Tag Archives: resolutions

This Crazy, Beautiful Life

My seven-year-old daughter was given a homework assignment to complete over the winter break. She was asked to reflect on her greatest accomplishments of 2016 and develop a list of goals for the coming year.

Well, with a trip to Spain over the holidays, her homework was pushed aside until the very last moment. As the clock ticked away the final hours of our vacation, my daughter frantically picked up her sparkly blue pencil and rushed to work. Her answers were honest and, even with the time crunch, contemplative. She was proud of several successes in 2016: how hard she had worked in school and the fact that she had begun reading chapter books; her commitment to ballet and gymnastics which kept her active and strong throughout the year; and her go-with-the-flow attitude which served her well as she traveled to new places, making friends along the way. Her hopes for 2017 were simple, yet earnest: audition for a role in the Nutcracker ballet; read 9 books a day; learn more about animals and science so she may become a veterinarian one day; and continue to spend time with her two favorite people, mom and dad. That one was my favorite, of course.

I found her assignment inspiring. My daughter was setting goals based on her interests and growth over the previous year. She approached the exercise from a place of abundance. Oftentimes, as adults we start the new year reflecting on our perceived deficiencies – I need to do more of this, loose some of that – be different than who I am today. It is too bad, because a long the way we forget to build upon the unique strengths we already possess. And wouldn’t that be a kinder way to enter a new year?

Taking a cue from my little one, I’ve decided to use 2017 as an opportunity to set a very personal goal focused on that which I value most in this world. My family.

My goal for 2017:

Simple. I will continue to prioritize my family above all else. We will go sledding when it snows, spend Sundays making messy art projects, plant our vegetable garden in spring, travel over holiday breaks, and invite more friends into our home. We won’t wait for moments to celebrate, instead we will celebrate the little moments. And I will continue to share them here. I am also using our crazy, beautiful life as the inspiration for a book about family traditions that I will complete this year.

Dear 2016: you weren’t the easiest year – we had our ups and downs. But in the end, I thank you for the time and the tremendous memories. Here are some of my favorites…

Mara
Mara enjoying public art in Montreal
Hello Kitty
Our little one eyeing up the treats in China Town
Family Time in Nature
Enjoying a nature hike through Milwaukee’s botanical gardens
Riding the Waves
Aunt Masha and Uncle Seth taking our daughter for a ride on Lake Tahoe
Wading in the Water
Our little one braving the cold Tahoe water
A case of the sillies
My mother and brother sharing a moment in San Francisco
mara-seth
Celebrating my brother’s wedding in New Orleans
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Kevin
Speaking of weddings, celebrating 12 years of marriage with the love of my life
Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
Spending the holidays in Barcelona
Playground 1
Enjoying a small park in Spain

My family was the inspiration for starting this blog. Entertaining Family allows me to document our adventures and the nuggets of wisdom we learn along the way. Writing about the people in my life brings me joy and I am so grateful to have a place to share my reflections. Thank you for sharing this space with me.

 

5 Fun Ways to Stay Active This Winter

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I remember looking forward to the snow! There was something magical about that first dusting and the promises it brought: sledding trips, ice skating on frozen ponds, building snow forts with my family, and best of all, unplanned days off of school, famously known as “snow days”.

As I grew into adulthood, somehow the snow lost much of its appeal and became more of a nuisance. There were responsibilities that came with snow….shoveling, driving safely along unplowed streets, and getting to work on time in two feet of slush (even if the schools HAD declared it a “snow day”). Somehow, as an adult, the cold seemed harsher and the winters longer, and I forgot about its magic. But like most things in life, it’s cyclical. Now I have a child and I love the snow again – go figure!

Winter might get you excited or it might drive you nuts. I’m not sure where you fall on the spectrum, but one thing is certain: getting outside and staying active is good for our health and longevity, even during the winter months. It’s also true that if we can find fun outdoor activities to participate in, we are more likely to enjoy winter. So while it might be tempting to stay in by the fire sipping wine and eating comforting food, it’s a good idea to get outside and explore.

Today, I’m sharing five really wonderful activities that help me stay active in winter. In the spirit of the new year (and for the millions who resolve to get healthier in 2016), here is a little inspiration to get you outside having fun!

Of course, it might go without saying, but part of enjoying the cold months is having appropriate winter gear. So, if you live in a place that gets long stretches of cold weather, make sure you invest in a waterproof, insulated jacket, snow pants, boots, and all of the accessories that will allow you to enjoy yourself. It makes a huge difference!

Winter Hikes

The trails that you enjoy hiking in summer are just as beautiful in winter – though they take on a new appeal. Nature that was once full of animal sounds and colorful vegetation is now hushed and monochromatic. Hiking becomes challenging in new ways, as you have to navigate uncleared paths or the occasional icy stretch. But it’s worth it. So put on your boots or snowshoes, and get out into nature.

If you’re walking with children, make sure to get them bundled in layers – my daughter is usually cold in the beginning, but then heats up along the way. One strategy we use to keep her engaged on long hikes, is to have her find animal tracks in the snow. We love following deer and rabbit prints to see where they will lead us.

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Ice Skating

Skating reminds me of my childhood. My dad used to take me all of the time as a kid…he was great on the ice. He’d skate forward and backward, impress me with spins and tight turns, and use his blades to stop quickly, making shards of ice fly through the air. It was fun to watch. On the other hand, my skills were – and have always remained – very basic. I can go forward…and that’s about the extent of it. However, my mom always made adorable pom-poms to tie on my toes…which made me look like I was a better figure skater than I actually was (check out the killer ones below).

As an adult, skating is a great form of exercise. Before you even set foot on the ice, the act of balancing on thin blades engages muscles throughout your body (some you may have never felt before). Second, the faster you go, the more aerobic the workout. Third, the more you fall, the more you engage your core – so have fun! It’s all good.

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Sledding

For some reason, I stopped sledding after my senior year of high school. I wish I hadn’t. It is SO MUCH FUN and such a great workout. Now that I have a child, it is something that I look forward to on snowy days. There is nothing like whizzing down a snow-covered hill with the wind blowing in our faces, and then trudging back up to the top to start all over again.

If you’re like me, and you outgrew sledding, try it again! Buy a saucer, or grab a cookie sheet from your kitchen and get out on the hills. You will have a ball.

Sledding

Skiing

I find skiing to be an introspective and meditative activity. Whether you are going cross-country or downhill, it is a solitary sport that connects you to nature. As a kid, I would go downhill skiing every winter with a big group of rowdy friends, but once I was on top of the hill, the only thing that mattered was the swish of my skis, the expanse of my thoughts, and the beauty of the trail I was following. My dad was a great skier and would faithfully take us to the hills every winter. I nicknamed him “Sven” as he would, even in his senior years, easily glide past me with the stature of a Nordic olympian.

The thought of downhill skiing can be intimidating for some first-timers, but all hills offer introductory lessons to get you on your way. And if you spend the whole day on the bunny hill, you’re still reaping the rewards.

Dad skiing

Taking a break at the bottom of the hill

Playing Like a Kid

Get outside and build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or use watercolors to paint the snow. Don’t think about who’s watching. The other night, I was going for a walk through my neighborhood when I found a piece of ice on the sidewalk. I was kicking it and running after it for three or four blocks, pretending that it was a soccer ball.

There is nothing that can bring out your inner-child like the snow. Think about what you liked doing most as a kid, and then get outside and make it happen.

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You're never too old to make snow angels

What wintertime activities are your favorites?

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out A Hike in the Snow.