January. Or, Mom vs. Mittens

IMG_3820Being a mom to little kids in the great white north comes with its unique challenges. All the extra steps we need to take to go anywhere without suffering frostbite is one of them…and along with that comes my newest and biggest rival: Tiny Mittens.

Squeezing a pair of those buggers on a two year old’s wiggly hands while she’s bundled up like a puffy mummy, repeating “outside, outside, outside…” while I’m bent over, sweating and the baby’s squawking in her swing is a reason only the strong survive up here.

And now my sweet darling daughter has started to do this new thing where she goes boneless and drops to the floor with her eyes closed tight whenever she senses any sort of urgency from her mother, so getting her dressed is like dressing a large, limp, noodle. And getting her to find that nice balance between limp noodle and escape convict is really fun…It’s fun in the grocery store. It’s fun walking out of gymnastics. It’s fun in parking lots in freezing temperatures and it’s fun at potty time…and suppertime…and bath time…and bedtime.

And so I’m dreaming of summer and 80 degrees where the girl can run wild (or flop on the ground) buck naked if she wants, because by the time July hits we’ll have lost all patience for clothes…along with all the mittens that don’t fit anyway…

Here’s this weeks column, where I complain more about it…


Spring-it’s just around the corner. I promise.
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Congratulations North Dakota! You’ve made it to the end of the longest month.

From here I can see spring — if I stand on the top of the highest hill, on a rock, with my binoculars, but probably only because February’s a short month and the past week we’ve had a break from the sub-zero temperatures long enough for us to find optimism and wrangle the toddler into her snow clothes and play outside.

If I start the process after breakfast, we’re usually ready to hit the small sledding slope in the backyard just in time for her afternoon nap. Because there’s nothing more fun than a tired, over-bundled toddler who just face-planted in the snow and has lost the will to save herself because it took too dang long to put her mittens on.

Seriously, if there’s a children’s mitten out on the market that doesn’t require a team of engineers and detectives to maneuver two tiny thumbs in the thumb holes and a therapist to convince the kid to keep them on, I’ll pay you for your recommendations.

Think of all the free time I would have if someone could solve the mitten problem. I might actually get supper on the table before dark, which currently isn’t possible because dark starts at 4 pm.

Oh, I’m only complaining a little, but I think it’s allowed in January. Our mutual annoyance with this long, cold month is what keeps us Northerners bonded together. January is the reason that there’s an entire colony of North Dakotans who abandon ship and relocate to Arizona each season.

And I would be jealous, except who can blame them? Especially when most of the Arizona-bound population has put in their years of earflap caps, long underwear and toddler mitten holes.

People in Arizona don’t have to deal with mitten holes.

Oh, but they come back eventually, usually around mid-May or June, when 42-below zero has become a distant memory, leaving only a scratchy little patch of frostbite you acquired on that one January night you had to walk home because you got the feed pickup stuck up to its floorboards in a snowbank.

If only we could ship our cattle to Arizona for January as well. I’m sure they’d be pretty pissed if they knew there were cows in this world that have never had to lean in against 40 mph winds whipping ice pellets at them, so I haven’t told them.

It came in with the night 4

No, we keep them blissfully unaware and fed each evening with giant bales of hay that smell like the beautiful, green, sunny summers we get up here.



For that reason I hope that cows have memories. Because there’s nothing like the scent of that hay rolling out behind the pickup (that just conveniently dropped its four-wheel-drive) to remind us that this weather is fleeting and the tall lush grass, crystal clear creek water and sweaty, tick-filled days of summer are just around the corner.

Come on over, I’ve got a telescope and a tall hill, so I bet we can see it coming.

Just don’t forget your mittens.


7 thoughts on “January. Or, Mom vs. Mittens

  1. Forget the mittens have thumb holes and just slip them on. Or have someone knit a pair without thumbs. With mittens on there isn’t much that can be done that requires fine skills anyway! ☺️

  2. I always laugh at the memories that flood into my 62 year old mind as I read, with delight, the most recent trials and tribulations of little kids, the weather in North Dakota, livestock, pets, cooking, husbands and on and on.
    Todays memory might give you some valuable insight into the mitton deal. Im sure your Mom and Grandma did this and it works plus it makes for a bit of fun!
    My Mom would, probably until I protested at 13, sew my mittons on hem tape and run them in one arm of my coat and out the other. It provided great fun for me to pull off my mittons and whir them around in circles like little windmills. Eventually my hands got a bit cold and Id slid them on until my next moment of boredom. And on it went. She also had my name on everything just in case one would fly off and be found where ever Id last been “windmilling”. I never thought the name necessary and even embarassing but the hem tape was genious. What else is hem tape good for anyway???

    • OMG, my mother did that to us too. (I’m 61 in Feb) We grew up not too far from Buffalo NY. Lots of snow. My mother called those “idiot mittens” because it was pretty darn hard to lose a mitten when it was strung through your jacket and attached to the other one. I’m sure that with three kids all under the age of 5 (and another bun in the oven) she was pretty sick and tired of trying to find six matching mittens. I also have very fond (?) and distinct memories of fighting Mom like crazy as she was dressing us in snowsuits to go out and play. She eventually resorted to locking our little butts outside. (Oh, the horror!) I remember standing at the door with our faces pressed against the window, crying and crying … until suddenly we weren’t, and we were building snowmen and forts and having snowball fights and sledding and before you know it she was battling to get us back inside for dinner and before we froze to death. (And naturally, we didn’t want to quit playing to go back in!) Great memories! My mother used to have a saying: “It’s a great life … if we don’t weaken.” I think I get it now. 🙂

  3. This all sounds so familiar, ha! Just know that someday it will be a great story to reenact for her future boyfriends. Trust me, I speak from experience!
    Try making her put her mittens on Herself and tell her if she does that…you’ll continue to bundle her up for outside. But the mittens have to stay on or there’s a time out…somewhere that she can’t see you, the TV, or her toys. Put her on the floor…a good tantrum and she’ll fall asleep where she is. Also the good thing about mittens first…that means they’re tucked into the sleeves! Hopefully all your readers aren’t sending advise…I couldn’t resist.

    Mom of 7 adopted kids with a husband that was gone six months out of the year and no family nearby.

  4. All caught up with you again, Jessie. I am glad to hear your father is doing better, and will be home with family again soon. Your family, especially your parents, are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I love that little brown hat with the ears on her! Such a sweet photo! All the best to you and your family this year. May all good things come your way!

  5. Mittens…ah, yes! Raising my child in ND I remember them well. One thing I found out that worked for me was to put the mittens on first and then the jacket. This forces the cuffs of the mittens to stay inside the sleeves. Worked for me.

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