Summer Staycation

Traveling for our annual summer road trip to see our beloved Cubbies play baseball against a Midwest rival was out of the plans this year. COVID-19 shutdown baseball season for a while and even though the players are back on the field, spectators aren’t allowed back in the stadium. Hoping to visit every baseball park with Leigh, we took a trip to see the Reds play in Cincinnati last year and St. Louis the year before. On the horizon was the Pittsburgh Pirates this summer, but it’ll have to wait until next year.

Instead, we took a few days off work to stay home with Leigh. Our staycation at home involved small but memorable plans. It should be noted that when we explained that a staycation was a vacation you did at home to Leigh he said he preferred a go-cation. He’s been begging to go on an airplane and stay in a hotel with an elevator. While I’m proud he remembers our trips and is so excited about traveling, my heart breaks for him to understand this sickness keeps us home, where it’s safe. Here are the grand plans:

We pitched a tent in the backyard and slept outside. The August weather was unusually mild with chilly temps in the 50s at night. We blew up our air mattress and threw layers and layers of cozy blankets and pillows on top. With all three of us snuggled in tight on the queen bed, we kept warm for a couple of nights.

We ordered this tent on Amazon a few days before we pitched it in the backyard!
The new Netflix film, Animal Crackers, is now a family favorite.

We set up a projector and white sheet to catch a couple baseball games outside. Later at night, we watched the latest Netflix animated movie, Animal Crackers, which we highly recommend. With an extra-large sausage pizza from our favorite Antioch Pizza Shop and bug repellent torches flaming, we enjoyed lots of time outside in our own backyard.

S’mores are an essential summer dessert at our house. Using the new firepit we found on Facebook Marketplace for a steal, Eric mastered the firepit and roasted our marshmallows until perfectly crisp.

TIP: Let the toasted marshmallow melt the chocolate bar before you take a bite.


On a scavenger hunt for rocks and beach glass, we drove straight east for 30 minutes to visit Illinois State Beach Park in Zion, Illinois. With few people visiting on a Wednesday, we had miles of Lake Michigan shoreline to ourselves. The rocky sand made for great hunting conditions and we found lots of treasures. Like most kids at the beach, Leigh didn’t want to leave.

Unusual for August, the air temperature was much too cold to swim.
In pursuit of the coolest rocks
Homemade scavenger hunt sheets help give Leigh direction on what he should be looking for when we go out.

We ventured deeper into the country to a sunflower maze. Von Bergen’s Country Market was the most popular place we visited (on a weekday, nonetheless) but there were still lots of places to get lost in the maze of 10-foot-high sunflowers and corn stalks. Eric shared a quick lesson about how bees collect pollen to make honey and we spent most of our time counting how many bees were on each sunflower. The boys even pretended to be sunflowers after we talked about how their heads move along with the sun during the day. Leigh enjoyed fresh corn dipped in melted butter and we brought home green peppers and sweet treats to enjoy later.

Counting bees on the flowers. Each one had about 3-5 bees on it, in the field of hundreds!



Pretending to be sunflowers. Leigh was fascinated by the reason why all the flowers faced the same way.


Toddler photography at its finest.

Best of all, we spent time at home. We napped, lounged, watched movies, finished puzzles, played pirates, cleaned up, cooked meals, walked dogs, picked blueberries, practiced yoga and did laundry. I wish we could say we slept in, but our four-year-old would never permit it. Still, our pace of life slowed down. It was a welcome moment to pause and appreciate everything we have. Celebrate what is in front of you. It is meant for you and only you, right now.

Note: Leigh says he had fun sleeping in the tent but still wants to sleep in a hotel bed.


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