Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post.  The content and images were supplied by Sea Life Michigan.  All opinions are my own.

Last year we took the kids over to Sea Life Michigan to explore.  They had a great time!  In fact, they have been asking about when we can go back, PLUS Sea Life Michigan is located next to a Rain Forest Cafe and a LEGOLAND Discovery Center.  We’d like to go back when can hit all three places.

Recently, Sea Life Michigan had some exciting news and they sent me this information to share:

SEA LIFE MICHIGAN AQUARIUM CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY

WITH ADDITION OF RESCUED GREEN SEA TURTLE

Carr, the 85 lbs sea turtle, took the plunge into his new home, where he will join Benson,

a 28 lbs rescued sea turtle, in the aquarium’s ocean tank

Sea Life Michigan in Auburn Hills has welcomed a new resident to its 120,000 gallon ocean tank: Carr the rescued Green Sea Turtle.

Sea Life Michigan

Weighing in at 85 lbs, Carr will join Benson, a 28 lbs rescued sea turtle, who came to the AZA accredited aquarium last year. Carr was severely injured in a boat collision that resulted in a deformed carapace and persistent floatation issues. He was nursed to health by the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Florida, and made the journey to Michigan accompanied by rehab teams from Gumbo Limbo and SEA LIFE Michigan.

Sea Life Michigan

“At SEA LIFE, we are dedicated to conservation and protecting wildlife. We are so happy to welcome Carr and provide him with a safe and happy home with expert care,” said Kelli Cadenas, SEA LIFE Michigan curator. “We hope visiting Carr will enable our visitors to learn more about protection and conservation efforts of endangered animals worldwide and inspire them to take an active role in eliminating human threats.”

Although he is healthy and doing well, Carr is non-releasable, which means he will never be able to survive in the wild. Since arriving at the aquarium, Carr has received round-the-
clock care and monitoring in a special med pool for a week and learned SEA LIFE Michigan’s target training feeding technique before being released into the ocean tank.

Sea turtles are an endangered species; only 1,000-10,000 of the turtle hatchlings born each year will survive to adulthood, according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. They face not only natural threats from predators, but also human-caused threats such as commercial fishing, pollution, beach erosion and illegal hunting.

Kroger, one of the world’s largest grocery store chains, has donated $1500 toward Carr’s healthy eating plan, a diet currently consisting of fresh vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber and peppers.

Sea Life Michigan

You can learn more about Sea Life Michigan and buy tickets by visiting their website.

Enter below for your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Sea Life Michigan!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I received free passes in order to write this review and this post on Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids.  All opinions are my own.

We are still new to the area and are continually discovering new places to explore.  We really wondered what Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids we could find.  When Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park reached out to us and offered to let us come explore, we jumped at the chance!

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

Meijer Gardens’ dream and commitment is to create a legacy of lifelong learning, enjoyment and a rich cultural experience for generations to come. It is a non-profit organization, privately funded by grants, foundations and individual and corporate gifts. The organization is operated by almost 200 full and part-time staff, more than 1,000 volunteers and supported by gifts from more than 27,000 member households and many donors. 

Now through January 8th, 2017 you can visit Meijer Gardens and experience their Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World!

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

Inside you will find trees and other decor representing various countries.  My favorites were the Mexican tree and the Peru Tree.  Benjamin liked the Chinese exhibit.  But all of them were beautiful and it was really neat to see the different traditions and decor that are used around the world.  You can also explore their Railway Garden.  I think we spent close to 30 minutes in there with the kids darting to and fro pointing out new details and spying the train trekking around.  It was awesome! And that was just the inside! There is plenty of outdoor fun to be had as well.

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

We explored the kids play area and the touch garden.

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

Though we were there in the daytime, you can visit at night and see more than 400,000 lights! Plus there are times to see Santa, reindeer and carolers! We took our kids to see the iconic horse!

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

The kids had some fun staging some photos too.

Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids #ad

Just a helpful tip… don’t be afraid if the weather is cold.  They have a VERY generously sized coat room (that’s free)! We loaded up hats and coats and left them in the coat room and then put them on before heading outside to explore.  We had an amazing time here and cannot wait to return! If you are hunting for Christmas fun for families in Grand Rapids, then check out Meijer Gardens.  I am excited to offer one lucky reader a FREE Family 4-pack of tickets so you can go visit the gardens too!  These passes are for 2 adults, 2 kids and are good until 12/31/2017, so you have an entire year to use these! Enter below for your chance to win.

 

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Enter to Win A Snack & Play® Travel Tray & Play ‘N Go Travel Tray

With fours kids we are always looking for things that makes travel with kids easier. This tray makes travel with kids easier for sure!  Read the review below and then enter to win!

If you have ever traveled with kids, you know it can be difficult. Taking a road trip is hard because they want to eat, draw, color, etc. And it’s almost impossible to do these things while the child is in their car seat. It’s hard to make a table top that will stay in place to make it work.

The Snack & Play Travel Tray 2.0 was invented to make situations like these so much easier.It is sturdy enough to set on your child’s lap, has a belt to secure it in place, and has side packets to keep all their stuff in one spot. It’s a car organizer that makes traveling with kids so much better!

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The original inspiration for the Snack & Play® Travel Tray came from Daniel, then two and a half. She couldn’t find what she considered a safe “tray” for him to use while he was in his car seat or stroller. She invented it before incorporating her company in June 2002. With the help of the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation); her package designer, and Colorado Contract Cut & Sew—her Starr was born. She doesn’t do things half way; which is why her first product, the Snack & Play® Travel Tray has received high marks and awards for its inventiveness and its safety in actual tests.

Another item that is available is the Star Kids Play ‘N Go Travel Tray. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant with your child on a dirty high chair? Or if you have ever flown with a child on an airplane you feel like you constantly need to clean off the tray table.

play-n-go

This product reduces travel-time stress and covers table surfaces for good, clean fun! This entertainment center is full of exciting and educational activities. It fits perfectly on most airline tray tables, high chair trays and fits perfectly onto the Snack & Play* travel tray for use in the car. So whether you are in the air or on the road, Play-n-Go provides MILES OF SMILES!

If you are doing any traveling this holiday season you must purchase the Snack & Play Travel Tray 2.0 and Star Kids Play ‘N Go Travel Tray at Amazon or find another store that carries it. Traveling is stressful enough – use these products to make it much better!

One lucky person is going to win both of these products! Just enter below.
The giveaway is open from 12/4 – 12/16 1159pm EST to US Residents.

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I received this item free of charge in order to review it, but all opinions are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links.

Holiday Gift Guide

Our kids, like many, ride a bus to and from school each day.  Well, at least our girls do.  We drive Benjamin because we open enrolled him into a Chinese immersion school.  Kayla and Grace often lament the bus ride home.  On the way to school, it’s a 5 minute drive.  But the ride home is about 45 minutes.  Sometimes they do homework, but other times they get bored.  Now we have learned that you can keep kids entertained when traveling by using a new product called Magic Sketch!

Magic Sketch Review #ad

The Magic Sketch can keep kids entertained while traveling for hours! Seriously! It has a see through screen so your kids can insert a card behind the screen and trace photos.

Magic Sketch Review #ad

It also allows you to play fun games like hangman.  It is water resistant and claims to have a 7 year battery life.  I cannot attest to the life of the battery as we have only had it a few weeks. The screens have multiple colors, which is a nice touch.  If you need a way to keep kids entertained while traveling, then the Magic Sketch is your BFF.  With 60 cards, the fun is endless!

Magic Sketch Review #ad

Magic Sketch is offering one Magic Sketch to a lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win, or head over to Amazon and buy your own Magic Sketch today!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: We received free lodging and a meal in exchange for our review.  All opinions are my own!

 

I am a big fan of one tank trips, travel, traditions and time with my family. Combining all 4 of these is
the ultimate for me! We were able to do this on a recent trip to Frankenmuth, MI. We live about 2
hours away, so it’s a nice drive over. Since moving to Michigan, we take our kids every year to Bronner’s
and allow them to choose their Christmas ornament for the year. It’s really fun and sweet! Normally we
go over and back in one day. This year however, we were treated to a stay at the Bavarian Inn in
downtown Frankenmuth.

Bavarian Inn #Ad

Oh my word. The location could not possibly be more perfect! You walk out
the door of the inn, stroll across the beautiful covered bridge and you are in the heart of downtown
Frankenmuth!
The Bavarian Inn is huge and reminded our kids of a big castle. There are tennis courts, swimming pools,
water slides, video arcade games, dining and more all located on site.

Bavarian Inn #Ad

Our girls enjoyed the water slides
and our boys the toddler play area in one of the pools. Oh, I forgot to mention they also have an 18 hole
mini golf course located inside. Of course we tried it out with the kids! The rooms were nice and
spacious. Thankfully they came with a mini fridge (always nice when traveling with kids). My favorite
feature of the Inn, is the history. Each room has a name on it. When you go into the room you will find
the artwork is real photos and documents from the family whose name is on your door! Really neat!
The folks at the Bavarian Inn were kind enough to give us a chance to try out their World Famous
Chicken! The kids were excited by the atmosphere, which was distinctly German.

Bavarian Inn #Ad

We even had live
music at one point! The kids all chose flavored lemonades for their drinks, and blackberry was voted the
best!

Bavarian Inn #Ad

We got to try all kinds of delicious food. The world famous chicken was AMAZING. We all loved
the buttered noodles. The kids liked the ice cream at the end of the meal as well. Everything was hot,
fresh and wonderful.
Afterwards we worked off the big meal, by swimming for hours back at the Inn!

Bavarian Inn #Ad
If you live anywhere near Frankenmuth, you need to head over this way and explore. While there, do
yourself a favor and treat your family to a stay at the Bavarian Inn!

 

It will be the start of new traditions!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen