A Wild and Woodsy Birthday Weekend

This weekend was my son’s fourth birthday! Time flies – I never knew how fast until I became a mom.  One minute he’s my little peanut baby boy and the next he is a big time four year old!

We love to be outside, especially in the winter, so this weekend we kicked off celebrations with a special outing just for the three of us to the Howell Nature Center. The Howell Nature Center is a rehab facility for wild animals that get sick or injured, with most of the animals being returned to the wild. However, not all of their animals are able to return due to the severity of their injuries, and reside at the Nature Center.

It was a cold and snowy morning, so we had the place to ourselves, which was nice honestly. Quiet, peaceful…until the Sandhill Cranes figured out it was their feeding time. Wow they are so loud! It was pretty cool to hear them though, and we watched them get fed. When we approached the enclosure the pair were excited, asking their caretakers for their frozen mice. And on the ground was an egg! The female had laid an egg, unfertilized, but an egg. It was really huge and pretty, and brand new. The woman working said it would be used for educational purposes. It was neat to see!

After watching the cranes, we wandered around, visiting the other enclosures. Some animals were being housed indoors for the winter, but many were still in their homes and feeling like visiting us, such as the bobcat, who strolled on by like a giant indifferent cat; the beautiful foxes – my favorite – Vixen and Copper, who were rescued from a breeder in Ohio that was going to use them for fur; the mink, who was flipping and flopping and playing all over his enclosure; and many mammals, like the deer, the coyote, and the porcupine. And we saw almost all of the birds – including two beautiful snowy owls! Yeti is a snowy that is their most recent intake. He was found in a back yard, starving, having been hit by a car as well, with a broken wing, no longer able to fly. We saw so many owls and hawks and eagles – I also fell in love with a handsome guy named Leo, who is a long eared owl. He was so cool!

On Sunday, we celebrated with a party for the boyo! We go to our local metropark all the time, and Wyatt loves it there. So it made sense to have it at the nature center! We did an owl theme, since my kiddo loves owls (and does a pretty good imitation of an Eastern Screech!) and there was so much for the kids to play and do. The interpreters read the book Owl Babies to the kids, then had them all make the cutest little owl babies out of pinecones and cotton! It was such a simple little craft, and the kids really enjoyed it! Although getting them all to stay in one place was a little like herding cats. They would wander around, come back, make another – typical preschooler behavior. They all did such a nice job though, and the interpreters did a great job with the kids. It was the perfect activity.

We kept the food simple, just pizza and some trail mix, pretzels and Teddy Grahams – and of course cake and ice cream. I went a little crazy ordering the cake, but it was beautiful and delicious. Then we just opened gifts, and let the kids explore and play for a while. It was a really nice day – and it even snowed for us, causing the woods to look gorgeous and all the birds to flock to the feeders. We saw so many different birds, but the most brilliant were the cardinals, with their red feathers so bright against the snow. At the end of the afternoon, we said goodbye, and handed out the goodie bags that my stepdad made that looked like cute little owls! Inside we had a small decorative birdhouse for all the kids.

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We were all exhausted of course afterwards, but it was more than worth it. My boy had a wonderful, fun day with all his friends, just the way it should be on your birthday.

 

Snapshot Saturday

 

SaturdaySnapshot
My prayers go out to anyone suffering right now – I feel like every time I turn on the news, something is happening that breaks my heart.  Much of my last week was spent glued to the news too – there was a lot going on, and while I try my best to not get over inundated with current events for my own mental health, the past two weeks or so have demanded my attention. The timing of these events coincided coincidentally with a 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge that I joined, and honestly, with the way I have been feeling, it was perfect timing. I needed something positive, and the challenge has forced me to do new things, and focus on my family and family time. And it is time very well spent.
For instance, last Wednesday I was having a rough day. Our challenge was to create a family moondala – something I had never heard of before but we were game. Billy and I are creative, and together make a good team, and it was fun to do a creative project with Wyatt. A moondala is a visual representation of what you hope to do in the next month, or lunar cycle. It can include drawings, bits of nature, whatever you want to represent these ideas. So, I poured myself into gathering the materials we might need, and then after dinner, we gathered around our table and started putting it all together. Billy and I really got involved in it, more than I thought we would! Definitely a case of the parents having more fun than the child. Lol. We had a lot of fun, and Wyatt did too, adding stickers and directing us on where he thought certain aspects would go. It was a hopeful, optimistic project, and it was just fun to sit as a family and make. I would think in families with older kids, etc everyone could make their own too.
moondala
I think we are going to try to do this every month!

We Get Our Creative On

DIY3 I love my friends. I don’t get to see them as much anymore, now that we are all crazy running around to work or with kids or all the other stuff that comes with being an adult, but we do try to get together at least once a month for book club – and sometimes to try a new thing! In the past we have gone to those paint and sip nights, where  everyone paints the same picture and drinks wine, and have had a blast – although we have ended up with paintings that don’t always match our decor (like the giant peacock that I have). Not that it matters that much, it’s all about the fun!

Well, my neighbor is super crafty and talented, and runs a business for a DIY wooden sign making. In fact, I can hear her outside cutting all the boards right now for an upcoming show. So after a flurry of emails between all of us, we managed to coordinate our schedules to have a night of sign making (and drinking).

I have to admit, I had some anxiety over this activity! Lol. We were having it at my friend’s immaculate house that looks like a magazine, and I kept thinking oh lord, what if the paint spills? I wanted to go crazy tarping off her whole house. That was unnecessary however – the whole process is very tidy and neat – at least the way Heather does it. In fact everything was so organized and efficient that we had the easiest time making them! All we had to do was follow the directions, drink our wine, eat our snacks, and have a good time. Which we did!

 

It was quite simple the way Heather did it – everyone’s signs were precut, the wood and the stencils. She set out our materials in front of us and led us through it step by step. We could choose our color palette from a huge array of colors, and kind of play around if we chose as well. My friend Kelly mixed two colors for her background to come up with a cool spooky gray (she made her sign for Halloween decorating) and Chrissy played around with colors to make a fun color for her moon sign too. We painted and sanded and peeled, and picked the little plastic out from the letters, which while tedious I strangely enjoyed, talking and eating and laughing the whole time, peeking at each other’s creations. And then we were done! Everyone did a great job I think, and we had quite a variety! From Kelly’s “Ill Behaved Children Will Be Baked Into Pies” to Chrissy’s phases of the moon, to Mary’s “As For Me and My House, We Will Serve Tacos”, to Jill’s family monogram that will go up in their new house, to my acorn and nature sign, I think they were all quite individual and unique, just like us!

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Here is my sign, all finished. It is not hanging yet, I can’t quite decide if I want it in Wyatt’s room or above his play table, which will soon be moved to my office. So for now I move it about. The acorn is kind of our family talisman – it stands for many things, but mainly because my little guy is such a tiny guy. I was a small kid too, and my grandma always used to say “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks”. She herself was a tiny firecracker of a lady, so it was very appropriate. And I usually do have an acorn in my pocket – in fact, they are stashed all over my house, squirrel like I guess.

We had a blast – and I am looking forward to our next thing, whatever that may be!

 

 

 

Easy-Peasy DIY Valentines Day Banner

February in Michigan can be tough. Gray, sunless, gray, cold. Did I mention gray? Michigan only had two days of sunshine in the past thirty days. So this year, I decided I was going to try to embrace February to make it a cheerier month in our household. I usually don’t decorate for Valentines Day – typically I am not organized enough, and it has come and gone before I can do so! But this year, with the help of my amazing husband, we have managed to decorate in a very bijou and petite way. And that is a good start, I think! 
I have tons of ideas, I am always thinking of different projects. Unfortunately, my creative flow kind of ends there. I am all thumbs when it comes to crafting, I can’t draw, etc. Luckily, Billy can make anything. Today, he lent a hand in making a sweet little Valentines Day banner for our dining room. And I love it! 
The materials were simple, and cheap. A romance novel we rescued from the recycle bin at the library, that was already falling apart, and which my husband meticulously removed the pages from, sticker paper, twine, and a printer. Ordinarily I would not support this destruction of reading material, but honestly, this book was already falling apart. Billy then cut the pages into the little banner shapes, and folded over a teeny bit of the top of the page, so that he could run a line of twine through it to hang them. He just used some tape afterward to hold it all down.  He had also printed out stickers spelling out Hugs and Kisses, using a free font that he found online, which he then just stuck onto the pages. I would link to the website of the font if he could remember where he got it from! As soon as I find out, I will add a link. 
Once this part was all put together, he strung them and hung it. 
Voila!
I think it turned out pretty cute!

Due to the absence of light in our state, it was really hard to take a photo! Sorry for the poor photo quality there. 
I have a few more Valentines Day surprises in the works, and I am excited to keep working on them!
How are you celebrating this month? Anything planned?