By Marie Mitchell
Summer snuck up on me — again. It happens every year.
I should recognize signs that it’s approaching. After all, I have a calendar.
My kids count down the days until school is out. I also see ads that swimming pools are opening. It just takes a while for all that to sink in. Especially for me to realize that six people will be living in my home for extended periods with no clue how to fill their day. At least productively.
We seldom spend much time in the house together, unless it’s to sleep or recharge before the next activity. Our home is more like a bus station where the kids stop by briefly for a ride somewhere. Or a drop-off laundry service where they leave an overflowing basket of dirty clothes and expect clean ones in return. It’s also a fast-food joint, where the kids order a quick snack before departing for another event.
Now, I don’t mind a little down time mixed into our summer schedule. It’s been an exhausting spring with our medical emergency and commuting to hospitals and rehab centers. But we’re not going to squander the next few weeks. The time disappears so quickly anyway, and I want something memorable to fill the hours stretching endlessly ahead of us.
It’s impossible to please all the family all the time, so we’ll each make a wish list of things we want to do. We’ll try to check off a few items from each list. No one will be completely happy. But no one ends up totally disappointed either.
The three older kids want to go to a concert in Cincinnati. Surprisingly they like the same band, and ticket prices are unbelievably cheap. So, I can cut a swath through the lists with a single event.
We had to delay Ingrid’s birthday party when she turned double digits in April. So, she plans to gather a group of gals for a summer celebration. That opens new possibilities for outdoor activities not usually considered in the cooler spring.
Ruby’s pretty excited about winning two tickets to Holiday World in a raffle. She can’t wait to take advantage of the free day of fun in Santa Claus, Indiana. All we have to do is drive three hours to get there, pay $40 each for extra tickets, book a hotel room and budget for meals to cash in on those FREE tickets.
My birthday is in June, which has its advantages. It’s like being Queen for a Day. I get to call the shots with no arguments from anybody else. Of course, we’ll do something water related. Kayak. Pontoon boat. State Park. I’d better check a few websites for ideas.
With our lives turned topsy turvey the past few months, Mason and I haven’t made any big plans to celebrate our 30th anniversary in mid-June. We cruised up the Mississippi on a riverboat for our 25th, but it’s too late to schedule something to top that. I did notice a “Lunch Boat” in southern Kentucky. Being on the water makes me happy, and Mason can do some bird-watching. It’s not exactly the Love Boat, but it may have to do.
I feel a little guilty that Mason’s teaching a summer course at EKU while I’m not contributing anything to the family bank account. We usually offer a summer writing course for middle schoolers, but our plans were too iffy to lock in dates. So, we bypassed that workshop this year. I might use the extra time to publish a book of short stories that are in various degrees of finished. Depending on my motivation.
We’re looking for a family vacation spot that lets members come and go at their own pace. The pokey ones won’t keep the others from exploring when the mood strikes them. And those who like to simply hang out, won’t get nagged about getting ready to go when they’re content with staying. A BEACH fits that bill nicely.
Of course, we’ll find time for swimming pools, friends and chilling before mid-July when soccer practice begins, ending our carefree summer abruptly a month before school actually starts. At least the calendar seems to have filled up in a hurry. It didn’t take as much time to plan as I thought it would. I might even sneak in some long delayed chores like window washing and yard work — just to mix a little business with all that pleasure.