Birthday Post

Birthdays. As I get older, I have mixed feelings about my birthday. Fortunately, Lily and Emmy’s attitude about birthdays is contagious. How can I not love my birthday when my six year old and three year old get so excited about Mommy’s birthday? And little did I know how exciting this birthday, my 42nd, was going to be.

Yesterday was the start of THE Chicago Blizzard. Its official start was around 3:00 p.m., and we still had to pick up Lily from school.

Emmy after we walked home from school yesterday.
We were covered in snow!

Ed came home early from work, and shoveled the driveway.

 Ed has two little helpers — at first.
This is the first year that Lily was going to be in school all day for my birthday. I told Ed last week that I wished she could stay home from with me on my birthday. Little did I know that my wish would come true — today is a snow day.
This birthday is a doozy, and it’s barely begun.

 Emmy came inside about two minutes after I took this picture.
Lily was close behind! It was just the beginning of the storm.

Last night, the wind howled around us, gusting up to 60 miles an hour. At one scary point, our electricity went out. Just as Ed and I found flashlights, it came back on again. As we looked out our bay window, we saw a huge lightening flash and heard a roll of thunder. Thundersnow! All night long, we heard the wind howling, and I would wake up, glancing at my clock to make sure we still had electricity. I am counting my blessings this morning. We are all safe and sound at home; there are many people who spent last night in their cars on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. They have all been safely evacuated, but what a way to spend the night!
Ed and I went outside this morning, and as you can see, it’s still snowing! That’s me, in front of our house. Here’s what our neighbor’s house looks like:
More pictures to come!

Mommy’s Piggy Tales: Blizzard of ’78

Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I will tell a story about my childhood as if I were telling it to my children. At the end of this project, I’ll have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.

* * * * * 

Now, where did I leave off last time?

Oh, that’s right…there was a blizzard.

Technically, this story happened in third grade shortly before my ninth birthday, and this week I’m supposed to tell you about fourth grade. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Since we lived in a small town, we drove quite a few miles to go buy groceries. We had a small market down the block for when we needed a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread, but we drove about 45 minutes away to buy the bulk of our supplies. One January day, my dad took my sister and me shopping with him, leaving my mom at home with my brother, almost 2, and my sister, about five months old.

The groceries were packed in the trunk. It was snowing. The wind was picking up. We got on the highway, but it was slow going. Dad would have missed the exit for Rantoul, but my sister spotted it just in time. We had only traveled a few miles, but we weren’t going to make it home. We entered the lobby of the Holiday Inn, and Dad got us the very last available room. Since the blizzard was so bad, the hotel let other stranded travelers sleep in the lobby that night.

We didn’t have our pajamas, so we slept in our underwear. There was so much snow that we couldn’t leave the next day, and there wasn’t much to do except wander around the hotel. My sister and I were very jealous of the girl who had her swimming suit with her! We wanted Dad to let us swim in our underwear, but he didn’t think that would be a good idea. At least the groceries in the trunk were going to stay cold, he told us.

Meanwhile, my mom was at home, snowed in with her two littlest babies. My little sister was sick. Mom was so concerned about Heather’s breathing that she slept on her back, with Heather snuggled on top of her, for the entire night. I don’t think Mom actually got much sleep! The next day she called a nurse in town for help, and soon after some men on snowmobiles arrived with medicine.

We had to stay at the hotel one more night. It was very strange, having to wear the same underwear and same clothes for three days in a row. After the second night, the weather cleared enough for us to finally drive home. The groceries had indeed stayed cold in the trunk…in fact, they were quite frozen.

And then came fourth grade, where, after such a long wait through Kindergarten, First, Second and Third Grades, I finally received what I had longed for…HOMEWORK! The primary grades were over, and yet my school career was just beginning.

Watership DownFourth grade brought long division and longer books to read. Our teacher had a racetrack bulletin board; it was a game; a race to show our independent reading. When our little cars reached the end of the racetrack, we received a book of our very own! I reached the end twice that year. The first book I picked was based on a movie I had just seen with my dad and my sister in the theater…Star Wars! The second book had a picture of a rabbit on the front, but it was a bit beyond me at the time. When I finally picked it up to read at an older age, Watership Down became one of my favorites.

There’s so much more to come….