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Simple Summer Fun

When I think of summer, my brain immediately goes into planning mode! What upcoming events are going to occur?! What long weekend excursions can we attend?! Pool and beach time…….sign us up! Then my practical brain takes over, and I think…..COST, and it puts a slight damper on my summer planning high. I then find myself averting my gaze to social media, and the anxiety intensifies. Seeing other people's vacations, never-ending pictures of tropical drinks and substantial meals, smiles, sun-kissed skin, and the list goes on. Please do not get me wrong; it brings such delight to see all the memories being made by friends, family, and acquaintances. It is times like this where the guilt of my diagnosis takes over. The financial burden my never-ending treatment causes our family, in addition to the various physical activities that I can no longer complete because my body will just not allow it.

I think this is a completely natural way to feel, at least I hope it is! Going down that rabbit hole is just a part of the parenting experience, whether you have a diagnosis or not. However, getting your arse out of that damn hole just as quickly as it went down is a MUST. Bottom line, give yourself that reflection period (an hour or so). It is important for healing and perspective. Then turn that frown upside down and get your summer planning on!

There are so many different resources out there that are cost-effective, short in travel, and fun summer experiences to boot! Since my Type-A brain thinks best in bullet point formation, here are just a few of our family favorites:

Geocaching: This by far is a family must-do, that is fun, a great way to get those kiddos/yourself out in the fresh air, and there are some fantastic FREE versions right in your phone's app store. Through the app, it makes you feel like you are on an actual treasure hunt. Clues are given to the hidden "treasure" (caches) location, and the app serves as a GPS, giving you hints and taking you to the exact location of your desired secret object.

Go Camping in Your Back Yard: Another favorite family activity! I, for one, am NOT a camper by nature, no pun intended, but I can be if I become too uncomfortable and can easily mosey back on up to my bedroom. In my opinion, not wanting to sleep directly on the ground, having the ability to wash my face and armpits, and using a flushable toilet do not classify as being high maintenance. To me, it just sounds practical! We make a fire, roast marshmallows, make Hobie pies, tell "spooky stories," and take a tech break! The kiddos absolutely love this, and it helps to break up the monotony, all the while creating those last memories.

Local Parks & Recs: Every year, we purchase an annual parks and recs pass, which opens so many endless opportunities and summer experiences at our disposal. For around $40, we have access to beaches, playgrounds, ropes courses, biking/ walking trails, concerts, picnic excursions, and weekly

summer events we can partake in. We definitely get our money's worth with this little gem, and it is highly recommended to check out your own local parks and recs for similar opportunities.

My list could truly go on and on, but these three items are highly rated on our family's list. Summer does not have to be filled with expensive trips and lavish experiences. This season can be experienced in a simplistic manner, where the same, if not more intimate, memories can be made. Living with this diagnosis has taught me to appreciate the little things while doing the best in my ability to live each day to the fullest. Smiling instead of frowning, laughing instead of crying, and being present in the moment.

Happy Summer, beautiful people! I am excited for each of you to get your fun and memory-making Summers on!

~ Amanda ~

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