When you live in East Texas, good snow days can be few and far between. When we get one, my family tries to make the most of it!
My first snow day memory is of my mother and grandmother putting Mrs Baird’s bread bags over my shoes and the lower part of my pants so I could go outside and play. At the time, bread bags were just part of the snow gear experience. I figured they kept me from falling or made me look cute or something. In hindsight I think they must have been to help keep my little feet warm and dry.
My second snow day memory, a year or two later, is of my mom coming into the house with a plastic green bowl. It was filled with snow, fresh scraped off her car. I sat in my grandmother’s brown leather chair near the heater and thought what a strange treat I was eating. It was good. mmm, so good. Until it melted.
Now I don’t wrap my 12 year old daughter’s feet in plastic bags, nor do I bring her green bowls filled with snow. Here are our gourmet snow day traditions:
As the white stuff is falling, we can be found outside with our mouths open and our faces pointed up. Trying to catch icy cold flakes on our tongues. For a bigger challenge, if the flakes (clumps of flakes) are big enough we might even take out a spoon to try to catch them in.
Nice thing about using a spoon is that once we get tired of trying to catch the snow, if it is thick enough we can take our utensils around and scoop bites of fluffiness from the car, the mailbox, the fence post.
Licking the car
A silly tradition started with my daughter and her best friend when they were 7 years old – once the snow is thick enough we go around licking things. Lick the car, lick the mailbox, lick the tree. All yummy!
A few years ago we had a real good snow day … on CHRISTMAS … while my daughter was sick! I couldn’t let her go out and get worse, but I also couldn’t deny her the fun of playing in the snow. So I filled some red solo cups and brought them in the house. We proceeded to toss one pinch at a time in the air and try to catch them in our mouths. Similar to how you would do popcorn. We also had a few miniature snowball fights break out.
Another delicious way to enjoy snow is to make snow cream. Our family doctor just adds a little sugar and vanilla extract to snow. We go a little further:
Mix 1 part sweetened condensed milk with 4 parts 2% milk. Add a little vanilla extract to taste. Stir it up good and take outside to chill while you collect a few containers of snow. Pour the milk mixture on top to taste. My daughter likes to add lots of milk and stir it up. I prefer to pour the milk in the middle and enjoy a mix of super-sweet snow and plain snow.
Photography is a big part of my being. I LOVE to take pictures! I take pictures to capture memories, I take pictures to create art, I take pictures to earn my paycheck … Since we almost never get a nice, thick snow fall it seems like any attempts to enjoy the white stuff just mess up the scenery. My first step when we go somewhere to play is to take in the scenery and snap away. Trying to capture some good shots of the beauty that surrounds me and a few of the excitement on my daughter’s face when she knows that she is about to go play. … Any cool snowmen or forts are met with wishes for more snow so that I can do another photoshoot with them in the beautifully white scenery. (as opposed to the muddy mess that is left behind when you have exposed ground.)
Build A Snowman or a Snow Fortress!
I have heard it said many times, “That isn’t enough snow to build a snowman.” But it really doesn’t take much to build a snowman. Even with half an inch of snow, it can be fun to scavenge around the house and the yard and see what accessories you can come up with.
To anybody who hasn’t had much experience building snowmen, I offer these pieces of advice:
- Don’t get too discouraged if your first attempt at building doesn’t work. It seems that for snowmen and snowballs to hold, you don’t want them to be melty but they also can’t be too dry. If your creation keeps crumbling, try again later.
- Snow is HEAVY. Don’t think you can roll 3-ft balls and stack them into a tall snowman. Especially without the help of a strong man or three.
- Sadly, snowmen often seem to fall victim to violent crimes. Please, do not knock down other peoples’ snow creations. And if you create a masterpeice of snow, be sure to enjoy it and snap that picture early on. Just in case.
Below are some of the snow people my family has built over the years.
More Snow Fun
We haven’t had a successful sledding adventure yet. Maybe you live in or near a better location to do this activity safely.
When you fall in snow, you might as well lay there a while. Flap your wings, wiggle your legs, and make a snow angel!
Who can resist? Just keep in mind that getting hit in the face with what amounts to little more then a fluffified ball of ice can hurt. Sometimes we throw snowballs at each other. But more often, we toss them at the side of our home (away from the windows) and try to make designs, like a smiley face.
Bringing It Inside
Just like with the snow popcorn, I have come to realize that there is no rule against bringing some of the fun inside. This year, when it was getting too cold outside my daughter brought some snow into the bathtub to play with. We ended up going back out for a cooler full of the stuff. Built our wintery wonderland then melted it with the shower sprayer. (Just remember, if your snow isn’t all clean you will probably want some sort of strainer to protect the drain.)
Frozen Day Activities
My small East Texas town doesn’t get many snow days to enjoy the awesome activities listed above. The rarity is part of what makes them so special. We do, however, get a few freezing cold mornings almost every year. With knowledge found on SteveSpanglerScience.com we try to:
Blow Frozen Bubbles
An excellent way to pass time on super-cold mornings while waiting on the school bus. Blow bubbles onto a smooth, frozen surface. With the right conditions (including no wind) and a little luck, the bubbles will freeze in place before they pop! We try to land them on the trunk of my car.
Instantly Freeze Water
If we know it is going to get down in the 20s, we sometimes leave a bottle of water outside over night. If we are lucky, the next morning it will still be liquid. Give it a shake and watch the ice form as it transforms from liquid to a slushy solid.
I have only succeeded at this once, when the water was ALMOST but not quite cold enough to freeze when we shook it. I poured the super-cold water onto an icy surface and watched a small mountain form. The water started to freeze as soon as it hit the ice.
Stay Warm, and Stay Safe
As fun as it can be to to play out in the cold weather, remember to come in often and to stay safe. It is an excellent time to relax with a warm drink and ready a book, play board games, or watch a movie with your family.