Axis & Allies, Valentine’s Day, and Temperature Tuesday


Cold enough for you? We’re in the middle of a record cold snap, with temperatures down to -26°F and making Nome, Alaska look warm by comparison. It’s so cold that wind generators are frozen solid and our power grid is having rolling blackouts just trying to keep up. It’s weather made for warm popovers and staying in bed — at least until that global warming finally kicks in.


Saturday happened to be Jake’s birthday, so Aaron and I were invited over for a round of Axis & Allies and then pizza for dinner. I’d never played the game before, but I was vaguely aware about how complicated it was and how long it would take to play. Nate and I spent a good half hour just setting up the board with tiny plastic miniatures before Lexi, Jake, and a few friends came by to try to play. I played for England as Jake played the United States, but each turn and its subsequent moves took so long that eventually people started leaving the table in-between rounds. I kept Ginny occupied in the meantime before letting her take over the game board, and even Aaron came by to see what we were up to, taking Jake’s pieces and having a war of his own until it was time for Jake to actually play.

We stuck around for some pizza and wings along with red velvet birthday cake for dinner before heading home. As for the game, it was abandoned after an hour or two, but I think Nate probably won, as he seemed to be the only one with anything resembling a strategy by the time we packed it up.


Sunday was Valentine’s Day, so I made some heart-shaped banana bread and frittatas for breakfast — making good use of Vivian’s cast iron skillet. Then at church, they had the multipurpose room set up for their “café” for the first time since last March, so we were actually able to have coffee and donuts (or shortcake made by Hannah in her class) with a few of our friends before heading out.

On the way home, I grabbed some burgers and a heaping bag of fries from Five Guys for a Valentine’s Day lunch — keeping up something of a tradition we’ve celebrated in years’ past. Then we exchanged some Valentine’s gifts at home, which included a squishy taco cat, some cuddly toys, some cheese for Vivian, and some chocolate strawberries made by Hannah. I also decorated some cards, of course, which Hannah and Vivian thought were funny.


Sunday evening, we returned to church with a family night with several of our friends. They church had a fancy dinner of chicken strips and chicken sandwiches served up by the youth group, and every family had their own table (with name cards on the center pieces). After dinner, the had a series of goofy “minute to win it” games, where Sammy got to collect candy hearts with chopsticks and our family got to stack candy hearts on a tongue depressor in Vivian’s mouth. Every family got to participate, including the Lenarts, who tossed cookies and marshmallows into a bucket on Matthew’s head. Then afterward we got some stylish family photos taken in the photo booth before calling it a night.


The record cold came on Monday and Tuesday, so Vivian and I tried tossing some boiling water into the air to see if it would turn into snow. It didn’t quite work, but it did create a whole lot of steam (and the kids seemed to enjoy watching out the window). We celebrated afterward with breakfast pizza.

Then on Tuesday, I also dropped by Runza for “Temperature Tuesday,” scoring a free Runza with the purchase of onion rings and a drink thanks to the bitter cold. It’s so cold out that the drain pipe from our washer froze to a clog and widespread power shortages knocked out some traffic lights on my way to work (thanks, green energy). I did see a bike left by the Keystone Trail, making me wonder if someone had gone for a ride and given up halfway. Before long I’ll be riding back to work myself (and complaining of triple-digits highs once again).

In the meantime, I’m keeping warm with jambalaya for Fat Tuesday and Chili at the Men of God Tuesday night meetup at Wildewood.

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