Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer preparedness for the queen of the backyard

I knew it was going to be eye-widening, the total number that rang up at the register. But I had to do it. We were already one case of poison ivy and three skinned knees into the season and I was so unprepared, if I was a Boy Scout that would have ripped the badges right off my chest.
And so I went, list in hand, to the store to prepare for summer. I’ve done this so many years now it’s practically second nature, but it wasn’t always that way. I had to learn, over time and as my children grew, just what a family needs to get through the roughest season of the year.
Bandages. Small ones, big ones. Favorite cartoon character ones for children who would purposely fall off their bike to be decorated by Spongebob, and the plain flesh colored ones because you know at some point you’re going to take a beating too. (This coming from the person who slices at least one leg on at least one berry bush a year.)
Burn-your-skin-off-antibacterial wash for cuts. Sure, we tell them it won’t hurt, but it does. And call it instinct, but the second it burns we all do the same thing—blow on it. How kind of us mothers to blow our germy mouth air into those open wounds!
Creams. Anti-bacterial cream for under bandages, burn cream because the 4th of July is inevitable and wonderful, anti-itch cream because mosquitoes and poison ivy are also inevitable (yet not so wonderful.) And don’t forget moisturizing cream for yourself, because shorts season is upon us, ladies.
Nail polish. Sandal season is here, too. Purchase the shade of polish that is right for you; bright, flashy colors if your legs are not dry and/or covered with bandages from berry patches, or a light, muted tone if you’d rather not draw attention to your bruises from that adventure hike your kid really wanted you to take.
Bug spray, sting-aid. Covering yourself in plastic-melting chemicals may not sound all that appealing, but sit by one campfire near a swampy area, and you too will wish you had the strong stuff. Sting-aid for the wasp nest that you know will form in your deck or on your swingset and will attack the tiniest of all the children on the street.
Sun block. Long gone are the days of generations past when the goal was to be as tan as you could, even if it meant covering yourself in baby oil and laying in a truck bed lined with foil. Peeling skin is as appealing as stark white golfer’s tan, so keep a tube in your house, one in your garage, and another in your car.
Popsicles, lemonade, candy. I learned this from a wise, wise woman. If you freeze it, they will come. And if they come to your house, you know exactly where they are and what they are doing. So provided you want your backyard riddled with neighbors and friends, give them goodies. Not only will it help you keep tabs on your children, but you’ll also be known as “popsicle lady” and children for miles will love and worship you.
Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes. Some things never go out of fashion. For extra credit, get a book with the old-fashioned jump rope and hand-clapping rhymes that you chanted as a child but really don’t make a lick of sense. When it’s too hot to jump, bubble, or draw, sit in the shade and teach your kids Oh Jolly Playmate, and be prepared to explain what a rain barrel is.
Sunglasses, book. For yourself, of course, queen of the backyard, so that you can sit and rest your sliced up legs while you pop fresh blackberries in your mouth. Position yourself centrally so you don’t have to get up to squirt them with bug spray or sunblock as they run by, most likely on the way to the freezer to get another popsicle. Ask for one too, because you certainly deserve it.

No recipe this week-- too busy getting ready for summer! I will share a quick tip for homemade popsicles, though. Making your own always resulted in an unflavorful pop, in my opinion. Then I tried using Natural style apple juice, the kind with little brown chunkies in the bottom. 100% better, super delicious, and it tastes like you're eating a frozen apple. Worth a shot if you're looking for a healthy snack for kids of all ages this year!

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