Jun 18, 2018

#90DaysNoPay? I'm Going on a Getaway!

Who doesn't wonder as they pay their bills each month what they would do with a little extra money in the bank? If I could skip my car payment for 3 months I would love to take my family on a vacation to Mackinac Island, check out Stitch Fix or maybe subscribe to Martha & Marley Spoon for meal delivery. 

Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union has sponsored this post so we can share this great opportunity and giveaway with you.

Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union makes buying a car (or refinancing your existing auto loan) a lot easier with their 90 days - No Payment Auto Loan Program.  

When you finance your new or used auto loan with Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union (CCF), you will be payment-free for 90 days, which means you can enjoy that new vehicle and some extra activities!  Or, Cornerstone may be able to save you money by refinancing your existing auto loan from another financial institution. By refinancing your auto loan with CCF, you can still take advantage of the limited time 90 day, no payment offer. <Apply now

There are so many fun, educational activities the whole family can enjoy on the island. You can tour Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes to learn a little about the history of the island. There are horse-drawn carriage tours of the island as well. One of my favorite things to do is bicycle the 8 miles around the island. You do not have to be a seasoned bicyclist to do this (or I'd never make it) and it can be done at your leisure. Bicycles can be rented at many stores along Main St and it's a great way to explore the island and get some exercise. Of course, there is the famous Mackinac Island Fudge to try.

Check out Ten Things do with Kids on Mackinac Island

If I can't make a vacation work I would love to try a personal shopper service, such as Stitch Fix. What woman wouldn't like to have a personal shopper send a selection of clothing to her that she can try on in the privacy of her home? Stitch Fix is $20 per shipment and they send you a prepaid package to return clothes that don't work. Keep the clothes you like and return the rest. Stitchfix.com has an extensive style quiz, asks your sizes, gives you some sample looks so your stylist can get a feel for what types of outfits you like, asks for your color preference and will also shop for shoes, jewelry, outerwear. I rarely shop for new clothing and if I had a few extra hundred dollars a month I would love to stock up my wardrobe with some classic pieces. 

Check out what fellow Metro Detroit Mommy writer, Crystal, has to say about Stitch Fix on her own website Mom Among Chaos

Another service I'd like to try is a meal delivery service, like Blue Apron or Martha & Marley Spoon. It can be exhausting cooking for a family of 5. Trying to make a meal that most everyone will eat, is healthy and easy to prepare gives me a headache most days. I usually end up cooking the same dishes over and over again. I would love to tell someone else my family's preferred foods and receive my dinner ready to assemble and cook, We could try some new foods, learn new recipes and make dinner fun. For $145.00 per week, I can sign up and try a personalized menu for my family, making dinner a little less stressful. The best part is you can skip a week or cancel the service at any time. 

Read about our experience with Martha & Marley Spoon:

What would you if you didn't need to make an auto loan payment for ninety days? Please leave a comment below, like CCF Credit Union on Facebook, then use the form to enter for a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card from Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union. Apply for their 90 days - No Payment Auto Loan Program today.


Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

Jun 12, 2018

Livonia Kirksey Recreation Center - Indoor Pool and Splash Pad

Last week we visited the Livonia Kirksey Recreation Center which is located at 15100 Hubbard in Livonia, on the south side of Five Mile Road, between Hubbard and Merriman. Our prime purpose for our visit was to check out their splash pad and indoor pools. 

At the time of our visit (May of 2018) the fees were: 3 and under FREE with paying adult, youth $5/$10 (Resident/non res), teen $7/$14,  adult $8.50/$17.  So my family of 4 ended up costing us $37 for day passes for each of us (one adult, two youth, one tot). See current fees.

Upon entry, each person is photographed (for security) and all your info goes into their database.  It's a bit of a process... more than what my almost three-year-old could manage to wait for. 

The facility offers a ton of great indoor amenities including a leisure pool, lap pool, gym, workout facilities, indoor track, rock wall, party & meeting rooms, child care (additional charge, two-hour max stay), tree fort, gymnastic center, concessions, and locker rooms.  Outdoor features include skateboard park, inline skating rink, picnic pavilion, volleyball courts, walking/jogging paths, soccer fields and water spray ground.

We visited the Tree Fort first. The Tree Fort is a huge indoor play structure for children ages 10 and under.  All three of the girls enjoyed exploring the tubes and slides.  Under the structure is a mini rock wall and off to the side is a space for toddlers. 

Tree Fort

Toddler Area in the Tree Fort

Mini Rock Wall in the Tree Fort

There is an awesome rock wall in the main lobby area.  It wasn't clear if there is an additional charge, or if there were certain times the rock wall was open.

Rock Wall in the Lobby

The competition lap pool hosts eight 25-yard lanes that are 12'deep, 1-meter diving board, movable floor, and bulkhead. Pool floor can be raised to the deck surface or lowered to 7 feet.  Spectator seating for up to 400 people. So yeah.. that is cool, right?

Competition Lap Pool

The leisure pool is a 6,500 square foot area with a zero depth entrance. The water playground features a couple of sprayers and geysers (that were not on while we were there).  The pool also hosts a lazy river where guests can enjoy a leisurely ride on an inner tube.

Leisure Pool
Guests can relax in the spa or swim in the four-lane, 25-yard warm-up pool. The 25' high tube slide has limited hours of operation, so be sure to check the times before you attend (it was closed during our visit).

Leisure Pool - Slide
Leisure Pool - Hot Tub

Leisure Pool - warm up pool
Leisure Pool - Lazy River
The Water Spray Grund features water sprays and geysers, a padded play area and plenty of places for parents to chill around the perimeter. 

While the girls had a good time, I was less than impressed.  I would only advise visiting the spray park and pool if you are either a resident or if you want to get a membership because there are many other great FREE spray parks in the area, such as Herritage Park in Farminton Hills. The facility is wonderful, but it would be nice if they offered a spray-pad only fee. 

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

Flashfoodbox Launches in Detroit

Our family had the fortunate opportunity to experience all of the amazing goodness of receiving a 'Flashfoodbox' to our doorstep. I was familiar with similar subscription services that delivered fruit and veggies to the door, however, I was SUPER intrigued to learn that Flashfoodbox also included protein items within the contents of their box. I'll be honest, I was curious how they intended on keeping the products cold while awaiting our arrival home from school and work.

To my surprise the box was quite large and heavy, though still manageable for me to carry in to the house. I was filled with anticipation to dig in and see what goodies were inside. While opening, there was insulation made from recycled water bottles and 2 large (reusable) ice packs, successfully keeping all of the fresh produce and meats nice and cold.

As I removed item after item, one by one, I was pleasantly elated to find a nice variety of produce that our family regularly cooks with and prefers. In the past with other subscription services similar to this one, items tended to include options my children (and husband) typically didn't care for.

Along with all of the bright and bold produce colors and items, I was far too excited to see the protein options and their delicious flavors and spices. I found myself instantly meal planning for the remainder of the week, though I had already planned our meals over the next few days. I was very happy to find that the items (sausages, chicken burgers and meatballs), mostly included outdoor barbecue grilling options for our summer time fun!

Overall, the experience with Flashfoodbox was beyond pleasant and their price point was incredibly affordable. Equally, we found that their mission and history touched the heartstrings of our family and created a new customer out of our household.

From their website:

It all started when, a family member was distraught about throwing out $4000 worth of food after a catering event. A decision that was made by her boss. That seemed too hard to dismiss as a common everyday occurrence, yet, that was the norm in the food industry.

In fact, when food gets thrown out, it usually ends up in a landfill, gets covered by other garbage and rots. When this happens, the food doesn't have oxygen and the decomposition process produces methane gas.

The statistic that eventually created Flashfood is:

"If International food waste were a country, it would be the third leading cause to GHG emissions behind the US & China".
- National Geographic (March 2016)

In speaking to hundreds of grocery employees and top level executives in the grocery industry, it was alarming to learn that food items that were not sold and approaching their best before dates by up to 2 weeks, were simply thrown out! This is when the idea of Flashfood app was solidified. An app that allows shoppers to browse food items approaching their best before date, buy them at a discount and pick them up in store.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve worked with Longo’s (Toronto), Farm Boy (London) and Buy-Low Foods (Vancouver) and diverted over 15,000 meals from the landfill into the bellies of hungry people through our Flashfood app. This is roughly equivalent to GHG emissions of driving a car 18,000 km [in a car].

Given the oligopolistic nature of the Canadian grocery industry and the lack of immediate action to expand across Canada, we’ve created a direct to consumer model called the Flashfoodbox.

In April 2018, we expanded to the Detroit metro area through a partnership with Tyson Innovation Lab. We continue to build upon our mission of reducing food waste by offering high-quality surplus produce and protein at an affordable price, along with additionally providing the option to donate a box to local families through Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in Detroit.

With the Flashfoodbox, we’re maintaining our core mission of reducing food waste by giving farmers and growers the ability to provide us with surplus food items that grocers don't want because of their aesthetic appearance. We add these items in the Flashfoodbox and ship it directly to our hungry community who actually want to use their buying power for the environmental benefit of everyone.

Moreover, we are actively looking for ways to solve the problem of food insecurity within our existing platform as we strongly believe that everyone should have access to healthy and nutritious food.

Our community uses it’s collective buying power, to validate food waste as intolerable. We couldn't be any more grateful for our community support to date. This is just the beginning.

Who wouldn't fall in love with a mission and drive like this? We're happy and think you will be too!

Be sure to check out https://www.flashfoodbox.com/ to subscribe. Stay up to date on all of their Detroit happenings via their Facebook Page by clicking HERE.

For first time subscribers, use the code DETROITMOMMY to get a 50% discount on your first box! 

Welcome to Detroit Flashfoodbox, we're ecstatic to have you!

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

Jun 11, 2018

Ten Exercise Activities for Non-Sporty Kids

My oldest son has never been "sporty".  He never wanted to join soccer and he couldn't care less about football or baseball.  If it's competitive, he's not interested.  He has many wonderful talents and qualities, but sports is not one of them, at least yet.  (He's in middle school)   He may be in the minority of his generation that practically came out of the womb playing soccer, but he's not the only one.  So here's a list of some active things that he and some of his friends *do* enjoy.  Just because you're not on a team doesn't mean you can't find something active that fits your personality and talents.

1. Walking- Going for a walk is easy and fun.  It's also something the entire family can do together.  Find a nature trail where you can spy on some wildlife.

2. Disc Golf or Frisbee- There are several parks in the area with disc golf courses.  My son's school recently even started a disc golf club.  Frisbee is perfect in the yard or at the beach this summer.

3. Roller Skating or Roller Blading- Indoors or outdoors both of my kids love skating.  We went to Play it Again Sports and got a couple of used pairs of skates to get them started. Also, lately Skate World has been running Groupons so you can coordinate a cheap afternoon date with the kids.  Even *I* enjoy skating!

4. "Rock Climbing"-There are several places you can take your kids to climb a "rock wall".  Planet Rock is one of our favorites but also some gyms have walls for the kids to work on.  I've done it myself and it's exhilarating and a serious workout!

5. Biking- Most every kid loves biking.  Even more fun if you find different routes or trails to bike on.  MetroParks are a perfect spot or Dodge Park.

6. Yoga- My son's teacher started doing this in the mornings at school with his class and once in a while he enjoys doing a few poses with me.  It's an excellent stress reliever too.

7.  Ropes Courses- As of lately, there have been several parks opening up with high ropes courses, including Stony Metro Park and West Bloomfield Adventure Center.  If your child isn't scared of heights these are a lot of fun and a great challenge!

8. Trampoline Time- Easily one of my kids' favorite activities.  If you're looking to burn off some energy jumping will definitely do the trick.

9. Martial Arts- Not the typical sport but definitely worth considering because it teaches discipline, strength, balance, respect and so much more.

10. Swimming-  Another huge energy burner and also a good life skill to develop.  Indoors during the winter and outdoors in the summer, my kids enjoy swimming year round and so do I!

I hope you can find something on this list your non-sporty kid can enjoy being active with.  Other suggestions I forgot to mention?  Please share and comment below.

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

5 Health Hacks No One Told You About

Health is an important part of our lives. Eating before 8 PM and exercising for 45 minutes on a daily basis may not be the only tips you need in life. Your life becomes easier when you see results. Not only are you happy with the overall positivity in life, but also get encouraged to continue following a set routine. Health requires a constant sustenance in order to feel better about oneself. In order to feel happy, positive and productive throughout the day, here are a few life hacks every woman must know and follow:

1. Therapy During Sleep

It may sound strange but there are number of ways to feel therapeutic while sleeping. Selecting your pillow is one of them. There are a variety of pillows to choose from to feel therapeutic. These include slim pillows, comfy pillows, tapered pillows, water pillows and more. By far, water pillows have been most successful in offering comfort and leisure during sleep. Water pillows carry a therapeutic comfort because of their adjustment according to your need. If you're looking to buy a comfy water pillow, here are some options for you: https://vjpillow.com/best-water-reviews/

2. Warm Water for Health

While everyone avoids drinking fizzy, cold drinks; sometimes cold water is the real enemy. Cold water has a tendency to impact the joints directly. The body is unable to absorb its temperature and cannot resist getting negatively impacted by it. Having warm water helps stimulate the bladder, increase metabolism and avoids indigestion. If you have a glass of warm water early in the morning, you will notice your tummy tucking in and your metabolism rate increasing. Add a few drops of lemon and cardamom and you have yourself a detox drink!

3. Water Only When Necessary

There is constant debate on how much water one should drink to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. The answer is, as much as one needs. This is a science myth that drinking more water leads to improved metabolism and skin. The only reason you might feel an increase in metabolism would be because of visiting the bathroom so many times. For every individual, there is a different expectation of water level from the body. For athletes, that expectation is much more than that for a common man. Who's to decide if an athlete or a pregnant woman should drink more water?

4. Detox After Exercising

There is much debate on how much a person should exercise on a daily basis. On average, researchers have agreed that a minimum of 30-45 minutes are sufficient for people with a moderately active lifestyle. But one thing no one talks about is bloating during exercise. Conventional exercises such as crunches, jumping jacks and burpees may lead to bloating instead of flattening of the stomach. The reason is lessening of water retention and increase in demand for oxygen consumption in the body. In order to combat bloating, it is advised to consume detox water or tea and avoid sugary products. A healthy lifestyle and diet will compliment the exercising routine immensely.

5. It's What You Eat

With the ongoing madness for staying fit, one thing trainers leave out is the capacity of exercise to make you lose weight and stay active. According to research, exercise plays only 30% of a role in maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. The rest is all based on diet. What you eat is most significant factor in determining your health and productivity. Eating a good portion of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy promise a physique similar to your favorite celebrities round the corner!

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Launches “MI Blue” Skill for Amazon Alexa

Amazon Echo device
Wellness information, one-minute meditations, general information about health insurance, healthy recipes and more are now available for free to all Michigan residents with an Alexa-enabled device thanks to the new “MI Blue” skill from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Pronounced “my blue,” the skill allows users to obtain comprehensive, interactive health care and wellness information within minutes using voice commands through an Alexa-enabled device.
“We are always seeking ways to connect people in Michigan with better health,” said Daniel J. Loepp, Blue Cross president and CEO. “We worked with Amazon to give people everywhere in Michigan the chance to leverage Amazon’s voice service to live healthier and connect with reliable information from Blue Cross.”
“The MI Blue skill for Amazon Alexa is designed to be easy, insightful and fun. Anyone using the skill can now get quick and reliable wellness tips, answers to health-related questions, the latest health news, and even fun things to do at home with their kids while interacting with their Alexa-enabled devices,” said Andrew Hetzel, vice president of Corporate Communications at Blue Cross.
According to an independent 2016 study, just four percent of Americans could accurately define four of the most common health care terms – deductible, co-pay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. The MI Blue skill responds to voice commands through an Alexa-enabled device to provide people with:
  • Health-related news from Blue Cross
  • Explanations of common health insurance terms
  • Answers to frequently asked health questions
  • Dietitian-approved recipes
  • Healthy activities for the family
  • Smoking cessation tips
“Nine years ago, Blue Cross launched its first social media content,” Hetzel said. “Today, our social media subscribership stands at more than 500,000. Voice technology is the next frontier in helping brands connect helpful content with people’s everyday lives. We designed the MI Blue skill for Amazon Alexa to help people better manage their everyday lives, by providing useful information that is easy and fun to access using an Alexa-enabled device.”
From explaining the difference between an HMO and a PPO to providing exercise tips and healthy recipes for the family, the MI Blue skill is an information hub for wellness. Blue Cross’ development team is already hard at work on the next versions of content for the MI Blue skill, which will be introduced later this summer.
“Like our blogs and new mobile app, the MI Blue skill is yet another step forward in Blue Cross’ effort to create more interactive relationships with our members and communities,” Hetzel said.
How to Use the MI Blue Skill for Amazon Alexa
Enabling the MI Blue skill for Alexa-enabled devices is fast and easy. Users can enable the skill via the Amazon Skills Store on Amazon.com or through the free mobile Amazon Alexa app on both Android and iOS. If using the Amazon Alexa app, just open the app and select “Skills” in the upper left corner. From there, search for “MI Blue” and enable the skill for easy access to a library of health insurance and wellness information. Once enabled, future uses require only the simple voice command, “Alexa, open MI Blue,” followed by a health-related question.
Personal health coverage and medical information for Blue Cross members is not available through the skill, but can be found at www.bcbsm.com or on the BCBSM mobile app.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.6 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MIBluesPerspectives.com.

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

Jun 10, 2018

Five Tips to Help You Lose the Baby Weight

Brought to you by Vive Health

Studies show that the majority of new mothers (75 percent) weigh more one year postpartum than they did before becoming pregnant. However, just because it happens to the majority of women, that doesn’t mean it also has to happen to you.

There are lots of things you can do to lose extra weight and keep it off postpartum. Read on for five great tips that will help you get started.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

One of the most important things you can do to lose the baby weight is to make sure you’re sleeping as much as possible.

When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to overeat and, more specifically, overeat high-sugar, high-calorie foods.

Of course, sleep can be hard to come by when you have a new baby.

While sleeping through the night might not be possible, you can make an effort to nap and relax during the day. When your baby takes naps, you should nap, too.

Try not to let your need to clean the house, catch up on work, or run errands keep you from getting the rest you need. Chores can wait, but you can’t put your body’s need for sleep on hold for very long.

2. Snack Smart

When you have a new baby, it can be a challenge to sit down long enough to eat a full meal (especially when you’re using nap time as sleep catch up time). To make sure you’re eating enough, you may need to snack more throughout the day.

Now, that’s not an excuse to go ahead and eat a bunch of sugary, nutrient-poor treats. Your snacks need to be healthy and full of nutrients.

Good snacks to keep on hand include:
Fresh fruit
Vegetables and hummus
Nuts and nut butters
Full-fat Greek yogurt
Beef or turkey jerky (just make sure it doesn’t have added sugar)
Protein bars (again, avoid high-sugar, heavily processed bars)
String cheese

3. Find Simple Ways to Exercise

When you’ve had a new baby, getting to the gym for regular workouts might not be possible. But, that doesn’t mean you have to skip exercising altogether.

If you’re trying to burn more calories and lose extra weight postpartum, look for simple ways to move more throughout the day. Go for walks with your baby to get outside and get some fresh air, or use your baby as a weight while you do some resistance training.

Good exercises to do with your baby to lose the baby weight include:
Weight squats
Walking lunges
Overhead presses
Bicep curls
Chest presses
Weighted sit-ups

4. Plan Ahead

It’s really hard to eat healthy when you don’t have time to prepare nutritious food. Even if you have the best intentions, your weight loss goals can fly out the window when dinner time rolls around, you’re starving, and you don’t have anything prepared.

In order to minimize the chances that you’ll reach for a takeout menu, take some time over the weekend to prepare some meals for the week ahead.

Meals don’t have to be elaborate to be healthy -- look online for healthy and easy make-ahead meals like soups or sheet pan meals, and chop up fruit and vegetables to have on hand for quick, easy snacks.

5. Don’t Crash Diet

Finally, resist the urge to dramatically slash your calories and crash diet. This is especially true if you’re breastfeeding -- you should be still be eating between 2,000 and 2,200 calories to ensure you and your baby are getting sufficient nutrients.

Cutting your calories too much can help you lose weight in the short-term, but it’ll be harder to sustain your weight loss later on. When you undereat your metabolism suffers -- this means you stop burning calories as efficiently and will be more inclined to hold on to fat.

During the process of early detection of slow metabolism, one of the first things professionals will ask is whether or not you’ve been eating too few calories.

Repairing a slow metabolism can be incredibly frustrating. Unless you want to go down that road -- and delay your weight loss even more -- it’s important to avoid decreasing your calories by too much.

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer: