For Family Night this past week we combined two activities that really had nothing to do with each other. It was logistics and necessity that brought them together.
The first was a fire drill. Although we try to have a fire safety lesson and drill every six months it had been over a year since we had focused our family night lesson on fire safety (This last year was consumed with putting out different types of fires,) so when Rusty came home with the assignment to plan a lesson and execute a family fire drill as party of the requirements for his Boy Scout safety merit badge it offered us the needed prodding to move this task to the top of the priority list.
During Rusty’s one-on-one time we worked to find resources online for him to utilize during his lesson, as well as some kid focused videos on fire safety that would be good for Tyler.
When we finally had an evening in which everyone was home and free of other commitments we sat down after dinner and Rusty taught his fire safety lesson. It was more needed than I expected, as Tyler peppered Rusty with fire safety questions that I assumed he already knew the answer to. It was also good for the rest of us to be reminded of those things we know but might forget in the “heat” of the moment.
Rusty’s lesson also prompted us to consider the age of our smoke detectors and the probability that it was time to replace them all. His lesson also prompted us to move forward with purchasing escape ladders for the second floor, something we have talked about in the past but never followed through with.
After the “learning” part of the lesson came the “action” segment of Rusty’s lesson. The kids were each sent to their room and with the house darkened we set off the smoke alarm. The kids had the opportunity to apply the safety steps we just talked about, escaping their rooms through one of their two entrances and meeting up outside at our designated location.
A week later the impact of that lesson was realized when we experienced a chimney fire in the middle of the day. The pipe leading from the woodstove to the wall suddenly turned bright red and began crackling, making us aware that a build-up of creosote within the chimney had caught fire. While the risk was minimal (thanks to an observant and fast acting Rusty who quickly closed all the vents, suffocating the fire before it spread) it was a powerful reminder of how differently things could have played out had it happened in the middle of the night when we were all sleeping. It was good to see how easily the kids tapped into what they learned and how coolly they responded under pressure.
The second half of our Family Night really had no tie-in at all to our Fire Safety theme.
This was an activity of opportunity.
It was our “Wax on Snow” night!
Wax on Snow is a winter tradition I brought into the marriage. It is a treat that brings back sweet memories of my childhood and an activity I love sharing with my own children. As a child we always seemed to have a half-used bottle of REAL maple syrup tucked in the back of the fridge. While Aunt Jemima sufficed for Saturday morning pancakes, the real stuff, usually gifted to us by our New York grandparents, was reserved for Wax on Snow…yum!
Wax on Snow was a treat that typically ended a snow day from school. It is a treat that requires a deep coating of snow which is why I think it is so closely tied to childhood snow days in my memory.
Following dinner, us kids were sent outside to fill a pan with packed snow. This snow would then sit outside the door in the cold until the “wax” was ready.
Dad would pour some of our carefully hoarded maple syrup into a sauce pan and begin heating it up. Using a cup of cold water, he would drip the hot syrup into the cup until he achieved the perfect soft ball stage. When the syrup could be rolled in a soft flexible ball between his fingers he would send us outside to retrieve the pan of snow.
Using a worn wooden spoon, he would drizzle the “wax” across the snow where the cold temperatures would make the syrup harden into a sticky taffy.
Gathered around the pan of snow we would watch eagerly, waiting for my Dad to say we could dig in.
Using forks, we would scoop the wax and the maple flavored snow into our mouths, savoring this rare winter treat.
As each layer of wax was eaten another drizzle of wax would be added until there was a small amount of syrup left in the bottom of the pan that he would stir air bubbles into until it became maple candy…a treat he made just for Mom.
When the last drops of wax were gone we would dig into the flavored snow until what was left in the pan was melted slush.
For Family Night we partook in this beloved tradition thanks to a few consecutive snow falls that coated our world in white, as well as the rare treat of having everyone home at the same time.
The stars aligned, and we enjoyed a “sweet” night at home.
It was a mishmash of activities but overall a smashing success!