Saturdays are for family

Saturday is our designated day for us, as much as we possibly can. Our weeks are so full, with work and school and therapy and appointments and cleaning and chores and all the stuff that comes along with living everyday. So we set Saturday aside as our day. The day we let things go, and just be together.

This past Saturday it was very much needed. It’s been an intense two weeks emotionally for me, and I do best when I get space and quiet to process things. We were predicted to have some crazy bad weather later that night through Monday morning, but when we left the house it was a brilliantly sunny day. A little chilly, but warm enough to get outside, walk around a bit, and soak up a little bit of sunshine.

We headed to Belle Isle in Detroit, somewhere we haven’t been for a while. The river was full of giant freighters, making their way through the Great Lakes, and people were running, biking, and two people were even playing hockey on the ice on one of the ponds. We took our time driving around, looking for birds. We eventually pulled into the nature center parking lot to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit, and get some air and some of that sun. We walked on the trail behind the nature center, among the tall frozen grasses, the sounds of birdsong surrounding us.

 

Being out in the air was so restorative. You can take a deep breath, and feel yourself just relaxing and letting go of things that are bothering you, at least for a little while. And when you have two guys with you that look like lumberjacks, even better.

We of course popped inside the nature center after our walk. It was nice to warm up a bit, talk to the interpreters, and sit and watch the birds from the viewing area.

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And sometimes you see more than birds!

When we had hung out long enough, we bundled back into the car, shared a snack, and headed into the city, to one of our favorite bakeries, Avalon. If you are ever in Detroit, they make some fantastic bread and cookies. Usually Billy stops on his way home from work on Friday nights to get us fresh bread for Saturday morning breakfast, but he hasn’t had a chance lately. So we decided to get our bread for the week since we were already in town anyway.

I always want to go a bit crazy in there and buy everything, but I practice some restraint. This time we got a baguette, challah bread, a raisin bread loafling, an olive bread loafling (they were made from the dough that wasn’t enough to make a full loaf – so I am calling them loaflings..), a plain croissant, three cookies, and a peanut butter and chocolate brownie. I refrained from the Rose Latte which sounds amazing, and the chocolate croissant – this time at least! The sun was shining bright through the windows, it wasn’t crazy busy, and there was a man playing some music on his trumpet, so we stuck around a bit to listen and enjoy our cookies.

Eventually though, we had to head for home, but we did so with restored spirits and full bellies.

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

If you read my last Sunday-Monday post, then you know that I recently lost my aunt, to whom I was very close with. Thank you to all of you who left such kind comments. These past two weeks have been about grieving, but also healing. This past Saturday we had a great day as a family, heading out into nature, taking a small hike, then stopping at a bakery we really like in Detroit, where we bought some bread and cookies and listened to a little music. Today we watched one of my nieces, and she and Wyatt had a great time playing together – they both loved the impromptu dance party we had! Because really, dancing is fun!

Read Last Week:

stork

I picked this up off the shelf at the library because I am a bird nerd, and I was intrigued. I am glad that I did, because this book was really unique for the paranormal genre. Full of Nordic lore, new types of creatures, a whole new type of mythology. I will be reading the next in this series for sure!

Reading This Week:

sunset beach

I am usually a pretty seasonal reader but this winter has been nuts and I am ready for springtime and color and sunshine! As I write this post, a wind storm is blowing across our state, along with a wicked cold front. I’m over it.  And Sunset Beach looks like the perfect cure for the wintertime blues..

Posted Last Week:

What Wyatt’s Reading

Watching:

Top Chef (someone a few weeks ago asked how I like this season – it’s not too bad!), The Umbrella Academy which we binged and loved and can’t wait for the next season, and Home Town

How about all of you? What’s happening in your world?

What Wyatt’s Reading- February

What

I may not be reading too much right now, but my little book loving mini me is. We had a themed focus this month – I bet you can guess what it is.

February is the month of the Snow Moon, so we focused a lot on snow. (esp. since we are in that kids moon club!) It is called the snow moon because historically, February gets the most snow, which has proven true for our region at least! My little guy who struggles in speech can now say “snow” and can also now read the letters S and W! So very exciting for us.

We enjoyed all of these books, but Wyatt’s standout favorites were Snow by Manya Stojic, and Flannel Kisses. I am going to have to buy those for his library for him, as we had to read them over and over and over. As for me, the two I enjoyed reading to him the most were the Gwen Frostic book, and Snow by Cynthia Rylant. Gwen Frostic graduated from the same high school that I did. She also moved up north when she was older to start her art business, and strangely, that is the area we also vacation in every year. I knew those things before reading the book, but I was shocked to learn that she also had a disability that was similar to or was cerebral palsy. They thought she would never write, and one day she became an artist! So inspiring.  And I just found Rylant’s picture book Snow beautiful in word and illustration. One page in particular grabbed me – Rylant says snow serves to remind us that nothing is forever, except in memories. A very timely message for me right now, and a very beautiful image. It was a pretty good reading month here! I didn’t share all of the books we read together, just the highlights.

 

Sunday-Monday Post

Last week was a very tough, hard week. My family had to say goodbye to my Aunt Barb, who after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer, finally found peace.

My aunt was like a second mother to me- she was always there, for me. Always. Through the little things, and the big things. There were many times we shared a look, trying not to laugh. Times when I was so afraid or angry and she was there for me. She was there for my parent’s divorce when I was eight, when I was dropped off to college my freshman year; when I got married, when I had Wyatt. The looks she would give me when she thought I said something outrageous which was probably a few times a month. I tried to be there for her too as much as I could. Through her first brush with cancer when I was in high school, to times when she was scared or mad or nervous too. And times we would just laugh together, like when I tried to teach her how to use the internet to online shop. She volunteered in the school library I worked in, and since I called her Aunt Barb, so did all of the little kids. If you knew me, you also knew my Aunt Barb.

So this week has been tough. I didn’t get much reading done. Reading is always such an escape for me, but I find there are times I can’t lose myself in a book, times of grief or high stress. Times I wish I could! I would wander about my home, picking up this book or that, reading a page or two then putting it back down. Trying a different book later, doing the same thing. Reading books that I would never pick up usually. Or books that are not super involved, no plot to focus on. I read from a book of Mary Oliver’s poems, and some of her essays from another book, Upstream. I read from a book called Smudgings and Blessings; I flipped through my seed catalogs, and magazines.

I didn’t get much reading done, but I did hear so many stories this week. Old stories and new stories, about my aunt in more recent months, about my aunt as a child, a young woman, about when she was a new mother. We did a lot of crying, but we also did a lot of laughing. Smiling through our tears as we looked at old pictures.

This week, I have a lot to do. Cleaning and grocery shopping, finishing up the details for Wyatt’s birthday party in a few weeks, working on some new ideas. Our full moon dinner is on Tuesday, and I think this one will be just me and my guys. Maybe next month we will celebrate with family again. And I’ll probably find my reading mojo somewhere in there too.

My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

We had such a fun weekend this weekend. We went to the farm, we got our DIY going on Sunday, I had a business venture meeting on Saturday – plus I had soup twice! I love soup and would eat it all the time for every meal, if my other family members would. 

Read Last Week:

I enjoyed both of these books! I read The Lost Sisters in preparation for The Wicked King, which I am looking forward to immensely. And I waited a whole year for The Vanishing Stair! It was worth it though, I love this series and the characters. 

Reading This Week:

Watcher in the Woods is another book I have been waiting to read for a very long time! I love the Rockton series. What a cool concept, in my opinion. And I always love Rhys Bowen. I hope to have my review of The Victory Garden up on Thursday so I have some reading ahead of me!

Posted:

Hello, February!

Watching:

Outlander, Top Chef, Hometown, Agatha Raisin, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek. 

 

How about you all? What have you been up to?

Hello, February!

Have any of you seen that meme that says “January was a tough year, but we survived”? That is pretty much how I am feeling. January was a rough month, but we made it. We were sick a lot, stuck inside, the weather trapped us indoors, and we didn’t get to do a lot of the things we planned. We did have a lot of good family time at home, but we are feeling a little stir crazy. We usually love to hike and be outdoors in the winter, but January kind of kicked our butt this year, including slamming us with a polar vortex on its way out the door. So hello February, we are glad to see you!

The arctic freeze last week was horrid, leaving us layering up inside, gathering all of our blankets, and in general causing us to be slugs. We were as toasty as could be, and then there was a fire in a nearby county that depleted natural gas reserves. We got an alert to turn our heat down to save resources so that we didn’t run out! That was a fun turn of events. Not only that, but the rest of the lower peninsula had to worry about losing electricity as well. Our city actually has its own power company, so we are generally not down long, so in the event of losing heat, we could have used an electric heater. Not fun, but doable. Thankfully it didn’t come to that though!

By the weekend, Wyatt and I were crawling the walls. When Billy got home from work on Friday, we ventured outside for the first time in days, and headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Joe’s Hamburgers. It is an eclectic mix of local history, hockey, and burgers and beer. Everyone must have had the same idea, as it was packed, even early in the evening when we went.

Saturday we ran a bunch of errands, then we got to play! We spent most of the day gone from the house – we went to the nature center, where Wyatt had a blast exploring. Then we took a long ride in the car, where Wyatt promptly fell asleep after having exhausted himself at the nature center. We stopped for pie to eat at home, drank some coffee, looked at the frozen tundra that Michigan had become, then turned the car toward home. My mother-in-law came over to watch little man so that we could get out for a bit the two of us, and so Billy and I went on a winter night hike through the woods followed by a bonfire and s’mores.

The night was perfectly clear and still and cold. There is nothing like the magic of being in a winter woods at night. Lucky us, as we started down the trail a majestic great horned owl chose to fly overhead, leaving his lady owl on their nest to keep their eggs warm. After our walk, we gathered around a warm bonfire, making s’mores and learning about the area, and sharing our own stories. I managed to eat three before calling it quits, getting marshmallow all over my gloves since I am perpetually messy, but the little boy who was there with his parents devoured six, and managed to keep his gloves marshmallow free!

The full moon this month is the snow moon, so called that because this was a time of heavy snow. Hopefully though, we are done with big snows around here! It is also a time for renewal, so we are taking this month to try to focus on things that renew us, as a family, and as individuals. I have been wanting to practice yoga again, as I used to go religiously before Wyatt, so that is a huge goal for me personally this month. As a family we are focusing on our garden – planning it, starting seeds if we need to, looking forward to the warmth of spring and the return of wild and bright colors.

Anyone else have any plans or goals for this month? Were you excited to see January go?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

So last week was the longest. week. ever. Wyatt and I were stuck inside for five whole days due to the polar vortex and a snowstorm. Temps here reached close to -50, and we stayed tucked up inside. Literally. One Wednesday, the coldest day, we hung out in my bedroom which was the warmest room as it gets the daytime sun. We watched so much tv, more than normal, read so many books, colored, played – we were feeling like caged animals by the time Friday rolled around. And strangely, I didn’t have much time to read my own books!It’s really hard to get things done sometimes when you have a housebound, bored preschooler! Lol. We spent the weekend playing catch up and being out as much as we could. I think I am going to post about our weekend tomorrow, the vortex left some pretty scenery behind, before Michigan went crazy and gave us spring temps the past two days, which are much appreciated!

Read Last Week:

We read mostly kids books last week. These were our books that were in constant rotation. I loved The Storm Whale in Winter; Wyatt loved Once Upon a Northern Night and Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. Wolf Wilder I managed to finish but it is a kids book too! Lol. It was really well done, with great imagery and language. I loved it.

Reading This Week:

I am so excited for this sequel!! I loved the first book so much, I can’t wait to dive into this. I probably won’t get a chance until tomorrow, but I am sure it will be worth the wait!

Posted Last Week:

Brrr! Books to Read When It’s Cold!

Book Review: The Ash Family

What We are Watching:

Outlander, Schitt’s Creek, Top Chef, Hometown (is this one word?), Grace and Frankie.

How about you guys? What is going on in your neighborhood?

Book Review: The Ash Family

From the Publisher:

When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.

At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds herself compelled by his promise of a new life. He ferries her into a place of order and chaos: the Ash Family farm. There, she joins an intentional community living off the fertile land of the mountains, bound together by high ideals and through relationships she can’t untangle. Berie—now renamed Harmony—renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear.

Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.

My Thoughts:

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover – then I read the description and knew I was all in. I have a thing for reading books that are set in communes, and I was super excited to start this one.

Idealistically, a commune sounds like a beautiful thing, one that appeals to my crunchy granola type nature. Off-grid living, living off the land, baking your own bread every day, enjoying the fruits of your labors all sounds so back to the basics, pure, wholesome. Except sometimes ideas can get twisted up and ugly, sometimes they can take a wrong turn. Berie meets Bay at the bus stop after a spur of the moment decision to not get on the plane that will take her to college. She is unsure of where she wants to go or what to do, and suddenly, an answer appears. Bay tells her that there is a rule about going to the farm – you either stay three days or you stay forever. When Berie’s three days are up, she doesn’t leave.

Berie is a person adrift, wanting to stay at the farm and be part of something bigger, part of the wilderness, part of this family hidden away in the hills, yet has a hard time letting go of her “fake” life, as the community refers to the rest of the world. Their life on the farm is real, all else is fake. Dice is their leader, their “father”, and has a magnetic personality that compels those around him to want to please him, to follow his wishes, no questions asked. He is doing penance for the crimes against the earth that he committed in his “fake” life, before he started the farm. A man committed to the “real” world he has created, yet has a fondness for soap scented with artificial pine while living among actual pine trees. He has rules and doctrines that the family must live by, with some pretty steep punishments. There are no possessions, everything belongs to everyone, there are no couples, no children are allowed. No pharmaceutical medicines, if you get sick or injured it is all folklore remedies. No talking about your life before, and heaven forbid the rest of the family think you are shirking your duties. It is a hard life, but they are doing what they feel they need to do. And the family’s desire to protect the planet is extreme – they are not just a band of happy hippies, they are eco-terrorists, cooking up more than jam on the farm. They make bombs, and bullets, and not only are they not afraid to use them, they are looking for the opportunity.

Berie does her best to fit in, but while she is 99% brainwashed, she still isn’t completely sold. She realizes she is an empty vessel, waiting for someone to fill her up with what she needs to do and be, and she feels that her place is on the farm, tending the sheep. Even before the farm, she seemed to live her life by what her boyfriend wanted, how he saw her through his lens. I found her a bit unlikable – her decisions didn’t only affect her, and she makes some pretty bad ones. Also, her mother is this huge shadowy figure, whom we never actually meet. Berie portrays her as some sort of villainous figure, yet her memories don’t seem to support this. Again, what is the truth?

This book was amazing – it kept me guessing, and totally off balance. I didn’t know truth from a lie, a friend from a foe, or what was really happening behind the scenes. I wanted to keep reading and reading, I wanted to know what the heck was the real story, in this story of fake and real.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the advance copy! 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.