Snow Day Diaries

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Spring is officially here! There is no wiping this jubilant smile off my face. If you recall, it was just one week ago that we were facing winter Armageddon. In fact, while writing this little piece about the joys of spending time nestled in a snug home with my family as Mother Nature wreaked winter havoc, we received word that a third consecutive snow day had been called.  The school courtyard had been ravaged by uprooted trees. While my husband’s office was officially reopened, the kids would be spending another day home with me… Lord, have mercy! To give you insight into my rollercoaster of emotions, I faithfully transcribed my marathon snow day diaries.

Monday: A huge storm is barreling towards Denver. So. Sick. Of. Snow. The last time they predicted a monster blizzard, it was a mere dusting. I guess if perchance we are homebound for a stretch, I could do some baking. In Little House on the Prairie, Ma Ingalls would’ve baked or churned butter. I’ve already got the butter. But homemade biscuits sound amazing. Our kitchen will smell like a cozy frontier home. Bring on the snow!

Tuesday: Those weather folks who have fancy meteorological acronyms attached to their names are now heralding the approaching storm as a “bomb cyclone.” Huh? Bomb AND Cyclone? Separately, scary. Together, downright ominous. Maybe a trip to the grocery store is in order. Just me and the faceless mobs. What is this strange “stocking up” phenomenon that occurs when there’s even the hint of an impending storm? We all resort to hoarding mode. I’ve got canned goods for days, yet I find myself pushing a giant cart through annoyingly narrow aisles packed with my fellow gruff grocery getters as we frantically scrounge through a rapidly diminishing selection of cans we don’t even need. Don’t even get me started on the parking lot. People are losing it out here! That said, I’ll just push the pedal to the metal while I can. Tomorrow the roads may be too icy. Out of my way, gramps!

Tuesday Evening: The domino effect is in full swing. One school closes. Now they all fall. Yet, not a single snowflake in sight. This must be one heck of a “bomb cyclone” if they’re closing school preemptively. My kids celebrate with hoots and hollering. I think we could all use a day to sleep in and play board games. I drift off to sleep imagining our snow day… a little familial bonding and scrumptious baked goods.

Wednesday

7:12 am: Wake up strangely happy, expectant. Need to sleep in more often.  My hubs is tooling around in the kitchen. Poor sap—his office has not yet waved the white flag, while the rest of the city is battening down the hatches. A quick peek through the blinds reveals cloudy skies, but the snow and wind gusts are late to the party.

9:03 am: I’m receiving texts from my midwestern family and friends to stay safe. These are the people accustomed to lake effect snow. The “bomb cyclone” national news narrative has them nervous. Only a trace of precipitation so far…

9:25 am: Out of the blue, it’s snowing—hard. I text my husband to check on his status. It’s bad near his office. They’ll be shutting down.

10 am: The kids are already fighting. Not a board game in sight… After playing cage-match referee for what feels like hours, I’m no longer into baking. “You’ve each lost 5 minutes of TV.” Oops. I’ve said it.

10:01 am: “Can we watch TV? Why not? Please?! When are we gonna watch a show? Just one show pleeeeease?! But it’s a snow day!!!!” The incessant pleading has begun. We will not rely on technology.

10:15 am: The wind is howling and visibility is bad. Our bomb cyclone friend has made his appearance. My husband is driving in this whiteout. God, watch over him— I said no TV!— and guide all those on the roads right now.

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10:40 am: He’s home. Thank you, Lord! I really need someone sane to help break up the monotony after a couple hours into this extremely LOOOONG snow day. It’s not even noon. Did I mention I gave up internet surfing for Lent?

Noon: We unearth a pizza from the downstairs freezer. Kids are happy. The kitchen smells good. Less frontier house-ish, more neighborhood pizza joint-ish. Heavenly nonetheless. This is cozy. If only they’d stop begging for TV I might enjoy this a bit. I will remain firm!

12:32 pm: I guess one Ninjago wouldn’t be a bad idea. The kids are ensconced in front of the tube. Not exactly how Laura and Mary Ingalls spent their severe weather days… Didn’t they gather around a fire and read scripture? “Hey kids, who wants me to read from the bible?” Silence. Unless you count the blaring sound effects set to the animated violence.

12:52 pm: Ok, one more Ninjago. They tell me it ended on a cliffhanger. Actually they all do, but oh well.

2pm: Trees are swaying and rattling! I can feel the cold coming off our energy efficient windows.

2:20 pm: I hear a whole lot of laughter in the playroom. Too much. I’m not fooled by their joviality. It’s coming… I can predict it better than those fancy weather forecasters warned of this blizzard.

2:24 pm: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! The sobbing competes with the wind’s howling. Someone got hurt. Someone is angry. Lego creations are destroyed. I do a quick survey of the living room and bedrooms. Forget the weather, each indoor room looks like it’s been hit with a mini-bomb cyclone. I call for a clean up. NOW! I hate snow days.

2:26 pm: How about a movie and some popcorn?

2:30 pm: “Is it animated?” they ask. No. They don’t even bother to hide their extreme disappointment. The jokes on them. I picked a good one. It’s based on a true story about a 1950’s baseball team from Mexico that has to overcome poverty and prejudice on their way to the little league world series. We hunker down. This is gonna be awesome!

2:30 pm: Cheech Marin plays the parish priest? Gulp.

2:46 pm: The snow continues. Our windows are caked with ice. Text from the school. We’re closed tomorrow. The kids can NOT believe their good fortune. High-fives all around.

2:50 pm: I actually like Cheech in this movie. Way to go, mama! The little ragtag team won’t even start their game until they have a priest lead them in prayer. Wholesome and heartwarming. Popcorn and a movie. I LOVE snow days!

4:35 pm: End credits roll. Snow has slowed, maybe stopped. Roughly six inches on our picnic table, but the winds are still tearing up the backyard. The kids are bored. I am too. My husband and I start dinner. Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sounds perfect. A quick perusal of the pantry. Turns out my “emergency stock-up” at the grocery store resulted in an abundance of canned beans and green chiles. Not a tomato product in sight.

Wednesday evening: I’m wiped out, yet I did nothing. Maybe tomorrow we can craft. My glue gun will add some excitement.

Thursday

6:46 am: They’re up. What good is a snow day if you don’t sleep past 7am?

7:12 am: I’ll make pancakes. Almanzo liked pancakes. So do I. Two kids happily volunteer to help. The boy cracks the eggs. He’s a natural. My daughter wants chocolate chip pancakes. Why not? It’s a second snow day after all. Let’s live it up. I LOVE snow days!

7:18 am: Wait. Didn’t someone give up chocolate for Lent? Solemn nod. Full-blown cry. We’ll save some of the chocolate chip ones for Sunday. Besides endless pancakes with syrup is hardly a sacrifice. Tears do not subside. Pancakes are good even with all the crying.

8:03 am: Crazy Eights anyone? No takers. They want TV. So do I.

8:04 am: They sure love this Ninjago. I might like it more if it weren’t so loud and oh yeah, really awful.

8:26 am: It ended in a cliff hanger again. Shocking. One more…

9:13 am: The pancakes are wearing off. We need protein. Who wants some salami?! “But it’s still morning!”

11:20 am: Lunch. Leftover pizza. Easy. Yippee. Carb load for breakfast, carb load for lunch? This might be dangerous…

12:14:pm: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Another epic battle. Snow days suck.

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12:42 pm: Blessed silence. They’re outside playing in the snow. Although it took more than 30 minutes for them to suit up. “Have you seen my gloves? My scarf? These snow pants are tight. You took my hat! That’s my hat!” Get outside, already. Other than a few disturbances—he threw an ice ball down my back! MOOOOOOM, my mittens are soaked! They play nicely for a couple hours in the snow and the brisk sunlight of our backyard. I make tea and watch them cavort from the warmth of the kitchen.

3:34 pm: Movie time. I pick one about a little Chinese boy who helps to reunite a baby panda with its mother. The kid is an orphan. My son wonders aloud why all kid movies feature orphans. Hmmm. I press play. Pass the tissues. Sniff.

5:30 pm: My glue gun sits on the counter unplugged… I’ll concentrate on dinner.  A home-cooked meal. Yum. Chili anyone? My husband is home. Hallelujah. Someone who likes me.

Thursday evening: Someday, we’ll probably look back on this time fond—who am I kidding? Is it spring yet?

To all of you out there who have survived marathon snow days, a very happy, hopeful first day of spring!

1st photo by Sam Beasley on Unsplash

2nd photo by Ivana Djudic on Unsplash

3rd photo by Michal B. on Unsplash

 

Lenten Mercy & A Ball of Yarn

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I started knitting recently. It turns out the ol’ inter-webs aren’t all bad. Via the université de Youtube, some very gracious ladies have kindly schooled me in the art of “casting on” and achieving my very first stitches. Under their expert tutelage, I will now be spending my free time connecting countless yarn chains, while hopefully breaking the bonds of slavery to my phone. That’s the plan, anyway.

I’m kind of enjoying it… I think. Progress has been slow. My kids, however, are already extremely confident in my abilities. They’ve even placed special orders which seems wildly premature since I have only a week of experience under my sans-a-belt. Against my better judgment, I have promised each of them a homemade scarf. At this rate, the scarves will make wonderful college graduation gifts. That gives me a good ten years before my oldest graces the stage of the auditorium to pick up his diploma and hopefully collect his glorious handkerchief-sized scarf.

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Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

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When was the last time you smiled so hard it felt as if your face might crack? You know that ear-to-ear grin where you’re so committed to it you can feel the pull of every single muscle contorting your whole countenance. It would require more effort to suppress that goofy smile, if possible at all. It’s often when we try to quash the irrepressible smile when it bubbles up even more. Just thinking about those jubilant times in my life I feel the urge to break into a grin right now. But those giant beaming smiles are too rare for my liking. Unfortunately, they mark moments in time that can never be recaptured.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

1 Peter 3:15

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Facing Breast Cancer Like a Man

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“Hmmm… ” Slow intake of breath. “That’s right… It’s your dad who had the breast cancer…” recognition dawning as he squints at the data on the computer screen.

A solemn nod from me.

“Two separate occurrences?” he asks, though it’s more of a statement as he already knows the answer which is spelled out in clear Helvetica 10-point on the monitor before his spectacled eyes.

“Yes.”

We share a moment of deliberate eye contact. I look away first. He turns back to the digital records with renewed concentration.

No one enjoys flummoxing their doctor, unless it’s some singular distinction of good health, like having perfect cholesterol levels, or never having taken an antibiotic in one’s entire life. I can claim neither.

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Beloved Children

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Bear with me. I’m about to brag about my kids. Proud mama alert! Go ahead. Look away and grumble, but there’s no putting this exuberant lioness back in her cage.

And I’m not embarrassed to admit that you will probably be quite underwhelmed by the source of all this maternal delight. It’s neither a virtuoso violin performance nor a  prize-winning science project. In fact, none of my kids even plays an instrument, (excluding kazoo) or cares a whole lot about making scientific breakthroughs. (Sadly, there’s no fighting genetics.) I am fully aware the rest of the world will consider the source of my pride as something banal and utterly unexceptional.

Nonetheless, it causes me to light up like a roman candle in a cloudless, dark country sky.

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Boasts & Pot Roasts: New Year / Old Me!

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Is it only me, or is it getting harder and harder to focus?! Since the inauspicious purchase of my so-called smartphone, I’m beginning to feel dumber and dumberer. I used to read a whole lot more—not just those vacuous fashion/entertainment magazines that seem to secretly breed like rabbits in my dentist’s waiting room. I used to read actual books… regularly for Pete’s sake! My hope for the new year is not New Year/ New Me. Nope. My plan rather is New Year/ Old Me. I plan to put the devices down and pick up books, just like I did in the olden days of yore. Yee-haw! I’mana get me edu-ma-cated in 2019! (And in case my first born spelling/grammar drill sergeant should read this, the mistakes are intentional!)

As we all know, transitions take time. So, before diving too deeply into those heavily word-laden dusty old books, how about some other suggestions to whet your intellectual appetite? After all, the libraries of Rome were not built in a day. They had libraries, right? Oh boy. Note to self: sprinkle some Roman history into the reading list. Before I get to my recommended reading Boasts for you, I’ll share some leads that may act as a springboard towards more book-learnin’.

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Feasting, Fasting & Perfection

What’s your take on fasting? If you’re a well-adjusted God-fearing, healthy individual, it’s always a good thing, right? Recently, God the Father surprised me by His answer.

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Why am I even thinking about fasting now?! According to the liturgical calendar, we are squarely in a season of feasting. Woohoo! Lemme at the goodies! Yesterday we marked the joyful feast of the Epiphany. Our family joined another family at a doughnut shop after Mass. And what says feasting better than greasy fried cakes covered with icing and sprinkles? Nothing in my book. While I did manage to refrain from partaking in the sugary treats this time, the truth is, ever since Christmas Eve I have taken to the feasting principle like a portly duck to buoyant waters. Who doesn’t enjoy all the great foods that accompany our jubilant holy days during the Christmas season? I single-handedly made enough pizzelles to supply the Italian World Cup soccer team for a good year. Santo Cielo!

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