So This Happened Over Winter

It’s been a REALLY long winter. According to the calendar spring started last Thursday, but according to my thermometer, that’s a big fat lie. This winter my dog and I gained 8 pounds each, we broke snow and cold records across the state and there are still piles of snow covering my garden. To add insult to injury, it’s snowing right now (again) for the third season in a row. My very insightful son said to me this morning “This would be really pretty if it was November, but now it’s just mean.” As usual, he’s astute, straightforward and right on. I’d like to think he gets that from his mom.

Despite the cold, lack of sunshine and my personal irritability, winter can also be kind of nice. Cold days and being snowed in are good ways to enjoy some (forced) downtime, unless you’re into extreme winter sports and love the snow…which I am not because my favorite outdoor winter activity is going inside. The thought crossed my mind that maybe spring won’t come I embrace winter and the good things that happened. So, here are a few of my favorite winter moments.

Snow and ice can really be quite pretty.

Winter in the Park
Winter walk through the park, before the ice froze.
After the ice storm
After an ice storm, the snow fell.
IMG_2159
Frozen nature is beautiful.
IMG_6697
Ice on Lake Michigan.
IMG_6651
Snowbanks taller than my 2nd grader!

I played A LOT of indoor soccer with a pretty cool group of people. We started off really bad, but now we don’t suck. We aren’t great, but at least we don’t suck and I’ve found my groove and starting scoring some pretty sweet goals. It’s great exercise once you get past the fact that I’m twice the age and ten times less the skill of the other players in our ‘beginner’ league. Ha! Beginner league my arse….I’ve learned soccer players LIE just because they are more concerned about winning. Case in point: scoring a goal with your head, backwards, is NOT a beginner move. It’s been a lot of fun though!

Can't play outside, but playing inside is dangerous! That's a soccer ball imprint on my leg.
Can’t play outside, but playing inside is dangerous! That’s a soccer ball imprint on my leg.

Winter is a great time to visit our local indoor botanical gardens. The humidity feels good and it’s always decorated so nicely.

A trip to the Botanical Gardens was needed!
A trip to the Botanical Gardens was needed!
Watching the water and birds in the warmth of the tropical gardens.
Watching the water and birds in the warmth of the tropical gardens.

I grew amaryllis and paperwhites all winter and had blooms from January up until the first week of March.

Amaryllis Nymph opening up!
Amaryllis Nymph opening up!
Pleasantly surprised by Minerva. My least favorite in photos, it bloomed beyond my expectations.
Pleasantly surprised by Minerva. My least favorite in photos, it bloomed beyond my expectations.
My favorite Amaryllis - Lagoon!
My favorite Amaryllis – Lagoon!

I cooked a lot. Maybe that’s why I gained the 8 pounds (or it was for survival, I needed the extra weight because -14 degrees could kill a thinner person). On top of cooking a lot, we also ate a lot of really yummy food!

Comfort food….simmering bacon jam!
Comfort food….simmering bacon jam!
Warming up with a giant goblet of his favorite caramel salted browie sundae!
Warming up with a giant goblet of his favorite caramel salted browie sundae!

At the end of the day, there was nothing warmer than the fireplace and a plush heating blanket.

London Le Chat warming up in his favorite spot in the house.
London Le Chat warming up in his favorite spot in the house.

What were your favorite winter moments?

Life Grows On

Does anyone else feel like being thankful was really crammed down our throats this year? It was a weekend blitz of BE THANKFUL OR ELSE! followed by BUY NOW BECAUSE IT WILL BE GONE TUESDAY! I needed to pause and found a quiet place at mass on Sunday night with my daughter. The first Sunday of Advent service was thought provoking and made me seriously consider how I want my life to grow in the coming years. That can be an overwhelming thought when you consider how your personal decisions effect so many other lives. So instead of making a plan, I downloaded pictures while I thought about stuff.

Despite how busy and long the weekend was, I’m glad I got to spend time with these crazies. We had fun, spiked with little bit of family drama (why can’t everyone just get along)?! I am blessed knowing that no matter what direction my life goes, this group will always be my roots, keep me grounded and help me grow along the way.

WE LAUGHED!

Cousins laughing over deviled eggs.
Cousins laughing over deviled eggs.

WE DROOLED…. (okay, maybe only Maggie drooled)

Mmmm....turkey.....
Mmmm….turkey…..

WE DRANK! (I may have drank a lot)

Spiked hot carmel apple cider
Spiked hot carmel apple cider

OH MY…..we ate this. A whole lot of this.

Golden roasted turkey
Golden roasted turkey

We just hung out. 🙂 Maggie and my dad did a lot of this when they weren’t in the kitchen looking for ‘just a taste.’

Grandpa and Maggie chilling out
Grandpa and Maggie chilling out – they take this very seriously as you can see.

We searched for the perfect tree….

On a tree hunt!
On a tree hunt!

WE FOUND IT!

The three best blessings in my life
The three best blessings in my life

We decorated it.

Oh! Christmas Tree!
Oh! Christmas Tree!

I hope however you spent the holidays, you lived in the moment, filled your bellies with food and your souls with laughter.

“Go Random Stranger, Go!”

MothersDay

Last Thursday morning one of my besties called me at around 7:30am. I answered right away thinking it had to be an emergency and it was….she had an idea. The conversation went something like this:

BF: You wanna run the River Bank on Saturday?

Me: 10k?

BF: No

Me: Not the 5k.

BF: Nope.

Me: Are you crazy?

BF: Yep.

Me: Ok, I’m in.

I hung up and realized I’d just said yes to running a 25k that neither her nor I had ‘formally’ trained for. We showed up on Friday afternoon for late registration, laughing along the way. Turns out, we had a great time and made the 15.5 miles in under our anticipated pace. It also helped that we are both too stubborn NOT to finish.

If you’ve ever run a major event like this, you know that the crowd is one of the highlights. People line the streets cheering with their hand made signs, music and high fives. My personal favorites were “Go Random Stranger, Go!” “Smile if you aren’t wearing underwear” and “Worst Parade Ever.” There were others that elicited a good chuckle and one that was just so completely unpolitically correct that I think I only laughed because I was delusional at mile 13. Ok, I admit I laugh at inappropriate things all the time and will probably go to hell for the things I find funny. Overall it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I said yes. 🙂

When I got home I was greeted by my daughter who gave me the recap of their 4th loss and my son who forgave me for missing his baseball game and his 5th big win. He handed me a rose and wished me a happy mother’s day. I felt like a rockstar! Not because I finished a 25k (although that was pretty cool)…but because I am mom to some awesome little peeps.

To all the mom’s who think everyday is mother’s day and for all you do…..“GO RANDOM STRANGER, GO!”

Life in the Landscape Beds

lilac bloom

I love hard work, but I have to admit I loathe edging the landscape beds. However, behind every dreaded chore there is the opportunity to see things up close and personal that you normally wouldn’t see while sipping cocktails in comfort on the patio. While edging one of my many landscape beds, I was leaning over mumbling obscenities to the shovel and grass that has overgrown. In the midst of my quiet complaining, I looked up and noticed pretty green buds all over my lilac bush. I stopped grumbling and smiled.

I love working in the garden because it really does reflect real life. Life is full of hard work and painful truths (the equivalent of edging landscape beds), but once you get up close and personal with those realities, you can see little buds of new hope and life. Even after a hard winter, nature and life can still bloom beautifully.

There are many things to look forward to, as long as we keep looking up while edging the landscape beds.