You officially arrived with the passing of summer solstice this week. I had to be sure that you were truly here to write you a letter, since just three weeks ago, my status update on Facebook was: I'm wearing my Ugg slippers on June 1st. It's because I want them to match the sweater I'm wearing. <Sigh>.
We had the obligatory discussion of what summer solstice means with the kiddos. It is the longest day of the year because of the way earth's axis is tilted and the direction it points in regards to the sun. But even without any explanation, the kiddos know that summer is special. They can feel it in all the changes and opposites of the dreary winters we have here. It really hits home when Dear Son looks at me with a most puzzled look and asks, "Why are we taking shower when it's still daytime?" I guess by that, we know summer's here. Here are my Top Ten Idiosyncrasies of Summer.
10. Sunscreen. You've already heard my rant about sunscreen. It is an inevitable part of summer. One addendum: it doesn't freakin' wash off, which bothers the heck out of me. Well, duh, it's waterproof! Isn't it what we want when we go swimming? (Update: a doctor friend reminded me that we should choose mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreens based on a scientific article he read. Mineral sunscreens are made of just that--minerals, thus natural--typically with the active ingredients titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens are made of, well, chemicals, which are all the other ingredients (namely avobenzone) you see on the labels of sunscreens on the market. Mineral sunscreens are typically marketed for babies and children who have more sensitive skin and don't need extra chemicals.) #sensoryprocessingdisorderissues
9. Pool/ beach. As much as I am a heliophobe, I still go to the pool and beach for the sake of the kiddos. They love water with a passion. So against every ounce of my natural instincts, I go into the sun with them. The only plus is that if I have enough sunscreen on, I do get a nice color to replace my glaringly-fair skin. And... for a few moments in the water, as I look up at the stunning azure sky and cloud puffs in freestyle design, soak in the warmth of the sun on my
8. Heat and humidity. I am your typical high maintenance whiny baby when it comes to the heat. I've long declared that air conditioning is the one modern day convenience that I cannot live without. But see, it's really not the heat that bothers me; it's the effect of humidity on my sweat glands. If you have hyperactive sweat glands like me, you'd understand. This summer, however, I finally got a prescription for Dry-Sol (active ingredient: 20% aluminum chloride), an antiperspirant that can be used on feet--my problem area--as well as hands and underarms. This is the first time I have had dry feet in heat and humidity, which means I can wear sandals and flip flops without slipping and sliding in them! It has been the BEST thing EVER.
7. Bugs. This one is above all else that I cannot stand in warmer weather, including all three of the above. I detest mosquito bites more than anything in the world. You can imagine my glee when we went to the marshes of Florida a few years back to ride boats and "see manatees or your money back." And one manatee we saw--a lighter shade of the water color by the banks. One underwater shadow, 45 very hot minutes, and a dozen mosquito bites later, we didn't get our money back. You see, mosquito bites in numbers like that for me (and Dear Daughter) will trigger an immune response that leads to a fever. Yes, a fever. Did I tell you I hate bug bites? I just got my first few of the season yesterday. And yes, there are those bug sprays to help, sure. But did I mention I have issues with putting chemicals and stuff on my skin? Yeah, THAT. #heebiejeebies
6. Pretty toes. Now onto nicer things about summer. We girls love our pretty toes in the summertime. As soon as the socks come off, DD immediately begins to beg for me to paint her toenails. And she really rocks her hot pink nail polish on her girly toes nicely. I have my few staple colors, although I will venture out to uncommon ones once in a while. And no, I don't go out for pedicures. Miss Stingy would rather that I contort myself into an oddly shaped ball to paint my own toenails. Each year it gets harder and I get achier. So the one day that I cannot paint my own toenails is the day I know that I'm old. At which time I'll beg DD to do them for me for all the times I've made her toes pretty. Fair trade, right? #timeforacolorchange
5. Flip flops. While we're on the topic, how better to show off our pretty toenails than in our favorite flip flops? I live in flip flops practically all summer long. I read an article a few years ago about the detriment that flip flops do to our feet. I felt very guilty about it, so instead of spending $3 at Old Navy for flip flops, I now spend ten times the amount to buy what are supposedly 'better' flips flops, ones that contour and cushion, for my summer feet. #hopelesslyattached
4. Lawn care. I wrote about our grass last summer. It is a fine balance between keeping our water bill affordable and not killing our grass. In our neighborhood, it is easy to see who waters the lawn and who doesn't. We water, but just enough so that the grass doesn't die. We're cheap homeowners that manually turn on the water sprinklers when we have a heat wave or drought. This year, our grass has been looking pretty nifty. We were just patting ourselves on the back when I
3. Gardening. Each year I look forward to warm weather so that my rose bushes come alive and bloom hundreds of roses. Besides growing tomatoes and herbs, this is the first year I'm keeping a vegetable garden in my new planter box. I've harvested, cooked, and eaten my own swiss chard. There's something to be said about cooking and eating foods from your own backyard. I've made pesto with my own basil, made ice tea with my own mint, and toss salads with my own parsley. I'm looking forward to harvesting green beans and red bell peppers, big boy tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. I cannot even begin to describe the joy of watching a plant grow, flower, fruit, much less be harvested and eaten. I've also had the joy of chronicling this process with photographs. Yay, Instagram! And I'll have photos to come. Pinky swear! #itsreallylikemagic
2. Picnics. Whether it's at the park, under the stars at an outdoor concert, or on our own driveway, a picnic is just a 'funner' way to eat. Lay down a blanket, cop a squat, munch on food, and gaze at the sky. Or search for bugs. When we're done eating, I shake the blanket once or twice and leave all the crumbs for the great outdoors. Cleaning? Done. Oh, and when it's raining, I pull away the coffee table and we picnic right on the living room floor. It's fabulous and the kiddos love it. #beakidalloveragain
1. Relaxation. There is nothing like the relaxation of summer where we get to sleep in. Even if we don't sleep in late, there's no rush or schedule, lunches to pack or papers to check. I have anxiety-related blood pressure issues (so I monitor on a fairly regular basis), and rightfully, I have the lowest and bestest blood pressure during the summer months. (It's pretty amazing that on the first day of summer vacation, my BP reading literally drops by 20 on both numbers.) It is
There are other summer-musts that I didn't mention, mostly regarding foods, such as making ice cream, popsicles, pies, smores, and outdoor grilling. Those can fill up a Top Ten all on their own. So for now, these represent.
So, Summer, until September 22, we get to enjoy and endure all your idiosyncrasies. Lastly, I just want to say that you give us the most beautiful skies of the year. The blue is extra blue, and the clouds are extra puffy, and the sunsets are simply breathtaking. And thank you for those few extra hours of daylight. I simply love it.