Winter Begins! Winter solstice!

21        Winter Begins!  Winter solstice!

Did you ever wonder why the days are so long in the summer and so short in the winter? In the summer, around June 21 or 22, we experience the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. And in the winter, December 21 or 22 is the winter solstice, or shortest day.

But wait! If you live in Australia, you experience the opposite—the longest day is in December and the shortest is in June. Why?

Earth’s Angle

The answer all depends on Earth’s tilt. In the course of one year, Earth orbits around the sun. It does not complete this trip, however, with the North Pole at the top and the South Pole at the bottom because Earth is tilted. In fact, it’s tilted just about 23.5º. So at different times of the year, either the northern or the southern hemisphere is tilted toward and is therefore closer to the sun.

So if you live in the northern hemisphere (north of the equator), Earth is tilted toward the sun in the summer and away from the sun in the winter. The solstice marks the turning point, when the days begin to grow longer (in the winter) or when they begin to grow shorter (in the summer). At the solstice itself, however, the sun appears to stand still in the sky for a few days before and after. The word solstice, in fact, comes from the Latin for sun + to stand still.

Reasons for Seasons

But then why, if the solstice is the turning point, is June 21st considered the first day of summer and December 21st thefirst day of winter? This odd fact is because while the hours of daylight are changing, the oceans need to catch up. Oceans take a long time to heat up and cool down (something called thermal inertia). In June, they are still cool from the winter, so the warmest days happen in July and August. (Have you ever gone swimming off Cape Cod in June? Brrrr!) Similarly, the oceans hold onto the warmth of summer long after the barbeques have ended. So the coldest days usually happen in January and February. (Again, everything is reversed if you live below the equator.)

Even stranger, Earth is closest to the sun between January 3 and 5, but since the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, the nights are long and the weather is cold.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

20        A Charlie Brown Christmas

When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown, is from St. Paul, MN.Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 9.41.49 PM

Frostbite

18        Winter Survival- Frostbite

Frostbite

You know how your parents always tell you to wear a hat, scarf and gloves when you are outside in the cold weather? Well, you better listen, because your hands, feet, nose, ears and face are the first areas on the body to be affected by the cold weather. By keeping these parts of your body covered, you can “seal in” your body’s heat and reduce your risk of frostbite.

Frostbite is when the fluids and cells in our bodies actually freeze. This freezing can damage our blood vessels, which can block bloodflow into the area, causing lack of oxygen and tissue damage. This can become a very serious condition if you do not warm up right away.

Whether or not a person develops frostbite depends on a variety of factors, including outdoor temperature, how long you are outdoors, the humidity (or moisture) in the air, if your clothes/gloves/socks are wet or damp, wind, if sensitive parts of your body are exposed to the weather and more. If these factors are in place, frostbite can occur after being outdoors for only a few minutes! And, children are especially at risk for frostbite.

A less serious condition is minor frostbite, or frostnip, which can affect the outer layer of skin, making your fingers, toes or nose look white. As you warm up, the white will disappear and the area will remain red, sometimes for several hours.

So, what are the frostbite warning signs?:

1.) Skin will appear white, grayish-yellow or grayish-blue in color
2.) Skin will have a waxy appearance
3.) The area will have no feeling, meaning it will be numb to the touch
4.) Blisters may be present, signaling a more serious case of frostbite
5.) The skin and surrounding tissue will feel frozen, stiff or “wooden”
6.) The area(s) may swell, itch, burn or have pain, especially as you warm up

 To prevent frostnip or frostbite, or further damage after experiencing either one, follow these simple rules every time you are going to be outdoors in cold weather:

1.) Cover sensitive body parts (ears, nose, hands, toes, etc.), with appropriate clothing before heading outdoors
2.) Make sure clothing remains dry; if you get wet, change out of the clothing immediately
3.) Make sure to choose waterproof boots and coats, as well as gloves or mittens, to help lessen the chance of frostbite

4.) If you notice signs of frostnip or frostbite, tell an adult and warm up indoors – immediately. Serious cases of frostbite can land you in the hospital if not treated immediately!

Always seek medical attention for frostbite, as soon as possible, since permanent damage to affected areas can result in irreversible tissue damage or amputation, in extreme cases. In the meantime, follow these rules:

  • Opposite of what you may think, do not apply direct heat to the affected area. Instead, apply a warm (not hot) moist compress to the area and allow the body to naturally warm-up indoors.
  • Keep the frostbitten area elevated, if possible.
  • Remain indoors for a long period of time. Don’t just warm up for a half-hour then return to the cold, since this can further the damage and cause permanent injury to the areas that are affected.
  • If you suspect a case of frostbite, whether in a child or adult, seek emergency medical assistance.
  • Frostbite is a serious medical condition and should not be taken lightly, especially if your children play outdoors in cold temperatures for long periods. Check their extremities every so often to determine their condition.

Taken from http://www.lanakids.com/frstandhypthrmia.html

Our Lady of Guadalupe

12        Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast Day: December 12 Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 5.44.18 PM

We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 9. Our Blessed Mother appeared to a fifty-five year old Indian, Juan Deigo on December 9, 1531.

Juan who had become a Catholic, was going to Mass early one morning when Our Lady stopped him as he was making his way down Tepyac Hill. Mary asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that she wanted a great church built on the very spot where she was standing.

The Indian was very troubled. He wanted with all his heart to do what the Lady commanded. But how could he approach the bishop? How could anyone believe such an unusual request?

Juan Diego went to the bishop. The bishop of course, did not believe his story. He did not want to offend Juan and told him to ask the Lady for a sign the next time he met her.

Juan was caught in the middle. The Lady knew what she wanted; the bishop had the power to make her wish come true, but he wanted proof.

On December 12, early in the morning, Juan Diego was hurrying along the path. His uncle was dying and he was going to get the priest. Juan had no time to waste and did not want to meet the lady so he took another route.

But Mary appeared again to Juan and told him that his uncle was better. In fact, Juan found out a little later that Our Lady had for a moment appeared to his uncle and he was immediately cured.

The Lady asked Juan to go back to the bishop. She wanted him to build a church. Juan remembered the bishop’s request and asked Mary for a sign. Mary sent Juan into the rocky area nearby and told him to gather the roses that were there.

Juan was confused. He knew there were no roses. It was winter, there was snow on the ground and the bushes were bare. But Juan did as he was told and there really were roses, beautiful roses. Excited, Juan picked them all and went to the bishop.

He carried them carefully in his tilma (cloak). Juan clutched his cloak and made his way into the room where the bishop was. Slowly he let down his cloak and the beautiful roses, fresh and wet with dew, fell to the floor.

Juan smiled but was shocked when the bishop and his attendants knelt down in front of him. He followed the bishop’s eyes that were staring at his cloak. And then he saw her, the picture of his beautiful lady, glowing on his tilma.

Her image was life-size, exactly as she had appeared. The bishop had received his sign and Mary would have her church.

Today a great church, called a basilica, stands on the spot where Our Lady of Guadalupe came to her people. Our Lady of Guadalupe was named patroness of Mexico and is also patroness of Latin America and the Philippines.

Taken from this site.

(By the way, all of the posts from numbered 1- 25 are part of an Advent calendar for a friend from school; most of the words are borrowed from other websites.)

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

11        Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5sYJfIYOF8&feature=related

 Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 5.41.20 PM

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Had a very shiny nose,

And if you ever saw it,

You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names;

They never let poor Rudolph

Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,

Santa came to say,

Rudolph with your nose so bright,

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then how the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,

You’ll go down in history.

Blizzards

10            Blizzards!

How do blizzards form?
A blizzard is a long-lasting snowstorm with very strong winds and intense snowfall. You need three things to have a blizzard; cold air at the surface, lots of moisture (water in the air), and lift. Warm air must rise over cold air.

Blizzards can strand cars on highways for hours or even days. When you are traveling during the winter months, be sure to have first aid kits in the vehicle with you.

 Click here for pictures: 

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/12/11/snow-photos-storm-minnesota-winter/