It’s summer here in central Texas…and it’s HOT! But, with four mobile kids, being stuck inside all day, despite the heat, just isn’t an option. So, today, I thought I’d write about some of my kids’ favorite outdoor summer activities. Some are childhood classics, some are definitely ‘farm kid’ pastimes, and others will just downright make you cringe! Keep reading, if you dare!
1. Playing in the Pool
What kid can resist playing in the pool? We make occasional trips to the “big pool”…you know, the kind where the water is higher than your ankles. But here at home, we don’t have anything fancy like that. We buy a wading pool at the beginning of each summer. We still haven’t found a way to keep them usable from summer to summer, so we have to get a new one every year.
I spend many an afternoon watching the kids splashing around. Their splashes keep me just cool enough to stand being outside! They play all sorts of imaginary games. Dolphins, whales, “fast fish” (whatever those are), crocodiles, sea turtles, and even the occasional mermaid…my front yard is full of aquatic wildlife when the pool is out. My husband and I are constantly amazed by the amount of communication skills that go into a single game of make-believe!
Plus, we (and by we, I mean my husband) can give the garden a good watering when it’s time to empty the pool. Nearly everything – even playtime – has to pull double duty around here!
2. Rope Swing
Sometimes, though, playtime is actually an object’s second duty. Several months ago, my husband slaughtered a pair of hogs. I know many who read this may find that horrifying, but that’s just how life out here works. Meat doesn’t come from your grocer’s freezer…not originally, anyway. But, I digress…
My husband put a rope up in one of the trees to aid in processing the hogs after they were slaughtered. The next day, our kids came out and found the rope still hanging from the tree branch. They didn’t see a hog rope, they saw a fun time! My kids are weird, remember? They stand on the side of my old truck, hold onto the rope and jump off, swinging across the yard.
Occasionally, only under proper supervision (they know they’re not allowed unless one of their parents is right next to them), they get to “foot swing”. They put a foot into the loop in the rope and (usually) their Daddy swings them up, high and fast. Their ol’ Momma has even tried it a time or two. It feels like flying…at least until you can’t hold on any longer!
3. Giant Building Logs
The. Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever!
These logs were a collaboration between my dad and my husband. My husband came up with the idea, and my dad brought them to life. These are landscaping timbers cut into varying lengths. Then, Dad drilled holes at even increments along the flat sides of the timbers. Pipes can then be inserted by the builder through all the layers to make sturdy structures…much like Lincoln logs, but on a much bigger scale.
These logs have built castles, houses, boats, backyard fences, corrals…you name it! If Bear is missing, you can almost bet that she’ll be outside building something. The rest of the kids really get into it as well, giving her ideas of new structures to build.
What list of outdoor activities would be complete without bubbles? I usually make our own bubbles at home with a little Dawn, water and sugar…otherwise, we’d go broke buying bubbles all the time! The kids really enjoy blowing bubbles. They especially like to chase each other’s bubbles across the yard in hopes of popping them before they fall in the grass or float over the pond. Occasionally, a bubble will float past a dog who will try to catch it. Sadly, the dogs never have anything to show in victory, other than a bad taste in their mouth!
I know what you’re thinking when you read that title. But, you’re probably wrong. Our Border Collie, Patch likes playing with the kids. She also likes playing catch. A lot. She’s usually the dog that ends up catching bubbles. But, Patch will try to catch pretty much anything thrown in the air…tennis balls, sticks, dirt, fertilizer (much to my husband’s consternation), and of course, balls of mud.
One of the kids’ favorite variations on this game is throwing small twigs or pebbles into the pond. Patch will then take a flying leap into the water (what’s not funny about that?) to try to retrieve whatever was thrown in. If was a stick, she’s usually successful. However, if it was a pebble. she’ll swim around desperately trying to find it. Of course, the children think this is quite hilarious. I wind up with four sets of muddy feet and a dog covered in pond scum. What joy is mine!
6. Pond Hunts
Our pond starts to dry up in the late spring. If we’re lucky, we get enough rain during the early summer that our pond doesn’t completely dry out (our first year living here was 2011, and by the end of the summer the pond was bone dry, not even a muddy spot left!). But, either way, it gets much smaller. Our children often form a little roaming band and tramp around the pond bed finding interesting critters, or playing some imaginary game. The game often degenerates into playing mud-ball catch with Patch.
Bear will often bring her nature journal and nature identification guide with her. She takes great pleasure in finding, drawing, and identifying little creatures and plants that have made their home in the dried-up pond goo! I’m glad they have fun, and I suppose it’s even a little educational. But, again, it tends to end in mud-covered shoes, clothes, and dogs!
7. Mud Fight!
Ah, I’ve saved the best for last! I know this one is likely to make many of you shudder. But, this is, hands-down, my kids’ favorite game! They run outside as soon as it stops raining (usually before if there’s no lightening) so they can get to the puddles before they dry up. As you can tell from the pictures, they get gross! But, it’s nothing a water hose can’t fix. I suppose all that fun is ultimately worth the mess! If you would like some tips on how to deal with kids and mud without losing your sanity, check out this post.
And, because you really can’t get a real feel for this last one from just a picture, here’s a little video clip:
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