Simple Summer Pleasures Not to Be Taken for Granted

photo 4If admission is the first sign of recovery, it’s time I make a confession: I am addicted to summer.

Every morning that I step outside and take a hit of Vitamin D, sucking in the thick, muggy air, it sustains me. When others are complaining about the Texas heat, I get into my hot, stuffy car and smile . . . as if somehow I’ve managed to bottle up the sun, if only for a moment before I blast my A/C.

I have seriously considered writing letters of apology to those that I love for the horrible, grumpy ways I’ve treated them during the winter months . . . but then my laid-back summer attitude assures me, “Nah . . . it’s all good.”

And so, as an ode to this most glorious season, I have decided to instill the same love in my children, or at least give it my best shot. I’m not talking overstuffed schedules and elaborate family vacations, expensive camps or etiquette lessons for my messy toddlers.

I believe the best that summer has to offer is found in the simplest things, not to be taken for granted.

photo 1Popsicles

Sticky and sugary and of little nutritional value, popsicles are like magic on a stick. How something so amazing can be bought in bulk and still cost less than $3 is beyond me. Even better? Ice cream trucks. No lie, I was like seven months pregnant with my firstborn when I heard the circus tunes of an ice cream truck circling my neighborhood. I went waddling down the road as fast as my swollen feet could carry me, and I savored every lick on the three block walk back. Oh, that my boys will be seen bare bellied and sticky fingered with bright blue lips.


We called them lightning bugs in the Midwest. When these tiny, night time fairies showed up to provide at least an hour of entertainment, we chased them down. I can remember huge family gatherings where the grown ups would sit in their plastic folding lawn chairs and watch us kids seemingly chase air for hours, only to end up with two or three for our very own night lights. I haven’t seen very many in Texas, but with the recent rain, they’re beginning to appear. I’ve got my mason jars set out and ready to go, and even if my kids are too little to master the fine art of catching flying objects, I’ll show them the ropes and bottle up a few for myself. Who needs LED porch candles when nature has provided us such an enchanted show?

photo 2Sprinklers

I’m not talking hardwired yard systems that have to be set for certain hours of the night. I’m talking old-fashioned, chunks of metal that attach to your garden hose and wave the water in the air . . . to provide proper garden coverage, sure, but also to enrapture children in delight as they dodge and jump and maneuver their way around its path. Very few sounds evoke memories of my childhood summer like the shhhh—tck-tck-tck-tck of a water sprinkler. If you’re looking for us on a lazy afternoon, you’ll probably find us in the backyard . . . running through the sprinkler with our clothes on.

The Smell of Suntan Oil

I know, I know, SPF 50 or above . . . I get it. But I sure am a sucker for the smell of Banana Boat tanning oil. I practically bathed in it as a child, long before we were properly educated about the harmful effects of UV rays. I’d douse myself in it before I started swimming, and then at the end of the day, I’d check myself out in the full length mirror and see if my tan lines got any more distinct. When you’re eight years old and flat chested and totally free from any insecurities about your little, able body, looking like you’ve still got a swimsuit on when you’re totally naked seems like a magic trick! To this day, I have to smell my kids’ sunscreen before I buy it. Even if I’m committed to protecting their precious, baby skin like a hovering hen, they’ve at least got to smell like a coconut macaroon.

photo 2Bare Feet

Again, I understand the point of shoes in protecting our precious little one’s feet from spurs or insect bites or . . . tetanus. But I want my boys growing up knowing the delicious feeling of grass between their toes. I want them to be okay with getting their little toes filthy. I’ll hose them off and laugh as they tiptoe back to the door and still have tiny blades of grass sticking out from their middle toe. Bare feet ground us to the earth and remind us that we are a part of something bigger. Bare feet improve our gait and make us more sure-footed on rocky terrain. I’m a stiletto girl in the winter, rockin’ the swank with my 4-inch heels and jeans, but come June, those puppies move to the top shelf of my closet and I’m stripped down and in desperate need of a pedicure. The thought of putting socks on toddlers in 95 degree weather makes me want to punch myself. No shoes. No shirt. No problem.

As most addicts do, I’ve obviously found ways to justify my drug of choice. Juicy, succulent peaches; tart, fresh-picked berries; birds chirping in the morning; cicadas droning on at night . . . it’s enough to get anyone with five senses and a heart over-the-top hooked.

photo 1I want summer to be different from the other seasons. I want to make sure my kids get outside as often as possible. I want them to know the smell of a summer rain and recognize the song of crickets. I want them to crave the taste of ice-cold watermelon on a hot muggy day and know why the song raves about the big, bright stars in the heart of Texas.

My hope is that as I slow down the clock for my kids, I’ll be slowing down my internal tick-tocking, list-making, multi-tasking mind as well, giving myself a reason to play without purpose and dream without a clear-cut business plan.

How will you spend your precious days? If you find yourself in a blackberry patch, pick a bucket full for me.


Jody hid in the hills of Missouri until her husband, Caleb, rescued her and made her a Mrs . . . at least that’s the story he tells. A mere four years in and they’ve added a brilliant, big-hearted boy, Jude(2010) and an equally endearing, Oliver(2013) to their family. Still pretty amazed at the fact that she grew too tiny humans when she can’t even keep a rubber tree plant alive, Jody recently stopped traveling with a ministry conference team to stay at home and rough and tumble around with her boys. She loves Jesus, coffee, and big sunglasses, and keeps her inner gypsy alive by traveling whenever she gets the chance.


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