Summer Fun ~ Kid Style

Brother Al helping Blake with his swing
Brother Al helping Blake with his swing

No matter what your upbringing I suspect the kickoff of summer elicits memories of sun-drenched days, when nothing was more important that cramming as many outdoor activities as possible into your weeks before school bells began tolling once again.

Those summer childhood memories for me meant baseball, long bike rides with friends, barbecues complete with  the sticky-sweet juiciness of watermelon dripping down my face and arms, swimming, and waterskiing.  Although I grew up in the midwest and was oblivious to the stunning coastlines with their massive expanses of sand and surf, we were not without our man-made beach where even on a cool cloudy day we could be found shivering at the water’s edge, waiting for direction from our swimming coach.

We took a respite from laboring on the farm and headed to my childhood stomping grounds, where my baby brother and his family still live, a great place to raise a family, but too small for this claustrophobic girl to stick around long after high school.  However, there seemed no better way to ring in the summer than to participate in my nephew’s 9th birthday party, including a barbecue out at the beach.

Sunset rainbow
Sunset rainbow after the storm

As we headed west the skies opened up and the deluge began, threatening to spoil big party plans.  As I sit here writing, I believe it has been 20 straight days since the rains appeared and this trend looks to continue for the next week.  Fortunately, by mid-morning of Blake’s special day, the sun came out and we experienced sunny, beach-ready weather.

Vehicles laden with food, toys, and a new puppy, we headed to the beach prepared to celebrate a 9-year old’s highly anticipated day.  As in most places revisited as an adult, this sandy bit of beach that we passed seemed much smaller than I remembered.  Boating and waterskiing were to take the place of sand between the toes on this day.

Visiting with family, playing games, reliving a small slice of days past through the eyes of children was a most relaxing way to spend a few days…priceless.  At the end of this month we will head back to celebrate Seth’s 16th birthday.  Mom and dad, how does it feel to have your firstborn getting behind the wheel of a car?!

Headline: Ghouls Spotted Around Gardner

It is Halloween week and scary movies and haunted houses are right up my alley, so we decided to join in the fun.  At the last minute the decision was made to go on a haunted hayrack ride in Custer Park, sponsored by the local fire department.  We heard from someone who lives in the area that this was not as scary as the haunted house in one of the surrounding towns and given that we had a 7-year old and a 9-year old in tow, this seemed to be the best choice.

Eight of us piled onto the hayrack for a one-mile ride out to a haunted barn, with ghouls and zombies popping up along the way.  The youngest two in the family decided during the ride out into the country that the haunted barn was not for them and many tears ensued.  When we arrived at our destination, everyone decided to take the plunge but unfortunately my brother and sister-in-law spent their time soothing frightened children as they wound their way through the pitch-black maze of 13 separate rooms in the barn.  Terry and I led the way and I had to admit that it was well done and given my claustrophobic nature, feeling my way through a black maze with monsters and other creepy-looking creatures appearing at many of the turns was a little startling at times.  The kids made it through and both decided it wasn’t so bad after all.  Always easier to say this after the fact, isn’t it!

My friend Villa and I joined my brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Traci, for a Halloween party at one of the local pubs.  Terry offered to stay behind and babysit the kids.  Villa and I did not dress in costume but enjoyed watching everyone parade through the bar in their most creative Halloween garb. Costumes were judged at the end of the evening, and although I am biased, I believe my brother Alan  should have received the male prize.  So many of his friends did not even recognize him in costume!

Cruella Deville & The Joker, aka Traci & Alan
My brother, the Joker

This is one of those times when removing the “red eyes” in a photo just doesn’t make sense!

Terry had his own costume judging contest to deal with back at the house.  The oldest nephew Seth and niece Paige decided to paint their faces and be judged. What was a good uncle to do but declare the contest a tie!

Zombies Seth & Paige

Prior to the entire town turning into zombies and other creepy looking characters, we were able to visit the school where our niece Paige and nephew Blake attend, where they proudly showed us their classrooms.

Blake in second grade classroom
4th grader Paige
Me & Paige with the ghouls closing in
Blake in one of his more serious moods

On Halloween day the grade school kids participated in a parade, complete with costumes. Terry was able to snap a few shots of the kids as they strolled by.

"Scary Clown" Blake
"Clumsy Smurf" Paige

And the cutest of them all, Traci’s nephew Ty.

6-month old "monkey" Ty and "zookeeper" mom Angie

Halloween night and the kids are ready to hit the neighborhoods and get all “sugared up”.  We learned it has been a tradition for the moms to get out the golf carts and take the little ones trick-or-treating so Villa and I hopped on to experience a neighbor’s haunted house (much toned down from the previous trip).

Girls Night Out? No, just Halloween in Gardner.

As we pulled away I remembered that I was in charge of making the soup for dinner that night.  Since that wasn’t happening, I quickly ran back to instruct Terry to “make the soup”.  Well, really that was all the instruction I gave him.  His response was, “you’re kidding, right?”, to which I responded, “no, make the soup”, as I quickly ran back to the golf cart. Luckily he knew there was a recipe sitting in the kitchen and I had set aside the ingredients but that was all he had to go on. We didn’t know what to expect when we got back.  We might be going out for pizza.

We arrived at the neighbor’s haunted house and luckily it was “kid rated” so no tears this time!

Traci & Blake

We arrived back at the house a short time later, and guess what, soup’s on!  Nice job Terry!