Tag Archives: winter

Winter Break Fun

There are really and truly few things I enjoy more than spending time with my children.  But they have been on school break since December 15th and we still have five days left before they go back and hoooo, boy am I ready for them to be at school all day for a few weeks.

My kids, at ages 13, 11, 9 & 7, are pretty self-sufficient in terms of entertaining themselves.  Because there are four of them, they always have someone to play with. But having four kids in the house all day, every day ALSO means they always have someone to annoy and argue with.  Always.  Like, every hour of the day.  Which makes me abso-freaking-lutely insane and despite the fact that I know I should let them solve their disputes themselves, I end up mediating and then losing my patience and shouting at them to stop bickering over and over.

The kids get up before me most days on school break and make their own breakfasts.  Five years ago I could only dream of the day that would happen, and make no mistake, I appreciate it.  But they eat like locusts.  We’re going through food at a rate so alarming, I am almost afraid someone is hoarding it in a cupboard upstairs somewhere.  And although they are reasonably okay at cleaning up after themselves after making a meal…actually, no.  Not true.  They’re generally rubbish at cleaning up and I end up reminding them kindly and patiently several times a day and then screaming and yelling like a lunatic to just put the bread away already, goddammit.

Luckily it’s not as cold here in England in winter as it was in D.C. (or is on most of the east coast of the U.S. right now) so the kids can still play outside for a few hours almost every day.  But it IS wet and rainy and that means it’s muddy and I don’t mind them playing in mud and getting dirty until it’s time to do laundry and I discover that they’ve actually worn three different pair of warm-ups and two different pair of socks each in a single day because they kept getting wet and dirty and then changing and leaving their dirty, wet clothes on the floor.  Then I give long lectures on making unnecessary work for other people when you could just wear one outfit a day or two AT MOST and not go back out once you’ve already changed into clean dry clothes.  And then I spend twenty minutes teaching people how to do their own laundry.  And then we all spend an hour every other day folding and putting away clean clothes while I threaten the lives of the children if they don’t stop changing outfits multiples times a day.

So.  Winter break has been fun.  Lots of fun.  Lots of movies and baking and cooking and board games and reading and laughing and good times. 

But my goodness, I’m ready for the fun to end.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Snow gearYup, that’s a House of Pain blog post title.  Things can only get better from here.

This week I took all the snow pants, coats, gloves, scarves, neck warmers, hats, and other various winter paraphernalia out of my kitchen.  It looks nice in there now without a giant clothes rack covered in wet clothes dripping dirty water onto my floor.

I washed all the washable snow gear.  And I packed it up and put it away into the ginormous hockey bag where we store all that stuff.  The bag is now tucked safely into the spare closet in my bedroom where it will sit until next year (or until we move).

(So it will probably snow at least once more in D.C. this year.  Sorry.  I just couldn’t take the mess anymore and it was 62 degrees outside.) 

I have loved this winter, I cannot lie.  Matt and I skied together for the first time and the kid learned to ski and they loved it.  They just rocked it.  We got to play in 2′ of snow with our Massachusetts cousins and see my nephew in his first play and then we got a few good snowstorms in D.C. too.  Unlike last winter (which SUCKED), we did not spend the entire span of Thanksgiving to Spring Break with at least one sick person in our family at all times.  Although Matt did get shingles, it was the mildest case I’ve ever heard of, so all that happened was that he was home for the kids’ whole winter break.  We ice skated in NYC and D.C. at cool outdoor skating rinks and saw our California cousins too.  We went to the Train Show in New York and had a great weekend there with great friends.  We had a New Years Eve get-together with some of our neighborhood peeps. I have just loved so much about the last few months.

And now spring is coming and the kids are back in sports and we will have an insanely busy few months just FULL of sports practices and games and crazy schedules.  And no matter how much I’ve loved this winter, I can’t wait for spring.

Packing up the clothes made me a little sad: such a stark symbol of the end of a season of fun.  But then yesterday the kids were out in the yard, which is still covered in snow, wearing shorts and t-shirts and riding bikes and skateboards up and down the driveway and I all I could do was smile.

snow shorts_1 snow shorts_2 

Winter Beauty

26-photo 3 (6)It’s taken for granted, the stark beauty of winter.  Overlooked, I think, in search of the flamboyance and easy good looks of spring.

But it’s there.

I have to remind myself sometimes, but when I look for it, I always see it.

10-photo 5 (5)

In the stark contrast of bare branches silhouetted against the steel grey sky.

In the slow lull of lazy fat snowflakes as they drift to the ground.

In the silence of a snowfall, and in the barely-there crinkling of the flakes as they hit the ground.

In the puffs of breath in the cold air.

In the thick, opaque, moody clouds.

In the clear prism of ice on dark water, and the white frost lacing every window.

Spring offers up her beauty on a silver platter, splashing everything with green.  She’s sweet, but there’s no depth to her.

Winter, though, her beauty is less obvious and harder to pin down and far less appreciated.  But when you look, and you find it, it’s all that much sweeter.

Winter is Coming (But Not the Game of Thrones Kind)

We don’t have a huge yard—only about 1/3 of an acre—but in that small space we have many gardens.  More than I prefer, but we inherited them from the previous owners and have spent the last 8 years slowly replacing gardens with grassy space for the kids to play.

All that garden space means there’s a lot to do in terms of winter preparation so the yard doesn’t look absolutely disastrous come spring.

We spent two full weekends in November attacking the outside To-Do list but we’re still not quite done.  And we are clearly running out of time—once the snow falls, I think what’s done is done and what’s not isn’t happening.

Last month we cut down the tall native grass that forms a privacy wall along our back fence.  We raked up at least 30 bags of leaves and brush.  Spread 65 bags of mulch (sadly, though, we still need about 30 more).  Spent hours and hours getting the yard in shape so that winter doesn’t create more of a mess than we started with.

Since we don’t have a truck to take yard debris to the dump or haul 50 bags of mulch home from Lowes, my in-laws came down helped us out.  My father-in-law towed his trailer down behind his truck because we knew we had a lot of hauling to do.  We got the trailer all loaded up with dump-bound items.

Then this happened. 1-photo

Matt and his dad had to take the tire off, bring it to the gas station, patch it/fill it, bring it back and put it back on the trailer, THEN they were able to go to the dump.  So, you know, that was cool.

We have probably one more day of work to do to ensure the yard is really prepped.  And we HAVE to get it done, because when we move we plan to rent the house and we’d really like the yard in the best possible shape when we leave to encourage renters to maintain it well.

So even though I know Winter is Coming, I need it to hold off a few more days while I get these last few bags of mulch spread.

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