Slowing the Rush

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If you’ve been around awhile, you know that I don’t like the over-scheduled, crazy-busy lifestyle. It stresses me out, makes me a bad momma/wife/human. I really work to avoid the hustle and the rush. I can’t help but wonder; if I have to work toward the calm, is it really calm though?

Lately I find myself feeling busy and rushed and chaotic all of the time. I mean, like, every day. There is always one more thing to do, one more person to care for…the things that I want to do, that I want to make time for rarely seem to actually materialize.

So I’ve decided the best thing for me to do is get the eff out. Like maybe we should never return from the campground. Can I do that? Please?

Okay, so maybe it’s not super realistic, but trust that that I AM working on it as my end goal. And, though it may take me a year (or more) to get right back to here, I’ll take the time. To all of you who ask me where we’ll be next week, next month, next season…I say, Who knows!? Why do I need to rush into it, rush to know what’s next? I’ll take the days to figure it out. I’ll sit with the choices available to me.

As I ease into this slower than is my normal Autumn, I am still feeling the rush a bit. I still don’t want to do all of the things that my children would like me to do. I am saying no to some of the activities. I expressed a little of my worry over this recently, but I do feel like by showing my children that they can say no to good things that they will be better equipped to live their best life when they are grown. Only showing them the exhausted side of myself does not teach them to care for themselves well.

Something I have not talked much about recently is my physical health and how deeply it’s attached to my mental well being. All of the struggles I have had in the past with illness, while physically a bacterial health issue (psst; this really helped me out.Garden of Life Women’s Probiotics), were directly linked to the depression that settles over my soul in the Winter. My optimism in taking this season at my chosen pace feels now, like it will help me stay healthier and closer to myself even when the cold is heavy and the darkness is deep. This trusting of myself is a good thing for my children to see. It shows them how they can really listen to their bodies and that what they hear has value and worth. They don’t have to look outwardly for their own peace or healing, it is within them. This said, I hope they will see the beauty in accepting and seeking help when it is offered or needed. That they can trust themselves to know when they need to accept it.

What do you do to slow yourself? Do you take the time that you need or do you feel like you must keep moving, keep making progress, that you must keep going? I know that I need to stop, I wrote a teensy bit about the full-stop recently and it has kept me aware of my rolling through all of the things that are meant to be breaks for me. How that is a disservice to myself. Knowledge is, truly, power and I know that by being aware I will begin to take better advantage of the full-stop. Even just sitting here this day typing out these words in the middle of a Sunday are proof that I can listen and do what I really need.

As I look at my week ahead I know that it is a busy one. Even my “stay-home” day is not going to be spent at home this week. There will be much going and doing and playing and celebrating and… and hopefully some stopping too. I’ll have to schedule the stops I think. Take time when I am done here to put the breaks into my days where I can anticipate needing them. Taking them too will be key, knowing they are needed is not enough in and of itself. The biggest thing that I do for myself is to deliberately schedule in the exploring time. Being outside fixes most of what is broken in my soul. Taking the time to adventure heals all that is left unmended. This week I can see where I will break to head outdoors, I will plan deliberately. Even though it means more work-packing lunches, ensuring proper clothing, searching for hats and mittens-once we get there the time will be fulfilling.

There are no shortage of excuses these days, as the dreary, wet Autumn lingers and pours depression into my very soul I know that going outside is what will overtake the sadness. It will become more difficult to force myself out, remind me if you see me though will you? If you’re wondering what we’re up to or where our adventures are taking us please ask those questions! It helps to talk about it, to know there will be escape at some point. This week though? I foresee the days holding long Autumn walks, growing ever more comfortable with the forests and wood near our home. Will you join me?

P.S. I found this trail guide recently and love it! We can’t wait to take some excellent walks if it ever warms back up!Take a look!

The Blank Page

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Last night I was drinking rum, perhaps that explains a bit of this rambling. Perhaps not, it is quite possible that the thoughts have finally bubbled to the surface due in part to a vague suggestion. The idea that the young should travel -no, not should, but must- is not a new one. So often we send our recently graduated students out into the wider world in part because they need a job, but more so because they are at the perfect place to do the leaving. Nothing is holding them back, nothing is keeping them here.

What if you never left when you were young? Does the opportunity pass you by simply because you have children or are established in your community? Is the only way to successfully leave “later in life” if you are offered an amazing job opportunity? Why can’t freedom and exploration come at any point in life? Why do the repercussions seem harsher? Should children ever be uprooted? Y’all have been around long enough to understand where I’m at with these thoughts right? Good.

I’ve had trouble putting a solid feeling behind my desire for travel. I feel so deeply that it is no different from a desire to succeed or a want for love, but people don’t really get that correlation. In my alcohol-induced brilliance I came to the analogy of the blank page; not by chance mind you. No, it came about after a bit of a rambling from Bruce Springsteen that my sweet husband was listening to. (If you want to check out the song, you can buy it here from Amazon; Thunder Road (Springsteen on Broadway).  

For reasons I will not try to fully explain, this image made clear my own feelings. The blank page is a perfect metaphor for so many areas of my life. Most obvious is right here. There is something about the clear screen of my computer that makes me want to fill it with words and ideas and emotion. The driving can not be ignored with this idea either. Taking the road less traveled, wandering the secret paths, heading out alone into unknown territory is the very essence of who I am. Not least of the pieces of me that could be defined by this idea, is my inherent desire to travel. To get away from the comfortable and explore the wild. I am not satisfied to simply vacation away my time. I want to fill notebook pages with the beauty and chaos I experience in the great unknown. The white-space I tend to leave on my calendar, the silence I am forever seeking, the ever-constant decluttering; all model my need for a blank page.

Are you still with me? I tried to warn you about the rum…

I’ll ask again; am I too late? Should I resolve myself to the darkness of Winter and stationary life? My littles don’t all want to move South where cold will mean 50’s, but friends will need to be sought out. Should we stay to ease our fears? My sweet husband sees the hassle involved with our current plan. Should we stay for our comfort? Though my mother does not yet know that we may pick up and drive away, I can tell you that she does not want us to go. Should we stay to ease her worry? If I would have recognized my gypsy soul at eighteen would anyone have questioned me when I packed a duffle and drove away?

That changes the question a bit doesn’t it? Why didn’t I ever pack that bag? Why didn’t I ever load up the car? There’s a secret truth here, something I will not share fully with y’all today. We can blame fear for now and it will suffice as an acceptable reason. Fortunately for me there is no actual limit, implied or otherwise stated that tells me I can not go now. Even though I am so far past that “ideal” age.

The desire remains.

The passion stirs.

The page is still blank.

Snatches of Time

I put all of my people to bed early tonight. I had ambitious hopes of coming here and writing out the cries of my heart. Nearly an hour later I am still up and down the stairs with a child who feels less than wonderful. I am frustrated by this because I really needed the time. Instead of tapping away peacefully I am scribbling snatches of thought between whispered prayers and requests for essential oils. I see the selfishness in this rant. I really do.

I have been holding off on writing, feeling as though the time would come if I let life flow naturally. We aren’t so busy, the days are not over full, the time seems to skip happily away while I play Legos with a little or read endless chapters to fill their imaginations.

I know what you will say; this is a momma’s most precious work! Her most important job! Be grateful!

I am.

I agree.

I still want something more.

While this rambling will likely never support my family, how can I know that when I can’t even steal an hour at the end of the day to type out a coherent thought? When and where (and most of all how???) am I supposed to build an audience when I can’t build a proper paragraph for lack of focus?

I have my excuses it’s true.

I don’t mean to have quite so many.

I’ll admit to being distracted plenty of the time. With projects. With Facebook. With catching up on years of lost sleep. Still, it seems I should be allowed this time for me. This time to do something that makes me feel like I’m intelligent. Something that is meaningful to at least a few of you dedicated friends. Something that let’s me deal with the anxiety and fear and despair that creep in during the darkest months of the year.

What to do? I feel the call of the early mornings again. Though I despise waking before the sun or at least before six AM, I know that my house is quiet then. Children typically don’t stir early. Devices need to be charged. Tasks must be quiet so as not to wake sleeping babe’s. This frustrates me, I do not want to give in to that time of day. It seems that I must though. No other hours will relent their needs.

If you notice a few more posts in the coming weeks, you can assume that I have given in to the deepest cry of my heart -the desire to create something from myself, from who I’ve learned that I am- and that my heart has won over the logical side of me who really loves to snuggle back into the comforters every morning.

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, don’t be too disappointed, there are lots of words out there. Trust that the right ones will come to you as you need them. I’ll keep etching out moments, minutes, corners of time that will continue to build my story, and make my own spilled out thoughts that less rambling once they meet the page.

Simple Beauty

Post Script: I wrote this piece in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2018. I was genuinely feeling like I had given up on myself, like I was “only” a momma. I needed to find myself inside of this mothering shell that I felt I had become. While this article is not too deep, it covers a transformative place in my life. Though I have not corrected or healed all of the places inside of me that need it, I have found that taking care of me for me is worth the time invested. Sometimes, words from others make me feel like I’m not worth the time, or that perhaps I am doing it for external reasons. I still struggle with that, but now I can more quickly get back to my own “why” and remind myself that I am worthy. I hope that you handle these words gently and that they may speak into each of you where you most need it.

There’s this Winnie the Pooh picture book about Winter. This is the copy that I read to my littlest child. In the story, Pooh believes that Winter is a snowman who comes to visit the Hundred Acre Wood, typical Pooh. Some of you might accuse me of overthinking, but my take-away from this story book was that I should look at things more simply. Because of how I’ve been feeling lately, it was easy for me to take this thought and make the jump to my health and personal care routine. Though it might be difficult for an outsider to see how I got there.

It was with an idea of simplicity in mind that I left the house the other day to purchase some nice things for myself. I don’t really shop for myself and when I do I usually hit up my favorite thrift stores. This day though I was going to buy skin and hair care products and so I went to the natural-care product section of the market and started reading labels. Let me mention here that I have not spent more than $3.95 on any personal care items in, like, I don’t even know, maybe ever. I’ve been mostly okay with that. I don’t mind my wrinkles as they show how many times my sweet husband has made me laugh and I don’t really mind the gray hair as it reminds me of all the learning I’ve done as I’ve grown and gone through some hard and holy stuff over the years. The reason I was standing in what I would call the “fancy” shampoo aisle was and is because I just don’t feel good.

A lot of how I’ve been feeling is due to too much consumption, while I am actively working to turn that around, some of it is because of how harsh Winter is on my skin as well as my mind, and some of it is just plain bad habits. I don’t wash my face every night, heck! I don’t even shower regularly. While my hair care routine mostly works for me, since I trimmed it this autumn I have been bummed by how “mother-y” it looks. I couldn’t help but feel that something needed to give. I had a gift card tucked away in my wallet and so I spent all of that money on goo for my hair and a bit of make up to make me feel like maybe I do care about myself a little. This was a simple thing, but a big change too.

Since I bought the new things I have remembered to wash my face every night. I have almost looked forward to brushing my teeth regardless of the toothpaste left in the sink by my littles. I have brushed my hair everyday…which is definitely overrated, but I’ve done it because I have felt better about myself for taking seven to ten minutes in the bathroom. It’s weird isn’t it? As mommas it is so easy to get to this place where it’s simply too much effort to put effort into ourselves. I often feel like it’s simply not worth it, but that silly Winter book got to me. Was I making the care of myself too big of a deal? Couldn’t it be simple and meaningful? I needed to understand that the way I’m feeling is at least partially due to the way I am treating myself. I realized that if I wanted to feel better I needed to put in the effort.

By giving myself a few minutes -and a few products- I am reminding myself that I am worth more than what I was allowing. I’m reminded that while I don’t need to look good for other people or listen to societies words about women, I should feel good about me. Am I making any sense here? I didn’t need to make it complex, it only took a few boxes to help me feel worthy of the time and attention I was giving myself. I changed my routine in simple ways, it is no harder to do what I’m doing now than it was before and now I feel a little kinder toward myself when I look into the mirror. I still don’t feel good. I feel run down. My skin is irritated, red, angry. My nails are brittle. My joints ache. I know that to correct all of that I need to fix what I’m putting into my body, but I didn’t feel like I was worth it. No, I felt like it wasn’t worth the effort to take better care of myself. The effort is the thing that was lacking.

Knowing this has made a big difference. It has made me put on actual clothes, and not just walk around in my jammies all day. Okay, not every day, but a lot of them. Knowing that I can do all of my new morning routine in the time it takes my seven year old to make his bed reminds me that I’m not inconveniencing anyone or making us late, it just allows me to yell down the stairs fewer times because my toothbrush is in my mouth longer. Knowing that I can take a little time for myself to feel better on the outside reminds me that I can take a few minutes to make good food for myself, to drink more water, to take slow deep breaths in the still evening air. I can take time for me, I can feel better on the inside as well, the effort is worth it.

In hoping to create a more simple routine I did have to do a little more than I was before, but by looking at my problem with a simpler perspective it became so very clear that by allowing a small amount of time for the care of me, I would improve so many other pieces of my life. I’ve noticed some deeper things in these few days since my trip to the store, things that I probably make too complex. I’m trying to look at these things simply, to adjust each one with just the right amount of my time put in.

That simple childrens’ book…I’m sure the author had no idea that it would cause this kind of self-consideration in a momma’s heart. Perhaps I would have come to this place on my own anyway, I have been feeling pretty miserable. I am grateful for the random places I run across that I can draw inspiration from. When I feel like I’m worrying over the routine or the extra steps I’m taking, I can now offer myself the very simple reminder of the Winnie the Pooh book. Hopefully that will be enough to continue on with the slow process of finding myself.

While a simpler life doesn’t mean an easier life, the effort is worth it.

Post Script: I wrote this piece in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2018. I was genuinely feeling like I had given up on myself, like I was “only” a momma. I needed to find myself inside of this mothering shell that I felt I had become. While this article is not too deep, it covers a transformative place in my life. Though I have not corrected or healed all of the places inside of me that need it, I have found that taking care of me for me is worth the time invested. Sometimes, words from others make me feel like I’m not worth the time, or that perhaps I am doing it for external reasons. I still struggle with that, but now I can more quickly get back to my own “why” and remind myself that I am worthy. I hope that you handle these words gently and that they may speak into each of you where you most need it.

Sledding, Slowing, and Seeing

This is sort of a different, but not really, post for me. I frequently ramble on about getting out of this miserable weather or how much I despise the cold and dark. Occasionally I talk about something happening in the lives of my children. I’ve decided that today I will relate an adventure instead of whining, discuss a few moments of joy in winter on a day when I’d give most anything for 50 degrees warmer than it is right now. Weird right?

A few weeks ago, before the bitter cold completely engulfed central Minnesota, I took my children outside in the cold. Three whole days. I really did. I pulled on snow-pants and tucked wool socks into boots and drove out for some winter fun. This is unusual for me, if you haven’t figured that out by now. I don’t go out in the cold, I stay in, tucked under a blanket with a mug of tea in my hand most afternoons from December until, oh I don’t know…June or so. But I did this thing in the hope that embracing the cold would help it to not suck quite so much, and it did! It really, really did.

On our first day out we went to the big sledding hill in town on a perfectly sunshine-y day. Since it was the middle of the day there were only a few other kids on the hill and my bigger two went down and up at least a million times. Smiles plastered to their sweet faces. The teeny made it down, but needed convincing, and assistance, in coming back up. Eventually she and I made it across to gaze out over the river and walk along the stone ledge, we followed squirrel tracks in the patches of otherwise undisturbed snow, and she squealed with delight as she zoomed down the smaller hill.

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The sky was a perfect blue and I couldn’t help but stare up and think to myself that if this were winter, actual winter, I could handle it. For a brief moment in time I thought that I might actually make it out of this winter alive and with my smile still on my face. This day was filled with joy and peace. We were happy, even in the cold.

The second day out was more of the same. Sledding on a different hill with equally beautiful weather and, this time, friends. The day was only marred by forgotten ice skates. There were treks into the deep snow, a birds nest at eye level, and kids full of kindness. I have seldom been more surprised by a winter day than I was this day. The sun shone and the thermostats rose above 40 degrees. It was blissful and I was so very grateful.

I held out hope that this would be the winter that I didn’t hide indoors, that this would be the winter when I would do the embracing of the cold that everyone believes will bring me wintertime happiness. And I did get one more day. I am thankful for that third day and the walk we took. Being able to go out with my kids on adventures is one of my very favorite things. They have no agenda, few preconceived notions about what the day will hold. They need only a water bottle and a few snacks to explore a new space.

I love this about them.

I really hope that their attitude for adventures does not change much in the coming years, and not just for my own ease and enjoyment. If they can continue to be easy going as we travel and explore then they will continue to see the best in situations that may be less than ideal. They will keep their eyes open, slowing down to notice the red berries, the cup-shaped leaf, the tiny piece of agate in the gravel. If they can travel easy they will travel far. If they travel far they will be filled with wonder all of the days of their lives and I can think of little else that would be worth more, to give to a child.

The way this world spins, the pace it sets, the hustle we are expected to display…it causes the lives of children to be devoid of wonder. The lives of us all. I will continue to work to slow my tiny little piece of this world, if only a fraction and if only for my short time here. I will wander river paths while littles stomp in the snow. I will haul teenies up snow-hills so we can stay out longer. I will remember to bring the damned skates next time.

I will not enjoy winter. I don’t have it in me really. If it’s below 25 degrees, I’m not going out. I’m just not. I will revel in moments though. I will soak in the apricity, even if I have to sit on my living room floor under the picture window to do so. I will snap photos of joy-filled faces in deep snow and of Christmas tree lights shrouded under a blanket of white. I will be present this year, not just begging for it to end, but noticing all that I can while I’m here. This is not really what I’ve been encouraged to do by so many well wishing friends and strangers, but it is the best I can do. If it happens to get above thirty again soon, I’ll be one of the first people out there hopping over puddles, pulling sleds through the streets, and staring at the clear, blue sky.

On one of the last warm winter nights my sweet husband lit a fire on the deck, we stood out with blankets around our shoulders and hats pulled low over our ears. The stars were out and the noise of the city was somehow hushed just a bit. It was almost as if someone wanted me to see what winter could be. How I could be a small part of something that I hold such contempt for. How there is good, even in what we view as bad, and that we really don’t understand it all anyway. The peace washed over and the fire burned down to embers, time slowed, if only for a moment.

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A Solstice Rambling

What keeps you here? I’d really like to know. As I sit this morning on the day with the least light available to me, the universe sees fit to roll clouds across my sky. I wonder again what keeps me here. I can rattle off a quick list; friends, family, homeschooling laws, summers in the woods, a job that pays the bills, the flowers in my garden…do all of those things outweigh the darkness though?

This is the question I’m sitting with on the darkest day of the year. Just typing those words makes me grab a copy of Robert Frost and reread his Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. While there is no snow to speak of and the weather has been mild, the dark has been deep indeed. How can something as simple as darkness affect a person so intensely? The metaphors for light and dark are easy to type out. Though they have been reflected upon before, I feel I must get them out of my head and onto the page so that this part of me that fears the dark can move forward into the winter with some small semblance of peace.

As I face the Winter; the heavy darkness, I feel in me how quiet the dark actually is. There is growth in the light, this is true, but all things rest in the dark. Why should I be any different? As I sit this morning I am hoping to relearn that not only does my body need rest from the activity and excitement of Summer, but my mind needs a break from the busy as well. While I have slowed us down quite a bit this year, given myself much needed grace to move at my own pace,  I still fill up most of the waking hours with tasks and activities. I had hoped to still our schedule even more this Winter. The darkness will serve as a reminder that not all hours need be spent with work close at hand.

Furthermore, I must remember that in Minnesota, in the Winter, the night is not actually as dark as one might believe. As I wake to care for a teeny who couldn’t sleep and look out at the snow covered ground I can see as clearly as I could during the day. The lights of the city being held close to earth because of the dense clouds overhead make me feel as though the twilight will last all night long. Clear nights are even better. The moon and stars quite nearly blaze down on us as we sit ’round a cozy fire. It’s as if we are meant to see clearly the path before us, walking without fear of the darkness, being surefooted even in the night. If, that is, we are willing to be there at all, out there in the dark.

I had been fearing the dark a little. Knowing how the cold and depth of Winter affect my mental well-being I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to get away from this season. As I sit here on this solstice morning I am choosing to see the glory that could come from the darkness. The glowing good that is coming from the night. As I type, babies sleep late in their beds, the sun hides behind clouds and asks nothing of me. There are no plants to tend, no trails to wander, no far-flung adventures to be had…and that’s okay. Actually, it’s better than okay, it is good.

This quiet darkness affords me the time to be here, to be present in this place and time. More than that, the black and white of Winter allow me to plan, to plot, to explore ideas and thoughts, hopes and dreams, if not fields and forests. The bright night sky is much like a guiding light for adventures to come. I can choose to see it as such anyway. While I may still long for warm Summer nights spent away from home, I can also enjoy these days snuggled in close.

I ask again; what keeps you here? As you look ahead to the returning of the light, from this “the darkest night of the year”, what do you hope for? long for? need? The Christmas tree lights scatter and reflect in the windows bringing more light into the dark world. Giving me one more reason to be present in this moment, in this deepening night. Does the good of the light outweigh the fear of the dark? For me, for now, I believe it does. And maybe, just maybe, there is some good in the dark as well. Look for it with me would you?

Watch for it when the snow is deep, the night is dark and the woods are lovely yes, but perhaps a bit threatening. Look for it when you are far from peace or far from home, whether by choice or circumstance. Keep an eye out when there is no other sound in your head or your heart save the wind and the swirling snow. We need not be burdened by this night, by this Winter. We can use the stillness to reflect on, and set aside those things that are not helping us to grow. We can allow the cold to do it’s own work. We really can friends, and if we will allow it to do so we just might be ready to bloom in the seasons to come.

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Winter Bucket List

I recently ran across the bucket list that the kids made for last summer. It was full of all the standard stuff; splash pad trips, picnics, camp-outs. There were also some things clearly inspired by a momma who is happier on the run; climbing at Taylor’s Falls, exploring someplace we’ve never been, watching the stars. We really did a great job this past year of crossing a lot of great adventures off our list. I am so grateful to have had those opportunities and to have checked them off and more. I walked away full of happy memories, but later I began to wonder why I never make a Winter bucket list with the littles?

Well, I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. When you despise something as much as I hate the season of frozen darkness, why would you ever make big plans for that time? For some reason this thought stuck with me. I decided that I’d write it out, sort of a winter must-do list and I’ve decided to share it here with you. This isn’t exactly an inspired list, and you won’t find me trekking through snow drifts all too often because of it. It’s a good list for me though, and even just looking at it makes me smile big!

Here it is, my list of twelve winter must-do’s; enjoy!

Burn big fires on the deck in the snow as many nights as possible.                                     This lovely fire devolved into an awesome snowball fight for my sweet husband and two of the children, the teeny and I went inside to make pizza where it was warm and there was little chance of getting pelted with flying snow. Having fires on our deck brings joy to the people that I love and I love that we all stand out there together even when it’s thirty-three degrees outside.

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Let the littles sleep under the Christmas tree lights.                                                                While this photo is adorable, these children did not sleep here. The littlest had an absolute meltdown and her daddy had to tuck her into her cozy bed. The second child came in ten minutes after I laid down and told me he could not possibly sleep upstairs. Only the oldest of the three managed to sleep under the Christmas tree lights. Not only that, but momma had a meltdown for herself because, “Why can’t I just let them do a sweet thing and make a freaking memory for crying out loud?!”. One year I know that this will happen, clearly we are not there yet, but hopefully it really does happen someday.

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Go someplace new.                                                                                                                               I’m not sure where we will go…we lightly considered loading up and heading to Texas for a Johnnie’s playoff game this weekend. That would’ve been cool, but it was a little unrealistic with such short notice. I guess we’ll have to think of someplace else to head off to. Suggestions welcome!

Lay in the sunshine as it slants through the front windows.                                                The dog is an expert at this. When the children were smaller we would sit on the living room floor and enjoy our after lunch read aloud time. I can’t remember doing this since the teeny came along though. It is something that I really want to get back to. Seriously, if you can’t go outside because it is so cold the sun should at least shine down on you in your living room.

Actually go sledding.                                                                                                                          We have gone once this year, on a half inch of snow, like we were in Georgia and had never seen snow before. I don’t quite know how I got roped into this, but it was a good day outside in the frosty air. I would like the children to go actual sledding though, on deep snow, down the big hill in the park. They love it and with snow pants on it’s really not that bad. We have gone a few times, but not since the teeny could enjoy it, which means it’s been far too long. This is our year.

 

Read more books aloud.                                                                                                                     Because, well, why not?

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Keep the driveway shoveled.                                                                                                          A modifier for this one as well, I will insist that my children keep the driveway shoveled well. This may seem unfair or a little harsh to some of you, but really, these children have boundless energy, they tear around my house knocking things over, jumping on the sofa’s…they can totally shovel the driveway.

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Eat less junk food.                                                                                                                                Somehow we have become a family who eats far too many “snack” foods. I know this began with my lack of desire to make dinner in the summer and was magnified by camping-life, but it has gotten out of hand. I can’t handle it, my body starts to scream out at me when I eat so much sugary/salty/fatty food. It really does, I’m not exaggerating at all. So the snacks just need to stop. My family has been a little annoyed by this, questions like; “why are there no chips?!” may have been asked. I feel like soon they will have all adjusted and come back to the light side (where we don’t have cookies, but we also don’t feel like shit all of the time)…maybe.

Be overly-kind to as many people as possible.                                                                           I want to do things like; make the frazzled barista smile. Give candy canes to the cashier at Aldi. Take cookies to the librarians. We have practiced this for a few Advent seasons now, but this year I want to outdo myself. I hope to inspire my littles to go above and beyond with their kindnesses and to challenge myself to simply give. Even when I don’t feel like it or think that I won’t be able. We are so richly loved, I want to do more to share that love. We took out our Advent calendar today and filled the pockets with opportunities to “do” instead of “get”, it made me proud to watch the littles decide when we would complete each of the nice things. Watch out, we may just get you with our RACK’s this year!

Write many more words.                                                                                                                    I’ve talked about this at length. There are no necessary words here, I want to write and so I need to simply sit here with my laptop and write. I’ve managed to find a direction I want to go for now, a path I’d like to follow through the snow. We shall see how it goes.

Plant a pot of succulents, or craft a terrarium.                                                                           We did this last Winter. The pretty little succulent ended up dead, because of course. I put the sad, dead, terrarium out on the deck and, as there was a broken place in the jar, the rain got in and we ended up creating a swamp. This was a really cool thing to watch over the Summer months. I’d really like to keep a plant alive in a terrarium environment though. I feel like a succulent might be more realistic because I can provide more care and control while a terrarium is supposed to be planted and left to survive on it’s own. However the whole idea of a dessert type terrarium is a little overwhelming to me, so we’ll probably just get a nice little potted cactus.

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Play the radio more-even if the house is loud.                                                                          This is something I have always struggled with. Silly right? I love to have the children sharing my space, playing, singing, even arguing, but they are so loud all of the time that I never turn the radio on. It always seems like extra noise. No sooner than I flip on the volume, do two of my kids decide to have an epic Nerf battle or someone is melting down because her Lego creation was destroyed. I can’t handle it. The radio adds this extra layer of sound that makes me want to pull my hair out. I want to turn the music on, it will help my mental state to do so. I am determined to find a way to make this happen. Perhaps I’ll report back with progress as the season progresses.

Well, there you have it. While I wish this list said; ; “drive as far South as is possible while still remaining state side…”. I am pleased with it anyway. I may print the bullet points and post them on my fridge. Am I alone in making a Winter bucket list? What would you add to your own list of Winter fun-time activities? Let me know, maybe I’ve missed something that will provide that ever-elusive Winter-joy.