Friday, August 30, 2013

The End of My Shaklee 180™ Journey

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee 180 blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. All opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180 program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Six months have flown by. I didn't really know what to expect when I first started my Shaklee journey. I was a little nervous to try something new. I was a little scared to focus so much attention on myself, because the truth is I have become comfortable focusing the vast majority of my attention and efforts on other people. It's what I do.

I set a rather lofty goal for myself in terms of weight loss when I started this program. In retrospect, it was maybe a little ridiculous. And in the spirit of 100% honesty, the truth of the matter is that I have lost four pounds on the program, all within the first week (and about six inches total). Since then my weight has hardly varied more than a half pound. I'm pretty sure that I could lose a few more pounds if I focused strongly on counting calories, never missed a workout, and stuck to the program religiously. But while I haven't met my weight loss goals, that's not to say I haven't benefited from my time as a Shaklee 180 blogger.

I have touched on this before, but one of the greatest things I learned while being part of this program is that it really is okay to spend some time focusing on ME. I have written about this topic recently, and it has manifested in different ways in my life. What it boils down to is that I'm learning to not feel guilty for taking time for myself. Going to New York with my friend was a HUGE thing for me, something that I don't think I would have done six months ago. I'm beginning to re-think my priorities and how I want to spend my time. I'm easing up on myself and giving myself permission to say no, and to not raise my hand to volunteer quite so readily. Before Shaklee, what I ate was pretty much one of the last considerations on my mind. Being in the program made it necessary to focus on what I ate and what I was doing for my body, which naturally spread to other areas of my life.

Since starting the Shaklee 180 blogger program, I have pondered more than ever the importance of food and what I choose to feed myself and my family. I have also written about this in the past, but it bears repeating. The thing is, though, I have also realized that for me, there are more important reasons for scrutinizing my diet than simply willing  the number on the scale to go down. Yeah I'd like to be a little smaller in some areas of my body, but I don't care that much. That is totally against everything us American women are supposed to live for, but there it is nonetheless. I am listening more and paying attention more. I'm coming to some hard truths, such as the fact that my beloved sweets are not good for me, and not just because eating them makes it impossible difficult to lose weight. I owe it to myself and to my family to do better. I thank Shaklee for leading my focus in that direction.

Twice this summer I made an observation. When I was in Canada, for our day trip to Storybook Gardens, and when I was New York, I noticed something. People in Canada and people in New York City are way trimmer than people in Metro Detroit. I know I just got done saying I don't care that much about the number on the scale, but it got me thinking. I view Canadians as more health conscious...whether or not that's accurate, I'm not sure. That's my impression - that as a whole they care more about eating good food and living a healthy lifestyle. In New York City, most people are definitely living a more active lifestyle than Metro Detroiters, out of simple necessity. I'm not sure about their eating habits, but the choices for healthy foods are plentiful. So...what does it all mean? I'm not totally sure, but for one thing it means that I would like to live a more active and healthy lifestyle myself. Living where I live is not really conducive to the active part. We are a driving community here in the D, and my blogging habit is by nature sedentary. So if I'm going to continue to live here and do what I do, I need to find a way to transform myself and my family into more active people. I think we'll be healthier and happier as a whole. I'm not real sure I want to continue to live here. That's been something I've struggled with for a long time, and I don't know that it's going to change, but as long as I am here, I'm going to have to get a little more creative and purposeful in my intentions. I think being in the Shaklee program has lead me to be more observant and aware when it comes to things like this, and seeing Canadians and New Yorkers on their own turf really drove it home for me.

All in all, I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity to be in the Shaklee 180 program. It turned out to be less of a weight-loss journey for me, and more of a wake-up call to realizing the kind of life I want to live. Going through the motions gets you nowhere. Make a decision. Make a plan. Educate yourself. And take a step in the right direction. Thanks so much to Shaklee for including me in this six-month program!

Interested in learning more about Shaklee? Please click HERE!

To read more about my personal Shaklee journey, please click HERE for a list of links to all posts, including videos.

Shaklee 180™ Final Video Update

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee 180 blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. All opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180 program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Time flies! I can't believe my time as a Shaklee 180 blogger has come to an end! Please check out my last monthly video update, and watch for another post later today! Thank you for sharing my Shaklee journey with me!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bethany is 12

Twelve years ago, I became a mother. I remember the day well. My doctor called in the morning with some test results, and told me to get to the hospital so I could be induced. I remember laying in bed when the phone rang, and being a little shocked at the news. It was just one day before my due date, but still, this was it! The scary moment I'd been anticipating and dreading had arrived. I was terrified and excited in almost equal measure. Things weren't happening as I'd read in my books. There were no contractions, my water didn't break. Just a phone call telling us that it was time, that our baby would be there that day.

Meeting Bethany was an overwhelmingly joyous occasion. How to even begin to describe it to someone who has not experienced becoming a parent? The world was one way, and now it is another. Suddenly the old way is forgotten. There is just this tiny baby, with red hair (I had so hoped for red hair!), who was living inside my body and is now in my arms. I felt strangely alien. Did this child really come out of me?

Twelve is a big deal. It is still a little girl, but very grown up. My mind is blown that it's been 12 years since I got that phone call. Twelve years since my entire world has changed so completely.

Every day for 12 years I have been stunned by Bethany's beauty and strength. I have been stunned by my ability to love another human being so very much.

By her next birthday, Bethany will be taller than me. She showers without being told and does her own hair. She has strong opinions about everything from fashion to food and everything in between. When she is sick, I am no longer consumed by nurse duties. She goes in the kitchen and makes her own soup or cup of tea. Perhaps being the oldest has played a role in making her grow up fast, but that is tempered with her natural inclination to do things herself - which was made evident very soon after her birth. As an infant, Bethany wanted only to be left alone when she was tired. She did not require rocking and lullabies to get to sleep, she required being put down.

My little red headed princess is comfortably nestled in the middle school years, with high school no longer a far off thought but just a blink of an eye away. For her birthday she wanted highlights, and after YEARS of her asking (and askingandaskingandasking), I finally gave in. I had to face the facts that by her age I had ruined my hair with Sun-In. I didn't want the same fate for her, so I took her to the salon and had it done right. Here she is, so grown up and beautiful, yet still the same silly kid she's always been. That's a Dum Dum in her mouth, by the way.

Bethany is a doer, a girl with a plan. At the salon, she whipped out her phone and had pictures ready to show the stylist just how she wanted her hair. She has had her first day of school outfit picked out for a week, and school doesn't start for another week. She makes lists and has so many ideas. She figures things out.

My baby girl is 12. I can't believe it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Good Night, Sleep Tight

I was caught off guard.

Exactly when and how it happened, I'm not sure. It was while I was busy taxiing and soothing, fixing endless snacks and hoarding sleep by the minute. In the midst of the chaos of the past few months (which is really no different than any other period of our lives), Bethany and Connor started putting themselves to bed. Before that, I always, always, went in each of their rooms and "tucked them in" every single night. And then one night they stopped asking. I was probably busy, and they told me they were going up to bed and said good night. We always said our good nights upstairs, in, their bedrooms, but I figured it was a one time thing. They saw that I was in the middle of something and decided not to make a big deal out of it. I was probably grateful, because, to be honest, there were times when I was slightly peeved to stop what I was doing to do our nightly tuck in routine. By bedtime I am so tired, and still have much to do before I can call it a night.

But then it continued, night after night. My evenings got a little easier and I was mostly relieved. I don't really know why or how it happened, if they got together and discussed it and decided they are now old enough to go to bed on their own. There have even been a few times when one of them will go up to bed and forget to find me to say good night first. And then I go to them, because okay, fine, they can put themselves to bed. But not without a "good night" and an "I love you" and even a "sweet dreams." Also, preferably, not without a hug and a kiss. That's how I want our nights to end, no matter how grown up they get.

When you have little kids, it's hard to imagine a moment like this ever happening. It's hard to imagine freedom and independence. And then when it happens, it's sort of anti-climatic. I feel a little like I'm waving my arms and saying, "No, no, no! I'm not ready for this yet!" What stops me from totally losing it, for now, is that I do still have little kids too, so my tucking in days are far from over.

It's kind of like I have two sets of kids: Bethany & Connor, and Lucy & Mattie. Bethany and Connor are growing up. In some ways it's nice, but in some ways I don't like it. The time has gone by SO FAST. Too fast. They each only have about an inch or two to grow before they catch up with me, and then it will be little more than a hot minute before they pass me right up on the growth chart. I have to say, it makes me feel a little sick. Even though I have two more to go, I know the time will fly with them as well. Pretty soon my kids will barely need me. That's a scary thought, and also a liberating thought. Who am I if I'm not on mom duty 24/7, if I'm not consistently needed around the clock?

This is a milestone school year for us. When it's over, our youngest will be leaving preschool, and our son will be leaving elementary school. I'm pressing on the brakes as hard as I can, but the gears are spinning out of control.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The New York Dream

I have lots of dreams, and by dreams I mean life ambitions and goals. Most of them are pretty vague, which makes realizing them kind of complicated in a way I can't quite put my finger on. I have, for example, dreamed of going to New York City in this foggy unclear way since I was a tween girl reading Sassy magazine. Probably before that. Don't Judy Blume books take place in New York?

New York City is a little over 600 miles from Detroit, yet somehow it felt like I would never get there. I have been to places much further, but New York seemed somehow unattainable. Maybe because all of my dreams seemed similarly unattainable, because they are vague ideas. Yet I've continued to daydream and keep my aspirations in a safe little pocket in the back of my mind.

What I'm learning, and it's really not all that easy for a bunch of reasons, is to remain positive and hopeful, and to grab onto opportunity while I can. I wish I would have started learning this life lesson a really long time ago, but I am grateful to be learning it at all. A lot of people, a whole lot of people, never do get around to it.

Back in June, a couple old friends from high school, whom I hadn't seen in many years, happened to be in Detroit the same weekend - one from Texas, one from New York. Somehow the stars aligned for us to get together one night, along with my friend Shelly, who, like me, still lives in Michigan. We started talking about visiting Texas and how fun it would be. And then we made tentative plans to get together again a couple days later, before the two of them headed home, in opposite directions. Turns out I couldn't make the second get together, and I half jokingly texted my New York friend, saying I would just have to come and see him in New York instead. He replied, telling me that Shelly was going to be visiting NYC soon. I texted Shelly and asked her when she was going. She told me the dates and said, "You should come too."

Immediate response: dismissal. I couldn't possibly go to New York. Right? I have four kids, and money is tight (isn't it always?). And I had that whole personal crisis I talked about in this post. But here it was, this dream of mine, suddenly a whole lot less vague. Now I had a friend to go with me, a place to stay for free, an actual date. Here's something to know about your dreams. Hang on to them, and when the time is right, take a step toward making them real. One step turns into another, and that leads into another. Talk about them. Say it out loud, "I could do this." Admit to others that you're thinking about it. Ask for help. I talked to my mom and my mother-in-law to see if they could help with the kids, since Chris would be working while I was gone. Lo and behold, they said yes. One step closer. I thought some more and realized that, obviously, traveling alone costs considerably less than traveling with four kids. And that there is quite a bit to do in NYC that doesn't require spending much money. That vague, very old dream of mine was no longer blurry. It was coming into focus. Shelly started telling me about her friend's apartment, where we'd be staying, and things she thought I would like to do in New York. I started figuring out just how much this venture would cost. Things were getting specific. My dream was becoming a reality.

The universe wants to help us realize our dreams. That might sound new age-y and hokey, but I believe it. It's not magic. We have to do the work. We have to take the first step, the leap of faith. We have to keep moving, and looking for signs. We have to accept help that can make our dreams come true, and to recognize and seize opportunities. We have to believe.

I am not one to study the Bible, but this verse from Matthew 7:7 illustrates my point perfectly:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

This is how the world works.

Often, I am so wrapped up in the mundane day to day stuff that I don't have the energy to focus on anything else. But when I do, it is more than worthwhile. How surreal it is to look back at last weekend and let it soak in that it really happened. I really did do all those things and see all those things. I read the signs and acted on the opportunities I was given, and I took a leap. Maybe it wasn't the best time to spend the money (when is it ever a good time?), but I know I will never regret that trip. I got to be just me, hanging out with my friends and sight seeing and shopping. I got to refresh. I got to do something I've always wanted to do. I know millions of people visit New York every year, and that it's not necessarily a remarkable thing. But for me, it was.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Brief NYC Recap

This post can now be found at MichiGal Travels. Just click the link below to read it now!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Flashback: Fun in Midland, Michigan

 This post was originally published last year, and references a trip we took in 2010. Look how little my munchkins are! Midland makes a great getaway from the Metro Detroit area, we've even done it as a day trip.

Chris's aunt and uncle live in Midland, aptly named as it sits in the middle of the state. Midland is known as the home of the world headquarters of Dow Chemical. But to our family it is known as where Aunt Nicki and Uncle Bob live. A couple years ago, we decided to be tourists in Midland while we were in town for a visit. We had such a great time, and I hope we get to do it again soon!

Lucy and Mattie at the Midland Tridge

There is a great park within walking distance of downtown, with a splash pad, a playground, and the very unique Tridge (triple + bridge = Tridge). Although I love the picture above, it doesn't really do the Tridge justice. It is really big, and connects paths of separate areas of the park. A lot of people ride their bikes. We packed a picnic lunch and had a beautiful day.

Cousins on the Tridge

Bethany cooling off at the splash pad
We walked around downtown Midland. There are flowers everywhere in Midland, along the side of the road and in front of the shops and restaurants. At the time there was a turtle themed auction going on, so we saw all kinds of turtles too.

See that turtle, hidden among the gorgeous flowers?

Even the courthouse is pretty
We also visited the Midland Center for the Arts. They had a Lego exhibit going on then, but there are always fun, hands-on exhibits for kids. Sometimes they have shows too. Check out their website HERE for more information. This summer it looks like they're having a Bob the Builder Exhibit...sounds like fun!

Mattie and the giant Legos! Back then we couldn't keep shoes ON her, now we can't get them OFF of her!
Lego Mt. Rushmore...this summer I'll get a picture of them in front of the real thing!
Lego peace sign...notice Lucy is really trying to hold up her fingers in a peace sign! Also, I think I want to be a pro Lego builder! That has to be the best job ever!
Have you ever been to Midland, Michigan? If not, it's definitely worth a visit!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Flashback: Tahquamenon Falls

 This post was published last year, and references a trip we took in 2011. Tahquamenon Falls is one of my favorite places in Michigan. What are some of your favorite Michigan sights?

When I was about 11, I was invited along on an Upper Peninsula adventure with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin. I crossed  Big Mac (aka the Mackinac Bridge) for the first time, and I was smitten by the quiet beauty of Michigan's lesser known peninsula. We spent a week at our little cottage, fishing and swimming and seeing many of the area's gems. A year or two later I was invited once again. These two week-long vacations constitute some of the happiest memories of my childhood. One of the most memorable sights that we visited during both of those trips was Tahquamenon Falls. I stood before this majestic natural wonder and fell in love with waterfalls. When I became a mom many years later, I vowed I would take my own children to the Upper Peninsula one day and show them just how beautiful the world could be.

Last summer we finally made it to Tahquamenon Falls. It was actually our second time in the U.P. together, but the first had just been a quick jaunt to the beach when we were staying in Mackinaw City the year before. This time we stayed overnight and had a beautiful day visiting one of my favorite Michigan landmarks. The kids loved it; I knew they would.

One of the best things about being a mom is sharing experiences from my own childhood, like Tahquamenon Falls, with my kids. I look forward to sharing more with them, and remembering vicariously through their smiles and enthusiasm. Seeing new things is exciting too, but there is something special about standing in the same place with my kids that I stood when I was a little girl.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Flashback: Sublime Summertime in Michigan

 This post was originally published at the end of summer 2011. My kids have grown by leaps and bounds since then! Mattie is now wearing the clothes that Lucy is wearing in these pictures. We still have a lot of summer living to do this year, but it's fun to look back on what we did in previous years! I hope you are enjoying your summer!

It really, really was such a fabulous summer. As always, I'm sorry we didn't get more in before the start of the new school year. But we concentrated a lot on doing nothing this summer too - which definitely has its own charms!

    Happy back to school to you. Happy end of summer, happy fall. 

    Bethany & Mattie at the pool

    Hanging out with cousins ~ Lexington ~

    Connor, Lucy, Bethany, and Mathilda ~ Lexington ~

    Sno Cones with friends at the park
    Splash pad

    Lucy ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes ~ 

    Mattie & Bethany ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes ~

    Starting the climb ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes ~

    Lucy ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes~

    Connor & Lucy ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes ~
    Kiddies with their Auntie Mary ~ Sleeping Bear Dunes ~
    The kids at Sleeping Bear Dunes with my 'lil sis
    Lovely family picture ~ Frankfort ~ Lake Michigan ~

    Bethany ~ crystal clear Lake Michigan ~

    Lucy ~ beautiful Lake Michigan beach ~ Frankfort


    Cottage in Frankfort
    Connor & the Playmobil pirate ~ Frankfort ~

    Lucy enjoying a caramel covered rice crispy treat ~ Frankfort ~

    Downtown with friends
    Playing in the fountains outside of the Renaissance Center
    Oh Canada ~ view from Detroit RiverFront
    Carousel ride downtown

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    More Than a Mother

    My husband and I started dating in high school. By my senior year we were pretty much attached at the hip. We married relatively young, after dating for six years, and soon started a family. And for the past 12 years my life has been consumed by my role as Mother.

    I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I don't pretend to be the best mother. No illusions here! But I try to be the best I can be. I'm always learning and always trying to improve, although sometimes I slip and have to start all over again, and sometimes I just darn right suck. There is nothing I think about more than my children and parenting them. I go to sleep worrying or smiling in pride every night. It is hard to fathom what sorts of things use to occupy my brain before I became a mom.

    The volunteer work I make time for revolves around my kids and their schools. The books and blogs and articles I read are usually related to them in one form or another - what to feed them, what to do with them, how to teach them something, where to take them, how not to ruin them for life. My conversations with my husband, my friends, and my family are almost always related to them. Many of my friendships started via my kids, by making friends with their friends' parents.

    I am a mother in every sense of the word, and I am largely defined by that role and title. I'm not complaining because it's what I've always wanted, and it's a blessing, and I love it.

    But dig a little deeper and you will find that there is more to me than being a mother. When I was starting to feel like I was losing that identity a little bit, that part of me that is my core being and doesn't depend on my children to define me...that's when I started this blog. Actually I think I felt like that for quite awhile before I started blogging, and it took me some time to figure out that writing helps bring me out of that all-consuming cloud of parenting. I need that to live and thrive. I need more than motherhood, and although I felt a pang of guilt typing that, there is nothing wrong with wanting and needing more.

    So I write. And I go to the gym. And I run. And sometimes I see my friends and none of us bring kids along, and we might even get in a few sentences about topics outside of parenting. Not often, but sometimes.

    And this week, I'm going to New York City. With a friend. No husbands. No kids.

    I went from being a girlfriend to a wife to a mother...but I still get to be ME. It took me a long time to realize that and own it. I'm still stumbling along and it's not always easy. In fact, the day my friend and I booked our airfare, I wavered and hyper-ventilated and hesitated and mildly freaked out and pretty much felt like I was going to puke and pass out. Then I said let's do it. And a small part of me acknowledged that it was okay and I deserve it.

    I'm a mother, and I love it. There could be nothing more rewarding in this world.

    But I'm also me, Alysia. Blogger, wannabe runner, wife, and friend.

    And Oh. My. GOD. I'm going to New York City! This is a dream, and it's coming true. I'm so excited!

    I'm not sure how much blogging I'll get done while I'm gone, but I'm estimating none. So I've scheduled a few posts from previous years to be re-published. You probably never read them, or you forgot all about them if you did, so please keep visiting while I'm away. And I'll probably be blowing up Instagram, so if you don't already please follow me there: Michigalmom.

    Finally, if you have any tips for fabulous must do attractions in NYC, preferably free or low cost, please leave me a comment!

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    ENDED Giveaway: Kenny Chesney at Ford Field

    Listen up, country music fans of Metro Detroit, Kenny Chesney is coming to Ford Field on Saturday, August 17 with his No Shoes Nation tour!

    Eric Church, Eli Young Band, and Kacey Musgraves will also be performing along with Mr. Chesney.

    I know there are a lot of fans out there, and you'd love to get your hands on some tickets, right? They start at just $35.50 each, and can be purchased at any Ticketmaster location, online at, or by phone at 800-745-3000.

    Or...MichiGal is giving away TWO TICKETS, valued at $118.15 EACH, to one lucky reader! 

    Yep, that's right...but the concert is coming up pretty quick, so this is going to be a fast turnaround giveaway!

    Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter! Please note this giveaway is for tickets to see Kenny Chesney in DETROIT on Saturday, August 17. Please ONLY ENTER if you are able to make it to the concert at that place, date and time! Good luck!

    This is a sponsored post, BUT I'm giving away my incentive! Yes, these Kenny Chesney tickets should have been MINE, but I am unavailable for the concert so I'm offering them to YOU!

    Want more chances to win tickets? After you enter MichiGal's giveaway, head over to visit some of my Detroit area blogging friends who are also giving away their tickets!

    Mom Among Chaos
    MI Savings Mama

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    ENDED Giveaway: Little Tikes Backyard BBQ - Get Out and Grill

    This is a sponsored post. I received the toy featured in this post in exchange for my honest review.

    I love watching my kids use their imaginations! One common theme in their pretend play is FOOD! Whether it's playing restaurant, tea party, or any other variation they can think of, my kids have a fascination with playing with food. Now they can add a whole new element to their pretend play scenarios with their new Little Tikes Backyard BBQ Get Out and Grill toy! How much fun to have a toy BBQ grill set to add to their collection of food related toys!

    This set is so much fun! It's small enough that it doesn't get in the way in the house, and it's portable. So I can easily carry it from room to room, or even outside to give their "grilling" a more authentic feel! My mom and I put it together in about 30 minutes or so. It wasn't too complicated at all, we just followed the directions and it was all together in no time. We found that we didn't even need a mallet, as the directions indicate.

    The details are what really makes the Little Tikes Get Out and Grill set SO cool! The hot dog and hamburger both come out of their buns, there is a little sink, side burners, buttons to push and twist, and even storage. Included with the set:

    • Burger with bun
    • Hot dog with bun
    • Ketchup bottle
    • Tongs
    • Spatula
    Looking for a toy to spark your child's imagination, something a little different from the traditional play kitchen? The Get Out and Grill set is perfect! Lucy and Mathilda have been having a blast with it!

    Want to win one for your kid? You are in LUCK because MichiGal is giving away a Little Tikes Backyard BBQ Get Out and Grill toy to one lucky reader!

    Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter...easy peasy!

    ENDED Giveaway: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie at Detroit's City Theatre

    I've made it no secret that I am a huge theater fan, and my kids have been subjected to this love of mine from a young age. They've seen all kinds of plays, musicals and non, but children's plays are almost always a good safe bet for an hour or two of captivating entertainment. A play based on a familiar book is even better.

    Adapted from the best selling children's book of the same name, by Laura Joffe Numeroff, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is hitting the stage at Detroit's City Theatre this month, on August 23, 24, and 25.

    This book is one in a series, including other classics If You Take A Mouse to School and If You Give A Pig A Pancake (both also adapted for the stage). They are humorous accounts of a long trail of events that result from doing the one thing stated in the title.

    Tickets for If You Give A Mouse A Cookie are available now, selling for $18 each or $60 for a family four pack. To purchase tickets:

    • Online at
    • At the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, as well as Hockeytown Authentics in Troy - without service fees
    • At all Ticketmaster locations and
    • Charge by phone: (800) 745-3000
    • For group discounts (party of 10 or more), call (313) 471-3099
    The performance schedule is as follows:
    • Friday, August 23: 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 24: 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, August 25: 2:00 p.m.
    In collaboration with Olympia Entertainment, MichiGal is giving away 4 tickets to the Saturday, August 24, 11 a.m. performance of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie at Detroit's City Theatre!

    City Theatre, an intimate 430-seat venue, is located inside Hockeytown Cafe, right next to the Fox Theatre on Woodward Ave.

    Want to win? Use the Rafflecopter form below! Hope to see you there!

    I have been provided with complimentary tickets for my family. Please note that this giveaway is local to Detroit, Michigan. Please only enter if you are able to attend this performance at the City Theatre in Detroit! The date and time of the tickets cannot be changed. Winner's tickets will be available at will-call on the day of the performance.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Sunday, August 4, 2013

    Top 10 Reasons to Host a Foreign Exchange Student

    Hosting our exchange students this summer has been a really great experience! Here are my top 10 reasons why I think you should consider hosting!

    #1 You get to be a hometown tourist, seeing your neighborhood in a whole new light.
    Chances are, you will want to show your student around town, and he or she will be excited to see everything! There are probably some local sights you've been wanting to check out, and having guests from out of the country will give you some extra motivation to finally do it!

    #2 Speaking of motivation, having house guests will encourage you to finish up some projects around the house.
    I'll admit, we didn't get all the projects done that we wanted to get done before our students arrived, but knowing they were coming gave us an extra push to do big cleanings in the kids' bedrooms and to majorly straighten up our upstairs. Because the grown-ups don't hang out upstairs much, that area of the house tends to get left to the back burner. And although my house is trashed now, I did do a heavy duty cleaning before our guests arrived.

    #3 Learn about a different culture.
    Getting to know kids from China has been a fascinating experience. Hearing about life in China is so interesting! Even trying to say words in Mandarin while they laugh is fun! This is the kind of thing it's kind of hard to learn without actually visiting a country, and even if you visit, there's a good chance you won't spend this much quality time with the locals.

    #4 Know you're doing a good deed.
    Consider for a moment what it would be like sending your child thousands of miles from home, away from family, in a country where no one speaks his or her language, and where they do things quite differently. Now think of yourself and your own family. You're good people, right? You know you can be trusted with someone else's child, right? If you take in an exchange student, you know that one student is in good hands. You are doing this kid and his family a huge favor. You would probably hope someone would do the same for you and your child in a similar situation.

    #5 You will want to be on your best behavior.
    Maybe you have a tendency to yell or to easily lose your patience. Maybe you tend to be really grumpy in the morning, or to be a little too critical. Chances are, having one or two extra people in your home will make you think twice before making a snide comment or raising your voice, and will give you that little extra patience you need to make it through a frustrating moment.

    #6 You might gain a friend for life.
    Of course I don't have first-hand experience with this yet, but I certainly hope to maintain communication with Tina and Ken. I've already told them we'd love to have them in our home again if they return to the U.S. Last year I met a family who has hosted numerous foreign exchange students from all over the world, and has kept in touch with most of them. The mom and dad were getting ready to celebrate a milestone anniversary, and some of their former exchange students were traveling to the U.S. for their party! Isn't that inspiring?

    #7 You'll be giving your children an amazing gift.
    So many people go through life thinking very little about anything outside of their own little circles. It's easy to get in a comfortable spot and stay there. But the world is full of different cultures and unique personalities! There is so much to do and see and learn and experience. Having foreign guests their own age will give your kids a new perspective, even if they don't realize it themselves. I would love to show my kids the world, and hopefully someday I can, but right now having exchange students in our home is kind of like bringing the world to us. I don't think this is an experience they will ever forget.

    #8 You will be forced to communicate.
    Unless you're cool with weeks, or even months, of awkward silence, you will be extra motivated to communicate concisely and clearly. I'm sure many foreign exchange students speak excellent English, but if they've never left their home country before or practiced our language outside of the classroom, it's likely that they will stumble a little along the way and that they'll be unsure of themselves at first. You'll have to slow down, speak up, enunciate, think of easy ways to convey your meaning, use hand gestures, write things down, and perhaps enlist the help of a foreign language dictionary or a translator app.

    #9 You will broaden your horizons.
    It will be great for your kids, but don't forget about yourself! After all, the older we get, the more we get stuck in our ways. Creating relationships with children from other countries will also help you to see the world differently, and will give you a better understanding of cultural differences. You will become more open minded. How can you not? In your mind, you might have a view of what it's like in another country, of what the people are like. But when you actually meet someone, invite them into your home, have real conversations, cook for them and do their laundry, suddenly your old impressions are not important. You will instead see the other country as being made up of real people, not so different from yourself and your family.

    #10 It's fun!
    I can only speak from my own experience, and I do know of at least one other person who did not have such a wonderful time with an exchange student (not from our program), so I understand that it's not the same for everyone. But in general, your exchange student is the kind of person who wants to get out in the world and meet new people and experience different cultures. That's why he or she is here! On the other hand, if you're hosting then you're the type of person who is open to new experiences and enjoys learning about other cultures and meeting new people. That's why you're hosting! This is a win-win situation, and with the right attitude the combination spells FUN! It is FUN getting to know someone new. It is FUN watching your kids flourish in a new situation. It is FUN to show someone around and play tour director. It is FUN to laugh over mispronunciations and misunderstandings. It is FUN to introduce others to your culture.

    Hosting exchange students has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. It was on my Life List, and something I have always wanted to do. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and look forward to doing it again. I hope my top 10 list helps encourage you to consider hosting as well.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Shaklee 180™ Monthly Video Update: Month 5

    This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee 180 blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. All opinions are my own.

    People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180 program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

    Have you read my Month 5 update post? If not, go and read it, then come back and watch my monthly video!

    Shaklee 180™ 5 Month Update

    This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support, and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. My opinions are my own.

    People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180  program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

    My fifth month with the Shaklee 180 blogger program is officially over. Just one more month to go! It's amazing how quickly the time has gone!

    I feel like I say this every month, but I have been incredibly busy! Every year I look forward to summer so I can relax, and then it ends up being so filled with fun stuff that it's really not so relaxing after all. That's okay though, I don't mind! The important thing is that I can spend time with my family and give my kids opportunities to do things that they don't get to do during the school year. It also means I have less time to focus on ME. But being in the Shaklee 180  program has at least made it easy for me on the nutritional end, so while I am exhausted and not getting to the gym as often as I'd like, I do feel confident that Shaklee is providing me with the nutrients I need for a healthy diet. Because I am a vegetarian, I feel like this is even more of a concern for me. While including my Shaklee products in my every day diet, I know I am getting plenty of protein! I also know I'm getting a minimum of at least a couple servings of fruits and veggies daily, since I like to mix them in my smoothies.

    I have traveled a few times while on the program, and it's been way easier than I thought. I especially love having the meal bars when I'm on outings with my family. I can pack a picnic for the kids, and toss in a bar and some fruit or cut up veggies for myself - a perfect, healthy lunch!

    It's going to be hard saying good bye to Shaklee at the end of next month! I will have to make more of an effort to make sure I'm eating healthy without the ease of my Shaklee products! But being in this program has made me more aware of what I'm eating, and made me pay attention to healthy eating habits probably more than I ever have before. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to focus on myself a bit - even when time is in short supply!

    Be sure to check out my monthly video post as well, and come back next month for my final update!