Summer vacation

A few weeks ago we went on our annual summer vacation with Tom’s family. This year we went to Lake Anna for the first time. We had an awesome trip, our house was perfect for little ones — a sandy beach area, shallow water, lots of grass for playing, and even a screened-in eating area so we could sequester the kid-eating mess.

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It was wonderful, and yet I think I can speak for the whole family when I say we learned a lot. Namely, we learned a lot about nuclear power plants and cooling lagoons.

And also, after a week at Lake Anna, none of us understand why the writers for The Simpsons never wrote an episode about when the Homer took the kids on vacation to a nuclear lake.

If you’re familiar with Lake Anna, you know that there’s a hot side and a cool side. The hot side is hot because water from the cool side is used cool the generators at the power plant, and is discharged into the hot side.

But water is water, right?

After a week on the hot side I think we’d all answer — yes! Water is water in that we had a great time swimming, paddle boarding, and digging in the sand.

But that time I went for a run and came back, hot and sweaty, I didn’t jump in the water to cool off. Because 97 degree water doesn’t have the same refreshing allure as, say, 83 degree water.

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We quickly established a routine of water and sand play in the morning, and riding bikes or playing in the yard after naps.

There was a smooth paved area where Mary Virginia could practice on her bike, and the rest of the kids rode their bikes down our long driveway and out to the road.

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This year it was clear that, even though we still have babies, our families are entering the next phase. There was a time when we had four kids in diapers, and everyone needed supervision and direction ALL THE TIME. This year, even though we had two in diapers, the four big kids play independently now.

The girls would sneak upstairs to play house, and I have no idea what the boys were ever doing because I never saw them. And when I did see them, they were talking in an undecipherable, irritating voice. We truly, rarely saw the boys because Caleb was with David and David was with Caleb nonstop, except for when they were sleeping. And even then, once when I went in to check on David I swear he said “Caleb” in his sleep.

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Post-dinner S’mores. 

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Lazy mornings reading in pajamas. 

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We had a few really hot and humid days midway through the week. It was so hot that when I took my camera outside the whole thing fogged up. It’s humid in Richmond, but that’s never happened to me before.

Since you can’t photograph humidity, these foggy pictures actually do a good job of communicating just how muggy it was.

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This particular evening the kids were playing with water on the deck. See that water spill behind Caleb? It was so humid that that water spot was still on the deck in the morning.

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I can’t talk about vacation without mentioning that we had to call 9-1-1. Less than an hour after arriving David had some sort of severe allergic reaction. I’m planning to write about it more later, once I can get my thoughts together, but the incident marked vacation for me. David was on Prednisone for most of the week, so he wasn’t totally himself.

We’ve dealt with sickness on vacation before — fevers and ear infections and even dog bites — but this had so much more uncertainty and gravity. What caused it? Will it happen again? What happens if it happens again?

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All week we watched David closely. Tom and I checked on him multiple times each night, and we were all hyper-aware of his moods. By the end of the week I was asking him how he felt and he announced, “MOMMY I’M FINE!”

Good. You’re fine, and we’ll continue to be diligent.

Thankfully the rest of the week was uneventful except for things like grilled pizza on the porch, bellyflops off the dock, and blowing bubbles in the backyard.

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So long, vacation.

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