Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I haven't done a Thankful Thursday post in a really long time, but I'm vowing right now to get back on it. I'm a much happier person when I place a heavy emphasis on gratitude in my life. While I do always try to keep an attitude of gratitude and remain cognizant of my blessings, putting it to paper...err, blog post??...well, it makes me think about it more. And sharing happy thoughts never hurt anybody either.

I'm thankful that spring will be here soon. Just when I think I can't take one more nasty winter day, Mother Nature always comes through.

I'm thankful for all of the fun things we have coming up in March. Everything from celebrating double digits to the beginning of Spring Break, and lots more in between!

I'm thankful for this stay-at-home mom gig. Best job I ever had. Not that the competition was all that stiff, but still.

I'm thankful for Pond's Evening Soothe wet cleansing towelettes, with chamomile and white tea. I mentioned them on my Facebook page the other day, and I'm telling you again - because they're awesome. I can't emphasize enough how much I hate washing my face at night...these things make all the difference in the world for me! They smell amazing, and it feels so good to massage my face and neck with one before I go to bed.

I'm thankful to everyone who has entered my giveaways! I have three going on right now, and it makes me SO HAPPY to see the numbers go up on the number of entries. I love offering these giveaways to you guys and spreading the joy. You can enter HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Even after having it for several months, I am still so grateful for my new bed. It is a real joy to crawl under the covers every night.

I'm thankful for honey. A couple of teaspoons of honey here and there have been helping Bethany and Mattie with scratchy throats and coughs. I've been giving it to Mattie before bed so that her coughing doesn't keep her up, and it's helping so much. I love giving them something natural instead of more meds.

I'm thankful that FINALLY we are canceling our home phone and cable TV. We got our Huluplus set up, and as soon as Magic Jack is done porting our phone number over, we are set to go.

I'm thankful for snow that melts that next day. That is my kind of snow.

I'm thankful for all the points Bethany has been scoring at her basketball games. I am so proud of her, and I know it makes her pretty happy.

I'm thankful for those lovely times when my kids help each other without me having to issue a direct order or talk them into it. Connor checks Lucy's homework. Lucy reads a story to Mattie. Bethany helps Mattie get dressed. I hope they understand some day how lucky they are.

What are you thankful for today?

You don't want to miss any MichiGal posts, do you? Then you should click HERE to sign up for email notifications!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ENDED Giveaway! Introducing The Bible Series on the History Channel + Walmart Gift Card

The series premiere of the new History Channel series The Bible is coming up this Sunday, March 3 at 8 pm. The 10-part mini series from executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett retells stories from the Scriptures, Genesis through Revelations. This family entertainment spectacular will bring The Bible to life for a whole new generation!

How well do you know The Bible? Test your knowledge in the Bible-Scene Quiz in the app above!

To celebrate the premiere of this historic series, MichiGal is giving away a $15 Walmart gift card!

Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter! And don't forget to tune into the History Channel at 8 pm this Sunday night!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before you leave, be sure to sign up for MichiGal email updates so you don't miss anything!

The History Channel is supplying the giveaway prize.

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam FUN!

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam

This Saturday, March 2, Monster Jam is coming to Detroit's Ford Field. I am excited to be taking my kids for the first time. We are really looking forward to it! I keep hearing about how LOUD it is, so we will come prepared with ear plugs and ear muffs!

Do you have your tickets yet? There is still time to take advantage of this GREAT deal!
4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 sodas, all for $100!
Please note: must be purchased in packs of four, limit 12 tickets per purchase. Not valid for front row or Gold Circle seats.  Use this link to order:

If your kids are already getting excited about the show on Saturday, or if you can't make it this year, I have a couple of fun Monster Jam ideas for you to help keep them happy!

You can print out your own Monster Jam coloring pages! Choose from seven different pictures and let your kids go to town coloring their favorite trucks. This is a perfect activity for the dreary weather we're having in Michigan this week!

Interested in seeing the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam trucks up close and personal? Grinder, Bad Habit, Bounty Hunter, Brutus, and Gravedigger will be making special appearances in the Metro Detroit area on Friday, March 1! You can even get autographs and photos with the drivers - for FREE!

Here is the schedule. Please note, all appearances are on Friday, March 1. All times and locations are subject to change.

Grinder - Dearborn, MI, 2-6 pm
Advance Auto Parts Store 7037 
5524 Schaefer Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48126
Phone: 313-945-6646

Bad Habit - Southgate, MI, 2-6 pm
Advance Auto Parts Store 8745
13459 Eureka Rd
Southgate, MI 48195
Phone: 734-284-4128 

Bounty Hunter - Clinton Township, MI, 2-6 pm
Advance Auto Parts Store 8604
33921 S Gratiot Ave
Clinton Township, MI 48035
Phone: 586-791-1380

Brutus - Livonia, MI, 12-2 pm
Rightway Auto
30300 Plymouth Rd.
Livonia, MI 48150

Gravedigger, with Dennis Anderson - Roseville, MI, 6-8 pm
Macomb Mall
32233 Gratiot Ave.
Roseville, MI 48066

Have you ever been to Monster Jam? Will you be there this year?

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

We were really, really hoping for a snow day today. It was not a happy morning around here.

I use to be an occasional coffee drinker. Now I am a daily coffee drinker. I have no regrets.

My dog took over Lucy's old comforter. I was planning on keeping it for a back-up, but the kids were using it to make a fort in the family room, it got left on the floor, and the rest is history.

We traveled over two hours each way on Sunday so that my little girls could be subjects in a research study at Michigan State University.

While I was outside shoveling ridiculously heavy, slushy snow this morning, I could feel Spring in the air. Never mind that I was wearing boots and hat and gloves and I was shoveling. Somehow the air feels different when Spring is right around the corner.

I dread the annual thaw and the resultant mud bath in my backyard. What a mess!

When I buy Gogurt, it goes straight to the freezer.

I can't eat yogurt anymore. I use to have it almost every day, but it started messing with my stomach out of nowhere. I tried all different kinds and it all gave me the worst stomach ache ever. I'm afraid to try it again because it was really painful and sort of ruined my day every time.

I have been totally slacking in the workout department. Holy cow I have to get back on track.

Mathilda likes to draw about 25 pictures a day. While they're super cute and everything (as cute as squiggly lines and random shapes can possibly be!), I sneak 99% of them into the recycle bin when she's not looking. And I don't take pictures of them first.

When Bethany and Connor were babies, I sometimes let them cry it out. They were great self-soothers and fabulous sleepers. I never (or VERY rarely) let Lucy & Mattie cry it out, because big brother and big sister had to get up for school in the morning and I didn't want baby cries to disturb their slumber. Neither of them slept through the night until they were 18 months old. Yes, I realize that recent research findings indicate that I have ruined Bethany and Connor for life.

Lucky Charms were on sale last week, so I bought a box for St. Patrick's Day. It's our annual tradition. They have been sitting in the cupboard taunting my children, next to the Raisin Bran and unsweetened shredded wheat. If the crying it out didn't do it, this surely will.

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Green Living Solution: Best Buy Electronics Recycling Program

We do a lot of recycling. Most weeks, both of our recycle bins are filled to the top, and sometimes we even have to put an extra box out. We tend to have just as much recycling as trash, although of course some weeks are exceptions. Curb side recycling is all well and good when it comes to paper, plastic, glass, and metal cans. But what about the big stuff, like electronics? Have you ever just tossed an old television or broken DVD player in the garbage, without giving it a second thought? I know I have. But now I know that there is a better solution.

Did you know that any Best Buy store in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will recycle your electronics at no cost to you? They will recycle just about any electronic product, purchased from any store, no matter how old it is. Some states do have certain restrictions. For more specific information, you can visit the Best Buy website. Once there, you will see a list of items typically accepted for recycling in Best Buy stores. To find the program details specific to your state, select your state from the drop down menu.

In Michigan, the following guidelines apply:
  • Seven items per household may be recycled per day
  • Most electronics are accepted, including tube TVs and monitors up to 32", flat-panel TVs and monitors up to 60", peripherals, DVD players, home and car audio, cell phones, MP3 players, and cables.
  • Desktop and laptop computers are accepted
  • Small electronic items, such as fans and vacuums, are accepted
  • Electronics containing refrigerants are not accepted
  • Console TVs of any size, or tube TVs and monitors larger than 32" are not accepted
  • Appliances are not accepted
  • There is a haul away or pick-up program available for appliances and large TVs (fees may apply)
  • Disassembled TVs and monitors are not accepted
Remember to check the guidelines for your own state, as they may differ.

Looking over that list, I feel guilty about all of our electronics that have gone out with the trash! From now on, I'll know better!

With technology being so prevalent in most households, and new products coming out everyday, it is no wonder that electronics are the fastest growing source of waste in the world! Many of those products are purchased in Best Buy stores, so they are dedicated to being part of the solution. Best Buy recycles an unbelievable 387 pounds of electronics for every MINUTE their stores are open. That's over a quarter millions pounds of electronics per day! You can count on Best Buy to safely and responsibly dispose of your old electronics.

Once you take your old electronics to Best Buy for recycling, you may want to consider replacing those items with Energy Star certified products. To learn more about Energy Star certified electronics, visit the Best Buy website.

Did you know that Best Buy had an electronics recycling program? Have you ever used it? 

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free

Travel Tuesday: The Road Trip Continues Into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

I am going to try to start doing a weekly Travel Tuesday post. I say "try" because, well, we all know how that goes! This will be a great way to get me caught up on posting about our big road trip last summer. I know that was like six or seven months ago, but I haven't given up yet!

Since it's been awhile, let's recap, shall we?

If you're new here, you might not know that my kids and I (and my mom, for part of the trip) went on an epic road trip last summer, traveling from Michigan all the way to Washington state. You can follow these links to learn more about our trip.

Road Trip Success!
Let the Road Trip Fun Begin!
South Dakota Supreme: Part 1
South Dakota Supreme: Part 2
The Road Trip Continues Into Alien Territory

My last post brought us through Wyoming and into Montana. We dropped my mom off at the camp where she was volunteering for the week and continued on our way.

I was on my own.

But we were only about three and a half hours away from our next destination, so I wasn't concerned about my lack of adult back-up. Although I did all of the driving throughout the entire trip, it was nice having my mom along. It was a great help to have someone to pick up Mattie's cup every 15 minutes, to pass back snacks, and to run into hotels late at night to check for vacancies. Not to mention, having some adult conversation was a good distraction while driving for hours every day.

Next stop: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Coeur d'Alene is in the narrow panhandle of Idaho, nestled in between Montana and Washington. The closest big city is Spokane, Washington. If I had to pick one adjective to describe Coeur d'Alene, it would probably be stunning. We drove through a lot of mountains throughout the course of our trip, with many different types of terrain. I love the mountains, and they were all beautiful in different ways. In Idaho, they were lush and green. Just...stunning. I wish I would have been able to take pictures as I was driving into Coeur d'Alene, with the gorgeous views of Lake Coeur d'Alene. I was on this mountain road, high above the lake, and I was so frustrated that I had to keep driving and couldn't pause to let the scenery soak into my brain.

Good morning, happy campers!
Apparently, Coeur d'Alene is a famous northwest resort town. But we were there to visit family, and staying at my aunt & uncle's house was surely better than staying at the fancy resort in town! The kids got to sleep in a camper on the driveway, and I had my own room, with my own bed! What could be better?

We rolled up to my aunt and uncle's house on day 6 of our trip, and stayed there for nights #6, #7, and #8. Our weekend was full of family time, which was really special for a lot of reasons. I did not know my aunt and uncle as a kid, and didn't meet them until I was in my 30s. My dad's brother and his wife welcomed us into their home, despite the fact that they had only met us a handful of times and barely knew us. Their daughter, my cousin, brought her three kids over, and the next generation of cousins had their own sleepover. We enjoyed home cooked food, and went to a family birthday party. After driving and sight-seeing as much as possible for six days in a row, it was a pleasant relief to relax and do regular things.

Lake Coeur d'Alene - Idaho
Lake Coeur d'Alene - Idaho

While we didn't do much in the way of sight seeing during our stay in CDA, the kids sure didn't miss the hectic pace, and I didn't mind either. One day, we packed a picnic and spent a nice afternoon at Lake Coeur d'Alene, which was lovely. Being in the mountains was just sublime. Decades ago, when my mom and I moved back to Michigan from Arizona, I missed the mountains for a long time. I was only a kid, but I missed being able to look anywhere and see mountains. Being in the mountains was one of the best parts of the trip! My kids were kind of wimps at the lake. I mean, I don't blame them, because I did not bring water shoes with us. I just wasn't anticipating swimming in rocky mountain lakes. I guess I should have thought of that, but the amount of thinking that went into packing for that trip was pretty overwhelming as it was. My advice? If you're going on a long road trip, pack water shoes. Because you just never know. Even though they didn't want to spend that much time in the lake, we still had a wonderful time. We had to work our tails off just to get to the lake from the parking lot. I am accustomed to flat Michigan, where the parking lots are almost always pretty close to being at the same level as the lakes. But in Idaho, we had to trudge up and down and pretty far to reach the reward: a relatively private picnic table on the banks of Lake Coeur d'Alene. All while carrying coolers, inner tubes, and a sleeping Mathilda.

Another afternoon, we went for a little drive through town. We didn't get out of the car, just drove around so I could see some of what the fuss is about. On another trip, I wouldn't mind exploring a little. Touristy or not, it was charming and pretty. There were throngs of people out and about. Crowds aren't my thing, but sometimes braving them is worth it, to be able to see and experience something new and different.

Bethany's 1st cherry pie was a big success!
What else did we do in Idaho? The kids played and watched TV and immediately made themselves at home in my aunt and uncle's home. My aunt taught Bethany how to make cherry pie, and I got to go to Target all by myself. I read and caught up on email and did laundry. We all got to know each other, and I wouldn't trade all the sight-seeing in the world for that.

Leaving was Coeur d'Alene was hard, although my aunt and uncle might have been happy to have their quiet house back! We have to go back. We will go back.

Matching cousins

All the cousins together at Lake Coeur d'Alene


Want to make sure you don't miss any MichiGal posts, including the next installment of my road trip adventure? Be sure to click HERE to sign up for an email subscription!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ikea Furniture Assembly

When Ikea first came to Michigan several years ago, I was so excited. I had heard many great things about their products, and even contemplated a road trip to another city just to do some Ikea shopping. So when a store opened up within an hour drive of our house, it was pretty thrilling for me. Before long, excursions to Ikea became a favorite pastime of mine. There was just one problem. Everything comes in these convenient flat boxes. They're convenient because you can pile a bunch of stuff into a cart and cram an amazing amount of furniture into your vehicle. They're not so convenient in that they are full of pieces that need to be assembled. Furniture assembly + crabby husbands don't mix. That's my piece of advice for the day. You know what would be great? If we could pay a little extra or hire someone to assemble our Ikea furniture. If you live in the Boston or New York area, you are in luck because you have at your disposal Handybook Ikea Furniture Assembly.

Using Handybook, it is really easy to schedule your Ikea furniture assembly online. In step one, you enter your zip code, along with the date and time you would like your furniture to be assembled.

In step two, you choose the pieces that you would like assembled. You can choose from the following categories:
  • Chairs/Sofas
  • Desks/Tables
  • Beds
  • TV/Media
  • Wardrobes
  • Drawers
Within each category, you can choose different types of furniture to further classify your choices. For example, under Drawers, you can choose either a 2-3 drawer chest or a 3-6 drawer chest. Once you  have items entered into your inventory, they will show up with a + or - sign underneath each piece. To add a second 2-3 drawer chest, for example, you just click on the + (plus) sign and one more will be added. Likewise, you can easily delete items from you inventory by clicking on the - (minus) sign.

After you are done adding inventory, the next step is to enter your email address and click on Next. At this point, Handybook will begin looking for an associate to meet your needs. If you have any questions along the way, there is a live chat window in the bottom right corner. If you'd rather talk to someone the old fashioned say, there is also a toll-free number.

The billing is based upon hours (there is a two-hour minimum), with each item having an assigned number of hours. For example, a large wardrobe is equal to three hours of work. The entire process is very simple and easy to follow. Hopefully the idea spreads to the Midwest, because I think a lot of people would definitely appreciate the service!

This post is brought to you by Handybook.

ENDED The Spring Break Family Fun Giveaway! Castaway Bay, Ghostly Manor, and More!

Prizes from Castaway Bay, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center, and more!

My love for Ohio is no secret around here. For me, vacations somehow seem more real if I cross the state line. Lucky for me, we are only about an hour's drive from our neighbor to the south. I never spent much time exploring Ohio until I had kids, but now I'm hooked. Some Ohio posts from the past include:
The Sandusky area, in particular, is full of great family fun spots, and it's only about a two hour drive from the Detroit area. During our recent trip to Castaway Bay and Ghostly Manor, we learned that there is a lot more to do in the area than we thought!

Maybe you don't have any Spring Break plans nailed down yet...maybe you're looking for a fun destination that isn't too far from home...and maybe, just maybe, you're looking for a little help with your vacation expenses?

If any of this applies to you, I may be able to help! One super duper lucky MichiGal reader is going to win an AWESOME Sandusky, Ohio family fun package that includes:

  • 4 Castaway Bay day pass vouchers (please note: does NOT include hotel!) for hours of water park fun! (Total Value: $100)
  • 2 Ghostly Manor Thrill Center Do It All passes, good for Ghostly Manor Haunted House, XD 4D Motion Theater, Skateworld Roller Skating, and 3D Black Light Mini Golf (Total Value: $66)
  • 1 family admission (2 adults/2 children) to the Merry-Go-Round Museum (Total Value: $20)
  • 1 coupon for the African Safari Wildlife Park, which is good for EITHER 1 free admission (Total Value: up to $18.95), OR a carload discounted rate of only $39.95 (6 guests maximum, up to $73.75 value)
I'm SO EXCITED to be able to offer this giveaway, and I couldn't do it without the generosity of Castaway Bay, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center, the Merry Go Round Museum, and the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center-East! They all provided the prizes for YOU!  

Looking for even more ideas for Sandusky fun? Stay tuned for another post about some of the other area attractions!

Don't want to miss any new MichiGal posts? Then sign up HERE to subscribe to email notifications!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center in Sandusky, Ohio

The Ghostly Manor Thrill Center facade makes a striking first impression!

When we were staying at Castaway Bay for a blogger event recently, we were also invited to a separate blogger event at a nearby attraction, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center. Ghostly Manor was just a hop,skip, and a jump from Castaway Bay, and it has a little something for everyone:
  • Wizard's Journey mini golf (indoors)
  • Ghostly Manor Haunted House
  • XD 4D Motion Theater
  • Skateworld roller skating
  • Arcade
  • Bounce houses
  • Concessions
They like to go all out for the holidays at Ghostly Manor! In October there is an expanded haunted house experience called Lake Eerie Fearfest. December brings the Winter Wonderland Walk-Thru, as well as a free annual Christmas light show. They've even been featured on the Travel Channel's "Best Places I've Ever Been!" I could not find a link to this, but I will tell you that there are some amazing reviews on Trip Advisor.
Ghostly Manor is also a popular birthday party destination. Several parties were in progress during our visit.

What to know:
  • This place is huge! There is plenty of space for everything I listed above. Even though we visited on a busy Saturday night, there was still breathing room, and the lines weren't terrible either.
  • Some attractions are not for little kids. Bethany was the only one willing to try an XD 4D movie, and we could not for anything get Lucy to play mini golf, which is 3D and in black light.
  • The haunted house is recommended for ages 10 and up. None of my kids were brave enough to walk through!
  • Each attraction is priced separately.
  • Ghostly Manor is family owned and operated, and was first started because of one man's love of haunted houses.
Black light 3D mini golf is fun! Ghostly Manor
If you're in the area, this is definitely a place you'll want to check out. It would make a great side trip when visiting Cedar Point's Hallow Weekends or one of the area's water park hotels. And, based on the glowing reviews I read of the haunted house, it might even be worth a two hour drive on its own merit for haunted house enthusiasts. This holiday season, I'd like to plan another trip so I can experience the Winter Wonderland Walk-Thru and Christmas light display.

I'd love to tell you Mattie is just scratching her nose. I can offer no such guarantees. At Ghostly Manor, Sandusky, OH

If you want to make sure you don't miss any MichiGal posts, be sure to click HERE to subscribe to email notifications!

Big thanks to Ghostly Manor and the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center-East for putting together this event and having my family as guests! My family was provided with dinner and tickets to all attractions. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Celebrating my Birthday at Castaway Bay

My 38th birthday came and went without mention here on the blog, and that's because my family was celebrating in Sandusky, Ohio. We were invited to a blogger event the night before at Castaway Bay, and decided to make a weekend out of it. The day of my birthday, we were invited to another blogger event in Sandusky, at Ghostly Manor Thrill Center. So as it turned out, we celebrated big this year!

I had Friday all planned out. I was going to pick the kids up from school an hour and a half early so we could arrive at Castaway Bay with time to spare before the event began. What's that saying about the best laid plans? Well, the kids had a snow day and Chris ended up being stuck at work. But it all ended up falling together. The kids were a big help to me as I scurried around, packing and preparing for our weekend away. And while we didn't arrive early as we had hoped, we did get to Castaway Bay just in time to drop our bags off in our room and rush downstairs to the blogger event.

Castaway Bay shipwreck in the lobby
Castaway Bay is Cedar Point's indoor water park resort, located just outside of the popular amusement park. It's decorated like a Caribbean island oasis, complete with a giant ship wreck in the lobby and animatronic parrots. It also shares Cedar Point's mascots: the Peanuts gang. The water park, which is kept at a constant 82 degrees, is obviously the main attraction. But Castaway Bay offers much more family fun!

At check-in, guests are given the Island Times, which is a list of resort activities that is published daily. There are plenty of free activities, such as character meet and greets, balloon animals, face painting, and movie time. Some activities have a fee; for example, coloring a Castaway Bay t-shirt, backpack, or towel. In addition, your kids probably won't want to skip visiting Crabbie's Quarterdeck Arcade, which has something for everyone. Even Mattie got in on the fun.

If you're feeling the need to get pampered, a visit to the Spa at Castaway Bay might be in order! Maybe you can relax with a pedicure or massage while your spouse does kid duty at the water park. Sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Other services offered include: manicures, facials, body treatments, hair treatments, make-up application, and waxing.

Castaway Bay is designed so that you never have to leave. Can I get three cheers for room service? Or you can begin your day with breakfast at Mango Mike's buffet style restaurant. Big Daddy's Snack Shack is located directly in the water park, and offers basic choices such as pizza, hot dogs, soft pretzels, and cold drinks. Ebb & Eddy's Island Sweets and Treats is your go-to spot for an ice cream cone or a Starbucks coffee. And finally, TGI Friday's is located just adjacent to the resort. Also keep in mind that each guest room is equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker. If I would have been better prepared, I would have packed food for breakfast and lunch and saved us a ton of money! This is a fantastic feature for a family-centered resort.

I love Bath & Body Works hotel toiletries!
We stayed in a Tarpon Suite, which was perfect for our family of six. In the main area we had a King bed, a television, and a desk. We also had a lovely balcony, with chairs, overlooking the bay. This would be wonderful during the warmer months! The balcony had a railing and was screened in from top to bottom, as an extra safety measure. The kids' room, housing two sets of bunk beds, a television, and a desk, was separated from the main area by a curtain in the doorway. These rooms also have a walk-in closet, leaving guests plenty of space to stash everyone's luggage. Our double sink was located outside of the bathroom, which is a feature I really appreciate in hotel rooms.

Castaway Bay birthday balloons and treasure chest.
I was surprised, upon walking into our room for the first time, to see a little treasure chest full of all sorts of goodies, such as snacks, bottles of water, and coloring books. And someone remembered it was my birthday, and left me a lovely bouquet of birthday balloons! That was such a nice, thoughtful touch! Castaway Bay definitely left a stupendous first impression!

Our first night, we had dinner with the other bloggers in attendance, then got to do some fun activities and meet Snoopy! As dinner was winding down, someone was walking around making balloon animals for all the kids. Then we headed across the hall to decorate cookies and color beach towels with fabric markers, two activities that are offered to guests of Castaway Bay. The best part of the evening was definitely meeting Snoopy. As we stood in line for our turn, Lucy was really nervous. She wasn't sure she wanted to meet him. But as soon as it was our turn, she literally ran into his arms and hugged him so tight. It was the cutest thing ever! She didn't want to let go of him, and kept talking about how perfectly soft and cuddly he was. I have to admit, she's right. Snoopy was the softest and cuddliest character I've ever met with my kids!

Look at Lucy loving on Snoopy!

By the time all of our fun activities were finished, Lucy and Mattie were getting pretty tired. I took them to the arcade for a short time before heading back to our room to get ready for bed. Meanwhile, Chris took Bethany and Connor to the water park. Sometimes the strategic divide and conquer parenting method is the only thing that works!

Lucy & Mattie, captivated by the arcade.
Saturday morning, we started  my birthday out right by ordering room service. Then we all hurried to get ready for the water park, where we stayed for the next few hours before breaking for lunch. We had lunch poolside at Big Daddy's Snack Shack and then went for birthday ice cream at Ebb & Eddy's. At that point, Mattie and Chris were ready for a nap, so the rest of us went exploring and hung out at the arcade for awhile. That evening, the little girls had their faces painted in the lobby before we headed out to nearby Ghostly Manor Thrill Center for another blogger event. I'll save that for another post!

When we returned to the resort after our foray to Ghostly Manor, Lucy was ready for bed. But the other kids were excited to get back to the water park. So again we divided and we conquered. I put Lucy to bed and Chris went down to play in the water with Bethany, Connor, and Mattie.

The next  morning, Chris ran out to get carry out breakfast from a fast food restaurant. We then packed up all of our stuff, took it out to the van, checked out, and returned to the water park for a few hours. I love that guests are welcome to use the water park for the entire day after checking out. Lockers are available in the water park area, but we just put our clothes in a couple of bags and left them on chairs while we swam and played. There are plenty of showers and changing rooms in the rest rooms.

Fun at the water park!
The water park at Castaway Bay was so much fun. We all loved it! My two personal favorite features were the wave pool and The Grotto. The Grotto is a very large hot tub, with a door way in it that leads to the outdoors. So half of the hot tub is inside, and half is outside, and you never leave the water to get outside. I particularly loved being able to go outside, it was so relaxing being out in the brisk cool air while chilling in the hot water! There was really something for everyone in the family to enjoy at the water park. Lucy and Mattie spent most of their time in the Toddler's Tide Pool area, which had a really little slide, and then a bigger one that they could both enjoy. It was a triple slide, so they could go down together. I'm estimating that they went down it at least a hundred times! We all went in the wave pool and The Grotto together, which was great fun. Of course there were many water slides of varying lengths and design, including the Rendevous Run water coaster, which Bethany eventually coaxed me onto. Connor is not a fan of heights and/or water slides, but he still managed to have a blast in the wave pool, the Creature Cove swimming pool, and Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse. There was so much to do. They did a great job designing a water park that is fun for all ages.

My Castaway Bay Tips:

  • Take advantage of the in-room microwave and refrigerator. You can save a ton of cash by bringing your own food! Even one meal's worth of food would be a good savings.
  • Bring something warm to wear when you leave the water park area. The water park might be 82 degrees, but the rest of the resort is freezing! We brought cover ups to the water park with us, but even so, our teeth were chattering when we went for ice cream and walked back to our room. A hoodie and sweatpants would not be a bad idea! Changing into dry clothes before leaving the water park would be even better.
  • Bring flip flops or other water safe shoes
  • Utilize the clothes line in the bathroom. This could be easy to miss if you're not looking for it, but there is a pull out clothes line in the bathtub. It's great for drying suits over night. I also brought several plastic bags so we would have a place to stash our wet suits when we left the water park for the last time. I like to have one for each person because you never know how the color on a suit might bleed until it's too late. I happen to be speaking from experience.
  • Get a new Island Times every morning of your stay. Activities change daily!
  • Get a treasure map from the front desk. This is a fun activity to fill a half hour or so with the kids and get better acquainted with the shops and restaurants in the resort. The last stop is the arcade to pick up a prize, which is an arcade card ($1.00 value & necessary to play most games) with four game tokens loaded onto it.
Thanks to the wonderful generosity and hospitality of the fine folks at Castaway Bay, this was one the best birthdays I've had in a long time. Like, a really long time. We can't wait to return!

Have you been to Castaway Bay? Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to hear them!

Coming soon: Ghostly Manor Thrill Center and other Sandusky attractions! And a sweet giveaway!

Want to make sure you don't miss a MichiGal post? Subscribe to email updates!

My babies and me at Castaway Bay

Meeting Lucy at Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay provided me with one night stay, including dinner and activities. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: The Good Daughter, By Jane Porter

A few months ago, I published a review of The Good Woman, also by Jane Porter. The Good Daughter picks up where The Good Woman left off.

Since I really enjoyed reading Jane Porter's The Good Woman I was looking forward to delving deeper into the Brennan family's affairs. To offer a brief re-cap, the Brennans are a large Irish Catholic family living in the San Fransisco area. The close knit clan consists of four sisters and a brother, along with their parents, spouses, and children. While The Good Woman was written from the perspective of the oldest sibling, Meg, The Good Daughter is the story of Kit.

Kit Brennan is a born people pleaser and peace maker. Likeable and smart, she sees the best in others, even if that means that she doesn't take her own needs into account as often as she should. The expectations of others, including her parents and siblings, somehow end up taking precedence over what Kit wants out of life. She is so busy trying to make everyone else happy, that she hesitates to do what could give her life the fulfillment she desperately craves. Kit is the dependable one, the giver of sound advice, the reliable set of listening ears, and the one to always step up and offer help where it's needed. While her family loves her and wants the best for her, they also tend to take her for granted.

Everyone has a breaking point. Kit finds hers and begins to admit to herself  that some of her choices in life are in direct conflict with her deepest desires. Little by little, she gains courage and begins making choices that facilitate, rather than hinder, the fulfillment of her life goals. Kit's set backs and conflicts are sure to resonate with many readers who work hard making life great for everyone else, while consistently putting themselves at the bottom of their own priority lists. Every time Kit made a choice for her own personal happiness, without taking into consideration how it would affect everyone else and their opinion of her, I silently cheered her on. I saw some of my own struggles in Kit's story, because I, too, tend to grapple with becoming my own person while worrying what my loved ones will think or how they'll react.

Although I fully recommend reading The Good Woman before beginning The Good Daughter, the second book in the Brennan family saga works as a stand alone as well. My fingers are crossed that Porter will continue with more books about this delightful family.

 Are you reading anything good right now? Tell  me about it in the comments!

If you don't want to miss any MichiGal posts, be sure to subscribe for email updates.

I received a complimentary copy of The Good Daughter for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Online Music Courses

Considering that my husband is a musician, music has always been a big part of our lives. Since I met Chris back in high school, he has been in bands, writing music, singing, and playing guitar. Chris is passionate about his music, and for our entire relationship he has spent a great deal of time at band practice and working on music in one way or another. I'm sure I've been to hundreds of shows, in every type of venue imaginable. From smoky, dingy bars to coffee houses to big amphitheaters, and everything in between, I've spent a fair amount of time listening to local bands. We've hosted band practice at our house, we've had bands over to record music, and we have a room full of instruments in the basement. And we also have a piano in our living room that no one knows how to play. Perhaps Online Music Production Courses could help us?

The piano is our own personal albatross. My mom bought it years ago and never learned to play. So when we moved into this house, almost four years ago, she gave it to us. She thought it would be a great addition to our musical household. We agreed, and have dedicated a wall to it ever since. And still, no one has taken a single lesson. It is home to our hermit crabs and various school projects. Its stool provides extra seating when we have company. Children like to pound on the keys and pretend they are really playing. Our piano is a very large, heavy, and cumbersome toy. We are limited as to how we can arrange the furniture in our living room because of it, and recently Chris and I have been fantasizing about what it would be like to have that extra space available to us.

However, I still love the idea of having a piano. I love the idea of our kids learning to play, and maybe even taking lessons myself. I haven't picked up an instrument since 6th grade orchestra. The logistics of piano lessons just seem so overwhelming. We already have so much going on! It also seems like it would be quite costly to arrange for piano lessons for four kids. I have heard of online music lessons, and I think that could be a nice solution for us. There is a family I've been reading about in the blog world for years, who travels the globe with their daughter and does homeschooling. Their daughter has virtual violin lessons, which she can partake in wherever they are. I imagine that it would be much simpler to work in lessons at our convenience, without having to leave home or be bound to an instructor's schedule and availability. Maybe it's not time to give up on our piano yet!

Do you or your children play a musical instrument? Have you ever tried online music courses?

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rotorooter: Trusting the Pros

Being a homeowner can be scary business. There is so much to keep track of and take care of. And not all of us are natural handymen (or women), which means that there are times when we need to throw in the towel and call in the pros. Our nemesis in this house seems to be the plumbing. It's a mid-century home with a gigantic tree in the backyard, and we have a basement. In our area, this is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes Chris tries to figure things out for himself, or a friend will come over and help. And sometimes that is enough. But then there are the times when nothing will do but a trained professional, and it's time to make a call to a place like rotorooter. At that point, we need to muster up all the faith we can manage.

See, the problem is that when you know next to nothing about plumbing (or electrical, or carpentry, or whatever your issue happens to be), as a consumer you are called upon to place your trust in the company you have hired. This can be overwhelming and frightening, especially when there is a big job that needs to be done. It's one thing when a professional tells you that you need to drop a few hundred bucks. Nobody likes that, and it hurts writing that check. However, being told that you need a $4000 job done in order to prevent future disasters...well that is a whole different story.

After a string of plumbing issues, one on top of the next, we were recently advised that we need to have our main line in our backyard replaced, which comes with a price tag of approximately four grand. Where we live, this is not an unheard of issue. We know people who have had to have it done, and it wouldn't be uncommon of to be driving around our neighborhood in the warmer months, when the ground is thawed, and see somebody's front yard dug up. Pipes just weren't made to last back in the day. Tree roots sure don't help the situation either.

However, $4000 is a lot of money! Getting a quote like that kind of makes you feel faint and queasy, and it's not an amount of money we would (or could) spend lightly. Taking the word of one man who comes out, puts a camera down your line, and gives you a quote - well that could give anybody trust issues! So, what do you do in a situation like this?

  1. Do your research. Search engines can make all of us feel like experts, so beware! But it is a good idea to have at least a basic idea of what you're up against! If your hired pro gets the feeling that you know what they're talking about, he might be less inclined to quote you for work that you don't actually need.
  2. Ask around. Chances are, you know somebody who had to have a similar repair. Or they know somebody who did. Social media is a great tool for getting first-hand information. You might even find that you know someone in the field who can give you a real, unbiased opinion.
  3. Get a second and third opinion. If you need some major work done to your home, don't sign on the dotted line until you have at least two or three quotes. You might find that different companies vary greatly in their rates, or that another professional will tell you about a less expensive alternative.
  4. Have a little faith. When all is said and done, and you've done your research, talked to friends and neighbors, received more than one quote, and decided to go ahead with the work, it's time to let go. The fact is, someone else knows better than you, and you have to hand the reigns over to them at a certain point. That doesn't mean to follow advice blindly or allow yourself to be taken advantage of. It just means that, if you decide to hire someone, let them do their job and trust they will do it well.
Have you been faced with a huge home repair? How did you handle it?

This is a sponsored post; however, all opinions are my own.

Review: WhoNu? Chocolate Sandwich Cookies & How They Measure Up to the Oreo

I very rarely buy packaged cookies from the grocery store. It's not that I don't like them, I do. Although, not nearly as much as I LOVE homemade cookies. And my kids certainly like store bought cookies. I just try not to buy a lot of sweets, and I have a sort of ongoing challenge with myself that if I want something sweet badly enough, then I'll have to work for it and bake something. Plus, I'm on a label reading kick, and one look at a list of ingredients on a box of cookies will surely make anyone's head spin.

Photo from
But...yesterday I was at Kroger and saw something different. I typically don't spend much time studying the cookie aisle, considering that I hardly ever buy anything from there, but the yellow packaging caught my eye. And the big picture on the box of a cookie that looks an awful lot like an Oreo. Okay, they hooked me and reeled me in with their catchy name and their bright packaging, and their pictures of tasty looking cookies. I was intrigued, and I stopped to investigate further. What I stumbled upon was WhoNu? cookies.

While the chocolate sandwich cookies are what caught my eye, my Kroger did sell one or two other varieties. WhoNu? cookies come in several flavors:
  • Chocolate Sandwich
  • 2X Stuffed Chocolate Sandwich
  • Vanilla Wafer
  • Original Chocolate Chip
  • Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip
  • Vanilla Sandwich
The package says "Who Knew nutrition could be so delicious?" Oh really? Let's see just how nutritious these cookies are, as compared to the classic Oreo.

WhoNu Chocolate Sandwich Cookie                                     Oreo                                                         
Serving: 3 cookies                                                                      Serving: 3 cookies
Calories per serving: 150                                                            Calories per serving: 160
Total fat: 6 g                                                                               Total fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 1.5 g                                                                     Saturated fat: 2 g
Trans fat: 0g                                                                                Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                                                                       Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 140 mg                                                                          Sodium: 160 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 24 g                                                            Total Carbohydrates: 25 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g                                                                        Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 13 g                                                                                Sugars: 14 g
Protein: 1 g                                                                                  Protein: 1 g
Vitamin A: 20%                                                                          Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 25%                                                                           Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 30%                                                                              Calcium: 2%
Iron: 20%                                                                                     Iron: 10%
Vitamin D: 30%                                                                           Vitamin D: Not listed 
Vitamin E: 25%                                                                            Vitamin E: Not listed 
Thiamin: 10%                                                                               Thiamin: Not listed 
Riboflavin: 10%                                                                            Riboflavin: Not listed 
Niacin: 10%                                                                                 Niacin: Not listed 
Vitamin B6: 10%                                                                          Vitamin B6: Not listed 
Vitamin B12: 20%                                                                        Vitamin B12: Not listed 
Biotin: 10%                                                                                  Biotin: Not listed 
Pantothenic Acid: 10%                                                                 Pantothenic Acid: Not listed 
Iodine: 10%                                                                                 Iodine: Not listed
Zinc: 10%                                                                                    Zinc: Not listed
Copper: 10%                                                                               Copper: Not listed
Manganese: 10%                                                                         Manganese: Not listed

As you can see, there is not all that much difference until you get to the vitamins and minerals portion of the nutrition information. Comparing the ingredients, two things stuck me: The WhoNu cookies list wheat flour as the second ingredient, while the Oreos list enriched flour as the second ingredient. Also, the WhoNu cookies do not contain high fructose corn syrup, while the Oreos do contain high fructose corn syrup. I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and enriched flour, so this was a big plus for me. The WhoNu package also boasts "no hydrogenated oils", but I'm not sure if Oreos do contain them or not?

The bottom line is the taste, of course! WhoNu offers a "Love the Taste Guarantee." If you don't love the taste, you can submit your receipt and your UPC from the package for a refund. My taste testers and I are all in agreement: the taste is GOOD and not all that different from Oreos. I cannot remember how much WhoNu cookies cost exactly (what kind of reviewer am I??), but I do know it was comparable to Oreos. And I would not have bought them if they were expensive (plus there was a "use now" coupon on the package), so I'm going with somewhere in the under $3-ish range.

My final thoughts: I don't exactly think this is a miracle cookie or the most healthy choice I could make for a snack for myself or my kids. However, I do appreciate the vitamins and minerals that have been added to the WhoNu cookies, the extra fiber, the exclusion of high fructose corn syrup, and the use of wheat flour as opposed to enriched flour. Buying Oreos is a rare treat around here, or something purchased (again, rarely) for a recipe. Next time, I'll choose WhoNu? Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. They are comparable in price and taste to Oreos, but the nutrition considerations make the difference for me.

What do you think? Have you tried WhoNu? Cookies? Do you think they compare well to Oreos, or have you tried a different flavor?

FYI: This is NOT a sponsored post. Nobody gave me free cookies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

My kids have been sick, which naturally means that I haven't been working out. And even though it's only been a few days, I know I will struggle to get back with the program.

I just started watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey a few days ago and I love it. I am anxious to get caught up through Season 3!

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed my recent whines about our newly acquired Hulu Plus service. I really hate sounding like a spoiled brat. I mean, I'm basically complaining about having 598 channels instead of 600. Nonetheless, I am annoyed.

I'll get over it. I can totally live without television, so missing a couple shows, or waiting longer to see them, is kind of only a big deal in theory.

We are ready to make the plunge and cancel our cable TV and our home phone. I am totally ready to let the cable TV go, but I'm all nerved up about the phone! I think we found a solution to help ease me into the 21st century - Magic Jack. Then hopefully we can keep our home phone number and everyone is happy :-)

Back fat is almost as annoying to me (on my own body) as belly fat, which has always been my nemesis.

I love days when Lucy likes the hot lunch selection and I don't have to pack her lunch. Our school district hired a chef this year to make our lunch menu healthier, so it's not as bad as you might be thinking. Plus I think she can possibly get more calories in her if she gets hot lunch, and she needs them!

I recently discovered that avocados are really good in smoothies. Who'd have thought? (Well apparently, lots of people. But not me!)

I am so happy every time I walk in Connor's bedroom and see how beautifully clean it is. 

Mattie has no preschool all week and I'm glad about that. She's been sick and wouldn't have been going anyway, so at least she won't be missing anything.

What are you saying So What! to this week?

ENDED Purex Crystals for Baby GIVEAWAY!

Purex-Crystals-for-BabyWhen I was a new mom, washing baby clothes was almost fun. I took such care with each tiny little t-shirt and sweater. I always used special detergent, and loved how the freshly laundered clothes, towels, and burp cloths would smell so heavenly when I pulled them out of the dryer. Babies have sensitive skin, so a gentle detergent is an absolute must.

If you're a new mom, maybe you're still in the baby laundry honeymoon phase. Or maybe you know someone who is expecting. Either way, you might be interested to know about a new product: Purex Crystals for Baby. It's a hypoallergenic, dye free, and 87% natural laundry enhancer, that is used in conjunction with laundry detergent for the freshest baby laundry possible! Just use detergent as usual, and add a scoop of Crystals for Baby directly with laundry in your washing machine drum. Purex Crystals for Baby can be used in top-loading and front-loading machines. I repeat, it goes in the drum, NOT in the liquid softener dispenser or the laundry detergent dispenser.

I'm sharing my bottle of Purex Crystals for Baby with a good friend of mine who recently became a mom. Her sweet little baby is going to smell even sweeter when she uses this! How would you like to try Purex Crystals for Baby? I'm giving away three bottles to one MichiGal reader! Don't be deterred if you don't have a baby of your own - surely someone you know has a little one, or is expecting? Each bottle can be used with 32 loads, so three bottles equals a whole lot of baby laundry! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Sorry, but U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purex provided me with a bottle of Crystals for Baby in exchange for sharing my views. All opinions are my own. 

ENDED 20 Mule Team Borax GIVEAWAY!

Borax-20-Meal-TeamIt might seem like I talk an awful lot about laundry. Maybe that is because I am up to my ears in laundry every day, and I am never, ever caught up with this monotonous chore. Like, not even close to caught up. I am always in awe when I hear someone say that they're caught up. How on earth is that possible? I don't get it. But anyway, I do like our clothes to look nice and fresh and sometimes that can be a challenge. For that reason, a laundry booster, like 20 Mule Team Borax, can be really beneficial.

I've been adding a tablespoon or two to my washing machine before washing a load of white/light colored laundry, and sometimes to towels and bedding too. Actually, I don't measure. I just sprinkle a little bit into my front loader before adding the laundry to the machine. I then use detergent as I normally would. Basically, Borax, which is a 100% natural mineral (chemical name: sodium tetraborate) with nothing added, helps to soften hard water, which in turns helps keep stains from setting.  You may not think you have hard water, but over 85% of homes do, so there is a good chance that you do, too! Hard water contains calcium and magnesium. The instructions say to use 1/2 cup per load, but I don't think I've ever used that much and I still notice a difference.

Okay, the chemistry lesson is over.

The bottom line is, do you use Borax, or if you don't, would you like to try it? Then I have good news! Three MichiGal winners will each win 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

Contest open to U.S. only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Borax provided me with this product free of charge. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Palmolive Fresh Infusions Dish Soap

Washing dishes is not my favorite chore. I suppose that's a no-brainer - who enjoys washing dishes? Even though I have a dishwasher, I still find myself washing several items by hand almost daily, and more often several times a day. We only have so many pots and pans, and those darn kids just keep expecting me to provide them with meals. So I dutifully scrub away, day after day.

A few weeks ago I was surprised and delighted to receive a package in the mail from Influenster. I opened it up and found the three prettiest bottles of dish soap I had ever laid eyes upon. No, really! See? Take a look at these Palmolive Fresh infusions I received.

Palmolive Fresh Infusions - I told you they were pretty!

Since that day, I have had all three bottles on my kitchen counter. I just can't bear to stash them under the sink. Can you blame me? If anything can help brighten up a mundane chore, it's these! That might sound silly, but I can't help but be happy when I reach for a bottle of Palmolive Fresh Infusions.

The naturally inspired Palmolive Fresh Infusions come in three different scents: Ginger White Tea, Lime Basil, and Lemon Thyme. All three smell great, look pretty, and work well. What more could I possibly expect from a dish soap? I think my favorite is the Ginger White Tea scent, because it smells like spring to me, and it's a unique scent for this type of product. My mom surprised me and washed dishes one night while she was babysitting, and I think she is partial to the Lime Basil scent.

Palmolive Fresh Infusions can be found at Walmart. Give them a try, they might make you smile when you're faced with a sink full of dirty dishes!

I received this product free of charge from Influenster. All opinions are my own.

Sunny Days

My old pal Oscar.
When I was a little girl, my Uncle Herb took my cousins and me downtown to see Sesame Street Live. I was probably in kindergarten at the time, I'm guessing, and it was a highlight of my young life. I barely remember the show, but it was a special occasion that I've always treasured, even more so now that my Uncle Herb has passed away. My Oscar the Grouch pennant, purchased at the show, was a prized possession for years.

Fast forward a couple decades...I was so excited when I became a mom and realized that Sesame Street Live was still (or maybe, once again?) making the rounds. So began an almost annual tradition of taking our kids to see the Sesame Street gang on stage. We've skipped a year here and there, but I thought it would be fun to take Mattie this year, before she goes and outgrows Sesame Street. At almost 4, she is basically at the cusp of thinking herself too cool for Big Bird and Cookie Monster.

Sesame Street Live, Fox Theatre, Detroit
In exchange for a couple blog posts, I was fortunate enough to be the grateful recipient of Sesame Street Live tickets for this year's show at the Fox Theatre. I think Mattie may have gone when she was a baby, but I couldn't wait to see how she would react as a feisty preschooler. I got tickets for the Friday night performance and then started figuring out the logistics.

Logistics? Yes, logistics. Nothing is simple around here. Bethany had a basketball game and Connor had Boy Scouts, plus neither of them were really interested in attending (duh). So Chris and I had to divide and conquer. I arranged for Bethany to get a ride to the game, Chris picked up Connor from Boy Scouts, and the two of them headed to the game. Meanwhile, Lucy's friend was dropped off at our house (she was going to the show with us and sleeping over afterward), and the little girls and I got ready for the show and waited for my mom, my cousin, and my godson to join us so we could all drive downtown together. I thought we left ourselves plenty of time, but once I stopped for gas and we waited in line to get in the parking structure, and then in another line to get in the theatre, we just barely made it to our seats in time. Note to self: 1 hour is not long enough to get downtown, park and get seated. An hour and a half would have been much more comfortable.

My happy girl, with hat (of course).
We hustled into our seats, after the usher kicked some squatters out, and settled down to enjoy Big Bird and the gang singing about making music. The big kids were a little reluctant, at first, to admit that they were enjoying themselves. Mattie was enthralled but didn't really let loose until after the intermission. At that point, all the kids were a little more comfortable and forgot they were too cool (the big kids) or too scared (Mattie) to have a good time. At that point, Mattie went nuts and danced and jumped around like a maniac for the entire second half of the show. I don't know how she was still standing when it was over. I caught all three of the other kids jumping around, dancing, and smiling too - but none were quite as enthusiastic as Mattie.

I had seen this particular edition of Sesame Street Live more than once in years past, but it seems to me like they changed it up a little. Of course, I don't have the best memory, but it did seem a little bit different. The kids had fun, the adults had fun watching the kids have fun, and it was a successful outing. My godson even later admitted that he enjoyed himself so much that he'd like to see Sesame Street Live again. I'm so grateful that I had this opportunity to take my kids to do something fun on their mid-winter break, and that I was even able to invite a few others to join us. As it turned out, it was the calm before the storm. Connor woke up puking later that night and then all four kids came down with some sort of a sniffly cold, so we didn't get much chance to do anything else the rest of the long weekend. Right now, Mattie can't wait to see Sesame Street Live again. I hope she still feels the same way next year.

We're not having, not us!

Sesame Street Live, Fox Theatre, Detroit

Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary tickets in exchange for blogging about this event.