Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Things I Don't Understand about Our Family Vacation to New York

Sometimes it takes a vacation with your family to teach you how many things you don't know.

Last week, Phillip and I plus the kids plus his parents spent several days in New York. We hit two destinations and had a lot of fun, but I didn't quite understand...

...why a 5-hour road trip is boring but sitting motionless reading a book at home for the same amount of time is totally fine.


Even though we brought a lot of things to do in the car, the older kids were apparently still bored. Which I don't get because I know for a fact that they have no trouble sitting and reading for 5 hours at home.

We made a ridiculous number of pit stops on the way there, but once we figured out that the problem was more boredom than actual urinary distress, we made much better time.

...how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.


Unfortunately you can't plan the weather when you plan a vacation, so we found ourselves snack in the middle of the worst heat wave in upstate New York since 1901. I just carried a ton of water everywhere and tried to embrace the wetlands formerly known as my bra.

And, because vacationing with little kids is actually a ton of work, Phillip and I sat on a bench outside the hotel every night after the kids were asleep and ate a secret Klondike bar. The romantic backdrop of the sun setting over the rear of the CVS across the parking lot was just a bonus.

...how to explain the concept of a church history trip to non-Mormons in 20 words or less.


The main purpose of our trip was to visit a few places in New York that are important to the history of my church. For those of you who have no idea what could be religiously significant there aside from the Jewish delis, let me sum up.

Mormons believe our church to be the same one Jesus Christ set up when He was alive (there's a cute video and some more information about that here.) But we also believe that some crucial aspects of Jesus' church were lost in the centuries after He died, and in 1830 they were restored when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized in — you guessed it  New York.

We stopped at the farm where the LDS church's founder Joseph Smith lived. Every Mormon kid knows stories about this place and what happened there, so it's nice to put pictures with the words we so often hear.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Informational plaques double as shades from the sun if you're really desperate and a little creative.

We visited the nearby hill where Joseph Smith obtained the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. The tour guide at the visitor's center was definitely having heart palpitations watching the kids crawl all over everything, but it's also where my favorite picture (of this trip and possibly of all-time) was taken.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The visitor's center has a large statue of Jesus and the tour guide told my kids they could feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. Something about my oldest daughter lifting up my youngest one to touch Jesus gets me all verklempt.

I'm not crying, you're crying.

We saw the Whitmer Farm, where Joseph Smith finished translating the Book of Mormon. Our tour guides sat outside the farmhouse on benches talking about the events that occurred there, very convincingly pretending not to see my 2-year-old cavorting around behind them with a fallen tree branch he found, whacking everything in sight.

Even when he ran over to Phillip and proudly announced, "Dad! I got a tree!"

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
After the tour of the farmhouse he went right back to playing with the branch.

We visited the printing shop where the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon were published, and also where my children misbehaved so badly they had to be physically removed from the building.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

But as we left the print shop and walked to the cemetery where some prominent figures in LDS church history are buried, they spontaneously held hands for the whole walk so they are back to being the cutest things ever.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

...the contents of the fire extinguisher box in the hotel.


Upon arriving at the hotel, my 2-year-old immediately opened the fire extinguisher box in the hallway and pulled out a pair of lacy black women's underwear. It was so weird, like he knew it was there.

I still don't understand. Was it like the penny trays at the grocery store checkout ("take a panty, leave a panty??") or maybe something to do with how your mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident?

Notwithstanding the mystery undies, the hotel was a nice place. We had adjoining rooms with Phillip's parents, which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. (One afternoon we put the kids down for a nap and went across to his parents' room, letting the door close behind us and locking the sleeping kids in by themselves.)

And sometimes people focus on the negatives of big families, but I had a lovely interaction with a sweet couple at the hotel breakfast who asked about our 6 kids and then said, "You must have lots of pictures of lots of smiles on your walls at home." Some people just get it.

...that I somehow I have kids old enough to participate in a chicken fight with me.


Our family filled up the hotel pool to capacity, and the kids sure enjoyed it. In between catching the three little kids who lined up at the edge of the pool to jump in and have me catch them, I introduced my three oldest to chicken fighting.

I kind of can't believe I have kids old enough to do that now. It's also kind of fun not to be a responsible adult and do things like teach your kids to chicken fight.

...how we can still lose a church shoe in a 325 sq. foot hotel room.


I thought getting ready for church would be simpler because we had fewer belongings and a smaller space, but Sunday morning was just every bit as chaotic and loud. I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. (Eventually, we did find the shoe.)

Perhaps everyone got a little stir-crazy in the little room, because the 4-year-old got rugburn on his forehead from roughhousing and the 2-year-old ripped the full-length mirror off the wall.

...how not to tick off the border guards near Niagara Falls.

Our second stop was Niagara Falls, which I made the kids read an educational book about before going there. Don't tell me I can't ruin summer vacation!

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I was surprised how commercialized it was outside, but once you got in the state park it was heavenly. The kids may have briefly glanced at the falls before resuming chasing the seagulls.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Maid of the Mist was more awesome than I'd expected, and after disembarking you can climb a walkway right next to the falls where you get drenched by the spray. Ironically, that's where my 4-year-old complained about wanting water the whole time. OPEN YOUR MOUTH, CHILD.

Then Phillip and I took the three oldest kids over the the Canada side to check out the view.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We saw the hugest rainbow ever and the kids were excited to have left the country; it was even worth the crabby border guard and the sketchy-looking border crossing lined with razor wire.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Welcome!
Tip: border guards don't like it when you don't know the answer to the question "What city did you visit?" Pointing and saying "right there" is apparently not an acceptable response.

... how I got conned into buying an $18.99 stuffed animal.


Oh wait, yes I do. It's because the exit for the Maid of the Mist conveniently leads through the gift shop, and when your 2-year-old sees a plush duck wearing a poncho and hugs it and says "I love him," you just shut up and hand the cashier all your money. Because he's stinking cute and he's the baby of the family so he gets whatever he wants.

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

This is seriously unlike me. In fact, if it had been any of my other kids for the last 14 years, I would've pried that duck from their bony grasp and let their screams ring out across the falls without a second thought. But I guess I must be going soft, because this:

Like how it can be so face-meltingly hot without the air actually being on fire.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

But I guess all's well that ends well. Even if there are still some things I don't quite understand about our trip.

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2 comments:

  1. Hey I did the Niagara Falls and Palmyra trip 10 years ago and it's still one of my favorite trips.

    Isn't Niagara the strangest town? We went through a haunted house for goodness sakes. "Behold the majesty of the falls but first walk through this house of horrors!" We were on the Canadian side on the fourth of July. Weirdest 4th ever.

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  2. Mystery undies! That is... well, honestly I have no words. That is so crazy.

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