Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Summer To-Do List

I found the idea years ago in a parenting magazine, and we've written one faithfully every year since. It's usually around the end of April or early May when it seems like it should be getting summerish, but stubbornly continues to be damp, gray, and chilly. The four of us sit in the living room with a fresh piece of posterboard and brainstorm our Summer To-Do List. Just thinking about things like warm lake water, sunshine, and hot sandy beaches is a tonic that carries us through those last dreary weeks of the Maine spring.

Once the nice weather starts, we look to the list for ideas and cross them off as we do them. It's fun to look back at the end of the summer and see how many of our goals we were able to accomplish. I keep all of our lists to watch how the entries change from year-to-year as the kids get older. Slowly, things like "make popsicles" or "have a princess picnic" have been replaced by "go to the movies" or "go down the fast slide at the waterpark."

Here's this year's list:

It's always an eclectic blend of the mundane ("go on a family picnic"), the hopeful ("climb a mountain"), and the slightly weird ("stay up all night") . Bug has set a personal goal of eating 100 popsicles this summer. She's keeping track, too. She also wants to read 50 books and become better at badminton.

Bear would like to have a summer sleepover with her friends, paint pottery, and go on a shopping spree. Their additions to the list this summer are really showing the differences in their ages. I remember when one of Bear's list items (five years ago?) was "put my face in the water while I'm swimming." Ironically, she's still not real enthusiastic about that, unless she has a swim mask.
Some things make the list every year, like Lake George. That's one of our favorite swimming lakes, complete with a sand beach. It wouldn't be summer if we didn't go there. Also Popham Beach, our favorite ocean beach.

Each year sees some new additions, like Vinalhaven this year. It's an island off the coast of Maine with some cool hiking trails that we plan to check it out this summer. The girls have become better (read: less whiny and foot-draggy) hiking and biking companions in the past couple of years. Daddy Shortbread and I are hopeful that we can con them into some longer excursions this year. We just have to work on Bug not expending 90% of her energy in the first 15% of the outing and then crabbing about how tired she is for the ensuing 85%.

(Sad side note: I actually had to stop typing and think for a minute about what you add to 15 to get 100. True. Sigh).
We've already accomplished some list items. Last week Daddy Shortbread painted a four-square court on the driveway for the girls. It was the very first item to be crossed off this year.

A more driveway-fastidious friend came by the other day, looked at the court and asked me quietly, "How on earth will you get that up at the end of the summer?"

"We're not?" I told her. I'm guessing she would also be appalled by the "bridge" (old countertop) my kids "built across" (heaved into) the creek. It's not like it's visible from the road or anything, and neither is the four-square court, so I'm cool with it.

With a yard the size of ours (2.something-or-other acres), you give up pretty quickly trying to control it all. I rule my gardens with an iron fist, but I'm cool with the kids playing however they want in the rest. They ride bikes across the front lawn, dig down by the creek, create bug graveyards by the playhouse, and build fairy houses out of sticks and seashells back by the old spruce. I did take exception to the time they attempted to set up a Toad Refuge in the playhouse, but that had more to do with pity for for poor toads (they were looking a little wild-eyed by the time I came across them) that it did for the playhouse.
Here's another list item that's partially completed. The girls and I saw a cool idea in a gardening magazine to make a pond-in-a-pot. We've filled it with water, which needs to sit for a couple of weeks to allow the minerals to dissolve? evaporate? something? This week we'll buy some water-plants at the garden center to stick in it. Once the nighttime temperatures are a little higher, we'll add goldfish. Supposedly, frogs and other wildlife will find it on their own. Either it will be a tiny aquatic Eden, or we've just constructed a mosquito breeding center three feet from our patio. I'll let you know. What are you doing this summer?


Anonymous said...

Lake George! I spent all my summers as a kid and teenager there. Enjoy, enjoy.

Jen on the Edge said...

I love this idea. I usually set some goals for the summer, but the idea of bringing everyone in on the planning is just brilliant. I'll be bringing this up at dinner tonight.

parnola said...

I look forward to challenging the girls to a game of 4-square when we're up there this summer. As the raining Far West Elementary Champion of '85, I should be able to give them a run for their money :)

smalltownmom said...

I like your list! I haven't made any major plans yet...Finishing all the things I've started would be a good thing!

Lora and Mike said...

What a great idea! Our list for this summer would likely be filled with princess picnics. :)

Rose said...

I love your idea of a wish list. Even though my girls are 18 & 20, since they're home for the summer, I'm going to do that.

Dawn in Austin said...

I have one more bedroom to paint, a backyard to help landscape and a cornice board to recover. Oh, and I get to go to Greece! Whee!

Linda said...

Note to Uncle Awesome: the word is "reigning." :)

I wish we had done this when you and Uncle A were kids. I'm sure "roller skate in the carport while listening to favorite songs" would have been on the poster.

You guys have a full summer planned. Have fun!!

grandma said...

Our plan for the summer is to stay home, get our much neglected yard in order, with new planters, shrubbery and a new cherry tree. Our male friends have already volunteered to dig the holes for me:-) I told them, that is a deal and I might throw in in meal as payment. They said, awesome, you see they are now bachelors and love a home cooked meal :-(

A tip for your water pond and mosquitoes. To keep the larva from maturing into mosquitoes, put a small drop of cooking oil i.e. vegetable or Canola, in the water. This creates a thin film of oil on top of the water, which the larva cannot penetrate when they come up for air, so they drown. This has worked in my pond for the many years I have had it in my yard. I have no tips about all the mosquitoes you have in your part of the country.

Anonymous said...

I am totally stealing it!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I love the Foursquare court--why would you ever want to get rid of it?

Our plans include running around like crazy people for the entire month of July. I have a trip to Mammoth, a trip to the East Coast and the Junior Olympics for water polo. In August I will be comatose.