It’s Labor Day — here’s how I did on the Summer Fun List

With the kids starting school this week, it’s time to revisit the Summer Fun List. This is the list I make every summer with all the adventures I want to have to make summer feel like summer. In Tranquility by Tuesday, Rule #6 is to have “One big adventure, one little adventure” each week, and creating seasonal fun lists is a good way to have ideas there for the choosing.

Here’s what was on my list, and how it went! Mostly pretty good. It was a good summer. A little exhausting at times, but pretty good.

Go fruit picking. I wanted to get strawberries, peaches, and apples. I’m happy to report that in three rounds of fruit picking, all of this happened. Strawberries in June (they weren’t great though — not sure if it was the place or the weather), peaches in July (quite yummy even if Linvilla is sometimes a zoo), and then Honeycrisp apples at Indian Orchards. The last was a Labor Day weekend event — while people often think of apples as a fall fruit, my favorite varieties (Honeycrisp, Gala) actually ripen in late summer. I’ve missed out on them a few years so now I make sure to go early. We never made it to Maple Acres, which I mentioned in the original post. I like them, but their hours and fruit availability didn’t quite match up for us this summer.

Visit a farmers market. I went twice to our local Bryn Mawr Farmers Market, which happens every Saturday morning. We got some fun fruits and breads and various whimsical finds. This will definitely be a good thing to do any future summer Saturday mornings when we happen to be around.

Go tubing on a river. In July, I took two of my kids up to Easton to tube down the Delaware River. I enjoyed this, though I think they found it a little dull to float along a river for two hours. Oh well. I guess either I go tubing by myself next summer or I organize a big group to go (more people probably makes the floating more exciting).

Relax and enjoy our June family vacation. My goal was to have “at least a few truly enjoyable moments,” and that happened. I liked snorkeling along an underwater signed trail at one of St. John’s most famous beaches, and my husband and I had a great dinner at a secluded restaurant along the water. I also had fun night kayaking with my oldest kid.

Visit Ocean Grove, NJ. I did this three times — two day trips, including one this past weekend, and our week long vacation there in August. We hit most of the big places, including the Silverball Arcade and Days Ice Cream, where I enjoyed my frozen concoctions, even if they were made from oats. (I try not to think about that too much). New additions this year include brunch at Toast in Asbury, and getting lobster rolls from Cousins Maine Lobster, which has a location on the boardwalk in Asbury. I’m now obsessed with their blueberry soda. Hopefully we’ve got the house for 2 weeks next summer — fingers crossed! It is my happy place.

Do Mommy Days with the kids. I wrote that my 12-year-old mentioned camping. We did not do that, though he is going with his boy scout troop in two weeks. I managed to do five one-on-one excursions with five kids. I was not sure this was going to happen given the various childcare complications we had this summer but I set it as a goal for August and did it. The Mommy Days included NYC for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child + the World Trade Center Observatory (15-year-old), lobster from the food truck + Dave and Busters (12-year-old), Panera + a Mommy-and-Me spa visit (10-year-old), Chuck E. Cheese (7-year-old), and Sesame Place (2 year old). Phew!

See Mary Chapin Carpenter at Longwood Gardens. Yep – this was a lot of fun, and though the concert was delayed for rain, it wound up being a perfect night. I’ve been humming Halley Came to Jackson all week.

Do morning runs. I often run during the morning on weekends (such as this past weekend, when I did a 10 miler to prep for an upcoming half marathon…), but weekdays need to be a summer thing with the school schedule. I woke up early several weekday mornings this summer and went for runs before the rest of the house was stirring. It was great to get it done and I’m glad I made this happen. I’m not inspired to wake up at 5:30 to make it happen during the school year but I’m glad it happened in the summer!

Enjoy my new hammock. I’m off to go do that after I finish writing a draft of this… The pool (also mentioned in this item) is half-renovated. We went in a few times, though something went wrong again and it’s a little green at the moment…

Unpack. Not the whole house but I do want to give myself credit here. The teenager’s room got unpacked because my mother-in-law moved in there for three weeks. I got the guest room cleared out and bought a new mattress and bedding for it AND got the junk truck to come remove the old mattress. We also set up a futon in there so it’s great for visitors or sleep overs. Theoretically 4 people could sleep in there now. Alas, that was the signal for the two third floor bathrooms to start leaking and thus not be usable until they are renovated (they are the only bathrooms we didn’t renovate originally…of course…).

Plan something fun for Labor Day. I loved going to Maine at the end of last summer but I’m doing that for work soon! Plus we traveled a lot already this summer. So Labor Day weekend has been slightly more local. We did manage to have a good weekend though — with a day trip to the beach, and apple picking, and then my husband and I going out for an anniversary dinner with our 15-year-old serving as the babysitter. It was a moment — like we have finally arrived at that stage as parents…

There were a few other great memories that happened that weren’t on the original list!

Las Vegas. I went in late June to speak at a conference, and due to the timing of my two talks, I was there for three nights. It was a blast. I took advantage of the restaurants and shows and even went on the lazy river at my resort all by myself.

Dutch Wonderland. During a week of very limited childcare I took the kids to this little theme park as part of Camp Mommy. It wasn’t particularly grand, but my 2-year-old got to go on a kiddie roller coaster and he loved it so much. So we will probably go back this fall.

The Wolf Sanctuary of PA. I took my three older kids here last week. My 12-year-old had been supposed to go a few years ago. The trip got canceled and he had been sad about that at the time. So we said we would go back, but they were closed with Covid for quite a while, and then now have been selling out on tours fairly quickly. But I managed to snag a private tour for us when a date opened up. It was really cool seeing wolves up close, and listening to the howling. It did not make me think well of humanity, hearing the stories of how many wolves wound up in a rescue sanctuary, but the animals were amazing.

Recording the TBT In Real Life videos. I am so excited to show these soon! Recording for two days in various locations was an adventure and something I hadn’t done much before.

Massachusetts over the Fourth of July. I enjoyed fireworks and a small town Independence Day parade.

Biking with my husband. We went on a 10-mile bike ride together along the Schuylkill River Trail a few weeks ago and it was a different sort of date that was quite fun.

So that’s 2022! I’ll write a Fall Fun List soon, and am already thinking ahead to summer 2023…

12 thoughts on “It’s Labor Day — here’s how I did on the Summer Fun List

  1. I think I’ve already mentioned how your goal of having “at least a few truly enjoyable moments” helped me reframe a particularly challenging end to our early-summer road trip. We were at Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine, arguably one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, when my kids pestered each other to the point of me melting down in epic fashion. They had been complaining and needling each other a lot over our two-week road trip and I was at the end of my rope. I ended that particular day by taking a long hot shower and then happened to read your original comment about the “enjoyable moments” concept and I was like – Wait a minute. We’ve managed to do this! Our trip wasn’t a failure at all. We had MANY enjoyable moments, interspersed with lots of less pleasant moments, too. In light of wanting to have a few truly enjoyable moments, I could count our trip as having been extremely successful.

    What a great summer fun list, by the way. I always find these posts inspiring!

    1. @Elisabeth – that’s kids… what can you do? I aim to appreciate a few good moments and figure the rest is what it is. And yes, they fight all the time…:)

  2. Laura and Elisabeth-Your discussions about reframing and making the best of things really struck a chord with me. I try to come up with the quarterly fun lists when Laura posts about hers. I didn’t get around to preparing one this summer, which became the “summer of Covid” for my husband and me. We came home from an epic 6 and a half week trip visiting 6 baseball stadiums, 6 states and many museums/outdoor things without any health issues. A week after getting home in mid-June I contracted Covid and was down for the count for 3 weeks due to constant fatigue and some dizziness. My husband welcomed the unwelcome Covid visitor in early August and was wiped out for a couple of weeks. At first, I thought that our enforced isolation had put a real damper on our summer. Then I thought about the things that we HAD been able to do:
    1. I managed to get to the beach 5 times, which was reasonably close to my goal of a biweekly visit. We also got to sit on the beach in Stone Harbor, NJ, and watch the 4th of July fireworks display over the ocean, which was (as always) magical.
    2. We got to enjoy double ice cream scoops at our favorite Jersey Shore ice cream spot (Springer’s) two different times, and also got to two other local favorites (Evergreen Dairy Bar on Route 70 outside of Medford, NJ and Maple Shade Custard in Maple Shade, NJ).
    3. We had to cancel plans to have a close college friend of mine and her husband visit during one of our Covid sieges, but we rescheduled for this past week and had 2 dinners out, a lunch out, and day trips to Cape May and Princeton.
    4. We journeyed to Newburyport, Massachusetts so that my husband could have a reunion with college friends. While in the Boston area, we took in a Red Sox game and strolled Newbury Street in Boston. I also got to ride in one of the swan boats in the Boston Public Garden, which I have wanted to do ever since I read “Make Way for Ducklings” as a child. It’s a quick boat ride, but qualified as a nice “little adventure.”
    5. We took a weekend trip to Vermont, stayed at a great bed and breakfast (the Rabbit Hill Inn), and took a pie and fruit tart baking class at King Arthur Flour in Norwich which was a lot of fun.
    6. We got to see my stepson, his wife and their 2 great kids yesterday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
    7. We got together with local friends for dinner a couple of times, went to our next-door neighbor’s party with a great live band, and got to visit with a childhood friend of my son who was in from California. I also had an epic 3-hour catch-up dinner with an old friend after not seeing her during the pandemic.
    8. We went to a Santana concert outdoors, and also went to a local park and enjoyed an evening jazz concert and a picnic dinner.
    So even though my husband and I were isolated and in bed due to Covid for more than 20 days in the last 12 weeks, when I thought about it I realized that our summer had been pretty nice after all. I’m also incredibly thankful that the vaccines did their job, and that fatigue was our only major issue during our Covid bouts.

    1. @Beth C – this sounds like an amazing summer! Nice work on doing so many cool things even with being down for the count with Covid for as long as you guys were. I’m sure there are many wonderful memories. And more good moments than bad, even with the illness.

  3. Laura, is there a reason you make a Summer and Fall fun list and not a winter and spring one? Seems not fair to the other two seasons:)

    1. @Petra- I do make winter and spring ones! I actually make two winter lists — a holiday focused one, and then a post holiday one. I didn’t start spring and winter until more recent years (whereas summer has been a staple since something like 2015?) but I do make them!

  4. What a great summer!

    We went strawberry picking this year (here in England) and also found the strawberries pretty dismal… I wonder if there’s been a global strawberry issue this year for some reason!

  5. Teenager as babysitter is the best parenting milestone! In the past 6 months, my husband and I have started doing a lot of Saturday lunch or afternoon happy hour dates while the kids stay home. It has been so nice to connect without the stress of finding additional childcare to make it happen. And when we do the daytime slot, we aren’t cramping the teen’s social calendar. I’m excited for you!!

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