Thinking, Playing, Reading

It's already too cold.  I need to go up to the attic today and hunt for the winter things I pitched up there with anger and spite at the end of last winter.  I am vowing here in public to not say ONE thing about the cold weather, and how it hurts all the parts of my body (it really does!), about the lack of sunlight and dark clouds and gray sticks in the sky (I'm getting it all out now) until April 1 when it's all over (or at least there is hope in the wormy smelling air).  It is particularly scary for me this year, because of the hell of last winter and the memories that are triggered by it.

If you have the same feelings about seasons other than summer, can you please tell me what makes you happy and feeling good and energized and positive in the winter vs. depressed and gray in pallor, and full of cabin fever and dried up like a frog without water?  How do you combat cabin fever besides moving to Florida for three months, which I plan to do as soon as I am able?

Thank you.  And thank you for all your sleep advice.  I put a LOT of things in my Amazon cart and will ponder them all-I can see myself sleeping smeared with magnesium oil, reeking of lavender, with a sleep mask, under a weighted blanket in a completely blacked out room all winter long and am looking forward to it.

I've had a few little guys over to my house lately and they have all loved playing with this track.  It's so much easier to clean up then the tracks with all the little pieces that fit together.


Our favorite Halloween stories:

This is a new one we received last year and I love it-the message is so neat, about appreciation and gratitude and how that makes life purposeful.

Perfectly hilarious because we have CRAZY squirrels this time of year, I swear they talk, fight, and work together-and sometimes meet their death in their daring desperate ways.

Our copy is so worn, I just love this tough little old lady.

My kids have always thought this was funny-teachers who give homework on Halloween, imagine!

A story of friends working together.

Image result for humbug witch
Janey carries this book around so I couldn't find our copy to take a pic but Humbug Witch is one of those vintage classic cute Halloween stories, of a little girl trying to be a witch but not succeeding.

And of course, (which is out of print but so worth hunting down):


  1. Since I am one of the few adults who enjoys winter (it seems like all children do) I thought I'm a good candidate to share why I enjoy the season :) Winter to me means slowing down, reading books out loud to my family, sipping hot drinks after playing outside, soup simmering on the stove, Christmas and everything that goes with it, a hushed world that looks so clean covered in a blanket of snow... I could go on and on ;) I do think my top reason for loving winter though is (like I've already stated) that life seems to slow down. I really need that season!

    In saying that, my husband struggles with feeling down once winter has dragged on for several months and spring seems as if it will never arrive, so I understand how unenjoyable it can be for some people. May God give you peace this winter season and may the beauty of His creation encourage you that He cares for you!

  2. I don't love winter but my husband hates it and complains endlessly so I am determined to find ways to embrace the season vs just endure it. I find bundling up and getting out actually helps - there are gorgeous winter days and if I am walking, the cold doesn't seem so bad. This year I may get snowshoes to better enjoy the season. I also want to look into some of the Hygge - a cozy spot near the fireplace, warm socks, hot cocoa and a book are a delightful way to warm up after a hike! Go invest in some warm layers and try to enjoy. You are a fighter - use the season to focus inward, gathering your family around you, and find moments of coziness and peace. I hope you can replace some bad memories with some better ones - grab a few thermoses of hot cocoa, a batch of cookies and head to a frozen pond with skates (I personally watch on the sidelines) and lift your face to the sun.

  3. I am originally from Florida but have lived in New England for the past 18 years. I now realize I hate being hot. Hot and humid Florida makes me miserable. I have learned to embrace seasons. I don't love winter, but it doesn't bother me so much until about March. Then I'm done. I just want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin again. I think giving yourself the April 1st deadline to start complaining is an excellent plan. I also love how mother nature gives us those random 70 degree days in Feb or March. It's like a little glimpse of hope that the good weather is coming.

  4. Outside every day, even in the very coldest weather. The game-changer for me is buying myself (and the kids, but I already do that for them) proper clothes; and I mean really good, really warm clothes. Snow pants, too! All the fixin's. I live in VA now, where it is not too bad, but I lived for years in Vermont and Indiana and I sympathize -- the best way for me is to find something that I enjoy doing outside during the winter and make yourself do it every day.

  5. I've never heard of Hygge before (see"S"'s comment above). But, I looked it up and found a delightful article explaining it from Country Living magazine! I plan on implementing Hygge like a Dane! (though I have not one smidgen of Dane in me! :))
    I usually freeze all winter long....and I live in Arkansas! I'd never make it up north! But, we have had an insufferable summer with extremely high heat and humidity and I have vowed not to complain one bit this winter (which I figure will be record breaking cold)! So, Hygge is my plan! Candles a plenty (which I only usually use when our electricity is out), regular soups, warm socks, good books, warm drinks and cozy (cute) blankets!
    I also highly recommend taking vitamin D--a good brand-- if you're deficient (if so, do your research on how much to take--American recommended levels are much lower than other parts of the world) and vitamins C and B12. Also, you might consider a light therapy box which really helps people who are affected by short supply of sun in winter. Diffusing essential oils that are energizing would be good, too!
    Most importantly remember that winter is just a season...spring is coming! Blessings to you!

    1. I was going to suggest a light therapy box as well....I haven't used one, but I hear that can be very effective.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I hate winter, as well. Absolutely hate it. My treadmill and audio books really save me during those months when I have a hard time making myself get out to move around. Also, having some indoor projects like organizing or repainting or something that gives me some purpose indoors really helps my mood. Buying some fresh flowers when I go grocery shopping every now and then and trying out some new recipes can also give me a boost. I often wish I were a painter so I could create beauty all through the seasons, but then I remember there are plenty of ways to be creative even if I'm not a painter or artist in that regard, so this year I'm going to attempt to be creative through the winter, whether that's writing little stories for my children or painting old pieces of furniture (I'm not really "crafty" in other ways! =) I hope this winter is your best yet, in spite of everything!

  8. I live in Minnesota and am quite familiar with winter! My 11 year old son really loves winter and that seems to help me get through. We had snow last weekend though (it melted later that day) and I don't like snow this early! I smile when I see all your book suggestions as I have bought them all over the years per your suggestions. They are currently by our fireplace.

  9. I use a light for seasonal affective disorder and it REALLY helps! (I got it from Amazon.) I use it each morning all winter long for just a few minutes while I check my email. (I've already started using it, as soon as daylight starts to diminish I pull out my light.) It helps me to not be as tired and the way I know it really helps is b/c I make my bed everyday--whereas before I felt too unmotivated to make my bed. The other thing I do is to diffuse oils, especially citrus ones. I started using oils to help with immunity (gotta get quality oils, not ones from Target or the grocery store, I use Young Living) but I have found that they are really great for supporting my emotional health too.

  10. I lived through five Michigan winters and became increasingly depressed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The last winter I lived there, I discovered this light box (link below) and infused citrus oils. It was amazing what a difference the light box made! I was noticeably happier. It sounds weird, but it really works. Just sit in front of it 1-2 times a day for 10-20 minutes. I used to do it while eating breakfast or something like that.

  11. P.S. The writing retreat was my first. I'm ready to go again!

  12. Light box -my Psychiatrist even has one! Seasonal Depression Disorder is a real thing.
    Another thing -I’m a breast cancer survivor (going strong and NED 5 years after a Stage IV diagnosis 🤗) and PTSD is common occurrence after surviving such a horrible life event. After you finish treatment you are so traumatized and think “what now”? You may want to seek some treatment or join a BC Survivor’s Group.

  13. We've been having some family difficulties, and tonight I watched "Last Chance Harvey" with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It reassured me that all families have difficult times, and yet there is hope and joy in the future. So there are good movies to watch during the winter, and good books that can be re-read - because you know and like how they end!! And you have good emotions afterwards!
    Also, when it gets dark and gloomy outside, I often "pet" my fabric, or check back through my bins to see what I can make, or re-organize some of it. The colors of the fabric help me stay cheerful and I forget what's outside. I could even get out my light box (for the first time) and set it up to shine on me as I do this...Good Luck this winter!

  14. I light candles everyday. I know that sounds really simple, but it reminds me that there is a season to everything, and makes the cold seem cozy instead of imposing. I also make myself a Fall Reading List every autumn, which helps me have something to look forward to.
    Journaling once a week, and writing down three things I'm grateful for each day (which I sometimes forget to do- oops!) also helps with my emotions when I'm struggling.
    I so feel you on this one. I was really, really sad that summer was over. (Heck, it's nearly Halloween, and I still am sad!) I just keep reminding myself that there are things to look forward to in this season as well.

  15. Maybe this book could help
    Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide to Surviving the Winter Months https://www.amazon.com/dp/145471056X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_UjbYBbJ65PJ1P

    Thank you for every little post, Sarah!

  16. I live in sunny Australia. We've just had a week of rain and after 2 days I felt so down and like I'd never see the sun again!! Even in winter you can run around in shirt sleeves during the day here, I can't even imagine what it must feel like being homebound through crazy winter and snow!! (It must be so beautiful though!!!) At the moment we are gearing up for another long, hot summer with a relentless sun which we have to hide away from indoors during the middle of the day so we don't get burnt. It's so funny how different our worlds are and yet the same. It's nowhere on the same scale, but I get really bad morning sickness at the beginning of pregnancy, and randomly was pregnant with all 5 of my children through the start of winter. Every time the air cools around here, I actually get panicky and physically sick and have to talk myself through the fact that I'm not pregnant and about to be bedridden and vomiting for the next 3 months. I can only imagine what it must feel like after going through something so big and awful last year, but I love the idea of making new, beautiful memories this year, so as the years go on, the bad ones will fade away and the beautiful ones will grow. I'm so grateful for all of your wise words, even the ones you might think are ordinary - I come here when I'm stressed and you always bring out the sunshine and peace. Thank you.

  17. I am glad you asked this question and I'm enjoying reading through the replies. Our family went through a traumatic winter last year as my husband endured cancer treatment and recovery from November - March. Last week as we had our first day dipping into the 50's, I felt a twinge of fear/anxiety as I realized cold weather was coming back again. It brought some of those feelings of overwhelm from last winter right back. Not sure what to do with that exactly, but I'm enjoying lighting fall scented candles, doing some baking, making a movie list to watch with my kids, getting a new cozy blanket, and praying a lot. To be honest, the holidays approaching are even making me sad as I can't help but remember spending them in the hospital last year. It doesn't help that my husband continues to have some residual issues from treatment, so he isn't quite where we had hoped he would be at this point. Please know you are not alone - praying for a sense of peace for you! Also, I just finished reading the book, There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda McGurk. I found it interesting and encouraging to get outside in the winter. I liked the quote which goes something like this - "there is no bad weather, only bad clothes" - I think I'll put that on my letter board in the midst of the winter! Hugs to you and thanks for this blog! One of my favorites.

  18. I use a Happy Light. I bought it on Amazon. I use it for at least 30 minutes everyday starting in November thru March or April. I am already using it this year but more on an as needed basis. I also layer my clothing a lot because of the cold. I have fibromyalgia and getting cold is one of my worst enemies.

  19. I live in north Florida and it was 94 degrees yesterday. I have been in a horrible mood because of the lack of seasons. My midwestern friends sent me pictures of the beautiful leaves. :-) Hugs to you and your family!

  20. I live in Eastern Idaho but grew up in sunny San Diego so I really understand what it does to you to miss the sun so much! I hope some of my suggestions can be helpful to you or anyone else out there. I keep myself active as much as I can, especially the treadmill and challenging myself with stronger yoga poses. Using an essential oil diffuser works great (I prefer citrus oils because they make me very happy and remind me of San Diego, or lavender), listening to HAPPY music and watching HAPPY shows so I don't get down. Also, if you are a musician - no matter what your skill level - play your instrument. It does wonders for your brain! I also decorate my home in nice, warm, light colors and decor so nothing is drab or dark. One last thing I do is I do tanning once in a while. I'm not a big fan of tanning at all and I never thought I'd do it but when the winter has been going for a while and I'm feeling that I'm at my end, I go to a local tanning salon and only go once a week or so. I only do this for about 4-6 weeks but honestly there is something that happens under those lights. I'm sure this is similar to what happy lights do that you can purchase for your home. Good luck!

  21. Several years ago, I laughed out loud and felt simultaneously comforted and buoyed while reading one of your blog posts, in which you wrote something along the lines of "winter with boys is hard." I had two sons at that time...now I have four! If I was going through winter alone it would not be that bad, but trying to wear my four active boys out during a rainy and cold NC winter is so challenging for me. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you I love reading here and have gotten so many good ideas for my boys from you. xoxo

  22. Hi Sarah! I know how you feel about the winter, and this one is particularly awful because last year my 2 year old had cancer. He’s in remission now which I am so grateful for but the memories of last year are haunting. I’m sure you can relate. One thing that helps me is to kind of embrace the cold. I pull out all of our warm blankets, wear soft wool socks and cozy clothes, light beeswax candles everywhere all day long, make hearty meals that are only satisfying on a dark and blustery day. I took up knitting which has been a fun cold-weather hobby. Light a fire in the fireplace if you have one. Make a list of projects you want to do before summer so you can really enjoy it! And if you haven’t already, invest in high quality outerwear. Makes all the difference! I hope you can make lovely new memories with your family this year in the wake of your battle with that wretched disease!

  23. Hi Sarah, I live in San Diego, but not near the beach. I live East and it is hot, hot, hot here. For instance this Friday it is projected to be 90 and we can always add 5 degrees to whatever the meteorologist predicts. In the fall the mornings and evenings are cool but it isn't out of the norm to be in the 90's or 100 on Halloween. I HATE the heat. I didn't grow up here and I want seasons. In the winter the highs are in the 80's and we rarely see rain. Sometimes the Santa Ana's come and we are in the 90's again. Two weeks ago it rained for about an hour and we actually had thunder and lightning, because of a hurricane off of Mexico. You should have seen the neighborhood....so many coming out under their porches to watch. We stayed inside and just stared out the window, watching. It was AWESOME. We very rarely get any weather other than hot. Sigh. I was told being down from lack of sun is a thing but I think being down from sun and heat 24/7 is a thing too and I have it. I am turning my attitude around this year too. I am grateful for each morning I wake up and will embrace each day as we aren't promised tomorrow. I still light my yummy candles during Fall and Winter even when the sun is blazing because it makes me happy and hopeful for some clouds and cooler weather. I wish you and your family the best when you are hunkered down this winter.

  24. I have always loved fall and winter, and I think, for me, it's the idea of Sabbath. A respite from the happy chaos that the other seasons bring and a forced slowing down. time to sew a cozy blanket and try out some new flavors of tea and snuggle close under a blanket with my loves. Our family seems to be on the go during the other times of the year, but I find a great deal of beauty in the laying bare and starkness of our surroundings. It's the same way I feel about Lent. There is beauty in the tradition and pomp and excitement, but there is also beauty in the quiet, cold, harder times. I hope you find some blessings in this coming season!

  25. Hi Sarah. I like winter, mostly because of the snow if we are lucky, as I love cross-country skiing and sledging with the kids, or just walking outside. But it is quite dark here where we live far up in North, so these are the things that help me keep up the spirit through the darkness:
    - spending time outside in the morning and in the middle of the day, even if for a short time at lunchtime during the week, and on longer walks in nature at weekends
    - doing some exercise, preferably outdoors, even when it is dark (walking, running, cycling - yes, even on snow; skiing, sledging with kids or playing on snow, skating on ice), but also indoors (yoga - both dynamic, but also restorative)
    - early bedtimes
    - meditation (preferably in the morning)
    - going out to concerts, theater, shows, cinemas, some with kids, dinners with friends or my husband
    - watching fun talk shows on TV which make me lough a lot, and nice or funny movies
    - sauna, massage and self-massage and hot baths with nice scents now and then
    - playing music and singing
    - essential oils and scented candles
    - cleaning up
    - drop-in dancing classes or just dancing at home with kids and doing silly and funny moves
    - a lot of rest, letting go

    I hope you will find your groove.

  26. I hate being cold! I lived in Florida for a couple of years and always felt almost giddy with happiness each time I stepped outside in flip flops in the winter.

    The past couple of winters we have used a heated mattress pad on our bed. I turn it on to heat up before I get ready for bed. When I climb in my bed it's so toasty and warm! Much better than icy cold sheets. It's great because each half of the bed has its own control, so my husband, who tolerates the cold better than I do, can leave his off or set it to a lower temperature. I usually turn it off after laying in bed for a minute, because I wake up too hot with it on in the night, but on extremely cold nights I do leave it on the lowest setting.

    I also invested in wool socks, cute slippers, and a warm jacket to wear around the house so I can add and remove layers as needed but not feel frumpy. I also wear fleece thermal bottoms on cold days under my jeans and they really keep me cozy.

    Another thing I started last year was using electric candles on timers, and lamps plugged into timers. Having cozy lights come on as soon as it gets dark enough without having to walk all over turning them on was nice.

    One other thing I don't like about the cold is getting in the shower! So now I plug a small space heater in the bathroom to warm it up before I get in!