After that, we headed back to the petting zoo and had one last run through the ice cream shop and headed home. Another amazing summer day!
We had a magical day last weekend at the Butterfly Gardens in Appleton, WI. A friend suggested that place after I told her that we missed the big beautiful migration that happened in Stephen’s Point.
It just so happened on that weekend, they were also participating in the Monarch Migration. Each family was given a monarch. We got to tag our own monarch and release it outside. They check each butterfly for OE and identify it as male or female. We got a female. The cool thing about tagging is that if any other nature centers that participate on their way to Mexico find your butterfly, they will give you a personal call or email.
And just for fun, here’s a picture of an electric chair, I kid you not, they had on display in a thrift store in Wild Rose. Even though I knew it wasn’t even remotely in operation, I still sat at the very edge of the chair, not touching any part of it. It gave me the creeps.
Do you have any family traditions that you hold sacred? I have created one for our family that I hope my kids will remember and carry on. I love the fact that it’s very unique and unexpected.
Every year during the Perseid meteor shower, I’ve woken up my son to go watch the shooting stars. It’s kind of a magical experience watching shooting stars and being up in the middle of the night with your mom. Almost like a secret….
It’s fun to add the picnic element to it too. Midnight picnics? What kid wouldn’t want to sneak away and have that extra special experience with their momma? Just sayin’.
The meteor shower happens in August every year, so search the peak dates for next year and put it in your calendar. You won’t be disappointed (unless it’s cloudy of course).
If you’re anything like me, you know how important it is to keep a file of all the recipes you’ve tried and enjoyed or use on a regular basis. I tend to forget some of my family’s favorite meals if they’re not listed in front of me, so having them all in front of me saves time and brainpower when it’s time to meal plan for the week.
Our favorite (mostly healthy) recipes had been printed and thrown into an ugly crinkly folder for YEARS. I’ve had intentions for at least the last 5 years to get our recipes in some kind of better order, but never quite had the interest to do it. Somehow, recently, I finally got hold of some recipe book inspiration and ran with it. Even Hubster is appreciative of the outcome.
What I did was put every recipe inside a plastic page protector. I love the page protector idea because I tend to obsess about not spilling things on recipe pages. Instant splash protection! Then, I organized the recipes by meal and put them in a simple white binder.
I found some stylin’ file dividers and labeled the meal types so everything is super easy to find. I can’t tell you how many times I flipped through the pages in that red folder searching for recipes when they were all just thrown in there.
Finally I searched for “retro nature border” on Google (cuz that’s how I roll) and did a little editing and added text to turn it into a cover sheet. I cropped a small part of that same design to create the spine title.
I love that this book is completely customized to our family’s taste. You know how when you buy a cookbook and you only use a handful of recipes from it? Yeah, me too. That’s why the binder idea works best. You only keep what you love! Seriously, besides this recipe book, the only other cookbook we’ve always kept is the timeless Better Homes and Gardens one.
I was going to scan all the recipes and create a digital file of them all. But who am I kidding? I don’t have the patience for or interest in that. I love referring to paper copies and usually end up printing recipes off anyway. I am a very visual person when it comes to food, so I wasn’t very attracted to the idea of little recipe cards either. Must have pictures!
I also started a list on a Google Doc with all our family favorites listed out on one sheet. That way we can choose 5 or so dinners per week at a glance instead of trying to search our brains for ideas.
It feels so good to finally have our recipes organized! How do you organize your recipes?
My little boy turned 7 at the end of July (what now?!?! Ha!). Instead of a party, we treated him to a special day at a new trampoline park with one of his good friends from school. I didn’t even realize we had one of these parks in the area, but I’m sure glad we found it! I’ve been seeing trampoline parks on Pinterest and Instagram and thought how we’d love to try one, but we’re always the last place to get these kinds of things.
The boys played for an hour while Hubster and I each enjoyed a half-hour while the other was taking care of Rayna. I’m so glad we did! We had tons of fun ourselves. And holy workout! I didn’t realize how sweaty I would get! We jumped, we raced, we played games and we all played like kids.
Not only did the park have tons of trampolines, they also had trampoline basketball, trampoline dodgeball, a slackline and foam pits. They had a huge pillow thing you could jump into off a diving board. And they had a climbing wall for only $1 extra.
When I asked if he had a good birthday, Kayne replied: “A good birthday? I had an awesome birthday!”
There’s a little bit of hippie in me and every once in awhile it comes out in a free-spirited blend of essential oils, a backyard tepee, a flowy bohemian skirt, or a community drum circle.
This past week, Kayne and I participated in our local drum circle. He had experimented with drumming at the farmer’s market and was willing to give the drum circle a try. Plus, I like to treat him to special one-on-one time when I can, and this was a great opportunity to do that. I’ve always thought he might enjoy something like this.
The drum circle was set up at a park in town instead of their normal headquarters in a nondescript storefront. The outdoor setting had a nice nature/community/open air element to it. Passersby would stop to watch and passing kids were handed maracas and other noise-makers to try.
I love what it says on their website: “Rhythm is universal. It is inside and all around us. From our heartbeat to the cycles of the seasons, it is more a matter of opening ourselves up to remembering and feeling than a music lesson…Using creativity we all possess we will make beautiful music ‘in the moment.'”
Drum circles are really both a physical and emotional experience. I’ve been trying to incorporate more spiritual and mental fitness into my life, and I think drum circles encapsulate a whole bunch of wellness practices:
1. It’s a community builder and great social activity. You’re meeting people and you’re all working together to build something pleasant. A drum circle is a very open group of people.
2. It’s a practice in mindfulness. One of the frontline treatments for my anxiety-related issues is mindfulness. Meditation not only lowers your threshold for stress, but it also helps you live in the present and let worrisome thoughts pass on by. It may sound a bit new-agey, but it’s really grounding. And it’s really effective. It sounds too simple to be very effective, but it is profound!
3. It’s creative.
4. It’s physical and gets me out of my head, where I spend too much time ruminating and analyzing.
5. It’s therapeutic. There are studies about the use of drum circles, and music in general, as an effective form of therapy.
6. The being outside part is also therapeutic.
Bottom line: I’m kinda hooked!
So now, when I’m at work, you might find me listening to drum circles on YouTube which sort of produces calm energy and helps with my concentration. It’s like the musical rhythm gets me into a good work rhythm too. Ok, hippie moment over…
Yesterday, I shared a little bit about our introduction to Washington Island, WI. Today, I’ll share a little bit about what we explored while we were there. We did a little bit of sightseeing each day with a whole lot of lounging, dock-sitting, reading and napping in between. Just our style and just what we needed.
One of the first days we were there, we went hiking at Mountain Park. It is a huge climb with a staircase that has over 100 steps to get to the top. At the top, you have to climb a billion more steps to get to the top of the lookout tower. For the rest of the day, my poor not-up-to-pre-pregnancy-toughness legs were all wobbly. But the view was amazing! It gave us quite the bird’s eye view of the island layout. BTW, I love my Snugli baby carrier that I believe I found at a rummage sale. Rayna just loved being carried in that thing, on my back. We did a lot of non-stroller-friendly sightseeing and this was the only way to do it. Join the #babywearing movement, yo.
While we didn’t have any TV or Wifi access, we did want a little something to do at nights before the kids went to bed, so we went to the local library, opened up a card, and rented some movies. Hubster happened to bring his computer along, so we were able to do that. We’re still trying to introduce Kayne to all the original Disney characters that we met as kids, including Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan and Snow White. At Disney World, he had no idea who half the classic characters were!
Another day we dedicated to swimming. We visited Schoolhouse Beach, which is one of 5 beaches in the whole world with smooth stones like this. Although this beach is rocky, and I would suggest wearing water shoes, it was crystal clear and THE best place for swimming on the island in my opinion. Cold though. Very cold. Rayna took her very first swim in these waters. She lasted about two seconds. Haha.
Another day, we checked out a few museums including the Jacobsen Museum, which had a lot of native artifacts and a cabin that Jens Jacobsen built. We also visited a nature museum and a butterfly house which had a huge butterfly garden out back.
I love turning our trips into teachable moments, without forcing it. In fact, I even wrote a whole post about how we do it. We bought a Critters of WI book for Kayne and read up on a few of the animals we saw. We also bought him a net at one of the bookstores so he could explore the little fish, butterflies and bugs on the island. We stopped and explained a lot of the things in the nature museums that he was curious about.
Next up, we’re headed camping trip in August and we just can’t wait. We still haven’t perfected Rayna’s sleeping arrangements in the camper, but we’ve done it once before this spring with a folding bassinet, so maybe she’ll get used to it. Lots more sun and relaxation in our future.
This year, we decided to take our big family trip to Washington Island in Door County Wisconsin. We live pretty close-ish to this gem but have somehow never been there. This was the most last minute planning I have ever done in my life! We took our vacation days long in advance and knew we were going somewhere, but didn’t know where. We were going to do our regular trip to Wisconsin Dells, but Kayne broke his pinky and we didn’t think he’d be able to do a lot of the fun stuff in waterpark city. So, I considered Baraboo, I considered way “up north” somewhere, I considered home-sharing in Madison, etc. Hubster was pretty much fine with anything. I finally landed on Washington Island, and it was exactly the trip that we needed! It was full of relaxation and nature, the two things we needed most during this time.
On our way to the ferry, we made a pit stop at a rest area that turned out to be the halfway point to the North Pole!!!
I also decided to start a weaving project on the car ride. You know, just cuz.
So, we started with our first ferry ride across the lake. None of us had ever been on one, so it was interesting do drive up, ride over the water and drive right off again. We made our way to our cabin, which I had reserved, sight unseen, because they didn’t have a website. It was the most adorable, charming thing I’ve seen! There was no TV and no WiFi, so we were forced to go unplugged, which was reeeeeeally nice. The cabin had a nice-sized living area with two bunk beds and a fold-out queen-sized couch. We set up a Pack N Play for Rayna. We had our own kitchen and bathroom with shower for a very reasonable price. It was nice because we could bring the dog and baby and not have to worry about our family’s noises bothering our neighbors or being too confined in close quarters. We also could prepare all of our own meals.
Our hosts were so accommodating. They were so friendly and attentive to us. They live in a house on the property and rent out two cabins in their backyard. They invited us to a bonfire the first night. The wife even dug out a whole bunch of games for Kayne and played soccer and golf with him for at least a half hour. How sweet is that? One night, the daughter, who was visiting from Germany, even brought us over a yummy German dessert she had made from scratch that had a hint of a beer flavor. I wish I remembered what it was called.
Across the street from where we were staying, the owners owned a patch of land on the water with a peninsula where the swimming was fiiine. They even had a boat that they told us we could freely use.
We did a little bit of sightseeing the first day, just to get an idea of the layout of the island, and we went grocery shopping for the first few days’ worth of meals. That evening, we took a long walk down the road we were staying on. Saw a huge disgusting millipede! And all the mailboxes seemed to have these quirky little displays.
**I started this post several weeks ago on my phone, but still thought these memories were worth recording:)
Well, we were finally reminded of what 60 degrees feels like here in Wisconsin this past week after what has felt like a cold desolate winter. Is that dramatic? Well, that’s how it feels. The sidewalks are literally swarming with dogs on leashes, bicycles, strollers and roller blades. You fellow Wisconsinites know exactly how the first heat wave of the year phenomenon works! People. Everywhere.
Titus and I took advantage of the temps and went out for a morning sunrise run. My first outdoor run of the season!!! We’ve also been picking up Kayne from school on-foot, with the baby in the stroller. And we even happened upon one of these neat lending libraries we’ve seen finally popping up in our city.
Our family spent an entire weekend letting our cheeks tilt toward the sun. After enjoying a lunch out on the town this past weekend, we headed over to the dog park, but the mud up to the armpits of every dog out there made us reevaluate our plans. After trying another dog park that didn’t look any better, we finally made our way to a local park with pet-friendly trails. Earlier, we had stopped at a cheese factory and picked up some fresh cheese (the freshest WI cheese possible), sausage, crackers and jam to picnic on.
And someone had built this super amazing fort thing among some of the trees. This is the kind of hideout my kid dreams were made of! We’ll be back here, for a picnic or spring break or something.
See what I mean? Wednesday we woke up to white stuff, but by the afternoon it had all melted. Spring, you little tease.
I can’t wait for summer! To say the very least…