How one Chicago mom spent her Polar Vortex

Despite years of trying, I have never successfully conveyed the level of despair I feel in relation to winter. Friends tend to counter with things like:

“Oh, but skiing is fun!”

“I really love making snowmen with the children – SO creative!”

“There’s nothing better than a delicious cup of hot cocoa after some moonlight shoveling.”

And my standard response?


Do your children magically agree to wear the 15 layers of clothing needed to brave sub-zero temperatures? Do you have a thing for scraping ice off your minivan at the crack of dawn? Does your personal body temperature run so hot that you are impervious to mind-numbing cold?

Or are you secretly Iceman from “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends?”

No matter.

I’m with Robert Frost on this one, and I hold with those who favor fire over ice. The cold freezes my passion for critical things. Important things. Things like showering, moving, and getting out of bed. Yet the Chicago Public Schools made sure I did in fact get out of bed when they called at 6 a.m. to remind me that there wasn’t any school (on the off-off chance I missed the 15 earlier communications). The Catholic school my two oldest boys attend dispatched far fewer reminders, subscribing to the theory that if you don’t pay attention, you pay the eternal consequences.

I prefer that old school stuff. Keeps me on my toes.

So for the second time this season, I had all three boys home because it was very, very cold outside.

Naturally, we headed out.

One wicked case of cabin fever rendered my family slightly delirious and with an overwhelming urge to seek out other survivors. We attended the kids’ Chicago Park District volleyball and swimming classes. We trekked it over to the orthodontist’s office for our scheduled appointment. We hit the post office, bank, and grocery store as I was desperate to secure vital survival goods (namely wine and Forever stamps).

It was so bad that by Day #2, we did the unthinkable.

No. Not cannibalism.


We went to Chuck E. freaking Cheese’s.

And for a mere 7,000 tickets, my kids got a whistle.

The boys are finally back in school today, so I have made some big plans.

They involve one gray Snuggie, a bottle of red wine, and a staunch refusal to ever answer another phone call from the Chicago Public Schools.

But if I need anything else?

No worries.

I have a whistle.

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