Nanny Nature

It's harder to be a parent in the summer in Arizona.

For me anyway.

Nanny Nature 1

In the spring, fall, and winter ---> I have "help" with the kids. No, I'm not talking about a nanny, an Au pair, a daycare, or even school. I'm talking about NATURE. She accompanies us all through the day, teaching my kids so many lessons about beauty, growth, sorrow, and kindness.

For nine months of the year, we spend HOURS outside every day. Walking. Hiking. Skipping. Running. Biking. Gathering Flowers. Going on Picnics. Swinging & Sliding at the park.  Dancing in the breeze and Watching the rain.

But then...Summer arrives. Sweltering. Unwelcome. The sidewalks burn our feet. The sun scorches our cheeks and shoulders. The playgrounds are scalding. 100+ degrees means we're stuck inside with our friend A.C. (who is not nearly as entertaining as Nat).

We're not really mall-play-area or going-to-the-movies kind of people. We'd rather not wander the aisles at Target or go to Peter Piper Pizza. It's not really our style.

So we make our own fun at home:

Nanny Nature 2
Nanny Nature 3

BUT we yearn for the billowing trees, the fresh air in our lungs, the cool splash of river water on our cheeks. We keep talking about an escape to Seattle. Perhaps Portland. We watch the airline Twitter streams for discounts.

We are also hopeful that a weekend camping trip is in our future. Good old-fashioned tent camping in a cooler place. Under the stars. With sticky fingers from s'mores, stories around the fire, skipping rocks, singing songs, exploring. Being Together. Our very favorite place to be.

I like Southern Arizona. I really do. But, for the record, summer is hard to bear.

What do you do when you're stuck indoors due to hot, freezing, or stormy weather? Also - do you enjoy camping?

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49 comments on “Nanny Nature”

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  2. Summer and Winter are hard for me because Nanny Nature isn't very nice around here those times of the year! The redeeming feature of summer is that I have a VERY shady back yard and we can usually go out there for at least a little bit even on the hottest days and enjoy ourselves.

    Having 2 kids has made it better - they enjoy playing with each other and keep each other at least somewhat entertained!

  3. We love camping - even if we're newbies at it - I just did a post on camping with our baby! :) When it's too hot/cold/rainy to go out we try some board games, cooking, scrapbooking to keep ourselves amused... okay, and I admit it, we also sometimes pop our own popcorn in a kettle and catch up on any NetFlix videos we happen to have lying around (b/c I don't enjoy going to the movie theatre either, we make our own home theatre with movies we truly can enjoy in the comfort of home!).

  4. Our MN Winter = Your AZ Summer. But I think our winter might be longer than your summer. We also love where we live but look to escape to the south come Jan, Feb and March. The nice thing is that there are other things to do outside when the weather is above 20 degrees. Sledding, building snowmen, making angels. But for the most part, we're indoors. We make lots of forts. Listen to lots of books on tape. I cook A LOT. But mostly we just count the days until the melt will arrive!

  5. I'm the other way around - winter is harder here. When I was a kid, in the freezing cold of Saskatchewan winters, it wasn't so hard. We just bundled up and went out. But here, in Vancouver, it's pouring rain and wet and cold and damp all winter long. Totally depressing. summertime is supposed to be outside! I can't wait until spring arrives, every year. My life gets infinitely easier. I love this entire post.

  6. This summer so far has been the "pits" when it comes to weather!! I am already complaining about the heat...until this weekend that is. We went to Pinetop/Showlow and it was amazing. The pine trees, green grass, lakes, COOL weather was just the ticket to escape the HOT Tucson temperatures. We are hoping to go back up there in a few weeks, until then we will make tents inside, sing karaoke on the Wii and wait for the sun to go down to sit outside!!

  7. We live in Wisconsin and our summers are great - it's our winters that are so tough. Our son was born in November 2008 and it was really hard to be inside 24-7 with an infant. I would have given anything to get outside for us both to have fresh air. I'm not a fan of the public indoor play yards either. Maybe I'm a crazy helicopter parent, but since our son is still under 2, I feel like I can't take my eyes off of him. Plus the one and only time we took him to the children's museum, he tripped and cut his upper lip and had to get stitches. The past winters have been tough inside because he doesn't have the attention span to do any projects like baking or crafts. We did have fun at the library, plus we also bundled up and went to the zoo. There are enough buildings to warm up!

    I enjoyed camping except for the sleeping and going to the bathroom parts. I loved being outside during the day and cooking over the campfire and hiking. I didn't sleep very well though!

  8. Oh, Stephanie, I can relate. It's not just hard to be a parent in the summer; it's hard to stay active in the summer in general. I made it a goal to get in shape this summer by running, but most of the time I find it too hot to leave the house! Have you tried driving to Mt. Lemmon? I know it's a long drive, but the weather is great there this time of year, and it could be fun to do it a few times this summer.
    Nason and I like to go to the Salt River in Phoenix. We will take a day where we don't work and drive up in the morning and then drive home that afternoon. We are actually doing it this weekend for our anniversary!

  9. In MN, summer is the only time we can finally feel the heat of the sun! I'm usually freezing the rest of the year...

  10. Tell me about it! We live in South Florida and it is hot most of the year. However, this time of the year is unbearable and it will only get worse for us. My little guy still wants to be "owside" all day so we just lather on the sunscreen and bring lots of water. Luckily we live across from a state park so we can come right home for AC breaks. We also have a little "stream" in the field next to our house where the salt water runs out of our filter for our well water. He has so much fun splashing in that and looking for snakes.

    I have such fond memories of camping as a kid with my family. I beg my husband to go all the time, but he hates it. I take that back. He is very outdoorsy and hates camping in campgrounds. He is more than happy to camp in a primitive spot where others aren't around. He has been known to go into the Everglades off trail...yikes!

  11. Oh, I hear you, sister! I always tell out-of-state friends that summer in AZ is like winter in the Northeast, where I grew up. You hunker down, close the windows, turn on the AC, and tough it out. Except, as the previous poster said, I remember winters indoors as *cozy* and I loved winter sports, so I was still outdoors snowshoeing or skiing or ice skating! So the analogy doesn't really hold water, but it makes me feel a little better. AC just isn't "cozy" to me.

    We just got back from a wonderful long week of camping in Southern CO. I highly recommend it! We also go swimming a lot at our local pool. Isa just swam her first lap unassisted!!

  12. Funny, I was out running yesterday thinking that if I lived further south (which I often wish I did) that I would be stuck inside in the summer rather than the winter. That would be odd b/c in the winter, you kind of expect to be stuck indoors, and it's cozy to stay inside with the heat and the wind whirling outside. Maybe it's just whatever you're used to, but I think I'd hate summers that hot. I suppose I should remember that when I'm complaining about the cold next winter. ;-)

  13. during the freezing winters and the scolding summers, we play a LOT of dress up, color and play playdoh, snuggle and watch movies while eating popcorn and hot chocolate, tea parties and lots of games.

    we love camping :) but you already know that.

  14. We have three seasons to really enjoy being outdoors, but it's winter when we find outselves housebound rather than summer. I can take Shane outside...bundled in a half-dozen layers of clothing, and for short periods of time. New England winters with a toddler can be brutal.

    I love those photos of your girls...billowy fairy skirts are just such fun!

  15. Can I say this without getting "booed?"

    I really, really dislike camping.

    The sweat, the dirt, the bugs...

    I wan to take the kids at least once, though. Just so they can say they have been.

    We play in our pool during the summer. Every day. That keeps the kids very busy. :)

  16. Yup, I was just thinking today that the kids needed something to do and the only thing I could think of was the mall play area. However, the germs scared me away!

    We did go camping on Mt. Lemon last weekend and it was WONDERFUL! It was nice and cool. Hope you can get out there and camp soon.

  17. This is so the opposite of how it is here in Portland. We *try* to spend time outside all year round. But it requires not minding getting wet and cold. We look forward to summer all year to finally get to play outside on a regular basis. Now that summer is here we play outside everyday. In the yard, our garden, parks and special trips camping and to the beach.
    You should visit Portland and enjoy our nice "hot" summer weather of 80 degrees.

  18. I am learning this... quickly. It's hot and humid here. I can sit in the shade in the backyard for a little bit, but add a nursing baby to the mix and it gets about 10 degrees hotter.
    I am also wanting ideas of how to entertain a 17 month old while I am nursing so much... That seems to be the question of the hour.
    We hope to take a family camping trip in the fall (with a 4-5 month old... are we crazy?) once the weather is a little cooler. We'll probably head to the Shenandoah Valley. Wanna join?

    1. I just googled "Shenandoah Valley" and now we *really* want to join you (such a beautiful place). Too bad flights are soooo expensive!

  19. We do tons of crafts...homeade playdough, cornstarch & water, making stuff with felt. We also get tons of library book (we take a suitcase with wheels), get outside and get wet, move our hikes to Mt. Lemon, and lots of playdates. Want to plan one?
    I LOVE camping! Every bit of it!

  20. Oh yes... the summer in Arizona, rough. I remember when I was a kid, in Scottsdale walking to the gas station down the street and my flip flops would melt on the side walk!

    I think we are going to try and hit up a lot of what downtown Phoenix has to offer (as far as all the museums), but yes- we enjoy being outside so much more.

  21. craft indoors! LOVE camping...although I'm not in love with the campground at a Patagonia (at least our last experience left a little to be desired with a lot of drunk campers around us), I do love camping there because of the beautiful lake and the access to canoes, etc. Not to mention great ice cream in "town".

  22. I made my preschooler a skirt just like that. I used pink and white. I think my white was a little too soft, next time I will use "more rigid" tulle. And maybe make it all the same color. My three year old prances around in it. My one year old cant stand it though! She pulls it right off :)

  23. We have that problem for much the year, actually. Our cold winter usually goes from November to March and then, if we're lucky, we get a nice Spring from March to May --- then the wicked heat and humidity set in fro May to mid Sept.

    I think what bothers me the most is the humidity. If I lived somewhere dry, the heat wouldn't be such a factor.

    Too bad the perfect weather environment doesn't really exist.


  24. We are in CT and overall our summer is pretty comfortable but we can get hot, sticky days, especially lately. We swim either in our pool or at the beach which is 2 miles away. We make healthy popsicles in our Zoku maker (LOVE IT!!) and play. The girls have water balloon fights and water the garden and themselves.

    1. Jessica, I just googled "Zoku Maker" - and it looks so neat! What flavors have you tried making so far?

      1. We have tried all sorts of juice (apple, grape, orange, and many of the blended juices like V8 splash, and the fruit smoothies. We have also used chocolate soy milk. I am going to start to play around with yogurt and berries soon. I keep it in my freezer all the time. We have made 12 pops before having to re-freeze. I purchased mine at William Sonoma and I think there is a book of recipes you can purchase as well (not specifically for Zoku). Next time I am there I am going to check it out. Before I purchased it I read online reviews which were overwhelmingly positive and I have to agree -- we love it.

  25. Ugh. Here in Georgia we have the same problem. Instead of winter cabin fever, we get it in the summer. It's dangerous to go outside. Just going to and from the car is pain! At the moment my son is too young to want to do anything but put things in his mouth and nap but I'll be checking the comments for ideas for next summer!

  26. Oh man... I love summer. Here in WA, it's the only time we can get out of the house! The rest of the year it's too cold and rainy. But our summers aren't very hot (we've maxed out at 80 degrees so far this "summer")... if they were 100 degrees, I wouldn't go outside either!

  27. Summer in Arizona IS rough! We're working on trying to survive our 7th summer in Phoenix, but its this time of the year every year that we start talking about moving- somewhere, anywhere, where its not 112! I do NOT like camping at all, but my husband loves it, and he secretly likes this time of the year because by this point I'm so tired of the heat I'll agree to go to Christopher Creek to camp just to get out of the valley!

  28. I live in the high desert in Southern California. We have the same heat problem here. This year I signed the kids up for swimming lessons at the public pool. Our pool is a very nice salt water pool. It is every day for two weeks straight, we just finished week one. I signed up for another session in August.

    We are headed to Colorado in Aug for a tent camping trip. The highs should be in the high 70's! We will be so cold!! It is a surprise family event for my grandpa's 80th birthday. He will be in a camper, and some are renting town houses. We will be in a tent though with our 1-year old and 3-year old.

    1. Deborah, please do tell me all about your camping trip after you return in August! I'd love to hear your top tips for tent-camping with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. :)

  29. I love summer but I totally agree that it makes it harder to find enriching things to do with kids. Today, in fact, I took Shyla (13 months) to the mall play area for the first time. Thinking it would be a nice place for her to interact with kids without the 107 degree heat, but I really didn't like it. It was crowded and the mixture of big kids with little kids made me feel uneasy. I followed her around to make sure she was okay and to keep her out of things that didn't belong to us, but there were lots of kids running around loose. I nearly had a panic attack.
    I am looking for suggestions on things we can do inside our house...
    We are not huge campers, but we haven't really given it a chance. Maybe someday.

  30. Just a 14 hour car ride will get you to Santa Cruz...ocean, redwoods, San Francisco just an hour north. Big Sur just an hour and a half south...Santa Cruz...Santa Cruz...

    Can you hear it? Santa Cruz is calling you...

    1. Yes. As a matter of fact, I DO think I hear Santa Cruz calling. I bet the weather is positively perfect there right now (and the entire year...I know, I know). ;)

  31. Love, love, love camping. That said, we don't get to camping too often these days. Been busy being pregnant these past few years I guess. :)
    Our summers in the southern california mountains are interesting. It's hot, most definitely (though cooler than down-the-hill), but since most of the homes in our area are vacation homes, most people don't have air conditioning. It makes for an interesting summer experience. When it's 95 degrees outside, it's 105 degrees inside our home. So, we spend lots of time outdoors looking for shady shady spots. Last summer we visited the library a lot too!

  32. Sounds a lot like MS. The summer heat can be dangerous here. It stays above 90 and often 100. Then the heat index makes it feel about 10 degrees hotter than it really is. And, when you add stifling humidity to that you begin to feel like you're walking through scalding pea soup. Last summer wasn't such a big deal. Levi napped through the hottest parts of the day, so I generally took him out in the morning. Being pregnant, though, means that even the mornings are too hot for me. Luckily, he's discovered playdough. He loves it more than any other art supply or toy he owns, and will spend hours out of the day playing with it. We also spend a lot of time at the science museum during the summer. It's cheap, air conditioned, and Levi is fascinated by it.

  33. You can certainly be thankful that you have 9 months to be outdoors! We have cold winters that seem to last about 8 months out of the year, so we really treasure our summer months when we can be outside a lot. When we're stuck indoors, we do a LOT of reading, also some baking and craft projects.

    We do love to go tent camping. We just spent a couple of nights camping on Lake Michigan, and it was really great. It's just so nice to get the kids outdoors and really immerse them in nature.

  34. Same here, except that winter is our season to stay inside. When we absolutely have to get out of the house we go hang out in the library. It's usually pretty quiet in the children's section, so my boys can sit and look at books or even move around a little.

  35. I am not a big fan of camping. I try to be. I want to be. But, I'm not. I think I'm just coming to terms with it.
    When it's hot, we do as much as we can in the early mornings or evenings, when it is bearable. Then... it's tough. We do like to swim, and my parent's have a pool, so there's that.
    I also shop more than I should. I admit it.
    This is one of your posts where I'l be checking back to see what other commenters say!

  36. Jeremiah left for camping with grandma and family a couple of hours ago. I have to work this weekend so have to stay home. Kip and Audrey decided to stay with me since I wasn't able to go. We shopped for a new sleeping bag and water shoes this morning. He was SO excited.

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