She'd been anticipating the trip for months, knowing full well we'd be in a hotel on her birthday, and all she cared about was having a swimming pool to get in, even if it was cold outside. That was an easy request.
Bright and early the next day, we filled our bellies with typical Residence Inn breakfast fare. Abby informed the breakfast attendant it was her birthday, so she was rewarded with a little Residence Inn satchel and crayons, which was totally not necessary, but an extra special touch. It was all the excuse Abby needed to grin from ear to ear to start off her day. We would spend the day doing a little bit of this and that throughout the Green Mountains of Vermont.
We kicked the day off with something that surely every new six year old girl wants to do.
We visited a granite quarry.
This was a nostalgic stop for me, because I came here with my parents and sister when I was 8 years old over 20 years ago, and now here I was with my own progeny. Looking down into the giant hole in the earth where granite used to be. As we waited for the tour guide to answer some questions, Abby lost interest and found other ways to occupy herself.
Like - writing her name in the pebbles with her shoe.
And taking pictures of Leah...
A few things we didn't get to do when I came as a youngster were bowl on the granite alley
And pick out our own pink, granite headstone...
One thing that didn't change is that we got dropped off at the end of the tour near a trailer full of granite chunks, free for the taking. I watched as Ben, Abby, and Sarah each deliberated over size, color, and amount of shiny edge and found their perfect piece.
It's amazing, to me, that something so mundane and industrial as a granite quarry could be surrounded by such beauty - the leaves and the landscape were incredible.
From there we made our way towards Stowe, Vermont via Montpelier. We gave Abby the [very short] list of options for lunch. She chose Pizza Hut. Even it was a blast from the past with it's brick walls and red booths. I thought I was back in Joppatowne, save for the Red Sox banners all over the walls.
After lunch, we got to do something every six year old girl really does want to do. We visited the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. While we were waiting in line for the tour to begin, Abby, once again, informed the tour guide that it was her birthday and she was rewarded with an "It's My Birthday" button and a free scoop of ice cream. Not too shabby.
Of course, by the time we ate the gigantic sample cup of ice cream, none of us were hungry for anymore. JUST kidding. We found room to squeeze some more in.
Oops...Sarah knocked over the giant jug of milk. Hahaha. (Seriously though, the samples were full scoops. Not sure if you can tell from the photo.)
I think you can spot the "It's My Birthday" button in this picture.
After we left Ben & Jerry's, we stopped by the Cabot Farms Annex on the way to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Basically, we got free samples of delicious Vermont treats all day. At the annex, we tasted every kind of cheese imaginable, among other things - syrups, popcorn, chip dips. It was awesome. At the Cider Mill, we indulged in some pumpkin butter, apple cider, and we actually purchased some apple cider donuts which were so fresh they were still warm. Uh-mazing.
The first place we stopped was called Texas Falls - a waterfall off the beaten path. We saw four other people while we were there. It's where we shot my personal favorite series of photos from the trip.
I like to call this one, "Daddy, please don't leave me out here with them."
I can't decide which of these is my favorite. I consider them both Abby's birthday present to me.
After Texas Falls we stopped at the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, just a stone's throw from his cabin and the school where he taught. It was an easy 1-mile hike.
This will be one of the images forever burned into memory from this trip. Sarah hysterically chasing after Sam because she was afraid he was constantly leaving her.
We made it back to the hotel in time to catch some complimentary chicken sandwiches & Pepsi (always Pepsi in the northeast). After that, you guessed it, Abby wanted to go swimming.
Daddy can really launch that little six-year-old stringbean.
Then it was up to the room for some [Little Debbie] cake (hey, you do what you gotta do in a hotel room)
Thanks to an ipad app, there was a candle that she could blow out and everything. (She was a good sport, but I think she still wants a real birthday cake before her birthday month is over so she can blow out an actual candle.)
Then we all had to sleep fast because the next day included a full agenda in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. To be continued....
While I feel that I owe Abby a proper birthday post, I'll sum up in case I never get to it with a few words here. At six years old, this little imp has become someone I never expected. If you'd have asked me when she was two what I would imagine six-year-old Abby to be like, it would be something like "wild and crazy." She has her moments, like all children, but she's far from exclusively wild and crazy. Abby truly is a little ray of sunshine where ever she goes. On our hikes, she always fell behind because she was picking flowers, or humming a tune. She marches to her own drummer. She finds the silver lining in everything. She can still climb a wall, hang from trees, and run like no other, but those are just a few more of the gifts that Abby has in her complete package. I am blessed daily by her smile, her off the wall conversations, and her beautiful, unmatched imagination. She is such a sweet spirit, always eagerly volunteering to help and serve others. She doesn't do it because she wants recognition, but she eats up praise like no other child I've ever seen. And she is so incredibly sensitive to harsh words, I am reminded to check my tone before I correct her. She's such a joy, full of life. And she helps me remember that there are indeed roses, and that I need to stop and smell them. We love you, Abby Girl. Thanks for being uniquely You.