Early this month I discovered an amazing place not too far from our home: The Critter Barn is a fully functioning farm that is open to the public! The farm staff wander about doing their chores and happily instruct or stop to chat with kids and families roaming the farm. The majority of animals are free to be pet or held or walked amongst. It’s baby time right now so we saw bunnies, lambs, chicks, and ducklings! We also visited the goats, roosters, cow, donkey, cats, and sheep. Josephine absolutely adored it and I’m sure we’ll be back to visit again soon. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a visit!
This month we’ve visited several of the parks on our bucket list! Mid-April, it was hard to believe, there was still snow when we hiked Provin Trails. We met up with friends on a sunny morning, and the snow did not deter us! The kids still had fun shaking trees and watching falling snow, and playing in found wood forts.
By the next day the sun was gone and we visited Roselle Park, which is not on our list, but is still so fun. A great nature playground, a small creek to play in, birdhouse path to walk, and a paved trail for walking or scootering.
Knapp Forest Preserve was on our list and it was a fun little hike–I think there are way more trails so we will have to visit again! Josephine discovered moss on this trip and we could hear woodpeckers in the trees. It’s right next to a school, so if school is not in session fun playgrounds, as well.
Creekside Park was a bit of a bust in our opinion. The playground was small and it wasn’t very scenic. We also brought our bikes for the trail, but the trail only extended a bit over a mile from this park. Probably not heading back here, but that’s what’s so fun about a bucket list: so many place to try!
I loved the Lepard Preserve! It’s a short trail loop, but they had the most beautiful early spring wildflowers in pink and yellows and white! It’s a good length for a toddler–I carried her about half the way and she walked half. There are also a few bridges and empty creek bank that seems to get full after a rainstorm. We packed a picnic and ate near the trailhead–we’ll definitely return here!
And last, but not least, we also stopped by the Ionia State Recreation Area on our way to visit friends in Ohio. We arrived early in the day and stopped down by the water. We were the only ones there and it was absolutely tranquil and beautiful. We watched a family of geese paddling about and practiced floating and sinking various objects on the shore. This would be a fun place to come back and visit when it’s warm!
This month I read the currently popular There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather. Like the other cultural parenting books (and I’ve read many of them!) I enjoyed this peek into another way of living. The differences between American and Scandinavian culture, particularly when it comes to the outdoors, are fascinating and varied! However, this book was a bit repetitive and I appreciate some of the other cultural and nature books she referenced more (such as this or this). All in all, an easy and convicting read (with some simple tips for getting kids and families outdoors)!
I’m currently reading Charlotte Mason’s Home Education with a friend, and we happened to be on the nature chapter one week early this month. Part II is called Out-of-Door Life For the Children and Mason shares her ideas and thoughts for making nature readily available for children. She is an incredible advocate for educating children in all things nature-related; “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” I highly recommend a read of this section even if you’re not interested in home schooling, for I believe we are all educating our children at home, regardless of where they get their schooling. As she says: “a love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour.”
I also loved this article on the importance of nature journals. I can’t wait until Josephine is a bit older and interested in engaging with a nature journal more!