a funny thing happened on the way to my life….

Parents’ Guide to the ULTIMATE 80s Summer (Your Kids Will Thank You)

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.  –Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

So, I’m thinking about putting my 2015 mommy neuroticism on hold for just a bit and going with the flow this summer.  Way?  WAY!  You see I was totally inspired (that’s “totes” inspired for you millennials) the other day by this clever blog about creating a ’70s style summer for ours kids.  While I could absolutely relate to the writer’s top 10, the bulk of my childhood actually took place in the 80s…complete with jams, jelly shoes, Hypercolor t-shirts, mix-tapes and some of the best movies/television EVER!  Thinking about that place in time brings back memories of super rad summers…chillin’ with choice family and friends, no grody schedules bringing us down,  livin’ it up with totally tubular fashion, and maxing out with non-stop gnarly fun 🙂  Back then we turned our nose up at bogus rules and wigged out parents that just didn’t understand the 80s way of life.  Dudes and dudettes, the 80s were BOSS and wouldn’t it be totally righteous of me to share those good times with my kiddos?  Agreed?  Cool beans.

Rockin' the 80s look!

Rockin’ the 80s look!

Here’s my take on the ULTIMATE 80s summer.  Grab your shades, fetch your fingerless gloves, style that hair sky-high…and prepare for AWESOME.  It’s going to be a tripendicular good time…major.

  • Wear what you want…how you want.  Have you seen some of the styles from the 80s?  Hideous, sure, but fun and unique every time.  I don’t remember my folks saying, “cover up” or “that’s too revealing” because in the 80s it was about funky layers and mismatched everything.  So Mom didn’t do laundry last night?  Whatever, kid…you’re living in the 80s now and your faded gym shorts look good with that yellow button down shirt…just remember to pair it with your converse sneakers and a backwards ball cap.  K-RAD.
  • Watch TV…a lot of TV…actually the same shows over and over.  Back in the day nothing new came out in the summer on television.  It was rerun city, baby, and I LOVED IT!  I didn’t mind hitting the couch, remote in hand and settling in for rerun episodes of Three’s Company, The Facts of Life and Family Ties.  So you’re replaying them during the show’s regular time slot?  Still must see TV for me!  Get hooked on my mom’s soap operas…there’s nothing else on, why not?  HBO is showing Sixteen Candles for the third time today?  I’m glued anyway.  While I’m not on board with letting my kids get hooked on soaps, I see no harm in letting them binge watch some retro goodies like Boy Meets World, The Sandlot and Goonies.  Excellent!
  • Drink Kool-Aid ALL DAY and eat your weight in Popsicles.  They always tell you to stay hydrated…especially in the heat of summer.  I know it sounds like a lot of sugar (and it is,) but that doesn’t mean anything to the 80s kid.  Orange Kool-Aid (same color and “flavor” as juice) was perfectly acceptable at breakfast with a bowl of cereal and toast.  The punch version was a staple at every birthday party I ever attended.  Lemonade Kool-Aid was just as good as fresh-squeezed and PINK lemonade Kool-Aid was the beverage of choice for the uppity, preppie set.  When you’re not sucking down this sugar-water, head on over to the freezer for a frozen treat.  Popsicles are inexpensive and unless you want to risk brain freeze, they can kill a lot of time.  Hands down…there is nothing like working on a grape popsicle while sitting on your front porch during a scorching hot, summer day, my friends.  Go ahead, kiddos, enjoy (to the max!)
  • Sunglasses are a must…even indoors and ESPECIALLY at night.  That’s right.  Wear your shades, like all the time!  Your specs speak volumes about who you are and what you stand for…sporty, goofy, cool and if you can pull off the flip-up sunglasses look…all the better!  The coolest kids I knew during childhood had a pair for every day of the week (probably mallrats.)  So come on kiddos, grab your plastic eyewear of choice and get your spec-tacular summer started.
  • Baseball and sunflower seeds.  This pretty much sums up my existence during my childhood summers.  This duo provided evening entertainment as well as a pseudo dinnertime meal.  In the 80s we didn’t have all the fancy flavors they do now…we ate our salted sunflower seeds until our lips were swollen and we lost all feeling in our tongue.  When we were done…we begged for more!  This vicious cycle is never so appealing as when we’re camped out at the baseball diamond.  Sure, you have those who prefer peanuts siting in the stands, but nothing really fills a hole (or maybe burns one in your throat) quite like sunflowers seeds.  Bonus points on your 80s summer if you can score some Astro Pops at the ball park (those bad boys look soooo much cooler than they taste!)
    The Astro Pop :)
    The Astro Pop 🙂
  • Stargazing…oh, yeah.  I can’t remember if we borrowed the telescope or if it was just handed down to us, but either way we were the luckiest kids on the block (even if we didn’t really know how to use the silly thing!)  We spent countless nights outside on our back porch just checking out the moon and trying to spot planets among the stars.  We looked for constellations and laid flat on the picnic table in our yard to take in all the night sky’s wonders.  It was peaceful and totally stellar at the same time.  Come on kids, put down your technology and open your eyes to something so much better!  Shooting stars and meteor showers are just as mind-blowing today as they were in the 80s.
  • Brush up on your gaming skills, dude.  No, I’m not talking about video games…I’m talking about real games…as in the type you gather around a table to play!  Growing up in the 80s we took our games pretty seriously.  Bragging rights were always at stake, occasionally money was involved, and sometimes a stupid dare was the prize.  Either way, we played to win.  All night Monopoly games, vicious games of Sorry and Battleship, and my favorite–card games.  Nothing says summer like a knock down game of Spoons!  This is definitely on my list for this summer.  My kiddos need to learn this throw back game and maybe even how to throw a few elbows in the process…I said we play to win, remember.
  • Fun…on the cheap, duh.  Ahhh, yes…the 80s were a good decade for America.  As kids, most of us didn’t know that we were average middle class and that was okay.  We didn’t expect new cars, designer clothes or the latest gadget.  We were content with simple things and made the most of our days with basic, cheap fun.  For example, we grew up without Supersoakers and Nerf water guns.  The sprinkler and the garden hose provided all the fun we needed.  Water balloon ambushing an unsuspecting friend walking into the backyard was good for a million laughs.  I can remember neighborhood water wars…and when our rinky-dink water guns weren’t enough to win the battle we repurposed 2 liter soda bottles to soak each other to the bone.  Make-shift water games and activities are the absolute best…and my kiddos have already started creating their own water fun with friends this summer.  No pool required.  For added inexpensive fun, check out free zoos (yes, they do exist,) state parks and road side attractions.  You have not lived until you’ve had your photo taken with an extreme size, concrete animal or the world’s largest something or other!  Homebodies can make a whole mess of fun with a good, old-fashioned watermelon feed…complete with seed-spitting contest.  Go ahead, invite the neighbors.
  • Summer music playlist…for sure.  In the 80s, a mix-tape took time and skill…and usually involved a pretty hip friend.  Getting the hook-up on the latest songs sometimes meant that you had to listen to the radio and quickly hit the record button when your favorite jam came on.  I remember countless tapes where I missed the first few beats of a song, you could hear the commercials or maybe even a little of the the DJ talking (pretty amateurish, I now, but whatevs.)  I also remember the awesome feeling that came with getting a “real” mix tape, where 5385cee5557560322982989a1b9ee844someone with an elaborate music collection or DJ skills put together only the best.  Rockin’ out in your bedroom with your boom box full blast…there’s nothing quite like it.  A close second would be toolin’ around town with your Walkman in tow.  Poolside fun requires just the right set of jams, too!  When we were old enough to cruise Main Street the perfect mix tape could make or break the night.  Today’s kiddos love music just as much and here’s where their technology could actually come in handy.  With the swipe of a finger, kids can create their own, FREE summer music playlists or tap into ready-made lists on music streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Prime Music or Pandora.  It amazes me just how much 80s music they already know thanks to pop culture, but the best part is when I pull up the old music videos for them to see with their own eyes!  Thank you, YouTube.  Let’s just say it’s good for a lot of laughs 🙂

So take a chill pill and relax.  After all, savoring summer isn’t privy to just one decade.  We can all take part in this bodacious ride!  Summertime is where we write some of our best stories.  It’s where we create many of our favorite memories and cement those relationships we will always treasure.  This is where best friends are made, family road trips take place, where crushes and first loves are experienced and we collectively have a chance to breathe and reset.  Take in the warm temperatures, go places you’ve never been, laugh a lot and when you run out of things to do–start the list all over.  The rules are different in the summer…and the 80s rules…well they just RULE!  Parents, say hello to what just might be your best summer yet.    Totally (to the max.)

The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”–Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

 

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February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 12 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 12

Love is…talking about everything and nothing while sharing piles of French fries. –me

In the country music world, George Strait is king. And when it comes to heartfelt love songs, he easily keeps the crown. The song “I Cross My Heart” reads like wedding vows with sweet promises and pledges of fidelity. It’s the song 12kind of song that gives hope to the unattached, optimism to relationship newbies and profound joy to those who know and experience this kind of committed love. Easily one of my top three love songs of all time, not only does it ooze all the gushy goodness of love but between the lines it connotes dedication, respect and accountability. While this song may have been a number one hit in the early ‘90s, its timeless message will make it a favorite for decades to come.

Coming Up: Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul: Song 13

***This post is part of an ongoing series. As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul. Ambitious? Yes! Bold? Absolutely! Crazy? You betcha! Pointless? On just about every level. Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar. Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin! I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?


February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (Song 2 in the Countdown)

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul:  Song 2

 

Unrequited love.  Most of us have lived in that house at one time or another.  Boooo 😦   Still, there’s a lesson in this country music ballad.  How many times do we set ourselves up for failure in relationships in exchange for a few blissful minutes that we KNOW will turn into heartbreaking memories.  Unhealthy.  Undoubtedly.  But how else will we decide what we’re willing to settle for and discover what we truly need and want in a relationship.  This isn’t just about romantic love either.  It crosses over into family relationships and friendships as well.

Song 2I love that this song was written by Willie Nelson before he was widely known in the music industry.  Thinking about this song from the male perspective reminds me that we’re all equal in the heartache department.  Sometimes there’s health and healing in just letting go (after we’ve sufficiently cried our eyes out, of course.)

Love is…having an entire conversation through facial expressions and well-timed nods.  -me

Coming Up:  Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul:  Song 3

***This post is part of an ongoing series.  As part of my cup half full approach to loving the month of February, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul.  Ambitious?  Yes!  Bold?  Absolutely!  Crazy?  You betcha!  Pointless?  On just about every level.  Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar.  Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin!  I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?


My World According to George Strait

I’m usually in the mood right after dinner.  Something about a full belly, a mountain of dishes, left overs sealed in GladWare, and disinfecting the counter tops seems to put me in a George Strait state of mind.  There’s nothing like classic George when you feel like singing at the top of your lungs while your heart breaks into a thousand pieces as you simultaneously two-step with a broom…the occasional teardrop running down your cheek.  Good times 🙂

imaginary george fan photo

My imaginary fan meet up with George Strait. Hope Martina doesn’t mind that I inserted my face over hers in this photo!

I don’t think anyone would classify me as a country music fan…although there were a few years in the mid-nineties where I “walked the line.”  Okay, I’ll confess—I had a hat at the time, but it was just for the Little Texas concert at the county fair!  My get-up was technically faux cowgirl…you know, trendy “booties” instead of real ropers, but I never went as far as having a belt buckle or Wrangler jeans.  I did have a few radio presets dedicated to the local country music station at age 18, but all of it faded away just as quickly as it set in.  Yet somehow, I managed to fall (and stay) in love with George Strait.  And back in the day, I would have donned all that western wear, moved to Texas and developed a real southern drawl just for him.  I mean, if I was ever going to go for a cowboy…it would have had to have been him—because if you’re gonna love a cowboy, why not love one who can sing?

While clearing the kitchen table and belting out a little George, the thought occurred to me—almost every song reminds me of a place in time.  Memories, days gone by, people who I know and have known.  It appears that several of his tunes have served as the soundtrack to many different seasons in my life.  Crushes, first love, long drives, adventure, good times and bad.  Right or Wrong, Fool Hearted Memory, A Fire I Can’t Put Out…seem to speak to times of young love and the intense feelings that often come with those first break ups and let downs.  It was like George was the only one in the world who knew exactly how I felt!  Then there were catchy tunes like The Fireman that remind me of KU and driving home with my roommate Sara in her hot, little red car.  You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody, Easy Come, Easy Go, and Write This Down mark times where I learned important lessons about moving on and trusting God’s plan in both life and relationships.  Twangy feel good music like Am I Blue always make me want to dance the day away.  And two of my favorites–The Chair and All My Ex’s Live in Texas remind me of my parents–especially my dad’s band and concerts in the park downtown on summer evenings.

Unlike my other music phases, my George fanaticism began at a young age.  I remember hearing George in the background while I learned to sew at my Grandma’s house.  His songs seemed to play non-stop the first time I visited the great state of Texas (not to mention every time that I’ve ever stepped foot there.)  George rode shot-gun with my best friend, Amy and I on our great Tulia, TX adventure in college.  Later, his music again played on the radio appropriately setting the stage for a trip to Nashville.  And it was George who traveled with me when I moved from Kansas to California.  He was my cowboy companion as I cruised the interstate…thank goodness for a cassette player with auto-reverse!  I laughed out loud while listening to Ocean Front Property in Arizona…scoping the horizon for his imaginary piece of real estate as I neared Phoenix.  One song after another served as the backdrop to beautiful countryside and endless highway.  And it was Heartland that later satisfied my soul when I found myself homesick for family and friends back in the Midwest.  Other songs like Carrying Your Love with Me and I Cross My Heart remind me of true love, family values, and faith in God.

I know I’m not the only one with memories like these.  And it’s been equally as fun to introduce my children to George’s music.  His CD 50 Number Ones was on our vacation playlist as we traveled through Denver, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe and finally into the San Francisco Bay area a few summers ago.  They claim not to like him…but one glance in the rear view mirror and it’s hard not to notice them singing along.  Just tonight my son belted out three songs in a row as he wandered into the kitchen asking aloud, “How do I know every single word?”  My daughter rolls her eyes when I bust out a little George in the car on the way home from basketball games.  Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday George Strait makes his way onto their playlists.  I imagine them sheepishly trying explain to their friends that these songs remind them of their mom and childhood!  Better yet, I’d love to hear their take on the little ditty I call my “ultimate George Strait life song”—Ace in the Hole.  They frequently give me the oddest looks when I tell them that there’s a life lesson in that song that will serve them well…if they just pay attention.  Sure, Mom…sure.

While my radio presets today run the gamut from News Talk and Christian contemporary to Pop and Top 40, modern technology makes it easy enough to find George when and wherever the mood strikes.  I don’t have any crazy aspirations of ever meeting George Strait.  In fact, it’s probably better this way.  I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert twice and I’m good with that.  As for me, our occasional kitchen-after-dinner meet-ups will continue to suffice, especially since they’ve been going on for years.  Besides…who would two-step with the broom if George and I  didn’t have these now and again country rendezvous?

Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.  —Plato