We went to Kentucky and Indiana over Christmas break, and I barely pulled out my camera at all. We skipped our standard family photoshoot with my family, as our time all together was very short, and my older brother and his wife couldn’t come home this year. We were in Indiana for the days surrounding Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, the snow started falling. By the end of the day, all was quiet and white, that perfect stillness that only snow brings. The temperature would drop Christmas day and make it too cold to brave more than a few minutes outside the rest of our trip, but as the snow actually fell, it wasn’t yet bitter. James and I took Henry outside for a little while and his wonder at the cold freshness of that snow was one of the perfect ends to 2017. Nothing is more magical than fresh snow, a blank slate of softness and delicate flurries, landscape obliterated by gentle white clouds.We made it back to DC late on the 31st, ringing in the New Year before midnight, snug in our own beds. If you have talked to anyone on the eastern half of the country lately, they will have no doubt regaled you with tales of the weather. It has been so cold since Christmas, long stretches of days that didn’t venture past the 20’s and with wind chills that made them feel in the single digits. The type of cold air that hurts when you breathe, and seeps through walls and coats and mittens. It’s driven us crazy, as it means lots more time cooped up inside. But at the same time, it feels right to start the year with a deep freeze. I imagine it going down into the dirt and purifying it, cultivating life and beating back pests in that unique cycle of seasons. It has left things feeling especially fresh when we have days like today, where we went outside in a balmy 38 degree afternoon and I didn’t even wear socks with my shoes. I have gone in cycles about New Year’s resolutions. I used to find them pointless, as I rarely kept them after January. But some years they seem like a gift, a blank slate on which to write out some goals for the coming months that still could hold anything. Some years they seem like a fresh start, and other years a tiresome burden. This year, it feels like a fresh start. Maybe it’s because the year ended with my body feeling so battered, or maybe it’s because so many concrete accomplishments are slated to happen in 2018, but I’m leaning into the freshness of it all. James and I unceremoniously talked about our goals for the year on a walk to the grocery store the other night, an outing entirely conducted to get out of the house and let Henry run out of the cold- not because we needed any groceries. I want to successfully defend my dissertation in March and finish school for good. I want to healthily bring this new baby into the world. I want to stress less about the schedule, nursing, naps, etc. during those early newborn months. We both want to spend an evening each week reading after dinner instead of watching TV or getting things done. We want to start getting up earlier than Henry again, something that ended when daylight savings time and crushing morning sickness gave our nights and mornings a lengthy beating. I want to take time to stretch each day, not because I find it meditative, but because every part of my body already feels stiff and sore this pregnancy and I’m not even halfway done. Ultimately, these goals aren’t big accomplishments, beyond the baby and the doctorate, both of which are relatively unavoidable at this point. The rest are just little things, tiny markers in our daily weeks that help a little bit of that early January freshness to abide with us in the months to come.