*This post makes me wish I had access to some of my mom's photo albums or my own photos that are packed away in a storage unit back in Texas so that I could include photos to go along with this story/memory. Note to self: if we ever live abroad again, bring photo albums with you!
During the summer between first and second grade (which would make me about 7 years old I think), my sister (who was 10 years old at the time) and I got to spend a week at my grandma and grandpa's house with two of our other girl cousins who were our age. Now, this wasn't as simple as going down the street or across town to our grandparents' house. You see, my mom's parents lived in the small town of Marion, Indiana. So that means that my parents were brave enough to let my sister and I fly from Phoenix to Indiana by ourselves. Unfortunately, I don't remember much about the flight itself, but I do have very vivid memories of our very special week with Mimi and Georgie and or cousins that week.
I always loved my grandparents' house that they lived in at the time, and I have so many vivid memories of it. At the time, it was probably the only house I had ever been in that had stairs, and I thought that was so neat. The house also had a pool room where my cousins and I spent a lot of time making up games with the pool balls and probably making a huge racket while doing so. I also remember in the family/TV room, there were some cabinets where there were a ton of my mom's and aunt's/uncle's old toys. Of course, my sister, cousins, and I were most excited about playing with all of the old Barbies. I specifically remember a "stewardess" Barbie that was my favorite. In the same room was a game table with a leather surface- which for some reason I remember really loving the feeling of. We spent lots of time at that game table playing cards and Boggle. In one of the upstairs rooms, there was a large closet/storage space with an inclined ceiling, that was the perfect place to play house/dolls/school, etc. For some reason I remember this space having a very distinctive smell, which I still remember very clearly. My favorite thing about that house though was that it had a laundry chute. The idea of a laundry chute was completely novel to me, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I remember launching toys and stuffed animals down the chute while my sister and/or cousins waited at the bottom to catch them. Best game ever!
Aside from the entertainment that the house itself provided, my grandparents did so many fun activities with their four granddaughters. One day we each decorated our own shirts and white Keds with puffy paint and sequins. There is a great picture somewhere of the four of us decked out in our gear/artwork (each with shirts stylishly tied at the hip, of course). Someday I will have to go back and add that photo here. We got to eat lunch at the 18th hole of the golf/country club that Mimi and Georgie belonged to, which we thought was pretty special. I'm pretty sure we all ordered grilled cheese each time. We spent a lot of time that week in their backyard pool. Georgie loved to swim and was a good lifeguard (and entertainment) for the four of us. Georgie was able to hold his breath for what seemed like an eternity to us, and we loved to count how long he could hold it. I'm sure we exhausted him with this game! Mimi loved to shop (still does!), and one of the days she took us to the little mall in town. We were each allowed to pick out one toy at the toy store. I picked out a small stuffed bear, which I named Mary (in honor of the town they lived in- Marion). This is the only stuffed animal that I still have to this day. Mary even came to college with me. And yes, she also made the trip to Australia :-) Another favorite memory from this trip was that Mimi had bought some sort of package/program where we each were able to write and illustrate our own book/story. She then sent these off to whatever the company was, and later we each received a hardback, bound copy of our book. I still have this book and love to read back through my oh-so-creative "Megan and the Three Bears" book.
This is trip is one of my favorite memories from my childhood. Now, it seems kind of crazy that my parents let my sister and I travel all that way by ourselves, but I am so glad they did. I'm sure that contributed on some level to the beginning of my love for travel. This was such a neat time for the four of us cousins to spend with our grandparents. Now as we're older, the times we are all together are few and far between, but whenever we are together, memories from this trip always come up.