Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Ah, Summertime!

We asked area parents to share some of their favorite summertime plans with us, and they came back with everything from an annual backyard fish fry to travels halfway around the world. Here are a few things folks in our community have planned for the summer. Share your favorite summer plans with us at editor@seattleschild.com.

Going Fishing

Seattle is so beautiful this time of year, and when school is out it gives us time to enjoy ourselves closer to home. One thing my youngest daughter and I like to do is get up early and go fishing. Just a couple of rods, a bobber and a few worms from the garden.

There are perch and sunfish in lakes all around King County, and they're easy for kids to catch. It's something I did with my own dad when I was growing up, so it feels like I'm passing down a tradition. We bring our catch home and fry it up for a snack (there's rarely enough for dinner). It makes us feel like urban hunter-gatherers!

– Jeff, Madeline and Juliana Lee

Getting Away From It All on the Coast

The part of summer I relish the most is camping on the coast, where one can get to only on foot and there is thus a true feeling of being away from it all.

Since Halley was perhaps 6, we've enjoyed many backpacking trips to the northern Washington coast, always in the company of friends with kids, from a trip with three adults and two kids to one with eight adults and six kids. The trips have taken us to Shi Shi, near the northern tip of the coast, and to the mouth of the Ozette River. Everyone has a backpack, even if they can't yet carry much.

While I never relish the preparation, I love these trips. They take us to a place where we are as "away" as I ever find myself. In addition to these spots being beautiful and quiet, I love the freedom that places like these give to our kids. City kids rarely find themselves in a place where they can have so much freedom as they can have in an extended campout on the beach. And there's so much for them to learn. And for me to learn. That's the great benefit of camping with others – everyone brings their skills and all the work is shared. So in the end, nobody has to work very hard once they get there.

I carry many memories of these trips, partly because every trip is different – different folks, different weather, different spots on the beach. One of my abiding favorites is opening my tent door early one morning and seeing a deer splashing through the surf. And they go on and on. As do the waves, the campfires and the conversations.

– Nancy and Halley Norman

Summer Book Club

Last summer, we were invited to a Magic Treehouse party where each child was asked to bring his or her favorite Magic Treehouse book to share and discuss. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and the parents got a kick out of hearing their children talk about what they were reading. It was a great way to end the summer and get ready for school.

So, this year a couple of other moms and I hatched a plan for a summer book club. Each kid will get to pick a book and all the families will have a couple of weeks to read it. At the end of the two weeks, we'll all meet at the home of the child who selected the book for a party themed to match the book. The kids will get some guided time to talk about the book. We'll have plenty of time for "active play" – these are 7-year-olds after all – along with some games related to the content of the books.

The idea is to remind our kids that reading is fun, not just a school chore. So far we have six kids who want to do this and more people contact me all the time as other parents find out about it.

– Cheryl, Stephanie, Eddie and Chas Reid-Simons

Summer in China

Our family is spending the summer in Beijing!

My husband has been going to China for work a lot because the architectural firm he works for has offices there. The company knows that it's been hard for people with families to travel a lot, so they offered to send a couple of families to China for the summer.

We'll leave in late June, after our daughters get out of school, and come back in time for school to start again in the fall – about nine weeks in all. It's long enough that we'll definitely get a feel of what it's like to live there. We started taking Chinese lessons in April. The girls are excited but a little overwhelmed.

I think one of the things I'm really, really hoping my daughters get is perspective about how other people live. There is so much outside of their little world, and I'm looking forward to them having their eyes opened in terms of culture.

– Jenna, Mike, Grace and Anna Riggs

Visiting All the Grandparents

This summer our family will once again visit each of the grandparents. As a child, my parents used to take me to visit my grandparents during the summer, and I have many fond memories of those times with family.

Each set of grandparents has a unique, delightful and important gift to share with our daughters. When we visit my dad and my step-mom, the girls go fishing, fill the bird feeders in his backyard bird sanctuary, go on hikes looking for animal tracks and edible berries, and pick fresh vegetables from their garden. When we visit my mom, the girls revel in make-believe; my mother joins them in their games and crawls around with them through their imaginary worlds. When we visit my husband's mom and dad, the girls taste new Indian foods, dress in traditional costumes for visits to the temple and community celebrations, watch ancient prayer rituals, and hear stories of the far away land that runs in their veins.

– The Erika and Sanjay Kapur Family

Annual Fish Fry

I am glad our daughters have these summer visits, as I did, to build their own memories and wisdom to share with the generations to come.

Each year we host a fish fry with friends and family before school starts. It's a nice way to connect and hang out in a casual setting.

We invite friends and family over, pull out the chairs, folding tables, cards, dominoes and other games. We heat up the propane deep fryers in the backyard (on concrete, of course) and Terrence fries a "whole mess of chicken and fish." We also have all the usual southern sides (collard greens, yams, sweet tea, cornbread, fully loaded baked beans and corn on the cob).

The kids run through the sprinkler, and the adults listen to music, dance, talk everything from politics to pottery. A wonderful time to hang out and relax!

– Arizona, Terrence, Tavar, Erin and Jordyn Proctor

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