Summer vacation is here! YEA!!!! That’s the kids. yea*!$. That’s the parents. When you’re a working parent, summer vacation isn’t nearly exciting for you as for your offspring. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have family step in to watch the kids full time, this means securing reliable childcare for the summer months. Schools let out a lot earlier these days, but I believe they reconvene earlier as well. I’m a bit out of the loop as mine have theirs at this point and I’m not packing lunches anymore.
Even if you’re a stay at home mom or dad, three months of full time kid time can be a bit off-putting. The days of putting your feet up once the bus picks your little ones up in the morning are quickly replaced with “I’m bored” and “Jimmy’s bugging me”. I may not be raising them anymore, but the memory lingers on.
I don’t have much truck with boredom. As I mentioned a blog or two back if I so much as suggested I was bored my grandmother made sure she found something for me to do with my sorry bored self post haste. Being an only child, at least in my case, came with the side benefit of learning to entertain myself. “You can sleep after you die”, was my grandmother’s banner and she held it high. With no siblings to either enjoy or contend with I found ways to keep myself busy, a habit which has served me to this day.
As a teen both my parents worked. My stepfather, a middle school principle, taught summer school or worked odd jobs during the summer to keep the money flowing in. Neither of them believed teens should be left to their own devices so sleeping in until noon was never on my agenda. At 9:00 sharp the princess phone next to my bed would begin ringing until I answered it. Hanging up and going back to sleep was not an option because it would ring every ten minutes until she knew I was up.
From the time I was in grade school there was a pool in our back yard. Why my mother insisted on this I will never understand because she rarely used it. An appointment, never missed unless in the hospital, was kept every week at her hairdressers. Mother has had the same hair style since the 60’s. Each week the “do” was recreated and if she was in the pool our job was to make sure no water ever kept with the hair spray keeping the do done. On days when my mom felt like “a dip”, as she called it, we launched what my stepbrother and I referred to as “the Queen’s raft”. A huge blown up affair with an erect back and holes in the center to drop your legs through. On both sides were cup holders so one could sip and dip at the same time.
An avid swimmer, I could usually be found in the pool on hot days. As well as enjoying doing laps during the summer it was also my responsibility to make sure the pool was vacuumed and the filter cleaned. Sigh. My stepfather drew the line at having me add chemicals because with my chemistry grades he knew this would surely involve either a trip to the hospital or emptying the pool entirely and adding fresh water.
During my parents absence I was not allowed to swim. This along with the sign over the pool reading “We don’t swim in your toilet, so please don’t pee in our pool”, were cardinal rules. In teenese the no swim rule loosely translated to “You are are allowed to swim in pool as long as you don’t get caught doing it”. Much better.
Truth be known asking a young girl to clean a swimming pool full of azure blue water in the heat of the day almost provokes breaking the no swimming rule, to my mind at least. Often I accidentally fell into the water while shoving the hose back and forth. Fortunately I wore my bathing suit to clean the pool so no harm no foul, if you will. Once in, one had to swim about a bit to get to the steps in the shallow end to get out. Sometimes this procedure took me several hours to accomplish.
Friends came over to hang out most days during my time off. If one teen can find a bit of trouble, three are three times as likely to. One particularly hot Southern California day we had exhausted all options for entertainment. Lying on the living room floor watching the rippling reflections from the pool float across the ceiling the ability to resist could no longer be ignored. I suggested we could take a quick dip and then dry our bathing suits in the clothes dryer to hide the evidence. With a tight criminal mind like that it is surprising I didn’t go down in the annuls of history along with Bonnie Barrow and Lizzie Borden.
The house originally was owned by a man whose daughter aspired to being an Olympic swimmer. To this end our back yard came equipped with the oversized pool, a high and a low diving board, and a wraparound slide. Life was good. Quickly we changed into our suits and dove into the beckoning water. Glorious. One by one we went down the slide whooshing into the cool water and then up the ladder to try it again. One of us, undoubtedly me, came up with a brilliant plan. If it was fun to go down one at a time, wouldn’t it be more fun to go down in tandem like on a toboggan? Up the ladder we went. How we managed to get all three of us on before launching I have to clue. Half way down the older slide decided this was too much on a hot day and as we rounded the corner in the middle, 1.2.3, dumped us off onto the cement below. Luckily no heads were broken. My lower leg had a raspberry, one friend scraped her face and broke a nail, but the third musketeer found she couldn’t walk on her ankle. Having no choice parents were called and after a trip to the hospital with a sprained ankle the pool was off limits for a month. Sometimes being a kid sucks.
Never have I been able to get away with lying, or any sort of deceit. It’s like the lie is writing across my face while I’m spinning it or the universe conspires to catch me in its net shortly after the words leave my mouth. Good thing I didn’t decide to pursue a life of crime. I’d probably be writing list on prison paper.
This is a different, and less messy, way to make tacos. The sauce is the best! My neighbor shared it with me and I’ve been using it ever since. If you’re in the pool and need shortcuts use purchased taco seasoning mix and sauce. Have a great day!
Baked Tacos with Homemade Taco Sauce
8 hard taco shells
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix (recipe below)
1/3 cup water
1 16 oz. can refried beans with green chili and lime
3 Tbsp. chunky salsa
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese
Sliced red onion
Sliced Black olives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray bottom of casserole dish. Brown ground beef and onion. Drain on paper towels. Add 2 Tbsp. of taco seasoning mix and 1/3 cup water. Bring to boil. Simmer over low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Mix together refried beans and salsa. Fill the bottom of each taco shell with bean mixture. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Place in preheated oven for 10 mins. or until cheese is melted.
Top with desired garnishes.
Taco Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Store in tightly sealed jar.
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp. hot chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 cup onion, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Whisk all ingredients together in saucepan. Simmer on low for 20 mins. Remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.