It gets dark here rather early. We're only 13.5 miles from the Eastern time zone so while their sun is setting at 6:30, ours is setting at 5:30. It's something we've gotten used to, and even enjoy it in the summertime when it's time for little ones to say goodnight, but in the wintertime, it feels like we do homework, piano, dinner, and BOOM, it's too dark to be outside.
It's also been unusually cold for these parts and the remedy for dark cold nights, we've discovered, is a fire and a good book. We've never had a fireplace. We (and by we, I mean Dean,) were anxious to try out our fireplace during the holidays for fear some fire/smoke related catastrophe while family was visiting, but it works great and has been a new loved part of our evenings at home.
It helps that we've started the Little House on the Prairie series and Laura and Mary always help Ma start the fire in the stove. Ben and Alan enjoy taking turns doing the lighting and laying out the kindling.
I secretly hope it stays a little cooler for a little while longer. It helps me feel like it's winter and maybe we can get a few more books read before the boys are begging for more playtime outside.