Category Archives: Family Adventures

Wii Bowling

Hubby and I had the parents over for dinner tonight.  The kids adore their grandparents as much as any two kids could.  So having them over to dinner is an adventure because the whole time we hear, Grandma sit by me, no Grandma sit by me, Grandma watch me, Grandma lets play bear (I am not sure what this new game is.. maybe a cross between hide and seek and hunting), Grandma push me on the swing, Grandma come in my bedroom to play, Grandma, Grandma, Grandma.  Poor Grandma does not get much time to have a conversation with hubby and I until kids go to bed.

So tonight after we washed their dirty feet, hands, and knees, had a bed time snack, played a board game, and Grandma read stories we had a chance to do what all adults do when kids go to bed…  Wii bowl!

Grandma and Grandpa have not played Wii before and it was fun to teach them and play a game of bowling with them.  Now next time when Grandma comes over it will be, Grandma… Wii bowl with us.  Have fun Grandma! 

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Cracker Barrel

train.jpgSo hubby is working 2nds this week so I decided to take a night off of cooking another box of macaroni and cheese.  I have a craving, sue me I am pregnant :), for Cracker Barrel.  Hubby pretty much hates the place, he says because he does not like the food but I know really it is because they don’t serve beer.

So I got home a little late from work and off we went.  J of course wants to know what Caker Barrel is and wants Chinese instead.  Can you say heartburn?  I have been waking up dying from it each night and end up sleeping sitting up in bed for the past two nights.  So sorry, pregnant mommy wins.  As we drive the boys have to have a competition to see who can see the most Christmas lights.  Why is it with each holiday my kids get fixated with one or more houses with holiday decorations and then beg, cry and carry on for me to drive by them each day.  I am sure a few of our neighbors think we are stalkers.

We finally make it.  J is shocked to see that it is right next to Burp in Burger – did you know that is Steak and Shakes other name?  I had no idea until my kids told me.  J accuses me of driving in circles because we had already passed one on the way.  I love 5 year olds! 

Before they even get in the door they notice that this is not your typical restaurant and see candy through the windows.   Z wants candy and J wants a souvenir.  Wow, we have not even opened the door yet.  I forgot to remind them – DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING, but it is too late.  They are in 7th heaven and beeline for the candy section.  Oh boy, this is going to be fun.  And I thought I only came for the roast beef.  We finally get seated, and then the fighting over that triangle game they have on the tables begins.  They both have to have one and then they are upset that each of theirs is missing a peg.  I try to explain it is supposed to which is lost on Z but J kind of gets when I attempt to show him how to play.  We order, they refuse to eat and I try to enjoy my roast beef.  I realize they would have rather had my meal over a baked bun cheeseburger and heaven forbid macaroni with specks of pepper.  Oh well, at least hubby is not here to complain about his $7 thrown in the garbage.  He, he, he, he.

So we leave but once again have to go through the well placed gift area.  We walk out with 2 pez dispensers, a Christmas bingo game (on sale), and it must be the hormones – a really cool fiber optic gingerbread train that I am so in love with and the kids love too.  It too was on sale.  I think I may have to go back and get the other pieces that match because I really like it (the photo does not do it justice).  Ah, just what I planned, a $60 trip to Cracker Barrel.

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I love the Fair!

What else says summer in Michigan like a good ole’ county fair?  Last year we had a chance to visit a couple but due to timing we were only able to visit one this year but I think this one was pretty good.  Hudsonville Community Fair is the one I am speaking of.  We wanted to go all week but do to weather and other plans we did not get a chance to go until Sat. 

Let me tell you I thought Sat. would be crazy busy especially with all the rain we had had and this being one of the first nice day but we arrived at the right time, 12:45pm.  We visited the barns first and we could hardly get Z out of the rabbit barn since every bunny reminded him of his beloved Some Bunny Loves Me stuff bunny.  After we dragged the boys out of the barns we headed over for face painting.  For a $1 each my children doned snake and rabbit paintings for the duration of our Fair adventure.  What a great deal and the painting was pretty good.  I for one am always impressed with anyone that can paint something other than a wall.

We headed off to the rides next.  For $20 we were able to let the kids go wild on the kiddie rollercoaster, horse merri-go-round, Super Fast Fun Slides, Dumbo flying ride, mini truck ride and back again to the roller coaster.  It would have cost us a little more but two times during our trip people stopped us and gave us their leftover tickets.  People at the Fair are so nice!

In between riding rides we ate some Fair food.  What is better for you than fair food!  Corn dogs, soft pretzels, fries, pizza, hot dogs and 3 snow cones all for $35, what a deal.  Can you read the sarcasim??? 

 On top of crazy prized fair food, which I think I might be able to get cheaper food at the Van Andel Arena during a Disney on Ice production, our darling children roped us into playing games where everyone is a winner!  For $2 each of our little ones rocked at the fishing game winning them a stuffed fish worth about .02 and then proceded to beg to play again and then beg to play every other game they saw.  I just shook my head and wished they could understand that this game area was just there to suck any extra ride tickets out of my pocket book.  I equate the Fair game area to the candy display at the check out aisle at any supermarket.

 All in all we had a great time and left the Fair minus $60 and without any screaming.  What a great way to spend a Saturday!  Hudsonville Fair, A++ for family friendly good time!!!

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Craig’s Cruisers

Z’s 3rd birthday is Sat. and we took him out this week to a place of his choice.  This year he wanted to go to Craig’s Cruisers.  Being only 3 I tried to talk him into Chuck E Cheese but our early summer visit to Craig’s Cruisers made too much of an impact.  So we decided to go on Wristband Wed. Night and risk the weeknight crowd vs. the weekenders.  We arrived around 5:30 and planned on staying for dinner at the buffet.  We planned on buying the $20 wristbands that let the kids ride everything all night but then decided on the cheaper $11.99 2 ride and buffet deal.  Z was free so we only has to pay for 3, what a great deal.  Grandpa & Grandma joined us for bumber boats, go karts, and many games.  J found his new favorite game to play, skee-ball , my favorite from way back too.  Z especially enjoyed riding in the go cart with Grandpa.

We hit the buffet which was surprisingly good.  Mostly pizza and pasta with a salad and dessert bar.  Lots of kid friendly food and ice cream to boot.  I think we hit the dinner jackpot.  We got to choose from three different type self seating rooms, Sports Room that were broadcasting the baseball game, a Kid Room showing Sword in the Stone on three large screens and then an open seating area too.  We of course sat in the Kids Zone and watched Sword in the Stone which suprisingly held both of their attention.  Bonus, I found myself some apple pie to die for and a side of vanilla ice cream which was the perfect way to end my day! 

We headed back for a few more games before calling it a night.  A man came up to R and handed us 200 tickets and said he and his kids just like to play but they were too old for the prizes.  It was so nice of him.  Those tickets along with all the ones the kids and hubby won earned Z a much coveted Buzz Lightyear pencil bag for a mere 400 tickets (rip off but he’s happy) and J a prize too.

It was a fun night all the way around.  I give Craig’s Cruisers an A+ for family friendly entertainment and food for kids.

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Camping at St. Ignace

We went camping over this past weekend to the Straits State Park Campground.  Although I am just getting started on the whole state park camping thing I am going to try and rate the campgrounds we visit on the 1-5 scale.  1 being horrible and 5 being the best based on their family friendliness.

One thing I will point out that this is not a short trek from my home town of Grand Rapids.  Now this is not like driving across country to visit the Grand Canyon but with two toddler age children in tow it sometimes seems just as long.  Thank goodness for car DVD players.  So like I was writing, the trip is about 4-5 hours long and ends just over the bridge.  I probably won’t return for at least a few year based on the trek alone.  The trek gets a 1.

The Straits campground did promise a private beach on the straits of Michigan but the beach was covered in mostly rock with sand and some beach grass here and there.  Not suitable for swimming for adults or small children but it does offer an amazing view of the Mackinaw bridge.  I give the beach area a 1 swimming and recreation for kids but 4 for site seeing of the bridge during the day and at night.

Our site was not near a playground and I think when we drove by it at one point it was pretty outdated.  With small children it is nice to have some area for kids to play.  My kids did amuse themselves with rock throwing, leaf pulling, and stick finding and fighting.  There were lots of no’s from adults, too many for a relaxing time at a campground.  Based on this I would give the play factor for kids a 1.    

The bathrooms have not been updated yet.  The State of Michigan is supposed to be working on the bathrooms at all state campgrounds but perhaps they have not yet made it across the bridge.  I think the men’s bathroom must have been worse then the women’s as my hubby claimed it was pretty gross and in his profession he has seen some pretty gross bathrooms.  The women’s bathroom was nothing spectacular but clean.  The faucets do not stay on but for a second and it was pretty hot during the day.  The showers were overcrowded and I think I finally snuck one in around 1am.  It was roomy and hot water but clothes did not have a chance at staying dry due to lack of hooks or areas to hang clothing.  The showers get a 3.5 and the bathrooms a 2 based on hubby’s review.

We spent a day at the Lake Michigan beaches on US2 and that was great.  Clear, sandy and perfect swimming temperature for the kids and even adults to swim.  I would not suggest going to stop at the National Forest recreation site because you have to pay another $6 per day to be there and then the trek to the beach is quite far down a sand dune.  Not bad going down but being 3 months pregnant or not it is not a fun hike coming up.  You are better off parking on the side of the road on US2 and just walking a few feet to the unowned beach all along the road.  Beaches on Lake Michigan on US2 gets a 5.

We also visited a small zoo on US2 The Garlyn Zoo.  The zoo is made up of mostly Michigan animals like deer, bear, otter, buffalo, alligators & lemurs?  Ok, so not all the animals are from Michigan but it was a fun way to spend an hour.  We even got a group discount for having a party of greater than 6 for $32.  Pretty good deal.  We also got a chance to talk with the owner and learn about the zoo and its animals.  I give this little zoo a 4.

We spent Saturday evening in downtown Mackinaw City.  It was pretty busy but we found a spot to park on the main tourist street.  Finding food was another matter.  We wanted a sit down meal and something that sounded good to 7 people, well at least the adults.  We wanted to go to one of the newer restraunts but it was over an hour wait and for 3 hungry kids this was not going to cut it.  We ended up at the Pancake Chef.  It was part buffet and part restraunt, a past memory of the Sweden House came rushing to mind.  The food was large portions but not so great.  I had the reuben sandwich, hubby had the hot turkey sandwich which I should have ordered, J had spaghetti that hubby said was not great, and their taco salad our friends had was nothing I had ever seen.  Well it was food and we left stuffed.  Too stuffed for homemade waffle cones and ice cream but no one can leave without some fudge.  I found a new favorite flavor, Raspberry Truffle.  It is amazing!!!!  So Pancake Chef 2 and fudge 5.

So to leave my readers with a funny story I will share how my evening ended after my 1 am shower.  I heard something getting into our stuff outside the camper after hubby and I turned it for the night.  I thought for sure it was getting into something I left out.  Finally after some coaxing hubby and I went outside to get the lantern to find our potential theif.  We had forgotten to bring flashlights.  Note to self, always bring flashlights, especially in the UP.  So we light the lantern and hubby has marshmallow cooker in hand, my hero.  We find nothing.  So back inside we go and wait.  Then we hear it on top of the camper.  Now I am freaking out.  It seems to be moving all over the top.  Then I hear scratching right along side where we are sleeping.  I now that I am not going to get a good nights sleep.  It finally went away or I passed out from exhaustion.  In the morning it thunder stormed and we had to pack up and get going.  While putting the camper down out came flying a bat!  At me no less.  So the mystery creature in the night was a bat trying to make a home under the top part of the camper.  The bat did not leave willingly.  It flew around and around looking to get back in its new cozy home.  As I looked around many bats heard this bats cries and came from their home to investigate and landed on many other of the campers around the campground.  I rate the bats a 1. 

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Technology isn’t always a Plus

jumpercables.jpgSo it was Saturday morning and my hubby was off working so I tried to do a few things around the house and hang out with the kids at the same time.  Well it was one of those mornings that those two things don’t mix and my kids were not mixing either.  They were getting on my nerves and I am sure my yelling was not scoring points with them either.  So my hubby gets home a little after the lunch hour and I am ready to run out the door.  There is a photo album I am sure that needs bought somewhere for my organizing fit I was in at the moment.  So I head out the door, even offering the bring a child with me until he asks if he can buy something.  Seriously???

So I am in our new car and there hang my keys in the ignition.  So I turn them, or at least I try but the crazy thing is that it does not budge.  I think ok, it’s not in park…  Nope.  Ok, now what?  I try to get the car keys out and they refuse to come out.  I finally realize that when my hubby and I decided to check out how the DVD player worked in the car the night before we forgot to turn off the darn car.  I turned the key one turn to get the battery running to play the movie and then when we got out I totally forgot about it.  So I yell for my hubby to come help me because I figured my battery was dead.

So the funny thing was that I called the dealer and they said that because cars now are totally run off a computer and when they run down the battery everything shuts down.  So the dealership say, “You gotta jump it.”  Well no sh*t Sherlock!!!  Well I guess that’s technology for you.  I am pissed at this point because my car is in the garage, no way to put it in neutral and the other half of the garage is so packed with stuff that we can’t get my hubby’s truck near my battery.  Thank goodness we had a small portable charger.  But the charger is not strong enough to get it charged enough to turn the car on but enough to get the lights on and put it in neutral. 

So we get it in neutral and hubby pushes it out.  Then I put it in park and the key is stuck again because the battery has died again but at least time we are right next to hubby’s truck.  But then we realize that his battery is on the opposite side of mine on his vehicle.  So we are going to have to plug up the portable charger again so we can get that key moving and put it in neutral, then switch spots with hubby’s truck, then yada, yada, yada.

Too much work in my mind.  I grab hubby’s truck keys and on the grass I drove, what the heck, it’s half dead anyway.  After that hubby hands me half of the jumper cables to hold.  I have a weird fear of those things but I am forced to help if I ever want to get out of the house.  So he jumps my car and it works.  Thanks goodness. 

So lessoned learned… Always take the keys out of the ignition.  Ain’t technology grand????

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Hungry Horse

One of the best places we have found so far to camp with young kids is Hungry Horse in Dorr.  It is conveniently close to home and yet has all the things you want in a campground.  An awesome playground for kids, two pools and one is a wading pool with zero entry, shade and sun in the same campsite, activities for the kids on weekends, and best of a relaxing time can be had by all.  I give this place two thumbs up.  My kids loved the wagon ride and ice cream social on Sat. night along with the chance to go swimming 2-3 times a day.  Of course you can’t beat peeing in the woods if you are 3 or 5.  Tonto Vista Hungry Horse!

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