First let me say that vacations always fly by way too quickly. Even still it seemed like last week came and went in nothing more than a short blur, despite having done so much. It was a mixed bag, both in terms of what we did and how it all went, and I did learn some important lessons about traveling with my family (hint – there’s a reason to only do it once a year).
The week started off by taking the girls (Maddie included – she agreed to put up with a lot of tense moments in order to join us for this trip) to Knickerson Beach on the South Shore of Long Island. It was a great day for the beach – sunny but not too bright, and very breezy by the water. That meant I could hang back in a beach chair and enjoy the sound and smell of the beach without having to go into the water and still be comfortable. The girls ventured into the waves accompanied by my sister – in – law (she totally gets props for making this trip worthwhile for me and the kids – thanks L!!!!). By the time we were ready to head out it was getting very windy and we all got pretty well sandblasted.
We also all got a lot more sun than I would have liked. I’ll be taking my sister in law’s advice and buying some L’Oreal Ombrelle, a Canadian sunscreen that you can’t get here, but works a whole lot better than the crap we have here in the US.
The next day we headed to NYC to see the Museum of Natural History. The subway was an interesting experience with all the kids – Oona kept wanting to grab and put her mouth on the poles (YUCK!!!) and Maddie looked a little freaked out by all the various creaky noises the train makes as it rockets from stop to stop. However, with only one minor hiccup we made it to where we were going easily (thanks again to my enterprising SIL!!) and got right into the museum. Unfortunately, it was tough getting Emily and Neve interested in the displays. They seemed somewhat fascinated by the fact that the animals were taxidermy and therefore had once been alive, but we had some minor meltdowns until we decided to break for lunch in the cafeteria. Neve did however seem to really like the bones:
We brought yummy sandwiches and bottled water but upon entering the cafeteria my husband made a beeline to the food counter, thanks to a sign that read No Outside Food Allowed. And even though the rest of us were willing to risk it, he made some snarky comment about our lack of preparation and bought possibly the most expensive chicken nuggets and fries on the planet. Neve ate part of what must have been like a $10 burger and we packed up and tried to do as much of the rest of the museum as we could before the girls completely fell apart.
The girls liked the giant clamshell.
We made sure to see the big dinosaurs and the Easter Island head from Night at the Museum but by then it was late afternoon and clearly my children had had enough. SO we navigated the NYC bus system (very nice buses!!! It felt good to be on a transit vehicle again. And I might add that just about everyone offered me their seat since I was holding Oona. New Yorkers rock) and found our way to Jeckyll & Hyde, a creepy theme restaurant on 7th Ave. This was a definite highlight of the whole week for the kids. It was very dark, there was a lot of entertaining talking statues, and there were actors mingling with diners. Emily and Neve were greatly amused by the butler who kept talking to them and dusting everyone. Maddie and EMily and I wandered around to check the place out and get a better view of the band on stage, which our table was seated next to:
Clearly she was in her element.
Then it was off to Connecticut the next morning. We had plans to meet up with my brother and have lunch and tour Gillette Castle in East Haddam before heading up to Mystic Seaport. My brother looked great, as you can plainly see.
The castle (and the drive to it) was beautiful.
The best part was having my brother there. It helped displace some of the inner family tension that was going on and it led to some fantastically funny Neve moments. You see, on the way to the castle she had found the neck pillow that Paul had brought along. In fact, here’s a picture of her wearing it:
So we’re in the van and Neve puts this thing on and says, You know what uncle KB? I’m all grown up now and these are my boobs! and she grabs onto the pillow for emphasis. And all the way to the castle, we’re hearing about how she has boobs now, and when we get there and get out of the van, Paul tells her to leave her “boobs” behind. I can’t, papa. They’re REAL!
But wait! It gets better!
We start off to tour the castle, and Neve keeps mentioning how her “boobs” are hurting her neck, and how she needs to “feed” someone, which inevitably (at least in my family, I guess) leads to her saying Where’s the baby? It’s boobie – sucking time! Who’s hungry??? All of which of course gets her some big uncomfortable laughs, which just goads her on more. And then came the best moment of all. There we all were, having a rest on a beautiful little bench in the shade, facing the castle. It’s peaceful and there’s a gentle breeze. A little old lady is sitting on the bench next to us, and I can see her smiling at the girls. But at one point she decides to butt in to the conversation by looking at Neve, and with a not quite polite but not quite rude tone of voice and says What is around your neck????
NO sooner did Neve’s mouth open up when Maddie’s hand went over it and my brother said, trying not to laugh, It’s a decorative pillow.
I’m feeling like this poor woman must think we’re all crazy because we’re all chortling with suppressed laughter. And then Neve says But uncle KB don’t you mean those are my boobies??????
And then we ran for the van. Good times, good times.
It was great seeing my bro – he’s fun to be around and my kids clearly love him to tears. It was tough to leave, but Mystic awaited. And let me tell you – that was my one true day of vacation. The one and only day I was happily enjoying time with my family and not feeling bad. It was paradise for me, and how could it not be? It was my slice of New England for the summer.
Unfortunately it rained on us all day. But not before we got to tour the big old fishing and whaling ships and take a ride on a horse drawn carriage. The girls were mostly interested in the zillions of jellyfish.
Seriously. I have never seen so many jellyfish so far north before. Tons.
As for the rest of the stuff at Mystic……well, this pretty well sums it up for my kids:
It didn’t matter. I loved it and dragged them to everything with me. Like the cool old house, where Maddie spied some old school knitting!!!!!
And the children’s area where Neve conjured up Deadliest Catch for me:
And of course the goofy photo – op:
We capped off the day by having a girls – only swim at the hotel pool (Paul doesn’t swim, so he stayed with a sleepy Oona) and a room service dinner. I was very, very sad to leave Connecticut, and it was even harder when the GPS showed that from our hotel in Mystic it was only about 70 miles to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry at Wood’s Hole, MA. So sad!!!
The last two days we stayed on Long Island, and again it was dear Sister in Law to the rescue! We did a girls only trip to the mall (insert huge 13 year old Maddie smile here – we even tried on wedding dresses at the Jessica McClintock store!) and a girls only trip to see Old Westbury gardens, which were stunning! We saw 3 wedding parties while we were there and lots of geese and little bunnies. Emily loved it. Neve was ambivalent, but cooperative anyway. She mentioned to one of the brides maids that we passed by that she saw a “real” bride. To which the girl replied without missing a beat: So where’s the fake one?
Just lovely. If you’re ever out the Island, I totally recommend checking it out!
So there you are – our week in short. I have about 300 pictures and wish I could go back to New England right this second! But school starts in 2 weeks (absolutely ridiculous!) and now I must focus on getting everyone and everything school ready and ready for fall. Yes, I said it. F-A-L-L. It’s coming sooner than you think. And I want to be ready for it this year. This house needs a major organization re-do. But I’ll still be in New England in my mind anyway.