Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some serious snow...for these parts

School let out three hours early today due to the threat of winter weather and Rachel came home expecting snow to start falling any second. She was bouncing off the walls with anticipation. She kept checking to see how many minutes until it was "supposed" to start snowing. Then she'd set the timer on the microwave and when it beeped she'd rush to the window to check for snow. She even had a theme song.

"No-flakes! No-flakes! No-no-no-no snowflakes!" she sang as she raced through the house checking windows on all sides.

I endured six hours of this before it finally started snowing. Six hours!

Rachel had Benjamin and Miriam in quite a tizzy, too! All three of them were racing around the house singing about no-flakes and snowflakes and screaming and bumping into each other and falling down.

Finally I told the girls to bundle up because they were going to head outside to wait for the snow (that I was beginning to lose hope in). And, boy, did I ever bundle them up! Sweaters, snow pants, scarves, boots, hats, mittens—the works! It was already below freezing so not only did I not want them to freeze I didn't even want them to notice that they were cold.

"And don't come inside until you're good and cold," I warned them as I sent them packing across the street to play in the neighbour's backyard.

Benjamin was so sad about being left behind in the house with boring old mom so I took pity on him, bundled him up, and wandered around in the yard with him until Andrew came home.

It still hadn't started snowing when the girls came home from the neighbour's. We made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (with soup and broccoli (raw, which everyone loves—or at least tolerates)).

Soon after dinner someone noticed that the weather report said it was currently snowing. We checked outside but couldn't see anything but then...but then we did! And there was much rejoicing (from everyone except Benjamin, who cried—because snow is awful).

We bundled up for a family walk. The girls pranced around the street pretending it was a slippery ice rink. It wasn't remotely slippery but they ended up falling several times anyway. When we got home from our walk they still didn't want to go inside so I told them they could keep playing on the back deck (where the snow had begun to stick). They didn't want to play outside in the dark alone so I took one for the team and played outside with them (I really don't like being cold). Andrew had tons of reading to do (that's always his excused—it's like he's in the middle of a doctorate degree or something).

Here are a bunch of pictures we took. Bear with us. This is the first time we've seen real snow since early 2012, which is the first time in memory for some of us. It was a little bit exciting.

The girls made snow angels:

Benjamin stood by, in horror of the idea of voluntarily lying down in that stuff.

After snow angels, the girls started rolling around in the snow, trying to cover as much of themselves as possible, and sampling a few morsels.

We managed to scrape up enough snow to build ourselves a tiny snowman (though much bigger than the last one we built).

It's pretty powdery snow, so the attempted snowball fight didn't last long.

Look—we rolled around in the snow some more:

Miriam figured out whitewashing (only she did it to herself). I did not participate in this activity (nor did I participate in the rolling about on the ground).

We caught snowflakes on our tongues:

Benjamin eventually decided that snow wasn't so bad after all and joined the girls in rolling around on the deck:

More whitewashing:

More cuteness:

Here are the girls before coming inside to warm up:

And here's Benjamin after losing a couple of his layers (he had several on because he doesn't have snow pants). I love his little baby long johns!

We had just peeled off our stiff, snow-covered things and were getting into warm, dry pyjamas when there was a knock at the door. Rachel ran to open it (I hope she was fully clothed—Benjamin was not and ran to see who it was in all his glory) and there was a our little neighbour Diego, wondering if we could come out to play.

I hemmed and hawed a bit because it was already past 8:00 and although I was certain we'd have at least a delayed schedule in the morning nothing had been announced yet so we were still on a school night schedule (and already running a bit behind). But the girls were so excited and snow is such a rare thing that I caved, told them to put their snow things back on, and gave them until 8:30.

Naturally, as soon as the storm door slammed shut behind them, Benjamin's eyes welled up with tears and his chin began to wobble.

"Oh, alright," I sighed. "I'll take you back outside, too."

So Benjamin and I bundled up and joined everyone else outside. It was fun to have a chance to chat with Addi and to watch the kids have so much fun together. Diego had gotten a new sled for the occasion (meaning this epic winter storm) and he and the girls took turns using it. They had a blast! (And Benjamin only got plowed over a few times—he was remarkably quick at getting out of the way just in the nick of time).

Benjamin, tired of watching everyone else had fun, decided to try sledding down the hill as well. He diligently forced himself down the entire length of the driveway, laughing all the way.

The kids eventually took pity on Benjamin and Rachel assisted him on the sled a few times. He loved it!

Taking turns was a little difficult so we decided to try out the box the kids have been using as a bus.

It didn't work as well as the sled, but I think the kids still had fun pushing each other and tumbling down the driveway together.

And here's Benjamin trying to slide down the driveway on his tummy...without the sled:

It was slow going but he giggled the whole way down.

When there were more tears than cheers we decided to call it a night. We ended up staying out much later than we planned because Andrew stuck his head out the door in the middle of our playing to announce that school had been cancelled for tomorrow, which meant it was no longer a school night, which meant the kids could play until they exhausted themselves, which they did.

We ended up coming inside around 9:30. We made some hot chocolate/cider and popped some popcorn and sat around the table talking about how exciting the snow is. Andrew introduced the girls to the Olympics (one of his favourite things ever) and showed them some videos of bobsledding and skeleton and figure skating. They're rather excited for the Olympics now! And they were certainly excited to learn that sledding is an actual sport.

"I was doing skeleton at Diego's house!" Rachel gasped.

We reviewed some scripture mastery scriptures before prayer and then sent all the kids to bed. I'm hoping they'll sleep well because I think I had at least one visit from every single one of them last night!

We now have just over an inch of snow and it's supposed to be cold all day tomorrow (and the next day) so it looks like the snow will be sticking around for a while (bummer). The girls will be excited to wake up to this winter wonderland in the morning, though, I'm sure. 

 And here's Andrew, taking a quick break from his books, out in that inch of snow:

It's kind of surreal to see everything blanketed in snow. Not as weird as seeing Cairo blanketed in snow (the hail was odd enough), but still plenty out of the ordinary. What's equally quizzical to me is that they called an entire snow day for this! I'm not exactly surprised by that but I still can't get over how bizarre it is to cancel school—or even delay school—for a little skiff like this.

I know, I know.... They have their reasons:

  • They don't have the infrastructure to deal with it (not that this amount of snow warrants much equipment—it's an inch).
  • They get ice storms down here and ice is worse than snow (yet...things get slick in more northern parts, too—I once slipped down the driveway and under my friend's car. That story aside, I'm from Canada. Ice and I are no strangers).
  • Sometimes the storms (whether of snow or ice) are actually bad—twenty inches of snow bad, breaking power lines bad (that's a bad storm anywhere and only happens like once a decade so...).
  • They are just not used to it. It causes chaos.

I just feel like they so often "cry wolf" down here (because I only ever had one snow day in all my years growing up in snowy places—and it was due to one of those 20+ inches storms).

A snow storm is in the forecast so my daughter is released from school seven hours before it actually starts to snow. Last year they called a snow day and the snow completely melted by 9:00 in the morning.

Tomorrow the snow won't melt by nine o'clock, so at least the kids will have an actual snowy snow day. And even if I still feel it's a miss school for this amount of snow, I'll just tell myself that it's for the common good. I believe in the common good.

PS. Andrew just received the following email from his professor (I thought it was hilarious (Andrew has class at 10:05 tomorrow morning):

You probably received some sort of an alert clarifying (or rather asserting): "Duke will resume normal operations at 10:00 AM tomorrow" (sharp, drum rolls!), as I predicted to 8-year old (who might sit in). I guess that means, the show must go on tomorrow AM for our class.

But this does not mean that you should break a leg or anything else; instead, use your judgment, be sensible, and skip if things are looking iffy for your commute to class. For example, I have been distracted for most of today because Durham Public School cancelled classes and day care after 12 PM (yes, much of the usual work day), 8 hours before the first flake drifted down.

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