Guest Post: Our Summer Bucket List

Please welcome today's guest post author - Valerie!
When I think of what a Real Housewife of Oklahoma is, Valerie is on the top of that list.  She makes the rest of us look bad.  You can't help but love her anyway.
If you haven't checked out her blog My Own Crafty Wonderland before then you need to go look at her blog today.  But wait to look after you read this post and leave a comment, k?
Happy Thursday!
~ Mrs. Priss


(alternately titled "How NOT to Kill Your Kids in 80 Days" or "80 Days CAN Go Quicker Than Watching Paint Dry On the Wall")

Hi.  I'm Valerie.

I'm a real housewife.  Oh yeah, I am.  I got me some real big piles of laundry to prove it, real kids, real pets, a real husband, several real jobs, and I really do live smack dab in Oklahoma where right now it is REAL hot.  That's right -- I'm a real born and raised Oklahoma housewife that can dodge tornadoes while whipping up some fried chicken with the best of 'em. (Not really.  I haven't yet mastered the fine art of fried chicken unless you count breezing through the drive-thru line at KFC.)  But I do love my state somethin' fierce, yes I do, and I am proud to be a Real Housewife of Oklahoma.

A couple months ago I went from one to three kids, pretty much overnight.  The Great State of Oklahoma matched my little family o' three up with two brothers who were in need of a family, and here we are, a great big family of five.  The transition itself has been way smoother than I ever anticipated, but I cannot lie as there has been one big thing I've been dreading, something looming ominously over my head these past two months.  You might have already guessed it: 

Summertime with three kids.  80 DAYS worth of summertime with three kids, to be exact.

What in the heck was I gonna do with three kids all summer?

My three boys have been in school.  That's right -- I've had a good seven hours or so to myself Monday through Friday to get things done.  The idea of transitioning from that to 24/7 of good ol' fashioned "togetherness" was a bit daunting.  To top it all off, my "original" kid just so happened to be aging out of our church's Mother's Day Out summer program, so the "go-to" answer for giving myself a break a few days a week was not even an option anymore.  And my two newest guys are also too old for the Mother's Day Out summer program.  It was enough to almost send this mama over the edge.

Enter the "summer bucket list".

Never heard of it, you say?  Let me enlighten you.

Last year I stole this idea from a very clever blogger.  If you haven't already heard of Meg, I'm guessin' you'll soon be clicking on over to check her out, and I'm pretty sure you'll be adding her blog to your Google Reader.  Girlfriend has got all sorts of great ideas goin' on, but in my opinion, this one is one of her best.

Basically, it's the same idea as any other bucket list (just like the movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson).  You make up a list of all sorts of fun ideas that you and your kiddies can check off over the summer.  Wake up one morning and have no plans?  Voila!  The Bucket List can give you an idea.  Got kids whining and complaining about being bored?  Boy howdy!  The Bucket List can fix them up in a jiff. (Well, unless you live in my house, that is.  Whining and complaining only lands you quality time on your bed.  Ha.)

I'm not going to lie.  A LOT of the things on our bucket list are things that we already had planned to do this summer.  And some of them might be things that don't sound all that fun until you slap them up there on the posterboard in rainbow colors with a box to check off -- and it's like magic.  All of a sudden, it's fun and challenging.  Who cares if you already go to Sonic Happy Hour every day -- stick it up on the list anyway!  Heck, I wouldn't even be past sneaking a few chores in on there to make them look a little more appealing.  (I do that all the time.  In fact, the other day I told the boys if they were REALLY GOOD they might get to help us clean up the yard.  Be jealous because it worked.)  I also tried on our bucket list to put up a good variety of things -- some easy, some more challenging, some cheap or free, some that cost more, some that take little or no time, and some that require planning in advance.  But I am bound and determined that we might actually be able to check every single one of them off before the summer's end.  Last year one of the only ones we didn't end up checking off was the "drive-in movie" box.  I thought I'd be all clever and wait until summer's end (and the hopefully cooler temperatures) to do that one, and then our local drive-in burned to a crisp.  No joke.

My friends have gotten a kick out of some of the ideas on our list, especially the one titled "Ears 'n Beers".  Ah yes, we give our kids beer.  (For reals, people, you think we would really do that??)  It's a little annual party we do with our neighbors every summer, grilling up "ears" of corn, making several gourmet butters and such to dress them with, lots of side dishes and desserts, and then "beers" for the adults and root beers for the kiddos.  (It's a big hit with all the Southern Baptists.)  And some of the things on my list I put very generic descriptions of for good reason.  For example: "science museum" and "water park".  There's a couple of science museums in our state we could choose from, so honestly, whichever ends up being the most convenient is going to be the winner.  I cannot lie -- I am not a big fan of our local water park, so if it ends up with find a suitable alternative elsewhere, we can still check that baby off the list.  Yep, that's how I roll.

I mentioned before that I love our state somethin' fierce, so it is important to me that my kids grow up to love and appreciate it as well.  Both last year's list and this year's list included visits to fun places that are found only in our great state:  The Blue Hole just east of Salina, the Kiddie Park in Bartlesville, Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show in Pawnee (you'd better hurry on that one though as it is only in the month of June), Pop's in Arcadia, and the Lego Store in Oklahoma City.  (Okay, okay, that last one is not really a state attraction, but my three boys would certainly argue otherwise!)  Last year we also visited the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park in Foyil, and the Tallgrass Prairie just north of Pawhuska.  There are so many more attractions in Oklahoma that I could've listed, but I figure we've got  plenty of summers in our future to add those to the list.  Oklahoma may not be an exciting vacation destination as New York or California, but where else are you gonna find a big metal whale floating in a murky pond or some concrete totem poles?  Not in New York City!  I can't encourage you enough to get out there on the road and explore all that our state has to offer, the impressive as well as the oddball.  Your kids will love it.

Just so you know, this idea can be adapted to all types of families.  No kids at your house?  After congratulating yourself on having oodles of free time and a whine-free casa this summer, make up your own bucket list of things you'd like to accomplish this summer.  No husband?  Dang, girlfriend, fill it UP with all sorts of girly fun!  You can't imagine the thrills that come with checking off accomplishments with rainbow-hued washable markers. Although, don't ask my boys about the markers -- they might complain that their mama hoards the markers so she can get the satisfaction of checking the boxes herself.  Hmmmm, not little ol' me, I would NEVER do that.  Never.  Hmmmm...

Happy Summer from this real housewife to you.


Entertaining the kids like...


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