Snow Days!

I don’t know exactly how this works.

Our county schools all reverted to 100% distance learning as of Tuesday because of rising coronavirus infection rates.

On Wednesday, we had a snow day. Today, we had ANOTHER SNOW DAY.

I don’t really see the logic of declaring snow days when everyone’s connecting virtually anyway, but whatever.

One Happy Dude

I know one person was DELIGHTED to have two days off from school.

Yup. He’s in kindergarten, he’s nearly six, and he’s our Winter Baby.

The Bug, our very own Canadian.

In His Element

I practically had to wrestle his snow gear on to him before letting him out of the house. He was dying to get out in the white fluffy stuff.

The boy who normally doesn’t want to get out of his pajamas on the weekend was dressed shortly after breakfast and ready to be out of doors in the falling snow.

It was delightful. We took an ambling walk and admired the flakes that landed on our gloves, caught them on our tongues, and marvelled at the accumulation happening right before our eyes.

I was taking photos, and in each one the Bug has an enormous grin on his face.

He’s making snow angels, making footprints, gathering up snow for a tiny snowball…

The Bear, on the other hand, looks less than amused in most of the pictures.

Ah, the difference between my Summer Baby and my Winter Baby.

Born To Cold

The Bug was born in early January in Montreal, Canada.

The day before he came it had been mild, only -17 degrees Celsius (hovering just above zero in Fahrenheit).

That night, though, the temperature plummeted to -34C (-29F) and every pregnant woman in Montreal near her due date went into labor.

The only reason I scored a private hospital room was because the Bug came in a damn hurry. Five hours from the first contraction to delivery.

The February after he was born was the coldest February in recorded Quebec history (a fact my mother never failed to point out to me when she was visiting that month).

We toted him around in a carrier with a special insert in our winter coats to keep him warm. We took him out in a stroller so bundled up that only his little face was showing (he needed his vitamin D!).

And since then, he has always loved the cold.

Two in a Row

So you can imagine his delight when they announced another snow day yesterday afternoon.

We’ve spent most of the past two days outside in the snow. Snow forts, snow castles, ice piles, butt sledding, ice skating on our frozen driveway… We did it all.

And though it was exhausting, it was magical.

It’d be nice to get a bit more snow for Christmas, but being in Virginia, we won’t hold our breath.

At least we’ve had this taste of winter wonderland. And we can confidently say we took full advantage of every minute.

I Thought of Taking the Night Off

From the computer that is.

This career development program I wrote about last time has taken up a lot of my evenings.

It’s strange sitting in front of the computer for long stretches again. I haven’t done that in… Years!

But then I figured I owed the blog an article. (As if you were all DYING to read something from me!)

Cooped Up

What with all the computer-sitting-at, and the staying-at-home, and the onset of darker, gloomier weather, I decided that the boys and I needed to be able to go outside whenever.

And I really mean WHENEVER.

In German, there’s a saying that a girlfriend reminded me of today.

Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung.

That roughly translates to: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”

When it poured rain on Monday, I realized that the boys had either destroyed or outgrown all their rain pants. So I hopped on to zappos.com and ordered them each a pair of these Columbia kids’ rain pants.

They’re not fancy, they’re not cute, but they do the trick!

Their rain jackets are a hand-me-down (the yellow one on the Bear) and from Target (on the Bug). They’ve been soaked through a couple of times, so I need to re-waterproof them. I usually do this with the same kind of spray I use for shoes and boots, though I’m sure there’s a better product I should be using.

(I find that having them wear lovingly hand knit sweaters under their rain jackets improves the waterproofness. It’s true. Wool is a wonder fiber.)

Their boots are snow boots (on the Bug–didn’t hold up to serious puddle jumping) and an Amazon purchase of Thomas the Tank Engine rain boots for the Bear.

Like I said, nothing fancy. But we all had the gear we needed to spend an hour outside today. (I was decked out in my mom’s old LLBean rain pants, Costco rain boots I picked up the last time I was there, and my Helly Hansen rain jacket I’ve had for years–also needs to be re-waterproofed…)

Next Up…

I’ll need to make sure we have all the necessary gear for really cold weather outdooring!

Not that it really gets that cold here in Virginia, but on the days it does snow, we want to be ready!

Gotta be ready for more exploring in the rain!
lonely-in-the-playground

Lonely at the Playground

How often do you see parents reading at the playground anymore? Or chatting amongst themselves? Or even looking at their phones?

Not much, I’d guess.

I’ve spent a few months in the US, and the experience of going to the playground is entirely different here.

In Germany, parents would congregate in one area of the playground. Grownups would stand around chatting with each other, occasionally helping a child out, kissing a booboo or intervening when children’s interactions came to tears.

Otherwise, though, parents mainly talked amongst themselves, leaving the kids to do their thing.

Here, it’s completely different.

In the last few months of visiting various playgrounds in our new town, the only parents I have chatted with have been almost exclusively Germans. I’ve only had a nice conversation with one American Mom.

Most of the time I find myself sitting on a bench by myself, watching my kids play.

The other day, I realized what’s happening.

Parents aren’t interacting with each other because they’re too busy entertaining their kids.

Longing for playground socializing

As a newcomer to the area, I thought taking my kids to the playground would be a great way to meet other parents. Not so.

Small chats do happen, and people aren’t unfriendly. But most folks are so busy with their kids that they won’t stop long to talk.

At first it made me wonder if I was doing something wrong or somehow neglecting my children. Then I looked around and spotted my boys, one happily playing on the slides, another dangling upside-down from the monkey bars. They were fine.

They didn’t want or need me to entertain them. And frankly, I wasn’t much interested in the monkey bars.

So now I bring my book

Perhaps it makes me look antisocial, sitting there reading. I try to glance up regularly to look around and see if there are any other parents hankering for a good old-fashioned playground chat.

If you see me reading at the playground, don’t worry about interrupting. Chances are, I’d welcome the opportunity to meet someone new.

4_great_reasons_to_take_kids_outside

4 Great Reasons to Take Your Kids Outside

Summertime, and the living is easy. With the good, warm weather, it’s also easy to remember to take your kids outside. But when the cold north wind starts to blow, we forget how important it is to get outdoors. Here are 4 great reasons to keep taking your kids outside, come rain or shine.

1. Get the kids some vitamin D

Exposure to direct sunlight is the best way for the body to produce this happy-making vitamin. However, if your kids have very pale skin, you’ve got to balance the benefits and the dangers of exposure to direct sunlight.

The Vitamin D council recommends short periods (15 minutes) of exposure in the mid-morning during high summer for pastier kids, and longer periods for kids with darker skin. After that, cover up with clothing, stay in the shade, and/or apply sunscreen.

In winter time, when it’s harder for everyone to absorb vitamin D, it’s even more important that kids spend time outdoors (as well as taking a vitamin D supplement). Why do you think people in Iceland stick their bundled up babies outside to nap? So their little faces can absorb some all-important rays.

2. Burn off energy with some exercise

Having an 18-month-old can feel like sharing a house with the Energizer bunny. They just keep going, and going, and going…

If you ever find yourself stuck in a spiral of hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls preventing you from getting things done, then it’s time to throw them outside.

For younger kids, just being outside and taking it all in will help expend excess energy, even if they don’t do much running around. My little guy loves to lie in the big basket swing in our local playground, but he’s always heavy-lidded and ready to sleep at night, even after spending all afternoon lying back gazing at the sky.

3. Watch them discover EVERYTHING

It takes about 15 minutes to walk from my town’s train station to our house. The other day, it took us an hour and a half.

That’s because the Bug was saying, “Down? Down? Down?” as we got off the train from Munich, and when we approached a safe walking area, I complied.

He stopped at every. Single. Puddle. Every single twig, leaf, or slug. It was pouring rain, but we were both well-equipped with rain coats and pants, and crocs. Since I was in no particular hurry to get anywhere, I just let him be.

Gently encouraging him to move forward from time to time, we spent the next 1.5 hours throwing pebbles down drains, splashing in puddles, poking at snails and slugs, and generally absorbing all there was to discover.

It was amazing to see him wonder at it all, and though I was desperate for a cup of tea by the time we got home, I wouldn’t have hurried him for the world.

4. Take a little time for yourself

As your kids get older and are better able to play on their own, you’ll find that outdoor time becomes you time. Yes, you have to be observant and constantly aware of where your kids are, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them around the playground.

We are lucky to have playgrounds every few feet here in Germany, and many of them are fenced in, and very toddler-friendly. We have found one where no matter where I sit, I can see the Bug. He’s now big enough to run from game to game on his own, and I can sit and knit, while keeping watch out of the corner of my eye.

Being outside with other people takes the pressure off me. While at home I am constantly in demand for entertainment, the great outdoors provides enough to keep him engaged.

It’s also a nice opportunity to meet other parents. I have found this to be especially true when coming to a new place. When kids play together, parents get talking. It’s been a wonderful way to make new friends.

Get the right gear and get going

Germans say that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. While a hailstorm is definitely best avoided, rainy, snowy and gloomy days need not be spent indoors.

For your kids’ sake, and for your sanity, get the right outdoor gear you need, and try and get outside every single day. You’ll all feel better for it.