Finding Sanity In This Winter Season…

As I type, there are at least 5 inches of snow on every visible surface of our neighborhood. That 5-inch layer of snow is piled on top of a least two inches of ice…and perhaps an inch or so of old snow beneath that. During the past week, the kids had a grand total of one day of school, and there is more snow on the way.

I can certainly understand why “cabin fever” is growing to epidemic proportions around here. Church was PACKED this morning. People were thrilled for the chance to get out and get a bit of human interaction.

But this is definitely a season for hunkering down, staying warm and safe, and finding joy in simple things. For me, those simple things include lots of time spent by the fireplace, lots of snuggling with my family and favorite movies, cooking meals that warm us up inside and a whole lot of hot tea.

I have to believe the four seasons are designed for our sanity (as insane as that might sound after this bizarre week of ice and snow). Each of the four seasons seems to naturally cater to our various human needs. We all have a favorite season, but it is an interesting challenge to find something about each season that we can savor and take advantage of while we have it.

I don’t like all the snowy footprints and static electricity that come with winter. But I can appreciate this time when creativity can run wild as we pass the hours staying warm and being together. Finding reasons to run the oven means lots more home-baked food than I might be inspired to create in the heat of summer. My kids are especially enjoying that aspect of this season.

When spring breaks through, it is going to feel so sweet. As soon as I see the crocuses and irises bursting into bloom, and plant new annuals around the mailbox, I am sure I’ll decide that spring is my favorite season.

When summer arrives, and the kids are off school, and the longer days end with beautiful sunsets and s’mores on the deck, I’ll declare that summer is definitely my favorite.

But then, when the summer heat breaks and we are making pumpkin bread and warming ourselves with bonfires… I’ll admit that fall is my favorite.

For now, however, winter is my favorite. Not because it’s really better than the other seasons. Surely not. I’m embracing it because, if I’m really honest, it’s exactly what I need right now.


Icemageddon 2011 – The Last Challenge

The worst of  Icemageddon 2011 is over, we’re told. I’ve gotta be honest, I loved this storm until tonight. We got extra sleep, we ate like kings, we gathered around the fireplace for hours on end while WTHR kept us informed of everything we could possibly need to know about the current conditions.

Many lost power. We, by some miracle, did not. (I am convinced, however, that if we had not stocked up on emergency supplies, we would’ve definitely had an outage.)

The photo my husband took of our son ice skating in the cul-de-sac was shown on the news, so they’re basking in stardom. Our daughter enjoyed endless hours of sliding on the ice with her dear friend.

The kids are off school again tomorrow. That’s probably because everyone and their mother has fallen on the ice today. The yards are literally rock solid ice, as are most side streets, and the temperatures have plummeted into single digits.  This slippery glaze is digging in its heels so we can’t!

Of the members of my own family who have reportedly taken at least one spill so far are: my husband (twice), my daughter (too many to count), my son, my dad, my mom, and Paco, our Chihuahua (who ran onto the deck this morning and glided right down the steps and down the small slope behind our house without ever moving his feet).

Now we have one last challenge. Our black lab is on a potty strike. If she does so much as venture a foot outside the deck doors, she stops… looks around at the slippery sheen… and goes right back inside. I really wish you all could’ve been a birdie on my deck railing to witness me breaking up the ice with a shovel (or trying) in my slippers, while my stubborn black dog watched from inside.

I should mention that chopping this stuff is NOT light work. We’re talking about a major demolition-style swing of the shovel to even make a little dent or hairline crack.  And? I worked up a sweat in the 12-degree darkness for nothing. Maggie just looked at the path I tried to chop for traction, turned right back around ungratefully and went inside where it was warm.  After that, we could not lure her outside for anything.  That was hours ago and I’m out of ideas about it.  If you could hear what is happening in the background at this very moment, it would be my husband shouting through the closed deck doors, “Go potty!  Be a good girl and GO POTTY.” She isn’t going for it. This is the dog who LOVES snow. But she has reached her limit with the ice.

I love snow. But even I am starting to let my thoughts wander to sunny warm skies and lilacs blooming in a few weeks.  To remind myself that spring IS going to come eventually, I planted some basil seeds in a small pot today and put it in my window sill.  I just needed a visual other than ice.

How did you all fare?  I hope you managed to stay warm and safe during this huge winter blast.

Icemageddon – Night 2

What a relief it was to wake up with power this morning. And with school called off, sleeping in a little longer was fabulous, I’m not gonna lie. So far this storm has meant a plethora of baked goods (per yesterday’s confession that I cook when I’m nervous) and extra sleep.

Once the kids woke up, they were anxious to go outside and play in the… ice. Daughter quickly found out why kids generally don’t sled on ice. But don’t worry, her leg will be fine. And son actually traded his shoes for hockey skates to play in the cul-de-sac.  (See photo.)

Scott took the blankie off his truck this afternoon so he could run out for a couple things, and huge thick sheets of ice came tumbling off as he pulled it away. He ran out to CVS (2 miles away, tops) for dishwashing liquid and half-n-half (because we might as well not make coffee if there’s no half-n-half) and he returned over two-and-a-half hours later. Turns out, he is one of those studs with a four-wheel-drive truck that picks up stuff for other people, drops it by their house, and helps get them to places they otherwise couldn’t go because they don’t have a four-wheel-drive truck.  When he returned from his neighborly duties, he came bearing an unexpected gift. He brought a large, ice-cold Dr. Pepper… one of my favorite caffeinated vices. He’s cool like that.

The tarp-blankie is back on truckie now and we aren’t going anywhere for awhile. I was able to get in a full, fairly productive day of work without any interruption in internet service.  So thankful for small miracles.

We were just sure the thick coating of ice covering everything would have affected the power lines sooner. So every hour of heat, lights, and hot water today was precious. A winter storm warning sounded on our local TV station at around 3:00 p.m. and we are currently getting hammered with sleet and freezing rain. The lights are starting to flicker.  So now, every minute of power is precious. Currently we are settling in for a night of  togetherness and holding our breath with every flicker of the lights.

What have learned today? When the electricity could go out at any moment, but doesn‘t, I live in a much more grateful state of mind. I’m grateful that I have power at this moment — or that I EVER have power, heat, water and warm meals for that matter. I’m also reminded of all the people not too far away who don’t have shelter, food or heat tonight or ever.

I’ve also learned that having a husband with a four-wheel-drive truck ROCKS.

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