Tag Archives: Meijer Gardens

Oh It’s ON!

Summer, I mean. And the air conditioning; for a few days anyway until some Canadian air mass blows in and cools things off.  I tell you what, being in Michigan is hard work. We are constantly assaulted, if it’s not Canadian air, it’s Asian Carp by way of Chicago.  Good thing we can still get together and celebrate our Michigan-ness.  Have you read the comments and posts (you have to click on that “McLinky” thing)? Wonderful stuff!

The kids and ended up making Michigan pancakes instead of cookies. 

And also, a lizard.

My husband is from Arizona, and since I don’t have an Arizona cookie cutter he made a lizard in that state’s honor.  He’s very fair-minded, that A.P.  Although, thinking back – how hard would it have been to free-hand the shape of Arizona?

Well, I’ll let a blogger from that state answer such pressing questions.  On to weekend fun.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, of course.  Here are my picks for where frugal, family-friendly, and interesting intersect:

  • May 31 11:00 AM and 1:30 PM Coopersville Rail Road Troop Train – Free for vets, everyone else over 2 years old is $7.50 (it’s usually $10.50).
  • Various parades around town as compiled by GR Now.
  • Farmers’ Markets are starting to pick up a bit; use this listing from the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council  to find one near you.
  • If you have a Grand Rapid Children’s Museum or a Meijer Gardens membership, this is the last week for the cultural exchange between the two.  We went to the GRCM last week on a sunny afternoon and it turned out to be accidental genius.  No one else was there. 
  • It’s also the last week for the Big, Big, BUGS! exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. We liked the exhibit, but not the planetarium show.
  • Check out a Whitecaps Baseball game (but be sure and read my tips here first to see if you can save on tickets!).
  • Relax.  This is it before open houses, weddings, camps, and the hectic lives we lead in the summer making sure we enjoy every minute.

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Filed under Things to do Thursday

Things To Do

It’s a little early for the “Things to Do” post, but there are two contests for Playhouse Disney Live tickets to Saturday’s show and I wanted to give you all a fighting chance.  Head over to GR Kids and  Stacey Says to find out more and to enter.  Good luck!

The Zoo reopened Monday after a winter and budget induced three month closing, but there is a Grand Re-Opening Bash on Saturday.  Personally, I’m going to wait until the weather is a little warmer.  I know what you’re going to say. The animals are more active when it’s cold.  Here’s the problem with that:  I’m more cold when it’s cold.

The Home And Garden Show runs all weekend and while it isn’t exactly a kid’s event but they have a lot of kid-specific activities planned this year. I’m glad to hear that, because last year there were some professional sand castle builders who were very intense and serious about their craft, and a mob of kids who wanted to play in the sand and it got kind of ugly. There is nothing worse than getting the stink eye from a Sand Castle Builder.

The Grand Rapids Symphony presents Ferdinand the Bull Saturday.  If you can’t go to one of the school performances, this is worth going on the weekend.  It’s a fantastic book and your kids will love it.

Blandford Nature Center’s Sugarbush is back.  This is a fantastic and unique learning opportunity you will be hearing more about from me next week.  I love me some maple syrup and need an entire post dedicated to it’s harvest.

On Sunday,  a warmer, free-er event is happening at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.  The Target Free Sunday series wraps up.  Get it while it lasts, folks.

Meijer Gardens brought back its butterflies.  Personally, they freak me out but I go every year. For the children.  We have a membership, but you can win tickets from GR Now too (hurry and enter by Wednesday!)  Or, check out the Circulating Membership for a free pass from the Grand Rapids Public Library.


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Filed under Things to do Thursday

Things To Do Thursday

Anything fun planned for the weekend? I am trying to pick between a few goodies.  I thought February was supposed to be boring!

  • At Breton Village Mall, the Cabin Fever Reliever is Saturday from 10:30-12.  Joel Tanis (from Come On Over!) will be there, as well as a ‘group art project’, musical activities, and reading games.
  • If you were thinking more outside-ish stuff, there is a Winter Family Day at Meijer Gardens on Saturday from 1-3.  They always put on a good event, but I know it’s one of the pricier places if  you don’t have a membership, maybe you could check out a membership from the Grand Rapids Public Library for the day.
  • Also on Saturday from 11-3 is the 8th Annual (I think I’ve been to almost every one of them!) GRCC Family Matters Event.  It gets bigger and better every year.  It’s swag city for kids, seriously take a bag for all the little goodies they will get.  It’s free, but there is a $3 charge for parking.

The “Planning Meeting” for the my husband’s annual Insane Bike Ride To the Mackinaw Bridge is Saturday at my house, so I need to spend a few minutes figuring out what to feed a flock? gaggle? pelleton? – whatever you call a group of crazy bikers – for dinner.

We have been keeping Sundays pretty low key for a few months and are really seeing the value of a day of rest.  We’re going to a Griffins game on Sunday though – one of those nice afternoon matinees.  GO GRIFFINS! By the way, my kids think Finn is Griff’s wife.  They also think Robin is Batman’s wife, so we have some clarifications to make.  Anyway…the library is good to us… see if you can check out tickets from Grand Rapids Public, or show your Grand Rapids Public Library or Kent District Library Card at the box office on to get a lower bowl ticket for $10.

Another good reason to forgo your rest is Taste of Soul Sunday, a celebration of African American Culture at the main library downtown. For more weekend ideas, check out GR Kids and GR Now.


Filed under Things I Love Thursday

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

American Pie For Kids

I decided it was time for another ‘lesson’ in our Country Day Home school.  Seeing as it is fall in Michigan, I would be a fool to pass up all of the autumn-related activities around. Actually, it’s probably stuff we would do anyway, but I’m going to hunt around for a few coloring pages and call it a lesson plan 🙂  

This weekend we hit my favorite orchard, Schwallier’s.  It’s always a little bittersweet for me because it reminds me of the good old days when 3inunder3 lived here.  This is a kind of mid-sized orchard as far as activities go.  It’s not overwhelming, but there is a corn silo sand box (except it’s dried corn), a big slide, animals to pet and feed, a fake cow to milk and the Cow Train. 

That’s the best.  It’s made of old barrels flipped on their sides with wheels added and the top cut out.  It’s then painted to look like a cow.  There is a seat in each ‘car’ and they’re chained together, then pulled by a little tractor.  The farm dog runs along side on every trip, and the kids came back screaming with laughter.  I bought them each a ticket ($2), but will pass along the info I myself got too late that if your kids share a cow, they only need one ticket for both of them.  

Tonight we took the apples from our orchard outing and made an apple pie.  I don’t do pie crusts, so I just sliced the apples, let the kids add the rest of the ingredients (I consulted Betty Crocker), rolled out the freshly thawed crust, and let them dump it all together.  I just took the pie out of the oven and it smells wonderful. The kids went to bed before it was done baking, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it tastes. 

I think I did something kind of stupid though.  I love to cook, and I try and teach my kids cooking terms.  A.P. asked me why the apples were getting soft when we let them sit with the other ingredients, and I told him they were macerating.  Have you ever heard a 5 year old with a speech dis fluency say ‘macerating’?  I am just waiting for a call from his teacher on that one.

I realized that my lesson plans had left out dramatic play.  At this point it is probably painfully obvious that I have never even stumbled into an education class in my life. Good thing I don’t home-school for real.  Fortunately, my kids saved the day with this one.  They put on a play in the bathtub (after all that messy maceration).  They used washcloths which the kids can slip their hands into that look like a dog and a bunny that  Grandma Nonnie gave them for Christmas last year.  This is the first time they have become puppets.

I had to shut my eyes while they ‘got ready’; which involved pulling the shower curtain shut and crouching down below the edge of the tub.  I took my front row seat and watched a brilliant play in which the puppets ‘Lover’ (the bunny) and ‘Lover Bunny’ (the dog) went to an orchard and picked apples.  It turns out that Lover and Lover Bunny were husband and wife.  Then the husband died, so the wife found another husband.  Then they all died.  Then they lived happily ever after. The puppeteers then engaged in a very long ‘bowing’ ceremony which took longer than the actual play.  

This lesson plan continues, so stay tuned for a few more activities we have lined up for the next week (or so) here at Country Day Homeschool!


Filed under Country Day Homeschool

Win Tickets to Meijer Gardens!!

GR Now is giving away a family four pack of tickets to see the Butterflies Are Blooming Exhibit at Meijer Gardens!! Here is the link; winner is drawn tomorrow so hurry and enter. Good luck!

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Tasty Tuesday

The kids and I took a trip to Meijer Gardens to visit the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit.  Before I get started, let me just get one thing out of the way:


As a kid, one of my favorite books was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.  Some of you might think my feelings about butterflies would prevent me from liking this story but it doesn’t.  I think this is one of the most mis-interpreted books in children’s literatue.  The moral of the story has nothing to do with becoming your beautiful self, nor is it a nature lesson.  Quite simply, the point is that you should, if desired, eat like a total pig because you will feel better the next day. Then you should take a long nap.  Words to live by.

Anyway, back to the Gardens.  It was a big deal that I went, because I am going to have to take some Benadryl just to get rid of the hives after I finish writing this.  To me, butterflies are not beautiful.  They are flying worms with big, freaky wings that look like giant eyeballs.  They evoke in me the same reaction most people have to bats.  Think of a bat flying right up to you and people giving you dirty looks for swatting at it, then telling you to stay still so it can land on you. Insane.

My kids loved the butterflies.  We actually got to see some hatch (which I thought was disgusting, by the way but that’s just me) and dry off their wings.  And my love for my kids allowed me to overcome my fear, as I was able to coach A.P. into getting a butterfly to land on his finger. I wanted to squish that nasty thing off of my beloved firstborn’s hand more than you can even imagine, but he was so excited I couldn’t do it.  The kids had an absolute blast, and for that reason I am so glad we went.

From there we went over to the Kent ISD complex.  It’s pretty much across the street.  Here are directions. That is the home of the Kent Career Technical Center, which is a pretty neat place.  They teach high school kids some very useful trades such as health, banking, food service, cosmetolegy, and several more.  Naturally, practice makes perfect so they have a Culinary Cafe that is open for lunch, as well as a Bakery. 

The bakery has very tasty, and very inexpensive items. They are all fresh and delicious; a loaf of fresh bakery bread for $0.50?? Get out of here! A bag of cloverleaf rolls for $0.75? Seriously.  Good stuff. What is available on a daily basis varies, but they will do special orders.

There is a sit down restaurant in the Culinary Cafe but it was not open when we were there.  There is also a cafeteria that serves food al a carte.  This is crazy cheap and really good.  We got two servings of home made mac & cheese, a huge piece of pizza – like a quarter of a pizza, and the biggest, fanciest twice-baked potato I have ever seen for $6.50.  Total. We were stuffed and had leftovers.  Call ahead of time about the Cafe hours to make sure they will be open when you get there.

KCTC has some other public services available too, here is a link with that information.  Enjoy!


Filed under Tasty Tuesday