The thing about Midwestern winters is you better make the most of them without longing too hard for the loveliness of spring. While at first the cold and gray is a comforting blanket that urges hibernation, it soon becomes what it really is ~ dreary!

Instead of becoming dreary oneself, it's good to take matters into one's own hands and live up the season instead of being influenced by it.

This is just what we try to do in January. It helps that we celebrate one of our children's birthdays. Ella turned a whopping 13 this year, and as you can imagine she is excited to be called teenager. We celebrated with books, bowling, books, pizza, books, cheesecake, books. She has what we affectionately call "a book problem" but we are proud that if she is to have any problems this is one of them.

We got out in the fresh air to take 2 of our 40 hikes for the year. We also found close to us, a newish park with a paved path through the woods. These walks don't count towards our hikes, but are convenient if the weather or time are less than optimal for a full hike.

We have been heavy into reading, of course. Between the four of us our reading scope is large and provides for great discussion. The kids and I began reading the Artemis Fowl series and have already been entertained by the first book. However, it is a modern, young adult series and those authors don't always use their manners and can edge toward crude humor. I was pleased that my children were just as appalled by the dwarf, Mulch, as I was indicating that they know what good manners are and are not. There are seven books in this series, I think, and since our interest is piked we will continue. The book that most captivated me this past month was The Bridge Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. It is the second book by this author and is about a fictional exploration into the Alaskan wilderness during the late 1800's. The story is told through letters, articles and pictures; is full of heartache, excitement and mystery. I've never read a story like this before. It was quite epic in scope and I kept telling my husband exciting tidbits of the story so that after I was finished he read the book himself. Unintentional marketing, I guess. I have the author's first book, Snow Child, on hold at the library and am anxious for it to arrive.

I tentatively planned our garden and ordered seeds. Many seeds I have from year's previous and most of the vegetables ordered (as seen in the picture) are ones we've never grown before. Potatoes and onions have been ordered. The garlic, berries and fruit trees are resting (hopefully) content outdoors in the cold.

January has come and gone ~ so quickly! February is sure to bring moments of dreary weather, inclement weather and those brighter than bright sunny days. Here's to repeating the routine of hiking, cooking, reading, planning for the warmer months. As I type that I realize again it is a choice to enjoy the current month or season. Hiking and cooking aren't enjoyable in the warm weather, so I need to be especially conscious of enjoying the time I have doing those activities; and reading becomes quite elusive for me with the activity of spring and summer. 

I think I'll end with some wisdom from George MacDonald ~ 

I am content to be and have
what in Thine heart 
I am meant to be and have.