Summer Memories…

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Do you remember what summer looked like when you were a kid? I feel like all of my best memories involve the summers of my youth. Most of those memories were at the pool. We’d get dropped off for swim team practice around 8:30 and most days we’d be there until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, at which time we were expected to be sitting at the top of the concrete stairs, waiting for mom’s oversized wagon to round the corner and pick us up. Which actually was better than the days she stayed at the pool with us because at least that meant the leather didn’t burn our swim suit clad body. Can any southerners relate? How we survived summers with the hot leather (pleather?) of that green oldsmobile wagon I’ll never know.

Most Tuesdays were rest days – getting ready for swim meet nights either at our club or another in town. At least half of the time, there was a summer storm delay, allowing for extra time in the cold clubhouse eating powdered jello and playing cards (usually more war!) I was a decent swimmer at a pool with some really excellent swimmer girls in my grade so I never knew if I’d make the relay team or not. Usually, I found myself on the “B” relay, but even that was pretty exciting. Can anyone relate?!?!

Other top memories include catching lightning bugs on super hot muggy nights while visiting my grandmother. And of course, her homemade peach ice cream from the hand cranked ice cream machine. Do they even make those anymore? It was the most delicious ice cream you can imagine.

Non-pool days included finding neighbor friends to play in the sprinklers or create imaginative games that kept us roaming the woods and various backyards until we were called home for dinner. Rolling over old railroad ties to find as many roly polys as possible was another summer time favorite. And other than the occasional church camp or Vacation Bible School, there were no day camps – we had to make our own fun.

These days, many of my children’s friends are signed up for camps from summer’s start to finish. With every kind of camp you can imagine – from computer programming to stand up paddle boarding. Art camp, cooking camp, theater camp, writing camp, sports camp, sailing camp, if you can think it up, someone has probably planned a camp for it. And they are willing to charge a pretty penny!

I really miss those simple summer days. Where I literally counted down the days until that blissful moment the bell rang on the last day of school. We were free!!!! And honestly, the last thing I ever wanted as a kid was a schedule – even if it was in camp form.

I am more than a little sad that my kids don’t get to experience the fun of a good old southern summer. But I’m going to try my hardest to give them a simple summer this year – trips to the beach and the pool, plenty of ice cream and lots of opportunities to be bored, create their own fun. I just hope I survive it!

Dance Mom!?!

Utter the term Dance Mom, and most people roll their eyes, thinking of the catty women made famous (or perhaps infamous) in reality shows on cable networks. The picture is not pretty. But the truth is, being a mom of dancers is such a joy! Having grown up in the world of dance, I love that I have three girls who have happily embraced it and I’m so thankful that I get to experience it once more as a mom.

Last weekend was a fun one for our family, albeit all-consuming. My twins had three numbers this year and my oldest was in all three recital shows. We were definitely all in this year, and this last week in particular! From the four hour rehearsal the day before, to the back stage quick change the day of (the twins had three numbers with a tights change and hair style adjustment – – eek!) it was a very big weekend.

I watched two of my girls’ numbers from the wings on Saturday because there was no time to make it to the audience. I have to say, I love the view from backstage. It was so sweet to watch all of the girls excitedly wait their turn and seeing the pride their teachers had watching a well done dance. It reminded me of that exhilarating feeling that comes right before a performance. You’ve worked hard for so many months for just a brief moment. And while there’s a bit of fear it’s mostly excitement about putting it all out there for your friends and family to see what you have worked so hard for.

That’s what I love about dance. While the moment on stage is a beautiful thing, there’s so much more than just that three minute dance. Countless hours in the studio, working on technique, poise, confidence. Also, making friends, learning to work together as a group and individually to pull off a dance. I feel like my happiest childhood memories were in the dance studio and I hope the same will be true for my girls.

So go ahead and call me a dance mom – in our family it’s definitely not a bad thing. I’m pretty happy to be one to my tiny dancers!

 

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Frosé

Last summer, NYC was all abuzz over a pink drink. Frosé (Frozen Rosé) popped up in bars all over the city and people fell in love. I mean, what’s not to love about a grown up’s version of a slushy, right?

Now the rest of the country is catching on to the frosé buzz and I have recipe to share with you today! We don’t get too many crazy hot summer days here in New England but I’m keeping this recipe on hand for when we do. It would be PERFECT for those hot Alabama nights I know so many of you will be having for the next few months!

Frosé (Frozen Rosé)

Ingredients

  • One bottle rosé. (Choose a full-bodied and dark colored rosé as it will lose some of its color in the freezing process.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 2 T sugar (or more to taste)
  • 3 oz vermouth (optional – could also use rosato vermouth – the pink kind!)
  • 1 oz water

Directions

Place strawberries, sugar, vermouth, and water into blender and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into a 9×13-inch baking pan; stir in the wine. You could also do this is in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze, stirring once about halfway through, until mixture is slushy, about 6 hours. Remove from freezer and stir to breakup the larger frozen clumps.

*Do Ahead: Frosé can be frozen 1 week ahead.

 

The Skinny on Sunscreen

Is anyone else confused by the mixed messages when it comes to sunscreen? What’s safe, what’s not safe, whether sunscreen itself can cause cancer? I know for me personally, I though that avoiding oxybenzones was important (especially for me and my 3 girls) because I read that it could be a hormone disrupter.

So when a dermatologist friend on Facebook shared this article about the skinny on sunscreen, I was eager to read. And you should click that link and read it too! It was so helpful to get some scientific perspective on the issues. And it set my mind at ease about buying some less expensive SPF lotions that I have avoided in recent years.

Of course as a mom, I don’t want to cheap out on skincare, especially for my children! Only the best, safest for their precious skin. Can you say, mom guilt??? But the truth is, sunscreen is expensive when you are applying it daily to four kids and yourself all summer long. Even more so when you pay for organic, “natural” or oxybenzone free versions. For years I’ve bought and used Vanicream sunscreen for me and my family. I feel totally comfortable with its ingredient list and protection but it is a bit pricier than say, Coppertone. I’d love to have some other SPF options that are a little more budget friendly and after reading what she shared, I feel like we are all going to be ok if I need to grab Neutrogena the next time we are headed to the beach.

One more tip from my derm friend.  Heliocare capsules. Heliocare is a drug-free supplement (taken by mouth) that assists sunscreen in protecting you from sun. It should be used WITH sunscreen, not on its own. For a fair-skinned blonde like me, I think this could be a helpful addition to my skincare protection. I only wish I had known about it sooner!

Black Bean Corn Salsa

Have you ever heard about the divisiveness of cilantro? Apparently, there are people who legitimately think it tastes like dish soap! It’s actually a real thing for about 10% of the population. Thankfully, no one in my family has this gene, so we have always loved using cilantro in recipes. Today I’m sharing one of our all time favorites. If you are doing any entertaining for Memorial Day, can I recommend adding it to your menu? It’s a crowd pleasing appetizer (provided cilantro isn’t a problem for you!) that is easy and delicious. My mom always made this for any big BBQ, tailgating or casual gathering and we drained the bowl every time.

Ingredients:

1 can white shoe peg corn (regular yellow corn also fine)

1 can black beans

1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles

1 small onion, chopped

2 chopped and seeded jalapeños (or leave the seeds in for a real kick!)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 T oil

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Drain corn, black beans and green chiles. Mix drained ingredients with chopped ingredients. Pour oil and vinegar over and marinate overnight. Serve with chips or crackers – I like it best with tortilla chips.

This appetizer comes together so easily and is both and wonderfully tasting and a colorful dish. I love getting the multi-colored tortilla chips for dipping. Let me know if you give it a try!