Sum, sum, summertime!It seems that Mother Nature is going to allow Laguna to have a summer this year. After last year’s disappointingly gloomy non-summer, the Meekmas have gotten more sunny beach time in the 10 days since school’s been out than we did all of last summer. If the Fourth is any indication, we’ll be chlorinated, salty and sandy for the next two months.
The release from school, sport, and after-school schedules is freeing, not just for the girls, but also for the adults. I’m figuring out the balance between summer freedom and camp scheduling. Growing up on the East Coast, summer was not a time of unstructured freedom; summer was for camp, six or eight weeks of day or sleep away camp. I loved going to camp. You had a new set of friends and went through the pleasures of swimming, crafting, tennis-playing, fishing and more with them. Your counselor and CITs (counselors in training) led you through the activities and kept you in line. Sort of like school, but way more fun.
So it’s been an adjustment for me, begun anew each summer, when I have to cobble together summer programs for the girls. Camps in our area are weeklong events, forcing kids and parents to change routine each week. Week-long camps aren’t long enough to allow new, real friendships to evolve, and camp leaders don’t have enough time to really bond with campers. These camps are fun but don’t offer the same experience that I am familiar with.
This summer, I’ve altered my work schedule to allow my girls the rare experience of being unscheduled for three straight weeks. Since I’m no good at sitting around the house with totally unplanned days, I’ve got a few day trips planned, but most of our days will revolve around going to the beach and pool. To prevent total summer brain drain, I bought each girl a summer journal and have begun giving them writing assignments and a few math problems to do.
But for the most part, we’ll spend July trying to have a relaxed, unscheduled summer vacation. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Many (kind) readers comment about the good times I have with my family and wish they had known about events we visited. Here are my top summer picks, in no particular order:
- Sawdust Festival – Laguna residents get in free on Friday, Aug. 5 all day long, as well as Thursday evenings.
- Festival of Arts: Family Art Day, Saturday, July 16. Should be just like the name says. Free for Laguna Beach residents.
- San Clemente Fiesta, Sunday, Aug. 14. Giant street fair in one of my favorite towns, all along Del Mar Avenue. Izzy doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll be entering the “All You Can Eat Pickle Contest.” Really. They’re her favorite food.
- Mud Mania at Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach, Sunday, Aug. 21. This will be my first visit to this historic 1844 adobe as it celebrates its construction letting visitors make adobe bricks and play tug of war over a mud pit. I’m bringing changes of clothing and plastic bags for the drive home.
- Visit www.OCParks.com and look up July or August events and programs. Many off summer-only activities, including Astronomy Nights and Sunset Hikes for families, such as Inside the Outdoors’ Trails Saturday, July 23, at Rancho Sonado in Silverado Canyon. Call 714-708-3885 or visit www.InsidetheOutdoors.org to register.
- The Circus is Coming to Town! (Well, Anaheim.) Starting July 27-Aug. 7. This is the big time, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey. Death-defying feats! Amazing animals! Stunts! Clowns! As a bonus for Indy readers, I’ve got a family four pack of tickets for opening night, Wednesday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m. Email me at Rmeekma@gmail.com by Monday, July 18, and tell me why you want the tickets. The ticket vouchers are good for a weekday performance at the Honda Center.
- Visit the library. The Summer Reading Program is in full swing during July. Sign up your kids and they get prizes for reading. Plus, entertaining events on Tuesday evenings in July for the family. I’m particularly excited about a special event the library is hosting on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 4:30 p.m.: an evening with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yes! “Little House on the Prarie” comes to life!
Rebecca Meekma is that friend who always knows something fun to do and the Calendar Editor for Parenting OC. She reminds everyone to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen all summer long. Follow her blog at www.ParentingOC.com.