LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is Coming to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets – Auburn Hills, Michigan

Wow, super exciting news for Michigan residents and those vacationing there – LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan has broken ground on their newest location at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills! Are you as ready for this as I am? I’m talking to all my LEGO® friends out there because I’ve got all the det’s you’re gonna wanna know! Read on to find out more!

Woot! I’m a LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan ambassador – this means that I will get media info ahead of time to share with you about the progress of the build and will be compensated for my time with free passes to enjoy the grand opening with my family. All opinions are my own. #LDCMichigan
Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan

This morning LEGO® fans from all over the area came together to celebrate a joyous occasion – the groundbreaking event to the brand new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan coming to the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. This 32,000 square foot indoor attraction is positioned to hold over 1 million LEGO® bricks and themed exhibits by the time it opens it’s doors to the public in the spring of 2016 – but that’s not all!

Here’s what else you can expect: 

  • 4D Cinema
  • Two Interactive Rides
  • Large Soft Play Areas
  • Michigan Themed Miniland Display
Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan
As a LEGO® loving family we couldn’t be happier about the new addition to one of our favorite Michigan shopping centers Great Lakes Crossing outlets – the same outlet mall that recently added a new SEALIFE attraction earlier this year. This entertainment hub, which already offers amazing dining options, a movie theater, and a broad range of shopping options can pretty much now be considered a one stop shop for fun. 

Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan

Be sure to stay tuned for more information about this awesome new attraction coming to Michigan! I promise to spill the beans as the info becomes available. You can also following along with LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan on Facebook or check out their website for more info. 

What are you excited about most for the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan opening? Is this something you think your whole family will enjoy? Tell me your thoughts in the comments! 

S#!%’s Getting Real

 Over the weekend I attended a Hero Conference in Brighton, Michigan with my kids. I heard some amazing speakers and was challenged to think harder about who I was and why I was making the choices that I am making in life. I was challenged not only to re-evaluate myself, but to not be ashamed of the “weaknesses” I found in myself (the ones I’ve been trying to hide) because those weaknesses could actually be my strengths – the reasons that I choose to do the things I do every day. 

So last night, I decided to sit down and try to write out my personal story – why I decided to start writing this blog several years back and why I continue to throw myself out the door every day and into countless adventures even though it’s not always easy and sometimes quite frightening. 
This snippet has now become my “About Me” page intro – but I also wanted to share my story with those of you who have been around for awhile. Thanks for reading – I hope you’ll choose to stay around for what’s to come. 
Hi! I’m Mary Moore. I’m a mom. I’m a wanderer. I am a self proclaimed writer with a background in food marketing. I am also a not so self proclaimed worry wort. I have a love/hate relationship with airplanes and I drink way to much coffee every day to just keep my head above water.

The worrier part of me didn’t start until I had my two kids – before that, most would have called me an adventurer – a free spirit. In fact, my high school friends called me “Scary Mary” because they never actually knew what crazy thing I was going to do next. I craved adventure! After high school ended I marched off all alone to college without knowing a single soul on campus. I loved that I could meet someone new every day. I had a very diverse set of friends because I found change in people and places exhilarating.  

I married young – right after college graduation and my babies came soon after. I quickly fell in love with the role of being a mom and decided that staying home to raise them was best for our family. I loved it but I also noticed that over the years of being at home I was changing. Some changes were for the better, some not so much – this is when the worrying started.  

I was told that “Mom’s don’t travel – they bake cookies”.
Someday, I told myself, I would get back to seeing the world – I would get back to being myself.  

As the years went by, I found myself waiting and longing for the “someday” and missing out on the wonderfulness of “today”. The more time I spent at home, the more I began to see the world that I once loved as evil and dangerous. Daily panic attacks became my norm.  I struggled with the conflict of being the perfect mom or following my dreams – because I didn’t think I could have both. The pressure was unbearable. Then I broke – I knew that I couldn’t keep pushing life away waiting for it to happen. I needed new air, new sights and wanted to meet new people. I realized that getting married and having kids didn’t mean that I had to fit into the role of the perfect 50’s wife – I could still be the imperfect me. Because what makes us weird makes us wonderful and what makes us weak also is what makes us strong, right Dave Rendall?  I realized that I needed to be myself and to keep going after my dreams – and that I could still be a good mom doing it.  

I decided to take the 50’s representation of a “perfect mother” and transform it into what I felt a good mom looked like. I still wanted to raise my children in a very hand’s on way, but I wanted to do it in a way that kept who I was a part of it. I mean let’s be honest, I love baking homemade chocolate chip cookies – I just like doing it in a new state every time.  

Since starting on this weird journey to find myself again ( I know, totally cliche), I have met some truly amazing people, realized my own strength in traveling alone, found happiness in my passion and gained more control over my worry. What’s better yet, I have introduced my kids to a whole new world of following their dreams and a realization that we are just a small droplet in an ocean of cultures, foods, traditions and lifestyles. 

I have decided not to let other people decide my life for me – or put me in a box of perfection. I am who I am – and I can’t wait to share my daily stories of motherhood, travel and adventure with you. 

I am also working on starting a more personal vlog on YouTube – be sure to subscribe if you want to watch me make a fool of myself – cuz I’m ready to get real about what motherhood re-defined looks like. 
Thanks loves! I appreciate each and every one of you. 

I Will Carry the Weight of Your World

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Champions for Kids. All opinions are my own.

Right now – within each one of us – there is an opportunity to change the world. Maybe not the entire world, but the world none the less. Each day there are kids in our communities who head off to school hungry. Each day there are kids in our community who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Each day there are kids in our communities who would find just a single bar of soap to be a special treat. So maybe you can’t change the entire world – but for that one child in your community, you can. Find out how. 

Did you know that 1 out of every 3 kids in America struggles with hunger? 1 out of 3!!

We all know that life is good at throwing us hurdles – and I speak from experience that no one is immune. Life happens to all of us. However, don’t you think that it should be in some code somewhere that kids should never have to worry about things like food or soap. Kids – all kids – need to be free to experience life without worry of where their next meal will come from or worry that they will be made fun of at school for being dirty. All kids need someone in their life who is able and willing to step up for them – to carry the weight of their world – a hero.

Champions for Kids

Champions for Kids is an organization that was created to do just that – advocacy for kids. But they can’t do it alone! Champions for kids works with people just like you and me to gather food, supplies and basics needs and deliver them to kids in the community who need them. You can be a hero.

The concept is easy. Simply purchase items like these and donate them to a local school or organization that helps kids in your community. That’s it. 

That one act of giving – no matter how small you might think it is – could have a huge impact on a kid and their family in your community.

Now I know that life can get busy and we may have good intentions that get overlooked – so this month from September 21 – October 5th Champions for Kids is helping us all get involved by making it easy on us. During these two weeks, Champions for Kids will have purple bins set up at most Walmart locations across the US ready to accept your help and donations for kids. Simply do your regular shopping, pick up a few extra items and drop them in the bins on your way out – or bring items over to donate that you might already have. 

Further Your Involvement

Are you the one that is going to step up and make a difference? Be an advocate for your community by driving awareness of this event or lead your company or organization in a donation drive. Find out more information about all the different ways you can get involved at the Champions for Kids website. 
Be a champion for kids – get involved. #FillTheCart

Also join us on our YouTube channel next week when we head to our local Walmart store and help #FillTheCart for Kids. 

I Traveled to Sarasota, Florida to Make Pie

Yes, you totally read that right – Just a few days ago I hopped on an airplane and flew all the way to Sarasota, Florida to make pie. Well, not ONLY to make pie – but this was a big part of why I went. Why? Because I was a contestant in a pie making competition. Ok, stop laughing and just read about my trip already. 

Disclosure: This stay/event was provided by Visit Sarasota.

It all started with a phone call – Hey Mary, wanna go to Florida and make pie? Without hesitation -You bet I do! Who cares about what the details were – my two favorite things were just named off and I was ready to hit the road. Little did I know that on this trip I would be trying to recreate Yoders most famous pie in front of a group of loyal and devoted Yoders Pie connoisseurs. No pressure, right?

When I arrived to Yoders Amish Village in Sarasota Florida, I could easily see why so many people adored this place. It was not just a restaurant. It was just not a pie place. It was literally like a small village! But don’t get me wrong, this small lot packed a big punch with a gift shop, restaurant, pie production house, and small grocery all in one!

Plus, I could tell that Yoders had pride in their selection because the produce was vibrant and fresh and almost all of the baked goods were made in house – this place was a gold mine.

Parts of it sort of reminded me of the old penny candy shops with fun candy options and retro glass bottle pops. You know I love to seek out the retro in every location – its in my nature.

After touring the grounds, we headed into the pie making facility for a quick crash course in pie making:

So – here’s what you need to know – you do this, this, this than this – voila! Ok – time to head out in front of everyone waiting to see you and compete for the best looking pie. Oh, and did we forget to tell you that you had to do it in under 3 minutes? Ok, have fun!!

Eek! So this is what my pie was supposed to look like – this was effortlessly put together by one of the adorable Yoder’s pie makers in less than 3 minutes . . so obviously I should be able to do the same, right? Ok – stop laughing, really, it’s getting old. 🙂

So here we are – the four of us set up at a table in front of a crowd of people. Each of us was given a box filled with pie making ingredients, and some ingredients we didn’t need to throw us off course. When the sound was given, we each threw open our boxes and tried to recreate Yoders famous pie as quickly as we could. It needed to be put together in the same steps and look like the perfectly made pie above. 

I really tried my best, really I did – but my pie came out falling a bit short. And what I mean by that was that it was flat – not like the plump and perfect pie Yoders serves. I tried to amplify it’s stature before the buzzer ended, but it didn’t work.

My pie was not pretty. I did come out with third place though (but only because I had the blue ballot and the kids in the audience liked the color – but that’s besides the point)! I have found that telling people you came in third doesn’t sound so bad until you let it leak that there were only four contestants in the competition. lol. Either way – I was happy to have participated.

After the pie contest we were treated to lunch at Yoders Amish Restaurant and boy was it amazing! Since this place is known for their fried chicken meals – that is exactly what I wanted to try. One bite and I had no longer had to wonder why there was a constant line to the door or why they were recently honored on the popular television show Man vs. Food. This place is worth going to!

Of course, after we had some lunch we needed to try our pie! Let’s just say that I hope to recreate this flavor at home because I am certainly going to miss it – and unfortunately a pudding based pie can’t be shipped. Oh well, just another reason to head back to Sarasota, Florida again soon, right?

Watch the story on YouTube

Have you ever been to Yoders Amish Village in Sarasota, Florida? Tell us about your discoveries while you were there! What did you like best?

13 Reasons Why Your Kids Might Love the Michigan Renaissance Festival

For many years I’ve dismissed the Michigan Renaissance Festival because I thought that it was an event that my kids would be too young for. However, last weekend we decided to check it out as a family and what I found surprised me. We found the event to be very kid friendly and fun for the adults as well! Come check out these 13 reasons – straight from the mouths of my kids – why they loved the Michigan Renaissance Festival. 

Disclosure: We were provided with media passes to attend this event. 
Michigan Renaissance Festival #MIRenFest

Upon taking the long walk down a wooded path on our way onto the grounds of the Michigan Renaissance Festival – not one of us knew what to expect. This was a new adventure – one that we had heard many things about, but had never experienced for ourselves. We imagined there would be people dressed up in costumes, fun activities and entertainment, but what we found went far beyond that.

When we finally reached the end of the wooden path, the clearing opened up and we were greeted by a large castle wall. Just beyond the castle appeared to be a village bustling with excitement. This wasn’t like going to an amusement park or museum full of artifacts to look at – this was an experiential event where no small bit of the real world was allowed. At this event guests are welcome to leave their real lives at the door and become whoever they want to be – whether it be a fairy, a princess or a knight.

As you can imagine, my children were enthralled. It was like their made up world of princess and knights had come to life before their very eyes – and the excitement beamed out of them.

Throughout the village we were constantly entertained and amazed. However, it was these 13 things that my kids said were “The Best” parts of the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

Why Kids Love the Michigan Renaissance Festival

1. They met a queen.

Yes, Queen Elizabeth to be exact – and she was amazing! Not only was she a strict queen who ran a tight ship at the festival, but she was loving and took the extra time to make my children feel special. She spoke to them (in a very queenly way) and called my daughter Princess. She will never forget it.

2. They got to see a mermaid.

Of course before we headed to the event my daughter jumped onto YouTube to see what she was in for. As she watched the videos, a clip came up that showed a mermaid. Her eyes lit up “Mom! There is a real life mermaid there! Can we meet her?”. We did meet that mermaid – even I thought it was very cool as a mom. She was very much a mermaid! (You can see her in the video below!)

Free Kids Crafts #MIRenFest

3. They can do free kids crafts!

While most of the activities at the Renaissance Festival cost extra, I was happy to find that within the kids section of the park (which also has a play area) they could walk up and make a craft for free. The best part was that there were fairies on staff to help the kids and interact with them. Definitely a must do!

#MIRenFest

4. They did back flips on a trampoline.

So mom was a little nervous about letting them do this, but it really looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should have tried it. Eek!

Turkey Legs at the Michigan Renaissance Festival

5. They ate giant turkey legs.

The food at the festival was actually quite amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever had such wonderful faire food before – and these turkey legs, wow!

Joust at the Michigan Renaissance Festival

6. They watched knights joust.

This is not something you’d see everyday – and what an amazing history lesson!

7. They saw people do cool tricks.

Oh you know, like people eating fire or juggling swords – everyday stuff.  🙂

8. There is shopping (ok, so mom likes this one too).

The village is full of small shops selling interesting items – such as Renaissance clothing, stones, candles, kilts and more. Definitely some things here you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

9. They can throw tomatoes at people.

Why not? This isn’t something a kid can just go around doing every day. I mean, who hasn’t thought about throwing a tomato at someone once in awhile. The Michigan Renaissance Festival – where dream come true. 🙂

10. They can enjoy lots of fun entertainment.

Did you know that the faire has it’s own parade or wild bird show? These are just some of the entertainment options that welcome you at the festival – and from what it seemed, there were new shows starting all throughout the day. Shows to make you laugh, gasp and be amazed.

11. They can get their face painted.

The festival is full of different “shops” selling different goods – some of which are face painting, hair braiding, fortune telling and more.

12. They can get their hair braided.

Because it helps us feel more like a princess, right?

Blooming Tea at the MiRenFest

13. They can have tea with a princess.

Tea with the princesses was a special moment for my kids – it gave them a chance to have one on one time with some of the characters. They were served tea, sandwiches and dessert while they listened to fun stories, songs and more. This event, and the other special events offered by the festival, are a great use of time and money. I would recommend signing up for these and spending less on the rides, ect.

Princess Tea at the Michigan Renaissance Festival #MIRenFest

Before I finish, however, I wanted to offer a few tips for attending the festival with young kids – from my perspective as a mom.

Helpful Tips

– There are only outhouses – bring hand wipes!
– Most activities cost extra or ask for donations – bring a lot of dollar bills and be ready to set limits.
– Some performances may not be suitable for kids – it’s best to feel them out ahead of time.
– There will be people with costume weapons at the event – however the park has strict regulations on what may and may not be brought into the park to keep everyone safe.
– Try to let loose and experience this event as a kid again – because the magic of an imagination is priceless.

Excited about attending the festival? Get your tickets here.

Have you ever been to the Michigan Renaissance Festival? What did you love most? What would you say to someone looking to attend for the first time. Share your thoughts with me in the comments. I love reading them.