We went to the NY State Fair this weekend with my sister and brother-in-law and our cousin visiting from North Carolina. Unexpectedly for September in upstate NY, it was horrifically hot, and so humid my glasses kept steaming up - kid you not. Even my cousin, who is from Vermont originally but has lived in NC for the last ten years, was wilting.
It was great fun, though, especially since even last year we could not have done something like this - Carl and I and the littles left our house at 7:30 in the morning, and got back at 11:00 that night. The girls were troopers through the entire day - no meltdowns, no tantrums, only a couple times where they needed reminders of the importance of having good attitudes. They had so much fun with everything - from the cow barn (my brother-in-law's cousins were there showing cattle, so we had to stop there to see them first thing), to the pig/goat/llama barn, to ... well, everything. Even Joy, who does not like crowds and noise, held her own quite nicely, even standing right up to the chain separating the crowds from where the six- and eight-horse hitches came thundering by with Mamma and Auntie Lizzie. No fear, just awe and delight at the magnificent horses (she liked the all-black ones the best - Mamma was partial to the Clydesdales, black with white feet, and Auntie Lizzie liked the dapple greys). In fact, she loved the horses so much, that at the end of the day, when I asked what her best favorite part was ("best favorite" is a phrase of her own coining, and I love it), I fully expected her to answer "horses." Especially since that was what she was talking about ever since we told her about the Fair.
If not horses, than I figured she would say the little chick that Papa held while she petted it. Or even say that her best favorite part of the day was drinking half of Auntie Lizzie's maple slushie, or watching Dan Duggan play hammer dulcimer (he is just brilliant with that so-tricky instrument).
Not a bit of it. Joy, my petite, tidy, finicky, dainty little maiden, liked the big black mama pig the best. Even better than the piglets, which at least have the advantage of being little! Nope. No matter how many times she was asked, she answered the same:
"The big black mama pig was my best favorite."
I love that she's almost four, and still surprising me every day. Just as I think I've got her figured out, she comes out with something completely unexpected. I love seeing all these disparate bits come together to make one cohesive Joy.
If I am honest, I have to confess that I really hated the baby stage. I loved them, of course, but the real fun is starting now, when they get to express their personalities and there's a new delightful discovery waiting around every corner. Sometimes it gets frustrating, as when I can't buy clothing for Joy without her along because she already has decided opinions, and won't wear something unless she likes it (thank goodness Grace is still young enough to have to wear Mamma's preferences!), but even that has its fun side, as I get to see her decide, already, what styles she likes and what she doesn't. Although I did put my foot down when she wanted to buy a leopard-print jumper. Mamma will allow a lot, but I do have my limits!
Grace is still little enough that she mostly goes along with whatever Sissy says ("Grace, what was your best favorite part of the day?" "Pigs!" Never mind the fact that she barely paid any attention to them, that's what Sissy said, so that's what she liked, too), but we're starting to see glimpses of her independent personality peeking out here and there.
These kids, they cannot be put in neat and tidy little boxes, ever. And why would anyone want to? Life is so much more fun when it is unexpected.
(Sorry about the lack of pictures in this post - we were a bit too busy experiencing everything to stop and take pictures! Maybe next year.)