Metro-East News

Iced in? Here are 5 ideas to help you not lose your mind

Laundry-basket skee ball
Laundry-basket skee ball

In a massive departure from the typical Five Things column, where I invite readers to events and happenings from Madison to Monroe counties and sometimes beyond... today, I invite you to stay put.

Here, five ways to fight cabin fever this weekend.

Follow the fire chief’s example

“People ask us what we do to get ready for a storm like this,” says Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour. “We do it much further ahead, and we prepare for winter.”

He says getting ready for a short-term event like this weekend’s ice is great, but take it a step further. Prepare as if you are going camping, and get batteries and first-aid kits. Once the weekend is over and the weather is clear, hustle those extras down to the home’s “safe haven,” like a basement, to be ready for spring storms.

“A lot of our citizens and residents learned their lessons a couple Fridays ago, whether they have a four-wheel-drive or not,” Pour said. “On a more personal level, it’s a perfect weekend to binge-watch shows that we don’t have time to watch... ‘Homeland’ starts Sunday (on Netflix), but hopefully this will be over Sunday.”

Order Girl Scout cookies

Way back in 1917, Girl Scouts first started shilling their special brand of sugary delights. Now 100 years later, they’re offering Girl Scout S’mores that are inspired by, as every good Girl knows, the classic campfire recipe first presented in a 1927 Girl Scout publication.

The Girls are also pushing Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils, among others; all proceeds go directly to the support of local troops. Go to to order.

What good is the Girl Scouts? For one thing, the organization fills NASA’s roster with highly educated women. There must be something in the cookies.

Read a book, play a game

My brother hated this game when we were children, but my all-time favorite game was something I liked to call “Read a Book.”

Ryan Johnson of the O’Fallon Public Library said his library and others, including Belleville, Waterloo and Mascoutah, have digital collections for patrons to use. Not a library patron? (For shame.) Johnson says your Kindle, iPad or smartphone would have access to book-gathering apps.

Johnson is now reading “The Unsettlers,” by Mark Sundeen.

“It’s always nice to mix in a little fiction to kind of de-stress,” he said.

He typically reads nonfiction, having recently finished “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, saying it “had a lot of truth to it that I could relate to.”

(Your BND columnist is reading Ken Follett’s “World Without End,” and is trying not to be too repulsed by the flaying execution of a thief. Goodness.)

Little brother’s preferred activity was a board game, which teachers at Jefferson Elementary in Belleville also strongly recommend.

Principal Jamerson McCloskey’s teachers think games like “The Game of Life” and “Monopoly” are great for counting and reading. They also recommend the Prodigy game, which is free and online at McCloskey said “they do math problems and get avatars and such. Then they battle.”

Adopt a sculpture

From the comfort of your own home, visit Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis online, and consider “adopting” a work of art. The park has more than 60 large sculptures over its 105 acres, and the adoption program helps with the care and cleaning of all those pieces. Go to for more information.

Make your own fun

Keeping in mind that what those under 12 might think of as “fun,” others of us may consider a mess...

▪  The folks at have some ideas to keep the youngsters busy, and a couple of those ideas – like making a “laser maze” using yarn – may just keep the kids busy for more than 20 minutes. Go to for directions and more ideas.

▪  Pinterest, of course, has ideas for scavenger hunts, crafts and indoor games like hopscotch using masking tape or Laundry Basket Skee Ball. The instructions for the skee ball game can be found at It also has recipes for foam modelling clay and magic sand (that’s 8 cups of flour to one cup of baby oil).

▪  Real Simple has “Nine Toys You Can Make,” including how to make a mini-marshmallow popper, at Directions for play include “while aiming the cup away from you (and others)” – so you have been warned.