Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snow day

  Like most of New England, on Saturday morning I woke up to a house that was 59 degrees and falling, and a yard that looked like this:


But let's backtrack to Friday for a moment, when my husband's employer told him to stay home and work remotely. At 9 a.m. the flakes were just starting to float down from the sky, lightly covering the grass and melting as soon as they hit the pavement.

"Mommy, can we go play in the snow?" Mary asked, already going stir crazy in light of her snow day.

"When it covers the grass so you can't see any of it, you can go play in the snow," I said, hoping to minimize the amount of mud they would track inside. By lunch time, we had maybe an inch of snow, and clear roads. 

"Do you think we're going to get hit like they said we would?" I asked Tim. I felt a little silly for making sure our wood pile was covered in a tarp. Like we were going to make a fire. 

"I'm starting to doubt it," he said. Finally, around 3 p.m., there was enough snow that I sent the girls out to play. At least they got that, I thought. 

By dinnertime, when it was hard to see the house next door, we were no longer doubting Thomases. The lights started flickering for longer and longer moments. I cranked the heat to an unheard of in this house 72 degrees, in preparation of the inevitable power loss. And at 9:30, fortunately after the girls were long asleep, we heard a collective loud beep as everything electronic in the house shut itself down, followed by an eerie silence. 

We started a fire, but it wouldn't catch. So we piled extra blankets on the girls and called it a night. I put our fridge food in the snow in bags.

"What if an animal gets into it?" I fretted to Tim. He looked at me, looked at the ridiculous amount of snow I'd had to clear just to get out the back door, and raised one eyebrow.

"If any animal manages to get to that in all of this, he deserves it," he said.

Back to Saturday, or, the Longest Day Ever. Seriously, I don't know how frontier people did it. We had Baby G and her parents over because their house was also below 55 degrees and we have a working fireplace. And work it did. We had that sucker roaring. I hung blankets to seal off open parts of the house, leaving the heat for the living room and the girls' bedrooms. And so we sat, four adults, two preschoolers and two babies, from 9:30 a.m. until well past dinnertime. Our roads remained unplowed, only vaguely passable thanks to local rednecks in large trucks that packed down the snow. Baby G's grandfather showed up in a vehicle that could navigate the roads, gave us some firewood and spirited Baby G back to his house, where they had a generator.

But through it all, we tried to have fun. We made "snow party" jokes (translation: lots of booze after the kids went to bed for the night). We gave the kids whatever snacks we had out. We cooked pizzas on the grill at the neighbor's for dinner. We lit candles when the sun went down and made the place smell like Yankee Candle on crack.

People were kind. My voice teacher called me once cell service was working reliably again and offered us a place to stay for the night. Kids were antsy. I would not let them in the snow because I had no idea how I would warm them back up fully. Even with a roaring fire, the thermostat was barely touching 60 degrees. It felt like a sauna compared to the great outdoors.

At 7 p.m. the girls were asleep. It felt like midnight. At 9 p.m. my in laws, who inexplicably still had power, managed to navigate the roads and bring us a generator. When I heard the furnace click on, I could have kissed everyone. 

And when we woke up, we had power. The first thing I did was clean the kitchen. The second thing I did was take down all the blankets that had made the house look like a shanty town. And then I booted the kids outside.

"Can we have a fire again today?" Mary asked. 

Well, someone had a good time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I dreamed it for you, baby

  When my then-22-month-old daughter began crying for all the world and articulating exactly why she was so distraught, I knew two things: 1) Mary was going to be very, very bright, and 2) My melodramatic streak evidently does not skip a generation. As we drove home from Cape Cod, my not even two year old sobbed because we had left behind a random pink folding chair that had been for sale at a roadside ice cream stand.

"My chaaaair!" she wailed, hitting the window with tiny palms and startling a newborn Anna. "My chaaaair is gone! It GOIN' AWAAAAAY!" From Eastham to Hyannis, all the way past Falmouth, she kept up the battle cry until passing out sometime around Fall River. 

3) My daughter is tenacious. 

So now, at five, Miss Mary is ready to embrace the life theatrical. She's seen me trot off to rehearsals and been to a couple of dress techs with variable success (she adored 42nd Street but loudly asked a fellow cast member "are all plays boring like this?" at another). And we've gone from "Mommy, can I come see your play?" to "Mommy, can I be in your play?"

"Soon," I told her. "Mommy will keep her eyes open for a play that's right for you, and when I find one, you can audition."

"What's audition?"

"It's where you go, and if it's a musical, you sing a song," I said. "And if you're right for the play, the director lets you be in it, and if you're not what he or she is looking for, that's okay, and you try again another time." (Way to sugar coat it, Mommy, but we're dealing with a preschooler here.)

"Okay!" she said, and promptly decided she wanted to learn "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miserables. And she did. All three verses and the bridge. In tune. With hand motions. No, I'm not leaning on hyperbole here. Sometime I'll post a video.

"There are other things you can do, too," I said, when the subject came up again tonight. "There's a theater camp nearby and when you're old enough, we can sign you up for that."

"How old do I have to be?"

"You have to be old enough to read," I said. "Really read, not just know the words to your favorite stories. When Mommy can open a book, any book, and point to a word, and you can tell me what it says, you'll be ready."

"Let's start now!" she cried, dashing to the bookshelf. "I'll get a book!"

"Not 'Gossie,'" I amended. "Not one where you know all the words by heart."

She paused and grabbed another picture book.

"Not 'The Best Word Book Ever,'" I said. "All of the words are right next to the matching pictures."

Another pause, another book.

"That one is in German," I said. "The fact that you can't tell it's in German doesn't bode well for this experiment."

Another book. 'Farmer Boy' by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

"That says 'farmer,'" Mary said triumphantly.

"It does," I said. "How about this one?"


"Look at the letters, what letters are they?"


"Right, put those sounds together."


"No, the sounds," I said. "Buh--"


"No, hon, it says 'boy.' You're not ready yet, that's okay. You will be soon."


"Sure, baby. Tomorrow."

Like I said, tenacious.