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!

Hello February!

After what felt like the longest January ever, it is finally February! And it snowed! We have been waiting forever for a real winter walk with gently falling snow and we finally got one. My hair smelled like a cold winter woods, Billy had snow all in his beard and eyelashes and Wyatt’s little cheeks were so rosy. It was a great hike.

I am pretty excited for this month, we have some fun things lined up! Tomorrow we are celebrating Candlemas with my brother, and if I can find beeswax sheets, try our hand at making candles. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner too, with Wyatt’s classroom party and our own family celebrations. And I think Billy and I might go out on a date night too! It’s been a minute since we have done that. Wyatt is also having a little party with his cousin’s, thrown by cousin at his house. I think it will be the start of a fun new tradition. So lots of Valentine’s love happening around here!

Then later this month my brother is having our whole family over for a UK themed potluck dinner. We all have to pick a traditional dish from somewhere in the UK (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) and bring it. I can’t tell you how super excited I am about this! Our ancestry is heavily from the UK (my DNA test came back roughly 90% from these four countries, with the most being Irish) I am second and third generation American on all sides, so we grew up eating a lot of traditional English food. I remember the first time I cut Wyatt’s toast into strips and called them soldiers, my husband was so confused! My mom always cut my toast into soldiers so that is what I called them too – I didn’t know that this was not a universal term. I am probably not taking toast to the dinner though. I am considering Cullen Skink just because I like saying the name. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else brings as well. It should be a fun event, one to look forward to in this sometimes dreary month. If anyone has any suggestions as to what I should take, I would love to hear them!

We are also going to be talking a lot together this month about snow, worms, and evergreens as part of our Exploring Nature with Children curriculum, although I am considering saving worms for next month, when it will be the worm moon. If I do skip it, I might focus on squirrels and possums, both of which live around our house. We have been having a great time this year, learning together with this program.

We will also be continuing work on my office. This room has long been neglected and we really need to get it done and make it useful. January was super busy but this month we are going to be ants instead of grasshoppers and work on some home projects. Billy and I have a tendency to adventure more than work on things, but sometimes you have to just do them. Lol. I am also going to try my hand at embroidery this month! I have been on a crafting binge lately, trying all different sorts and having fun with them all. I have never been great at sewing though, so fingers crossed for me!

How about you guys? Any big plans for the month?