Saturday, January 04, 2014

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

I'm sitting here, writing you from my cozy bed, where I've been for the past two hours trying to stay warm! Currently it is 10 degrees out, but with the windchill it's only - 3! NEGATIVE THREE DEGREES! That's kind of cold, especially when you live in a 150 year old house that's insulated with STRAW AND NEWSPAPER .  So I'm feeling very chilly.

Although, maybe it's not as bad as I make it out to be.....half the house is modern construction with normal insulation and the attic was given a thick layer of insulation before we moved in too.  And we've had the fireplace in the family room going on the coldest days all day long. And I keep the thermostat set at 72. And I'm wearing a flannel nightgown and these slippers that are designed to be tiny sleeping bags......
So maybe I'm being a bit dramatic about how chilly it is in here. Maybe I need to get out of bed now.

Actually, I'm very worried because we're supposed to be getting the "coldest arctic outbreak in the midwest since the 1990's." I'm worried about people and animals who might be without homes. Jon and I are looking into ways to heat the feral cat shelter that he and Noah built, and ways to keep the water that we put out for the cat from freezing. I'm really concerned though. If I thought I could get the cat to come in and spend a night in our bathroom or the small den, I totally would. Luckily, he looks hearty and hopefully he's using the insulated cat house underneath our deck. It's quite shielded from most of the elements down there. I can't stop thinking about him though. I want to do more to help!

 Along with cold comes snow. We've had quite a bit of it these past couple few days. I LOVE SNOW! I don't even mind driving in it as long as it seems like the car can make it safely. I understand though, whole-heartedly how so many people can dislike this season's weather. It's not easy to navigate, but I just happen to really enjoy it. Yesterday a friend and I were talking about people becoming depressed in the dark and cold fall and winter months. I remarked that I'm actually the opposite. When spring comes on I become blue because it means that you have to leave your house more often and become social! Lol. That sounds so wrong, but it's true!

Do you know Stay Home Club!? 
Finally, people who understand me!!! It was life changing when I found them. 

Where was I? That was a tangent.... Oh! So I just love all of this weather so much. It actually makes it ok to stay home and hang out! Woo! And the snow is beautiful. 
But guess what? Guess what we are supposed to get tomorrow...!!!!!!???? A SNOW STORM!!!!!!
Here, where I live in Michigan, we are expected to possibly get up to 8-12" and even as much as 15" in some spots!!! I'm telling you, IF we get 15" I am going to go outside and jump up and down and build an igloo and build a snowman and go sledding and go crazy. It would be so awesome!

One thing that comes with this weather though, and living here is THIS all night long. See those plows on the front going scraaaaaaaaaape? I wake up over and over during the night. It's so loud, as is the early morning snow plow that plows for the church and plows the sidewalks around the buildings. I can't complain I supposed, I chose to move here, and  it's keeping the roads and walkways safe. I just don't get much sleep!

I'm behind on posting, so I thought I'd just do a very quick recap of what's been going on in a nutshell. For one thing, I've been wearing my new flannel nightgown every night. (Of course I've been washing it a bunch too.) It's actually getting more soft and comfortable each time that I do!

I remembered that I have the Photo Both program on my computer, so I took a picture with Jon because he's also wearing flannel, but his is only a shirt. Poor Jon, everyone should be clothed in flannel from head to toe.

Christmas was nice. Noah went to bed quite quickly on Christmas Eve, as soon as we came home from looking at the lights. BUT..... then he woke up at MIDNIGHT! And again at 1:00am. Ugh. He went back to sleep, but finally at 5:45am I awoke to find him staring at me. I'd told Noah any time after 6:00am, thinking that he'd at least sleep until 7:00, but this morning he just couldn't wait. So, we got up.

Here's Noah walking in to see if Santa had left him anything!

Since we also celebrate Chanukah, Jon and I usually only give Noah a gift or two from "Santa". This year wear also got him a couple of additional small things from us as well. I wrapped the gifts from Santa in what I thought looked like "real" North Pole wrappings!

At the North Pole, I think they use brown paper and red twine and a few sparkly decorations.
Noah's stocking also had some small toys and a ton of chocolate in it, which, I might or might not have eaten over the course of the week.. Errrr, sorry Noah. 

Here is one of the gifts from Santa. A BMO stuffed toy! 

I think Hector enjoyed Christmas too.

Have I mentioned "Awesome" yet!? Awesome the opossum! Meet Awesome. He usually comes waddling up the deck stairs after dark to eat the feral cat's leftovers. He is the opposite of the cat, he is too unafraid of us! Awesome comes right up to the window and looks at us. He's fearless. I PROMISE you, I will never ever ever open our back door or go near Awesome out of caution, but did you know that opossums kind of get a bad rap? 
Contrary to what I thought, opossums are eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs. They're mostly just more bark than bite. They might hiss, but when worse comes to worse they "play dead". 
Anyway, I'm not saying you should start hanging out with opossums, I'm just saying that I'm ok with letting Awesome have some of the leftovers once in a while. 

Willow had no idea what to think. Eventually she found him to be boring and moved along.

I on the other hand am obsessed with awesome! I even took a "selfie" with him. I'm a little concerned though, because while I saw him once a few days ago at the bottom of the stairs, I haven't seen him come up since. Hope he's ok. The snow is taller than he is, it must be hard.

There has been some good birding going on over here! 
If this part is boring for you, you can just skip it. Although, if you've already gotten through the opossum stuff,  then it's safe to assume that you're unusually patient person.

I wanted to share this picture of a Tufted Titmouse that I took. This little bird is so inquisitive! They're always looking right at the camera and coming up close. I just love them.

And here is a collage of a few that have been around the feeder.... the nimble and fearless Black Capped Chickadee, the sweet female Cardinal, and the cutest American Goldfinch.

On New Years day I almost jumped through the roof with excitement when I saw this bird. I THOUGHT it was a new species to our yard! I was flipping out! In fact, I was so determined to get a photos and figure out what kind of bird he was, that I stayed hunched under the windows for an hour, trying not to move more than when my hands needed to focus and snap a picture. In the end.....guess was just a regular Starling in his winter plumage. I don't know how it took me so long to realize that! Then the whole flock came and the other birds flew away!

Did you know that in the winter time, Cardinals usually forge in flocks of a dozen to several dozen!? It is not uncommon to see up to 20 Cardinals in my yard at once. It's AMAZING!

Noah has started to enjoy taking pictures with my camera. Here is one that he snapped of me bird watching one morning.  We are both "morning people."  I can rarely sleep past 7:00.  Noah's the same. I realized that we also have the same morning ritual. We do it without thinking. The first thing that each of us does after waking, is walk into the family room, sit on the couch and stare out the windows. Something about nature I think. It's just so nice.

Noah also took these portraits of Willow and Hector.

This was Willow this morning. She always lays on top of our laundry hamper in the sun.

What did you spend your holiday break doing? We did this! A couple of weeks ago I took an entire day and sorted through one bajillion Legos. Most were from old sets. Tiny pieces jumbled together for a long time. I separated each piece by color and put them into Ziploc bags. That way, when ready, we could re-make some of the sets! It actually worked out quite well. We spent the entire first of the year, building Lego sets together as a family. It was wonderful to do that while sitting by the fire. Although, I must be getting old because sitting on the floor all day was not exactly not painful. 

We built the Night Bus, Hagrid's Hut and Hogwarts from the Harry Potter sets. Noah made the Coast Guard set from his Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle Bill last week. He also made three Lego Minecraft sets which are really neat, and a Lego tree house from my parents. After that we also put together a couple of K'next sets, one from Lady & Zaydeh! Oh, and a Mega blocks set. It was a TON of work! Phew!
There is still a Lego mine to re-build and some Lego Sponge Bob and a couple of small Harry potter sets. My goal is to make them. I think I'm actually into Legos now! ;)

At the end of New Year's day we cleaned up. The Lego bins were put away, the holiday decorations taken down. Things were back to normal, quiet, cozy. Noah went to bed and Jon ran outside to put the garbage out for trash day. I came back into the room to turn off the fire and turn off the lights. I sat down on the table (as one may do in MY family room!), and looked out the windows. It was snowing big, puffy snowflakes and the night was incredibly still. 

Something came over me. It was this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Of course I've been grateful many times before, but this was something different, something all consuming. I sat on that table and started tearing up, thinking about how lucky I was to be in that cozy room, having just spent the day with my family, and how awe inspiringly beautiful the peaceful night was.
 I had everything that I ever needed.

Two things have come from this odd, little life-changing moment of total gratitude. One is that gratitude conquers all fear. It conquers all of anything! I'd been worrying (of course) moments before sitting down in the family room, and for those few brief minutes, my worry disappeared. I was too focused on the feeling of being thankful. It was after that, that this sentence: "Gratitude conquers fear." popped into my head. Isn't that amazing though? It's true if you think about it! Nothing is bigger than gratitude. You might say love but I feel that love and thankfulness are very related.

And the second thing that I've come to see is that if you're grateful for what you have, then there is no need to always be off chasing the next bigger or better dream. You can waste so much living in the present for that. I think it's good to have goals and to strive for things, but on a macro level, enjoying what you've got at the moment can be so rewarding.

Like enjoying the little things.

Well, the next couple of days will be busy with getting ready for the week to come and trying to weather the snow storm! WILL we have a snow day on Monday???? I don't know!
One thing I do know is that come Monday, I have a bunch of catch-up work to do from this long holiday break. The house needs a deep-clean and I've got a long list of groceries to buy. It'll be nice to get back into the swing of things though. I love it!

So, until next time, stay warm!


Loulou said...

I just have to say that I laughed right out loud when I read the part about the selfie with the opusum. You are so funny and must have Noah and Jon laughing all day long.

And I want a flock of cardinals in my yard too! Nick and I have talked about putting out a feeder after reading up on how to properly go about it here in Toronto.

Lauren said...

Wait, whaaaaaat? It's not normal to tak selfless with opossum in Canada? ;)

Thanks Loulou! I couldn't help myself. Jon and Noah laugh, but I'm sure that I can also be annoying too!

Yes! A bird feeder! Oh I hope you are able. They're so much fun. It's really been a great hobby, and relaxing too!

Thank Loulou!!!! xoxoxo