Adriana Zoder: We have a lot going on this summer

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 11:10 PM

So, it's almost summer. Sure it has been hot, but, if you want to get technical, it's not summer yet.

Libraries launched their summer reading programs June 1. It looks like Pigeon Forge and Sevierville both will tackle the Fizz, Boom, Read program, which focuses on science. The Gatlinburg library will offer art workshops.

I would like to bring my children to every single activity and workshop, but it's just not realistic. Decisions, decisions. We have a lot going on this summer, with soccer camp, swimming lessons, violin lessons and our French play group.

I signed up for a couple of must-do activities at the library. For the rest, we will have to check on our energy level when we get closer. It's better to call and ask if they have room for two more kids than to call to cancel.

We left out the Junior Ranger Program, too. We did it last year with my son. He loved it. We will do it again next year, when my daughter is older and can finally join us. It will be more fun to have her fully engaged.

In the meantime, we focus on reading. Lots and lots and lots of books. And lots and lots and lots of time spent outside.

Last week, we tried to do both on the Gatlinburg trail. I brought a book ("How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea") and we biked on the trail up to the second beach area by the river bank. We could not read, though. The river pulled us in. We splashed in the river and played with rocks. We chased butterflies.

After about an hour, we started noticing that other humans had been there before: the shoe of a Barbie doll, a few feet of fishing rod thread, notebook paper. I wanted to pick it all up and put it in a garbage bag I brought in my backpack, but what if a crying little girl came back with her parents, looking for her Barbie's missing shoe, after we left?

On the way back, I took some pictures of trees. I found one that looks like an elephant. Strange that I had never noticed it before. I have hiked that trail so many times before. Then, I found a tree with a really huge trunk bottom, which got split in two. The two trees coming out of the same trunk could represent siblings who have fought so much, they got put into different corners of the room.

This experience reminded me that I don't always have to go to new places to see a new sight or get a new insight. We do want to venture out of state for a vacation this summer, but that does not mean we cannot still discover new things right here in our homey, familiar surroundings.

Speaking of traveling, this lady was asking in an online forum what her mom could do when she travels to Gatlinburg at the end of June. Well...she got a few paragraphs from me, as you might imagine.

It was interesting to see what others suggested to her. Many people saw “Gatlinburg” and they thought of Dollywood or the Tanger Outlet Malls. That's all good, but it should be balanced out with some nature activities in the national park. After all, that's what started the fame of Sevier County to begin with.

Adriana Zoder, a Gatlinburg resident, is a writer and homeschooling mom. She and her husband have two children. She maintains the award-winning blog www.homeschoolways.com. Her book, 101 Tips for Preschool at Home, is available on Amazon.