I’ve Got The Winter Blahs

Winter seemingly weighs me down like the heavy snow blanketing my front yard. Stepping out my door to fetch the mail, I slip on the thick ice, skid, but don’t fall. I take a tentative step forward as my nose hairs frost over and snow fills my boots. I’d hoped to lightly skim across the top of the deep snow drift that was once a cleared path only days before, butImage sink to my knees. Sigh. I finally make it to retrieve the mail, hoping to find a birthday card or my tax refund, but return with our propane bill that is double what it normally is (and unfortunately for me my salary is not). Winter, you’ve sapped my energy. I’m tapped and tired, although that may be more the fault of the influenza I’ve caught despite the flu shot I got. Lying in bed, I try to rest and force fluids, but instead obsess about the bills that are late, the work I’m missing, being a better mom to my children, helping my husband finding a better job that he likes, the book I don’t feel like writing and the half-marathon training I’m now falling behind in.  Much like the snow, the ice, the snow, the bitter cold, the snow, the snow, the snow (did I mention the snow?), my negative thinking blasts me.

Enough already! It has to stop. While I can’t control ‘old man winter,’ I can control my thoughts. I can choose to see the ‘silver linings’ and remember trying times only make me stronger. I can focus on the positives and smile.  I can live mindfully, but purposefully; moving forward, not dwelling on past mistakes nor worrying about the unknown, following my instincts without fear or second-guessing. I can look back to where I was and be proud of where I am now. I can look ahead and know better days are coming. They always do. As Elsa, in the movie, Frozen (hmmm…any coincidence that we too are frozen?), sings, “Let It Go, Let It Go…”  Yes, I need to take that advice. That will be hard, but not impossible. Starting now. Ready, set, go!

Here are five positive things about winter:

1. The beautiful ice crystals outlining the trees in my backyard contrasted again a clear blue sky

2. Snuggling on the couch under a warm comforter with my daughters on a snow day

3. Noticing the daylight lasts slightly longer each day

4. Seeing the smiles on my daughters’ faces as they point to the snow fort they just built

5. A ten-day forecast that shows a high of 51 degrees for next Thursday

And, now I think I will snuggle under that comforter (after drinking some more water of course) and take a nap. I’m feeling better already…Who knows maybe when I wake up it will all have been a dream and the flu along with snow will all be gone:)

Anyone else feeling the winter blues? What do you do to shake it off?

Wanted: The Ultimate, Ultra Umbrella

2013-01-29 09.06.17April in Northwest Ohio has certainly lived up to its motto, “April showers…” this year. Actually its been more like “April down pours.” We should have the best “May spring flowers” ever. Today’s been no exception to the rain. Rain would be fine, if it weren’t for the wind. The wind is merciless and unrelenting.

It’s pointless to carry an umbrella around here. No less than two minutes after I raise it up, the wind flips it inside out, I curse it, struggle to right it, end up wetter than I would have if I’d just made a run for it, and toss the mangled umbrella in the trash. I’m not really a prissy or anything. I don’t mind getting a little wet. Really, I don’t. I just want to get from point “A” to point “B” without getting drenched. I’ve tried all sorts of umbrellas from mini-compact to golf, they all end up – inside out. This is why I seek the ultimate, ultra umbrella. I believe it must exist somewhere out there. It doesn’t have to be a Mary Poppins-type umbrella. I’m not looking for magical or supernatural qualities. I just want one that’s sturdy enough to withstand a windy, rainy day in Ohio.

Anyone?

What Begins With “A”?

ImageRecently I learned that the month of April is the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.” Always up for a good writing challenge, I of course signed up to participate! (I know those of you that followed my 40 days of Lent photo-a-day challenge on Twitter are skeptical because I “crashed and burned” after day 16. I have two good excuses, reasons though: 1) My “me” time is from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM and I couldn’t take good photos at night and 2) The themes were two stifling for my creativity). Any way for this challenge, I have to blog about something that starts with the letter of the day from A to Z for the entire month of April (except Sundays). Today’s letter, being April 1, is the first letter of the alphabet, “A.”

Whenever I think about the letter “A,” I immediately have the Dr. Suess “ABC” book running through my head. . .

“Big A, Little a…What begins with A?”

Why, April begins with “A.”  And that’s no April Fool!

I wonder how many teachers are secretly rejoicing that this prankster’s holiday falls on the Monday after Easter and a lot of schools are still on Spring Break! My daughters were pretty disappointed. I can remember as a school-ager the hushed whispers and laughter in the halls, the girls’ bathroom and by the lockers as we discussed and planned how we would fool our teachers. We thought we were pretty tricky back then.

Besides April Fool’s Day, as a child I remember that April brought with it a very real anxiety in the pit of my stomach. You see somewhere I read or heard or possibly even imagined that April was tornado month. I thought that most tornadoes occurred in April because of the changing seasons. The thought of those cool and warm masses mixing it up in the sky above my house caused me to lie awake many nights, especially if it was thundering or heaven forbidden a tornado watch in effect. The tornado scene in the “Wizard of Oz” terrified me. I lived in fear of being sucked up in a tornado in the middle of the night. I sweated each day of April and rejoiced at the first day of May, some how having avoiding another tornado season (little did I know back then that tornado season lasts all summer). I’m sure the fact that we had many tornado drills at school during April and that for some reason it seemed the “Wizard of Oz” always seemed to come on TV right around Easter contributed to my April/Tornado association more than anything else.

These days I’m not as fearful April tornadoes (although I still have a keen ear for hearing the tornado sirens and will be the first one waiting on a bad storm in the basement – a must-have criteria when purchasing a home). In fact, April now brings with it anticipation of the longer days, spring flowers, budding trees, warmer weather and the A to Z.

What about you? What do you think of in April? Leave me a comment below!

 

Trick or Treat? Bah Humbug!

Halloween inevitably brings with it the custom of “trick or treat.” I don’t know who thought up the wonderful tradition of dressing up in a costume and going door-to-door to beg strangers for candy. I could probably find out in a matter of seconds via Google or Wikipedia (how did we ever live without these wonderful tools), but I actually really don’t care all that much who that genius was. It won’t change anything. Trick or treat will still come. Bah Humbug!

Yes, I know it’s the wrong holiday, but I think am the Scrooge of Halloween or at least trick or treat. Of all the holidays we have, Halloween is probably one of my least favorites. Even as a child the thought of trick or treating filled me with dread. It’s not that a I didn’t want candy…I did. Knocking on a stranger’s door to ask for candy (especially if they too dressed up and had  scary decorations) that could potentially be poisoned or razor-blade filled  made my shy, introverted body queasy. Thus, I would always make my younger sister go first. (I was just being polite. No, really, you go ahead…)

These days trick or treat appeals to me about as much as it did back then. Alas my daughters love to go and so I go for them. As an adult, my aversion to trick or treat is less about stranger danger and more about the weather. The weather? Yes, the weather. What does weather have to do with Halloween you might ask? In Northwest Ohio – everything. Nine out of ten times the weather on Halloween is, how shall I put it? Crappy. It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s rainy. This year will be no different. In fact, I’ve already been given one reprieve as the festivities have already been postponed once due to sleet and high winds and rescheduled for tomorrow night.

Halloween Past
Halloween Past

As we live out in the boonies, we’ll meet up with some friends who live in town to trick or treat. The houses are much closer together. As usual, the girls will bundle up with sweat pants and sweatshirts under their costumes and complain about having to put winter coats on over them. I can empathize with them in that regard as both a former trick or treater, who wanted to show off her cool costume, and as a mother, who just paid a small fortune for the costumes of choice and wants everyone to see how cute they look in them. (In the picture on the right is a pic from a rare Halloween past when we had beautiful weather and the girls were still young enough that they agreed to wear the coordinating costumes I got them!)

After the first block or so of candy gathering, I’ll have a pocket full of empty candy wrappers and be carrying the itchy wig I paid way too much for, while giving the youngest a piggy back ride, because she’s too tired to walk. Trick or treat lasts an hour and a half or so, and lucky for me the girls aren’t greedy and are ready to call it quits after 45 minutes or so and head back home for some pizza and more candy.

Now you may think I’m against trick or treat completely. I’m not. Truly, I’m not. Back before kids, my hubby and I lived in town. I loved passing out the candy to the kids in our neighborhood. Seeing the kids all dressed up and watching the smiles on their faces as I gave them their treats was great fun. Unfortunately, as I said we live out in the boonies and get no trick or treaters. Not even one. Though I still buy candy just in case:)

What about you? Would you rather trick or treat, pass out candy or skip the whole thing?

Where Did Summer Go? And Why Does Winter Last So Long?

Leaves

We went from tank tops and flip-flops to sweaters and ankle boots over night. Not quite literally, but close to it. The beginning of September had us sweltering in 90-degree plus sunshine, while today on the brink of October we saw 60 degrees and cloudy skies. That’s northwest Ohio for you though – the season changes here are never gradual. One moment it’s summer, the next it’s winter. I expect the snow to start blowing any second now. My favorite season blew by quickly this year. The warmth of summer, the long days of sunlight, ice cream cones and, watermelon are only memories and photographs until next year!

While I love the beautiful colors of fall, caramel apples and pumpkin pie, autumn’s onset always saddens me a bit. Much like that first robin I see hopping along in my yard fills me with hope of the warm days to com, the first leaf I see that’s turned a bright yellow or a crimson red always shoots a small pang of dread through me. In only a few short weeks, I’ll be driving home from work in the dark, scraping snow off my wind shield, and heating up the hot chocolate and chilli.

I’m resigned that winter is coming and I have no power to stop it. I’ve already started packing up the summer wardrobe and bringing out the winter one. My next chore to move the kids’ bikes, balls, scooters and other junk to one side of the garage so I can pull my car in. This is top priority as we’ve already had one freeze warning that I dodged.

Winter does have its good points, I suppose for some, although I have a hard time thinking of them. I don’t like to be cold and I’m not coordinated enough for down hill activities at high speeds. In my opinion winter would be a much better season if it would last from December 23 to December 26. On the other hand, winter does make me appreciate summer more, I guess. Next April when the weather changes from 30 to degrees to 60 degrees, I’ll be pulling out the shorts and sandals and cheering about the “heat wave!”

Who am I kidding? I am confident I would appreciate sunshine and 70 degrees without negative wind chills and ice storms. I guess I could move south or west, but my family, my friends, my church and my job are here in the winter zone. Hmm…I wonder if I could convince everyone to move with me? Now that’s an idea to ponder…

What about you? Do you long for or dread those snowy, winter days?

Spring Fever Rages

When I think of the month of March, typically I think cold, rainy gray days. I think of the smell of water-logged, dead earthworms laying in the parking filling the air. At some point during the month where mother nature may give us snow one day, rain and wind the next, and the warmth of the sun the third – or possibly all three in one day, I sight the first robin of the season and smile. I notice the leaves sprouting on the trees and the daffodils poking up through the muddy ground and know the hope for warmer days is near.

This March, however, we in the mid-west have been blessed ( although some snow sport lovers out there may think us cursed) with unseasonably warm weather. And I don’t just mean a day above 50 degrees here and there, but we’ve actually had several weeks of high 70’s and low 80’s. Yes, we had 80 degrees and sunshine in the middle of March. It is heavenly! It makes me wonder if someone up there in weather land got there M months mixed up. It feels more like late May than mid March, but I am definitely NOT complaining and neither are my children.

The girls wore shorts to school today. They didn’t even take along their jackets. The flip-flops and sandals were dusted off weeks ago. Everywhere I turn, children are playing and riding bikes, people are walking their dogs, flowers and trees are blooming and the diehards out there are actually mowing their lawns instead of shoveling snow. I love it!

Spring fever definitely rages in my home and workplace. Co-workers and I walk to a local cafe for lunch not wanting to return to our florescent-lighted, windowless cubicles afterwards. Not so much because we don’t like our jobs, but more so because the sun is calling us, luring us to sit and just absorb its warmth and bake off the winter pastiness and dreariness of the past three months. When 5:00 PM rolls around, I have approximately two and a half hours left of warm bliss that I take full advantage of.

A few nights ago I walked with my daughters. Actually I was the only one that walked. The oldest road her scooter and the youngest her two-wheeler with training wheels. We had a wonderful time walking and rolling and talking and laughing until… Until the youngest got tired of riding her bike about halfway home. She was just too tired to go on, especially after she’d tipped it a bit when she went down an incline (you can’t really call it a hill). From that point on she walked and whined about calling someone to pick us up while I pushed the bike (which I’d vowed not to do – sigh). A few moments later a car came up fast behind us (we live on a country road in the middle of no where, so I don’t see why people need to go so fast especially when the can see us walking along miles or at least yards in advance). Anyway it scared my oldest daughter and she veered her scooter off the road and wiped out. She scraped her leg although to hear her tell it you’d have thought it was broken. So now, I’m pushing the bike and scooter, while they both whine about calling their Dad to pick them up (even though the house is only yards away.) Oh well…at least we enjoyed the fresh air.

Last night our endeavor out was much more pleasant. We headed to our local park. Typically these excursions find me pushing two girls on the swings, helping them across the monkey bars and then collapsing on the bench to watch them. Tonight I took a different approach. I became a kid too. While I still pushed the swing, I never made it to the bench. I went down the slide and across that slider ‘thingy.’ I tried to pull myself up on to the top of the monkey bars as I’d done in my youth, but couldn’t quite make it – I have a lot more “girth” to move than I did when I was 10. Next we tried to skip stones across the pond (try being the key word) and then switched to seeing who could throw the farthest. No one was fishing, so I figured no harm. The girls smiled and laughed. When the sun started to set, we raced to the car, I would have won too if it weren’t for my shoes.

Today we’re supposed to hit 84 again. I haven’t figured out what we are going to do tonight yet. I’d like to get the flower beds cleaned out, but maybe will just shoot some hoops instead. I do know we won’t be sitting in front of the TV. The next few days rain is in the forecast and the highs are only in the 60’s. I am trying not to be disappointed. I am trying not to get spoiled, but I am. I think I might cry if the temperatures dip back into the 40’s or worse 30’s. And if it were to snow again before next December, well, I won’t be happy. For now though, my winter coat and boots are packed and my shorts and sandals are front and center. I’m going to feed that fever for as long as I can!