The Michigan Historical Museum. WAY More Interesting Than It Sounds.

The Michigan Historical Museum doesn’t really have a ring to it. It just sounds boring; like the most interesting artifact might be a 300 year old piece of tattered parchment paper with three words of some treaty scratched on it.

Don’t let the name fool you. This place rocks.Michigan Museum Entry

We visited just before it was really warm enough to wear shorts, however; being the Michigan Historical Museum – I figured folks would understand the kids’ attire.  As always, house shoes are appropriate museum footwear.

I thought we would spend a couple of hours there, tops.  We ended up staying for four hours and left only because we had to be somewhere at a certain time.  I am really happy to have found this place, because the exhibits are extremely engaging and have a lot of hands-on learning experiences.

Train Bridge at the Michigan Museum

Those are not fancy trains of the future. They are levels, which my kids know how to use expertly because of our pop up camper.

Michigan Museum Civil War

In that same area of the trains was an extensive Civil War exhibit.  Having attended college in the great (southern) state of Georgia; I have a different take on the Civil War than most Yankees.  I blabbed until my children discreetly snuck away from me and dressed up in Civil War era clothes.  I’m not kidding when I say they sat like that and insisted I take their picture. At first I thought they were really getting into it; but then I realized they were just trying to make me to stop talking.

Michigan Museum Schoolhouse

Longtime readers will recall that I came very close to homeschooling several times.  We’re in a better situation now, and I am confident in the educational experience my kids are having; but a large part of the reason it was on the table for so long was that my children love learning together. I wish they were in a one-room schoolhouse like the one at the Michigan Historical Museum because separating kids by which year they were born in is silly.  My kids asked me to be a ‘teacher’ which I gladly indulged in – and although they are cropped out of this picture there were two real, live old people who had been taught in a one room school house and the were delighted to be part of our ‘class’.  It was a little weird, but I rolled with it.

There is also a great store with tons of Michigan made stuff (of course!) and a nice big cafeteria where we pulled out our lunch boxes and chowed down.  We were there on a Saturday, and I think there is a little concession stand open during the week but it wasn’t while we were there. Michigan Museum Early Roads

After lunch the kids spent an awful lot of time in the Early Roads section. Their favorite was the exhibit that rolls back and forth on a track to re-create what it was like to ride in a wagon.  In a word; bumpy.

Michigan History Museum MiningThe mining section was awesome.  It’s enormous and really interesting with lots to touch and investigate and learn.

I’m thrilled about this place and am doubly excited that my kids are too.  It makes me proud of Michigan to have such a great resource, and although there is an outstanding Detroit section that made me feel really connected to where I was born it wasn’t too focused on any one time period or area.  I especially loved the pre-history section, although my kids kind of buzzed through there.  I was surprised that they were really interested in the “At Home In the 50′s”, but I guess to them that is pre-history.

Headed to Lansing? Make sure you plan a little extra time to check out the Michigan Historical Museum! It’s free on Sundays, but well worth the admission price every other day of the week.


Big Hero 6 – Should You Take The Kids To See It?


We had a chance to see the new movie Big Hero 6 earlier this week.  I honestly hadn’t heard much about it, but when I asked my kids if they wanted to go, they were VERY excited.  I wondered if I had missed Big Hero 1 through 5? No; this is the first Big Hero movie.  Apparently there is a Marvel comic about it, but that’s way out of my wheelhouse.

Actually I don’t know why it is called Big Hero.  Perhaps it is because the main character’s name is Hiro.  He’s a little genius who is the younger brother of another genius, Tadashi, who has genius friends named Go Go, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred. They all live in San Fransokyo, which is either a Japanese version of San Francisco. Or a San Franciscan version of Tokyo.  It’s tough to say.


Without giving away the plot, there is also an inflatable robot named Baymax who was invented by Tadashi at his genius school where his friends also attend.


He was designed to be a personal healthcare assistant.


Stay with me, it picks up.

A bad guy is trying to do in the good people of San Fransokyo, so Baymax and the crew set out to save them.  Who the bad guy is, exactly, remains a mystery until the end.  The friends use their genius skills to turn themselves into superheroes, complete with powers!


The movie gets pretty exciting, but is not terribly violent and unlike some supposedly for kids movies – does not have any innuendo or bad language.  It is rated PG but I would put it closer to the G category.

After the movie, I asked my kids what they thought.  I’ll let their responses help you to make your decision about taking your own kids:

“A good story that you don’t really know what happened in the middle until you see the end”.

“I am going to tell everyone I know to see this”.

We saw it in 3D, which made it a little more interesting for the kids but personally I didn’t think the 3D element added a ton.  I’d skip the glasses – but definitely see the movie!


Don’t Forget Treats For Your Dog!

 I have been compensated to share these ideas with you. All opinions are my own.

Halloween is an important tradition in our family.  I used to be really terrible at celebrating it, but as my kids have gotten older I have come to love it.  We have an annual Spooky dinner and hang out with our extended family and everyone looks forward to it.

Last year it was a little more exciting that we wanted.  We had a then 4 month old and very, very hyper puppy.  We barricaded him into the kitchen with a baby gate and got ready to enjoy the trick or treaters.  After hearing the door ring about 5 times in a row and Bear not being able to greet our visitors he busted down the baby gate and went tearing through the house, almost knocked over a little kid on the porch, and ran down the street after all of the candy and children.

This year, we’ve done a few things differently to try and avoid that situation.  First, we have another dog so Bear has a friend to entertain him. Who wants to be alone on Halloween? Second, we moved out to the country so the number of trick or treaters will be very low.  Third, we got Bear (and his new brother, Scout) gifts for Halloween so they can be part of the fun and have something to do rather than chase after kids who are just trying to get their trick or treat on.  I definitely recommend you getting your dogs some treats so they feel like they are part of the family!


The dogs’ treats were inspired by the ideas on the Big Heart Pet brand page on  There are a lot of really fun ideas for making gifts for your canine friends.


As you all know I am somewhat craft challenged and even I found something I can do. I’d love to see if any of you make one of these projects!


I got them both a couple of new toys each, and some Milk Bone dog treats.


“The Boys” were very excited to get their new Halloween treats.  They loved the toys – but just like the kids right after trick or treating wanted to chow down immediately. 

PicMonkey Collage

Treat The Pups Banner 1


A Vineyard Tour : Fenn Valley

My husband and I have an annual tradition. We got married in the fall because we both love this season, and our anniversary date is almost always a visit to a beautiful vineyard in Southwest Michigan.  We’ve gone so many times (we’ve been married twelve years…) that we know some of the tour guides; yet we learn something new every single time.


This year, my new wine lesson was about aging wine.  If you want to know how many years to let wine age before you open it; buy several bottles. You’ll have to sacrifice one to the cause (but don’t worry, you still get to drink it).  Open wine ages the equivalent of one year for closed wine every twenty four hours.  What that means is that once you open a bottle of wine, it ‘ages’ a year every 24 hours.

So open a bottle, and have a glass.  Wait a day and have another, and so on.  See which of those days tastes the best to you.  If the third day tastes the best – let the wine age 3 years.  If the second day tastes the best to you – let it age two years and so forth.

I like having wine knowledge like that.  I couldn’t care less about impressing people with my wine identification skills – but the more I know about how to best enjoy wine, the happier I am.


The tour is like a wagon ride for grown ups.  They have added covers on the wagons in the past couple of years which I suppose is nice for the weather, but I preferred the open wagons.  The tours are just under two hours and in that time, you will have the opportunity to sample several different wines.  If you like one, tell your wagon-mates to hand it over when everyone has had their taste and you’ll probably have the opportunity to sample it twice :)


There are public tours and private tours, but you have to sign up in JULY to get a seat on either kind of fall tour.  You can also visit the tasting room and take a tour of the cellar, but the tours are the start of Fenn Valley. I mean; after the wines of course.  They are my favorite Michigan wines by far, and some of my favorite wines period.


The vineyard is absolutely gorgeous and more than one person has mentioned that this is the best tour – anywhere – including Napa Valley.  I have no frame of reference and no plans to visit California any time soon so I’ll have to take their word for it.PicMonkey Collage



Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson. If You Live In Michigan And Have Kids – You MUST See This Movie!

If you’re from here, you get it.  Michigan flies under the radar sometimes as having a distinct ‘feel’ to it – but it’s there. Michigan-ness. 

It’s not often you get a surge of Michigan pride while watching a movie but it happened tonight. We had the priveledge (I don’t say that lightly) of attending the world premiere of the new movie Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson.


It was at a benefit for the Grand Rapids Public Museum (where the ‘Real Pirates’ exhibit is opening soon!) in the Meijer Theatre which locals will recall is where the Mighty Wurlitzer lives.  We sat down and the Wurlitzer was honking away while we waited for the show to begin which kicked off the evening nicely.

My kids are big “Spy Kids” fans and this movie was right in line with that.  The kids are the stars, the savers of the day – the ones with the plan to get everyone to safety.  The movie is very entertaining and kind of has two different story lines going on which eventually converge into quite a dramatic finish. There are pirates, and rocket shoes, and a mad scientist. It’s not rated; but I would put it at a high G or low PG.  There is nothing inuendo-ish or inappropriate in this movie at all.

After the movie we got to meet some of the cast.  They were all exceptionally nice, especially that Mickey Matson boy.  I understand he is from West Michigan, so that explains that.


You’ll recognize some of these names of the actors:

  • Christopher Lloyd
  • Frank Collison
  • Tia Carrere
  • Kenton Duty
  • Savannah Jade
  • Francesca DeRosa
  • Derek Brandon


During the movie you will also recognize cameo appearances from Biggby Coffee, Spectrum Health, and the U.S.S Silversides (that submarine in Muskegeon). It was filmed in Manistee. The producers are primarily from Michigan and brought a lot of our home state into the movie.  And speaking of Spectrum Health – 100% of the ticket sales for this movie at Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids will be donated to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.  We are going this weekend; my kids want to see it again already!  I don’t know how long it will run for, so if you want to see it I would try and go soon.  Your kids will dig it – and you’ll be SO proud to be raising them in Michigan!



It’s #FreakyFusion At Monster High!

This is a compensated post on behalf of Lunchbox and Monster High Freaky Fusion.

My daughter’s taste in toys never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have her figured out; she throws me a curve ball and starts asking about Monster High and the “Freaky Fusion” dolls.

Um, what? I had NO idea what she was talking about!

As with all things, I researched them to make sure they were appropriate (she’s 9) and while they are a little – different – they aren’t anything I’d be uncomfortable with her owning.They are high school ‘ghouls’ who attend Monster High (which looks like a haunted house).

These are the Newest Monster High Dolls…say hello to the newest students at Monster High #FreakyFusion. The ‘ghoulfriends’ are named Clawvenus™, Cleolei™, Dracubecca™ and Lagoonafire™.  Available at; they all have different personalities; and are a result of some type of genetic monster fusion.

  • Clawvenus™ is made up of Clawdeen Wolf® and Venus Mc Flytrap® – Clawvenus™ is “fiercely fusionable and ferociously beautiful.”
  • Cleolei™  is a fusion of the Mummy Cleo de Nile® with the werecat ancestry of Toralei®, Cleolei™.
  • Dracubecca™ has mixed Vampire heritage of Draculaura® with the Mad Scientist ancestry of Robecca Steam®, Dracubecca™ is scary sweet but still attached to rocket-powered boots.
  • Lagoonafire™ is a fusion of the Sea Monster Lagoona Blue® with the Chinese Dragon ancestry of Jinafire Long™ Lagoonafire™. She loves to surf and swim like she’s (literally) on fire.

The Monster High® Freaky Fusion™ ghouls are helping Frankie look for clues about her past and learn more about her family ‘scaritage’. They inadvertently set off a time machine that takes them back to the year 1814 where they meet Sparky, a misguided, teen scientist obsessed with the creation of life. Sparky follows Frankie back to modern day Monster High, causing a lab accident in which eight ghouls fuse into four new monsters.

Seems legit.  It makes as much sense as any of the toys/card games/video games my 11 year old son plays.  I just nod and pretend to understand. Anyone else have a kid who is a fan of Monster High? What else do I need to know?


mike’s hard pink lemonade – a reminder to relax and slow down!

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for mike’s hard lemonade. I received a Circle K gift card to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I live on a lake now.  It’s a big deal to me, because even when the day is a bit on the crappy side; ‘going to the lake’ means walking out my back door.  I am almost fairly certain that relaxing and watching swans hang out and watching fish jump up while I have a drink and a snack will never, ever get old. Yesterday I swung by Circle K and picked up some mike’s ®  hard pink lemonade and fixin’s to make some snack mix, then kicked it on the back porch for a while.


You have to grab these moments to just relax. It’s a hard lesson and one that I learn, and forget, and learn, and forget again. Moms always get the job of running around, keeping all of the parts moving, getting everyone where they need to be – with the various papers, sack lunches, appropriate footwear, and sports gear that our families need for all of their activities.  Sometimes we all just need to have a few moments just to relax and recharge. May I suggest a refreshing beverage?

Every year since 2009 mike’s ® releases its seasonal pink lemonade and it’s a good reminder to just take a few minutes for yourself and slow down.   The pink lemonade flavor is only available for a short while, and is part of a continuing effort to support the Breast Cancer Research Fund. They have already donated over a million dollars to the fund; and I have personally benefited from breast cancer research as have many of you.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month so it’s a win win; a relaxing moment for you and awareness raised for this important cause.


The lemonade itself is sort of sweet and tart at the same time; and goes great with a salty crunchy snack mix.


They use real lemons – but I am not entirely certain how they make them pink. I am certain that they make them tasty. We all need to take a little break once in a while. Join me and the other folks who are enjoying #mymikesmoment by following along on Facebook and Twitter!




The Most Unlikely Golfers Attend The LPGA

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Today we had the great pleasure of joining in all the fun of tournament week at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft.  I was really excited to be invited, because the driving mission of the Meijer LPGA Classic tournament is focused on feeding the hungry, with all proceeds benefiting the Meijer Simply Give program, which, as you likely already know, replenishes the shelves of food pantries throughout the Midwest.

There are some fun events yet to come this week; check them out on the tournament’s ‘events’ page:

LPGA Events

The event we attended today was the Meijer LPGA Kids Day presented by Johnson & Johnson, where the kids were able to participate in a clinic with LPGA Tour pros.

Here’s the thing:

My kids don’t golf.

These are city kids. They have never been on a golf course, much less to a country club in their lives.  Maybelle was reluctant and grouchy at first, but rocked her outfit nonetheless; completely oblivious to all of the kids in polo shirts and long, tasteful shorts around her.

Meijer LPGA Classic

There were different stations, grouped by age, where the kids were able to get some instruction from the pros and then give it their best shot which in both A.P. and Maybelle’s case was surprisingly good.

LPGA Kids Clinic

Our hosts did an amazing job of making sure that all of the kids got a chance to take at least a few swings at each station before we shuffled off to the next one.

LPGA Kids Clinic

When the clinic was over, we were shuttled over to yet another country club where we got to sit in the – grandstand? A big tent like thing with drinks and snacks, right on the 19th hole.  We had a shusher (given the fact that our tent like thing was filled with kids, we probably should have had a few) who told us when to zip it so the golfers could concentrate.  I tried to ask the shusher how much they would charge to come home with me so I could get some things done, but sadly, they were completely dedicated to their jobs on the course.

LPGA Kids Clinic

When we decided it was time to move on and meander around the tournament for a while, A.P. was reluctant to join us.  Golf had really taken hold of him, and he was completely into the game.  Sounding like a 45 year old, he said “You know, I really enjoyed that” as we made our way back to the bus.

LPGA Kids Clinic

I did too.  It’s fun to watch your kids discover something new and get interested in an activity that gets them outside and is not known for contact injuries or concussions.


My kids didn’t golf.

Thanks for hosting us today, Meijer. We love you (and your Simply Give program!) (and now; golf!).


Guardians Of The Galaxy Review (Is It OK For Tweens, And Other Useless Commentary)

We are at the tween age; where eye rolls pepper conversations, but holding my hand is still not verboten. It’s hard to know when A.P. is ready, is not ready, or is already over most of the entertainment options available to us.

I wasn’t sure about Guardians of The Galaxy, which opened today. I hate action movies, personally, but thought A.P. might like it.  He’s kind of a rule follower; so since the movie is PG 13  we talked before we even decided to go about what he might hear and that there may be some inappropriate language. We were able to attend a screening last week and in my professional, mother of a tween opinion; this movie is fine for almost 11 year old boys. The swear words are not the worst of the worst and there are maybe 5 or 6 total.  That’s an estimate.  I didn’t count, but it wasn’t excessive. If you don’t want your kids to see movies with any swearing, skip this one.  There were some ‘adult’ jokes, but out of the side of my 3D glasses I snuck a few peeks and they seemed to have flown right over his head.

The movie is REALLY funny, in a snarky way. It mocks the superhero genre a little bit, but not so much that it’s a parody. I do not generally laugh out loud during movies, more like a little chuckle. I had some pretty good belly laughs going during this one. *Disclaimer: I also thought “Dude, Where’s My Car” and “I Love You Man” were hysterical so you might want to take that into consideration.

The best thing about this movie though is the soundtrack.  It is THE BEST.  The main character has an old school Sony Walkman and listens to something called “Awesome Mix”.  It’s this great 70′s lineup.  I don’t want to share the list with you because the element of surprise when the songs hit is absolutely perfect but just be on standby to start rockin‘ out.

The movie is about friendship and forgiveness.  And saving the galaxy, but mostly friendship and forgiveness.

As far as the actual story, I don’t know; blah blah blah something about a stone that is good, or bad, or something and the good guys want it. Or maybe the bad guys want it. Yeah, the bad guys want it and they will destroy the galaxy with it. So they fight and fly around in spaceships and it is SO SWEET in 3D. Obviously not having the foggiest idea of what the story line in no way impedes the enjoyment of the movie.

Here is a trailer, but I would really recommend seeing it in 3D. I usually do not like 3D movies because they make me feel like I am going to barf. There was none of that; it’s the perfect movie for 3D and I saw A.P. trying to subtly reach his hands out and ‘catch’ things a couple of times.

Have I helped you? Have I confused you? Do you want to hear me sing 70′s songs? You’re in luck – I take requests!



New Year’s Resolutions, Coupon Savings, Healthy Essentials, And A Twitter Party!


Have you given up on your New Year’s Resolutions yet? I haven’t – but that’s because I didn’t actually make any.  If I had, rest assured I would likely be failing miserably by now.  Most people, normal people, tend to make resolutions about health.  Are you one of them? One of those normal people? Well good.  If you sign up on the Johnson & Johnson HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® site in January, you can get over $45 in coupons.
It’s like a two-for-one deal if you also resolved to save money.

It’s somewhat unlikely that you made a resolution to attend more Twitter parties, but if you did I am TOTALLY going to make your day.  Even if you didn’t; you should really hang out at this one. It’s a Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies Twitter party to talk about HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® for the New Year, resolutions, family wellness and how to score great deals on health and hygiene products
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Here is what you need to know:

When: Tuesday, January 14, 1 p.m. ET

Hashtag: #Moms4JNJConsumer

Prizes: They will randomly award 15 prizes throughout the party, from all eligible correct responses to trivia questions. Each prize includes an assortment of Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products with an estimated retail value of $50.

Prize Eligibility: No purchase necessary. Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States + D.C. 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann, @TheMotherhood25

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