And it begins . . .

>> 11.26.2014

Talk about a perfect storm. We were already planning to stay put for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. And now -- regardless -- we’re looking at snow between six and ten inches. Winter has surely begun, and though I have my struggles -- I really do love the snow.


Check out this view!



I’ve been having a lot of fun decorating the house for Christmas. We now live in a colonial style home that was built in the 1950s. Exactly like the house I grew up in! So, I went out and bought “the essentials” that I remember from my childhood. Wreaths for the windows and front door, candles, and a lit garland. I don’t want to go crazy with lights this year, but I think it looks wonderful.

Inside, too, we’re getting festive.


We’ll be venturing to a local tree farm to get our very first live tree on Friday. Otherwise, I’m hanging lights and banners and stockings and more garlands throughout. I’ll share more photos when it’s all done. I also took some time to make an advent calendar. We’ve never done one, but when I saw a pair of plantation shutters that we took down in the kitchen just sitting on the basement floor -- I thought they’d work well for this kind of project.

The best part? I used stuff we already had around -- so it was essentially free to make. We’ll hang the ornaments and things on the tree. There area few blank spaces that I intend to fill with Hershey kisses.

Here’s a closer look:


So, the snow has begun, the holidays, too, and we’re feeling quite cheery. I bought all the food to make our vegetarian feast this morning and it was over two weeks of our grocery budget (oops!!!), so I can’t wait to share all that stuff, too.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 

(Pssst: Here are some more things I’ve thankful for.)

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Early Thanks

>> 11.24.2014

I haven’t been a good mom lately.


And I don’t mean this in some dramatic, all-consuming guilt-fest kind of way. I’ve just been very preoccupied with myself and my stress and things I can’t control, really. I’ve missed some special moments getting all tangled up in the darkness. I don’t blame me, but I need to check myself every now and again. Don’t we all? Today, I am saying an early THANKS for some gorgeous sunshine and warm weather. With all the SAD ahead, I needed the boost. It was a beautiful day to bust out and enjoy, despite even more disappointment and confusion (guess).

Is it weird to feel like I want to write a love letter to my child? Obviously I’ll save the gushy, personal stuff for an actual keepsake in her memory box. Whether it’s this age (which has its major challenges, I won’t deny) or just getting over the past year or just getting used to this parenting gig more and more . . . I don’t know. We’re in a groove. And the groove is good. I think preschool is helping both of us, and our relationship is growing and changing and deepening. I’ll elaborate more when I can wrap my head around it better.

Words are hard sometimes.

Also thanks to parents! My own drove up for the day to visit, hang with Ada, and lift my spirits. What would we do without family. Seriously! Stephen and I are sad we don’t live closer to our sets -- but we’re thankful they’re mostly only a car drive away. Looking forward to this season filled with family and friends. We get so ambitious with all the stuff we want to accomplish and see and do, so I’m hoping we can simplify this year and get at the heart of it all -- the people. (Though I did start some Christmas shopping today, and man do I enjoy a good shop!)

Speaking of friends, let’s hear it for friends. We had retreated from most of ours, and I can’t quite figure out why. The move to the new house was pretty soul-sucking, but that’s no excuse. We’re making more of an effort to cast off those hermit ways, and it’s really quite wonderful. I’ll share some of our weekend tomorrow, but it didn’t feel right giving you some recap of our activities when I had something else singing in my heart tonight.

It’s a week of gratitude. Even though we shouldn’t need some holiday to feel it in our bones, it’s nice to have a slot written in on the calendar. A pinned reminder to take a look around and appreciate the goodness we have, the things we’ve worked for, and the people we love.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

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SAD About Seasonal Change

>> 11.20.2014

I’m one of those people who complains about the seasonal changes when it means cold and darkness descend on my hometown. I actually love snow and the holidays, but the lack of sunlight hours can do quite a number on my mood. Usually by mid-January, I’m operating on particularly low energy levels with some marked irritability that I really have to work at so it doesn’t take complete hold of me. Can anyone relate?


Obviously, I am referring to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and I’ve lived in the same two hour radius my entire life, so it’s nothing new to me. However, we now live in a particularly cloudy region of the area (by actual data measuring days with/without sun -- we have around 212 cloudy days per year), so even when it truly is day, you’d barely know it. We had a particularly sunny and warm year when Ada was first born, and whether it was the hormones or the sun or whatever else -- I felt like a totally different person. Then back into the darkness ever since.

Versus waiting for the inevitable to set in this year, I’m trying a few new things.


Trekking Outdoors


It can be tempting to retreat when the temperature plummet. I also like running in the evenings when the sun is down. Anyway, I’m going to make an effort to go outside more when the sun does show his face. Though I usually use mornings for work, I was thinking of adding a morning walk to my routine if I can swing it. Moving around separate from my usual exercise routine simply for the purpose of getting out there, breathing in the fresh air, and seeing light.

Skipping Carbs


OK. Not entirely. But you guys know I’m currently working on my sugar + protein intake and trying to choose more carefully when it comes to sugar and carbs. SAD actually exacerbates cravings for carbs, and I imagine after a while it’s hard to tell if the low energy is from sugar crashing or the disorder. So, foods rich in vitamin D and omega-3s have been shown to help. Vitamin D supplementation, on the other hand, doesn’t have strong research for helping, but my prenatal vitamin has 100% of the daily requirement, just in case.

Trying a Light Box


I know these Light Therapy Boxes are old news, but I am definitely intrigued to see if one might help -- the entire family. To use, you aim to sit with the box at eye level for 30 minutes each morning. I have a light on my Christmas list, so I’ll report back. Here’s more about Light Therapy from Dr. Weil.

Exercising Often


Getting outside is part of exercise, but I know that isn’t always possible (last year’s several sub -20 degree windchill days, I’m talking to you!). So, I’m hoping to get into a good groove with indoor workouts that I can do when running or walking isn’t so much a possibility. I always feel better after a workout with all the endorphins. Even short bursts can be beneficial.

Setting Sleep Time


When I feel the worst, I have trouble falling asleep at night. My bedtime creeps later and later, getting me totally off schedule and creating more exhaustion on top of all the other issues. So, I’m going to try to get into bed by 10:30 each night and get up at 6 to maximize my hours of sunlight each day. I also have found -- at least myself -- that when I get up earlier, I feel better and gain more opportunities to exercise, be outdoors, and do the other things that help combat SAD.

Seeing a Doctor


If I do these things and don’t see much improvement this year, I might check in with my doctor to see if everything’s alright. Last year I had my blood checked for thyroid issues (along with a host of other things) and it all came out clear and completely normal. Then the spring/summer rolled around and my “symptoms” magically went away. My mom is also very much impacted by SAD, and studies have shown that the disorder can run in families. So, who knows.

Are you impacted by SAD?

What are some natural ways you’ve worked at combatting the symptoms? I also would love to schedule a warm weather trip for the deepest part of winter, but it’s not realistic for us right now. I remember having a huge boost from traveling South when I was younger!

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