The summer fun list

IMG_0836June is the Friday night of summer. As with weekends, at the start they seem endless. Deep in, though, they feel fleeting. I want to make sure that my summers, like my weekends, feel full and good, and not like they have passed me by. We do plan vacations, which are great, but the smaller things that make summer feel like summer are harder to remember.

So, every year, I make a summer fun list for the weeks (14) between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Here are my ideas for the summer of 2016. Please leave some of yours in the comments!

Go strawberry picking. My husband is not into paying to pick fruit in the hot sun, but I like it. And I love fresh strawberries! Perhaps it's the aesthetics (see photos of strawberry art on this post). Red juicy berries sparkle in the early summer light. So I will probably bring some portion of our offspring to our local pick-your-own place and come home with many pints of the stuff. I need to do this soon because, as the introduction of I Know How She Does It begins, "Remember the berry season is short."

Do a "mommy day" with all 3 big kids, separately. Tracking my 8784 hours has revealed that my toddler's sheer neediness means I spend less time with the older kids than I would like. Based on initial feedback, I think the mommy days will involve Hershey park, the beach, and a baseball game, but we shall see. Their picks.

Go to Ocean Grove, NJ. I love this beach. I really do. We've been there enough years that it has its own memories for me. We aren't renting a house there this year (we're meeting cousins in Delaware) but I will make it at least once or twice. A solo beach day would be great! As a side note, I'm setting the novel I'm currently writing (Juliet's School for the Domestic Arts) in a fictional town named Maris Stella that bears some resemblance to Ocean Grove.

IMG_0835Visit Longwood Gardens at night. They have their Nightscape exhibit in August, so I'll see that at some point. I notice they also have a Beer Garden thing going, so maybe it will become a date night.

See fireworks. Likely for the Fourth of July. But maybe for something else as well!

Do a few "tri" days. I will swim, bike, and run on the same calendar day. I did not ride my bike much last summer and I mean to rectify that situation in 2016. I'd like to run on a trail with honeysuckle in June.

Run the ODDyssey half marathon. It's coming up in a week and a half. I would like to beat my time from last year. Ideally, I will also beat my time from the Philly half last fall and continue my streak of falling times.

Read Pride and Prejudice. Confession: I somehow never got assigned this book. I spent a year reading through a list of the greatest novels of the 20th century, but Jane Austen predates that, and then by the time I was done with the list, I was kind of done with classics for a while. I intend to do more novel reading on the porch after the kids go to bed, and that is first on the list. On the non-fiction front, I have The Wright Brothers sitting in my office and haven't gotten to it yet. I would also like to reread Getting Things Done, after The SHU Box reminded me about it.

Sing in the Mozart Requiem. My old choir (YNYC) is having an alumni concert, so I'm singing this weekend. This is the epitome of "effortful fun." I've written in the past of the distinction between effortful and effortless fun. Both are good, but it's always easier to over spend time on effortless fun (e.g. watching TV with a glass of wine) because it's, well, easy. Hauling myself to NYC for choir rehearsals is a pain. I got home at midnight last night and was up with the baby at 6. But listening to the gorgeous music last night, and singing those melodies, was pure bliss. And I'm not even a huge Mozart fan! I'm more of a Bach girl myself.

I would love to hear people's summer fun list ideas. My list could always be expanded!

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18 Responses to The summer fun list


  1. Great summer fun list! I’m inspired to sit down and create one of our own, including some “Mommy Days.” Our big trip will be to a cabin in Maine, sometime in August. We tend to pack a lot into that trip, including Acadia National Park. However, there is plenty more to enjoy over the next couple of months . . . instead of just looking forward to the “Sunday” of summer (I like your analogy).

    • @Harmony- I would love to go back to Maine and Arcadia sometime. We ate lobster in some little water-side place multiple times and it was GREAT.

  2. Anne McCormick says:

    Summer time is my favorite time so I really enjoyed your intro about June being the Friday night of Summer. So true!
    I have a small list of summer activities but I too mostly enjoy the little things that make summer feel like summer.

    • @Anne – I forget where I heard that phrase, but it really resonates for me too. All is possibility!

  3. Angela says:

    ooh, great list!!!
    I was just listening to the Happier Podcast about designing your summer and when I got to my destination I wrote down a list of things I want to do- morning coffee on the porch, weekend breakfasts outside, early morning park visits with the kids on random days off, trips to the libraries and bookstores. I like your idea of ‘tri’ days. Bike riding and swimming are very ‘summer’ activities, I don’t have many opportunities to go swimming usually, but whenever I do I am always glad the opportunity came up, and wish to do it more!
    I think I will also see if I can get a PYO strawberry day in this month too.
    Happy Summer!

    • @Angela – happy summer to you too! Maybe I need to eat outside a few times as well.

  4. Kate says:

    Summer in Florida means water and AC! So our list is heavy on splash pads, pool parties with friends, grilling on Friday nights while the kids spray each other with water guns, experimenting with cold and fruity cocktails and trips to the local science center. Maybe a couple of weekend beach trips too.

  5. Ana says:

    Great list! I am making a summer fun list, too, and strawberry picking is definitely on it. Where do you go? I found a huge list of places around here and need to narrow down.
    Good point on “effortful fun”. I’ve been defaulting to the effortless kind more lately, and need to think about what I’d enjoy spending my energy on.
    We are also planning to hit every water play park in town, visit the beer gardens, go to a local amusement park, have friends over for a barbecue, and eat lots of ice cream.

    • @Ana – Linvilla. It is a bit of a madhouse occasionally (like weekend afternoons) but they run a fairly smooth operation. I second eating ice cream!

  6. Lily says:

    Once you’ve read P&P, I can thoroughly recommend the classic BBC series starring Colin Firth…

  7. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    I am blessed to live in a beach town on the coast of Maine! I plan to get into the frigid water often and go to the beach almost every evening after work! I will take a few vacation days to enjoy it as well!

  8. Anna Veach says:

    When you finish pride and Prejudice (see the movie too) read Longbourn, it’s written from the servants perspective

  9. MK says:

    My oldest (5) keeps reminding me that I promised her a “mommy and me” day. That will likely look like wonton soup and a trip to Sephora–because while the girl looks just like me, her interests sometimes make me wonder if we actually share the same DNA…

    Getting Things Done is also sitting in my TBR stack; thanks for the push!

  10. SHU says:

    YEAH to GTD!
    I love some of the ideas in your post & the comments. Although berry picking sounds less fun to me (hot! bugs! stickiness!) I bet the kids would love it. Strawberry season might be done down here but maybe blueberries.

  11. Kim from Philadelphia says:

    I grew up just several towns south of Ocean Grove, so I totally get its appeal. It’s a lovely town.
    One of my favorite, local haunts is the Silverball Museum in adjacent Asbury, right on the boardwalk. Great for adults (and kids) who love all things pinball!

    • @Kim – I will have to check it out! I’m not so much a pinball fan as fascinated by random stuff like that. I enjoyed learning about Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, who apparently summered in Ocean Grove.

  12. Abby says:

    What was the list of greatest novels from the 20th century that you read through?

    • @Abby – it was one of many that came out right at the turn of the century – I don’t think I remember whose it was, and I don’t think I read all 100, but the vast majority! It was a great way to pass the time during my long bus commute that year.

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