A Misty Morning at the Orchard

Wyatt and I met my SIL Chrissy and my niece L. at the orchard yesterday, and I am so glad that we went. I was very nervous, it was 8 days post surgery and it would be our first outing too. I am glad I felt brave enough to say yes, because we had fun, despite the slightly damp day.

Chrissy and L. met us at the orchard at 11:30, and Chrissy masked up and headed into the store to grab out bags for picking while I stood between the cars and watched both kids. Then we headed back to the orchard, where they had row after row of apple varieties to choose from. Our little caravan of two headed all the way to the end before turning around and deciding we wanted to head for the honey crisp first. We parked and we put a blanket down as our base and went up and down the rows plucking the apples from the branches. The kids thought it was super fun! When we finished that area, we wandered over to the golden delicious and braeburn section, and added more apples to our bag.

Our bags were filling up and getting heavy, but we were not ready to call it quits yet. We had one more small section we wanted to check out, the winesap apples. I have to be honest, I am not certain what these apples are like but we liked the name. Wyatt was super tired by this point so I stuck him in the back of the Subaru to hang out with while Chrissy and L. explored the field across the way, looking at the pumpkins, looking so autumnal sprawled out in the dew among their vines. L. came bouncing back, filled with excitement and wanting to show me the baby pumpkin that she saw so Chrissy stayed with Wyatt while I followed L. across the little bridge to the pumpkins. And we saw some enormous pumpkins as well as some teeny baby pumpkins. I guess fall has arrived, at least to our part of Michigan! I joked with Chrissy too, that she looked like a character from a Jane Austen novel walking through the fields..

By this point all of our feet were soaking wet and squishy, so it was time to call it a day. I would have loved to have had a picnic among the trees for Chrissy’s birthday (did I mention it was her birthday?) but it was too gross. We loaded the kids up and headed back to the front, making a little stop at the pick your own flowers field, where we realized we had no way to cut a bouquet. I never realized that one day I would be standing in a damp field lamenting that I didn’t have a pocket knife, but there I was. (and I came home and added a pink Opinel to my Christmas list..I will never go without flowers again! Lol)

All in all, we had a great time. I am so glad that we went, despite my anxiety, because I really think being with family, a change of scenery, and the fresh air did Wyatt and I both a world of good. I am so happy that we were able to share in Chrissy’s day! And look at this happy face!

Little Wanderings

It’s been some time since our family wandered around outside. We have been taking neighborhood walks but we haven’t been out in the world in two months. Our favorite places are sort of crowded these days with everyone else attempting to get out of the house too, so we have been avoiding our usual stomping grounds. Then this weekend, we remembered a few places that we thought might be less busy – and our hunches paid off!

So Sunday after a bellyful of chocolate chip pancakes and a virtual chat over tea with my mom, we pulled on our boots and headed out in search of whatever adventures we could find. Our first stop was a centennial farm and nursery. It was too cold for them to have many flowers out so we made plans to go back in warmer weather (hopefully this upcoming weekend!) and wandered about their beautiful grounds. We spotted fiddlehead ferns, a favorite of mine, so many birds including a cardinal that followed us around, and beautiful trees and plants. It was a brisk morning, cool and overcast and it even rained on us a few times, but that was ok. We don’t mind a little rain.

We also used the opportunity to practice mask wearing with Wyatt. We figured it was good to practice somewhere it wasn’t crowded or imperative to wear one for safety reasons – and where better but in the outdoors. We did encounter employees and the people that lived there, but we maintained social distancing and had masks on, so it was sort of a dress rehearsal for the weeks ahead. Wyatt did ok…. his face is so small though that it easily slips down off of his nose, so we need a plan for that. He likes to fiddle with it too, pulling it down – or up too high! He will get the hang of of it.

The grounds were beautiful but not big enough to satisfy our urge to be outside – so we decided to try a place nearby that we got to sometimes. We spent the short drive there crossing our fingers that it was not overcrowded and we were in luck! We had the place almost to ourselves, and there was more than enough trail for everyone.

It was so wonderful, and it was so good for me, for all of us, to be back outside again, and in nature. It is such a part of our family that we were really missing it. We headed home feeling refreshed, like someone had opened the windows to our souls and aired them out. Now that we know we can do this, we will be venturing out again, hopefully soon!

Currently…February

Taken at book club at my friend’s house. Isn’t she brilliant?

Currently..is a meme hosted by Anne in Residence. Today we are sharing what we are currently….. loving, embracing, tasting, wearing, and preparing.

Loving: My blue light protective glasses! My little guy had to get glasses so I ordered these to wear along with him, to help to get him to keep his on. I had heard of the blue light protective glasses, so I ordered these from Zenni and I really like them! I had been noticing my eyes were getting dry and I had headaches after sitting in front of my computer, and these glasses are helping with that as well! So it worked out nicely all around!

Embracing: The 1000 Hours Outside Challenge! We are trying to go all out with our outdoors experiences this year. I am not sure we will make all 1000 hours but we are going to give it our best! We have gone out in cold weather, rainy weather, and nice weather so far this year so I can say with certainty that we are doing our best.

Tasting: All sorts of comfort food recipes. It’s winter in the mitten state now, and we have hunkered down with soups and chili, and this year, after twenty some years of vegetarianism, I have started to eat some meat, about one meat dish a month for me. It’s sort of a whole new learning curve, since my entire adult life I have never eaten meat – so I have to learn how to cook it. It is fun finding new recipes and trying them out, and my always carnivorous husband is very happy about this turn in events.

Wearing: Another new for me – I’ve started to add beauty products to my life. I know this probably sounds weird, but until recently I have never done much besides occasionally a little mascara and moisturizer. But lately I have just been feeling so frumpy – I don’t work outside my home and when I do go out, it is usually for a hike or outside somewhere so I never really take much time with that sort of regime. Lately though I have added some stuff in, and it makes me feel a little nicer, which in turn makes me feel a little happier. I started small and easy, since this is new to me, and have been absolutely loving the Pacifica line of products. I chose this brand because over the summer I found the perfect hair balm for my crazy thick wavy hair – the Salty Waves Beach Balm. A little of this and my hair would dry perfectly, no frizz, nice curls. So, when I decided to add in a different moisturizer and BB cream, I looked to this line again. I bought the Sea and C Life face lotion and the Alight BB Cream, and I love them both. So much that I now have a few other products on order. I also love the fact that these products don’t have a bunch of harmful chemicals, and are cruelty free – plus when you are finished with the product, the company will send you an envelope so you can send the packaging back! All things that make my hippy heart happy!

Preparing: For my son’s fifth birthday party next month! I am so excited! We are planning a lumberjack themed party, and we are talking about a cake that looks like pancakes and a maple syrup tapping demonstration, and I have a few other ideas percolating as well.

Winter Ponds & Snowy Walks

This past week winter decided to rear its head here in Michigan. We had freezing temperatures and even snow. It was a great week to study winter ponds with the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum – I was so pleased that the weather in Michigan cooperate with us. It was just a great week honestly – we had a lot of outside time, and had some fun inside too, with our indoor campout on Friday night!

We started our week last Sunday with a short hike around a bay in the Detroit River, and then around the small pond that is nearby as well. We were excited to see that it had frozen over since the last time we had visited this area, as the last time there was no sign of ice at all. We looked for signs of life around the pond, tracks in the snow, birds, animals, plants and talked about those with Wyatt a bit. We did find some interesting tracks and we are still just learning to identify these ourselves, so we made our best ID’s with the help of Google lens.

We decided that these were coyote and raccoon tracks, based on the Google ID and a little more online searching. Also, for the coyote tracks I did not see any footprints near them, from a person walking their dog. If you are better at identifying tracks then us, I would love your opinions!

Then Friday, Wyatt and I made our own winter pond. We talked about water freezes, what some of the animals that live in or around the water do when this happens, and then froze some things in water while we were at it to simulate a pond in winter. We also checked on it every hour noting the temperature and whether it had frozen or not yet.

Unfortunately after checking for 7 hours, it still had not frozen. The temperature would not budge from 33 degrees! It eventually did freeze but overnight so Wyatt did not get to see it gradually happen as I had hoped. But he did get to play with his frozen pond the next morning. He was a pretty dedicated little scientist though, and enjoyed checked the water every hour. He wouldn’t let me cheat and just look from the front door either, we had to go out every time lol.

Later that evening we had a indoor camp-out in our living room which was a super fun way to unplug. We set up his tent, laid down blankets, turned on our little electric stove, and read books by lantern light. Wyatt was seriously excited by the whole thing, it was cute. To be honest, Billy and I were so relaxed as well – it was quiet and warm and we were just having such a great time hanging out. We will definitely be doing this again.

Saturday morning after a breakfast of homemade pancakes, we threw on our winter clothes and headed outside, because it was snowing! It was the weather we had been waiting for all winter and we were so excited to get in the woods and walk through the falling snow. My brother and his family had the same idea and they had a beautiful walk, complete with wild turkeys, deer, and birds that ate birdseed from their hands at the nature center. We didn’t see anything on our walk, but enjoyed the brisk walk together, trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues.

It was the kind of weekend I love, with plenty of family time and hiking!