February 12

Well, here we are in the throes of winter.  This is when it really starts to feel long, isn’t it?  Ha!  Maybe for all you trolls reading this.  Long for a Yooper is in April when the snow is still banked up six feet and we get the occasional 14 inch snowstorm.  Ah well, I’m over it.  Winter can end now as far as I’m concerned.

But since it won’t, then why not enjoy it, right?!  We’ve been getting out even though it’s been terribly cold.  And by that I mean that the kids haven’t had an outside recess since the week before last.  But I’m hopeful they’ll get out by the end of the day today.  Meanwhile, the Vendlinski clan dons their ski masks and goes out anyway.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, as they say.

I’ve been running a lot.  Did I tell you that Jim and I have decided to do the “Run the Year 2018” program -unofficially, of course (who needs to pay for that?!).  So we’re trying to run 2,018 miles combined for the year.  It started January 1st and will end December 31st.  I think if we run another marathon we’ll have no problem hitting the goal, but without some big race where we need an obscene amount of miles run, we might not make it.  One big issue with hitting the goal is that ski miles don’t count.  What?!  Why not?!  How silly!  Cross country skiing is one of the most aerobic workouts a body can get, and very often is more difficult than running.  Walking counts.  Hiking counts.  But not skiing?!  Ridiculous!  Anyway, we’re going along with it, so Jim is having a pretty hard time even coming close to the weekly/monthly average he needs to hit his half of the miles.  I was a little closer for January, but have really stepped it up for February and have been hitting 20 miles the last couple of weeks.  To hit my half, I need to run 19.4 miles weekly, so that’s what I’m trying to do.  One way I’m accomplishing this is by running 10 miles each Monday morning.  I’ve now done it four weeks in a row, and am hoping to continue.  However, Cat is home sick today and I’m scared I’ll get it, too.  But our main focus is on Jim not getting sick as the Birkie is the end of next week!  He needs to stay healthy!

Here’s a pic from last week.  It was so cold out on that run!

But it was even colder for this one:

I forgot to take a photo of the temperature before I left when it was -2 (without the windchill factored in).  It warmed up a whole 5 degrees while I ran!

This was the first time this winter I wore THREE layers on the bottom.  And somehow by knees sweated and iced over.  Weird!

And here’s a pic from yesterday.  Charlie has been running all these long runs with me and has been doing great!  The one nice thing about the cold is that there aren’t usually too many other dogs out there to deal with:

He gets ice beards:

I’ve also been skiing a bit.  While it’s been cold, it’s been a little sunnier than usual, too, which is nice.  Too bad one can’t linger too long, though, or you’ll freeze while taking in the sights:

It was so nice to turn a corner and run into this:

This past weekend was Winter Carnival at Tech.  We so enjoy seeing the snow scultpures and fireworks.  This year, the student government tried to go for another world record.  They decided they would rally the community and the student population to come out to the football field and try to build the most snowmen ever in an hour.  The number to beat was in the 2,000s.  It was a nice sunny day for it, but cold (have I mentioned it was cold?!):

There were lots of people who showed up (the number I heard was 1500), so with that many people, you would think it would be pretty easy to make enough snowmen to break the record, right?!  I mean, how many snowmen can you build in an hour?  Seems pretty easy!  WRONG!  Since it was so cold, the snow was very difficult to work with.  We got our first taste when trying to walk around the field to the other side while staying outside of the “do not enter” portion:

The snow didn’t pack beneath our feet at all.  In fact, tons of people had traipsed through it before us, and we were still having a difficult time maneuvering to the other side of the field.  We made it, though, and took our place in the corner of an end zone to wait for the starting cannon.  Here’s a pic which shows how deep the snow was – I’m guessing that’s a four foot fence:

The kids had a lot of fun playing and hanging out for the hour we were waiting before it started:

We took a groupie:

And were trying to kill time while trying to stay warm:

The kids did well staying active to stay warm.  Here’s a video: video

And here’s a panoramic of the field.  It’s hard to tell, but the whole thing is pretty much surrounded by people.  And this was taken fairly early on – they just kept coming!  It was a pretty good turn-out especially for only being 15 degrees!

And then they told us the rules and started us off!  Everyone went running onto the field to get started and quickly realized that it was going to be a nearly impossible task.  The snow was like tiny little ice crystals.  We weren’t allowed to use any tools, and there was so little humidity in the air, there was no way it was going to pack.  We figured out pretty early on that the only way to make a three foot snowman (the height deemed necessary to break the record), we would have to dig down to begin with.  It was like being at the beach (except that we were freezing, of course!).  We dug and dug and dug and never actually hit the field.  But at a certain point, you couldn’t really dig any further without more snow sand just filling in the spot you were trying to dig out.  Cat, Lewis, and I all started on one together, but then Lewis broke off and Cat and I realized we needed to start with a bigger base, so we basically started over.  There were many pyramid shaped snowmen when all was said and done:

Here’s Lewis working on his own:

And Jim worked hard, too.  He figured out that you didn’t have to dig down quite as far if you could find/dig up big ice balls.  Each snowman had to have three parts or they didn’t count.  By stacking your ice chunk the right way, you could make it taller:

Cat working too hard to look up and smile:

Mine and Cat’s pathetic first snowman:

Here’s Lewis’ snowman.  Each one also had to have two arms, two eyes, and a nose which were distributed by volunteers making rounds, which was kind of a disaster, too.  Most of the snowmen were so precariously balanced, or dug out so carefully that walking around them without knocking them over or pushing snow back into their trenches was dangerous.  By the end, people were pretty frantically trying to obtain parts.  I heard someone shout, “Who has eyes!” while another from the other side of the end zone shouted back, “I do!” and carefully tiptoed over.  It was really neat to see people working together, and so fun to go out and accomplish a goal with total strangers.  And those eyes were not easy to get on there!  The snow was so dry, as soon as you touched it with your finger it would stick to you and the bbs wouldn’t stay on the face.  Ridiculous!

Here’s a foggy pic of the last one Jim and I made together.  There was a guy who was just punching the snow and pulling out ice chunks for others to use.  We made this man fairly quickly (maybe just ten minutes) because we had learned so much the first 45 minutes of the hour.  Fun!

If only it had been 35 degrees, it would have been so easy!  As it was, our family was able to create 6 snowmen – not even two apiece!  Here’s our “after” groupie:

All of the snowmen on our end of the field:

Even though it was difficult, it was so fun!  I’m really glad we did it!  And the unofficial counts are that we broke the record.  We’re just waiting for Guiness to accept the results.  Neat!

That evening, we had the lovely McDonald family over for a sushi and fireworks party:

Don’t worry, we didn’t eat the goldfish!

The kids had fun down at the canal for the fireworks.  The first thing they did was brush off this sign as a team and then hung out there:

On Sunday we headed over to catch a glimpse of the snow statues.  One great thing about this cold weather is that they didn’t melt at all, and since we haven’t had any snow, they were still in pretty great shape!  I think this was my favorite one.  The theme was something about “myths and legends of the past,” and this group made a scene depicting how parking on campus is a myth or legend.  They even put a parking ticket on the windshield of that Jeep!  Too funny!  And so clever:


I thought this one was neat, too.  It’s Nessie swimming under the Portage Lift Bridge:

And here’s the winner.  Something about Vikings:

It was pretty annoying how rude people were being.  You don’t generally walk around inside the sculptures.  Kids these days!

Something else funny this week is that I found these tracks around on the back patio.  After talking with some others, we’ve decided it was probably a really fat vole making his (or her) way around, but the way the tracks looks it’s as if a snake slithered through there or something.  So I told the kids that we have snow snakes and they haven’t figured out that that’s a ridiculous notion yet.  What the heck?!  I thought my kids were smart!

I’m still waiting for them to figure it out, and wrote this on the board to try to get them to question it.  Nope, they haven’t yet.  In fact, Cat wrote on the board after this photo was taken, “I don’t know, maybe?  Prove it!”  Well at least she’s doubtful.  But come on!  Snow snakes, really?!

I made this hat one day.  Isn’t it cute!?  I also made that rainbow hat I was wearing at the snowman thing and lined it with fleece.  It’s so warm!  I’m having fun knitting this winter!

And for Christmas, Cat was gifted this set of porcelain letters to paint and display.  I thought she did a pretty great job!  She made a theme of the different seasons:

And then the star is really cool.  She made a girl looking out a window at the stars:

And that’ll be it!  Stay warm, everybody!



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