Monthly Archives: July 2012

New York, New Jersey family vacation

More to come but this vacation is intense so far!

Statue of Liberty 2012

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Our summer of kids camps in Michigan

We started looking at the summer calendar in April. I said to my husband “You’re going where? And when? And where right after that?” With a summer full of travel for his job, I knew I needed to start researching summer camps. The kids are old enough that they no longer want to hang out at the daycare where they once played as toddlers and spent time before and after school in early elementary.

A great resource for the Washtenaw County area is the Ann Arbor Mom Blog. She creates a list of camps with links each year and it’s a great place to start.

The first issue I came across was finding a camp that started early enough in June. We live at the edge of a county and I work in another county. The schools in the county I live in all get out earlier than in the county that I work in, so the camps I found did not start during my husband’s first business trip.

I resorted to searching “Michigan summer camps” to expand my reach and finally found one for the dates I needed – and it just happened to be my alma mater. Eastern Michigan University has a summer Fun Camp, run through its Rec Center. The weeks are themed and kids have swim lessons each day and a field trip each week. The kids went to Zap Zone the week that they were there.

Review: The kids were nervous at first but asked to come back again as the week progressed. They also exchanged phone numbers with some new friends.

When I found Kidsport at the University of Michigan, I was excited because it’s a short walk from where I work and the kids could come to and from work with me without additional stops. The camp has a few options – a morning Kidsport that includes swim lessons and general sports, an afternoon session of specific sports and also an explorations morning and afternoon session at the Museum of Natural History.

The kids chose the week with dance and basketball in the afternoon with the Kidsport general session in the morning. On the last day, the parents were invited to watch the basketball tournament and then the dance routine during halftime.

Review: The kids said the morning Kidsport was “boring” although I think they didn’t like having swim lessons and would rather just swim. Also, the week was very hot.

My daughter ended up doing a second week at Kidsport – this time at the museum in the morning and cheerleading in the afternoon. She said the museum was “boring” after the first day but then after they went on a field trip to another museum and saw mummies, she changed her tune.

Only my daughter went to the second Kidsport because my son had Boy Scout Camp at D-bar-A in Metamora.

Review: My husband attending with my son, but they both came back raving about all of the activities – fishing, horseback riding, whittling, human foosball and swimming. They had one rainy day but still did most of the planned activities. My son’s favorite is archery.

It’s been a busy summer so far and we might book one more camp but so far the ones we’ve found have been a perfect fit for my kids.

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Who’s rescuing who? Adopting a dog for your family

When a former high school teacher put a comment on Facebook, it broke my heart: “You get what you pay for” after a former classmate asked for recommendations for dogs and breeds. He was implying that a rescue dog was no good and that you had to shell out big bucks for a pure breed to get anything useful.

He doesn’t know Scully. Or Bella, or Spike. Or much at all, in my opinion.

Just about 13 years ago, we stopped on the way home from a camping trip to the Southfield Civic Center, where the Michigan Humane Society was having a pet adoption fair. Scully, or “Faith” as her rescuers called her, was the only puppy left. She was recently rescued from the streets of Detroit and had fleas and worms. A day later, she had a new home, a new name and medicine to solve her medical issues.

She was a perfect dog, a German Shepherd mix, right until she got sick and we had to say goodbye. She never chewed on our things, she walked with us without a leash and was always waiting at the front door if we accidentally left her out. She was our first and oldest child and it was – and is – still hard to let her go.

Mountain Feist puppiesAbout six months without a dog, the family knew we needed another pet. With two kids each wanting a dog and wanting to sleep with it, I reasoned that replacing a 60-pound dog with two 25-pound dogs would be an even trade.

I didn’t factor in the double poop.

We found Spike and Bella on the PetFinder website and went to visit them at Pet Supplies Plus in Canton. Every other Saturday, the Homeward Bound Rescue League brings in dogs that are up for adoption. We brought them home to foster and get to know them while my husband was still away on a business trip. He had quite the surprise waiting for him when he returned home.

The Mountain Feist puppies are 10 months old now, potty trained, hyper and mischievous and all get –out. They dig holes in the backyard, take off with the kids stuffed Spike, Mountain Feistanimals and bark in the backyard like their lives depend on it.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, we have love and we have friendship and we’ll build a strong family bond that makes these newcomers a part of our family for years to come.

You really do get so much more than what you pay for.

Bella, Mountain Feist

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Social Media Day at Garden Fresh Gourmet

Last week, Garden Fresh Gourmet in Ferndale hosting its first Social Media Day.

Social Media Day at Garden Fresh Gourmet

Walking in, we were treated to chips, salsa and many new varieties of hummus (olive is my new favorite).

Garden Fresh salsa and chipsGarden Fresh Hummus

And, we had an introduction to all natural stuffed burgers. You see, Garden Fresh has a space age machine that allows fresh food to be preserved and sold without adding preservatives.

Garden Fresh stuffed burger

Jack and Annette Aronson, the founders, were gracious hosts to the crowded room. They also had a buffet of food out, including mac and choose from Union Woodship, Just Baked Cupcakes and wine from  B. Nektar Meadery.

Jack and Annette Aronson

The salsa is my favorite (Jack’s Favorite in mild), the hummus is delicious and I can’t wait until the stuffed burgers are on the market. Garden Fresh hits another home run!

Garden Fresh Gourmet headquarters

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Life’s Too Short to Not Give Kids a Shot

Some parents in the U.S. choose not to vaccinate their children, and that’s a choice they make in an environment that has little potential for massive outbreaks of preventable diseases. However, in countries where clean water and food are scarce, having vaccinations are the difference between life and death.

While at the Type A Parent Conference, we learned about Shot@Life, part of the United Nations Foundation that helps to vaccinate children who have no access to healthcare.

More than 19 million children under the age of 5 remain unimmunized around the world. With vaccinations, those children have a chance of seeing the age of 5, of learning their ABCs and reaching other milestones.

To give kids a shot at life, remember the ABCs:

  • A stands for Authority. You have the authority, the power, to make a real difference.
  • B stands for Be aware. Be aware of the changes that you can make to save lives.
  • C stands for Caring for Children. These children have very little resources, so with a little care, you can change their lives forever.

Shot At LifeVaccines make life possible. Without them, children are vulnerable to deadly and disabling diseases like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio.

Unfortunately, around the world, one in five children still lack access to the life-saving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. In fact, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. By expanding access to vaccines, we can prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year.

This little tyke from Honduras, along with countless others, is counting on you.

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Cars, comics and caring in Charlotte

My first trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, was for the Type A Parent Conference. Previously held in Asheville, this year’s conference was at the Hilton City Center. The hotel had a unique design, partially on a hill where you could walk in on the second floor on one side and on the first floor on another. The building was attached to the Wells Fargo Center, where guests can use the YMCA for exercise and swimming.

Heroes Convention CharlotteNearby, the convention center was host to the Heroes Convention, so I saw super heroes and not-so-super heroes around every corner.  A couple of blocks away, look out for the checkered crosswalk, a sure sign that you are close to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR Hall of FameAlas, I didn’t have time to visit on this trip. However, I did have time to eat at some great places:

Carolina Ale House: Lots of great local and craft brews. The fish tacos were excellent and the fries were just right.

Kings Kitchen fried chickenKings Kitchen Now this place has a real story behind it. From the website:

We’re a not for profit restaurant serving up southern cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients from right here in our community. And the proceeds go back to the community, helping to feed those in need. So, come on in. Because when you dine, the whole community thrives.

I had to go native and try the fried chicken platter. Down home cooking and for a great cause, the food was plentiful and full of flavor.

Mez When you have something called “Illegal bread” on the menu, of course you have to try it. And it did not disappoint. So good that it should be illegal. I also had the margarita flat bread, which the ripe tomatoes topped off the full taste. The flat bread is so large that you could definitely share with more than one person.Charlotte Mez flatbread

The only thing I noticed that was lacking from the uptown Charlotte area was a lack of retail – no interesting little shops to duck in and check out. However, the restaurants were plentiful and if I came back with my kids, we’d check out the museums that were nearby.

Categories: Social media conferences, Travel with kids | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Planning a Weekend in New York City with Kids

We’ve been talking about New York for a long time. My husband has no desire to go to the city because there are no golf courses and he’s worried about navigating such a bustling place, especially with kids. I’ve been to New York several times – my first job’s headquarters were there, and I’ve been there for BlogHer.

But now we’ve got our plane tickets booked and we’ll have a weekend in Manhattan before heading out to some resorts in upstate New York and Pennsylvania.

We have a full day on Saturday to fill, as well as most of Sunday. So far, my list of attractions include:

  • Ground Zero: I took the subway to the towers from New Jersey in the mid-90s. I’d love to see the memorial.
  • Statue of Liberty: The inside is closed for remodeling but I’d still like to take the ferry to Ellis Island and see it up close.
  • Empire State Building: I’ve never been in it.
  • Central Park: I know there are a lot of activities here. I need to do some research and see what would be fun with the kids.
  • Times Square: Definitely a walk-through with the family for the experience.
  • FAO Schwartz: A family landmark in the city.
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar: Found this in a search and it sounds like an amazing store.
  • NY pizza: I need to find a family-friendly place to get some New York-style pizza. Our family loves our Chicago style, though!

I’ve thought about a Broadway show but the tickets are pretty expensive and the kids are still young, so I’m not sure how much they would get out of the experience for the money that we’d pay. I’d rather wander around the city and have that for the first-time experience.

Categories: Family Friendly Resorts, Travel with kids | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Kids vs. Dinosaurs at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival

After a long, hard week at the University of Michigan’s Kidsport program, my kids were ready to go home. They had played sports all morning, had lunch and then did basketball and dance for the afternoon sessions.

But I had been seeing the Ann Arbor Summer Festival set up outside of my office window and wanted to see what it was all about. So we stayed – under protest. We set up a blanket on the Power Center lawn and I ran across the street and grabbed a couple of hot dogs from the stand for Ray’s Red Hots.

Because we had aErth at Ann Arbor Summer Festivalrrived early, we had a prime start for the show to start. The production, from Australia’s Erth, was fantastic. The kids loved the realistic looking dinosaurs and the hostess was perfect.

My daughter was picked to come up and help pet the baby dinosaurs, and my son was chosen at the end to help with the T Rex – and ended up with his head in its mouth! Overall, the show was entertaining and a perfect end to the week for us.

Erth dinosaurs

After the show, we walked across the street to see the vendors. The kids got a snow cone and cotton candy and we walked over to the kid’s tent at Top of the Park. Unfortunately, they only had two small tables set up that were crowded with kids trying to make music shakers with paper plates. We passed on the activities there and ended up heading home.

The kids’ review?  They said if they knew the dinosaurs were that cool, they wouldn’t have said they wanted to go home.

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