My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

It has been a minute since I posted one of these! I just hadn’t been reading due to life stuff happening and not much time for reading, sadly. However, things turned around for me last week!

Read Last Week:

I read Beauty From Ashes by Lisa Howeler from the blog Boondock Ramblings last week, and loved it as much as the first two in the series. (The Farmer’s Daughter and Harvesting Hope) I will be reviewing it on Tuesday!

Reading this Week:

So, I am a fan of YouTuber vlogger Alexandra Roselyn, and she has recommended this book a few times in her videos, and it sounds fantastic! I am looking forward to it!

Posted Last Week:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Morning Coffee Catch Up!

Watching:

Not much new here – we are pretty engrossed with Murdoch Mysteries still.

Tonight is movie night though, and we are watching The Lost City with Sandra Bullock! It’s been a while since we have watched a movie and I am looking forward to it – and the popcorn Billy makes old school on the stove.

Book Mail!

Billy and Wyatt got this for me! I needed a new copy as mine is in tatters (copy number 4 I believe?). I love it! I had told Billy I needed a new copy, and that I wanted to start collecting various different edition. And then, voila!

I also received this ARC of a middle grade mystery set in Rocky Mountain National Park! I am looking forward to read it!

And that is about it from around here! What’s been going on in your neighborhood?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Photo by Kelly L on Pexels.com

First off, I want to clarify I am not anything but a stay-at-home mom. I have a degree, but it is in History. I don’t plan on sharing anything medical and plan only on sharing only my own experiences and resources. If you are having mental health issues, please please consult a medical doctor.

My family is moody. We are a family of passionate emotions, we feel things deeply. But some of us also deal with with some other very real, very complex, very serious mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, OCD sort of runs amok among our family members, and it can be very difficult, for those who are living with it everyday and for the family members who love and support them.

We all go through ups and downs. Days that seem dark and gray, or situations that cause us to be nervous or fearful. Usually all we need on those type of days are resolution of that one issue, a good friend, a walk, a day off. But when those days begin to be the only type of days we have, when we can’t shake it off, when we are constantly filled with fear and doubt and grief, then more needs to be done.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I had a month of total paralysis almost of who I am. I was scared. I was depressed. I had a hard time envisioning any sort of future, I had such overwhelming feelings of doom. And I had a five year old I had to take care of. So I rallied. Sort of. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I had had wonderful role models in my life, who have lived with these feelings their whole lives, and who did all the right things to be able to move on, therapy and medication. So, I immediately made two appointments, one with a therapist and one with a psychiatrist. As we were in lockdown, they were virtual and the demand was high at this time for mental health services. I was not the only one going through those feelings! The psychiatrist prescribed me something, very low dose, to help me on my way, and the therapist helped me talk through my fears and feelings. I had good friends and family who talked to me whenever I needed to throughout the day. My support group was large. After two weeks, I was on my way back to the way I was, unsteady but doing everything I needed to do. And when I falter now, they are still there.

I have another loved one who lives with OCD. This person, let’s call them Charlotte, had a doctor who thought it was a good idea to wean them from the medicine they had been on for years, even though Charlotte said they didn’t think that was a good idea. Until then, the behaviors were balanced and under control. However, as the medicine began to leave their system, these old patterns were rearing their heads again. Double check, rechecking, rechecking. Over and over, stuck in a loop unless physically removed from it. Away from the situation. Away from their house. They were miserable. And so, they left that doctor, went to another, explained what was happening, and was first put on their normal medicine again, and second, referred to a therapist to help them through until the medicine could bring them back to balanced again.

I know that there is a lot of stigma surrounding pursuing help for things like anxiety, depression, OCD. Or any other mental illness out there. I think it takes tremendous strength and power to say, “I need more help” and to go and do something about it, especially with the stigma that exists.

These feelings can affect anyone, old or young, male or female. And there are resources out there for those that need them, so many. No one has to go this alone. Doctors, social workers, helplines, first responders, even apps for your phone that allow 24 hour access to help of all kinds, by all means, video chat, phone calls, texting. We need to help people overcome the stigma and reach out for the help they need.

If you feel like you need some extra help, I urge you to seek it out. Your own doctor is a perfect place to start. The website Silence the Shame also has a huge list of mental health resources and how to contact them. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Morning Coffee Catch Up!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful weekend, and if you celebrate Mother’s Day, I hope it was a good one.

We’ve just been caught up in the everyday over here – work, school, family, etc. My mom hasn’t been well, she was laid low by a UTI, and then her antibiotics really took the wind out of her sails, so it has been a few days of balancing letting her rest but making sure she is eating and drinking water. And in case you didn’t know it, for our ladies 65 and older, confusion is a big symptom even before anything else of an issue. (Also, ten days of antibiotics are a must! We learned that the hard way as well)

I did manage to join my friends at our favorite nursery on Saturday morning! I didn’t buy too much for outside, but I did buy a cool bonsai for my mother in law for Mother’s Day, and lots of terrarium plants to jeuje up Freddy, Harry, and Luna’s tanks. I did get a laugh out of the names of those flowers – and I have to say the Wee Bit Grumpy side seems to be flourishing.

When I got home I learned my guys had enjoyed their time together as well, stumbling on an old-timey baseball game at the park.

Billy and I putzed about with the tanks while Wyatt played outside (we were outdoors as well) and I am pleased with how they are turning out!

Sunday I wanted a slow day, after so many days of being busy. We visited our moms briefly – my mom wasn’t feeling well and Billy’s dad just had surgery – and went to the park for ice cream. I loved just laying on the blanket in the warm sun, listening to the birds, surrounded by the little spring flowers that made it seem like fairyland. Billy and Wyatt bought me an Elephant Ear plant “Mojito”, and I apparently have two more gifts coming in the mail, although I am perfectly happy with my new plant. Then Billy made dinner, salmon and brussel sprouts, rice pilaf, and brown bread. It was fantastic!

It was a lovely weekend and then we hit the ground running Monday, back to the daily again.

Today is also book launch day for my friend Lisa at Boondock Ramblings! Beauty from Ashes is her third book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles and I can’t wait to read it, as I loved the first two! It is downloaded and waiting for quiet time this afternoon.

After becoming pregnant by her abusive ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old Liz Cranmer feels trapped in a prison of shame. Now a single mother she feels like the whole town, especially her church-going parents, view her as a trashy woman with no morals. That’s not how she used to think of herself but — could they all be right? And if they think that, then what does God think of her?
 
Ginny Jefferies, 53, has hit a few snags of her own in life. Her husband, Stan, barely acknowledges her, her job as the town’s library director has become mundane and stagnant, and her youngest daughter is having some kind of identity crisis. Pile on the return of a former boyfriend and you have the makings of a near-midlife crisis.

You can find it here for just .99 cents!

Or, you can read the whole series for under $5 right now!

What have you all been up to lately?

Homeschool – Frog Week!

Our frog week turned into frog weeks! I had intended to spend a week studying frogs but it drifted into two. We were just having so much fun!

We read so many books, learned about the life cycle (and will hopefully be raising our own tadpoles soon!), talked about the differences between frogs and toads and used our own Freddy the Frog as an example, and had a nice discussion about how Freddy, although he is a frog, still lives mostly on land, so it was also a good moment to talk about how there are sometimes exceptions to rules.

However, the highlight of our study was the Kiwi Crate box we had been gifted by a friend! I had always been curious about them so I was excited to see what was inside as well, and Wyatt absolutely loved it.

It was a fun mix of arts and crafts combined with science. We started with a chalk and frog activity, where Wyatt grated different colored chalk, and carefully tapped the dust into water. He dropped a paper frog into the chalk, again very carefully, and then we waited for the chalk to stick. The science behind this is that water likes to stick itself more than to air, so this means that at the surface the water forms a tighter layer as it hugs itself, which creates strong layer to hold up the chalk dust. However, if you bump it, the layer breaks and the chalk sinks. The artsy part comes in with the frog – if you haven’t caused the chalk to sink, it will stick to the paper frog. We were successful a few times, although, not every time. Lol.

Next up was the leaping lily pad activity! This was Wyatt’s favorite. We took the frog from the previous activity and stuck it to the lily pad, wound a rubber band through the notches according to the directions, and then turned it inside out, with the frog on top. Then when you hold it down with your finger and let go, it jumps up into the air! This works through the release of energy. I could never manage to get a photo of it in the air, but rest assured, it hopped!

The final activity was an aquarium in a bottle. It had a lot of steps, so to sum up, we added colored salt water to plastic fish and then floated them in water. The trick to floating them up and down is to balance the amount of water and air correctly. Too much air or too much water will cause them to float on the surface or to sink to the bottom. We did have to make a few adjustments to make all our fish float up and down!

I was pretty impressed by this subscription box! It came with all the information and materials needed (minus the water of course) and Wyatt loved it.

Overall, we had a great two weeks of learning about frogs! Next week is our final week of pond life, and we are ending on Wyatt’s request, snakes!

Resource Round Up!

The Books We Used:

(contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Frog and Friends || Marsh Morning || Marsh Music || Among the Pond People || And the Bullfrogs Sing

Other Resources:

Frog Life Cycle Figurine Set

Frog Mini Unit Study – Stephanie Hathaway

Frog Life Cycle Activity – The Classroom Creative

Kiwi Crate from Kiwico

Adventure Day!

Some days, you just need an adventure day with one of your besties. So Saturday, I was out the door and on the road early with my friend Kelly, heading north to the Michigan Antiques Festival.

This festival was huge! Over 500 vendors, set up and ready to wheel and deal. I actually had no idea you could try to make a deal with the sellers, I was under the impression you had to pay the price that it was marked at. That was my first antiques buying lesson for the day.

We immediately drifted to this item. The seller saw us poking about with it and told us if we could tell him what it was, he would give us a break. We had no idea. Any guesses?

If you guessed pigeon clock timer for racing pigeons, ding ding ding you are the winner. Kelly could not leave such a unique item behind, and I encouraged her to buy it. It was really cool and neither of us had seen one before! Despite the fact that neither of us could tell him what it was, he gave Kelly a price break. While she was deciding though, I found a little horse, sitting there looking sad and lonely. I picked it up and mentioned to Kelly that it was cute – so she got the guy to throw it in for free, which cracked me up. I got a free horsey toy guys!

The weather was atrocious, thanks Michigan. However, we didn’t let that stop us from looking at every single item in every single booth. Neither of us were on the hunt for anything in particular, we were just there for the fun of it. I saw a few things that tempted me, but not enough to commit.

That desk. I almost regret not buying it. Ok, I do kind of regret it. It is really beautiful and it was $150, which is an awesome price. And that armadillo! It was way out of my price range but I LOVE the book A Prayer for Owen Meany (top ten all time favorite right there) and that armadillo immediately made me think of that book.

I ended up leaving with four old maps from the 30s and 40s, which I am going to frame and hang above Harry’s tank, and my free horse. I spent about $10.00. Kelly left with some cool stuff. Two jewelry molds, a glass jar that says cotton, that pigeon clock that weighs a million pounds and I carried to the car which was a million miles away, and an Atlas Dynamite box.

When we had explored every booth at least once, some twice, it was time to head out, onto our next destination – the Goldner Walsh Garden and Home in Pontiac. It is amazing, and if you are a plant person and find yourself in southeast Michigan, make your way there. First, the building and grounds are gorgeous.

I found another armadillo! I left this one behind too though sadly. They are also an event space, and I wish I had an event that I could hold there, because it was a really cool spot. It was all set up for a wedding when we went.

They also have super rare plants – like the royalty of the houseplant world. It was crazy to see such expensive plants – but they were beautiful. I took photos like a crazy plant fangirl. I have seen Thai Constellation monstera and Pink Princesses online, but never in person. And that Dragon Scale Alocasia is gorgeous too! I would never buy one, even if they were in the budget, because I would be too afraid to spend $300 on something that I could kill so easily!

Goldner Walsh also has something else I love – a sulcata tortoise!! They also have a few cats roaming around, and one seems to like Nelson the tortoise, but not paparazzi since it hid its little face.

I managed to buy more there than I did at the antique festival. Not a big surprise there, honestly. I picked out a maidenhair fern, a moon glow snake plant, and a frizzle stick!

I had a fantastic day with Kelly – it had been far too long since we had adventured together. Our purchases arranged neatly and safely in the back of the car, we headed home. Well, not every thing was in the back – my horse rode up front with us.

Book Reviews: The Trespass Collection

I recently read my way through a collection of short stories by various authors, called the Trespass Collection. They were free to download on my Kindle, the covers were so pretty and splashy and colorful, and all had one central theme – nature, up close and personal, and not in a pretty “look at this flower” kind of way. These stories are quick reads, I think they took me about fifteen minutes each, except for one or two that sort of bored me, and those two took me a bit longer. Because these stories are so short, only like 40 pages or so each, my reviews are going to be mostly my impressions of the story more than a recap.

The Tiger Came to the Mountains by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This was one of my favorites! It is the first in the collection and I figured I would love it, as I love Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. And this little short story was amazing. Moreno-Garcia can really put the reader in a moment and make that moment feel so real. I felt the fear and anxiety, the protectiveness the young girl felt over her brother. If you only read one from this collection, I suggest that you make it this one.

Wildlife by Jeff VanderMeer: I had high hopes for this one, as this is my favorite cover! And it started off pretty good…however the end completely ruined things. I was totally lost when I finished it and felt like I had missed something. So I looked online at other reviews and yep, that seemed to be the consensus all around. So, this had a good start, but the ending was a bummer.

The Backbone of the World by Stephen Graham Jones: OOo, this one was crazy bonkers and I loved it!! I didn’t see this one coming and it was awesome. I was a little nervous to read this one, as I had DNF’d a book by Jones last year because it scared me too much but this one was just the right amount of weird. It reminded me of when I was a kid and discovered Stephen King for the first time. (this is high praise from me)

Stag by Karen Russell: This story was my least favorite. I was just so bored! And it kind of depressed me as well.

A Righteous Man by Tochi Onyebuchi: I enjoyed this one, although I must confess to being slightly confused by it. It was well-written, and engaging though. I think part of the issue with this particular story is that it just was too short! It needed more, it needed to be a full length novel maybe.

Bloody Summer by Carmen Maria Machado: The final book in the collection, and I loved it just as much as the first! And both involved tigers! This story kept me captivated all the way through – it was so good and a a fantastic story to end the collection with.

Overall, the stories were a mixed bag for me. Some I loved, some I disliked, and some I thought were just ok, which seems pretty par for the course when reading a short story collection, at least for me. I did like these brief introductions to new to me authors and their work, which was all of them except for Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Stephen Graham Jones. I will more than likely be picking up more by Carmen Maria Machado since I enjoyed her story so much, and I will probably give Tochi Onyebuchi another go as well.

Have you read this collection, or anything else by these authors?

Hello, May!!

I had high hopes for April – and while it was a pretty darn good month, it was still really cold here in Michigan. Hopefully May brings the temps we are wanting, the nice, beautiful, warm days before the sticky, swampy days of summer. We love summer these days, but still avoid the heat of the day. Spring is pretty perfect for us, and usually involves lots of playing outside and porch drinks.

I have some fun activities in store for us this month, but my main goal for the month is getting the garden all ready and planting what can be planted. I really want to get my tomatoes planted but it is still too early here. We are looking forward to garden fresh tomatoes! My friends and I are hitting up our favorite nurseries this upcoming weekend, and I am making a list of what I think I need.

As I sit here and think about what we are doing this month, it seems like May is sort of a staging ground for summer – planning summer gardens, summer vacations – and I am deciding here and now to not miss the month of May by looking ahead to June.

Wyatt and I are about to start reading Charlotte’s Web together, which I also am going to use as a jumping off point for a big unit study on farms. I am super excited about this unit study, and have so many books and activities waiting for us, as soon as we finish up our ponds study. We have about two weeks worth or learning left, including some fun field trips, art projects, science experiments, and even a tiny container pond build. But once we finish up, we are starting on farms. I am super excited about it. I feel like we can include so many different little rabbit trails of learning, which usually ends up trickling into our everyday lives. That is one of my favorite things about homeschooling – how our daily lives and homeschool learning activities can become intertwined. (Like, don’t you all think I need to add a tarantula to our menagerie?) And I already have a trip planned for July, to a tiny house set in the middle of a farm.

Speaking of school, I need to get moving on next year’s curriculum! I already know what I want to use, but I want to purchase the programs I am using so I can get working on planning. I am also creating our own language arts curriculum for next year. It’s a lot of work honestly but I think it will be worth it! We will still rely on other curriculum for grammar, phonics, etc but for language arts, that is all me. I am really excited about what I have planned!

I am really looking forward to going to restaurants again this month! We are a bit slower here, to rejoin the world, but we are working on it slowly but surely. I am still nervous with Wyatt’s health issues but things are definitely better than they were two years ago at this time. I am hoping to start with some outside dining before taking the plunge. In fact, I should look at the weather and set something up soon!

What are your plans for May? Is there anything you are looking forward to this month?

April Reading Round-Up

We have had quite a fun reading month! I go to the library at least twice a week and bring home stacks of books, for me, for Wyatt, and for my mom. I love that it is the same library I have gone to since I was a child; the other day I was checking out books and the head librarian, Wally, was telling me how he remembered me checking out books when I was just a little girl. I love that now Wyatt is doing the same at the same library. Our library is such a special place for me.

Let’s start with my mom!

She just finished up Radium Girls and loved it; now she has Code Girls and America’s First Daughter that she is working on. My mom is primarily a nonfiction reader, so if you have any suggestions that are like Radium Girls I would love to hear them (and so would she!)

Now me:

I had a really slow reading month, but it was a good one! I am including Seed to Dust although I still have a bit left. Hopefully I get to these reviews soon!

And now Wyatt:

The Storm is our current read aloud. I wanted something sort of short (lol) to squeeze in before our next longer reader aloud. So far this is pretty cute, and it is a series so there are more to explore if Wyatt enjoys it. Little Blue House Beside the Sea is beautiful, and made me dream of visiting coastlines. Wyatt liked it but I think I liked it more. We both really enjoyed I am You: A Book About Ubuntu! I had never heard of Ubuntu before! It is a South African philosophy about community, a belief system that a person is a person through other people. If you hurt, I hurt. If you are happy, then I am happy. When I am kind to you, I am kind to myself. I love the idea of this connection and empathy and while Wyatt was a little lost on the bigger message, the ideas of friendship and kindness were quite clear to him.

Wyatt absolutely loved Jeff Goes Wild and Moose’s Book Bus. Both were so cute, and filled with animals which Wyatt is all about in a book right now. In Jeff Goes Wild, an orange cat imagines he is a jungle tiger before concluding he likes who he is as he is. I loved the colors and illustrations in this book! And Moose’s Book Bus – I think this was the hands down favorite for both of us this month. Moose starts checking books out for his family, then the animals in the woods. He reads to them until his house becomes too full to hold them all. So he teaches a neighbor to read, who teaches another, and so on, until everyone is a reader! Moose still will have guests drop by though, to hear him read aloud. We loved this one! Somewhere is a very sweet little book about a child’s first “adventure” while on a walk with her father.

Harlem Grown and The Hiking Viking were also at the tops of our list! Wyatt is excited about gardening right now since he got to plant a little garden of his own so he liked Harlem Grown. The Hiking Viking is about a young Viking who would prefer to spend time in nature than doing the typical viking things, like fighting and feats of physical strength. In the end he learns that it is ok to be different. It reminded me a little of Ferdinand, which was one of my very favorite picture books as a child. It also had really fun illustrations. And finally Watercress. I should have included this in my section, since I read it but not to Wyatt. I am definitely buying this one, it was so beautiful and made me cry and touched my heart. It is an autobiographical moment in Wang’s life, about growing up an in an immigrant family in the midwest, being embarrassed of her family, then as she learns more about her family, she feels ashamed of being ashamed of her family. It was just excellent.

And that’s a wrap!

Greenfield Village – First visit 2022

Yay! The Village is open for the season! We love Greenfield Village so much. We live so close that we get a membership every year. It is fun to go to the different events and exhibits, but what we like to do is just go and enjoy the grounds themselves. It is a wonderful place to go with Wyatt that always has something to do, or if we are feeling low key we can just go for a walk around or a train ride and eat frozen custard.

It was seriously the BEST spring day. Vivid blue skies, a breeze, just warm enough. The perfect day to visit really.

This pavilion is new. Well new to the village at least. It was originally part of Detroit’s Central Farm Market, and was built in 1860 and closed in 1890. It was moved to Belle Isle until eventually falling into disrepair. The Henry Ford bought the building before it was destroyed in 2003 and reconstructed it at Greenfield Village, where I believe they plan to use it for their own farmers market filled with the produce and products grown and made there. I am excited to check it out!

And in all of our years visiting, we never knew there was a candy store! What! Now that we know, we will be back. I particularly loved these Michi-gummies. So did Wyatt, although I am the only one who played with them.

This is early spring at Cotswold Cottage, one of my favorite houses. The flowers have not come up yet, but they want to! The birds were busy making nests in the house, and we had fun playing around inside and out. I can’t wait to go back and see it in all of it’s summertime glory. (Daggett Farmhouse is my other favorite building)

Another sleeping garden, a sleepy Main street, fit the mellow mood. Soon these streets will be filled with families and couples and tourists, but while we were there it was still fairly subdued. I couldn’t help but think of Murdoch Mysteries as I walked around this part of the village.

It was a relaxing outing, low key, easy. We have many more visits this season in our future!

If you want to take a digital look around, click on the locations on this map!

Many Mini-Adventures

We took a much needed week off last week! We spent the first two days laying low, reading, playing games, and watching tv. We have been working hard and we deserved it. By Wednesday, we were feeling restless though and we picked up mom/Grandma Bird (Wyatt started calling her Bird when he was a toddler and it has stuck) and went for a spring walk in the woods.

It was a great walk, there was sunshine, woodpeckers, and flowers just poking their heads up. And bluebirds! I spotted two bluebirds on our walk and I was thrilled! We checked for frogs and salamanders but didn’t spot any. We will keep trying though!

Since it was our spring break, Billy took Thursday and Friday off! We spent Thursday at Greenfield Village, which I will post about tomorrow, and then the rest of the weekend we spent bopping around with our various mini-adventures. We all had a few requests that we wanted to do – Wyatt wanted ice cream and a picnic, I wanted to visit the nursery on opening day, and Billy wanted a beard trim. We all got our wishes plus a few extras!

The nursery happened first. We got up bright and early, braved the slightly chilly temps, and poked around the aisles, planning and choosing. I didn’t buy much this go ’round – spring is being too fickle here in Michigan right now. I did pick out a few new houseplants. Wyatt loves to name my plants, and he named these three Zoey Zebra, Emily Elephant, and Peppa after characters from Peppa Pig. I think they were pretty spot on! Wyatt also picked out a few for a little pot all his own.

Then we had an impromptu visit to the doctor for Wyatt. On Tuesday, he woke up with a red spot in his eye. By Friday, we thought it was looking worse, and we were afraid he had something in it, like one of his super long eyelashes.

Thankfully, it was just a broken blood vessel – which he may have gotten from singing loudly. Picture me rolling my eyes here, because this kid can get LOUD!!

The next day was 80 degrees! We decided to split Wyatt’s requests up into two days, and have our picnic Sunday when the ground would be a bit more dry and we could really take our time. So Saturday, Billy got his beard trim – or chop, however you want to view it, as he had like 8 inches cut off! I feel like he looks quite distinguished now. We also got ice cream, to Wyatt’s delight. On our way home we impulsively stopped at an estate sale, which I ran into alone. And I feel like I left a winner! I picked up a beautiful chair for my office for only $15 dollars. As I was carrying it out people were commenting that it was a gorgeous chair, and a man pointed to it and told his wife, “That is the chair I wanted you to see, but you were too slow..:. I guess my chair was popular! We went back later in the day, all three of us this time, and left with two hedgehog statues – I picked one and so did Wyatt. He is totally my kid. (and I promise that in the photos Wyatt did have ice cream, he just likes his cone on the side)

Sunday finally was picnic day! It was a beautiful day for one, 80 and sunny!

It was a great few days of fun before returning to all of responsibilities!