Today marks the start of the fifth day our children will miss school due to ice, snow, awful road conditions and freezing temps. Day five of missed school and day seven of consecutive days together as a family.
But who’s counting?
We live in an area ill equipped for snow removal due to the fact we are not in the snow belt. Our county doesn’t own a fleet of plows to dig us out on the rare occasion we have more than average snow fall. I’m still not quite certain as to how much precipitation we received because accumulation stories often follow the rules associated with fishing lore. Much like fishermen who tell tall tales of the big one that got away, it seems that locals profess anywhere from two to two hundred inches of snow when recounting a snow storm. My best estimate for this snow event is five inches during our first snowfall and roughly another four inches a few days later. While not quite like the crippling effect a one inch dusting would have on southern states, this amount of snow laying atop icy roads will hamper our local counties for days.
As it turns out days and days. And days.
The first snow day was a bit of a shock to the system given the simple fact we had just returned to school after winter break. Parents sent their children back on January 3rd expecting routine, full weeks of classes, with the exception of Martin Luther King Jr and Presidents’ Day. Everyone planned on a nice, normal start to the new year.
Let’s all hug and kiss as we depart for our regularly scheduled programming and meet back for laziness over Spring Break.
Mother Nature, dear one that she is, had other ideas. While the quick arrival of our first snow day came as a shock, it happened to be a Friday so we quickly rolled into a weekend and found our lazy rhythm. Don’t misconstrue my shock or disdain of snow days as a lack of love for my children. I love my children. I love spending time with my children. But (BIG but here) I also love having built in snow days in the spring when I can simultaneously love my children and love spending time with my children.
In conditions that don’t leave us all with bright red fingers and toes. In weather that allows for shorts versus thirty pounds of snow gear. Outside. Where there is space for exploration and room for volume, as in really loud kids. Even in winter I am all for sending my kids outside to run off extra energy in the cold. We don’t fear cool temps. However, four degree days will cause even the most frazzled mom to pause before she boots her loud kids out the door for some peace and quiet.
Lest you think I’m cringing about another snow day because my kids are jerks, let me be crystal clear. My kids are……..KIDS. They do best when not contained in close quarters for days on end due to near zero temps. They WE get antsy. We’re prone to cabin fever. Despite our best attempts at keeping everyone active with games and crafts and cooking and snowman building and sledding, there comes a point when six people may have seen enough of one another for a bit. But four of us can’t drive a car and two of us made a pact to never leave a man behind in times of crisis.
So we all stay.
Given all this info, you would think seeing the school corporation’s number on the caller ID yesterday would send us into fight or flight mode. It was, in fact, our fifth consecutive missed school due. (Have I mentioned this yet?) For some, tears would have been justified. Fortunately, my attitude at this point is more ‘we just might be able to do this’ and less ‘I’m happy to carry all four kids on my back through snow laden streets to safely deposit them back at school.’
We finally found our groove.
Day one, we (those in our home) were as ill equipped as those in charge of the county roads. We simply weren’t prepared for the sheer magnitude of the job. The job of entertaining, engaging, refereeing, shuttling, dressing, undressing, feeding, cleaning up. Now, nearly a week later, I feel much like I’ve received my Doctorate in Snow Day Management. With a certificate in Attitude Adjustment. I’ve seen posts from moms and dad who contrived and created and conspired to keep little ones on their toes making memories versus plopping them down for 12 hours of TV…….but zero judgement for those of
us you who chose the latter. My guess is that many of you also celebrated the receipt of your very own Doctorate of SDM this week. I know this simply because it was your shared ideas that allowed our family to not only survive but thrive this week. A very sincere thank you!
However, if you’re numb or flat or void of ideas for ONE. MORE. SNOW. DAY, no judgement. You are loved here in this safe space. I, too, have Googled ‘ideas for occupying kids indoors that won’t result in bloodshed or drywall repair.’ Rest assured you are not alone. The following is the Cliffs Notes of what I gathered the last few days at home. Please be aware that if you’re beyond needing suggestions and are mindlessly wandering and muttering in your home, you’re gonna need the Yellow Snow, Every Man for Himself version of this post. So pick your poison and proceed. If you find yourself simply needing a push for Day Five, please continue:
- Hot cocoa makes everyone happy……and eventually sleepy. The happy part comes from all the sugar and marshmallows. The sleepy part comes from all the sugar and marshmallows followed by a near sugar coma the child enters after two cups of the syrupy mixture. Our favorite recipe is at the bottom of this post. I will warn you that I double the amount of milk and it is STILL really sweet.
- Nacho Libre may be the most ridiculous, albeit hilarious movie I have ever seen. It may be the delirium of six days together in close quarters or the mere fact that we’ve seen it so many times I can recite it in my sleep. Regardless, I will forever associate the winter of 2017/2018 with Jack Black’s Mexican Spanish accent. I’m certain if we were still using VHS tapes, our copy of Nacho Libre would now have tracking lines over our favorite parts. This quirky movie centers around Black, a monk who dreams of becoming a wrestler. We find it to be odd, hysterically funny and better after the fortieth viewing. If you’re going to judge me for allowing our youngest to see it, don’t bother. I feel guilt over a zillion things I ‘miss at’ in parenting but this isn’t one of them. If you were actually going to judge me for allowing any of our kids to see it, you now know my stance on guilt related to this movie.
- New recipes are a joy to try when everyone’s in a jolly snow day mood. Tired from trotting in the freezing temps but excited about lax bedtimes, everyone seems much more willing to try mom’s newfangled concoction. I busted out this Chicken and Potatoes recipe featuring chicken thighs, cream sauce and nine million calories. It was simple to make but fooled the family into thinking I’d given it serious effort. It was creamy and delicious and clogged all the arteries. Just so you know, another area where I feel zero guilt is snow day calorie intake. Calories don’t count when you’re out of school. It’s a fact. Check your local school corporation bylaws.
- After several snow days and the finding, losing, uncovering and disappearance of appropriate snow gear, a child who really wants to play outside will eventually put on anything. Anything. Sister’s gloves. Mom’s hat. Too small coveralls. Plastic bags on feet. Anything. All previous airs associated with fashionable wear will fall away. It’s a rag tag, makeshift extravaganza to get everyone outfitted and ready to brave the temps. But no one cares and amazing family unity is seen in these moments. It is this bonding that gets you through the hour long preparation required for the five minutes actually spent outside. So grab some old clothes or bath robes or whatever suits your fancy and head outside.
- Bubble solution and wands make for cheap and easy entertainment. In freezing temps, you can watch as a bubble slowly freezes and eventually implode in on itself. For kids on Snow Day #4 this is quite possibly more fantastically entertaining than a full blown cinema experience on any other normal day. Also a heck of a lot cheaper, as taking a family of six to the movies costs somewhere near two million dollars these days.
- Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are worth every penny. When we cut the cable cord, I questioned my husband’s decision to spend money on these services. I would like to publicly apologize for my lack of confidence in his abilities to predict what I would most need on a snow day. Which, turns out, is limitless television programing. Surprising to me, you can’t actually reach the end of Netflix. Believe me, we’ve tried. There are endless programs to suit every family. We’ve watched stupid (see Nacho Libre) and educational. Comedies and documentaries. Who knew there were so many types of dangerous fish? We’ve also abused our local programming. PBS has some phenomenal travel programs, including Rick Steves’ Europe. I am secretly obsessed with Rick Steves. He is like the Bob Ross of travel shows with his unsettlingly calm demeanor. So we watch and learn about various cathedrals in Austria and the variety of foods in Germany. If my kids are going to fry their brains on television, they’re at least going to do it knowing what schnitzel is. If you’re looking for some serious family challenge, force your kids to agree on a program before starting. If your kids already do this……well…….I’m guessing if your kids already do this, you don’t need my stupid ideas anyway.
With the roads now relatively clear, the world is our oyster. We can inundate the malls or make the young workers at the local trampoline parks cry when we show up with six people, four pairs of jump socks and a stack of tattered reports cards. We can max out volume at the local library or leave ten baskets worth of chips under the tables at our local Mexican restaurant. The options are as limitless as our television subscription services. So, ladies and gentlemen, I am confident the worst is over. We have found our rhythm and routine. We are masters of relaxation and sloth like behavior. With any luck we’ll get these kids back to school on Friday just in time for another weekend to sleep late, eat stacks of sugary pancakes and fight over how many times we watch Nacho Libre on Saturday.
Stay safe, my friends. I’d love, love, love to hear how my local friends made these snow days memorable!
***Pancreas Crushing Cocoa***
Combine 1/3 cup cocoa, 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in 1/3 cup boiling water. Boil for one minute and add 3 1/2 cups of milk, being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.