Ways to Beat the Heat with Shorties: 3 Ideas

Hubs and I have lived in Green Country our whole lives...in fact, our families have on both sides, going back for generations.  Both families are Native American...specifically, Cherokee.  You would think from all the years here, we'd be used the the extreme temperature seasons that come with living smack dab in the middle of the country, but when the heat hits the asphyxiating, dry, nostril-burning 90s each summer, I am somehow always both astonished and indignant.  Summer is my favorite time of year, but Oklahoma summer can turn bayou so quickly, and the whole thing just makes me tired.

I see the mommies riding their littles around in toddler rickshaws and other such apparatus, but I can't do it.  Each day, I sigh as I pass my dusty bike.  Even at 7 or 8 in the evening, when my workday has been over recently, it's still ungodly, stiflingly hot.  And I have a pretty sweet rig:

I know, right?  I even have one of those 1970s seats that mounts right on the back of the bike, since that trailer is a LOT to pull (unless you are headed to the grocery store...then it's perfecto).

Anyway, the point is, I work many long hours and after closing my text books and heading home, I am just not up to par with the badass mommy bikers.

Even the park is miserable most days.  Coming up with fun things to do out of the heat has been a challenge, and today I am sharing three of our favorite ways to entertain ourselves for those of you who might also be dodging between cabin fever and summer hell.

1. Start a rock band (dance-a-thon optional).

 We're lucky to have lots of instruments here (hand drums, trap sets, violin, piano, didjeridoo, other various percussion, guitars, bass, etc.) but you don't need them.  Little kids are naturally into percussion, so now is the perfect time to take advantage of it (and focus their energy on something they can really bang away at, free of penalty).  We use everything we can think of...make shakers out of rice and cans, use pots and pans, etc.  The whole family can get down....it's a noisy blast.

If you aren't sure where to start, check out Wild Music's Sound Activities section, which has several suggestions and instructions.

2.  Bubbly pool.

All the neighbor kids dig this, too.  We fill up the regular old kiddie pool with tons of bubbles using a little bubble bath or a mild, all-natural dish soap (just a little).  The trick is to put the bubble making solution in very early and direct the hose so it hits the bubbles as they are made.  They multiply like crazy...it's a blast.

3. Urban glamping.

Basically, set up a tent in your house and glamp that baby out...cover the floors with blankets to make them nice and posh, bring in some furniture and a nice dinner and whatever else you can think of to cozy it up.  Arthur liked it so much that he now has a smaller tent living in his bedroom.  Naptime is a cinch these days!

So what are you all doing to keep cool these days?  Please comment!


The Juice-thief

Sticky rice-encrusted ringlets and a rainbow of crepe paper
knotted and twisted around little pink berry toes
hardly define the small man
(who is spring, summer, winter and fall within the course of an hour but mostly spring)
as hot, giant, indignant, hyperbolic tears declare his most recent betrayal,
contradicting the small, desperate arms clinging to the Juice-thief's thick shoulders
(attached to thick forearms
attached to thick hands
attached to thick Juice-thieving fingers)--
the Juice-thief whose thick Juice-thieving fingers had suddenly, unapologetically stolen what had been very clearly HIS--
he'd clung to it, needed it--not because he was thirsty but because it was HIS--his very own juice--

He'd protested in painful, desperate, frequently protolinguistic pleas
until at last his voice (misunderstood and hoarse and mournful)
had surrendered, put hors de combat, along with the rest of the company, head and heart and limbs,
wrapping his small ape body (and his crepe paper rainbow knotted spirit and little pink berry toes)
around the Juice-thief,
his finally silent sobs muffled in the thick neck of gentle musk and discount soap and salty sweat
and at last his sticky rice honey ringlets and the copper penny juice-thief tangles were an indistinguishable mess.


Awesome Books for Smunchkeroonies Day

So I guess it's about time for a book post (inspired by Lauren, of course, my book diva homegirl)! 

"Encyclopedic" Disney Books

Copyright 1972

Each page is covered with montaged images of often awkwardly hand-drawn Disney characters (favorites and Disney-esque animals) engaged in various activities and each is accompanied by a word or words.  This would be an excellent book for spelling practice with bigger kids, but right now we use it for speech, vocabulary, number, shape and  color practice.

The pages are fun and quirky...some of the pre-computer Disney images in this book border on creepy at times.  Stars include the White Rabbit (who is apparently married with children), Merlin, Toad, and even the creepy cow chick version of Goofy.

  (Her name is Clarabelle)


This is an amazing set of books I have loved since I was little.  Now we're working on building a collection, but we're only up to two, which does not quite constitute a collection, I don't think.  These are currently in Arthur's library: 

(both copyright 1973) 

 These books are straight up RAD.  They are loaded with fabulous retro-beautiful pics of banyan trees, close-ups of gears, produce bins, the cosmos, all kinds of amazing images, all interspersed with Dis characters; for example, there's a very Cleopatra-d out Daisy Duck.  Pretty sweet.  We use the books mainly to discuss images at this point, but I consider it all part of the Bot's science curriculum and hopefully someday his homework will be to read a chapter or two a day.  In the meantime, I am hoping to pick up a scanner and will scan some of these beautiful pics for you all to enjoy (until Mickey's minions come and shut me down, at least!)

 Books about Global Community

This is My House - Arthur Dorros, 1992  

 First of all, dude's name is Arthur.  A solid start.  Of course, I am biased, as two of my best people are Arthurs (The J is an Arthur as well).  Each page shows a home from a various culture or geographic location, featuring homes from Thailand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Egypt, New Guinea, and many, many more.  My favorite thing about this book is that on each page, above the writing about the type of home, the phrase "This is my house" is translated in the language of its dwellers.  Arthur giggles as we stumble over the pronunciations, which I quite suck at.   

I also love that the book discusses different types of homes in the US, beginning with a family reroofing an old home built by a grandfather, including high rise apartments, city homes, country homes, and even a family living in a car (which choked me up the first couple of times I read it: "We will move into a home when we can."). Beautiful illustrations.

Home or supplemental educators: f you want to do a little extra with this book, check out the classroom activities site on the author's page

 More breathtaking illustrations.  This is a book for our little crystal children, a book about universal love and compassion,   The author, Mem Fox, has a terrific page with a recommendation list of excellent children's books to own and a guide to reading aloud to kids.

Whoever You Are

© Mem Fox, illustrated by Leslie Staub,
published by Harcourt, San Diego, USA, 1996;
and HodderHeadline, Sydney, Australia, 1996.

Little one,
whoever you are,
wherever you are,
there are little ones
just like you,
all over the world.
Their skin may be
different from yours,
and their homes may be
different from yours.
Their schools may be
different from yours,
and their lands may be
different from yours.
Their lives may be
different from yours,
and their words may be
very different from yours.
But inside,
their hearts just like yours,
whoever they are,
wherever they are
all over the world.
Their smiles are like yours,
and they laugh like you too.
Their hurts are like yours,
and they cry like you too.
whoever they are,
wherever they are,
all over the world.
Little one,
when you are older
and when you are grown,
you may be different,
and they may be different,
wherever you are,
wherever they are,
in this big wide world.
But remember this:
Joys are the same,
and love is the same.
Pain is the same,
and blood is the same.
Smiles are the same,
and hearts are just the same -
wherever they are,
wherever you are,
wherever we are,
all over the world.

My World 

This book is a little trip around the world, chock full of bright photos of people, children, places, creatures, et cetera, and each page includes a clever map of the location it discusses (for example, Africa is dotted with pyramids, lions, even an offshore oil rig).  Arthur loves this book, and I love that it's an intro to geography, which is kind of Daddo's specialty.

 Poetry Books
  Poetry books are great for little people because you can read them in short sections, they teach children literary devices and they sound fun. Here are some we're into these days:


This is a very long story, more appropriate for older children, but it's a tale of a lonely boy who befriends a prairie dog and is filled with lovely images and is in poetic form, mostly couplets.  Arthur enjoys listening to the meter and rhyme, and I love reading it.

(originally written in 1939)  

It's no secret that I do not care much for T.S. Eliot's work, but I feel about this book the way I do about Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox: I think his work generally feels a little pretentious and forced, but adding whimsy of a child's tale is like taking the bite out of espresso with a little sugar.  This book doesn't have many illustrations, but A enjoys the rhymes and we have fun tripping over the crazy words .   

Read it online here

And I can't forget this book:

 Falling Up 

Trippy, silly, whimsical, short poems, long poems, what more can I say? 

More books later. Cheers, friends. 


More Yummy Photos

I have a few more pretty pics from the OWL project.  Feel free to use them if you would like...just please say that I took them somewhere or something.  I won't sue you or anything...it's just bad karma.


Birds by the sea, Gulf of Mexico.

Little boy learning what not to put in his mouth.

My first meeting with a chipmunk, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, on our honeymoon in 2001.  He was very, very small.

Germany, 2006.

Two of the best people I'll ever know, Miles Davis and Maynard James Keenan, the canine versions.  Miles was eight years old when we lost him suddenly to cancer.  I used to lean against his 120-pound body like a pillow and paint his toenails purple.  He was the best dog ever (sorry Maynard!).

We believe Miles was mastiff-rott and Maynard is Corgi-beagle.  Any thoughts?

Flamingos, the old Discovery Island at Disney World, circa 1994.  Follow this link to find out more about this amazing place.  It was one of my favorites!

Gargoyle, castle in Bamberg.

Fire garden, Bonnaroo.

Owen Park, the goose king.

Lions, Tulsa Zoo.

Marina, Corpus Christi.

Church, Corpus Christi.

One of Tulsa's many penguins.

Rooftops, from Nurnberg Castle.

Beach, Corpus Christi.

My kitchen (needs a makeover).  Guess what I love?