It’s September! Here’s how we did on the Summer Fun List, plus a keep-the-summer-vibe-going challenge

Every summer, I create a Summer Fun List. This is a list of things that I want to do by the end of the summer to make memories, enjoy myself, and to make summer feel like summer to me.

School has now started. Even the little guy has preschool orientation today! So it’s time for an update: how did we do?

Pretty well, as you’ll see below. It was a great summer. It was a spaciously long summer, and long in a good way. Memorial Day seems like ages ago. I have not found myself saying “where did summer go?” partly because, thanks to my time-tracking, I know exactly where the summer went! It went to many wonderful, adventurous places, some planned, some not.

Anyway, even though school is starting and the light is definitely changing — slanting into fall — I want to keep the summer vibe going as much as possible. Hopefully you do too! So, for the next week or so on this blog, I’ll be sharing tips from Off the Clock to help you feel like time is abundant, rather than scarce. Taken together, these tips will keep the summer vibe going, to the equinox and beyond. Summer in September! Why not?

Now, on to my list:

Savor the launch of Off the Clock. I did my best! There were some hiccups with the launch that I will work to improve upon for Juliet’s School of Possibilities (March 12, 2019). That said, I toasted the launch with friends and family in NYC, and I have loved talking about the book and seeing it on social media. I have made sure to really read and absorb the notes I’ve gotten from people who enjoyed the book. (Feel free to send me more such notes! Or post them at the retail site where you purchased the book.)

Go strawberry picking. Done. We tried a new-to-us strawberry patch that was less mobbed — and closer — than the one we’ve normally visited, so that was a win.

Visit the Pine Barrens. We tested out the kids’ new hiking books (pre-Yellowstone) with a hike through this pine forest in New Jersey. The landscape was fascinating to see, and there’s nothing like listening to the wind in the pines. We also enjoyed visiting the Evergreen Dairy Bar afterwards!

Come up with a good birthday present for my husband. Not really, though we did celebrate this particular milestone birthday with his extended family when we went to the beach in North Carolina for the week.

Go to a beer garden. My husband and I had a drink at the beer garden in Asbury Park during our week at the Jersey shore. Then we visited the one at Longwood Gardens, though that day was rainy, which makes an outdoor beer garden a bit less enjoyable.

Eat ice cream at Days in Ocean Grove. Many times! We went during our week at the beach, and then I took my 11-year-old there during his Mommy Day.

Eat lobster in Cape May. We made our annual pilgrimage to the Lobster House. Then we hung out on the beach and saw dolphins.

Do “Mommy Days” with all four kids. I hit the American Girl Place in NYC with my daughter, a local DefCon1/trampoline park place with my 8-year-old, the beach and a pinball arcade with my 11-year-old, and the Please Touch Museum with my 3-year-old.

See the fountains and fireworks at Longwood Gardens. We did this in August, and it was great, despite the rain. I was amazed at the 3-year-old’s ability to fall asleep during the fireworks!

Visit Yellowstone. Yes! We went (with the three older children) to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Parks the last week before Labor Day. We had a great time hiking, seeing wildlife, and watching the geothermal activity. Because I made a reservation on May 1, 2017, we got to stay in the Old Faithful Inn, which was a real treat. We could be walking along the hallway and boom! There would go Old Faithful.

Sit on the porch on summer evenings. I did this almost every day I was home (though I didn’t go for a lot of post-dinner strolls, as I mentioned in the summer fun list. These two items sort of substituted for each other, and I elected to sit and read rather than walk. On the plus side, I did make it through Middlemarch and Infinite Jest.)

Go for some solo swims. I did a few, often as little breaks during the work day when no one else was home. This happened a lot in early August when I had cleared my schedule for jury duty and then was not selected. The solo swims were heavenly.

Read a book on the beach. Not a whole book, but I read parts of Infinite Jest while at the beach with my 11-year-old, who doesn’t need a whole lot of supervision.

Update my summer wardrobe. I didn’t get a nicer swimsuit. I tried, and the one I ordered, which looked so cute on Instagram, looked horrible on me. Like, comically horrible. However, I did clean out my closet — and my book shelves — and got rid of 8 bags/boxes of stuff. I got a few new pieces to fill out the gaps, and ordered some duplicates on the secondary market of a few items that I love, but are falling apart (eBay and ThreadUp for the win!).

So that’s been the summer of 2018! If you made a Summer Fun List, how did it go?

8 thoughts on “It’s September! Here’s how we did on the Summer Fun List, plus a keep-the-summer-vibe-going challenge

  1. We tried a summer bucket list this year and it didn’t go as well as I was hoping it would. Weather and an unusual amount of extended family obligations/invitations (that we wanted to attend, but they were one-off events like graduations and milestone birthdays) made it difficult to do as much as we wanted to do. For example, there’s a local sunflower farm that I have always wanted to go to. Well, sunflower season ended earlier than normal because of the heat we’ve experienced, so we missed that completely. We are going to try to do some things this fall that we couldn’t get to this summer if the activity allows us to, but I’m also trying to remind myself that we really did have a nice summer, even if I don’t feel like I did as much as I would have liked.

    1. @Amy – apparently the sunflower season is as short as the berry season! I do know if we don’t go strawberry picking the first weekend or two of June, it won’t happen. But yes, even if the things on the summer fun list don’t happen, you do other fun stuff. It’s really more about having ideas of things to do so you don’t sit there wondering what would be fun.

  2. Thanks for sharing your lists and the updates.
    I love solo swims – more of those in 2019.
    Not enough ice cream this summer – though I did discover a Gin & Tonic sorbet in England.
    And I keep forgetting to tell you that Pine Barrens features in Barbara Kingsolver’s upcoming book “Unsheltered” – would be curious to see what you think of the book!

    1. @Nancy- interesting on the Barbara Kingsolver book! I liked Bean Trees in high school, and then re-read her later and thought she was just a bit much. I will have to see what the reviews are on this one.
      Gin and Tonic sorbet sounds fascinating…

  3. We tried the summer fun list and it was great! Really helped us make the most of our free time and feel like we enjoyed the season. My husband now wants to make a fall fun list too 🙂

    1. @Samantha – definitely do a fall fun list! I will probably make one as well. I do love spending time outdoors in the fall but it’s easy to get busy with other things.

  4. This summer I reread (well, listened to) East of Eden.

    First, so much more enjoyable at 38 than at 18.

    Second, there was a great quotation that reminded me of Off the Clock:

    “Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy – that’s the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.“

    1. @Kathleen – great quote! That pretty much sums it up. He’s echoing William James there (his principles of psychology). I think that’s why people remember high school/college as seeming a lot longer than a similar 4 years later in life.

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