Originally published in the May 2015 edition of 605 Magazine
Look! That thing in the sky! Yes, that blinding light gleaming like a burning ball of happiness. No, it isn’t the apocalypse, nor is it a figment of your imagination. It is, boys and girls, indeed the sun. Warmer temperatures are draped upon us and I am reminded every day the sheer wonder of this as my daughter saunters out of bed and upon looking out the window exclaims in bewilderment, “Mommy! It’s sunny day!” It is as though she also appreciates my newfound appreciation for the warm sunshine and shares my habit in quietly singing I can see clearly now the negative windchill is gone …
So, now that the sun is out and school is out, what now? What do we parents do with our little critters in this grand state of ours during this glorious summertime? Admittedly, when I first moved here and I didn’t see a mountain or a beach in sight, I felt dismay and a feeling as if I’ve been tricked. But today, I have seen the light (literally, the sun) and have a ever-growing simple to-do list of things to do this summer with children in tow. Here are my top five:
1. B&G Milkyway
Ok, so I may have mentioned that I’m pregnant so it may not be a coincidence that the first thing on this list involves food. But summer to me has come to mean sunset nights at this darling, local, Sioux Falls legendary ice cream shop with my little family. And what better reason to eat naughty fudge covered ice cream than the sun being out; can I get an amen? And with winter illnesses hopefully behind us for now, I don’t mind letting the littles (and the canine) indulge in a good old-fashioned sugar induced brain freeze. By the way, to all of you I see in the Dairy Queen drive-thru and not in the B&G line, I just want you to know; you’re making a grave error! Get out of there immediately.
2. Lake time
I have discovered that half of this town is gone during the winter (snow birding, you lucky devils) and during the summer the other half is gone lake housing (again, you lucky devils). Last summer, we hopped on the bandwagon and put in some serious lake time at a couple of the surrounding lakes in the area and our minds were blown. We did not know how much we were missing out on. So, this year we hope to bribe more of our friends to take us. Although, we come with a hyper toddler, a giant dog, and this year hopefully with a newborn. Any takers? All jokes aside, getting out to a body of water even if just for the day is like Christmas for kids of all ages and a must-do on our summer fun list.
3. Sioux Falls Parks and Rec Activities
When I first moved here and knew close to no one, I loved pulling out my little Parks and Rec Activities guide and migrating toward activities and events age appropriate for my daughter. Two years later, I still love going to the little play times that they offer at parks across the city as they really do a fabulous job in making summertime fun with the children and it provides a great way to meet new parents! And, secretly, the way I see it, if my daughter acts up and acts like a maniac, oh well! No one knows us! Anonymity can often be golden currency while raising a toddler.
4. Wall Drug
I steer us west for a mere moment because let’s face it, the west side of this state got the lionshare of the beauty in this state and we gotta show the west side some love! Think: Black Hills, Missouri River, Spearfish Canyon, etc. The problem is, although the drive is relatively short from the east side to say the Black Hills, I have found it does not feel short when you have needy, darling children in the backseat requesting something every nanosecond. However, I have found the holy grail of donuts that makes it worth your while and a perfect little stop for the offspring on the way to higher altitude. Wall Drug donuts, people. And I won’t stop there. Wall Drug pancakes. In the summertime, their backyard is open with lots of summertime food and happenings for the kids, so they can play and splash and mine and take pictures with jackalopes. They can even be terrified by a giant robotic T-Rex dinosaur, because who doesn’t like to see a terrified child? (Kidding). But you, faithful parent, get yourself to the donut counter line and get a maple donut. Bring one back for me. I’ll be your pregnant best friend.
5. Naps and Bubbles
Summer is also a time for simplicity in my book. A time to take a break from routines and schedules and let the day unfold lazily with a cool breeze. Thus, I plan to take lots of naps and play in the swirling bubbles with my imaginative daughter. Just merely visiting our backyard is a magical field trip to her and it has truly made me stop and take notice that we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything to find beauty. There are so many tiny, beautiful things to notice and savor. Like the green grass, the blue sky, and the mere certainty that the sun is in fact above us in all of its life-giving glory.
Happy warm temperatures to all of you, may there be adventure and rest (and donuts and ice cream) in the sunny days to come.