Tag Archives: park

Keeping cool in the summer

5 ways to stay cool in summer’s heat

Summer heated up sooner than I expected, with 90-plus degree days. We live in a charming old house, built in the 1920s. It doesn’t have air conditioning (or central heat, but we manage with a fireplace, baseboard heaters and micathermic panels). We have invested in a couple of window units, which takes the edge off, especially in the afternoons as the sun beats down on the front of the house.

But who wants to stay inside, sitting at the dining room table in front of the AC unit?

Instead, we’ve come up with these solutions:

1. Go to the coast

Roasting smores at the Oregon coast.We headed out over the July 4th weekend to visit Adam’s Dad near Lincoln City. The coast is 10-20 degrees cooler than Eugene, so it worked out well. It doesn’t, always. We often end up with rainy, windy weather, unable to enjoy the beach without getting chilled. This time, though, it was perfect.

Unfortunately, Duncan was sick the day before (a virus shared by Adam who was ill on Tuesday) and still felt a little puny. Not too puny to roast marshmallows over the fire pit and make smores, though. ūüôā

And then he passed it to me.

I began feeling bad Friday morning, before we even left. But I shouldered through the packing and rested on the drive. My illness worsened on Saturday so, while Adam took the kids to the beach, I stayed home and slept. We packed up after breakfast on Sunday and came home to allow all the kids to happily plug back into their computers.

 2. Set up the backyard pool

Backyard poolOur pool is the bane of my existence. It drove me to tears yesterday as I tried–and failed–to locate the leak in the inflatable ring (which, for some terrible design reason is key to the whole thing retaining water).

But it does get the kids outside and moving around.

I set it up originally last week and think I finally have the thing fixed enough to refill it again today. If the white inflatable ring isn’t fully inflated, the sides somehow collapse and the water drains out. Which is sad to find in the morning.

I ordered a bigger, metal frame pool, that will arrive in a week or two and hopefully be more reliable from summer to summer. Now I just have to level out part of the yard…

3. Eat frozen foods

Frozen yogurt timeAfter dragging the kids to the grocery story last week (fortunately we didn’t need to buy anything frozen), we all enjoyed a frozen yogurt treat. They’d earned gift certificates to Yogurt Extreme after participating in their schools Jog-a-thon fundraiser that we hadn’t yet used.

What better time than a hot Monday afternoon?

Frozen yogurt (and chocolate chips, marshmallow, mini-cupcake, fortune cookie, chocolate sauce and whipped cream) consumption was followed by a few rounds of Mario Kart Wii. And then home. Because I had to put the food away sometime.

4. Enjoy the morning hours

Bike riding in the sunTaking advantage of the cool hours of the day to get outside works well. Ever determined to get the kids riding bikes, I loaded up my bikes and theirs and headed back to the bike path.

It was a disaster.

Duncan’s chain kept coming off every few paces. I was coasting more than riding my bike. Why did I think this was going to be a good idea?

Fortunately, a kind man seeing our crisis circled back and figured out what happened. When I put the training wheels on Duncan’s bike, the rear wheel shifted forward, making the chain slack. Also fortunate, I’d had the foresight to bring the wrench with me in the car, so we cycled back for it and I fixed it up.

After that, it went a little better. We rode, we rested, we rode to the playground, we played. The kids decided they wanted lunch at home, rather than free lunch in the park (totally fine, we’ve managed it once this summer), although they did finagle a carton of chocolate milk.

Something I’ve noticed this summer is the kids are becoming more willing to ask other adults for the things they want. Berry wanted a chocolate milk. I didn’t know if she could get just a milk or needed to get a whole lunch. So I sent her off to ask. And she did — she ran across the playground to the table and asked, joined shortly by Duncan (he wanted chocolate milk as well) — and they returned pleased, milk in hand.

It’s like they’re growing up.

The ride back to the car went really well — a relief and pleasure.

5. Hide in the basement

The beauty of basements is that they are built underground. Which means they stay cooler in the summer than the rest of the house. The beauty of our basement is that it’s finished, so you can hang out down there, hidden away from the summer sun.

We haven’t had a lot of basement time, but it’s good to know it’s there if we need it, fully stocked with board games, the Wii and more Netflix movies than we can possibly watch.

The R’s of summer

Two weeks of summer are under our belt (well, they were when I started this post on Tuesday). How are we stacking up against my original plans? Eh, generally OK. But I’m not sure how we could possibly fit more into our days.

Learning to ride bikes

We’re working hard on on this one, with two bike riding sessions so far. I was hoping for another yesterday (but we ran out of time) or today (but Duncan isn’t feeling well).

This happened on the way back to the minivan. For a long time.

We went down the paved trail by Amazon Park the first time (this also counted as visiting a playground) with one kid on the bike with the training wheels and one on the smaller bike I turned into a balance bike by taking off the pedals. I hear this is all the rage for helping kids to learn balance. Apparently not for my kids.

There was a lot of whining about who had to ride the balance bike, ending with a brilliant episode of stubbornness. Getting back to the minivan felt like it took hours.

Our second biking excursion generally went better, with one bike with training wheels and one without. I tried convincing the kids that the person on the bike without the training wheels got more attention the the kid on the bike with training wheels, but they didn’t really buy it. We switched up the bikes every 5 minutes or so, which meant adjusting both seats, but it was OK.

After a while, my poor back had enough of running behind a bike while keeping it upright and my ability to consistently spew encouraging words also wore out, so we headed to the playground across the street (see below).

Visiting every playground in Eugene

The kids insisted I give them commands to do things. This one was: Berry, lie down on the bench and sleep until Duncan wakes you up. Duncan, go down the slide 2 times, then go over to Berry and give her a kiss to wake her up.

We haven’t been anywhere new, but have been to our favorites. I mean, we have to visit them first, anyway, right? And, I think until I start hearing complaints that the old favorites have become boring, we’ll stick with them. It was more an idea to keep us interested in going outside and staying active.

Because that’s what a lot of these goals are really about — keeping minds and bodies active and not lounging around in our underwear watching Pokemon all day (confession: that is exactly what’s happening now, at 1:15 p.m.).

Reading our way through the OBOB book list

Duncan and Berry both finished Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman and I think I’ve resparked Emma’s interest in her book. She was on Chapter 17 on Monday. I have to catch up with her again.

Duncan and Berry are now onto The Trouble With Chickens which I they should probably be reading right now instead of watching TV. Did I mention Duncan is feeling under the weather today?

I’ve certainly been reading a lot, finishing the latest Outlander book, then My Mistake by Daniel Menaker. Now I’m onto The Goldfinch, which is due at the library in three days. My kindle and I are inseparable.

So, even if we haven’t been doing a fantastic job of some of the other stated Camp Mummy goals: trying a new recipe every week, doing science experiments, crafting cool things, etc., we have been having a bang up time with those three Rs of summer: reading, riding bikes and roaming about.

Row, row, row your raft

My arms are really tired. So are my legs, for that matter.

20140620_144433Duncan and I were the only kids who hadn’t been in the raft this year (or ever), so Adam decided today was the day to send us down the stream. We drove to some spot in Alton Baker Park, hiked down a road for a while and tossed the raft into the Patterson Slough.

Duncan and I donned our life jackets and tentatively climbed aboard. I only squealed once as the raft shifted under my weight.

Boat selfie. Goodbye, world!

And then we were off, gliding peacefully across the little lake and down the river.

It was quite lovely on the smooth water.

Duncan and I sang rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat Raft and he even paddled a bit. While we were going with the current and didn’t really need to paddle, Adam, Sam and Berry hiked alongside, taunting us to keep up with them.

We passed under a couple of bridges and avoided being spat on by any related teenagers, met a spider (or some kind of insect in the boat) the distraction of which caused us to float into a low-hanging tree and generally had a good time.

Eventually we came to a little sluice, one side of which was open, so we pulled over so Sam could hop in and enjoy the brief rapids. Then we plonked Berry in with him (once he was on the other side – we only have 3 spare children after all) and Duncan and I wandered down the trail while Sam rowed and Adam ran back to get the minivan.

We all reconvened downstream, happy and well-exercised. Berry mouse (note the tail from her 1st grade play costume) gamely helped carry the raft back to the car.

We came home to hot chocolate and tea and some rest. I’m not sure how many exercise points I earned (10 minutes = 1 point, 50 points = 1 pedicure) but I think we achieved our Outside Time quota for the day. And I suppose it counts as visiting a park. No book reading for the kids, though. Perhaps I need to bribe them with something – or offer a less likable alternative, like cleaning their rooms…

Dinner tonight (because I seem to be obsessed with chronicling our meals) was take out pizza for the kids and gluten-free calzones with peppers and mushrooms for me and Adam. Last night was beef/tofu stir fry with rice noodles.

And here’s the video from our adventures today.

Berry sewing a cute cuddley thing

20140618_104351It’s me. Berry. I just finished my cuti wooti wittow stuffy!

 

 

20140618_120718

 

It’s me again, Berry. I’m cooking lunch/food for everyone. In this exact picture, i’m making a¬†¬†¬† roast beef & cheese & butter sandwich for my sister Emma.

 

 

20140618_135343 I’m at Cheese/Washington park building¬†village ruins destroyed by an ancient ¬† dragon. my brother Duncan, is building¬†The Dragon.