The 2021 Summer Fun List

The Brood X cicadas are supposed to be emerging around here one of these days. In my mind, these cicadas will always be linked with the summer of 2004, when I was planning my wedding in Princeton, New Jersey, and the cicadas were all over the place there. Go visit the caterers, step over the cicadas on the sidewalk. Good times.

Seventeen years on, my summer will look different, though I’ll probably wind up back in Princeton for something or another (my parents now live there). Time keeps passing. Children are born — five of them! — and they grow up. They mark their first appearance of the Brood X cicadas, and perhaps will recall that 17 years from now.

What else will they remember from this summer? What will I remember?

This question of remembrance is a big reason I make a summer fun list each year. I want to make memories before summer ends. While a wedding provides a big and obvious marker in time, daily adult life can tend to disappear, unnoticed, into the past. In life, I’d rather not wake up wondering where 17 years have gone.

Here’s what I’d like to do this summer, to make summer feel like summer to me.

Find a patch of honeysuckle. And breathe in deep. Certain scents just remind me of summer, and possibility, and this is one of them.

Pick strawberries (and peaches!). I’ve found a few local farms that are smaller and quieter than the crazier places around here. I’m looking forward to some fresh strawberries with homemade whipped cream (it’s worth braving dairy for that).

Visit Ocean Grove (and eat ice cream at Days). I’m realizing how much of my summer fun involves dairy products. Oh well, again, it’s worth it for ice cream parlor chocolate peanut butter ice cream. We’ve rented a house for a week — the same one we’ve rented three other summers — where you can see the ocean from the front porch. I plan to eat out there for as many meals as possible. The house is on the market, so it’s unclear what the future rental situation will be, and so I especially plan to enjoy the place this August.

Visit a beer garden.

Hit up the Cousins Maine Lobster truck again. With the 11-year-old, my lobster-loving child. This is going to require regular checking of the app to figure out when the truck will be near us.

Listen to live music outside. This is definitely on the schedule for late September, provided I get tickets (Brad! A birthday gift for the hubby, rescheduled from 2020), but hopefully before that too.

Ride my bike. It fits in my trunk when the seats are down so I don’t even need to mess with the bike rack. Or I can ride around the neighborhood. This is a nudge to me to actually do this.

Run 10 miles. Like, at once. Plus sneak in some weekday trail runs. There is a lovely 3.3 mile loop near the house and running on rocks, over streams, and on dirt track occupies the mind enough that it’s hard to think of much else. I’m sure there’s a honeysuckle patch somewhere along the route so I could hit two summer fun list items at once!

Buy some shorts I actually like. I’m inspired by SHU’s musings on this. However, this might be the hardest item on the list to pull off as I tend not to like the way shorts look on me.

Survive our resort trip, and have moments of fun. Since we are traveling with all seven of us, I suspect this trip will not be terribly relaxing. However, there might be some nice opportunities — reading a book in the afternoon while the baby is napping and the big kids are at the kids club or having downtime…and they supposedly have babysitters, so I’m looking into this for a morning.

Do Mommy Days. Various children inquired about these, so they are back on the schedule for this summer after a one-year hiatus (attributable to an every-three-hour baby nursing schedule and the pandemic). I will take each of the four older children on a one day excursion somewhere of their choosing. I suspect a lot of amusement parks and funnel cake will be involved. Maybe the American Girl store in New York again (guess which child…). We shall see!

Eat out more often. My husband and I have some early evening childcare during the week. It’s time to make this happen regularly. I might start taking myself out to lunch some days too. Or the big kids out for dinner when someone else can stay with the toddler. Taking a toddler to a restaurant is a summer not-fun list entry, but the older kids are now reasonable dinner companions.

Enjoy our (current) house. This is our last summer here. So I’m getting in the habit of taking the kids in the pool around 4 p.m. on warm days, sitting on the porch after the toddler goes down at night, and ideally soaking in the bath tub I chose as part of the master bath renovation a few years ago. I want to enjoy the yard at new house too! Some nights after dinner when I don’t think the toddler will go down early we drive over there, walk around, and then drive home. It’s a nice way to spend 30 minutes. Frequent visits to the new house feel something like a courtship, before we finally get to move in.

Do something spontaneous and fun the first week of September. My kids don’t start school until September 8th. Most camps stop by then, so no one is scheduled for anything. It could be a cool opportunity for something last minute.

Write Tranquility by Tuesday. My goal is to write a book that I want to read. One that nudges *me* to do these things that I know can make life feel better. I love spending my time writing, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this. I am a tough critic, and now I need to live up to my standards.

What’s on your summer fun list?

In other news: Thanks to everyone who entered the graduation give-away! Winners have been contacted. Congrats to Kirsten, Jason, Jayme, KL, Monica, and Kim!

10 thoughts on “The 2021 Summer Fun List

  1. So this summer for me is similar to your summer last year in that I have a nursing baby who naps 3 times/day… he takes a bottle great at school but not from my husband at home! Smart kid, huh? So it’s tough to plan much but I still want to do something, especially after a very quiet and lonely summer last year. Our son is starting swimming lessons so I am excited about that and hoping he does well as he’ll be in the pool w/out me for the first time. I’d also like to hit up the farmer’s market at least 2-3 times. That’s a pretty low bar, but our market is open on Sundays and we have swimming lessons at 8 and my husband swims across a local lake as part of a swim club between 9-11 so Sunday mornings will be trickier this year! We’ll also visit my parents at their lake home at least 2-3 times, one of which will be a longer 5-day getaway for us. I’m debating a mommy day or afternoon with our 3yo son. He’s adjusting to being a big brother so I think having me to himself for a day would really help.

    All that said, I’m glad we can plan SOMETHING for this summer after doing nothing last year!

    1. @Lisa- I know isn’t it great to be able to plan fun and be much more confident it will happen??

  2. I am a little bit south of you in Maryland and Brood X is officially here!!! We’ve had them in full-force for nearly a week, though they started emerging in our yard 2-3 weeks ago. I think cicadas are very cool so I don’t mind them at all (plus, they are fairly short-lived). And they have provided literally hours of entertainment for my kids…though this backfires when the 2-minute walk to daycare (next door) takes (what feels like) 4 hours because my 2-year-old has to stop and point out every single one in the street. “Cicada! Look! Cicada moving!” It’s very cute but there are a LOT of cicadas so we stop…frequently =) My husband likes to remind my 5-year-old that next time the cicadas come around, they’ll be able to have a beer together! Hope your kids enjoy them this year!

    1. @KGC – I have no doubt there will be a lot of cicada interaction from my younger kids too! I hope the toddler doesn’t start eating them…

  3. This is a hard one because I live in California by the beach. We go to the beach at at least once a week so I really had to think about it. I’ve planned vacations for months now but I wanted to fill in some gaps and so here goes…

    1. Family vacation to national parks in Arizona and Utah.
    2. Sons to Boy Scout camp, mom to visit family in Pennsylvania.
    3. Take tennis lessons.
    4. Lots of fishing/guitar playing with a visit to one new lake.
    5. Long distance bike ride with friends.
    6. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in the harbor with family and friends
    7. Visit one new museum
    8. Visit friends that I haven’t seen in a while
    9. Host a family barbecue
    10. Barbecue more often with margaritas
    11. Go here and live music played outside

  4. This is a hard one because I live in California by the beach. We go to the beach at at least once a week so I really had to think about it. I’ve planned vacations for months now but I wanted to fill in some gaps and so here goes…

    1. Family vacation to national parks in Arizona and Utah.
    2. Sons to Boy Scout camp, mom to visit family in Pennsylvania.
    3. Take tennis lessons.
    4. Lots of fishing/guitar playing with a visit to one new lake.
    5. Long distance bike ride with friends.
    6. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in the harbor with family and friends
    7. Visit one new museum
    8. Visit friends that I haven’t seen in a while
    9. Host a family barbecue
    10. Barbecue more often with margaritas
    11. Go hear live music played outside
    12. Signed the boys up for some sports camps
    13. Lots of Beach time

  5. I love your seasonal lists, Laura! And love seeing the lists in the comments. My own plans include using our boat as much as possible, taking kids to an amusement park, vacation to Seattle to visit family, picking raspberries at a farm, trying to bbq something other than burgers, and going horseback riding.

  6. Two tips-
    Try out Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance Pills (not their general probiotic) on dairy days. Have found them to be a game changer.
    Women’s fishing shorts are my new favorite thing. Comfy, cute and cool. academy.com/shop/browse/search?searchTerm=womens%20fishing%20shorts

    Our summer features a baseball tournament at Disney World, lots of fishing, hopefully a kayak day or two and a 4th of July fireworks party my husband started on last night.

  7. I’ve given up on shorts and have found easy summer dresses (Eddie Bauer and Lands End specifically t-shirt or travel fabrics) to be a good alternative. Your summer lists always remind me to find something fun to do instead of sitting around the house all summer.

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