Kicking the Bucket

Summer vacation. It used to be a time of such joy and anticipation . . . And then you grow up and it is taken away from you. Sorry to start on a sour note, but it is true. We are adults, we work during the beautiful summer days while children are riding bikes and playing at camps. Except for a few of us, we work. I am married to one of the few and every spring I count down the days until the start of his summer vacation with a mix of emotions.

He deserves the summer break. The job is difficult and time consuming and goes well beyond the 9-5 day of most. The grading and lesson planning take time and energy and the good teachers, the ones we all hope for for our children work even harder to make sure the students are successful. My husband is one of the great teachers and we are fortunate he can take his summer off to be with our boys and relax a little bit. I long for the days of summer vacation. I just wish my job came with two months paid time off. (Don’t we all?)

This summer will be especially difficult, because last summer I was on maternity leave and had two months off with my three boys. It. Was. Amazing!! It makes this summer that much harder. This year stinks – well, it had the opportunity to stink, but my family is awesome and we turned the situation into another adventure. The O’Brien Summer Bucket List is something any family should do. What a way to pack in a long list of activities for memory making at its finest.

Activities range from large to small. Some are more expensive than others, but many are free of charge and require only an imagination and a positive attitude. The whole family adds to the list and each item must be something for the whole family to enjoy. We take a week to build the list and the last day of school is our first day to conquer our bucket.

This year’s list did not take a full week to create. In fact, a full week would have lead to a list that may have taken a whole year to accomplish. In just a few days we had a list with a wide range of items that were challenging, silly, and that we could not wait to get started on.


I’d love to hear some things on your summer bucket list. With young kids, their ideas are endless, but I’m always looking for a few that pass along a great message in a fun way.

Since our bucket list must be completed together, it leaves the summer days open for limitless possibilities. My husband becomes a full-time dad and the work is hard. It may not require grading, but it is demanding on your time and energy. My husband and I are equals – we share our household and parental responsibilities. So even though I’m at work during the day, I help him plan his ‘lessons’ for the boys so he has lots of ideas to choose from.  I select a weekly theme and choose a mixture of art projects, science experiments, and projects with hidden lessons for my boys to enjoy together.

During the first week of summer vacation, my oldest son was signed up for bug camp. To reinforce some things he may have been learning in camp I searched for projects about bugs. Whether you are home with your kids over the summer, looking for quality evening projects, or weekend fun – these adventures are kid tested and parent approved. They brought smiles and laughter and passed our summer fun test.

A bug scavenger hunt. I found mine here. Kristina or Camp Mom over at Toddler Approved has a great download you can print so the kids can easily cross off the bugs they discover them.

Making a giant spider web. Use masking tape to make a giant web on the back of a dinning room chair or in a hallway. Attach each piece of tape to the chair or wall making sure the sticky side is all facing the same direction. Then toss flies(newspaper pieces) and moths (cotton balls) at the web.

My spiders caught more moths than flies

Making your own bugs.  You can be creative with this project. Make ladybugs out of paper plates and pipe cleaners. Over at Great Lakes Bay Moms you can find books, songs, and activities all about bugs.  Click here to get to their bugs article and instructions on their ladybug craft. Have your older child help the younger one assemble their bugs to build leadership skills, teamwork, and communication.

Being a butterfly.  Found this activity over at First Grade Shenanigans. I loved the idea of using everyday materials to show how insects gather pollen. Use your proboscis (straw) to sip the nectar (apple juice) from a flower. I found my inspiration here.

These bug projects were great and I am amazed at how much I learn while trying to teach my sons. Sometimes I worry I may not have paid enough attention in my science classes!!  The important thing is that we all love learning new things. This week those lessons revolved around nature and something I never saw myself having an interest in . . . BUGS! Here is to being a mom of boys and a successful year of bug camp!




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