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.

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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.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Shampoo Bar

Last summer, our family made the decision to reduce our plastic use. It has been a slow transition, but one we work at and think about every time we make a purchase. The one change that has been the hardest for me is finding that perfect shampoo bar! I made the switch to bar soap for the rest of me fairly easily – I have found a few companies that I really like. But the shampoo bar is elusive. There are some I have liked, but none have been quite perfect.

I have thick, wavy hair, that has a tendency to frizz big time in humidity (yay for Michigan summers!) I am looking for something that will not leave my hair feeling like I haven’t rinsed it well enough, and that helps control my hair’s tendency to become a giant poufball. I am also pretty much a wash and go woman – I don’t spend a lot of time styling my hair (I’m not very good at it), and I don’t wear makeup unless it’s a special occasion. So, the shampoo I use has to do a good job because I really rely on it to help control my mane. So, hence my search.

The first one I tried was Terra Mia Organics Raw Goat Milk Lime and Coconut bar. One thing I really love about shampoo bars is their longevity! This bar lasted me three months, two of them summer months. We also went on vacation after I started using shampoo bars, and it was so much easier to pack my toiletries! This particular shampoo bar was pretty good – it smelled nice, controlled my frizz nicely during summer, but it never felt like I rinsed it out well enough to me. It always felt like there was a bit of a film left even after I rinsed my hair thoroughly. My husband thought this one was ok – he missed the thick lather you get from regular shampoo. I learned recently though that the lather is from sulfates, which are actually not good for you, as they disrupt your personal biome. (This switch has been a whole new journey for me, learning all new things!)

Which brings me to my next bar – the Lush Copperhead shampoo bar. I slipped this bar from the brown, recyclable packaging, and was overcome by the smell of marijuana, weirdly. It wasn’t of course, but yeah, it was weird smell at first. It had a weird smell on arrival, but it soon dissipated and smelled wonderful. For a while, I thought this was my clear winner. Thick lather, rinsed easily, left my hair soft, controlled the frizz, and smelled divine. But then to my sadness, I learned that the lather we loved was from the sulfates. And I figured I am all in now, might as well be all natural too, right? So I moved on – although I am reserving the right to go back to this bar if I can’t find another that works as well.

Yesterday I just received my third attempt. It is the Starry Night bar from Skipping Stones, and so far, I am in love. It is absolutely beautiful, smells amazing, and came in all recyclable packaging. However, I haven’t used it yet. I don’t wash my hair everyday, but tonight is the night. I will update here once I have used it. I have high hopes though, from the reviews! UPDATE: I used this and while the lather is pretty minimal as I expected, my hair feels soft and dried really nicely, with no filmy feeling on it. My husband actually commented on how nice my hair looked!

To recap:

Terra Mia – Smelled great, controlled the frizz, but didn’t leave my hair feeling like it was totally rinsed out, was sulfate free though however

Lush Copperhead – Smelled great, left my hair soft, controlled the frizz – but had sulfates.

Starry Night – Smells great, no sulfates, not a ton of lather, but did leave my hair soft and wavy. A definite keeper!

If you are considering the switch, I say go for it! Keep those plastic bottles out of our landfills and oceans! You also end up saving money, as these bars last a long time if you treat them right, by storing them on a soap dish that allows for drainage, or out of the spray of water. I made the switch and have been happy despite my search for “the one”.

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?

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

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

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

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

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!

 

 

 

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.

What Wyatt’s Reading: August Wrap Up

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Happy Read a Book Day!

It has been a long time since I posted one of these, and I figured today would be a great day to celebrate some of the books Wyatt and I have been reading. We read so many books over the summer! Wyatt loves to read, I have stashes of books for him all over the house for him to pull out and look through. He is so cute, he will riffle through the pages, point to pictures, and say, “Oooh mom, ooh!” My reader’s heart loves that he loves books. These are some of the top winners that we read together in August.

These were a few that we particularly loved last month. Wyatt went everywhere for a while carrying Eric Carle’s Do You Want to Be My Friend, and also really loved Big Bear, Small Mouse and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. I remember loving Eric Carle as a kid too, it is so neat to see that Wyatt really enjoys him as well. I loved Full Moon Lore and An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth, especially the latter. I think these will all have to be added to our permanent collection! Full Moon Lore just was so informative, and I loved the accompanying pictures, while Extraordinary Ordinary Moth was a wonderful story about finding beauty in the ordinary. I loved it to pieces. We bought Flowers Are Calling while we were on vacation, and that is another really cool book. The illustrations were beautiful, and it was full of interesting facts. I even learned a thing or two – like some flowers have caffeine and bees enjoy it! Being a coffee addict myself, I totally get it bees!

We have already kicked off September with quite a few reads, and in the past two days 9 of our holds have come in at the library, so we will be reading a whole lot more.

Any picture books on here that you have read, either with a child or as a child? What were some of your childhood favorites?