In the course of unpacking some boxes, I came across a “Bucket List” that I’d made in high school, back before Bucket Lists were called Bucket Lists. The movie by that name hadn’t come out yet, so my list was just “Things I’d Like to Do” (with the implication “before I die,” but at 17, who wants to write “die” on an inspiration list). Anyway, of the 45 things I thought of that day, I’m happy that I can now put a little “x” next to 16 of those things. I’ve gone skydiving, but I haven’t been to Australia. Yet. Seeing that old list makes me think that it’s time for me to update my Bucket List with some new life goals.
In the short term, though, summer is on my mind. Judging by the weather, it’s definitely time for summer vacation to start. And strangely enough, it’s not my kids that are itching for summer vacation, it’s me. I’m sick of putting the kids to bed when there’s still plenty of daylight. The responsible parent in me says “get the kids in bed, they’ve got school tomorrow and need some good sleep,” and the irresponsible kid in me says, “but I don’t want them to go to bed yet. We’re having too much fun playing outside.”
This is our first summer living in our new place in Minnesota, and that opens a whole new world of fun possibilities. There is a freshness and excitement that comes with living in a new place and having new things to discover. And even though I grew up in St. Charles, our new house 15 miles away is just far enough to be a new territory for me to explore. With all these possibilities swirling around in my mind, I decided to take the suggestion I found in some magazine, and create a “Sand Pail List,” the summer equivalent of the Bucket List. None of the things on my list are particularly earth-shattering or profoundly life-changing, but they all add up to living the kind of life that I want for myself and for our family. It’s easy to forget the big picture in the sea of diapers to change and cereal bowls to wash, so this is my start on making sure we fully take advantage of the joys of summer.
12 Things to Do in the Summer of 2012
1. Less Screens–My smart phone is my vice. I way too frequently grab it, and suddenly 20 minutes disappears, and then I’m mad at myself. I gave up facebook for Lent, and I want to do something similar with my smart phone in general for the summer. Our television also might go on vacation for at least part of the summer.
2. Lots O’ Gardening–This year marks our first time planting our very own family garden, and we’re all so excited to play in the dirt and see what we can grow and eat from our own piece of land.
3. More Books–In the mess of moving, I got sidetracked from reading nap and bedtime stories, and I plan to go back to that. Reading to our kids is one of my very favorite things, and I plan to make regular trips to see Grandma at the library to keep a fresh supply of books around. We’ve got two emerging readers in our house, and it thrills me to see them learning new words.
4. Streamlined for Summer–I want “less is more” for summer. We’re still living in moving clutter, and I want all the extra clothes, toys, and stuff put away so we have more room and time to breathe, play, and create. The last thing I want to do is hang out inside the house cleaning when there are so many fun projects outside to tackle.
5. BBQs and Bonfires–Yes, lots of these. Gazing into flames is a satisfying caveman television, and wood smoke smells like good times.
6. “Mom Cave”–We have a sun room upstairs currently filled with moving boxes. At some point, the grand master scheme is to make it into a laundry/guest/sewing room, my “Mom Cave.” We need room for friends and family to come and stay, and I finally have a spot where my sewing machine can live relatively undisturbed. It’s been over a year since I’ve sewn a thing, and I want to teach my kids how to sew, just like my mom did for me.
7. Playing Farm–Growing up, I loved living in the country, but my contribution to help on the farm was pretty much zero (my siblings will confirm this). But now on our own place, playing farm sounds fun. We’ve got the neighbor’s sheep munching away weeds in our pasture, and we’ve got plans for chickens and who knows what else once we get more settled. We really just need more hours in the day to execute all our schemes and dreams with our new land.
8. Porch Swing–My life will be complete once we have a big ol’ porch swing for our porch. I’ve fantasized about porch swings my whole life.
9. Date Nights–As far as I can remember, we last went out for a date night over a year ago. Our last date night included a two-week old baby along for our anniversary dinner and movie, but I think this summer we just might actually get a babysitter for all of them and go out, all by ourselves. I can hardly wait to eat my food while it’s still warm.
10. Kayaking–For whatever reason, kayaking is on my mind. I’ve gone canoeing, but I’ve never been in a kayak, and it’s high time that I took that plunge. I want to feel like a waterbug gliding through the water, and now that we live pretty close to the Root River, I think this summer is the time.
11. Run Baby Run–Somehow, between moving out and moving in and driving cross country time and time again, I just haven’t had time to go running lately. Before kids, I ran a few times a week, then it went to maybe once a week, but lately it’s been more like once every month. This summer I want to get back to running once or twice a week, and do a few local races. Running for me is a colossal stress reliever and now with four kids, it’s one of the few times that I ever have complete solitude. That is priceless.
12. Learning by Doing–If the school year is the time for desks, papers, and pencils, summer is the time for hands-on learning by doing. I want my kids to garden, build stuff out of wood, get confident enough on their bikes that I get nervous, start learning to swim, and be active, busy little creatures figuring things out for themselves.
If at the end of the summer I see lots of dirty feet, scabby knees, no propane left in the BBQ, permanently dead grass under the fire pit, fines racked up at the library from stacks of books getting checked out, piles of grass to sweep off the floor at night, and counter tops buried in garden bounty, I will definitely call Summer 2012 a success.
Written May 28, 2012.