A 1980s Summer

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with fellow baseball mom during practice, and we were lamented about how we couldn't believe the Kindergarten year was almost over. As everyone knows, time flies! I asked her what they might be doing this summer and she said they didn't have much planned. She was hoping to have a 1980s summer. I mentioned that to my husband and he asked what a 1980s summer actually was. And that got me to thinking. What was a 1980s summer? I think I have the answer!

When I was growing up in the 80s, life seemed so much simpler. We played outside, went to the pool, hung out with our friends, and basically made our own fun. We didn't have iPads, iPhones, or DVD players when taking long car rides. We had corded phones, Walkmans, books, and bikes. We played outside all day long, even into the evening, and would come in for dinner, basic cable television viewing, and went to bed with dirt stains on our body. We drank Kool-Aid with sugar, never wore helmets or elbow pads, and lived at the community pool. It was truly the life!

I spent time at our school library participating in our summer reading program, which resulted in McDonald gift certificates for completing 10 books that summer. I think the number was 10. I mean, it has been 30+ years! I took swimming lessons, lived in my ballet studio during summer classes, rode my bike to the pool every day, and tried desperately to create a mix tape from the Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown on Sundays. And when you weren't doing all of that, you were having sleepovers at friends houses and trying to stay awake all night because it was summer!

But when I wasn't doing all of this, I was sitting in the backseat of my parents car heading out on a summer family vacations. But not just any family vacation. We went camping. Not glamping, camping! One of my favorite trips was to Hannibal, MO to explore the Mark Twain attractions. I remember getting one of the best t-shirts ever! It was white, with green ringer accents, and had a frog on the front that said "Hannibal's Hoppin'". But that wasn't the best part. The frog had his front foot in the air, and because there are only three "toes" on the front foot, it looked like it was giving you the bird! We still talk about the shirt! But it wasn't just the shirt memory that came from camping, it was everything else. We pitched tents, my parents in a dome tent and me in a little pop-up. We cooked on a small camping stove, drank powdered milk mixed with water, showered in the communal bathrooms, and had zero Wi-Fi! Can you imagine? You made your own fun! You met neighboring campers and played during the day. You promised to keep in touch and now can't remember their names or where they were from. But during that trip, you were best friends! We usually camped for about two weeks a summer. A 1980s summer at it's best!

We went to Estes Park, CO one year. Again, a car trip without any real electronic device, aside from my Walkman, and no air conditioning in the car! That's a long trip across Kansas when a thunderstorm pops up and you have to roll up the windows! And yes, we traveled with the windows down the whole way. We didn't camp on that trip, stayed in a cabin instead, but it was just as memorable. Our summers were filled with family time and adventures. Things I'm trying to instill in McKinley with your family. As for camping, we may try the backyard first before heading out into the wild or state park!

We don't have a lot planned this summer. A trip back East for my mom's high school reunion and much needed family time with those that still live there. We will be traveling by car, that's 15 hours if you're keeping track, and I'm pretty sure there will plenty of electronic device time for McKinley! I'll try to limit it, but let's be honest, eight hours a day is so long! Even at 43!! I'm planning trips to the Arboretum, the train depot in Edgerton, a trip to the city dump to watch all the large construction trucks move in and out, library time so he can participate in the summer reading program, and frequent trips to our community pool. And yes, I do have some larger things planned like Worlds and Oceans of Fun, Science City at Union Station, and a possible family trip to someplace like Omaha. But we will also head to the zoo, Deanna Rose, and have plenty of water time and picnics in the backyard. A 1980s summer in 2017. It can be done!

So what is the takeaway from having a 1980s summer? Make it easy going. Don't put stress to make it perfect. Don't have a Pinterest activity every week. Don't stay hooked to electronics. Spend as much time outside, for as long as humanly possible in the Midwest heat, and soak up the sun. Soak up family time. Make memories as you walk to the pool every day. Take family vacations that aren't extravagant, but fun and adventurous! And I hope to create this kind of summer for us! And follow along this summer as I document our time together and adventures along the way. I'm thinking this is going to be a totally awesome summer, to quote the 80s!


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