Posts Tagged With: winter
As we prepared this weekend for an ice storm, my kids wanted to make sure that I had enough hot chocolate in the pantry to get us through the predicted two-day event. (The fact that an ice storm can bring the Mid-south to a stand still is the topic of an upcoming post.)
If it wasn’t for my children, hot chocolate would not be a winter-time staple in my house. I prefer a hot chocolate-less winter.
I don’t like hot chocolate. I did, but I don’t now. The journey from there to here is an interesting story that all started with a bad decision.
Growing up in a the Midwest where the winters were (and still are) relatively frigid, warm liquids were (and still are) a must. My mother made hot chocolate mix from scratch and kept it in an ice cream bucket on the kitchen counter for easy access. My brother, #9, and I could make a piping hot cup at any time of the day without requiring assistance from our mother. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon the one’s individual decision-making skills.
On a particularly cold afternoon after playing outside, my brother and I came in to warm ourselves with some hot chocolate. We put the pan of water on the stove, brought it to a rolling boil, and then poured it into the cups that had a measured amount of chocolate mix in them. There was a slight ting in our icy fingers as we wrapped them around the hot cups of chocolate. As our hands began to thaw, we placed our faces over the cup allowing the steam to warm our faces and to breathe in the silky promise of warm chocolate. #9 stuffed his cup with a mountain of marshmallows, and I aligned a simple layer to cover the top. While I sipped my cup of hot chocolate, my brother drank his quickly and made another. By the time I had finished my one cup, he easily had drunk two cups of hot chocolate and had eaten two mountains of marshmallows.
Later that evening after supper, we were in the living room watching television with my parents when my brother asked Mom to please make him a cup of hot chocolate. He could have easily made it himself, but everyone knows that a cup of hot chocolate made by your mother is much more satisfying. It is always just the right temperature and is made with just the right ratio of milk and mix, and mothers always know the perfect amount of marshmallows to grace the top. When Mom returned with his requested cup of hot chocolate, #9 drank it quickly and asked for another one. She made it for him, again with the perfect combination of ingredients and love. He again drank it quickly.
“Be careful,” Mom warned #9. “You’re going to make yourself sick.”
He asked for another cup. And she made it for him. And he slurped it down. And she warned him again. He told her he was fine, and he went and made himself another cup.
After watching Archie Bunker, Hawkeye, and Carol Burnette, we were sent to bed. At that time, my brother and I shared a room and we slept in bunk beds. I slept in the top bunk because the bottom bunk was too enclosed, and I would have nightmares. Although #9 was the oldest and would have preferred the top, he resigned himself to the bottom bunk, claiming it was too far to crawl to the top anyway. But that night, #9 decided that he was going to sleep in the top bunk and that I had to take the bottom. I vehemently opposed the idea based on the certainty of having a wild nightmare that would end in me crying out for my mother. #9 would not concede. He resolutely climbed to the top bunk and buried himself under my blankets. I then had to crawl into his bunk.
Lying in the bottom bunk looking up at the metal springs that kept the upper bunk and my brother from falling, crushing the air out of me and immobilizing me to the point I would slowly suffocate to death, I began to panic. Foreboding thoughts of dying in the middle of the night without any way of screaming out for help, only to be found the next morning by mother who would be grief stricken for the rest of her life, started swirling in my head. Becoming claustrophobic from panic and needing air, I moved my pillow to the outside of the bed, so I could sleep with my head hanging half way off of the bed. In that position I fell asleep.
In that position I was abruptly awakened by a sudden onslaught of regurgitated now not-hot hot chocolate. In the middle of the night, my brother’s stomach decided that 6+ cups of hot chocolate, although delicious, was too much to digest and needed a little relief. Now wide awake but not knowing what hit me (literally), #9 unloaded on my head again. I jumped out of bed to see him hanging over the upper bunk, slimy liquid dripping from his lips. “Mom!” I yelled, ran out of the room, down the hall and stopped at my parents door. We were not allowed to just barge in, so I stood outside their door waiting for one of my parents to come out. I waited for a few seconds, but neither one of them appeared in the door to help me. So I decided to try again.
I drew in a deep breath and screamed at the top of my lungs, “Moooooooooooom! #9 is puking up his guts!” It took about 0.00001 of a second for my mother to appear in the doorway, barely look at me, and run down the hall to assist my brother. Mom grabbed #9 out of bed and flung him into the bathroom that was across the hall all in one quick motion. With my brother’s stomach content dripping from my hair and face, I stood in the doorway waiting my turn to be cleaned up. When she came out of the bath room, she looked at me in surprise and asked, “What happened to you?” I was dumbfounded. I wanted to say, in the words of the mid-1970s, “Duh,” but my mother would have slapped me for being smart. I chose to answer her honestly. “He puked on me.”
The rest of the night was pretty typical; mom got us both cleaned off and the bedroom cleaned up. She put on fresh sheets, gave #9 a puke bucket, and made him lie down in the bottom bunk where I would be safe if he missed the bucket.
Dad slept through the entire ordeal.
Once you have had hot chocolate spewed on you by a sibling, you no longer crave hot chocolate as you did before. In fact, it quite possibly could make you never want to see, smell or, God forbid, drink the wintery beverage ever again.
We try to do things, or overcome things, for those that we love, so I bought the 45 cup container of Swiss Miss and two half gallons of Vanilla Almond Milk.
They only get two cups a day.
While I was standing in the express line at Kroger, an elderly woman pulled up behind me – she was driving one of those scooter carts, so she literally pulled up behind me – and asked if I had heard if the county had called off school due to the weather. I was a little dumbfounded because when I had walked into the grocery store 15 minutes earlier, the weather wasn’t that bad. It was cold and windy with a few flurries, and when I mean a few, I mean “Oh look, there’s a snowflake. (wait… wait… wait…wait… wait…) Oh look, there’s another snowflake. (wait… wait… wait… wait… wait…) Oh look…” You get the drift (see what I did there?). But there wasn’t any indication that the weather was extreme enough to dismiss school early. I simply replied that I hadn’t heard of any cancellations, and turned back to face the cashier.
The woman continued to speak to me, so I turned back to her and gave her the “I’m only turning around to humor you” smile.
Elderly lady in scooter: I wish they’d just call it off and let those kids go home. It’s bitterly cold out there.
Me: (smiling) Mmmmm… it is cold. (Thinking in my head: You have no idea what “bitterly cold” is. Try 15 degrees below zero with a 50 mile an hour wind chill. That comes closer to bitterly cold.)
Elderly lady in scooter: They should just close school during the winter and skip making all the children go out in this kind of weather. It just doesn’t make any sense making those kids go out in the cold (tisk-tisking for emphasis).
Me: (still smiling, nodding head and thinking “No. Not happening at my house.”)
Elderly lady in scooter: I talked to my school board representative and told her that instead of closing school over the summer, they should close school during the winter. That way the kids wouldn’t have to wait for the bus when it’s so bitterly cold, and they wouldn’t be in contact with kids during the flu season. It would solve a lot of problems.
Me: (raising eyebrows) That’s interesting, but there wouldn’t be anything for the kids to do. They would be cooped up in the house all day because it’s too bitterly cold to go outside. They would miss out on so many activities by not being in school during the winter months. (Adding with a smirk) And don’t forget about the parents, I’m not sure they would like their kids stuck in the house all day.
Elderly lady in scooter: That’s true, but the parents would have to get over it.
Get over it?
Get over it?
Me: (eyes bug and I turn to face the cashier, completely finished with the conversation)
The Elderly lady in the scooter continued to voice her protest and policy change to the people behind her, who were all too happy listen to her, I’m sure.
How nice would it be to tailor how the world works according to what we want? Most seriously, I would appreciate finding a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs left on the grocery store shelf when a snow storm has been forecast. But it’s not going to happen. I would really like for a bus to personally pick up my children at 7:30am instead of 6:40am, so they could get an extra hour of sleep. But it isn’t going to happen. And I would love all the slow drivers to stay in the right lane!
Personally, I am all for the school year being just that – all year. Quite frankly, the novelty of Christmas break wears off on December 26th, and summer break is no longer fun after the first week, which is when one of them wakes up and says “I’m bored.” Why do I care if my kids don’t get three months off during the summer? I’ve already had my childhood.
Christmas movies begin playing at our house Thanksgiving Day, usually with Little Women. That one is my favorite. I’ve watched it three times since Thanksgiving and I’ll watch it at least twice before the end of the year.
I asked my kids what their favorite movies are. Z said Polar Express. I thought he liked it for the visual mastery, but that wasn’t it. He loves the soundtrack. The soundtrack.
F chose a movie that I’ve never seen, Tom and Jerry’s Nutcracker. Her favorite part is when Tom scoops a little toy soldier into the toy box after being frightened by the soldier’s toy gun.
G’s favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. She doesn’t have a favorite part. It’s the feeling at the end of the movie that she likes. That’s my Idealist for ya.
My husband Tim’s favorite Christmas show is A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s a classic. He grew up watching Charlie Brown struggle with the meaning of Christmas, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without watching it at least once.
This year I introduced F and Z to The Christmas Story. There are many parts of the movie I love, and much of it is reminiscent of my childhood. My favorite part is when Ralphie’s family has to eat Christmas dinner at the Chop Suey Palace and the waiter hacks off the ducks head right in front of the family. Fra, ra, ra, ra, ra!
The hardest part to watch, partly because I have a weak stomach and partly because it brings back memories, is the scene when Flick dares Schwartz to stick his tongue to the flag pole.
That scene is a constant reminder of the time my nephew, Zep (who was in kindergarten at the time), stuck his tongue to the book return outside the town’s library.
**Names have been changed to protect the nincompoops in this story**
I am the youngest of a family of 10 children whose ages span 25 years from oldest to youngest. My sister, the oldest and who I refer to as #1, and her family lived up the hill from us, and her kids were about the same age as #9 and me. #1’s kids were really more like our cousins, and needless to say, nincompoopery reigned for many years.
Mon, my niece, and I were in elementary school, #9 was in Jr. High, and Zep was close to Kindergarten the winter day we were horsing around in the empty lot next to the Carnegie library across the street from our house.
We had been out all morning and were resting on the library’s stoop when #9 started explaining that if a person touches his or her tongue to the flag pole with lightning-fast speed, the tongue will not stick to the pole. I thought it sounded stupid, and after the half a gazillion other nincompoop ideas he has talked me into, I didn’t quite trust him. Since he couldn’t get Mon or I to try it, #9 walks over to the flag pole and quickly touches the tip of his tongue to the pole just enough to feel a tacky stick before pulling it off. Feeling successful, he challenges us again, but we both pass. #9 pulled out the big guns, daring and double-dog daring us to try. As Mon and I vocally rejected his idiotic dares, we hear a scream from the other side of the library book return. It’s Zep. His tongue is firmly stuck to the metal book return, and he couldn’t remove it.
Screaming for us to help him, Mon and I try blowing on the spot where his tongue attached to the metal book drop. That didn’t help, so we started freaking out. #9 told us to run home (across the street) and get Dad (Grandpa to Mon and Zep). We took off, and during our short little journey across the street, we predicted that Dad was going to be so angry that he just may swear.That was something to be avoided at all cost.
We burst into the house and started yelling for Dad. When he appeared, we both began screaming at a fevered pitch about Zep and his tongue being affixed to the book drop that Dad couldn’t understand a word of what we were saying. We told him to look out the living room window.
And then we heard him swear.
He grabbed a glass of tap water before marching out of the house and across the street with Mon and I at his heels. We knew his silence was the calm before the storm and once Zep was successfully removed from the book drop we would all be in a world of hurt.
But that didn’t happen.
Once we arrived at the scene, Zep was no longer attached to the book drop. Mon and I were stunned. Dad asked what the heck was going on? Mon and #10 (me) told him Zep was stuck to the drop box. #9 told Dad that Zep was stuck on the metal box, but before he knew it, Zep had ripped his tongue off the box with one big pull.
Everyone looked at Zep who stood with his brutalized and bloodied tongue hanging out of his mouth. My stomach started to churn, when someone point out rather loudly that part of Zep’s tongue was still attached to book drop!
I wish we hadn’t looked. But we did, and we then we gave a collective “Ewwwwwwwwe…”
Dad grabbed Zep and marched him to our house while letting the rest of us know that we were all a bunch of jackasses, and didn’t we know better than to go around sticking our tongues to metal in the winter?
Well… yeah… kinda.