Summer, so far as I’m concerned, is here already. We’ve been breaking 100 degrees F every day since Friday. Go ahead, tell me it’s not summer. I won’t believe you!

Now the biggest trouble to me with this kind of weather is that it’s hard to keep the kids busy. My usual routine of booting them out of the house doesn’t work so well when the back yard doesn’t have a single tree to help keep them cool. If we had known we’d be renting here this long we would have changed that, but as things stand, we’re stuck with no trees and one hot back yard.

And there’s only so much we can do with sprinklers or other water fun. We’re really short on water, and the city has been campaigning hard to get people to cut their daily water usage by at least 20%. While we can combine watering the lawn with letting the kids play sometimes, we can’t do that daily.

So the challenge becomes how to keep the kids busy indoors without just leaving the TV on all day.

We started things out with some rules on TV watching, though. Each of the kids is allowed to pick a certain number of shows per day. They can watch each others’ shows, but when my daughter goes to school she misses my son’s picks, and he generally misses her after school picks due to his nap. Keeps their individual total screen times down.

I encourage a lot of creative play. The kids have rediscovered their wooden train set. Start a competition to clean up after, and it even gets off the floor quickly in the end too.

The kids have a little table set up for homework and crafts. It gets some fair use right now.

But what gets the most regular use? The shave ice maker.

This thing was the biggest hit at my daughter’s birthday party. The kids barely cared about the cake – shaved ice was available. And my kids are asking for it pretty much daily too.

Ours is just a hand crank model. We’ve had it since my first pregnancy, a way to be sure that if they weren’t going to let me eat when I was in the hospital I could have some flavored ice, which they had said was fine. We didn’t actually use it there, or even remember to bring it, but that was the idea.

One thing I’ve been trying to figure out is healthier flavorings for the ice. The usual stuff is just full of corn syrup. You can’t avoid having a lot of sugar in the syrups, though. But at least the amount of syrup is much smaller than the amount of ice!