This article, entitled Summer Lovin’ comes from Erin Ferris at http://amidwesterngirlincowboycountry.blogspot.com
Once we become adults, summer begins according to the calendar and on the Summer Solstice (the day of the year when the sun is farthest North, usually June 20th or 21st), or if we’re really fans of the summer season, a little earlier on Memorial Day weekend.
But when we were kids, the SCHOOL calendar – not the position of the sun – dictated the beginning and end of summer.
Regardless of the month, it didn’t matter how often we barbequed in the backyard, went swimming at the beach, or rode our bikes in the driveway; summer hadn’t arrived if we still had to wake up and head off to school on Monday morning.
Howdy! My name is Erin, and I am a wife, mother and writer living in College Station, TX. After eight years working in fundraising and volunteer management for the American Red Cross, my family moved across the country – from Michigan to Texas, which was quite the culture shock – and I decided a change in focus should accompany my change in geography. I now spend my “free time” (while preschool is in session and during naptime) sharing my experiences and cultivating conversations about parenting, cooking and baking, home and family organization, and philanthropy and volunteerism on my personal blog, my kid-focused blog and for the American Red Cross. And I’m loving every minute of it.
On the flip side, it didn’t matter if the calendar still read “spring”; summer was underway as soon as we were released from our classes and had hidden our backpacks away in the closet, not to be seen again until late August.
My kids – Will (5.5) and Hallie (3) – are finally old enough to comprehend summer vacation. They understand that the current school year will soon come to an end, and that once that happens, our daily schedule will change fairly dramatically. Swimming lessons, Vacation Bible School, lots of travel, and no alarm clocks will replace preschool, soccer and baseball games, and strict bedtimes.
Will and Hallie’s last day of school is May 24th, which means we’ll begin our summer fun the very next morning. (And by summer fun, I mean sleeping in.) Like a few moms and dads out there, I’ve put together my own list of 50 activities I’d like to experience with my kids this summer; here are my top 25, in no particular order:
1. Set up a lemonade stand. We’ll be participating in Lemonade Day, and I’m also hoping the kids will sell lemonade and cookies at our garage sale.
2. Go bowling. Neither of my kids have ever been bowling, and I’ve never been bumper bowling. I’d be willing to bet I’m a much better bowler with bumpers.
3. Go to the movies. I absolutely can’t wait to take the kids to “Chimpanzee”, and I know they’ll love “Brave” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” as well. The fact that movie theaters are over-air conditioned is a bonus.
4. Visit the zoo. We’ll definitely make it to the (free!) Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI, but I’m also hoping to visit the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, NE, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE, and the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, TX. Yes, we like zoos.
5. Visit Schlitterbahn Waterpark. We’ve been watching commercials for this amazing water park for 17 months, and this summer we’re finally going to experience the “hottest coolest time in Texas” for ourselves.
6. Play with water balloons. This spring my kids have discovered how fun playing with the hose and squirt guns can be, and I can’t wait to introduce them – perhaps with a surprise attack :) – to water balloons!
7. Water ski. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been up on skis myself, so the plan is to prove to Will that I actually know how to water ski and then let my dad teach Will how to ski himself.
8. Ice skate. I grew up ice skating, but haven’t done much of it in the last five or so years. I want to make sure my kids have a chance to try ice skating before they’re older and it becomes much harder to learn.
9. Fly kites. There’s something just so “summer” about flying kites. I do need to buy kites first though…
10. Make traveling information bracelets. We have a lot of traveling on the agenda for this summer, so making these bracelets will be one of the first activities we tackle.
11. Play miniature golf. I’m hoping this year will be an improvement over last, when both kids used their clubs as swords for approximately 60% of the time we were on the course.
12. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows. If we don’t find ourselves in the presence of an actual campfire this summer, we’ll just roast our dinner over the charcoal in our grill – the kids will have a blast either way.
13. Visit a splash pad. I love swimming pools, but on occasion it’s nice to mix things up a bit. And I don’t have to worry about my over-confident five-year-old jumping into the deep end of the pool if we’re at the splash pad.
14. Build a sandcastle at the beach. My kids have spent very little time playing in the sand because we’ve never lived close to a beach. This summer’s travels will bring us within walking distance of at least one great beach (where I played as a child) and we’ll be spending plenty of time there.
15. Make popsicles. The kids will be able to choose and/or mix up their own flavors – I’m picturing my kids as little kitchen scientists here!
16. Volunteer. I’m not yet sure what we’re going to do – opportunities for children as young as mine to officially volunteer are few and far between – but we’ll come up with something that allows us to give back to our community.
17. Participate in the library summer reading program. Both Will and Hallie participated last year and were so proud of themselves when they reached their goals and were allowed to choose a free book as a reward.
18. Ride bikes to the swimming pool. Will’s been struggling with learning to ride his two-wheeler, so he set this goal (with a little guidance from me) for himself.
19. Watch 4th of July fireworks. Our kids have never seen 4th of July fireworks, and I’m going to change that this year.
20. Let the kids make dinner. I like this activity primarily because it’ll give me a night off from cooking, but also because I really want to know what they’ll come up with as a meal if given unlimited access to the refrigerator.
21. Photograph Hallie in my wedding dress. I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided that my little princess would love nothing more to put on the princess dress I wore on the day I married her daddy.
22. Perform a science experiment. We work on reading and math all of the time, but could stand to spend a little more time on writing and science. Perhaps something with baking soda and vinegar?
23. Shower in the backyard. When we were little, my mom would occasionally hang the hose over a tree branch and let my sister and me take our evening shower (in swimsuits) in the back yard. My kids will LOVE this.
24. Catch a fish. I caught my first fish five years ago, and Will caught his first fish just one summer later when he was 21 months old. This is going to be Hallie’s summer – I can feel it!
25. Play in the rain. Playing in the rain with my dad and little sister is one of my favorite childhood memories. I want to be the kind of mom who, instead of taking pictures of her kids playing in the rain, shows them how to stomp in the puddles herself.
Side note: Will and Hallie’s additions to the list thus far have been “go swimming”, “eat at Chuckie Cheese”, and “buy a new toy”. Those two sure are creative…
I also plan to take a picture of us/the kids participating in each of these activities, and then at the end of the summer create a photo album online using all of our photos.
What are you plans for the summer? Share your ideas here, and please, if anyone has any clever ideas about how to display a list of these activities and then check activities off the list, share those as well!