It was colder than the South Pole here in Chicago, and we were housebound with the kids. Two parts bliss and one part insanity.
A day in the life of Chiberia:
January 6, 2014
Pull my 10-yr-old's new warm coat over my pajamas (the benefit of being a short mama with a tall daughter) and shovel the crazy huge snow drifts that are blocking the door. This is the same snow I shoveled away from the door last night. It’s like a bad rash—it just keeps coming back. Courtesy of the 50-degrees-below-zero howling winds.
While I’m shoveling, Andrew and the girls pull out every contraption in the kitchen to make fresh-squeezed orange juice and smoothies. It is delicious ... icy cold, sweet and reminiscent of summer.
Coffee. Nectar of the gods.
Clean up the huge mess. By the time the dishwasher is loaded and running and the counter is finally wiped down, 6-yr-old comes in to announce she is hungry again.
Pancakes and bacon and chocolate milk are acceptable for breakfast number two. It’s only 9:30 in the morning?
Everyone moves into the basement. It looks like a bomb went off after days of being trapped inside. The kids play and play and fight and play and fight and play.
Family movie time. A blissful 90 minutes that must be preceded by 45 minutes of intense arguing over what movie to watch.
As the closing credits are rolling, cries of “We’re hungry!” start up. Feeding time at the zoo. Deli meat, tortilla chips, grapes and red peppers.
It’s time for a family game of hide-and-seek. Andrew climbs into 10-yr-old’s top bunk and hides under her Taun Taun sleeping bag. I burrow into the back of my closet. There are shrieks of delight as the girls run from room to room, searching for us. Andrew wins.
It’s been 45 minutes since our last meal, so the girls are predictably starving. Chocolate ice cream and fried cheese. There’s calcium and protein in that stuff, right? But I do not understand how we use every dish in the house for a meal of cheese and chocolate.
Fighting, arguing, screaming. “Start running around the house,” I order the girls. “I’ll chase you. If I catch you, then you have to kiss me.”
We run in a circle – the kitchen through the bathroom through the office back into the kitchen. All a house with children needs is a good circle, a path to run through again and again and again.
The game ends when the 3-yr-old slips on the wood floor and we all crash into a jumbled heap. 6-yr-old grabs some ice for the 3-yr-old’s knee. “Which knee?” we ask. “I can’t remember,” 3-yr-old cries. “But it hurts!” she wails. “Put three ices on my boo boo!” I pick a knee to ice and all is fine in 30 seconds.
Family movie time. After the requisite 45 minutes of arguing over dozens of options, the girls decide to watch the same movie they watched this morning. The same one they chose last night after 45 minutes of arguing.
Snacks again. Clean again. I think this is what Groundhog Day must mean.
We jump on the trampoline. How many people can fit on a mini trampoline, I wonder. We fit all five of us on it, jumping up and down in sync, the 3-yr-old in my arms.
The girls switch to building castles with Wedgits. Hollering and arguing over who gets the tiny white pieces. 10-year-old builds a tower for 3-year-old to knock down. 3-year-old chooses to knock down 6-year-old’s tower too. Chaos ensues. Time outs for two of the three girls.
Back upstairs again. We throw boiling water out the door into the snow and watch it turn into steam. It was awesome. (But I feel compelled to say, Do not try this. And let it be known I used only a small Pyrex measuring glass full of water, not an entire pot. I threw it into the wind, not against the wind. I wore an Ove Glove on my hand and protective clothes. I am fine, and it was FUN. My little scientists were thrilled with the experiment.)
Snickerdoodle cookies and apples. Chocolate-covered pretzels.
A strange game invented by the girls that involves the ransacking of the 6-yr-old’s room, opening her drawers, collecting all the underwear, hiding it in a basket, calling mommy and daddy into the room, and throwing underwear at them. That girl has a lot of underwear. Maybe because she has only been wearing pajamas for days and her clean laundry is untouched.
Slamming doors and fighting and screaming. The universal sign that it’s time to feed them.
Stir-fried chicken and veggies. Buttered noodles. Frango mints and dark chocolate truffles.
My phone rings. It is an auto-message from the school. Due to the severe cold, school has been cancelled for tomorrow too.
The doorbell rings. UPS delivers a package. It is from the 10-yr-old’s birthmother. Inside are five new children’s movies. First she gave us the gift of life. Now she gave us the gift of sanity.
We settle in to watch. It is warm inside. Our house has plenty of milk, eggs, coffee, and chocolate. If happiness is wanting what you have, then I’m all set.
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