On Wednesday when I picked you up from school, you announced to me that you were ready to head to New Hampshire. It was a surprise to me since we weren't planing on leaving until the next afternoon. I explained to you that we didn't have Daddy with us. Wouldn't he be sad if we left for New Hampshire without him? You said he would come later in his car. I countered with the fact that we had no accommodations for that night. You told me there were plenty of places to sleep in New Hampshire. In desperation I told you that we hadn't packed yet. You wouldn't have any clothing or shoe options. I should have known that you would see reason in fashion. You agreed that we should go home at once & begin packing.
You weren't satisfied until the packing was underway. At one point it felt like we were bringing half of our house, at least half of what belonged to you. You brought down piles of toys & books to be packed in the car, some for you & some for your best friend S. This year S & her family would be joining us on our adventure, & you were both beyond excited about it.
We spent the first night & next day in New Hampshire as just our family of three. We picked you up at 1pm from school. It seemed that everyone knew you were going to New Hampshire as they all said bye. The weather & the foliage were beyond amazing on the drive up. The weather was projected to be in the mid to high 70s. It was a little warmer than I would have liked. My perfect New Hampshire weekend would be one with crisp fall weather so we could snuggle next to a fire. It also caused me to pack fall & summer clothing options, making me feel even more like we were bringing our whole house to New Hampshire. I really shouldn't have complained. Every other year had been full of rain.
When we arrived, we picked up a few things at the local grocery store. The grocery store sat at the base of Loon Mountain. It took my breath away how beautiful it was to do something as ordinary as grocery shopping here. I couldn't help but take a few photos of you, and you were happy to be the subject of my photos. The car ride was a long one for you. When you weren't sleeping, you were asking how many more minutes until we arrived in New Hampshire (which you had been asking since your daddy dropped you off at school that morning). You were just as happy as I was to be enjoying the sights & smells.
We brought take-out back to the condo (same one as last year) for dinner & enjoyed sitting by the fire, just the three of us, that night. Daddy & I put you to bed together. We all snuggled in the bottom bunk bed while Daddy read you one book & I read you another. You were in New Hampshire heaven.
The next morning, you actually let us sleep in until 7:30. I could really get used to New Hampshire living. You & I started to get ready while Daddy picked up breakfast from White Mountain Bagel (I crave their sun dried tomato bagels with bacon & horseradish cream cheese all freaking year). We left the condo fairly early for a morning of New Hampshire fun. Our first stop was the Basin. We had last walked the Basin during your first trip to New Hampshire two years ago. We were sad to realize you don't really remember that trip or the way we would say "the Basin" in a really low toned voice & you would reply with "the Baby Basin" in the same low tone. Still, it was so much fun to watch you run & climb & explore & laugh & play.
Walking the Basin can be exhausting.
The water was COLD!
One of your favorite parts was getting to walk underneath the highway. We took turns making echos.
Once we reached the top, you enjoyed your lunch with a gorgeous view of Cannon Mountain. It was breathtaking, & the foliage was at it's peak. Our views reached all the way to Canada, which was surprising since the rain clouds had rolled in. When we felt the first raindrops, I was kicking myself for complaining about the projected warm & sunny weather.
We didn't let the weather get in our way. There was a hiking trail that led from the lodge to a viewing tower higher up on the mountain. You were excited to show us your "hiking skills," getting down on all fours to traverse the land even when it was completely flat.
We stopped at a lot of quiet areas off the main path to take in the view, just the three of us. Of course I started to snap pictures of everything, wanting to save every bit of beauty for always. You wanted to take some pictures too. For the first time, Daddy & I had a little photographer to take pictures of us. You got some great shots, sometimes instructing us how to pose. "Ok, now you need to hug. Ok. Ok. Now you have to kiss."
Can you see my iPhone in your hand? It was your camera of choice.
You & S woke up early the next morning. You also woke up kind of cranky, which was to be expected. It had been a late night for you. It was funny to later realize we spent the morning having some of the same conversations with you that S's parents had with her. "If this is how you're going to act, then we'll stay home & everyone else will go to Santa's Village." There were lots of "Santa is watching you" threats being thrown around that morning. There's something amazing about being friends with great parents of incredible kids & finding out that they go through a lot of the same experiences that we do. It makes my heart happy when we get to travel with amazing families & makes me feel a little less like an awful parent when our child is not perfect during every moment of our vacation.
We offered to drive both you & S so that you could watch a movie in the DVD player in our car. Instead, the two of you argued & debated over selling your toys to each other. A little plastic toy was going for two hundred thousand dollars, & you were both crying that you didn't have two hundred thousand dollars. Sigh. I was happy when we pulled into the Santas Village parking lot.
I think we could have spent the whole day outside the gates. You enjoyed talking to Rudolf, who talked right back. I enjoyed taking family photos.
You & S got to drive cars...through a car wash.
If we had let you, you would have rode the roller coaster all day. Even after four times, you cried that you had to get off.
Feeding Santa's Reindeer was a highlight of the day.
You were so excited to see baby Jesus.
You couldn't wait to tell Santa that you wanted an American Girl Doll for Christmas. Too bad you originally told us you wanted to bike. Oh, well. At least we got to check off the obligatory sitting on Santa's lap pictures super early this year.
You had recently watched Lilo & Stitch & wanted to swim under the water like Lilo does. So, for your very first time you did, all by yourself (you swallowed half the pool & I finally had to beg you to stop swimming under water for fear of dry drowning). It made my heart swoon to watch you & S swimming around together. I could have watched you forever, & the two of you would have swam forever. But it had been a long day & us mom's looked forward to the dads taking over bedtime duty. We also looked forward to sitting out on the deck & playing some board games, just the parents. Mostly, we talked about you & S, how much we love you, & how much we love that you're such a special part of each other's lives.
The next morning, it was clear we were all exhausted. You & S were fighting over the top spot for crankiest little girl in America (I mean this literally, that's what you were actually fighting over). We packed up our things, sadly said goodbye to the condo, & headed to Clark's Trading Post for a quick visit before driving home. We purchased some fudge & a bag of rocks that you could add to the bag you bought two years ago. You talked forever about how glad you were that your old rocks wouldn't be lonely & how you were going to take good care of them (you've already brought them in for show & tell). Then we sleepily headed home. You & I napped while Daddy drove. You napped the entire drive, announcing that the drive wasn't long at all when we pulled into our driveway.
It was hard to say goodbye to our New Hampshire adventure, especially because I think this one was my favorite one yet. I love that we were able to share our happy (& sometimes unbearably frustrating) moments with such great friends. At the same time, it felt so good to be home.
Thank you, my dear little love, for such a precious weekend filled with beautiful memories. It is a tradition that I hold so close to my heart. I look forward to next year's adventure & all the years after that.
I love you so,