Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Snow Day That Shouldn't Have Been

Yesterday was not a fun day.  Or it was.  It depends on how you look at it.

I started my day the same way I start every week day.  Up at 4:45am, prepare my hockey coach husband a cup of coffee to go, start his truck, send him off at 5:00am to hockey practice, then with a hot cup o' Joe for me, sit down at my laptop and have some fun.

I turned on the TV, because even though the most recent snowstorm had blown through on Saturday and I assumed that by Monday morning the roads would be clear and the kids would go to school, I never underestimate the power of the IIC (Idiots In Charge) to cancel school on a whim.  Hmmm…two school districts north of town had already announced closings.  No worries, they are rural areas, probably not plowed yet.  We will have school.  Definitely.

Scuba called me on his way to the rink, said the roads are clear, they will have school.  Definitely.

But the "others" on Facebook disagreed.

The "others" are the hockey moms who also get up long before the sun rises to make sure their hockey players leave on time for practice, then snuggle back into bed with cell phones and tablets to have lively interactions on Facebook.  I also throw my bff Debbie into the "others" category.  She doesn't have a hockey player, she just never sleeps.  One of the most interesting parts of my day is the early morning discussions on Facebook with the "others".

But yesterday, the "others" were being very vocal about wanting a snow day.  I am in the minority among moms who hate snow days.  God made schools for a reason, and kids should go there 5 days a week.  So with caution to push the limits without being offensive, I began a lively banter with the "others" about whether the kids should have a snow day.

A Road in the U.P.
They worry about their teenaged kids driving on slippery roads.  I worry that we are raising a generation of kids who will believe that, even though they live in one of the northern most states in America, a few inches of snow means everything stops.  The "others" wouldn't last a day in the U.P.!

At this point the TV has added a few new announcements at the bottom of the screen.  I started counting school delays and closings, because there are certain rules that the IIC is supposed to follow regarding snow days.  My kids go to Catholic Schools, and the general rule is that 4 other districts in our county have to have a delay or closing in order for us to follow suit.  At this point, the count was 2 closed, 2 delayed, but the city schools were still open, which means we have busses.  So we're still ok.

As the "others" and I continued our argument about whether our kids should go to school, one of the hockey moms posted a comment about something making noise outside her window.  Though Jo was mildly concerned, she did not want to get out of her warm bed to investigate.  I suggested it might be a bear, even though we have no bears this far south in Michigan.  That got her going!

Now another school has announced a closing, and one more delay.  But city schools are still open, and the count was at 3 closings and 3 delays, so we're good.  Surely, we would have school, right?

I offered to drive over to Jo's with my camera to capture her bear in the act, but mostly to prove that the roads in her neighborhood were fine.  She insisted the bus could not drive on her unplowed road.  Wimps.  But it was 1degree outside, and my car had 10 inches of snow piled on it, so I stayed put, eyes glued to the TV.

Our Road
By 6:15, no announcement had been made regarding our schools, so I prepared to wake Bean and get her ready for school.  5 minutes later, they cancelled school.  Really?  But the roads are not that bad.

I was incensed, and took it out on all the "others" who were waiting, wishing, hoping for a snow day.  Two minutes later, Bean sent me a text message from her bedroom asking if she could get up since she already knows school is cancelled.  My day just went down the toilet.

Bean and I went to the grocery store.  I drove her to another town 30 minutes away to play in the snow with a friend.  I ran errands.  The roads were clear, and there was absolutely no reason the kids should have a snow day.  This bothered me so much that I couldn't get past it all day.  Why aren't they in school?  Who makes this decision?  I want answers!

I became so agitated at the spineless, nameless person who is teaching our kids to be lazy and fearful, I finally had to find a way to seek some peace.  I grabbed my camera, and did what I do best; I went outside.

There is something special about being outside right after a snowstorm.  The air is so clear and crisp, everything is blanketed in white, and sounds are muted.  The quiet is complete and all senses are awake.  I walked, I took pictures, I breathed.  I listened, and filled myself with the clean scent, felt the cold air.  It made me feel so alive!  I needed my own snow day, a day to experience the elements of a Michigan winter and remember why I choose to live here.  It helped me to understand that maybe the kids need a snow day, too, not to sit in a stuffy classroom and stare out the window, but to bundle up and go outside to build a snowman, jump in a snowbank, run and play, and nurture a love for nature any time of year.  Bean was off with a friend, staying outside
and laughing, not like a teenager, but like a kid who delights in something as simple as snow.  I was a solitary soul embracing the woods, the wind, the cold, and I found my peace, painted white and waiting for me to leave my footprints in its virgin ground.  When you walk in the snow, you leave a message to Mother Nature that says "I was here".

Later, when I picked Bean up to bring her home, her cheeks were rosy and her eyes were bright.  All the way home, I listened to her excited chatter about what she did outside all day, and she reminded me of…me.  It was a good snow day.

This morning on Facebook, Jo informed me that even though we got an additional inch of snow last night, the kids would have school and her bear did not make a return appearance.  All I had to do was plant the tiniest seed of thought, and I've got Jo snuggled in her bed listening for a bear that could not exist here.  Ain't life grand?

I hope that today, wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you find your moment of peace.  Just go outside, peace is waiting for you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Guest Post from Girly Camping: 5 Reasons You Should Go Camping

Camping is a great and affordable way to get away, any time of year.  Today, I am sharing a guest post from one of my favorite blogs, Girly Camping.  The author is witty and always gives me a new insight into why I camp, sharing her own tips, gear reviews, and stories from the outdoors.  In this post, she gives us the top five reasons we should go camping, whether we are experienced campers or just starting out!

5 Reasons You Should Go Camping  Posted by  in Camping Trips

I love camping! I love the outdoors! But I haven’t always been a fan! If you would of told me a few years ago I would be writing an outdoor blog, I would have laughed in your face! But I love it and I wish I would have discovered that a lot sooner! Here are 5 reasons you should go camping:
  1. Being one with nature. Have you ever taken a hike… like a real hike into the mountains? Its beautiful and peaceful! You really start taking a look at the beauty around you! And bring your camera along! You’d be surprise at the rad pictures you take! I know there’s an inner photographer inside!
  2. Exercise. One thing great about being outside is the exercise you get! Get moving by hiking in to a spot, setting up your tent, going for a hike, playing games- there are tons of things to do outside! I find being outside makes me motivated to not be lazy!
  3. Quiet time. If you run out of things to do, just relax! Turn that cell phone off, put the iPod away, and just soak it up! You work hard anyways- you deserve a break and some peace and quiet! Listen to the river running, breeze blowing through the trees, crickets chirping, the bears growling- just kidding! But the other stuff is pretty awesome :)
  4. Its cheap. Ok, let me rephrase that- its cheaper than planning a vacation and once you get your gear, its practically free every time! We save money by going camping on the weekends rather than going out with friends and eating at restaurants!
  5. Rekindle that relationship. My favorite part about camping is sitting around the camp fire talking about good old times and discussing life! No distractions- just conversation. Its something we don’t see too often any more and we so desperately need!
Happy Camping!!
Be sure to check out Mandie's blog, Girly Camping, for more stories.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Dusting of Snow Is Not A Weather Situation!

We have a weather prediction for 1-2" of snow tonight.  The kids will probably get a Snow Day tomorrow.

Really?  Yup.  Two years ago, my kids got a Snow Day in March when it was 40 F and raining.  But give us a half-inch of ice on the road, and school is not cancelled.  I like to refer to this phenomenon as "The IIC Effect".

IIC is an acronym for "Idiots In Charge".  I don't know who the nameless, faceless people are who make the decision to cancel school because of weather, but I do know they gather in a dark room in the wee hours of the morning and play a Russian Roulette game to make their determination.  A roll of the dice, a spin of the wheel, and a life-altering choice is made by Lady Luck whether to let the kiddies go to school that day.

That must be the case, because there is no rhyme or reason to the qualifying factors for a snow day.  I can say this, though, with certainty; a dusting of snow is not a weather situation.  Yet the IIC goes into a blind panic as soon as the white stuff starts to fall, and cancels school.

I know the arguments I'll get from other moms.  They say young drivers should not be on the road, they just want to keep their kids safe.  But if young drivers never drive on slippery roads, how will they learn to drive on slippery roads?  Ten years from now, will we live in a nation where everything shuts down all winter because nobody knows how to drive?

My biggest problem with this argument, though, is the fact that when school gets cancelled for a Snow Day, all those young drivers get in their cars and drive to my house.  It's my own fault.  I created a winter wonderland at my house, with snowmobiles and an ice rink and ample opportunities for the girls' "pretend-model"                      photo shoots.

Blizzard of '78
Google Images
We don't get as much snow now as we did when I was a kid.  I still vividly remember the Blizzard of '78, when the record-low barometric pressure of 955 created the perfect scenario for 16.1 inches of snow to fall in one day.  It continued snowing for 3 days.  My dad attached the snowplow to our Jeep and pushed all the snow in our parking lot into one corner, building a giant snow mound which towered over the garage roof and beckoned us to play.  My cousins and all the neighborhood kids came over, and using shovels we dug the most incredible maze of snow tunnels through the mound. Then we packed the snow down hard on top and designed an elaborate series of slides.  We played King of the Mountain, Eskimos, and Bobsledding. I stayed out all day.  When my mother finally made me come inside after dark, I limped up the stairs because I had not been able to feel my toes since noon.  I took my boots off, and as my toes began reacting to the warm air, I experienced pain like I had never felt before.  I literally wanted my mother to take a butcher knife and just cut my toes off.  It was the best day ever.

That was a snow day.  These days, when all the kids descend upon my peaceful home, they have to completely clear the front yard of it's 2" of snow just to build a snowman.  That's not a snow day.  Its an irritating day.

But today the weatherman will issue a Winter Weather Advisory for 1-2" of snow, and tonight the grocery store will have long lines of moms stocking up for the big snow day tomorrow.  Snacks, hot chocolate, and big steaming pots of chili will adorn kitchen tables everywhere while moms wear out the dryers trying to keep the kids' mittens and socks dry.  Adults will be texting each other to talk about how bad the roads are.  Kids will play outside all day and make a mess of the yard and drip dirty snow on the mudroom floor and post thousands of pictures on Instagram that all look the same:  "Here we are, not in school, playing in the snow even though the grass is still peeking through."

Be careful out there folks!
This dusting of snow we are supposed to get tonight is going to wreak havoc in my busy schedule.  But what do I know?  I bow down to the IIC who, in its wisdom, makes decisions based on fear of lawsuits and designed to foster a generation of people scared to leave their homes in the Winter.  The next generation of movers and shakers will be unable to cope with northern winters.  I hope Florida has room for all of them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fixing the Christmas Lights

It's a tradition.  Every Thanksgiving weekend since I was a child, the house was decorated for the Christmas season.  Long before Black Friday, we had Twinkle Friday, a magical day when all the clear mini lights suddenly adorn the trees, fireplace, and wreaths.  I love decorating my house for Christmas on Twinkle Friday.

This year as I pulled all the boxes and totes out from the basement, I realized it has been quite some time since we bought any new decorations.  While I decorated, it occurred to me that it really is time to get some new decorations.  Only this time, my husband is banned from Christmas decoration shopping.

A few years ago, I asked my husband to build me a manger for the nativity set.  He took an old rose trellis, broke it in half, and stapled burlap to it.  The burlap does not fare well outdoors.

Then there's the tote in the basement full of strings of lights that no longer work.  It's been sitting there since November 1998, when my husband told me not to buy any new lights, because he could fix those.  Every year I have fewer and fewer lights outside.  Still waiting…

A couple of years ago Scuba bought a really cute light-up snowman for my courtyard.  After one year, the lights no longer worked.  So I pulled them all off, and tried to re-string the snowman with new lights.  By day, he's a cheery friend by the bonfire, but by night, he's a big blue blob of light.

Ten years ago, we bought a whole bunch of red bows at the Dollar Store to brighten up the fence.  We are still using them, though the mice have apparently been using them as well.

I was delighted a few years ago when Scuba brought home a beautiful indoor nativity scene for the living room.  But then my daughter dropped one of the Wise Men, and his hand fell off.  Every year when I set the nativity up, I glue his hand back on, and every year, it falls off the next day.  Nowhere in the Bible does it reference a handicapped Wise Man, but we have one.

Likewise with the ceramic Elf's feet.  I have a very old and beautiful set of four ceramic elves that I inherited from my late grandmother.  When my son was young, he was playing with them and dropped the standing elf.  The footless Elf has to lean against the hearth now.

Last year I bought new table decorations, which include little sparkly styrofoam balls.  The cat never even noticed them last year, but this year, she won't leave them alone.  I find styrofoam balls with little teeth marks in them under the table, in the living room, the sunroom, and unless our cat lays golden eggs, I'm pretty sure I scooped one out of the litter box this morning.

These are all things I can live with (though I'm not sure the cat can).  The minor marks on decorations that have been used and enjoyed by my family for years just make them that much more endearing.  However, I have to draw the line with Ralph and Stella.

Google Images
Remember The Elf on the Shelf?  I sent Scuba out to buy the beloved elf with the storybook.  Even though our kids are not little anymore, I thought it would be fun to hide the little elf each day and watch them look for him.  But Scuba didn't buy The Elf on the Shelf.  He came home with Ralph and Stella instead.

Maybe my husband is conducting an experiment to see if he can
introduce an unreasonable fear of Christmas in our children.  If so, it's working.  Hiding Ralph and Stella is not as easy as a tiny little elf.  Add to that the fact that Ralph and Stella are just plain creepy and you have the perfect scenario to induce nightmares and cold sweats every time "Jingle Bells" is heard.

I fear that Ralph and Stella may meet with an unfortunate accident in the near future.  Their days are numbered, folks.

I think next year, on Twinkle Friday, the kids and I are going to Bronners to buy a few new decorations.  Scuba can stay home and fix the lights.