Thursday, June 21, 2007

Got Chlorine?

Got Chlorine? That's the slogan on my kids' swim team shirts for the summer. Like milk, food, water and other life-sustaining substances, in the summer, being in the pool is a necessity for outdoor lovers. That's the message I get from those two words together.

There's a Catch-22 about being in the sun. On the one hand, it causes wrinkles and skin cancer. On the other, it provides much-needed vitamin D and happy endorphins that flow through our bodies, helping us to feel good, vibrant and alive. That's why people love summer. They feel better about themselves because of those good-feeling endorphins lining their cells or bloodstream or whatever else they line. Maybe they're not even called endorphins, but it's something like that.

I must admit, I feel great in the summer. I love to lay by the pool and soak in the rays. I love the dry, raw smell of pool water on hot cement. I love to feel bronze and pulsing, which is the affect the sun has on me. I do not love the wrinkles from years of sun exposure. But I don't know whether I can give up those positive feelings found only when the sun's out to keep my skin from "premature aging." We won't talk about skin cancer, something that runs in my husband's family.

There's no doubt I manage the sun way better than when I was a teenager. I used to lay out in the back yard slathered with baby oil to fry myself like a lobster. Even harder to believe is my friend Gina from Preston, Idaho, who told me recently that she used Crisco, not baby oil! AUGH!

Of course we had a squirt bottle mixed with lemon juice and water so we could spritz our hair to make it blonder. The summer before ninth grade I got a hold of a bottle of Sun-In which was disastrous beyond disastrous. I ruined the family picture that year because of my brassy, fake yellow hair with black roots.

I don't do that anymore. I pay a lot to look professionally sun-kissed. And I wouldn't think of putting baby oil on. I do use sunscreen. But I still love to lay by the pool. Part of has to do with my maternal grandparents who had a pool in their back yard while I was growing up. My Grandma Doris and Grandpa Ray were so nice to let me and my friends and my siblings and their friends come swimming whenever we wanted.

After we'd tell Doris we were coming, she'd get in her champagne-colored Cadillac and go buy all manner of junk food for us at K-Mart. She'd arrive back home the same time as us with powdered donuts, chips, and cookies. Oh yes, and Tab. Remember Tab? In the pink can?

Afrer swimming for a bit, we'd get hungry and wander into the house to root around for junk food. Grandma Doris would be reading the National Enquirer and smoking a cigarette. She'd look up from her magazine and say, "Can I get you a Tab honey?"

I'd say sure and we'd sit at the formica table with the terry cloth tablecloth and talk with our Tabs. By the way, I tried Tab recently when I bought it when I was feeling nostalgic for Grandma Doris. It is absolutely vile. How did I consume numerous cans all those afternoons?

"Do you still like that boy?" she'd ask. "Honey, are you having a good summer?" a little later. "Tell me about your vacation." She'd listen while I'd tell her all that was going on, cocking her head slightly with interest.

Every Fourth of July my Grandpa Ray would light sparklers and run around the pool singing crazy songs while we oohed and aahed over the fireworks. That was summer.

Chlorine was just part of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If Every Month Could be June

I think June is the greatest month of the year. The days will never be longer or lighter, until next June, of course. There is life and color all around us, and it hasn't started wilting and dying from extreme heat yet. There are still many outings to have and fun things in store, and I haven't heard "I'm bored" once (no doubt it'll come soon). Life hasn't reached the fevered pitch of July, or the withering drone of August. I like June.

In Natalie Babbitt's novel, Tuck Everlasting, she describes how August feels.

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel; when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightening, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after."

It's a shame all the freshness of June has to end up crushed in August's sticky grasp. I don't think there's anyway to prevent it from happening. It's part of nature's cycle. But this is what I'm going to do to make the most of the last few weeks of June:

1. Breathe in the air in the evenings. It's the fresh and warm and perfect.

2. Go to the local pool as much as possible.

3. Make a better effort to keep my flowers alive.

4. Remember to eat produce out of the garden.

5. Play more with the children.

6. Get through the stack of books I've been meaning to read.

June, July and August will come and go, and like the Ferris wheel, we'll rotate through the seasons and cycles of life, back to when it's a nearly perfect June again.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Seven Saves

I was at the local pool last Monday with my kids and a friend of mind and her kids. It was officially the first non-school day of summer, and it was hot and dry, a perfect day to go swimming. I was sitting with my daughter, Adrienne, and my friend Gina in the kiddie pool. I was NOT wearing my chartreuse swimming suit, thank you very much! We were watching the kids play and having a wonderful time in the sun. It was idyllic, one of those days you wonder how you'll ever do without when it's over.

Our conversation was interrupted several times by the shrill scream of a whistle and then Adrienne's play-by-play of what was going on. She's a lifeguard, and although she wasn't working at the time, she was sharply attuned to what was going on with the other life guards--not just the hot ones. "There goes a save," she told us. "Look at how little that kid is that she's dragging out of the water. Did you see how fast she dove in to save?"

Of course we hadn't noticed how fast. We were still in mid-conversation when the whistle blew. And we weren't trained to know if it was a "save" whistle blow or if it was just the kind of whistle that earns a, "Hey, don't run on deck!" scolding from the lifeguard.

While we were lazing around in the water, there were two more saves, all children under the age of 2. "Again?" we said, aghast that so many parents we leaving their children to be "saved" by the lifeguard. "Where are these children's parents?" we demanded of each other.

While we sat sun bathing, talking and hoping for no more saves, the loudspeaker came on, warning us all to clear the pool. We asked Adrienne what was going on. "Poop or blood or throwup in the pool," she answered, like that was the most common of occurences.

"Gross!" I said. "Who has to clean it up?"

"The guard who is closest," she told us.

"Good thing you're not on duty right now, " I said.

After the "matter" was cleared from the pool, we got back in to resume our conversation. Again the loudspeaker came on--CLEAR THE POOL!

"Now what?" we asked Adrienne.

"More poop or blood," she told us.

"Good grief, haven't these parents ever heard of swim diapers?" Gina asked, incredulous.

Apparently not.

That night Adrienne had to work a shift at the pool. She came home at 10 pm with blood all over her guard shirt.

"Is that your blood?" I asked nervously.

"No, it's from an 18-month old who was running and tripped on the cement and cut himself up," she reported. "I picked him up to carry him in so we could page his mom. She was no where to be found for the longest time."

"I can't believe all this happened today, " I said.

"That wasn't the worst of it. During the whole day there were SEVEN saves, two pool evacuations for cleaning, and a break-in in the locker room."

What a way to start the first official day of summer.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Summer Days

The kids are out of school and I don't know whether to breathe a sigh of relief or up my dosage of anti-depressants just to be safe. IF I don't now, I'll probably have no choice by mid-summer for sure.

It's sort of a catch 22. I'm glad I don't have the homework and the pressure of getting kids to school and home every day and everywhere else they need to be. But with that freedom comes a different kind of pressure, the kind that has no ending until school starts again. Unless I go into a coma until August 22, the day they go back, the pressure stays whirring at an all time high like the air conditioning in the back yard.

What kind of pressure am I talking about? Please refere below to the "cons" section of having the kids out of school.

On the one hand I love the lack of deadlines for bedtime and waking up, but with that comes its own set of conundrums. Like everyone thinks they can "party" 24/7 and wear themselves out so they're too tired to do any housework. Hubby dear won't tolerate that, so guess who will take the brunt of it? It won't be the one who goes to his mostly quiet office every day and has no idea what emotional stuff is going down at home I'll tell you that.

SO here are a few reasons why summer's great and summer's not, just like any other season of the year.

Summer's great because:

The kids get tons of exercise
The kids wear themselves out playing
We get to spend so much time together as a family
We get to go on vacations together as a family
We get to go camping as a family
We get to do a lot of the things we say we're too busy to do during the rest of the year
We get to visit with out of town relatives
We get to make homeade ice cream and sit outside in the lovely cool of the eating and eat it. There's nothing like Utah evenings
We get to celebrate three daughter's birthdays--two in July and one in August
We get to eat fresh produce from the garden
We get to go to the cabin in Montanta, something I've been doing since I was a baby.

On the flip side:

More people in the house for longer periods of time equals a messier house
More people home all day long eating equals a massive grocery bill
More people consuming more food equals numerous trips to the grocery store
The lawn gets littered with Otter Pop wrappers
There's the expectation that with more time comes the opportunity for more deep cleaning, but that's a lie.
It's never quiet in the house until about 3 am, way too late to enjoy it.
If I forget to use the garden produce I'm in trouble
We get to go on a 1,000 mile trip to the northwest and back and pay $3.20 a gallon for gas
Instead of running kids around after school, I get to run them around all day long. Fun!
We get to go broke celebrating three daughters' birthdays.
We have to go driving with Adrienne so she can get her driving hours in.
I sometimes have a hard time remembering to water the potted plants.
Little people are knocking on the door all day long asking to play. They think I'm a wicked witch.
The kids fight more when they're together more. I fight more with the kids when we're together more.
Children tend to change clothes multiple times during the day
I have to wash a load of beach towells every other day

As I read 1,945 times in my daughters' yearbooks H.A.G.S.--Have a Great Summer! I'm certainly going to try to see the positive in this warm and wonderful time of year.