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Aug 27, 2016

Coffee Milk Syrup Recipe

Coffee milk is, apparently, a Maryland drink that is well known, well loved, and has two store brands that people fight over. Being a Michigander and coffee lover I had to try this drink. So, I searched for this recipe, but since it was saved on an old laptop I can't find the original source. This is recreated from memory.  It's simple enough.

Double strength coffee (I normally use 1/4 a cup ground for 4 cups water. For double strength I use a half cup of grounds)

Equal parts brewed double strength coffee and white sugar (four cups coffee, four cups sugar. You can adjust this to your own liking but this is a dessert drink so I don't fiddle around)

Boil in pan for 5-15 minutes depending on the consistency of syrup your prefer

Allow syrup to cool and add your preferred amount to a cold glass of milk. Stir and enjoy! san martin

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 26, 2016

Back to School Fun Facts

Fast Facts for Back to School

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 25, 2016

Lake Orion Library Review

         Our family spent an afternoon last week at the Lake Orion  Public library & really enjoyed ourselves!

Lake Orion library is a good sized library with well-defined spaces. The youth section was colorful, easy to access, and had a wide variety of materials! The youth section had its own set of restrooms, a small play area, dedicated space for table games and activities, youth computers, and plentiful staff to assist young patrons. First off, we noticed the DVD selection was listed in alphabetical order with covers facing outward.  My kids appreciated how easy it was to flip through them to see titles they were looking for. Also, a large selection of picture books that were also shelved this way. What a novel way to make the titles appealing to the smallest of smallest patrons!

 Huge themed kit green bags were available for families, teachers, and students to check out. These were prominently displayed on a shelf.  There were table top games , such as chess and checkers, out that just begged to be played!

 A set of dedicated youth computers were in plain sight and open to kids games.  We interacted with a youth librarian and she was pleasant, helpful, and very patient. There was a play space for preschool/toddlers that had a collection of toys, a play kitchen , and board books all within reach of small children.

We attended a StarLab event that was in the Multi-purpose room, presented by Oakland County Park System and really enjoyed ourselves! The inflatable planetarium was very neat to experience. It was very informative and interesting to learn more about our night sky. For other Star Lab events see here.

 Lake Orion library had many activities for people of all ages. Please visit their even calendar to see upcoming activities, most area open to the public- though some require registration. Check activities online at Lake Orion Library Events.

We did not visit, but they did have a dedicated Teen Room for grades 6-12. Peeking in, you could see book shelves, magazines, and gaming systems geared toward this age of students.

A quick visit to the adult portion of the library led us to discover that you could check out board games! We saw plenty of  kids in the adult section, but everyone was  respectfully looking for what they were seeking or reading materials at one of the plentiful tables. It had spaces set aside for studying , but also many spots to just curl up with a book or two.

Much to our surprise, our local library card could be used at Lake Orion!Make sure to ask, if you ware not a resident of Lake Orion if your local area is a reciprocal library. All I had to do was show my drivers license, email,  and local library card.We were able to take home several books that could be returned at our local library with the understanding that transfer can take 5-7 days and the book is not 'checked-in' until it reached Lake Orion Library & we would be responsible for any fines we accrued.

Currently, they also have a special traveling exhibit called Exploring Human Origins. It is based on the Smithsonian National Museum of History exhibition. It is in the lobby of the library and explores what scientists know about human evolution. The display had lots of visual guides, diagrams, and pictures. Several iPad stations were available for further exploration of the ideas displayed. It would likely be appealing for ages 8+, but could be a conversation starter for all ages. This was one of my kids favorite activities and we spent a long time reading information and went home with some books to gather more information.  This exhibit is only available until August 22nd.

Overall, we spent almost 3 hours at the library! It was a pleasant afternoon and we plan on returning in the future for other Lake Orion library events.  Of note, currently Lapeer Road near the library is under construction and an alternative route is advised. For hours and other information, please visit Lake Orion Library website.

KCMichigan is a PreK teacher, mom to fraternal tween twin girls, and wife to a technology-loving husband. For fun she loves to read, explore new museums or parks, and go on day adventures with her family!

Epi-Pen: The Cost to Save a Life

Chances are, you’ve heard of the grossly inflated price of the Epi-Pen, a life-saving medical device carried by many who suffer from allergies.

Due to the efforts of a small but vocal army of “allergy moms,” the general public now knows what we’ve been upset about for years: Mylan, the company that manufactures Epi-Pens, has been raising the price to the point where many families struggle to pay for this medicine (1).

However, the question remains. Why did Mylan keep raising the prices (in 2009, the price was roughly $100; now, it is $600)? The CEO, Heather Bresch – a U.S. Senator’s daughter who makes $18 million a year – hasn’t given a clear answer. As a comparison, Epi-Pens cost about $100 a set in Canada, where the government regulates the cost. (2,3)

While I don’t know why a set of Epi-Pens costs so much, I do know this:  When my child was blue and limp, in the throes of an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, epinephrine saved his life.

Put bluntly, he needs access to an Epi-Pen every second of every day in case he comes in contact with his allergens (tree nuts, peanuts and sesame seeds). We don’t carry them, stock them in our home and provide them to his school “just in case.” We do so because he will die without immediate access to this life-saving medication.

For this, we pay hundreds of dollars a year –with health insurance. These pens, really the only “game in town” to deliver epinephrine to allergy patients, expire after a year or so, too. So this is something my family, and many other allergy families, has to budget for.

And most families have multiple sets: One to carry when out of the home, one for the home and one for school/daycare. That is hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, depending on your insurance coverage, for a needed medicine to keep your child alive.

Maybe that seems excessive to a non-allergy family, but for those of us who have watched our children experience anaphylaxis, it is necessary. Seconds count, and you need an Epi-Pen readily available at all times. 

So why do I keep saying Epi-Pen? Isn’t there another option? The truth is, not really. Epi-Pen’s major competitor, the Auvi-Q, was recalled last year and is no longer manufactured. That has left only one real alternative that few people know about and have used. This alternative, which some insurance companies won’t even cover, also isn’t readily stocked by pharmacies and isn’t listed in my son’s school paperwork. The nurses and staff at his school aren’t trained to use it. So to us, it isn’t a viable alternative – at least not for now.

Today, Mylan announced it would help subsidize the cost of the Epi-Pen via a rebate, due to rising scrutiny and public outcry. But they didn’t lower the cost of the Epi-Pen and a rebate is only good for some families. (2)

Maybe you know someone with a life-threatening allergy who needs an Epi-Pen. Maybe you don’t. Either way, price gouging by a major pharmaceutical company raking in millions of dollars on the backs of people who just want to keep their children safe is abhorrent.

For many of us allergy families, we’ve already paid far too much for our Epi-Pens because school has or will start soon and we have needed to get this life-saving medication and all the reams of paperwork ready for teachers and administrators who are tasked with keeping our children safe. 

We couldn’t wait – so we paid. Or we couldn’t pay, so we pray.


Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 24, 2016

Easy Dinner Idea: Unsloppy Joes

A big thank you goes out to my son who made this awesome dinner for us on family night a while back.  If you like sloppy joe, but not the mess, try out this simple recipe.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Meet Melody Ellison the Newest American Girl and Where You Can Get her Book for Free!

The American Girl Doll family is getting bigger this week with the addition of Melody Ellison, a young girl living in 1964. Like many of their BeForever historic doll collection, Melody has her own book series, accessories that work for her time period as well several outfits. The BeForever dolls allow young girls and boys to experience a part of the past through the eyes of a girl close to their age. But Melody is even more special in our area - she's from Detroit!

Melody made her official Debut last night at the Charles H. Wright Museum downtown Detroit with speakers, live music and an official donation made to the Detroit Public Library from American Girl. The event welcomed local media, doll collectors and the youngest American Girl fans. The debut included a look at Melody and her accessories, fun crafts for children and even the opportunity to purchase Melody before she's official on store shelves. The dolls were flying off the displays in the museum gift shop, and they wont last long if you want to get one early. 

The release of Melody Ellison is huge for the brand, but also for the Detroit community. Melody's story focuses on the music scene that was (and still is) popular in Detroit, the racial tensions that happened with the riots as well as helping teaching acceptance - which is needed even today. The doll and her story took years to create and the story is one that every child should read. 

You can get your child their own Melody Ellison doll starting on Thursday August 25th when she's available for the public. But there may still be a few available at the Charles H. Wright museum! She will be available for purchase online and in store - including the Novi Pop Up American Girl Store location later this week. Don't wait to get your piece of Detroit history. 

To give back to the Detroit community, American Girl annoucned a partnership with the Detroit Public Library System at the event. As part of its partnership, American Girl is providing a donation valued at $175,000 to support the children’s sections at the Detroit Public Library’s 22 branches, which includes a $50,000 monetary donation and a product donation of Melody dolls and books ($125K retail value). Through the book donation, the Detroit Public Library will be able to provide a free Melody book to any area child who wants one through the end of 2016.

To learn more about American Girl or request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005 or visit,, or

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 23, 2016

9 Tips for Visiting Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay in Sandusky invited us to enjoy the water park free of charge in exchange for this promotional post.  All opinions are my own.  Your experience may differ. 

We have been to Castaway Bay a few times (3/2016 & 2/2015) and I am always learning how to make it better for us through first hand experience.  The facility is particularly great for families with younger children and is designed to entertain a range of ages.  

Tip #1: Stay at the Hotel

You might be tempted to save a few extra dollar and just get a day pass to Castaway Bay.  While that is a frugal option, I highly recommend that you get the hotel room, especially if you have children that are of napping ages.

Having a hotel room allows your children to have a quiet break from the activities, relax for a few, take a nap, rest, refresh so you can enjoy the waterpark recharged.

Rooms are also equipped with a mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker.. so you could bring your own snacks or food from home and save money on meals.

Staying at a hotel owned by Cedar Point gives you special discounts on tickets to Cedar Point and Soak City and early entry to both parks.  

Tip #2: Read the Rules

Many of the attractions have height requirements and restrictions.  Be prepared to strap a life jacket on shorter guests (regardless of their ability to swim) when entering the wave pool, creature cove and other areas with a deeper water depth.  Life Jackets come in a wide variety of sizes, so check the weight recommendations and make sure you have the right one.  For younger guests, there is a strap that needs to be attached between their legs.  

In addition to height requirements, some attractions may not be suitable if you or your family members have certain limitations or health conditions.  Always use your best judgement and be safe.  

Tip #3: Rent a Locker

Renting a locker is one of the best things you can do at Castaway Bay.  They are easy to use and you just use a pin code to access your belongings all day.  We just used ours to store our keys, wallet and phone, but larger lockers are available if you want to store your other belongings.  The prices have gone up (I think the small locker was $10 this time), but $10 was well worth it to not have to worry about someone walking off with my brand new cell phone.  

Tip #4: Take Frequent Breaks

The chlorine in the air and water can wear you and the kids out rather quickly, so taking frequent breaks to rest and refuel is highly recommended.  Plus it gives you and your family the opportunity to transition to new activities.  

During our visit we stopped to get snacks, lunch (at Quaker Steak), ice cream (at Ebb and Eddy's) and we participated in the Dance Party and story time at the end of our visit.  

Tip #5: Family Bathrooms

Castaway Bay has two family bathrooms which make trips to the restroom easy.  There is a toilet, sink, changing table, garbage and shower in each oversized bathroom.  

The Family Bathroom is perfect for us as we could both get showered and changed while helping our children do the same at the end of our visit, just remember to bring your own body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

Tip #6: Swim Diapers

You can buy a pack of disposable swim diapers, but if you plan on swimming more than a couple of times, it might be worth the investment to buy a reusable swim diaper.  {affiliate link} I-Play makes a few and we have had great experiences with their brand. Naomi is wearing an I-Play bathing suit with the swim diaper built in.  Regardless of which option you choose, it is best to bring a back up... because everyone poops.

Tip #7: Goggles

I highly recommend that you bring goggles for your child.  It eases the stress of possibly getting water splashed into their eyes and allows for more enjoyment of the water park.  Frogglez are my favorite brand because they float in the water, have easy velcro adjustment, and the band is fabric so it doesn't pull the kids hair.  

Tip #8: Adult to Child Ratio

This really depends on the age and maturity of your children.  We went with two adults and three children and found at times we could have used an extra pair of eyes and hands.  There were times that all three children wanted to do different activities and that made the visit a bit more difficult.  Carlyn was thrilled with the raft ride, while Rosa didn't even want to try it, so I found myself riding with her at times or holding Naomi and waiting in line with her so she could go alone as I didn't want to send her up into a long line by herself.  

Rosa had a blast in the wave pool, but Naomi didn't want anything to do with the life jackets.. so take your children and temperaments into consideration when planning who will be attending.  

Tip #9: Swim Lesson

The America’s National Institute of Health study concluded that participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning for children ages 1 to 4 years (Archives Pediatric Medicine, Vol 163 No 3, March 2009).

I can't tell you what a difference it makes to know that Rosa can hold her own in the pool and Carlyn has no fear of the water, which makes a visit to the waterpark a lot of fun.  Weekly swimming lessons play a huge role in making the experience more enjoyable as the kids are not afraid to get wet, they know how to safely enter and exit a pool and other life saving swimming skills.

Overall we had a fantastic time.  It was awesome to see Carlyn become a lot braver and tackle all of the slides that she was able to ride (and love them) while Rosa spent a good amount of her time in the wave pool tackling the waves and practicing her hand stands which then developed into finally doing a somersault in the water (after a whole year of resistance in swimming classes).  Naomi can now walk so that opened the door for her to explore on her own and also enjoy the warm Grotto waters.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: