The scent of jasmine by night and the glorious wandering freedom of long days: summer, summer, summer. Hours at the library, salt and sun and sand sticking to the body, blueberries and strawberries, road trips, rising at dawn to run before the heat settles in,  lunches with friends and family, birthday parties, iced mint green tea, watermelon, sunscreen, summer playlist, flip flops… I know we are still technically in the spring season, but I can feel the summer coming.

Katie (and Eric) and I have made lists of much of what we hope to learn and do over the next few months. This year, we are calling them our Summer Bucket Lists. Why not? We have only one short life, and summer is the time for learning all of those extra little fun things that make life vibrant and whimsical. What makes us curious? What memories do we want to make this summer 2014? What are our self-improvement goals, when we have only ourselves setting the expectations?

We’ve got a bunch. Katie has already finished two substantial chapter books this week, plus all of our other reading. She wants to sew a project with her Amie, learn a handful of clapping games (me, too), and make strawberry jam, among other items. I want to train and race in Eugene, Oregon (home of runners), teach my children a few old school games like kick the can, learn to pickle, make comfort bags to pass out to the homeless, and give myself a “suntan tattoo” (among several other goals).

We want to live fully the philosophy that summer is a continuation of learning, a golden invitation to pursue what the individual heart and mind wish to pursue. It is a time for adventure, to make some days slow on purpose, to be outdoors as much as possible, and to live with vitality. School might be out for the summer, but living passionately and learning never end.

We are not officially on summer vacation, but having finished our curriculum a couple weeks ago, we are having a go at our bucket list items already, while still doing a bit of review. In truth, I am going to sneak in math and English review and even new material all summer, but the nice thing about being a homeschooler is keeping my kiddos in a state of guessing about whether other kids are officially in school or not. I fudge holidays all the time, and one spring break Katie did cotton on: “Why is Daddy home this week and we’re still working?” Whoops.

So, here is my Summer Bucket List item #1:



Learn how to make a fishtail braid! I know how to French braid and make a normal braid, but that’s about it. I watched a YouTube tutorial with Lauren Conrad. Well, that was easy! For those who know how to fishtail, this may not seem like any big deal, but that’s kind of the point: summer learning is all about this little stuff that may have slipped by us in life! Or sometimes the big stuff! I love the fishtail, and I made one on Katie today. It seems to stay put just a little better… What makes you curious? What little skill have you always wanted to learn?

Summer Bucket List item #2 was more substantial:



Make a fairy garden/fair house with Katie and Eric, using reclaimed items from our yard, garage, junk drawers, art supply stash! June is the month of fairies, as it goes in world mythology. What a fun little play space!


We started right after breakfast this morning, collecting supplies from around the house. Even though I knew we would be working on this today, I didn’t prep anything last night, on purpose: I wanted Katie and Eric to be part of the brainstorming and hunting process. What could we use? What could we transform? Can we think of a new use for an old object, within the context of this project? I wanted their creativity to run wild, wild and free. The only recently purchased materials we used for this project were the alyssum and lobelia. Everything, everything else…came from what we had around. Definitely an upcycle project!



We did a little of everything: construction/architecture, beading, painting, physics (balancing), design/aesthetics, planting, and repurposing old objects. So much going on in one whimsical project. It took almost all morning and until about 2:00 PM. They want to make another one!



Katie used rocks from some gem panning she has done to decorate the pathway of terra cotta shards.



Eric used a combination of old seed beads from my jewelry-making days to make a blue river underneath a bark bridge.


Images of our garden: Katie had the idea to use Popsicle sticks to make a little wigwam in the uppermost pot. She also had the idea to use a metal dish that held wedding favors from my friend Shil’s wedding to make a dyed blue pool for fairies to use for their feet. I was able to incorporate some painted ceramic coasters that my friends and family made eight years ago at my bridesmaid’s luncheon at Color Me Mine. Giving some of these objects new life has been especially meaningful. They are no longer on shelves or tucked away, but are now part of something magical.



Popsicle sticks made a red garden fence outside of the pine tree house, as well as a door for that house. We used an old gold ornament as a light by the wigwam, as well as feathers and miniature pine cones for texture.



I wish we could make one every day, too!




Unbelievably, the string of silver beads above the purple door is left over from—hang on to yer hats, friends—my 11th grade Prom. Ahem. Ages ago. I had them incorporated into my up-do. So, friends, when I say that we didn’t need to buy anything for this—there’s a reason. All those things I save because they might be useful one day? THEY SO ARE! I am always seeing multiple, multiple potential uses for any object, so I am a bit of a pack rat. Good thing, in this case! I just need to make many, many fairy gardens… I knew I had a calling. 😉

I think I would be a tinker fairy.

Which kind would you be? Water? Animal? Weather?

And with that: I hope to make progress on the bucket list more tomorrow. There are some philanthropy and reading goals I would like to have done by this weekend.

Happy Summer (well, soon), everyone!