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The Great Indoors

2014 January 12
by Becky

Though many people assume mountains of snow is normal for us in the Midwest, St. Louis has been brought to it’s knees by last Sunday’s snow storm. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced in the 10 years I’ve been living/frequenting this fine city.


It makes me think of the “surprise” snow storm we had in March, when we were in the process of moving to St. Louis. Just with LOTS more snow. SO much more snow.

Neighborhoods were uncleared of the 15+ inches of the white stuff for nearly a week, causing school and daycare cancelations and sending parents scrambling for somewhere to put their children. Those of us full time parents were pulling our hair out, wondering if we’d ever be able to leave our houses again after what seemed like an endless holiday break.


By Tuesday, after hours and hours of shoveling throughout the last two days (by Stu, these hands didn’t touch a shovel), things were better but still horribly dangerous driving-wise. Stu headed out the door to work, Ethan and I made plans to GET OUT. It took some creativity to help us avoid cabin fever, so I thought I’d share some of our “activities” in case anyone else is going nuts in these freezing temps. It sounds like the whole country is pretty darn cold.

Here’s what’s keeping us sane…


Sledding! Ok, so this looks really fun, but it only lasted about 15 minutes before we couldn’t feel our faces and had to pack it in. We left Art Hill to hit up Starbucks for hot chocolate on this day just before the storm hit. Hey, we thought 22 degrees was warm enough!


The Butterfly House was another “before the storm” stop. The tropical temps kept us all happy for an hour or so, and it’s good we went because they soon after closed for maintenance. It will still be cold January 31 when they reopen, so we’ll be back I’m sure.


Swimming. The water in our YMCA pool is always nice and warm(ish) and a perfect place for kids to burn energy in the cold winter temps. We went there one day after nap and stayed about an hour, which was plenty of time to keep Ethan happy. We are so lucky the Carondelet location just south of us has this huge indoor natatorium complete with lazy river, toddler slide and climbing structure, “swirling vortex”, and plenty of jumping and swimming room.


Cloud Dough. All those fun activities I’ve saved for a rainy day but been too lazy to get together came in handy last week. ONe of them was Cloud Dough, which could’t be easier or cheaper to make and keeps Ethan busy for up to 30 minutes at a time…unprecedented. I filled a big storage bin with 4 cups of flour and a little over 1/4 cup of canola oil (I think you can use any oil, including Baby Oil), and mushed it together till we had a soft yet not sticky “sand” to squeeze, push, and pat. Ethan asks to play with it every day.


Baking soda and Vinegar. In the same been-meaning-to-try-this-forever realm, we tried this super fun “science experiment”. I placed a bowl of baking soda and two squeeze bottles full of colored vinegar in front of Ethan and let him go to town. At first he would make a tiny drop and watch in awe as the bubbles foamed. After a while his confident grew and he squeezed LOTS of vinegar at a time making volcanoes of color. We went through at least two batches, changing colors each time. I was sure stock up on baking soda after this so we could make it a regular event…Ethan loved it.


Zoo Room. I may be beat up by most of my girlfriends for talking about this place as it’s kind of a hidden gem, but I have to include the St. Louis Zoo’s Wild Wonder Outpost on this list. It was our first out-of-the-house escape after the storm and I could not have been more thankful for it’s existence. This place is located in the zoo’s North entrance lower level and is brand new (AKA impeccably clean). A 45 minute session is $2 for zoo members, $3 for non-members and the lovely staff actually interacts with your kids, telling them interesting things about the surroundings and showing them new ways to play. While there, Ethan gave a polar bear a check up, made aunt hills in some Moon Sand, and made compost for a backyard garden. Tip: They let you do back-to-back sessions! 


The Nest. On friday I met a few friends at St. Louis’s new “play cafe.” Situated between the city and county in Frontenac, about 20 minutes from our house, The Nest is a little place I’ve heard about from countless STL moms, on Facebook, and in the local media. It was cute inside, served my fav Goshen coffee, and the food was very good. I had a delicious salad and latte while Ethan enjoyed a grilled cheese, fruit and fresh juice.  The idea is to let kids play in the cute, yet small, play area while parents enjoy lunch and conversation. A great concept, but “relaxing” is the last thing I’d consider it since the play area isn’t very visible from the cafe tables and the toys are a little treacherous (golf clubs!). I’d call it more of a “kid friendly cafe.” Nonetheless, it’s a great idea and I hope it will be successful.


Snow Bath. Since it was too cold outside, I brought the snow to Ethan. In the tub. When all else fails, a bath is the perfect indoor activity so adding snow was not only a fun sensory activity but a science lesson as well. “The snow turns to water!” was Ethan’s conclusion. We took a lot of baths last week. The kid is squeaky clean.


Destruction. Ethan also got a big kick out of cutting and punching paper scraps. My mom made him an art box for Christmas and he loves to use all the supplies, but the scissors and hole puncher are his favs. We save junk mail and misprints for this very purpose. Sometimes he even uses the markers and crayons, but a colorer he is not. Yet.


Indoor Zoo. Now that it’s getting warmer (it was 50 yesterday!) we’ve been venturing outside, starving for fresh air and sunshine, so the Zoo was on this weekend’s list. We headed up Historic Hill to explore a few of the “indoor” attractions, namely the Herpetarium (OMG the anaconda is crazy!), the Bird House, and Primate House, all featuring beautiful animals and warm temperatures. I’m totally in love with our zoo.


Classes. In preparation for winter, I signed Ethan up for gymnastics at the Mid-County YMCA. Ethan has been summersaulting and balancing for the last six months and we figured this may be right up his alley. He did great, I can’t wait to spend an hour every Thursday watching him crab walk and do obstacle courses while his little muscles grow strong along with his confidence.

Other indoor stuff we’ve been/will be doing to get through winter…

What’s keeping you busy and warm these days?? Please share!

5 Responses
  1. Barbara permalink
    January 15, 2014

    Great list. You are doing a good job staying busy. Where is the playground place? Looks fantastic.

    • Becky permalink*
      January 16, 2014

      The Nest is kind of behind that Honda dealership on Lindbergh, just North of 40. I think it’s the first or second left off the exit. It’s an interesting concept!

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