Summer Here, Summer There!

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This morning, I got the kids ready to go play outside only to get to the door and see it was pouring down rain.  If I didn’t have the baby with us, I may have chosen to take his older brothers out anyway.  I remember as a kid that playing in the rain was very fun.  In Florida, puddle jumping, collecting tiny frogs and lizards let us know that summer was here.  Although, Summer in Florida seems to be from January 15th-December 15th.  School ending in June let us know that it was time to celebrate summer’s return.  In a couple of months, summer’s end will mean the return of school (a now joyous occasion) and the return of Football! 

So, while I still love the Summer rain, today it spoiled the kids’ outdoor activities.  Recently, my wife brought home an Ipad for her work and we’ve used it a few times for apps that we can download for the kids.  Right now, the best I found are the PBS Kids’ app and any of the titles of their favorite shows; however, I’m hesitant to pay for them.  Cheap?  Perhaps.  No flowing income? Certainly.  So I’ll refrain until I do more research.  Here is a question for my readers: Are there any apps for iPad, smart phone or PC, that you’ve used to help your kids to learn or have fun….or even to just give yourself a break for your own sanity?  I know they’re out there and perhaps you could help me find them.

Here are some ideas for some fun things to do in the summer with your kids:

Strawberry picking.  Picking season was earlier than ever this year, due to such early heat in April and May.  The climate is really wreaking havoc on the normal schedule of North Carolina Farmers but near us in Eastern NC, there are several farms for us to choose from.  Once Strawberry season is over, comes blueberries and peaches.  We’ve done some summer apple picking during travel.  At the grocery store, my boys enjoy picking whatever they can find on the shelves and sneak them in the cart when I’m not looking.  That and noses.

I think I’ve always complained about the lack of things to do in the summer for kids here in Eastern Carolina.  But as we get more acclimated to NC, we are finding more things to do.  We found that our local bowling alley has free bowling for the kids for the entire summer!  Nothing is free as I would have to pay for their shoe rental and to bowl myself.  That is still a great deal.  Go to http://amf.com/home for details near you. 

We miss certain aspects of Florida, especially the great pool in our own backyard.  Last year was our first full summer here and we went through a few kiddie pools. We even invested in a big blow up pool complete with filter. It wasn’t until after several attempts when I learned the importance of a flat surface for blow up pools, because the pool was so lopsided, it never completely inflated or filled. Live and learn.  Spend, live and learn. 

So, we recently found that ECU offers a summer membership for the family which has workout facilities, volleyball courts, tennis and basketball courts, and more importantly, 3 pools for our use.  We signed up as soon as we went to see what they had to offer.  This is a great alternative to the expensive gyms in the area.  Last year we priced out Gold’s Gym which has a pool and slides that our kids would love, but it was almost 600$ for just the summer.  What we are paying for the ECU facility is just a fraction of that. 

Starting in our area next week is the summer morning movie program.  Regal Theaters are offering kids movies at 10am for just a dollar per person.  Last year it was free, but even at a dollar it’s still a great deal and a way to keep kids occupied and entertained, out of the house and out of parents’ hair.  Go to http://www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress/ and search for your nearby theater and start dates. 

Carmike Theaters is offering movie, drink and popcorn for 2$ per person also at 10am.  Like Regal, Carmike is showing all PG and G movies.  Both theaters alternate days that they offer movies and I haven’t noticed any overlap in movies to be shown.  http://www.carmike.com/Promotions/119

Another way to keep my boys busy is to take them to the library for story time and sometimes to Barnes & Noble.  Since AJ loves to read, he seems to really enjoy and pay attention to the story.  Andy however keeps me on my toes at the book store. Fortunately they have Thomas the Train Table and if my boys have stolen your kids’ trains I do apologize.  We’re working on sharing.

Unfortunately, AJ’s gymnastics season is ended, but we have to keep them interested in sports and things that will tire them out, outside of the house.  My kids played the quickest season of Soccer for the first time in May, I think it was 6 weeks total.  They were on the same team of 2-4 year olds and loved it.  It was difficult with Andy as he mostly just enjoyed the ball passing between his legs and seized every opportunity to sit on it.  AJ did well but was preoccupied with the bugs on the ground, but played a great goalie.  We can proudly say that he is undefeated and no one scored a goal on his watch yet. AJ played T-ball for the first time with a ridiculously enthusiastic team.  One monstrous 5-year-old was nicknamed Prime-time.  I thought my wife was kidding the first time she told me his name.  While AJ still liked the bugs in the outfield, he really enjoys playing anything outdoors. 

For now, I will continue to hunt for new ideas and am always open to suggestions.  We have parks, water parks, zoos, farms and family to visit.  I know how lucky we are to have so many great parks in the area. Even the playgrounds at Sonic are awesome, if only they had better food!  The trick for me will be to get my boys out early enough to beat the heat. 

How do you beat the heat?

What do you do to keep your kids active and unplugged?

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