Category Archives: Feature Friday

An ongoing event, activity or location is featured.

Forget peanuts and Cracker Jacks, just get me a 5/3 Burger

Gleek RetreatI am looking outside at this rainy day and feeling both sorry AND thankful for my husband. I wanted to go to Gleek Retreat, a blogging conference. Big Binder has been around for a few years, but I have only recently wanted to learn how to do a few cool and snazzy things I see on other blogs.  I also want to meet other bloggers, and then drive them crazy asking questions about how they do cool and snazzy things.

I bring you frugal kid stuff for a reason; I have to live frugally, or work full time.  I am not just trying to save a few bucks here or there; I don’t have the money to spend. So although Gleek Retreat was exactly what I wanted, we weren’t sure if we could afford it. Less than a week later, my husband sold one of his bikes (this brings him down to four…) and gave me the money so I could “go do that blog thing”.

I am so thankful.

In a cruel, ironic twist, I don’t have a lot to suggest for him to do with the kids this weekend while I’m gone. He could either head over to Grand Haven for the Great Lakes Kite Festival, or to Lowell for Trolls & Treats for Kids.  I was hoping that there would be a Whitecaps baseball game, but no such luck. We’ll have to wait and go as a family.

That’s fine, because as usual, I have found some less expensive ways to enjoy the game. 

  • If you act quickly, you can get two free lawn seats when you donate a baseball glove.  Drop off sites at 5/3 Bank, other drop off sites, and more information is here.
  •  Monday games are the JQ99 All Faiths Night, and you can get 1/2 off box or reserved seats when you show a church or community bulletin. 
  • Tuesdays are Bob Evans Senior Night.  The games start at 4:45, so you have enough time for supper first. Just kidding…  The actual promotion is that people 50 years or over get half off box or reserved seats. 
  • If you are not 50, but you eat Kraft Cheese Singles, you can bring the wrapper in for a buy one get one free ticket on Tuesdays.
  • If you are a Priority Health member, show your card on Wednesday for $2 off reserved seats. 
  • A fantastic opportunity to see the ‘Caps at a discounted rate is brought to you June 26 by the awesome Great Start Parent CoalitionYou get a ticket, plus a pop and hotdog for $4.50!!  You have to get your tickets through Great Start ahead of time.
  • July 6 is Kids Day.  The tickets are all the same prices, but there will be extra kid-stuff going on.  Hopefully, there will be some beer specials that day too.

Here is some other information that may enhance your Whitecaps experience:

  1. You have to have cash to pay for parking. The Parking Lot Guy With The Orange Vest is wrong. You don’t have to go into the park, use the ATM, then exit the park and walk all over the parking lot find PLGWTOV who has since moved, and give him the money.  You can just go to the Customer Service desk inside the stadium.  You’re welcome.
  2. Those light-saber things are $5 and they work as an amazing discipline tool when you promise to buy one next time if your child earns enough money between now and then by doing chores.  My compost is taken out to the pile daily, and the returnable bottles and cans are bagged up, all for a very low rate.
  3. If you go on a Saturday, stay for the fireworks.  They do not start “immediately after the game”  though. It’s a good 20 minutes, so just be prepared to Walk Like a Dinosaur. Boom boom, acka lacka lacka lacka boom.

There are a lot of promotions (bobbleheads and stuff) too, so check the Whitecaps Promo link to make sure you go on a day that something fun is being given away. There are several other discounts, but most of them are on food.  Sadly, none are for the 5/3 Burger which made national news last year due to it’s – disgustingness. 

Unfortunately, my husband is still determined to eat one.  And after his generosity and understanding about Gleek Retreat, I’ll be happy to let him.  I will just make sure to pack the Rolaids.

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Filed under Feature Friday, Summer In The City

Family Film Festival!

It used to be called the “Dove Family Film Festival“. After a few years, a baseball-hat high-top tennis shoe wearing piece of popcorn called Flick came in and strong-armed the whole enterprise.  There was a fierce battle; a fight for the right to entertain kids and sell them snacks.  Defeated, the Dove finally lifted its battered wing like a white flag of surrender.  “Take good care of them, Flick.  They’re yours now“. 

I have no idea what actually happened. I’m sure it was not nearly as interesting as my version.  Some Memorandums of Understanding were signed, contracts were negotiated, and other boring boardroom stuff is probably what went down. What I do know is that if this film festival was a person, it would have a restraining order against me because I stalk it. 

For the uninitiated; it’s a nice opportunity for you to see a movie with your kids for $3.50 (everyone under 12 is free) in the theater right before it hits the rental market. It’s a sweet deal. I must know what movie is playing when and schedule accordingly.  So here you go, Big Binder readers.  You (probably) heard it here first.  They are all rated PG.

  • Planet 51 March 12-18
  • Astro Boy March 18-25
  • Where the Wild Things Are March 26-April 1
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks – the Squeakuel April 2-8
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – April 9-15
  • The Spy Next Door – April 16-22

More information is on the Celebration Cinema website.  And I’m totally not saying you are, but if you were the kind of person that sneaks candy into movies and robs the theater of their rights to sell you their smaller, more expensive concession stand candy you might want to check out SnakSnak.  I cannot get enough of this website.  They review snacks.  I love snacks.  And cheap movies.  And epic battles.  So much goodness in the world; I just had to share.


Filed under Breaking News, Feature Friday

Really Quick Weekend Round-Up

OK here we go!! Heading in the the last week of school and gearing up for summer.  It is a huge struggle for me to keep from scheduling something to do every day during the summer.  I see a blank page in my planner and I cannot stand it.  I’m trying – but there is so much stuff going on and I don’t want to miss anything. 

In fact, I couldn’t even get everything over to the calendar in time for this weekend! Here are a few additions you might want to know about:

  • Pooh’s Corner Super Saturday Storytime at 10:30 Saturday.  Enjoy a morning with Dog and Bear: the gentle unlikely friends created by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Hear the stories, have fun with the activities, and experience the adventures including a personal visit from the delightful pair themselves.
  • Michael’s creative sidewalk chalk demonstration, 10:00-1:00 Saturday.  Cool!
  • Patricia Pollacio will be at Literary Life Bookstore  Saturday at 11:00 am.  She’s famous – this is a big deal!
  • This is for the grown-ups; not the kids but I am bursting with pride that the movie “Food, Inc”is actually debuting in West Michigan!  Step aside, LA and NYC.  We likes to eat and we likes to watch movies.  Check it out at the Muskegon Film Festival – more info from G-Sync.

Check the calendar (on the sidebar now instead of up top) for info about “Dog Day In the Park” and free admission to state parks this weekend also.


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Hello muddah, hello faddah

Today was the first day that smelled like summer to me.  It was awesome. I am ready! Ready for summer, and ready for school to be over. We have had a wonderful first year at A.P.’s school, and a not so wonderful year at Maybelle’s school.  Earlier this week, I had her conferences.  Her teacher (I am using that term loosely) said that she is “no trouble.  She doesn’t cling to me, or start fights.  I hardly know she’s there”.  Those of you who have met Maybelle will know that the other kids must be pretty clingy/fight-clubby, because it’s tough not to know this girl is in the house.

Then her teacher asked me if I knew Maybelle was left-handed? No kidding?  I never noticed.  Huh! You’d think in three and a half years I’d pick up on that. Good thing you told me! Her 20 year old accounting- major babysitter gives us more insight than that.

Anyway. I’m sure you have already started planning the summer.  If you need to fill in some dates with camps, I have a bunch for you.  And I mean a bunch…

The first one is the Grandville Great Beginnings camp.  It’s free, but Grandville residents have first dibs.  Registration for G’ville homeys starts May 11, and for everyone else it is May 18th.  The phone number is 254-6553.  Here’s the scoop:

All families with children ages birth through five years old and their parents are invited to attend this fun four day family camp. This great way to introduce your child to the wonder of learning in a school environment with age appropriate activities and experiences. Sharing activities with your child will help them develop the pre-reading and pre-writing skills needed to succeed in school. Limit of 25 students for this camp. Central Elementary – 4052 Prairie S.W. June 15 – June 18 – Monday – Thursday, 10:00 am – 11:30 am

The Humane Society of Kent County has some programs too.  Call for more information 791-8066 and ask for Jennifer.

  • Camp Kids and Paws -June 22-26.  Morning session is for ages 5-7 and afternoon session is for ages 8-10.  $70 per child, additional siblings receive  $10 off . 
  • Animal Care Experience Camp July 6-10 for ages 6-8 and August 3-7 for ages 9-11, AM and PM sessions; Cost per child: $70 per week for a half day or $120 per week for a full day.  Additional siblings: $10 off.

Forest Hills Community Enrichment has a Summer Youth Academy with several different classes. 

The next one is the John Ball Zoo camps, and they are filling up FAST.  Here is a link; it shows what sessions are already full and what is still available.

Catholic Central has a Cheerleading Mini-Camp.  Call 534-2108, ask for Sue June 9–11, 8:30 – 11:30am for preschool through 8th grade. Cost is $50.

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts has some programs for younger kids including: 

  • Smart and Sustainable July 20-24 Kids 5-8; 
  • 3D Thinkin’ with a Re-Purpose Kids 5-8

Byron Township Enrichment Programs for Youth offers several different classes. 

Canterbury Creek Farm Summer Preschool Program is a  5 week summer program for 3-5 yr olds.

Frederick Meijer Gardens is offering 30 camps for children ages 4-14 this summer.

The programs for older kids have a fee, but The West Michigan Academy of Environmental Sciences has a fun, free program called “Nature’s Way Preschool” that is fantastic.  Here is a link with the dates and more info.

Calvin College has several different camps. 

Gymco Sports has a few different summer classes and camps.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum  has “Camp Curiosity” going on this year.

Grand Rapids Art Museum is offering:

  • Art-tastic Adventures July 13 – 17 (5 – 7 yrs)
  • Art to the Future July 27 – 31 (5 – 7 yrs)

Cook Arts Center Summer Camps  offers Mini Arts Camp June 22 – July 30 M-TH 1-3pm 6 -16 years. It’s free to kids in their target area (south of Wealthy, north of Burton, west of Century and east of Godfrey/Clyde Park).

Most residential camps are for older kids, but if you are looking for those programs here are some more sites to investigate:

American Camping Association (ACA) Michigan Section of Accredited Camps has a list of accredited camps on the website.

Search for camps in the West Michigan area on this website

Here is Grand Rapids Family Magazine’s camp guide.


Filed under Feature Friday

Ride To Read

OH WHAT A WEEK!!! It has been a really interesting TV-less journey.  I didn’t really anticipate how hard it would be to ‘get anything done’ without my video babysitter.  I think I got more out of this week than my kids did though.  Big newsflash for me:  my job is to parent my kids, not chit chat and look up everything that interests me (this is a pretty high volume) online that second

My house was a little messy, and my volunteer and blogging ‘duties’ suffered but you know what? It was the way it should be.  We read a million books, and – this is going to sound a smidge mushy – but I feel like I reconnected with my kids a little.  They are amazing and funny and creative and I don’t know if the TV kills that, or if it just decreases my opportunities to see it.

Enough about me.  Here is a little tasty tidbit for you about two of my favorites:  the library and the Rapid.  At a meeting last week, I was reminded about the Rapid’s Ride to Read program.  It provides free round trip bus passes to any of the Grand Rapids Public Library locations! You just have to ask at the desk, and they give you your ticket. 

I tried it out myself last week, and it’s easy and works just fine.  The librarian said you can request tickets once every 7 days.  My kids LOVE riding the bus, and with the construction downtown I appreciate not having to park.  Here is some more information if you’re interested.

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What to do this weekend?

Any plans for the weekend? We’re chillaxin’ with some movies tonight and saying our final goodbyes to Couchy Jones, Beloved Fish.  He passed away last night, apparently early in the evening because the whole house was stunk up pretty good this morning.

The on Saturday, my husband has a 6:00 AM, two hour long spin classbecause he is a nut job. Meijer is having a “Dr Seuss Birthday Event” from 11-2, with half price Dr. Seuss books (most of them are $8.99, I checked already), free stickers, coloring books, and activities. Then a little later, we will be helping out with the “Strong Fathers” event at the downtown YMCA.

Also this weekend is the Downtown Winter Rail Jam Festival at the BOB.  This is right up our alley – food, music, and a huge 30 foot snow pile covered ramp for us to watch people of all abilities master or splatter all over it.  Check out this website for more information.

Have a great weekend, hope we see you around!

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It’s Dino MITE

I am ready for the righteous Dinosaurs Exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum that opens this weekend. But… my husband is unemployed (yep, again) and it’s totally cramping our style.  That’s all right though – I am full of jive talk and hip to all the stuff in town  that won’t cost a c-note. You dig? Good. Imbibe in my scribe. Let me lay it on you.

Get the party started by heading over to Grand Rapids Christian High School for the free parenting conference, Celebrating the Family“.  More details in Big Binder’s calendar and here is a link to the brochure.  It’s from 8:15 to 12:15 am.

Swing home, grab your kids, and head down to GRCC for the Family Matters event.  The Ford Fieldhouse will be filled with all the stuff kids dig – inflatables, balloon artists, and tables full of candy for them to swipe while you rap with the folks frontin’ for their fine organizations. 

When you’re done there, cruise over to Schuler Books on 28th Street to see that Paleo Joe character at 3:00.  He’ll also be at the Museum , but see him here for free.  If you have some extra cash in your pocket, get a few of his Dinosaur Detective Club books.  If you’re like me, check them out from the library.  

If you’re too pooped on Saturday, wait until Sunday. The same program will be at the Alpine location at the same time. Also on Sunday is the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Taste of Soul Sunday, with a full day of food, stories, and activities.  It’s going to be out of this world, man.

Mellow out on Monday, then remember IHOP’s Free Pancake Day on Tuesday (a link with more info is on the Calendar).  If you just can’t sit still, you can check out the Dinosaur Romp at the Grandville Library at 6:30 PM. Don’t worry though, that program is going to be at several different KDL locations over the next several weeks. 

If you can’t afford the Dinosaurs Exhibit admission be patient.  You can get free admission to the museum on Mondays if you’re a Grand Rapids resident. You’ll still have to pay $2.00 for the exhibit.  If you wait until March 10th and you have a Kindergartner in Grand Rapids Public Schools, you are invited to “Kindergarten Here I Come” at the museum.  Here is another link. Hang in there for more details; I’m not sure if admission to the dino exhibit is free or not yet.

Hope all you cool cats have a good weekend. You got the haps in G-Raps, now don’t be a square!


Filed under Feature Friday