Saturday, September 15, 2007

activity menu *updated...again*

Was anybody else bothered by the crazy cold & windy weather this past week? I know what you're all thinking: "But Andrea...I thought you loved this time of year!" Yes, I love the cooler temperatures -- but not COLD temperatures and definitely not the blustery winds. It felt like a hint of winter and that was not okay with me!

It got me thinking, though. Don't cringe -- but winter really is just around the corner. And with that comes shorter daylight periods, freezing cold weather, and being cooped up. A lot of people struggle with depression over the l-o-n-g winter months. And ever since my issues after Malia was born, I'm one of them.

So I have decided to formulate a plan. Yes, it's well in advance -- the weather is supposed to be in the mid-high twenties over the next couple of days -- but that's the point of it. To get it planned before winter hits. Preventative measures!

I want to come up with a schedule -- a flexible schedule. For those of you who make meal menu's (I used to, but have been slacking off for the last several months!), you know that it makes meal preparation so much easier. Even if you switch things around or make substituations, you at least have a guideline. It makes it easier to take meat out of the freezer in the morning so it's ready for late afternoon. And it makes it easier to do grocery shopping so you have the ingredients that you need. It doesn't mean you have to stick to it like glue -- but it's a guide which is very successful.

That's the kind of thing I want to do in winter -- only with planning activities. It can be our "activity menu." For example:

1. A craft night once a week
2. A baking night once a week. We can either keep "the goods" in our freezer to stock up for company, or Christmas parties. Or -- we can give our baking away to friends and neighbors.
3. An evening playing in the snow once a week. Building forts, snowmen, having snowball fights, going tobogganing.
4. An outing once a week. This could include visiting friends, going to an indoor swimming pool, going to the children's museum, etc.
5. Have company over maybe once every other week.

And just like with the food menu, we don't have to strictly stick to what's on the agenda. If it's a really mild week, chances are we'd take advantage of it and spend a few evenings playing outside. And if it's a really freezing week we'd probably do more stay-at-home activities.

But at least there's a plan. A motivation factor to get up and get moving. Not just sitting around wondering what we could do to pass the time.

I also want to set up some goals for myself to do in the evenings once the girls are in bed. It's nice to have the chance to just veg in front of the TV for awhile before bed -- but it's also nice to do something productive. So here are some things I'm wanting to achieve this winter:

1. Crochet 4 baby blankets (one baby is already born, and the other 3 are coming in two-month intervals from November through till March)
2. Update the girls' baby books/journals
3. Update photo albums with journaling
4. Organize my house! It always seems so overwhelming, but if I break it down into one room at a time, or even one section (like the front entrance closet) it shouldn't be quite so unattainable.

PLUS -- having music on a lot. Positive music, of course. It still always amazes me just how much music can impact your life. And if you choose positive music, the impact will definitely be a positive one!

It is my hope and prayer that by putting these ideas into actions, we can prevent -- and eliminate -- any depression this winter. We can shut out the cold and darkness and invite light and warmth through family bonding times and special times with friends.

Now -- anybody else want to participate in something like this? Setting up an "activity menu" for your winter months? Let's swap ideas. I'd love to get some kid craft ideas and of course some wonderful baking recipes to try, too. And, if there's other ideas we could incorporate into our menu -- I'd be open to suggestions there too.

So please, leave me a comment with your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Or, if you'd prefer to email me -- you can do so a But really, I'd love to gather up as many ideas (specific or general) as I possibly can. Winter is long, and creativity is the key! This is something that is really important to me and any input would really be a huge favour to me!

(For those of you who don't know how to leave a comment -- it's really quite simple. At the bottom of each post it says "words of encouragement." Click on there and it will take you to a different screen. Write your comments in the section provided and choose how you want to identify yourself. If you click on "anonymous" I won't know who you are unless you choose to sign your name at the bottom of your comment. Easy, right? So, go for it -- take the plunge and leave me a comment. I guarantee I'll appreciate it a lot!)

I was given encouragement from my sister-in-law Tammi to take this idea even further. You can still feel free to leave comments on this post as I suggested. BUT -- I'm going to start an "Activity Menu Challenge." Here's how it works:

1. Leave me a comment telling me that you're joining the challenge
2. Spread the word! Put a post on your own blog (or spread the news via email if you are not a fellow blogger) referring back to this post -- use the link -- so your own readers can get the details. Let's get as many people involved in this as possible. You can also copy this "button" onto your post as well as the "advertisement" for the challenge (courtesy of Tammi).

3. Start to come up with your own personal activity menu for this coming winter. Be creative! (include both family activities and your own "projects" for evenings)
4. On October 15th (one month from today) post your activity menu on your blog and come back to my blog to leave your link to that post. That way everybody can check out everybody else's ideas and have time to incorporate them into their own menu in time for winter. (I have a countdown ticker on my sidebar close to the top as a reminder of this date for my regular readers. But if you leave me a comment so that I know you're participating, I can give you your own personal reminder a few days before October 15th)

Note: You don't have to have a history of depression in order to make use of this idea. Just use it to simply beat the winter blues, or just to get you more active and moving this winter.

Any questions? Let me know!

For those of you who don't have a blog but would like to participate -- don't despair! Take this month time span to accumulate your own ideas. me ( with your menu and I can add it to my own post.

I would love to have a minimum of 20 participants (but the more, the merrier - 50 would be even better). Who's in?!?

Together we can BEAT THE WINTER BLUES!!

Ready...set...consider yourself C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-E-D-!


ValleyGirl said...

A great, pro-active idea, Andrea! I'll have to come up with my own, especially since Greg's definitely leaning towards being gone in February and March again. Historically (I can say that because I'm pretty old already), those months have always been my worst, so a plan would be good.

jackie said...

What motivation, Andrea! I'll try to come up with one too - I know it would be good for me. I'll just have to think about it a little...

Pamela said...

Great idea! I'm not sure how much time I will need to fill between homework, lesson planning, cooking class, hockey, bible study, swimming, etc. etc. but I look forward to seeing other people's ideas!

Erin said...

Sounds like fun. I should try this...not sure how it's going to work possibly living at my parents :( I'll try though.

Jamie said...

Sounds like a great idea. I usually don't have issues with being cooped up due to weather, but I like the idea of baking once a week and giving it away (well, maybe sometimes keeping it!), and playing outside in the snow once a week if the weather's nice. I will try and come up with more and make a list. Thanks for the challenge!

Ruth said...

super duper idea andrea! i've been thinking and chewing on your challenge and will see what i come up with....

shalom to you....

Ruthie said...

thank you thank you! This is our 2nd and last winter in the frigid north and last year I got horribly depressed. I hope I can find several things to keep me busy this year! :)


Melanie said...

ooooo- I love this idea!! I don't have any problems with winter blues- but I sure did feel like I might go crazy last winter if I had to spend one more day sitting inside with nothing to do.

Pam said...

I was shown this challenge by melanie...I have to post this tonight since I am a working mommy and otherwise wouldn't get it posted until late Monday night. can you add me to your links for tomorrow?

Pam at

Sharon said...

I read about this over at Melainies blog. I tried to grab the button over on your sister in laws but could not.
If you check out my Fall Fare post I have a great recipe for pumpkin bread and it freezes great.
I will think on this and see what I can come up with. Don't know if I can make it in this time since I am behind on a post of "eights" somebody wanted me to do.
But I will be back.
We live in Louisiana so we don't get the cold ya'll do. We look forward to the cold after the horrible heat and humidity we get during the summer.We get very excited if we see one little snow flurry. :)
We will send you some heat if you will send us some snow. How bought it?

Sandy Carlson said...

This is a nifty idea. Here's my post:

I'll be back to do some more reading!