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?

Finding A Morning Rhythm

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When I was a little girl, I would wake up in the morning to the sound of the stove clicking on, as my mom started the kettle for her tea. She was always up before us, and had a cup of tea and toast in the dark kitchen before the rest of us tumbled out of bed. I would hear the clicking, then fall back asleep just long enough for the whistling of the kettle to wake me again. Then I would wait in that in-between sleep and wakefulness state, for my mom to come and get me for school. I felt safe and secure in those moments, cocooned in my bed, the light outside just starting to grow brighter, knowing my mom was awake and starting her day.

I recently joined the Wilder Child 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge, and 0n Monday we were challenged to establish a morning rhythm. We were warned that it would take more time than just this one day, but the point of this challenge was to get us thinking about it, and it really is a tough part of my day, especially on days Wyatt has school. I am usually racing about, tense and anxious and hurried, constantly glancing at the clock to see how much time we have left before we leave. Wyatt rarely eats or drinks the breakfast I give him, and I feel very disconnected from him on these mornings. This is not how I want our mornings to start together.

In the book I am reading, Braiding Sweetgrass, the author Robin Wall Kimmerer shares a memory of her father’s summertime morning ritual. She talks about how their family would spend the summers camping in the Adirondacks, and every morning, her father would make the coffee. When it was ready, when he picked it up ever so carefully, the family would grow hushed, respectful, as he poured a bit of the coffee out onto the ground, before pouring it for anyone else, including himself. As he poured it, he would “speak into the stillness”, saying, “Here is to the gods of Tahawus.” The woods came first. And so began their mornings.

I think this is a lovely memory and way to begin the morning, and I know that all cultures probably have their morning songs and prayers. For our family, it was my mom’s tea. For a vlogger I watch, With Kendra, she begins her day with  yoga, coffee, and her planner before her 2 year old twin girls get up, setting her path for the day, in a slow, deliberate manner. I am looking for something that starts our day off less chaotically; I think that just sets a tone for the rest of the day, one that has me already all anxious and rushed. And that trickles down to everyone else. Maybe I need to start recreating the mornings of my own childhood, and getting up with enough time to have some quiet moments to myself before I get Wyatt up. The fifteen minutes I give myself are not enough apparently. And then maybe, once I am not so hurried, I will be able to interact with Wyatt more, connect with him before he goes off to school. I’ve got a few ideas swimming around in my head – maybe we can feed the birds and squirrels together before we leave. Or listen to a particular song. I am not sure yet, but I will get there.

How about all of you? How are your mornings? Crazy or calm? Do you or did you have a routine or rhythm to your mornings?

Goodbye October, Hello November!


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November. The month of my birth, a month I tend to think of as the beginning of the cozy part of fall. October for me is full of frantic activity – November I tend to turn more inward. Warm socks, soft knit gloves, cozy blankets are all pulled out as we put our flip flops and sandals away. We turn to hot drinks, savory soup, hearty bread; our lives take on a more gentle rhythm, taking our cue from mother nature herself.

This year to help me to be more mindful I joined the Wilder Child Slow Down Challenge, a 30 day challenge with different prompts for every day. Today’s prompt – make your child laugh. For my gigglepuss of a boy, this is an easy one for me. But many others include family traditions and more together time – reminding us to find our family in our chaos. I know that my days are so busy, running here and there with Wyatt, cleaning the house, shopping, planning – doing all the things we all do everyday. Sometimes it seems like I just check stuff off my list, but haven’t really been present in the moment. I want to do better. If you are interested, here is the link to the challenge. There is a private Facebook group too, for support during the challenge.

I keep seeing Nonfiction November being talked about around the book blogging world. I am becoming more and more of a nonfiction book reader, so I am unofficially joining in. I have a few different books picked out that I am going to attempt to read this month, interspersed with fiction. I usually read nonfiction books a bit slower, so I might not get to all of these, but this is my general plan, as far as nonfiction goes.

I am super excited about the Lewis-Stempel book. I actually bought it – the first book I have bought in two years!! It has to come all the way from England so it’s going to get here at the end of the month, but it should be pretty quick to read at 96 pages. I must have been on a roll because then I went and bought Braiding Sweetgrass too! I checked it out from the library a bit ago, but had to turn it back in before I was done. I was enjoying reading it so much and taking my time with it, that I decided gosh darn it, I was just going to buy it.

I am very much looking forward to this month – the family time, the food, the books and blankets and tea drinks. And pumpkin pie! I can’t wait for pumpkin pie. How about you? Is there anything you are looking forward to this month?

A Wonderful Weekend

Sometimes everything just falls into place and things turn out perfectly.

This weekend was like that. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, with that bite in the air that lets you know that fall is here and summer has waved goodbye. I love the crispness, it feels so fresh and alive to me. So weather, en pointe. Add in some of my favorite people and a day of laughter and eating, and it was just the icing on the cake.

A few of my friends and I headed out western Michigan way, to Holland, MI. I don’t know much about this town, except that it does have a windmill and in the spring a tulip festival that looks amazing, full of bright colors and all things spring. There is a college there too, Hope College. And it also has a quaint little downtown, full of boutique stores and restaurants.

We had lunch at New Holland Brewery, a thing which excited a few of the husbands who were back home, who had made requests of their wives to bring them back some sort of special beer that is only made at that particular location. The food was ok, not anything terrible but nothing special either. I think here it is all about the booze. And even though time was just creeping up on noon, we had a celebratory drink to our girls day out. I ordered Full Circle, a kolsch beer. I only drink lagers if I drink beer, and it was a good one! K and J had pumpkin martinis, while C had Dragon’s Milk, which has a fantastic name right?

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After we ate, we poked around shopping, in and out of stores, each of us buying what caught our fancy. I ended up taking home with me a soft, warm pair of wool gloves knit in Peru from a Fair Trade store, a t-shirt for Billy, and a cute little Halloween book for Wyatt. I bought those gloves just in time – it is freezing here this week!

After a few hours, we were pretty shopped out and were ready to head to our next destination – dinner! By this time we had worked up an appetite with all that walking around so we were ready to hit the road. We had made reservations in a nearby town at Schuler’s Restaurant, based on J’s recommendation. She had been wanting to go there, and I am so glad that we did! When we got there, we got shown to our table, which was right in front of the fire. It was so cozy and warm, on such a chill night, and the decor was very old world charming.  I absolutely loved it in there. We settled in, ordered our drinks from the fall themed drinks menu, and enjoyed the cheese and crackers that were brought to us as we perused the dinner options.  I ended up ordering the Roasted Beet Salad with salmon, and it was amazing. Everyone’s food looked delicious actually, but for me, it was all about dessert. I ordered the Devil’s Delight, a brownie with vanilla ic cream. This sounds so blah, but so wasn’t. Chocolately and gooey,  warm and delicious with that cold ice cream to save it from being too rich. Yum!

Then Sunday, my hubs, son, and I went to the apple orchard. It was another fantastic weather day, the perfect kind for strolling around an orchard, eating apple doughnuts, and picking out pumpkins. The perfect Michigan fall day, really. The orchard we got to every year, Bennett’s Orchard, also makes hard cider and has a tasting room, so bonus! Lol. We took home a growler of Elderberry Cider, and plan on going back in a few weeks for a cinnamon version for the holidays. The owner told us to cook sweet potatoes in it for the holidays, which sounds like a fabulous idea! As were getting ready to leave, the parking lot was starting to fill up with yogis – they apparently host yoga sessions in the orchard on Sunday afternoons, which sounds like it would be a lot of fun!

Finally, later that evening we made a giant pot of chili for dinner, and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. It was a great end to a wonderful weekend.

It’s Fall Y’all!

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I love autumn – and it does light a fire in me every year. It rekindles my spirit and energizes me. The whole season is a ablaze, with its oranges and reds and yellows and I think that spark is contagious, at least to me.

First let me say that my cousin had her second child on Saturday, the fall equinox! He is adorable! I think I spotted a bit of redness to his hair too from the photo that they sent…we have lots of redheads in our family so it is possible!

On Saturday, we said goodbye to summer and waved hello to fall. The morning started with apple cider doughnuts and coffee (and milk for the kiddo). After being so nutritiously fortified for our day, Wyatt and I headed to the farm market for a few small gourds and pumpkins to place around the house and outside, to bring in that fall feeling. I put a little tiny pumpkin in his fairy garden, and I am amazed that the squirrels haven’t found it yet! Maybe there is some magic around there….lol. We hung a few suet bird feeders for our bird friends, as the summer season ends for them too.

Next we headed to a tagged monarch release, and watched as these delicate creatures of summer took flight and headed off to parts south. In the spring we will be able to check on our monarch (Lovebug). Hopefully he makes it to Mexico! It is amazing to think they undertake such a journey every year. Sometimes I feel like they can barely flit and fly to the nearest flower much less head across the country. We will be able to check an online database in the spring to see if he was spotted anywhere. Fingers crossed!

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This is Pinkie Pie, Wyatt’s cousin’s butterfly.

Later in the evening, I made my favorite soup, Chickpea Dumpling from Oh My Veggies, and followed it up with some apple pie. We were planning on drinking some Angry Orchard cider to cap off the day, but we just couldn’t manage it after the soup and pie! Herbal tea for me and coffee for the husband, instead. Sunday we spent in one of our favorite places, walking through the woods. Our whole family loves being among the trees, and this time of year is especially beautiful. We even found a little toad on the trail!

 

 

Fall is a time to slow down, for self-reflection. To put some things away for the year. But also, sometimes, it is a time to clear out for the winter, make room, make changes too. I have some plans for this fall. Things I want to change. Things I want to do. I spent some time talking with one of my SIL’s about plans for Halloween and October. My other SIL is pregnant with my third niece and is due around the end of October so that is another wonderful fall happening in our family. I am just filled with shiny happy feelings about the season.

How about you? Are you a fall person? Do you have plans for this autumn? Or if you live in the southern hemisphere, what are your spring plans?