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?

Our Must Watch Holiday Favorites

I think most of us will admit that watching a good holiday movie is one of the little indulgences in a season that can be chaotic as well, with all the running and shopping and wrapping and all the bits and bobs that we do in December. But curling up with a favorite feel-good movie with loved ones is an easy way to just let it all go for a while, and get sucked into some magical world where all ends well and brings a smile to your face. 

When we kick back with our hot chocolate or wine, depending on the day and mood, these are some of the movies we must watch every December. Some are traditions that began when we were just little, some have been added in over the years. Maybe some of them are on your list too!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Our whole family can pretty much recite this movie word for word. It’s a comedic look at the holiday but also has its poignant moments too. I remember watching this with my dad one year when I was in high school, and he was laughing so hard at the “Squirrel!” scene he was silent laughing with tears rolling down his face, rolling on the floor. Like really ROFL! 

Love Actually: Ok, this is not just my favorite Christmas movie, it is my all time favorite movie. I can watch it anytime. It never fails to make me shed some tears, and I just really, actually, love it. (Quick – whose story is your favorite? It’s such a tough call, but personally, I love Hugh Grant’s)

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Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas: I adore this movie. We just watched it with Wyatt the other night for the first time, and he did too. I was so happy that he liked it! 

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Another family favorite. I am a huge Muppet fan, have been since I was a little girl, and I love this version of a Christmas Carol. And Michael Caine is as always amazing. I am looking forward to watching this one with Wyatt too this year.

White Christmas: Oh, how I love this movie. I used to watch it every year with my mom and brother, and now Billy and I and Wyatt watch it. Wyatt actually loves musicals, he is a musical kid. And Bing’s voice – Christmas isn’t Christmas until you hear a carol crooned by him. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas: An oldie but goodie. 

A Claymation Christmas and A Garfield Christmas: I’m putting these on here together because we watch them together on the same night, back to back. Much to my husband’s chagrin, Wyatt also likes these movies. Lol. Billy is not a fan, especially of Claymation Christmas. It’s just such a part of my youth, watching these while drinking wassail with my brother and stepsisters, that I keep the tradition alive. And now Wyatt enjoys them, so a whole new tradition has begun!

So, there you have it! Our must watch Christmas movies. That doesn’t mean we don’t watch other ones – I watched Chrismas Prince on Netflix last year at least every other day for a while. And now, I am gearing up to watch the Wedding! (The Royal Wedding! Lol) I randomly watched The Christmas Bunny last year and loved it, although my heart broke a little bit a few times. And Carol Brady is in it! Well, not as Carol Brady, but as a curmudgeonly rabbit rescuer! I loved it and of course wanted a rabbit after watching. We didn’t get one, but I still wanted one. And one year I watched a movie called The March Sisters and loved that one too – and I have been looking for it to watch it again ever since. 

What about you? Any movies you must watch? 

Wolfenoote!

Happy Howly Wolfenoote!

Wolfenoote is a holiday that was imagined by a little boy across the world from me. A holiday he created to honor wolves and also people kind to dogs. It is a simple holiday really – eat roast meat, enjoy a cake made to look like a moon, and if you are a dog lover or kind to dogs, you can hide gifts in your house for loved ones to find. Our family thought this was a fabulous way to spend the day after Thanksgiving, and had a great time making this new holiday a new family tradition! 

We began our celebrations at the Detroit Zoo, where we went to visit the two wolves that live there, Wazi and Kaska. We took our time warming up in the log cabin that houses a photograph gallery that is meant to dispel myths of the danger of wolves and to educate people about this beautiful animal. We usually breeze through, but today really took our time looking around at the exhibit, as well as at Wazi and Kaska. They are both stunning, but Wazi is gorgeous with her white coat. The top photo I took of her in the summer, today they were both taking a nap near the front of the acreage, as the zoo has dedicated two acres to their habitat. 

Afterwards, my husband ate “roast meat” (an Arby’s roast beef sandwich lol) alone, as I am a vegetarian and Wyatt doesn’t like it, but the spirit was there for all of us. And later we opted to decorate sugar cookies with white frosting to make our moons, as cake was just a little too much today after the eating excesses of yesterday.

We also decided in lieu of gifts for ourselves, that we would “adopt” a wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. They dedicate themselves to educating people about wolves, “their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future.” They are home to three packs of wolves – their Ambassador wolves, Mexican Gray Wolves, and Red Wolves. There are only 114 Mexican Gray wolves left in the wild, and zero Red Wolves. Yep, zero. They were declared extinct in the wild in 1980, and efforts have been made to get these wolves onto a road of recovery. 20 wolves reside at the Conservation Center. The story is a sad but interesting one, if you want to read about it on their site. 

My son is currently choosing between “adopting” Zephyr or Trumpet – although all are adorable and equally deserving. Once the decision has been made, I will have to update! Here they are if you want to read about them. **Update- Wyatt chose Zephyr, and gave his photo a kiss even. Lol.

Zephyr
I think this guy is a handsome one!

We had a great time with this holiday, and it was kind of fun to do something so different. And I really loved that this came from the mind of a 7 year old boy. 

Happy Wolfenoote! 

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?

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?

holland

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.

The Day of the Bear

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It is raining today, and I am sitting here drinking my coffee. My little is at preschool after a bit of a tearful drop off this morning. It was hard to leave, when his little face was all screwed up in a sad face, swallowed up by his yellow duck raincoat. But I kissed his cheek and headed to my car, missing him too.

There is something about rain, right? That makes us more sentimental? Or is that just me? This past summer, Wyatt and I got up and were getting ready for our day, eating breakfast and reading books about bears. This kid loves bears. I was sipping my coffee, looking out the clear blue sky, talking and reading with him as he drank his milk and sort of ate his breakfast.  I thought about the beautiful blue sky outside, and how the days was supposed to be mild, only in the 70s. And I thought, it’s a great day for the zoo! I asked Wyatt if he wanted to go see a bear, right now, today, and he of course told me yes, in the way that he has. He doesn’t say yes, or shake his head yes, but he puts his hand up to his head and moves his hand forward, like he is going to shake his head. When he was a baby, and with his gross motor disabililty, we were showing him how to shake his head, by putting our hands gently on him and showing him how to do it. His takeaway was that you use your hand to manually do it. We know what he is saying though. And I want to add, he says the word no, verbally and very clearly…lol.

So, I left him to finish breakfast and began rushing about the house to get our stuff ready for a day at the zoo with a three year old. All the important stuff went into a backpack, I loaded his stroller and him into the car, and off we went, into the wild blue and green day. The weather was perfect, the music was playing, and then..fifteen minutes from the zoo, the sky opened up and it just started pouring down rain. I had thoughts of Noah and his ark as I headed down the highway. It wasn’t supposed to rain! The forecast never said rain. I called my husband and had him check the weather for me – and he reported that there was seriously one lone rain cloud over where the area I was. And the zoo. He also told me that he thought it would blow over quickly. I decided to keep going. We had decided we were going to see a bear, and we were going to see those bears, rain be damned!

I arrive to a mostly empty zoo, most sane people staying in out of the rain I guess. I headed in to the gift shop and bought a poncho for Wyatt and an umbrella for me. Neither worked out for us. The poncho was too big, and came too close to his face for my liking, and I couldn’t manage to push the stroller and hold the umbrella. But still, we were not giving in. I put the hood up on the stroller to keep him as dry as I could, tucked the poncho around his legs, and kept going, getting wetter and wetter with each step.

And of course, zoos are designed with the Big Attraction animals at the back, to make people walk through the whole thing. I don’t know if that is purposeful, but it seems like it to me. And the Detroit Zoo has an extraordinarily long walk into the actual zoo. So we basically had to walk all the way to the back of the zoo. We took random breaks under trees (it wasn’t storming, just downpouring) and stopped to look at other animals, if there was a shelter for us. But for the most part, we persevered. Wyatt thought it was a blast, honestly. I was soaking wet, and he was wet but we made it to the bears.

And it was awesome. We were the only ones there, just standing there in the rain, looking at the bears. One of the bears was sleeping in the sheltering cave feature, but the other was hanging out in the rain. He had been relaxing, maybe enjoying the cool rain for a bit, and when we arrived, he looked up at us. And there we were, the three of us, in a downpour, all looking at each other. It was a moment that I feel I will remember forever. Wyatt and I looked at each other, smiling, then back at the bear, who kept his steady brown gaze on us. Maybe he thought we were nuts. Maybe he wanted us to go away, as he had been enjoying the solitude, although we were not talking or making any noise. It was sort of..pure. Powerful. It was so quiet, just the sound of the rain pattering away on the umbrella and the trees. There was no attempt to grab a photo, especially with my arms full of preschooler and an umbrella. Nothing to distract from the moment.

We stood there a little bit, not too long, but long enough. Eventually Wyatt went back into his stroller, all tucked up, eating his goldfish which somehow he could eat without them getting soggy, and we slogged back to the car. But it felt different now. At least for me. I felt more carefree and less upset about the rain. I guess though once you are wet enough, who cares? I wonder if the morning would have been the same had I had our raincoats. I kind of think it wouldn’t have been.

Now when it rains, I think about the bear, and standing in the rain with my son, all alone, looking at a bear who was looking back at us.

Saturday Snapshot

 

 

SaturdaySnapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads

 

It’s September, and today, it feels like fall. Cool, breezy, that hint of autumn in the air. And fall means back to school – even for my little guy! My little sunshine boy went back to preschool this week – I will miss our daily adventures but I know that he is gaining so much from going. Today we retreated to the woods for a little walk, looking for the pileated woodpecker that has been hanging out, listening to our feet crunch through the leaves, and spotting squirrels darting about, hoarding the many acorns and black walnuts that are so plentiful there. It was the perfect start to a morning.