By yesterday morning, the thought of one more ride down a snowy hill, one more frenzied snowball fight or even one more family board game had lost its appeal for Haley Gray and Jordan Pasternak.
It was no surprise, then, that by afternoon their parents felt the same way.
After three glorious days of no school, many were eager -- some were praying -- for classes to start again. For many in the Baltimore area, the cold and snow were getting old.
"Anything to get them out and about," said Nancy Pasternak, rolling her eyes as she watched 6-year-old Jordan and 7-year-old Haley run up and down the aisles at Zany Brainy, an educational store in Timonium that boasts "a zillion neat things for kids."
Pasternak and Vesta Gray, both of Cockeysville, said family bonding had been loads of fun but that they really wanted Pinewood Elementary School in Timonium to reopen.
"We bribed them," Gray said. "If they came along shopping with us, we'd buy them something Pokemon for $5 or less. That's what we've resorted to on day three."
From Harford County to Howard County, families cleared snow-covered driveways, and minivans full of restless kids headed for video stores, malls and libraries as an antidote to cabin fever.
The snow's grip weakened a bit yesterday. Gov. Parris N. Glendening lifted the state of emergency at 2 p.m., and life returned to normal. Sort of.
Looking after the snowbound
In Baltimore, Mayor Martin O'Malley praised the good deeds of public-works employees and police officers who provided rides for the snowbound over the past several days.
City employees made nearly 20,000 calls to senior citizens to ask whether they needed help, the mayor said. Some delivered bags of food to shut-ins.
"A lot of these people are frail and don't have any family to help them," O'Malley said during a news conference yesterday. Safeway, Stop, Shop & Save, and Santoni's supermarkets donated food to fill the bags.
City Public Works Director George L. Winfield said more than 300 employees working around the clock in 12-hour shifts had removed 4,156 tons of snow.
Winfield said that, as of yesterday, about half of the city's side streets had been plowed. But rush-hour traffic downtown yesterday morning was near gridlock as commuters crowded streets, many of which had half the usual number of lanes open.
Cars parked along snow emergency routes have prevented snowplows from clearing some streets to the curb, Winfield said. The owners of those vehicles must move them or risk being towed starting today, he said.
The city has opened parking lots at Camden Yards, Memorial Stadium, Mondawmin Mall, Pimlico Race Course and Morgan State University to the public. Winfield encouraged residents to use those lots because another storm, possibly bringing snow and sleet, is expected Sunday night and Monday morning.
"We want to get a clean start," Winfield said.
Getting back on track
On the second day after the snow stopped falling, Mass Transit Administration buses were avoiding side streets where traffic was tangled because of piles of snow and cars parked at bus stops, said Frank Fulton, MTA spokesman.
Baltimore's Metro and light rail lines were back to normal yesterday after experiencing delays because of frozen switches and electrical contacts at the height of the storm, he said.
The MARC line, which ferries commuters between Baltimore and Washington, was operating on a holiday schedule, Fulton said.
All state roads -- those designated by numbers -- were cleared by late yesterday, and crews were working to remove snow piled at intersections, and taking a second swipe at rural roads, said Valerie Burnette Edgar, a State Highway Administration spokeswoman.
Courts reopened yesterday after a two-day recess. In Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, officials started the tedious rescheduling of hundreds of proceedings that were postponed Tuesday and Wednesday because of the storm.
At the state capitol, Sen. John C. Astle, an Annapolis resident, apologized to his colleagues on the Senate floor yesterday for the city's slushy conditions.
"By next week, things will be good," he said. "You can walk without having to wear those ugly shoes."
On the Eastern Shore, road crews struggled to clear secondary roads coated with ice that lingered yesterday as temperatures barely climbed above 20 degrees.
Snowball fights, knitting, TV
In Timonium, Zany Brainy was packed with laughing, screaming, crying children.
"I sort of want to go to school," said 9-year-old Anna Huang, as her 2-year-old brother, Ben, raced around with a stuffed orange Charmander from the Pokemon collection. "I like school. My best friends don't really live near me either. I'd play with my baby brother, but he pushes me and stuff."
A weary but smiling Sally Huang, of Lutherville, was looking for some educational entertainment for her children after days of snowball fights, knitting and watching TV.
"Oh, yes. I'm ready. I want them back at school," said Huang, a nursing assistant who took off several days to stay at home with her children.
Family projects and homework kept the peace in some homes.
"We've been baking Valentine's Day cookies," said Lisa Wyatt, 31, of Ramblewood, a mother of four children.
The Furlong family spent much of yesterday collecting items for 8-year-old Bridget Furlong's dinosaur diorama, a project for her Riderwood Elementary School teacher that is due today.
Still, Beth Furlong, 37, the mother of three children, was growing anxious. "I've got just two packets of hot-chocolate mix and three marshmallows left," she said. "We're hoping to go back to school soon."
Sun staff writers Peter Hermann, David L. Greene, Jamie Smith Hopkins, Dennis O'Brien, Joanna Daemmrich, Andrea Siegel, Tim Craig, Chris Guy, Gady Epstein, Joel S. McCord, Jacqueline A. Powder and Harry Merritt contributed to this article.