A Morning at the Fair

This whole summer, Wyatt and I have been reading and talking about farms – we have visited farms, stayed at a farm, read many books about farms (including Charlotte’s Web), and still have some farm plans ahead of us. So when the Monroe County Fair rolled around this year, I knew we had to go.

I grew up going to this fair. Every summer, the first week of August, we would meet my aunts and uncles and cousins and spend an evening eating pie from my cousin’s grandmother’s church stand, probably a pie that she had made herself, riding the rides, climbing up and sitting on the tractors, and looking at all of the animals, my favorite part. As I got older, we didn’t go as a family anymore. But I still went. As a teenager my friends and I would drive down and hang out, when Billy and I started dating I dragged him down to the fair, I met my dad and my nephew there for a few years, and when we had Wyatt, I met my cousin and his family there, along with my aunt and uncle, for the first time since we were kids.

This year, we had to go. It had been too long. Unfortunately, there was a heat advisory for our area this weekend so we thought perhaps we should stay home. We talked about it since Wyatt is not great in the heat, but after some discussion, we decided it would be fine if we went early. So, first thing Saturday morning we took off for the fair, getting there just as the gates opened at 9 am.

It was a ghost town compared to the evenings, when the midway is packed and the smell of popcorn and elephant ears drifts at you from every corner. We were pretty much the only people there who were not there to take care of their animals, and all the 4-h kids and their parents were busy cleaning and feeding and mucking out stalls. The horse competition had started an hour earlier, so that was going on as well, horses getting made all pretty before entering the ring.

It was nice to have the room to move around and view the animals so early. Wyatt was so quiet, taking it all in. I don’t think he could believe how close we were to these huge animals! We started with the cows, and immediately saw the dairy cows from the farm nearest us, that we often get milk and butter and most importantly, ice cream from – the Calder Dairy Farm.

Next we moved across the street to my favorite building of all – the bunnies and the chickens!

I stopped and talked to probably every rabbit there. I thought of the hutch rabbits in Watership Down, and wondered what Hazel and his gang would think of some of these cute floofs – or the Flemish Giant who was lounging in a place of honor. He was as big as Wyatt! The small animal auction was scheduled for 11 am, but Billy was a real stick in the mud and said there was no way we were taking home a rabbit. Hmmph. One day. It is ok, I don’t think I could have decided between them all anyway! Well, maybe that little one on top there, the first photo. So stinking cute!

From here we wandered back to the larger animals, the sheep and the goats.

One young 4-H Club member was proud to tell us about his sheep, and he should have been proud. He also was keen to share his knowledge with us, and explained that in addition to shearing the sheep so they stay cool, they also do it so the judges can see the muscle structure. I hope that kid and his sheep earned a blue ribbon!

By this point Wyatt was having his hungriest moment and we were all turning into melted puddles from the heat and humidity. So we took a quick little break at the restaurant run by the 4-H kids, and Wyatt enjoyed a huge waffle.

Once we rehydrated and Wyatt finished eating, it was time to explore the barns of exhibits. I love seeing what these kids create! I even saw a few projects that I am going to incorporate into our homeschool year, like that little paper pie!

After this, there wasn’t much more left as it was still so early. The food trucks were just getting ready for business, the rides were not open yet, so we sort of circle one area and called it a morning. I was happy to see the church booth I used to eat pie at was still there, still serving pie. And has been for 75 years! We also saw these amazing woodcarvings.

And that was that. We moseyed back to the car, feeling pretty darn good about our morning! Although, I really would have liked one of those rabbits…

Jr. Ranger for the National Parks

This post contains a few Amazon Affiliate links.

So I mentioned a few things last week in another post that I was planning a longer National Parks post. Well, here it is!

My little niece had become a Jr. Ranger for the National Parks in this very park last summer, and was so excited for Wyatt to become one as well! Wyatt was pretty excited too, especially when he got his badges and his patch. It was really simple. We asked for the Park Ranger booklet for Sleeping Bear where we were, completed the activities inside while we toured the visitor’s center, and reported back to the ranger on duty. I explained that Wyatt’s speech is limited so reciting the oath would be tough, and she was so sweet and kind about all of it. Wyatt did repeat key words however, and listened and raised his hand – until he got shy about halfway through and hid his head on his dad’s shoulder.

Kids can either become Jr. Rangers and earn badges at nearly every National Park, or…they can do them online (unfortunately not every park has an online program)! I love that they offer some of them online, not all families have the ability to travel to all the parks, or even travel much at all, and these children can still participate in this free program! Since Wyatt was still excited about earning his badges at Sleeping Bear, I thought we would give the online version a shot. I chose Denali, since I don’t really see us getting there, especially when he is young kid. He is also familiar with Denali thanks to the PBS cartoon Molly of Denali, so it seemed like a good one to experiment with. And honestly we had a really good time learning about the different facets of Denali via the NPS website! Wyatt had to search the website, looking for answers to questions like, which sled dog would you like to meet (Nucha) and which animal that calls Denali home would you most like to see (moose)? Nucha is a cutie, I wish we could actually meet him! And he sounds like a dog made for Wyatt, sweet and charming and mischievous. After finishing up the questions, we dropped it in the mail! I guess they will mail his badge to us; I am curious about how long it will take!

Kids like to wear and display their badges, of course. My niece has a backpack that she puts hers on, and we saw a little boy with them on his hat. Neither of those options are quite right for Wyatt. A vest wouldn’t really work either, so I went online and took a peek at solutions, and found the perfect thing! A lanyard! He LOVES it, and will actually keep it on. So far he has three badges and two patches, although one is from Hartwick Pines State park, where we stopped on our way home. I figure he can pick and choose which badges he puts on his lanyard, and then we will keep the rest as well as any patches on banners, which I still need to order. I am considering getting one of those scratch off maps, or just a map of all the National Parks to hang as well.

I think this is going to be so fun to do with Wyatt! He is starting a U.S. social studies curriculum next year, where he will learn about all of the states, and I think for some of them we will try to visit a National Park, or do an online badge to go along with the curriculum.

I also mentioned in that post that Wyatt received a free lifetime membership pass for all the National Parks due to having a permanent disability. We got ours at the gate, but you can apply online here. They also have a senior pass , and free access passes for veterans and Gold Star families, as well as the general annual pass. Fourth graders can also get a free one year pass! So there are many different options out there.

I am already out here planning a trip to Voyageurs National Park with my brother and his family – and since we will be out that way, a few of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesteads. You can rent a houseboat at Voyageurs! Has anyone done that?

We are very excited about this whole thing as you can tell. We really didn’t need anymore incentive to visit the National Parks but I think this does make it more exciting for the kids.

My proud little ranger!

Sand Dunes, Shopping, and Petoskey Stones

Day three! Vacations sure fly by don’t they? I think our plans for day three were the ones I was most looking forward to, and the day did not disappoint.

We had another nice slow start to the morning. Even though it was Father’s Day, Billy made the whole crew of us pancakes with strawberries from our garden on top, and Chrissy scrambled up fifteen eggs. It was cute to watch them cook at the stove together, with Rosie the dog at their feet.

We started out at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – the sand dunes and the view are something to behold! We were on Sleeping Bear itself, which has a descent down to Lake Michigan, but you are warned that the climb back up is arduous and to not attempt it if you are not sure you can make it the almost two miles back up. In sand. In fact, there is a huge sign, and a fine for rescue, to the tune of $3000. While we were there we saw a group of college age kids, in peak athletic shape and fitness, coming back up and they were exhausted. I have never attempted it. For me, I would have to plan on camping it or something and taking it a few steps a day. LOL.

I always panic at the top, like people are just going to topple over the edge – mainly my son and my mom. So I guided them as far away as I possibly could get them and then stood in front of my child who wanted to slide down, because, well, he is 7 and it was a lot of sand.

After hanging around the top, and apprehensively watching a family start to head down the dune, with a toddler and I am assuming the toddler’s grandmother in tow, we left the view behind and started in to town.

Before I go further, I want to mention something. Wyatt received a free lifetime membership pass to the National Parks due to having a permanent disability. When we drove up to the gate the nice ranger asked if we had anyone in the car that was 62 or over or had a permanent disability. We had both actually, but my mom declined and so we got Wyatt all set up. He has a nice membership card with his name on it that he can use forever! I definitely recommend looking into it if this is something that will benefit you or anyone that you know.

Our next stop was actually the Visitor’s Center in Empire. Mermaid Girl had become a Jr. Park Ranger last year and was very excited for Wyatt to do it as well. Which he did! He received a certificate, three badges, and a patch! I think I am going to do a whole post on this next week so I will talk more about it then.

And then with our new Jr. Ranger we all piled back in the cars for the super short drive to Glen Arbor for some shopping! We had a few must stops on our list..

Leelanau Coffee for Iced Miel Coffees, and then my very favorite bookstore in the world.

I wish I could just move up there and work here. I love it.

I always try to buy from the local author bookshelves when I see them on vacation and this time I picked a book called Words Like Thunder by Lois Beardslee.

Then we headed over to the Cherry Republic and hung out for a bit, eating french fries and ice cream and shopping.

It was starting to get late but we still had one last stop – Rocky Beach in Glen Haven. Glen Haven is a deserted little town with my family’s favorite beach of all. My stepmom took us there for the first time years and years ago and it is one of her favorite places in the world. Then it became my brother’s, and now you can add us to the list too.

My SIL Chrissy is a huge rockhound. She finds it super relaxing to sift through rocks, looking at them, and on beaches where you are allowed to collect them, she does that too. Rocky Beach is part of the Sleeping Bear so a no collecting beach but they had fun looking. And she got to indulge for as long as she wanted the next day at a different beach, finding several petoskey stones, including a pretty darn big one, the lucky duck!

By the time we left it was getting late and we were all full of sand and sunshine, and ready for dinner. So we made the drive back to our cottage, grilled up some hot dogs and veggie dogs, and that was that. We had a fire on the beach, some adult drinks, and went to bed, after a perfect day.

Wolfenoote, Baking, and Christmas Homeschool

Wolfenoote! A totally 100% made up holiday, dreamed up by a child in New Zealand, and whose parents in a random online story shared that dream. And of course, people like me read it and were like, I’m in! Wolfenoote ” is about celebrating our pack – human and animal – helping where we can, and making the world a better, kinder place.” I love that! It is suggested that to celebrate, you enjoy roast meat, a cake hat looks like a full moon, and if you have a dog, give that dog a present! Human pack members can also receive a gift, but we haven’t done that part as of yet.

We spent the week in our homeschool reading stories that exemplified kindness, we talked about kindness and ways we could show our families and friends and communities kindness. Then on the evening of the 23rd we had roast beef and blue cheese sandwiches on toasted bread, and meatballs. Billy had that brilliant idea, and I love him for it. Thanksgiving was just a few days out and it seemed a little crazy to have two big meals in one week like that. And it was perfect. We had a picnic (inside) since wolves do not sit at tables, ate our sandwiches and meatballs, then it was time for cake! And frankly, that cake was awesome. I am not a baker so I just made a box cake (Aldi yellow) but it was delicious! It had to be that Wolfenoot magic. I also stuck a little wolf silhouette in it. We followed up dinner with some wolfy and nature readings, and voted whether we were going to symbolically adopt a wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center or donate to a local animal shelter. We decided since we usually do the wolf thing for the wolf moon in January, that this time we would donate to an animal shelter. After making this big decision, we listened to Wyatt’s favorite Okee Dokee Brother’s song, Howl. Twice. Loudly. With howling. And then it was time for little wolf cubs to get a bath and go to bed. It was a good Wolfnoote.

For not being a baker, I have been doing a lot of it! The cake on Wolfnoote, and then a Cranberry Pie for Thanksgiving. This is hands down my favorite pie to make. It is fast and easy, and tastes delicious.

I probably could have taken a photo of it after it was finished, and the lid top was on. I blame that wine for this bad photo decision.

Then it was December before I knew it! One thing I love about homeschooling is taking the month of December and trying to theme a lot of our month around Christmas type themes. I mean, I can’t with all of it, but I can quite a bit. It’s a little more work since I go off road from our curriculum and pull it all together myself (my weekends have hours filled with planning) but it is all worth it.

This week was all about gingerbread! We read multiple versions of the gingerbread man story, created gingerbread men from paper, and finished up with a “Gingerbread Cafe” and made our own gingerbread! Well, I did. I lost my helper quickly. Gingerbread takes a long time! He did resurface for the eating of it. As did my husband who was working from home. The gingerbread was a big hit. I didn’t think I liked gingerbread, but it turns out, I do. A lot! I used a recipe from @ofbeeandbear on Instagram, subbing out the spelt flour with just regular flour, and they are delicious.

We made gingerbread girls, boys, and of course, foxes. I need to make sure to copy this recipe down, as it is a winner and will be made every Christmas from here on out.

I feel like our Christmas homeschool is off to a fun (and tasty) start!

Have you done any baking yet? Do you like to bake? Gingerbread – yay or nay?

Greenfield Village – Late October

Saturday morning we woke up determined to have some family fun time. It’s been all work all the time around here lately, and we all needed a break. We tossed a few ideas around before deciding on Greenfield Village. We got there as the gates were opening, the day was overcast, and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves which was awesome.

I love visiting this time of year. I love fall and Halloween, as you all know, and the Village is all dressed up in vintage Halloween decorations, as well as some spooky ones too. They do Halloween Nights there, with candy and live performances, but to be honest, we prefer it like this. Empty. Without the fanfare and other people. Plus, we can actually see everything rather than be part of a huge crowd in the dark. We did that once and while it was fun, we like visiting on our own terms more.

We walked around the farm, greeting all the animals who were enjoying their breakfasts al fresco. The horses, John and Wilbur, were on their way to plow up the fields and we gave them a quick wave as they went off to work.

We walked around the “town” area, by the Wright Brothers house, closed up refreshment stands, and creepy decorations.

And made our way across the spooky covered bridge, making ghostly ooos and boos as we walked through…

These scarecrows were terrifying. I stepped in close for a photo, and and had the weirdest feeling they were watching me back. I freaked myself out, imagining one would leap off its post at me, and after snapping the picture, raced back to Billy and Wyatt.

We toured around the homes, and headed back over the bridge, not knowing the scariest monster was still to come…

Such scary!!!

Needless to say, Wyatt had fun! And so did we! (I look like a crazy person…I was helping make scary noises with Wyatt…lol)

I love this time of the year at the village! I am so happy that this year they extended the length of the visiting season for members through November. I see some mornings there in our future for a few more weeks at least!

The Weekend Vibe

I felt like we lived in this car most of the weekend! We kept busy for most of the weekend, whether it was time spent outdoors, with family, and sometimes just taking a ride around. I apologize, this will probably be a long post with lots of photos!

Friday morning we loaded up the car with our new little red wagon, a cooler of water, my backpack of snacks, and headed off to the zoo! We were meeting my brother Devin, his wife Chrissy, and my niece Dino Girl. Thank goodness it was a cooler day, it has been so hot and humid in Michigan it’s like a swamp out there. But Friday was practically perfect.

Whenever we go out we have to make choices on how Wyatt will get around. A backpack carrier? And with me or with Billy? A stroller? I hate that these options limit his independence to practically nothing, but he outgrew his wheelchair over the past year and the way insurance works, if we were to get another one we would practically insure that he would never get another walker again. So, we are trying to work around that since he is working on walking and can use a walker, just not well enough for a trip to the zoo. And not to be negative on here since I hate doing that, but my husband took him for a stroll around the neighborhood the other day in the stroller and was stopped by someone asking what Wyatt’s “issue” was. They also let Billy know that Wyatt was eligible for therapy services, like he hasn’t been in them since he was six months old. So frustrating. I get that the person had good intentions but frankly it wasn’t her business. And now I feel super self-conscious taking Wyatt out that way, I don’t like people staring at him. It will more than likely happen his whole life but I want to be able to make things as easy as I can for him when I can. I’m his mom. I can’t help it. Anyway, Thursday night it clicked that we could use a wagon. So, Billy headed out at 8pm to find one. And delivered like the awesome dad that he is. I felt like the wagon would first, blend in, and second, I was positive my niece would crawl in there at some point too, giving him company and making him feel less isolated. And it was so much easier to take him in and out, he could move around a bit, and it folds down into a bench seat as well. Win-win. There were a million wagons at the zoo too, just like ours so I feel like if he looked around, he wouldn’t feel as different.

Anyway. Once that was out of the way, we were golden for the whole day. Zebras, lions, giraffes, rhinos, camels, tigers – they were all out and about and looking cute. Zebras are Wyatt’s favorite (and mine) and I was excited to see them so close this time!

However, we all seemed to love the Amphibian House the very best. I guess our family does love its little creatures!

I also got super excited about this turtle in the marsh system outside. And this bee!

Saturday we stuck closer to home. We loaded up our little wagon again, this time with picnic supplies, and had a little picnic in the park. Later on that night we had drinks with my brother and fam, plus my dad and stepmom too.

It was so hot and sultry out this weekend, and I think we were all remembering our many trips to New Orleans – which inspired Billy to make a cocktail. Which he never does. And I rarely drink at all, if ever. But it was good, y’all. Also, my new favorite summer wine made an appearance. The drink Billy made is called a Gin Basil Smash, and it is so light and refreshing and citrusy. And actually so is the wine. (Loveblock, Sauvignon Blanc)

Sunday morning, and we just kept on rolling. We took a drive around Detroit, specifically Belle Isle and the farmer’s market area of Eastern Market. Eastern Market was closed so I was able to grab photos of the beautiful street art.

From here we headed to Belle Isle for a total change of scenery…

And someone got a little sleepy.

It was a busy, full weekend, full of people and sights and things that I love.

I hope you all did something or talked to someone that made you smile over the weekend!

Chit Chat Coffee Time

My week this week was just…blah. Not good, not bad, I can’t quite say what I even did this week. It was just sort of like a week on autopilot. This upcoming week we are taking a break from school, maybe I just need a refresh.

This morning we left bright and early to go to a different garden center. I was joking with Billy that this particular garden center is the one ALL the butterfly people talk about, so we had to be cool too and check it out. I am hoping to help raise monarchs this year so I needed to go to the cool garden center too. And honestly, it was really cool.

My friend who has done the whole monarch thing for years gave me a list of milkweed I needed, particularly common and swamp. I found those and grabbed them, and added some prairie milkweed and also a kind with a very interesting name. They had tables set up with types of butterflies and their host plants which made it really easy to shop. I also picked up a butterfly bush and a few forget-me-nots. They have a butterfly house but it is not open yet, so we will have to go back to check it out.

We went first thing in the morning and no one was there. I love having places practically to myself. We had just planned on Billy and Wyatt hanging out in the car but when I saw it was so empty and open, I called Billy and told him to join me inside, and I am so glad we did, we had a great time. I feel like they just needed to serve coffee and it would have been perfect. (Hint hint Barsons if you read here – set up a little coffee area for people to buy coffee, I am sure it would do well.)

However, now it is so humid and hot outside that we have unloaded it all and are waiting until it cools off a bit. I found a few butterfly eggs on my rue this afternoon and gathered it up. I am actually getting my mom in on this too, and I am taking her these first eggs from a black swallowtail. I think she will enjoy it!

I have spent the past few weeks working on our final month of lessons for kindergarten! I can’t believe this year is almost over! We are going to spend a month finishing up our regular curriculum and we will also be spending some time learning about the ocean and ocean animals. And mermaids, per the request of my niece. Then I get to start planning for next year, and I have to be honest I am really excited about that. We will also be continuing school throughout the summer but more informally. We are spending July immersed in learning about Italy, as part of our family ancestry studies combined with geography. It should be a lot of fun. And delicious as I am going to use it as an excuse to eat all the pasta and tiramisu that I want.

I hope you are all having a good day so far! Enjoy the weekend!

A Trip to the Farm

Last Saturday we took a ride out to the country. I had placed an order with Trillium Wood Farms in efforts to better support small Michigan farmers. This is better for the animals, for us, the environment – it’s really a win-win all over.

I would say local farmers but for us, a trip to the farm really is a road trip, at an hour and half drive one way. It’s a pretty drive though and this time I enjoyed seeing the suburbs, then the city, slowly turn into fields of green, dotted with animals along the highway.

We started early, picking up coffee for us and hash browns for the kiddo before hitting the road. Wyatt decided he preferred Goldfish crackers to his hash browns though. This kid and Goldfish crackers…lol.

I rarely talk about the fact that we live a mile from the Detroit River – it has been a fixture in my life for so long that I just don’t think about it. But Saturday we drove along the river for a bit, watching as the sun hit the water just so, making it glitter.

It wasn’t long before we were on the highway, heading west. It was not a bad way to start the morning, hot coffee, hash browns, the radio playing country music as we all sang along. There wasn’t much traffic since it was Saturday morning, and we just enjoyed the time together.

I had to take a photo of the Fowlerville sign. When I was attending Central Michigan, my friend and I would say “Fowlerville, already??” every time we passed through on our way back to school. It was the halfway mark, and I am not sure why we said it but I find myself thinking it when we pass it now, still. Here the landscape really begins to change from city to rural, and I kept my eyes glued to the fields around us, looking for horses and cows and hawks.

While we were en route one of the farmers emailed me that they had to change part of our order (which was ok) and to not be alarmed if we saw pigs running around when arrived, since a tree had fallen on the fenceline and they had escaped. I have to admit, it did make me a little nervous. I have a little bit of a fear of pigs, they can bite through metal and I feel like they just want to take a chunk out of me. I know this is irrational but..there you go.

We did not see any pigs on the loose however when we arrived. Wyatt was disappointed but I was quietly relieved. We were the only ones there and it works on the honor system for no contact pick up, we just grab our order from the freezer. So we took a minute to stretch our legs. We didn’t stray away from the lot so as not to trespass on the farm itself, although I did want to get closer to the cow and the turkeys I could see. We did see pigs in a pen so they must have gotten rounded up and the fence fixed. They were a little distance away though across a small field and through some trees.

We did make friends with these cuties! Farm dogs and farm cats.. I love how that tabby is guarding the deliveries like she is the postmaster or something.

I am reading a book called Sheepish right now, and the author, Catherine Friend, talks about how small farms are really the only link for people to be able to get up close and personal with farm animals these days, and how if you do not grow up near them farms are places people can go to experience that wonder. I know in talking through emails with the sisters that run this farm that they do offer little tours of the farm to interested people. I think we might take them up on that when it is safer to do so.

As we were leaving one of the farmers was coming back up the drive and we stopped to chat a few minutes about the dogs. There is something to be said about knowing where your food actually comes from, the people raising it and caring about the entire process. The sisters at Trillium take the raising of their animals very seriously and treat them with compassion, all the way until the end with a humane quick finish. After our chat, it was sadly time to turn around and head home. We watched the drive in reverse, from fields to concrete and traffic and felt like we had had quite an adventure for not quite noon. One of us even needed a nap.

The car covered in black and white swirls is a sure sign we are near home again. These are the new models of cars that haven’t been released yet and we see them all the time around here. Since they are still secret they are covered in this to disguise them although we can usually guess what they are. It’s a common sight to see around here with all the auto industry.

So, it was an interesting morning for us and one we plan on doing again soon! We didn’t order much this time but hope to do small orders once a month or so. If nothing else, we get to take a nice ride together and see some new sights!

Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas for Children

I think most of us are facing a different Christmas this year – one that looks a little less like our normal traditions. And while we may be celebrating differently, some of us may be choosing to shop differently as well. Maybe going into less stores and opting for more online shopping, like me – in which case I am thinking the sooner I get started the better, as shipping may be a little slower than normal. As I consider my list this year, I want to try to patronize small businesses and artists more than usual as well, since this year has been tough on makers, so I will be purchasing a mix of gifts for the littles in my life this Christmas, and trying to be mindful. Here are a few things that have caught my eye this year! (Just make sure to check shipping dates if something happens to grab you!) This list is geared for younger kids, and I am sure a lot of it will find it’s way under our tree or as a gift to one of my nieces.

Wooden Play Dough Stamps: These are so adorable! I love how sturdy they seem, and easier on little hands to push! Wyatt and all of his cousins are play dough fanatics and I can see them all having a good time with these. I linked to the woodland set, but there are a few others like dinosaurs and unicorns, sea creatures and mushrooms.

DIY Personalized Puzzle Kit: There is so much about this that I love. All of my nieces have non-traditional names and can never find anything personalized, and at least two of them love art and putting puzzles together. If ever there was a more perfect gift!

Preschool Sewing Kit: I actually bought this for Wyatt to practice with over the summer and he really liked doing it! I thought it was creative as well as teaching hand-eye and fine motor skills.

Personalized Baking Set: This one ships from the UK, so if you are not in the UK, make sure it can be sent to you and what shipping costs and time will be before ordering! I just can’t with it’s cuteness though.

Wooden Puzzle for Kids: So, I have puzzles on here twice… but they were so different I thought it would be ok. These are so cute and I am a fan of wooden puzzles for kids.

Wooden Toy Kitchen: Ok, so this is brilliant. One of the best things we ever bought Wyatt was his toy kitchen – but it is so big and takes up so much space in our house! He still loves it and plays with it everyday though so although it has its own area, it stays up. However, had I seen this I may have been considered this as an option! It is perfect for small spaces or even for people who may not want to give up house space for a toy kitchen.

Handmade Knit Fox: I am totally in love with this fox. We bought Wyatt a knit badger for Christmas his first year, and he still loves it and sleeps with it every night. His name is Henry and I am always afraid something will befall Henry and then where will we be. I am tempted to pick this fox up just in case.. (update: I had a different fox here originally, but it sold out so I added another)

Stocking Stuffers:

Felt Mask for Pretend Play: The kids in my life love pretend play, and wearing masks and headbands and capes and clothes – and I thought this unicorn was super cute.

Felt Beard: This is definitely making its way into Wyatt’s stocking this year. Billy has a beard and Wyatt always pretends he has one like his dad’s – now he can have a play one!

Personalized Patches: I just think patches are neat. I like to get them and put them on Wyatt’s backpacks that we use for exploring.

Wooden Owl Pendant: I can see just about every kid I know wearing one of these. And they have different versions available as well!

Letter Subscriptions:

Writings from the Wild: I love these monthly letters from the “wild” and so does Wyatt. I signed him up for this two months ago, and they are informative and beautiful – plus Wyatt loves getting mail so that makes it even better. It is inexpensive as well, only a few dollars a month, and right now they are having a sale, 15% off if you enter Christmas15 (off 6 or 12).

Letters from Afar: These are neat, and if Wyatt was older I would definitely get it for him. They look gorgeous!

The Wild Hunt

A week ago I had an idea that very quickly snowballed and took shape – a Wild Hunt. I wanted something similar to geocaching, but for my fellow outdoor loving, hiking friends and family. When I mentioned it to Billy, we just started coming up with ideas left and right and started working on it immediately.

We quickly printed out this invite for the two family teams we were inviting, respectively named Team Veggiesaurus Rex and Team Unicorn Sparkles. We were Team Corvid, because Wyatt really enjoyed our ravens unit the other day and even picked a raven/crow costume for Halloween. We distributed them on a Wednesday, and gave them the basics: On the following Saturday we would text them a set of coordinates at noon, and the race would be on. There were three locations, and teams needed to put the clues back in place after finding them so that the other team could continue to play.

We really leaned into our team name too – Billy carved out a rough feather from a chunk of wood to use as a stamp for our clues, and it turned out really cool.

Early Saturday morning Wyatt, Billy, and I headed out to hide the clues. We had to start in reverse order in order to get the coordinates to put on each note, so we started with the spot we were going to hide the treasure. It was a very cold morning, especially near the water where we ended up. It wasn’t our first choice of a spot either actually – we got to the area where we planned to hide it and saw that one of the participating family’s car was there too – meaning they were somewhere in the woods! We had to change it up at the last minute and try to do it fast so that they didn’t see us; it added an extra sense of adventure and urgency!

It’s hiding spot was the stump – it turned out better than our original plan. After hiding it well, we scurried back to the car and headed to location #2! Wyatt was feeling a little tired and we were running short on time so Billy ran it out to the spot on the trail while Wyatt and I waited in the car.

Then it was on to spot one, the starting point, and this time all three of us trekked out to the spot together.

Then all we had to do was send out the group text with the reminder to leave the clues and to text me only when they found them. And they were off! They both found the first clue, no problems. But the second clue gave them a bit of a challenge – and they ended up looking for it together before Billy needed to call with a hint..

From there the teams headed off to the final spot, and the treasure! I love that they actually found it at the same time. I had a surprise for the kids – two treasures, one for each team, as I did not want any disappointed little treasure hunters!

The treasure itself was pretty simple but enough for little girls – some tiny little animals, and an assortment of polished crystals and such, like jade and moonstone. The teams decided who was going to do the next round, and we are all looking forward to it! We had a blast setting it up, and our friends had a great time doing it. Apparently the kids were so excited, which made me so happy as that was my goal all along.

And onward to the next Wild Hunt!