Monday, January 21, 2013

Snow Day

We've had an incredible amount of snow this year. By noon, a week ago Friday, we had 24 inches in the front yard and it was still coming down! During Christmas week it seemed every time I glanced out the window, a flurry of white filled the air. Snow on Christmas Eve, snow Christmas morning, snow the days following. It was beautiful, quiet, and calming.

If we're going to live at 4,465 feet elevation, along the foothills of the Rockies, I say let it snow!

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The week of Christmas we had a family Snow Day. We do this every year, even when we don't have snow. My brother and his kids made this snowman. I wanted Spencer in the picture so you could see how tall he is. Mr. Snowman, that is.

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Snow was still falling as we bundled everyone up to go outside. 

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My parents have the perfect sledding hill in their back yard. Steep enough to get going fast, but not too long. Just right for little kids.

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The best part of Christmas break was having this guy home. He took two weeks off, cooked meals, played with the kids, ran errands, and tackled the broken toy pile (items that have needed gluing, nailing, and fixing for months). Work demands so much of him the rest of the year; we really look forward to this time. 

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Gus. With pink cheeks starting to glow. 

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This is my brother Dave, about to show us how a real sledder takes on the hill. If you know him, you can hear him saying, "Okay guys. Let me show you how it's done." His tactic? The running belly-flop.

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We're amazed. Can you tell? Truthfully, it was rather anticlimactic. Two feet further he slid to a halt.

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Ali, however, mastered the belly-flop. Apparently, chewing on a piece of hair helps.

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This sweet girl has been such a help to me lately. Last week her job was to assist with dinner each night and I loved having her by my side as we prepared meals.

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Give Sami another five years and she'll be your favorite baby-sitter. She's always looking out for the littles. If she's playing with the boys, I don't need to worry. I know they'll be happy. She tucked Michael into her sled, and held on tight so he wouldn't tip out.

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Spencer and Gordon had fun brandishing icicle swords. "By the power of Grayskull! I... have... the power!" (Am I the only one old enough to remember that cartoon?)

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Shirlee wowed us with her impromptu snow-clothes design. New from the Braithwaite line and available in your very own pantry. That is one, count it one, gigantic garbage sack! Brilliant, I thought.

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Rachel and Dan

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Rachel and Dan headed up the igloo-making team. 

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Their youngest members abandoned ship part-way through, but we gave them an A+ for effort!

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Sarah and Lance

All the grandchildren love these two like second parents. They're pretty adorable.

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My sister Becca stayed in town with her boys while her husband went back to Vegas for work.

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Deb and Will

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Shirlee and Dave

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And this is one reason I love my parents so much. They never miss out on the fun. When my Dad walked outside wearing his infamous moose hat, the kids teased him, laughed, then followed him around like the Pied Piper. He's notorious for wearing odd hats and loud ties. My Mom helped grandkids carry their sleds back up the hill again and again and again.

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After an hour or so the sun came out and everyone began to shed hats and coats. I love Ty's red cheeks in this photo, and his sweaty hairline. 

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Cute Lizzie with her new front teeth coming in.

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My Dad had high hopes for a snow dragon. So we conceded and got to work. 

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Love the icicle spikes at the end of the tail.

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Keddingtons are known for spontaneously breaking into song or dance. Here's Sarah showing off the finished dragon spine.

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Spencer was happy most of the time... 

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The guys decided to roll an impossibly big snow ball. I think so they could feel manly. And so the little boys would have something to kick.

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Here's half our crew with the great snow beast.

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What good is a dragon if you can't ride it?

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By the time we were slowing down and heading inside, I noticed someone had flipped Mr. Snowman's mouth around and given him a Parisian look. Je l'adore! It was a memorable Snow Day.

Last night, we gathered again to celebrate birthdays. As we sang and blew out flames, I looked at Ali, surrounded by her cousins, and thought how wonderful it is that she feels a part of them, that she belongs. All these people are creating a place of safety for her - a steady, and reliable network that, in part, will define who she is.

We are wild and crazy, but we love each other fiercely. We speak our minds when we're together, comfortably. We have deep discussions. We laugh hysterically. We pray for each other. We would do anything to help each other. I am convinced that having a family and working to keep our relationships strong is one of life's most important efforts. 

I know some of you did not grow up with this kind of extended support. Which makes it all the more amazing when I see you building what you didn't have, and doing it so beautifully. 

A family ought to be an emotional refueling station that empowers our children to venture into the world with more confidence, more security, more love to pass on.

I am grateful for ours. And encouraged during those moments when my kids want to scratch each other's eyeballs out, that some day, they will have this too. That all that wretched squabbling will melt into happy, indissoluble bonds.

Voici à la famille!


  1. Absolutely beautiful! I am so very glad that Doug got TWO weeks off during the holidays! A much needed and deserved time for you all. What a blessing to have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents for your kids. That security and love will fill their cups up and give them so much strength and courage. Love you.

    1. Anne Marie - so grateful to hear from you. I added a couple lines later to this post after thinking of all the wonderfully strong people, like yourself, who are building an amazing family, despite the challenges of their own growing-up years. (3 paragraphs up from the end.) I was worried all this emphasis on family might sound insensitive to those who have gone without or do not currently have such in their life. Want you to know how much you inspire me and how thankful I always am for your warm words. Love you. xo

  2. I love those photos! You captured so much of the fun we had! I love your always helps to right mine! Family is the best!! Love you!

  3. How I wish I had come back earlier to read your follow-up comment…so I might have responded sooner! A family is a wonderful thing to celebrate! Those family connections that are working well and nourishing our souls should be talked about and enjoyed. You have every right to write about good things in your life. (I am trying to take these ideas into my own heart…part of the reason for my absence in blogging is the guilt I feel in talking about the miracles in our family's lives this past year when I know so many have lost so much in recent times… in progress for me…I'll let you know when I get the courage to write again:). Thank you for your deep, deep empathy and care for others' souls. I have many family connections I treasure and continue to be blessed by. Those connections are definitely huge sources of joy for me. We are all part of something much bigger than ourselves, and God through His grace and mercy will heal relationships and connections and allow miracles to happen through the years and beyond.

    Love you. I can't believe how much your kids are growing and changing. Spencer and Gordon are no longer toddlers…..all 5 of your kids are beautiful and thriving in all the love they get.

  4. I flew over Utah this weekend (Boston - Portland - Boston) and there was a lot of snow! It looks like you're having fun.

  5. Hi Cath,

    this is completely off topic, but I thought, since you and your kids like to read, you shouldn't miss out on the books of Otfried Preussler:

    Just yesterday it got known that he died on Monday at the age of 89, and believe me, people in Germany and Austria are really, really sad, because he was a part of our childhood, and there is nobody who read his books as a kid, who isn't reading them to their kids today...

    What I love about him (and his contemporary children book authors) is his call for autonomy in what you do and think -- inspired by the awful experiences of the III. Reich in which he grew up. (For older kids -- and adults -- Krabat is a wonderful and thoughtful book)

    Anyway, the Robber Hotzenplotz is cult and so is the little witch and the little ghost -- every bet in the world, that your kids would like those books!

    So long,


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