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Family Adventures: Making a summer family bucket list

May 15, 2014

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Last year, for the very first time, our family made a summer bucket list. At first, I was unsure if it would be encouraging or if it would just turn into one more list of Things That Must Be Done. Happily, the former was true.

Far from being constraining, the list was a nice reminder of all the fun plans we’d dreamed up at the beginning of the summer. Rather than waking up on Saturday mornings and having to think, “We have a free day so what should we do?” we could consult the list for an already-thought-out idea.

If your family is thinking of making a summer bucket list yourselves, a few pointers:

First, keep your list reasonably short. Your idea of short may be different, but I limited our list to 10 things, which felt like a perfect number for our family.

Meryl Carver-Allmond and her son ride a canoe at Shawnee Mission Park last summer, one of the activities on the family’s summer bucket list.

Meryl Carver-Allmond and her son ride a canoe at Shawnee Mission Park last summer, one of the activities on the family’s summer bucket list.

Second, make your list a combination of big events as well as small activities. If you’re going on vacation, for example, feel free to include that as a big item, but add some simpler exploits, too. Making homemade ice cream and stopping for snow cones are the kinds of easy pleasures that summer is all about.

Third, put your list up on a wall in your house somewhere and check off as you go. Make it Pinterest-worthy: scrawl it out on a piece of notebook paper — whatever floats your boat. But part of the excitement is in the anticipation and shared family sense of adventure.

Without further adieu, I give you the 2014 Carver-Allmond Family Summer Bucket List!

1) Take a dip in the Chi Omega fountain. Every time we’ve driven past it this spring, the Kid has asked, “Can we swim there?” As soon as it gets warm enough, we can and we will!

2) Ride the train to St. Louis to see the sights. This is our big trip this summer. We’ve had plans to take a train trip since the Kid first got interested in them, and St. Louis is a doable distance. We hope to see the City Museum, Citygarden and, of course, the Arch.

3) Make sun prints. The Merc had sun printing paper for sale the other day, and as we passed it Sweet Husband commented, “I’ve always wanted to try that.”

4) Pretty-up our back porch, and then live there on summer evenings. We have a screened-in back porch, but it always gets full of clutter over the winter. Time to organize and hang some festive paper lanterns.

5) Visit the Kansas City Zoo. I don’t know how we can live this close to a polar bear and not go see it.

6) Make and sail a fleet of toy boats. This one’s for me. I blame Pinterest — all the tiny stick-boats people post are just so darned cute.

7) Blend up some DIY ice pops. Did you know that you can buy plastic tubes to make your own flavored ice pops? Search for “Zipzicle” on Amazon.com and see what awesome flavors you can dream up.

8) Have a picnic (or three or four) with our friends at one of the Lawrence City Band Concerts in South Park. It never feels like it’s really summer until we’ve been to a band concert. Ordering a pizza or two to share among families makes for an easy “dinner party.”

9) Meet and take a ride on the Kid’s favorite cartoon character, Thomas the Train. The Midland Railway in Baldwin City always has something fun going on, and this year Thomas the Train himself is visiting on May 30-June 1, and June 6-8. As of right now tickets are still available for $18 each at midlandrailway.org.

10) Have a small bonfire on the beach at Clinton Lake. We frequently hike around Clinton Lake, and the last time we were there we noticed that there are designated fire rings in one of our favorite spots. I can’t wait for our night of s’mores and skipping stones.

— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at mybitofearth.net.

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