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Surviving school vacation week

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Winter woes

A week I have alternately longed for and dreaded has arrived. It is school vacation week.

Winter woes

February can be a cruel month in the northeast. It may be the shortest month by days, but it can feel the longest. It's cold and the world outside reads in shades of beige. One feels cooped up a bit (or a lot), even if one does try to get outside daily.

The arrival of the winter school vacation means that February is at least half over, and March is not far away. And if March is not far away, then spring is practically here. Woo! The challenging part of it now is actually making it through the days of the vacation without throttling each other. The kids feel the cloistering impact of February just as much as the adults do. The goal is to hear that elusive sound: three kids giggling and having fun together...and to keep it light and fun, not disintegrating into wild, occasionally destructive antics. It seems that two-thirds of the town has taken off for different scenery, either warmer with beaches or colder with snow-based recreation. Those of us left are trying to set up playdates and outings (weather-dependent, of course). Museums — even malls — are offering special activities and programs. Both types of venues will be packed. Truly packed, as they are such logical choices for outings. Which is why I will avoid them. Somehow, some way, we must find that delicate balance between activity and down-time, fun and quiet. If I can hear the kids giggling together just once a day, it can be called a successful vacation. It's truly one of my favorite sounds, that ease and comfort with one another. Perhaps it will happen at home, setting up some elaborate Playmobile scene, or in the car on the way home from looking for seals on the beach, or at dinner or visiting Dad's office. One thing that will speed us toward looking for those delicious moments: not getting up for that blasted 7:00AM bus for an entire week!

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