Icemageddon 2011 – Night 1

So 29 out of America’s 50 states are now being pounded (or soon will be pounded) by what some are calling the largest winter storm in history. My particular area of the country, a northern suburb of Indianapolis, is getting ice. Not rain, not snow, or even a “wintry mix” but pure pellets of ice that are at this very moment forming a crusty glaze on the house, the yard, the deck, the mailbox, the cul-de-sac, the neighborhood… you get the idea. Oh, and the truck.  (See photo of the tarped ice-sculpture to the left formerly known as our pick-up truck.)

We can actually hear it crackling when we get brave enough to stick our heads out the door to assess the damage. And this mess is just getting started. They’ve been warning us for days. And I’ve learned a few things about myself as I have prepared for Icemageddon 2011:

1. I still have lurking control issues. Yes, I do.

2. I cook when I get nervous. I cook a lot. The oven is panting and the poor breadmaker is curled up over on the countertop in the fetal position, sucking it’s thumb.

3. I never believe the first warnings. It’s only when I see the massive blob on the radar that I start taking action. So I guess that’s a trust thing.

4. I love it when school is called off, even if it’s because of eminent and massive power outages that surely await. Clearly I’m anti-establishment… or I just like sleeping in. Yeah, it’s the sleeping in.

5. Ice storms make me a little bit bossy. Not bad. It just brings out my…um…leadership skills.

6. If I lose my Twitter connection it’s gonna be bad. Real bad. Apparently surviving an ice storm with the help of such interesting distraction makes the whole deal feel less ominous. So needless to say, I am very happy for an iPhone and I hope AT&T doesn’t fail me if Comcast/Xfinity does. This reminds me, I need to go charge my iPhone while there’s still power.

7. I love that truck. I mean, look…it even gets a blankie.

Anyone else out there facing the storm? (I’m guessing at least 60% of you who are United States residents are.) What are you learning about yourself??

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Re-post)

tongue-on-poleLast week, Indiana’s winter hit 5-year temperature lows, complete with wind chill warnings, school delays and cancellations due to the dangerously low temperatures.  I’ve found myself doing all the things my mom used to do during the winters we lived in Iowa and survived 40-below-zero temperatures.  I made soup and hot tea, baked things, lit candles, kept a fire going in the fireplace, ran the space heater in the bedroom an hour before time to go to sleep.  I bundled the kids in layers so they’d have no skin showing (and therefore wouldn’t risk frostbite) and we’re keeping the gas tank full so the line doesn’t freeze.  All the things “good moms” are supposed to do.

So, with all that in mind, I let Jackson and his friend walk to a nearby hill to sled and snowboard for a few minutes after school while the sun was still shining.  They bundled up good and I warned them not to stay long.  I felt so pleased as a mother when they were back just a few minutes later… they heeded my advice!  Or so I thought.

Just as I opened the door, I noticed Jackson was sticking out his tongue.  He said, “Hey, Mom.  My tongue is bleeding.”

“Why is your tongue bleeding?” I beg.

“Oh.  I stuck it to a pole.” he said matter-of-factly.

I froze in my tracks for a moment, unable to believe that this smart child of mine (who, by the way, has seen A Christmas Story at least a hundred times) didn’t believe eleven years worth of stories and warnings about what happens to kids  who try this age-old stunt!  I quickly ran for warm water to soothe his tongue.

“Wouldn’t warm water have been helpful BEFORE he ripped it from the pole,” I lamented to myself.  I asked him how he missed the part in A Christmas Story where the school called the fire department to rip the kid’s tongue off the pole, and he replied, “I thought it was a myth.”

“I told you it wasn’t a myth!” I persisted.

“I didn’t hear you.” he said.

Just when I found myself completely unable to believe his unbelief… I was reminded that I am exactly like him in that way.   I figuratively “stick my tongue to the pole” all the time.  I want to EXPERIENCE the answers, I don’t just want to hear about them.  I want to KNOW that I KNOW what’s true.  Sometimes it hurts.  But at least I don’t have any questions about it later!   And neither will Jackson.

Sometimes learning is messy.  But I guess as long as we’re still learning… we’re headed in the right direction!  The world can be colder than an Indiana winter… and life experience doesn’t come easily.  So I’m finding that I not only want to make our home warm and comfortable physically, I also to create the kind of safety where my kids can come home bleeding and know that someone understands.  The harshest lessons will eventually birth wisdom.  I have to trust that and not expect my kids to be wise just because I say so.

Cardinals In The Snow

cardinal1There are few things in this world more beautiful than a cardinal in the snow.  What is it about seeing a splash of brilliance in a monochromatic landscape that makes me feel hopeful?  Maybe it’s a symbol of survival.  Most often I’m huddled over a warm cup of coffee, staring out of the sliding glass doors at a freezing blanket of white covering my world, when I see that welcoming flurry of red spreading his wings in spite of the bleak climate.  I want to be more like that.

Everywhere we turn, the economy is affecting our lives in ways that hurt.  Some of the smartest people I know fear losing their jobs or have already experienced a job loss.  Truly great businesses are closing or at least tightening their belts.  People from every walk of life are feeling the affects of financial downturns.  So we’re all walking around in the same bleak climate, perhaps trying not to reveal just how much we’re feeling it.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with doubt and anxiety in our efforts to be realistic about our financial future.  Who doesn’t worry about what happens when all our financial safety nets are gone?!  We’re all hoping we don’t financially freeze to death.  It might seem easiest just to hibernate until this whole nasty storm blows over.

Being wise with our resources is obviously so very important.  But, if we are learning anything in these interesting times, certainly we’re discovering that, if our only “safety nets” are made of money, we’ve basically built a house of paper in which we isolate ourselves from deeper joys.   Rich, poor and everyone in-between… who among us can afford to be lonely and isolated?

So here’s a sure-fire investment program.  Let’s run some figures on kindness.  (All the financial minds out there just rolled your eyes… but stick with me here for a sec.)   Showing a small kindness doesn’t have to cost a penny, generates zero regrets, and makes you – and those around you – feel like a million bucks.  Maybe it’s an extra smile, or holding a door, or maybe you scrape the ice off the car next to yours in the parking lot.  Maybe it’s making the coffee first or being the one to change the trash bag when everyone else pretends not to notice that it’s overflowing?

The overachievers among us could really go haywire and give a spouse the day off from all nagging or give our children hours of undivided attention.  We recently had a local business owner offer a free logo design for my husband’s fledgling business.  That was HUGE!  He was our own personal “cardinal in the snow”!  Most of us willingly overachieve to build a certain reputation or career goal… so why not overachieve to make someone’s day – or year – unforgettable??

In short, kindness makes us like cardinals in the snow by offering a sharp contrast to all the economic blah with a little WOW!  So how ’bout it??

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