Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summertime and the living is...

easy? I don't think so. The kids are home for summer vacation, and all hell breaks loose with the schedule, while battling the twin evils of boredom and shuttling three kids to separate activities all day long. It can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. (And it partly explains my lack of posting. Apologies.) Dinner is the last thing I seem to plan for.

Still, everyone's got to eat and quick, easy and cool is the way to do it. We've been having "salad meals" and picnics; eating outside if the mosquitoes don't seem too bad. For meal salads, I start with lettuce and then just add on whatever I have: ham or turkey and hard-boiled eggs for a Chef salad, chicken and parmasean for a Caesar salad. (Bell and Evans makes great pre-cooked, frozen chicken breasts that make it easy.) Bittman has a great list of 101 picnic ideas today. These can easily combine for family-friendly, fast dinners.

Tara Parker-Pope also wrote a compelling piece recently about how kids often gain weight over the summer (Summertime Nutrition ). It struck a chord, because I do find myself allowing many treats over the summer: ice cream, Italian ice, pizza, soda, etc, just to get through the day. Ice cream or pizza is usually after a long day at the playground, but not always. It's sometimes the carrot to get one of my older ones at least out of the house, away from the TV and on a dog walk or other errand with me. Luckily, as a no-car family, we do get quite bit of exercise just schlepping around. Everyone's pretty fit, but it's easy to worry. My older kids go to sleep-away camp, which traditionally has bad, starchy food in abundance. But their camp (Beam Camp) is "food righteous." The camp director, a friend of mine, is a foodie and he makes sure there is quality food, with right-size portions and absolutely no junk. Plus they do so much physical exercise, each of them comes home fit like an tri-athlete. They love it, and it's an inspiring example of how when you do more, you enjoy life more.

So here's to finding a good balance of summertime fun: embrace the sliding schedule, the late bed-times, the fireflies, enjoy the occasional ice cream cone (ie., buy one for yourself rather than just stealing licks) and savor the summer while you can.

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