I’m a Tough Grader.

Well. Every year I rage against the end of summer, and every year it happens. It ends.

It gets worse every year, and I suppose one day I may have to re-evaluate how I can live my life to have way more summer in it, but for now, I’m perfectly happy asking my readers to write to their Senators, Presidents, Kings and Queens and even future Presidents (I’m looking at YOU – Bernie) and asking if we can safely and environmentally arrange to have only three seasons in some parts of the world. Four months of glorious fall, four months of luscious spring & four months of sexy summer.

This is perfectly acceptable. Are there any places like that in the world?

summer bucket list

Every year I rail against fall, and every year, I embrace fall like the strange, old friend it is – if you have a friend with glorious colors and the smells of cinnamon and pine, who is warm in the day, cold at night, and sometimes makes you sicker than sick.

summer bucket list

In this post back in late May, link HERE, I presented you with my Summer 2015 Bucket List. I think it’s only fitting right now to go through it and give myself a final grade for Summer 2015. School starts in three days for Scarlet and sort of four days for Des. We went to the Fair today and I bought Des cotton candy ice cream on the way home from a road trip to the Berkshires (yes, all in one day) so I think I can safely say that we’re sucking the marrow out of summer 2015. I can’t wait to grade it!

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Here we go. Bucket list item, my evaluation of completion, grade for that item, ten times over:

1. The White Mountains are alive with the sound of music. One of my birthday wishes is to visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire with my family. One of my dreams is to ride the Cog Railway up Mt. Washington but it’s very expensive and I’d be happy to go to the summit in our car. I haven’t been there in ages, but I do remember and I have read that there’s clam chowder (and other goodies) at the top of the tallest mountain this side of the Mississippi. Do it for the chowder. I also want to ride the gondola at Wildcat Mountain or Loon Mountain, take the kids to Story Land, and DEFINITELY try to see moose.

Yes! Yes. We did this. We went on my actual birthday weekend too. We didn’t ride the Cog Railway because it’s slow as molasses but we did the Auto Road and I DID have clam chowder up there. We absolutely rode the Wildcat Mountain gondola, we absolutely went to Story Land, and we DID try to see moose! We didn’t see any, but I only said we’d try, didn’t I?

Grade for Summer 2015 Bucket List Item #1 – A+. I would have given an A++ for seeing moose.

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2. Well, heck. I’m even trying to do this next weekend, family willing. I want to go back to the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont. We went for our sixth anniversary last April, just the two of us, and it was very cold and rainy. Fun and successful, but very cold and rainy. We had talked about bringing the kids back to the bogs and basins. It’s so moose-y there!

Yes! Yes. Scarlet and I did this. LAST weekend. It was warm and sunny, but moose-unsuccessful. It was still incredibly special.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #2 – A+. Even without moose, it was a mother-daughter adventure for the record books.

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3. Since my parents live near the Poconos, I would love to go back to Bushkill Falls. I haven’t been in decades! Another dream is Hershey Park but that might be next summer instead. In the least, we can go to The Land of Make Believe with the cousins!

Boo! We came so close to doing this, but we were so exhausted and it was hot. We did have an incredible Jersey trip, though.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #3 – I’m going to give it a solid B. Even though we didn’t do ANYTHING listed above, we had pony rides, John Deere gator rides, family bonding, and ice cream from my favorite childhood place ever.

Presenting.. the happiest photo ever.

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4. New England day trips! I always have big dreams and I always think summer will just be a series of wonderful, weather-perfect day trips. And then real life and thunderstorms and day camp and anxiety pile up like a brick wall and I can’t quite get through. So I lounge around in air-conditioning. Well-planned trips and accountability do leave room for a lot, and the kids will be game and I will be pushing through. I’m thinking Six Flags a lot since we get season passes, Legoland Boston and Flour Bakery (Hi, Bev!), and Edaville. Thomasland is opening in mid-August. Perfect. Add in museums, zoos, and parks galore.

Yes! So much this. We spent a whole week reaching museum, play place and Basketball Hall of Fame dreams. We absolutely did Legoland Boston and Scarlet did Six Flags, and ice cream was had a lot. We didn’t lounge around much after all.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #4 – I’ll give it a solid A. It could have been better, but there’s only so much we can do with limited time. There’s an amazing New England day trip for every day of the year, with day trips left over. Not days.

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5. Cape Cod, of course! Last year we didn’t get to go for very long. Two years ago we went twice – once for a quick overnight and a second time mid-week without Cassidy to spend more time there. That second time was key. The weather was horrible but we were never rushing anywhere. It was the feel of a real summer vacation – within our own state, and within our own family’s beach house. You can’t beat it! Last year we went out for ice cream – bonus points this year for a romantic dinner.

And of course we did Cape Cod, for three nights, which was pretty great. The weather was lovely and we absolutely went out for ice cream. We didn’t have a romantic dinner, but we had incredible dinners, and that was just bonus points anyway.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #5 – A-. I missed the drive-in movie that Cassidy and Scarlet did, as well as the whale Des and Cassidy saw, but had my first Moby Dick’s meal and we had ample beach time and it was absolutely lovely and relaxing.

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6. Fireworks, of course! Scarlet and I try to go on a fireworks date each year. Perhaps, Des will join us. Perhaps not.

Some circumstances were beyond our control. The fireworks we always go to were canceled, and the Northampton ones were postponed until September. We did happen to light off our own incredible ones, though.. so there’s that.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #6 – C. We get points for doing our own, and we can’t help the canceled ones, but there were still towns lighting them off throughout July and we didn’t make the trip to go see them. We’ll see them in September!

7. Meet Janine! And see Allie, Bev, Jennifer and many other blog friends again along our travels.

I didn’t meet Janine! Sob. I did see Bev and Jennifer, and I did get to meet Christy of Sweet and Savoring.

Grade for 2015 Summer Bucket List Item #7 – A-. I got to meet Christy! And see Bev and Jennifer!

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8. We always do Tanglewood in the summer but I also want to see a concert there! Sheryl Crow is playing with the Boston Pops.. Huey Freakin’ Lewis is playing.. James Taylor is playing but it’s sold out. I believe we already missed the Indigo Girls.

We did none of this! Grade for 2015 Summer Bucket List Item #8 – F!

9. Nature-ous stuff! Berry picking and even some light gardening. I get weird after too long in the sun but I’d like to help Scarlet and Cassidy. Is night gardening a thing? I also want to climb Sugarloaf Mountain with the family!

We did significant berry picking in our own yard! We absolutely climbed Sugarloaf Mountain!

Grade for 2015 Summer Bucket List Item #9 – A+!

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10. Personal growth, marital growth, parental growth, sexy summer nights, ice cream, and fighting my demons.

Well of course. As that song says, “I did it all.” There’s still much to do. There always is.

Grade for 2015 Bucket List Item #10 – A+.

What’s my final grade? B+. That’s if you’re looking technically, and I did say I’m a tough grader! Emotionally, I’ll give it an A, and I so, so look forward to next summer. And I’m so glad I don’t really get graded, by myself or others, and please know I did this in a fun and lighthearted way, and we all get an A+. We’re all beyond the grading scale because living and loving and parenting is hard and wonderful, and really, really hard. And really, really wonderful. And that’s a fact, Jack!

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  1. Aw, you did so well on this list and yet so sad this this was not our summer to meet just yet. Seriously, we got to make this happen somehow and someway, because seriously I feel like we have known each other forever and yet never laid eyes on each. Still not sure how this is possible!

    1. I really wanted to give myself a poor grade for not meeting you! Then I thought it wouldn’t be nice because I did meet Christy and get to see Bev and Jennifer. But I have a big Janine-sized hole in my life!

      1. You definitely deserve that grade you gave yourself as you are so right that you did get to meet Chrissy and see Bev and Jennifer, too. But like you I have a pretty large sized Tamara hole in my heart, as well though!

  2. What? You missed the Indigo Girls? How could you?!! Sounds like you get a solid A for effort on an extraordinary summer. I’m jealous! Now send me down some fall will you?!

    1. ha! Well I saw them at a Lilith Fair or two 1,000 years ago. They do play in my town actually. Come up and see them with me and delight in our fall weather!

  3. I would give you an A+ for your entertaining summary of your summerlong family activities, and 10 straight A’s for your efforts in trying to accomplish them all. Somehow #8 slipped away, but Tanglewood will be there for you next year. That sounds like a fun music event. I like your song selection here. Good Luck with all of your Back To School preparations and priorities this week, Tamara!

    1. Aw, Eddie – you always know what to say. You should be a blogger too!
      I’m sad about Tanglewood – it’s awesome – but not totally sad because we had a choice to go and probably found something even better to do. Like Vermont.

  4. Your summer bucket list has inspired so much east coast living envy. Your photos are stunning (and OMG your “happiest photo ever!” is amazing!). Thank you for sharing and giving an update!


  5. Yeah, there is something about the coolness of Fall that makes me lonely. Of course in north central Florida, it comes later in the year. Usually November, my birthday month.

    I was born in the mountains of New York and have been to New England several times so I can relate to your joys!

    1. November is a tough one for me – it’s very gray up here, past the splendor of October. I hope it’s better in Florida!
      I was born in the mountains of New Jersey! Not quite as high…

  6. With these great memories over the summer, I understand why you don’t want to transition into fall. No matter the grade on your bucket list items – you loved and smiled – that’s an A+ anytime of the year. xo

  7. Loved this recap of your summer bucket list! I think you did an outstanding job of doing most of it. You are a tough grader! And you get bonus points for adding the video from OneRepublic! It’s awesome. Happy beginning of the school year. 🙂

    1. Thanks about the song! I didn’t even know it was OneRepublic until I put it in this post and it’s no surprise because I often love their songs.
      Last day of summer vacation today. Gulp.

  8. You accomplished a lot on your bucket list and it sounds like a fabulous summer! I did a bucket list, too, but haven’t really reviewed it. Hmmmmm . . . . maybe I can find a way to tied in this week’s One Word prompts! 🙂

    1. Yes! That sounds awesome!! I was thinking of doing a fall bucket list too – ten things I want to do in the fall. And I’m sure I’ll grade it come winter.

  9. Please adopt me. I want to go on family vacations with you guys. Please, mommy, please? Yes, you are my momma now. Scarlet and Des have a brand new sibling.

  10. You are a tough grader, but your summer looked and sounded so wonderful. Nothing is perfect, sometimes it’s just messy, hurried and a best effort, but I really want to come summer where you live! It is just so stinking hot here and I am dying. I loved summer, but I am ready for pumpkin everything, cinnamon and the whole lot. Well, except for having to put up that dang tree and all….

    1. Messy, hurried and a best effort. For sure!
      Summer was pretty good here. It was never very hot and humid until August. Now we’re all complaining because it’s 86 degrees but I can understand that it’s not so bad in comparison.
      Fall is awesome but you just gave me a stomachache by mentioning the tree. Oh dear. May Cassidy not get another 16-foot tree…

  11. what a jam-packed summer. i would give you an A+ because you were totally ambitious with what you wanted to do and you accomplished so much of it.

  12. What a great idea! And you did really well! I love that One Republic song by the way. It’s funny because it is the first song that I actually related to my kid(s) as opposed to myself. That was a first for me and an amazing feeling. I still think of my kids every time I hear it! You pictures speak for you and your Summer, it really looks like it was a great one!

    1. I didn’t know the song was by OneRepublic until I put the video here! I hear it all the time and I love it. And I love a lot of their other songs.
      It was a great summer! I’m trying to cope with it ending.

  13. I’m all for your three season year! Your summer sounds like it was so much fun. I think I’d give my summer a solid C. It happened. Now lets move on to fall, and please, can we skip winter? 🙂

  14. You are a tough grader but I love that you graded your bucket list. I am the same way and fiercely fight summer ending…I won’t drink a fall beverage until late September and like you, I do finally embrace the season once summer has clearly ended. But it is not over yet, so I am squeezing the warmeth out of these last few weeks. I love the song you chose too!

    1. Oh wow! I’ll probably have one pumpkin spice latte when they come out next week. Although I used to drink them daily. I must have had youth on my side with that because they’re so sweet for me now!

  15. I definitely give your summer an A+! If I could re-do the seasons, I’d have 6 months of summer, 3 months of fall, 2 months of spring, and only 1 of winter. Actually, that we be kind of a fun blog post to write!

    1. Thank you for the grade!
      Yeah, I like the way you have it. Although spring here is so awesome but so short. We have extended winter and early summer. Spring is becoming just a childhood memory!

    1. I’ll totally take your A++! I’m tough on myself but easy on others.
      It was a great summer. And there are only a few more hours left of summer vacation – SOB.

    1. Thank you! I hope you get ice cream. Our Target is open until 11 for back to school time (open late, may serve wine one day, supports gay pride, they rock) and I got some Ben & Jerry’s late last night. YUM.

  16. You are a tough grader! You had lots of ice cream, and that gets you extra credit points. I’m sad to see the relaxing days of summer come to an end, but I do love fall! Gwen got an email from our local bagel place last week promoting their pumpkin bagels and cream cheese, and she almost swooned in excitement..

  17. You guys did a lot this summer. I love the picture of you and Des eating ice cream. You two look very happy with your rainbow sprinkles.
    I would love to see Sheryl Crow too, I use to love singing her so songs in high school.

  18. Wow – you did real good on your summer bucket list! A+ I’d say. Usually these kind of list are more like ‘ah, nooo, sorry didn’t do this, didn’t do that’, but yours – you rock (like your sis :)). I dread the end of summer, too, as you know. Just tonight driving home from the hairdresser at 7:40 pm and it was freakin’ getting dark – so not good. Yeah, I know, I like fall colors and all, too, but… my perfect world would be 3 + 6 + 3 🙂 Gotta find out if there is a place like that…

    1. I know! We took the kids for ice cream tonight and it was so dark on the way home. Des was so confused. He said, “Wait, it’s nighttime now?”
      Indeed it is. Wah!!

  19. I just LOVE how you went back and reflected and graded how you did with your summer bucket list! BRILLIANT idea!! And incredible list to boot! Gosh.. um… we .. uh… went to the pool. Like every day. And uh.. gosh I have no idea what else we did- except I know we didn’t travel anywhere but my sister’s- (FREE) and somehow, we had a really fun carefree enjoyable and active summer.

    So, I suppose I’d give my empty bucket list an A. A for no-effort. 🙂

    1. A+ on going to the pool, if that’s what you wanted to do all summer! Perfect score, no?
      Free travel is the best. I went to New Jersey and did a TON but only had to pay for a tank of gas to get there and back.
      And the kids’ $40 Starbucks drinks.

  20. What an incredible summer, spent making some incredible memories! Good for you. I actually think that you deserve an A, with all the things you did not on the list you get extra credit!!! Hope the wedding shoot went well!

  21. Well I think you guys had a terrific summer! Just look at those kiddie smiles! We made a bucket list for summer but crossed off only one out of five. But swimming with the whale sharks definitely scored an A+!

    1. The memories will certainly stand out, which is why I’m not really going through any “coulda, woulda, shoulda” thoughts about summer.
      Plus, fall here is glorious with mild weather so there are always weekends!

  22. Whoaaa you sure did a lot! You had an incredible summer. I know I’m not supposed to grade you but you totally scored A++!! It’s so awesome that you met blogger friends. I try to meet some of my local blogger friends from time to time. It’s refreshing.

  23. You did so much!!! I would definitely give you an A! We have one outstanding item on our Summer Fun List: water balloons. but it’s a long weekend here in Canada coming up so I was thinking it would be great to end the summer with a good old fashioned water balloon fight!! with mom and dad cheating with super soakers! LOL

      1. It’s a LOT of work, for a short payoff. Last time we filled about 100 balloons – which took well over an hour – and it was literally over in 5.6 seconds!!

  24. Looks like you had a fantastic summer! I always fear that bucket lists can be too ambitious…and perhaps yours was this year. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself an A for all the adventures you did have!

    1. I know – I feel like I know her so well!

      I try to make my bucket lists totally easy and manageable although this one was pretty ambitious, I must admit!

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