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Summer Prep: Filling Up the Bucket

My oldest son finished his first year of preschool today (uhh...what?!? I know. Trust me. I know.) and it has me thinking about what the end of school year/summer felt like for me when I was in school. I was pretty fortunate that my mom was an elementary school teacher and had every summer off. I have many great memories of going to the beach in Muskegon, playing at the Imagination Station playground in Grand Haven, Thursday morning garage sales, tubing down the White River, and visiting Pentwater on the weekends. I also remember spending a lot of time reading, mowing the lawn, and hanging clothes on the outside clothes line that hung between our garage and shed. I’m a ridiculously sentimental person and I love that the memories I have from my childhood aren’t necessarily of extravagant, once-in-a-lifetime adventures but of experiences that we did on a regular basis and I could look forward to. I knew that on most Thursdays during the summer, my mom and I would gather the newspaper, a paper map of the county, her well-organized list of sales, and her fanny pack and head out for good deals. (No shame in the fanny pack, Mom. Number one: They are becoming trendy again, I hear. Number two: I used to borrow it to put my Sony Discman portable cd player in while I mowed the lawn. Anti-skip protection, baby.) If it was going to be an especially beautiful day, I knew that we would pack up the cooler and swim bag and head to the beach.

I love traditions and I love having things to look forward to throughout the year. Like many members of my family and my husband’s family, my husband is a teacher and has summers off. We love the freedom and fun that comes with having three months to spend as a family without worrying about a work schedule and try our best to take full advantage of it! Last summer we created our very first “Summer Bucket List”. Many fancy variations of a Summer Bucket List can be found on Pinterest but I’m a simple, no-frills list person so our list was on a piece of lined paper that we hung on the refrigerator. Eli (our oldest) contributed some ideas and we checked things off as we went through the summer. Our big summer experience last year (and will be again this year) was a trip to Colorado to visit my brother so the rest of the items on our list were low key, low expense. Well, let’s be honest. Even if we hadn’t had a trip to Colorado, the items on our list would still be low key, low expense. It’s just how we roll. I wish I had saved the list but some items that I can remember are getting ice cream at least two different ice cream places each month, visiting Boulder Ridge Animal Park, going to the Downtown Market, having a picnic at Reeds Lake, and swimming at Jake’s sister’s pool (she lives just over an hour away so this would be a much regular occurrence if we lived closer!). It was a lot of fun making a list of things that Eli wanted to do and planning to visit places we kept talking about visiting but hadn’t made a point to yet.

We started working on the Summer 2016 Bucket List today. It’s handwritten on a lined piece of paper that I’ll hang on our refrigerator but the simplicity of it is no comparison to the awesome memories and experiences we will have together this summer. So far there are many of the same things as last year but I DO have specific ice cream places I want to visit (still haven’t been to Furniture City Creamery!). I’m excited about adding more ideas over the next few days and as we think of them throughout the summer!

I appreciated multiple things about making the bucket list but two reasons stand out.

  1. Instead of continuing to say, “Oh yeah! We should do that sometime! I’ve always wanted to go there/do that/see that,” we actually DID it. It’s not that I don’t go through with the things I want to do. I just either forget or when I think about it, the timing isn’t right. I loved being able to glance at the list and pick something out to do that day or, at the very least, make a legitimate plan for doing something.

  2. I loved that we were making memories as a family and that doesn’t apply to just the experiences alone. Eli really enjoyed asking me to read what items were still on our list and helping us pick out what we should do next. His excitement was contagious!

This will only be our second year with a Summer Bucket List but it will definitely be a tradition we keep for quite some time! I would love to hear your ideas of low key, low expense summer activities for the Grand Rapids area (or within an hour or so of our great city). Feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or comment on the FIT4MOM Grand Rapids Facebook post that links to this blog post!

Here’s to a great, memory-making Summer 2016!

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