2018 Summer Mini-Bucket List

 
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I’ve always loved summer, especially when my kiddos were school-aged.  The Fun Fridays, endless pool days, library reading challenges, and impromptu meet-ups with cousins to tour potato chip factories or play in the park filled our days with fun and created wonderful memories.  Now that I’m a parent of two young adults and a teenager who is driving, the structure of the summer months has morphed into something entirely different and it still feels a little weird to me.

High school and college are finished for the year so the kids are technically enjoying a break, although it doesn’t feel like it.  Julia is studying abroad in Italy this month and we only speak to her a few nights a week for a few minutes.  When she returns, she’ll be working and probably spending a lot time with her boyfriend.  Mark is working full time for a landscaper friend of ours during the day and his evenings are dedicated to his girlfriend or to fishing with his brother. And Aaron, who would love to find a job, prefers fishing or watching Netflix with a certain girl with very long hair and glasses to hanging out with his mom.

I’m being left to my own devices this summer and it’s a bittersweet experience.  While I’m sad that the years of corralling and entertaining little people are over, I’m enjoying the experience of watching my children grow into their capable and independent adult selves.  I’m also really looking forward to some me time this summer, which brings me, finally, to the reason for this post.  It’s time for my annual Summer Mini-Bucket List.

This year I’m taking my inspiration from Tsh Oxenrider of The Simple Show, a podcast I occasionally listen to.  The theme for June is Grown-Upping the Summer and Tsh and her co-host Kendra Adachi talk about ways to have a personally enjoyable and productive summer without losing your mind.  In the first podcast of the series, Tsh outlines four categories that provide the framework for her low-key summer goals.  The categories are: 1) Something to learn, 2) Something to enjoy, 3) Something good for me, and 4) Something to finish.  These mesh well with my own summer goal philosophy so I’ve decide to build my mini-bucket list around her framework.  (Note: I have added one additional goal: Some way to serve).

After considering these categories and my own expectations and hopes for the summer, I came up with this list:

2018 Summer Mini-Bucket List

  1. Something to learn:  Learn how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the piano.  I just bought the sheet music for this lovely arrangement and I’d like to take time to learn it well and maybe even memorize it.
  2. Something to enjoy:  Voracious reading for pleasure.  No surprises here, I know, but I have been doing so much hard reading lately for the Challies 2018 Reading Challenge and for work that I need a break.  I am only going to read what thrills me this summer.  Period.
  3. Something good for me.  Walk 10 miles a week.  The goal here is to get outside, indulge in the pleasure of moving my body and reap some health benefits.
  4. Something to finish.  Finish decorating the dining room.  Originally I was going to say “Hem the drapes in the dining room”, but that would only be a partial finish because we still need a carpet and wall sconces and a plant and a photograph framed and hung.  With this in mind, the actual goal includes putting all the finishing touches on the dining room.
  5. Some way to serve:  Prepare and deliver meals for people in need.  I am part of a group at my church that prepares meals and takes them to individuals who have recently had surgery or welcomed a new baby into their family.  Because of my work schedule most of the year, I can only infrequently sign up for a meal.  This summer, every time an opportunity arises, I am going to sign up and make it work with my schedule.

This is a short list, especially compared to some of my previous summer mini-bucket lists, but it feels just right for this time in my life.  It’s eminently doable, totally low stress, and just makes me happy.  It also provides plenty of breathing space for all the other serendipitous and wonderful things this summer might have to offer.  I think I’ll get started right away with a good book and a beverage on the front porch.

Do you make any goals or bucket lists for the summer?  Please share.

 

 

Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017 Iteration

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Summer officially begins today!  In celebration of the start of the most relaxed and carefree season of my year, I’m once again compiling a mini-bucket list of fun activities to enjoy before the Fall, with all its structure and demands, rolls around again.

Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017

  1. Try three new-to-me local restaurants.  Top choices include the Belvedere Inn, Gibraltar, and Luca.
  2. Visit an Escape Room with my family before Julia and Mark leave for college.  This looks like so much fun!
  3. Attend a lawn concert at Nissley Vineyards.  A soft summer evening, homegrown wine, good friends, and live music for listening and dancing – a recipe for grown-up fun.
  4. Get to Central Market a few Friday mornings.  A historical treasure and a feast for the senses.
  5. Churn out a new flavor of homemade ice cream.  How about the Cookies and Cream Ice Cream recipe from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough?  Yeah, I thought it sounded delicious, too.
  6. Read at least twelve books.  (Just trying to reach my Goodreads Summer Reading Goal of 12 – 20 books).  My summer reading choices swing between light and fluffy and suspenseful and thrilling (i.e, The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan and  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware).
  7. Go to a baseball game (the Phillies or Barnstormers).  I do wish the Phils were playing better…
  8. Spend some quality time with my camera.  The flowers alone provide endless  possibilities for reviving my photography skills.
  9. Take an afternoon to bike an area Rail-to-Trail path.  I’d prefer if the trail was a downhill ride both ways.
  10. Volunteer for or support a local non-profit organization.  Clare House, Water Street Mission, and Schreiber Pediatric Center are a few I’m considering.
  11. Camp at a state park.  World’s End State Park on the Loyalsock Creek near Williamsport is looking promising.
  12. Memorize Romans 8:31 -39.  I need some sort of a challenge after all these mostly self-focused, feel good goals. 😉

 

I have very few other plans for the summer, actually.  In a few short days we’ll be heading to Corolla in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of glorious laziness.  Other than that, I plan to hang around here, watching my son play baseball a few evenings a week and spending as much time as possible on my porch and patio.  We’ll be grilling all the time and eating ice cream (homemade or not), buttery corn on the cob, sweet raspberries, and juicy peaches.  My two oldest kiddos are heading to Lebanon Valley in the fall so I want to spend as much time as I can with them before they go.   I’ll also be starting to teach my youngest son how to drive.  His older siblings have broken me in pretty well so I’m not expecting too many “life passing before my eyes” experiences.

If I can accomplish all of this in the next few months, it will be a blessed summer indeed.

What are your plans and/or goals for the summer?  Please share!

Previous Summer mini-bucket lists here and here.

 

Summer Reading List

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One of my Summer Mini-Bucket List items is to read 12 books by the end of August.  My intention is to mix books that satisfy the Popsugar Reading Challenge with a few faith-based books and what I consider lighter, fluffier choices.  I’ve compiled a tentative list of the books I plan to devour in the next few months.  I say tentative because, other than the Popsugar books which I have to read to meet the challenge, I’ll be letting my feelings dictate my selections.  Right now the reading list is pretty fluffy because I just finished  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by  Stephen Covey and am in need of some mindless (but well-executed) entertainment.  That may or may not change as the summer progresses.  In anticipation of my fickle feelings, I’ve added some alternative choices just in case nothing I’ve officially listed is tempting me.

Summer Reading List:

  1. The Girl With All the Gifts by Mike Carey (a book recommended by a stranger, audiobook)
  2. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (a book published in 2016)
  3. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (a book and its prequel – this would be the prequel to Jane Eyre which I already read)
  4. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (a book with a blue cover)
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert (a science fiction novel)
  6. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
  7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  8. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  9. Still Life by Louise Penny
  10. A Dangerous Place by Jaqueline Winspear
  11. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
  12. Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

Waiting in the wings (just in case):  The Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan , The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Garielle Zevin, A Man Called Ove by Fredric Backman, Out of the the House of Bread by Preston Yancy, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson.

I’m looking forward to settling in with these books and only wish I had time to read them all…

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?

 

Summer Mini-Bucket List

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Ah, Summer!  I love your long days, relaxed pace, and the opportunities you provide to do most of my living outdoors.  With your arrival, my schedule loosens up, travel adventures commence, and I can reconnect with my family over campfires and hikes in the woods.  You are the long-awaited, extended vacation of my overly-ordered, hectic year.

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Each summer I make a list of fun goals I’d like to accomplish and activities I’d like to experience during the season.  Having a bit of a plan protects me from waking up one morning in September, realizing that summer has slipped away and I missed its unique opportunities because I was too caught up in the minutiae of living.  This summer, my bucket list touches on a few bigger, long term goals but is mostly light-hearted and fun.  I can’t wait to get started.

Summer 2016 Mini-Bucket List

  1. Visit a historical site I’ve never been to beforePoplar Forest (Thomas Jefferson’s vacation home) and Fort Ticonderoga are possibilities based on vacation plans.
  2. Spend a day with each of my children doing whatever their hearts desire.  I have a feeling there’s a lot of fishing in my future.
  3. Offer three different invites for dinner on the patio to friends we would like to get to know better.  I’ve been convicted of my stinginess with my time and this is a small way for me to practice generosity and hospitality.
  4. Try a new homemade ice cream recipe. Strawberry, maybe? Or peach? Or salted caramel?
  5. Go to a major league baseball game.  It’s been a few years and the Phillies are actually playing pretty well so far this season.
  6. Take a road trip.  Is it cheating to put this on my list when I already have the road trips planned?  My husband and I will be driving the Blue ridge Parkway at the end of June and in August the family will cruise to the Adirondacks.
  7. Enjoy some time in my kayak.  My husband bought me a kayak two years ago and I have yet to use it.  It’s about time I took the opportunity to enjoy a float down the Conestoga.
  8. Swim in a lake.  I haven’t done this in years and I think the Adirondacks will be the perfect place to jump in.
  9. Participate in a service project with my family.  I’m not sure what form this activity will take but it should be a great bonding experience for us that also benefits others.
  10. Read or listen to 12 books.  That’s about 4 books a month.  Piece of cake!  I want to keeping plugging away at the Popsugar Reading Challenge and also read some books just for the fun of it.  It is summer, after all, and summer reading should never be a chore.
  11. Walk 108 miles (3 miles, 3 times a week for 12 weeks).   My health and well-being are worth this little bit of time investment.  Besides, I often listen to books when I walk – more story time for me.
  12. Sit on the porch or patio late in the evening with Jay as many nights as possible, listening to nature’s music and talking over our little and big dreams. 

Welcome, Summer!  Stay as long as you like.

Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish this summer? 

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014

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Happy New Year!

Now that all the celebrating and party-making is over, it’s time to get down to the business of this coming year.  I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions, either.  No focus on healthy eating, organizing my home, or budgeting my money for me thank-you-very-much (although I would benefit from attending to all of those things, believe me).  No, I’m talking about something far more fun – a reading challenge!

I stumbled upon The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 while I was wandering around Goodreads the other day.  This challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, caught my eye for two reasons: 1) It only requires reading 12 books to complete the challenge and 2) each book is chosen from a specific genre.  I mentioned in my previous post that I’d begun graduate school on a full-time basis.  Even as strapped for time as I often feel now, I think I can manage a book a month for the next year.  And, I like the idea of reading different genres.  The exposure to books outside my particular tastes has the very real possibility of broadening my horizons when it comes to reading choices.  I’m feeling a little adventurous and open to new experiences.

Here are the pertinent rules (For a detailed description of the challenge, click here):

  1. The challenge runs from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.
  2. Select, read, and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.
  3. A book may only be used for one category.  This means 12 different books must be read throughout the year.
  4. The list may be completed in any order as long as all 12 categories are fulfilled by December 31, 2014.
  5. To be eligible for the prize drawing, a blog post reviewing each book must be posted to the link found on the Book’d Out blog.

The Eclectic Reading Challenge 2014 Categories (and my possible choices)

  • Award WinningWolf Hall, Snow Falling on Cedars, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
  • True Crime (Non Fiction)In Cold Blood
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary
  • Alternate History FictionAlleander Morning
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis
  • Cosy Mystery FictionMaisie Dobbs (#1), One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1), or A Red Herring Without Mustard
  • Gothic FictionJonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, Interview with a Vampire, or The Haunting of Hill House
  • War/Military FictionKiller Angels
  • AnthologyA Mind Awake
  • Medical Thriller Fiction – haven’t decided yet but I used to read a lot of Robin Cook books and enjoyed them
  • Travel (Non Fiction)Wild: Lost and Found or The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth or something by Bill Bryson
  • Published in 2014 – to be determined

For the record, none of my choices are written in stone which means I am open to book suggestions for all of the categories.  If you have a suggestion for a great book, I’d love to hear it!  I haven’t read any of the books I’ve listed, but several of them are hanging around my home or in my Nook waiting patiently for some undivided attention.  This challenge is inadvertently encouraging me to chip away at my monumental to-be-read pile.

Sounds like fun, don’t you think?  My husband and kids thought so, too.  They’ve decided to join me in this reading challenge; it should be very intersting to see what they come up with to fulfill each of the categories.  I’m looking forward to getting started!  How about you?