WHITNEY: Beating the winter blues

It’s damp and grey outside. My kid doesn’t want to go outside and my feet are freezing even when I’m indoors.

We’re in the pits of this Michigan winter, an annual predicament I should come to expect around the end of January and beginning of February. It’s always coming and it’s always awful, and every year I’m unable to tackle it gracefully.

But because it’s still January and I’m still thinking of my new resolve to be a better person, I’m not going to take the next six weeks lying down on the couch watching Netflix. We’re going to get out and do cool stuff beyond plugging pennies into the horse ride at Meijer. Here’s what’s on our agenda for the remainder of winter.

Gymnastics at Big Rapids High School: Our Olivia is a full-time running, jumping, tumbling machine, but our living room furniture isn’t necessarily the best place for her to practice gymnastics. So we’re taking a weekly gymnastics class for toddlers through the Big Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation. We attended our first session this week. Once we got past the crying and insistent pleas of, “No, I NOT do this,” she had a blast rolling on the mats and running races. The parks and rec department has a lot of other activities planned through the darkest days of winter. Find more info at brpr.org.

Dance class at Artworks: If Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” comes on the radio, shouts of “louder!” roll in from the backseat as Olivia gets her groove on. Intro To Movement and Dance for 2- to 4-year-olds starts up in February at Artworks, and I think we’re going to give that a try too. Unlike gymnastics, I’m a supporter of dancing to loud music in the living room, but getting out of the house and into the dance studio will be good for Olivia and me. More information on Artworks class offerings can be found at artworksinbigrapids.org/wp/classes.

Story time at the Big Rapids Community Library: All the reasons I listed for enrolling Olivia in gymnastics and dance are the same reasons I haven’t taken her to the library. In addition to the running jumping life she leads, she’s loud. However, she’s SO into the idea of the library, thanks largely to one particular “Curious George” book in which George crashes a library cart full of books. I don’t know that her admiration of that storyline is setting us up for success, but she’s also been telling me, “Library is quiet. Shhhh.” So we’re heading to storytime at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. Wish us luck.

Art classes with FOTA: February means Festival of the Arts in Big Rapids. As a reporter, it was one of my favorite times of year to photograph. But now that it’s not my job to be there to report, I’m getting in on the action a bit. We’re taking Adrianna Mallett’s Wee Wonders Art Workshop on Saturdays in February. Painting, drawing and Playdoh are daily staples for us anyway, but the chance to peek at fire trucks and police cars (the classes will be held at Big Rapids Department of Public Safety) will be a huge thrill for Olivia.

If you see us out on the town, stop by and say hi. Now you know where we’ll be.