Friday miscellany: Long summer + summer fun list update

I just read through my summer fun list from late May. Thinking about honeysuckle and picking strawberries reminds me of how long ago that was. And the season keeps going in some ways — my kids don’t start school for another two weeks.

I did pretty well on the list. I did breathe in a lot of honeysuckle, including finding some at the new house that is easily accessible and should provide a lot of June sniffing in future years. We picked strawberries at a local place, and found a nice new-to-us venue about 50 minutes away for peaches and apples.

We did two day trips and also spent a full week in Ocean Grove, NJ, where I did indeed eat ice cream twice, and then did the non-dairy stuff the other days. My husband and I went to a beer garden while we were there. We had tried to go to the beer garden at Longwood Gardens when we took the big kids there for fountains and fireworks in early August but it was so crowded we wound up eating inside.

My 11-year-old and I went to the Cousins Maine Lobster truck again. I rode my bike a few times — by myself in the neighborhood, and on a trail with the family. Maybe I’ll attempt a solo trail ride at some point in the next few weeks. I did run 10 miles, and plan to do so again before summer is out.

I bought a few shorts I find decent. One is a pair of Spanx black Bermuda-length shorts, and the other is a pair of denim shorts with a mild fringe that is also a bit longer. Add that to my two hiking shorts and I have enough to rotate through. I still do not like the way shorts look on my but there is not much to be done about that. At age 42, I am unlikely to suddenly grow longer or differently shaped legs.

We did survive our resort trip in early July. I think survive is the right word as there were a lot of sleep disruptions necessitating 4 a.m. stroller walks and other trip issues. But we did have some good memories of diving/snorkeling, and there was a nice massage in there and about 15 minutes of poolside relaxation with a drink, so there we go.

I did Mommy Days with all four big kids. This involved three trips to Hershey park (and a lot of funnel cake) and one trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Four days is a lot though we did have fun. I went on the sooper dooper looper three times this summer and now own the T-shirt to prove it! “Eating out more often” — another item on the list — is unclear. My husband and I did make it to a date night at a Mexican restaurant last night, though, so that was a nice break in the week. The big kids have requested a dinner out before school starts. I will try to make this happen.

I am enjoying our current house — sitting on the porch when I can, taking the kids in the pool some days. I don’t think I have soaked in the tub all summer though, so I should probably do that one night (I haven’t been reading as much — also trying to stay off the phone as the news is just so depressing — and puzzles don’t lend themselves to tub relaxation).

We have plans for the first few days of September — squeezing one last little jaunt in. And I finished a draft of Tranquility by Tuesday.

I’m thinking through the kids’ camps for next summer. There were some surprise wins. I knew the overnight Boy Scout camp for the 11-year-old would be an adventure, but who knew that the 9-year-old and 6-year-old would be so taken with a half-day pottery camp they could do together? The 9-year-old also landed a starring role (Jane) in a theater camp production of Mary Poppins and that was so fun to watch her throw herself into learning her lines and songs. The 14-year-old did a week of a rather intense tennis camp at Penn and I’m proud of how well he handled being a beginner there in a camp of a lot of … non-beginners. He also now thinks he wants to go to Penn, which would be awesome both as a goal to aim for as he starts high school, and if it happened, since it’s so close!

The older boys had nothing this week, which meant a lot of sleeping until 9 a.m. and then being on their phones all day, so I instituted “Camp Mommy” — an hour of required stuff to get back into the things that hadn’t happened yet this summer. This included school-assigned math packets (14-year-old), practicing an instrument that hadn’t been touched in months in advance of school band classes starting up (11-year-old), running 20 minutes per day (both), reading 20 minutes in the Spanish version of Harry Potter (14-year-old; honors Spanish is not going to be easy…) and (for the 11-year-old) practicing baseball. He’s gone to the batting cage twice and threw a ball with me, but I’m terrible at it, so I’m not sure how helpful that was…

I’ll likely post a fall fun list in a few weeks. I do have some things planned, though much is in flux. I thought I would be doing a lot more work travel for various speeches, but in the last week or so I’ve had three events cancel or go virtual. We shall see. In the meantime, we’re almost halfway through the bushel of apples we picked last weekend. I’ll need to figure out an apple sauce recipe I think, lest they go the way of our donut nectaries (which went bad before we could eat them all…)


15 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Long summer + summer fun list update

  1. If you don’t feel compelled to be all fussy about applesauce, and if you like applesauce with peels in as my family does, here is what I do:

    Wash the apples, and cut them up into slices (like you would to eat them, cutting the core out)
    Toss them in a pot with a couple of cinnamon sticks (depending on size of pot) and a small amount of water (no sugar needed – apples are sweet anyway)
    Simmer until the apples are soft
    Use a potato masher or big spoon to stir up the applesauce (if it’s not easily stirrable or too chunky, cook longer)

    No need to can it, either. If there is extra, put it in freezer bags and freeze it for later.

    I see this as the applesauce equivalent of your comment in one of your books (I think?) about how women used to iron blankets. I don’t need ironed blankets or fussy applesauce. 🙂

    1. @Catherine – we might take the peels off, but I think this sounds like a great idea. The no-ironing-blanket applesauce equivalent.

  2. Apple butter is also a delicious way use up/preserve apples. I haven’t done it in a while (so find an actual recipe) but the basics are you cut apples, put apples and sugar in the crock pot all night (like 12 hours) and then run through a blender in the morning. My kids love it on toast and I like it with oatmeal. And the extra can be frozen or canned. If you can it, it makes lovely hostess gifts.

  3. I feel like your summer is SOOO much longer than ours is 🙂
    I almost went to Penn. (But had to get farther away and was lured by the pretty mountains). That would be a great goal, and starting high school with some motivation seems like it would be a good thing. And yes impressive to handle being a beginner at 14!!

  4. Despite the Fun listbeing a very familiar element of the blog by now, I still find them great and very inspiring. Looking forward to the fall fun list and will start working on my own.

    1. Ditto! I love reading when you post your seasonal lists and then the eventual postmortem. Fun and inspiring…yet also highly relatable: a trip to a resort with a toddler is not going to involve a lot of relaxation.

      Where we live in Canada we still have almost 2 weeks to go until school starts. I’m ready for the routine but, like you, we’re squeezing in a few more “summer” events.

      1. @Elisabeth – I forgot to mention that we never did the live outdoor music, and since the Brad Paisley concert was canceled for late September, we don’t have anything planned. Oh well – maybe something serendipitous will happen.

        1. I didn’t do any formal seasonal fun lists this year, but I *do* make a list of annual goals (following along with Gretchen Rubin’s format, this year I’ve done 21 for 2021).

          Two things that I add to this process:
          1) For every goal I complete a post-mortem. For example: in 2020, I wanted to run 15 km. I didn’t run 15 km but managed to run 7 km routes many times, so I recorded that. Another to-do was to make a compilation of family home videos. I didn’t do this and finally just admitted this is not in my wheelhouse and I am abandoning this as a goal – unless I outsource it at some point. Another 2020 goal was to buy a plant. I bought 4 and was gifted 5 others – so I exceeded my goal! Whether the answer is yes, no, or somewhere in between, I find I always learn/achieve something related to that particular item.

          2) I maintain a running ta-da list (also stems from Gretchen Rubin). This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the goals I set, but they’re fun/interesting/important things that happened along the way. For instance, this year, my husband and I submitted photos to an amateur photography contest…and he won the grand prize. At the start of the year this wasn’t on my radar, but it’s a fun accomplishment I want to keep record of.
          I dealt with a challenging warranty issue. That was a ta-da; boring but important. I completed the surveys for Tranquility by Friday and had a follow-up phone call with the wonderful Laura Vanderkam…a very fun TA-DA! I love looking back at this list at the end of the year!

  5. I love the idea of creating a fun list rather than a to-do list. When I cross off my to-dos the list goes in the recycling bin but this would be something to look back on with satisfaction, since I know I did accomplish some things this summer but in another couple of months I could never tell you what all I did! Plus I’m inspired by the length and breadth of items on your list.

  6. Such a fun list. I have a big mass of honeysuckle in my yard and thought of you often when it was in bloom.

    Applesauce is easy and isn’t much trouble other than the peeling. My kids bought me an apple-peeler-corer one year, which makes the worst part easy. I throw all of the apple pieces in a stock pan, add a cup of boiling water and cook the apples until soft. Then add sugar to taste (or none at all), some cinnamon, a squirt of lemon juice, and cook until apples are mostly broken down. Then either a potato masher or stick blender finishes the job. I like chunks of apple in mine. Anything we don’t immediately inhale, I tuck in containers and freeze until I want some. I buy extra apples every fall just to make applesauce.

    1. Growing up in Africa I’m not familiar with applesauce but I do have an excess of apples and I wonder how do I eat the applesauce once I’ve made it? On its own, with another food? Help!

      1. @Sasha – just on its own is really good! It can be a side dish or you could even treat it as dessert because it’s pretty sweet.

  7. Here are the results of my summer fun list:
    1. Five-day trip to the Outer Banks for a stay at my sister and BIL’s beach house.  Have not seen them in almost a year due to Covid. Results-Went there, sat on the beach, and soaked in the sunshine and the company of my BIL and sister.
    2.  A three-week swing through the Finger Lakes and Western PA. to see pretty scenery, visit some wineries, hit the Ithaca Farmer’s market and Moosewood, and visit some museums. (Eastman in Rochester and Corning Glass are already on the list).   The PA. portion will involve stays at a historic hotel and a historic lodge.  I am also dragging my husband to the I Love Lucy Museum, since it is “only” an hour out of the way when we transit from our hotel on Keuka Lake to the Lodge at Glendorn in PA. Results: This was an amazing trip-we hit 28 wineries in 3 weeks and there were a number that were surprisingly great (Fox Run, Forge and Dr. Konstantin Frank come to mind). Paul Hobbs is building a winery there. Beautiful scenery and great people. The Lodge at Glendorn is pricey, but with incredible rooms and services. Look at their off season pricing. They have “cabins” (which are…not exactly rustic) with 4 bedrooms. Managed to hit the Corning Glass, Eastman and I Love Lucy museums, as well as the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester,
    3.  Grab a lobster roll from the Cousins truck at least once. Results: Thank you for mentioning this, Laura. I am going to do this tomorrow!
    4. Do a bike trip along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Results: Nope. Husband needs a cardiac procedure, so we need to put this on hold until he gets past that.
    5.  Do a walk/hike through Estell Manor Park in Atlantic County, NJ.  Results: Nope. See item 4
    6.  Do a walk/hike through the Lumberton (NJ) Nature Trail. Results: Done. I continue to find great little places to walk/hike in my area of South Jersey, with more to be discovered.
    7.  Make plans to meet up with friends for lunch or a beach day twice a month-first one is booked for next week. Results: Had lunch with 2 friends, so an average of once per month. Did not do a friend beach day due to rain.
    8.  Go to a movie (if any come out that I want to see in person). Results: Another nope. When I felt comfortable doing it, there were no movies that I wanted to see. Now getting Covid anxiety again.
    9.  Get to the beach at least once every other week, weather permitting. Results: Got to the beach more this summer than last year, but the rain has thwarted my plans more than once.
    10.  Make a dent in my ever-growing TBR pile on the nightstand.  Results: I’ve made a very minor dent, but progress is progress. I Just finished a book called, “The Time in Between,” by Spanish writer Maria Duenas. A great read. I read all 600 pages in 2 days.
    11.  Read the large pile of Atlantic Monthly magazine that has accumulated.  I have over a year’s worth-it will be an interesting historic exercise given the year that we have just had. Results: Does reading one Atlantic count?
    12.. Buy a new mattress-not exactly a fun pursuit, but ours is very saggy, so my future self will thank me. Results: Yes! And our sleep is much improved!
    13.  Visit each of our favorite local ice cream spots at least once: Evergreen Dairy Bar, Maple Shade Custard, Daddy-O’s, Springer’s in Stone Harbor. Results: Mostly. All but the custard stand. Perhaps I will hit the custard stand tomorrow after my lobster roll for a true Day of Decadence.
    14.  Go back to in-person dining in South Jersey and Philadelphia. Results: Surprisingly, not as much as I would have liked. I was too busy coming up with creative uses for the abundance of produce that we got from our CSA and the bounty which grew in the Earth boxes on our deck. However, we had many amazing meals in the Finger Lakes and at the Lodge at Glendorn (with our meal in their wine cellar a highlight).
    Keep in mind that my kids are grown, so I have more adult time available. I could never have pulled off most of this when I was a working mom of 2 young kids.

    1. @Beth C- wow, what a great list! Congrats on a great summer. I will have to check out the Lodge at Glendorn – we are always on the hunt for PA options…

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