Brrrrrrrr – is it winter again already?


Brrrrrrrr. It’s flippin’ freezing outside!!!! Yes, this is the reaction of a Chicago born and raised 39 year old woman, who should be accustomed to this by now.   I don’t know how this happens.  I’m surprised, flabbergasted, and ticked by the first blast of freezing cold air of the winter. This has happened every single year of my adult life.  I love the first snow, and if you are my FB friend you know of my offspring’s’ reaction to waking up to a winter wonderland.  They got ready for school in record time and played outside for ½ an hour before getting on with the business of learning.

Today we were all hoping for big snow overnight, but alas it was not to be.  It ended up raining slosh.  It was a different story after school.  The boys’ wrestling meet was cancelled due to the weather so miraculously we had a free afternoon. It finally snowed and the kids couldn’t have been more thrilled.  The boys dashed off the bus and Renee clip clopped home and they threw all their school stuff all over the house.  Now comes the news that Evan has left his hat and gloves in his locker at school and Jared still can’t locate the gloves he wore for 1 hour the other day. (I’m completely convinced there is a monster that lives in my house that is eating, wearing, or storing all the lost socks, gloves and umbrellas that “disappear”. ) We somehow pieced together snow gear that would shame most 12 year old boys.  Evan wore Renee’s hot pink gloves and Jared put on my pink,blue, and black striped gloves.  Renee embarrassed both boys by wearing a completely matching ensemble that kept her warm and dry.  All 3 of them grabbed shovels and happily got to work clearing the driveway.  There is a God.  All this talk of getting ready for snow inspired me.  This seemed like an opportune moment to share how the Kuhels navigate the winter weather that graces/curses the Midwest.

As excited as my kids are to shovel, I do not share the love of this particular chore.  They call this very heavy, wet snow “heart attack snow”.  It has earned this morbid name due to the number of heart attacks that are spurred on by overzealous snow removal.  Things to remember while shoveling…

  • Shove if you can. You know what I mean….you don’t need to gather the heavy stuff on the end of your shovel and heave it.  If it isn’t too deep, you can just scrape it off the side walk or driveway.
  • If you really feel the need to heave the white stuff, don’t over load the shovel.  Less is more. Take 3 little shovel/heave reps versus 1 back breaking load.
  • A wise person says and follows the words “lift with your legs, not with your back”.  Bend at the knees as you prepare to scoop and throw. If you only bend at the waist, your back is going to pay dearly.
  • Listen to your body.  If your heart is pounding out of your chest, take a break.  If your back is “talking” to you.  Stop . Find 3 able bodied, over exuberant children and sell them on the idea of how much fun it is to shovel.

I am not a child. Haven’t been for many years, but I’ve been blessed with being able to watch my own children enjoy being kids.  I tell myself all the time that if I moved the way my kids move all day, I wouldn’t need to work out.  So that’s one of my favorite tips.  Move like a kid!  Get bundled up, even if it means you have to wear a pink hat, one green glove, a purple mitten, 2 pairs of sweat pants over your jeans and sandwich bags over your socks in old holey boots.  Ways to get active even when it’s blustery outside…

  • Shovel – my kids seem to think it’s the bomb!!!  It also has to be done.
  • Make a snow man or a snow man family.
  • Build a snow fort – you’ll need it for the snow ball fight
  • Challenge someone to a snow ball fight now that you have a fort.
  • Skate your heart out.
  • Go sledding.
  • Take a winter hike.
  • Make snow angels.
  • Shovel again – it’s snowed while you were out sledding.

After getting cold, there has got to be something warm waiting for you.  How to get cozy without getting fat and cozy…

  • Go ahead and have hot chocolate. Try making it with skim milk instead of water and look for something with not too much sugar. Take the time to sip it slowly.  One of life’s simplest joys is wrapping your hands around a warm mug of hot cocoa.  Enjoy!
  • If you’ve already had your cup of cocoa and you still haven’t thawed out, try having a cup of herbal tea.  There are a gazillion kinds of teas and there has got to be one that catches your fancy.
  • Make a broth based soup stuffed with veggies. Make it spicy by adding green chilies, white pepper, or red pepper flakes. So good when you’re insides are cold like it is outside.
  • Comfort food doesn’t have to be heavy or bad for you. It has to be good.  Substitute lean turkey for ground beef. Swap low fat cheese for full fat cheese.  Roasting root vegetables with rosemary makes the house smell like heaven.  Use whole grain pasta instead of white pasta.  Brown rice is a better choice than white rice.

Lots of fellow Midwesterners loathe the snow clogged highways and byways.  As I’m out and about I hear all the lamenting of how cold it is and that it’s going to last for months on end.  It’s easy to get sucked into the doomsday thinking that surrounds us.  I’m so guilty of bracing myself for the cold blast of air as I step out of the warmth of a building, swearing under my breath.  All I have to do is listen to and watch my kids and the kids in the neighborhood to remember what a magical time of year this truly is.  You are allowed to be cold and not like it.  I do it every cold day of winter and  some unseasonably cold days of spring.  I’m making an effort to take cues from the kids on how to enjoy it or at least to not to complain so much.  If your only interaction with the snow is struggling with traffic , try to mend that  relationship and do something fun with it.  Happy winter one and all!!

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

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5 thoughts on “Brrrrrrrr – is it winter again already?

  1. I love it that you documented the glove situation – thing is, if we bought them new gloves every time they lost theirs, we’d be living under a viaduct somewhere! Really enjoyed this one, Hon.

  2. This was really a fun one, Toni. Brought back memories of Alex and friends coming into our house for hot cider after playing in the snowy yard. BTW, Swiss Miss makes a surprisingly tasty sugar-free hot chocolate mix. If one must have it a bit sweeter, 4 or 5 miniature marshmallows could be added just for fun.

    • WOW it is posts like this that make me so glad that I live in Southern California… where we complain if the day time tempture doesn’t reach 70 and a little rain cause traffic to come to a stand still

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