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Growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors.  Especially during the summer months.

My brothers and I were outside for as many hours as possible each day, playing with all the other neighborhood kids.

We took swimming lessons in the morning and then spent the rest of the day at the community pool, by ourselves, just like all of our friends. My mom dropped us off and picked us up when we were ready to leave (usually when the pool closed for the day). We had a couple of dollars each to pick up something (candy) from the snack bar when we got hungry.

After we installed a pool in our backyard everyone would come over to our house first thing in the morning to swim for pretty much the entire day.

At some point our parents would force us to get out of the pool to eat dinner. Then we would throw a tee-shirt and shorts on over our swimming suits and go out front and play Kick The Can, Manhunt, Hide and Go Seek and Freeze Tag all night long, until our parents all yelled for us to “come home now!”

I rode my bike all over creation and came home when I was hungry or when it got dark. I knew how far I could go without getting into trouble.

Kids playing outsideThere were no scheduled playdates (unless it was a birthday party). I would pop over to friends' houses uninvited all the time and we would go to the school playground or city park and play for hours on our own.

It makes me sad that my kids can't have the same kind of summer experience I had. I realize in today's world it's impossible to do because you never know who is out there or what dangers might be around the corner. But I remember fondly all the fun we had, and it didn't include TVs, cell phones, tablets, computers, Xboxes or Nintendo 3DS.

I guess I have the summertime blues. I long to give my kids a summer like I had growing up.

They can't ride their bikes to Dairy Queen to get ice cream with the change they found in the car. And they can't go to the park all by themselves and climb on the monkey bars, slide down the rocket slide and swing as high as they can, trying to touch the sky.

My kids haven't left the house (except to sit on the front porch) for more than 20 minutes in the past three days. The weather's been beautiful, but they choose to sit inside playing on their computer, Xbox, iPad, Kindle, instead of going outside to enjoy the summer.

I must admit a lot of the blame falls on me. I run a business from home full time. It's hard for me to be spontaneous and take the kids to the beach or go hiking in the mountains. And if I'm in the middle of a call with a client it's so much easier (and quieter) if the kids are busy with something like the Kindle or iPod.

Some of it can be blamed on our recent move to the area. There aren't many other 15 YOs in the area so my oldest spends a lot of time texting and Skyping her friends from around the country (and the UK, too!). My other daughters have made friends with many of the neighborhood kids, but it seems like everyone is so overscheduled with art class, soccer, dance, gymnastics, football camp, you name it, they don't have time just to be a kid and enjoy the dog days of summer.

I won tickets to Tweetsie Railroad Wild West Theme Park that we haven't used yet.

And we have season passes to Carowinds that we have used Four. Times. All. Summer. And soon they will only be open on the weekends.

So I've decided, for the last two weeks before school starts, that things will be different! First of all I'm shutting off the WiFi on a regular basis. There is no reason for my kids to have their noses stuck in their electronics all day long when the weather is nice and there is plenty of stuff to do outside.

I'm NOT working on the weekends anymore. I'm limiting my working hours during the day and I will be taking off one day during the week as well. We are going to do spontaneous things OUTSIDE. Go for walks with the dogs. Have picnics in the park. Find Geocaches. We are going to have FUN dammit!

There isn't a shortage of things to do in the area.

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Now the kids and I are off to clean out the garage for a neighborhood tag sale and then I think we will head to Carowinds for some much deserved fun!

How do you plan to spend the last few DAYS of summer break?