By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Little Brother is getting ready to go on his very first camping trip with the Boy Scouts. The troop has invited the Webelo 2 den along on this weekend’s camping trip so that the Webelos can begin to learn the camping skills they’ll need as Boy Scouts.

There has been much packing and preparing. Last night he began gathering his stuff and stuffing it into an old backpack. We had gotten him a multi-tool-utensil (Swiss Army silverware?) and it was still in the plastic clamshell package. He spent more than 10 minutes with his Scout knife, stabbing that clamshell in random places.

I could have taken care of the situation with one swipe of my kitchen shears, but I let him struggle with it himself, even when that struggle proved potentially dangerous to his fingers and my coffee table.

That’s a lot of trouble to go to, especially when you consider that this kid still doesn’t use utensils on a regular basis.

This morning I tripped over his fully-packed backpack with the flashlight sticking out of the front pocket. I asked him if he’d packed extra batteries for the flashlight.

“I won’t need those,” he informed me. “I’ll have the moon and the stars to be my light.”

Good luck with that.

(He packed the batteries.)

Not According to Plan

Today was supposed to be Christmas: The Day After. In my family, it’s the last of the Great Three Days of Christmas. We spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s extended family, Christmas Day at home, and Christmas: The Day After with my side of the family (my parents, brother and sister and their families, one great-aunt and a cousin.)

Mother Nature, however, had other plans. By dinnertime last night we were hearing snow predictions in excess of 10 inches. I was not happy. Snow is nice, when you have no other plans.

Sure, we have plenty of snow shovels, as well as enough milk, bread and eggs (why is it that supermarkets are always emptied of those items at the first flurry?) We have Snow Remover Models 18 and 15 (otherwise known as Big Brother and Middle Sister) and I know where I put the snow boots at the end of last year’s very snowy season. So that’s all good.

But I’ve been pretty bummed all day that I didn’t get to have that Christmas with my family. It’s always a fun time, and I know I missed out. Contrary to those old AT&T commercials, long distance is not necessarily the next best thing to being there.

Welcome to my pity party, and merry Christmas! I hope we get to have Christmas with my family before Valentine’s Day.

Confessions of a Weather Geek

TheDad’s a meteorologist, and I guess I’ve adopted some of his interest in the weather. For the past few days, I’ve been stalking the weather websites, checking out the long-range forecast for our upcoming vacation.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I grabbed an index card and made a little database. In pencil. So I can erase and update until Monday morning, when I will turn off this laptop and leave it home! I’ll be internet-free for 6 days. I guess if I want to find out the weather at that point, I’ll just have to go outside like everyone else.


Today is supposed to be Field Day at Middle Sister and Little Brother’s school. The weather is not looking too promising.

We just heard a loud rumble of thunder. That got everyone out of their usual “morning zombie” state.

Middle Sister: “Maybe the power will go out! That’ll be fun!”

Big Brother: “Awww, we have a fire drill today–first period. At 8:20.”

I was amazed that they tell everyone exactly what time they’ll have a fire drill. “Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of a fire drill?”

“Yeah,” he agreed.

And Little Brother wondered if there would be a tornado today (I doubt it.)

My local weather forecast for RIGHT NOW

“At 620 am…snow was falling in a narrow band mainly from Mercer County into Somerset and western Middlesex counties. We had a report of the snow laying on grassy surfaces with mainly wet conditions on roadways in the vicinity of 287 and I-78. The gutsy wind to 25 mph at times is making the snow seem much heavier. The band was moving through at 15 mph and will last for under an hours time. Slow down if you expect the visibility is lowering ahead. By the way, Spring arrives at 744 this morning.”

Yes, it’s snowing, on the first day of Spring!

Scary Gustav

Picture source: Weather Underground

I complained about Fay and how she ruined our vacation.

That was nothing compared to what Gustav has been up to, and what is yet to come in the Gulf states.

Big Brother and the Habitat for Humanity group at his school have plans to spend a week in Mississippi, rebuilding in the Katrina-hit areas.

There may be nothing left for them to build by the time Gustav is through.

Pray for the safety of all those in the path of this very strong, very scary storm.

UPDATE: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has a beautiful litany to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, if you’re looking for a specific way to pray for those affected by the storm.

Live Blogging the Weather

This is mainly for my brother, who has never lived outside the New York City television market and therefore has no idea what the local news media does when there’s a little snow falling. In Philly, a snowstorm will stop coverage of just about anything else.

Let’s just say that yesterday on the all-news radio station we had to listen to live interviews with people who couldn’t get snow shovels and rock salt because Home Depot had run out. Everyone who wasn’t in Home Depot was in Acme buying milk, bread, eggs, snacks and videos. How’s that for News You Can Use?

The Big Story on Action News is…wait for it…the snow! (As if it never did that before). This is not the channel I usually watch for my morning news, but it’s the most fun during a snowstorm. My regular channel is actually doing a news show including stories unrelated to precipitation.

I love how they have a Team of Reporters standing outside in the snow with their mittens and rulers. The weather guy just said, “And you’ll see in a few minutes our reporters, still standing in the thick of that.” High drama!

As the morning wears on we will see people who have left their homes for the express purpose of stopping at Wawa to buy coffee for these reporters who are paid nice money to stand outside in the snow with their waterproof microphones. The reporters will walk up to cars stopped at red lights to ask people where they’re heading and how bad the roads are.

In fact, one reporter just complained that there aren’t many drivers out there to talk to. He cautioned everyone to be careful in case the roads are slippery. (You think?) The anchors are giving out important tips like keeping kitty litter in the trunk of your car to gain traction if you get stuck.

They have “not one, but two meteorologists” keeping track of the weather today. Most images you are shown are snow-covered highways and secondary roads with cars driving along. We probably won’t see a snow-plow interview since those guys are busy. Those were shown yesterday, though, in the Hype Leading Up To The Storm. They have not yet announced that they will offer Extended Coverage and cut off the usual network morning show, but I’ve seen them do this kind of thing right through the entire morning before. I’ve been watching this channel for 25 minutes now and they have not done one story not related to the weather. Obviously nothing else is happening anywhere.

Yes, they will be having Continuing Coverage of the snowstorm. The traffic guy appears absolutely gleeful to describe the spin-out accidents he’s reporting.

And that’s the story on the Storm Coverage today.

Before the Snow

So far this winter, my area has gotten under 3 inches of snow. Normally in a winter we get about 20 inches. People south of the Mason-Dixon line have gotten more snow than we have this year. (And I know that if you’re north of me, you think we’re lucky, and that we’re stupid to be wanting some of what you have way too much of already!)

My kids are really feeling the lack of opportunities for a Snow Day. They want to build a fort, make snowmen, and most of all throw snowballs at each other and at any other kid who happens by.

All week long, the local weathermen (including “Mr. Scare Tactic Himself“) have been promising a decent amount of the white stuff at the right time to maybe give the kids an unscheduled day off.

Since the meteorologist I married doesn’t seem too interested in this weather event, it has fallen upon me to check AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, Philadelphia WeatherNet and the National Weather Service (at least the parts that are written in laymen’s terms) so that I can give the kids my best guess about whether school will be canceled in the morning. I’m sure I’ll be up early to come back to my computer and check, and check again, until I see that message they’ve been waiting for, or the school bus honks–whichever comes first.

A day off for them is not a day off for me, by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be nice to have a snow day. Even with the extra laundry and extra mopping, an excuse to make cookies and hot chocolate would be a good thing right about now.

And once we find out about school, I will have to start thinking about what we should do about Secular Franciscans. I’m not imagining that too many of my fellow Franciscans are intrepid enough to want to venture out during the “freezing rain” part of this storm.

But bring it on. I’ve got plenty of milk, bread, and eggs–items which are absolutely necessary in this area during a snowstorm. We’ll eat French toast like everyone else around here, have too many cookies, and toss a few snowballs around. Sounds good to me.

Will It Snow?

We have had hardly any snow at all this winter–and nothing that the kids could do any playing in.

But I bet it will snow now. How do I know?

The other day when I took Little Brother to that party, we had a lot of trouble with the automatic sliding door on the van. Every once in a while it acts up, and Friday was one of those times. It took me 5 minutes of trying to close it to figure out that I could make it stay closed IF I really quick locked the doors when it hit the closed spot, before it bounced itself back. I let Little Brother climb in through the driver’s door and climbed over the seat to buckle him up (good thing no one saw THAT; I’m sure it was quite the spectacle!) That car “dinged” all the way home to let me know that the door thought it was open. When I turned up the radio to drown it out, the ding got louder too.

Yesterday we took the van to the dealer but they couldn’t get it all fixed before closing for the day. They called us to come in and pick up a loaner van, which I definitely appreciate.

However, I just realized that Little Brother’s boots and snow pants are in the back of my van. We took the snow stuff to my parents’ house the day after Christmas so the kids could play in the snow, and I never took it back into the house. With no snow on our radar screen, I just didn’t think about it.

I’m sure the loaner van does not come with loaner boots and snow pants.

Therefore, I’m sure it’ll snow.

It’s Snowing!!!!

I should have suspected something was up when there was a rush on the bird feeder this morning. Every sparrow, junco and mourning dove in the neighborhood was fighting for a spot.

Now I can look out the window and see the white, fluffy flakes that even look like they’re STICKING to the grass!

Somebody around here has to start jumping up and down, and calling the relatives who live in the “Great White North” and think that we are much too close to the equator here in the Philly area to know about Real Snow. And that somebody has to be me, because the Big Kids are still at school and Little Brother is playing at the neighbor’s house.

Yes, a few snowflakes can turn me into a little kid. Although I do have my limits. Just because I like to look at snow doesn’t mean I want to get all damp and chilly. I think I’ll make a nice cup of tea, and grab one of the scones I baked this morning, and curl up under a thick blanket with a good book. I’ll be thankful for the tea, and the scone, and the blanket, and the book, and the SNOW!

UPDATE: It just gets prettier and prettier! Now there’s a cardinal on the bird feeder.