Thursday, December 15, 2011

8 Reasons I Love my Midwife

We have chosen to have a homebirth with a Certified Professional Midwife for this baby.  CPM's are trained to offer expert care for women and their babies during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.  They are guided by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and follow a model of care that includes:
  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle;
  • providing the mother with individualized education, counseling and prenatal care,
  • continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery and postpartum support;
  • minimizing technological interventions; and
  • identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
The application of this model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma and cesarean section.1

After a lengthy interview and regular prental appointments, we are confident in our decision and could not be more pleased with our particular midwife and here are some reasons why :)

1.) No Wait
It is really nice to have a pre-natal appointment at 2:30pm, arrive and 2:25pm and walk right in without waiting in a waiting room.  This is especially nice if you have other little ones along with you, are not feeling well, etc.

2.) Full Hour Alloted for Appointment
There is no waiting an hour for a 15 minute appointment here!  Our midwife allots a full hour to our appointment and does not rush us if we have questions that take longer.  She gives us her full attention for the entire appointment.  We do the usual weight check, urine check, blood pressure, etc., but when she asks "how have you been feeling?" she takes the time to listen to the answer.  She encourages questions and offers support.  She takes time to communicate openly and honestly and wants the same from us.  She wants to be friends and wants to build a trusting relationship prior to delivery.

3.)  She Will be with Us for Labor and Delivery
With my first pregnancy, I went through a lot of trouble to find an OB/GYN that delivered the babies all of the time.  I was very reserved and a little frightened and did not want a clinic that rotated several doctors and you would have whomever was on call at the time.  I wanted to get to know and trust the person who would ultimately be delivering my baby.  As it turns out, in my experience, in hospital labor, the OB/GYN may stop in a few times, but you really end up with a bunch of nurses that you have never seen or met before for the majority of your care.  The doctor will swing by when it's time to push, and mine barely did that - but that's a story for another day! *

4.) Relaxing Environment
We meet in our midwife's home, in her living room.  Our 3 year old goes with us and is completely happy and comfortable playing with the toys and visiting with everyone.  Gumby will get to know our midwife and her team so they will not be strangers for the birth.  The relaxing environment is inviting and encourages open dialogue.

5.) No Physical Checks
That's right.  No robe; no baring it all; no feet up in stirrups.  As our midwife said ... What are they looking for?  We all know how the baby got in there and we all know how it's going to get out.  Nuff said.

6.) Always Available via Phone
We have our midwife's home and cell phone numbers.  She wants us to call with any questions!  She'll be the one to talk to us!  No extra charge ;)

7.) She Comes with a Staff
I had full intentions of hiring a doula for this birth, but I didn't have to look!  Our midwife has one she always works with and we like her.  She is at some of the prenatal appointments, available for questions, getting to know her, and the like.  Our midwife also has an apprentice she is training who will be available to help out during the birth as well.

8.) Incase of Transfer to Hospital
Plan B.  If the homebirth does not work out and we need to transfer to the hospital, our midwife is prepared.  She has an OB/GYN who works with her.  She calls the hospital ahead to let them know what exactly is going on so when you arrive they are ready and waiting.  And, she stays at the hospital to continue her support and advice.


* I am confident this is not always the case; I am merely illustrating my own personal experience.

Monday, May 2, 2011

11 Ideas for Integrating Children and Pets

I have been an animal lover for my entire life.  I grew up around a farm and always had cats.  Shortly after my husband and I were married, I needed to have some pets in my life.  We got a couple of free kittens.  Then, he got me the one pet I had always wanted, but never had - a basset hound.  My first dog.  We learned a lot together.  Over the years, my love for dogs resulted in running a non-profit dog rescue.  My extremely supportive and tolerant husband, myself and a small handful of volunteers saved over 100 dogs in about five years.  
While the dog rescue is much smaller than it used to be, we do have 1 foster and I will put her shameless plug right here.  Chloe is a 5 year young beautiful american pit bull terrier who is looking for a family to call her own :)
Our family now includes Chase the basset hound, the only dog ever accquired from a breeder before we learned about the millions of homeless dogs, Gracie a small furry mixed breed rescued from our local dog pound, Jasmine an american pit bull terrier rescued from a life of abuse and neglect, Max a cat who was abandoned on our doorstep when he was a kitten, Felix a cat who was abandoned at the manufacturing plant where I used to work, and most recently Reese and Pete The Cat (we have a Mickey Mouse addiction here), two keepers of the litter of five that was left on our doorstep.

It is important to me that Gumby be involved with the animals and have a positive experience with them and they with her.  We want her to know how to effectively communicate and safely interact not only with our own pets but with any others she may encounter.

Here are a few ways that we are getting there:

Gumby holding Elle, one of the kittens from our Fall drop off litter.
Elle was spayed, updated on shots and happily rehomed

1. Supervise, Supervise, Supervise
Animals can be unpredictable.  Children can be unpredictable.  Never leave them together unsupervised. 

2. Gentle Touches
We strive to show and tell Gumby what she *can* do and not concentrate on what not to do.  We are very careful with the words we choose and try to set up a successful environment.  For petting the animals, when she was small we would always tell her to use "one finger".  That is how she petted them for a long time.  It's impossible to be rough, smack, or pull anything using just one finger.  Now she understands the word "gentle" and uses her whole hand to stroke their fur very gently.

3. Dogs Eat Alone
This one is plain, simple and self explanatory.  It is a positively framed statement of how the dogs eat that was  told to her daily when it was time to feed the dogs.   Now, she will tell anyone simply that "Dogs eat alone."  We never said "Do not go near the dogs when they eat", "Do not take their food", or other statements that concentrate on what she is "forbidden" to do or actions she should not take.  We do not try to invoke any fear of what happens if one takes food from a dog who doesn't do well with that sort of thing (though we have told her that not all dogs like to share as a reason *why* they eat alone); in fact, we encourage her to watch them eat from a reasonable distance.

4. Only Pick up Toys from the Floor
Gumby loves handing the dogs toys and playing fetch with them.  What we needed to help her learn was that once they take the toy, it is their toy.  We are always there during play to ensure she is not reaching into their mouths.  Accidents, grumpy dogs, whatever the reason, it is simply never a good idea for a child to have their hands in a dogs mouth.  Our dogs know a "Give" command and Gumby knows how to use it.

5. Involvement in Training
Training pets is a wonderful way to bond with them, work together with them and to establish rules through fun.  Gumby loves giving the dogs and cats treats.  The dogs know they are not to take food from her hands and they are to wait until she drops the treat to the ground.  We have what I call well behaved beggers.  Our dogs beg, but have always only been rewarded for sitting or laying.
Gumby, just over 2 years old, using the hand signal for "Down" and two of her dogs obeying and awaiting their treat!

6. Involvement in Feeding
It is important for the pets to see good things coming from this little, loud, fast, unpredictable creature that moved into their home.  As mentioned above, Gumby loves giving the dogs and cats treats.  In this house, she cannot take an active part in feeding the dogs just yet because they eat raw meat, but she can and does feed the cats and give the dogs water, treats and special stuffed kongs. 
Gumby, age 2, feeding Max and her own kitty some milk.

7. Know your Children, Know your Pets, Know and Respect Their Limits
Nobody knows your child or your pets better than you.  If your dog will happily chew a bone on the couch with a toddler sitting on him, great.  But, if your dog can get a little grumpy with a bone and your well-meaning playful toddler thinks trying to take things from the mouth of the dog is a fun game for both of them (and maybe with a ball, for example, it is), maybe giving Fido a high value bone when the child is nearby is just something the dog isn't going to handle well.  All people and animals have limits.  Limits are natural and deserve our respect.

8. Create a Yes Environment
Creating a "Yes" Environment for a child is doing what needs done to ensure success such as baby proofing, putting away items that the little one is not ready for yet or that isn't safe, putting away things that cause the parent to have to say "No" repeatedly, creating unnesseccary tension and stress.  This can apply for pets as well.  You will note that none of the pictures I will ever post of our dogs has a dog bed.  A certain grumpy hound dog does not like to be bothered once he is all curled up and comfy on his dog bed, ie: he growls.  A growling dog is giving a warning and sending a message for his need for uninterrupted rest the only way that he knows how.  While we talk to Gumby about letting sleeping dogs lie, if you will, there is no need to take unnesseccary risks.  When we saw the dogs beds become a problem, we picked them up.  If there are toys the dogs treasure or guard, remove them.  Anything that could possibly be a point of contention or set anyone up for a mistake should be removed.  I am not advocating that the dog's owner not seek to help work on these problems, but I am saying this should be done at a specific training times and not when a little one is possibly going to be interacting with the pet. 

9. Pets Need Their Own Space
We didn't throw those dog beds out, however.  The dogs can all enjoy them from their own little doggie room.  They can go there to sleep, to enjoy special treats such as kongs, or just when they dont want to play and need some quiet time.  When they tell us they want quiet time, we put up a baby gate and they can have the rest they need and can return when they are ready.

10. People Need Their Own Space
The pets needing a break from the child seems to go hand in hand with the child needing a break from the pets in this house.  Sometimes the dogs are giving too many kisses, sometimes the kittens have attacked our feet just about as many times as we can take, sometimes they just won't play the way Gumby is expecting them too and it upsets her.  We let Gumby know that it's okay to "take a break" from the pets.  Instead of hitting them, kicking them, swatting at them or doing whatever other behaviors a toddler may do because they are expressing themselves the only way they know how, Gumby knows to ask Mamma or Deeda to move the pets or to take a break from them.

11. Let Everone Know When they are Interacting Properly
Positive feedback goes a long way.  When the dogs are playing gently, sitting for treats, laying to be covered with blankets or whatever else, tell them they are being good.  Slip them an extra snack.  When Gumby is giving out toys, we tell her that makes the dogs happy and they love their toys.  When she is touching them gently, we tell her that makes them feel safe.  While the dogs are rewarded solely for their behavior, Gumby is given feedback about how her actions are affecting the dogs feelings and well-being to help her see the positive impact that she can have on their lives.
Gumby ensuring everyone is safe, warm and comfortable :)
What have you found useful to integrating your pets with your children?  What challenges have you had?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gardening with Gumby: First Starter Seeds

I am finally getting around to posting pictures of our seeds that we have started for the garden!  We are having a lot of fun with this project.  We haven't had a garden for several years and are looking forward to it now that I will have more time because I stay home with Gumby.  This is also something we think she will enjoy and we are sure she will learn a lot.
We have never started any garden veggies from seeds before, ever.  This, like anything else in life, is a learning experience for the whole family.

We went to a couple of stores and let Gumby pick out the seeds herself.  She had a lot of fun doing this.  It gives her ownership on the project and lets her know she is a contributing member of the family.  We didn't worry about the few things she picked out that we don't really care for - we're going to grow them and try them and let her try them.  We try not to limit her tastes and preferences because of our own.  She was so excited.

We also picked some neat looking plants such as the Carnival Peppers (purple, white, yellow, orange) and Chili Peppers.

To start the plants, we got a couple of those seed starting kits with the pods. They are cute and Gumby had fun investigating the pods while they were little dry disks. We all enjoyed pouring warm water on them and watching them expand.

We started planting around the end of March and did maybe 18 plants each evening once every few days or a week.  It was the right amount of time that Gumby would enjoy planting before getting bored.

Choosing a spot to place the next two pepper seeds.
 Carefully placing 2 pepper seeds.

Covering the seeds.

What we have so far: Eggplant (which has mostly died :( by the time I am writing this), Celery (tiny, TINY seeds so we have way more than the suggested 2-4 per pod), Carnival Peppers, Tomatoes and Cayenne Peppers.

The first thing we planted was celery and this is how it looked as it started to come up.
Gumby likes checking in on the plants and seeing their progress :)

This is how the seedlings are coming along today.

The first column on the left are the tomatoes.
The next 4 and a half are the 2 types of peppers. You'll notice they have tan soil. Peppers took the longest by far to come up. And, before they sprouted, the pods were encased in this fuzzy white stuff I had never seen before. Thanks to the internet, I learned it was called "dampening off" and is a fungus that grows if the pods are too moist from having the lid on, etc. I found a few natural remedies that did the trick: a strong batch of chamomile tea and cinammon, which not only gave it the tan color and got rid of the fungus, but it made it smell great too! The fungus is mostly harmless as long as it doesn't overtake the seedlings. And, as a side note to "getting rid" of it, I don't think you ever really get rid of it once it's there (bummer), but you can easily control it.
The next 2 and a half are what remains of the eggplants :( I don't know what went wrong here. They came up just fine. You'll notice a couple of the pods are missing. I gave them to my mom. I think hers are still doing okay.
The final 4 rows are the celery which seem to be doing okay. I should probably thin them out. Mom got 2 of these also.

In exchange, Mom gave me 2 wonderful little basil starts with a clever plant marker made with a plastic spoon and marker :) My mom is clever like that :)

As shown below, Gumby is having a rockin' good time with the family garden! :)
I can't wait until we give her a garden sensory box ... but that is a post for another day! :)

Are you starting a garden?  What did you plant?
Do you have any tips for involving toddlers?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse My Toddler...

When I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone wanted to know if I was going to nurse and then for how long.  I don't think I even knew humans breastfed prior to becoming pregnant; I had never seen it, but for some reason, my answer to the questions was always "Yes, I'm going to give breastfeeding a try for at least six months and then it depends on how it goes after the baby gets teeth."  For some reason, I was doubtful and kept those free formula samples in the cupboard "just incase" (never did use them).  I had read about the risks of feeding babies with formula and I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try.  What I didn't know was about the amazing aspects of a nursing relationship *other* than food.  We have blown past 6 months, 12 months and 24 months.  I definitely didn't plan on extended nursing, but why stop a good thing?  We will wean when she is ready.  Gumby still nurses very often and we both absolutely love our special time together. 

For 10 reasons why extended nursing is important to us, head over to my guest post on one of my favorite blogs Code Name: Mama! :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 3: Good Luck on Your First Day!

Dear Robert,

Good Luck on your first day on the job.  We hope it goes smoothly for you; we know you will do great and be effective as you care so much about everything you do.  You are determined, hardworking and intelligent.

We miss you, love you and are eagerly awaiting your safe return!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 2: Thank you for your Support

Dear Robert,

You always support me, my hobbies, my passions.
Even when they sound crazy ...

Me: Lets become vegetarians!
You: I hope this is a phase.
 ... haha ... okay, so that one took a little getting used to, but even before you converted you were so supportive :)
Me: Lets start a dog rescue and house 12'ish dogs all the time!
You: Okay, we will be saving lives.

Me: Lets feed our dogs raw meat!
You: Lets do it!
Me: What if we un/homeschool?
You: Sure, I think you'll be good at it.

Me: What if we have our next baby at home?
You: Sounds great!

Me: Want to clean up (and my "clean up", I mean purge the closets!)?
You: At 11pm?!
Me: Yes.
You: Okay.

I can't tell you how much your continual support and faith mean to me and our family.

We are thinking about you, missing you, loving you and anxiously awaiting your safe return.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 1: Missing You Already

Dear Robert,

I love you my Dearest Robert.  I know you don't want to be there, but that you choose to be there so that I can choose to be here: home, every day taking care of our precious little angel.  We thank you and appreciate your hard work and dedication.  We are thinking of you, love you and anxiously await your safe return.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stop Calling Children "Drama Queens"

Two toddlers are running around at the playground, turn a corner and run right into each other.  The force knocks each of them to the ground.  As one toddler's parent asks the little one if she is okay from the fall, the other toddler's parent rolls his eyes, chuckles and tells her not to be such a "drama queen".  The kids get up and continue playing.  You wouldn't be able to tell which child had which discussion, at least not on the surface.  While one child feels respected, validated and that her feelings matter, the other one doesn't bother to show any feelings because they will not be taken seriously anyway. 
The sidewalks are crowded and icy.  While one adult is rushing to get home from a long days work, another is engulfed in their cell phone while waiting for a cab.  The person in a hurry turns quickly and bumps into the other adult, knocking them down.  The fallen adult shrieks in pain and and grabs his ankle.  Is he a "drama queen" also?

There are a lot of situations that are similar that happen to adults and children.  Adults are almost always taken seriously, but it seems that children rarely are.  Their reactions and emotions are often made trivial by surrounding adults.  But, they are not trivial and each interaction teaches the children something far bigger that what is seen on the surface.

 An Unfinished Brain

Humans are born with a very immature brain; it is only 25% of the final adult brain size.

90% of the growth of the human brain occurs in the first five years of life.1  The lower part of the brain is emotional, triggering strong emotions.  The higher part of the brain, the last part of the brain to develop, is in charge of reasoning, empathy and keeping the strong emotions in check.  The higher part of the brain continues to develop in the teenage years and even into the early 20s!2  Children are not setting out to be "excessivly emotional" as Merriam Webster defines a "Drama Queen". "Drama queen" emotions and reactions in children are simply an example of the higher part of the brain not being developed enough to calm and control the impulses of the lower brain.  

They are simply being children who have the same needs of love, empathy and understanding as the rest of us adults.

During the first five years of a child's life, the higher brain is forming a huge amount of connections between its cells.  These connections affect how the child will function socially and emotionally.3  The base of these connections rely very heavily on what the child is exposed to, reactions they experience, words that are said to them.  When children are exposed to bullying at a young age, the brain structures and chemical systems in their brain actually change.4  It is vitally important not to mock or bully a child. 

Minimizing Feelings & A Blow to Self-Esteem
When a child is called things such as "drama queen" and their feelings are not taken seriously, they may start to feel they do not deserve to be taken seriously.  If those around them are telling them they are insignificant, then they believe that they are insignificant.  They slowly start believing that what they say or feel really doesn't matter.  They may hide their feelings or loose their self respect leaving them even more vulnerable to bullies, drugs etc. The last thing a parent wants is a child afraid to be honest or express themselves openly in the parent-child relationship.

Shaming & a Fear of Vulnerability
Children learn by example.  What example does it set for a child on how to treat someone in a time of upset if when they are upset, they are not taken seriously, validated or shown empathy, but instead shamed?  Shame is an intense and painful feeling.  One way to protect oneself from shame is to put up a shield against ones own vulnerability.  Any weaknesses are hidden so that no one can cause the child to feel shame.  Children learn that pointing out another's vulnerability, they can protect their own.  They may try to rid themselves of their shame by projecting it onto others and become a bully.

Namecalling & Labelling are Self Fullfilling Prophecies
Children naturally look to adults for direction and information and internalize things said to or about them.  Namecalling and labelling are self fullfilling prophecies.  If a child is constantly called or labelled as something, then that becomes true to them and they actually will strive to fit the label.  Maybe the fall doesn't hurt, but the child knows they are a "drama queen", so they know they need to yell and scream and make an excessive commotion, which will result in them being called a "drama queen", and so on.

The Effects of Labelling on the Labeller
Labels such as "drama queens" have a negative connotation.  How would your reactions towards someone or a situation change if you thought of someone as "drama queen" versus thinking of them as human beings who have the same needs and feelings as yourself?  How would you respond differently?  Think about the examples at the beginning of this page.  You have convinced yourself that your child is a drama queen.  Clearly, when they fall and are upset, you are annoyed because you have already decided this reaction is in excess and only to get a reaction or attention which you have no intention of giving.  Later, you see an adult, who you have no pre-conceived notions of, fall.  You rush over to see if they are hurt, need help to get up, need a doctor.  Perhaps you empathize with them, at their embarrassment of the fall.  The two scenarios are similar, but your reactions are polar opposites.  The difference is the labels you already had set, or not, in your own mind.

Whether negative comments by adults to and/or about children are meant to be insulting or whether they are said in what is meant to be "good natured fun", there are serious and long term consequences to minimizing childrens' feelings, shaming, namecalling and labelling. Stop doing it!

This post was inspired by an actual event as described in the first paragraph.  The other parent went so far as to imply my toddler was also a "drama queen" after the two toddlers collided and Gumby asked for a mooch.  The problem is that neither Deeda nor myself are good with confrontations.  We said nothing and just ignored the folks, though we both wanted so badly to explain to him what the consequences are of his actions.
What did you think of the post?
What would you have done in the situation?
How could we educate folks should this happen (and we all know it will) in the future?

1, 3, 4.  The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gumby's World: 2/12/2011-2/28/2011

The Gumby's World series is a journal of how we spend our days with Gumby :)

Two weeks ago was exciting as we had a glimpse of the spring weather that is soon to come! 
It was also exciting because Gumby's vocabulary and thirst for knowledge just continues to swell right in front of our very eyes.  She has picked up "Yep!" and "Nope!" from I'm not sure where, but it is so cute.  And, she is asking all sorts of questions that she has never asked before.  She wants to know where everybody goes and what they are doing.  She notices background noises and asks what it is.  In the car, when we arrive at our destination she asks "Where you gonna park, mamma?"  She is always so inquistive and eager to learn about her environment.

We took advantage of the warm weather and spent lots of time outside.

Gumby couldn't wait to take her love for art back to the outdoors on the front porch with her chalk!

We also spent the better parts of  several days out and about!
Gumby has been big into going to the library again.  She likes to play the computer games with me.  There are a few that she likes to use the mouse or keyboard for, but a lot of them she points or tells me what to click on.  There is one where you can play music to put animals to sleep, feed them or play with them and she thinks it's hilarious.  Sometimes, the music makes them dance and she yells "Don't do the jig, go to sleep!" :)

The library has these foam fishes that we've been sorting and putting together by color.  Over the summer we made choo-choo's out of the fish, as in the photo, but the color sorting was new.  She took it very seriously.  I think it's important to remember that in the eyes of children, their play is just as serious as any work us adults undertake.

Gumby almost always helps me clean up.  It is her choice and she rarely refuses.  But, on the times that she does, I am okay with it.  Surely, there are times she asks me to do things and I refuse.  Autonomy is a basic human need, important to those who are both big and small, old and young.  I want her to help me and others, not because of a threat of punishment or consequences nor because of a promise of a reward or bribe, but because she truely wants to, because the motivation comes from within her.  For that to be the case, it always has to be her choice, her decision.

We met Deeda for lunch at the park and then stayed to play.  Her and Deeda just love being barefoot.  They are talking me into it.  There is a lot of sensory experiences to be had when your feet are bare which is probably why Gumby and most other children enjoy it so much.

She played on 2 different play grounds, climbed, went down slides and rode this duck.  There is also a quarter mile track that surrounds the local highschool football field.  I think it's a quarter of a mile all the way around it.  She walked just about the entire track!

We took Gumby bowling for the second time, this time to a bowling alley that has these ball ramps that the ball can be placed on and toddlers can give them a shove to get them down the lane.  Gumby enjoyed this.  We explored a toy store that had wooden toys out to be played with, played in the mall play area, and went to the book store. 

We brought home a 3' by 2' floor puzzle which is really neat and lots of fun.
At home we did molding with her model magic foam/clay, colored, read books, read her new purchased and library books and played with the nanobugs and iPad. 

While reading, she started pointing at the words in the book and saying the letters.  She knows most of the letters, lower and upper case.  Chica Chica ABC has been a great book for showing lowercase letters in very large print and she likes to name them as they go up the coconut tree in the story.

Another new thing she has started doing is wanting to hold hands when we are out and about <3  And, wanting to walk from the parking lots to the store (holding hands required here of course!).

As the weather got colder, we spent less time outside!  Gumby is not big on cold weather.  She only likes to play outside in the cold occassionally.  When we woke up to about 8 inches of snow, she wanted go to outside to see it, did not want to walk in it, and wanted to sled ride with Mamma ... once.  That was it :) 

When the temperatures get more around the mid 30's and higher though, she likes walking in the show paths that Deeda shovels for her and making "paw prints" <3

We are still thinking spring and took a little sneak peak at the sandbox and added a few snow sculptures to it :)

Gumby and I spend our days immersed in play.  She is constantly learning what she wants, when she wants and how she wants without having to separate life experiences into subjects or play time versus learning time.  It is all intermingled, inseparable and fun.  We follow her interests wherever they lead and encourage her to explore her world.  It is impossible to go through life, even one day, and not learn something - try it!  All learning is valuable.  Life is learning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: What a Difference a Few Days Can Make!

Feb 18th, 2011 - high 60's, sunny, blue sky, beautiful spring teaser!!

Feb 22, 2011 - low 30's, 8 inches of snow, reminder that it is still winter!