1. Country music. I don't know if it's a throwback to my childhood, growing up in the middle of the Midwest, but when I see cornfields sprouting along the highway, I want nothing more than to crank up the radio, roll down the windows, and belt out Alabama, Sawyer Brown, and Faith Hill. Despite critics complaining about lyrics bemoaning the loss of the family dog, divorce, and trucks, country music fills me with the carefree, easy-breezy feeling that is summertime.
2. Hiking and camping. Fortunately, living in Colorado makes both these activities a cinch. One of my favorite places to hike/camp is Estes Park. You never know when you'll run into deer, elk, or even a bear. Speaking of which, we saw a black bear on our family hike up Horsetooth Mountain this past Memorial Day!
3. Beach Reads. Last year I discovered The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han. I love-love-love these books. What is more quintessentially summer than a summer romance? I love Belly and Conrad's story, and I've already packed the first book in my pool tote, fully intending to get lost in it again. These books remind me of my first summer romance, shortly before the start of my junior year of high school. I'd been in love with one particular guy since seventh grade, but he didn't notice me until the summer I was sixteen. A total Belly-Conrad moment!
5. Family. I'm looking forward to once again spending laid-back hours with the people I love most. Baseball in the park, roasting s'mores in the backyard, water gun fights, and bike rides to the ice cream parlor are on our to-do list. What's not on the list? Homework, early bedtimes, and jam-packed schedules.