Summer Daze

Lemonade stands. Trips to the park. Baseball games. Swimming lessons. Yes, I did all these things during my summer vacation as a kid, (or at least I think I did, it was a long time ago) but it does this Mom’s heart good to know that my girls are not only taking part in these rites of passages of childhood, but also loving every second of it.

It also helps that our 15-year-old cousin Ali is leading the charge for many of these activities.  On the cool factor, she definitely rates much higher than Van and I do, and she had the great idea of not only setting up a lemonade stand, but also setting up shop at the local park, where they were sure to get much more business than our front yard. They were motivated salespeople because they knew they would be able spend their profits at the ice cream truck which is guaranteed to show up every half hour. I was at work when the budding business women started selling the glasses of lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for 50 cents a pop. Ten minutes after they arrived, I got a text informing me they had already made $6. All told, they made $8, and spent half their money on ice cream truck goodies.

On my days off, we’ve also been hitting some of the best parks in the Bay Area. One of the coolest parks is Coyote Point in San Mateo. Carrie’s eyes are already pretty big, but I swear they doubled in size when she got a look at the massive play structure.

Sliding Fun!

The girls worked up quite an appetite after sliding, swinging, and hanging out in a purple dragon,

Carrie, Ali, & Erin Chillin' in the Purple Dragon

so we set up a picnic lunch. I’m convinced everything tastes better when eaten outside.

Coyote Point also has a fantastic animal reserve and indoor play area. The girls were a little impressed with the bobcat feeding,

If you look closely, you can see the bobcat eating his lunch

but they were most impressed with the indoor activities. Be warned. These photos are ridiculously cute.

Erin Beyond Excited

What would make Erin this excited? All it took was some foam and a kid-friendly wind tunnel. Check it out:

Science in Action

These kids couldn’t get enough of sticking the foam pieces up through the wind tunnel to see how far they’d go flying. I’ve got to admit. It was pretty entertaining.

You may have noticed Olivia was missing in action. We didn’t leave her at home, or lock her in the car. Instead of hanging with us at the park, she was hanging with her Dad and a friend at the Giants game.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Yes, my Minnesota friends and family will be disappointed to see her sporting a Giants hat, especially when they were playing the Twins. It must have brought the Giants good luck because they beat the Twins, 2 -1.

The highlight of the first full week of summer vacation for the kids however was probably Great America. Me? Well, let’s just say amusement parks were much more amusing for me when I was a kid. I would have been considerably less amused however, if the aforementioned cousin Ali didn’t come to the rescue. She took Olivia on a rollercoaster, while I took the smaller kids to the little people rides.

This trip to the amusement park did mark an important milestone. Carrie’s first ‘coaster ride.

Put Your Hands in the Air Like You Just Don't Care!

The smile didn’t leave Carrie’s face for the entire ride, and even though it was a kiddie ‘coaster, it sure felt like a full-sized one at times. I kept looking over at Carrie, and turning around at Erin to make sure they were ok. They were fine, more than fine, really.

Trust me, she's really having fun

Apparently they should have been checking on me, ’cause I was scared s**tless! When did I become the old mom, who no longer loves fun things like roller coasters, and kiddie ‘coasters at that?! I guess it’s just another sign that I’m getting older, as if my grey hair and wrinkles weren’t signs enough.

I’m also the cheap mom who makes her kids trek back to the car to eat a homemade lunch of sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and juice boxes. It’s not just that the food at amusement parks are over the top expensive. They are, but they’re also over the top bad. I don’t know what’s worse, fair food or amusement park food. I’m a Minnesota girl, so I can’t really dog the fair food since the Minnesota State Fair is the mother of all fairs.

While the food at Great America will never be great, their water park, Boomerang Bay is pretty awesome.

This is just a kiddie slide, but the younger girls didn’t seem to mind one bit.

I did not partake in any of the water adventures since I didn’t bring my bathing suit, but Ali once again took over. She steered Olivia to some cool humongous water slides, and then proceeded to take Olivia and Erin tubing down a fake river, and had all three girls frolicking in the wave pool.

While watching the girls from afar, I also got do some amazing people watching. There are some real doozies at Great America. You see just about everything, but I never thought I’d see what may be the youngest person with silver capped teeth. In fact, I was sitting next to her. She was adorable and probably no older than five. I smiled at her, and when she smiled back, I saw her sparkling teeth which had too much sparkle. Yes, I am going to judge. Really, blinging out your kid before she’s even in kindergarten? What were her parents thinking?

Although that image will probably forever stay seared in my memory, I also have some fantastic memories of the first full week of summer vacation. And thanks to Ali, so do the girls.

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