What’s getting me through winter

photo-276Groundhog’s Day is a winter milestone. We have made it this far. Even if spring is six weeks away, it’s only six weeks, right? Modern Mrs. Darcy used the occasion of yesterday’s holiday to blog about “what’s saving my life right now.” Winter doldrums make it easy to complain. But we can focus on the good instead, and not just the obvious biggies (healthy kids, a furnace that works). Linking up with her, here are some other things that are making me happy these days:

My mud room. Certain design aspects of my house just work for a larger-than-average family. The mudroom is key. There are two doors: to the garage and to the driveway. There are benches and hooks and a big closet. It doesn’t have to be neat (it is a “mud” room after all) even if we do now have a basket for mittens and a basket for hats. But it’s nice to have a place for wet boots and coats and backpacks and to know that those things will be there when they are needed again.

My treadmill. The “dreadmill” is boring. It is. But slushy ice is slicking up the roads. My day time schedule is in flux with feedings and helping with the big kids and school runs. I can hop on the treadmill and walk briskly or run slowly for 10 minutes, deal with whatever issues come up, then get back on again later. It makes physical activity possible, even if such spurts must fit into my time confetti. Yesterday I did my first full mile run post-delivery and it felt great.

Almond butter. Why did I not know about this until a few weeks ago? Yum.

Magazines. I’ve been using my baby-feeding time to read through both The Economist and People magazine weekly. I am starting to think that being a well-informed person requires reading both.

The night nanny. She started this past weekend. I’m nursing but what’s great is that I can sleep soundly except while feeding. So Sunday night, I went to bed at 9:45, and woke to feed at 1:15. I went back down at 1:45 and slept until 5:15. Fed to 5:45, then dozed on and off until 6:45, because to be honest, I probably didn’t need that last hour (though it was nice!) Last night, since I went to a dinner, I’d pumped, and at her suggestion she gave him that bottle for the 1 a.m. feeding. So I was off the hook from my 10 p.m. bedtime to 4:30 a.m. I feel more human when I get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time.

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble. I’m reviewing this for a publication, so I’ll limit the review here, but if you’re looking for a good non-fic read, I highly recommend Zac Bissonnette’s latest (out later this month). This tale of toy tycoon Ty Warner is darkly comic and well-paced. Creative non-fiction fans will appreciate the structure of a few well-placed set pieces. Even as I worried that the post-crash ending might slow down, Bissonnette would stick in random stuff like a visit to a strange father-daughter pair who’d photographed every Beanie Baby and literally had tin foil on their windows. If you put these details in a novel (like Warner’s paranoid mother stealing his luxury car, or Warner winding up in a dark closet with flashbacks after babysitting his girlfriend’s kids one night) no one would believe you. It’s also a good exploration of the psychology of bubbles, and how people really do believe that past performance is an indicator of future results.
Coffee. On cold winter mornings, a good strong cup is such a lovely way to start the day. I’m sometimes up enough before the kids that I can enjoy it and my oatmeal (with ground flax, pecans, brown sugar, and that wonderful almond butter) in peace and quiet.  It didn’t happen this morning, but it does on others, and it’s great.

What’s making you happy right now? 

Photo: The mudroom.

18 thoughts on “What’s getting me through winter

  1. Thanks for the update on the night nanny & how its working out. I am very interested. Might make me a little more ready for #2.

    Coffee all the way. So warm, so tasty.

    Other things that are making me happy right now are baked oatmeal (just microwave individual servings – so fast, so easy) and a baby that’s turning one. Such a fun age!

    1. @The Frugal Ecologist — I’ll have to try out the baked oatmeal thing. Sometimes I think the only thing that would improve my oatmeal would be a bit of a crunch and more of a crust. I’ll have to figure that out!

  2. I really want to hear more about the night nanny after you’ve had her for a few weeks. I’ve always thought it was a waste of time if one is nursing, but maybe not. One of my good friends got a night nurse for her 4th child as well but cancelled it after a few weeks b/c she felt it just wasn’t all that helpful. I mean, if you have the kind of baby that goes back to sleep anyway, what’s the point? But you never know if that’s the kind you’re going to have, right? Also, if the night nurse is holding the baby in her arms all night to keep him quiet, then he will be expecting the same thing from you once she inevitably leaves. I think it’s a great idea in theory, but I am skeptical! Still, very glad to hear you are getting some longer stretches of sleep!

    1. @Rinna- he may be expecting the same thing when she leaves, but at least I will have slept until then! With infants, you take it day by day. I’ll cross that bridge later, and when he’s not needing to eat every few hours and I’m not still recovering from giving birth…

      1. Yes, absolutely a good point! And at the end of the day, if it works for you, that’s all that counts. So come back to us in a few weeks and let us know how it’s working, if you don’t mind. I am very curious for my own upcoming new addition…

  3. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the new baby experiences in almost-real time. Please continue sharing!

    On that note, the night nanny is such a smart idea. I didn’t know there was such a thing until my friend had twins, but it’s such a brilliant concept.

    I am so curious about the Bissonnette book. Looking forward to the review.

  4. I was just thinking today how I miss being up before my kids. I am still always trying to sneak in more sleep, even if it is just 30 minutes. I think I’d be better served if I just stayed up after nursing the baby at 6:00 and started my day.

    Hands down, coffee is saving my life right now.

      1. @Katherine – coffee is awesome. I feel bad that some people think they should avoid it while nursing. That seems like it would make life 10 times harder than necessary.

  5. Our winters here are mild but depressing and long (Seattle). I appreciate you posting your “happy” thread today because I’ve been grousing about various things – small annoyances mostly which I was going to detail here but really, no one cares about 🙂

    What gets me through winter – Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cinnamon black tea that’s only sold around Christmas, my craft room (1 year old now) which is full of windows so it seems bright even though it’s mostly grey out, and my current work arrangement which is awesome and flexible and interesting and pays well.

    So aside from a bunch of petty #firstworldproblems like mail theft, life is good 😉

    1. @ARC – sorry about the mail theft. Hopefully nothing awful (it’s amazing to think that my baby’s new identity docs like social security card and birth certificate just come through the mail — but it really works most of the time!)

      Did you buy 365 packs of the vanilla cinnamon tea over Christmas so you’d have it all year? 🙂

      1. Nah, I “only” bought 5 boxes of 20 teabags each. And then when I decided I “needed” more, they were out, so I guess that’s good. I have some others I can swap in that I like as well, so it’ll get me through till next November!

  6. What a wonderful, uplifting list. Glad to hear you’re getting more sleep. My understanding of the current research is that you’re best-off getting sleep in increments of 90 minutes (so 3 hours, or 4 1/2, rather than 2 or 4).

    Night nannies — what were called night nurses when I was a wee thing — used to be *de rigueur*. It’s a shame they’ve gone out of vogue, as my mother and her generation swore by them.

    And I can’t believe you’re already doing miles, but good for you!

  7. Not having a mud room is one of the hardest things about living in NYC apartments!

    Baking in my cast-iron skillet (which I wouldn’t do in summer for obvious reasons) has become a fun voyage of discovery this winter. So far I’ve tried cornbread and gingerbread (recipes for 9×13 pans are the right size for a 12″ skillet), and both turned out simultaneously moister and with a better crust than they do in baking pans, not to mention cooling faster on the open windowsill (apparently cast-iron conducts and holds cold as well as it does heat) and not sticking to my well-seasoned skillet at all.

    P. S. Whenever I’ve happened to read People magazine (admittedly not often), I’ve noticed how well-edited it is, which is heartening to find in any publication.

  8. It was especially awesome because I didn’t have any yellow cornmeal in the house, so I substituted the yellow corn grits I did have (answering once and for all the question people argue endlessly about online without ever resolving of whether or not you can do this: yes, you can!), which gave it an even better texture (i.e., even further removed from gummy cornbread made with bleached flour and so much sugar and baking powder it sets your teeth on edge), and I also substituted whole wheat for half the white flour, and threw in some pickled hot peppers and chipotle powder, since the standard BH&G recipe is not too sweet (only 2-4 T. sugar), which is why I use it.

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