It’s Wednesday! What are you listening to?

So, this is obviously a little riff on Monday’s What Are You Reading post that is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. I don’t really intend for this to be a weekly feature, but I thought this would be pretty fun, maybe once a month or three. And I would really really love to know what you guys are listening to!

Let’s start with podcasts.. I am in love with them. I have some that I listen to when I am sans child, since they are not appropriate for his little ears, but we have a few that we listen to together too.

Family Podcasts

Storynory – This is a great storytelling podcast! They share classic stories, fairytales, myths, even poems and all told in a fun, easy listening way for kids. Stories have great sound effects too, to make it more of an experience! Our favorite episode: The Owl and the Pussycat (super short, but I LOVED this poem as a kid and so does Wyatt now)

Circle Round – Another storytelling podcast, presented by NPR. This one is based mainly on folk tales, and some even are read by actual actors. I love the different range of stories that they present on this podcast, and they often pair with orchestras to add music as well. Our favorite episode: The Piper and the Pooka

Ear Snacks for Kids: This is a new one for us, we just found it, so no favorites yet but we are having fun discovering all of their quirky songs based around art and science and culture. We listened to one about teeth and teeth brushing this morning and it was so fun – who knew that topic could be so funny?

Classics for Kids: So, this one, I am pretty sure Wyatt is not paying too much attention to what the hosts are saying, but is just enjoying the music they play. Lol. However, I have learned from this one! Another one new to our lineup.

My List:

Lore by Aaron Mahnke: The first podcast I ever listened to, and I still love it. Mahnke has a way of unfolding a tale! I love his eerie, spooky tales that he slowly unwinds for us, bit by bit. So good! I actually listen to this if Wyatt is around, most of the time, unless the topic is too macabre. Lore is also a show on Amazon and Mahnke has a few books out too! Favorite episode: Black Stockings

America’s National Parks (L.L. Bean): I love this one!! Different stories about the history of our national parks, the people who have visited or worked there, and celebrates the wild nature of them all. I have so many favorite episodes, but here are three that I have made family members listen to because I wanted them to hear these tales: Favorite Episodes: 37 Days in Yellowstone, Alone on a Winter Island, and The Strange World of National Park Gift Stores.

My Favorite Murder: Another old favorite- Karen and Georgia and their quick witted banter lends a much needed mood lifter at times during this true crime podcast. However, this one is not safe for children to listen to, due to language and violence. Favorite Episode: The Live in Glasgow episode

Living Homegrown: A new one to my list, all good stuff about sustainability and how to live on the farm without actually living on the farm, tips on how to live closer to your food source while living somewhere you don’t really have access to land. The podcast was on a hiatus due to Theresa Loe’s cancer, but I think the podcast is starting back up again.

I usually use Spotify pretty exclusively, because I can listen to music and podcasts all in one place. Plus I have the app on my television now, so I can just play everything right from my tv, which has way better speakers. I have to be honest, my music lists are pretty bare! I could use some suggestions and help!

What we are listening to – music:

The National Parks – I had never heard of this band until I was searching for the National Parks podcast. Lol. They are pretty good, mellow for slow mornings or evenings, and coffee or wine.

Lord Huron: Sort of similar in sound to the National Parks, I discovered them for the first time while watching a vlogger on YouTube that we love, Trout and Coffee (jeez, I could do a post on vloggers too!)

The Okeedokee Brothers: So this one is Wyatt’s choice. They have so many albums for kids, and they are folky, bluegrass music, lots of nature imagery. We listen to them a lot! So much that now I actually am a fan too. Lol. Particular favorites here are Jamboree, Through the Woods, Evergreen, and Thousand Star Hotel, and Howl. Look them up on YouTube too, they have little movies!

And some people need no introduction – Tom Petty, Carol King, Van Morrison, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Coombs. We also listen to a really cool playlist called Classical Nature – I found I love Gustav Holst’s The Planets! Wyatt loves Flight of the Bumblebee. There is of course other stuff that we listen to, but these get the most play. This list is so different from what I used to listen to! I had no idea musical taste could change, but ours seems to have. My husband was a Skinny Puppy, Misfits kind of guy- I listened to a lot of alternative stuff and wore a lot of black. But now? We are country music, folk music type of folk. Lol.

So… I would love to hear what you are listening to! I could always use more suggestions! Do you listen to any of these?

Harvest Full Moon

Tonight is the full harvest moon – and coincidentally, Friday the 13th!! OOoooooOOO…

The Harvest Moon is the moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox which is coming up on the 23rd. This time, the moon is also a micromoon, meaning it will appear smaller in the sky, the opposite of a supermoon. So much happening in our skies right now! We are spending this harvest moon with my brother and his family, having a fire in the yard and eating cheesy corn chowder and apple bread made from the apples growing on our tree. The moon won’t rise in our area until after midnight, so it probably won’t be Friday the 13th anymore technically, and I kind of am ok with that.

I have been reading Harvest Moon books to Wyatt this week, in preparation for this moon that signifies harvest season and family. And because I am always curious and forever reading more on things, I also looked up books on superstitions for my own reading. Mine haven’t come in at the library yet, so I won’t get to read them until maybe next week, but I am looking forward to flipping through them.

These were all great reads, but our favorite is Possum’s Harvest Moon. This little possum just wants his friends to get together and celebrate before winter arrives, and meets with a little resistance at first! Eventually, all the friends have a great time together, hanging out at the Harvest Moon. Kind of like we are going to do with my brother and his family – although we will see him after winter arrives too. I am guessing though, historically, that for people in the “old days”, that once the snow fell you might not see your neighbors until spring, so maybe people back then had celebrations of their own, before snows kept them isolated.

I have to admit, the superstition of Friday the 13th does get to me… my family is very superstitious, I blame our Irish and Scottish ancestry! As I mentioned above, I went digging for some books on superstitions, as my curiosity usually does lead me to do. These were the few I found that looked really interesting!

We actually had the Encyclopedia of Superstitions in the library I used to work at, and the kids checked it out like crazy. I had to order a new one for the library eventually, it became so worn out. So, I figured that had to go on my list! I am sure I won’t read these cover to cover, all of them, but you never know I guess! What the Moon Said is a kids chapter book that drew my interest as well, it looks really interesting. They had me at Little House though…

How about you guys? Any plans for tonight? Any suggestions for a harvest moon play list?

Saying goodbye to Summertime Snippets…

As summer is ending and falling into fall, school is back in session, and the easy breezy summer days are no more for this year. And that is ok, there is a season for everything. I can see the change of seasons in my photos, as summer images give way to autumn.

Late summer meant trips to the aquarium, summer music class, visits to Greenfield Village with grandparents. ..

Family nature hikes, surrounded by a canopy of green, the last of the water lilies dotting the water (they were gone the very next week!), Sandhill Cranes before they leave for warmer climates..even a woolly bear caterpillar spotted on a little leaf. Don’t worry though if you are not a fan of snow, this woolly bear says we are in for a mild winter!

Playing in the dirt everyday all day, ice cream on the lawn, ground cherries that we found growing in our back garden, and spontaneous hugs from my kiddo.. (those aren’t seasonal though!)

This week we are getting ready for the harvest moon! I feel we have officially reached fall!

What Wyatt’s Reading – August

We have been reading like crazy over here! I usually do this post at the end of the month or I try to, but we have been reading so much that I posted early. These are our favorites so far this month… some his, some mine lol.

I am Not a Skunk is a super adorable book about a cat that was mistaken for a skunk – when the family realized it really was a cat, they gave him a home! We were graciously gifted this book by author Ellen Pilch, and Wyatt loves it! The cat in the book looks so much like our Maggie cat!

We read two Mermaid books too – Wyatt loved the story of Pearl, a mermaid whose job it was to raise the moon, and I loved Tallulah, and her petoskey stone. (plus, we are Michiganders!)

I have read Over in a River over and over and over…this was a favorite of Wyatt’s. It had a great map of some of the rivers of the United States and the animals that call those rivers home. Really cool.

Leo Lionni, Kevin Henkes, and Eric Carle are perennial favorites, am I right? I totally love Henkes books and was so excited to share them with Wyatt when he was born. He loves them too, and he is also a fan of Lionni, an author I never really was super drawn to but now see the appeal, thanks to the kiddo. And Eric Carle is just so talented! I do have to say the illustration in this book of the grouchy ladybug saying “Go away” kind of makes me giggle, which is wrong, I know. Something about it though…lol.

Finally our pal Crinkleroot! I love these books to teach Wyatt about nature. This one is a little advanced for him but was a good place to start. And I learned from it too!

Have you read any of these?

Taking Time

img_20190802_093615163_hdr

When I was in Texas, I attended a workshop led by Dr. Keri Riggs on the importance of creativity, play, and fun and it was pretty mind-blowing. Life today is so fast-paced – there are always errands to run, things to clean, chores to do, calls to make, emails to answer, appointments to go to – that it feels like we are on a never-ending conveyor belt of things to do. Billy and I have been trying to reshape our lifestyle into one that does allow more time for fun and play and creativity, but sometimes we are not successful. We can get mired in all the minutiae of the life just as quickly as not. Finding the balance is hard!

Dr. Riggs asked us all to think of a time that we had fun, just really let go and had fun. And to think about what play meant to us. For me, that means many different things, as I am sure it does to most of you as well. Reading and writing, being out in nature, being with my friends at book club, laughing with my family about something or other, practicing yoga. Then Dr. Riggs asked about what gets in the way – and I am sure my list is again, the same as many of you all, all of the things I mentioned above. I also realized that for me too, that I can “Chevy Chase” a moment, that I have really high expectations of how I want and expect something to be, that I have a hard time being in the moment 100%, as I try to manage it so that my family has a perfect outing or moment. And I need to realize it doesn’t need to be that way sometimes. I need to step outside of that idea, and just be.

We also talked about what we can do to try to help us make the time for ourselves – we all know and have heard how important “self-care” is for us by now. And self-care can be just a small little thing too – a piece of that special candy you love and don’t treat yourself to, for example.  For we also learned, a treat is self-care – if it is something you do all the time, it doesn’t count, because it doesn’t actually affect your brain the same way as treating yourself. So it is important to switch it up! If you buy a big box of Godiva and eat a piece of everyday, it is no longer special right? It is there and you can have it whenever you want. And it loses that magic. So we have to make sure we switch it up sometimes.

A few suggestions I took from the workshop that I feel I can actually use are very simple – make a list and put things on the calendar. My very organized brain loves these ideas. Have you ever had time to yourself where you were completely overwhelmed by the fact you had some time, and then didn’t know what to do? (This also sort of happens to me in a book store – too many options and I can’t choose!) Dr. Riggs suggested making a list of fun or self-care type things that you would enjoy, then when you get 30 minutes, etc look at your list and choose one! And the calendar thing – so important I think. It feels sort of like you shouldn’t need to schedule free time, but sometimes you do, at least until it becomes habit I think. I have to schedule in blogging or I wouldn’t get a chance. And when I don’t keep to my schedule, I never get to it! This is something I am urging my husband to do too – text his friends and set stuff up, put it on the calendar! I never miss a book club, and it is because it is scheduled. But this is just how things work for me, it might not be the thing for you, and if that is the case, find the way that works for you. Remember the things that make you smile, and restore your spirit and soul. Find the things that feel like play and fun, and do them.

Right before I left on my trip, I texted my husband that when he got home from work, we were going to go on a picnic, even though rain was in the forecast. We kept it extremely simple – we picked up pizza rolls and cookies from the bakery and headed to a local metropark. Due to the weather, we had the place to ourselves, and it was a wonderful way to spend an hour or two. We opened up the hatch of our SUV and piled into the back together, watching the rain roll in, as the wind blew our hair around. Wyatt absolutely loved it, I loved it, Billy loved it. We were safe and warm and cozy, eating our cookies while the weather was a little wild, just out of reach. We got to see deer and have a priceless moment together, really. It was after work and we had dishes in the sink and laundry to do and I needed to pack and it was probably later than Wyatt needed to be out by the time we got home, but..it was worth it. And Wyatt was fine and everything got done eventually.

What about you? What kinds of things restore you? What do you do to make time for them?

Texas Mini-Retreat

I’m back! I recently went on a mini-retreat weekend to Denton, TX as part of a CHASA moms retreat. CHASA stands for Childhood Hemiplagia and Stroke Association, and Wyatt is a right side hemi with CP – meaning he has cerebral palsy and his right side is affected. Our whole retreat was for moms with children just like Wyatt, to get away for some rest and to make connections and share stories with women who are in our situation. Who truly get our children, because they have children of their own whose challenges are the same challenges. All of our kids are different of course, different symptoms and severity and stories, but essentially, we can all speak the lingo and talk the talk and laugh and share the tears. Which we did.

This was my first weekend away from Wyatt since he has been born, and it took so much for me to get on that plane. It helped that my stepsister was going as well – she is also mother to boy with CP hemi. My guys left me at the airport and Wyatt was sobbing. It was heartwrenching but I did it. I want to raise Wyatt that despite being nervous and afraid, we do the things. And that starts with me. So I boarded the plane and headed off to Dallas!

Our hotel, The Embassy Suites in Denton, was insanely awesome. It was huge (Katherine and I kept telling each other that everything is bigger in Texas!), with beautiful pools, a green lawn, a giant wall of plants – it was also practically brand new. They also practice green housekeeping and are very environmentally friendly – paper straws! (I was also happy to read that Delta offset our carbon footprint by donating to the nature conservancy for our flight!)

My pasty white self was a little intimidated by that Texas is hot sticker! Lol. I survived though. Our room was super cute and perfect for the two of us. Katherine is a night owl and I am an early bird, so it gave us somewhere to hang while the other was sleeping if we didn’t want to be out of the room.

2019-07-29 (20)

Plus, there was a complimentary happy hour from 5:30-7:30 every night…

We got there on Thursday and had a meet and greet with the other moms late that afternoon, followed by dinner wherever we wanted. They had sign up sheets for different restaurants and we opted to stay in and eat at the hotel restaurant with a group of women that night. It was a nice way to start the trip and relax after a big day of travelling.

Friday morning we had a workshop on cultivating creativity, pleasure and play delivered by the wonderful Keri Riggs. I greatly enjoyed her talk about self-care and the importance of it, and learned a great deal. I brought home a lot of self-awareness about what I need, how to get it, and also how to help Billy take care of himself too. Can’t forget my guy needs it too! Plus, I got a new journal (love!) Our workshop was followed by a luncheon where we chatted with the ladies at our table. It was a nice morning.

The rest of the day was ours to play with. Keri had told us to really think about how we recharge – and as an introvert I recharge by lots of alone time. Katherine is an introvert as well, and we split up for the afternoon. She basked in the sun by the pool while I read and wrote in the room. It was lovely. Later we met back up for happy hour at the hotel bar, went to dinner, and on a ghost tour of Denton! I love a ghost tour. I’ve been on them in Gettysburg, New Orleans, Savannah,  and Key West, and Katherine was awesome enough to join me on one in Texas. It was the perfect night! Texas was having a “cold front” while we were there and I was very grateful. There was a breeze stirring about Denton Square, it was a cooler evening, live music was playing, the trees all had little lights, and all over people were enjoying the night, sprawled across the courthouse lawn enjoying the weather and community.  Shelley Tucker did a great job on her ghost tour- I learned so much Denton history – and to be wary of ghosts around the town!

We went home and crashed out! Well, I did at least. Lol. The next morning I got up early and had breakfast at the enormous breakfast buffet, which was delicious, and then Katherine and I met back up to go shopping!  We headed back to Denton Square, where it was much hotter than the night before! We sat in the shade of the courthouse, listening to a little folk band play, just talking and sharing, before hitting the shops! I picked up souvenirs for the guys, and I had promised my mom and dad both that I would buy something for myself…so I did. And I absolutely love it! It is the perfect memento for my trip, and for my office.

I love it love it love it! I can’t wait to hang it up!

We did a little more shopping, had lunch at this great place called the Lion and Crown, and ended our morning with Katherine getting her own perfect memento, a tattoo to represent where she is in her life.

We didn’t leave the square though until we went to the place I had been wanting to go for months – Gnome Cone! There are two locations in Texas, and one had just opened in Denton! I was so excited!! Lol. I opted for the Troll’s Blood flavor – it must be a little known fact that it tastes like pina colada…

We went back to the hotel after, and met up with the group for happy hour and dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant, Luigis. It was a very special night out, with lots of sharing and laughing. I made some new friends, new connections, and learned a lot on my trip, and even got some rest and relaxation in there! The bonus was getting to know my stepsister a whole lot better – I really loved that.

And of course, gnome cone.

Saturdays are for family

Saturday is our designated day for us, as much as we possibly can. Our weeks are so full, with work and school and therapy and appointments and cleaning and chores and all the stuff that comes along with living everyday. So we set Saturday aside as our day. The day we let things go, and just be together.

This past Saturday it was very much needed. It’s been an intense two weeks emotionally for me, and I do best when I get space and quiet to process things. We were predicted to have some crazy bad weather later that night through Monday morning, but when we left the house it was a brilliantly sunny day. A little chilly, but warm enough to get outside, walk around a bit, and soak up a little bit of sunshine.

We headed to Belle Isle in Detroit, somewhere we haven’t been for a while. The river was full of giant freighters, making their way through the Great Lakes, and people were running, biking, and two people were even playing hockey on the ice on one of the ponds. We took our time driving around, looking for birds. We eventually pulled into the nature center parking lot to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit, and get some air and some of that sun. We walked on the trail behind the nature center, among the tall frozen grasses, the sounds of birdsong surrounding us.

 

Being out in the air was so restorative. You can take a deep breath, and feel yourself just relaxing and letting go of things that are bothering you, at least for a little while. And when you have two guys with you that look like lumberjacks, even better.

We of course popped inside the nature center after our walk. It was nice to warm up a bit, talk to the interpreters, and sit and watch the birds from the viewing area.

4298799100575995210

And sometimes you see more than birds!

When we had hung out long enough, we bundled back into the car, shared a snack, and headed into the city, to one of our favorite bakeries, Avalon. If you are ever in Detroit, they make some fantastic bread and cookies. Usually Billy stops on his way home from work on Friday nights to get us fresh bread for Saturday morning breakfast, but he hasn’t had a chance lately. So we decided to get our bread for the week since we were already in town anyway.

I always want to go a bit crazy in there and buy everything, but I practice some restraint. This time we got a baguette, challah bread, a raisin bread loafling, an olive bread loafling (they were made from the dough that wasn’t enough to make a full loaf – so I am calling them loaflings..), a plain croissant, three cookies, and a peanut butter and chocolate brownie. I refrained from the Rose Latte which sounds amazing, and the chocolate croissant – this time at least! The sun was shining bright through the windows, it wasn’t crazy busy, and there was a man playing some music on his trumpet, so we stuck around a bit to listen and enjoy our cookies.

Eventually though, we had to head for home, but we did so with restored spirits and full bellies.