Freezing Points: A Survivor’s Manual

January 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 23 Comments
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Do you know what the dash thermometer read when I got in the car to take the kids to school this morning? -14.5°C. (Yes, that’s a minus.) And the windshield was iced over. On the inside. The five-liter bottle of water I had left on the floorboard? Frozen solid.

All this is to say, it’s cold here. Nose-numbing cold. Ear-burning cold. Booger-freezing cold.

We are so out of our element.

To prepare others who may one day find themselves in a land where no one thinks twice about icicles hanging off their bumper, I have drafted a survivor’s manual* with tips and tools for staying warm — and conserving your socks — through the winter season. Toss your earmuffs on the radiator, wrap your non-mouse hand around a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy.

1. Buy snow chains.
Put them in the car before you drive two hours to the wilderness to go sledding.

2. Buy mittens. In bulk.
Your children will lose one approximately every 3.72 days.

3. Listen to the teacher.
When your son’s teacher sends a note home that he needs weatherproof pants to wear at recess, don’t ignore it. If you do, she’ll tell you, in detail, how he cried his beautiful brown eyes out over his wet jeans and socks.

4. Follow the New Yorker’s lead.
When driving in treacherous conditions, make sure to have a New Yorker in the car. Watch her. If she’s not flinching, gripping the armrest, or dialing a tow truck, chances are, you’re going to be okay. (Stop flinching, gripping the armrest, and wondering if you should call a tow truck.)

5. Bake for the neighbors.
When you back your car into the bushes and the tires refuse to free themselves from the roots and snow, it will become crystal clear to those around you (and possibly those on the next street over, depending on how loud your engine is) that you have no idea what you’re doing. Neighbors will come to your rescue. For more than an hour.

Bake for them. Bake lots. And use your super-secret-and-scarce cache of chocolate chips.

6. Boycott Facebook.
Do not, under any circumstances, read Facebook updates from friends who are wearing shorts, getting their RDA of Vitamin D, and walking to the mailbox without dodging icicles.

7. Look for the sleigh.
Your car is stuck in the snow near a picturesque village. Your children are either (1) unhappily frozen to their sled seats or (2) flailing in knee-deep drifts. Odds are even that a horse-drawn sleigh will come to your rescue. (In Romania, at least.)

8. Beware of the sun.
One day, the sun will finally burst through that gray infinity of sky. It will. And you will give in to the temptation to hang your laundry out. Then? You will get busy doing dishes, chauffeuring tiny people, rearranging boots to minimize snow meltage, sneaking spoonfuls of Nutella, and worrying about the snow-laden power lines outside.

You will forget your laundry. And, yes, it will be frozen.

*These tips may or may not be the direct result of personal errors. I’ll never tell.

Have you ever learned about winter the hard way? Ever gotten a talking-to from your child’s teacher? Ever frozen your skivvies?


Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
See the photos.



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  1. Being from North Idaho and currently living in Nebraska, I will tell you that the sunny days are false friends. In winters like this, it’s the dark snowy days that are warmer. Those intensly bright, beautiful, sunny days mean bitter cold. It’s only that sunny because it is too cold for the moisture to stay in the air. Those days hurt the most. It is why sunglasses were first invented by ancients in snowbound, cold, frozen, northern wastelands…..

  2. I am from New York and I always carried Kitty litter in my trunk . I did not have a cat. I used it for traction in back of my rear tires if I got stuck in the snow and ice. It works!!!!!

  3. Funny! Love your tips. One time I had to go to a funeral in Michigan in December. It snowed the entire time and the only way back home was in my rental car back to the airport. As an Arizona dweller, this was Terrifying! I think that was the first time I ever drove thru snow (as the driver). Thankfully, I found a snow plow conveniently clearing the road ahead of us. I stayed behind it almost the entire way! Yes we went 10 miles an hour, but I didn’t care! My flight was delayed anyway.

    Hope it warms up and clears up soon. 🙂

  4. Great tips! We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far, but nowhere near shorts weather (though today is supposed to be almost 60 degrees, don’t hate me!). At least the snow looks pretty, right?

  5. Oh yes, it reminds me of living in Alaska. Freezing cold on sunny days, warmer on cloudy days. The frozen windshields inside and out, the waterproof pants. Ugh. Do you have to plug your car in? If not, you might want to invest in that.

    But the frozen underwear? That’s a toughie.

    • What is this magical car plug of which you speak?? If it requires a garage or an exterior power source, alas, we are out of luck.

  6. Giggling from Canada where my boys went out in -27c last week to wait for the school bus. Even if your son is at school and it’s not snowing? Send the snow pants, they aren’t just for snow. I have 1 son that wears long johns from November 20th-April 1st. He hates being cold. And I agree with Amber, plug in your car, or atleast plug in a battery warmer.

  7. Can’t say I’ve ever frozen my skivvies, but I CAN say that you have some awesome tips 🙂 As well as awesome memories from your adventure!!

  8. Oh honey. When it’s -14 we sometimes forget to zip up our jackets. Call me when it’s -35… we’ll chat.

    • Ha! Mental note: Never visit Lyndsay in the winter. =>

  9. Welcome to my life!! And I totally agree, BOYCOTT those jerks who post about their sunny, 70 degree weather while you’re turning into an icicle 🙂

  10. i am actually jealous of this post. i want to be where it’s -14. sigh…..

  11. I grew up in New England. I know cold. I now live in California. How do you think I feel about that weather? Actually, I do like the cold – as long as it snows. Keep warm!

  12. That is NOT my idea of fun! It looks like you are learning much about survival, and when you get through there, you will be able to face anything life throws your way. Probably an icicle or snowball…but you are prepared! I really liked your idea of baking for those wonderful souls who came to your rescue.

  13. So funny. I’m cold over here and we’ve got nothin on you.

    Oh, and you need to correct your post to read “UPSTATE New Yorker” ha ha ha (I’m one).

  14. You are having such an adventure over there and I love reading about it! Stay warm. We are having bizarre weather in Ohio this January. Yesterday it snowed…today it will be 60. Weird.

  15. Question 1) Yes

    Question 2) Annually…

  16. Oh, I remember the first winter day in Chicago when I saw the sun and through, like the Texan I am, heck it’ll warm up, and went out. In a t shirt. Go on, laugh at me. It’s okay.

  17. I have never experience weather like this. Sounds tricky. I better stay away!

  18. Sorry Stacia! I would fall into the #6 category. I’ve never been in the kind of winter you describe. For me, the novelty of it would run out in, let’s say, a couple of days.

  19. Oh my goodness…I know I would be in the same emotional boat as you, Stacia. I do not do winters, anymore. I grew up in Boston but that doesn’t seem to compare to Romania. When can you expect a thaw out? Well, I love your light hearted post! And I will think twice the next time I’m thinking about posting about the weather on FB!

  20. […] 15: Break a leg. I slipped on the ice yesterday and twisted my once-broken knee. (Drat this winter!) Today, I went for an X-ray, just to be safe. And now I have a doctor’s report and two lovely […]

  21. […] Greece broke the Euro. The crooked mayor went to jail. The snow fell. (And fell.) […]

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