Tag Archives: snow day

Snow-day thoughts in March

Last night it was cold, so we lit the fire, which is a wood-burning stove. Then one of the cats jumped up on top of the stove and hurt his paw and I spent the rest of the evening stressing out in case the other one did the same, now that it was even hotter and would probably burn all the flesh off his little pads. Of course, since they’re not used to there being a fire there, they’ve come to think that the stove is just a fun place to jump up and play on, and have no idea why it should be any different just because there’s a bright orange light behind the glass. So I guess we can never light a fire again. Oh well. I’ll just drink wine to keep warm.

Because. This entire winter has been a damp squib, more like a practice for winter than actual winter, where it got chilly for a few days and then stopped. We’ve had no snow days and only the barest sprinkling of snow. Social flakes, I think they call them, because it’s enough to chat about but nothing further. Now that it’s mid March, though, we’re expecting a doozie and we’ve forgotten how to deal with that. I’ve been thinking about sandals – I am not up for a snow day.

Snow on road under lamplight

There appears to be snow.

Now it’s Tuesday and here I am making snow-day French toast for lunch. It’s a snow day, though the snow is mostly ice and not much fun for playing in. Dash is still in pyjamas and hasn’t been outside at all – but he did utter the immortal words “You’re right, Mom” a little while ago when he finally agreed with me that his ipad game would never end and he’d have to just stop playing it. It only took about two hours for him to come around to my opinion, so those were two hours well spent (by me alternately nagging/not nagging).

You can’t hurry French toast, as Phil Collins always says. I think it’s done now though.

Then some friends called for us and we ended up going out to sled on the big hill behind the school for an hour, which was much better than staying at home all day.

Did I have a point? Was it about the cats? So one cat now has a sore paw (he’s not limping at all but it looks nasty) and his brother looks like he’s gone five rounds with Mike Tyson because he has scrapes around his eye and something weird going on with his nose. And one of his ears has seen better days. We should’ve called him Rocky.

Life with cats goes like this: they sleep on the end of our bed, unless we kick them out. And it’s so sweet to have them there, purring away like little happy engines, a comforting weight by your feet, that we leave them there. Then halfway through the night I find that there are two cats right where my legs want to be, and I have to put my legs somewhere else. And at 5 am or so they wake up and think it’s time to play, or to climb on my head or knead their paws on my hair or pounce on my toes under the blanket, and then I lie there waiting for them to run off and thunder through the house instead, until 6:30 when they decide it’s breakfast time and someone has to feed them. (They were quite delighted with the time change that moved feeding time up an hour. They won’t be so happy in the autumn when we’re an hour late one day.)

Drops of ice on the washing line


After a glass or two of wine my fingers fairly fly over the keyboard; but they fly up to the delete button twice as often too. Still, as a method for getting my thoughts directly to paper, I have nothing but good things to say about typing. I really wish Dash would practice his keyboarding more because I think once he can type his writing will take flight. Also, his spelling will improve.

I should add that it’s after dinner now so my mentioning of wine is entirely appropriate. Merely mentioning. It came to mind for no particular reason.

Now we are waiting to see if the schools are opening on time tomorrow, since I’ve made a vet appointment for Birchyboo (not Oakiepokes – you can see how their full names are coming along) in the morning and I suspect I’ll have to bring at least one child along to it. It’s the child who wants to be a vet, so that’s okay.

I just read The Long Winter to Mabel, being the sixth of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I know I’ve mentioned these before, because we’ve been reading the series since I happened on the first one when Mabel was four or five. I love going through it slowly like this – I just pick up the next book at the thrift store or the book sale, but we don’t rush to get it from the library to dash through the the way we do with other series. This means that it’s a slower process but much more part of her childhood instead of a momentary blip. And as I’ve never read this series before I’m enjoying it too.

Anyway, The Long Winter, as you might surmise, is about a particularly hard winter for the pioneer family, who have finally settled in De Smet, Dakota Territory, where the Little Town on the Prairie actually is. There are blizzards from October to April that year, they have to burn sticks of twisted hay and sit around the stove in the tiny kitchen all day, they have nothing left to eat but bread made from wheat they grind in a coffee grinder – and Ma still cares about getting the laundry done. I would fail Pioneer 101 instantly.

Happily, our one paltry snow day of the year comes with wine, Girl Scout cookies, and a fireplace we can’t light because of the cats but we still have central heating. I think we’ll survive.

Snowy sidewalk by road, child with sled

Coming back from sledding

Snow joke

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.05.44 PM

My kitchen chairs have been taken from me. My sofa cushions are two rooms away from their sofa. The big brown blanket that belongs on my bed has been repurposed. Yes, it’s a blanket fort, and it’s been there for three days now because I can’t face the mutiny I would encounter if I told them to dismantle it.

Scratch that. I’ve told them to dismantle it. They haven’t, and I haven’t bothered to follow up. I take the blanket with me every night, we sit on the bench in the kitchen, and nobody used that sofa much anyway. The fort is in use as an animal hospital and they spent a good hour designing, engineering, building, fortifying, populating, guarding, and creating signage for it. That’s good enough. Standards are low.

It’s day nine of the weekend that never ended. They’ve been off school all this week plus Thursday and Friday of last week, for the snowstorm that ended on Sunday morning. We dug out on Sunday and Monday, our roads have been perfectly passable since Tuesday at the latest, and yet…

There are many reasons why this is so, even though it is far from ideal for all concerned. The Washington DC area is southerly enough that snow is not a sure thing every winter, but northern enough that sometimes snow happens in large quantities. That means the cities and towns and counties and school districts are somewhat equipped to deal with snow, but not as well prepared as places like Boston or Chicago, where this is just called winter and people get on with it. We got our season’s worth of snow in two days, and we’ve nowhere to put it. The roads were prioritized but the sidewalks and bus stops were left to languish under extra feet of ploughed snow. The school closure decisions are made county by county, not by smaller districts or a school at a time, and though our area dug out quickly some people didn’t even see a plough on their street till Thursday.

This is no joke for those people who were expected back at work on Tuesday morning but have had to scramble to find last-minute childcare for every other day of the week. It’s no joke for those children who depend on a free hot meal at school every weekday. (Some schools opened to provide lunches for those who could get there and needed it.) It’s not even much fun for the lucky ones like me who had nothing much else to do and could at least let their kids profit from late lazy mornings, seasonal outdoor exercise, an extension on the science fair project, and a few family movie nights instead of a workaday week of spelling tests and classroom spats, too little recess and too much homework.

By today I was actually going to feel a little inconvenienced if the kids did have school. Mabel’s annual checkup was this morning and it was much easier to bring Dash along too instead of rushing around trying to get them both to school – I even, finally, got him a flu shot, which certainly wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been with us. Afterwards we had lunch in IKEA and … well, maybe I’ll find another movie for this afternoon.



You think the hard part of the storm is going to be the storm. When you’re in the middle of it, with the snow swirling all around and the view out the windows looking very much like Hoth, and the constant nagging worry about whether you might lose power and if there’s anything you could be doing now to prevent that or make things easier when it happens; not to mention the worry about trees falling on the house or the roof caving in under the weight of the snow.

Looking down the street in the snow


Snow-covered bikes

Not bicycling weather

However, assuming that none of those terrible things happen and you didn’t really think they would, the aftermath is worse. Because then you have to venture out, and you have to shovel the stupid white wet stuff off your car and out of your driveway, and the kids are complaining because it’s no good for sledding (too deep, uncompacted) and no good for snowballs or snowmen either (too fluffy, not sticky), and because it’s too long a walk home from the place you took them to sled, and because their snowboots let in snow and their chins are numb and they can’t feel their fingers. And then the snowplough comes by (if you’re lucky) and shoves a whole lot more snow in front of your house.

Mabel playing in the snow

A mountain lion leaping from bank to bank

Dash sledding

Sledding fun

No, that didn’t really all happen to us, and yesterday, after the storm, wasn’t so bad. It’s quite nice, really, when the sun comes back and the wind dies down and all the neighbours come out and chat to each other about how great it is that we still have electricity. But today the white stuff is still there, and it’s hardly even pretty any more because it’s just all piled up getting in the way and not melting. And the schools have already announced that they’ll still be closed tomorrow, so who knows what the rest of the week will look like, and let’s not even think about the possible snow that’s forecast for Friday because by then we will absolutely all have died of tedium and irritation.

Shovelled walkways

Not so pretty

Clear sky over snowy road

The long road home

A slow snow week

On Monday morning, in the midst of my jubliation, I had a brief moment of sympathy for the children. “A full week,” I thought, “straight in, no respite; they’ll be exhausted by Friday.”

Then Tuesday was a snow day. Wednesday and Thursday were 11am starts due to the cold, and finally Friday was a full day again. I think that eased them in pretty nicely, thank you, and I’d quite like my unproductive week back to do over.

Trees in the snow

Snowy tangle of branches

In response to the cold, I sourced dinner from the freezer two nights in a row rather than go to the supermarket, and it would have been fine if the wine I’d planned to go with our fairly sad-looking veggie lasagne last night hadn’t been corked. But it was corked, and that was tragic, because the wierd dark lager that is the dregs of the beer selection box you bought for the party and nobody drank is not nearly as satisfying as a nice red on a winter’s night.

Crochet square

As threatened, I learned to crochet. Behold my square!

Today the thermometer went above freezing and I went to the supermarket and picked up lots of healthy! vegetables! to make hearty dinners with, but I still don’t have any wine because that was the wrong supermarket for wine, so I’m hoping someone reads this and brings home some wine before dinner. (You’ve got an hour. No pressure.)

Mabel in the snow

Mabel with her giant snowballs

As well as that, I’ve been working my way slowly through the more immediate bits of my to-do list, writing some stuff, some of which should come to light quite excitingly next week, and taking bad photos on my Kindle Fire and posting them to Instagram. If you look to the right you’ll find my Instagram feed there – isn’t that pretty? 

Oops, time to wine is only 35 minutes now. I’d better hit Publish. How was your first week back to school?

My day in Upworthy headlines

You Won’t Believe What This Mom Gave her Kids for Breakfast!
[Spoiler: not pancakes]

You’ll Be Amazed By How the County Reacted To These Three Inches Of Snow!
[Spoiler: They closed the schools. Again.]

These Children Had a Snow Day. You’ll Be Astounded by the Amount of Squabbling That Ensued.
[Spoiler: lots]

Ten Fabulous Ways to Entice Your Children to Turn Off the TV. [Spoiler: The TV is still on.]

You Won’t Believe How This Mother Chose to Entertain Her Kids for Yet Another Snow Day. [Spoiler: Something from the Clearance crafts aisle at Target.]

Quiz: Which piece of random crap on my carpet are you?
[Results will be either: 1×1 Lego brick, tiny elastic band, melty bead, sequin, cheerio, rice-cake morsel, or squishy inside of an Oreo cookie.]

Five beautiful Pinterest crafts that look far too much like hard work.

Seven snack foods that you can eat standing up while your kids are distracted.
[Hint: My countertops are exactly the color of dark chocolate. Or a Thin Mint.]

This Mother Served Leftovers for Dinner Again: Wait Till You See Her Husband’s Reaction! [Spoiler: He ate them.]

This Woman Has a Blog: You Won’t Believe Her Latest Post!
[Spoiler: Done.]

Children with melty beads

Newest snow-day activity: melty beads!

Rubber bands

Just because both children had things to look forward to planned for school on Thursday – the 100th day party for Mabel and both his first honor-roll assembly and the opportunity to present his project in front of students and parents for Dash (and let’s just forget how I feel in theory about honor-roll; I still think it’s silly and unfair, but you can bet your bottom dollar I was planning to be there) – we had a ton of snow that night and school was cancelled. Then there was more snow the next night and Friday’s school was cancelled for Mabel too. (Dash had a long-standing day off for teacher training anyway.)

So the idea of this probable oncoming snow day struck fear into my heart on Wednesday. My kids do not always want to spend a lot of any given snow day actually outside in the white stuff, and Dash is not the best with unstructured free time. In spite of the zillion other things I had to do that morning while Mabel was at school, I made time to stop off at Target to buy 1400 rubber bands.

At this point you are either nodding in agreement or a bit confused. If you don’t have a tween girl you might not know that rubber band bracelets are the thing these days. When I was in second grade I remember making pompoms by wrapping wool around two donuts of cardboard. At some later date everyone was making friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread. I was never at the cutting edge of fads, and I’m neither crafty nor hailing from crafty stock, so if I did these, I can guarantee that pretty much every single other girl in school was doing them too just then.

A while ago the existence of this current craze came to my attention and I congratulated myself on not having a girl old enough to be interested in or find out about such things. The next day, as I dropped Mabel off to school, one of the boys in her class proudly showed me the bracelet he had made himself that weekend, so I was clearly wrong on both counts there; but I kept my head down and ignored the evidence. A few weeks later Dash mentioned that all the kids in his class were making bracelets with rubber bands and that he’d like to too. I filed that away under “future endeavours.”

It seemed that Thursday’s snow day would be just the time to unfile it. I had heard from the mom of the five-year-old boy that the loom was pretty complicated and that perfectly easy bracelets could be made using a pencil. Also that explanatory videos were to be found on YouTube. So on Wednesday I selected two packs of tiny rubber bands from the “current fads” section of Target (where they keep the Pokemon cards and the baseball cards – yes, really – and Skylanders cards and whatever else the kids are doing these days) and went on my way.

Thursday began, as I have mentioned, with a thick cloak of snow beautifully covering everything. After the cursory trip outside in it, at the point when life in general was weighing heavy upon the children, I announced that I had a new thing for us to do. I produced the rubber bands, we watched the video, and we got down to business. By the end of the day, Dash had made ten bracelets, Mabel six, and I had made four. (What? They made me do it.) By Friday afternoon there was a knock-down drag-out screaming fight over the last four red rubber bands, which I had to confiscate, and Dash had made another three or four.

Kids making bracelets, one in progress on two pencils, and the finished products.

The obvious next step is to figure out how I can leverage this industry for profit. Every second other family, apparently, has a surplus of these bracelets in the house, so I don’t think we can flog them to the unsuspecting public, lovely and unique as they are.

It might be time to teach him to knit.