I don’t know about you, but for me snow days always come as a mixed blessing.
There is that first yelp of excitement at the news, followed by a sigh of relief about not having to jump out of bed, pack lunches or backpacks, and the overall thrill of avoiding the general rush, rush, rush of most mornings.
But soon after the euphoria of being granted a lazy and leisurely morning, the dread sets in. Kids emerge from their rooms on snow day mornings, sometimes earlier than on school days -- why does this happen? — and almost immediately comes the “we’re bored” cry.
Never mind that there is shoveling to be done.
So, they’re bored.
Here are a few things to keep up your sleeve for the next chorus of Snow Day boredom.
- Next time you are at Kids or Kids or the Paper Store, pick up an extra game to play with your family. Important Note: Keep it hidden. The point is to spring something NEW on the kids, something exciting they can play for the next hour or more. If you have the time and energy to create your own game, visit Wiki’s Make Your Own Board Game planner for some clever tips.
- Ditto with videos. Snag a $5 special at Target and stash it away for a snow day. Or, try OnDemand or stream a Netflix movie. Another relatively new option is RedBox. Rentals are $1 per night and the rental stations are conveniently located in places you may already be headed — grocery stores and pharmacies. Even some McDonald’s have Redboxes, although none in the Parkway area that I can find. So, when you rush out to the store pre-snow to stock up on milk, bread, and um, chocolate, grab the latest release from RedBox. You can find Red Boxes at Roche Bros and outside Walgreens on Centre Street or inside the Shaw’s on Spring Street. You can reserve titles online the same day or even the night before and returns can happen to any redbox location. You do not need to rent and return at the same box, an added convenience.
- Bake or Cook. Try Food.com’s Clean-Out-the-Fridge-Soup. You’ll have a nice hearty meal and clean your fridge at the same time. Bonus! If you're not in the mood for soup, cookies are always a fun bonding experience and fun to share.
- Look over photo albums with your kids. Or, if you're like me and have an empty album but lots of photos, work together to create and album. Either way, this is a fun way to revisit happy times and share memories, perhaps while filling up an empty album at the same time. Younger kids can help sort photos or pick favorites, while older kids can help with page composition, scrapbooking accents, or photo placement.
- Think of those around you who might need extra help on this yucky day. Perhaps your elderly neighbor needs a hand shoveling or just a visit. Bring them some of the soup you’ve made and check on them to make sure they are OK.
- Shovel! It needs to be done and together is the best way. Little ones can come out with sand shovels and pails to “help,” while older kids really can pitch in to clear sidewalks. Just be sure everyone is dressed warmly and plan a celebration with hot cocoa when finished.
- Sled! Sledding is fun to do as a family. Be sure to dress warmly and set a time limit so no one gets too cold. If there is no sledding you can walk to, try driveway sledding or back yard sledding. If that doesn’t work, try a snow person or snow sculpture building event. Invite neighborhood kids over to make it even more fun.
- Raid the game closet or drawer. If you don’t have a new game handy (tip #1) to spring on your gang, rummage through your game area and have each child pick a game. Impose a no arguing rule and an understanding that each child gets to pick one game to play and that everyone agrees to participate no matter what games are selected
- Read. Hopefully everyone in the family has a few books around. Declare a half-hour “reading room” time, where everyone reads or rests.
- Make pretzels! These are super easy and fun to make. You can shape the dough any way you like and even get fancy with toppings or dipping sauces, if you feel like it. This recipe and the photos you see are from The Fresh Loaf website. There are shaping photos and lots of interesting options to consider (would you like to boil the pretzels before baking, for example?), discussed in detail on the website.
Whatever you choose to do on the next snow day, I hope you have fun!
Makes 6 large pretzels
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon malt powder or brown sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees, which is 1 minute in my microwave)
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. I start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter, then add more flour a handful at a time until it'll form a nice ball that I can knead by hand.
Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.
If you are going to ferment the dough (more information on whether this set is necessary below), return the ball of dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately an hour.
If you fermented it, de-gas the dough gently before moving on to the next step.
Before shaping, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. After it has relaxed you should be able to roll it out and stretch again fairly easily.
[Editor's note: West Roxbury's Anna Rubin is also a contributor to JP Patch.]