Saturday, December 19, 2009


With 12 kids around, the photo options are endless. And priceless. The obligatory shot of the toddler crashing after grubbing in the high chair ... a funny shot of Claire sneaking a smooch from Gabe, who appears none too pleased. Then this one right here with the snowman came courtesy of a rare snowfall in these here parts of southeastern Virginia. It's a wicked storm that blanketed the region, except that we dodged it mostly. Richmond, an hour away, got a foot of snow. D.C., less than three hours to the north, was getting around 20 inches. We had a few inches last night, then sometime after midnight it warmed up a bit and it started raining -- hard. Despite the slush, the kids made the best of it this morning and created Frosty, albeit a wet one.

I love the ethereal qualities of snow, how the night is so bright when it snows. It reminds me of being a kid and looking out my window in Bend, Ore., the night light up like a full moon was right over our house. And the snow always reminds me of silence. I would watch the snowflakes drop out of the sky, trying to pick one up in the jumble of white and watch it all the way to the ground, then another and another, all the while a perfect silence enveloping me. The rare nights it snows here I like to walk through the house into each room and peek through the blinds. I can hear the children breathing behind me and it's always a comforting sound, a happy sound. What parent isn't happy when the children are sleeping?

Alas, it's not always that way. Last night Olivia woke up around 3:45 a.m. She was screaming so hard I went upstairs to get her. I picked her up and went over to the window where we looked outside. By that time the wind was howling and sheets of rain were melting the 3 or 4 inches of snow that had been on the ground. She stared at the snow in wonder. She patted me on the cheek and then pointed outside. Something new. Something strange. "Snow," I said. "Snow." Eventually we left the window and headed downstairs for something to drink. Then we rocked together for a half-hour and for whatever reason she wouldn't go back to sleep. She was wired and I don't know if it was the unusual brightness from the snow, the mystery of it or if her sleeping clock was just out of whack for some unexplainable reason. After enough walking and rocking she eventually went back to sleep. When she finally drifted off I put her in bend and then I walked through the house, peeking through the windows, once again amazed by it all.

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