Originally created 06/02/04

Summer survival

The best thing about summer is that things slow down.Take all the school prep out of the mix and pretty much whatever's going on you can handle it. That means that I'm a happy camper.

No more rushing home to make sure dinner is fixed, everyone has bathed, homework done, tests studied for, carpools completed, enough clothes washed so everyone at least has a clean shirt ñ you know the drill.

My daily schedule might not change, but it sure is more pleasant leaving the boys sleeping when the sitter arrives in the morning. Getting home means grabbing something to grill and heading down to the neighborhood pool. And even if one of the boys has a game or practice there's not this mad dash to get it all done so they can get to bed on time.

Yes, the phrase "lazy, hazy days of summer" takes on a new meaning to an overworked mom.

For us summer means the pool. Most days, from the time the neighborhood swim team practice ends until late afternoon, the boys will be at the pool. That means worrying about sunscreen. It's mild to say that Ben is fair-skinned. When they were handing out pigment he spilled most of his and didn't ask for more.

It's tough on a kid who burns this easily. And he's had some bad burns despite how hard we've worked to keep him protected. We've found a really good sunscreen now and at 11 he's figured out how important it is. Or at least he's tired of hearing me nag. Either way, this summer we're off to a good start.

Thank goodness both boys are strong swimmers and they appreciate the hazards of a pool. They'll horse around in the pool, but since there's always a lifeguard wherever they swim that doesn't get out of hand. Water safety may be boring, but it's a life or death matter.

One of the things I worry about most in the summer is keeping the boys busy - idle minds and bodies will seek out trouble. We worry about what TV shows they watch, what's on the computer, are they still reading, are they eating too much junk food, did Ben keep his helmet on when he left the house on his bike, is that kid down the street really the best influence - all the same sort of things all parents worry about.

But we also want to have fun. It's time for vacations, relaxing, playing and enjoying being together.

With all that in mind, we pulled together the fun "Summer Survival Guide". It's filled with lots of useful - and hopefully not redundant - information to help make your family's summer safer, happier and a lot more fun.


Happy Father's Day to all of you great dads out there. It takes a special man to be a good father. I'm grateful for my wonderful dad. And I'm thankful for my father-in-law who raised a son who's become the best father imaginable for my sons.

Jennifer Miller and her husband Ed have two sons, Ben, 11, and Zack, 8. They live in Martinez.

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