Hello July!

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July, you are not my favorite month. I am not a fan of being hot and sticky and sweaty and Michigan summers are hot and sweaty and humid. Our family tends to shy away from the sunlight like vampires, hiding out in the air conditioning during the day, and then emerging in the evening as it cools off. None of us are summer lovers, in this house. But July, you have your own beauty and charm, and this year, I will embrace you more. You are a month of sunshine, and bright colors and flowers. Insects and birds are cheerily going about their business, flowers riot through gardens. There is a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farm markets, bursting with flavor, and more bright colors. That is probably my favorite thing about you July, your vibrancy.

This month is a busy one too. We have so many fun things planned, in our own ways, of course. The fourth of July and family picnics. The lavender festival, the Detroit Kite Festival on Belle Isle. Bastille Day, watching the Tour de France together. Music concerts at the zoo. And three whole date nights for Billy and I, three weeks in a row! A dinner and tiki bar with new friends, a party with old coworkers, and then finally a date night at the zoo actually. I also see many more family dinners – my brother and I are trying to make them as weekly as possible. Iced tea parties with my boy once a week as well. Fresh salads, fresh fruits, simple easy meals. Trips to the library always feel so summery to me too.

As for me, I am going to a mom’s retreat in Texas at the end of the month, just my stepsister and I. I have to admit, I am super nervous. Beyond nervous and anxious. I have never been away from Wyatt more than 8 hours and now I will be gone for three nights. But I am doing it. I am teaching Wyatt to not let fear rule his life, and that begins with me. I have to do things that maybe I am scared to do, to show him that it is ok. I am also excited to go as well. I have always wanted to go to Texas, my whole life, and now I am. There is a chance to see some of my old college friends who moved to Austin as well, which would be a great big bonus. And this is a retreat for moms of kids with special needs like my kiddo, and the event coordinators have so many activities planned if we want to do them – or we can do whatever we want. Two and half days where I can do whatever I choose. So, this is going to be fun. I will get to hang out with my stepsister too, and really get to know her better, as we met when we were older. I am looking forward to that. It is a chance for me to grow, and it is good to push ourselves to that growth. Or that is what I keep telling myself!

I think this month too, I will revisit old children’s classic books, and just books that I loved as a child. I am also doing the Paris in July challenge, so that is on my mind too, all the fun reads and things I can for that. It has also been one year since I decided to start phasing out plastic, with Plastic Free July, and I signed up for a challenge for that as well, to keep me motivated and give me some new ideas. I need a push to get on that again, and the challenge will do well for that!

How about you all? Any big plans for July?

Snapshot Saturday

 

SaturdaySnapshot
My prayers go out to anyone suffering right now – I feel like every time I turn on the news, something is happening that breaks my heart.  Much of my last week was spent glued to the news too – there was a lot going on, and while I try my best to not get over inundated with current events for my own mental health, the past two weeks or so have demanded my attention. The timing of these events coincided coincidentally with a 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge that I joined, and honestly, with the way I have been feeling, it was perfect timing. I needed something positive, and the challenge has forced me to do new things, and focus on my family and family time. And it is time very well spent.
For instance, last Wednesday I was having a rough day. Our challenge was to create a family moondala – something I had never heard of before but we were game. Billy and I are creative, and together make a good team, and it was fun to do a creative project with Wyatt. A moondala is a visual representation of what you hope to do in the next month, or lunar cycle. It can include drawings, bits of nature, whatever you want to represent these ideas. So, I poured myself into gathering the materials we might need, and then after dinner, we gathered around our table and started putting it all together. Billy and I really got involved in it, more than I thought we would! Definitely a case of the parents having more fun than the child. Lol. We had a lot of fun, and Wyatt did too, adding stickers and directing us on where he thought certain aspects would go. It was a hopeful, optimistic project, and it was just fun to sit as a family and make. I would think in families with older kids, etc everyone could make their own too.
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I think we are going to try to do this every month!

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?

Northern Michigan – Vacation Part Two

I have always wanted to go to the wineries on Mission Point. I finally got the chance to, albeit with a preschooler in tow. We didn’t get to do as much wine tasting as we would have (my 3 year old niece, my brother and sister-in-law were with us too), but my SIL and I decided that a girls trip there is an absolute must in our future! We at least got some good ideas of where we wanted to go.

We did get to do some cool stuff, besides gawking at the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. First we headed to the end of the peninsula to the lighthouse. I think this one of my favorite parts of the whole trip! The history, the water, the trees and the forest surrounding it – I could easily imagine being a lighthouse keeper there, in the middle of winter, with my snowy owl visitors from the Arctic.

 

 

After traipsing about with the other tourists, we headed toward Brys Estate Vineyards and their Secret Garden. It was the perfect place to go with our littles. A big beautiful garden for the kids to explore, pick blueberries, cut lavender, and enjoy the riot of color and flowers.

We walked around the garden for quite a while, until the rain that had threatened all day began in earnest. Chrissy and I took a moment to run into the store and look around while the guys loaded up the kids. If you do go to the Secret Garden and you have the chance to buy their lavender shortbread, do it!! It was delicious!! I wish I had bought more while I was there, since the whole car wanted to devour mine, including the kiddos. I of course shared but had I known I would have bought more. Chrissy and I also took advantage of the rain and the kids sleepiness to enjoy a record breaking for time wine tasting at Brys Vineyards, up the hill from the gardens. The ones we tried were delicious! I particularly enjoyed their deep reds. Yum!

By this point it was time to meet the rest of our family in Leland (Fishtown) one of our favorite parts of the whole trip every year. I love touring through the stores, and I of course love the Dam Candy Store. I also pop into the book store every year to make a purchase, of course. A few years ago there was a campaign to Save Fishtown! And I am glad they were able to. My husband has gone backpacking on Manitou Island, about three hours by ferry boat from Fishtown, and it would not be the same without the gray, weather beaten shacks turned stores that remain of the old fishing village.

Afterwards we headed back to the cabin, and laid low for the rest of the night. We sat by the lake and took turns with our kids, drinking wine under the stars. It was a wild night, with high winds, which I loved because then I could wear my new thrifted sweater that I got for the trip. I can’t wait for autumn to arrive so I can wear it more frequently!

The next day was our day to go home! Vacation flies by so swiftly. We said goodbye to our lake, with the clearest, calmest water that it had had the entire time we were there. We packed up, headed out, and made our first stop at a nearby small town, Frankfort, which my brother had told us had a beautiful beach. He was so right. We stretched our legs and took in some beauty before we had to get in the car for the long haul home. We then detoured across the fingertips of Michigan to Hartwick Pines, a state forest. I went there once when I was a kid and loved it, being surrounded by the old growth woods. There is something about trees and me. I love to stand silently in a wood, with tall pines and trees all around. The woods speak to my soul. I loved it there. I want to go back one day again, and spend a little bit more time there. Billy had to pull me away from the large windows, there were just so many birds!!! Evening Grosbeaks, Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, Hummingbirds everywhere. I could have sat there for hours. The visit newly invigorated our desire to start visiting as many National Parks as we can (a desire that is also being fueled right now by the book I am reading, Dear Bob and Sue).

All in all, it was a pretty great trip. I can’t wait to see what next summer ‘s adventures up north brings!

Saturday Snapshot – Northern Michigan, Part One!

SaturdaySnapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads

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We just got back from a short family trip to northern Michigan, one of my very favorite places! The natural beauty that is Michigan is spectacular and I love the chance to get back to the tall trees, cool breezes, lakes, and birds. But first we had to get there, and the drive from the Detroit area is a little  longish with a three year old. So we pulled off for a quick pit stop for lunch and to stretch our legs in Frankenmuth, a tourist attraction in its own right. Designed like an old German village, they are known for their large family style chicken dinners. We skipped the chicken and went to a local pizza place instead, which turned out to be perfect. We also stopped for cheese at the Cheese Haus.

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My little mouse.

We stopped for the night about an hour outside Traverse City, to save a few bucks on a hotel. We were going to get there late, and didn’t care about being in Traverse City proper until the next day. We had fun just bumming around with each other. Wyatt really enjoyed the Ikea catalog I had brought with me.

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The next day we got up early and heading into Traverse. We were meeting my brother and his family there, and were going to spend the day shopping around and then eating a celebratory dinner for Billy’s birthday. It was a sweltering and busy day in TC, with high temps and humidity, and the Film Festival going on as well. Jane Fonda was supposed to be around somewhere but I never spotted her. We traipsed in and out children’s boutique stores (I bought Wyatt the cutest Tea Collection shirt!), and many bookstores, our favorite. I would say most of our day was spent browsing the shelves of bookstores, one of my fave things to do.  I bought Wyatt a lovely book about flowers and insects – and I learned that bees like caffeine too! Some flowers contain caffeine and the bees like those flowers – this fact makes bees even more cool in my eyes. I also made a huge list of books that we need to check out from the library or add to our own home library!

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We had an earlyish dinner at The Jolly Pumpkin (omg that white wine Sangria was yummy on a hot day!) then headed toward our lake cabin home for the next few days. My dad was meeting us there with his wife, and my nephew. The graciously treated us to the time there – my stepmom has been going to the same cabin and spot on the lake for 28 years, and when we joined her family, it became a little bit ours too. It is a nice tradition to share!

The next day we headed into Glen Arbor, a little town we always drove through but I had never been to. It was super adorable! That bookstore alone..I could happily live in Glen Arbor if I could work at that bookstore. A girl can daydream! If you are ever nearby, check it out – The Cottage Book Shop.

I was also excited to see that an organization called Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes was helping to make Sleeping Bear Dunes, the beach, and the lake more accessible to those with disabilities! As a nature loving parent of a child with mobility challenges, we constantly are trying to find ways to connect Wyatt with nature more. Hikes are easier now, since he is still a little guy, but as he gets older we may have to get more inventive or seek out organizations such as this one.

And that house! So picturesque! It is an inn called Thyme Inn, and it has an enormous garden in back that you can see from the road. I would love to stay there one day, but maybe on a different sort of trip, one that doesn’t involve my three year old. Lol. A girls trip or a getaway for Billy and I, perhaps. We have not gone away without the boyo yet, but maybe in the next few years we will start.

 

Mini-Post: Feeling Peachy!

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“We are going on an adventure!”

This is what I tell Wyatt every time we leave the house, even if it is just to head up to the store. You never know what the day will bring! Sunday started out dreary and overcast for the third day in a row but we were not letting a little gray sky darken our day. I had a surprise up my sleeve! As I piled the car up with picnic type foods and rain coats, my husband was a bit confused, but he is game for anything so just kind of shrugged before taking the wheel and heading south.

I navigated our family to a favorite spot of ours, Erie Orchards, an orchard my family has been going to since I was a little girl, probably around Wyatt’s age. It was peach picking time! We picked up our bag from the adorable weather-beaten barn store, and rolled our Jeep on over a few dirt roads back to where the peach trees grew.

We could see people over in the blueberry patch, but we weren’t here for blueberries. We had the peaches all to ourselves. And Wyatt had a blast! Some of the trees were small enough for him to stand under and reach the peaches right off the branch, which he thought was the best thing ever! He happily snapped them off and deposited them into our bag.

 

Look at that look of concentration, and he even said peach for the first time!!

We had a wondeful adventure on a day that looked like it was going to be a bummer. The sky was heavy with clouds, which made the day cooler, and their was virtually no humidity. Add a small cool breeze and it was actually pretty perfect.

You just never know where a day will take you.

And now we have 8 lbs of peaches to use. A small thing though for such a fun day!

Anyone have any good peach recipes to share with me?

Dino-Might!

I love dinosaurs. I always have. I used to dream about being a paleontologist when I was a kid, but then realized I was better at words than math. I have a love for the sciences even though I am not great at them, and I want to pass this along early to my son. I started collecting dinosaur crafts and projects and coloring books and all sorts of fun things to do with him in July, which I deemed would now be known as Dino-month.

So I was super excited when I saw that a nearby indoor playscape/preschool/wellness center was having a drop in class for preschoolers and toddlers all about dinosaurs!! There would be songs and stories and sensory bins and a craft – all for $12! I was so excited to take Wyatt. I knew he would love it. Then I realized…I would have to socialize too! My biggest nightmare as an introvert super shy momma, is interacting with other parents. But, like we push our kids to move past their fears, so must we as parents push past ours. And it is good for us to get out of our comfort zones too – I need to grow and move forward as well. So, this was it for me. Wyatt needs to do this sort of thing, it is so good for all kids to interact with their peers and all that, and especially for Wyatt. As a kid with some developmental disabilities due to his CP, he picks up a lot of language and movement by being around other kids. So, it was time for this momma to toughen up and go talk to some strangers! Lol.

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I had this super cute outfit laid out for him to wear – but then it got breakfast on it and had to be changed. Note to self: put cute outfit on preschooler after he eats..

We finally rolled up to the place, which was in the middle of an adorable neighborhood. I was feeling nervous, made worse when I walked right in to the end of the baby and mom yoga class that was before the Jurassic Wonders class. But the yogi (whom I actually knew, I met her when our husbands worked together years ago) is a sweet welcoming soul who made me feel less awkward and less like bolting back out the door. Wyatt and I took a seat and waited for the class to clear out then I put him down to explore. The place, Nature’s Playhouse, was super accessible and I totally loved its vibe. Natural materials, solid and sturdy wooden toys everywhere, tables scattered about, puzzles, a rocking board. I felt like I was in a kid’s secret fort. Wyatt dug it, and enjoyed that shoes weren’t supposed to be worn in that room, since he hates wearing shoes. He had a big grin on his face the whole time we were there.

As the rest of the parents and kids trooped in, we circled up with our kids for story time  and songs. Afterwards, there were two sensory areas, an area with dinosaur books to flip through, including a cool one with different textures to touch, and the craft, which was painting a dinosaur with sponges and paint. Wyatt and I started with the painting, getting the messiest out of the way first.

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I think he did a great job! After that we headed over to the sifting through the sand bin, where the kids used paintbrushes to brush away the sand to find the dinosaur stickers hidden under the sand. Wyatt seriously loved this the best. Most of the other kids liked the area where you dug through beans and did some pouring and jazz, but Wyatt liked the sand area. We happily played over there, I made awkward (on my end) conversation with another mother, then, it was time to go! The class passed by super quickly.

I am so glad that I went – Wyatt had a blast! I will have to watch for other classes that fit into our crazy life schedules, even if it is just to drop in and play. It is worth it for the big grin I saw on my son’s face the whole time we were there.

Walking back to the car, I noticed the sidewalk full of acorn hats, something I had missed on the way in. I stopped and picked one up. Acorns are special to our family, almost a talisman. My Wyatt is my acorn, my tiny boy – and like my grandma said, “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks.”  Stumbling on these acorns was a reminder, I think, of how we all need to grow, to be strong and to be mighty..

I am looking forward to our next visit!

Road Warriors

My husband is a bit of a bike fanatic.

He has at least four bikes, all for different purposes and of differing values. He has a fancy fancy Specialized bike, an older bike that he has made fancy with a special Brooks leather seat (or saddle, if you will), an old bike he fixed up to ride with Wyatt, and then a beach cruiser. I have an older bike as well, I just thought it looked cool sitting there all vintage-like. However, I am not a bike person. I am that person who is afraid of riding bikes. I am a bit nervous and not super confident of my biking skills, so I often do not go on the bike rides that Billy takes with Wyatt. But Billy always wants me to go, so when he requested a family bike ride for Father’s Day, I couldn’t deny him!

 

One of the parks near our home has a 6 mile ride that is closed to car traffic for a bit on Saturday mornings, so our plan was to go early before it got too hot for little man. After figuring out where to park, we slapped on sunscreen, hopped on our bikes, and hit the road.

It was a beautiful ride, smooth sailing, gorgeous scenery right in the middle of a city. A true greenspace. Wyatt thought it was hilarious that I was riding along with them, across from him. It was his first time seeing me on a bike, and he kept cracking up and waving to me. Billy and I soaked in the scenery, enjoying our ride. We went about three miles, and decided to turn around to head back to our car, to make our round trip six miles instead of twelve.

That’s when disaster struck.

Somehow, Billy and I got really close. And I panicked, thinking that my wheel was going to bump theirs, and cause them to crash. So, what did I do? Jerked my wheel harshly to one side, basically throwing myself at the ground. I was so afraid Wyatt would see me laying in the road, with the bike on me, and not want to go again that I jumped right back up immediately, despite some gross wounds.

Long story short – that effectively ended our pleasant ride. I limped my way over to a picnic table by an access road, while Billy and Wyatt finished their ride to the car and came to rescue me. I had time to check out my injuries and they were all pretty superficial, although they looked ugly. I did go to urgent care over one of them, a tiny wound on my foot from my pedal. The doctor was more interested in the gigantic bruise on my arm – he wanted to x-ray it to see if my arm was broken. I had to explain to him that my family just bruises dramatically. (and apparently, bike ride dramatically too..)

While I sat there waiting, I thought about all those huge falls the cyclists in the Tour de France take, and how they mostly just get back up and keep pedaling! They are some hardcore dudes, riding with broken legs (Valverde, if I recall did that in 2014, at least for a little bit), nasty sprains and breaks and gashes and fatigue and just in general, probably not feeling super. And they ride up mountains and over cobbles and through the rain and storms and hail. Past crowds booing them or cheering for them, getting in their way, on little sleep and still sore from the day before. I think people view cycling as kind of an easy peasy sport, but I think you need to be so tough, mentally and physically, to endure the Tour.

Speaking of, the Tour starts Saturday! I am so excited, I can’t wait! I am forever amazed by their intensity and drive, and then sometimes you get that break in their concentration, where you see a bit of their personality peek through too – I love those little glimpses. Every year I pick a different cyclist to root for, and I am still up in the air for this year’s pick.

Anyone else getting excited over it?

What Wyatt’s Reading: April Wrap Up

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April in Michigan is usually pretty crazy weather wise – this April was seriously the weirdest that I can remember! In ten days, we had a snowstorm, rain, hail, an 80 degree day, and even an earthquake! That last one was just for additional proof that nature goes nuts in Michigan in April. Lol. So for Wyatt’s reading we focused a lot on weather books. It is not all we read about, but we did do a lot of springtime weather books. And then turtles and fire trucks and ducks and bugs because he likes those things, they are some of his favorites.

 

  Wyatt really loved Raindrop, Plop. I had to read that over and over. He also loved BooBoo, another favorite. I loved Here in the Garden, it was an absolutely beautiful book about loss and how someone you love can stay with you in all the memories you have together. But be prepared, I cried every single time I read it!!

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Which brings us to Bug Hotel – Wyatt’s favorite book of them all. I have read this countless times to him and he plays with it independently as well, since it is lift the flap. I have taken it with us to restaurants and out visiting friends, and it completely occupies him. He loves it so much I bought him a bug hotel of his own! I am not really looking forward to seeing bugs all the time, but I know they provide important services to our planet – except ticks and slugs. What do they do, I want to know. Lol.

And if any of you have kids that watch Spirit, that little horse there is Chica Linda, who is apparently Wyatt’s favorite horse too. Lol.

How about you? Read any good kids books lately?