Greetings from Frostbite Central

By Mir
December 22, 2008

We’re back in New England. Give me a minute to express my great joy and excitement.

Okay, I’m done.

Look, it’s not that I’m not loving hanging out with the relatives we haven’t seen in so long—the kids ran off with their cousins, and for several blissful hours we adults sat and enjoyed ourselves while a thundering herd of elephants ran to and fro. Periodically the calm was interrupted by a child complaining about another child—always a sibling complaining about the other sibling, never a child ratting out a cousin, at least—but for the most part, it was bliss.

But the weather, man. I do NOT miss this weather.

The ride up here was surprisingly easy, actually, until the last four hours or so. Prior to that, it was just another endless road trip. I’m the big meanie who only allows the Nintendo DSs to come out on long trips, so despite my having loaded the car with books and games and movies, Monkey spent approximately 98% of the trip playing Lego Star Wars on his DS. And giving us updates on his game.

The updates were awesome, because for 18 hours, really no one was doing ANYTHING other than waiting to find out how much it cost to buy a Yoda character, or what happens when you fight with a ghost, or to hear in painstaking detail exactly how you defeat that one guy that’s virtually undefeatable.

(Lest you wonder about the other 2%: Chickadee corralled him into watching Nacho Libre, which I can only presume from the mighty guffaws issued throughout was a big hit. (No fair. I haven’t even seen it yet.)

Chickadee gave us a peek into the Future of Teenagerdom by putting on a pair of headphones and watching movie after movie, coming up to rejoin the conversation only if someone was laughing loudly and she suddenly feared she was Missing Something Important.

Otto drove the entire time, because apparently allowing someone else to drive when you are Very Manly can cause one’s testicles to shrivel up and fall off. (Like they just did, just now, because I am discussing his man parts on the Internet. Because I am a sensitive wife that way.) And for the most part I didn’t really mind, because being in the passenger seat allowed me to do many of my favorite things, including: 1) napping, and 2) eating snacks.

The snacks thing was possibly the first large hurdle of our marriage, as I bring normal snacks on car trips, such as cereal bars and raisins and homemade cookies and cheese puffs, and Otto brings… circus peanuts.

Circus peanuts are not food. Honestly, just LOOKING at the bag of circus peanuts skeeves me out a little. Yet there they were, sitting in the center console, until Otto pulled a couple out and munched them happily. I took one out of the bag and sniffed it. Maybe they were less disgusting than I remembered…? Hmmmm. They didn’t smell like anything. I took a small bite. BLECH. I gave the rest of it to Chickadee, who was so deeply engrossed in a movie she may have just dropped it on the floor. I don’t know.

(Don’t worry; later she had a veggie burger when we stopped at Burger King. I’m sure that counteracted the circus peanut.)

Anyway, all was well until about halfway through Connecticut, when the rain turned to ice and snow and people LOST THEIR MINDS.

Honestly, I expect drivers in Georgia to freak out when the roads are slick. But HELLO, this is New England. Why don’t these people know how to drive? There were cars in ditches, cars smashed into the guardrail, cars on the median, cars fishtailing along way faster than was safe, and cars crawling along much more slowly than was necessary.

It only confirms what I always suspected: Snow makes people stupid. Thank goodness I got out when I did.

So we crept along for the last leg of the trip, assuring the kids that we’d be there really soon, honest, and all of us car-weary and ready to be done.

And then we arrived, and there was much stretching and merriment, and also a delicious meal that did not come on a tray or in individual paper wrappers. Yay! And then eventually the thundering herd of children went to bed, and then there was blessed stillness and silence, and lo, it was exceedingly good. Especially after wine was added.

Today we are off to visit Otto’s mom and shuffle the kids off to their dad and do other sorts of holiday prep kinds of things, and while I am hoping not to get into the car again, I fear I may have to. But hopefully for not nearly as long as before.

Also, I hoping to get an opportunity to “accidentally” throw away the rest of the circus peanuts. Only because I care.


  1. Jean

    Thank you, Mir, for ALWAYS making me laugh. I am so happy to have found your writing when I did.

    I’m with you on the circus peanuts thing and the wacky winter drivers and all the rest. Living here in the Albany area, we have had our share of winter weather (all in the last week!)and I can relate to the nastiness that is winter weather on the roads.

    Glad you made it up north safely. It looks like at least one or two days without more major weather so enjoy the winter scenery – there’s usually something shiny in all that ice and snow. Enjoy your visit. And don’t forget to keep us all entertained.

  2. Megan

    Oh Circus Peanuts. They were one of those Unnaturally Coloured Foods I was never, never ever allowed to have as a child. I classed them right up there with Wonder Bread and Cool Whip as food of the gods – I was going to eat them every week at LEAST along with the entire Little Debbie line. Then one summer I for some reason had a) no supervision and b) a bit of pocket money still kicking around in my jeans and my friends and I went to the corner store and loaded up on junk food (in my memory it was all orange – Peanuts, Cheetos…). I’ll never forget the enormous disappointment of actually biting into one. Such a sad lesson in how anticipation is always better than realization. Most especially if its Circus Peanuts!

    Glad you’re all safe and that the road trip did, eventually, end. Now it’s just surviving the holidays, right?

  3. Meredith

    It would appear that our nice, if unseasonable, weather attempted to follow you, because it is now freezing and windy here in the good old GA.

  4. exile on mom street

    So glad that you made it safely!

    Also glad that our families will be at the beach. In Florida. Where it will be 65 degrees and sunny.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Keyona

    I have been VERY curious about how the Veggie Burgers at Burger King taste…just not curious enough to try one.

    Happy Holidays! :o)

  6. Barbara

    Happy to hear of your safe arrival, despite the hazardous fare the driver ingested. Can you think of some really good food to help his manliness return? Eventually, you will miss them, too.

    Electronics and car trips…ah…the saving of modern parents (sanity). Works in my family, too.

    Love those holiday elephant herds.

  7. Sagey

    I had to laugh about Otto driving the entire way. A few summers back we drove from VA to NH in one day and my DH drove the entire way as well. Come to find out he told my mom he did all the driving because he didn’t want to deal with the kids (then 2 and 4)! So needless to say he also drove our entire trip across country (Oregon to San Diego and then to VA). Thankfully the kids are no longer in a 3 point harness and can fend for themselves a bit better now). I wasn’t quite sure what to do the next time I got behind the wheel!

    Glad you are all safe and sound in NE and enjoy your visit with the family!

  8. Deborah P

    Okay – I will show my ignorance. What ARE circus peanuts? I’m glad you made the trip safely, Mir, but it was very hard to focus on reading what you were saying because I was thinking “circus peanuts, what are circus peanuts? Are they peanuts still in the shell? Couldn’t be – that’s not weird, just messy. I have no clue what circus peanuts are” and so on and so on. Please enlighten me or it will drive me crazy all day.

  9. Aly

    There is nothing quite as wonderful as a fresh circus peanut. Of course on the flip side, once they are open they become stale rock hard completely inedible little pellets within a very short time frame. You should be able to rid yourself of them soon.

  10. Wendalette

    I did not know people still ATE circus peanuts! While growing up, I thought they were decorations for autumnal or circus-themed parties, not actual snacks. It never occurred to me that something that looked like it was made from upholstery foam rubber in either neon or greyish-orange could actually be ingested.
    Mir, I’m so sorry you had to endure that torture of flavor and texture, even if for only a moment.
    (Candy corn and circus peanuts are on equal par with me. Bleh!)

  11. ALinRussia

    Deborah P:

    circus peanuts are sort of made of marshmallow, but have the texture of, oh, foam rubber. Wikipedia (which still knows everything) has a nice little article on them:


  12. Tatiana

    I’m from northeastern Connecticut originally, and I remember how crazy the snow can get out there… but how absolutely gorgeous the landscape is when it’s all decked in snow :] There were few things better than going for a walk in the woods just after a snowstorm, where you’d break your own path among the trees and catch animal footprints in the snow.

  13. premenopaws

    I forget who first said it, but it’s so true: Anyone who is driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone who is driving faster than you is a maniac.

  14. Burgh Baby

    I’m pretty sure Circus Peanuts can survive a nuclear holocaust. It’ll be just them and the cockroaches roaming the Earth some day.

  15. Jenn

    When my mom gets circus peanuts, she leaves the package open for a few days so that they get rock hard. That’s the only way she’ll eat them.

  16. Jennifer

    Mmmm, I love Circus Peanuts. It’s a childhood memory thing, I guess. Maybe they aren’t as good as I remember because I haven’t had one in a long time. My grandparents always had some. Those and orange slices, the candied kind. Yum! Good times.

  17. Pam

    I look forward to clicking on your blog every single day!! You always make me laugh!! My daily medicine and so easy to swallow. Glad you arrived safely and don’t you dare throw out Otto’s circus peanuts…… they are wonderful!! I guess I’m alone in that assessment, but I do like them. Have a wonderful Christmas and don’t forget to give us our “present” every day.

  18. Katie

    I’m starting to wonder if I’m really weird, I like circus peanuts (but only in a “once every 5 years or so” way) and I always drive. My husband is a crappy driver and I’m an annoying passenger side driver whenever he does take the wheel. For us, marital bliss is me driving.

    Have fun in New England!

  19. Deborah P

    Thanks to Mir and ALinRussia, I’ve been re-acquainted with Circus Peanuts which I used to eat as a child. Maybe that orange dye did something to my brain that blocked the memory? Hmmm, maybe I can blame memory lapses on them as well? Thanks for the info!

  20. jennielynn

    Ewwww, anything but circus peanuts!

  21. JennyM

    But…, but… Circus Peanuts, Peach Rings and Raisinets are the mandated road-trip snacks of the gods. Aren’t they?

    Have a happy holiday in the Frozen North!

  22. Frank

    I find it amusing that you, having “grown up” in NE, still are amazed at Weather Induced Driver Stupidity. Never surprises me anymore (who, like you, grew up in the snow belt of the NE, and has since moved to more Southern pastures..)It’s the extent of the extremes that gets me. You get someone whipping along at like 100, and then someone going like 5. Of course, it is my current hometown that made National News a couple years ago when we were doused with a whopping 3/4 inch of snow over the course of around 2 hours, and it gridlocked the entire city for OVER 12 HOURS (no exaggeration needed)

    @ premenopaws: I remember that from George Carlin… Carlin on Campus.. the “going for a drive” routine. Classic.

  23. Holly

    Sounds like the drivers our here in California when it rains! I’m glad you got there safe and sound, have a very merry Christmas!

  24. Kemi

    Hee hee hee… I read “Circus Peanuts” and thought a bag of peanuts– in shells– that you’d get at the Circus.

    Now I get it. (And, in my defense, it’s EARLY out here. I’ve only been up for an hour.)

    For just a brief minute, I wondered how you could stand that mess of shells all over the car. I was prepared to be amazed. You totally outdid my expectations, though, when I realized what you actually allowed into the car. Circus peanuts. *shudder*

    Have a fun trip! Merry Christmas!

  25. Chuck

    When I go on a road trip, I always try and bring some beef jerky. Not sure why exactly. I think it goes back to being told it was a good survival food in case I got stuck somewhere.

  26. Scottsdale Girl

    Circus Peanuts are the devil. That is all

  27. Randi

    I have lived in VT my entire life and not once have I gone off of the road due to snow causes. I did once go off the road because I was looking in the bag of M&M’s for the magical gray M&M (hey – I was pregnant – my brain wasn’t my own for 9 months), but I haven’t gone off of the road due to snow.

    Watch me crash when I go out later for bragging. Did I learn nothing from Titanic?!

  28. Bethany

    I’d rather deal with the kids than do the driving any day, esp when we a) are in unfamiliar territory and b) my dh will be in the passenger seat commenting on my driving.

  29. Steve

    But Otto must be very happy to be able to practice his drifting technique on the very slippery roads and parking lots!!

  30. daysgoby

    We just used to order from Burger King and tell them to hold the meat. Mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion on a big puffy bun…it was all good.

    Circus peanuts, on the other hand…Aren’t those a byproduct of the petroleum industry?

  31. Christina

    I’m sorry but I’m with Otto on the Circus peanuts.
    That there is some good eatin.
    As many road trips as I’ve taken, I think I’ve eaten more than my fair share of their orange-y goodness.

    Haven’t had any in about 6 months now and you’ve just made me want some. Dang- just got back from the store too. Guess it’s time to trek back out in this lovely NE weather and get my fix.

  32. tori

    You could always send the circus peanuts to me. I LOVE them. I never buy them because no one else likes them and I don’t actually need a whole bag of candy to myself, but they are one of my favorites. I just got back from the store where we spent $20 on gum (my son just got his braces off and has all day today to chew gum before getting the retainer tomorrow, and my daughter will get her retainer off tomorrow and be able to chew gum until her second phase of braces) and I eyed those circus peanuts for a very long time. Now I wish I had bought them!

  33. ChristieNY

    I’m so glad you had a safe trip – happy holidays, Mir!

  34. Heidi

    Ha–one of your Google ads is for 2008 Anti-Aging Awards. Maybe you should check it out so the drive home.

    Perhaps Circus Peanuts aid in testicular health.

  35. TC

    He drove for 18 hours? Straight? No naps?

    I like me some long car rides, but they need to be single-digit hours, or I’d lose my mind.

  36. Fiona

    Having looked at what is in those circus peanuts I suspect they could have a serious effect on a man’s virility. No wonder he had to drive the whole way to protect his nads from shrivelling

  37. Sheila

    If snow makes people stupid, I be in big truhbul….

  38. jwg

    On the other hand, I left MA yesterday morning in the middle of the snow, had rain and sleet through Rhode Island and part of Connecticut and beautiful sun on 95 headed west, just in time to have it shine directly in my eyes while also bouncing off the snow so I had to pull over until it went down. Tell me again why I don’t have a chauffer? Oh, right, no money. At least I had no kids with me. those days are long gone and the 2 year old and newborn insisted on staying with their parents and wouldn’t run away with Grandma.

  39. meghann

    My road trip food always consists of: Sour Straws, Cheese Puffs, and Pepsi, poured over ice from Sonic. (Sonic ice is best for crunching while driving)

    I wish I had something witty to say, but I don’t, so I went with a selfish comment about me.

  40. tj

    Seriously about the driving issue – I’m in Canada for goodness sakes, it snows and people seem to have lost their minds. It’s Canada, it is never good weather, you’d think locals could cope >.<

  41. Heather

    Ugh, my grandfather loved the circus peanuts. I am not convinced there is a shred of actual food in them.

    Glad you got there safe–enjoy the rest of your stay!

  42. Half Assed Kitchen

    Circus peanut fan here! Though after about two I’m clutching my stomach and moaning.

    You should see Seattle-ites driving in snow. It’s something to behold.

  43. Denise

    If you throw away Otto’s circus peanuts, I will never forgive you. Seriously.

    I almost want to take a road trip just so I can have circus peanuts.

  44. Javamom

    Snow does make people stupid. Especially the first snow of the season. Even here in Toronto, Canada. Where we have snow for a few months in a row. Stupid.

  45. Stephanie

    Ok..I’m not sure if you mean “peanuts in the shell” or “the orange, styrofoamish, peanut shaped candy” when you talk about Circus Peanuts. If you mean the former, I love those…if it’s the latter…..ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! (I got shivers just thinking about those things!

    Again, glad you guys made it safe and sound. I won’t tell you my theory about why Monkey is so obsessed with his DS (but maybe the term “holy grail” will give you an idea). ;-)

    You guys have a great visit and stay SAFE and W A R M!!!!!


  46. heels

    Wait a minute- Burger King has VEGGIE BURGERS?! That could be the one thing that might make me consider one day eating fast food again. Maybe.

  47. Nancy

    Jelly Belly is my main go-to for travel snackage…Funions run a close second.

  48. ~annie

    The only thing that tops Circus Peanuts as a supposedly ingestible petroleum product are Twizzlers. Blurgh.

  49. Asianmommy

    You would think people in Chicago would know how to drive in the snow, but no. I saw a car pulling out of his subdivision who started spinning in circles. We were lucky we weren’t hit.

  50. Daisy

    “Snow makes people stupid.” ROTFL!! It’s been crazy around here, too. I think I’ll stay home for a few days. Convenient timing for that decision: our winter break started at 3:16 this afternoon!

  51. FringeGirl

    lol. Snow does make people stupid…at least in NJ, NY, and Conn. A few flakes and like as we know it changes dramatically. It’s amazing how people manage in Maine with regular blizzards…no complaining, no trouble, and no stupidity.

    Enjoy your holiday with family! …circus peanuts, YUCK!

  52. dr aletta

    Your are all very brave to drive up North in December. I’m glad to be tucked in, not going anywhere, no house guests, just my little family for Christmas. Cozy.

    Be safe on the drive home. Merry Christmas!

  53. Kristin (aka Krisco)

    I had to google Circus Peanuts. Actually, wikipedia. And – yuck! Definitely they should get “lost” when the return packing starts. I was imagining circus peanuts – like the bag of unshelled peanuts you buy at the circus, or the zoo or the grocery. And, other than what a freaking mess on a car trip – not getting the issue. Now I get it.

    Other than that, have a great vacation!

  54. Jann

    Sorry, I’m with Otto. I love me some circus peanuts!

  55. Michelle :-)

    That is so funny! I MUST have Circus Peanuts whenever I go for a long drive. I don’t know why and don’t know when this started, but I always buy them at the first gas station I stop at to fill up. And I only eat them when I’m going on long trips, never at any other time.

    Many safe travels & Happy Holidays!

  56. Coco

    Makes me sick to think of circus peanuts. I can’t believe they still make those. We are talking about those orange sugar things aren’t we? Yuk. I will be thinking about you here in Georgia with our 70 degrees….


  57. Jessica (from It's my life...)

    I knew that man was perfect. I just knew it. I adore Circus Peanuts. Absolutely favorite car food. Mmm. Orangey styrofoamy goodness.

  58. Lorraine

    We love sunflower seeds on road trips! Yes, the ones you have to crack open and yes, they do make a HUGE mess. However, my husband not only drives the whole way (except when I rip the map out of his hands…because I’M THE NAVIGATOR!) but he also vacuums the van when we’re done. Also, thank you for your wonderful stories. Your blog is like a favorite book that I don’t ever have to finish.

  59. Katie in MA

    Ahhhh. Back to semblance of a normal routine. Starting with your blog. :) And please do not remind me of the state of New England snow-driving. I prefer to stay here, blissfully ignorant in Texas, until such time as I am able to escape back home. Then I will relearn how to cuss like a sailor whilst driving around the idiots, but not a moment before!

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