At the beginning of the summer, I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted our family to do this season. I knew some things would happen whether they were written down anywhere or not, like Ian’s birthday and Evan’s soccer games. At the same time, I knew the opportunity for other things might slip by if I didn’t intentionally seek it out, like eating dinner on the porch or making homemade ice cream.
At the same time, I was very aware of the fact that in the midst of our attempts to make everything Pinterest and Instagram worthy, there seemed to be an awful lot of pressure on summertime this year. Or rather, the pressure was on us to make summertime awesome. I wasn’t so much interested in that. What I DID want to do was enjoy what Grand Rapids has to offer in the summer because it’s our first summer here. I wanted to enjoy this time with Ian before the new baby joins us this fall.
So, I made a list and started calling it our “Summer Manifesto,” inspired by what Ali Edwards does each year. As I wrote it up, it occurred to me that a “manifesto” and a to-do list (even a “bucket list”) are two very different things. Maybe this is semantics, but it seems to me that one casts vision while the other gives…well, boxes to check off. So after I had my checklist, I looked back over it and asked, “What’s the theme?” What verbs did I repeat often, and what types of activities seem to feature prominently?
And I landed on our 2015 Summer Manifesto:
We will relax.
We will explore.
We will get outside.
We will celebrate.
(In retrospect, I think I should have added “We will eat,” if you’re judging based on the most prominent types of activities…ha!)
And That’s it! I put together a super fast 8.5×11 scrapbook page with the manifesto and checklist, and I stuck it up on our fridge. Nothing revolutionary, for sure. But it helped shaped my expectations for what I wanted to do this summer, and it helped us make the most of our days.
In the end, here’s what we didn’t do:
-We never had a picnic at the park.
-We did not put Ian in swimming lessons.
-We did not visit Mackinac Island.
-We didn’t go to the zoo. (Though Ian did go to the zoo one day with his Gram while Evan and I were in Chicago celebrating our anniversary. So I’ll give partial credit for that one.)
-And we didn’t make homemade lemonade.
Of those, the only one I’m truly disappointed about is that we didn’t get Ian in swimming lessons. (Aren’t we horrible Floridians? ha!) But I’d say that 18 out of 23 items is pretty good. Each time I walked past our fridge, I loved having a reminder of all we had been up to lately and a bunch of ideas for things we could do when time and energy allowed. Evan and I can both be pretty indecisive, so it was nice to have ideas at the ready.
Not to mention, people in Michigan seem to really make the most of their summers. There was more happening in Grand Rapids each week than we could have ever done. I guess that’s what happens when you basically need to hibernate 6 months out of the year; you enjoy the good weather when you get it. I’m accustomed to never wanting to go outside during Florida summers, because the heat and I do not get along. A Michigan summer was a lovely change of pace.
Now I’ll just slip this page into a scrapbook album and always have a little record of what we were up to in the summer of 2015. That’s one of the added benefits of this: even if I never do another scrapbook page to document this summer, I already have a glimpse of what was important to us, what exciting things happened, and what we were up to in this season.
I’m planning on writing up an autumn manifesto, too. I started brainstorming ideas this morning, and I’ll be sure to share that here soon.