Katie Weinstein: My kids begged us for a laid-back summer. You remember the kind? You would wake up late; you ate cereal all morning while watching bad midmorning TV. You called friends and biked all over town, feigning boredom every day. It was a middle school kind of summer. Your mother kicked you out of the house for moping around; you got into summer shenanigans. Those were the days.
They still are "the days" in our house. It has been a great experiment, with mixed results. I am pretty sure everyone we know is wondering what the heck we are thinking. Leaving the kids alone? No schedule? No rushing around like bus drivers? Just say NO! We are bucking the overscheduled-childcare system, and we are finding healthy lessons in saving cash, being creative and forcing our (sometimes) sullen tweens to use their imaginations, their bikes and their allowance.
So, we asked for it. The kids made wine this month. I am not kidding. They made wine. They looked up a recipe on Google one day, while we were at work. They biked to the store to buy ingredients ("with our own money!") and created a wine still in the attic. It was a primitive setup, but they checked it every day and measured their progress like true vintners. They were able to skip the harvesting, pressing and "pigeage" process by buying grape juice concentrate. I guess it sounded good to skip all the unnecessary blending and adding of sulfates. (Hey, this was a semi-organic process.) They jumped straight to fermentation. Smelled like a Mad Dog/Night Train combo. This is why we buy wine at the store, people: so you do not go blind drinking the home-brew.
Our mini ice cooler showed up in the kitchen that week, taped up with caution tape, and the words "Do Not Touch" were written across the top. We were headed to the beach, and they could not hold the secret in any longer. They spilled the beans about their wine program. We were proud parents, I tell you. We had a tasting while on vacation, and it was terrible. Creative, but terrible. I am afraid there was no "vin de garde" for this wine -- absolutely no chance it would improve with age. But we were proud and they were proud, and it was a fine moment in parenting.
We have a few camps and a couple of trips planned -- we are not total parenting heathens. I am not sure there will be anything as creative as the winemaking; we can only hope. I think if you are looking to save some money, you should look into Google.