The Sand Pail List

We’re in full summer meltdown mode here, folks. It’s the end of July. All of those camps I carefully plotted out are over. Done. As in, everyone’s home all the time. At the same time. Together. My children are sick of each other, to put it mildly. And they can smell school coming. The other day my almost 14 year old was covering his eyes and yelling, “Ahhh! Tell me when it’s over!” Was this a preview for a horror movie? Was there a couple making out on the TV? No. It was much worse: a commercial for back to school shopping. It sent chills down his spine.

The first three weeks of August are all about holding on. To my sanity. Every other summer I’ve had amnesia when it comes to these three weeks. This time I remember and I’m going to do it differently. This will likely involve behavior modification/bribery. I’m okay with that. Because I would like to enjoy this last bit of summer with them. I would like to stop having to be the ref, waving my arms, and  pulling them apart when they fight. Is that too much to ask?

A “kindness” jar has worked in the past. It’s where they get a cotton ball in a jar when I catch one of them being kind. They share the jar and try to make a collective effort at filling it while working toward some reward. Kindness comes naturally to only one of my sons, so he does the heavy lifting when it comes to earning cotton balls, but it does raise the baseline for civility in our home.

I also don’t want to regret not getting to this or that before summer ends. I’m not talking about Facebook-worthy adventures and smiles. That ship sailed in June.  I’m talking about some little things that will make me feel like I tried to make summer very summer-y.

So, instead of a Bucket List, I’m making a Sand Pail List. A list of all the summer stuff I want to do before it slips away. The following list is in random order , if I’m lucky I’ll get to half of it, and you should in no way feel like you need a Sand Pail List. It’s just my latest attempt to bring meaning to chaos. And did I mention it’s almost August? Don’t bother with a Pinterest search…

  1. Make volcanoes. We made papier-mâché volcanoes a few years back and the boys loved it. It’s a safe and cheap way to satisfy their need to blow things up. And it takes at least a day to make the volcano. Another day to paint it. And the last day is for “staging” the volcano. That’s where you strategically place plastic dinosaurs and vegetation around the bottom of the volcano as to create a realistic model of an extinction level event—with baking soda and vinegar.
  2. Ice cream. I feel like we haven’t done enough ice cream. This will probably be incorporated into the bribery plan. We did try the new shave ice place the other day – delish.
  3. Library visits. Just walking in there is going to jog memories of school and a time when they weren’t feral. Plus we have a ton of overdue books.
  4. Go to the pool. We got passes for our recreation center’s outdoor pool this year, but we haven’t made good use of them. The sun is not with us for long here in Cleveland. We will lose it by November and it won’t return until late April. If we’re lucky. So we need to soak up some Vitamin D while we can.
  5. Eat on a restaurant patio with an adult beverage. See the Cleveland explanation above.
  6. Go to a drive-in movie. There’s this great old drive-in not far from us and we haven’t made it there yet this summer. Loading up the car with blankets and popping open the back of the minivan to watch the movie is super summer-y.

I have no idea how much of this I’ll accomplish. I’m not going to set myself up with high expectations. (Hence only six items.) These people I live with may not get on board with my program, but I’ll do my best to avoid all-out mutiny.

I’ll also add in a bit more structure, as in an earlier bedtime and journaling. In years past I’ve been hardcore on them doing morning journaling and math manipulatives  all summer. (I wonder where that energy came from and where it ran off to.) So I’ll try to get more consistent with that in August. It’s for their own good – putting a pencil to paper won’t feel as wretched on August 22nd (first day of school!) if they’ve been at it all month. Speaking of, I’m hiring a sitter for a few hours here and there so I can get my own pencil to the paper! Revisions are calling to me.

If there’s any easy summer fun-stuff you’re going to try to squeeze in (heavy emphasis on “easy”), feel free to leave it in the comments. Enjoy your August!



I LOVE this list! It captures the best of summer, rolling us up in promises of hot feet on the poolside cement followed by cool drinks on the patio – where someone else is responsible for feeding us and cleaning up after we walk away. It’s the fresh breath of life outdoors, the freedom to experiment (with volcanoes, people!) for the fun of it – even movies under the stars. And MORE ICE CREAM! I can hardly stomach the thought of frozen dessert in December, but for now, bring it on! Thanks, Julie, for reminding us how to make the most of the simple pleasures of summer before it fades to fall.


2 Replies to “The Sand Pail List”

  1. Love this!! Thank you for reminding me about the kindness jar. I have been meaning to do that. Hopefully it will help the yelling, wrestling and whining!! Also, more ice cream! Who can argue with that? The other thing I have been meaning to do is more academic games. Great ideas!

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