Tuesday, June 21, 2011

M.G.'s Vacation!

M.G. was such a great traveler on this trip.  She was very easy going and was dependable to jump on the bandwagon and have a good time (for the most part.)  She took the lead when she could and had a lot of fun on the little stops we had.  She had more of a memory of New York and I enjoyed hearing the details she remembered along the way.

(This is the hiking trail we took in Indiana Dunes State Park.  It's a sand dune that is so old that a forest grew on it!)
We had expected that the younger two might need more help in the backseat then I could easily provide from the front and that M2 might get on M.G.'s nerves along the way.  Our solution was to offer M.G. a babysitting job ($1 for the trip, which is the same as her weekly allowance) and she really took to that idea.  Her main responsibilities were helping to engage M3 with toys when needed and to try to be tolerant of M2 if he got irritating.  It was very cute to see her offer to read to M2 at one point and when they were having a lot of trouble sitting still at lunch one day I asked her if she could help me with M2 and she calmed right down and asked him to sit by her.  She also was able to play with M3 at times where M3 wanted a break from the car and it often bridged the gap until we could stop.

(Indiana Dunes State Park, Lake Michigan)
 M.G. also enjoyed the Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls.  She spent the whole ride in the position below.  I was behind her and had no idea what she was thinking, but when it was finished she was exuberant!

M.G. was our junior navigator.  My mom had given her a road atlas with games and puzzles.  M.G. checked it often over the vacation - looking for our route and giving us facts about the states we traveled through.  She liked knowing where we were, where we were going, and when we'd get there.  We purchased a GPS for this trip and she enjoyed the "estimated arrival time" feature.  It eliminated a lot of the "are we there yet?"
Before the trip we talked a lot about what we each wanted to do on the trip.  We wanted to find several things for the kids to look forward to along the way.  One of M.G.'s fondest memories of living in New York was eating at Friendly's, so we made sure to stop there for lunch on our way to Albany.

The reason Friendly's is such a great memory?  An ice cream sundae with every kid's meal!

M.G. remembered bits and pieces of the things we saw in Troy and Albany.  In some ways less than I expected, but she'd remember little details, like the hill we walked down at the old apartment complex.

I've mentioned before that M.G. always says she'll ride on a carousel horse (like in my post about a different vacation) but then she gets scared and balks at the last minute.  So, we smiled and nodded as we approached the State Museum carousel and she said, "Today I'm going to ride a horse!"  She did grab a horse and climbed right up!  She was a little nervous at first, but by the end was having a lot of fun!

M.G. spent a lot of time on a boogie board on the beach of Newport, RI.  She enjoyed splashing and running in the water.
M.G. enjoyed hanging out with her 7 year old cousin, Ella, in Rhode Island.  They had met at two family reunions and I always wish we had just a little more time for them to play together - as soon as they start getting to know each other again the visit is over!

M.G. was given several chapter books that Ella had enjoyed as a 6 year old and suddenly we lost her for the car ride portion of the next two days as she read them and read them again!  She was so focused that she perfected answering us with vague one word responses said with pretend emotion without looking up.

Me: Beck, are you cold with this vent pointed at you?
M.G.: Nice!
Me: We're going over a really neat bridge.  You might want to look out the window.
M.G.: Good!

We saw a glimmer of an older M.G. on the Staten Island Ferry.  She was interested in the boat ride until she found out we were getting off on Staten Island, because they make you re-board, and then getting directly on to a boat going back to where we started.  She found this to be a really silly idea and it showed!

So the start of M.G.'s day in NYC was off to kind of a rough start.  She was hungry and had to take an unnecessary ride on a boat.  We left the Ferry terminal and it was drizzling slightly.  We expected rain and had carried our umbrellas with us.  Suddenly M.G.'s day turned around - she got to use her umbrella that Grandma had given her!  She's only gotten to use it a few times and so it really did make her day.

 This was M.G.'s 3rd trip to NYC.  The first photo is from 2 years ago when she was 4.  One thing she looked forward to was getting another photo with a fake Statue of Liberty.

She also enjoys wandering through Central Park.  The first photo below was also taken 2 years ago and I wanted to have a comparison photo because she just looks so much older now!

On this trip we ended up walking through Central Park really fast so that we could get to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  M.G. really enjoyed trying to rush through the park and crowds.  She had been complaining a bit about being tired, but suddenly she was animated and pointing out all the sights along the way.  After Mass she was also much more interested in what we were seeing.  We passed through Times Square and all the people and lights had her looking around in wonder.

We stopped to look at the library lions and
she enjoyed the constellations in Grand Central station.

M.G. spent nearly all of Sunday reading in the car as we headed West.

Once we got home, M.G. told us that stopping in Champaign to see where she first lived was one of her favorite parts of the trip.  We enjoyed showing her the important places from when she was a baby.  Seeing her running around campus brought back memories of a toddler monkey on the go!

Madison, WI was around the point where M.G. was ready to get home.  But, she was still happy to pose by one more Statue of Liberty!

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