Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Frickin' Freezing Out Here!

Cold is a problem. Probably not on the same level of the national debt or my continuing inability to keep my house straight longer than 12 hours, but a problem nonetheless. Really, cold in general is not awful—I like it when I find it in my ice cream, and I appreciate the work cold does to be sure I don’t drink the lumpy milk. Excessive cold is just obnoxious.

It has been about zero degrees here for the last couple of mornings. Yesterday’s high was a balmy 17º. A lot of unpleasant things happen to my body when it is that cold. For your enjoyment and comparison I present the following:

Idaho Cold Weather Advisory

Level One: Brr


Only bad in November. By January, heat wave.

Expect to see breath, cheeks a little chappy.

Level Two: Whoo!


Jack Frost is officially nipping, but a heavy jacket will suffice

Cold nose, cold ears, cold fingers.

Level Three: Shiver


Get some gloves and thicker socks

Cold penetrates jeans, toes begin to tingle.

Level Four: Chatter


Make sure you wear a real coat. Start whining.

Interior of nose is decidedly slushy. Ears go dead.

Level Five: Ache


Don’t leave if you don’t have to. Make kids wear snow pant to school. Consider long underwear.

Chest tightens, arms go involuntarily crossed. Head is bowed.

Level Six: Frozen Silence

Anything below zero (because once it’s below zero, who cares) -5º

Lose feeling in face. Cease respiration.

Can’t breathe through nose, snot frozen. Can’t breathe through mouth, hurts teeth. Whole body seizes up.

I had never experienced cold that makes your nose hairs freeze until I moved to Idaho. It took a couple of years, but once I was acclimated, I rejoiced with all the rest when it was 38 ºin February. 38 º! I wore a cardigan to school! My college roommates and I went to the Oregon coast for Spring Break in March one year, and we were the only ones on the beach, and we were wearing no shoes and only long-sleeve tees—it was 48 º! Last year my husband and I went to Seattle and laughed at all the people clutching their coffees and wearing hats and gloves and big galoshes and coats because it was 40 º. It was 9º at home. My point is I have a different feeling for cold. That’s why my chart begins at 30º, which is officially below freezing—it gets really cold here, and it stays cold. Last year we didn’t hit 70 ºuntil mid-June. Of course, 30 days later it was 95º, but still.

I am currently experiencing varying stages of “Shiver” to “Frozen Silence.” This is especially fun at 7 a.m. on the bus stop with my oldest. When we are officially at “Frozen Silence,” he buries his face in my chest to protect his nose (the only skin that shows) and I slowly lose my will to live. It’s not so bad later. Today we got all the way up to “Whoo!” Of course, I can’t enjoy it because I have lost feeling in the tops of my ears, but someday, in June, they’ll come back. I will then commence moaning about how hot it is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthday BOYS!

My oldest turned seven last week. Since his birthday falls so quickly after Christmas, the begging and greed that accompany that holiday tend to flow over into what he seems to think ought to be some childhood bacchanalia of Legos and cake and whatever else is currently being advertised on Nickelodeon (how I hate you, mail-order advertisements). But, the Birthday Gods, who I imagine to be generally mischievous cake addicts that convey themselves primarily via balloons, seemed to smile down on me. All he wanted for his birthday was to take a friend to see Tron: Legacy.

He picked a friend and I got permission from his mother, and we made plans to see the movie the following Saturday. Remember how I have to drive ridiculous distances to get some awesome stuff, like anything at Target or apparel any classier than Sears? Well, it turns out our local theater isn’t high-tech enough to play a 3-D movie. Didn’t know that when I made the plan. Because I am SO on top of it (man, I wish there was a sarcasm font) I didn’t know this until 11:30 the night before the party. Frick. So there I was Saturday morning trying to convince my kid that Megamind or Narnia are viable substitutes for Tron. It turns out they are not. I therefore found myself spending my Saturday afternoon driving 70 miles to take two seven-year-olds to see a two hour movie.

I had never had two boys of this age in my car before. They helped me realize how long an hour can be. They passed the time via the following enriching activities:

Burping Contests

Oh yes. There was more than one. It turns out there are several events in the Burping Olympics.

The first event is the “Name Spelling” event. As the name might suggest, this event involves seeing who can spell their name out while burping. The contestants were evenly matched, both shooting for 5 letters.

“Alphabet” is a similar event. I actually knew this one—I did have three brothers. It’s a classic game, seeing who can get all the way through all 26 letters. This is a difficult event, not for beginners. It takes a lot of practice to achieve mastery—these two are almost ready to go pro.

In the “Freestyle” event, competitors go for duration, tone, quality and odor. Stinky is better. Loud is awesome. Loud, stinky, and deep are a trifecta. A really good trifecta is celebrated with the traditional maniacal laughter and farting noises.


The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 drew the entire nation’s attention, arguing the logic of popular sovereignty vs the end of the expansion of slavery. The 7th Birthday Debates of 2011intersted no one beyond the two debaters and argued who is the best super-hero: Spiderman vs Ironman.

Birthday Boy: Ironman can fly!

Cohort: Spiderman can swing on webs!

Birthday Boy: Ironman looks cooler!

Cohort: Spiderman is red AND blue!

It was at least as entertaining as the last presidential debate. (NOTE: the entire viewership of the last presidential debate was Obama’s grandma, McCain’s kids, and Al Roker. That’s how riveting that was.)

Honestly, these are the only two I can report. I may have tuned them out from mile 20 to mile 70. Don’t judge me.

I thought that I would be saving money on this birthday because I didn’t have to buy gifts. Do you know how much it costs to drive 140 miles, buy three 3D movie tickets, popcorn, soda and treats? Elventy jillion dollars. However, it must be said that both boys were very grateful for and awed by the awesomeness of their own popcorn and soda. They politely sat in their seats, put on their 3D glasses and waited for the magic to begin.

I had already seen Tron, so I knew about all the amazing graphics and motorcycle races and gladiator events. I marveled in appreciative silence. A seven-year-old is incapable of appreciative silence. Each explosion, each trick, each cheer from the film’s imaginary crowd illicited a loud cheer from both boys, punctuated by loud cries of “That was AWESOME,” “WHOA,” and “This is the BEST MOVIE EVER!” Between shushing them, I grinned a little bit. I don’t really care if someone was irritated, or if they were a little bit rowdy. Seeing how amazed they both were, listening to their gleeful delight, made 60 minutes worth of boy worth it.