Raising Richmond: Summertime bucket list

I saw a three fireflies on Sunday night and spent most of yesterday eating chips and griping about the humidity. Put those things together and they only mean one thing: it’s summertime in Richmond.

Original — May 29th

I saw a three fireflies on Sunday night and spent most of yesterday eating chips and griping about the humidity. Put those things together and they only mean one thing: it’s summertime in Richmond.1

I realize many of you probably get excited about thoughts of summer. It probably brings about positive thoughts of time spent outside, vacations, a general zest for life.

Meanwhile I spend June, July, and August genuinely convinced that we are all going to die.

You would think as a life-long resident of this city I’d no longer be fazed by its soul-crushing heat and humidity. But no. If anything, my status as a dyed-in-the-wool Richmonder makes it worse. I know it’s coming. I know it’s going to be horrible. I know it’s always been horrible and it will always be horrible.

If it were left up to me, I would seal up the doors and windows and spend the entire summer eating ice cream and watching Giuliana & Bill in my air conditioned home.2 But alas, I have a three-year-old son (JR) who I don’t think would be particularly stoked with that prospect (other than the ice cream, obviously). We need to get out! We need to exercise! We need to overcome my palpable fear of walking outside and spontaneously combusting!

So, in order to make sure JR and I actually venture out of our house despite the rising temperatures, I’ve constructed a summertime bucket list3 for us—a compilation of a few must-do activities for us to complete before we make it to September.4 Some are very Richmond-focused, others are a bit more universal in nature, but hopefully they all will help us make the most of our summer days together.

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Spend a day at the river

I fully expect to look out of my window right now and see a mob wielding pitchforks and demanding that I turn in my RVA card for this one. Now we have taken JR to check out the good ol’ James, but because he was a fairly unsteady toddler until recently, our trips were always relatively short jaunts out to Texas Beach. But now that he’s in firm possession of preschooler status, I think we’re ready slather on the sunscreen, pack a lunch, and make a day of it.

Have a water fight

Last year was all about the sprinkler, so I think this summer JR will be ready for us to bring out the big guns…water guns, specifically. And water balloons to make it especially messy and fantastic. I think it would be fun enough to do this just as a family in our own yard, but I can’t help but wonder how much more fun it would be to gather a big group in, say, Bryan Park, for a giant, multi-family battle. Just putting that out there.

Make homemade popsicles

We got a set of popsicle moulds last year, but we used them exactly one time. It’s quite shameful if you ask me, especially considering the access we have to fresh fruit in this town–what with all our farmers markets and pick-your-own berry patches. My hope is to head over to Swift Creek Berry Farm once blueberries are in season to stock up and kick off our popsicle-making mission. Of course if we end up heading over to the Kroger produce department instead, that’ll be ok, too…and more likely.

See a movie at the Goochland Drive-In

Movies are pretty much the Catrow family’s favorite thing, so I can’t believe we’ve yet to head out west and partake in this Richmond-area(ish) treasure. Just the idea of spending the evening under the stars with my boys, watching a movie on the big screen gives me feelings that one would describe as “warm” and, perhaps, “loving.” Plus I know JR will find the whole drive-in concept absolutely hysterical.5

Camp in our backyard

My husband, Ross, is an Eagle Scout who spent a good portion of his summers sleeping in tents.6 Imagine his chagrin when he realized he married an “indoor girl.” We’ve yet to determine where JR sits on the outdoorsiness spectrum, but I want to make sure that my penchant for indoor plumbing and constant Internet access isn’t swaying him away from a pastime that Ross holds so near and dear. I figure setting up camp in our backyard is a good starting point for us as a family. Ross will be able to share his love for the outdoors with his son, JR will get a taste of what it’s like to go camping, and I won’t have to pee outside.

Catch fireflies

General outdoor finickiness aside, catching fireflies is one of my most favorite things in the entire world. There’s something about those bioluminescent bugs that will never cease to amaze me, and I’m stoked to teach JR all about them. In summers passed he was pretty hesitant to catch them with me (he was content to just look), but I’m sure his current preschool-induced insect obsession will take over and we’ll end up spending the majority of our summer evening skulking around the yard, searching for those magical little critters.

Watch my kid run the bases at a Flying Squirrels game

Other than bringing us the magic that is Nutzy, I personally feel that the whole “kids running the bases” concept is the best thing the Flying Squirrels have done for this town. The cuteness. It is paralyzing. I cannot wait to see JR thundering along with a flock of other completely thrilled, exhausted, jacked-up-on-adrenaline children, all clambering to cross home plate at the same time. If we also happen to see some fireworks that same night? I will be a puddle on the floor—and not because of the heat.

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Ok, spill it. Tell me what’s on your summertime bucket list (and what I should add to mine).

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  1. Yes, I realize summer doesn’t “officially” start until June 20th, but I think we can all agree that’s a bunch of baloney. Summer lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and we all know it. 
  2. Don’t get me wrong: I will still spend a nice, healthy chunk of the season doing exactly these things. In fact, will spend a nice, healthy chunk of most seasons doing them. 
  3. I find the connotation of the list’s name quite appropriate considering my previously mentioned doom-and-gloom natural reaction to this time of year. 
  4. Sweet, glorious September, with your promises of cooler weather and humidity levels that don’t make you feel like every last trace of oxygen is getting sucked out of your lungs. 
  5. Turns out three-year-olds are really easy to impress. I mean, the kid thinks rubber bands are AMAZING. 
  6. And not showering.7 
  7. Ever. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Caroline on said:

    I remember you camping. I also remember us not having fun. Though that could have been equal amounts of the drama-filled company and the whole sleep outside thing.

  2. Gianna on said:

    Busch Gardens-Virginia kids under 5 are free..
    Baseball Game with Fireworks..because I need the fireworks to get me to go to a game (I wish the Squirrels were there when I lived in Richmond)
    Gardening with my 4 year old. I want to teach him the value of hard work and bountiful rewards that are delicious tomatoes straight off the vine
    Richmond Children’s Museum-reciprocal memberships mean free activities while traveling
    Camping-starting slow on our screened in porch because..eeew bugs, but making it out to one of the state parks at some point.
    After dinner walks-I hate the heat and hope that by the time we finnish eating the temps will dip a little making a walk before my son’s bedtime enough to help him sleep better, plus it is guaranteed family time that doesn’t involve a tv. I hate summer too..so tv looks amazing to me 24/7 during the scorching days..

  3. KarenM on said:

    No more reciprocal memberships from CMoR. :(

  4. Jennifer C. on said:

    I am totally in for the water gun fight. I mean, my kids are. That was the theme for my younger son’s birthday party last year – I set up two kiddie pools and the slip’n’slide in the front yard, and there were many water weapons. The dads got into it and it the kids had a great time!

  5. Melissa on said:

    I don’t have kids but we may take our niece to the river this year. Not Belle Isle – way too close to too many rapids. I spend a lot of time at Pony Pasture and I think the rocks there and the walk-in access at Half Moon Beach (1/4 mile east) would be good for kids. Probably 3.5 feet or lower (at the Westham Gauge, see here: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=akq&gage=rmdv2 ) is good for kids. Parents who don’t know the river much should bring 2 adults so one can forge ahead to check for any deep channels or swift water. If I had a kid under 8 I’d probably put them in a life jacket the whole time in case.

  6. No kids, but I also have a bucket list that includes the drive-in, Water Country, rock climbing at Manchester, skinny dipping in the James ( http://www2.richmond.com/news/2010/aug/27/top-10-rva-life-ar-592086/), shoot some firecrackers, see a Jimmy Buffett concert, go streaking, and get tattooed. Best summer ever!

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