Chapter 9 – Ice – February 2027
"Ima, is it okay if we play with the sleds in the front yard?" Tali asked for all seven DiNozzo and McGee children. John and Katie were spending the Presidents' Day holiday weekend with their cousins. The DC area had a major snow and ice storm on Wednesday and Thursday of the week before, putting nearly a foot of snow on the ground and then a layer of ice over the snow. For the kids, it meant two extra days off from school and a snow-filled play paradise in the yards of the two houses. The DiNozzo front yard sloped away from the front of the house towards the street making it a perfect sledding area.
Ziva looked at the seven faces waiting for her reply, "You may, however, remember that if you decide to use the gate to go to the backyard, please close it. I do not want the dogs to get out of the backyard." She really was not worried about the dogs running off if they did get into the front yard without leashes, but there was one neighborhood cat that both dogs consistently chased if it came into their yard. She did not need to be running after a dog on the ice and snow.
"Yes, Aunt Ziva."
Seven children rushed to put on warm coats, scarves, hats, gloves or mittens, and boots. They went out through the garage so that they could get the six sleds easily. Ziva smiled to herself as she heard the garage door closing; someone of the five young DiNozzos remembered their Abba's warnings about leaving the garage door open in cold weather. She passed by her husband's office on the way to her own; he looked up and gave her a thumbs' up gesture.
"They remembered," he grinned.
"You have practically beaten it into their brains," she teased. "But, yes, they remembered, or one of them did." She entered her home office as Tony turned back to his computer screen. He'd been working from home since Wednesday because of the weather conditions; he was glad that his job allowed him that luxury. Ziva had one more transcript to finish for NCIS for the week; she hoped it would be one that would go quickly.
She was just about to start her transcription when her cell sounded an incoming text. She picked up the phone and noticed the message was from Delilah. She quickly read the message and decided to call instead of text her reply.
"Hello, Dee. Glad you and Tim are still getting your weekend away."
Delilah chuckled, "I'm glad you and Tony were able to get our kids from school before the storm hit on Wednesday. Tim was trying to get out of the Navy Yard but they kept getting more and more breaks on the case they were working and you know Gibbs…"
"Too well; I do not miss those days. We do not mind having the twins here at all," Ziva replied with a laugh. "They are all playing outside now; they were getting tired of being stuck inside. Have you been home at all?"
"No; neither has Tim. I am so looking forward to our weekend in Atlanta! It will be an escape in more ways than one."
"Have fun; and do not worry about John and Katie. You and Tim need a break," Ziva was glad that she and her sister of the heart had worked out a rotating schedule to give each set of parents a weekend break once per quarter.
"Thanks, Ziva," Dee ended the call and Ziva started her work.
Outside, the seven cousins were using the snow shovels to make sled lanes in the snow in the front yard. They took the small icicles off the bushes along the front of the house to mark the paths. Anthony was about to get more icicles when he spotted the cat that their dogs chased sitting on the north side of the house near the fence. He ran to chase it away and stopped in his tracks when he saw the huge icicles hanging from the eaves. Each one had to be nearly six feet long, and there were at least two dozen of them hanging down.
"You guys gotta come see these icicles on the side of the house," Anthony yelled over to the others. "They're HUGE! Bring the sleds so we can get some of them for our paths!"
Tali scoffed, "Stop exag…ger…a…ting…holy…cow! Those are HUGE." She spotted the large icicles as she rounded the side of the house; for once her brother hadn't over-hyped something. Those icicles were the largest she'd ever seen; she'd bet even her parents hadn't seen any ice spikes that long.
"WHOA!" John came around the side of the house next, followed by the others. The seven kids stood in awe of the large formations for several minutes.
Tali spoke first, "We need a plan to get them down without breaking them; then we have to move them to the front yard in one piece. Any ideas?" She looked at the others; she could see John thinking already and examining the icicles from all sides.
LJ looked at the sleds and then the icicles, "They are too long for the sleds, Tali. I think we will have to carry them to the front; maybe two people carry one icicle?"
"That's a good idea, LJ, but first we have to get them down," Rivka was with John, looking over the icicles from all sides. "WITHOUT breaking them…" she added.
"What if we just tug on it? Like this…" Katie and Anthony grabbed one of the icicles and yanked it. The ice snapped about three quarters of the way up from the tip. The two managed to hang on to the piece they broke off.
"That's heavier than I thought it would be," Anthony commented as he and Katie laid the icicle on one of the sleds. The other kids all came over to inspect the large stick of ice. It was about three inches in diameter at the top end where it broke off; the length was close to Katie's height.
John was looking at the larger end; he looked up to where the icicle had been hanging. "There's got to be a way to get all of the icicle when we break them off. We got most of this one but there's still a part we didn't get. Maybe if we hit the top of it with something when we yank on it?"
"Or rock it slowly back and forth to make it break higher up?" Riv was thinking out loud. She'd watched her brother and cousin break the icicle by yanking on it quickly; maybe breaking it slower would get more of the icicle.
John motioned to Riv to grab the icicle with him, "On three, we rock it back and forth… one… two… three." The two slowly pushed and pulled on the ice and were finally rewarded with a loud crack when it broke almost near the top of the column. They grinned at the others as they carried their icicle to a second sled.
"Definitely longer than the first one," Tali declared. "Let's try for another one." LJ stepped up to his big sister and the siblings grabbed a third hanging icicle and used the gentle push-pull until they heard the loud crack as the ice broke near the eave.
"Success!" LJ yelled as he and Tali carried the icicle to a third sled. It was about as long as the one John and Riv had broken off.
"Let's get these three to the front and we'll come back for more," Tali pointed to the front yard as she grabbed the rope for the sled nearest her. John and Riv tugged their icicle to the front as did Katie and Anthony. LJ and Beth stayed behind and grabbed a fourth icicle to break off.
The siblings grabbed hold of the large icicle and started to use the push-pull motion that the others had used successfully. As they started the second movement in LJ's direction, Beth's feet slipped on the ice-covered snow and she fell forward into the icicle. The ice column broke loose and gravity took over; it and LJ fell to the snow-covered ground and slid towards the evergreen hedge on the side of the yard.
The other children rounded the corner just as LJ landed on his back with the icicle on top of him. They tried not to laugh at his surprised face. Tali rushed over to her little brother to make sure he wasn't hurt; by the time she got to him, he was laughing.
"It didn't break," he giggled, laying on his back with a six-foot plus icicle atop his forty-three inch little boy body. "But I can't get up. Please help, Tali." He eyed his big sister and cousin Katie.
"You got the longest one so far, LJ; wow, you even got the very top part where it was attached to the eave," Katie pointed to the wider part at the top end of the icicle. She and Tali lifted the twenty-five pound ice spear from the little boy and the three carried it to the front yard as the others continued to pull down icicles.
In the front yard, the children stood the icicles on the end that had been attached to the house with the pointy end upwards and lined one of the sled paths that they'd made. In all, they pulled twenty nine icicles from the roof and only two broke in transport to the front yard.
The seven stepped back and admired their handiwork; the front yard had multiple icicle-lined sledding paths from the house to the street. The large icicles gave the impression of a fantasy land pathway as they glistened and stood taller than the children.
They each took a turn riding a sled along the path; just as the children were starting a second round, Ziva opened the front door to call them inside for lunch.
"Ima, you have to see our icicles!" Riv called to her mother.
"You need to take a turn on the sled; it's so cool to ride between the big icicles; it's like Frozen!" Katie added.
Anthony grinned at his mother, "Abba should get a turn too." Just as he mentioned his father, Tony appeared at the door with his coat on.
"I saw what you made out the play room window; gotta get a picture of that. Impressive indeed," Tony grinned at the kids as he stepped outside. Daisy and Asher were behind him as he came out of the door.
The neighbor cat chose that moment to set foot on the driveway; Daisy spotted the cat and took off after it. Asher saw Daisy running and ran after her; he spotted the cat and the chase was on. The cat decided to run across the DiNozzo front yard instead of turning around and going back to its own yard.
Ziva and Tony ran after the dogs and the kids all tried to get the cat to leave the yard; it ran towards the front of the house. LJ stood in the cat's way and it veered towards the icicle-lined sled run. Ziva ran towards the bottom of the run while Tony followed the dogs to the house end of the run and then into the sled path.
His feet slipped on the icy run and he went down on his backside, sliding after the dogs and cat. The cat scooted around Ziva as Daisy barreled into Ziva. She wrapped her arm around the Border collie as she fell. Tony and Asher slid into the other two resulting in a heap of dogs and adult humans near the end of the sled run.
Tony sat up, "Are you okay?" He looked over to Ziva as she also sat up and nodded. Each had hold of a dog's collar; Daisy was panting and trying to lick Ziva. Asher had a full-on greyhound grin.
"Yes; are you okay?" she replied.
"I think so; my jacket padded my fall somewhat, but I may be sore in a few hours."
Tali and the others came over to the adults and dogs. Tali held up her cell phone, "I video-ed the whole thing! You guys sure looked funny on the sled run on your butts!"