Happy New Year to you & yours!! Did you make any resolutions this year? I know people have strong feelings for & against resolution making......but if you want to read about mine, check out my post about them here.
So here we go, kicking off the new year with some goodness.
1. Quiet Saturday Morning
Chris & Lulu have their one on one hang time each Saturday morning, which gives me some time on my own. I took a snowy walk up to one of my favorite coffee shops to catch up on my blog! Being the Saturday between Christmas & New Years, there were so few people out and about. Very minimal traffic, I don't think I passed anyone walking a dog, no runners. Felt like I had our little city all to myself. The fact that it snowed enough to cover the ground made me abundantly happy. Gray rainy weather makes for mud....and mud doesn't feel holly jolly to me!
I am incredibly grateful that Chris wants his own time with Lulu, that he sees value in fathering her solo. It is such a treat, at this stage of my life, to have a couple of hours on my own. Particularly after the hustle & bustle of Christmas! Double grateful that Lulu woke up seeming much more herself, which was an incredible relief after a week of her being so out of sorts.
2. Skiing with the Bug
We have a bit of a family motto, sort of a joke, sort of not - that goes like this "It dosen't have to be fun to be fun" Its sort of a joke because it sounds pretty harsh and is quite funny. But the more I think about it - the more it actually rings true. So much of what my family does for fun would be categorized as a fuck ton of work to most other people. Such is the case with bringing your 20 month old to WI for an afternoon to continue teaching her to downhill ski!
Despite the fact that it is hard work for Lulu to learn to ski and hard work for Chris & I to gather all of our gear, load the car, unload the car, and then try our best to teach Lulu to ski - it is so worth it. Even on the tiny hills the Midwest offers us. Even though Chris & I each did one chairlift ride solo to ski one non-bunny hill run. Even though Lulu's feet were so cold by the end of our outing that she was near inconsolable. Even though we made 2 unplanned stops at Walgreens and Starbucks to get Lulu a bottle and some warm milk to drink from it. Even though....
Those things fade into the background of my memory so quickly when I think of how much I love skiing and how totally wonderful it was that my parents took the time and the days of sore backs to teach me how to ski when I was 2. I love skiing. It makes me feel so free to stand at the top of a mountain and know I can (mostly) safely speed down it. Skiing down a steep groomed run is the closest thing to flying I've ever felt. Riva's Ridge at Vail is the perfect run for this feeling.
3. New Years Eve Party
Our wonderful friend Lisa hosted us for a beautiful NYE party in her cozy, perfect home. The Lulu bug was invited as well, which I was grateful for (not just because I like to spend time with Lulu.....but also because none of our babysitters were in town so we couldn't have attended the party if Lulu wasn't invited!)
I guess this season of life is one with fewer grown up parties. More bounce house type parties than cocktail parties....which is fine, but man it was lovely to have an excuse to dress up and go out as a family! The fact that all 3 of us were healthy made a huge difference too. Lulu really enjoyed visiting with Roger, the cat. Chris & I loved sipping delicious drinks, eating a million wonderful appetizers Lisa made and having some adult conversations!
4. New Year's Night Fondue
Chris & I wanted to do something special for New Year's Day this year and very easily settled on making cheese fondue at home in front of the fire. Something about fondue feels special and festive and anytime I have an excuse to eat 1/2 a pound of cheese.........count me in :)
|Bubbly out of glasses that belonged to my Grandpa Dick & Grandma Helen|
As with the excuse to dress up mentioned above, we don't necessarily have that many occasions that we prepare a "fancy" meal at home. As much as we both love parenting our toddler - it is deeply tiring! There are many nights that frozen pizza graces our laps as we sit/lay on the couch. So to have an excuse (& the vacation energy) to make a special meal was a real treat.
Do you have any New Year's Day traditions? Tell me about them in the comments, I'm always on the lookout for new ones to try out. Fireside fondue might become one for Chris & me!
5. Volunteering with Family
Am I the last person on Earth to have heard of Bernie's Book Bank in Lake Bluff?? Tara, my sister in law, invited Lulu & I me to volunteer with her & her 4 kiddos there this week. We had so little planned for the days when Chris went back to work - it was quite easy to say yes! Plus (if you know me at all or have been reading the blog for awhile) I love volunteering! Oh and (same qualifiers as the previous sentence) I love books!
This place is incredible. A giant warehouse filled with giant boxes (think the boxes that Costco sells stuff from) filled with books destined for at risk kids. Did you know that on average, low income/at risk kids have 1 age appropriate book to share with 300 other kids? Which is to say, they have no age appropriate books in their home. Contrast that with middle income kids who have an average of 13 age appropriate books all to themselves in their home. Contrast that to a child like Lulu who has dozens and dozens of books all her own.
This place is working to change those stats in the Chicagoland (all the way up to Milwaukee, WI) area. We did our part for an hour (was supposed to be an hour & a half. I was late :( ) to further the mission. Our job was to inspect donated books to see if they meet Bernie's criteria for being passed along to kids who need them. Bernie's Book Bank provides kids 12 age appropriate books every year from birth to age 12. They want the books to feel/seem new to the children who receive them. They want the books to feel as special as they are. After all, books are a window to the wider world we didn't know existed, right?? Is there anything more special than that??
It isn't easy to find a place to volunteer that truly welcomes all ages - so if you want to volunteer as a family (and who doesn't - it is such a positive experience for everyone involved) this is a great spot to do so.
All of the staff were warm, engaging, friendly & willing to answer our millions of questions. The founder of Bernie's was in the warehouse the night we were volunteering and he wanted to chat and was excited to have us there. Of course I know he was the founder because I read through their website before we went & then again when we got home!
Are there volunteer opportunities for families in your area? Do you volunteer alone or with your family/friends? I'm always curious to know how others incorporate volunteerism into their lives! Let me know in the comments!
6. Dog sledding
A stranger took this video for us - which I was surprised by & thankful for in equal measure! We took advantage of our tiny amount of snow to go sledding with Lulu last weekend. Another family was doing the same thing! Chris had what, at the time, seemed like a totally harebrained idea to have the dog pull us (being one parent + Lulu) down our tiny neighborhood hill. It seemed like a terrible idea to me, rife with the possibility of bodily harm, but also the possibility of fun - so I agreed.
Unfortunately - Chris went first & the other family didn't video it - but man - what fun! It seemed like Owenn enjoyed it too & it must've been a good bit of work for him!!
So thanks for the video family who was visiting local grandparents!! Sorry you don't live here so we can't be neighbor friends, but Team Kramer really appreciates your willingness to record our antics!