Here is the current view of our back deck:


(Note visibly unhappy cat footprints.)

Things are largely unchanged from last Friday, the one day it actually snowed. Record cold temperatures have kept everything around, and now there’s the complicating matter of roads melting somewhat during the day then freezing and become slick at night. The city isn’t salting or plowing because of budget/road damage/environmental concerns, so the only thing to do, it seems, is wait it out.

Did I mention the schools are all closed again today? And the kids haven’t been in school since last Thursday? And before that they had Thanksgiving week off? And starting on the 23rd, they’re home until January 6th?

Everyone’s going a little stir crazy, is what I’m saying. There’s been some of this:



And a lot of this:



But yeah, this soooooooooooooooooooooort of stopped being a fun change of pace a few days ago.

If you have suggestions for activities, distractions, or projects that don’t involve glitter, I would LOVE to hear them. At this rate, I’m not sure anyone will be leaving the house until 2014.


48 Responses to “Redrum. Redrum.”

  1. agirlandaboy on December 12th, 2013 12:12 pm

    If you haven’t made Borax snowflakes yet, YOU MUST. Don’t call it a craft, call it science! OhheylookIhavealink:

  2. alexa on December 12th, 2013 12:16 pm

    This time of year we make Christmas ornaments with bake in the oven clay -$10 at a craft store or walmart and paint (and glitter but you don’t have to do that part). We have a pretty big cookie cutter collection with dinosaurs, sharks, penguins and various xmasy stuff.

    We just roll them out with a rolling pin, cut out shapes, put in a hole for hanging. They get baked for 15 minutes then my almost 5 year old will sit and paint for a very long time.

    To amp up the exciting factor I let her use my crappier nail polishes as paint too. It gets a little stinky but most of the mess is pretty contained (except for the glitter…we have glitter everywhere) and the family members who get them as gifts/ present toppers are usually pretty happy.

    Its one of those crafts that entertains her for a looonnnggg time. You can also make salt dough, but the ornaments won’t necessarily last more than a year with salt dough I’ve found.

  3. Lori on December 12th, 2013 12:31 pm

    Rainbow loom. Minecraft. Make play dough from scratch. Watch lots of scooby doo. Slap jack. Old board games like monopoly and clue. This one is ambitious, but it helped us survive a blizzard and two weeks off school last winter. Have them write a book (written rough draft, pencil drawings for illustrations, final draft, then let them type it up, do final drawings, organize it into pages, etc., etc.). If your boys are lego boys, they could illustrate with Legos and you can take pictures. Help them upload the whole thing onto one of those book making sites, like bookeman. It costs money and sounds silly, but the entire process took my kids a couple full days of work and they loved it. Good luck!

  4. Brenda on December 12th, 2013 12:35 pm

    Hmmm… Your weather sounds suspiciously identical to mine, with the exception that my kids got to go back to school Wednesday, but on a 2 hour delay. Southern Oregon is almost never like this, I swear!

  5. jen on December 12th, 2013 12:54 pm

    It’s so crazy to me that they won’t do anything about the roads. Honestly it sounds like a lot of excuses to be lazy because one round of plowing and salting is NOT going to ruin the roads. But then I’m from Iowa and we’d never get anything done if we let snow stand in the way.

    Well then, since we aren’t in charge of the city, on to activities. My oldest is very active. So we build an obstacle course out of various items (we have a play tunnel so you crawl through that, spin around on one of those sit and spin things 10 times, jump 20 times on the trampoline, jump over a pile of pillows, run and grab a nerf gun and shoot a balloon off of a shelf) and time him. I also print off various coloring sheets of whatever he is most interested in and he will sit and color those…I guess it’s more fun to pick online what he wants versus a regular old coloring book. We do a lot of baking cookies and I let him do most of the work, which mean it takes a while out of the day. We also make ornaments and paint them. Hopefully the sun will work it’s magic for you soon!

  6. jen on December 12th, 2013 12:56 pm

    Oh I forgot one more thing…if you have an old electronic something or other, you can try to let them take it apart. We were not very successful with the old printer because of the funky screws but mine is super interested at how things work so maybe you have some old thing laying around you can sacrifice to them.

  7. KateB on December 12th, 2013 1:18 pm

    I have boys who are 8 and 6…remarkably like yours in many ways and I would be going bonkers by now. Here are a few things I have pinned to try with my kids when we have time. Which you have tons of so good luck. All are things you most likely have at home since the roads are crap and should be relatively mess free.

    Hope those links work. Good luck, Sister.

  8. Heather S. on December 12th, 2013 1:23 pm

    Painters tape a floor to make roads or an airport? Shaving cream play in a tub? I’ve frozen buckets of small play things then let then chip away with play tools to bust the stuff out. Good luck!

    Oh, make slime, too! Borax & glue. Recipe is online.

  9. sooboo on December 12th, 2013 1:46 pm

    Writing a play, rehearsing it and acting it out is one my mom used to request of us on rainy days. Some days we would get fancy and make costumes and build sets. When I lived in Austin, every once in a great while we would have freezing rain that would stay on the roads for a few days. The town would shut down because hardly anyone knew how to drive in it and the city didn’t have salt to put down. I can’t imagine the cabin fever of multiple days with small kids.

  10. Rachel on December 12th, 2013 1:50 pm

    In the central CA foothills we are having a similar problem right now. I was actually thinking the phrase “go full Overlook” the other day because omigosh, one of my teenagers (the nephew who moved in a couple of years ago) never did learn how to amuse himself indoors without video games, which we stalwartly refuse to have (because, interestingly, we want to remember how to amuse ourselves without them). I’m telling you, though, a week of his feral antsiness and I was about ready to order next-day delivery on whatever the fandangliest new game system is just to get him to stop pacing. Finally he started to worry that he was losing his six-pack with football season over, and he started working out in his room. Now it’s home from school, homework, Intense Weight Lifting And Other Grunty Exercise. You would think we were a maximum security facility. Much of my time is spent looking out at the stubborn frigging snow and begging the sun to just BE HOTTER ALREADY. (Ours is now alternating between dangerously slick muddy slush and dangerously slippery packed slush-ice depending on the time of day.)

    Your guys are old enough for board games that aren’t loathsome (oh, the day when we could pack away Candy Land for good was beautiful). Are they old enough for GeoGuessr? . Great for stir-crazy people because it gives you the sense of being somewhere else and it makes a (possibly hypercompetitive if you’re us) game out of it.

  11. Karen on December 12th, 2013 2:08 pm

    When we’re stir crazy I will sometimes pull all of the contents of my son’s closet out of the closet. It gives me a chance to organize it and he always gets completely distracted by something in the mess. Win/win! (Works with junk drawers, too.)

  12. Liz on December 12th, 2013 2:12 pm

    Reminds me of snowpocalypse 2008 in Portland! I had just closed on my house and spent the week scraping 5 layers of wallpaper off my living room walls whilst watching the Ang Lee “Sense & Sensibility” on repeat. I remember it fondly. Clearly I have no kids. ;). Construct a new snow fort every day, using sticks and pinecones etc? Cook with them every day? Make salt dough ornaments and paint them? Collect and paint pet rocks, and write the story of their lives? Put on a gymnastics show? Paper-maiche a fridge box? (Kidding)

  13. Liz on December 12th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Get JB to make them a box hockey set. And beanbags and a cornhole game.

  14. Chris on December 12th, 2013 2:57 pm

    Huge fort that covers the whole living room that they can leave up the whole day?

  15. Liz on December 12th, 2013 3:29 pm

    Clear the bathroom of all things and let them take an hour long bath. Or longer.

  16. Michelle on December 12th, 2013 3:29 pm

    Just wanted to say I love that your kiddo made a Transmogrifier a la Calvin! :) Stay warm!

  17. scantee on December 12th, 2013 3:31 pm

    I have no suggestions but as a Minnesotan I’m totally laughing at this:

    “The city isn’t salting or plowing because of budget/road damage/environmental concerns”

    What the hell do think is going to happen to the roads?

  18. Cara on December 12th, 2013 6:02 pm

    I’m no help with snowed in, but I usually find good ideas here:

  19. Dorie on December 12th, 2013 7:25 pm

    My kids recently constructed a gingerbread house out of a cardboard box. Totally their idea. They cut out the walls and roof and I hot glued it. Leave the back open to decorate inside too. They decorated with random craft supplies, paints, cotton balls, candy, whatever they could find around the house. HOURS of entertainment with very little help from me. For several days they would suddenly get an idea and work on it some more.

  20. Danielle on December 12th, 2013 7:45 pm

    Paper snowflakes? You have a lot of good ideas from the other comments. Hang in there!!!

  21. Tina on December 12th, 2013 7:50 pm

    Wow, I’m kind of in awe of the ‘let it melt on its own’ mentality as well. Maybe Awe is the wrong word, stunned is more like it. :) I’m saving up ‘tin’ lids for my boys to do this: Its a link to a punched ‘tin’ craft, where tin is the round ends of juice containers, pringles cans, etc. That + a hammer + a nail + a block of wood to work on is all you need! I figure it’ll be a cool craft that’s a bit more “guy friendly” than most I’ve seen online. Just not sure how I’m going to handle the 2 year old wanting to do it too yet. Looking forward to checking out more ideas I see here. I second board games (maybe a few for Christmas?) Carcassonne is one kids can totally play, even though they say 8+, my son was playing it at 5. And I enjoy playing it with them, unlike games like Monopoly or Risk (which they both love and now play on their own together so I don’t have to). Dominion is a card one we all are liking now.

    Maybe the internet can help you find other things they can make for Grandparents for Christmas? Or, Make sugar cookies, then the icing and decorate them, and then when it thaws out deliver them to firemen, neighbors, etc. Make thank you cards for their teachers? You could have them make popcorn chains to decorate the Christmas tree… (Bonus would be to try to pop it over the stove, that’s added entertainment. I can’t remember if you have stairs, if so get out sleeping bags and let them slide down those. Or “kid proof” a room, let them set up an obstacle course of their design and then let them compete with a stopwatch to see how long it takes to do it 3x. Then repeat to see if they can beat their own time. (My older kids did this at playgrounds this summer when they were dragged there with younger brothers, inspired by American Ninja Warrior.) My older two have started playing football in the hallway with a small nerf ball. (I’m trying to think of other active things and that’s about it right now. Except to encourage more things outside in the snow.) Good luck!!!

  22. honeybecke on December 12th, 2013 8:42 pm

    Here’s what you do for hours of ‘leave me the eff alone’ time:

    1. Big rubbermaid tub
    2. Costco size white vinegar
    3. Costco size baking soda.
    4. Balloons
    5. Plastic bottle
    This youtube video.

    Once they do the experiment they will no doubt spend a good deal of time geeking out with the rest of the baking soda and vinegar.
    When I need some ‘downtime’ I always bust out the vinegar and baking soda. Works every time.

  23. Kelly on December 12th, 2013 10:01 pm

    We had a “snow day” here in Portland yesterday. I say that in quotes because it was sunny and 35 degrees all day.

    Anyhoo, we killed a good couple of hours making paper snowflakes. For some reason my first grade son loves it. Its kind of messy but easy to clean up.

  24. A'Dell on December 13th, 2013 4:15 am

    We were iced in for five days here in Dallas last week and it suuuuucked.

    Buy a pack of those red Solo cups. My kids like to stack them up into giant pyramids and have contests to see who can stack the fastest/tallest.

    They’re cheap, they store easily, they don’t damage anything or make too much noise when they fall down, and it’s something they can do ON THEIR OWN, which is my favorite.

  25. JMH on December 13th, 2013 9:47 am

    I thought the same thing as scantee (at 3:31) Sounds like your city needs to get some salt or this alternative:

    I live in OH and I think there would be a riot if the city just refused to plow or salt. Wow.

    After a few “fun” snow days, I need a schedule (and so do my kids) We eat breakfast, do some chores (maybe they can learn how to fold towels, sheets, pair socks from the laundry or wash dishes in the sink-my kids LOVE that)play a board game together, make and eat lunch, another chore (clean out a closet, organize the video games or toys, etc) silent reading time for at least 30 minutes, THEN they get some free time to play, watch TV, whatever until dinner. Makes us all much happier people. And I *hate* crafts, so this keeps us busy without crafts too!

  26. Willa on December 13th, 2013 11:49 am

    Can you get to the local library/is it open? I was really into working my way through those kind of “100 projects/science experiments/crafts for kids!” type books at that age. The kids area will be good but also look in the non-fiction. Here are some sections of the Dewey Decimal system which are often fruitful for how-to books:
    641 is Food and Drink which usually has cookbooks
    646 has sewing and other craft stuff
    680s include books about different “manufacturing” techniques like making stuff for your house, leather, clothing…
    694 is wood construction and carpentry
    790 will include books of games and activities plus fishing/hunting/shooting in 799.

    One cookbook I was obsessed with is Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes but beware some of the recipes are a little complex or have weird British ingredients.

  27. Auntie G on December 13th, 2013 11:49 am

    See, that’s what REALLY has to suck about living through a storm in an area that’s not USED to snow and ice on the reg – it’s all well and good for us Midwesterns to scoff, but surely a lot of places simply don’t HAVE the plows and salt and such readily available…you have my deepest sympathies.

    Pajama Day/Eat breakfast foods at every meal all day
    Make S’mores if you have a fireplace
    Picnic/Camping, but inside, as feasible
    Move furniture out of the way and build forts/crash cardboard boxes/etc.
    Make a scavenger hunt
    Binge watch Avengers cartoons or something all day one day
    Bake Christmas cookies (if you have the supplies)

  28. Missy on December 13th, 2013 2:36 pm

    Sympathies! We are feeling a bit of the same way in WI where it has been bitterly cold. The kids have had school but no recess so everyone has a bit of cabin fever, including our dogs!

    A game that my kids love and my brother and I used to play as kids – kind of a scavenger hunt.

    1) gather up a bunch of similar items. My boys use lego figures (my brother and I used to use smurfs – ah, the 80s). Make sure to count how many you have – 10 is a good number.

    2) One person hides them and the other looks. Or mom hides them and the kids find them. Or if dad is home you can do teams.

    Make rules on what rooms and what items are off limits. Inside kitchen cabinets and china hutches are off limits at our house – start easy and get harder as they get better. If the kids like it, turn it into a competition with timing, etc.

    Have fun!

  29. Erin on December 14th, 2013 7:57 pm

    Spray bottles filled with water. It sounds seriously basic but it keeps my kid (5) entertained for LONG periods of time. Worth a shot.

  30. Brianna on December 14th, 2013 10:29 pm

    This takes a bit of involvement, but snow candy is awesome!

    Boil stuff, pour it on snow. Riley could probably pour his own shapes, too. AND THEN YOU GET TO EAT IT.

  31. Shawna on December 18th, 2013 8:39 am

    Question: are the schools open and just the buses cancelled, or are the schools themselves closed? Around here when there’s a snowstorm or freezing rain (which admittedly Ottawa, Canada is more equipped to deal with) the buses don’t run, but most parents take the kids to the school themselves. Problem solved.

    If the schools are actually closed, I am no help whatsoever, as I’m the least crafty person around. After getting them to do some educational reading and exercises to make up for missing school, I’d probably make the kids clean up around the house (“I’m bored” is the quickest way to get directed to the vaccuum at my place), teach them to cook, etc. My two are about the same age as yours, so I’m thinking it’s time to start minion-training my kids.

    I’m so not winning the “fun mom of the year” award, am I?

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