Summer Vacation

How are you doing? The only answer anyone wants to give or get is “everyone is still healthy.” And, I am happy to report that is true for us. Since June, based on everyone’s health and commitment to following guidelines, we have rewarded ourselves with the formation of a “pod” with our kids and grandkids. This means that we can hang out together – indoors and without masks. It has been wonderful.

We took it a step further this month and shared a vacation on Mt. Hope Bay in Rhode Island. Like most of us, I was aware of my craving for a change of scenery and a change of routine. What I didn’t know I was missing was some intensive exposure to Lo and Cora.

Our July family trip was the perfect recipe for studying these small specimens in a new habitat. We had the appropriate ratio of 6 adults to 2 kids. Plenty of hands to help and plenty of time to relax. Besides observing Lo and Cora, there was an abundance of simple pleasures including this view from our porch.

Not bad.

And cooking with my daughter and daughter in law. (There is no photographic proof. But it was fun and we ate the evidence.)

And the beach.

Aunt Sally demonstrates how it is done

But the highlight of this experience was observing the development of these little girls. Lo has matured over the summer. She can play card games competitively and craves knowledge. Her Old Maid game (sexist, right?) features pairs of workers performing their occupations. There was a coveted ballerina. The expected doctor and teacher. Lo needed to know, “What does a journalist do?” “What does an attorney do?” (Try answering that for a 4 year old). She intently worked her activity books: following mazes, identifying differences between 2 like pictures, and coloring completely within the lines. She can’t yet read, but has memorized certain books and points to the words as though she can.

Vacation coloring is serious work.

Lo is a natural beach goer (see this and this.) She knows to immediately sit in the sand and dig. She collects rocks and shells. And loves the water. She follows the “big kids” and by the end of the week was jumping off the raft. Regrettably, she hasn’t learned to not walk on the blanket with sandy feet.

Coming from a long line of teasers, Lo learned to mock her Uncle Robbie. She couldn’t get his attention while he attempted to read his book and found that by affecting a haughty voice and announcing, “Hi, I’m Robbie. I’m reading a book about animals”, she could gain both his attention and the reward of laughter. She did this again and again.

You can explain things to Lo and, for the most part, she understands and accepts the explanation. Except if she has a boo-boo. She catalogs these small injuries and memorializes them “Remember that boo-boo on my toe? It used to be here” she’ll explain when doing her daily boo-boo accounting. When she did acquire a new one – she rejected the bandaids we had and she cried until Aunt Sal was interrupted while grocery shopping and saved the day by sourcing some princess bandaids.

The other indignity that set her off was on our final day . She and I had established a morning routine of cozy companionship while most of the house slept. A good morning snuggle and discussion of what we will do today, followed by perhaps a card game or some coloring. Early breakfast was always a slice of “Nana Bread with butter” this being the homemade sourdough sandwich bread I brought. On our last morning, I had to report that the bread was gone. Lo sobbed inconsolably. Indeed, that bread is delicious, but I like to think she was also mourning the realization that our special time together was coming to an end.

Cora, at 18 months, is also coming into her own. In truth, she remains more of a mystery – both because of her age and her lack of spoken language. She makes up for this with body language and persistence. I have never known a more motor-driven child. She can climb anything. Walking is too boring for Cora, she runs (or jumps or skips) everywhere. She wants to be naked, so we established late afternoon naked yard games including a kiddie pool and splash pad. She still follows every conversation (remember when she offered up toilet paper at the start of the pandemic?) and has honed her skills as a comedienne. Having once gotten a laugh for her demonstration of a “push up” (standing, thrusting her tummy as far forward as possible and grunting), she will fill any quiet moment with a repeat performance. She will respond to a mention of “evil baby” with this face:

She is not evil, but she is funny.

She follows and mimics her sister, but is at high risk to eat the crayons and markers and tear pages out of books. And drink the bubble-blowing liquid. She will dance to any tune including the sound of the dishwasher. She has the moves.

Cor-adorble’s other great charm is that, despite how wild she she, she is touchingly snuggly child. If she spots a stuffed animal, a pillow or a blanket or anything soft, she will immediately hug it. If you pull her on your lap, she will wrap her arms tightly around your neck. If she sees a dog, she will hug it. If she sees a dog on TV or walking by, she squeals with delight. I saw her go crazy when she caught a commercial featuring 2 raccoons. She is as loving as she is loved. And is truly the life of the party.

It’s not a party until Cora arrives

Cora and Lo, you will not remember this vacation. But you will have the photographs and my observations. Here are my takeaways for you to consider as you grow older:

1)This brief summer trip will probably be the highlight of 2020 (not that there has been much competition).

2) Nothing compares to time spent with family and the luxury of observing one’s grandchildren.

3) We should do this every summer.

I don’t mind the sandy feet

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