School starts tomorrow. Tomorrow. Which means-

We did it! We got through 94 days of summer vacation, no worse for the wear (minus the Derma-Bond and the sand the doctor said we all still have in our inner ear canals). Like any long period of time, it was filled with highs and low, ups and down, but at the end of the day (or 94 days) we made lasting memories and we all still love each other. In fact, as much as I’ll want to do a jig tomorrow when I roam the aisles of Wal-mart with only two kids in tow instead of five, I’ll genuinely miss our little summer routine.

I was just telling my husband that this has been our best summer yet. It’s been by far my most organized and I think that helped. (Click here to view the post.) Our quick daily chores kept the house from being the focal point of the neighbor kids’ backyard campout ghost stories (you see that house over there on the hill? The one with the shrubs like a jungle? Well, on a night just like tonight…) and our summer bucket list made sure something exciting and fun was always on the horizon as a reward for our efforts. Our Mon-Fri outlines gave each day a focus and kept the fighting and bickering about “what are we going to do today” to a minimum.

Of course, we didn’t get to everything on the bucket list, and we did some really fun things we didn’t even think to put on the list. But like a family budget, just writing one out helped us to stay focused on what’s really important, like making sure we ate ice cream every Monday, come rain or shine or monsoon.

Our highlights included visiting museums and parks we never knew about before. Who knew the city had such an amazing aviary? And we spent hours in a tucked away children’s museum we heard about from a friend of a friend. How much did the city spend on that new fancy “castle park?” I was surprise they didn’t charge admission!

If we hadn’t written it down, we would have never lugged out the projector to the driveway and hosted our own “driveway drive-in” movies with our friends and neighbors. I would’ve never dragged my kids down to the community center to do Zumba for Families. (My oldest was mortified and absolutely refused to “stir the chocolate.”)

We bowled, we swam, we conquered the high dive (even me) and everybody six and up finished a triathlon. We painted masterpieces, made bird feeders and washed the car by hand. We went to the library ever week and now we think being a librarian is a pretty great profession. We learned how to use iMovie, made movies and watched plenty of movies too.

Let’s see-I’m looking over the list now…We did try to make a real angel food cake (i.e., not from a box) as per the bucket list, but it was a bust. I used a rubber spatula or something…We didn’t make the lemon curd because I was so frustrated over wasting a whole carton of eggs on the cake and what’s lemon curd good for without an angel food cake to smother it on?

We did plant tomatoes, yes, but no salsa. We’re hoping the animals that ate most of our red orbs of juicy sunshine were at least able to pinch an onion, a jalapeo and a sprig of cilantro from another garden so at least someone enjoyed the homemade stuff. But we also discovered Costco carries a great salsa too.

We made bubbles, but define “big.” The kind that come shimmering out of a hula hoop like I had originally pictured? No, we didn’t make those. The kind you fashion out of yarn and straws and Dawn? Yes. Cookie cutters work great too. Chalk murals on the driveway, check. But I wouldn’t have called it a “chalk art festival.” No one came to see. Did we make jam? Well…we bought jam. But a really yummy new kind and at a great price too.

The point is, between the cousins and the cookie baking and the morning cuddles, I’m a little sad it all has to end.  So last night we came up with new “School Year Bucket List” items-a fall campout, a weekly energy saver night (dinner by candlelight and all electronics off, board games by flashlight, that kind of thing), ski a black diamond, get the sand out of our inner ear canals…

Maybe we shouldn’t call it a “bucket list” during the school year though. It sounds a touch morbid. Especially since, according to my kids, life ends tomorrow.