Science

A Week in Review – Packed With Christmas Preparations, Snow and Santa Himself

December 11, 2017

We have had all sorts of winter splendor this past week!

We got our Christmas tree, which unfortunately came with a little trauma.  Literally.  My daughter accidentally stabbed the back of her throat with the plastic end of her honey stick while trying to squeeze out the last bit of honey.  Two pediatricians and an ENT doctor later and we were given a green light that she was going to be fine.

Sometimes, I can be an alarmist with regard to my children’s health.  But, in this case, I was justified in shoving the tree off of the top of the van onto the driveway and immediately driving in the direction of the emergency room and pediatrician’s office while calling the latter.

It turns out the back of the throat can be a risky place to sustain an injury, (such as a hole caused by the hard plastic of a honey stick), due to the delicate placement of the carotid artery in that very vicinity.

Watch those honey sticks and don’t let your kiddos run with toothbrushes in their mouths either!

Wrapping Up the Tree- Santa

Bonsu Tree

Yesterday, we topped off the tree with a couple of boxes of candy canes, which will mysteriously disappear over the next couple of weeks.

Decorated Tree - Santa

Snowflake was thankful to be able to finally hide in the tree while donning his freshly minted cape, mask, sword and belt – compliments of my kiddos.

Snowflake - Santa's Elf

We got our tree in the nick of time because a snow ‘storm’ hit Friday afternoon.  I realized a few hours too late that the kids’ snow gear was in storage, but felt undeterred by the weather prediction.  So, I ventured out only to find the roads grid-locked and the streets in very bad conditions.

Everyone makes fun of southerners and our reaction to inclement weather.  But here is the thing:  we do not have the infrastructure to support snow, sleet and ice.  And, when snow hits us, it is almost always topped off with a little ice.  I do not care if you live in an igloo, or if you are Santa Clause himself, you cannot drive in ice.  Period.  Even if you have four-wheel drive.

So, I did a u-turn after stubbornly forging towards storage for longer than I should have.

When I got home, we made do with what we had and waterproofed the kids’ shoes with target grocery bags.

Snow Shoes

The next day the roads were crystal clear and I was able to release snow pants and boots from their captivity at Public Storage.

We took full-advantage of the day of snow!

Sledding - Santa

A Girl and Her Snow

Snowman in the Making

Snow Angel

Biggest Snowball Ever

We capped off our weekend perfectly with brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  While we waited to see Santa, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I reflected on something my husband said at brunch last year.  As he pondered the relationship between Santa and Mrs. Claus, he said to me (in front of the children), “I wonder if they’re married?”

I looked at him intensely, as my head spun completely around at a sharp tilt, and said, “Of. Course. They. Are. Honey.”

Santa Claus!

Family with Santa

This year, exhausted from all of the visitors, Santa drifted off to sleep as folks lingered.

Sleepy Santa

Mrs. Claus read countless books to the kids.  Two thirds of the way through, she had to take off her bonnet.  I think she was sweating from the child-cover.  Shortly after she sweated into a puddle, my oldest had to take over reading.  She was ready for a nap like Santa.

Mrs. Claus

Reading with Mrs. Claus

I think she is sleeping well tonight.  Whether or not that is beside of Santa, one cannot be too sure.

Maybe my husband knows.  😉

XO, Melissa

How Are Snowflakes Formed

Snowflakes begin to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a particle of dust or pollen in the sky.  An ice crystal is created and as it falls, water vapor freezes onto it building new crystals.

The temperature at which a crystal forms, and the humidity of the air, will help determine the basic shape of the ice crystal.  Regardless it will always have six arms.  Long, needle-like crystals are seen at 23 degrees Fahrenheit and flat plate-like crystals are seen at 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Snowflakes are symmetrical because they reflect the internal order of the water molecules as they arrange themselves in predetermined spaces.  The process is called crystallization.

The details of the arms of the snowflake are determined by the atmosphere around the crystal as it falls.  The snowflake can begin to form in one way and then change due to the temperature or humidity.  Each arm will form and change the same way as the other arms because each one is experiencing the same conditions.

No two snowflakes are alike because they all follow different paths to the ground and thus encounter different conditions along the way.  Talk about atmospheric diversity!

On January 15, 1885 Wilson Alwyn Bentley, or “Snowflake” Bentley, was the first person to ever photograph a snowflake.  He perfected the process so well that no one really took pictures of snowflakes for 100 years.  And, the technique used today is very similar to that which Bentley used.

Bentley capture more than 5,000 incredible images of crystals in his lifetime.  His book Snow Crystals was published by McGraw-Hill shortly before his death and is still in print today.

Next time you catch a snowflake on your tongue, think of its unique beauty….. and see if you can taste the pollen or dust in its center. 😉

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