penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

A Bucket full of Summer Redux

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Fall is now upon us in earnest so time to check in on our summer bucket list to see how we did.

I’d like to thank my friend again for her list – which she this year negotiated with her kids and then posted onto her wall with cue cards and showed on her Facebook page.  I was inspired again by here example and I’m hoping to get more of my own kid’s ideas next year before the summer starts.

Here are a few things we manage to accomplish:

–  On the summer solstice, wake up with the sun and let the kids stay up to watch it go down.

The first part of this plan worked.  I arose at 4:45 and was well in time to see the sun rise over the river rocks.  The weather was perfect – warm and sunny.  Most of the world was silent.  I think two people besides me greeted the sun.  Although by 5:30, when I was making my way home, there were a surprising number of hardy runners, bikers and sketchy denizens stumbling along the road ways and the path ways of our town.

The second part of the plan did not end as expected. We went to our local beach full of hope of a delightful sunset.  By end of day it was cloudy and the kids where grouchy.  The sun set early behind a bank of cloud.  We gave it up early and made our way home. It was still pretty late though – probably closer to nine o’clock than I would like to admit.

1)  Pay a visit a local park we have never been to before.  2) Dress up in costume before heading over to our local park. 3)  Go to a splash pad or wading pool we have never been to before.

These three wound up running together unexpectedly.  One Friday evening I was looking at my twitter stream and a neighbour posted about a parade to their local park.

So that bright Saturday morning, we dressed the kiddies up as a fairy (?), Darth Vader (never an easy costume in the middle of summer) and Buzz Lightyear and headed to the meeting point.  We marched from there as a group of princesses, fairies and firemen to a local park.    We met new neighbours, played a splash pad and park we had never played at before and enjoyed a fabulous BBQ (although I think we MIGHT have eaten all their hot dogs.)

We had a blast, met some new neighbours, and met some tweeps face to face.  I highly recommend if you see something fun and local  on twitter you consider trying it.  Or why not organize your own parade!

 Swim at a beach that we have not been at before.

While on our Epic Trip (TM) We swam at two new beaches – Kougibequac and Cavendish.  I would be hard pressed to tell you which was better or more beautiful.  Both were wild places where you can easily walk away from the crowds to be by yourself.

–  Read a book from a different genre than I usually do.

By the end of the summer I had accomplished this.  But if I was going to recommend a book, I would read this.

–  Explore a conservation area or national or provincial park.

As mentioned above, we did this one in spades.  Between Kouchibequac, Cavendish and Shawinigan, we visited three National Parks.  We had hoped to visit Fundy but this was not in the cards.  Spent a lot of time at Kouchibequac and had one magical day at Cavendish.  We a fantastic hike in Shawingan, that even my three year old could handle.

What impressed me most about the national parks though were the campsites themselves.  Bare minimum but clean and neat with good electrical and good fire pits.  Well worth the money for a the National Park pass..

 Sleep in a tent in the back yard. And if brave enough in a park.

Prior to our camping I wanted to make sure that the kids were comfortable with sleeping in the brand new tent we bought for our Epic Trip.  So my husband set it up in the backyard with the kids help.

The kids and I slept in it that evening.  The kids slept like rocks.  But I was awoken at 11 pm by a massive local fireworks display competition going on.  And I will say that sleeping outside, no matter how civilized, is not civilized. Who knew our back yard was filled with so many bumps and rocks? I think I felt ever one of them.

–  Take a bus down town with all the kids in tow.

I get extra points for this because I took the kids by myself one morning so my husband could get some work done.  But oh, how fun it was to be tourists in our own town.

We started by taking the bus to the down town core.  Then we did a tour of the local farmer’s market.  We walked through a cathedral, and then by a museum.  We watched the boats and an unexpected display of precision parachuting.  We ate lunch at a diner and visited a book store.  And finally got on the bus for the return trip.

The kids were awesome the whole time.  They walked a surprisingly long way and were open to looking around.  The key was to be patient and take as many rest stops as they needed.  And to follow what they were interested in (“Hey, look at that over there!”)

It was a real cultural experience for them.  I don’t want the big city to be a scary place for them.  Hopefully this is the step in the right direction.

At the same time, it showed me anew how exciting and wonderful our town is when seen with young eyes.

–  Travel to a small town or village we have not been to before.

We travelled to quite a few places we had not been to before.  Many have a special charm and the locals are very friendly and happy to tell you about where you live.  There are often some hidden surprises in small towns – even those that don’t look lime much.  The trick is to open your mind and drive around for a bit.  The main thing is that almost all small towns have a play structure/park where your children can run like maniacs in the middle of a four hour drive. And if you are really lucky here is coffee near by.

–  Gather berries.  Make some jam.

We did pick some berries this year at the cottage, but not as many as we normally do.  We arrived later than usual for berry-picking season and there were still quite a few on the bushes.  Which is unfortunate because there seemed to be quite a few this year.  But we did not manage to get around to gathering many – although I would say we ate quite a few.

We did manage to get out apple picking though at a local farm. I have an apple recipe cake that I am hoping to use as the fall and winter progresses.

 Make some real lemonade.  Like from actual lemons.

We found a pretty good standard recipe for lemonade.  Most of them across the Interwebs are fairly similar.  Except that they are too sweet. And too lemony.  So they all essentially taste like Neocitron.  My recommendation is to take whatever recipe you find, cut the sugar by half, add at least two cups of water extra and you might have something palatable.

Despite numerous requests from my daughter we did not run a lemonade stand.  It just wasn’t in the cards for us.  But we made a lot of lemonade.

–  Pick some flowers. Then plant a few more.

We picked quite a few flowers.  But our garden and lawn are still a disaster area.  I have scattered a few seeds though this past fall – we shall see if any of them spring up next year.

–  Eat an ice cream cone from a local business. Then one from an ice cream truck. And then one from Dairy Queen. (Extra points if we make some ice cream).

We have eaten surprisingly little ice cream this summer. We even seem to have missed out on treating ourselves to local frozen gelato I love.  And none at all from Dairy Queen (I know, SHOCKER).  We did, however, sample some from a local ice cream truck that specializes in frozen custard.  It’s to die for.  And I’m particularly happy to help her out because she lives in the neighbourhood.  And she plays a tinkley bell version of Stair Way to Heaven.

–  Make a fort. And visit a real military fort.

It rained a lot this summer.  A ton.  So I let the kids make a few forts inside.  Never underestimate the glamour of some chairs, blankets and a few pillows thrown together. Sure, your living room is a mess.  But you can have an uninterrupted coffee while your children pretend to be pirates, or Bedouins or whatever.

 Take in a play at an outdoor theatre or theatre in the park.

I missed out on this one.  My husband took the kids to see some puppets in the park. The mummy cat puppets scared my youngest but otherwise they had a good time.

That being said, we also sent my daughter to theatre camp this summer.  So I had a chance to see her sing her heart out in an adapted version of “Newsies.”  It’s not the best musical but she loved every second.  And we loved watching her.  So I think we still win on this one.

–  Build a sand castle.

The kids built so many castles this summer, I think they are now qualified to be sand castle engineers.  Next!

–  Play a board game on the porch while it is raining.  Extra points if we make up our own game.

As I mentioned, we had a lot of rain this year.  And there was one day where it just did not let up. So we played games.  And built with Lego.  And arranged our Thomas trains. And read.  We pretty much did everything we would do on a winter’s day. Except out on the porch.  Once again, it made me realize how much I value our porch space in the summer time – it’s like extra living space out of doors.

–  Run in the rain.

I loved watching my kids run in the rain.  And then they ran into the house….

–  Pick one summer activity from Pinterest. And actually do it. Photograph and post the results.

I had a bunch of craft related ideas but they turned out to be just that…ideas.  We did surprisingly few crafts though this summer.  We did have one really yucky day during our Epic Trip – I bought some wooden boxes from the dollar store and we painted them.  Maybe this just wasn’t our summer to be creative on the craft front..

–  Stop at a tourist trap.

During our Epic Trip we stopped at a couple of these. The first was the Chateau de Noel in Rivere de Loup.  It is, what it says, a giant, scary looking (to me) Christmas House.  The scariest thing is the price which is $15.  The only thing more scary is the look on the owners face when you tell him that you aren’t going to visit, you just want to take a picture of the tacky gnome out front.

We also visited Green Gables in Cavendish (Cavendish, by the way is one big tourist trap of its own that we managed to narrowly avoid).  We elected not to actually visit the Green Gables house, which was overrun by tourist, but instead took a five minute walk to the farm where L.M. Montgomery actually grew up.  This is far less over run and in many ways more interesting.  The land is still owned by relatives of Montgomery and they own a bookstore there.  If you are brave enough to walk through the Haunted Woods, it’s worth getting the story of L. M. Montgomery herself.

–  Have a water fight.

How stupid am I to have suggested that was a good idea? These always end in tears. This one is struck from all future lists. Next!

–  Run in one organized race.

Our family ran in the local road race.  It was the hottest day of the year. My husband ran the 5K.  The children ran in the 1K.  Except my daughter complained that she wanted to run in the 5K because she thought she was ready.  And my youngest did not want to run. AT.ALL. He didn’t even want to put the number on his t-shirt.  So, in order to keep up with the other two, I pinned the number on my shirt and then ran a kilometre with my 30 pound youngest on my shoulders.  Just for future reference, I don’t think it’s safe and I don’t think it’s recommended.

 Have a picnic (extra points if it happens once a week).

I lost track of the number of picnics we had.  We must of had them several times a week.  We particularly ate picnics while out on the road.  I highly recommend it because it can save a lot of money and prevent a lot of motion sickness and tummy trouble.  I also think the food a picnic can provide can be healthier and it can also help you save considerably.  Kid favourites were buns, cheese, ham, grapes and apples.  But we tried quite a few other options as well.

–  Have a bonfire. Toast some marshmallows.

We had a couple of bonfires this summer, but the most memorable one was our bonfire “supper” with my husband’s family.  My husband came up with a toasted sandwich idea. My sister in law baked apple and chocolate on dough.  She even tried making foil popcorn.  The experiment was even more fun than the cuisine.  Many marshmallows were toasted.  And the relative merits of various methods were discussed at length.

–  Stay up extra late to look at the stars.   (Extra points if we stay up to look at the Leonid meteor shower).

We missed the meteor shower this year – because the best part showed up on a Tuesday and a Wednesday and I had to be at work that day.  But there was a very memorable evening in the National Park at Shawingan when we looked up and you could see all the stars spilled across the sky. I went to bed that evening and the fly was a bit open and it felt like I was sleeping under all those stars



Written by pennyinacastle

September 29, 2013 at 2:41 am

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