Category Archives: winter

Seriously though…

The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday.

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(Pic courtesy of Sid’s pre-school teachers who sent home this insanely cute groundhog.) Six more weeks of winter, according to Puxatawney Phil, Groundhog in Chief.

A little closer to home: Apparently there is a Staten Island groundhog who did not see his shadow, meaning that Spring is around the corner.

I’ll let the hogs hash it out. I like winter (there, I said it) and am ok with several more weeks.

A few confessions though:

— I have no idea what black ice is. I’ve never seen it and am not sure anyone has. But people like to pepper it into conversation in a knowing, smuggish way. (She was fine until she hit that black ice; watch out for that black ice…) Frankly, I think it’s all a hoax. A smug people hoax.

— I am hungry all the time in the winter. Snow days are basically an excuse for me to eat the entire contents of my fridge, pantry, and Costco overflow while simultaneously slipping on snow the kids have trekked through the house and yelling at children to turn things off.

— As the season of indoor fire, winter makes me nervous. And not surprisingly (given that Hannukah is basically an excuse for my boys to try to set the house aflame), my phone now corrects “season” to “arson.”

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— The longer you spend out of a bathing suit, the more likely you are to look awful in one.

— As a friend pointed out recently, snow days take on a different meaning as an adult. Yes, there is still a frisson of excitement when snow falls, when it’s announced, when the day is stretched out in front of you, but a few hours in when you’ve run out of marshmallows and feel more like a disenfranchised short order cook than a giddy child, when all the things you have to do get pushed off to another day, displacing all sorts of other things you have to do, it’s time to go back to school.

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Filed under children, Flu season, New York City, parenting, snow, weather, winter

Snow shoes, snow day.

It’s that time of year again.

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Which also means this.

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.. Turning my sneakers into show shoes so I can get out and run.

It’s our first snow day of the year and I volunteered to shovel just to get out the house and away from wiping kitchen counters and responding to the near-constant calls for help and attention. To be clear, shoveling snow is yet another thing at which I’m complete rubbish. Still, it beats “she got more than me,”or “he took mine,” or “I tried to spread the jam but it slid off the bagel and onto the floor,” or “I tried to wipe myself and now it’s all over the outside of the bowl,” (How in God’s name does that even happen?”) or my own personal favorite, “I refuse to eat a bagel with seeds.”

I’m attempting to enforce some child labor (their words) around here. Oldest child made crepes last night and then I actually made him clean up (no, that is not what I’m for).

Him: “hey, this is really cool. What do you call it?”

Me: “a dish rack.”

My work is long, people.

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Filed under New York City, parenting, snow, weather, winter

You spin me right round…

Winter in NYC. First snowfall and my shitty minivan got stuck at the bottom of a hill. Our house is on the top of the hill. Far better drivers than me (everyone I know) struggled to get the car up.

An inch of snow and a minor hill and I was totally grounded.

It’s going to be a long winter.

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This morning I drove the van to a tire place and got snow tires put on. This is my last ditch attempt to let the van show its worthiness.

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The tire guy told me I had to bring the car in to have the tires rotated at the end of the winter.

“Um, excuse me sir,” I whisper. “But don’t the tires rotate on their own? I mean isn’t that what tires do?”

Blank stare. Awkward laugh.

Apparently rotate means switch places.

Another day, another lesson.

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Filed under driving, Minivans, New York City, weather, winter

Spring Forward, Pay it Forward.

Spring sort of sprung earlier in the week, and then today the temperature dropped below twenty just to remind us all who exactly is boss. I don’t need any reminders — I know that I am never the boss, in any situation. (Even when it appears that I may be the boss, I’m still not the boss.)

With spring comes daylight savings, which means an extra hour of daylight PLUS an extra dose of you-must-be-effing-kidding-me in the morning. As if dragging those kids out of bed and then making a show of breakfast wasn’t hard enough. (By making a show, I mean preparing at least one breakfast per child (for some it’s two or three) and then watching them eat none of it. Nothing is as depressing to me as staring at a table full of eight to ten uneaten breakfasts- cold oatmeal, congealed eggs, separated smoothies. I feel beaten, well and truly beaten.)

To summarize, it’s cold again and we are all tired.

But I’m not grumpy. Not yet, anyway.

You see, we had a glimpse of spring this week. And yes, winter is endless and summer is brutal, but spring in NYC is glorious; and it’s coming.

I’m so ungrumpy that I’m doing good deeds here and there.

Today I went to pay for parking at the muni meter and met a woman who told me that not only was the meter was not working, but that it went and ate all her change. This is not shocking. I have learned that there are about six fully functioning muni meters in all of NYC, and only one of them is in the Bronx. I tried my credit card and it worked, so I offered to buy her parking for her.

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She hesitated.

Listen, I told her. I moved here a few months ago, and something like this happened to me on the Upper West Side. A pizza delivery man came to my rescue when my card wasn’t working. He kindly gave me two dollars in quarters, and saved me a trip to the ATM (because the last time I carried any cash on me, I think it was 1998.)

So, it’s the least I can do, I said.

“You mean you’re paying it forward,” she asked.

Well, I suppose I am.

“Welcome to New York!” she cried. And then she hugged me.

So, those kids can leave all the uneaten breakfast they want. They can cry me a rainstorm in the morning when it’s time to get up. Because somewhere in NYC, there’s a woman who thinks I’m pretty awesome.

Spring is coming, people.

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Filed under children, moving, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized, weather, winter

Strepkids (or How to Overuse the Cup of Sick Pity)

This time of year the butter shelf in my fridge looks something like this:

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Frances (as one of the family’s few possessor of tonsils), brings home strep monthly. Every so often she donates it to someone else. (I think I have had a kid home from school for six weeks straight.)

I was talking to some friends this morning about how differently we react to our sick kids.

For example, Fiona is a chronic complainer, in the mold of Shel Silverstein’s Peggy Ann McKay (“I have the measles and the mumps, a rash, a gash, and purple bumps.”) Her feet get hot at night under her blanket, and she often feels the need to tell me this — at four AM. Her vision is often blurry, her throat scratchy, her skin itchy. I’ve taken to keeping a list of her ailments on my phone; each night, I pretend to send it to the pediatrician.

Consequently, when she gets genuinely sick it feels inevitable. It is also EXTREMELY annoying given the fanfare the actual sickness receives.

If she “passes” a strep test, she lights up, as if from within. A sufficiently feverish thermometer is held over head and marched around the house, accompanied by a little trumpet sound from her lips, and a skip in her step.

Try as I may, I have little compassion for her when she’s sick; she uses up too much sick-pity on a daily basis. If she climbs feverishly into my bed, I move her back to her own, before her sweaty little feet hit the mattress.

I feel similarly when Frances wills herself sick, because that is exactly what she does. Last week, she could smell the strep coming, and she thus took her temperature HOURLY until eventually it crept up over 100. Again, the Parade of the Thermometer. I thought Fiona would puke with envy.

Efram, however, was felled by strep this week. In general he asks for so little, and is sick so very rarely, that I cannot do enough for him when he is suffering. (I told my friends that he and I must have looked something like the Pieta while I cradled his long, gangly, streppy, body.)

I’m not talking about favorites here. Really I’m not. This is sick-pity, and if you suck it all up year round, the cup will be empty when you really need a drink.

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Filed under children, New York City, parenting, winter

Save ME

I am not a keeper or a saver of things.

Partly this is out of necessity. As a chronic loser of things, I had to learn how to part with items before I was ready to. My favorite teddy bear got lost in the duffel bag my mother shipped to college, most likely because she attached the address label to the duffel bag with a sole piece of scotch tape. (I had lost that same teddy in Heathrow airport when I was 9, but he was returned to me by a flight attendant.) I have lost heirloom jewelery while moving houses, and entire boxes of photo albums in the mail.

But I am also not a keeper of things because I am not a big believer in things. Please do not think, for one moment, that this means I am not a materialist. It’s just that while I believe in the power of procurement, I also believe that things should not be kept for too long. (I like to get rid of things before I accidentally lose them.)

This is probably why I do not have many keepsakes.

But, even though I do not have baby books or pewter baby shoe bookends, I didn’t throw out this:

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This is one of boxes of Efram’s action figure collection — which took several years to curate and which once kept him busy for hours on end. I loved looking finding, lying on his stomach, him deep in play with some giant insect man and his army of protectors.

The action figures have been ignored for a while now, and they almost didn’t make the move to New York, but I couldn’t quite part with them; I had a rare moment of object attachment.

Or was it premonition?

Last month Efram got a concussion, as he tends to do at least twice a year. No TV. No reading. No devices of any sort for at least a day.

So, out came the action figures. And those little guys, even the plastic GI Joes, which I really don’t understand, kept EVERYONE busy for days. And they are still working their magic. Especially on me. I got to dial everyone back a bit, slow things down, even temporarily.

If only they could work their magic on NYC trash removal.

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Filed under children, moving, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized, weather, winter

The Van

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the minivan. But lately I’ve been feeling sorry for both our cars. They were both purchased on the west coast; hell, one of them hails from Southern California. They didn’t ask for any of this.

The shitty minivan is especially perplexed. (Where am I, Toto? What is all this cold, icy business falling from the sky?)

First, I slid on some ice and tore off the side mirror. (In case you were wondering, duct tape is remarkably effective.)

I won’t even go into the cracked windshield. It’s still too painful. Damn you, winter branches.

This morning I tried to back the car out of my driveway. I got stuck with about 2/3 of the car sticking out into the street. One of my front wheels was wedged in what appeared to be an ice hole. I sat there for about thirty minutes. The smell of burning rubber from my spinning tires was starting to make me queasy.

A kind man unsuccessfully tried to dig me out. I called AAA, but they apparently did not have me on file, even though I held a VIP member card in my hand. M, the reigning king of VIP membership, took this as a personal affront and called them later to find out why; they had no record of my call.

(Eerie. Like Sandra Bullock in The Net.)

Eventually the kindest sanitation workers in NYC showed up, dug me out, got behind the wheel of my car and drove it out, and then told me that “We’d all been there.”

My God, I love New York.

But the car has taken a bad winter beating.

Between today’s debacle, and my collision with a snow bank in Yonkers a few weeks ago, the underside of the minivan is wrecked.

A giant piece of plastic has been ripped off, and is now dragging underneath the car like entrails spilling out of a dying deer.

Passers-by point and stare.

I can hear the dragging sound over the car radio.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and fix it with some duct tape.

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Filed under children, driving, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized, weather, winter