Friday, October 3, 2014

In the Bucket, Summer 2014

It's been over a week since the "First Day of Autumn" graced our calendar, and brought with it the cool weather to match the calendar's proclamation of Fall. I am still begrudgingly mourning its arrival and the passing of Summer. I know I sound like a spoiled teacher... but post-Summer School and pre-school inservices I only had a month off! It's a bit disconcerting because I usually am excited for the start of the school year, by sayyy five days after Summer vacation begins. This year though, I really wanted to beg and plead with the calendar gods to give me just two more weeks... one more trip to the beach, to the waterpark, to many and any 'a place. Of course, time just doesn't work that way, and I have found myself feeling like I never left school for the summer at all. Thus, I am thankful I made The Summer Bucket List although much did not get accomplished. Still, I can look at it for an easy reference to many of the summer highlights and use these reflections to create my mindset going into next Summer.

So, to finally face reality and succumb to the arrival of autumn, I wanted to recap Summer 2014 by way of the Bucket List.

1- Big Brother: Watched the whole season and absolutely loved it. At the start of the season I liked Christine but that was before I really got to know any other them. The tattooed barista stood out most to me amid the cast of such different characters. By mid-season though I was not impressed with her ethics (i.e., hussiness) and began to see the psychological genius that was Derrick. I wish I could employ many of his political tactics to my everyday work life- not be such a knee-jerker and emotionally responsive.

2- Crabs: Our ratty little farmer's market had a guy selling crabs over the summer and we bought a bushel (for $92 I think). Mistake. The "joy" of opening the packets of frozen crabmeat over the next few months was not worth the wasted day and aches and scrapes of shucking crabs for eight hours. A lot of them just didn't steam right either given our limited means. Next summer, it will definitely be more worth it to make a couple of trips to a crab shack for dinner. When you are not being charged per individual crab, it's a lot easier to do a quick-clean, eat, and move on.

3- Watermelon & Corn: We bought a couple of good watermelons over the summer, and one or two others not as good. I let a good deal of it go to waste and just didn't get around to eating it personally though, which I regret, although the rest of the fam enjoyed their share. With corn, we made the same mistake we make every year or two and then forget what a mistake it is until we make it again - the Farmer's Auction. Unless  you are hosting a Family Reunion or a Baptist Cookout, you do not need 100 ears of corn. Unfortunately we let a great deal of it go to waste and froze it too late, having to toss out the frozen masses a short while later. Note to self to just buy a dozen at the Famer's Market, or even the grocery store before I do that again.

4- Blueberries: We went blueberry picking twice, 10 pints the first time and 8 the second, I think. I wish I had tried more recipes with them, though the galette and cake I made were pretty darn good. I also need to note for myself to just go alone next year, not in the heat of mid-day , and take a water bottle. The later season visit presented blueberries that were not as bountiful to pick or that looked as appealing. So, I need to just plan to make one solo blueberry-picking-marathon of it early in the season.

5- Popsicles: Failed. We did not make any popsicles and I am not particularly distressed by that because I don't like popsicles... I just wanted to use my fancy pop maker.

6- Farmer's Market: We did make it to the Farmer's Market a few times. I'd like to make it back one more time but am not sure if the soccer schedule will allow that.

7- Yard Sales: I did go yard saling, twice I think, this summer. I picked up random odds & ends. Pretty good days- not great, no real treasures stand out in my mind. I would really like to get in one more Saturday of Yard Sales... but am not sure if the soccer schedule will allow for that either.

8- Crafting: Failed. This one actually does upset me. The "Craft Room" is more like the "Junk Room" right now. I can barely squeeze in the door. Of all 20 items on the Summer Bucket List, this is the one I regret most not fulfilling. I know that sounds selfish but all the other adventures combined do not fill me in the way this one does. This one that I always save so very little- any- time for.

9- Chalkboard Wall: Suspended. Jason & Cameron cleared out the hall, covered the floor, and taped off the wall... then life got busy again. We have the supplies. I just need to push aside some other things on the Never-ending To Do list and get it done. Such a tangible feeling of accomplishment would be good right about now.

10- Reading: I'm not sure what all I read this summer, but I definitely did read some good books. After three failed attempts to begin, I made it through Gone Girl once I got past the hurdle of accepting the strange narrator's voice, I absorbed the book- loved it. (I'm telling you it was because a female author took on a male voice. The cross-gender narrator never works for me.) I then went on to grab her two other books and devoured those in a couple of days too. I read a handful of others too, some blogged about- others not.

11- Library Reading Program: We joined, checked out books, attended a few programs. Honestly though, it was just too early for Benjamin. The programs were not structured to hold the attention of a 4 year old, especially in that small crowd setting. We may try again next year, or we may hold off for a summer. I don't want to let "having" to stay in town for the Library program to dictate our summer plans again, although Cameron actually volunteering with the program coupled with that decision too.

12- Summer Movies: We went to see two (I think) Summer movies. It was well worth the $1 admission. I just have to remember not to become a sucker for concessions again, or else that admission price increases ten-fold. We saw Kung Fu Panda 2 and some movie about fairies in the grass. Benjamin was just on the cusp of handling/not handling a movie theater. Like most everything else, it just had to have his attention captured... or I had to bribe him with candy pieces until it did.

13- Parks: Failed. I could not convince myself to drive an hour to another park when we could drive a bit more and go to Busch Gardens. The days just passed by too fast. I would have liked to try new parks but we just ran out of time.

14- Baseball: We did make it to one Tides baseball game. I waited until the day of the game and bought tickets which were FAR too expensive. We had good seats tough, front row over the home team dugout, which was a perfect pick for Benjamin. Honestly though, it was too difficult to try and enjoy the game and entertain Benjamin at the same time. If we take him to a game again next year, we will definitely go for the cheap seats and make the most of it. I would have liked to make it back to another game sans kids and avec beer, but that just didn't happen.

15- Children's Museum: We did make it to The Children's Museum and to the Wizard of Oz exhibit, which was greatly disappointing. Thankfully it was a cheap day now that I know teachers get in for free and military gets a discount. We went on a rainy Sunday afternoon that was a free visit day for all Bank of America customers, so it was chaos.

16- Living Museum: Failed. We did not make it to the Living Museum, which I regret. I am sure the Dinosaurs Live exhibit would have been more entertaining than the Oz at Children's Museum. It is also more importantly a warm season museum since a good portion is outdoors. If the Fall Bucket List is created, I should add a visit.

17- Busch Gardens: I think we made three summer time visits. Benjamin found anew his love of roller coasters, which had disappeared for a while. This child is going to terrify me when he is big enough to do more rides, which scarily may be next summer.

18- Water Country: We made three visits here too. At least one of the visits was just too late in the day. Whether Busch Gardens or Water Country, it is just not worth the 3 - 4 hour round trip to stay at the park about that long. The last visit was on the Sunday before the park closing on Monday, Labor Day. Never again. I did not even know the place had overflow parking until this day. It was like those crowded wave pool in Japan viral videos. The park actually closed because it reached capacity. Never. Again.

19- I think we only made it to the beach twice. The second time was just for a few evening hours after a rainy afternoon (during which we went to see "Lucy"- worst movie I have EVER seen in my life!). Not enough. I would favor weekly beach trips over Busch Gardens next year. I don't know if it's the influence of crabby aging self or succumbing to the norms of rural life but crowded sand scenes in Virginia Beach have lost their charm to me. I may have to check out the Outer Banks or more private beaches next year- I think there's a military one.

20- Justin: Failed. This really saddens me. We had coordinated plans for him to be with us a full week at the Eastern Shore campground... until a tornado ripped though it the week before, killing three campers. Obviously, I feel the due gratitude to not even having been there the week this happened but it was going to be good to spend a week with the eldest son. Unfortunately the one weekend that works best for us this month is the one weekend he is out of town for a run. So, I am not perfectly sure when this dilemma will be resolved.

And that, my dears, with a few unscheduled adventures added to the mix, was Summer 2014. And, I can't even say I am on countdown until the next summer because that is post-graduation for Cameron... and whenever I think about that... it's just a little too much to handle.