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Since yesterday marked the unofficial start of the season, I decided I needed to start making some plans for how the family and I will be spending our now suddenly empty days.  You see, we finished up most of our schoolwork last week and now the vast expanse of summer stretches out before us.  If we had a house and, more importantly, a yard, this wouldn’t be a problem.  The way I grew up, summers were spent running around outside, going back and forth between my yard and my best friend’s next door.  We were out the door from breakfast til bedtime and that’s really how I think kids should grow up.  Unfortunately for us, that’s not an option.  So, here’s what I’ve come up with so far to fill up our days.

1) School work.  I know, I know.  We are finished, almost everything, but we still have some handwriting and spelling left and as they take about 20 minutes a day, we’ll be finishing them up right after breakfast until they’re completed.  Also, the boys have requested we start actually studying science, so I bought a book (Easy As 1, 2, 3 from Catholic Heritage Curricula) that I can use in conjunction with the library for all three of them.  As a lot of science in the early years focuses around plants and animals, summer really is best for studying it anyway.

2) Walks.  We love walking.  We walk all over our neighborhood, from one sister’s house to the next.  However, we have an enormous park four blocks away from us, with great paths and tons of wildlife and foliage, that we rarely take advantage of.  This summer, we’ll be exploring “our own back yard”, bringing our cameras and notebooks.
3) The Library.  We did this last year too.  I can’t say enough good things about our local branch, the North End branch, of the Newark Public Library system.  The librarians and staff are amazing and helpful and they love having the children visit.  There are crafts and game days, and the boys love spending a good hour at the table playing a game of checkers.  Going there at least once or twice a week will also help with our schoolwork.  And, let’s not forget the summer reading challenge, which the Scientist is finally old enough for.

4) Tennis.  Haven’t decided on this one yet, but it’s a thought.  The Scientist loved the two summers he took lessons, and the Ninja Monkey has been begging to take lessons ever since his big brother started.  It may be just the thing we need to break up the long July days.

5) Movies.  If we don’t do tennis, there’s always going to the movies.  Did you know that Clearview Cinemas runs a free movie club for kids throughout most of July and August?  It’s great.  Sure, the movies are a couple of years old, but as we don’t spend money on going to the movies (hello? Tickets alone for five kids and two grown ups cost almost $70) they’re mostly new to the kids, and it’s fun seeing them on the big screen.

6) The Beach.  We live in New Jersey!  The Jersey shore has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and as Sandy Hook is only about an hour away, door to door, I plan on taking advantage of it this summer.  There’s no nursing babies, no baby food, and basically nothing that would require any extra work for us this summer.  We can pack a cooler of PB&Js, water bottles, and pretzels, and for about a quarter of a tank of gas, round trip, we can go down the shore for the day.

7) Family.  We are lucky enough to live in the same neighborhood as most of my family, and within a couple of hours of most of the rest of them.  There will be many afternoons spent just hanging out, running around in their backyards, eating ice pops, drinking coffee, and watching movies (on rainy days, at least).

So, that’s basically it.  I’m sure we’ll throw some arts and crafts into the mix, and of course, there’ll always be afternoons of bubbles and sidewalk chalk.  If you have any other ideas of what to do without a yard and with five kids all summer long, I’m begging you: let me know!  Also, if you have any good summer dessert recipes, I’ll take them too.