Book Review: Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler

Goodreads Summary:

The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.

With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.

In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.

Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out.

As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.

My Thoughts:

In the first book in The Spencer Valley Chronicles, The Farmer’s Daughter, we meet the Tanner family, and follow along as Molly and Alex begin their new romance. In this second book, Harvesting Hope, we focus on Molly’s brother Jason and his long time love, Ellie. Although, there is trouble in paradise.

Howeler has a gift for writing characters that could have stepped off the streets of any town and into the pages of a book, they are so real. They are complex, full of life, multi-dimensional, and just have that spark that makes one empathize and relate to the characters they are reading about. Jason’s struggles with his own guilt over a past mistake, the way he throws himself into one thing after another, working hard so he doesn’t have to think too much, Ellie’s devotion to her parents, her frustration with her little feckless sister that fights against her natural protectiveness as an older sister – these are all such humanizing traits that make these characters so real.

I was wrapped up in this story from beginning to end – I never knew what was going to happen from one moment to the next, and there were some situations that kept me on the edge of my seat, anxious for the outcome! There were moments that made me chuckle, others still that made me laugh out loud. And then the scene where three shirtless men have a wood splitting competition – pure masculinity, right there. And the kind that a woman doesn’t mind being witness too, either. The dialogue is so true and raw and honest though at other moments, when they talk about how to keep a farm afloat, mistakes they made that roll over and over in their thoughts, long-ingrained ideas that they can’t shake.

The last half of this book kept me glued to the pages until I was finished. So much happened, so much craziness that I needed to know if everything worked out in the end! I won’t tell you though, you will have to read that for yourself! However through it all, there is the foundation of love. And hope. Love for your spouse, your new love, your old love, your neighbor, you sister, your parents. Your community. Just so much love. And I loved it.

Harvesting Hope is available now on Kindle. If you are looking for a feel good read with wonderful characters, look no further. I greatly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one!

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

I feel like last week was a mad dash to the finish line – we start school tomorrow! Am I ready? I don’t know! I am excited to begin our new curriculum and learn all the new things with Wyatt this year. His science curriculum this year includes a huge section on geology and rocks and minerals and I have to admit I am super excited about it. And I learned my brother has a rock tumbler… I may be sending some rocks his way to tumble for us. We also had my mom and niece over for a day and the kids had such fun together. All day playing, making messes, eating, being crazy. It was good.

I also had a pretty emotional day on Thursday. When I woke up in the morning I discovered that my little Dash had passed away overnight. She had been declining so I wasn’t totally surprised but I felt really hampered by not being able to do much. She was a tiny unhandleable anole. I feel like she was an older girl when we rescued her, as wild caught reptiles you never know. I don’t support the idea of wild caught reptiles and adopted her because she looked so miserable in the pet store. I was absolutely shattered however even while knowing it was coming. Billy arranged her sweetly in a little tea tin surrounded by flower petals and we buried her in the lavender. It’s funny how these small creatures can charm their way right into your heart but they do.

Read Last Week/Reading This Week:

I finished The Family Plot and it was fabulous!! It was crazy twisty and I couldn’t stop reading it. A good way to gear up for spooky season!! I also started and read about half of The Running Hare. I love John Lewis-Stempel and always slow read his books to savor them a bit more.

I also started Fire Keeper’s Daughter. And wow, I love this book so much. Boulley is a Michigan author writing about her Ojibwe community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I love supporting Michigan authors and it is always so neat to read a book set in your home state. I have been to so many of these places mentioned in the book. I am also learning so much about the Ojibwe. I may end up going down a few rabbit trails…

Posted Last Week:

I posted my Hometown Views: Main Street post, alongside Lisa at Boondock Ramblings. I learned some new stuff from her post, the most startling about Marie Antoinette. Did you know she had a connection to Pennsylvania?

I also posted my latest Butterfly Update. We are getting close to the end folks!

Watching:

We have been kind of skipping around, not seeming to land on anything too long. We watched a few episodes of Nancy Drew before deciding we want to save it for fall. We watched McDonald and Dodds on BritBox which we really love. We watched a few Death in Paradise, and then last night started Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

And that is about it from our little refuge! How are things going for you?

Butterfly Project – Update #8

So yeah, this will probably be one of my favorite pictures from this summer. Just a boy and a butterfly.

We are getting so near to the end of our butterfly project. It seems odd without tanks of hungry munching caterpillars everywhere. Things are quiet. Not that you could hear them, but.. it just feels quieter. The summer is winding down and that is just one of the signs.

I have stopped bringing in eggs and caterpillars, so this group that I have right now will be the last. After a certain point, I don’t want to raise them if when they eclose there is a chance that it would be too cold to release them. Currently, I have fourteen monarchs in chrysalis. These guys should be the super monarchs, the ones that make the journey south where they will stay for the winter.

For some reason, a bunch of them decided to go into chrysalis in the same area. I wonder if there was a reason behind that?

I also have seven black swallowtails in chrysalis, with four still eating and growing. Black swallowtail chrysalides can overwinter while monarchs can’t, so I am not as concerned with these guys.

As for releases, it was a crazy few weeks! I was watching my sister-in-laws chrysalides and caterpillars while they were on vacation, and while they were gone I released 15 of her butterflies. It was crazy, between hers and mine! Some of them stuck around for photos while others took immediately to the skies.

I did find a little sad one in the yard one morning. I don’t know what happened to it, but it could have been attacked by a bird or a cat or who knows what else. I was walking through the yard, and happened to glance down to see a butterfly with a torn wing crawling across my path. I have a very tender heart for all creatures, and I could not leave it out there to suffer. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I knew it wasn’t staying out there like that. So, I brought it in and did some googling and decided to keep it for as long it is lived. Here is little Flippy Bohannon. The name is probably a little insensitive since it couldn’t fly, only crawl or flip around, but he lived with us a few days, eating peaches and looking at the sun until he wasn’t anymore. He is buried in our butterfly garden now.

Incidentally, one of the butterflies of my Chrissy’s (my SIL) eclosed and was born without a wing! Just one little wing. She is keeping hers around too, just letting it live its best short life safely in her house.

So things are pretty slow around here for now, but the next update, maybe in two weeks, I will have released all the super monarchs.

The tally: Black Swallowtails – Males: 8, Females: 6 Monarchs – Males: 17 Females: 10

I will make a list of them and their names in my last post, after I release this last group of monarchs. I can’t believe summer is almost over!

Hometown Views: Main Street

Hi all! Recently,Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I started a new blog feature called Hometown Views, where we share different buildings, traditions, memories all from our hometowns. We started this because during our online friendship we have enjoyed comparing the areas we live – rural to suburban outside Detroit. This week is all about our respective “Main Street”.

Our main drag here in Wyandotte is Biddle Avenue, named for Major John Biddle, who had served in the War of 1812 and then settled here in the Detroit area. The city has been around, settled by non-native settlers, since 1854. Before that the Wyandots lived here, forming their village of Maquaqua. I have read that the descendants of the Wyandots that used to live here now live in the Amherstburg area of Canada, across the Detroit River.

This image is from the Bacon Library’s Online Archive.

So pretty right? Times may have changed, but the street still remains charming in my opinion. This is how it looks today.

Our main street of Biddle Avenue has its own roving photographer, Kelly Christopher Luttrell. You can spot him and his camera roaming about the streets of Wyandotte on pretty much any given day – and almost any given time. He is up early most days, photographing the sunrise above the river. He is out in blizzards and rainstorms, hot days and windy. His collection of photos of the city are an archivists dream. He was even designated the city’s photographer by our last mayor, and no one has as much city pride as Kelly. We graduated together, and he was kind enough to allow me the use of a few of his photographs for this post. He is an all around good dude. He even made a Wyandotte calendar!

My family has lived in this city since 1950. My mom remembers running these streets, going to the movies at one of the three movie theaters that used to stand here. My dad bought his clothes at the store that is visible in this last photo, the one with red marquee. And, all through college, I worked at the store that used to be in the building next store, an office supply store named Gail’s Office Supply. The Gail family owned it, and if you remember the show WKRP in Cincinnati, Max Gail played a character in that show. I loved that job – all the pens! All the stationary! And even cooler, Billy worked two jobs right nearby – the first a few blocks down, at an art gallery as a framer, and also at the old Wyandotte Theater as a projectionist. Billy and I used to meet for lunch every day at the little diner on the corner, located a few doors down from Gail’s. I was young and as a young ‘un could eat french fries with ranch dressing with a black coffee every day for lunch. We ate there for years, until a coffee shop opened up right next door to Gail’s, Java Joes, then we practically lived there, lunch and in the evenings, hanging out with friends. My brother worked at Gail’s too, and later at Java Joes. So much of my personal history, right there one little block.

The Wyandotte Theater was said to be a playhouse before a movie theater, with a connecting underground passageway to the apartments across the parking lot. I haven’t been able to substantiate this claim but I like this story so I included it. It did have a giant stage in front, which I know from obviously going but also because one time my mom, brother and I went to the see Care Bears movie when my brother was like five. At the end of the movie during the credits, my brother, always a wild child, broke away from my mom, and ran up the stairs on to the stage to dance with the Care Bears on screen. And of course, my mom made ME go and get him…

The theater during my mom’s youth. I can guarantee you she is probably in this photo somewhere. (Photo by David Zornig)

But before this theater showed The Beatles, it showed a bit older fare..all the way back in the 1930s. It opened in 1938, with the “Main” as it was called, seating 1500 people. (Lisa your whole town could fit in here twice!) The “Annex” opened in 1941, and sat 800.

Here is a bit more legend for you. When Billy worked there, I would go hang out with him in the projection room, which had a huge vault door. He told me that the vault door was there because in the olden days the old film could catch fire easily and the projectionist would have to slam the door shut, hoping that the vaulted door would prevent the fire from getting too out of control before the building could be completely evacuated. This could be a tall tale, so don’t go telling your friends this is fact. It was neat to sit in there, but I hated closing up the theater at night. I always helped so that we could leave earlier and hang out, but dang it was so dark in there after lights were out. Like pitch black, especially in the Main. And there was of course, the ghost. It was said that a previous projectionist had killed himself in the Main, and that he haunted the theater. Because every old theater needs a ghost. I do remember one night though Billy went to go turn off the lobby and marquee lights while I waited in the lobby with another friend of ours who worked there. The lights went out, Billy walked into the lobby, and boom – all of a sudden the lights were back on. So Justin and Billy both went the second time to turn them back off, leaving me alone in the dark, which I was a little scared about. The lights went off, and as soon as they got into the lobby again, boom, back on. Again! We all looked at each other and mutually decided it was time to take off!

Sadly, the theater couldn’t hold its own against the bigger box offices, and eventually closed, and was demolished. That was a sad day for every Wyandotte resident, I think.

Back to Biddle, let’s end on a lighter note! The Wyandotte Parade. I love a parade, and apparently so does our town. Every 4th of July and Christmas, citizens from the area gather to watch the bands, the police, the floats parade by. And I love it.

All photos here are taken again from the Bacon Library’s Online Local History Archive. The first is in 1920, then 1959, and then finally 1988, when George Bush visited and walked in the 4th of July Parade. (Bill Clinton actually visited too although in a later year, and gave a speech on the porch of the library, that same one pictured. All the businesses on Biddle closed that day, including Gail’s and we all walked down to watch.)

And a few more from recent history, mine. Gotta love my mom’s yellow sunglasses in that first photo! I’m with my two cousins Brian and Melissa in the second picture, but I am the one with my arm outstretched like a little beggar. The one with the dog – I am in the black coat walking my dog Penny (I miss her so much!) who I adopted from the pound, and my SIL is in purple walking her pound puppy Sassy. We were walking with the pound to show people what amazing dogs you can find in the pound (and cats, but they don’t really like parades…).

Wyatt’s first parade! You can only see the tippy top of his head – don’t worry he could breathe because I was a nut and checked like every two seconds. And, why am I also always holding a McDonald’s coffee?

I feel like I could tell you so many more stories, but we will leave it here for now. I hope you enjoyed this little journey! Now take a minute to walk along Lisa’s Main Street in Dushore, PA!

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

Hi everyone! I had a pretty blah week last week, just sort of getting along everyday. It was just a week, I guess. I did babysit my SIL’s caterpillars and chrysalids and released a ton of butterflies, which was neat. I am planning on a butterfly post this week so I will tell you all about it then. Otherwise, nothing real exciting to report over here.

Read Last Week:

I finished up Harvesting Hope and I loved it! The characters are so real and believable, like real people you would know in your own community. I think Lisa has a real gift for creating characters, for dialogue, and for humor. This book is just what I needed last week. I plan on writing book reviews this week and this one is on the list!

Reading This Week:

I had planned on reading a different book this week, but these two called to me louder. I am a huge John Lewis-Stempel fan and Billy got me The Running Hare for Mother’s Day, but wanted to wait until the right time to read it. And that is apparently now. The Family Plot looks so good! My mom just finished it and loved it so I am looking forward to it too.

Watching:

Since finishing up Sweet Tooth and Virgin River, we went back to Death in Paradise for a bit. We are also watching McDonald and Dodds on BritBox , and I started a rewatch of Schitt’s Creek because I love it. We had a special Saturday night movie night where we watched Jungle Cruise and ate lots of snacks. And I seriously loved the movie. It had that campy Disney feel, had action, adventure, and reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones, a series that I loved and still do. As a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up. If I had been a kid today watching The Jungle Cruise, I would want to be Dr. Lily Houghton.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling: A Look Back as We Move Forward

A Sweet Summer Tradition

Our Butterfly Project – Update #7

And that is about it from our little refuge! What has been going on in your world?

Homeschooling: A Look Back As We Move Forward

In just two weeks we will be starting our second year of homeschooling. I can hardly believe it. We started as emergency homeschoolers with COVID, but to be honest, I always wanted to homeschool. The pandemic just gave me a good excuse to do it.

It was definitely a year of learning, for both of us. I had made the decision early on that I was going to homeschool – probably in April of 2020 I decided I needed to make a decision for fall, since I wanted to be ready if I was going to choose to go it alone. Except, I had no idea at all about where to begin. I talked to a few people online, attended a few online conferences, and read a few books. I had belonged to a couple of different groups on Facebook as well, so I felt like I was pulling information from all over. I had also worked as a para in the public schools for like 15 years and while that did not prepare me to be a teacher, I was at least somewhat familiar with what was being taught.

So I made my choices for our curriculum, got it all ready, and it was go time. I had to acquire supplies and manipulatives, books, games, you name it, I felt like I needed to buy it. And most of the time, it was a gamble. I didn’t know what would work best for Wyatt, what would click most for my kiddo. The fact that he has additional challenges caused me to stress a little more as well; I didn’t want to fail him. However, I began to feel more confident in my choices the longer we homeschooled. I learned how he learned; I saw him making progress in areas I had always been made to feel he may never achieve. I feel like Wyatt really benefited from the one on one teaching; unlike a classroom, my attention was all on him. We worked at his pace, and if something wasn’t working we changed it or moved on, in the case of place value. He just wasn’t ready for that last year, so we will try again this year.

I’m not going to kid anyone, it was a lot of work. For him and me both. It was not just read a little bit in the morning do an art project and then call it quits. Although that would be fun, and some days we actually did do just that. But most of the time we had our plans and while I did not have a set schedule or routine, we had a rhythm to our days and our weeks.

So what worked and what didn’t for us?

I’ll start with what did work. Books for one. Wyatt responded really well to learning through books and stories. However, he really remembered lessons best where he could use his hands or his body, like incorporating little body movements like we did when we learned the life cycle of a butterfly, or when we use all his math manipulatives. Songs work really well for Wyatt too – especially Jack Hartman videos on YouTube. I put Jack on while I am making lunch and it is a good transition from “school” to lunch.

What didn’t work is a bit more hard to express. I had a lot of trial and error on teaching certain topics. As I mentioned before place value was tough for him and for me. I bought a million different things to teach this, and I think that he just wasn’t ready for this concept yet. Going into this year, I also am realizing I don’t need to buy all the things. Last year I felt like I had to purchase everything. This was partially due to our library being sort of inaccessible for a lot of the year, and also because I didn’t have a clear idea of what was going to work. I already have the books checked out from the library that we need for the first few weeks of school for reading/history/science that are not part of the “spine” we are working from. For instance we are going to use Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy book all year long, so I bought it, but books we are reading once or twice I am utilizing the library. Which I love to do anyway so it works.

While I bought a bunch of unnecessary stuff last year, there were a few purchases that worked really well for us! (the following do contain affiliate links. I never share anything here that i don’t love and believe in though!)

This math board was a hit with Wyatt. I found it very helpful in teaching him addition and subtraction, and being able to have something tangible resonated with him during the process. I think math can seem so abstract at times unless kids can see it and this really aids in allowing kids to “see” math. Wyatt likes this so much, that he will take it out of his math basket and make equations just whenever. We were on a zoom with my mom last night, and he pulled it out and was making math problems and showing her. I found a board for reading and spelling and I plan on buying it before the beginning of the year since this math board worked so well.

I had also struggled with finding the right set up for our morning time, going over the calendar, time, etc and I struck gold with this one. It is cute and nature themed so a perfect fit for our family, it doesn’t have a bunch of pieces I have to worry about losing, and it is easy to use. Another thing that Wyatt likes to get out and play with, and it totally helped teach him how to read the days of the week.

This ABC picture board from Melissa and Doug was also handy when we were learning letters! Wyatt loves anything hands on like this, and this made learning to recognize the letters a bit more fun for him.

I think one thing that has helped Wyatt a lot as well are flash cards. I know that seems odd, everyone seems to think ugh flash cards, but Wyatt at least loves to get them out of the basket and go through them himself. I don’t hold them up and have him tell me, he likes to get them out, and go through the stack naming everything. I think this was also very beneficial for his speech this year! I also am thinking about getting him something similar for sentence building. With Wyatt’s challenges in speech and fine motor skills, having words he can read and move around or point to help us both out. I can assess whether he knows something and he can communicate it to me in a way that is not frustrating. We work on saying the words and writing them, but being able to manipulate objects as well makes learning for Wyatt a bit easier at times. Two things on my “wish list” for this year are this sight words flash cards set that includes hand motions as part of the lesson, and this sentence building kit.

I have had to get creative at times. I have had to learn to be flexible. I have learned that sometimes it is ok to take a break and come back to something at a different time. I have learned that you run out of colored construction paper unevenly and that food coloring is hard to get at different times of the year. I have also learned that Dawn dish soap removes kinetic sand from a child’s hair and that there is such a thing as an electric hole punch. I have learned so much this year homeschooling Wyatt and I am really looking forward to our new school year – with my big time first grader!

What are some educational games, products, books that you have loved?

A Sweet Summer Tradition

Or a sassy one, judging by Wyatt’s face in this photo. it cracks me up. He actually did have a good time despite this expression.

Every year we take a drive into the country to our favorite summertime orchard, Erie Orchards. When I was a kid, this was the orchard we used to get pumpkins and apples at, so we have been visiting and eating the fruit from these trees since I was Wyatt’s age, which is crazy to me!

Usually we are able to pick from the whole orchard. This year we were told to pick from only one row, so I am not sure if it was a rough growing season for them or what the deal was but we stuck to our row. Unfortunately, there were a few other families there and we were all picking from the one same row, so it was not quite as easy to find peaches. If you look at our bag though, we managed successfully, although it wasn’t quite as fun this time with all of us crammed in the same space.

We usually picnic as well too, but Wyatt requested a “car picnic” and since he is the prince of picnics in this house we decided a car picnic worked for us too. Especially since this time there were more people than usual around.

So we ate our cheese and bread and peaches hanging out in the back of the Subaru, and then wandered over to the “U-Pick” flowers. I can’t seem to pass that up this year. All the bright colors, I am like a magpie to the shiny things. And all the butterflies! I definitely need to plant zinnies next year! Remember that for me, ok? And sunflowers too, I am in love with their bright cheery faces this year.

Today my plans include making peach jam. I am going to try something different though. Instead of the traditional way of making jam, I am going to try Instant Pot jam. It will be freezer jam but that is ok. I love to grab a jar of summer preserves in the midst of winter and remember the days that i picked that fruit. I also love to put peach jam on my pancakes! Yum!

It was a quick little trip but a fun one!

Our Butterfly Project – Update #7

Before we left for vacation, I had to line up a few caterpillar sitters! Luckily for me, my two besties also raise caterpillars and took mine in. One took my black swallowtails, the other my monarchs. I also had family coming in twice a day to feed my lizards and cats, and checking the butterfly enclosures for any butterflies that might eclose during our absence and release them.

And three monarchs were born while I was gone! I told my niece she had to name them all for me, so the three that eclosed under her watch (and her mom’s) are named Jack, Sarah, and… Ice Cream.

The rest of my caterpillars went into chrysalis for the most part while I was gone, so I ended up picking up tanks of chrysalis when we got back, except for a few that were younger and were still just little caterpillars. However, my SIL had a bunch of monarch caterpillars that she asked me to take. I now have about 11 caterpillars munching away in the tank!

Since the last update, I have had 11 total butterflies eclose – 8 monarchs and 3 black swallowtails. I named the monarchs (not including Jack, Sarah, and Ice Cream) Fitzgerald, Wilde, Leo, Cordelia, and Oberon. The black swallowtails I named Orion, Bellatrix, and Andromeda.

Cordelia was giving me great anxiety. When monarchs emerge, they generally hang from the chrysalis for an hour or more, to allow their wings to dry. For some reason though, Cordelia had itchy feet and wanted to rush the process. She kept walking across the top of the enclosure, hanging down of course, but since she was just new, she kept falling! Her wings were still wet and she couldn’t move once she fell and she would flail her little legs in the air. I freaked out because if she remained like that, in a crumpled heap, her wings would be malformed and she wouldn’t be able to fly. I would reach in, let her climb on my finger, and then help her back to the top. I did this eight times before she just went to sleep for the night. We made it, and she was able to fly free and high today when I released her.

There is something amazing about a butterfly, and I love when they seem to trust you enough to climb onto your hands and fingers. I know they just assume that my finger is a stick but, it feels like I am truly connected to them in some way, to nature, when they allow that to happen. There is a trick to it by the way – you want to put your finger near their head/front of their body, under their legs and they just latch on. Their little feet feel so sticky, and despite being fragile little things, they have a surprising weight to them, a featherweight, but you know they are there.

So my tally to date is: 14 male monarchs, 8 female monarchs, 6 male black swallowtails, and 4 female. The next wave is coming! Usually the giant monarchs, the ones strong enough to migrate to Texas and Mexico, are being growing right now, and will leave Michigan to head south the end of August and early September. I am looking forward to contributing to that migration and hopefully helping to boost the numbers of these magnificent creatures.

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

Hello! Today is a bright sunshiney day, which is perfect since it is my niece Dino Girl’s birthday party today! It will be the first party we have gone too since the pandemic, and it is outside at a park so the kids can play. I have spent the past week getting ready for next school year – I decided we need a bigger space so I am in the process of rearranging and redoing Wyatt’s bedroom to accommodate this need. I mainly really need to shift things around and go through the six years of clothes and toys and books he has accumulated, and organize. We also took apart the little toddler bed, since he is a big kid now anyway which seemed to open the room up much more. I want to do our bedroom too, but.. I guess Wyatt’s room came first. And of course I decided he needs all new art work too, so I will slowly be adding that in as well, with his input. He said he wants animals and the moon. I guess I will see what I can do with that theme.

Read Last Week:

I finally finished Prodigal Summer, and it was an amazing read. I had read it before, but I feel like I had so much more understanding and more takeaways this time around. It was complex and rich, and made me think about our responsibility to nature and the world and our communities and how that all works together.

I also downloaded a new book, Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler, but I keep forgetting to charge my kindle! I should do that right after this so I can start it tonight.

I also am picking this book up from the library tomorrow, and hope to start it as well. I loved House of Salt and Sorrows so I am looking forward to reading this one.

Posted Last Week:

An Art Studio, a Lighthouse, and a Picnic

10 on the 10th – August

Hometown Views: Churches

Lakes and Trails – Up North #3

Watching:

We finished up Virgin River and Sweet Tooth. I loved them both although they were very different. Sweet Tooth I especially loved. We started watching McDonald and Dodds, a police procedural/mystery on BritBox, and we thought the first season was so-so, but loved the second season. We also started watching season two of Nancy Drew. I am getting ready for spooky season!!

And that is it from around here! Hope you are all doing well!

Lakes and Trails -Up North Post #3

In the spirit of trying new things and having different adventures, our plan for day number 3 up north was to explore two completely new to us places. First up, the Botanical Gardens at Barnes Park.

I picked this place because it seemed to have a lot of different areas for us to check out – stuff for Wyatt, and stuff for us too. We arrived bright and early, and I was happy we went in the morning as the day was already heating up. We pulled in, grabbed a map of the grounds, and started off. This caught our eye first..

This must have been some cow! Good for you Traverse Colantha Walker.

Our next stop was the big community garden! It was gorgeous and gave me some inspiration for next year as well! Then, despite having a map, we wandered around trying to find our next trail, the Fairy Trail! We had a strangely hard time finding it; were we deliberately led astray by the fairies?

This was a neat little stop and if you have kids and visit the area, this is a must do!

Once we found our way out of Faerie, we wandered into the next garden over, the pollinator garden.

By this point, we were getting weary of the sun and heat, and headed back to the car and our water, took a quick little break, and left for our next stop, an old growth cedar forest.

Now, this trail was truly magical. Just the feeling when you entered into the trees was something bordering a reverence. My loud boy, Wyatt Riot, even could tell, and whispered “Wow” as we stood the three of us, within this shelter of trees. It was our first time in such a forest and it was beautiful. We took our time making our way through, at time just standing still on the trail and listening to the Blue Jays shriek, catch them flying from tree to tree. Absorbing the stillness at other times, breathing in the cedar fragrance that just wafted with each of our footsteps. This was a short hike, but one of the best ones I have ever been on.

All too soon we were back in the hot, dusty parking lot, and decided it was time to head back to the cabin. We still had some swimming left to do, but not until we took a nap.. which we did after lunch. Then the guys headed down and into the lake. I did not get a swimsuit in time so I watched from the shore, but I was able to take in the sheer joy and excitement that Wyatt was radiating. His laughter echoed over the water as he played in the lake. My whole goal of this trip was to get Wyatt in the water, to be in a lake, to sit on a beach. And it was a resounding success.

We were all exhausted by the time evening rolled around. We had a quick dinner of hot dogs and macaroni, then just vegged until bed. The next day we had to leave so we took this last opportunity to really just relax.

And that my friends, was the end of our trip. Until next year, northern Michigan. We had a blast!