Hiking with a Preschooler

Dandelions, red-tailed hawks, pregnant bumble bees and more! We learned about vegetation, creatures big and small, winged and scaled… all during our two hour “riverside ramble” at Lake Erie Metro Park. Although this guided hike was on a paved path and only took us about a half mile, it was FULL of fun and really interesting facts about the wildlife that literally is in our backyard. My 3 year old may have been more interested in the trail mix (because it had chocolate nibs in it this time) but he gabbed endlessly to all those who would listen about how you can EAT dandelions, how Wood ducks LIVE in trees and how bees burrow in the GROUND!!

We are not planning our next family vacation around a hike on the Appalachian Trail but this was a great hiking introduction to our preschooler. He loves to run, throw rocks (not AT anyone) and dig with sticks. My responsibility, I feel, is to ALSO impart on him the love and respect our family has for the natural world. It’s easy to get caught up in a concrete jungle full of man-made things but Nature is the original architect and it’s pretty awe-inspiring!

We’ve experienced newborn babies in Spring, Maple syrup tapping in the last glints of winter as well as hiking and campfires all summer. The parks open at dawn and close at dusk. Admission is per car and is $5.00 per day or you can buy a yearly pass for $25.00 and get into all of the metro parks year round. This is NOT the sticker you can buy for an extra $10 when you renew your license plate every year, those are for State Parks like Belle Isle. Bathroom facilities are clean and plentiful. There are traditional playscapes, paved hiking trails and boat launches. There is also the amazing feeling of “getting lost” within a completely safe and comfortable environment. So whether you want to check out the wave pool or run on a dirt trail to train for your next marathon, these parks are amazing!

Setting up a hike with an interpreter at the Lake Erie Metro Park was simple and very inexpensive. The main website www.metroparks.com/events has a complete list of ALL of the activities coming up at a park near you.

 

 

Comerica Park on the Pepsi Porch…best seats in the HOUSE!

Relaxing with a twisty straw at our seats on the Pepsi Porch

Relaxing with a twisty straw at our seats on the Pepsi Porch

The sun was hot, the Tigers were…lukewarm. We cheered for our home team, jeered the opposition and ordered food and drink from our seats, it was a great time! For under $50 per seat, I think these seats were a score. The view was awesome. The little one who cannot sit still for long had room to stretch, stand up, swivel his chair all the way around, rock back and forth and we all got to enjoy the game. Next time you consider buying tickets for a Tigers game, ask for the Pepsi Porch, you will not regret it.

I am not a die hard fan of baseball. For me, to go to a game it has to be an experience. I want to sip something new, taste something new and not have to wait in line for a stinky bathroom. That is asking a lot for most stadiums, unless you pay for a suite. I heard from a friend the Pepsi Porch was a great place to go, especially with kids. I took a chance for a “special occasion” and went above our usual bleacher seat purchase. I sipped locally brewed beer, munched on strawberry-marshmallow kabobs and shared cotton candy with my two favorite people. The crowd-free restrooms were less than 50 feet away from the seats and were spic and span. There are comfy couches all around and a full service bar, plus the “wave” was a BIG DEAL in our section.

Comerica Park is great when it comes to family entertainment and customer service. We rode the all Tiger carousel and the Baseball Ferris Wheel with ease (just $2 per rider). A quick visit to the Customer Service center (nicely air conditioned) for our birthday boy and we walked out with a certificate, rubber Detroit Tigers bracelet, baseball and mini bat. Too bad the birthday boy was turning 43 and the customer service representative gave it all to our 3 year old, but he should’ve known better, ha ha! I love that he’s a kid at heart!

Let’s Go Tigers!

Campus Martius Christmas

Campus Martius is right in the center of the hub of downtown Detroit. In winter the ice skating rink, majestic tree and small business mall (complete with beer tent parents) is a destination to build memories and traditions. During the holiday season when my far-stretched family comes to visit we always make it a point to spend some time there.

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We strolled around the rink, admiring the agile and the fallen in their glory and their agony respectively. The lights of the small business mall beckoned and we purchased some Detroit memorabilia. My sister a shirt, for mom a mug, a sweater and a set of coasters. The husbands marveled at the biker gear and beer accessories. I nibbled some Germack nut mix and coveted a Warhol- esque canvas that could be made from your own photo. Something for everyone! Then we all agreed the beer tent was a good idea.

Live music is always enjoyable to me, but it’s especially fun when you can watch your three year old jam out like nobody’s watching. I swear, we really should’ve thrown a tip jar down. He was entertainment for a while until his interest waned and we moved on.

Inside of the Compuware building Santa himself is available from noon-6pm for unlimited photos with your own camera for FREE! No one else was there so we had a blast. B was very apprehensive initially but warmed up when we all got in the picture together.

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The massive waterfall inside the lobby a few feet away allowed B to be amazed long enough for everyone to enjoy a hot cocoa from Tim Horton’s. The ATM helped us get more loot to head back out again and enjoy more winter traditions. Along our exploration we stumbled upon a sidewalk chess board in front of the DTE Energy building.

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What fun family memories are you creating with your family this season?

Faux Snow

It’s snowing!!!! Big beautiful fluffy flakes, look look!!!

5 minutes later

It stopped. Nooooo :(

We live in Michigan, so there is a certain amount of snow expected. However, for the past three winters we haven’t even gotten enough to build a snowman in Wayne County. We plan on heading to some snow hills this winter but my child is ever-increasingly interested in playing in the snow (I can’t blame him).

So, like all good parents, when presented with a challenge, I turn to the Internet :) Here’s what I found and what we did:

Make your own snow! Just mix equal parts baking soda with shaving cream.

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I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil and blue food coloring. Voila!

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It was bath time so I let B mix and explore while in an “arctic adventure” bath. The mixture is surprisingly cool and when mixed fully it really does feel like snow!

We will definitely be exploring this again. Next time I plan to do it in the kitchen sink and then add a few glugs of vinegar to get an “exploding” action.

Simple, easy, fun and really cool, my kind of activity!

What activities have you been doing with your little ones this winter?

Letters to Santa

Writing a letter to Santa has an entirely different meaning today than ever before. As a child it was a letter of hope and optimism. As a parent I am holding my breath, smiling through my teeth and hoping my child writes down what we bought him because if not, we’re screwed! Luckily, he did ask for the big gift we bought- whew!

Visiting The Henry Ford Museum is our family tradition to write our letters and visit with Santa. It’s also a fantastic place to explore for my little guy. Drive a huge combine machine, change the tires or muffler on a car in a Texaco shop or build Legos to your hearts content, there are hours of cold weather fun to be had! Older kids (a.k.a parents) can fold paper into a model airplane and launch it in a “test area” or power a light bulb with a crank. Literally hundreds of planes, trains and automobiles to touch, sit in, climb on and discover.

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Step 1: Write a letter to Santa

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Step 2: Check it twice

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Step 3: Send it to the North Pole

Seems simple.

I’m glad it worked out this year. I still feel like just a little bit of Christmas magic was in play. Tis’ the season!

What Christmas traditions do you have in your family?

3 Ingredient Hot Cocoa

Thanks to www.100daysofrealfood.com for posting this homemade hot cocoa recipe on their Facebook page. Tried it today and it was so yummy!! Plus I didn’t feel guilty about sharing it with my little guy!

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A few moments of warming the milk while stirring it on the stovetop and voila!

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There wasn’t a drop left! Just a teeny tiny puff of foamy goodness to spoon out.

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Rite of Passage

There are certain things you remember, big moments that, upon reflection were turning points in your life. Learning to tie your shoes, ride a bike, pour your own milk and using sharp objects to cut. Scissors were first, then butter knives, then real knives and now a pumpkin saw. You know you’ve arrived when you can be trusted with sharp objects.

First, you’ve got to choose the right pumpkin. B had three that he had chosen in early October and have been lying in wait on our front porch deflecting squirrels daily just to get the chance to be chosen as his FIRST carved pumpkin, quite an honor! We opened the fancy pumpkin carving kit, examined our tools and decided on a template. For obvious reasons, we went with “beginner” level for the carving.

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Daddy guiding B’s wee hand along the top cut.

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Okay, so we didn’t totally surrender cutting this massive squash to our (almost) three year old. We’re not totally crazy, but B got the V.I.P knife talk and he definitely sawed that gourd.
He did seem to enjoy the gutting part the most however.

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He cut, rolled and tapped his pumpkin head until the design was done. Then we set it out on the front porch with the others. I had purchased some “safety” battery operated flicker lights, much to B’s sadness. Knives were a lot for one day… be patient my son… one day we will teach you to command fire too. You have much to learn little one. For now, just smile at the camera so mommy can commemorate (sniff, sniffle) another milestone.

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What are your favorite family traditions on Halloween?