise {or mama does voices} are your current favorites.
  • You laugh at a lot of things, but dogs {and any animal, really}, balloons and tickles are your favorite reasons.

Since the first time we learned you were a little man, you have brought great joy to our lives. Thank you for helping me to learn about boys and deepen my adoration for daddy in the process.

Cheers on your first birthday my little love. I have no doubt the year ahead will be one filled with continued learning, joy, and sMiles. We can’t wait to witness the miracle that is watching you grow into a little boy.

Love you to the moon and back, times infinity.

Kisses,

Mama

Miles - Month to Month

Date Night Destinations: Motor City Casino Hotel and the Detroit Riverfront

Date Night Destinations - Detroit

I am beyond excited to share a new feature I will have on here: Date Night Destinations. This is my answer to the thousands of searches that are brought to my site from people looking for places to go on dates in Michigan. I hear you loud and clear! Please reach out if you have a fabulous place you think we should go.

* This post is sponsored by MotorCity Casino Hotel.

No matter where I go, a piece of my heart is in Detroit. From the moment we drive into the city, with the RenCen and Fisher buildings dotting the skyline, my pulse begins to quicken; almost like running into an old friend you haven’t seen in years. The moment I arrive, I feel happy.

For that reason alone, I knew when I started my date night destinations feature, Detroit would be one of the first stops.

A place my husband and I have been wanting to stay is MotorCity Casino Hotel. I had been to events there, but never actually have stayed in a room. I love the layout and beautiful features, so knew it would be the perfect romantic getaway in Detroit.

MotorCity Casino Hotel Lobby

We were not disappointed, and MotorCity lived up to its luxurious name. We slept like kings and absolutely LOVED the view!

Motor City Casino Hotel Room

After checking in and enjoying our room {the double-headed shower and a TV inside the bathroom mirror were awesome features}, we headed to dinner at the absolutely gorgeous Iridescence, which is on the 16th floor and dubbed “Five star view, 4-diamond dining.”

It’s true — the view was stunning, with the Ambassador Bridge on one side of us and the Renaissance Center on the other. We enjoyed looking through the tablet menu to select our meal. We especially loved that we could see pictures of the food we were ordering. Totally helpful!

View from Iridescence

The view at Iridescence

So let’s talk about the evening’s star: Our food. This definitely ranks as one of the best meals I’ve EVER had. Everything from the service to the food presentation was top-notch. The chef was trying some new menu items and so we were able to have some tastes. Trust me when I say if they put the wedge salad topped with smoked lobster on the menu, it’s a MUST. We also enjoyed our crab cake as an appetizer. It was perfection. {middle right photo below}.

Iridescence in Motor City Casion

I ordered the Cioppino Thai-Style {shown in the bottom left corner}, which included scallops, nishiki risotto, shrimp, watercress, Prince Edward Island mussels and treviso. It was bursting with flavor and had tons of seafood in it, which I loved. I would order it again in a heartbeat!

My husband ordered the Filet of Black Angus Beef {top right photo} with asparagus, shallot potato cake, gruyère, tomato confit, mustard-red wine demi-glace. It was cooked to perfection, and sliced like butter. Can’t beat a great steak during a fine dining experience!

Then dessert came {bottom right photo}. When the words chocolate, peanut butter and banana are together, you can’t go wrong. It was amazing. Shoot, I would go back just to have this with a bottle of wine so we could enjoy the view!

There’s a reason Iridescence is a 4-diamond restaurant. I highly suggest it if you have a date night or anniversary to celebrate.

After we ate, we walked the game floor. This is one of my favorite reasons to stay at a casino. We aren’t big gamblers, but we are big people watchers. Plus, it’s always fun to throw a couple of bucks in the slots and see what happens. We had fun playing and I was beyond excited to win $15. It’s the little things 😉

Additionally, MotorCity has free bands every night at the Chromatics Lounge, so we decided to check that out versus venturing out. I’m glad we did because we had a blast! The bands played top 40 hits so I sang along to every song. My husband isn’t a huge dancer, but I couldn’t help myself – I had to get up.

While there, I met a regular named John, who is 79-years young and loves dancing. People like John are the prime example of why I love Detroit. There are interesting people everywhere!

Saturday morning we woke up {without a child alarm clock}, ate a continental breakfast at the hotel and got ready to do some urban exploring. We brought our bikes, so we rode the entire Detroit RiverWalk and beyond. We both worked in the Renaissance Center a few years back, so it was fun seeing all the updates. It’s the perfect chill workout on a sunny day.

DIA Inside Out by Renaissance Center in Detroit

{If you don’t bring bikes, you can rent one from Wheelhouse Detroit}.

Parking was a cinch {and free!} at Rivard Plaza. I especially loved admiring all the public art along the river, including special exhibits from Inside Out from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Another favorite spot to admire was the lighthouse at Milliken State Park. Did you know Detroit has a lighthouse? So cool! {Learn more about this neat spot from my friend Midwest Guest}

Milliken State Park

After our adventure, we were famished and hit up one of our all-time favorite spots: Slows Bar BQ. So delicious! There are so many other great spots we missed, too, but our bodies needed their oh-so-delicious mac n’ cheese.

Overall, we had a fantastic date night in Detroit…AWAY from the kids. It was fun to go somewhere and only have to hold each other’s hands and not have to juggle 10 other items! We can’t wait to visit again soon.

Where are your favorite spots to stay and play in Detroit?

Visit MotorCity Casino Hotel on Facebook and Twitter for updates, discounted room rates and more! Also, be sure to check out the D.Tour Spa for romance in a luxurious setting!

See my big list of date night ideas for Southeast Michigan here.

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2015 {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing}

August is such a bittersweet month here in Michigan, right? The calm before the storm of school begins and life returns to normal. I hope you all do your best to wrap up summer memories by attending some of the events below. ENJOY!

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2015

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in August 2015

August 1-2 — Buy Michigan Now Fest {Northville} — Michigan vendors, activities and music for the whole family. North Center Street is home to the Kids Zone with magic, games, mascots, and more. FREE to enter.

August 1 — Home Depot Kids Workshop {Nationwide} — Visit Home Depot to build a chalkboard door hanger. Kids get to keep their craft, receive a certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a pin. 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. FREE.

August 1  — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a rain stick.

August 1 — Families at The Broad {East Lansing} — Visit this East Lansing modern art museum from 12-4 p.m. for hands-on activities and a family guided tour at 1 p.m. FREE.

August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29— FREE Day at the Flint Institute of Art {Flint} — This museum is free to visit every Saturday thanks to First Merit Bank,

August 1-2 — 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 {60+}: $12, Child {25 mos. – 12 yrs}: $10, 24 mos. & under are free.

August 2 — Fairy Tale Gathering {Ann Arbor} — This sounds like such a cute event. Get the scoop from Ann Arbor With Kids!

August 2-8 — Monroe County Fair {Monroe} — Food, family activities, entertainment, Grandstand concerts, midway rides {Kids Day on Tuesday}, 4-H exhibits and more.

Oakland County Fair Rides

August 3-8 — Ingham County Fair {Mason} — This fair offers something for everyone including hundreds of exhibits, grandstand events, a large midway full of rides, a petting zoo and more! Free parking.

August 4-8 — Wayne County Fair {Belleville} — A miracle of life barn, 4-H animals, a midway, fair food and more. $5 parking fee.

August 6, 7, 13, 14 — Reading and Rhythm on the Riverfront {Detroit} — Reading & Rhythm on the Riverfront is the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s unique, interactive early literacy program that provides children from southeast Michigan an opportunity to see live children’s entertainment, hear a story read by a local celebrity reader and receive a free book, as well as a ride on the lovely Cullen Family Carousel. 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. timeslots. FREE.

August 7 — FREE Admission to Cranbrook Institute of Science After 5 p.m. {Bloomfield Hills} — Thanks to the MASCO Corporation Foundation.

August 7 — Big Rig Gig {Lake Orion} — Get the scoop at this event listing from Metro Detroit Mommy.

August 7-8 — Bath Days Festival {Bath} — Home of the “International Bath Tub Races,” this family friendly fest includes crafts, a car show, rides, fireworks, a kids play area and of course – bath tub races. FREE entry.

August 7-9 — Milford Memories {Milford} — Visit beautiful downtown Milford for this super fun annual fest, which features arts and crafts, plenty of food, live music, kids activities and more. FREE entry.

August 7-9 — Great Lakes Folk Festival {East Lansing} — The MSU Museum presents this three-day celebration of culture, tradition and community. Find music, dance, food and more, including many hands-on activities for children inspired by music, dance, art and culture.

August 7-9 — Dearborn’s Homecoming {Dearborn} — This hometown festival includes lots of food, free family activities, stage performances, carnival rides, and fireworks displays on Saturday and Sunday nights. Admission is free. All activities are at Ford Field Park in Dearborn. $10 for parking.

August 8 — Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic {Nationwide} — Bring your kids to Lowe’s to build a Hulk’s Tank kit as part of the Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. Workshop takes place at 10 a.m. and advance registration encouraged {link above}. FREE.

August 8 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a duct tape pencil pouch.

August 8 — Touch-A-Truck {Lansing} — Visit Sharp Park from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. for a fun touch-a-truck event! 
FREE.

August 8 — All Things Dairy at the Michigan Historical Museum {Lansing} — Learn about the new farm techniques and machines that revolutionized dairy-farming after the Civil War. Then, try your hand at making ice cream the old-fashioned way. This is a Second Saturdays for Families program and is included with museum admission. Adults – $6, seniors {65+} – $4, youth {6-17} – $2, children up to 5 years are free.

August 8 — SummerFest at Kensington Woods High School {Lakeland} — This event is open to the public and features games, bounce houses, arts & crafts, face painting, prizes, music, food and more. FREE.

August 8 — Young Eagles Airplane Rides {Mason} — From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., kids ages 8-17 can enjoy a FREE airplane ride at the Mason Jewett Airport. A parent/guardian must be present or provide a signed permission slip. Flights are on a first come, first served basis.

August 8-9 — Shelby Township Art Fair {Shelby Township} — This family-friendly event features a variety of art, fine crafts, plus a section designated for Michigan made products. Bring the family for a day filled with activities and entertainment, and bring home a special piece of art, a hand-made item, product, or a souvenir from your visit. Listen to music at the bandshell, make a craft under the Kid’s Corner tent, play on a bouncer, visit with animals and more. Parking and entry is FREE.

Henry Ford Complex - 1August 10 – Macy’s 2nd Mondays at The Henry Ford Museum {Dearborn} – Introduce your preschool children to the wonders of The Henry Ford — all before nap time {10 a.m. – noon}. Storytelling, live entertainment and dozens of hands-on activities related to some of the museum’s most memorable artifacts. August’s theme is All Aboard! and will take place in Greenfield Village. FREE for kids, adults can get 25 percent off their tickets with this coupon!

August 10-15 – Woodward Dream Cruise {Ferndale through Pontiac} – Join spectators watching 40,000 cars cruise through the world’s largest one-day automotive event. Bring a lawn chair and take a seat along the route, which runs from Ferndale to Pontiac on Woodward Avenue. FREE.

August 11 — $2 Tuesday at the Flint Children’s Museum {Flint} — General admission to the museum is just $2!

August 11-15 — Back To The Bricks {Flint} — Visit Flint and be part of one of the biggest car events featuring a rolling cruise, kick-off party, live entertainment, automotive displays, vendors, food, antique fire trucks and dragster exhibits and more. FREE.

August 13-15 — Renegade Theatre Festival {Lansing} — Visit charming Old Town in Lansing for various theatre performances and kid fun. FREE.

August 14 — Ferndale Emergency Vehicle Show {Ferndale} — This event is in its 15th year and is the perfect opportunity for kids young and old to get up-close to emergency vehicles. Be sure to go to the Lights & Sirens show at 5:30 p.m. FREE.

August 14-15 — Dexter Daze {Dexter} — The festival includes more than 100 art, business and food booths, multiple music stages, as well as dozens of activities and events for families.

August 14-16 — St. Johns Mint Festival {St. Johns} —  Celebrate more than 100 years of mint farming in Clinton County with arts & crafts, a flea market, food concessions, a parade, mint farm tours, free entertainment and more. A highlight of the festival is activities for kids including Kids World all weekend long and Kids Day on Sunday with exotic animals, games & contest—all for 25 cents each.

August 14-16 — Howell Melon Festival {Howell} — Visit Grand River in downtown Howell for festival staples like melons, melon-flavored ice cream and wine, and enjoy the Melon Run, a free outdoor movie, live music, the kids Melon Patch, inflatables, food court, train rides, a carnival, street vendors and more. FREE.

August 17-23 — Armada Fair {Armada} — The 2015 fair includes a demolition derby, monster truck shootout, tractor and truck pull, children’s activities, 4-H entries and more. Adults – $8, kids {9-12} – $2, under 8 are free. Parking is $5.Day Out With Thomas in Flint

August 21-23 and 28-30 — Day Out With Thomas at Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad {Flint} — Get the scoop at this post of mine or purchase tickets here.

August 22 – Sept. 4 — Michigan Renaissance Festival {Holly} — Visit Holly Grove for music, sword-swallowing, comedy, fire-juggling and of course, the costumes of a bygone era. Open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., rain or shine! Dress in costume for added fun and be sure to check out how the Festival celebrates with themed weekends. Free parking. Adult general admission: $21.95; child general admission: $12.95.

August 22 — Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic {Nationwide} — Bring your kids to Lowe’s to build Thor’s Chariot as part of the Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. Workshop takes place at 10 a.m. and advance registration encouraged {link above}. FREE.

August 22 — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is pencil topper.

August 24-30 — Genesee County Fair {Mt. Morris} — Visit Mt. Morris for seven days of family fun including monster trucks and derby races, entertainment tent, 4-H horse show, Midway Carnival, Grandstand events, food and more. FREE gate admission.

August 25 — Fairy Houses and Gnome Homes {Flushing} — Visit Flushing County Park from 7-8 p.m. dressed in your fairy and gnome best for a story, craft and a building adventure. All ages welcome. FREE.BLISS_LOGO (2)

August 29 — Belle Isle Summer Saturdays {Detroit} — From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., visit Belle Isle for TONS of family fun! Visitors can learn the fundamentals of kayaking and water exploration, rent bicycles, participate in outdoor games, brave the giant slide and explore Belle Isle with self-paced island tours. The Detroit City Chess Club will also be at Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Belle Isle Aquarium and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory will be open and, as always, free to visit. FREE.

August 29  — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a bookmark.

August 29-30 — Thunder Over Michigan Air Show {Ypsilanti} — Thunder over Michigan is one of Americas leading air shows and is considered the best warbird show in America. Held at Willow Run Airport, the show features world-class entertainment, including the Blue Angels, and fun for the whole family. Parking is $10 in advance or $20 on site. Admission tickets are $35; kids age 15 and under and free.

What are you most looking forward to this month?