It is so easy for the weather to affect your mood. I know that back in Canada, if you didn’t stay positive and focus on the wonderful aspects of winter, you’d feel blue the minute the clock struck midnight on January 2nd, ending the white Christmas holidays and beginning the bleak slog through January, February and March.
Here in Silicon Valley, the weather is amazing all year long. It rarely gets below 10 degrees Celsius and with the drought happening the past 4 years, winter means sunny with a chance of showers about 15 days/year.
This year we are definitely getting more rainfall than anything I’ve seen since moving here 2.5 years ago. A few weeks of grey, rainy days and you’re bound to be moody.
Over the holidays my wonderful mother-in-law told me how growing up on the farm, rain was something to celebrate. Rainy day blues didn’t exist. When she was raising my husband in town, she was determined to continue to celebrate rain and make sure her kids enjoyed rainy days just as much as sunny days. They would go for walks in the rain, splashing in puddles and looking for worms.
In thinking about this more, I remember my mom doing something similar – at least once on a rainy day, we went for a picnic – in our living room! It probably was no big deal. My mom probably just pulled some leftovers out of the fridge, threw them in a backpack and sat with us on the floor while we ate cold macaroni one rainy day when she was losing her mind with cooped up toddlers – but it is a special memory of a rainy day.
It does not rain often in California, so when it does, I want to celebrate it with Devon and take him outside to enjoy it. So in the spirit of adventure, we went for our morning walk and rejoiced in the rain!
We went home to Alberta, Canada for DK’s first Christmas. We were home for three weeks and it was wonderful to see family and friends, eat at favourite restaurants, and see familiar sights.
As much as I miss living in Alberta and I say that California’s lack of seasons makes it sub-par to Canada…now that I’ve done winter with a baby, I can honestly say I don’t want to move home until my kids are out of car seats.
So for moments when I am so homesick it hurts, here is a list of things I don’t miss about Canada:
1. Worrying about road conditions
Sure, in the Bay Area we plan our travel around rush hour traffic. But in Canada, you plan your travel around whether the highways will be closed due to blizzards, freezing rain, high winds, black ice…
2. Worrying about whether the baby is warm enough.
I leave the house in California without checking the temperature outside. Sometimes this means my baby is a bit underdressed…but even underdressed DK is not going to die in 10 degree Celsius weather. Not the case in -20C.
3. Pushing grocery carts across snowy parking lots.
I hate hate hated doing this when I lived here. I still don’t understand why we don’t put bike tires on our shopping carts. It would make it so much easier.
4. Pushing old-ass weathered broken rusty shopping carts through the grocery store.
The wheels are ALWAYS jammed with mud and gravel and crap from pushing them around a snowy parking lot.
5. Pushing a stroller through a snowy parking lot.
6. Not having the leisure of changing DK’s diaper in the back hatch of the truck.
Seriously, how do Canadian moms change diapers on the go?! There are hardly ever change tables where you need them and my fallback option of changing DK’s diaper in the back hatch of our Outback would probably be considered child abuse in the cold Canadian winter air.
7. Car seats in the winter.
I would probably not leave my house for months at a time if I lived here over winter again with a kid in a car seat. You can’t put them in a warm snow suit in the car seat anymore because the straps can’t get tight enough. Getting DK out of the house, into the cold car seat without a snowsuit on him is
Miserable. He cries every time.
8. Grocery prices
We are so lucky to live so close to where most of our food is grown. Buying groceries in Canada easily adds $50 to your bill, doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for a day or a week’s worth of groceries.
9.Plugging in the car.
No, we don’t have an electric vehicle, but we still have to plug it in on frigid nights to keep the battery acid from freezing. One of the worst stomach sinking feelings is when you are cozy in bed and you realize, “damnit, it’s going down to -31C tonight? Gotta go outside and plug in the car.” Might be worse than when you’re just snuggling down in bed to go to sleep and the baby wakes up. Might be.
10. Shoving baby hands into baby mitts.
Why is it that when a baby has your hair in its clutch, that fist is clenched so tight, but when you’re trying to shove their hands into a baby mitt, they spread their fingers as wide as possible so that their thumb just won’t go in without bending backwards?
So on a positive endnote, you know how they say from desperation comes innovation? Behold my greatest invention!
Crocheted booties with a soft string that attaches them together and goes up DK’s pant legs. Put the booties on, then the pants and voila! Booties that don’t fall off. I know, genius right?
I recently finished reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. It was a well-timed read as I have a 6-month-old son and after 2.5 years out of the workforce waiting for my green card as an H4 visa spouse, I am soon going to earn my work permit. But I’m not going back to work.
The Lean-In lover in me is like “What?! Not going back to work?! You rocked at work. You took the work world by storm. You would kick ass at work in the culture in Silicon Valley.”
But I don’t want to go back to work and I’m fortunate enough that our financial situation allows me to make that choice. I never in a million years thought that I’d be so invested in or dedicated to another person. I didn’t go through 9 months of pregnancy, 17 hours of labour, 90 minutes of pushing, 6 stitches and 6+ months of breastfeeding so that someone else could find out the kind of things he finds funny or see the look of disgust on his face when he tries a new food only to open his mouth and beg for more a few bites later. I want to be there for all his moments – the good, the bad and the ugly.
I am happy at home, but I enjoyed reading Rubin’s memoir of her second happiness project and making her home a happier place.
One thing that stuck with me is the idea of assigning a theme to the year. Since moving to the Bay Area 2 and a half years ago, I’ve explored very little of it without my husband. I don’t know why…I used to check out new things by myself in my hometown of Calgary all the time. I went out to dinner alone to try a new restaurant, I took a tour of an old cemetery alone, I went to a weekend festival alone. Maybe it’s because I had lived in Calgary my whole life and I knew it like the back of my hand; There weren’t an overwhelming number of places left to explore, so when something new came along, I wanted to check it out. When I moved to the Bay Area, living away for the first time in my life – everything was new. Every time I left my apartment I was exploring something new…and it was just exhausting. I don’t consider myself a very adventurous person. Sure, I like novelty sometimes, but I’d rather re-watch Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time then go see a new movie in the theaters.
Inspired by Rubin’s example, I decided to explore more of my environment and assigned the theme of Adventure to 2017. I want my son to experience so many things in the world, and I am energized to explore the world with him because he’s seeing it all for the first time.
Some specific goals to bring about this theme of adventure in my life include:
Check out one new place in the Bay Area each week. It might just be driving a different route home, shopping at a different grocery store, or taking DK to a different playground.But I also want to check out some of the local tourist attractions that I haven’t seen yet and be a tourist:
Ano Nuevo state park
Big Basin Redwoods Park
Winchester Mystery House
The Lace Museum, Sunnyvale
Emma Prusch Farm
San Jose flea market
Ed R. Levin County Park
Alameda Quicksilver County Park
Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont
Try a new recipe or cooking technique at least once per month. This month we’ve bought a sous-vide cooker and have been experimenting cooking meat with it. I will never bake a chicken breast again.
Check out TACO, the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra. I’ve been meaning to attend their monthly gathering for a while now. I’ve been playing violin since I was a child and I miss having a reason to play it, but I’ve been so hesitant to show up at TACO because what if it’s terrible? But that’s the point – it’s supposed to be terrible. A fun, casual relaxing place to play music together – being perfect isn’t the point. So yes, I’m going to do it. Their first session is January 29th, so check back for an update on how that goes!