Fluffy, white, sparkling, heavy snow, blanketing our home. I'm writing this from a town buried under two-ish feet of snow. We've gotten so much snow in the past week and a half, far more than I can remember in a very long time.

I mention the snow, since it sets the mood for our winter life. It shapes how we spend our time, and it changes both the view and the landscape out our windows. It's been awhile since I wrote a little post about what life is like lately, so I thought I'd include one here:

Playing outside, just about every day. Sometimes that playtime looks like helping me or Nicholas shovel, or we meet friends to play outside, or I pull Cooper around on a sled that our friends generously let us borrow (a sled and a snowblower are top of the list for must-haves for next winter, ahem). We frequently walk to the little park down the street, making the only set of tracks in new snow. The fresh, crisp air and sunshine are refreshing in more ways than one. And Cooper's smile when he's in the sled!

Friends visiting, back in mid-January. Our friends Lauren and Casey visited with their new baby girl! Oh, how normal and good it felt to have them stay in our guest room. We drank coffee, cooked meals, snuggled their darling little girl, talked about life. And watched lazy snowfall through the kitchen window. They brought wonderful little treats for us, too! A loaf of wonderful gluten free sourdough (local to them), a spiralizer that we now use all the time, a deodorant that I absolutely love, and other little thoughtful things. In the morning, we woke up to a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, and coffee, prepared and ready, and our favorite jazzy playlist in the background. Oh, what a treat that was to eat a hot breakfast dears friends prepared. I loved seeing Cooper interact with their little girl too. He gave her little kisses and was just generally fascinated by her (and he still is, whenever he sees a photo of her). One photo we took captured his huge smile when they were sitting close enough to each other for him to wrap his little arm around her. I can't put into words how moving it was for our babies to meet. So good for my heart.

As if we weren't already devoted to the practice of fika, we've been drinking tea every night. My latest favorite is Tazo Refresh Mint. I've enjoyed it since I was a college freshman, picking it up from shops on Purdue's campus, burning my mouth while I tried to sip and hurry to class. I like it best with a splash of this creamer. The vanilla and mint makes it taste less like tea with milk and more like a tea latte. Or, I suppose I could just say it tastes more special.

I'm still knitting most every day, of course, sneaking a few rows during naptime, or if that doesn't happen, I usually knit after Cooper goes to bed. I finished and mailed off a cabled hat to my grandma (my ravelry page with all the details is linked), and since she's now received it (and it fits!) I can share a photo here. I'm still working on my stripey socks (nearing the toe on the second sock), I'm knit about 9" of my nurtured sweater body, and I cast on some little wool socks for Cooper.

Dressing for warmth and comfort, including long underwear and sweaters and sometimes a borrowed Patagonia vest from Nicholas. Wearing handknit sweaters and hats and cowls and scarves.

Enjoying Cooper's adoration for anything bird- or bear-related. Both make him squeal withe delight on a daily basis. We hung a bird feeder in a spot visible from our kitchen window and the birds found it, just in the last week or so. We are reading Our Songbirds: A Songbird for Every Week of the Year, each week and Cooper loves the illustrations. It's a beautiful book. And ever since he received a bear from my parents for our belated Christmas, Cooper has been attached to him.

Other things we've been enjoying lately: watching the snow fall from inside or outside, eating (clean) snow, coloring with markers, helping me with meal prep in the kitchen, and "mopping" with his toy mop. He uses his mama's helper to reach the counter and help with all sorts of tasks. I try to include him in things he can do successfully, like transferring cut veggies to a prepared baking sheet, whisking batter, or helping me turn the crank on the spiralizer. It's so fun how enthusiastic he is about food prep, and it's surprising how capable he is.

And we really, really love how snuggly our little boy is. We ask him, "Do you want to go get cozy?" and he runs to grab a blanket. He makes me laugh (and melt into a puddle) every day.

We built a shelf for Nicholas' office. It's just a simple ledge shelf, made out of hickory (such an incredibly hard wood, we found out), stained with a white stain.

Cooking a lot of tried-and-true favorites of our's. Simple meals mostly, with eggs and meat and veggies. I lean into comfortable, familiar, warm foods in the winter. Some soups, and some baked treats, including an almond cake I made for Valentine's Day.

Reading, more than I have in recent years, both books I own and books on loan from the library. Current reads (loving them all, by the way) : Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds (Second Edition) by Jen Wilkin, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon, There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Åkeson McGurk, and (A)Typical Woman by Abigail Dodds. They're all so different.

Noticing the light. In our home, and outside of it. Cooler and brighter as it reflects off the snow. Always changing, always a beacon, a reminder for hope.

And the other evening, all three of us were outside shoveling, and while Nicholas finished up the last bit of the driveway, I pulled Cooper around in the sled to get a better look at a colorful sunset, only to see a cross-like image in the sky with a bright vertical beam. It was stunning and made me stop in my tracks.

I read these words from Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter the other day (another series I really want to reread) :

“It was so wonderful to be there, safe at home,
sheltered from the winds and the cold. Laura
thought that this must be a little like heaven,
where the weary are at rest.”

Wherever you are, whatever your winter looks like, praying there are bright spots and moments for fresh air and pausing for sunset watching and pink cheeks and a warm mug, grasped in your hands.

PS — All this said about Midwestern winters, as much snow as we have, we do have the infrastructure to handle it without skipping a beat (even if that's occasionally means a brief pause, like with a snow day for local schools, etc). We have dear friends and former coworkers in Texas who have been without electricity or heat for days. If you are not already, please join me in praying for relief and safety for those most vulnerable under the circumstances.

PPS — On a lighter note, bonus points if you can count how many times a coffee mug appears in this post. Hint: an excessive amount. But we usually enjoy a hot drink a few times a day, and I can't resist snapping a picture, more often than not.