Somewhere along the way, we lose touch of the joys of summer.
We grow up, we go to school, we get summer jobs or internships, and before you know it we’re sitting at our desks and watching the sunshine through our car windows, office windows, kitchen windows.
Perhaps we find time to break away and enjoy our lunch outside. Perhaps we get to tap into our neglected sundress collection. Perhaps we join a summer softball league to take full advantage of the warmth. Perhaps we go on vacation for a week or two and come back with a well-earned tan. Perhaps we even fit in a few outdoor concerts along the way.
But summer no longer means what it used to.
We’re adults now, and adults work. So much so that we have completely lost sight of what made summer so great in the first place.
What we do remember only comes to us in flashes: an entire watermelon consumed in a single day, swimming in the backyard pool with the neighbors, frying an egg on the sidewalk (yes, Jason actually did that), bike rides and roller blades and long walks around the neighborhood, and lots and lots of ice cream — whether from the homemade ice cream machine churning on the porch or the ice cream truck singing its way onto your block.
Beyond these fleeting memories, do we truly recall what it was like to be a kid in the heat of summer?
We had forgotten. That is, until we had a kid.
Parents will tout all sorts of perks to having kids: the early endless love, the adorable cuddles, their ever-expanding minds, the joy of teaching them new things, the pride surrounding their accomplishments… the list goes on depending on how “all-in” you are on the roles and responsibilities.
I’m sure some of those benefits have or will apply to us, but right now – right at this very moment – I am mostly grateful to Lilia for reminding me of the unbridled joys of summer.
By experiencing the season through her, we have unlocked the essence of what it once meant to us.
It means the smell of sunscreen, forever wafting through the house and rubbing onto your clothes. It means entire mornings and afternoons spent on a bike, in a park, or on a playground with absolutely no agenda. It means leisurely sidewalk chalk challenges and being perfectly happy digging in the dirt for hours at a time. It means skinned knees, scabbed knees, and bruised knees, which can’t seem to heal before they become skinned knees yet again. It means splash pads and sprinklers and swimming pools and slip ‘n slides. It means plopping down in the grass and staring up at the sky just because you can. It means family vacations to new places. It means bubbles and popsicles and blueberries and baths.
It’s a sweet albeit sweaty intangible state of being that is somehow wiped clean with the onset of every school year, which for us begins in the coming week.
To be honest, we’re not quite ready to let go of summer. It’s not as though Jason and I had any semblance of a summer “break”, but somewhere along the way we fell in love with the long lost rhythm of summer as it once was… as it was when we were kids.
Raising children isn’t easy, nor is it always fun. But right now, in this season, we have truly enjoyed the ride.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Another one of the joys of summer – this summer, at least – has been the visitors. We’ve had some amazing friends pass through town, sometimes for weeks and sometimes for mere hours. We baked up this tried and true buffalo chicken dip (which Jason has been making since our early college romance days) for a Sunday afternoon Jazz in the Park gathering with local and visiting college friends. The event may have eventually been rained out, but the indulgent buffalo chicken dip, the many weekend festivities, and the elation of seeing Lilia run through the park with one of my oldest friends, Alexis, by her side — those were some of our most memorable highlights of the summer.
- 1 to 2 lbs of cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 8oz block of cream cheese
- Up to 1 c. of your favorite buffalo sauce
- Don’t have buffalo sauce? Combine equal parts hot sauce & butter to create your own.
- 1 pkg Ranch dip mix
- Don’t have Ranch dip? Replace with a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, dill, and lemon juice.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese to top
- Mix chicken and hot sauce, tasting as you go. You want it to be spicier than you want it to come out, as the cheese will cut some of the heat.
- Warm cream cheese in microwave for about a minute. Combine with Ranch dip mix.
- Spread chicken and hot sauce mixture in the bottom of a square 8 x 8 baking dish.
- Spread cream cheese mixture over chicken.
- Sprinkle enough mozzarella cheese on top to cover.
- Bake covered at 375-degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly, then uncovered for 5 to 10 more minutes to lightly brown cheese.
Serve with bread slices, chips, veggies, or just spoons.