I am right now listening to my “Nature Sounds” playlist. This is what I do when I am really stressed out. When even the so-called silence around me (after the boys go to bed and Jeremy has gone to band practice) is irritating and unsettling.

My head is so full of details — end-of-school-year, transitioning to a different schedule, putting in a rain garden, organizing summer camps, already scheduling into fall, trying to keep up with work with only 2 hours of “free” time each day, details — that I feel like I might just freak out. And not in a “Le Freak, c’est chic” way. Definitely time for the headphones.

Through the second half of today I was barking out orders, repeating myself louder and louder to the two children and one cat most decidedly not listening to me, and stomping around the house and yard in deep frustration. At the supper table tonight, as I fought to complete a full sentence, a mental picture came to mind of Elly in the For Better or For Worse comic strip, about to blow her top. Of course, back when I was reading it in the 80s, I likely wasn’t relating to the character I relate to now.

Lynn/Elly, the mom

If you aren’t familiar with it, this fantastic comic strip was created by Lynn Johnston, a Canadian mother and artist who just happens to live and create near Jeremy’s hometown. Here are a few examples of her insightful work, along with my captions:

Is this what the next few months will look like?

The wrinkles in my forehead were prominent today.

Check out her incredible archive of work right here. Nearly all 20+ years of the strip is archived, and you can read to your heart’s content. Or, you can buy one of her bestselling books.

Pursuing even more levity to offset my mood, Dylan and I read a book of summer-themed jokes at bedtime tonight. The book used to be one of Jesse’s favorites at this age, and we found it piled in with some of the rubble caused by our de-cluttering process last night. Perfect material for Dylan to work up for the months ahead. What more could a five-, nearly six-year old hope for at the beginning of summer vacation?

You will definitely enjoy sharing these with any little people you know. But I also guarantee that you will be secretly memorizing them, so that you are not caught off guard at the many cocktail parties, boat rides and camping trips you will attend this summer. After all, every capable socialite needs to start each season with fresh conversation starters, right? Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.

Below are some of our favorites from Really, Really Bad Summer Jokes, by Rick Walton and illustrated by Jack Desrocher. As you will see, nearly every important summer topic is represented here. How useful!

At the beach

Why can’t you ever get any privacy at the beach?
Because the ocean is always there waving at you.

Baseball – for the Jacobsons

Why do baseball players make such lousy dinner guests?
They’re always stepping on your home plates.

Why can’t a dog ever hit a home run?
Because he’s always being walked.

Travel – for the Haleys

What kind of footwear should you never wear hiking?

What’s the hardest part of a trip?
Hitting the road.

Why did the girl go on a picnic in Italy?
She wanted some Rome-ants.


What are the saddest flowers?
The Cry-santhemums.

Where do kids learn to grow vegetables?
In kindergarden.

Why was the gardener fined?
She broke the seed limit.


What’s the first thing a fisherman must learn?
The alpha-bait.

Why did the fisherwoman slap the river?
Because it was fresh water.

The heat

What’s the hottest day of the week?

What do Mexicans wear to protect their heads from the sun?

Camping – for the Barnhills

Where do octopuses sleep when they camp?
In tentacles.

How do campers find their way to the bathroom at night?
They use a flushlight.

Why should campers try to be quiet?
So they won’t wake their sleeping bags.

Amusement parks and parades

Why did the shy trumpeter hire someone to play for him?
He didn’t want to toot his own horn.

What’s the most frightening ride?
The scary-go-round.

What amusement park ride is only a foot long?
The ruler coaster.

So…which one is your favorite?

Mine is the one about the ocean waving…yuk, yuk.

Which reminds me, time to get back to my nature sounds.