KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Days of Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 6

Sometimes the best vacation is a staycation.  –author unknown

I love the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” for many reasons…but especially for the line,”there’s no place like home.”  It’s just so true.  Of course, one never knows just how much they love home until they move away.  At least that’s how it was for me.  That’s why this next song made my summer music playlist.  I can remember coming home to visit my parents and my dad blasting this song on repeat FOR HOURS AND HOURS in the garage.  The funniest thing was that no one complained.  In fact, there were many times that I caught family members singing along!

“Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys came out in the summer of 2004.  I was in my late 20s, married with one child…and I was pretty much anything but hip.  But there’s something about this song that just makes you feel cool–regardless of age.  “Heaven,” written by a trio of brothers from Texas, captures a laid back summer vibe with its infectious chorus.  Peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard Top 100, the tune went on to No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts for 16 weeks.  Interestingly enough, the song also registered on the country music charts, too.  The song eventually led to two Grammy nominations and one win in 2005.  Their biggest hit to date, this song set the tone for so many that summer.

It doesn’t take much for me to remember that afternoon at my parent’s house.  It’s always a party when we visit!  Lots of family, food and laughter.  I can still see my son (a toddler at the time) working his dance moves outside in the garage with my dad.  Whenever I hear “Heaven” it puts a smile on my face and I am grateful for both summer and a place to call home!

Up Next:  SONG 7…”That’s when I had most of my fun….”

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Days of Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 4

If you are lucky enough to be at the beach…you are lucky enough.  –author unknown

Some days are made for the shade and this beach classic definitely fits the bill.  “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters made its debut in 1964.  This tune tells the story of a quiet, secret getaway just for two amid the busyness of the surf and sand.  Personally, I remember hearing the song as a young kid and it was the catchy chorus that had me hooked.  Only later did I really grasp the song’s meaning…and it still makes me blush to this day!

One of the more interesting notes to this little ditty is that this one song has two different lines in it…depending upon the version that you’re listening to.  The mono version of the song says “we’ll be falling in love,” while the stereo version says “we’ll be making love.”  Back in 1964, the mono version served as the radio edit since the “steamier” stereo version was banned from the public airwaves.  Further research puts former Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore as the lead singer.  Moore was asked to do the main vocals after the then current Drifters frontman, Rudy Lewis, died of a suspected drug overdose.  The last-minute move resulted in a No. 4 spot on the Billboard Top 100 and earned the song a place in the Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

While this song has been revised dozens of times, the original Drifters song is the one that sweetly whispers “summertime” into my ear…and I can “almost taste the hot dogs and French fries they sell….”

Up Next:  Song 5…”Karen, I love you…!”


KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Days of Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 2

The ocean is a mighty harmonist.  –William Wordsworth

Listening to “Beyond the Sea” is like starring in your own personal musical.   I imagine sand, surf, sunshine and fun!  I’m the lead (of course,) gracefully dancing alongside a dreamy surfer WHO CAN SING.  There’s an ensemble of dancers and extras moving melodically to the beat.  And in unison, the cast perfectly depicts life on the beach…all while belting out the oh-so-catchy chorus!

Long before I ever visited the ocean this song painted an amazing picture…one that didn’t disappoint.  In real life, the ocean is a force all it’s own and being near it provides some sort of “magical power” (I believe they call it positive ions.)  Whatever it is, it’s calming and peaceful.  It’s mesmerizing and energizing.  It’s blue perfection.

Bobby Darin’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea” made the song famous in 1959 when it reached no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.   However, his version was one of several remakes of Jack Lawrence’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea.” And Lawrence’s adaptation was actually taken from the French song “La Mer” by Charles Trenet.  Trenet’s original melody was an ode to the ocean while Lawrence’s interpretation was rewritten to be that of a love song.  Quite a history for a little ditty that has been featured in countless movies and televisions series since it originated in the 1940s.  All that aside, it’s the perfect addition to my summer music playlist…taking me oceanside…even if it’s only in my imagination!

UP NEXT:  Song 3…drums, please!

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 15

Laughter is an instant vacation.  –Milton Berle

Me in Hawaii…being eaten alive by tropical mosquitoes. Yay!

Have you ever tried vacationing with an introvert?  It’s the absolute worst!  I know because I am THAT introvert.

Basically, I’m a home body.  I’m perfectly content with staying inside ALL DAY.  This becomes problematic when your entire family is made up of extroverts.  They like to do things (like go out of the house,) hang out with friends, see new things and try adventurous stuff…in the HEAT of summer!  Ugggghhh.  I’m not “anti” all of this…I’m just a lot more particular about how it all gets done.  Thus, the worst introvert to vacation with.  EVER.

So what does this have to do with the last song on my summer playlist?  A lot actually.  “Vacation” by the Go Go’s was a smash hit in 1982.  Quirky, fun-loving, and surfy…these girls really nailed the pop/punk rock/girl power kind of sound.  A tune about trying to use a vacation to get over a guy–well what could be more practical than that?  (Introverts LOVE practical!)  “Vacation” further cemented the popular girl group as 80s icons resulting in the song earning the number eight spot on both the Billboard Top 100 and the Rolling Stone Best Summer Songs of All Time list.  And while these ladies seem like the “vacation” type, interviews and soundbites reveal that they were actually a little salty.  Group members wrote their own songs, learned how to play their own instruments, scoffed at the record label executives, and basically did everything on their terms.  Which sounds a little bit like my approach to vacationing…why do we need to go, what will we see there, how much is this going to cost, is it really worth my time, is it safe and (my favorite question) how many people are going to be there?  So who wants to travel with me now?

Seriously, I love this song and remember thinking as a kid how cool it would be to perform synchronized water-skiing with my best girl friends.  We all wanted to be Belinda Carlisle and the catchy chorus still brings a smile to my face.  Besides, the music video actually depicts the best kind of vacation ever–virtual!  Enjoy YOUR summer!


Summer’s Last Hurrah! (My Top 10–This Just Got Real)

Vacation Flashback: S'mores with Aunt Tricia

Vacation Flashback: S’mores with Aunt Tricia

Every summer has a story.  –Unknown

Summer never looks so good as it does on the last day of school!  Like a brand new penny, summertime is all shiny, a token of possibilities just waiting to be spent 🙂  Back in May, we anxiously awaited days of unscheduled fun and endless adventure (not to mention the joy of “forgetting” to set the alarm clock!)  In so many ways I was more excited about summer than my kids…the monotony of pick up/drop off and the constant scheduling/rescheduling of  team practices, medical appointments, school projects, etc….  And while it’s not my favorite season of the year, summer was sure sounding pretty good!  In theory, I was willing to overlook the scorching temperatures, bugs and the chaos that is the spontaneity of summer.  I planned (funny, huh?) on enjoying it all and loosening the reins of my control freak lifestyle.  Feel free to laugh at me….



Now that the end of July has rolled around (and the school supplies have debuted at the local stores,) I realize that this summer has been anything but the relaxing, carefree season I imagined.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m NOT complaining.  I spent the better part of the summer watching my children grow and learn on the baseball/softball diamond.  We’ve squeezed in sleepovers, sports camps, swim lessons, and Vacation Bible School.  My “Camp MOM” program has netted the children a few prizes while propelling (okay, FORCING) them to look at Scripture in a new and exciting (?) way.  We’ve easily eaten our weight in Dairy Queen ice cream and discovered the addiction that is THE SNOW CONE!  We’ve managed to eke out a little pool time (NEVER enough for my kids.)  And we made our way to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a little family visit.  All very good things!  Still, I feel a little incomplete.  The busyness of summer has me feeling like we missed out on the lazy, less hurried parts of the season.  Frankly, we’re running out of days and there’s still more on my list.

So here and now, I’m putting out for all to see MY Summer Wish List…because summer break is all about the parents, right?  Forget about the kids (not really!)  Here goes nothing:

1.  Catch fireflies in a pickle jar.  Might as well be specific 🙂 Don’t worry, catch and RELEASE!

2.  Stargazing.  My opportunity to impress my kiddos with my vast knowledge of constellations.  Yeah, right.

3.  Drive in movie.  This is a tough one because I don’t really like sitting through movies…it’s a huge time investment.  Equally problematic is that I’m REALLY picky about the movies that I watch.  Cross your fingers.

4.  Road trip.  Okay, if you know us…then you’re already aware that we’ve been on the road for baseball tournaments this summer.  Those don’t count.  I want to go see nature…(I can’t believe I uttered those words!)  I’m thinking State Park adventure 🙂

5.  S’mores.  Enough said.  Throw in a couple of campfire songs and we just might call this one EPIC!

6.  Eat outside.  I don’t know why, but I love to picnic.  It goes against my ant phobia, but it’s really true.  I enjoy dining outdoors.

7.  Professional baseball game.  This is already in the works!  Hooray 🙂

8.  Read three GOOD books.  I’m sort of a nonfiction junky…and those are typically long reads.  Managing to get through three would be heavenly.  I’m still on book one.

9.  Visit Lawrence, Kansas.  Stroll down memory lane while reminding my kids that they can choose any college they want (as long as I approve of it.)

10.  Go to the zoo.  Because it’s fun and I like Orangutans (a lot.)

Okay, people.  There it is.  And since time stops for no one, I needed to get started on this list YESTERDAY.  Because while summer technically goes through September, my kiddos start school in mid-August.

Summertime is always the best of what might be. -Charles Bowden

UPDATE 8/2014:  Completed 9 out of the 10.  Not bad 🙂

Summer List Pic


Smells Like Beef Jerky: A Vacation Personality Profile :)

Who knew the simplest, most easy-going personality type (me) would be the most difficult person to actually go on vacation with?  Doesn’t make sense?  Let me dissect this for you.

Cabin Vacation 2013 051Call me an 80s kid, but when I hear the word “vacation” only two things come to mind:  That oh-so-catchy tune by the GoGo’s and images of Chevy Chase and the crew in the comedy classic “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”  The former, a pop favorite that reminds us that vacation fixes no amount of heartache and the latter warns that vacation with your family is actually not a vacation after all!  Makes one wonder what’s the point of taking a vacation if all it really amounts to is just a temporary distraction from real life (followed by loads and loads of laundry when you return home.)  Obviously, I’m not much fun on a vacation….

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful trips.  I’ve been blessed enough to encounter beautiful and scenic places, cities that I’ve always wanted to see and explore, and I’ve visited several inspiring national treasures.  I can easily recall periods of true rest and relaxation, opportunities to unwind and forget, as well as experiencing times of remarkable awareness of God and His perfect peace.  This is my kind of vacation.  Succinct, easy to get to, moderate temperatures, quiet and BUG FREE!  Easy, right?  Not really.

Over the summer I came across a cute, little quiz in one of those popular ladies’ magazines that promises to decipher one’s vacation personality profile (in 10 questions or less!)  Turns out my ideal vacation experience would take place at a spa.  This is hilarious became I’m something of a germ-a-phobe which means the idea of being pampered in a public resort, having gloppy and potentially non-hypoallergenic creams applied to my skin by STRANGERS, provided by an industry that is not held to strict enough standards (in my opinion)…makes me extremely nervous.  Spa vacation is definitely a no-go.

vacation-definitionSimilarly, I didn’t think I qualified for the second vacation category the quiz outlined for me either:  action-adventure!  Those of you who know me understand that I’m a bit of a “mama hen” when it comes to risk taking…as in, I’m the girl who was ALWAYS the designated driver, I accompanied friends to the tattoo parlor in a feeble last-minute attempt to talk them out of getting inked up, and I always carry band aids and Neosporin 🙂  Risk taking like white water rafting and bungee jumping are out.  Just about the riskiest, action adventure type thing I’ve ever done was ride the Timber Wolf  roller coaster and shortly after I did that I heard on the news that…well, you can guess what happened.  Coasters are out.

So what’s a girl to do? The magazine’s vacation personality profile was a bust. As I scanned the other profiles–exotic locale, nature lover, and big city night life–I realized that my own personal vacation preference was a little off the beaten path.  I tend to gravitate toward non-touristy, quiet retreats with beautiful scenery and quick access to air conditioning/heat.  I want to stay up late, sleep in, read books and magazines and basically operate without an agenda.  It would be a bonus if I didn’t have to plan meals, get children up and moving and worry about insects, area crime statistics or crowded airports! It would appear that my (self-discovered) vacation personality profile boils down to one word–ALONE!

Cabin Vacation 2013 016What a marvelous piece of awareness!  All these years, after coordinating spring break getaways, extra long road trips, and family vacations I have finally discovered what I really want.  Too bad this new-found knowledge didn’t occur to me before we took this year’s summer vacation…

The drive was longer than I expected…lake traffic.  A lack of towns on this stretch of highway meant bathroom breaks were time sucks.  The weather was rainy and muggy.  I hate rain.  We had no idea what to do when we got there or where to go.  We kept running out of tick repellent.  I hate fishing.  I got drenched by lake water.  I hate lake water.  Preparing meals was a bigger chore than usual.  We traveled with our kids.  More rain.  Did I mention that I hate rain?

Those are the cold hard facts, people.  But isn’t it remarkable how our memories work.  I read an article once that used science to prove that the “good ol’ days” were really a coping mechanism that our brain uses as a survival tool.  You see we are hardwired to remember the good and sort of overlook the bad.  Think of women and childbirth.  You get the picture.  Nostalgia is funny like that.  So let me retell the story of our summer vacation the way I will always remember it…

We saw a part of the country we had never seen before.  We had the opportunity to share stories and sing and laugh on the drive.  We experienced nature first hand from the darling herd of deer on the side of the road to tiny rabbits and waterfowl all while staying at the sweetest little cabin.  We unplugged from the world and spent the evenings playing board games and cards.  Sean serenaded us with a marshmallow microphone and Casey befriended the worms we used as bait.  We met good and kindhearted people everywhere we went and ran into friends as well.  And although it rained and stormed, we were warm, safe and TOGETHER.  Plus, the van smelled like beef jerky the entire vacation 🙂

I think it’s fair to say that at this point in my life a spa vacation isn’t going to happen.  And as far as action-adventure, well… I think I would use that term to describe my regular everyday life.  I’ve experienced the career of my dreams, completed my educational goals, driven half the country by myself (once) and back again (with a 15 month old in tow), met and interviewed celebrities, survived Las Vegas, lived through scary health issues, had 13 different addresses (8 communities and 3 states) in the last 20 years, driven a carload of clowns through the streets of San Francisco, attended numerous concerts and sporting events, and presently stay busy raising my kids (if that isn’t “action-adventure” then I don’t know what is!)  A vacation alone, well that will just have to wait.

The dictionary defines vacation as a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee.  A holiday.  I would love to know exactly who gets to go on these awesome getaways! Pleasure, rest, relaxation and PAY!  On the serious side, it makes me wonder if maybe a vacation is something more.  Perhaps, there’s another definition?  One that better fits my vacation personality profile?  I guess I would have to define vacation as anywhere my loved ones are, where we can draw closer to one another, and recharge our spiritual batteries.  I’m not sure where that ideal destination is, but I am positive it’s on a journey where there’s going to be plenty of beef jerky to smell up the van.  And ideally the whole thing would still have to occur in a place without bugs.

Laughter is an instant vacation.  Milton Berle