June 09, 2012

A New Kind of Summer

Well, we completed our school year near the end of May, and I'm so thankful for the break.  I really don't enjoy structure and routine (unless it's our daily hour of quiet time after lunch).  So Summer, to me, equals freedom and relaxation!  Except . . . there's one problem.  Last December my husband's Army job moved us to the desert Southwest.  It's June, and it's REALLY HOT!  It can be pleasant around 5:30 a.m., though, I discovered this morning.

But playing outside during the day - especially during the afternoon - requires forethought about sunscreen, water, proper clothing, proper shoes (because flip flops don't cut it for running around in the grass where there are thorny weeds ready to puncture or latch on anything that passes by).  The air is bone-sucking dry, which is really hard on the sinuses, and I have to ask myself, "Am I really willing to sacrifice my comfort in order to allow the children to play outside properly supervised by me?"  (They can play in the back yard without me, but usually they want to ride bikes in the front.)

So rather than freedom and relaxation, summer is feeling more like being a prisoner in my air-conditioned house for self-preservation, and more work for me in figuring out how to entertain these desperately bored children.  We're staying active with 2 weeks of day camps for the older two girls, swimming lessons twice a week for them all, and the library's summer reading program.  But we can't just go for a nice walk, hike, bike ride, or anything without the fear of the intense sun sucking the energy out of you and leaving you feeling radiated for the rest of the day.  We went for a hike this morning and the heat plus exertion has flattened me for the whole afternoon!

So I'm trying to make the best of it, as Army wives do, and dream up how to capitalize on our situation.  My first thought was to adopt the Mexican idea of an afternoon siesta during the hottest part of the day.  When we were stationed in Hawaii, this was also something we heard the natives did, or used to do.  Next, I observed that the neighbor kids tend to go outside to play while we're eating dinner, and stay out past the time we've been putting our girls to bed.  Putting two and two together, I realize that if we have a siesta, the girls could probably stay up a little later to enjoy the evening cooled down air with their friends.

I have a number of crafts, activities and games we don't have time for when we are schooling that we're beginning to do.  I set up a craft table in the main room where we can leave unfinished projects to work on over the course of several days.

I have stocked up on water play accessories and bubbles and located our sidewalk chalk.  We'll get outside as much as we can stand.  Hopefully soon I'll get over the fear of bugs and snakes coming out of the darkness and crawling outside at night so we can make use of our telescope.

I'm really looking forward to our trip "up north" to visit family in a couple weeks to escape this heat!

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