let them lead


I was reminded of something very dear to me last weekend. It’s so important to let our children have an opportunity to lead US. So much time is spent (wasted) trying to get kids to do what we want them to do, dress how we want them to dress, play how we want them to play, act how we want them to act, smile | stand | sit how we want them to for our photos, for others, for our selves. I see so many people trying to control everything around them–including their children, spouses, family–and it is driving everyone crazy, including themselves.

Children are people too.

We visited the Detroit Zoo last weekend and I gave Wren the map and let her lead us for the day. Of course I had to say “no” to most of the ice cream stands and gift shops we walked past, but that’s about where I drew the line. Otherwise, we saw the animals that she wanted to see, we took the paths she wanted to take and we saw the penguins twice. Why not?

It’s so vital that we let our children have these kind of opportunities. How else do they learn to lead and feel confident in their choices? So what if we didn’t see the monkeys.


Punzel’s – strange and wonderful.


Punzel’s Scandinavian: Magical, delightful, enchanting, strange. Wren and I had a date on a misty early August afternoon to Punzel’s and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It’s gotten in my (wannabe Scandinavian) blood… with its nordic elves, trolls and fairies.

It beckons us to come back. To wander the gardens, to do a tour, to eat edible flowers, to buy more lovely nordic fairy tales or maybe just to escape somewhere that’s close, but feels far away. Odd and whimsical = perfect!


This little nordic fairy land is one part overgrown magical forest with trolls and legendary creatures, one part Scandinavian handicraft lover’s dream (I love you IKEA, but Punzel’s is the real deal) and one part THE very best selection of kids books around. The only problem is that some of the kids book prices are actually marked UP from the printed price, which as you know is even higher than the online price… but I digress.

Because, um, the pink, hand-carved and hand-painted horse got our attention! This turned into Wren’s little pocket treasure…


There are a lot of things at Punzel’s I just can’t explain. But through the eyes of an imaginative four year old, it’s just heavenly. Every time you turn around there’s another path to skip down, little carved creatures to see and giant toadstools to sit in. I mean, really, where does someone even find a huge fabricated toadstool like this?


But wait, there’s a bit more. There are heart-shaped ponds, waterfalls and rivers.


Funky sculptures hidden in the grasses.


And mossy swings to enjoy.


We’ll be back for their Fika, an edible flower luncheon in the “cave.” And probably to do some Christmas shopping for some special gifts for some little birdies I know… Thanks again, Punzel’s! Thanks for keeping it strange in the greater Buckley area.



an unexpected date


Last weekend Chris and I had an unexpected date. Together. On ice.

We took Wren ice skating, err ice falling rather, with Grandpa Jon and then the two of them took off for the snow-filled playground for a little while. Then it was just the two of us! What a lovely surprise. We couldn’t remember skating together and we’ve been together (almost) 13 years now. What an extra special treat.




Lots of smiles all around. Isn’t it fun experiencing something new with your spouse? Trying out a new food, exploring a new place, hiking a new trail, ice skating. Cheers to keeping things fresh!



a family ski


We fell in love with winter all over again this weekend when we awoke to fresh snow and February’s promised blue skies. We all headed out for a long cross country ski together at our favorite local spot and were greeted with a glorious afternoon.


Wren usually skis for as long as she wants to then jumps in the Chariot with Phoebe for snacks and a tour of the north woods. Each time we go, her own ski time seems to get more enjoyable. She falls a lot, but she laughs a lot and can usually get back up on her own. Last winter there was a very high level of frustration and not a lot of fun for Wren on skis, but it’s encouraging to see her enjoying it more. Often she’ll take off ahead of us and play around on the first little hill before we catch up to her. It’s important to keep it fun and well, there’s always a promise of good snacks. Because why ski if you can’t have good snacks, right?




It started out cloudy and bitter cold. But by the time we were climbing the hill past the river crossing, the sun came out and everything sparkled. Grins all around. We were warmed up from the climbing and full of awe. One of those days when I felt so grateful for our health and opportunity to enjoy our lives together outside.




After our cocoa and (peanut butter and Nutella) sandwich break (hey, I said good snacks, right?) about three miles in, we got the girls bundled back up and kept on skiing. Eventually they both fell asleep and took good naps.



We made it back to the parking lot with the girls still asleep so Chris and I were able to sit together and enjoy each other’s company and more snacks without any whining or interrupting. A rare mini-date! The skies opened up with a fresh dusting of snow and we started to get cold again. Time to call it a day. A great day.

P.S. We all slept so soundly that night and we attribute it to that rare, bright spot in the sky. Thank you, sun!


love where you live – Christmas Cove Farm

It’s been raining and raining. And raining. There has been a lot of screaming, crying, sniffling, coughing and whining in our nest. And not just by me. Ahem. Did I mention the rain and the whining? We needed to get out. So we headed out in the car on Sunday to induce some birdie napping and enjoy fall in northern Michigan. Despite the rain and some more whining, we had a great day driving up the pinkie finger of Michigan to Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove, an antique apple farm near Northport.

After car napping for the little birdies, there were finally some smiles. Phew.

We found apples like this “Lady” variety whose lineage can be traced back to the Elizabethan era! And they’re the perfect size for little hands. And just perfect for wee caramel apples too… more on that later.

Look up! In addition to hundreds of different kinds of apples, they have a glass pop bottle collection and an antique pop sign collection. Pretty interesting, but it was chilly and rainy and I was caught by a bug. The knitting bug! It was a great day to ride around our beautiful area, take in some of the colors through the mist (err, downpour) and knit. Yes, lovelies. I’m becoming a knitter! Can you believe it, Melissa? Neither can I. And the fat lady sings indeed.

a few apples

To kick off my favorite season, I took the girls apple-picking one day after school. Turned out to be a great activity for little hands and short attention spans because it didn’t take long to pick about a peck of apples and be on our way! Like the cherries in our area, the apples are in short supply this year because of the crazy spring (hot then cold) and are really expensive. U-pick was a great way to get them on the cheap. We took them home and within a few hours had eaten two fresh and eight more in an apple pie. Yum. Happy fall!


After a great night’s sleep, Wren woke up at 5:30 this morning. This is rare for our birdies so I almost didn’t know what to do with her so early. I pushed her in the Chariot for an early morning run and then she bopped around the house for a while after breakfast. She started whining about wanting to watch a movie, which I almost caved to, but then she started talking about wanting to go on an adventure to Sand Mountain. Again. At first I said “no, not today,” but then I thought “why not?” because we’ve got HOURS until she has to go to school. Let’s do it!

We brought some snacks and we kidnapped our good friend, Heidi, for part of the fun. It was a perfect morning. Warm sun, cool breezes, hardly a cloud in the sky. Thanks, Wren, for the great idea! And here’s to impromptu adventures, lovelies. I’m going to try and do more this fall. You?


secret summer

Although the city took out the swimming area buoys and we saw the bottom of our sunscreen and popsicle box earlier this week, it’s the beginning of our secret summer in northern Michigan. Shhhh. September is one of my favorite times of year with its golden light, unexpected beach days, changing colors, hints of a colorful fall to come and bounty from the garden. But most of the tourists are gone!

Here’s to a beautiful September.