Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Day #3

I woke up this morning and then stayed in bed for a few hours, sipping water, while the kids watched Arthur on Netflix...for a few hours. Part of me felt a little guilty about it. Part of me felt like my throat was on fire. I let sickness win over my guilt and the kids had their way with the television.

When I got up things were already starting to get drippy and melty outside. It was a beautiful sunny day and even our neighbourhood streets, which hadn't been paved at all, were fairly clear of ice and even dry in some parts. I realize not all streets in the area were as clear as mine (later I drove on some that weren't) but in all honesty it was just the kind of sort of day where I was rolling my eyes at the south (sorry, south). The ice—even in the shade—was slushy. Anyway...

More snow was in the forecast for the late afternoon and now we're in for a bit of a cold snap. By cold snap I mean like -15°C (3°F). Here that's record breaking low, just so my Canadian friends understand. It hasn't been that cold down here for like one hundred years or something, so I guess it's not just a "cold snap" to the locals. It's like...unfathomably cold. It's hide-yo-kids-hide-yo-wife cold.

I've been in colder weather than this. And we still had outside at recess, mind you, because "indoor recess" doesn't happen until temperatures dip below -20°C (-4°F). And that's not like "Oh, no! It's below -20°! Let's cancel school!" it's just like, "It's a little chilly today. Let's keep the kids inside, eh?" Because we still went to school even when it was below -20°.

Are you serious?! I can hear my southern friends saying. Yes, I am serious. Very. Want evidence:
Throughout the winter, students are expected to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.  Hats, mitts, coats or jackets, and boots are necessary for most winter days in Calgary.  Unless the weather is particularly inclement, students will be outside for a short morning recess break.  Years of experience have taught us that a few minutes of fresh air is invigorating and promotes better learning!
Lunchroom students will also be outdoors for fifteen minutes before afternoon classes begin, except in cases of extreme cold or wind.  During very cold weather or blizzard conditions, students will be given an indoor recess break and will be allowed to stand in the entrance doors prior to bell time, under the supervision of the teachers on duty.  Children must be dressed warmly enough to walk safely to and from school at lunchtime and after school on cold days.
Calgary Board of Education website
Also this:
If the temperature is colder than –20°c (with wind chill) students will proceed directly into the school and will not go outside for recess times. This is signified by a ‘BLUE DAY’ sign on all the school entrances. Students will then be supervised in their classrooms. They will be able to enjoy their recess snack, use the washrooms and participate in classroom activities. 
A handbook for a school in Calgary 
That's pretty standard (though I think the wind chill thing might be new because I swear we were stuck outside in some killer cold weather on occasion). We have indoor shoes that we keep at the school and we change into them immediately upon entering the school so that we keep the floors clean. If it rains—recess it outside. If it snows—recess is outside. If it's twenty below—recess is outside.

Also QDPE! I can't sing that program enough praises! Quality Daily Physical Education! In addition to getting two recesses in the lower grades (obviously middle school and high school have their own schedules) kids also have a PE class daily. Sometimes it's just running laps in the gym. Sometimes it's cross-country skiing outside (because—what? Your school didn't have a classroom set of skis in the gym storage closet?). Every day it's something.

I told Rachel that I had two recesses when I went to school and she said, "What for?"

For a bucketload of reasons. That's what for.

Anyway, even though I survived going to school in temperatures this low, I can't really say that I enjoy temperatures this low. So I called my doctor's office and switched my appointment that was supposed to be tomorrow morning to this afternoon.

Call me crazy but I'd much rather go out in the sunshiny, melty-drippy 38°F than in the brrrrrzy, freeze-your-snot 3°F. Just telling it like it is.

Once I had my appointment changed I scrambled to find a babysitter, feed the kids lunch, and get out the door so I could be to my appointment on time.

My sweet friend Alyse agreed to watch all three kids at her house, even though they're all coughing. I told her that she didn't have to do anything with them and could just plop them in front of the TV (because that's what I'd done with them all morning) but she didn't. She read them stories practically the whole time, which I'm sure they loved because instead of talking I've been croaking like a frog so the poor dears have been getting one bedtime story, tops. (Though both Rachel and Miriam have pitched in, reading extra stories to each other and Benjamin; Rachel even read an entire chapter out of Super Fudge to us the other night).

My appointment, meanwhile, went great. I got my favourite nurse. Her name is Saeyeda. I asked her about that today because she doesn't sound Arabic and I couldn't place her mannerisms or accent. I knew she wasn't from the Middle East I knew. And she also wasn't from any Slavic place I knew, though there was something a little...Russian about her. I don't know. I just couldn't place her in any culture I knew and it was driving me crazy. I was sure she was from somewhere like Uzbekistan or Tajikistan or some place like that—a place with a blend of Middle Eastern and Slavic ways.

Turns out she's Iranian. I don't know (m)any Iranians. But I guess Iran kind of fits in that Middle East/Slavic blend I had figured out in my head.

Although her name is Arabic, she doesn't actually speak Arabic. She speaks Farsi/Persian (she said Persian, I've usually called it Farsi) and studied German for eight years before learning English so her accent is "all over the place," in her words.

Last week my shot was terrible. This week, it was great. I mean, as far as getting shots go.

Saeyeda always has my lie down instead of stand up (the whole two times she's given me my shot), which I thought was weird the first time but after today I'm a huge fan of the method. And she does the shot super slow, which, from what I've gathered, is how you're supposed to do muscular injections (last week nurse, please take note—none of this five-second stab-sign-and-go stuff). I didn't even feel the needle go in and I haven't had much of an after-burn (today...sometimes day two and three are worse, but hopefully they'll be fine, too).

I picked up the kids before the hour was out, just as I promised Alyse, and took them home for quiet time/nap time (which didn't go over as well as I had hoped). Benjamin fell asleep well enough but the girls came and woke me up like ten minutes after I'd fallen asleep to see if they could play outside with the neighbours. I said no. They cried and carried on. I said fine because I just wanted to sleep.

They got bundled up. I moved my bed onto the couch so I could "supervise" better and stupidly mumbled, "Don't get too muddy," as they went out the door.

"We won't!" they chorused.

Obviously we did a load of muddy clothes when they came home. Obviously.

I got a text and two phone calls and had to get up to go to the bathroom once...and this was all during a one hour nap. It was a bit ridiculous.

When Benjamin woke up he wanted to go out to play as well and as I was bundling him up, Sister Wood came by with dinner and ice cream. (Goodness gracious, I love this ward!)

It was a good day for it, too, because the kids were at each other's throats all evening I don't know how I ever would have made dinner! There was so much screaming and crying and toy throwing and hitting and running around and door slamming. But not on my part—there was only croaking on my part.

Just when I was ready to go completely crazy I got a message from Alyse.

"I hope you realize how lucky you are and how awesome your kids are. I had a lot of fun with them. I might be asking you for tips on how to get kids like you!" she said.

"You're so sweet! Thanks so much for taking them at the last minute. I really appreciate it. And you can ask me for tips...but I can't say how effective they'll be. My kids have been at each other's throats for the last couple of hours. Too many snow days in a row, I guess," I wrote back.

"Hah." she wrote. "But they were such chill kids. I'm sure 'at each others throats' looks totally different in your house than it looks in someone else's! I've had lots of experience with kids. Count yourself blessed!"

Alyse was a kindergarten teacher for several years (she recently had her first baby so stays home now), and if a kindergarten teacher can honestly tell me that my kids are awesome I will take that compliment and run with it.

And I guess I have to admit that I also find my kids awesome—even when they're driving me nuts (and basically beating on each other) like they were tonight. Okay, so perhaps not while they're driving me nuts, but, like, after they're in bed and I look back on the day. Then—then I can sit back and think about how awesome they truly are.

Since I'm already complimenting myself, I thought I'd also note another compliment I got in recent history that kind of took me off guard. My friend Stephanie came over and asked me, "How do you keep your house so clean?"

I looked around and I was like, "Well...uh...I don't. I mean, I try to sweep every day and mop once a week, but..."

My house is a wreck probably 95% of the time and it certainly wasn't in any special condition when Stephanie came over. But I have been relishing that compliment for years now.

And while I'm on this topic, can I just say that I love going to people's houses and having them be a disaster? We do ukulele at my friend Laura's house every other Friday and this past Friday she wrote and email to tell everyone that her two youngest were sick but that we were still welcome to come.

"But if you aren't planning on coming, let me know so I don't have to vacuum my floors (just kidding I'll vacuum whether you come or not)," she said.

So we got there and her living room was a complete mess. Baby toys scattered all over the floor. Burp cloths dropped here and there. Valentines had exploded everywhere. Couch cushions were on the floor. And right in the middle of the room was...the vacuum.

"See? I did vacuum," she said, welcoming us into the chaos.

Inside my head I said, "Thank you!" because that is normally the state of my house. It's not like I don't clean. I do. But then the kids come inside from playing in the snow/mud and they scatter winter stuff all over the entry way and leave a trail of wet clothes leading to the bedroom, put on their fuzzy pyjamas and pull out the LEGO and the cars and who knows what else.

And they just "be kids" all over my house. And I think that's okay.

I love knowing that the same thing happens in other people's houses, too.

The terrible blizzard that has trapped us at home the past 2.5 days
Right now, though, I have to admit, we've got more than just "being kids" going on. We've also got "being pregnant" going on, which only compounds the issue. But I'm in the last week of the second trimester, which means the countdown is almost on. I don't think Andrew's going to make me wait until 36 weeks to discuss a birth plan or pack a hospital bag this time around (and by "birth plan" I mostly mean "figure out where to drop the kids off when we rush to the hospital").

We're still planning on having this baby "on time" (after week 37, if you please (week 39 would be great)) but I'm also planning on working out a plan by about week 30 because, evidently, you can't count on kids being born when you want them to be.

So, those are my musings on the third (technically second-and-a-half) snow day this week. Tune in tomorrow for snow day #4 because—oh, yes!—the fun continues!

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