Sunday, February 21, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas

In late January, we awoke to a soft steady downfall of snow. We had no snow when we went to bed late on Friday but early Saturday the yard was buried. We have a deck table on our back patio which we used as a snow gauge all day. Ten inches, twenty inches, thirty inches… Then we cleared the table, worried its glass top would break under the weight. The snow continued to fall all evening until we began to wonder if it would stop. Our new house is a bit of an unknown. Phil got out on a roof and shoveled some snow. We checked on the hot tub. We gave up on shoveling to our front door. And we waited it out.
The snow finally stopped. Sunday was sunny and warm and beautiful. Church was cancelled due to excessive snow and we just stayed home, happy with no kid activities of any kind, except board games. The storm was talked up all week. Food started disappearing from the grocery store shelves by mid week so I finally got around to stocking up.  We were slightly bemused by all the concern. We definitely had the same amount of snow in Germany without any lead up. Or a lead up I missed as it was in German. The difference there though was snow removal, which was quick and continual. Here things went slower though by Sunday afternoon snow plows were out and about.
Our street usually has a slightly deserted feel with most people at work and kids at school and activities. The storm brought people out. By Sunday, people were shoveling and dogs were being walked. Sienna loved the snow, bounding over snow drifts and scrambling into snow caves the kids built. Only problem with Arctic Pup was that her hypoallergic fur caught the snow in little balls all over her body. Every trip out needed a warm bath to melt hundreds of snow balls off her. But as there was little else to do, we did it!
We found the local sledding hills, one at the old cemetery and one near our summer pool. We debated the propriety of sledding at the cemetery but came down in favor of it. The kids were not going over any graves and we figured all the Europeans buried there one hundred years ago would appreciate a good snow day. At the pool hill, Royce and Arctic Pup went up and down the hill. Royce soon started carrying the sleds of two young Korean brothers. Sienna soon started chasing the boys. We left loving those little boys and once again underlining the fact that we talk more freely with expats than with straight up Americans.
On the travel side, the winter storm was a problem for everyone but us. Phil came home a day early to avoid the snow storm. His original flight was for Saturday mid day, which proved to be full strength storm time. On the following Tuesday, his outgoing flight was cancelled due to continued disruptions. We loved this storm, more time with Dad. And more time with Dad shoveling snow on our behalf!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fifteen and Fabulous

We recently celebrated Tori’s birthday, which brought our family’s holiday season to a close. We were pleasantly surprised to remember Martin Luther King Day is near Tori’s birthday and thus she had a three day weekend to celebrate, or as the case was, sleep in. Just what all teenagers want…more sleep, the best birthday present ever.
Though we feel like we are still finding our way around here with friends and places to go, Tori invited a number of girls over after school. They even had a half day on the Friday preceding MLK day! Quite the weekend. Anyway, Tori and friends hung out at our place, ice skated nearby in the afternoon and returned to ours for pizza and hot tub and music. A play list made by Adam on the drive home from the ice rink. The music played on the outdoor sound system that Phil has managed to get going. While walking the dog later that night, we heard the music and laughter wafting through the neighborhood. We thought someone is having a party and then realized it was us!
There was lots of indecision about what to do for the party. Where to go and what to eat. We really just don’t know the area well enough yet. And of course there is the birthday party tradition of where you live. Some places we’ve lived have been big into birthdays and some places, not. We’ve personally always been big into theme parties, as a back track through this blog will show. But this year Tori wasn’t sure that themes would fly with the high school crowd. And we weren’t sure either. As we headed into the birthday, Tori came up with a neon color theme and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Any sort of theme gives us something to do and a cake to decorate. We were all surprised at how easy party prep is in the states. One trip to Target as opposed to months of shopping for neon pink and green items.
The girls skated and held hands and of course took pictures of themselves. They drank juice boxes and took pictures of themselves. They put on neon face paint and took pictures of themselves. They ate neon colored cake and took pictures of themselves. It was all familiar and yet not quite so. We were  happy to be there, dishing out the cake and singing the songs, as the realization that very very soon we will only be seeing the pictures after the fact. Of course, we took our own pictures, though with a camera, not our phone cameras. My favorite picture is one of Tori behind her cake, laughing and talking with friends, while Phil, Adam and Royce stand all around Tori, not quite ready to let her go by her fifteen self with friends that are not us.