Michelle Martin

Snow days

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It used to be, we would wake up early on mornings when snow was forecast and turn on the radio, listening and hoping against hope that we would hear our school's name among those listed as closed. It almost never happened.

That's all changed now (except, from my kids' point of view, the almost-neverhappening part).

I think it's the better weather forecasting technology that has made it possible for me to receive a voicemail before school was dismissed on Feb. 1 alerting me that Caroline and Frank would have no school on Feb. 2.

By 3 p.m. the next day, a website was updated with the information that there would be no school Feb. 3, and on Feb. 3 we got an email in the afternoon letting us know that class would be back in session Feb. 4 — with plenty of time for both of them to finish their homework.

Tony and I also stayed home with our offices closed Feb. 2 and 3, and the two-day break was more of a true vacation than we've had for a while.

It wasn't just no school and work; it was no hockey or basketball, no theater, not even any going to the store until the afternoon of Feb. 3.

So while the storm raged on the morning of Feb. 2, we hunkered down. We slept late, we stayed in our pajamas when we got up, we just relaxed.

When the snow tapered off, Tony and Frank went out to shovel and I made pancakes for them to eat when they came in.

Then the storm came back — briefly — and we stayed inside some more. When the sun peeked through, Tony and I headed back out to finish the shoveling and to work with our neighbors to clear the alley, giving all of us access to the street in case we had to get out in case of an emergency.

By the time that was done, most of the neighborhood sidewalks were clear enough to take the dog for a walk.

By Feb. 3, most of the streets were passable, but travel was not easy. With icy streets and walks, frigid temperatures and difficulty clearing parking lots, nearly all Catholic schools throughout the city and suburbs remained closed.

For Caroline and Frank, it was a day of reading, video games and brief trips outside.

But they showed some old-fashioned creativity, making a basketball hoop out of a cardboard box and taping it up on Frank's bedroom wall to shoot baskets.

By Feb. 4, they were ready to go back to school and we were ready to work again. But the two days of downtime were a blessing, not even in disguise.