Wednesday, January 29, 2014

snowmaggedon? snowpacalypse? snow jam 2014? a mess

For all you Yankees laughing us Southerners for being in such a mess because of two inches of snow, I will present to you The Reasons.

Yes, snow was predicted. I heard that between "a dusting and a half inch" would come to Atlanta and the deeper stuff would be further south. We wanted snow, and so discussed that irony as we lamented our poor, unused sleds in our garage. I heard that the weather pattern was unusual and difficult to predict.

At noon I finally saw white stuff coming from the sky and sticking to the grass. I thought about making plans with the families of Bug's walking companions to pick them up, but decided that walking would be much more fun for them than driving. Then I considered picking up Pook so he could be part of the fun. Before I'd made a clear decision, I heard the announcement that schools were closing early. The elementary kids at 1:30, high school at 2:30 and middle schoolers at 3:15. I knew from my days on school buses up north that they'd run late so I decided to get Pook. (Thank you FB for declaring me a Good Mom for getting him.) I persuaded CD to come home early, "just in case" and "why not?"

My drive to the middle school was fine, and I claimed Pook, his good friend and the friend's brother whose mom works further away. I'd have picked up a whole pack if I'd been able to reach all the parents. Cell phone towers were overwhelmed. The line to pick up kids was out the office door. The drive home was much more treacherous as cars were jammed on a steep hill and we were moving only one car length at a time. As I reached the bottom of the hill I studied the cars ahead of me, wondering if everyone had traction, or if the pile would slide down the hill like an avalanche of vehicles. I strongly warned the boys that if I skidded or was hit, they were to remain calm regardless. They were relatively sober considering they hadn't had snow to play in for three years.

Since all nearby school systems let out early, and suddenly, all parents began to leave work early and businesses closed. Atlanta rush hour traffic is not for the faint of heart anyway, and I consider evening rush "hour" to be 3-7pm. This was much, much worse. The snow that had been hitting the pavement and melting soon began turning into ice. I was home, cozy, my boys and friends were out sledding, but this was the rest of the city. I shall share a picture from Slate Magazine:
View image on Twitter 

Why did the roads get bad? Weren't they salted?  Yes, and no. We have a few trucks (30 spreaders, 40 snowplows (versus just four pieces of equipment three years ago) for 5 million people in a car-centric city)) but the trucks were in gridlock too. As the ice got worse there were close to a thousand accidents. Some drivers ran out gas, others got tired of the lack of progress. I know many people who drove 4-12 hours to make it home, but many began to abandon their cars to walk. The school buses weren't able to get the elementary school kids home, so the high school and middle school kids were stuck until parents arrived. Parents were stuck on the streets. Teachers and administrators were stuck at school, away from their own families. All around bad.

 I was serving a warm happy-cow pot roast and obsessively reading FB.

Yes, better ice-driving skills would go a long way. Maybe we could buy more snow removal equipment, but I'd rather use government money in other ways, personally. Yes, canceling schools for the day would have been a good idea. In hindsight. But you Yankees laugh at us for canceling school in advance of two inches of snow too, so we can't really win. You'll just have to come visit during one of these storms someday. Just be forewarned--you might not be able to leave.

How could I have forgotten to show you Pretty Pictures of Southern Snow?! 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

back in time

I have been deeply absorbed in family video recently!  For my birthday, CD and Pook gave me equipment and a "coupon" to transfer all our old mini DV tapes onto the computer. One hour-long tape at a time, six years of video. Randomly, the first tape transferred was the most recently recorded. Bug was three, Pook six. This means Bug will gradually get younger, until he disappears like an ice cube held in a warm hand.

We're enchanted. The boys laugh, barely recognizing themselves, hearing their little boy voices. Bug refers to himself as "he" instead of "me."

Bug is usually in dress-up clothes in these videos. In one of the first we watch, he's asked me to interview him (with my 2lb weight as a microphone) about his "Aklympic" experience. He "mostly does fencing. And hurdles." He used to do swimming. And gymnastics. When he got too old for being an athlete he coached. Now he talks about the sports (he's dressed in a suit to be a commentator) but then he'll be a minister before he's a president.  I keep a mostly straight face during the interview. He's adorable.

He wasn't always adorable. I filmed a couple tantrums of Bug's. I reassure him that we don't have to watch them; they were filmed so I could appreciate how much better he became. They're tough to watch even for me. I may not ask him, but I'd kind of like him to see at least one.

In many of the videos, Bug is doing something loud and silly. Pook shows up and pushes into the scene for some attention too. Either Pook tries to outdo his baby brother or Bug begins to copy Pook. Soon, they're both wild and silly.  The Pook videos will be quieter. All the attention from both parents, but a quieter, calmer kid too.

I'm addicted and can't leave the computer. I'll be back in six years.

Friday, January 10, 2014

ten test two

Pook reminded me, just recently, that Bug has a Ten Test coming up! How this can be happening, I really have no idea. Last I checked, the boys were still three years apart in age and if the younger one is turning ten then the older one must be almost... (no, I'm not going there.)  But, if it is truly so, I'd better get Bug's test out. The test varies and siblings can expect different questions.  Here is Bug's Ten Test. (Pook's test is here.) He has until February to master the following:

  1. Can you brush your teeth in the same bathroom as a sibling without arguing with him or spitting on him?
  2. Can you remove pants with both legs right side out?
  3. Can you have a conversation which avoids making excuses, blaming someone or complaining?
  4. Can you bring home all materials needed for homework assignments?
  5. Can you talk to an adult politely? Even if that adult is your parent?
  6. Can you prepare a healthy snack for yourself?
  7. Can you successfully throw dirty laundry in a hamper?
  8. Can you spear a bite of food which will fit into your mouth without effort?
  9. Can you pack the materials you need for a sport without forgetting anything?
  10. Can you carry a glass of milk to the table without spilling any of it?
If you have answered 'yes' to all ten of these questions, and if your tenth birthday is imminent and you know what the word 'imminent' means, then you are deemed worthy of turning ten.


Monday, January 6, 2014

brotherly love

Is this a sign of brotherly love or what? Older brother to younger brother:

"That's just my spit. Here, I'll wipe it off for you."

Bug's school starts all the fourth graders on instruments (band or orchestra) in the second semester. They put in three top choices and are assigned an instrument based on the rest of the kids' preferences and the musical balance of the group.

Bug requested trumpet, trombone and clarinet, in that order. I had strongly encouraged him to take saxophone off his list. The child is too competitive with Pook already and having something else in common seemed like a big mistake. The band instructor had already told Bug that, due to his height, he would be a great trombonist. This clearly influenced him, but not enough to put the instrument on his list as number one. But now he's assigned the trombone and he's very happy and all is well.

We sent out a couple of emails to friends and quickly were offered the use of three trombones. CD and Bug went to pick one up and then dropped it off at the music store for some TLC. It was collected Saturday. Bug has picked it up each day since and tried to make some music.

The dying duck has not left the house, but he's sounding healthier.  Enough healthier that Pook is interested. And, I must say I'm thankful that Pook couldn't make much sound from the trombone and allowed Bug to instruct him. Even with the educated guidance of the two-day-experienced player, Pook couldn't do much with it.  Bug glowed.

Then Pook surprised me by pulling out his saxophone and suggesting that Bug give it a try. First he demonstrated how to suck on the reed. Then he wiped off his spit and gave it to Bug to use. (I tell you, brotherly love!) He leaned over and around Bug to help him put his fingers just so, and demonstrated the mouth position a few times before, finally, a saxophonish noise came from the instrument.

Both boys acknowledged the difficulty of the other instrument performance and traded back to get their own. A few saxophone enhanced duck calls later, both instruments were packed up for school tomorrow.