Summer ?island? has its perks

We may be far-removed from an island, but we?re living in its time zone this summer.

Our family has limited commitments right now, and I?m relishing in the slowed-down pace of summertime. So when the calendar flipped to July, I had a brief moment of panic when I realized school shopping was a mere month away.

But with 36 days left before school starts, who wants to dwell on the inevitable?

With our young family, summer is a sweet time. We hang out at the pool, treat ourselves to Igloos, jump on the trampoline and be all-around carefree.

Instead of merely having a cup of coffee in the mornings, I enjoy it.

The kids can stay in pajamas until lunch (and sometimes they do).

We can afford a few late bedtimes in exchange for family music night where my husband pulls out his bass and we jam (dancing included) to Go Fish Guys on Spotify.

After a family walk to check out the playground progress at Hillsboro Elementary, island life allows for hanging out well past the time of lightning bugs with friends and their kids, chatting in the street and watching spirited games of basketball.

Only in summer does the wheat rustle in a Kansas breeze, ripening in time for harvest?and combine rides.

During harvest, our family turns farmer full time. My husband uses vacation days to man the combine or provide whatever help his dad needs. The kids take turns?or all cram in?for combine rides or elevator runs.

While it wasn?t necessary for me to drive a grain truck this year, my mother-in-law and I brought food to the field every day.

As any farmer or farmer?s wife knows, during harvest week, staying on schedule is impossible. More often than not, I was still at the farm to catch glorious sunsets uninhibited by houses and tree lines. The beauty of those evenings is still in my head and captured on a camera.

At the end of harvest, summer allowed for a spontaneous trip to Kansas City to visit Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland. Although, unbeknownst to us, Rolling Stones had scheduled a tour stop in KC at Arrowhead Stadium for the same weekend, so finding a last-minute hotel was impossible.

We ended up booking a hotel in Ottawa. By the time we drove there, that hotel also was sold out. I never imagined our kids would be able to reminisce about the time we took a summer vacation to Ottawa?but it kind of compares to my own family?s vacation adventure to Abilene.

We lingered with friends and family over a Fourth of July barbecue, complete with the tamest fireworks available at Charlie?s.

Many hours have been spent crafting, painting, drawing and coloring outside the lines.

The girls completed swimming lessons, reviewing and surpassing previous skills and comfort levels.

Baby kitties were discovered at the farm and given names like Adventurous Addie, Tanner, Dr. Pepper and Come (because it comes when it?s called).

The barbecue grill doesn?t get many nights off.

The sidewalks in front of our house are continually decorated with chalk renditions of beaches, sunshine, houses, horses, dolphins, dogs, cats…. You name it, my kids can draw it.

The path between our house and the neighbors? is well-worn from my children seeking a chance to be sprayed by a hose or put in a tree. My kids seem to have an uncanny radar to sense when this beloved neighbor comes home from work for lunch or the end of the day.

Toys that rarely get played with during the busyness of a school year are out every day. Even the messes seem sweeter, knowing my kids are thoroughly enjoying each other and their playthings?and their personal responsibility for those things increases daily?which also makes me happy.

Imaginations run wild.

Books are read by the pile.

Sandbox castles are created.

The summer moments and memories are unrushed and unplanned, and there?s time for many more.

I?m lucky to enjoy it all.

Malinda Just has been a proofreader at the Free Press in addition to her family and high school coaching duties.