Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Heather's sense of snow

This morning I asked Autumn if she was excited for it to start snowing. She said she was, which kind of surprised me since she couldn’t wait to see it all melt last winter. Let’s face it, though, pretty much everyone in Michigan feels that way once we hit February, but it just seemed wrong for a child dislike it so much. Her complaints were on par with those of any adult who is forced to drive on slick roads through white-out conditions or who suffers through two years of rehabilitation because she slipped on a patch of ice in her driveway and blew out her knee.

Living with and loving the snow is a very important part of being a Michigan kid, and I’m afraid Autumn has had to also live with the handicap of having parents who just don’t like to go outside in the winter. Or at all, really. In the days of hunting and gathering, our ancestors were the ones who stayed indoors and favored artistry over displays of physical prowess. “The hunting party has returned! A mammoth, you say? Splendid! Let us commemorate the feast with an expansive cave painting!”

Granted, for three winters straight I only set foot outside when absolutely necessary, spikes strapped to the bottoms of my boots. I couldn’t even think of snow without imagining that horrible moment when my foot hit that patch of ice. Truth be told, it still freaks me out, but the memory of the pain isn’t as immediate as it once was and the thought of having to walk through snow and ice does not paralyze me with fear anymore.

I am 75 pounds lighter, and while my knees aren’t in the shape they were three years ago, they are most likely not far from where they would be anyway. A person can’t carry as much weight on her frame as I have and not suffer for it, knee injury or no. Add to that my advancing age and you still have someone whose faulty joints predict weather events with surprising accuracy.

Which brings me back to the snow.

Autumn and I talked about what fun we were going to have this winter and for the first time in I don’t know how long I find myself up to the task of giving Mother Nature my middle finger. I will make snowmen. I will put on thermal underwear and hop on a sled with my daughter. Hell, I might take the dog for a walk if I can find those ridiculous yellow booties of hers.

I will frolic and catch snowflakes on my tongue. I will make snow angels and watch the graceful descent of flakes as they pass through the canopy of the street light.

I will not rear-end someone this year. No need to keep that streak going.

I will respect the snow and its power to make my life miserable, but I will not let it keep me inside.

I will not hate winter this year.


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Autumn doesn’t like the snow. This year she has complained like a true Michigander about how much snow there is (which is less than average, actually) and has repeatedly asked when the snow will melt.

I’m guessing this is because she received a bike for Christmas and is itching to get out and ride it, but there’s a part of me that’s a little sad she hasn’t insisted on going outside to play, build snowmen and burrow into a snow fort.  Those are the things I used to do when I was a kid.  I didn’t start hating winter until I was a teenager and had my own paper route.

I don’t this is a problem. Yet. She gets some time outside during the day at school, but during the weekend it’s all indoors all the time unless we have to go to Target or Costco or one of the many places one goes to get stuff they think they need but could probably do without while they stay home, put on some slippers and watch Man Vs. Food on Netflix.

Last weekend I tried to buck the trend and suggested we attend a local winter festival.  The husband of one of the ladies I work with chairs the festival and she said it would be a lot of fun. Cardboard sled races, kids painting snow (with what, I do not know) and all sorts of  fun family activities.

But duuude. It was cold last weekend, so cold that my pickles froze. And no, that’s not a euphemism for anything. I left two jars of homemade pickles out in the garage and they froze along with a couple dozen bottles of water and a carton of orange juice.

Please note orange juice loses something in the thawing.  I don’ t know what, but it just wasn’t the same once we brought it inside.

And also, we did not go to the winter festival.

So this morning Autumn started in with the snow complaints again and I thought, “Kid, you’re too young to be this whiny about the weather” even though I know exactly where that whiny-ness comes from.  I felt bad that she hasn’t had a chance to enjoy the snow or the sled we bought her before Christmas (again our fault because duuude, it’s cold).

Since I don’t want to turn my child into a sedentary, winter-hating Midwesterner, I started thinking of some cold weather activities we could do as a family. But I have to tell you, I’m at a loss since everything that has come to mind so far involves going outside, and speaking as a woman who has enough trouble finding every day clothes that fit, I’m not sure I’d be able to find suitable winter gear that would spare me from hypothermia.

And also, I really just don’t want to go outside.

I imagine I will have to go outside as some point if I ever expect my kid to get enough exercise during the winter months. I can’t send her outside without supervision. At least not yet, so I’ll have to think of something so that we don’t all emerge in the spring with an extra layer of fat, a healthy growth of facial hair and retracted pupils from lack of sunlight.

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1:00 am– The storms roll in.

1: 15– I hear Autumn call for me from across the hall. I’m not able to make out what she is saying, but I know whatever it is means she’s going to wind up in bed with us.

1: 18-As Autumn finds her spot between us, I try to make myself comfortable on the few centimeters of mattress I’m allotted.

1:20-A little voice speaks up to address me.

“Can you please stop that,” she says.

“Stop what?” I ask.


1:30– I move to her bed.

Sleeping in Autumn’s bed during a storm is an eye-opening experience. Literally. The window shade does little to keep the lightning at bay and her bed is pushed up against the south wall that faces outside. As the more violent claps of thunder shake the house, I can feel her bed shake along with it. It’s no wonder the kid prefers to sleep sandwiched between two large adults.

2:15-The power shuts off for about five seconds. I get up, go back into my room and reset my alarm clock. I return to Autumn’s bed taking my iPod Touch with me.

2: 25-I check Twitter. No one I know seems to be available, though Janice from Five Minutes for Mom is chatting with several people. I send out a general message:


2:27-I check my e-mail and head back to Twitter. No replies, though Janice is still on. She seems to be a bit of a night owl.

2:30-I issue a general complaint about the storm on Facebook and spend the next ten minutes alternating between Facebook and Twitter, hoping to find someone willing to bitch about the weather with me.

2:40-Nathan appears and scares the hell out of me.

“Who else did you think it would be?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I say, “I just didn’t expect a half-naked man to show up in the doorway like that.”

2:43-After spending a few minutes discussing the position of Autumn’s bed and the suck-fest taking place outside, Nathan goes back to bed but not before I tell him his alarm clock needs to be reset.

I manage to sleep sometime between 3:00 and 5:00

5:15-I hear Autumn ask Nathan where Mommy is. She is satisfied enough with his answer to not confirm my whereabouts.

6:00-My alarm beeps and I ask Nathan to shut it off. He does not want to reach over Autumn to hit the snooze button and opts to get out of bed and shut the thing off completely.

6:31-I manage to get out of bed without the aid of my five-minute snooze setting.

7:10-After taking a shower, eating breakfast and picking out Autumn’s outfit for the day, I return to my bedroom to wake my husband. “You might want to get up,” I say.

The next 25 minutes are stress-laden as the entire household tries to operate on very little sleep. I bark at Autumn as she dawdles and Nathan is full of resentment because I reset my alarm and not his. Of course he has forgotten that I told him I did not reset his alarm clock when he was conscious enough to do so himself AND that he could have reset his clock when he got up to shut off my alarm. My blood boils at being accused of not taking responsibly for a grown man’s inability to wake his own ass up and I begin yelling at him in front of Autumn. It does not get much better from this point on.

8:00– I arrive at Autumn’s school at the exact moment I should be sitting at my desk. I issue more impatient commands as she slowly gets out of the car and walks into the building. I start to believe children are hard-wired to move slower at times when it is crucial to use speed and wonder if there may be any scientific basis to my theory. The physics involved in parenting do not seem to favor parents at all.

8:05-I sit down at my desk and start complaining about the weather and my husband to my neighbor across the aisle who has had a much more pleasant evening than I.

9:05-Nathan calls to apologize. I accept and issue my own apology. Now all we have to do is make it right with the kid. This will probably include ice cream after dinner, Wii Bowling, multiple readings of The Three Little Pigs and a whole heaping helping of “I’m sorry.”

Conclusion 1: As always, I need to find more productive ways to handle stress.

Conclusion 2: Thunderstorms can suck it as can those who enjoy them.

Conclusion 3: Tomorrow will be better.

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We’ve been experiencing some cooler weather so yesterday I sent Autumn to school wearing long pants. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was windy and I wanted to make sure she was comfortable.

I remember looking at the weekly forecast yesterday and seeing the mild and sunny weekend ahead of us, but I only vaguely remembered what was in store for today. This morning I consulted the weather app on my iPod Touch, which told me we were in for lots of sun with the temperature reaching 80 degrees. Bonus.

I went into Autumn’s room and pulled up the shade. Hmm. Dark skies with lots of clouds. But this being Michigan and all and we being so near the lakeshore as we are, I decided the clouds were only a temporary matter and pulled out a pair of denim shorts, a t-shirt and the Disney princess hoodie that would keep my daughter warm until the sun made its appearance.

It wasn’t until I dropped Autumn off at school and spotted every other child wearing long pants that I thought to question that forecast. I opened up Autumn’s backpack and searched its contents for the pair of pants I had stuffed in there weeks ago, but all I came up with was another pair of denim shorts and a tank top.

As soon as I got to my desk I consulted the weather app again. The forecast had not changed. It was going to be a sunny day with no precipitation and a high of 80 degrees.

In Seattle.

Folks, I am a nerd. I’m the kind of nerd who programs several cities into her iPod Touch weather app just for the hell of it. Fairbanks, Tokyo, Atlanta, Galway, London, Sydney, Seattle and Cairo. They’re all there along with my own city and it was the Seattle forecast I consulted this morning. I am a nerd and today my child is paying the price.

I guess I’ll be going home during lunch to pick up some pants.

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Things that go bump on the road

Yesterday it rained. The temps were a bit more mild and we lost a good bit of our snow.

Then today…it snowed again. All day it snowed and a frigid wind blew across campus. Everything that was wet yesterday is now ice today. I got into my car after work and pulled onto the main drive that winds through campus. I hadn’t gone very far when a white car decided it had waited for passing traffic long enough and pulled out in front of me. I wasn’t in any danger of hitting the car, but I still cussed it out good for being so stupid as to even try a stunt like that in such crappy weather.

I had just hurled my last expletive at the white car when it stopped for a passing pedestrian. I then stopped, or at least I tried to stop. I pressed on the brake pedal and instantly went into a slide. Tap tap tap tap tap. I pumped the brakes hoping to stop my slide but nothing. So what did I do? I gripped the steering wheel and closed my eyes. Yes folks, I closed my eyes and prepared for impact.

Bump. I slid into the back end of the white car. The driver looked back at me and made like she was going to get out of the car right there on the street but then thought better of it. We pulled into a nearby parking lot to assess the damage. I could see some black paint from my car had tattooed her rear bumper a bit, but I saw no dents or scrapes to speak of.

We each got out of our cars. She was a student, an attractive blond who was not wearing nearly enough clothing to keep the wind from making her teeth chatter. “It looks like you’re in good shape,” I told her.

“You too,” she said. I went to the front of my car and saw nothing broken or dented. Just the rust spots and chipped paint that had always been there along with some fresh spots of white paint from her car.

I apologized to the girl for hitting her and explained what had happened. She looked like she wanted to be annoyed, but she was cool about it. I could have been annoyed at her for pulling out in front of me like an idiot, but we both just wanted to get back into our cars.

“Are you okay?” I asked, wondering if she was comfortable with leaving things as they were.

“Yeah,” she said and started back to her car.

“Be careful,” I said, thankful that our encounter was brief and damage free. If she can live with a little black paint on her bumper, I’ll live with a little white on mine. Ebony and Ivory, babe.

Later in the evening as Nathan and I were unloading groceries from his car, I looked at my trusty old Contour and said, “Thank you for taking such good care of me. You’ve never let me down and I’m going to keep you forever and ever and ever.”

“You’re nuts,” Nathan said.

“Hey, even a car needs to know its loved” I said.

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I’m not a really religious person, however I would gladly worship any deity that could make it stop snowing. It’s getting a little too Day After Tomorrow around here.

One of the ladies in the office upstairs slipped on the ice in front of our building yesterday. She’s now nursing a sprained ankle and a bump on the head. I clutched my knee just listening to the story.

Yesterday’s 15-minute drive home took a half hour. I was late for work this morning because the doors had frozen shut on my car.

Enough already!

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Blizzards and beds

Did you ever see that Christmas episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where a blizzard hits Walnut Grove on Christmas Eve and everyone winds up at the Ingalls’ house telling stories about Christmases past and Pa Ingalls opens up the door the next morning and is faced with a wall of snow in his doorway? Yeah, that’s where we’re at right now, except for the warm, fuzzy Christmas-y part where we get to put on snowshoes and retrieve the presents Santa left in the barn. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. I can’t remember the last winter during which we were so righteously pounded by blizzard after blizzard. Nathan’s niece and nephew have only gone to school four days in the past two weeks and I took my life into my hands just by trekking two and a half miles to the grocery store. And I still forgot to pick up eggs. Crap.

Some schools are already announcing closings tonight, but I will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if I have to go to work. The university already closed for weather two weeks ago and canceled Wednesday night classes last week, so it would be a rare event to have more than one full snow day in a single year. That’s nearly unheard of. Back when I was a student, classes were canceled once. Since I’ve been an employee of the university, classes have been canceled for a full day three times; the last two times being this year and last. We can’t make up the time at the end of the year like the public schools can, so you know the weather is really bad if the university closes.

In other news, the transition to the new bed seems to be going smoothly. We had to get a new mattress and box spring because the old ones were very old. We’re talking the original Batman movie with Michael Keaton and the Prince soundtrack old, so we went out Friday night and purchased a new set at the furniture store. Nathan set the bed up yesterday while Autumn and I were at Costco and we introduced her to the bed when I brought her home. Nathan picked her up and set her down on her brand new Tinkerbell quilt mommy so carefully picked out at Wal-mart and the girl freaked. She melted into a puddle of tears like we had just strung her to a rack and threatened to set fire to her entire Elmo collection. We picked her up and comforted her a bit and thought this idea of ours might not be so great after all.

In spite of her initial fear, Autumn was curious and went back to look at the bed a couple of times before we tried to put her down for her nap. She seemed excited when we tucked her in and she slept soundlessly for about an hour and a half. Things did not go as smoothly at bed time, mostly because her cousins were here and she wanted to stay up with them and party like it was 1999. I was in the bedroom on the phone with my grandma when Nathan opened the door with a teary-eyed Autumn in his arms. “She fell out of the bed,” he said. We put her back to bed in the crib after that, thinkiing it best we limit the trauma as much as possible. “Autumn fall down,” she repeated over and over (and over still this morning).

At this moment, however, the girl is fast asleep in the bed. Granted, she’s not pointing in the same direction she was when I put her down, but she seems to be doing well. If I do have a snow day tomorrow, I think taking the crib down will be on my to-do list.

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