11 tips for getting through the winter with a toddler.

i don’t know if you’ve heard me complain talk about it yet, but i live in minnesota, aka the frozen tundra. meaning, it gets bone-chillingly cold and very snowy for about half the year. as I write this, it’s -2 degrees outside. without the windchill (and if you don’t know what windchill is, count your blessings). all of this is fine if it’s just you, because you have the best excuse ever to hibernate on your couch under a blanket, with coffee and netflix. but if you have a toddler…well, the long winter means something entirely different.

having a toddler in the winter means trying to entertain that toddler without the benefit of days spent at the park or going on long walks outside. this makes for very long days spent mostly indoors with a tiny tyrant. so what’s a mom to do?

if you’re looking for some ideas to make the days go by more quickly in the winter, look no further. here are some of my favorite tips for getting through winter with a toddler. use this as a starting point, and add your own creative ideas.

11 tips for surviving winter with a toddler |

  1. get outside. i know, i know, as an adult we’re not used to the idea of playing in the snow anymore. but even 15 minutes outside with your toddler can help make the day go by a little more smoothly. and when you factor in the getting ready time and the getting undressed time, you can easily knock an hour out of your day, with the added bonus of a great energy burn and some fresh air (which could mean a longer nap time!).outside-during-the-winter
  2. create an indoor obstacle course. we live in a very small house, so we don’t have the benefit of a playroom, but you can do this anywhere in your house that has enough space to run around a bit. set up some pillows, chairs or even block towers to act as obstacles to jump over, run around or sit on. my daughter will run an actual mile around the kitchen table yelling, “run away! run away!” which provides countless minutes of entertainment.
  3. check out your local library. i had no idea that public libraries had been upping their games so much until recently! they just redid the one near us, and their children’s area is amazing. not only are there books, but there are little puzzles and puppets and activities for the kids to do too. if you can find a library in your area with a children’s section, it’s a great way to kill a morning (and bring home some new books!).
  4. bake some cookies. i know, i know, all you neat freaks are cringing at this one. but stay with me. all kids really want to do is scoop things and touch things and watch you make things, so making cookies can be a fun activity if you are feeling a little stir crazy. if the idea of flour all over the kitchen makes you crazy, just put some news paper down and call it a day.
  5. visit the mall. i’m not a big shopper, but every so often it’s nice to go somewhere that the little one can run around and you can get some errands done without having to get in and out of the car ALL DAY LONG. this is one i use more sporadically, because i like to make a half day event out of it and spend all morning at the mall, including having a lunch date with my daughter. it makes for a nice, special outing to break the monotony.
  6. take a trip to a bookstore. similar to a library, bookstores (especially children’s bookstores) often have play areas or storytimes, and toddlers are welcome to roam and explore. if you have a reader or don’t live near a good library, this is a great option.
  7. get out the paper and crayons. i HIGHLY suggest investing in a large roll of paper (or two), along with a few boxes of washable crayons. my daughter loves coloring, and we have an art session at least two to three times a day. what we’ve been doing lately is taping a long piece of paper to our kitchen table, and setting her up in her high chair so she can color and we can get stuff done without worrying about her falling off of or coloring on anything.
  8. let them get in on the chores. there’s this phenomena that i recently discovered. toddlers love helping. dusting, vacuuming, wiping up, folding clothes, give them a chore to do themselves, and most will get really into it. take advantage of this. if you need to have a cleaning day at home, just involve your toddler! give them a dust rag or a swiffer duster and if they’re anything like mine, they will follow you around, “helping”, while you get actual work
  9. find an indoor gym. i have yet to visit one of these, because i’m only home two days a week, but if you have the time and the curiousity, try looking up an indoor gym in your area. my local area’s “moms blog” has a whole list of them, so that’s a good place to start if you’re looking in your area. i think they would be a great way to get energy out, especially if the weather has been too crappy to get outside at all for a while.
  10. go to a local children’s museum or science museum. we went to the minnesota children’s museum last week and i am hooked! for one, i feel like i learned a lot, which was unexpected and lovely. also, it wasn’t too big or overwhelming, so it felt like a manageable outing. these places usually have an annual membership deal if you end up liking them, which makes them incredibly affordable as a regular thing.childrens-museum-of-minnesota
  11. have a dance party. when all else fails, turn on some jams and have a dance party! you’ll get some exercise and your toddler will burn some energy. you may even be able to diffuse a tantrum with this tactic! bonus: it’ll keep you warm, so there really is no downside.

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january goals.

here’s to doing a better job in december! i actually did a pretty good job this month! i 1000% failed with Amelia’s baby book, so you know, i’m nothing if i’m not consistent. welcome to everything with love, where you know i’ll always fail a tiny bit!

for the next month, there’s quite the variety in goals. some organization, some fitness, some that are good for the soul. i have a couple secret goals that i’m not quite ready to share here yet. they’re not really even goals, more like glimmers of an idea. i need to turn them around in my head a bit more before i decide if i’m going to pursue them. if and when i do, i’ll be sure to share them here.

first things first: december goals update

  • finish the updates for the first year of amelia’s baby book. are any of you surprised that this isn’t done? good. that means you know me at my core and we can stay friends.
  • make santa cookies. this was such a fun time! we had four of us girls (five including amelia), and my brother even came to sample the cookies take care of amelia. we cranked out 80 decorated cookies in 4 hours, and i think the dough this year may have been my best ever, if i do say so myself. the people who ate the cookies seemed to think so too, so i’ll take that!

amelia's first taste of santa cookies. she loved them! |

baking santa cookies with the hooley girls! |

  • finish Christmas shopping. you guys, i was done christmas shopping (presents wrapped, stockings stuffed, we’re talking D-O-N-E) by the week before christmas. i have never been more proud of myself. check and check.
  • go to brunch with my family. we have a HUGE family brunch every year just after christmas with my dad’s family and my dad’s cousins and their families. think 75 people who are about as loud and just as talkative as me in the same room at a lovely restaurant for brunch. if they served bloodies and mimosas we would be there all day! so yes, i went to brunch with my family…my WHOLE family.
  • bonus: if i get motivated, run a 5K on the treadmill. okay, so i’m going to count this as complete even though i didn’t actually run a 5K. instead i did start working out 2-3 times a week. i didn’t set one foot in a gym, but me and jillian michaels are rekindling our relationship. it’s gone well so far!

goals header

  • finish the updates for the first year of amelia’s baby book. i just can’t remove it. i’ll keep it on here all year if i have to. i’m stubborn like that.
  • continue to workout regularly. as i said above, i’ve been trying really hard to start fitting in a workout (jillian michaels, basic calisthenics, a trip to the gym) a few days a week, and want to continue the pattern. if i can start getting my butt out of bed on time, i can even fit one in at home before work and could up my number to 4-5 days a week. that would be cool. if anyone has recommendations for workout videos they really like, let me know, i’d love to find some new ones!
  • pay it forward. i don’t know what exactly i want to do to pay it forward yet. it might be giving to a new charity, it might be buying coffee for someone, it might be taking dinner to someone who needs it. i want to be thinking of ways to take care of people like people have taken care of me in my life so far, no matter how small something may seem.
  • do some research into bullet journaling. i keep coming back to this idea of bullet journaling. i don’t know if it’s because of all this talk of living with intention, but i feel like bullet journaling would kill two birds with one stone. it would be a way to keep my life organized, but also be a place to record my thoughts and my memories. starting to do some mega research into it.
  • bake some bread. i got a bread maker from my mother-in-law for christmas, and i also recently borrowed a book about artisan bread from my boss, so i need to get my butt in the kitchen and bake some bread! i think i’m going to try one breadmaker loaf and one artisan loaf and see what happens.

i’m hoping that with my desire to live intentionally this year, my goals for each month will get done, and they’ll continue to be thoughtful and hopefully fun!

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my one word for 2016.

i’ve been thinking about having a word of the year for a few years now. i have loved the simplicity of the idea, and i think it’s taken until now for me to really embrace the simple things for what they are. they aren’t boring, they can be downright beautiful, and they make my life so much more enjoyable. resolutions can feel so stressful sometimes, it’s like juggling all these balls at once, and if you mess up the littlest thing, it all will come crashing down. i’ve been an anti-resolution person for a long time, but always feel like i’m missing something at the start of each year.

there is something about setting one idea for yourself at the start of a new year that feels so right to me. choosing one word for your year allows so much flexibility and grace into your intention as well. you can give yourself room to breathe when you need it, or lean in and be ambitious if that’s what you’re feeling called to.

after a lot of thinking and coffee and a couple hours of alone time, my one word for 2016 is:


(noun): purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct

intention allows me to focus on doing everything in my life to the best of my ability. it makes me focus on patience, motherhood, marriage, friends, work, and anything else that needs a little extra care at any given point. intention reminds me to do things purposefully, not to just go through the motions of my life with no thought as to what is behind all of it. i’m hoping that by focusing on my intention this year, i’ll be able to see what things are truly important to me, and what things can be let go.

as my life gets more full every year, i want to make sure it’s full of the things that mean something to me, not the things that have snuck in under the radar because i wasn’t paying enough attention. i want to live a life that has meaning in every area, even if that meaning is something small. focusing on my intention will let me uncover so much of that goodness, but in a way that works with my not always reliable timing.

if you have resolutions or words of the year, i’d love to hear them below, especially if we haven’t already talked about them!

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happy first day of 2016.

happy new year! here’s a big new year’s smooch for you to start your year off right weird.

like i said yesterday, we had big plans last night. there was a lot of couch sitting. there was a lot of prosecco drinking. there may have even been some leftover buffalo chicken dip eating. i won’t say for certain. it was a wild and crazy night that was right up my alley. i did wear my new floppy hat to make things feel more festive. see below for proof, and follow me on snapchat for real-time ridiculousness (username: hooleywithaz).

this is my NYE hat |

i don’t mean to make Mister Man and i sound so boring. we do sometimes go out and have fun that doesn’t involve putting the baby to bed and sitting on the couch. for example, a few nights ago, we happened to have some free babysitters (hi bridget and mark!) and decided to go try a new restaurant in town, the commodore. it was all booked up but we risked walking in, and it TOTALLY paid off. by the time we had parked the car and walked back to the restaurant, they had a place for us.

the fitzgerald and the commodore cocktails at the commodore bar |

this place is a 1920s lounge type place, with a lot of history, so all the seating is lounge seating, big chairs or small cocktail tables. we lucked out and got a table for two tucked in the back of the restaurant. you guys, the cocktails at this place made me sing a hallelujah. i want to go back and try every single one. and the food was great. i wish i had gotten MM’s dinner, because his pork scallopini was ridiculous in the best way. my risotto was pretty bomb too. because it’s us, and we literally can’t go anywhere without seeing people we know, we ran into my cousin and his wife as we walked in AND we sat right next to my old babysitter for dinner, which was such a lovely surprise (hi kelene! thank you for dessert!). minnesota readers, if you are in the mood to try a fun, new place for dinner and drinks, i highly recommend the commodore bar in st. paul.

this weekend we have no plans until sunday, so there will be some house projects and hopefully some relaxing done. on sunday we’re headed up to st. cloud with a few of my cousins for our annual cookie exchange party at my grandma’s. it’s always a good time and i always come back on a sugar high. after all the fun lately, it’s safe to say that the next week is going to feel very long, but all in all, 2016 is going to start out pretty great.

i hope the first day of your year is wonderful (and hopefully not too hungover), and that all of your resolutions stick for the whole year. but even if they don’t make it past the first week, i’ll still like you because you’re great.

happy new year with love!

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coffee date.

we’re back! we’re back! we’re back for another coffee date! and let’s call this a holiday catch-up while we’re at it! all aboard the efficiency train!


(sure, caribou, i’d love for you to sponsor me, i think that would be perfect!)

how was your christmas?? was it great? were there cookies and cocktails and carols? i hope so, because i think that christmas is great and i like you and hope yours was great.

my christmas was pretty awesome. amelia just about lost her mind opening presents and entertaining the families with her walking and talking (wouldn’t it be great if that was all it took to impress people when we’re older?). she is most definitely a people person. sure, she needs breaks every couple of days, but she loves to be social and is at her brightest when she’s “performing” for a group of people. not that any of us mind watching her…she’s quite entertaining!

the cutest baby in the world! |

[wearing one of her three christmas dresses. girl’s gotta have options!]

my best bloody mary creation to date. |

[we have a christmas morning bloody mary tradition at my family’s. this year’s edition was good.]


today at our coffee date, i’m going to indulge a bit and have a caramel salted vanilla latte. we’re still in the holiday season, so it’s fine to get a little fancy, you know? i’ll treat you today, because it’s the holidays and we’re friends, and i’d like to do that for you. please don’t try to talk me out of it, because it won’t work, and friends let friends buy their coffees for them when they offer.

the time between christmas and new year’s is a bit like the eye of a hurricane, isn’t it? it’s so calm, you feel a little tired after all the fun, but you’re still looking forward to another holiday in just a week, so it’s all still fun really. i always like that time, it feels like being in a bubble, safe from regular life.

but now it’s the last day of 2015, and i feel like i’m on the edge of everything. the planning i haven’t done, the goals i haven’t quite set, those are all a little nagging right now. because tomorrow i’ll have to leave the safe holiday bubble and go back to the real world. at least we have a whole three-day weekend in between us and the real world, right? do you get this feeling too, or are you one of those who just can’t wait for the freshness of the new year? if you are one of those people, i like that about you. i like people who are joyful about the changes that always come our way and who face the newness head on. you’re alright by me.

trying to get my crap together for 2016 |

today during coffee you’d get to see my new planner. it’s gold and polka-dotted and has a pretty binder clip on it. i love it with all my heart. deep down i wish it was a fancy life planner like all the cool bloggers have, but i’m afraid i’m too flaky for such a nice planner so i stick to the simple ones. have you tried bullet journaling yet? i want to try it SO BADLY, but i just haven’t researched it enough yet. this lady here has some amazing bullet journal posts, but i need a REALLY basic introduction to help me understand her methods better. if you have a really good intro, can you share it with me? i’d love you forever.

i’m going to give you a big hug now and send you off to your new year’s eve plans. if you’re cool like me, you’ll be staying in, drinking prosecco and watching old tv shows with your better half. if you’re an even bigger party animal than me (is that possible?) you might have a party to get dressed up for…in which case please tell me all about it this weekend so i can live vicariously through you. i hope your 2015 has been everything you wished for and more, and that your 2016 starts with all the happiness in the world. thank you for spending some of your 2015 with me here, i hope you stick around for another year of love and laughs.

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