Tag Archives: summer 2014

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. 🙂

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.

Into the woods

It was the only night I could find a cabin in a state park anywhere near us. Not that I’d have been able to predict the weather several weeks in advance in any case.

As we drove the hour and a half or so to Silver Falls State Park, the clouds couldn’t make up their mind. To release or to hold it in. I drove through intermittent rain, grateful to have windshield wipers with many adjustable settings. For a while the kids chatted to each other. Then read books. Then napped. They can travel without being plugged in to electronics after all.

Being unplugged soon became a theme in our camping adventure. And perhaps a little unhinged, but that didn’t happen until the middle of the night.

We arrived a little after 2 p.m. But we couldn’t check into our cabin until 4 p.m.

Fortunately, Silver Falls has an awesome lodge and cafe and a friendly Park Ranger to guide us. So with the promise of a hot chocolate upon our return, the kids cheerfully set off in the drizzling rain on a short hike to the nearest waterfall.

It was a quick hike, but probably long enough for the monkeys, as the complaints started about halfway back up the trail. I would have willingly gone to the South Falls hike (another couple of miles) but was glad enough to go back to the cafe and lodge myself. After all, a cup of tea awaited me.

20140626_155138 20140626_155126

20140626_171850Restoratives consumed (yes, we were truly roughing it) and coffee for the following morning purchased (I figured it’d be just like an iced coffee with some sugar and milk), we checked into the cabin. And then headed across the campground to get a wheelbarrow of firewood.

$6 got us an entire wheelbarrow. At least I was getting some exercise, I thought, as the kids happily traipsed along behind me, over a quaint covered footbridge and back to our cabin.

20140626_175506Berry was impatient to get dinner cooked, so I dutifully got a roaring fire going with the nice, dry firewood and some bits of paper I’d scavenged from the recycling bin at home.

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A dinner for all tastes. From left: cheeseburger, cheese rolls, gluten-free cheeseburger.

Of course, we couldn’t possibly wait until the fire had died down enough to give us good, hot coals to cook our burgers over. But I managed, all the same, to keep them from being scorched on the outside and raw inside and procured dinner for each of us, according to our taste preferences and dietary restrictions.

I hadn’t bothered to bring lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise for my burger. I did bring ketchup, at least, and that’s practically a vegetable (or fruit if you prefer to believe tomatoes are fruits).

And, besides, we had smores coming.

20140626_183259-MIXBerry dug into hers. Duncan devoured his. Even I had one with half a marshmallow and some gluten-free graham crackers.

And then the kids had some more and I refrained, as sugar makes me cranky and I probably wasn’t going to run off into the woods and hide if I became the Big Bad Mummy Wolf.

During dinner I realized I’d remembered almost everything we needed. But forgot the bottle opener (and soap, but really who needs soap?). Fortunately, our cabin neighbors gallantly opened my hard cider and I relaxed into the soggy evening. (He later came by to borrow salt, an equitable trade all around.)

After dinner, the kids played a came of imaginary Throw Rocks Into The Puddle Pokemon, collecting a dozen special rocks that I cruelly informed them were going to stay in the forest and not come home with us. Eventually, they lined them up on the bench outside for the night and we got ready for bed.

(Taken the next day before we left, after the sleeping bags had been packed in the minivan.)
(Taken the next day before we left, after the sleeping bags had been packed in the minivan.)

Our cabin was outfitted with a double bed and 2 bunkbeds in one room just large enough to accommodate them and a futon couch, table and chairs in the other. In retrospect, I should have slept on the futon, in the other room, away from the creakings and noises of the kids. But I thought the bed would be more comfortable.

It was at this point I realized I forgot another essential item — a sleeping pad.

While you roll your eyes at me, let me explain that I’ve had back pain since I was a pre-teen (scoliosis then a car accidents giving me 3 bulging discs, the lowest one I had removed and my vertebrae fused together 2 years ago). My back is in good shape now, but it has it’s limits. I also have fibromyalgia which means I tend to get a bit achy. Plus I’m really cranky when I don’t sleep well.

But I decided to make the best of it, read to the kids for approximately forever in an attempt to finish the last Gregor the Overlander book (we didn’t) and put them to bed. One sounds of sleeping commenced, I went outside and hung out of the porch (rudely moving the precious rocks aside), knitted and read for a while.

We sadly had no cell service. None at all. So I was unable to share pictures or funny stores — like the moment Berry got upset she lost the coin toss about who got what bunk and stomped off away from the cabin as if she was going to walk home — or text Adam that I missed him already.

I crawled into my sleeping bag with the sound of rain pattering on the roof and a cool breeze coming in through the open window. Don’t worry, we weren’t going to get cold — I turned the heater on in the other room to dry out all our wet things.

It was a rough night. There was a lot of waking up. One falling out of the bunk incident (good thing fate gave Berry the bottom bunk). And we all experienced something that was not my best parenting moment ever in which Berry and I got into a stubbornness battle and she lost all computer time for the weekend, before deciding to use actual words to ask for a drink.

The next day

I was grateful for the cold coffee the next morning, half of which I managed to get into my before I relented to the kids demands to finish Gregor. That done, we ate breakfast and set about the most important task of the day: building another fire so we could eat more smores. I’d never had smores and cold coffee, after all.

Fired #2 proved to be a lot trickier than the day before, as the wood on the porch, while technically dry, had been subjected to the wet atmosphere all night. Plus I was making the fire on a bed of sopping ashes and it was actively raining.

But I may have had some leftover stubbornness from the night before, so I wasn’t about to give up. Attempt #3, with the aid of a pan of hot charcoal from our neighbor, was successful. Yay, fire! Yay, smores!

Even though it was raining, the kids didn’t want to leave. Originally, my plan was to take them to Enchanted Forest on the way home to break up the drive a bit and have lunch there. But it was raining. And with no cell service, I couldn’t check the weather report. (Why is unplugging considered a good thing?)

So we decided to just hang out until we had to check out of the cabin at 1 p.m. Duncan had spotted a Young Rangers treering necklace making activity at 11 a.m., so we amused ourselves until then. We couldn’t find it, unfortunately, until we finally sought assistance of the friendly Park Ranger who directed us pretty much back to where we started. (It was in the campground playground, not the playground in the day use area. Go figure.)

But tree ring necklaces were made. And lunch was eaten. And we eventually got everything packed up and in the minivan. I dowsed the fire, we took one last trip to the bathroom, dropped off our cabin keys and headed home – at exactly the same time as we’d pulled out of our driveway the day before.

What did we learn during our 24-hour adventure?

I”ll ask the kids their thoughts in a minute. I learned that I like to stay connected. And to have a good night’s sleep. My crankiness eventually wore off with the help of caffeine and ibuprofen (I also had my period, which was just a lovely addition to using communal bathrooms, often with 2 children watching me). And I love nature, rain or shine, building fires and hanging out with the kids. I really like a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, though.

Duncan:

  • I learned that camping is fun.
  • I learned that Mummy can be cranky. I never knew that.
  • I learned that the giant waterfall, a long time ago, could have been a tiny drop.
  • I learned that Mummy is awesome, like always.
  • I learned that cabins are tiny.
  • I learned that this list only had 6 dots. That’s it.

Berry:

  •  I learned cabins don’t look like what I imagined.
  • I liked bunk bed, stuff, everything actually.

 

Gearing up

There’s just one full week of school left, plus 1.5 days. Then it’s over until after Labor Day.

It’s always an adjustment on both ends of summer — getting into the new, more laid-back routine of vacation and then going back to school in the fall.

We have a long list of possible summer activities in a Google doc, and I’ve been trying to break them down into attainable goals and doable projects. What are the things I want the kids to do? Go outside, read, be active, learn stuff, have fun, play.

So here’s what I’ve got so far for goals. More on each one later:

  • Visit every park in Eugene
  • Learn to ride bikes
  • Spend 60 minutes outside every day
  • Learn – reading, science, math, art, cooking, crafting
  • Make 1 new recipe every week
  • Keep a summer journal (could be this blog)
  • Read our way through the OBOB book list
  • Swim at least once a week

Camp Mummy 2014

Soon the madness will begin. Hopefully we’ll get dressed occasionally.

This summer is the first that I’ll be home with the kids, at least until the youngest go to see their Dad for a few weeks. If we don’t have plans and goals, I fear we’ll all lounge about in our pajamas all day, our brains and bodies slowly atrophying, too lazy to even feed ourselves properly.

I’ll get cranky. The kids will get whiny. By the time Adam gets home from work I’ll be begging him for a break, glass of wine in hand.

Alternatively, we could make some plans for fun: science experiments, book clubs, camping, visiting parks and playgrounds, swimming.

The list has been started.

The countdown to summer had begun.

Three weeks of school remain.

What will Campy Mummy 2014 hold in store?