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Do you have a family bucket list?

With job demands, homework, and kids involved in way too many extracurriculars, our family – like many – has to really work at spending quality time together.Sure, we have dinner together several nights a week, attend our kids’ sporting events on weekends, and go to the occasional movie. But –enriching activities? Giving back to the community? Taking educational trips? Not so much. There��
The White family checks one thing off the family bucket list: The Grand Canyon.
The White family checks one thing off the family bucket list: The Grand Canyon.Today

With job demands, homework, and kids involved in way too many extracurriculars, our family – like many – has to really work at spending quality time together.

Sure, we have dinner together several nights a week, attend our kids’ sporting events on weekends, and go to the occasional movie. But –enriching activities? Giving back to the community? Taking educational trips? Not so much. There’s no time.

So we had to make time. Enter the 2012 White Family Bucket List.

I started hearing about “bucket lists” ad nauseum several years ago, when many of my friends and I were approaching  the big 4-0.  All of a sudden, people were running marathons, climbing mountains and learning new hobbies or languages. I missed the bandwagon then. (And yes, 40 came and went, and I’ve neither run a race nor started those guitar lessons.)

But at the beginning of this year – spurred by the worry that we were borderline “culturally illiterate” and that my kids would go off to college never having experienced theater or gospel music or escargots – I enlisted my husband and two kids, ages  9 and 12, in a challenge: Let’s come up with 12 goals to accomplish as a family. The guidelines were that it had to be something that broadened our horizons; something we hadn’t done before; and no one was allowed to skip out.

Of course, we aren’t the first family to do this.  Life as Mom blogger (and mom of 6) Jessica Fisher writes about creating FBLs for each season. She says:

Seeing as we don’t see “true seasons” here in Southern California, this is a perfect way for my brood and me to mark the seasons and make the days count.

Fisher’s list for last fall included having a weekly game night, making s’mores in the backyard and taking walks in the dark with flashlights.

Steph Merkle, blogger for Sierra Trading Post, recently wrote about how she and her husband had created a FBL of all the things they want to expose their young son to.

When we were kids, we climbed trees, rode bikes, built forts and made up skits. We didn’t have iPhones or iPads; we had iMaginations.  So, we’re starting a family bucket list, and not just stuff we want to do once, but also things we want to teach our son and ways we want to live as a family.

Their list included: “build a treehouse, stargaze and learn the constellations, sleep in a tent, raft the amazing Colorado rivers,” and – I love this one – “attend Oktoberfest (when he’s 18, of course).”

We’re lucky to live near a big city (Seattle), so our options really are endless. That said, going to a Seahawks football game was not exactly the mind-stretching experience I was thinking of (much to the disappointment of my son). My daughter’s suggestion of sampling ethnic food – at a local Chinese chain restaurant – was also nixed.

After researching the area’s events calendar and discussing places and things we’d all like – well, at least be willing -- to explore, we came up with a master list. Each family member chose three favorite ideas, and we assigned one per month.

The list has something for everyone. No football game, but the boy is happy with touring the rock and roll exhibit at a music museum and going kayaking. The girl is thrilled about a chocolate factory tour and tackling an indoor rock climbing wall. (This is as close to rock climbing as my 40-plus self is going to get, so I’m excited for that, too.) My sports-loving husband has us running a 5k for a good cause, and volunteering at a local Special Olympics event.  Among others on our list: Volunteering at a soup kitchen, seeing the Nutcracker ballet and touring a Gauguin exhibit at an art museum.

We’ve all enjoyed the two on our FBL we’ve ticked off so far. A recent trip to the Grand Canyon (which, truth be told, was already planned but was the perfect travel-related/educational experience) and a night of musical theater.  

We saw “Oklahoma!", a musical I grew up watching and listening to. I can sing every word to every song.

So imagine my excitement when, the day after the show, our breakfast table was a rousing chorus of “Oh what a beautiful morning,” and everyone was singing along.

What things would you put on your family bucket list?