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?

 

To My Daughter On Her Third Birthday {Karina}

Karina Age 3

Dearest Karina,

As I think about what to type in this year’s birthday letter, I can’t help but get tears in my eyes. It sure has been a year, baby girl! So many ups, so many downs. So.Much.Fun.

Today you are three.

If there is one thing I have learned during your second year, it’s to never underestimate you.

When language issues started showing up last year, I went into mama bear mode trying to figure out ways to help you speak better. After months of visits with Early On Michigan, we saw lots of improvement. Turns out really you just needed time. You are constantly surprising us, Kar, and I’m sure this is just foreshadowing on the many surprises you have in store for us.

Karina Making Pizza

The biggest surprise this year has been potty training. After having a hard time with your sister, I dragged my feet and let you decide when you were ready. Much to my delight, once you had it in your mind that you wanted to wear underware, you were trained pretty quickly. Hearing you tell everyone how you went potty and seeing the pride beam from your face has filled me with such joy.

With that said, just saying you are just a stubborn toddler doesn’t quite fit. Honestly, you’re a whole ‘nother level of stubborn; you are unshakable. No amount of punishment can make you cave…ever. And believe me, we’ve tried everything.

Daddy has a saying for you: You’re either going to be a total success or a convict. He doesn’t say it to be mean; It’s simply the truth. A buzz term for stubborn kids these days is spirited. I love that term because it completely fits you. It’s not that you are a bad kid…You’re just opinionated. This trait often angers me, but really, you are just.like.me. We just don’t give up until we get our way, right? I cling to the hope that this trait will pay off for you down the road, like it has for me.

Karina7

Thankfully, you are one of the most loving children ever, too. Just when daddy and I are getting fired up over something you did, you show us this intense love. You grab my face and kiss it, ask for cuddles, beg me to sleep in your bed, tell me you love me and that I’m your best friend. You are full of heart melt moments. I thank God for those times because it’s what gets us through the tough days.

At this moment in time, you are very much your own little person. Following in your sister’s footsteps, you don’t have a speck of pink in your blood. You have zero interest in dolls or princesses, preferring to hoard tiny plastic animals, Thomas the Tank Engine and minions. You can often be found digging in the dirt and collecting pinecones and rocks outside. And you love everything about farm life, especially cows.

You rarely let me dress you these days and often look like a hot mess wearing multi patterns and sweat pants in July, but you’re happy, and could care less what anyone thinks of you. I hope you never lose sight of who you are, which so far, is definitely an original.

Your favorite color is green, which is funny because you love money and will do just about anything for it, including sweeping the floor, cleaning your room and helping with laundry. You are my little helper, and I really appreciate it. We joke we need to get you a job because you are extremely sensory-driven and love busy work. I have no doubt in my mind about you working hard in life. You’ve got it down already, sweetie!

Carter's Spring 2015 Toddler Girls

You also have a wicked sense of humor. Daddy and I are convinced you may be a class clown one day since you love the attention you get when you say funny things. You are particularly sassy with your aunt Whitney and listening to the two of you banter is hysterical. I never knew a 3-year-old could have so much sarcasm.

At bedtime, there’s nothing more you love than to read books and have a family hug. You always request I sing the Shrek song {Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright} followed by Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. You are a girl of routine and we definitely try our best to stick with what works for you.

It has been an absolute blast watching you grow this year, Kar-Bar. I’m excited  to see who you’ll become one day, but for now, I’m doing my best to soak in every stage — even the tough ones.

I love you to the moon and back, times infinity.

Kisses,

Mama

Welcome to Metro Detroit, Fresh Thyme #FreshThymeMI

Fresh Thyme

This post is sponsored by Fresh Thyme. All opinions and photos are mine.

Wednesday night I had the chance to check out the latest chain to hit metro Detroit: Fresh Thyme. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, think your local farmers market + Whole Foods with a dash of Trader Joe’s {and with TJ’s pricing}. Pretty much foodie heaven!

The company opened three new locations this week: Northville, Troy and Rochester Hills. There’s also a new location in East Lansing, and the company is scheduled to open a total of 60 stores by 2019.

For this visit, I went to the Northville location, and I have to say, I was impressed upon arrival. It’s farm-like exterior was so colorful and welcoming; it’s the type of store that just begs you to go inside.

The vibe inside was that of a bustling market, complete with colorful produce, artisan bread, a deli with fresh meat and more.

Fresh Thyme Collage

Some spots that instantly drew my attention was the make-your own pizza counter, sushi station, a beautiful salad bar, and fresh meat area with rows and rows of more than 12 handcrafted sausages and more. There also was plenty of all natural meat and fresh seafood, including grass-fed and organic options.

I also loved spotting all the blue “Local Favorite” and made in Michigan tags while walking the store, including quite a few products that were new to me. Fresh Thyme is passionate about making “local” a focus in all their stores.

Michigan Tags at Fresh Thyme

A spot that made this store unique for me was the bulk area. There are more than 400 bins of natural and organic self-serve bulk items. Bulk items range from grains, granola, beans, snack items and more. I love that I could create my own trail mix or just grab a cup or two of random items like coconut flour, which I don’t use often and wouldn’t need an entire bag for.

Bulk Area at Fresh Thyme

As a coffee lover, I also enjoyed the locally roasted premium bulk coffee bean aisle. I could stand there and smell the fresh beans all day! They also had some samples available, which is always appreciated.

For my gluten-free friends, I saw TONS of options. In fact, there are more than 1,600 gluten-free products in every store. I saw lots of great treats like red velvet cupcakes and more, and the pricing seemed very reasonable.

The store even had a fun selection of green and organic baby toys and essentials, and organic baby food. I also found myself checking out the hundreds of natural and homeopathic health items the store offered. With an infant, I couldn’t believe the options they had to treat something like a cold without the harsh chemicals often found in mainstream medications. So great to have options!

I could have spent a ton of time walking through the natural health department too – everything from handcrafted soaps to essential oils, bottled greens and more were there.

All Natural Cosmetics at Fresh Thyme

Overall, I thought the store was great and a wonderful addition to the local shopping scene. I only hope Fresh Thyme will consider a Livingston County store a tad closer to me in the future 😀

Learn more about Fresh Thyme HERE.

Like on Facebook at facebook.com/FreshThymeFarmersMarkets and follow on Twitter at twitter.com/FreshThymeFM.

Fresh Thyme Market Northville
15480 Sheldon Rd.
Northville, MI 48168

Fresh Thyme Market Rochester Hills
2025 S. Rochester Rd.
Rochester Hills, MI 48037

Fresh Thyme Market Troy
901 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083

See my entire album of photos here on Facebook.

Happy shopping! Do you plan to visit Fresh Thyme soon?

13 Things To Do in Greater Lansing With Kids #LoveLansing

Places to Go With Kids in Greater Lansing

This past weekend, I had the chance to travel to Michigan’s capital city: Lansing. During my trip I was able to network with other fab bloggers, eat some great food and explore the city. It was wonderful! Along the way, I learned of some great spots and am excited to share a few of my favorites.

If Lansing is a bit of a drive for you, I highly suggest making it a destination for a night away. {Check out these places to stay.} There’s SO much to do, it may be hard to pack into just one day.

Here are my top 13 things to do in Greater Lansing with kids, including a few fun spots to grab some food, because we all love to try new spots, right? :)

Potter Park Zoo. Michigan’s oldest zoo {c. 1920}, is home to almost 600 animals and is the perfect size for little feet to walk. Interesting stops include camel rides, train and pony rides and multiple interactive exhibits. Admission: Non-resident adults: $10, ages 3-12: $2, ages 2 and under free. Parking for non-residents is $5.

Impression 5 Science Center. With more than 12 interactive exhibits, this spot has something to offer kids of all ages. {Exciting updates coming next year, so stay tuned!} Check out my post 13 Reasons To Visit Impression 5 for more details. Admission: $7/adult, $6.50/senior, children up to 1-year are free.

Impression 5

Children brushing giant teeth at the recently opened ‘Chew On This’ exhibit

Hawk Island Park. This park offers a beach, boat rentals, fishing, a playground, splash pad and more. During winter, visitors can enjoy a snow tubing hill complete with tow ropes and a warming station, too! $5 vehicle entrance fee.

Michigan State Capitol. Step back into time while visiting one of our state’s most infamous landmarks. Little ones will enjoy exploring and standing on the glass block floor, and older kids will enjoy learning about our state’s house and senate during a guided tour. Guided tours hours are from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m to 3 p.m. on Saturday. FREE to visit.

Michigan State Capitol

A peek inside the Governor’s office. So many details to amaze kids inside this building, including amazing door hinges!

Michigan Historical Museum. Learn about Michigan’s history at this gem of a museum filled with a life-like mine, scenes from the 1950’s, a weekly story circle for ages 2-5 and more. Kids will love putting their heads in several wooden cut-outs and riding an old bicycle too! Admission is $6/adult, $4/seniors, ages 6-17 – $2 and kids age 5 and under are free. Sundays are always free.

Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law Stadium. With inexpensive tickets, this team and venue is the perfect opportunity to introduce baseball to your child. Tuesdays are Dollar Days where visitors can enjoy $1 pop, hot dogs and ice cream, and Sundays are Kids Days where kids can play catch before the game and run the bases after the game, in addition to enjoying zoo animals, airbrush tattoos and more on the concourse. A bounce zone at all games is perfect to entertain little legs when they get antsy. Tickets start at $8.

Lansing Lugnuts2

Cooley Law Stadium is beautiful! It’s like a smaller version of Comerica Park.

Little Hawk Putting Course at Hawk Hollow. {Located in Bath} This unique 18-hole putting course is perfect for aspiring golfers. Play time is estimated at just over and hour, so perfect for the older kids in your life. $9/player during summer.

4-H Children’s Gardens. This garden is just a gorgeous spot to explore. Pack a picnic to enjoy or check out one of the many story times and programming offered during the spring and summer. {Check out this post for detailed directions on getting there if you aren’t familiar with MSU’s campus.} FREE.

MSU Children's Gardens

A serene spot to sit inside the Children’s Gardens.

East Lansing Family Aquatic Center. Complete with several slides, a splash area for little ones, a diving board, a sand area and more, families will have something for kids of all ages to enjoy. Admission ranges from $5 {residents} – $10 {non-residents}. Children 2 and under are free.

Preuss Pets. Yes, this is a pet store, but it isn’t your grandma’s pet store! Available for birthday parties and more, kids will love walking around and admiring the reptiles, small animals inside a transformed school bus, and exotic fish and coral. Feed the giant fish in the river running through the store {just $1, which goes to local charities} or check out the shop’s roaming rat, Nigel. Located in adorable Old Town in the heart of Lansing. FREE to explore.

Preuss Pets

Feeding the giant fish in the river at Preuss Pets. Such a neat store!

EATS

Clara’s Restaurant. If you have a kid that loves trains, Clara’s is a great stop for a meal. Eat in a real train car, or sit in the balcony overlooking the restaurant. Sunday brunch, pizza, sandwiches and plenty of dessert options for a special occasion.

Soup Spoon Cafe. This full-service spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner is spacious enough to accommodate families and curious palates. Kids will love the chalk wall outside where they can write in what they are grateful for.

Soup Spoon Cafe

MSU Dairy Store. With 32 flavors, kids may have a hard time choosing! This MSU staple offers the creamiest ice cream out there. If the observation deck is open, make sure to take the kids up to see how ice cream is made.

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

During my stay, my travel accommodations and meals were covered by the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions expressed are my own.

What’s your favorite spot for kids in Lansing?

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Our Weight Loss Story on Local 4 News in Detroit

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When I started this blog, quite honestly, I didn’t really think or care who may read it. Writing to me is therapeutic. It helps me make sense of the world and find great things for my family to do. And it’s just plain fun for an extrovert like me.

Over the years, I’ve been shocked at the number of people who shout “Hey, Mrs. Weber!” when I’m out in public. Now, I may be hearing it a bit more thanks to a segment that recently aired on Local 4 News in Detroit. {Seriously, talk to me if you see me! I love chatting with readers.}

A producer from Local 4 happened to see this blog post highlighting my husband and I’s recent weight loss and decided we would make a fun story.

A few things I had to warn her about: My husband is NOT a fan of the camera and I have 3 crazy kids. Thankfully, my husband stepped out of his comfort zone and my mom rescued us and helped watch the kids while we filmed our segment.

We are SO proud with how it turned out.

WATCH IT HERE –> http://www.clickondetroit.com/lifestyle/family/howell-couple-losing-weight-still-enjoying-food-indulgence/34220474

We are NOT experts on losing weight. Not even remotely. We just are happy to share what has worked for us, which may be completely different from what will work for you.

It’s our hope that we can inspire a few people out there to take the plunge and get control of their health. We are far from perfect, but we feel great, and isn’t that the ultimate test, regardless of what the scale says?

Every big goal starts with a small step. Best of luck if you are trying to lose weight and get healthy. I’m here if you’d like to reach out and ask questions or need encouragement.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support!

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Day Out With Thomas at Crossroads Village in Flint {+ Giveaway ENDS 7/31}

Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad Logo

The post and giveaway below is sponsored by Genesee County Parks and Recreation. I am receiving tickets to DOWT in exchange for promoting the event.

Do you have a Thomas fan in your house? If so, you aren’t going to want to miss his arrival to Day Out With Thomas at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan. The event takes place over two weekends; August 21-23 and 28-30, 2015.

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ABOUT THE EVENT

Day Out With Thomas™: The Celebration Tour 2015 returns to Crossroads Village for six big days of family fun!

Ticket prices are $22 for adults and children age 2 and up, and include a 40-minute ride on the historic narrow-gauge train pulled by Thomas himself. Other activities include storytelling, live music and Thomas videos. Additionally, Thomas’s friend, Bob the Builder, will be at Crossroads Village, too, along with the exciting Imagination Station. And, kids of all ages will have a grand time playing with Mega Bloks®.

Plan to spend the whole day — visitors can pack a picnic or enjoy food at one of the three dining options right in the Village, ride the carousel {$1.25 each ride or 4 rides for $4}, check out the historic buildings, and more. The gates open at 9 a.m. with FREE parking.

DOWT tickets usually SELL OUT. Purchase tickets in advance –> HERE. {Note: Events happen rain or shine!} [Read more…]

Summer Must: Visit Belle Isle in Detroit

Detroit from Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park in Detroit is definitely one of those places that needs to be on every Michigander’s list. I have always felt a strange connection to the island knowing my parents went there to play as kids, and later date as teenagers growing up in the city. Its rich history combined with its endless beauty and views of the Detroit skyline make it a fabulous destination during summer.

Best of all? It’s FREE if you have a state recreation passport. Since the state take-over in 2013, there have been tons of improvements to its 982 acres, too.

So what can you do there, you ask? Here are some ideas for spots to visit with kids:

Belle Isle Aquarium

The Belle Isle Aquarium. The Aquarium has all kinds of great history, plus all the fish and aquatic animals to see, including stingrays {our favorites}! The Aquarium is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday. FREE.

Inside the Belle Isle Aquarium

The iconic green glass tiles inside the aquarium. The building was designed by Albert Khan and opened in 1904.

Learn about maritime marine history at Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Open Saturday and Sunday11 a.m. to 4 p.m. FREE. {We have yet to visit, but I’ve heard it’s really neat for older kids!} [Read more…]

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan & Detroit Lions team up for #MIKidsCan Play like a Lion Challenge

Play Like A Lion

The information below has been provided by BCBSM.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is teaming up with the Detroit Lions to tackle childhood obesity by partnering on the Lions “Play 60” campaign, an initiative to encourage kids to get 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

To celebrate the partnership and get kids active this summer, Blue Cross has created the #MIKidsCan Play like a Lion Challenge. As part of Blue Cross’s ongoing #MIKidsCan initiative, kids across the state can pledge to “Play like a Lion” for a chance to earn one of 10 VIP experiences at Ford Field when the Lions take on the New York Jets Thursday, Aug. 13.

Challenge details:

  • Kids ages 6-12 are eligible to participate.
  • Each participant will pledge to complete four, weekly health activities during July, with the permission of their parents/guardians.
  • Upon completion of the challenge, 10 grand prize winners will be selected to participate in a VIP experience, along with a friend, which includes on-field activities and a player meet and greet at the Lions’ Aug. 13game at Ford Field.
  • Each winner receives four tickets to attend the game.
  • Winners will be announced Aug. 6.

[Read more…]

10 Tips for Road Trips with Little Kids

Tips for Road Trips with Little Kids

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

We are having a great summer. Honestly, it’s one of the best I’ve had in a long time {maybe since I was pregnant for 3 of the past 5 summers?!}. Anyway, we are making tons of great memories while taking small road trips in the process.

With the help of Meijer, we packed up loads of snacks and headed north this past weekend. Along our route, I made plenty of notes on what works when it comes to road trips for our family. With three little ones {ages 4.5, almost 3 and 11 months}, we know our limits: Destinations that aren’t too far, and plenty of snacks. Here are our tips for road trips with little kids:

Know your kid’s limits. For our family, we try to limit road trips to 3 hours max. This number will grow over time, but right now, that seems to be as far as we can get without one of the kids having a total meltdown or wanting out of their car seat.

Make stops as needed. Give the kids a break by stopping for roadside attractions using the Roadside America website or use Yelp to find a kid-friendly restaurant along your route. In summer, outdoor dining is our go-to so the kids can take a little walk while waiting for food. In winter, places like Cracker Barrel or even a Subway inside Meijer are perfect so kids can walk around a bit and burn energy.

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Wear little feet out by walking to the top of the Arcadia Outlook along M-22 in Northern Michigan [Read more…]

8 Reasons To Take Your Family to the Oakland County Fair

Oakland County Fair 2015

Destination Oakland provided us with passes to enjoy the fair. All opinions expressed are my own.

I won’t lie – I love a good county fair. The animals, the fair food, the colors, the people watching! There is so much excitement.

I have so many fond memories of visiting fairs as a kid. I have absolutely embraced the part of parenting where I now get to watch it through the eyes of my children, who are absolutely smitten too.

We visited the Oakland County Fair last night and were reminded of that good ole fashion fair magic. Here are 8 reasons to take your family during the next week:

Rides for all ages. From a carousel to the tilt-a-whirl, there is something for all to enjoy. Most rides start at 36″, so measure your toddler before heading out! My little gal is 3 in a few weeks and she was exactly the height required for most rides.

Oakland County Fair Rides

Plenty of bathrooms. With a half potty trained toddler, it can be worrisome going places where they aren’t familiar with the potty situation. Luckily, there were plenty of porta potties everywhere, including a nicer one in the building with the crafts and chocolate milk. [Read more…]

Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse {+ Gift Card Giveaway} ENDS 7/14

This post is sponsored by LongHorn Steakhouse. All opinions expressed are my own.

You guys. When people email me about food, I listen intently. Mention pizza, steak or ribs, and you will really have my attention, which is why I am excited to share some fun tips from LongHorn Steakhouse and offer the chance for one of you to win some fun swag!

Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse

First the tips, a few of which are totally new to me. I can’t wait to put these to work this summer.

5 Summer Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse’s Executive Chefs 

  • Boldly season. Don’t be shy when seasoning your steak! Go bold, like we do at LongHorn. For an at-home rub, try “The Big 4” – salt, pepper, granulated onion powder and granulated garlic powder.
  • Sear-in diamond marks. Searing locks in flavor, as well as creates those great grill marks synonymous with summer. Grill your steak for 2-3 minutes on one side, then give it a quarter turn. Flip and repeat.
  • Test for doneness. You can test for doneness two ways. First, with a meat thermometer. Steaks should be at minimum 120-130 degrees if you like it rare, and up to 170 degrees, if you prefer your steak well-done. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can estimate doneness with your hand. Start with an open, relaxed palm. Using your other hand, touch the smooth area directly under your thumb. That’s how a rare steak should feel when you touch it with your tongs. Touch your thumb and forefinger; that’s medium. Thumb and middle finger is medium-well and thumb and pinky is well-done.
  • Handle with tongs. Only use tongs to touch your meat. Poking with a fork to rotate or pull it from the grill will let the juices and flavor out.
  • Give it a rest. Make sure you let your steaks and other proteins rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to settle back into the meat, resulting in optimal flavor.

[Read more…]