I now know where the ‘X’ comes from…

To take advantage of the beautiful day, we went cross country skiing as a family. It was my first time, and I have to say it’s a lot of fun. Our youngest had a bit more of a challenge ahead of him. It took him a while to get the hang of ‘walking’ with his poles. The poor kid spent a lot of time on his back trying to uncross his skis after falling down. We did manage to complete a 5K in just over two hours. Olympics 2014, here we come!

It’s the Exciting New Game Sensation…

We’re grateful that our two boys have each other to entertain, but the close quarter conditions wrought by the long winter is taking its toll. What starts out as innocent conversation during playtime will sometimes turn into an all-out argument. Disagreements arise, tempers flare and the kid with the clear disadvantage will often resort to the cowardly game of mockery. It’s the only technique I can think of that not only requires the least amount of skill or wit but is guaranteed to leave the opponent frustrated and defenseless – unless, of course, they wish to lower themselves to fight on equal terms.

“Mom, he’s mocking me!” will often be met with, “Well, are you mockworthy?” It’s a valid question when you think of it. The only way to defeat a mocker is to give them nothing to mock. That requires the mockee to ignore the mocker. In our boys’ case that’s harder to do than fighting. Eventually they’ll learn how the game is won, but I fear it will be the hard way.

Sledding

They sure don’t make sleds like they used to. I still remember the old Flexible Flyer sled we had growing up. The powder-coated steel runners elevated the treated birch body off the snow high enough to ensure that there was minimal friction to slow you down. Combine this simple engineering with ideally packed snow and you had yourself a sixty inch snow torpedo. That flexible wooden steering plank mounted on the front gave the lead rider little, if any, serious control of a four-person team once they reached terminal velocity. As if this sled wasn’t dangerous enough, I can recall riding it down the middle of our steeply sloped street. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of traffic.

Olympic Shoveling

By now everyone’s heard about Mark Ladwig, the Olympic figure skater from Moorhead. Unfortunately for Minnesota residents, he’s better known by his nickname “Fargo” in the Olympic village — so by proxy us North Dakotans get any press (positive or negative) surrounding his performance in Vancouver. It’s not really a stretch to think that someone from the frigid north would excel at a sport that takes place on the ice (certainly not ironic like the Jamaican bobsled team). If the Olympic Committee ever decided to take a look at adopting Shoveling as an event, there would be far more athletes coming from North Dakota. We have the perfect training conditions for it.

Olympic Creativity

I had the opportunity to watch the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies last night and I have to say it was pretty spectacular. Vancouver invested millions of dollars to host this year’s Olympic Games and it showed. It’s amazing to see the creative vision of so many talented individuals be realized. Equally impressive is the tradition of signifying each Winter Olympic Games with its own logo (hopefully, the NFL’s Super Bowl logo rationale doesn’t influence the Olympic Committee to change). It underscores the power of an effective logo, all while being simple and original. In addition to the Olympic rings, these individual symbols become a way to distinguish each locale and year from another. Sure the games would go on without them, but you can’t deny that they add a level of sophistication and brand class to the event.

Icicle Hunters

The last thaw we had brought about some major water stalactites – also known as icicles. Our boys have become obsessed with hunting and harvesting the largest one. Any icicle-laden structure we drive past, no matter how far from home, instantly transforms our little hunters into beggars.

“Whoa, look at the size of that one! Please, can we stop?! Please, please, please?!”

“Um, that icicle happens to be hanging three stories off the ground, so at the risk of being impaled from above and possibly reported for trespassing, I’m going to have to say… ‘no’.”

The result of our denying their far-reaching conquests for exotic, frozen water has pretty well gleaned the neighborhood of any hanging ice. Though not quite as sizable, the fruits of their local exploits get proudly fanned out on our porch like a set of fine cutlery. We’ve had to confiscate a few larger pieces from being brought into the house and stored in our freezer but overall, it’s good harmless fun. Thankfully, icicle hunting season – and winter – will soon come to an end.

Come Back in Five Months!

I couldn’t help but notice the Schwan’s catalog this morning on the kitchen table. My wife flatly stated that he was coming tomorrow and began leafing through it. She wasn’t frantic, but I still detected a slight tone of purchase obligation; like we owed the Schwan’s man some business because we asked to be on his route. I realize that Schwan’s sells more than frozen treats, but part of me doesn’t exactly think “let’s get Schwan’s” when it’s -35˚ outside (the goods are probably warmer in the truck).

Getting something from Schwan’s was a premium purchase that happened occasionally when we were kids. In fact, rather than deal with the guilt of turning down the Schwan’s man, we chose to hide behind the couch when he drove by. It’s like the Schwan’s man was some kind of professional beggar. A beggar who forewarned of his panhandling with a slick full-color brochure and handy bright yellow calendar sticker announcing his visits.

Not much has changed, though this routine is a little too fresh to effectively teach the kids how to make it look like no one’s home. Hey, the stuff’s expensive and we live only blocks from a grocery store, so if we did buy something it would only be to help the poor guy having to drive around in this cold, going door-to-door peddling the Schwan’s processed food line. I’d just as soon see him when it warms up a little, but if I come home tomorrow to ice cream drum sticks or orange push-ups I won’t complain.

Winter Blues

I knew it would happen eventually. The kids are officially bored with winter. It’s funny how just six months ago they were saying how much they were looking forward to the snow and cooler weather. To some degree their discontentment with the seasons is true for all of us, but as parents we don’t dare let on that we too are fed up with winter. Instead we encourage them to go outside and play in the ‘beautiful’ subzero playground that is our yard (because it’s what they begged for all summer long). They usually last a half hour before coming inside complaining that the snow is too icy to make anything with. I fear that it won’t be long before there is an outbreak of the severely contagious spring fever in the Thorenson household. Oh yippee.