It happened again, didn’t it?
Five days went by in a flash and now the weekend is back. Little eyes stare up at you saying “Mooooom! We’re BORED!”
Don’t worry, we got you.
Thanks to our friends at Southeast Michigan Ford Dealers, we are bringing you “Ford Fun Days” — single-day itineraries with themes that you can use all year long.
Follow us on Instagram (or check back here!) for each month’s video itinerary, created and vetted by mom and daughter duo, Lauren and Roxanne. The activities are short and manageable enough to tackle in an afternoon but still jampacked with fun — and sometimes even a sneaky lesson or two.
Bring a Book to Life
1. Head to your local library
With a computer in every pocket, it can be easy to forget one of our greatest resources – Libraries! Explore the architecturally dreamy Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library or refamiliarize yourself with your local library and everything it has to offer – books, sure, but also computer games, board games, movies, programs, classes and so much more!
2. Choose a book
Pick out a book that you would like to “bring alive” in the next step. Roxanne loves trains, so we chose the classic American folktale John Henry: An American Legend by Ezra Jack Keats. You can follow our lead or create your own book/activity combo. Here is a list of classic books for every age to get you started.
3. Choose an adventure!
Take reading to the next level by exploring a theme from the book in real life. We visited David Shepard Park in Oak Park to climb on the giant play-train that could have ridden the rails that John Henry himself built. Not into trains? See below for a list of book/activity combo ideas. Pro tip: While at the library, check out a Michigan Activity Pass for deals on admission to hundreds of institutions throughout the state.
Behind the Scenes
Nerd alert: We love libraries. We used this project as an excuse to explore the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. And while the architecture is stunning, Roxanne was more interested in testing out every different kind of chair she saw than the soaring ceilings and stately columns. The kids area had plenty of space to spread out and no one seemed to mind our not-so-inside voices. Obviously they have tons of books, but also games, computers and a take-home craft. Older kids can hang out in the very cool HYPE Teen Center which even has a 3D printer! Don’t forget you need a library card to check anything out, but even non-Detroit residents can get one.
Confession: When planning this video, we had a really hard time settling on just one book/activity to explore. We chose John Henry and the train at David Shepard Park because Roxanne loves trains, but we don’t want our other ideas to go to waste. If you have an older kid or just aren’t that into trains, try one of these:
READ: Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss | DO: Visit the Catfe Lounge in Ferndale
READ: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle | DO: Look for butterflies at the Cranbrook House and Gardens
READ: Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel | DO: Fly a kite
READ: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll | DO: Have a tea party at the Mad Hatter Bistro in BIrmingham
READ: Little House on Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder | DO: Visit Greenfield Village
READ: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo | DO: Borrow a dog for the day with Dogventures from Friends of DACC
READ: Book Thief by Markus Zusak | DO: Browse John K. Kings Books
READ: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank | DO: Visit the Zekelman Holocaust Museum
READ: Call of the Wild by Jack London | DO: Check out the Wolf enclosure at the Detroit Zoo
READ: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain | DO: Rent a Kayak on the Huron River
Not your Mother’s Self Care
1. Call up your best mom friend(s) and leave the kiddos behind for the afternoon
Moms tend to give everything they have to their family. But sometimes, in order to be your best mom-self, you need to invest in your self-self — not only for your own mental health, but to model being a whole human to your littles as well.
2. Visit Aura Aura in southwest Detroit to get a snapshot of your energy
Your aura is the personal atmosphere of energy that surrounds you. Using “legacy analog biofeedback technology and professional instant peel-apart film” Eileen Lee of Aura Aura will capture your vibe on film, then help you decipher the meaning of your mystical glow.
3. Head over to Sfumato in Midtown to discover your new signature scent
While that VS Love Spell body splash may have served you well in the ‘00s, this is not that. At Sfumato, their unisex scents are engineered through the science of scent using only natural ingredients. Fragrances ranging from woodsy-dark to citrusy-clean will have you walking around feeling like your very own personal aromatherapist.
Behind the Scenes
This moms-only day was exactly what we needed. No kids meant no big surprises and no little tricks or subterfuge necessary to get through the tasks at hand. As usual though, some tips to help you navigate your day:
Aura Aura sessions are by appointment only and upcoming available dates are released a month at a time. It’s best to follow Aura Aura on Facebook to be the first to know when new dates are released. If you have a specific date in mind for a party or a girls trip, you can request a private or group session.
When you arrive, the address will take you to Vernor Highway, but the door is located on Scotten – I definitely had to call for help. The actual photo session is pretty quick, about 10 seconds and because it’s real film, you only get one shot. The photo develops like a Polaroid and once you see your aura in all its glory, Eileen will give you a reading to help decipher the colors and meanings. We had three people in our group and ended up with three very distinct #humanatmospheres.
Onward to Sfumato! This store is located at the garden level of a charming Victorian building and everything about it feels intentional. It’s small inside, in a cozy way, with stone walls and beautiful repurposed cabinetry. If the owner is there, I highly encourage you to chat with him. He is a fountain of information and more than happy to share.
Spritz and sniff to your heart’s content. If you can’t decide on a single fragrance, Sfumato sells flights of one-ounce bottles so you can test them out at home before committing. After a week with my flight, I ended up going back to buy a full size for myself and a different one for my partner. Pro-tip: no one wants to be over-perfumed-guy, so for just the right amount of scent, follow the advice of JVN: “spray, delay and walk away.”
Farm to Table (Literally)
1. Visit a Petting Farm
Yeah sure, the Detroit Zoo is world-class, but sometimes, you don’t need to go big. On this Farm to Table adventure, check out a local petting farm and actually TOUCH the animals! Be sure to slip in a little farm education with all the fun too — kids tend to eat better when they know where their food comes from.
2. Hit up the farmers market
Southeast Michigan is lucky to have so many to pick from. We visited the Royal Oak Farmers Market and found all different colors of eggs. Explain that the chickens you saw at the farm lay the eggs that we eat. We added freshly baked bread to our basket as well. An extra bonus? Balloon animals and smoothies!
3. Make breakfast for dinner.
Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? We brought the farm to the table by turning the eggs and bread into French toast — a huge hit with Roxanne!
Behind the Scenes
For this trip, we took Roxanne and her friends Leo and Ari to the Heritage Park Petting Farm in Taylor. It’s a beautiful park and features a farm that is open year round.
This particular farm isn’t the kind where you go into the animal pens and feed them, which honestly worked out for us. Our kiddos are on the young side (2-5 years old) and were still pretty intimidated by the animals. After some coaxing, they did pet some of the animals through the gate and they loved touching the rabbits and the duck.
Some tips though? Expect the kids to be a little shy with the animals. Let them lead the way with how comfortable they are. Encourage them, but don’t force them to interact if they don’t want to. Even if they just admire from afar, it will be a worthwhile trip. Definitely have the kids wear rain boots if possible. There was mud and goose poo, aplenty. Also, pack extra hand sanitizer for snack time.
The farmer’s market was also a huge hit with the kids. Royal Oak Farmers Market was a little better suited for the smaller kids than Eastern Market. They have live music, a balloon artist, and lots of room to run in the wide aisles — that is, if you get there early enough to beat the crowd.
1. Take your crew to a local thrift store and pick out some fun/fancy/crazy outfits.
Let your kids pick your clothes or try the TikTok challenge and make a game of it as you walk down the aisle with your hand skimming the top of the racks. When they say “stop,” that’s what you grab.
2. Get dressed in your new outfits and visit a selfie museum.
We took over the Good Day Selfie Museum in Ferndale, but there is a fast-growing list of immersive photo experiences to explore – Find one near you!
3. Let the hilarity ensue!
With a different themed room around every corner — each loaded with props — the kids will go wild. You’ll have pics to share for weeks to come and memories for a lifetime.
Behind the Scenes
This was our first trip to a Selfie Museum, with or without kids and man, did it deliver. I feel like we found some sort of secret parenting cheat code. Because there are SO many things to look at and play with, the kids were wildly entertained. When they got tired of the Hollywood Glamour room, the DJ dance party room was only one turn away. There was a CD hallway, a cash room, pay phones and even a ball pit! It was so much better than we expected.
Some caveats though: Because these places aren’t built for kids, you have to stay on your toes. Make sure you clean up after yourself as you run from room to room. We also recommend booking during non-peak times. Another thing? You’re probably not going to get picture-perfect selfies. Our kids we’re so excited by all the stuff they didn’t have time to pose pretty. So just relax, go with the flow and laugh at the outtakes later.
Winter with a Twist
1. Visit Blakes Orchard and Cider Mill for
Apple Picking Ice Skating!
Normally you would head to Blakes in the Fall to pick apples, but on our day of twisty adventures, you’re going here to ICE SKATE! (Closes for the season March 6).
2. Visit The Home Bakery for a
A mix between a croissant and a donut, this hybrid pastry is sure to get your tastebuds twisted. Other ideas to twist and shout about? Treat Dreams in Ferndale offers cheesecake served like scoops of ice cream. Or if sugar turns your darling into a devil – who doesn’t love a classic German pretzel?
3. Head home for a movie with a twist ending!
Younger kids: Frozen – Meet the Robinsons – Zootopia
Older Kids: – The Sixth Sense – Planet of the Apes – Arrival
Behind the Scenes
Our Winter with a Twist outing had a few twists and turns itself. We learned that the “ice” at Blakes isn’t actually frozen water – it’s a synthetic skating rink made of plastic. While it took some getting used to, it wasn’t all bad. The synthetic ice doesn’t let you glide as well, which slows down the fun, but also keeps the kiddos from slipping and falling as much.
We also planned our skating adventure for a Sunday, not realizing that The Home Bakery is closed that day. Lucky for us, Blakes had a lovely bakery inside full of donuts and sweets to satisfy us day-of. We used some movie magic to put together the video (aka we went back another day for the Cro-nut), but don’t be like us. Check the hours of your places ahead of time, so your themed-outings run without a hitch.