Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blue skies and snowy days

I remember a January day my very first winter in New England - walking across the quiet, almost empty, university campus and really enjoying the feeling of being on holiday. There was snow on the ground and the sky was cloudless. I remember being quite delighted by the sun sparkling off the snow because I don't remember ever seeing snow in England sparkle. When we made Christmas decorations in primary school and used white glitter to decorate them it never occurred to me that snow really could sparkle like that - I thought it was a pretend thing!

Even when it's really cold (and even when I have to go to work), those sunny days in winter lift my spirits, especially when there's snow on the ground. Yesterday was one of those gorgeously sunny days and it was a nice day to be out and about:

Today it is not like that. We woke to grey skies and the forecast of 4 to 8 inches of snow. Instead of sitting in a puddle of sunshine on the dining room floor this afternoon reading a book, as I did yesterday, I've been sitting on the living room floor playing games with the husband and kids.

Quirkle is our game of choice this winter - one of those simple to learn games that requires some thought and strategy to play well. The snow is pretty and it's nice to have family time and an excuse for not having to go anywhere or do anything outside the house.

Having said that, once we get to the end of February I'm usually ready for winter to be over, or at least for there to be no more snow. But for all my griping about the weather, I would definitely miss New England winters if I ever moved back to the UK!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February vacation

We don't get half term holidays over here, but we do have this week off school anyway. The school year here is 10 days shorter than in the UK - 180 days rather than 190 and the holidays are arranged a little differently.

No October half-term, but we do get two days in November for Thanksgiving. Slightly less than 2 weeks at Christmas/New Year as opposed to two full weeks in the UK. A week in February, like February half term. We don't get two weeks off at Easter. We get one week in April. In my school district that vacation will now be shortened by 2 days because of the number of snow days we've had :-( By the middle to end of June we're done, whereas the state schools in the UK still have another 3 weeks to go.

So why is it, after so many years of February half term, it feels far too early this year to be having a week off school right now? Maybe I got too used to the private school vacations of two weeks in March? (Perfect timing for cheap tickets to the UK! It's been three years now though since I had vacation in March. Sniff!) Maybe it's because I ended up with almost a month off for Christmas because of all the snow days? (If only I'd know in advance that was coming, we'd have gone to the UK!) It certainly feels as though we had just barely got started with a school routine, and now we're on holiday again. Of course, DH with his paltry annual allowance of something like 6 days off has no sympathy!

Ok, I'm off to plan our calendar so we don't get to Friday and find the week has slipped by and we haven't even left the house! Library, movies, museums, kids' theatre - there are so many choices!
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