TULALIP — Seven-year-old Emma is sitting at the living room table, spreading Nutella on a banana, while Callie, 10, pounds away at the piano an arm’s length away. Mariah, 11, is sprawled out on a couch, reading a book in the “Leven Thumps” series. Hannah, 14, and Sarah, 21, are playing a card game called “May I.” Kyle, 19, is sitting by the fire, his headsets on, playing “Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic” on his computer. Jacob, 17, is out in the snow, wearing shorts, a tank top and work boots.
Mom, Ginger Burkett, is outside looking for him. And her live-in sister, Terry Honsvick, is making caramel corn in the kitchen.
It’s 3:45 p.m. Monday.
For the fifth day in a row, they’re snowed in — together.
Except for an emergency shopping trip Saturday made by the adults, and a run to Smokey Point to pick Sarah up after she flew home from college in Virginia, the family has been trapped in their hilltop Tulalip home since the storm broke last week.
The six youngest kids haven’t left the neighborhood since then.
“I did get my Christmas letter done, which I didn’t get done until February last year,” Ginger said, greasing a pan in the kitchen. “It’s kind of just slowed life down.”
Ginger drives a 12-passenger van without four-wheel drive, and is afraid of skidding down one of the many hills that stands between her and grocery stores, shopping malls and highways. The storm has prevented the Burketts from going out and buying a Christmas tree together — something they always do once Sarah is home from college.
Ginger worries she won’t be able to pick up all the kids’ Christmas gifts before Thursday. The annual caroling expedition will have to be limited to their neighborhood.
And with the mess at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, she’s nervous her husband, Kenneth Burkett, won’t make it home on Wednesday as planned. He’s working on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina.
The kids say they don’t mind being snowed in.
They bounce from one activity to the next. In two hours on Monday, they help make fudge, play Clue, skydive on the Wii, walk to a neighbor’s house for butter, look through the storage shed out back for flour, and play computer games. Jacob chopped wood and Emma squashed snowballs on her head and cut her toenails with scissors while bouncing on an upstairs couch.
“If you ever get your nails really sharp, then when it’s winter you’ll poke your fingernails out of gloves,” Emma said, snipping her toenails.
The younger kids missed a few days of school last week because of the snow, and they didn’t seem to mind.
“The only thing I like about school is art and recess and lunch,” Callie said, waiting for her turn at Wii. “I always get good lunches.”
Considering they have spent most of their time together in a few common rooms, the family hasn’t had many arguments, Ginger said.
With seven kids and a husband who travels a lot, she’s used to shuttling kids to school functions, helping with homework and dealing with the daily stress of keeping everyone on schedule.
Being snowed in reminds Ginger of an extended vacation in Italy the family took while her husband worked for Boeing there. In a foreign place, where no one had existing activities and priorities, the family turned inward and focused on itself.
Sure, there’s some fighting and a little bit of craziness, but the Burketts insist they’re glad to be stuck inside — together.
(Copyright 2008 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, Wash.)