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Surviving a Heat Wave at Home

The long, hot, St. Louis summer takes its toll on a young family.

Mehlville didn’t get snowed in this year for even half an hour. We Wescoats were disappointed with our lack of sled-worthy snow, and several sets of eyes were watching the weather forecast through April, holding out hope that one freaky front would give us an excuse to cuddle up with hot chocolate and a few good flicks.

Little did we know that summer would bring the extreme temperatures that keep a family house-bound. Because we have a six-month-old, the temps were hot enough to make me question the wisdom of loading up in the car even for indoor fun away from home. We also have a new puppy at home that needed breaks from the heat and frequent monitoring.

Determined not to let a little heat wave ruin all of our fun, we did go out to places like the mall and the Science Center last week. But mostly, we found ways to endure the heat at home.

We happen to have a great backyard for summer. In fact, 10 years ago we drove by our house when it was for sale and decided to buy it before seeing the inside, solely based on the size and style of the backyard. It is filled with big oak and walnut trees and provides glorious shade in the summertime.

Even when the temperatures are in the 90s, we are always amazed at how pleasant it is to be in our backyard. Add a hose and some fun neighbors and my kids play happily even in triple-digit weather.

One day my neighbor hauled her kiddie pool over and our girls all ran between the pool and our sprinkler, rotated with stints on the swing set. They were having so much fun that I kind of wished the pool was big enough for grown-ups.

Another day we had laundry baskets on the deck and the kids could sit in them with swimsuits on and the hose spraying while they pretended to row their “boats” across the yard.

Some days, though, they’ve really just eaten popsicles and sprayed the hose at each other. I’ve been impressed at the temperatures my kids were willing to endure and sometimes they didn’t even seem ready to go in when I said it was time for a break from the heat.

That said, we aren’t exactly living up to my expectations for summer outings and plans. I’ve managed to ignore my list of ideas and focus instead on what we can do to be happy at home. It’s a mental challenge, because I love making memories with my kids and count on those summer days. But we’re working on making at-home fun as engaging as a summer outing.

Besides the many hose-related games we come up with, we’ve also done some other creative things. My older kids painted smooth rocks I bought at Michael’s that they can use later to hide in the backyard for their little sister to find. They also came up with complex games of pretend that were a mystery to me, but I could hear lots of robot voices coming from the bedrooms.

As I write this, the temperature on my phone shows 103 degrees, but I can see a few days out that there are lower temperatures promised. We are watching that forecast as closely as we watched for snow every week in the winter.

I love a good excuse to stay home and hole up for a day or two. But two weeks?! It’s been an exercise that has stretched our creativity and imaginations for new ideas to play. But this will be a summer to remember, I’m sure of it.

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