The stages of Polar Vortexing

Tuesday afternoon: We got the call from our school district that school would be closed both Wednesday and Thursday due to the extreme history-making low temperatures that were expected the next two days. With a wind chill of -50, not only were schools going to close, but my husband’s company told employees to work from home. Even the place where our son works part-time was going to close for the day.

“This is going to be awesome!” I thought. “My entire family will be stuck at home together for two days!”

Tuesday afternoon: I make a mental list of all of the family games we would play together.

Tuesday evening: Two of the kids still had to go out for sports and work. The other four of us played Settlers of Catan. We survived several tense moments when the robber was placed too many times on the same person, ruining all chances of winning.

We eat snacks and drink warm drinks. We sit in front of the fireplace. We are together.

Wednesday morning: We’re still alive. It’s -24 outside, with a wind chill of -50. We aren’t dead!

I take screen shots of the temperature on my phone. I send photos of the temp to family members.

I make Paleo banana bread with our three last bananas. It was amazing. Let the comfort foods begin!

I try to get some work done from home. I am frequently interrupted with questions from family members. “What are we doing today?” “What’s for lunch?”

Me: “Can anyone else in this family load the dishwasher besides me?”

I ask children to come out of their rooms to load and unload the dishwasher.


Wednesday late morning: Various people in the family take turns throwing boiling water into the air. It vaporizes. We take videos and photos. We post them to social media.

I mix up bubble solution so we can blow bubbles and watch them freeze. It doesn’t work. I decide to leave bubble solution outside and try later when the solution is colder.

Wednesday afternoon: I read other people’s FB posts that they were cleaning their house. I feel guilty that my house is such a mess.

I decide to sit in front of the fire and doodle.

Nine-year-old joins me in doodling. She gets mad at me for looking up doodles on Pinterest and copying them. Daughter accuses me of plagiarism.

Daughter cries because she can’t think of what to doodle. I suggest she look on Pinterest and copy ideas from other people. Daughter insists she’s not a plagiarist like her mother.

People ask me questions: “What’s for dinner?” “What are we doing next?”


Wednesday, still late afternoon: Time has stood still.

I help oldest child submit films to a film fest before deadline.

Me: “Can anyone else in this family load the dishwasher besides me?”

I ask kids to report to kitchen to help with dishwasher.

People ask me questions: “What do we have to eat?” “What are we doing next?”

I purchase “The Greatest Showman” on iTunes. I don’t even stop to think about whether I want to spend $19.99.

It plays on repeat three times in a row.

Husband and son decide to go shoe shopping. I remind them that authorities have asked people not to go out unless absolutely necessary.

They drive to Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the mall. They don’t care that it’s -50 degrees. “It’s fine,” they report.

I surpress sudden urge to go shoe shopping.

Daughter asks me to doodle for her so she can just color the doodles. She writes a note at top of page: “Mom drew. I colored.”

No one accuses her of plagiarism.


Wednesday evening: Four of us agree to play Settlers of Catan. Two others opt to stay in their rooms.

When I roll a 7, I place the robber in the desert or an unoccupied space. There is less tension. I lose both games.

“The Greatest Showman” continues to play in the background.

We eat remaining snacks.

I worry that we’ve spent too much money on gas for the fireplace. We wrap ourselves in blankets.

I find bowl of frozen bubble solution outside. I bring it inside.

Thursday morning: Wake up. We’re still alive. Our pipes haven’t frozen. Whatever.

Check the temp: It’s -23. I don’t bother taking a screen shot on my phone.

I think about making something special for breakfast, then decide it’s too much trouble.

Me: “Can anyone else in this family unload the dishwasher besides me?”

I unload the dishwasher.

Look at Settlers of Catan game still spread out on table. Swear to never play it again.

People ask me questions: “What do we have to eat?” “What are we doing today?”

I see bowl of defrosted bubble solution on table. I realize I have zero interest in blowing frozen bubbles.

I beg older children to help their little sister plug in the Wii.

Youngest daughter asks if it’s too cold to play outside.

“It’s fine,” I say. “It’s warming up. It’s only -16 right now. I’m sure it will be fine.”




  1. HAAAAAAAAAAAAA: “I read other people’s FB posts that they were cleaning their house. I feel guilty that my house is such a mess.”
    I can sooo relate to this!!! It sounds like a script from when we were trapped in our house together during Hurricane Harvey, before the flood waters receded & purposeful relief efforts could begin. Days 1 & 2, I took screenshots of the radar to show how we were getting dumped on…but by Day 3? Over it. Like I was over every single morsel in our house. 😛 Sending warm commiserating hugs!!!

    1. You know it’s bad when you see the high for the day will be zero degrees and you think that sounds great! … I’ve been trying to at least work from home, but other than that, I can’t seem to do ANYTHING productive!

  2. You totally crack me up! Thank you for hosting the kids tonight—I’m looking at my dirty salty floor realizing I have an hour before prayer group shows up…to clean or not to clean. That is the question.

  3. The recurring dishwasher theme! The plagiarism comments! Great post, Emily. I keep thinking I need to teach my kids to unload the dishwasher.

    1. If nothing else, have them get all of the dishes out and stack them into piles. Jayda has been helping with that for a few years, and now she can pretty much do the whole thing! Of course, no one does it without being asked… even after years of practice. 🙂

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