Right about at this point in the winter is when I feel like crawling under my bed covers and staying there until mid-March when the temps start climbing up to mid-50s. It’s gray outside and though I work out several times a week, I feel a bit sluggish. I know it hasn’t been a bad winter like last year so I shouldn’t complain.
But I often wonder how other people cope with the winter when days of no sun are quite pronounced. How do people further North, like in Sweden and Denmark, deal with endless days of darkness? And how come these countries always come up high in rankings of happiest countries in the world despite long winter nights? Doesn’t the sun play a major role in our overall happiness and well-being?
Here’s what I found in my informal research. It turns out that the Danes often talk about hygge (pronounced hyu-gah) as a trait that’s critical in their winter survival. Though this concept is not restricted to winter, hygge conveys a certain amount of coziness and well-being in our lives. It means enjoying a cup of tea alone or with a friend by the fire. It means lighting up candles while we prepare a hearty meal for our families. It means enjoying and savoring the moment whatever time of the year.
Hygge is also not restricted to material aspects of coziness. It also has to do with the overall attitude of gratitude and niceness that we in the US associate with Thanksgiving. Isn’t it just a nicer way to live? And while I know everyday realities will come into play as I add a little hygge in my life, I am still willing to give it a try. Life is tough and I know that a little tenderness and niceness will go a long way for me and my family.
I try to do one house improvement project a year. This year, I, along with the rest of the family, am updating the kids’ playroom. We are not planning to do a major overhaul, just tweaking here and there to make the room more tween-friendly. With yesterday’s weather being a bit hazardous due to the ice storm, we knew we were going to be stuck indoors all day. The girls were ready to play Minecraft and watch TV most of the day but I had other plans for them (he! he!).
The girls helped me for an hour or so organizing their toys and what-nots in the playroom. Normally, Chiara and Ines get very attached to their old toys and would not discard them right away. But this time around, it was slightly different. They decided to toss things they no longer play with or use. I suppose even their sentimentalist selves decided it was time to move on. Sure there are a few toys they want to hold on as keepsakes but I think that’s just normal and to be expected.
I also spent some time on Pinterest to get ideas for their tween lounge room. Here are some that I am liking right now…
Images via (1), (2), (3)
The rest of our visit in Washington DC was more laid back than the the first two days. After we have crossed off the must-sees from our list, we had a little bit more time and options to decide where we’d like to go next.
First stop was to go to the Hirshhorn Museum to see its modern art collection.
Then, we went to the Barracks Row section in town to have lunch at the cozy Ted’s Bulletin Restaurant where we celebrated Richard’s birthday. This place, which offers delicious homestyle cooking, gets really packed. While the restaurant does not take reservations ahead of time, you can call two hours before lunch or dinner and leave your name with the host to reduce your wait time.
We also visited the Eastern Market, DC’s indoor market with fresh produce and meat.
Another stop for us was the DC Botanic Garden, which is one of the oldest in the country. Inside we felt like we were in a rainforest as we work our way through the maze of tropical trees and plants — a nice contrast from the cold wintry weather outside. There were also lovely poinsettia displays everywhere and a holiday train show, the latter we avoided after seeing the long winding queue.
Lastly, one of my favorite stops in DC was the walk through Georgetown where we had a quick peek at the university and stroll through M street. Yup, we did a lot of walking the few days in DC. We braved through them by rewarding ourselves with indulgent lunches and dinners as well as frequent hot chocolate stops. Now, if only I can lose those few pounds I’ve gained from the trip….
One of my favorite cultural programs in New York City is Kids’ Night on Broadway where children can go see a Broadway play at a discounted rate for week or two. It’s a wonderful way of introducing children to the magic of a Broadway show, where meticulously decorated stage sets along with great singing and dancing come alive. The girls have gone to see several plays in our local performing arts center. And while this is a great experience, it does not have the same effect as actually going to Broadway, much like watching a movie on a big TV screen at home cannot compare to seeing the same film at a movie theater with its gigantic screen and booming surround sound system.
We saw the Phantom of the Opera this time. I was hoping to take them to see Matilda or Aladdin but those tickets were unavailable by the time I went online. So note for the future, I must buy tickets online as soon as they are available for Kids’ Night on Broadway.
Do you remember your “first big-theater” play? I think mine was Godspell and I still can remember words to some of the songs though it has been 28 years ago. Yikes!
One of the things we did during the holiday break was visit Washington DC. It was the girls’ first time and we have not been in awhile. We thought DC would be a great place to visit since both girls are learning a lot of early American history in school. Plus, it’s such a quick and easy getaway for us — a breeze compared to the stress of plane travel with kids.
Washington DC is one of those cities that one can see a lot of in a few days. We were there for four days and felt we got to see a lot of things without feeling tired at the end of our trip. It’s also a great city for walking especially by the National Mall, which is peppered with museums and landmarks throughout.
Here are some of our initial stops:
….the obligatory White House visit
….the beautiful Library of Congress, which is the world’s biggest. This institution, which original began as Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, now houses 36 million books.
Thomas Jefferson’s original personal library
….and Capitol Hill, which is under construction.
…lunch at Nooshi, in the Barracks Row of the city. This pan-Asian restaurant serves delicious calamari, satays and soups.
…walk through National Mall where we stopped to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial.
I’ll be back another time with more photos from the trip!