These photos were taken while visiting Aaron's family up in the Canadian Rockies just after Christmas. I offer them to you not only as proof that we have been alive and well (sorry, blog!), but also because look at that snow! What I wouldn't give for snow right now. It was a dreamland, I tell you. We had one small storm in Portland last year, so we weren't sure if Ewan would remember what snow was like. We talked about it a lot beforehand. Watched the Daniel Tiger, "Snowflake Day," episode four thousand times. Of course, when we got there he just acted like he'd been around snow his entire life and cried every time we asked him to come inside. The Canadian genes are strong with this one. So dear universe, Ewan and I would like some snow now, please. You know where to find us.
I beg for snow in January because January here is tough. Actually, all of the months until March are tough. Winter in Portland means low, looooow clouds and freezing rain with a side of seasonal affective disorder. It can be hard to get pumped about the new year when all you want to do is binge-watch Netflix and drink soup from a mug. I'm not really a resolution person, but I do like the idea of taking stock. Looking back at the past year and figuring out what worked and what I still suck at. And I want to start the year out on a positive note, not rocking under a sun lamp somewhere. So after reading this piece by one of my longtime favorite bloggers, I decided to make some small, attainable goals that don't make me hyperventilate, and possibly tackle my loathing for this season once and for all. In no particular order they are:
1. Play more music. We spent nearly all of December at the piano singing Christmas carols (with Ewan jamming on the triangle LOL), and it brought me right back to my own childhood. Someone was always playing or singing or harmonizing, or putting on a show. I'm sure my parents owned a lot of earplugs. Even though we play our instruments regularly, both Aaron and I want it to become a daily habit. I checked out a giant stack of piano and ukelele books for kids from the library, and we've been adding a song or two a day to our repetiore. I'm no Zoe Deschanel, but after nearly every song, Ewan says, "Wow! SO singing! Thanks mama!" and then I fall on the floor and die.
2. Make one new dish every week. I desperately need to shake things up in the recipe department. I want to cut myself some slack since I solo parent almost every night (oh the glamorous life of a chef's wife) and I always cook from scratch even though I haaaaate cooking, but I am FULL of excuses when it comes to trying new things. My goal is to add 52 new dishes to the rotation by the end of year and then declare myself a culinary goddess. Just kidding. Kind of. If anyone has any cheese-free recipes they'd like to share, especially of the one-pot variety, I'm all ears/eyes. Ewan has hated cheese basically since he started eating solid foods, and I know it's a battle I will never win. Also, WHO DOESN'T LIKE CHEESE? If you need me, I'll just be shoveling an entire block of sharp cheddar in my face after bedtime every night.
3. Hygge. I've read about it before--the Danish concept of "cozy," but decided to put it into practice this year. Especially if I want to make it to March unscathed. At first it seemed kind of ridiculous to light a fire in the fireplace every night and light every damn candle in the house and spend too much money on brunch and brew endless pots of tea for just me, myself, and I, but years previous have taught me that not doing those things takes a much bigger mental toll. So even if this isn't the snowy tundra, I'm trying to apply the principal in earnest. Now if I can just resist the daffodil bunches in front of Trader Joe's until it is actually SPRING, I'll consider it a victory.
4. Read more non-fiction. Honestly, I could just type "read more" and leave it at that, but non-fiction has been weirdly integral in finding my reading grove after becoming a parent. I love YA and kid-lit, obviously, but in my former life, I liked my books long, complicated, and preferably Russian. I beat myself up about it, until Aaron got a New Yorker subscription and I realized I could read small sections of non-fiction without falling asleep or feeling taxed. (And holy cow you guys, I just noticed that an all access subscription is only $12 on Amazon right now, WHAT THE WHAT?!) Suddenly I am reading again, and it feels really good. I've finished Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar (loved), Wild (did not love), Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (brilliant), Yes Please, and Not That Kind of Girl (both fun). I re-read Holy the Firm for the millionth time, and just started The Chronology of Water. So if you have any other non-fiction to recommend, please feel free to share them in the comments!
5. Learn to Knit. Or maybe crochet? I don't know. All I know is that I can't do either and it's not for lack of trying. Already, two very dear people have tried to teach me to knit, and I don't know how to explain it, but I've never felt so clumsy in my life. I'm not sure why I could never get the hang of it. I used to love to quilt and sew, and still do, but I've realized that this is just not a sewing season in my life. But I think it could be a knitting or crocheting season? if I could just figure out how, and figure out the best way to learn. I've heard good things about private lessons through local fiber shops (luckily PDX is full of them), but maybe there is a book out there I should read instead? Or YouTube videos? Seriously, I have no idea. Maybe some of you lovely Fiber Arts people could steer me in the right direction? And also weigh in about the difference between learning to crochet vs. knit? I would very much appreciate it.
And that's it. Or at least it's a start. When I think about what's ahead, I keep coming back to this one corny little song. I mean, it's SO corny, but makes me weep nonetheless. I am getting sappy in my old age. Every time I play it for Ewan on the ukelele, he sings along at top volume in his sweet, small voice. "A wiiiiiiiiife dat's good!"
And it is. It really is.
Happy New Year, friends.