1 March 2019, by Mandy Loh

The cold hard truth of staying indoors

We survived being stuck at home for two whole days, thanks to the Polar Vortex!

In fact, it was probably one of the coldest winters in recent history in Chicagoland. What a great introduction to winter for us, isn’t it?

What is the Polar Vortex, you may ask? Basically, in late January, Arctic winds from the North Pole blew southwards towards us, causing temperatures to dip to -40°C with windchill.

What the Polar Vortex means

What the Polar Vortex means. Yep, we were in the blue zone!

The temperature was so cold, Tim even successfully conducted the boiling water science experiment, which was awesome to watch!

When boiling water vaporises instantly due to freezing Arctic temperatures

When boiling water vaporises instantly due to freezing Arctic temperatures

*Disclaimer: do not try this at home, kids! You can get scalded if you’re not careful! Also, it won’t work in Singapore weather, haha…

The news was abuzz with warnings about the “dangerous cold”, and it freaked me out quite a bit! There was a real risk of power outages, water pipes freezing, and furnace malfunctions, amongst other things that could go wrong.

We were advised to stock up on groceries and essentials beforehand, so that we would have sufficient food and water for the few days of being homebound. Things we take for granted, like food deliveries, might not even be available as those businesses may close for a few days due to the severe weather.

Thankfully, nothing catastrophic happened, and it turned out to be really nice, lazy two days at home, since school and all other activities were cancelled.

So what did we do while stuck at home?

Snow days = lazy days doing absolutely NOTHING

Snow days = lazy days doing absolutely NOTHING

With absolutely no schedules, tasks or agenda items for two whole days, I declared the first day a PJ day, and we watched a movie on Netflix in the afternoon. (The kids chose Despicable Me 2, again…which they have watched, oh, only about 1,000 times!)

PJ and movie day in full swing

PJ and movie day in full swing

The second day, the kids decided to be Spy Kids and played in the basement for a good portion of the day.

(By the way, when we first moved here, we wondered why every house had a basement, and thought it was just too much space for us. Well, now we get it! The basement is GOLD when kiddos have to be indoors due to the weather. They can run amok and create a crazy mess down there, and it’s still fine because I don’t really hear nor see them!)

Since there was so much free time on our hands, we also decided to play some board games. We had received a Monopoly set as a Christmas gift, and the kids were excited to play with it!

I found it really fascinating and amusing that you can clearly see the differences in the kiddos’ personalities through a simple board game! Cristan was aggressively buying property, building houses and even hotels, until he almost went bankrupt! On the other hand, Caris was very hesitant to buy anything, preferring to hoard her money.

As for me, I had terrible luck: I went to jail, had to pay income tax multiple times, drew Chance cards that made me pay money to the bank, etc. No wonder I never liked Monopoly, haha! Well, we all had a good laugh at my misfortunes, and it was good bonding time overall!

How We’re Coping with Winter

Because of the extreme winter we’ve been having, many people have asked us jokingly if we regret moving here from Singapore.

To be honest, it is a HUGE change for us from hot, tropical Singapore! Yet, I’ve never once felt any regret, nor has the thought of packing up and moving home crossed my mind. I suppose it’s all a matter of mindset.

I love adventure and new experiences, and so I embrace our new life fully; the good with the not-so-good. The weather has been something we’ve had to learn to deal with, and actually, once you’re bundled up sufficiently, its not too bad!

(Of course there are days, like when I’m pushing my grocery cart to the car and the cold wind penetrates right through and chills me to the bones. My fingers feel like they are about to fall off and I can’t stop shivering. Yep, it can be bad. But I choose to take the challenges with a positive attitude, and that makes all the difference.)

There is beauty even in the harshness of winter. Just check this out!

Gorgeous ice-covered branches glistening in the morning sun

Gorgeous ice-covered branches glistening in the morning sun

The kiddos have been able to enjoy many fun winter activities that we would never have had a chance to try in Singapore, like outdoor ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, building a snowman, and having s’mores over a fire pit!

Roasting marshmallows for s'mores

Roasting marshmallows for s’mores

So proud of the kiddos for being able to pick up snowboarding relatively easily!

Kiddos looking so cute with their snowboards!

We also learned about more novel winter activities like snow-shoeing and ice-fishing.

Ice fishing...it was more an informative session than actual fishing, but Cristan had fun trying it out!

Ice fishing…it was more an informative session than actual fishing, but Cristan had fun trying it out!

I am thankful for this opportunity to experience a new culture, way of life, and enjoy all the highs and lows (literally) that the four seasons bring. I feel like a little kid again, and I’m loving it!

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