After three months of summer, we've accomplished 41/50 items on our summer to do list. Towards the end of the wire there (we were calling end of summer Labor day), I was feeling the pressure to knock things off the list,' but overall, I have loved having a list to push us through the season.
It forced us to be aware of the time passing by and how valuable it is to spend time together doing things that make us happy. Ready for some cheese? But seriously, we were making the memories of what our lives right now, in this moment - at this age, all together feel like. Someday when we look back while our kids are more grown and trying to get away from us, we'll be able to think - remember when they were so young and we spent the summer camping in our backyard? And someday when our kids are more grown, maybe they won't try to get away from us so much, because they'll think - remember how much fun it is to spend time all together laughing and doing mum's silly season to do lists...Hey, a mumma can dream.
I did my best to document our
1. Camp in the backyard: Brandon, Greyson, and Bullet were the only ones to actually sleep in the tent (all the girls - me, Gem, and Trixie slept in the house), but the boys loved it. And it created a spin-off list item: cooking breakfast on the campfire in the morning!
2. Walk Staple Bend Trail (local walking trail): This is a local trail near my parents' house that is a 4 mile walking trail. 2 miles to the historic Staple Bend tunnel and then 2 miles back. We enjoyed the scenery, sword fighting with giant sticks, sneaking through the tunnel, and even climbing the cement blocks outside the tunnel. We even caught a quick chat with my high school friend, Jackie (hi, Jackie!) as she was jogging the trail.
3. Sunday outdoor brunch: we actually did a lot of outdoor meals, it kind of became are main dining table all summer. which i kind of loved.
4. and 5. Picnic and Take Bully & Trixie swimming: my dad joined us on this task while B stayed late at work. No one loves swimming more than Bullet. No.One. Our picnic was quite an exciting spread of turkey&cheese sandwiches and cheese curls. best.
6. Try 3 new playgrounds: We stopped by the CT elementary playground (Grey got a black eye from flying down their super fast slide too fast), the Mineral Point playground (pic below), and the CV elementary playground (with Pappy Butch).
7. Make Smores: we tried doing smores one night over candlelight while it was raining - although somewhat successful it really gave our marshmallows a candle-y smell. So we headed to Brandon's parents' house for smores by the chiminea and a bonus summer task: night swimming!
8. Visit the Pittsburgh Zoo: Grey got to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo with his Pappy Butch and Gigi. Greyson is very into animals and its hard to tell if he loves gorillas or elephants more. Sometimes it hippos best. While at the zoo, he got to touch a sting ray and came home to tell us that it feels 'rubbery.'
9. and 10. Living Treasures zoo and mini golf: The kids and I went with Gigi out to Donegal to visit the Living Treasures zoo. It is really a very cool zoo that is mostly opened so that kids get a closer look at the animals. You can buy food to feed the farm animals (goats/pigs/horses/alpacas) and both kids loved seeing the animals so close up. After the zoo, we headed a few miles further to the Caddie Shack for ice cream and Grey's first go at mini golf. He got a hole in one. He's ridiculous.
11. Quemahoming dam: we caught up with our friends; the Kegg family (hi, Alicia & Tom!) for a picnic on the 'Queen' early this summer. About 2 minutes after our arrival we got slammed by a torrential downpour of a storm. It was honestly the craziest thing I've ever seen. After waiting out the first wave of storm, we hit the playground for awhile (hey! add that to list item#6) but the storm wasn't quite over. We ended up having to pack up and get out there pretty quickly when the second storm push came through because of the lightening.
12 and 13. Make a children's garden and grow herbs: We turned one of the flower boxes behind the house into a children's garden. We visited Stuver's Nursery for any kind of 'hearty' plant (I actually requested 'plants that are hard to kill') and Grey helped us plant and later pick the fruits of our labor. Besides some flowering plants, we also planted a blueberry bush, a basil plant, a green pepper plant, and 2 tomato plants. It's a children's garden because Grey helped us plant it and take care of it - he was in charge of watering the plants and pulling the weeds too.
14. Build a birdhouse: Pappy Butch helped us build a birdhouse fit for bird hoping to hang around into the winter. He even got a little perch set up for the new bird homeowner!
15. Build a bat house: Chum helped us build a bat house since he has a bat house at his house (we love to watch the bats wake up at dusk and fly out). You can find a bat house tutorial here. Hopefully with a new bat house, some bats will want to move in and eat all the little bugs in our back yard! Dear Stella Luna, come to our house! Love, the Studers
16. Catch lightening bugs: We pulled into our house one night and the whole yard was lit up with lightening bugs. We jumped out and chased them all over the yard - straight into the field. I think lightening bugs have been evolving, because those little guys were a lot faster than I remember. We caught a few - but we're the catch & release kind of people. It was a good lesson for Grey that the dark doesn't have to be scary.
17. Visit the farmer's market: We hit up the local farmer's market on saturday morning to catch some delicious cheese curd (but seriously, fry that up - its addictive), some fresh spinach and zucchini. The kids love the farmer's market because they're cute faces always seem to score them freebie goodies.
18. Fly kites: I attempted to do a kite flying session with just Grey and I and quickly realized that flying a kite with a two year old is possibly the most frustrating activity on the planet. But Uch came to the rescue and the three of us were able to fly the kite. Grey is not interested in actually flying the kite, but prefers to chase it around the yard with his arms outstretched to the sky. pure joy.
19. National aquarium in Baltimore: you can read more about our adventures visiting Karpy & Matt and the National aquarium here.
20. Sparklers: thanks to my favorite holiday, we got to play with sparklers while being safe.
21. Catalog our yard birds: we used a very cool app on my phone to help us take stock of the birds we have in our own backyard. It became very apparent that dicephering birds' calls is not a speciality of mine. It is a fun (and difficult) game to try to listen to the birds in our yard and then match it to the call that the app offers for the different birds. We can with 100% accuracy recognize by sound only the American Crow, wild turkey, and the mourning dove. We're working on the others:)
22. Make a butterfly feeder: we used this tutorial to help create our new butterfly feeder.
23. Mud pies: very messy, but lots of fun and great picture opportunities.
24. Look at the stars from the trampoline: this was one of my favorites. For future years, we'll need to brush up on our constellations - but for now with a toddler, it suffices to point out, "look at that BIG star."
25. Swim. we did quite a bit of swimming this summer. Some swimming at Brandon's parents' house. Some swimming at our neighbor's house (hi, Buncik's!), some swimming at my parent's and aunt's houses, and some swimming in our own yard.
27. Feed ducks: Chum helped Grey be brave enough to feed the ducks at our family reunion.
28. Run through sheets on a clothesline: Abba left her sheets up for us while we played soccer and volleyball on their deck so that we had to weave in and out of the drying blankets. Eventually, we just dropped the organized sports and the game turned into a full out game of chase and hide.
29. Roll down a hill: yep. about a million times.
31. Have a sleepover. Grey and Gemmi got to have a sleepover with Uncle Jonny and Ninna while B and I went to a wedding in Pittsburgh. The kids had a great time hanging with two of their favorite people - eating pizza, going for a million walks, and basically getting even more spoiled rotten.
32. Go fishing: we went back and forth on this one as to whether or not we could cross it off. B says we can because Grey, Pappy Butch, and he went fishing on the first day of trout in April and with his basketball friends and their kids (in April too)... but I say that for it to be a summer task - it needed to happen in the summer (June/July/August). Alas, B wins this one since the first day of trout is in April and I originally posted our summer to do list in April. So, we're counting it.
33. Have a treasure hunt: Grey is 2, so there was no need for his treasure hunt to be this elaborate thing. I made him three clues (picture only of where the clue would be) and his surprise was a little container of cheese curls. As his first experience with finding clues to lead him to the next one - it was a pretty new idea, so it was important to keep it simple. This might be something we just occasionally do after naptime for his afternoon snack. It was really easy and fun.
34. Make mountain pies: I think people call these all kinds of different things - but its basically a sandwich you cook over the fire in a metal sandwich press-type cooker with a long handle. We like ours with pizza ingredients in the middle (sauce, cheese, toppings) and Brandon's favorite is with vanilla pudding. It comes out almost like a panini.
35. Watch fireworks: we are still watching fireworks - well as of last Friday night (Aug30) we saw some more behind our house. We see fireworks most nights from our yard - way high up on the mountain...which is why we were certain we'd see them on the fourth of July; still a mystery as to how it was possible that we didn't.
36. Visit the library: we read books, played with trains, visited their fish tank, played with stuffed animals and giant doll houses, and put together puzzles.
37. Baseball game: we were able to attend two baseball games this summer. Once with the Fiore's (hi, Kate!) at the Altoona Curve and again with Tash & Kevin at our local baseball tourney; AAABA. Grey is a big supporter of whatever sport is in season - so this summer it was all baseball, all the time in our own backyard.
38. Ice block treasure: Pinterest introduced me to this great idea of freezing toys in ice and letting my child 'bang-bang-bang' it out. For a hot afternoon with a little boy that wants to copy his daddy - this was a real grand slam of an activity. The dogs were so interested in Greyson's ice block treasure that it inspired me to create one for them with treats frozen in it (like this pin) for them during my birthday kindness day.
39. Side walk chalk: we did this all summer long. we made lots of snake bodies, outlined our bodies (and the dogs' bodies), we made curvy lines that we walked on like roads, and shapes to jump into when we called out their names.
40. Live music outside: we listened to a band downtown in the park during Thunder in the Valley. I went to a concert with my sisters for scf weekend and we also enjoyed live music from our cousin Lilee at the family reunion.
It was truly a summer full of awesome memories and experiences. Most of them were things we probably would have done without a list - but it was a good reminder to stop moving so quickly and not let other plans or worries get in the way of spending time together doing things that make us happy. We will most definitely be making lists for each of the other seasons. The Studer team gives our 50 things - Summer To Do list - two super big thumbs up!